28th Annual Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Awards

Big Island residents won first and second place awards in five categories as Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry honored the best-of-the-best of its employees at the 28th Annual Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana (the hard-working people) Awards. Nearly a thousand employees, family members, and industry representatives from throughout the state gathered for the luncheon ceremony, which was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA) and held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort on Thursday, Jan.11, 2018.

Hawaii Island finalists take 1st and 2nd place in five categories at hospitality industry awards.

“We’re very proud to recognize the people who are the heart and soul of our visitor industry,” said HLTA president and CEO Mufi Hannemann. “They number in the tens of thousands across the state, and this year we have been able to recognize 60 of the finest individuals across small, medium, and large hotels throughout the state. All of the Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana honorees embody the aloha spirit at work and in the community, and we cannot be more thankful for their contributions to the success of our industry.”

Recipients of HLTA’s accolades are selected based on nominations submitted by their supervisors and co-workers, and are judged on the basis of outstanding and exceptional service to lodging guests, coworkers, and the community.

A total of 67 awards were presented at the event, emceed by KHON2 co-anchors Howard Dashefsky and Marisa Yamane.

Clarence Yee. Courtesy Photo

Clarence Yee, Journeyman Tradesman at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, was named the Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year. “Yee has served 38 years in the industry, and is the most senior person at his resort,” said Hanneman. “His selfless generosity, humility, and excellent teamwork shines not only with his fellow associates, but with everyone he meets.”

This year’s Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana award winners and runners-up are as follows. Hawai‘i Island finalists are highlighted:

Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year: 

  • 1st Place – Clarence Yee, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
  • 2nd Place – Branden Gaspar, Waikiki Resort Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Juanito Tomas, Marriott’s Ko ‘Olina Beach Club

Manager of the Year:

  • 1st Place – Carol Lopes, Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk
  • 2nd Place – Brandon Maeda, The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas
  • 3rd Place – Anderson Almario, Sheraton Waikiki Bell

Valet Person of the Year Large Property (Over 450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Patricio (Peter) Santiago, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – George Sumida, Prince Waikiki
  • 3rd Place – Benjamin Sarian, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Oren Yamagata, Waikoloa Beach Marriott
  • 2nd Place – Craig Shimizu, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • 3rd Place – Nathan Brovelli, Aston at The Whaler on Ka’anapali Beach

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Rexie Butihi, Maui Beach Hotel
  • 2nd Place – Tiki Uikirifi, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
  • 3rd Place – James Winston, Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites

Engineering/Maintenance Person of the Year Large Property (Over 450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – David Rickard, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – Trudenio Ramirez, Sheraton Waikiki
  • 3rd Place – Nelson Tomas, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Terence Yamasaki, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel
  • 2nd Place – Wayne Ohta, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Rodney Young, Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Xing Lin, Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club 2
  • nd Place – Ferdinand Lagundino, Lawai Beach Resort
  • 3rd Place – Ben Simao, Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu’u

Food & Beverage Person of the Year Large Property (Over 450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Roger Arrieta, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – Willie Aniban, The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas
  • 3rd Place – Thomas Rodrigues, Sheraton Waikiki

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Sharon Pacheco-Escobar, Waikoloa Beach Marriott
  • 2nd Place – Nancy Dearborn, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
  • 3rd Place – Debra Agdinaoay, Andaz Maui at Wailea

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Robert Bidigare, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Front Office Person of the Year Large Property (Over 450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Melani Akuna, The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
  • 2nd Place – Kelly Stutzman, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
  • 3rd Place – Byron “Keola” Makaiau, Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Rebecca “Becs” Kaneapua-Alexander, Aston at The Whaler on Ka’anapali Beach
  • 2nd Place – Denise “Dee Dee” Mikasa, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • 3rd Place – Craig Pohl, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Tracy Pinnow, Ewa Hotel Waikiki
  • 2nd Place – Janine Pagador, Lawai Beach Resort
  • 3rd Place – Darwin Van Antwerp, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden at Waikiki

Housekeeper of the Year:

  • 1st Place – Wilfredo Galicha, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
  • 2nd Place – Arnel Tuazon, Hale Koa Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Brittany Bilbrey, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Delia Bernal, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • 2nd Place – Ador Recaido, Aston Waikiki Sunset
  • 3rd Place – Leah Cacay, Waikiki Resort Hotel

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Remedios Castillo, The Pagoda Hotel
  • 2nd Place – Andrea Clemente, Aqua Oasis Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Jocelyn Bato, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Security Officer of the Year Large Property (Over 450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Marvin Rabara, The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas
  • 2nd Place – Steven Sotelo, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
  • 3rd Place – Jameson DeMello, Hale Koa Hotel

Medium Property (200-450 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Shawn Maxwell, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
  • 2nd Place – Avlyn Moniz, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Nathan Chun, ‘OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger

Small Property (Under 200 Rooms):

  • 1st Place – Mark Pasion, Lawai Beach Resort
  • 2nd Place – Shawn Uyeda, Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu‘u

Allied Member of the Year:

Alaska Airlines was named the Allied Member of the Year. The company was recognized as a valuable member of the HLTA for its support of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry and the community.

