New Big Island Online News Site Starts Up: BigIslandNow.Com

A new Big Island website started tonight called BigIslandNow.Com

I’m not sure exactly who is behind the site but I do know that former Hawaii Tribune Herald journalist Dave Smith is contributing to it.

When I asked about this new site a few weeks ago, I was told by “Denise” of Maui Now of a similar site the following:

Damon – is not Dave’s personal news blog. It is backed by a statewide multimedia company with outlets on Maui and Kauai. is one of the largest online news sites on that island and often has scoops picked up by Oahu TV stations…

I’ve always felt that the more websites and blogs on the Big Island provides more information to all of us in general.

I wish the best to this new website BigIslandNow and hope other folks will understand the importance of getting content and information online for all of us to benefit from in the long run.

I think we all realize the newspapers are dying!

Na Leo ‘O Hawaii Public Access Television President on Bad Legislation

Another bad legislative bill going before committee today has come to my attention. HB2654 talks about improving broadband infrastructure in Hawaii, which is good, but also moves cable regulation to DBEDT from DCCA which is BAD for oversight. DBEDT is a ‘resource center’ whereas DCCA is in charge of ‘protecting the community from unfair and deceptive business practices.’

Also nothing in HB2654 to continue funding Community Access Television, BAD.

There are aspects of the bill which are good, hey, who wouldn’t like better broadband internet access? But other portions need to be rewritten to better serve the public.

At this time I urge those of you on the committee hearing the bill today to vote ‘NO’ on HB2654 and for other representatives to oppose it should the bill move forward as written.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Baron Sekiya

President, Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i Public Access Television

Another Mile of Ane Keohokalole Highway to be Completed

The County of Hawai`i and contractor Nan Inc. have entered into a $3.24 million agreement that will complete an additional mile of Ane Keohokalole Highway.

The Keohokalole Family, descendants of Ane "Annie Keohokalole," mother of Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and Leleiohoku, following a tour of the Ane Keohokalole Highway site. Second from left is family friend John DeFries, president of Hokulia.

This will be a road parallel and about a mile mauka of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Palani Road to Hina-Lani Street in Kaloko. The entire two and a half miles of highway is scheduled to open at the same time in May.

“Public Works has done an incredible job at keeping this project on time and under budget,” said Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Because of this, we are in position to build another mile of road.”

Native Hawaiian descendants and government officials visit an ancient cave in the path of the Ane Keohokalole Highway. Lead archaeologist Rowland Reeve of Pacific Legacy, right, provides interpretation.

The additional mile of highway will consist of two lanes with a concrete surface and enough space to expand to four lanes. There will also be some resurfacing work at Hina-Lani Street as well as added left-turn pockets.

This expanded highway will open at the best possible time. The state’s Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway widening project between Honokohau Harbor and Kona International Airport will no doubt cause traffic delays, and a completed Ane Keohokalole Highway will give motorists an alternative route when traffic is heavy.

It is also good news for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, shopping and play. County Mass Transit has committed to establish a transit bus loop using Ane Keohokalole Highway and the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway.

Archaeologist Rowland Reeve discusses a test pit in the kauhale area of the Ane Keohokalole Highway. Both the county and the landowner, Queen Liliuokalani Trust, sought additional assurances that no human remains were in the area before construction on the highway began. In the photo above, a cairn was excavated and found to be a mound of stones created when farmers cleared the surrounding farmable lands.

Ground was broken on the first phase of the $29.9 million Ane Keohokalole Highway project on March 30, 2010, and was originally planned as a mile and a half of highway from Palani Road to the West Hawai`i Civic Center. The project represents not only the largest expenditure of federal stimulus money in Hawai’i, it also is one of the first major roads to be built by Hawai`i County in Kona since statehood.

The project, awarded to Nan Inc. of Honolulu, also involves two preservation efforts at each end of the road. An interpretive center and cultural preservation area valued at more than $3 million is being built by Queen Liliuokalani Trust at the Palani Road end of the project, while a $500,000 partnership between the county, Stanford Carr Developments and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve one of Hawai`i’s last remaining dryland forests is underway at the Hina-Lani Street intersection.

Ane Keohokalole Highway will also facilitate the state’s development of the state’s Kamakana Village affordable-housing project, commercial development by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust to support children’s programs, and the Department of Hawai`ian Home Lands’ expansion of Laiopua Village and its planned community center.

“We are not just building a road,” said Mayor Kenoi. “With affordable homes, shelters for the homeless, places to work and play, a way to get to college, commuter buses and bike paths we are facilitating the creation of a safe and vibrant community.”

High Winds in Pahoa Causing Havoc… Knocks Tree Across State Route 132

We have been having a pretty windy day here in Pahoa.

Councilman Fred Blas sign blown over

About a half hour ago I got the following Nixle report:

Route 130 (Pahoa to Kapoho Road) completely blocked by downed tree near 4mm between Lava Tree Park and “Four Corners” intersection.

Well I know that Highway 130 doesn’t even go close to this area and so I traversed down the Pahoa – Kapoho road to investigate things and sure enough… it was Route 132 and not Highway 130.

