Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Akiko's Wailea Mochi Pounding

Wailea became the center of the mochi universe on Sunday as hundreds gathered for good fun, food and fellowship at the annual mochi pounding sponsored by Akiko of Akiko's Buddhist Bed and Breakfast. The event, which is celebrating it's 12th anniversary transforms the quiet former plantation community into a mochizuki mecca as residents and visitors gather to take their swing with the kine or wooden mallets which will help to insure good luck in the coming new year.
Events like this throughout the district helps to create a sense of place, an idea of belonging and the building of community. Though the development of a strong cultural fabric, these communities have been able to celebrate milestones and weather adversities, becoming stronger with each event. Participants took turns at swinging the kine or wooden mallets used to pound the glutinous rice into a paste.
Volunteers and community members gather around the table as the rice paste is formed into rice cakes or mochi.
Hui Okinawa Taiko performs in front of a crowd of on lookers fronting Akiko's Bed and Breakfast and the Motonaga Garage Art Gallery.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kapulena Agricultural Park

Former Hamakua Sugar Harvesting Supervisor Chip Luscomb provides a briefing on the "lay of the land" on a tour of the County's Kapulena lands which are being considered for a county agricultural park.
Honoka'a, Hawaii -- An agricultural park in Kapulena is a major initiative being proposed by Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi as a way of putting idle county land back into productive agricultural use. The former sugar lands, which were turned over to county following the close of Hamakua Sugar Company was to settle real property taxes which were owed to the county. The approximately 1,700 acres of land have sat idle for the past 15 years.
A site visit to the property was recently held for community leaders, agricultural stakeholders, and various federal, state and county agencies who will be called upon to insure the success of this program. Participants were given a briefing at the Jack Wayne ILWU Hall in town and then boarded vans for the two hour tour of the parcel which included a stop at Mike Olival's property adjacent to the County property and at the lower Hamakua Ditch which boarders the makai edge of the parcel.
Following the tour, participants were encouraged to volunteer for working groups on water, land use, education, and finance. An over-all steering committee will help to over see coordination of the working groups and to keep the process moving foward. A follow-up meeting is planned for early January, 2010 to continue the process.
While planned use for the parcel is very tentative, field crops, orchards, and pasture land are among the proposals. A center piece for the ag park is a community garden and educational component which will allow for access by residents of the area and will help to grow the net generation of future farmers.

Tour participants view the lowever Hamakua Ditch which is seen as a primary water source for agricultral ventures in the ag park.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiaka Bridge Replacement

The development of a roundabout to replace the current intersection of the Kawaihae Road and Kohala Mountain Road intersection and redesign of the Waiaka Bridge is one of five options which were presented at an informational meeting held by the Department of Transportation at Waimea School on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. The community was invited to view the four conceptual proposals and listen to a short explanation of each. A fifth proposal to leave the bridge as is was also placed on the table.
Community members were then invited to respond to each of the proposals with data being gathered by DOT personnel who were present. The DOT will be working on an environmental assessment in the next phase of this project.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pāo’o Project

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is working with the County of Hawaii and several local community groups to acquire and protect this 10.67 acre coastal parcel in North Kohala. The property had previously been the subject of a contested luxury residential development. TPL is working to raise approximately $1.98 million to acquire the property, place it in public ownership, and remove the threat of future development.

The property is bordered on three sides by State owned conservation land, and is adjacent to the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District. There are over 27 cultural and historic sites on the property that are part of an extensive series of traditional Hawaiian fishing villages located along the Kohala coast, including the villages at the Lapakahi State Historical Park which are listed on the State and National Historic Registers.

In support of this effort, I sent a letter to the State of Hawaii Legacy Land Conservation Fund requesting their support for the purchase of this parcel.

In the photo above, I am standing with Lea Hong, TPL Hawaiian Islands Program Director. Below, Lea inspects one of the historic sites.