Leader in Sustainability Award:

The Kahala Hotel & Resort, for their exemplary sustainable practices which have been implemented in its daily operations for over 50 years.

Hospitality Educator of the Year:

Charlene Navarro, Kauai High School, for her active engagement in Kauai High School’s Academy of Hospitality & Tourism and enduring support of Hawai‘i’s future hospitality leaders.

Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Legacy Award:

The Brothers Cazimero, for playing an instrumental role in Hawaii’s visitor industry through the field of culture, arts, and entertainment.

Woman of the Year Award:

Teri Orton, Hawaii Convention Center/AEG Facilities, for her leadership within the hospitality industry, community and HLTA’s Women in Lodging & Tourism committee.

Chef/Restaurateur of the Year:

Colin Hazama, The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, for his significant contributions to Hawai‘i’s culinary industry and the community.

The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA) is a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, other lodging entities, suppliers, and related firms and individuals. HLTA is dedicated to supporting Hawai‘i’s visitor industry through education, political action, and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.

Legal Cannabis Businesses Must Be Allowed Access to Banks, Hawai‘i Urges

Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin and Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, joined by 17 other attorneys general, urged Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, to advance legislation allowing states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

AG Chin and AG Lindemuth co-chair the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General Marijuana Working Group, comprised of states that have legalized either medical cannabis dispensaries, like Hawai‘i, or recreational cannabis.

“Banks and other depository institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to cannabis businesses,” said Attorney General Chin, “This encourages a cash-only, grey market that hurts law enforcement and tax collections.”

The multi-state letter requests legislation that would provide a legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that regulates its marijuana industry. Attorney General Chin and the 18 attorneys general emphasized that the requested legislation would not only protect public safety by bringing grey-market financial activities into the banking sector and thus subject to law enforcement monitoring, but would also result in billions of dollars infused into the banking industry.

“Twenty-nine states [including Hawai‘i] and several US territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes,” the letter states.

The attorneys general also note a recent decision by the United States Department of Justice to rescind guidance on how financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with federal law. That rescission, the attorneys general argue, has made even more urgent the need for congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector.

The multi-state letter was sponsored by Hawai‘i, Alaska, District of Columbia and North Dakota. It was also signed by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Today in Hawai‘i, eight licensees have received permission to operate dispensaries for licensed medical cannabis patients.

Dear Congressional Leaders:

We are a bipartisan group of state attorneys general who recognize that the states and federal government share a strong interest in protecting public safety and bringing grey market activities into the regulated banking sector. To address these goals, we urge Congress to advance legislation that would allow states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

Twenty-nine states and several US territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia, also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes. This risk has significantly inhibited the willingness of financial institutions to provide services to these businesses.

Despite the contradictions between federal and state law, the marijuana industry continues to grow rapidly. Industry analysts report that sales grew by 30% to $6.7 billion in 2016 and expect those totals to exceed $20 billion by 2021. Yet those revenues often exist outside of the regulated banking space. Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis. The grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of large swaths of finances across the nation.

To address these challenges, we are requesting legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the marijuana industry such as the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1152 and H.R. 2215) or similar legislation. This would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions. Moreover, compliance with tax requirements would be simpler and easier to enforce with a better-defined tracking of funds. This would, in turn, result in higher tax revenue.

Prior Department of Justice guidance outlined how financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with their obligations under federal law and created some space for the banking industry to work with those businesses, though challenges remained in many areas. The recent rescission of that guidance has made the need for Congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector even more urgent.

Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states, with state input, while protecting the interests of the federal government. This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy. We look forward to working with you as you move forward in this process and lending our voice and expertise as you develop legislation.

Student Meals Feature Another Local Food Source

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) continues to try and use local agriculture in student meals through its ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program, which kicked off last year with locally grown beef. This month, HIDOE and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office have partnered up with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and various local farms across the state to serve fresh bananas at all public schools.

