By `Aha Kiole o Molokai
The `Aha Kiole o Molokai has made a concerted effort to reach the community to get feedback and input regarding the arrival of the American Safari Cruises. Now, results are out from an island-wide “Advent of Passenger Boats and Yachts Survey.” A vast majority – 85 percent – of people voted “no,” 11 percent voted “yes” and 4 percent voted “yes, with controls.” We had 395 people participate in our surveys.
The results of the four Moku meetings showed 36 percent voting “no,” 8 percent voting “no” and the majority, 56 percent, voting for controls.…
For the first time in six years, Kalaupapa will again have firefighting equipment and staff at their tiny airport. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing a “skidmount unit” – a firefighting devise on a flatbed truck – to aid in the case of emergency, along with 24/7 personnel to man it, according to DOT spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl. The equipment should arrive to the settlement in March, he said. Two additional firefighters are being hired by the state, who will rotate service in Kalaupapa.
“If things ever go bad, it would be a collaborative effort,” said Department of Health Kalaupapa Administrator Mark Miller at last week’s community meeting, adding that the additional equipment and personnel would greatly aid in the event of emergency.…
State of Hawaii News Release
Last week, a bill passed another hurdle on its way to establishing a working group to explore options for reducing shipping costs from Molokai and Lanai to Oahu. House Hill 2380, Relating to Shipping, passed the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce with unanimous testimony in support of the measure.
Molokai homestead farmer and rancher, Lynn DeCoite submitted testimony in strong support of House Bill 2380 HD1. “The island of Molokai feels that this bill is critical to the survival of our economy,” she said. “We have been crippled with nowhere else to turn. We need options, not a monopoly.”
The wharf was relatively empty and quiet at the Safari Explorer’s last port call to Kaunakakai last Tuesday, with only about a dozen residents holding protest signs. For that, officials thanked Molokai, and said it will be the last time a security zone is enforced for the yacht’s dockings through May, if all goes smoothly.
“We thank the community for showing the correct amount of balance at the pier [on Jan. 21],” said Department of Land and Natural Resources (DNLR) Chairperson William Aila.
DNLR News Release
Department of Land and Natural Resources is holding a community meeting regarding the security perimeter at the Kauanakakai Wharf to accommodate American Safari Cruises visits to Molokai. The meeting is on Monday, Jan. 30 at Mitchell Pauole Center at 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. We will address the experience last weekend and respond to the community. Reduced security to accommodate fishermen and canoe paddlers and lessen the inconvenience to the community will be discussed. All are invited.
Coast Guard News Release
The crews of the US Coast Guard cutters Kiska, a 110-foot island class patrol
cutter stationed in Hilo, and the Ahi, an 87-foot patrol cutter stationed in Honolulu are scheduled to participate in Ka Molokai Makahiki games this weekend . The cutters will be open for tours to Molokai residents on Saturday morning and afternoon starting at 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Please meet at the ferry enclosure for each escorted tour and learn more
about the Coast Guard Ohana in Hawaii. Additionally, the 45-foot Response
Boat Medium and its crew from US Coast Guard Station Maui in Maalea also
expect to be here and participate in the games.
As Makani Kai Air Charter’s nine-seat plane shook in unusually strong winds last Tuesday, Father Ambrose Sanar of St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa asked for blessings on the company’s aircraft and its future flights to the settlement. Residents beamed with joy, held each others’ hands and hugged officials in gratitude.
The blessing was an opportunity to celebrate Makani Kai’s service to the peninsula, which officially began on Dec. 10. The company was awarded federal funding to provide regular service to Kalaupapa, allowing it to offer flights at a fraction of the cost of the $500 round trip fare on Pacific Wings.
“The most important thing [Makani Kai] gives us is freedom, which we didn’t have for a long time” said Department of Health Kalaupapa Administrator Mark Miller.
Makani Kai owner Richard Schuman described the celebration as a “special day.”
“It was the community’s effort that made this possible, I’m just an instrument… I’m proud to be a part of this community,” he said.
A representative of Sen. Dan Inouye said Inouye heard about the air service problem from patients when he visited the settlement in 2010. “It was because of the patients we have the change we have today,” he added.
Patient resident Ivy Kahilihiwa said she feels more relaxed now that she can leave the settlement more easily. “You cannot do nothing, you gotta pay the price,” she said of the previous air service. “It wasn’t right.”
Miller said in a 10-day period starting Dec. 10 when Makani Kai began service to Kalaupapa, the company flew 201 people into or out of the settlement. During the same period from Dec. 10 to Dec. 20 two years ago, Pacific Wings served only 40 people.
Nearly 50 U.S. Coast Guard personnel, as well as dozens of county, state and federal law enforcement guarded a security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor for the return of American Safari Cruises’ yacht Safari Explorer last Saturday. Armed members of the San Francisco-based Maritime Safety and Security Team, specializing in anti-terrorism, manned Zodiacs, while officials also patrolled by jet-ski and on foot. In equivalent numbers, Molokai residents held signs protesting not only the yacht, but also the security measures – which many community members said made them feel like terrorists.
Kalaupapa residents have a lot to celebrate at their airport this month. With air service into the peninsula now provided by Makani Kai Air Charters at a fraction of what residents were charged by Pacific Wings last year, patients and staff are now “traveling in large numbers,” according to Mark Miller, Department of Health (DOH) Kalaupapa administrator.
“It has changed the character of the community knowing we can come and go,” he said.
Makani Kai is providing regular twice-daily round trips from Honolulu and three round trips daily to topside Molokai – a service made affordable thanks to a federal subsidy awarded to the carrier in December.