Lawmakers Listen Meeting in Kona

Representative Nicole Lowen presents “Lawmakers Listen”.

  • WHAT:  A community meeting hosted by Representative Nicole Lowen and joined by House leadership to brief the community of the 2013 legislative session and hear feedback on issues that matter to constituents
  • WHEN:  Tuesday, August 6, 2013,  6:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.
  • WHERE:  Kealakehe High School Cafeteria, 74-5000 Puohulihuli Street, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740
  • WHO:  State Representative Nicole Lowen, Speaker Joseph Souki, Vice Speaker John Mizuno, Majority Leader Scott Saiki, Chair of Finance Sylvia Luke, Majority Floor Leader Karen Awana, and State Representatives Angus McKelvey and Chris Lee


Lawmakers Listen


Classes to Resume Monday w/ Increased Security at Big Island School Following Brawl: Cultural Lifestyles Root of Problem – Racism in Hawaii’s Schools

Classes at Kealaheke High School will resume on Monday, December 10, 2012 with increased security on campus and extended instructional hours. School faculty and staff met today to review the situations and actions that had occurred over this past week and addressed plans for next week’s return of students.

Kealakehe High School

Kealakehe High School

School officials yesterday cancelled on-campus activities and classes for students in light of increased disruptions caused by at least three student fights over the course of two days. To prevent the disorderly conduct from escalating, the school was temporarily on lockdown Wednesday afternoon and students were sent home 45 minutes early, Thursday, in increments.

The Hawaii Police Department (HPD) is assisting school officials with security measures and made eight student arrests yesterday. Those students were released from police custody but face disciplinary actions that for some may include suspension. An investigation into their disorderly conduct is ongoing.

School officials say the root of the arguments between involved students is a misunderstanding between local, Micronesian and Marshallese cultures and lifestyles.

“This misunderstanding of cultural assimilation by Marshallese and Micronesian families is not isolated to Kealakehe High School,” stated Complex Area Superintendent (CAS) Arthur Souza. “This is a community issue that we are addressing.”

CAS Souza noted that he has been in discussions with lawmakers and local agencies about the topic of cultural assimilation and the misunderstandings that exists in the Kona community.

The Department of Education has temporarily assigned four additional security personnel to Kealakehe H.S. campus.

“We want to thank the Hawaii Police Department and the Kealakehe High School faculty for their actions in ensuring a safe environment for students,” stated Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “What could have been explosive situation was contained, and community issues that have played a role in the recent disruptions are being addressed. We also thank the parents for their understanding.”

Monday’s class schedule at Kealakehe H.S. will be modified to accommodate Friday’s loss of instruction time. Aside from additional security, the school will also have counselors on hand to address harassment and bullying.


Eight Students Arrested Following Brawl at Kealakehe High School

Eight students were arrested at Kealakehe High School on Thursday (December 6).
Kealakehe High School
Kona patrol officers responded to a call at approximately 1:30 p.m. reporting an affray involving 20-30 students. When officers arrived, the crowd had already begun dispersing and the campus was on lockdown.

Seven male students and one female student were charged with disorderly conduct and released.

No one required medical attention.

All after-school activities were canceled Thursday afternoon. School will not be in session Friday for the safety of the students.

Final Kona Kohala County Council Candidate Forum on Monday

On Monday, October 8, there is a moderated candidate forum at Kealakehe High School cafeteria starting at 6 p.m. featuring two sets of candidates.
The candidates for County Council for District 6, Volcano through South Kona, are Maile David and incumbent Brenda Ford.  The candidates for County Council for District 9, Waikoloa through Kohala, are Sonny Shimaoka and Margaret Wille.  The candidates for District 7, Dru Kanuha, and District 8, Karen Eoff, are no longer in contention; both won in the Primary so they are not included in this forum.

The public is encouraged to attend even if they live in different districts from the candidates, as two of these candidates will represent the island, in addition to their own district,  on the Hawaii County Council.