Fresh bananas will be served in a Banana Pie or a Banana Crumble (pictured above) at every public school cafeteria in January.
Photo Credit: Department of Education

“We’re highlighting locally grown bananas by serving either a fresh Banana Pie or Banana Crumble one day in January at every school cafeteria,” said administrator for School Food Services Branch Albert Scales. “By introducing a produce that is locally grown in Hawai‘i to our students each month, we hope to expand their palates and allow them to try new foods that they might not have been exposed to at home.”

Scales said serving the bananas in a dessert would make it more appealing for students. “Instead of serving raw bananas that students can peel and eat, we wanted to be creative,” he said. “Part of introducing new foods to children is making it fun for them. If the new food looks interesting, they’re more inclined to try it.”

While HIDOE is changing the way food is purchased, prepared and delivered, the ‘Aina Pono Harvest of the Month program is also a great opportunity for Hawaii’s agriculture community.

“This new program that was developed under the Farm to School Initiative continues to cultivate the partnership with our schools, farmers and ranchers,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “It also connects students with the farming community, allowing them to experience the taste and freshness of what Hawai‘i has to offer.”

Approximately 34,000 lbs. of bananas are being provided by several local farms, including Sugarland Growers Inc. and ‘Ohana Banana Farms, to name a few.

“We’re excited to be working with the Department of Education on incorporating more fresh, local produce for Hawaii’s public school students,” said owner of Sugarland Growers Larry Jefts.

Jefts said purchasing local foods from our food safety certified farms on each island also helps to support and strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy.

“Buying local creates important economic opportunities and supports our community’s growth and sustainability,” said Jefts. “The money that is spent on locally grown foods is reinvested with other local businesses and services across the state. There are numerous benefits as a result of this coming full circle.”

The Farm to School Initiative started in 2015, and was led by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui. The program was created to increase locally grown food in student meals through a partnership with Lt. Gov. Tsutsui, HIDOE, the Department of Agriculture and The Kohala Center. Today, the Farm to School Initiative is included under ‘Aina Pono, which also incorporates school gardens, nutrition, health and food education, test kitchens, meal programs and menu planning at Hawai‘i’s public schools.

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former State Rep. Kawakami

Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, as a mark of respect for the late former Hawai‘i State Rep. Bertha Kawakami, on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.

“Rep. Kawakami positively influenced the lives of many of Hawai‘i’s youth while serving at the Hawai‘i State Department of Education for more than 30 years,” said Gov. David Ige. “I first knew her as an educator on O‘ahu. Throughout her lifetime, she was committed to working for Hawai‘i, and making our state a better place to live. To Bertha’s family, may you find peace in knowing that her memory will live on in the hearts of those whose lives she touched.”

Flags will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, Jan. 13, the day of Kawakami’s memorial service.

Hawai‘i Tourism Industry Sets Records in 2017

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority reported that the full-year visitor statistics for 2017 and the economic impact statewide will be released at the end of this month.

Yearly records will be set in three key categories:

  • Generated state tax revenue supports government programs all communities need.
  • Visitor spending grows the state’s economy.
  • Visitor arrivals spread tourism’s impact to all islands.

Pixabay image

In his president’s message, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority President and CEO George D. Szigeti said, most importantly, tourism’s success is supporting approximately 200,000 jobs statewide for residents who depend on Hawai‘i’s No. 1 industry for their livelihoods.

“The industry’s success is a collaborative team effort supported by tourism’s stakeholders, from elected officials and leaders in the private sector to the professionals on the front line interacting with visitors daily,” Szigeti said. “All stakeholders are committed to seeing tourism prosper for the good of residents, families, businesses and communities statewide.”

“In November, air seat capacity increased by 5% compared to a year ago, the highest monthly rate of growth in 2017,” said Szigeti. “We expect air seat capacity in December to show an increase of about 6% when the month’s visitor statistics are released. Expected air seat capacity in December 2017 will show an increase of about 6% when the month’s visitor statistics are released. This upward trend is continuing into 2018 in response to travel demand. In the first quarter, based on scheduled flights serving Hawai‘i, air seat capacity is projected to grow by 10.9%.”

“Travel demand for Hawai‘i drives air seat capacity, which produces more bookings for hotels, activities and attractions, and increases spending at restaurants, retail outlets and stores,” Szigeti stated.All of this combines to strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy and ultimately support jobs for residents.” 

“Air seat capacity is, arguably, the strongest statistical indicator of potential success for Hawai‘i tourism,” said Szigeti. “That being the case, Hawai‘i is well-positioned entering 2018. Tourism is a fragile industry and continued growth can be interrupted at any time by an economic downturn, international crisis or natural disaster. Moreover, destinations worldwide are relentless in trying to draw travelers away from Hawai‘i. As travel demand stays strong for Hawa‘i so does air seat capacity and our state’s economy.”