Kohala Ditch Reservoir Number 3

Following the Koloko Dam disaster on Kauai, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources stepped up the dam inspection program and began to review dam safety through out the islands. Many of the earthen reservoirs which are remnant from the past sugar cane era have come under scrutiny and have been identified for renovation or closure.
Among the reservoirs currently being studied is Reservoir #3 along the Kohala Ditch. The reservoir serves Cloverleaf Dairy just south of Hawi -- one of only two dairys left in the state --and a number of other agricultural enterprises in the area. The importance of retaining the reservoir and insuring the stability and sustainability of water available to the dairy and other farmers in the area is key to a long-term plan for agricultural self-sufficiency on the Big Island.
Toward this end, I will be drafting legislation which will insure the on-going viability of Reservoir #3 and will work with the community to identify additional sources of water in the event of future ditch disruptions.

Marc Kinoshita Project Manager of Ho'ea Agricultural Park and Dairyman Ed Boteilho stand in front of Reservoir #3.

Ho'ea Agricultural Park

A brochure about the park states: "The Ho'ea Agricultural Park is located on 500 acres of privately owned agricultural land in the Hualua ahupua'a makai of Akoni Pule Highway. Since the closure of the Kohala Sugar Company, these lands have supported enhanced grazing for cattle and dairy cows, a successful sod farm, aquaculture ventures and a small hydroelectric plant.

A master plan now in development is taking a holistic approach to the layout and sequence of various crops, aquaculture operations, pasture use and agricultural processing facilities. Close attention is being given to sequential re-use of water and nutrients, efficient vehicle and equipment access, windbreaks as needed, and the distribution of power and water throughout the park."

Pictured above is Ho'ea Agricultural Park Project Manager Marc Kinoshita standing in front of a demonstration aquaculture pond planted with rice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Start Line, Finish Line

Since becoming a member of the Hawaii Jaycees in 1995, I have assisted the Ala Moana Jaycees in setting up the start-line at the Honolulu Marathon. This year however, I expanded my participation in the marathon beyond just hanging the start-line banner and actually became a marathon participant.
Sporting #1574, I ventured out on to the grueling 26.2 mile course with no training and a vague hope of at least finishing sometime before dark. My wishes were granted and I was not the last finisher to complete the course, although an elderly ba-chan with a cane and a limp did trade leads with me over the last two miles of the course. In the end I was overjoyed to have finished and will be able to check this off my bucket list.

Views from the Marathon

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Humor

Walking in to the parlor outside the House Clerk's Office, I was confronted with a sight that made me chuckle, which in spite of the difficult financial times that we are currently addressing, does demonstrate that we must all keep our wits about us. The tree features a string of Christmas lights that have been de-lamped, Prancer has been "bumped" and 20% has been taken off the top among other things.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hale Ho'ola Phase 2

Senator Dwight Takamine and I recently participated in a site inspection of the interior work currently underway at the Hale Ho'ola Long Term Care Facility in Honoka'a. The exterior work of the building is essentially finished and contractors anticipate completion of the interior work by March, 2010. Following this, a certificate of occupancy will need to be issued and equipment and furnishing will need to be installed.
The anticipated dedication of the new 28 bed facility will be in June, 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Honoka'a Robotics Qualifies for World Championship

Congratulations to the Honoka'a VEX Robotics team which qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship next year in Dallas, Texas. The 4th seed alliance which included Honoka'a, Waiakea High, and McKinley High took second place at the VEX Pan Pacific Championship this past weekend being edged out by the Second Seed Alliance. The Pan Pacific Tournament involved nearly 1000 students forming 86 teams from 48 schools over the two day event.
Honoka'a is one of four teams from the tournament which now qualify for the VEX Robotics World Championship which will be held at the Dallas Convention Center on April 22-24, 2010. At the World Championship, the team will have the opportunity to challenge their top-ranked peers from other countries around the world, including teams from the Asian Robotics League, South American and Europe. Other Hawaii teams qualifying include Waiakea High School, McKinley High School, and Pearl Highlands Intermediate.

