Author Archives: Dan Murphy

Paddlers Ready for Redemption

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A week after being disqualified in the waters of Kahului Harbor, the Molokai High paddlers are returning for redemption. The girls’, boys’ and mixed teams will all be back in Kahului this weekend for their third Maui Interscholastic League race of the season.

The boys’ team was disqualified in their first heat last weekend when the nose of their canoe crossed the starting line a little too early. Molokai coach Jonathon Smith said the team probably would have finished in third place.

“We all kind of believed there were some officiating calls that were errors, but we weren’t there to make the call,” Smith said. “We were feeling a little pushed against with calls on both the boys’ and girls’ sides.”

St. Damien’s One Step Closer to Reality

Monday, January 11th, 2010

St. Damien’s One Step Closer to Reality

Maui County’s Urban Design Review Board tweaked plans for the new St. Damien Catholic Church in Kaunakakai, but eventually recommended that the Molokai Planning Commission approve the church’s special management area (SMA) permit.

The members of St. Sophia’s Church on Ala Malama Street have been saving and planning for a bigger and better building for over a decade. Their plans became a little more concrete last week with a tentative seal of approval from the Urban Design Review Board. The $3 million project includes knocking down St. Sophia’s and replacing it with a larger St. Damien’s Church that will also provide space for offices and community services.

While the board members approved the design, they didn’t do so without some debate. The trepidation was caused by confusion about the church’s zoning district. The church, which is in a country-town business district, was being reviewed under the guidelines of a commercial building when the board should have considered it a civic building, according to planning consultant Chris Hart.

A country-town business district allows land owners to build commercial shops or civic buildings, such as a post office or a church. Hart said the civic buildings did not have to follow the same guidelines as the commercial buildings.

“They were upset because architecturally it didn’t look like Friendly Market or the other businesses on Ala Malama Street,” Hart said. “The question the review board was scrappling with is: does the design of the church have to comply with every detail that is identified for commercial buildings in the guidelines? And the answer, of course, is no.”

Hart owns a landscape architecture business on Maui. He and his firm have been helping the church group obtain their building permits for the past two years.

The review board did ask Hart and architect Frank Skowronski to make some changes to help mesh the new church’s design with the rest of the area. The large bell-tower entrance to the church will be scaled down from approximately 15 feet to eight feet. The church will also add a tree and residential bench along the sidewalk.

“Basically we just needed to be more sensitive to try to create a little more of a relationship between the church and the rest of the buildings on Ala Malama St.,” Hart said.

Skowronski and Hart will modify the church’s plans and meet with the county’s planning department this week to make sure the new design is acceptable. With the design board’s approval, the team will ask Molokai’s planning commission for an SMA permit in the next few months.

Bankruptcy won’t stop go!Mokulele

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Bankruptcy won’t stop go!Mokulele

Inter-island flyers breathed a sigh of relief last week when they learned that none of go!Mokulele’s regular flights would be grounded after a major shareholder filed for bankruptcy.

Last Tuesday, Mesa Air Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New York court. Mesa Chairman and Chief Executive Jonathon Ornstein said it was a move to unload over one-third of their fleet that is currently unused by the company. Chapter 11 filings allow companies to restructure and eliminate debt without liquidating assets.

“This process will allow us to eliminate excess aircraft to better match our needs and give us the flexibility to align our business to the changing regional airline marketplace, ensuring a leaner and more competitive company poised for future success,” Ornstein said.

Mesa primarily serves as a regional provider for major airlines including Delta and US Airways. They provide the smaller aircraft and flight crews for short connection flights. Those flights have been dramatically reduced over the past year and 52 of the 130 aircrafts Mesa currently leases are not needed.

Go!Mokulele is a joint venture company owned by Mesa and Republic Airways with Mesa serving as the majority shareholder. However, Mesa made it clear in its bankruptcy filing that the Hawaiian company will be unaffected.

“We are a completely separate company,” said go!Mokulele vice president Paul Skellon. “Mesa provides aircraft and crews for our flights and they will continue to do so for all of the flights.”

Skellon said the move might actually improve financial conditions for the Hawaiian company. Go!Mokulele currently uses five jets and four Cessna caravans leased by Mesa. The Chapter 11 laws allow Mesa to renegotiate the price of those leases. The current market value for commercial jets is nearly 50 percent less than what they are currently paying.

“Because all of the major airlines have reduced their flights, the lease rates have come down incredibly,” Skellon said. “During the restructuring, we will renegotiate the lease rates and we suspect those rates will drop drastically.”

Go!Mokulele and Mesa believe that the debt-restructuring scheme will pull the company through this tough period in air travel business. Skellon said experts anticipate that he hardest times are in the past.

“There have been some very early signs of a return to confidence in the travel market. If the rough winter weather continues elsewhere in North America, hopefully Hawaii will become an even more attractive destination than it already is,” Skellon said.