Affordable Senior Citizen Apartment Applications Available

Applications are now being accepted for the new affordable apartments at Kamakana that are located off of Ane Keohokalole Highway in Kailua-Kona.

Kamakana courtesy photo

Last month, the County of Hawai‘i, Office of Housing and Community Development, began accepting on-line applications for the Project Based Voucher Program – Lei Kupuna.

The rental housing project is located in Kailua-Kona and has one- and two-bedroom units. To be eligible for assistance, applicants must be 62 years of age or older and total household income for all household members must not exceed 30% of the published average median income:

  • 1 person – $15,600
  • 2 persons – $18,760
  • 3 persons – $23,480
  • 4 persons – $28,290
  • 5 persons – $33,100
  • 6 persons – $37,910

The OHCD is working with the property manager in filling the remaining project based 2-bedroom 1-bath units.

All applicants must be a U.S. citizens, nationals or have eligible immigration status. In addition, all applicants must disclose the complete and accurate social security number (SSN) assigned to each household member.

Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received online.

For information about the project, visit the Kamakana website.

67 Hawai‘i Borrowers Affected in $45M Mortgage Company Settlement

Department of Justice file image.

Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin, 48 other state attorneys general, the District of Columbia and over 45 state mortgage regulators have reached a $45 million settlement with New Jersey-based mortgage lender and servicer PHH Mortgage Corporation.

The settlement resolves allegations that PHH, the nation’s ninth largest non-bank residential mortgage servicer, improperly serviced mortgage loans from Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, through Thursday, Dec. 31, 2012. The agreement requires PHH to adhere to comprehensive mortgage servicing standards, conduct audits, and provide audit results to a committee of states. The settlement does not release PHH from liability for conduct that occurred beginning in 2013.

“This settlement holds PHH accountable for the harms that 67 Hawai‘i borrowers suffered from improper loan servicing,” Attorney General Chin said. “The agreement places new servicing standards upon PHH and provides financial relief to aggrieved homeowners.”

Borrowers who were subjected to PHH foreclosures during the eligible period will qualify for a minimum $840 payment, and borrowers who faced foreclosures that PHH initiated during the eligible period, but did not lose their home, will receive a minimum $285 payment. Approximately 67 Hawai‘i borrowers are eligible. A settlement administrator will contact eligible payment recipients at a later date.

The settlement:

  • Provides $31 million in cash payments for up to 52,000 borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure (Hawai‘i had 19 borrowers) from Thursday, Jan, 1, 2009 to Thursday, Dec. 31, 2012, or were in the foreclosure process (Hawai‘i had 48 borrowers) during that period
  • Mandates that PHH submit an administrative penalty of $8.8 million to state regulators
  • Establishes a set of servicing standards the company must follow going forward

“This settlement demonstrates a core responsibility of state regulators to protect consumers from bad actors and bad business practices,” said Financial Institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda. “With this settlement, we are making it clear that we will not tolerate mortgage servicers that harm consumers in anyway. As part of this settlement, States are requiring corrective actions so that PHH’s future mortgage servicing activity ensures timely and accurate processing of loan payments.”

Partners In Development Foundation Receives FLEX Grant Award From Hawai‘i Community Foundation

Partners In Development Foundation (PIDF) has received a grant award for unrestricted support from the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) in the amount of $49,000.

This was made possible through their FLEX Grants program, which is made up of a partnership of many funds to support operating of high performing nonprofits. This particular award was comprised of the following funds:

  • Annie Sinclair Knudsen Memorial Fund – Restricted to support programs/projects benefiting Kauaʻi.
  • Marisla Fund – Funds restricted to support programs/projects benefiting Kauaʻi.
  • Reverend Takie Okumura Family Fund – To support programs that support healthy development of Hawaiʻi’s young children (birth to 5 years old) and youth (ages 6-20 years old).
  • Richard Smart Fund – Funds restricted to support programs/projects benefiting Waimea.
  • Tai Up Yang Fund
  • Henry A. Zuberano Early Education Fund

Funds received will benefit PIDF’s Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool, Hui Hoʻomalu Foster Care program, Ke Kama Pono Safehouse for adjudicated youth, Nā Pono No Nā ʻOhana Family education program on the islands of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i and Oʻahu, as well as PIDF operations statewide.

Video: Sammy Hagar Opens New Restaurant at Honolulu Airport

Today, rock star Sammy Hagar and Hawaii Governor David Ige, opened the new Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill and the Makai Plantation Restaurant at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport between gates 27 & 28.


