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West Hawaii Community Health Center Expanding – Informational Meeting Planned

West Hawaii Community Health Center (WHCHC) will soon open the doors to its newly expanded Waikoloa location, offering a wide variety of medical and dental services to area residents.

West Hawaii Community Health Center

An informational community meeting will be held Tuesday, March 7 at Waikoloa Elementary School cafeteria starting at 6:30 pm. Interested community members are invited to attend to learn more about the new services being offered.

The Waikoloa Elementary School cafeteria is located at 68-1730 Hooko Street in Waikoloa Village. Refreshments will be offered.

West Hawaii Community Health Center board members, management staff, as well as medical and dental staff will be on-hand to answer questions and share more information.

To learn more about this event, please call 808-331-6472, or visit WestHawaiichc.org

Willie K Headlines 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival

Called “Hawaiian Hendrix to Polynesian Pavarotti,” Uncle Willie K has wowed world audiences since he started playing music with his dad’s band at age 6. For the first time, Willie K will make a special appearance at the 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival Saturday, March 4 at Queens’ MarketPlace.

Just part of the day-long line up of ‘ukulele superstars on three stages, Willie K is a Grammy nominee, and winner of 18 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. His talented fingers and powerful voice stretch the limits from sweet falsetto, to lowdown blues, blow-your-hair-back rock, and operatic aria.

The ‘Ukulele Festival begins with Roy Sakuma’s traditional free ‘ukulele workshop, this year at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa’s Paniolo Ballroom at 10 a.m.

From 11:15 a.m., throughout the day, live entertainment takes place on three stages at Kings’ Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace.

The all-star lineup includes:

Lito Arkangel. From Keaau in East Hawai‘i, Lito is a Navy veteran, lecturer at UH Hilo and regular entertainer in resort lounges. He is an accomplished musician and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards nominee who has also played the big stage at the Merrie Monarch Festival.

Kris Fuchigami. A Hawai‘i Island musician, Kris won the Hamakua Music Scholarship Competition at the age of 15. Since then, he has released five CDs, and performed worldwide. Kris has an exciting style that pulls in elements of pop, rock and contemporary sound.

Arden Fujiwara. Born in Hawai‘i, Arden is now part of the Seattle music scene, fusing ‘ukulele tradition with the progressive, including rock and hip hop.

Kunia Galdeira. Grandson of Gabby “Pops” Pahinui, Kunia learned to play ‘ukulele at a very young age. He is an in-deman solo artist and also frequently plays with Sonny Lim and Kevin Kealoha as the trio, “Ekolu Mea Nui.”

The Humble Project, led by Tad Humble and K.U.P.A Hale, led by Alan Hale. These two groups of dedicated musicians from Kona with a common love for ‘ukulele music and for sharing it with others of all ages.

Alii Keanaaina. Originally from North Kona, Alii first toured with his twin brother Nui, before stepping into the solo spotlight in 2010, when he won the Clyde “Kindy” Sproat Falsetto Contest. He tours in Japan, Las Vegas, and around the Islands, and easily pleases crowds with his smooth falsetto and full voice Hawaiian music.

Widdy Loo. Born and raised Hawai’i Island, Widdy is a lifelong musician who plays a wide variety of music, often incorporating hula and stories of “Old Hawai‘i”.

Maluhia. George Bence and Beverly McCabe created the Hawaiian-Canadian musical blend, Maluhia  (“peace”). They share their time and music between Hawai‘i and Vancouver Islands.

Brittni Paiva. Brittni’s musical career started with piano lessons at age four in her hometown, Hilo. She picked up ‘ukulele at eleven and has since released six CDs, won the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for ‘Ukulele Album of the Year, and traveled internationally. Her multi-genre style melds traditional, pop, alternative, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and more, and she has pioneered the looping technique on ‘ukulele in her YouTube videos.

Mark Yamanaka. A nine-time Hōkū winner from Hilo, Mark is known for his sweet and soulful Hawaiian music and falsetto, performs frequently in the island and Japan.

The festival includes prizes and ‘ukulele giveaways by sponsoring companies.

The 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival is a production of Waikoloa Beach Resort and ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai’i. Sponsors include Queens’ MarketPlace, Roy Sakuma ‘Ukulele Studios, Kings’ Shops, Kamaka ‘Ukulele, Kala Brand ‘Ukuleles, Koaloha, Ko‘olau Pono Guitar and ‘Ukulele Company, Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele and others. For more information on Saturday’s ‘Ukulele Festival visit www.WaikoloaBeachResort.com or call (808) 886-8822.

GREAT WAIKOLOA ‘UKULELE FESTIVAL:  SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:  Saturday, March 4, 2017

Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Paniolo Ballroom
10-11:30 a.m.
‘Ukulele Workshop with Roy and Kathy Sakuma. BYOU (bring your own ‘ukulele). Free.