Because there are only two candidates for each office, the candidates will have time to more fully discuss their ideas and positions.  They will have opportunities to comment on some of their opponents’ answers.  The moderator will be Sherry Bracken of LAVA 105.3 fm radio and Hawaii Public Radio.   Timers will be Marni Herkes of League of Women Voters and Hazel Beck of the Small Business Development Corporation.

There will be no food sales at this forum, so the audience members are encouraged to bring their own.

The County Council Candidate Forum will be carried live on LAVA 105.3 fm islandwide from 6 p.m. until 8  p.m.  KLEI TV 6 will film the forum and air it Tuesday evening, October 9, at 8 p.m.

The forum sponsors include Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Kohala Coast Resort Association, Hawaii Island Board of Realtors, West Hawaii Today,, Mahalo Broadcasting/LAVA 105.3 fm, and Rotary of Kona, as well as Kealakehe High School.   The League of Women Voters will have Absentee Ballot applications and the pros and cons of the State Constitutional Amendments and the County Charter Amendments.

The public may submit questions via email to or via fax to 769-5050.   And don’t forget to set your DVR to record the Hirono-Lingle debate on KHON Channel 2 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Hawaii’s Candonino Agusen of Kailua-Kona Named One of America’s Top Ten Youth Volunteers

Candonino Agusen, 17, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2012 yesterday in a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, winning a national Prudential Spirit of Community Award for his outstanding volunteer service. Selected from a field of more than 26,000 youth volunteers across the country, Candonino received a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for her school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.

New York Giants quarterback and 2012 Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning congratulates Candonino Agusen, 17, of Kailua-Kona (center) and Jackson Button, 13, of Waialua (right) on being named Hawaii’s top two youth volunteers for 2012 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Candonino and Jackson were honored at a ceremony on Sunday, May 6 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where they each received a $1,000 award.

Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was Jackson Button, 13, of Waialua. He and Candonino were named Hawaii’s top youth volunteers, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2012 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. The honorees also received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.

Candonino, 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 his 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, he 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 him 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, his 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.”

Jackson, an eighth-grader at Hawaii Technology Academy in Waipahu, co-founded a nonprofit organization with his sisters that has raised nearly $100,000 to support a wide variety of projects aiding children in Africa, Mexico and the United States. When Jackson’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, “my family and I learned what it was like to really need help,” he said. They were so grateful for all of the assistance they received, even from people they did not know, that Jackson and his sisters wanted to do something in return. They wrote, published, and sold a cookbook to raise money to fight breast cancer. “But we soon realized there are too many kids around the world who needed basic things like food, water and medicine,” said Jackson. “We decided to help the most needy, especially kids, going through hard times.”

To do that, Jackson and his siblings have sold baked goods and organic vegetables from their garden, set up lemonade stands, hosted garage sales and sought donations. The money raised so far has been used to provide scholarships to children who have lost a parent to cancer or other diseases, and to purchase hygiene supplies for a family shelter, a solar heater for a Mexican orphanage, school supplies and backpacks for underprivileged kids in Hawaii and a therapeutic riding horse for disabled children. Jackson and his sisters also purchased a van to take HIV/AIDS orphans in Uganda to medical appointments, and bought four acres of land in that country to grow food and build a new orphanage. “We want to help children all over the world have a better life,” said Jackson.

“Through their extraordinary acts of volunteerism, these students are powerful examples of the way one young person can make a big impact,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We are proud to honor them for their achievements, and hope their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.”

More than 26,000 young people participated in the 2012 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February, and flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.

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North Kona to Receive Funds for School Construction Projects

Part of the more than $7.48 million of funds released by Governor Neil Abercrombie to the state Department of Education (DOE) for various Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) will benefit schools in North Kona.

“The improvements along Mamalahoa Hwy in Holualoa will help to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and the whole community,” said Representative Denny Coffman (District 6 -North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau).  “The release of funding for special education is needed and appreciated.  I wanted to acknowledge and thank the governor for releasing this funding.”