Video courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Hawaiian Telcom Expands Fiber Broadband to 5,000 Rural Locations

Today Hawaiian Telcom announced it has expanded fiber broadband to 5,000 locations in rural areas in Hawai‘i. Partially supported by the federal Connect America Fund (CAF), this expansion includes the first CAF deployment on Moloka‘i.

Click to view docket

About 70 percent of the deployments used Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology, enabling access to ultra-fast 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits per second or Mbps) High-Speed Internet service, which Hawaiian Telcom was the first in Hawai‘i to launch in June 2015. Since then Hawaiian Telcom expanded 1 gig availability by more than 50 percent to more than 140,000 residences and businesses on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui and the Big Island. In 2016 Puʻu Lani Ranch and Puʻuanahulu on Hawai‘i Island were the first CAF-eligible areas enabled for broadband with FTTP technology.

“As Hawaiʻi’s Technology Leader, Hawaiian Telcom is committed to expanding broadband access so more of our residents can experience its extensive benefits,” said Scott Barber, President and CEO. “We’re proud to be the only local provider actively expanding broadband within high-cost rural areas and of our ability to deploy speeds more than 100 times higher than the federal requirement.”

Broadband is now available in parts of these communities: Eden Roc, Fern Acres, Fern Forest, Glenwood, Hawaiian Acres, Hakalau, Kaiwiki, Kalapana, Kalōpā Mauka, Kapoho, Kurtistown, Leilani Estates, Miloli‘i, Nanawale Estates, Nīnole, Ocean View Estates, Orchidland, Ouli, Pa‘auilo Mauka and Waiki‘i Ranch on Hawai‘i Island, Huelo on Maui, and Kaluako‘i on Moloka‘i. For more information, visit hawaiiantel.com/Internet or call (808) 643-3456.

In 2015, Hawaiian Telcom was awarded approximately $26 million in CAF Phase II support to deploy a minimum of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to more than 11,000 unserved locations by 2020. The Federal Communications Commission selects CAF-eligible areas.

 

Community Forum on Crime & Drug Abuse in Puna

Concerned about all the crimes being reported on Facebook sites like Big Island Thieves, Big Island Po Po Alert and East Hawaii Watch these days???

A community forum hosted by Rep. Joy San Buenaventura on crime and drug abuse, will be held at the Pahoa Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Guest speakers scheduled to appear are:

  • Mitch Roth, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Brandee Menino, HOPE Services
  • Officer Davy Kamalii and Officer Jeremy Kubojiri, Hawaii County Police Department, Puna District Patrol Division
  • Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons
  • (Tentatively Scheduled) – B.I.S.A.C. (Big Island Substance Abuse Council)
  • Neighborhood Watch

Common Cause Hawaii Welcomes New Board Member

Common Cause Hawai‘i announces the appointment of David Miyashiro to their board of directors, effective immediately.

David Miyashiro

Miyashiro is the founding executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN, a local education advocacy non-profit organization that works with communities and people of all sectors to promote educational equity in Hawaii. A former Hawai‘i public school special education teacher, previously Miyashiro has also worked with Teach for America, the U.S. Senate and various political campaigns. Miyashiro also serves as an elected member of the Kailua Neighborhood Board.

“We are very honored and proud to welcome David to our board. His leadership skills, energy, and commitment to civic engagement is a welcome addition to our team. His interest and experience in policy and advocacy is a great fit with Common Cause’s mission, and I look forward to exploring new ways to engage more youth with David,” said Corie Tanida, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawai‘i.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on FCC to Uphold Net Neutrality Protections

With three days before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes a final decision on net neutrality, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) urged the commission to reject corporate-led efforts to unravel open, fair, and equal Internet access and to listen to the voices of the majority of Americans that support current protections on net neutrality.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“In three days, the Internet as we know it could change forever. On December 14th, the FCC will be taking a vote on whether or not to get rid of net neutrality protections that keep the Internet open, fair, and equal for everyone.

“Repealing these protections will allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to control the levers of the Internet—stifling access, deciding the websites you and I can visit and use, and making it impossible for small businesses to compete against industry giants. It will hurt our students, entrepreneurs, working families, and all who rely on the Internet for things like education, healthcare, and employment as a level playing field of opportunity.

“The FCC must protect the people it’s supposed to be serving—not big, corporate interests—and make sure the Internet remains a place where everyone has a seat at the table.”