Honoka'a High School's robot also received the Judge's Award at the tournament.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Legislative Process Workshops

The Public Access Room at the State Capitol will be holding a free workshop on how the public can participate in the legislative process. In Honoka'a, the workshop will be held on Thursday, December 10, 2009 at the Honoka'a Public Library beginning at 5:30 PM.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Waiaka Bridge Meeting

There will be an public informational meeting for the Waiaka Bridge Replacement and Realignment of Approaches on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 in the Waimea Elementary School Cafeteria. Doors will open at 5:30 PM with a short presentation beginning at 6:30 PM. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit public comments and recommendations for the plans and the public is encouraged to participate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Honoka'a High School Leadership Students Host Community Dinner

The Honoka'a High School Leadership Students hosted members of the community to their annual "night before Thanksgiving" dinner at the school cafeteria. While rain fell outside, those inside were treated to turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and strawberries served by the high school students. In addition to food and fellowship, community members were entertained by various members of the school community including students with even Principal Hao picking up his guitar to belt out a few numbers.
The student leadership class is comprised of students in elected and appointed offices in the high school student government and are advised by Mrs. Angella Brandt. In addition to the members of the community who came out for the night of festivities, hundreds of dinners were distributed by numerous volunteers to elderly and other individuals earlier in the day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hamakua Youth Center Tea

Youth Center Staff - Venica Ftacek, Director; Honi Pahio, Program Director; Lanakila Mangauil, Cultural Coordinator along with students, alumni and beneficiaries of the center's programs share their thoughts and experiences on the present and future of the Hamakua Youth Center.
Friends and community members gathered for a Sunday afternoon Tea to Celebrate the Past and Sustain the Future of the Hamakua Youth Center. Youth Center Board Members Jack Zimmerman and Stacy Disney emceed the event for the "standing room only" turn-out in the center's multi-purpose room.
I was honored to represent the Nakashima Family and recounted the early days of the building which served as the Honoka'a Cash and Carry founded by my Great Grandfather in 1938. Great-Grandpa was born Kumahiko Nakashima, in Shimomashiki gun, Kumamoto, Japan on September 18, 1885. Because he was the eldest son, in order to come to Hawaii, he took his younger brother's name and arrived in Hawaii on January 5, 1906 as Suekuma Nakashima.
The store's location across from the school made it a natural after-school hang out for students and provided a variety of candy, soda and ice cream snacks. There was even a "slush" machine that provided ice-cold strawberry and orange drinks for those hot summer days.

An injury in 1981 forced Suekuma to be bed-ridden and brought an end to the Hamakua Cash and Carry. Suekuma was 98 years old. While this brought an end to Suekuma's pride and joy, it made way for the infancy of the Hamakua Youth Center.
I am told that this project started as a grant from the State of Hawaii Attorney Generals Office which was seeking out ways to provide support to Hawaii's youth and to provide them with positive alternatives.

Friday, November 20, 2009

YWCA Mahalo

I am pleased to have been able to participate in "Walk a Mile In Her Shoes," a fundraiser for programs which provide services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Visit Big Island

Members of the Big Island Legislative Delegation joined with members of the House and Senate money committees as they visit various locations around the island to review state projects and programs that recieved legislative support in the past year. Above, legislators meet with tenants of the Natural Energy Laborabory of Hawaii. The site visitations included the Kamuela Vaccum Cooling Plant, Meahalani Agriculutral Experiment Station, Hawaii Community College, and the Hawaii Island Community Health Clinic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

UHH Hilo College of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony

Pharmacy students from the class of 2013 are joined by College of Pharmacy faculty members after taking the "Oath of a Pharmacist."

A "White Coat Ceremony" was held by The University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy on Saturday October 1, 2009 at the UHH Performing Arts Center.

