Third Annual “Magic Of The Season” Begins Tonight

The County of Hawai’i is proud to present the third annual Magic Of The Season holiday open house at the Hawai’i County Building in Hilo, December 9 to 20, 2013. Unless otherwise noted in the schedule, festivities will run 5:30 to 8:00 nightly with free entertainment, activities, and refreshments hosted by your County departments.
Magic of the Season
County volunteers have decorated dozens of trees and lit up the Hawai’i County Building. Members of the public may view the exciting decorations daily starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cyril Pahinui, Mark Yamanaka, Darlene Ahuna and Henry Kapono will be among the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning performers. Taiko drummers, hula dancers and student musicians also will take turns entertaining audiences. School groups, civic organizations and individuals are invited to experience the holiday offerings by touring the office building located at 25 Aupuni St.

For more details, please contact the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi at 961-8211.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Local Girl and True Blood Star Kristina Anapau made an appearance in 2011.

Sales Begin at Kamakoa Nui Workforce Housing in Waikoloa: Timeline of Events

The County of Hawai‘i today announced that it will soon begin sales of homes in the Kamakoa Nui workforce housing community in Waikoloa.

The County of Hawai‘i today announced that it will soon begin sales of homes in the Kamakoa Nui workforce housing community in Waikoloa.

In a related announcement, the County will extend Paniolo Avenue from Waikoloa Elementary School to the community and the new Kamakoa Nui Park. The extension will provide a primary route to the park, which will provide ballfields and a skate park to all residents of Waikoloa.

The Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) will begin offering new fee-simple homes to qualified buyers at price points between $235,000 and $350,000. There are no additional costs to ownership such as homeowner’s association dues or community facilities charges. OHCD plans to ask for bids on the first three phases of the project — about 20 homes — by December 2012.

“We’ve had challenges along the way, including a lawsuit that we had to deal with,” said Steve Arnett, Administrator of the County’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “We are so excited about the possibility of now making this an addition to the Waikoloa Village community.”

Ongoing litigation between the County of Hawaii and Unidev LLC, the original developer of Kamakoa Nui, had clouded the title to the property. Although the lawsuits are ongoing, the County of Hawai‘i was informed Monday that title to the property was cleared. This development gave the County the green light to offer homes in Kamakoa Nui for sale.

Those who participated in a 2007 lottery to determine placing on the offering list are being contacted and will have first choice at purchasing a home in Kamakoa Nui. Depending on demand, remaining homes will be offered through another lottery. Those who are able to purchase should be able to move into their homes by next summer.

“It’s exciting! I’m a teacher here at Waikoloa, and it’s exciting to have the possibility of owning a home here in the Village where I teach,” said Larry Denis, a Waikoloa Elementary School teacher who was at today’s announcement and walk-through. “I’m excited to look at the options.”

Homes at Kamakoa Nui are being offered to resident families with household incomes of no more than 140 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that comes out to $97,440. Additionally, Habitat For Humanity will purchase four lots at Kamakoa Nui. This will allow families with even lower average monthly incomes to be able to afford homes.

“Families will have an opportunity to build equity for their families, for their future,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “It becomes a wiser investment for all of us, and more importantly, it’s an investment in our children and their future.”

Looking toward the future Paniolo Ave. extension

Mayor Kenoi also on Thursday announced that the $3 million first phase of the extension of Paniolo Avenue is expected to be out to bid in December and could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2014. The extension of Paniolo Avenue, from the traffic light near Waikoloa Elementary School to Kamakoa Nui, will create the primary entrance to the community and the park, lessening the impact to those living on Iwikuamo‘o Drive.

“We’re building the road because the community needs it. Although the obligation to construct the road rests with others, we cannot wait for them to resolve who will build it,” said Mayor Kenoi. “So we will build it.”