Waianuenue Ave. Restriping – Traffic Markings Changing

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works Traffic Division will be restriping Waiānuenue Ave. from Kamehameha Ave. to Ka‘iulani St. Work is scheduled between the hours of 8:30 AM and 3:00 PM from Wednesday, December 13, 2017, and is expected to be completed by Friday, December 22, 2017, weather and construction conditions permitting. No roadwork will occur on the weekend.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and to drive with caution as heavy vehicles will be in the work zone. Alternating lane closures will be in effect and at a minimum, one lane of travel (for two way traffic) will be provided at all times through the construction area. Special off-duty police officers will be posted in the area to facilitate traffic movement.

There will also be some changes to the previous traffic markings/patterns between Kekaulike St. and Ka‘iulani St. The approach to Kino‘ole St. going in the mauka direction, will have a left turn only lane and a thru only lane as opposed to the current left/thru lane and a thru lane. Also from Kino’ole St. to Kapi’olani St., a two-way left turn lane will be installed and replace the current striped islands. All parking (8 stalls) will be removed from the roadway on the Hamakua Side of Waiānuenue Ave. between Kapi‘olani St. and Ka‘iulani St.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

Six Hawai‘i Students Receive Culinary Scholarships

The American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association awarded six $2,000 scholarships Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the Christmas with the Chefs gala on the grounds of Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Hawai‘i Island.

Pictured with their American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association scholarship envelopes are (L–R): Thomas Elarco, Daine Lagpacan, Taylor Neufeld, Jenna Shiroma, Brittney Badua and Lily Fraiser. Courtesy photo.

Recipients are all local culinary students attending Hawai‘i Community College–Palamanui who volunteered at the event. In addition, HCC–West Hawai‘i graduates were involved in four of the 18 culinary stations:

  • Ashley Danao at Daylight Mind Coffee Company and Café
  • Darcy Ambrosio of A-Bays Island Grill
  • Kevin Castillo of Lava Bowls
  • George Gomes of the Sheraton Kona.
  • In addition, grad Patti Kimball, of Kimball Catering, served as culinary station organizer.

In its 29th year, the annual fundraiser benefits culinary students attending HCC–Palamanui and members of the Kona Kohala Chefs Association wanting to further their education.

Event proceeds and sponsors funded the scholarships. These scholarships aid students completing their two-year AAS culinary degree while preparing them for gainful employment in the workforce.

Mark your calendar for next year’s 30th anniversary benefit on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

About American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association

ACF is the largest, professional, nonprofit organization for chefs and cooks in the nation. Founded in 1980, the Kona Kohala chapter is comprised of food service professionals, vendors, growers and culinary enthusiasts. Members are local industry leaders committed to culinary enrichment through professional development and education in our community.

Consumers Holding Island Air Tickets Should Seek Refunds Immediately

Hawaiʻi consumers who purchased unused Island Air travel tickets by credit or debit card are urged to contact their credit or debit card providers to seek refunds, according to Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Stephen Levins.

Island Air has discontinued operations, and the contracted travel services paid for will not be delivered. Consumers seeking refunds should act as soon as possible, and seek other arrangements for their travel plans.

Hawaiʻi Island Air, Inc., dba Island Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, but less than one month later, ceased operations on Saturday, Nov. 11th, 2017.

With bankruptcy court approval received on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, the company has since converted its case to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A trustee has been appointed to oversee the liquidation of the company’s unencumbered assets to generate cash to pay creditors. The liquidation process will be lengthy and what will be available for creditors is unclear. In circumstances such as this the consumers’ best option is to obtain refunds from their card providers.

“In most instances paying by credit card makes is easier for consumers to obtain a refund for services or goods that are not provided,” said Executive Director Levins. “In view of this, anyone who purchased an unused ticket by credit card needs to contact their credit card company as soon as possible to request a chargeback.”

There are time limits that consumers need to pay attention to when applying for a refund. Although some credit card companies may establish more generous policies federal law establishes a 60-day deadline from the time a credit card statement with the improper charge is first posted. For more information on how to request a refund or a chargeback, consumers should call their credit card company or review their statement.

More information on disputing credit card charges is available on the Federal Trade Commission website.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Recertifies Six Big Island Tour Operators

The Hawaii Ecotourism Association has certified more than 45 Hawai‘i tour operators—including six on Hawai‘i Island—and also awarded the 2017 Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year to Trilogy Excursions on Maui on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.

The HEA developed Hawai‘i’s only ecotourism certification program to help educate tour operators on the importance of using natural cultural resources, promote sustainable practices and raise awareness among visitors, residents and businesses in Hawai‘i.