Queens’ MarketPlace, Coronation Pavilion:
12 noon    The Humble Project
1 p.m.        Kunia Galdeira
2 p.m.        Kris Fuchigami
3 p.m.        Lito Arkangel
4 p.m.        Roy Sakuma with Nelly Toyama-Baduria, Daniel Baduria and Nick Acosta
5 p.m.         Willie K
6 p.m.        Mark Yamanaka

Queens’ MarketPlace, Island Gourmet Markets Stage:
1 p.m.        Alii Keanaaina
2 p.m.        K.U.P.A Hale
3 p.m.        Maluhia
4 p.m.        Arden Fujiwara

Kings’ Shops, Center Stage
11:15 p.m.    Widdy Loo
12noon    Kris Fuchigami
1 p.m.        Roy Sakuma with Nelly Toyama-Baduria, Daniel Baduria and Nick Acosta
2 p.m.        Maluhia
3 p.m.        Arden Fujiwara
4 p.m.        Brittni Paiva

Friends of NELHA Awarded Grant for Student Tours

The non-profit Friends of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (FON) was recently awarded a $5,000 grant by the Kona Brewers Festival (KBF) to fund tours for young Hawai‘i Island students.

“There are so many forward-thinking, innovative applications in the field of science going on here at the Natural Energy Lab,” says FON Executive Director Candee Ellsworth. “Educational tours are a great way to inform and expose local youth to opportunities in STEM careers so close to home. This funding allows us to expand our reach to be more impactful within our own community.”

In 2016, FON presented tours to over 1,300 students.

Student tours begin in the LEED-certified Gateway Visitor Center for an overview of the technology and cutting-edge companies in operation at NELHA’s Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park. Keiki get a lesson on green energy, aquaculture and ocean conservation. Students also visit the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant to find out how it works. Finally, tours visit a choice of another HOST site such as the Kanaloa Octopus Farm or Ke Kai Ola Hawaii Monk Sea Hospital.

Ellsworth says the grant will fund up to 250 free student tours with a matching discount through FON.

Free student tours are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hawai‘i school administrators or educators seeking a student tour can contact Ellsworth for details and availability.

The Kona Brewers Festival, now in its 22nd year, has donated $965,000 to Hawai‘i environmental, cultural and youth programs. The goal this year is to distribute $100,000 to 22 non-profits; all volunteer in some capacity at the festival.

“The festival is more than a fundraiser, “ says KBF Executive Director Kate Jacobson. “It’s a community celebration of sustainable practices, collaboration and responsibility to future generations.  Every ticket sold contributes to Hawai‘i’s well-being.”

In operation since 1974, FON offers three different, weekday tours for the general public: Ocean Matters, Ocean Conservation and Sustainable Aquaculture.  Book tours and find more details at www.friendsofnelha.org or phone 808-329-8073.

Friends of NELHA (FON) is a nonprofit, conservation education organization offering public tours with a focus on renewable energy, sustainability, sustainable aquaculture and the uniqueness of the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park at Keahole Point. Presentations begin 10 a.m. weekdays at the Gateway Visitor Center, a mesmerizing location where visitors are inspired by the technologies being developed on the Big Island. Tours are offered Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). www.friendsofnelha.org.

Mayoral Luncheon March 2 Featuring Mayor Harry Kim, County of Hawaii Leadership and Business Expo

Mayor Harry Kim and select cabinet members discuss opportunities and challenges to West Hawai‘i’s economy at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) 2017 Luncheon 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Thurs., March 2 at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Hawaii Water Service and Pacific Media Group, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with county department representatives in a casual setting.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific county department, as well as pose questions to the mayor and cabinet heads. Issues discussed may include update on county priorities, roads and infrastructure, affordable housing, mass transit and opportunities for economic development in West Hawai‘i.

In addition, attendees can also learn about new and existing KKCC businesses at the Chamber’s annual Business Expo, which precedes and follows the banquet. Times are 10 -11:30 a.m. and 1:30-2 p.m.

General admission is $68; Chamber and Rotary members $58. RSVP by Monday, February 27; no walk-ins are allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit www.kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office, 808-329-1758.

Lions and Taiko and Chefs – Celebrate Asian Fest at Queens’ MarketPlace

Queens’ MarketPlace is getting ready to crow on Friday, February 3, 2017 from 5-8 p.m., as they welcome the Year of the Rooster during the annual Asian Fest. The free event is a unique and popular way to experience and enjoy the music, cuisine and customs of China, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and other Asian cultures.
According to the Chinese zodiac, a Rooster year is supposedly full of patience and passion, bravery, some bravado, and hard work to reach success. Its motto is “Always higher, always going on,” appropriately for Queens’ MarketPlace, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Goings on at the shopping center ring in the Rooster Year in style, with great food, nonstop entertainment and a spectacular Lion Dance.