Timeline of Kamakoa Nui:

  • 2005 – Kamakoa Vistas Workforce Housing project awarded to Unidev LLC of Bethesda, Md. Unidev contracts with the County of Hawai’i’s Office of Housing & Community Development to build 1,200 affordable units, which will be offered leasehold between $350,000 and $475,000, not including monthly $100 association dues and $450 in Community Facilities District fees.
  • 2006 – Unidev secures $6 million in temporary financing from the National Electricians Benefit Fund (NEBF). Unidev partners with Citicorp to finance the entire project.
  • 2007 – County pays off NEBF loan.
  • 2007 – County breaks ground for the project on Dec. 29.
  • 2008 – Citicorp drops out of project during the financial crisis.
  • 2008 – County Council approves $40 million bond float for Kamakoa.
  • 2008 – Waikoloa Workforce Housing LLC established by the county.
  • 2008 – Isemoto Contracting Co. is the low bidder on backbone infrastructure at just under $28 million.
  • 2008 – Unidev does not respond to county, WWH or vendors.
  • 2009 – Under a new administration, County stops payments and sues Unidev citing false and fraudulent claims. County closes WWH.
  • 2010 – OHCD revises business model under the newly branded name of Kamakoa Nui. Price points are now $235,000 to $350,000 for new, fee-simple new homes with no additional fees.
  • 2011 – Site work completed by Isemoto.
  • 2011 – Coastal Construction Co. submits low bid for model homes, which are completed on time and on budget.
  • 2012 – The model homes are furnished by Trans Pacific Interior Design. Aldridge and Associates hired as real estate broker.
  • 2012 – County clears title and announces that sales of homes at Kamakoa Nui are about to begin. County also announces it will extend Paniolo Avenue from the Waikoloa Elementary School to the new Kamakoa Nui Park.

Ground Broken Today for Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter

An estimated 150 people (including a few dozen Ka‘ū High students) participated in the ground blessing for the Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter this morning on the school campus.

The 43,000 square foot gymnasium and multi-purpose facility will be situated upon approximately five acres of the Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary School campus. It is a State of Hawai‘i and County of Hawai‘i joint-funded effort managed by the County of Hawai‘i and is the result of collaborative planning design effort among the community, the Department of Education, Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary Administration and staff, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Public Works.


Artists rendition

Representative Herkes remarked, the seven-year effort was made possible due to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s willingness for County of Hawai‘i to take over the project.

“This project is a result of a community coming together and encouraging the government to make it happen,” commented Mayor Kenoi.  He added, “There is no higher priority than creating a pu‘uhonua, a safe haven for our children. Congratulations to this beautiful community.”

We had a beautiful groundbreaking this morning for the Kaʻū District Gym and Shelter with Governor Neil Abercrombie, members of our Legislature, and the Department of Education, as well as the County Council and the Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation. They all came together to bring this project closer to reality for the people of Kaʻū. I look forward to the blessing and opening about a year and a half from now! Mahalo for everyone’s hard work! (via Mayor Kenoi’s Facebook page)

The gymnasium provides for three NCAA regulation basketball courts (or, NCAA regulation volleyball courts) with retractable athletic curtains between each court to allow for simultaneous multisport use with minimal disruptions.

Accessory spaces include a certified kitchen with concession counters; ticket windows; meeting room; a community recreation room; interior and exterior public restrooms; two sets of locker/shower rooms; DOE Athletic Trainer’s office, conference room and training room; Parks and Recreation staff office; an American Red Cross emergency supplies room; and miscellaneous storage and support rooms.

Governor Abercrombie said to the audience, “This is going to be the symbol of the new Ka‘ū.”

Construction for the $17 million Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter is scheduled to begin in 30 days.

The gymnasium and multipurpose facility are both designed to meet the Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area classification for hurricane shelters; its performance objective is to remain operational during and after a 500 to 100-year hurricane event, or a Category 3 Hurricane with 155 mph peak gusts.  The two structures will be capable of serving 1,928 individuals as a shelter though it is anticipated that more could be accommodated when necessary.