The White Coat Ceremony signifies the rite of passage for students in the health professions to affirm their commitment to the values of their profession, including the professionalism, respect, integrity and caring. More specifically, it is the first time these students have recited the "Oath of a Pharmacist" in front of their peers, their professors, the community and their families as they publicly declare their intent to be a compassionate and respectable health care professional.

Training in pharmacy has grown through the years and changes in curriculum have students interacting with the public at a much earlier point in their careers. For this reason, the White Coat Ceremony which had been conducted in the second or third year is now held in the first academic semester.

"The benefit of including a pharmacist as a integral part of a health care team is to insure that the medication being prescribed will interact correctly and result in the desired outcome" said Mark. "By training pharmacist on the Big Island, we will increase the likelihood of pharmacists living and working in Hawaii and increasing the level of care available to residents."

YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Mark stands with YWCA Interim Executive Director Gloria Lau prior to the start of the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." Mark sports a pair of red Kenneth Cole Reaction sandals for this event.

Mark joined Mayor Billy Kenoi, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira and County Prosecutor Jay Kimura along with men from all walks of life in a march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

Now, more than ever, as financial distress mounts, the level of domestic violence is also increasing in our island community. All ages and income levels are affected with victims in Hawaii ranging from 2 months to 96 years old. Rich and poor alike, no one is immune from sexual assault.

Those in need of assistance should contact the YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline at 935-0677.

Vulcan Wahine Support the Cause

Coach Daphane Honma and members of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vulcan Women's Basketball team led the group in stretching exercises prior to the start of the YWCA's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

International Micro-Robotics Competition

Following the lead of Art Kimura, I have been pursuing the possibility of hosting the First Annual Micro-Robotics Competition and Symposium here on the Big Island. At Art's suggestion and as part of the ground work, I visited with the Waiakea High School Robotics Club which meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 - 6 PM to work on various projects.

Laupahoehoe School Celebrates AYP

Laupahoehoe School held an assembly today to celebrate a school wide effort by students, teachers, parents and staff to achieve AYP or Annual Yearly Progress required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. The law requires testing of students in math and reading and requires students to reach benchmarks in a variety of demographic categories.

Students meeting benchmark, students with the highest math and reading scores as well as students achieving the greatest improvement in scores were recognized with certificates. All students were encouraged to continue their efforts so that next year, everyone would be recognized for meeting the benchmark.

To end the ceremony, and amid shouts of "Mohawk! Mohawk!" Principal Tom Ekno followed through on a promise made last year to shave his head if the student met five goals that the school set out last year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Playgound Tests

Tests were conducted today on newly installed fitness equipment at Honoka'a Elementary School. The equipment sits on a special padded surface that is meant to absorb the impact of students should they fall from the equipment to the ground. The inspection involved dropping a measurement instrument from the height of six feet and determining the level of impact on the cushioned surface.

The contractor is currently awaiting approval to complete cement work to reattach sidewalks from the play area to the adjacent building. Once this is completed, students will be able to enjoy the new equipment. Identical equipment was also installed at Paauilo School.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Native Insight on Recession, Recovery and Opportunity

For thousands of years, Native communities have thrived in challenging conditions. What wisdom does your community have to share? How can Natives support and participate in the transitions facing our great nation? This is your chance to help shape America's successful tomorrow!

Share your unique insights on the economy and our prospects for recovery...and you may be one of six Native winners chosen to receive $10,000 and have their opinions published!

Submit your 500-1,600 word original written work by September 15, 2009 to compete. Go to
www/ for more information.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Meeting on License Application for Depleted Uranium at Pohakuloa

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hosted a meeting to inform the public about the process for participation in the license request by the US Army to process and manage "residual quantities of depleted uranium (DU) at Pohakuloa and other Army installations where DU munitions were used in training exercises.

The license, once granted will require the Army to perform specific functions designed to protect public health and safety and the environment. These will include a radiation monitoring program and physical access control consistent with NRC's regulations for protecting the public against radiation.