Winter Break Sports Round-Up

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

The Molokai High boys’ paddling team took advantage of calm waters in Lahaina two weeks ago by posting their best time of the year en route to a second place finish in the Dec. 19 tournament.

“The team was really pumped, they were all very happy with the results,” said head coach Jonathon Smith.

Smith said this team – made up of Mahi Kan-Hai, Punohu Seitz, Ka`ili Levi, Ka`oli Place, Gaig Yap and Eric Gilliland – is off to the best start since he has been coaching.

“We expected to do pretty well, but we are definitely pleased with where we are at right now,” he said.

Christmas Champs

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Christmas Champs

One of the most exciting parts of the holiday season is the chance to gather with family and old friends. Molokai High School graduates took advantage of that chance to hold an alumni softball tournament on Dec. 25-27. The tournament champion this year, above, was Team Bad Temper with players who graduated between 2005 and 2009. The team members were (Top, from left to right): Titah Maliu-Calairo, Mili Rawlins, Taija Espaniola, Mele Reyes, Cheyanne Keli?iho?omalu, (bottom) Trinity Torres-Umi, Lacey Santiago, Leilani Oneha, Iza Rapanot, and La?e Pa.

Minor Leagues Come to Maui

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Minor Leagues Come to Maui

It’s time to break out the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Last week, the Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced they would be expanding with a new team on Maui. The team, named Na Ikaika Koa Maui, is scheduled to play its first game this May.

''I love Maui and I love the opportunity,” said the team’s president Rick Berry. “In talking to a lot of people, it was just the excitement. You have to have a passion for it. The excitement from the people and the passion is there.”

The 30-year-old Okano has played for three different GBL teams before returning to his native Hawaii this year. Okano, who will play outfield for Na Ikaika, was born in Honolulu and graduated from Aiea High School.

“This is my living dream, playing at home in front of the home crowd,” Okano said. “It is very cool to be the first signee. We have a great name and this is Hawaii, you know, representing my home state.”

If Snyder has his way there will be plenty of other team members representing their home state in May. Snyder listed several Hawaiian players that he was hoping to sign in the off-season. Molokai graduate Milton Loo was one of the players Snyder will try to add to the roster.

''Milton Loo is definitely on the list,'' Snyder said. ''I will get as many local guys as I can.”

Loo graduated from Molokai High in 2005 and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round. He went on to play shortstop for Yavapai Community College in Arizona where he was named an All-American.

Berry said he fully understood the challenges that go along with starting a team in Hawaii, but was confident they could make it work. He said the team is still looking for airline and hotel sponsors to assist with travel.

''We are a little behind where we want to be right now, but we know what we need to get done and that really helps,'' Berry said.

Na Ikaika will play its home games at Maehara Stadium in Wailuku and Berry said ticket prices will range from $5 to $14. An official schedule will be released later this month.

The Week in Sports…

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The Week in Sports…



Last Week’s Scores

Canoe Paddling
12/19 Molokai Boys (4:13) – second overall
12/19 Molokai Girls – fourth overall
12/19 Molokai Mixed – fifth overall

Girls’ Basketball
12/22 Konawaena 54, Molokai 37
12/21 Molokai 61, Kamehameha-Hawaii 55 (OT)

Boys’ Basketball
12/20 Molokai 63, Richmond 33

MHS Alumni Softball Tournament
Champion – Team Bad Temper (c/o 2005-09)

Coming up…

Girls’ Soccer
01/08 Molokai v. St. Anthony @ 3:30 (Kaunakakai Ball Park)
01/09 Molokai v. St. Anthony @ 10 a.m. (Kaunakakai Ball Park)

Canoe Paddling
01/09 Molokai @ MIL Kahului Harbor Meet # 1 @ 10 a.m. (Kahului, Maui)

01/09 Molokai @ MIL Swim Meet # 1 @ 10 a.m. (Lahainaluna)

01/09 Molokai @ MIL Meet #1 @ 9:30 a.m. (Hana)

Furlough Fight Continues

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Officials from the Department of Education (DOE) and Governor Linda Lingle’s office failed to reach their goal of creating a new furlough schedule before Hawaii’s public schools reopened this week.

A compromise between the two parties and the main teachers’ union – the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) – looked possible towards the end of December. The HSTA and representatives from the Board of Education (BOE) reached an agreement on Dec. 28 to reduce the number of furlough days remaining in this school year.

“This settlement ensures that there will be no furlough Fridays for the remainder of the current school year,” said BOE Chairman Garret Toguchi in a statement released the day of the meeting.

New Law Makes Hope for Bright Future

Monday, January 4th, 2010

New Law Makes Hope for Bright Future

Blue Planet Foundation News Release

Hawai‘i took a major step towards clean energy leadership this week as the landmark “Solar Roofs” law took effect. The new law requires that almost all new homes be built with solar water heaters. Hawai‘i is the first state in the nation to make solar water heaters compulsory.