Emergency Crews on the scene

Traffic was getting turned around and I then received the following message:

Route 130 (Keaau to Pahoa Hwy) low hanging utility wire Makuu Farmers market. Road passable for automobiles, trucks waiting HELCO on scene

Which I guess explains the error in the first message.

A tree service clears the road and the remaining dangerous branches

As I was turning around… I got the following message:

Avoid Route 132 between Lava Tree Park and Kapoho, utilize Pohoiki Rd, multiple trees and power lines falling across roadway on Route 132.

It looked like it was just about cleaned up when I was leaving… but I would still avoid the area until this wind stops. These Albizia trees are just like toothpicks in this wind.

Almost through cleaning them up!

Coming Up… The Taste of Kalo

The Taste of Kalo will be held on Saturday, March, 10, 2012 from 9 am to 3:30 pm, at the Kohala Intergenerational Center in Kamehameha Park (behind the Hisaoka Gym) in North Kohala.

The Taste of Kalo will feature the “Kalo Challenge,, where local teams compete for the first place prize in an “Iron Chef ” style cook off using taro and other surprise ingredients.

Teams include:

  • The Mayor’s Team with Mayor Billy Kenoi and Chef Eric Rouelle
  •  The Governor’s Team with Dwight Takamine and Russell Kokubun
  • The Senators Team with Malama Solomon, Josh Green and Gilbert Kahale
  • The Representatives Team with Jerry Chang and Clift Tsuji
  • The Councilmembers Team with Fresh Onishi and David Shiigi
  • Partners in Development Foundation Team with Danny Goya and Alison Masutani
  • Bozo Boyz with Ted Matsuda and Kell Matsuda
  • Kahua Pa’a Mua Team with John Hirota and Bob Lindsey
  • ILWU Team with Eli Miura and Sunny Ware
  • Korean Natural Farming Team with Royanne Shiigi and Kim Chang
  • Filipino Radio Now Team with Eddie O And Rose Ombac.

Prizes will be given for Most Sustainable, Most Unusual, Most Savory, Most Creative, Most Aromatic, Best Presentation and the People’s Choice Award.

The public is also invited to show off their cooking skills by entering the Best Salad Dressing Contest. The entry deadline for the Best Salad Dressing Contest is February 29th— entry forms can be picked up at the Kohala Intergenerational Center, by calling 884-5838, or downloaded at

The opening ceremony will be at 9 am, followed by an address by Mayor Billy Kenoi and then the introduction of the Kalo Challenge teams.  The MC for the day will be Eddie O. from LAVA 105.3. Judging of the Kalo Challenge and Best Salad Dressing will take place at 11 am, with the public invited to eat at 12 pm.

Palili ‘O Kohala— a ten family taro growing cooperative in Kohala—will be providing the kalo for the day and will also be offering pork with beef laulau for sale in advance for 3 for $8.  It will be available for pick up on the day of the event between 2 and 4 pm.  People who want to order laulau in advance can call Bert Kanoa at 889-0431.   Please leave a message with your name, phone number and how many laulau you would like to order.

Ka Hana No‘eau will be providing free chili and rice bowls.  As a fundraiser for their youth mentoring program, value-added products such as jam and BBQ sauce will be for sale. The Ka Hana No‘eau students will display their projects, which include traditional Hawaiian saddle making, hand-made ukulele, culinary arts, natural farming, taro growing, graphic arts, biotechnology, machinery, AVID, early childhood care, and animal husbandry.

Every month, the Community Harvest Hawai‘i project welcomes the community to drop off their excess fruits, vegetables and herbs.  On Friday, March 9th between 3 and 7 pm, the fruits, vegetables and herbs donated by the community will be the “surprise ingredients” used by the Kalo Challenge teams.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Grammy and Hoku Hanohano Award winners Cyril Pahinui and John Cruz, who will be joined by special guest, Ernie Cruz, Sr.  Hālau Na Kipu‘upu‘u under the direction of Kumu Hula Micah Kamohoali‘i will perform Hula. The Taiko group Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala/Waimea will also perform.

The Taste of Kalo is a joint project of Partners in Development Foundation/Ka Hana No‘eau, Palili ‘O Kohala, Hawai‘i FFA Foundation, and Community Harvest Hawai‘i. Call Ka Hana No‘eau for more information at 884-5838 or visit:

Governor Abercrombie Secures Agreement with Republic of Korea for Smart Grid Development

Government officials and private sector leaders today joined Governor Neil Abercrombie and Choi Kyu-Chong, Director of the Electricity Market and Smart Grid Division at the Republic of Korea Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), at the Hawai’i State Capitol as the two leaders signed a letter of intent to pursue mutual interests in smart grid development in the Hawaiian Islands.

“We are delighted that the Republic of Korea is engaging with the State of Hawai’i on a mutually beneficial smart grid development projects,” said Governor Abercrombie. “Partnerships like this show the world just how serious Hawai’i is about our commitment to building a leading clean energy economy through clean energy demonstration and implementation.”