The centuries-old tradition, essential to New Year’s festivities in Hawai‘i, the colorful Chinese Lion Dancers perform acrobatic feats and leaps, interacting with the audience and parading through Queens’ MarketPlace from door to door. Participants young and old can “feed” the Lion small donations in red envelopes called lycee (provided) to bring good fortune in the year ahead.

Taiko also plays an essential part of Asian Fest, and the thundering drums of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko of North Kohala kick off the excitement at the Coronation Pavilion. Their high-energy style of taiko brings movement and music together for a dramatic performance that captivates audiences of all ages.

Throughout Queens’ MarketPlace, chefs will provide food samples (while they last) from Charley’s Thai Cuisine, Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ, Island Gourmet Markets, Lemongrass Express, Paradise Pizza & Grill, Sansei Seafood, Steak and Sushi Bar, Sushi Shiono’s, Waikoloa Beach Marriott, A-Bay’s Island Grill, Roy’s Waikoloa, Mai Grille, Tropics Ale House and Dairy Queen.
Asian Fest is a complimentary event provided by Queens’ MarketPlace and its businesses as a celebratory start to the new lunar year. For more information, please call 886-8822 or visit www.queensmarketplace.net

Asian Fest Entertainment Schedule:

  • 5:00    Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko
  • 5:55    Hawaii Lion Dance Association
  • 6:30    Kona Daifukuji Taiko
  • 7:00    Visayan Dance Group, Filipino Dancers from University of Hilo
  • 7:20    Lion Dance begins at Island Gourmet Markets and proceeds door to door

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in the Waikoloa community, Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned a reputation among visitors and kama‘āina as “the gathering place of the Kohala Coast,” full of shopping opportunities, services and great food, along with entertainment and arts programs, movies under the stars and large-scale concerts in Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens. For more information, visit www.QueensMarketPlace.net or call 886-8822.

Commentary – Former Councilman Airlifted to Oahu, Cardiac Care Unit Wanted at Kona Hospital

Former Council member Dominic Yagong is the latest high profile community member to be airlifted for heart or stroke problems to Maui Memorial or Queen’s on Oahu. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists.

Yagong posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Medivac to Queens hospital tomorrow morning. Spending the night in Waimea ER after experiencing severe chest pains at Basketball game in Honokaa. Sorry girls for missing announcing your game. I’ll be fine,,,,got my lucky Green Bay cap with me! Thanks Kahea for calling EMT. No worries…thumbs up!”

THE PROBLEM: There is a 2- hour window when patients need to be treated in order to expect a full recovery. Think about where you live on the Big Island. From my home it would take 45 minutes to get to Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, then the time to be diagnosed and then get the helicopter and then the 45 minute + time to Oahu, getting checked in and a cardiologist hopefully is at the hospital and you need to be seen, an Operating Room hopefully is available. Get the picture? Other important island residents to be airlifted are Mayor Kim, Council Chair Pete Hoffmann and OHA Representative Bob Lindsey.

I talked to an architect who specializes in building hospitals and a medical planner at NBBJ Architects. There is currently no facility or any cardiologists to staff a dedicated cardiac care unit for West Hawaii. We agreed that Kona Community Hospital (KCH) was the best location for a Cardiac Care unit. Kona Community Hospital has one cardiologist, Dr. Michael Dang who travels from Honolulu. Dr. Larry Derbes is an interventional cardiologist in private practice in Kona, who agrees that a Catheterization Lab to do stents and ablations and to treat strokes, would save lives and result in better outcomes and quality of life for cardiac patients. He is eager to help. I talked to Jay Kreuzer, is the CEO of KCH, and has also been a cardiac patient. He pointed out that staffing the Catheterization Lab is the biggest challenge because we lose doctors, because the Medicare reimbursement rate of only 93% of the actual cost is compounded by Hawaii Medical Services Association (Hawaii’s biggest healthcare insurer), which compensates at only 110% of the Medicare Reimbursement. He told me that there is an airlift almost every day from KCH to either Queens in Honolulu or Maui Memorial and they are usually for heart or stroke patients.
I also met with Dr. Frank Sayre, Chair of the Board for the West Hawaii Regional Hospital Board of Directors, which oversees Kona Community Hospital and the North Kohala Community Hospital. He agreed with Jay Kreuzer. He told me that he had discussed setting up a “funded chair” for specialists (similar to academic chairs) as a stipend to keep doctors on the island.
SOLUTIONS:
1. A HYBRID CATHETERIZATION LAB/ OPERATING ROOM FOR KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL was recommended by architect and planner. The recent flooding of the Operating Room at KCH presents an opportunity to remodel the Operating Room and accommodate Cath Lab equipment.
2. STAFFING: An annuity with the Hawaii Community Foundation or the Kona Community Hospital Foundation to generate a yearly stipend for two cardiologists to establish a “chair position.
Please get in touch with your State Representatives and State Senators to include these items as allocation in their Budget Legislation for the coming year.
There has been some discussion about building a new hospital sometime, but even if that were started tomorrow, it would still take about 6 years to be built, with land acquisition, EIS, plans, hiring a contractor and building. We need a Cardiac Care unit NOW to save our friends and family and allow heart attack and stroke patients to recover fully and at home on our island. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists. Healthy people are happy people.