“Hawaii’s new law brings the benefit of free sunshine to new homeowners across our islands,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation, a local non-profit focused at making Hawai‘i energy independent. “We are the Saudi Arabia of sun. Every house in the state should be tapping into this free resource.”

Solar water heaters are among the most effective means of reducing the high electricity bills that residents now pay. The Solar Roofs law will reduce the total cost of home ownership in Hawai‘i by cutting the electric utility bill of an average new home by 30 to 40 percent – saving about $750 each year for an average household. The Solar Roofs law is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide by upwards of 8,000 tons annually from avoided electricity use.

The law was the result of a bill introduced by Senator Gary Hooser (D – Kaua‘i) with strong support from House Energy Committee Chair Rep. Hermina Morita (D – Hanalei, N. Kaua‘i). The law states that “no building permit shall be issued for a new single-family dwelling that does not include a solar water heater system that meets the standards established pursuant to section 269-44.”

The law is flexible in that it allows some exemptions for those homeowners who can demonstrate that their home receives “poor solar resource” or that a solar water heater is “cost-prohibitive” based on a 15-year life cycle cost-benefit analysis.

Supporters of the law are worried that there are still some loopholes that need to be made smaller for the law to have its desired effect. Legislators will be asked to revisit the law if a high percentage of developers seek variances for new home construction. Bills have already been prepared to tighten the variance requirements to ensure that the intent of the law remains.

Solar water heating is a foundation block in building Hawaii’s clean energy future.  A solar water system is the most basic renewable energy device to harness the clean energy from the sun. Solar water heaters provide the greatest energy savings per dollar for reducing substantial residential energy demand.


The Solar Roofs law ensures that the vast majority of new homes will have solar water heaters and smooth the transition to zero-energy homes of the future. Further, with solar water heaters a standard feature on new homes, residents will be more accustomed to the benefits of solar, turning more of them into potential customers for photovoltaic and other renewable energy devices.

“Hawai‘i can be proud to lead the nation with this policy,” added Mikulina. “At a time when the globe hungers for smart energy solutions, Hawai‘i is demonstrating how it can be done.”

Year of the Tiger (Part 4)

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Year of the Tiger (Part 4)

Community Contributed

By Mel Chung

 Molokai’s first ever Year of the Tiger Parade won’t be only fun in games, but will also serve as a learning experience to the island’s keiki. The Molokai Chinese Cultural Club is hosting both an art contest and a writing contest for youth contestants.

Seventh and 8th graders from Kumu Iolani Kuoha's O Hina I Ka Malama, Ko Kula Waena, Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Molokai Middle School are writing essays in Hawaiian that explain their connection with the Year of the Tiger. Kumu Kuoha and her students have recently coordinated with Maui Arts & Cultural Center in bringing the iconic Cecilio & Kapono free concert to Molokai.  An energetic Molokai native, Kumu Kuoha is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Secondary Education.

The parade celebration will also take the time to honor some of Molokai’s Chinese kupuna. The third kupuna being honored has strong Hawaiian ties.  Born in the year of the Tiger to a Chinese father and a Hawaiian mother in Kamalo, Molokai, Dorothy Mew-Lan Kalaki Chong Akiona Nihoa possesses the Chinese trait of perseverance and the Hawaiian charm of Aloha.  In her nineties, she will be the most senior kupuna honored at the parade in terms of life experience and accumulated wisdom.

Married 25 years to the late pastor Gulston L. Nihoa, she lived a humble life as the wife of a man of the cloth. She labored diligently with husband in raising taro, cattle, pigs, chickens, bees and fished on the east end of Molokai and near Ho`olehua for subsistence.  Widowed since 1961, she has shouldered her late husband's Akua mission and devotes herself passionately to it.

When she was in her eighties, Nihoa delivered meals to shut-ins and drove the seniors – some of them much younger than her -- to their medical appointments.  In spite of her 30-plus years volunteer work at Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO), she still keeps a schedule in MEO monthly food surplus distribution and drops in as much as she can to see her friends at Ne'e Imua Senior Club where she served as their club president for several terms.  It is no wonder that MEO director Zessica Apili's voice instantly warms up whenever Nihoa's name is brought up.

Nihoa's inner strength and quiet endurance are heartwarming & inspiring.  Her Chinese middle name "Mew-Lan" which means a rare and unusual flower, certainly describes her well.  We take pride in a kupuna of her caliber in our community.

A Year of the Tiger calendar /wall poster with all 12 Chinese Zodiac animals and their outlook for 2010 is available for purchase at Shop 2 & Beauty Salon by the Molokai Chinese Cultural Club.  Please call 553-5888.