Several issues and unanswered questions that were raised during the meeting include:

  • Violation of the DLNR Lease by the Army.
  • Leaching of DU into the surrounding water table.
  • Impact of brush fires on the environment.
  • Increased incidence of cancer in impacted areas.
The NRC is reviewing the application and will complete a Safety Evaluation Report. The deadline to request for hearing and comments is October 13, 2009 and has been posted in the Federal Register. Those wishing to view the posting can follow the link below.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New UH President M.R.C. Greenwood

An internationally known researcher and nationally recognized leader in higher education, M.R.C. (promounced "Marcy") Greenwood became the 14th president of the University of Hawaii in August, 2009. She unites a stong belief in the exceptional caliber of the UH system with determination to develop the university's voice as a national leader in higher education.
The first woman to serve as UH's chief executive officer, Dr. Greenwood brings experience as both a campus and university system leader. Dr. Greenwood assumes the helm of the University at a difficult time as the UH system faces unprecedented budget cuts, collective bargaining issues, and a growing repair and maintenance back log.

Above from left to right: Senator Norman Sakamoto, Dr. Greenwood, Senator Jill Tokuda and me.

8th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention

Mark is pictured with Frank Cachola, Lucille Chung and Kawika Burgess from the Trust for Public Lands at the 8th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention.

"Making Our Future Now! E Kia Ano I Mua!" is the theme for this year's Native Hawaiian Convention being held August 25-27, 2009 at the Hawaii Convention Center. The convention hosted by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement provides an opportunity to come together, share ideas, celebrate progress, and address challenges.
Mark participated in day three of the convention which featured the Native Hawaiian Policy Center Round table which is designed to provide an opportunity for member organizations and community leaders to dialogue on issues of importance in the Native Hawaiian Community.
The keynote for this session was Big Island native Alapaki Nahale-a, Principal at Ka 'Umeke Ka'eo Immersion Charter School in Keaukaha who spoke of the need for parity in per pupil funding among all of Hawaii's public schools regardless if they are DOE or Public Charter Schools.
Alapaki noted that the Public Charter Schools fill an important niche and create an important competition within the education system. Alapaki noted that "one size does not fit all" and that public charter schools create a choice for parents and students within the community. Alapaki stated that with choice comes responsibility as they are entrusted with public funds and they must be accountable to the tax paying public.
Other 2009-2010 Policy Priorities are contained in documents below:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hawaii Quinten Burdick 10th Anniversary Celebration

The Hawaii Quentin Burdick Rural Health Interdisciplinary Training Program celebrated it's 10th year anniversary at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This program provides college students in a variety of disciplines the opportunity to live and work in rural settings. The hope is that this will encourage them to consider working in rural communities following graduation. This program also provides them with valuable contacts that often result in future job opportunities.
The program is open to students from nursing, medicine, social work, public health, psychology, medical technology, nutrition, dental hygiene, education, speech/audiology, and speech communication who become members of interdisciplinary teams that participate in three seminars during the spring semester to familiarize them with the program. The students then participate in a six week summer practicum in one of six rural sites throughout the state.
This year, a group of four college students: Rana Jackson, Melanie Minami, Keri Ferenback, and Christine Marzo came to Honoka'a to work with the Hamakua Health Center on a number of projects including initiating a community needs assessment; participation in the Summer Asthma Camp; providing nutritional information to parents of students participating in Kinder KAMP at Honoka'a, Laupahoehoe and Paauilo Schools; and "Jump Start your College Career" -- a mentoring program providing information to high school students and their parents regarding college applications and financial aid.
In addition to the college students, Honoka'a High School Senior Patti Connors was invited to participate during the practicum with the interdisciplinary teams of health science students thus providing her with the unique hands-on opportunity to learn more about health care careers.
Pictured at the celebration are (from Left to Right): Owen Sonoda, Sue Dela Cruz, Patti Connors, Christina Marzo, Rana Jackson, Melanie Minami, Keri Fehrenbach, and Mark