For more information go to this site: https://debbiehecht.com/2016/06/21/a-cardiac-care-unit-for-the-big-island-of-hawaii/

Debbie Hecht
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III Should Be Top Transportation Project

Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III should be top transportation project for Hawaii County in North Kona. This segment will connect Hina-Lani Street to Kaminani Drive, so we’ll be able to drive from Henry Street to Kona Palisades without having to use Mamalahoa or Queen Kaahumanu highways.

Much attention was paid to honoring the culture and the place in building the Ane Keohokālole Highway. Markers indicate the boundaries of the ahupua‘a that the road runs through, like this one where Keahuolū meets Kealakehe.

This will help address chronic traffic circulation issues prevalent in this area. Its frustrating to see  the horrible traffic congestion on Highway 190, especially in the mornings and afternoon at Hina-Lani Street intersection. The intersection at Kaiminani Drive and Queen Kaahumanu Highway is  another traffic congestion hot spot. Both of  these issues will be addressed if the county proceeds with Phase III of Ane Keohokālole Highway.

There has been some discussion about resurrecting the Alii Parkway
project in light of the completionof the Alii Drive Extension (Mamalahoa Highway bypass) instead of proceeding with Ane Keohokālole Highway. I strongly believe this would be a huge mistake. Hawaii County has spent decades and untold millions of dollars to construct this road with nothing to show for it. I highly doubt the lingering archaeological issues will ever be resolved, especially with the renewed focus on preserving sensitive Native Hawaiian archaeological sites.

The Hawaii DOT has started preliminary planing to widen  Queen Kaahumanu Highway Extension (from Henry Street) and  Kuakini Highway past Kamehameha III Road, which should adequately address the ongoing congestion issues in this area.

I hope Mayor Kim’s administration decides to proceed with Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III instead of Alii Parkway. The latter project divided the community  when the county tried to proceed around 13 years ago.  Ane Keohokālole Highway Phase III is a better choice for the community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

2017 Living & Design Show Accepting Vendor Applications

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce presents its 12th annual home show February 25 – 26 at the Sheraton Kona Resort Convention Center.

Formerly known as the Building and Design Expo, the renamed Living + Design Show has been attended by more than 2,000. A strong turnout is anticipated this year as homeowners continue making improvements to their properties. The newly revamped exhibition will showcase latest goods and services, door-buster deals and endless options for a better home.

Past experience has shown qualified customers come to the show with specific home improvement projects in mind and they are ready to buy. As a result, exhibitors receive a strong return on their investment with as much as a year’s worth of leads generated from the expo alone.

Two booth sizes are offered as well as sponsorship opportunities. Qualifying businesses must have a product or service that relates to building, remodeling, improvements, sales, landscaping or financing a home or business.

Participation benefits include inclusion in the show’s special advertising insert in West Hawaii Today, radio ads and mentions in Chamber social media platforms.

Businesses interested in participating and who qualify with a product or service can download a vendor application online at www.kona-kohala.com. For more info, contact the Chamber office at info@kona-kohala.com or call 808.329.1758. Vendor booths are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Waimea Independent Schools Announce 2017-18 Application Deadline

Three independent, private schools in Waimea have announced February 6, 2017 as their common priority deadline for applications for the 2017-18 school year. In an effort to simplify the process for families applying to multiple schools, Waimea Country School (WCS), Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and Parker School have aligned due dates. Families will also receive notification of admission decisions from the three schools at the same time—February 27 for kindergarten and March 6 for all other grades.

Parker School students Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills (both grade 10)work in a kalo field while participating in the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on O’ahu in September.

“Many families are unaware that the deadline to apply for the next school year occurs in February,” Emily Pagliaro, Admissions Director at Parker School, said. “We want to get the word out so that those who are interested in an independent school education have as much information as possible about how and when to apply.”

All three schools have a similar admissions process. Generally, they each require an application and fee, school records, teacher references and a student test or assessment. “This can create a big to-do list for parents, especially when applying to multiple schools. Having ample time to prepare is helpful,” Pagliaro said.

Getting to know the educational options on the Big Island is useful in determining the best path for each student. Private schools often offer school tours or open houses so that students and parents can see first-hand what each school’s “personality” is and what their unique offerings are. “In education, one size does not fit all. It is important for each family to find the right environment and program that will best meet the needs of their child, so we encourage families to visit,” said Amy Salling, WCS Head of School.

HPA and Parker School both offer kindergarten through high school programs, and HPA infuses their day student program with boarding students at the high school level. Waimea Country School offers kindergarten through fifth grade, and the multi-age classroom is the cornerstone of their program.

