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.