“We’ve built sustainability into our tours; giving back to the community and preserving our environment have been an important part of our company and how we operate for over 45 years,” said LiAnne Driessen, director of marketing, sales and media relations at Trilogy Excursions.

In addition to awarding Trilogy Excursions on Maui as the 2017 Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year (see below), HEA also recognized newly certified and recertified operators.

Newly Certified Sustainable Tour Operators

Holokino Hawaii Tours (O‘ahu)

Recertified Sustainable Tour Operators

HAWAI‘I ISLAND
Fair Wind Cruises
Hawaii Forest & Trail
Kohala Zipline
KapohoKine Adventures
Hawaiian Legacy Tours
Atlantis Adventures

OTHER ISLANDS
Atlantis Adventures (Maui, O‘ahu)
Holokai Snorkel and Kayak Adventure (O‘ahu)
Maui Kayak Adventures (Maui)
Hawaiian Paddle Sports (Maui)
Pacific Whale Foundation (Maui)
Kualoa Ranch (O‘ahu)
Pacific Islands Institute (O‘ahu)
Kailua Beach Adventures (O‘ahu)

Pending Final Evaluation – Certified Sustainable Tour Operators
Hoku Hawaii Tours (O‘ahu)
Coral Crater Adventure Park (O‘ahu)

Trilogy Excursions, which runs sailing, snorkel and whale watching tours on Maui, received the award for its ongoing efforts in supporting the principles of sustainable tourism and promoting practices and programs that enhance the local community and environment.

Some of these practices include:

  • Becoming the first company to retrofit its vessels to pump out waste at onshore facilities [instead of in the open ocean]
  • Launching the successful Blue ‘Aina Reef Cleanup Campaign. Since its inception in 2010, the Blue ‘Aina program has conducted 123 reef cleanups along Maui’s coastline, educated the public, and supported numerous ocean-based nonprofits
  • Converting Trilogy V to run completely on biodiesel
  • Undertaking extensive staff trainings and ongoing staff development to ensure high-quality and accurate tours
  • Supporting environmental initiatives that include the elimination of single-use plastics on all vessels, outfitting all vessels with reef friendly sunscreen, and supporting the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a day-use mooring system on Maui.

“We congratulate and applaud Trilogy Excursions on their commitment to providing sustainable tours to better serve our tourism industry,” said Aaron J. Lowe, president of HEA.

 

To be considered for the Sustainable Tour Operator certification, companies are assessed based on the following requirements:

Step 1: Self-Evaluation: Applications must complete and submit a self-assessment checklist, which evaluates their operating principles. Submissions include an administration fee of $200 and supporting document for review.
Step 2: Third Party Evaluation: An HEA evaluator contacts the applicant to review the checklist and schedule an in-person evaluation. The evaluator participates in a tour to verify components of the self-assessment checklist, and rates the applicant on various operating principles.
Step 3: Reporting & Certification: The HEA evaluator submit their findings and all supporting documents to HEA for final approval. If certified, HEA award certification status, and tour operators are recognized at the HEA Annual Luncheon.

About Hawaii Ecotourism Association
Since 1994, HEA has been committed to helping better Hawaii’s travel industry through promoting responsible ecotourism travel and educational tours to conserving the natural and cultural resources in Hawaii. HEA is composed of tour and lodging operators, travel writers, and community organizations. For more information, visit www.hawaiiecotourism.org.

Privateer’s Cove: Adventures in Dining

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Vick Traxler, owner of Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

For diners looking for an experience as unique as their food, Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona offers just that and more. Tucked away in the old industrial complex, Privateer’s Cove serves interesting dishes and features exotic meats from around the world.

Even more interesting than the menu, is the founder of Privateer’s Cove, Nick Traxler.

“I wanted a place unlike any other—a living room for my friends,” said Traxler.

The restaurant is indeed unlike any other and Traxler invites guests to dine in his establishment with the understanding they abide by his well-documented rules…

Displayed in extra large print, the rules of Privateer’s Cove are clearly defined for diners so there are no misunderstandings.

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The first posted rule is No Pretension. In other words, customers must be nice and act like adults.

The second rule is no talking on cell phones—no exceptions or excuses accepted.

The third rule is all red meat is cooked medium rare or rare. If a guest prefers their steak cooked more well done, the staff will happily recommend other establishments that will, according to Traxler, “overcook your meat and charge you more.”

The last rule is guests may not speak against men and women in uniform.

Traxler makes his rounds from table to table chatting with customers and sharing stories of his days performing at Renaissance fairs and being a police officer in Arizona. He’s proud to run his business as he sees fit and feels those who don’t care for his style can eat somewhere else. Outspoken and uniquely brazen, he has as much character as his menu.