Visiting schools and meeting with representatives of each can also be helpful in understanding what financial assistance may be available. “Sometimes families don’t think they can afford a private school education. There is actually quite a bit of need-based financial aid available, and there are flexible payment plan options. If a family has an interest in our schools, it is definitely worth having the conversation,” said Joshua Clark, director of admission at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

Visit each school’s website for more information: Waimeacountryschool.org, Hpa.edu and Parkerschoolhawaii.org.

6th Big Island Chocolate Festival Celebrates the History of Chocolate

With the theme, “Worth Its Weight in Gold: The History of Chocolate,” the sixth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival is April 28-29 with events headquartered from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Indulge in the alluring, rich taste of chocolate—in both its sweet and savory forms—while participating in delicious, fun and informative chocolate-themed activities.

The “must-attend” festival gala—featuring food booths, unlimited wine and beer pours, silent auction, dancing and more—is 5-9 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Early Bird and VIP tickets are on sale now at http://www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com/buy-tickets/.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds annually benefit a variety of local non-profits yet to be selected for 2017.

“Chocolate has an amazing history and it will be fun to share it at this year’s Big Island Chocolate Festival,” says KCA President Farsheed Bonakdar.

The two-day chocolate extravaganza includes a cacao plantation tour at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, a college culinary competition and several public foodie and agriculture-themed seminars. Activities culminate 5-9 p.m. Saturday, April 29 with the indoor-outdoor festival gala—enjoy a host of sweet and savory culinary stations presented by top isle chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners. Fun chocolate activities include a live chocolate sculpture and chocolate body painting.

Culinary participants will depict this year’s historical theme at their booths and be judged on originality. Chocolate hails from Meso-America where cacao beans were brewed to make a drink or fermented into an alcoholic beverage. Highly valued, the bean was used as currency. The Mayans and Aztecs believed cacao was divine, including it in rituals. Once fashioned into a bar, chocolate became valued in America. During wartime it was included in soldiers’ rations and went to the moon with the Apollo astronauts.

Culinary stations will also be vying for awards in a variety of categories judged by a panel of celebrity chefs: “best” bonbon, savory, bean-to-bar, plated dessert and Hawaiian cacao. Attendees can get in on the friendly voting by casting a ballot for two People’s Choice Awards: Best Savory and Best Sweet.

General admission tickets to the gala are $79 presale and $100 at the door.

Find ticket info at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Special room/ticket packages for two start at $375 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and can be conveniently booked at http://www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com/buy-tickets/ and through the Festival website under “Tickets.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest

Food Certificate Program Classes Coming to North Kohala

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) is accepting enrollment for classes in the Master Food Preserver Certificate Program to be held in North Kohala. Classes will be held on January 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and February 2 and 3 from 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Kohala Institute’s GRACE Center at 53-580 Iole Road in Kapa`au. Tuition is $200.

Individuals interested in developing their own jams and jellies, canning acid foods, pressure canning low acid foods, pickling and fermenting, drying, freezing, and the art of charcuterie are encouraged to become certified Hawaiʻi Master Food Preservers.

Luisa F. Castro

Instructors are Luisa F. Castro, a certified Master Food Preserver who has taught agricultural professionals about food safety on the farm and is a Program Coordinator for professional development courses at CCECS; and Kalen Kelekoma, a certified Master Food Preserver and Special Projects Manager with the Waipa Foundation. Both have taught the program on Hawaiʻi Island and Kaua`i.

Private and non-government employers/businesses may qualify for a 50% tuition waiver through the State’s Employment & Training Fund (ETF). Visit http://hilo.hawaii.edu/go/2z for details.To register, or for more information, contact CCECS at 932-7830 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu.

Origo Acquisition Corporation and Aina Le’a, Inc. Agree to Business Combination

Origo Acquisition Corporation (“Origo”) today announced that it has entered into a Merger Agreement with Aina Le’a, Inc., a residential and commercial real estate developer of distinctive master-planned communities in Hawaii. Pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement, Origo will merge with and into Aina Le’a Merger Sub, Inc., a newly formed subsidiary of Aina Le’a, and equity holders and warrant holders of Origo will become equity holders and warrant holders of Aina Le’a (the “Business Combination”).

Aina Le’a’s principal development project is a 1,099-acre residential and commercial master planned community called The Villages of Aina Le’a (“The Villages”). Located within the resort area on the Kohala Coast on the west coast of Hawaii’s “Big Island”, The Villages will offer a combination of single family home sites, local family townhouses, luxury townhouses, and estate lots, as well as a retail and commercial center, and golf course with lodge. Sloping elevations of approximately 150-550 feet above sea level will provide approximately 70% of all lots with sweeping ocean views of the Big Island’s famed “Gold Coast.” The development’s close proximity to Queen Kaahumanu Highway offers easy access to top beaches, restaurants, shopping, and the airport. The development plan for The Villages is structured in three phases, with Phase I construction underway. Phase I is comprised of a 61-acre development consisting of townhouse units, luxury villas, and single family lots.