When the vog condition in the area reaches a level of concern, the facilities will serve as a designated vog shelter featuring a specialized air filtration system that can accommodate 325 persons for extended periods.  More people may be accommodated if necessary for shorter duration stays.

Uncle Bobby Gomes, a well-respected member of the community was called upon by Sharon Beck, Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary School principal to bless the area.  With tears in his eyes, he said, “For the people of this community, we can be proud of ourselves because when we unite… look at what we accomplish.”


Free Queen Lili‘uokalani Festival Set for September 8th in Hilo

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation announces the Queen Lili‘uokalani Festival – He Hali‘a Aloha No Lili‘uokalani – will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Queen Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo.

Penny Vredenburg and Skylark Rossetti will serve as co-emcees for the free event that will feature an opening pule or prayer by Aunty Lucille Chung, ho‘okupu presentations and a special appearance by Claire Asam, executive director of the Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center.

Musical performers will include Kūkulu Kumuhana ‘O Puna, Queen Lili‘uokalani Trustees, Tai Shoji taiko drummers, Waiakea Ukulele Band, the Brown Ohana, Kahulanui Pacific Island swing band, Mark Yamanaka and Ulu‘au.

Recording artist Darlene Ahuna, a multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner and former Hawai‘i Female Vocalist of the Year, will coordinate a mass hula and a “floral rain,” which will involve thousands of flower petals being dropped from a helicopter.

There also will be an Urasenke tea ceremony, children’s water slide and games, crafters, and food booths.

Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center, the Hawai‘i Tropical Flowers Council, KAPA Radio, KWXX 94.7 FM Hilo and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters are partnering with the County of Hawai‘i in holding the festival.

Additional parking and free shuttle service will be available from the nearby Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

For safety reasons, Lihiwai Street will be closed at 2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7, and won’t be reopened until after the festival concludes on Saturday, Sept. 8.

For additional information, please contact the Culture and Education Office at 961-8706.

Mayor Kenoi Proclaims First Week of August as Orchid Week – Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show Coming Up

Mayor Billy Kenoi has issued a proclamation naming the first week of August as  “Orchid Week” in recognition of the value orchids have to the people, culture, and economy of the County of Hawai‘i.

Kenoi explains that Hawai’i Island is known as the Orchid Island, and that “the orchid industry… spreads Aloha throughout the world.”

In the proclamation, the mayor encourages people “to enjoy the 60th Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show and the beauty of the many varieties of orchids grown on Hawai‘i Island” over the weekend of August 3-5.

Nicknamed the “butterfly orchid,” this Psychopsis Mendenhall ‘Hildos’ is one of many blooms that may be seen during the Hilo Orchid Society’s 60th Annual Orchid Show and Sale. The show is themed “Islands of Orchids,” and runs August 3-5 at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium in Hilo. Photo Credit: Lawrence Kuekes

This is the largest orchid show in the state, and is sanctioned by the American Orchid Society.  The orchids will be judged by American Orchid Society accredited orchid judges.  Ribbon judging of the orchid plants will also be conducted by the Hilo Orchid Society members.

The show takes place at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium in Hilo.  Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, August 3; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 4; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 5.  Daily admission is a $5 donation, with keiki ages 12 and under admitted free.  For more information, call (808) 333-1852 or visit

The night before the show opens, the Hilo Orchid Society presents a benefit Preview Party to kick off the show.  Held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, the gala event features wine and beer tasting, tea and coffee sampling, delicious catered food spreads, musical entertainment, and orchid pre-sales.

Tickets for the Preview Party are $65 ($25 of which is tax deductible) and benefit both the Hilo Orchid Society scholarship fund and the non-profit Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center.  Get tickets in advance from The Most Irresistible Shop, Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, or by calling Julie Mitchell at (808) 935-7844 x 116.