Both Korea and the United States, specifically Hawai’i, have been conducting a number of relevant smart grid demonstration projects. Korea and State of Hawai’i recognize that it would be mutually beneficial to collaborate on smart grid research, development and demonstration projects in conjunction with public/private partners from Korea, Hawai’i and elsewhere in the United States.

“The Republic of Korea and the State of Hawai’i both share the common goals of clean energy and energy independence,” said Director Choi Kyu-Chong. “The language that we share is that of green growth, independence and prosperity. Through the development of advanced energy technologies, including smart grid, we can sustain and prosper.”

MKE and its Korea Smart Grid Institute (KSGI) have been at the forefront of the Korea Smart Grid Roadmap, South Korea’s plan to develop and implement a nationwide smart grid by 2030. The MKE and KSGI are currently leading more than 170 South Korean companies in the development and deployment of the Jeju Island Test Bed, a planned 6,000 household smart grid community demonstration project in South Korea, with investments totaling more than $240 million between 2009 and 2013. KSGI is also currently implementing a joint Korea-State of Illinois project to install energy-saving equipment in at least four Chicago buildings with investments of more than $35 million by companies such as LG Electronics and KT Corporation (formerly known as Korea Telecom).

The goal of the partnership between Korea and Hawai’i is to develop a memorandum of understanding for a project in Hawai’i similar to those mentioned above. Such a partnership would help both partners achieve the mutual goals of smart grid development and deployment, which ultimately improves energy efficiency and promotes economic growth.

“The state currently has approximately 80 renewable energy projects in various stages of development in the queue,” added state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Richard Lim. “Building a smart grid system will help us manage the power that is generated by renewable resources, which means more projects can come to fruition. That translates into more jobs for our local economy.”

The next step outlined in the letter of intent is for both parties to collaborate on a more defined memorandum of understanding by October 31, 2012, which will describe the project partners, scope, location and resource contributions.

This project is in addition to another smart grid demonstration project that is currently taking place on Maui, which was brought forward through an agreement with Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) in November of 2011.

For more information, visit

Two Big Island Students Chosen for Prudential’s “Spirit of Community Awards”

America’s 102 most outstanding youth volunteers – two from each state and the District of Columbia – were named State Honorees today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for exemplary acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 17th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Each of the 102 State Honorees will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., May 5-8 for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2012 at that time.

In addition to the State Honorees, the program’s judges recognized 234 students nationwide as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion. More than 500 other applicants were awarded Certificates of Excellence for their volunteer work.

A large number of State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists this year – 20 percent – conducted volunteer activities to address needs overseas, especially in Africa, Latin America and Japan. Honorees traveled to volunteer in orphanages, build homes, and teach impoverished children. In their own communities, they collected food, medical supplies, clothing, books, school supplies, eyeglasses, teddy bears and soccer cleats to send overseas. And they raised money to finance school tuitions, refugee relief, AIDS medications, clean-water projects and other critical needs in desperate communities around the world.

There was a great deal of energy devoted to needs in the U.S., as well. Many honorees were recognized for assisting Americans who are sick or disabled, aiding the disadvantaged, tutoring or mentoring other young people and promoting health and safety. Others were cited for enhancing school or community resources, protecting the environment, taking care of animals and supporting U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Information on the volunteer activities of all of the honorees can be found at

“Through their selfless acts of service, these award recipients have greatly improved the lives of others,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories and their dedication inspire other young people to do the same.”

We are so pleased to celebrate these student volunteers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “It’s important to highlight them as powerful examples of how young people can make a difference.”

The two Big Island students selected are:

Candonino Agusen, 16, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, a junior at Kealakehe High School, helped raise more than $64,000 to buy temporary housing kits for people displaced by the earthquake in Japan last year. As president of the Interact service club at her high school, Candonino was no stranger to community service, having participated in several projects over the years, including sending care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan. However, when a massive earthquake hit Japan, triggering a powerful tsunami that wreaked havoc on the Hawaiian shoreline, she felt a new urgency to volunteer. “As bad as it was, I saw that our disaster was not nearly as devastating as the widespread damage and destruction in Japan,” Candonino said. “People were dying and desperately in need of life-saving shelter and equipment. They were suffering through cold, rain, and snow.”

Candonino recruited others to help her buy “Shelterboxes” that include a tent, equipment, and 30-day supplies for up to 10 people. They set up a table with collection jars in front of a local store and displayed boards showing a Shelterbox and its contents. In addition, Candonino campaigned vigorously for donations on Facebook. Within a few weeks, her team raised more than $64,000, enough to take care of 640 earthquake victims for a month. Candonino contributed another $2,000 by making a thousand paper origami cranes and sending them to Japan as a symbol of support. Candonino said, “I learned that overnight everything can change instantly, but disaster can bring people together for the good of all.”

Scott Fetz, 16, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, a sophomore at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela, is a passionate community advocate and volunteer whose service began when he opened and managed a school store that raised more than $12,000 to purchase school supplies. Since then, he has become an active member of numerous service groups, including SADD, American Red Cross, and the Service Learning Advisory Council, and has created a number of school service projects including a beautification project and a unity program.