Representative Cindy Evans (District 7 – North Kona, South Kohala) said that this release of CIP funds is “much needed because there is much growth in the area,” and stated that “we’re in discussion with the Department of Education to build a new Elementary School in North Kona.”

  • $1,000,000 – Special education renovations at various schools statewide – Special education portable classrooms at Pa’ia and Makakilo Elementary Schools, and trailer classrooms at Kihei Elementary School, Waipahu Intermediate School, and Kealakehe High School, as funding permits.
  • $280,000 – Holualoa Elementary School, Hawai’i Island – Design for a pedestrian buffer to ensure the safety of students and staff on campus.

NFL Players Coming to the Big Island for Youth Clinics – 2011 NFL Pro Bowl Youth Clinics

Media Release:

On Tuesday, January 25th 2011 NFL Football Players and NFL Cheerleaders will be holding Youth Clinics for Hawaii Island students at Kealakehe High School from 3:00–5:30 PM and Wednesday, January 26th 2011, at Keaau High School from 3:00–5:30 PM.  Players and cheerleaders will also be visiting local schools for assemblies before the clinics. The NFL Pro Bowl Youth Clinics, now in its ninth year, is focused on motivating our youth to realize their dreams and to maximize their potential.

In the past years, players and cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks have come to the Big Island, to present our children with inspirational messages and positive skills training.  The 2-hour clinic will feature a variety of hands-on skills and techniques for both boys and girls.

“Seeing the smiles, the excitement, and the joy on the faces of the kids – its quite an honor to be part of such a positive and inspirational event”, said Mayor Billy Kenoi, Pro Bowl Ohana Committee Member, “I cannot thank the NFL, Nat Moore, the Pro Bowl Ohana Committee, and our volunteers enough for making this event possible – each year we involve more students on Hawaii Island – we now get to involve over 700 of our youth Island wide – our kids will remember this for the rest of their lives!”

All youth participants will also receive an NFL Pro Bowl T-shirt that will be autographed by each player and an NFL Pro Bowl sling backpack.  The public and youth not signed up for the program are welcome to attend the event.  Youth participants are selected by their respective school, however, every year there are open slots that need to be filled.  Youth who are accompanied by a parent may be able to participate if there are any open slots prior to the beginning of the clinic on a first come, first served basis.

For more information, please contact Alicia Omelau at 430-8241.

$1.5 Million Released for Kealakehe Community Center

From the Hawaii House  Blog:

Rep. Denny Coffman today praised the release of $1.526 million in design and planning funds to Laiopua 2020, an organization under the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), to build a new community center and medical clinic in Kealakehe.

“This project was my number one capital improvement priority during the 2010 legislative session,” said Rep. Coffman (District 6 –North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau.)  “In addition to creating construction jobs and permanent employment, the Laiopua Community Center will provide core government service facilities in a key location of the Kailua-Kona community. I want to thank my legislative colleagues for including this project in the CIP budget during a year when we face many fiscal challenges, and applaud the Governor for releasing the funds.”

The site is next door to the 1,500-student Kealakehe High School and nearby to the 800-student Kealakehe Intermediate School and the 1,000-student Kealakehe Elementary School.  On the immediate north side of this 26-acre community complex, is over 325 Native Hawaiian homes with another 900 homes in the planning stage.  On the immediate south side of the community complex is the planned Kamakana Villages Project; a 2,300-unit affordable housing development being planned by Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC) and developed by Forest City.

According to DHHL, groundbreaking is anticipated to take place in July 2011.  The community center is currently planned to include a computer lab and learning center, audio-visual center, after school and summer enrichment programs, culinary program and community kitchen, and space for community meetings and gatherings.  In addition, the community center will include space for social service programs related to existing agencies.

“When completed, this project will provide childcare, healthcare, Hawaiian cultural, recreation and family support services,” continued Rep. Coffman.  “The Big Island team of legislators believe that this is a model community project in the right place at the right time.”