Edward J. Fred, Chief Executive Officer of Origo, commented, “We actively searched for an acquisition target that has the opportunity to provide substantial returns to our investors and we believe that we found the right company in Aina Le’a. Hawaii has been consistently rated as one of the best places on earth to live and visit, combining reliably beautiful weather, active lifestyles, abundant renewable resources such as water and solar energy, and economic opportunity. We believe that Aina Le’a controls some of the most valuable and sought-after land assets in the world in a market that is characterized by a scarcity of new home supply. The Villages has been designed as a full-service international resort community, with more than 70% of the lots offering ocean views. Along with the support of an invested, world-class management team, we have great optimism for the future.”

Robert Wessels, CEO of Aina Le’a, stated, “Becoming a public company is an important chapter in our company’s development, and we expect that having the additional access to the capital markets will enhance our ability to execute our growth plan. In addition to completing The Villages development, we will seek to expand our reach, and diversify our asset base and revenue by investing in new markets that fit our stringent criteria. Our over-arching objective in managing the growth of Aina Le’a is to deliver long-term, sustainable shareholder value while providing some of the most desirable home locations in our industry.”

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, upon the closing of the Business Combination, each ordinary share of Origo (including any Origo shares otherwise issuable with respect to the rights that were included as part of Origo’s units) will convert into common stock of Aina Le’a at a conversion ratio of 0.6 shares of Aina Le’a for each share of Origo, and each outstanding warrant to acquire ordinary shares of Origo will be exchanged for a warrant to acquire ordinary shares of Aina Le’a, which replacement Aina Le’a shares and warrants will be registered securities. The approximately $32.6 million currently held in Origo’s trust account will be used by Aina Le’a as working capital, less amounts required to fund redemptions by Origo’s public stockholders, if any, and the payment of Origo’s transaction fees and expenses and outstanding Origo loans. Aina Le’a expects to apply to list its common stock and warrants on the Nasdaq Capital Market following the closing of the Business Combination.

Aina Le’a’s board of directors will be expanded to seven directors, and will include two directors from Origo as independent directors. Management of Aina Le’a is not expected to change in connection with the Business Combination.

The Business Combination is subject to the approval of Origo’s stockholders, as well as other closing conditions.

EarlyBird Capital, Inc. is acting as financial advisor to Origo, and Chardan Capital is acting as advisor to Aina Le’a. Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP is acting as legal advisor to Origo, and Greenberg Traurig is acting as legal advisor to Aina Le’a.

Big Island Police Locate Wanted Man Who Coast Guard Initiated Search For

Hawaiʻi Island police have located 52-year-old Derek Liu of Honokaʻa, who was wanted on bench warrants.

Liu was found in Keaʻau at 1:30 a.m. Monday (December 19) and arrested and charged with two counts of violating terms of bail.

Two days after police put out a December 2 media release asking for the public’s help in locating Liu, he became the subject of a missing person investigation when his Zodiac boat was found floating a mile off the coast in the Kohala Estate area.

Timothy Ashcraft Appointed Kohala Branch Manager for Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) is pleased to announce the appointment of Timothy Ashcraft as Kohala Branch Manager.

Timothy Ashcraft

“I’m so happy to continue my career with Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union and return to Kohala where I first started out,” Ashcraft said. “There’s no better job than helping individuals and businesses in North Hawaii manage their finances for today and for the future.”

Ashcraft, a longtime HCFCU team member, has overall supervisory responsibility for the administration, operation, loans, personnel, community and public relations for the Kohala branch and HCFCU’s Honokaa branch as well.

Timothy Ashcraft has extensive business and credit union education. He has a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in Business Administration from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.  Ashcraft graduated with High Honors from Western Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Management School, (Academic Hall of Fame) and completed the Certified Credit Union Executive Program, again with Honors.

Ashcraft has a long career in the banking and credit union industry — including positions held at HFS Federal Credit Union, Bank of Hawaii and Riverview Savings Bank —and was awarded the Small Business Administration Lender of the Year (West Hawaii District) four years in the row.  Ashcraft’s community service includes Friends of the Children of West Hawaii, Kona Relay for Life, and the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by its over 40,000 member/owners with branches in Honokaa, Kailua-Kona, Kaloko, Kealakekua and Kohala.  In addition to complete checking and savings services, the credit union offers credit cards, auto, mortgage, construction, small business, educational and personal loans; online and mobile banking; investment services; youth programs and supports numerous Hawaii Island programs and events.  Membership in Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is open to all Hawaii Island residents.

Kohala Farm to School Initiative Pilot Project Develops Recipes with More Fresh Food

The Lieutenant Governor’s pilot project for the Farm to School Initiative is well underway in the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) Kohala Complex on the island of Hawaii. Chef Greg Christian, president and founder of Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners has been selected to work with Cafeteria Manager Priscilla Galan and her staff to bring delicious local, fresh scratch-cooked food to students.