Whereas, Hawai’i Island is known as the Orchid Island; and

Whereas, the appreciation of orchids is broadly based in Hawai’i; and

Whereas, education about the cultivation and culture of orchids continues to expand here on Hawai’i Island; and

Whereas, the production of orchids is an important part of our economy, both in local potted plant sales, cut flowers, and as a major export; and

Whereas, Hawai’i Island’s orchid exports account for more than 80% of all orchid plants and flowers shipped from the State of Hawai’i and

Whereas, the orchid industry creates jobs and income, and spreads Aloha throughout the world; and

Whereas, the Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show attracts visitors each year from across the State, the Mainland and overseas; and

Whereas, the 60th Annual Orchid Show, whose theme is “Islands of Orchids,” will be held August 3-5, 2012 at the Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BILLY KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawai’i, do hereby proclaim the first week of August, 2012, which includes the weekend of August 3-5, 2012 as


In the County of Hawai’i and encourage our people to enjoy the 60th Annual Hilo Orchid Society Show and the beauty of the many varieties of orchids grown on Hawai’i Island.

County of Hawaii to Roll Out New Electric Fleet Tomorrow

The County of Hawai‘i is ready to roll out its new electric vehicle fleet. Mayor Billy Kenoi will have the honor of plugging in one of the five 2012 Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric Vehicles at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24 at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. The vehicles will be blessed during this event.

2012 Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric

These plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a great fit for Hawai‘i County, where trips can be as long as 200 miles one way. For trips under 30 miles, the vehicles can run solely on battery power charged by the West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s photovoltaic array. A gasoline-powered generator with a nine-gallon tank will allow an additional range of 300-400 miles, depending on topography.

Based on their past usage of County vehicles, it is anticipated that the new vehicles will be issued to the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Planning, and the Office of Housing and Community Development. The other vehicles are scheduled to be assigned to the Mayor’s Office and available for official use by any department. These vehicles are black and feature electric-vehicle license plates. They will be marked with the required County seal.

While each vehicle costs $47,000, the County will offset that price with a $4,500 credit per car through the state’s EV-Ready rebate program. The cost of each vehicle also includes a bumper-to-bumper warranty for seven years.

Hawai‘i Island pays some of the highest fuel costs in the United States. In fiscal year 2011, the County’s transportation fuel bill was $7 million. These prices are likely to rise in the future, so making this transition to more efficient vehicles will help control these escalating costs.

Prior to purchase of the vehicles, the county received a grant from Better Place Inc. to have three charging stations installed at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. Each charging station can handle two electric vehicles at a time. The Chevy Volt typically takes 3.5 hours for full charge. Available charging stations will be open for public use during regular business hours.

The photovoltaic array at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center has the capability to provide energy to the building and charge up to 30 EVs or 60 PHEVs. It is anticipated that additional charging stations will be added to maximize the use of the 250 kW photovoltaic array.

An October 2011 report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Evaluation of West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s Transportation and Energy Use,” supports with economic analysis the integration of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles into the County fleet. The County has also worked with HELCO to coordinate vehicle deployment as well as charging station infrastructure.

County Installing Screen Fence at Wong Stadium to Curb Alcohol Outside the Stadium

County of Hawaii

As part of the County of Hawai’i Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG) initiative, screens will be installed in the inner fence of the Wong Stadium on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.  SPF-SIG is an alcohol-free campaign sponsored by the County of Hawai’i.

The 7 feet high black mesh screens will extend 500 feet around the perimeter of the field in an effort to deter residents from parking alongside the outer fence.  This is an effort to encourage sports fans to maintain alcohol-free environments.

While alcohol is not allowed in the stadium, there are some spectators who do consume alcohol along the outer fence line.  The installation of the black mesh will make it difficult for spectators to see from outside and we hope it will encourage the public to come into the stadium and support the student athletic programs.

The purpose of the County of Hawai’i SPF-SIG initiative is to reduce adolescent access to alcohol by changing community policies and practices and to raise awareness of prevention and it’s benefits.