Speaking of the menu, kangaroo potstickers are a favorite appetizer. Kangaroo meat is shipped in every Wednesday from Sydney, Australia. Traxler donates a portion of the sales from the pot stickers to help benefit the Kealakehe High School Wrestling Team. If kangaroo isn’t your thing, the Truffle Mac & Cheese is a delicious and rich comfort food appetizer.

The American Legion Special is an Alligator and Chicken Étouffée. Part of the proceeds for this entree help support the American Legion Post #20 in Kailua-Kona.

If beef is more your thing, the Port of Helena Filet Mignon is served rare to medium rare with a mushroom red wine and poached egg over mashed potatoes.

For seafood lovers, try the Port of Charleston Shrimps and Hominy, an eclectic take on the classic creamy cornmeal topped with shrimp on homemade garlic sauce.

On Wednesdays, the lunch special is camel burger, which is nicely seasoned and served on a fresh bun.

Privateer’s Cove is a bring-your-own-adult-beverage establishment, so guests are offered the opportunity to pair their exotic meats with their beverage of choice.

If there’s any room left after all the exotic critters, indulge in the creme brûlée or mud pie.

Overall, Traxler’s goal is to make new friends. As it states on his menu, “With almost 7.4 billon people in this world, we should all endeavor to make new friends.”

Privateer’s Cove is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; closed Sundays.

Call (808) 882-1200.

The restaurant is located at 74-5565 Luhia St in Kailua-Kona.

For more information or to view the menu, visit privateerscove.wixsite.com.

 

Alligator and Chicken Etouffee at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

Filet Mignon at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

A very hungry customer at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

Kangaroo Wontons at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

Rack of Lamb at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

Shrimp and Hominy at Privateer’s Cove in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

President Trump to Land in Hawaii Tomorrow Morning

President Trump is scheduled to land in Honolulu tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at the Hickam Airforce Base.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) for the island of O‘ahu for Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.


The President is expected to stay on the military base and no roads or traffic will be stopped during his time on O’ahu.

The following operations are not authorized within this TFR: flight training, practice instrument approaches, aerobatic flight, glider operations, parachute operations, ultralight, hang gliding, balloon operations, agriculture/crop dusting, animal population control flight operations, banner towing operations, sightseeing operations, maintenance test flights, model aircraft operations, model rocketry, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and utility and pipeline survey operations.

Winners Named in 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition

Judges at the 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition assessed entries according to a new scoring system this year. The competition was held at Daylight Mind Coffee Company. Courtesy photo.

Three winners claimed victory in the 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. Pele Plantations won the Commercial Division; Castaway Bay Kona Coffee took the Artisanal Division’s Heritage Profile and Onila Farms captured the win in the Artisanal Division’s Modern Profile.

The winners were selected from 76 entries using a new scoring system that departed from national standards and emphasized regional characteristics specific to Kona coffee. Judges used a 10-point intensity scale to parse the subtle differences between brews in two new flavor profiles: Heritage Profile, a classic Kona Coffee profile; and Modern Profile, one that would be celebrated by modern, specialty coffee consumers. Judges rated entries according to acidity, body, coffeeness, sweetness, floral, complexity and defects.

“There’s a wide range of profiles that we are tasting this year,” said Kona Coffee Cupping Judge Andrew Hetzel. “We have more traditional coffees and we have a lot of dried, natural processed coffee that we are tasting as well, which is something that didn’t exist here in Kona five or six years ago.”

The two-day competition was held at Daylight Mind Coffee Company in Kona as part of the 47th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. It was overseen by an internationally recognized panel of cupping judges that included:

  • Ian Fretheim, Café Imports, Director of Sensory Analysis
  • Madeleine Longoria-Garcia, Four Seasons Hualalai, Head Barista, Pacific Coffee Research Q Grader
  • Miguel Meza, Paradise Coffee Roasters, Director of Coffee Quality
  • Andrew Hetzel, Coffee Strategies, Coffee Policy and Market Consultant
  • Hideki Mike, Ueshima Coffee (UCC Hawai‘i) Corp., Store and Sales Manager
  • Kelleigh Stewart, Big Island Coffee Roasters and Paradise Roasters, Head Roaster and Q Grader

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s competition,” said Valerie Corcoran, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival President. “Every year, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival looks forward to this important event that really helps Kona carry forward the legacy and culture behind our cup of famous brew. Our coffee harvest is as unique as the many hands that grow it, and we are so proud to lead the harvest celebration.”