Chef Greg with Cafeteria Staff

Chef Greg and Cafeteria Manager Galan have been working to develop recipes that incorporate more fresh food that kids both love and are familiar with into the daily menu as well as revamping favorites such as pizza and kalua pig with cabbage.

Taste testings on the experimental menu based on recipes co-created by the cafeteria staff and Chef Greg are conducted daily at the Kohala Complex schools. Some dishes that a number of classes have taste tested include a new pizza recipe, pork adobo with ulu/garlic crisp, chicken adobo sliders with green papaya, and more. Produce for the experimental menu is being sourced from various local farms and markets.

“We are excited to be working with the Kohala Elementary, Middle, and High schools in bringing more local home-style cooked meals into the cafeteria,” said Chef Greg.

“The integration of locally produced foods into the lunches of area schools is a wonderful way to connect students with their farming community,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “When students are exposed to Hawaii’s farm fresh agricultural products and learn to appreciate the taste and freshness, they will help the State grow the demand for local agricultural commodities.”

Along with creating a menu, Chef Greg, and his team are also collecting data, analyzing costs, inventory and purchasing systems as well analyzing kitchen staff efficiencies versus inefficiencies, among other things.

“This is a significant step forward for the Farm to School Initiative,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, who spearheads the initiative. “It took many years to get to this stage, especially for our many community stakeholders, such as The Kohala Center, who had already been working on bringing more local food to our school menus.”

The goal of the initiative is to positively influence the relationship our keiki have with their food and the aina by increasing breakfast and lunch participation, boosting the purchase of locally grown food for school meals, and cultivating connections between our schools and local agricultural communities.

In early November, Lt. Governor Tsutsui, HIDOE, Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), State Procurement Office (SPO) and The Kohala Center (TKC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to allow for policy to be created to guide Farm to School activities in all HIDOE schools, including but not limited to purchasing locally grown food and ingredients, menu modifications, kitchen staff training on scratch-cooking, food waste, and growing food for cafeteria use, among other key components. This pilot program tests localized purchasing and seeks to change the way food is purchased, prepared and delivered.

“This pilot is an exciting opportunity for the Hawaii State Department of Education where we prioritize purchasing local products as a food resource,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We look forward to learning from this collaborative initiative that is focused on our Kohala schools in hopes of bringing it to more schools across the state.”

While executing farm to school strategies that improve student nutrition, supports local businesses and expands agricultural career opportunities for our students, the pilot project will serve as a learning laboratory that conceptualizes a statewide farm to school program within the DOE by December 2018.  This project reaffirms the state’s commitment to improving student wellness and aims to further invigorate Hawaii’s agricultural communities.  The next phase of the project will begin next school year in a larger school complex area on Maui island.

“The pilot project is an opportunity to test innovations in school food preparation, menu development, and buying fresh, local food to improve child nutrition,” said Anna-Lisa Okoye, chief operating officer of The Kohala Center. “By transitioning to student-approved, scratched-cooked meals, the pilot will enhance the quality, nutrition, and taste of school meals while also supporting local agriculture. We appreciate the farm to school advocates from the public and private sectors who have made this pilot possible.”

Across the nation, farm-to-school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. Farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.

The Farm to School Initiative is a public-private partnership with the Lt. Governor’s office, HDOA, Hawaii State Department of Health, HIDOE, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawaii Appleseed, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, The Kohala Center and Ulupono Initiative.

For more information, go to http://ltgov.hawaii.gov/farm-to-school-initiative/

Cookie’s Clothing Company Comes to Queens’ MarketPlace

Fashionable Hawai‘i Islanders have a stylish new opportunity at Queens’ MarketPlace, with the opening of Cookie’s Clothing Company on December 3, 2016. The popular boutique specializes in the latest women’s dresses, separates and accessories for the colorful island lifestyle.

This is the eighth store for the Cookie’s brand, founded by owner-operator Christina Cook. Born into the fashion world on Oahu, Cookie learned the business from her parents, Howard and Darcy Cook, who created the Bebe and Bebe Sport lines.

“I was raised in fashion my whole life,” said Cook. “I decided to pursue it as a career after college at the age of 24. Having my own clothing store is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Describing the Cookie’s look as “fun, flirty and affordable” Cook continues, “We focus on fashion and styles for all women’s sizes and ages,” said Cook. “From age 20-70 we have you covered.”

“Our shopping center is a growing, thriving place for all kinds of shoppers,” said Sales & Operations Manager Margo Bunnell. “And, as the passion for fashion continues to grow, we are excited to keep expanding the Queens’ MarketPlace community of fashion retailers—where local residents and visitors from around the world love to come shop for great clothes for women, men and children.”

Cookie’s Clothing Company in Queens’ MarketPlace will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.cookiesclothingco.com.

Since it opened in 2007, Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned a reputation among visitors and kama‘āina as “the gathering place of the Kohala Coast,” full of shopping opportunities, services and great food, along with entertainment and arts programs, movies under the stars and large-scale concerts in Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens. For more information, visit www.QueensMarketPlace.net or call 886-8822.

Six Culinary Scholarships Awarded

The ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association awarded six scholarships Saturday at the Christmas with the Chefs gala on the grounds of Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Pictured with their scholarship envelopes are from top left: Angeli Aoki, Taylor Neufeld and Hokuao Umiamaka with Associate Professor and Palamanui Culinary Arts Program Coordinator Paul Heerlein, CCC, CCE. Bottom from left: Brittney Badua, Jenna Shiroma and Leila Lewis.

Recipients are all local culinary students attending Hawaii Community College-Palamanui and volunteered at the event. In addition, HCC graduates served as chefs at three of the 20 culinary stations: Ash Danao at Daylight Mind Coffee Company and Café, Scott Hiraishi of The Feeding Leaf and Darcy Ambrosio of A-Bays Island Grill.

In its 28th year, the annual fundraiser benefits culinary students attending Hawai‘i Community College—Palamanui and members of the Kona Kohala Chefs wanting to further their education. Mark your calendar for next year’s benefit on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.

$3,000 Raised for the Food Basket at Taste of Mauna Lani

The 7th Annual “Taste of Mauna Lani” fundraising event to benefit Hawai‘i Island Food Basket raised 50 percent more than the 2015 event.

shops-at-mauna-lani
The Taste of Mauna Lani is held during three weeks in September, with participating restaurants offering specially discounted three-course prix-fixe dinners.  A portion of each sale is donated to Hawai‘i Island Food Basket. Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar at The Shops at Mauna Lani contributed over $1,000 from sales during the event.

Other participating restaurants at The Shops at Mauna Lani included Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Blue Room Brasserie & Bar and Monstera Noodles & Sushi.  CanoeHouse at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalow was the second highest contributor with over $500 donated to the charity.  A new participant this year was Brown’s Beach House at The Fairmont Orchid.  In addition, The Shops at Mauna Lani made a 20% matching contribution to all funds raised by the restaurants.

“With everyone’s participation in this event, a total of $3,000 was raised by ‘Taste of Mauna Lani,’ which is a significant increase over last year’s amount.” said General Manager Michael Oh. “We are always looking for ways to give back, especially to the Food Basket, who works so hard all year round to help the people who need it most in our community.”

To make a donation as an individual or business, visit www.hawaiifoodbasket.org.

Big Island Chocolate Festival Seeks 2017 Beneficiaries

The sixth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival invites non-profit organizations to apply as a beneficiary of the 2017 event held on April 28-29 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The festival annually awards non-profits a portion of event proceeds.

big-island-chocolate-festival-2017Beneficiaries should be associated with culinary education, cacao farming/education, local chocolate, farming or sustainability. Awards will be given ranging from $500 to $6,000 and beneficiaries are expected to provide volunteers and support event execution.

Visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com for application details and the deadline is December 31, 2016.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com.

Puako Provisions’ and Catering – New Culinary Option on Kohala Gold Coast

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island’s Kohala Gold Coast now have a new local culinary option with the debut of Puako Provisions and Catering at the landmark Puako General Store located in the popular beachside community.

puako-general-store-front

Puako Provisions and Catering now open at the Puako General Store

Puako Provisions and Catering will offer a variety of grab-and-go “beach-friendly” food options – provisions! – such as salads, sandwiches on freshly-baked breads and poké bowls made with locally-sourced fish.   Shoppers can also choose from pre-packaged menu items as well as catered food, picnic baskets and special order meals for pickup or delivery to their rental or home.

Along with its grab-and-go and other food offerings, Puako Provisions will feature weekly specials available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., including handmade pizza, and on Friday, “make-your-own” poké bowls.   Whenever possible, the chef uses seasonal, organic products sourced locally from land and sea, yet they are priced to be affordable.

The new operation is directed by Noah Hester, former executive chef and manager of the popular Blue Dragon Restaurant in nearby Kawaihae, which closed earlier this year.  Though just 34 years old, Hester has already received accolades while at the Blue Dragon, including “Best Chef America 2014-2015” and “Best Chef North Hawaii 2012-2015.”  He has also been featured prominently in Edible Hawaii Islands Magazine.

Hester grew up in Puako and has fond childhood memories of visiting the Puako General Store – now owned by his Mom, Mary Fox. The store is an iconic destination that sells groceries, many locally made gifts and souvenirs, including t-shirts, handmade jewelry and much more. Tables are available on the store’s front porch for casual dining, while compostable carryout containers are used for all food items.

The store is located at 69-1649 Puako Beach Drive.  Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  The store phone is 808-882-7500; or visit their website www.thepuakostore.com.