Author Archives: Dan Murphy

Recycling Center To Close

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, announced today that the Molokai Metals Recycling Facility at the Molokai Landfill has reached its permitted storage capacity and will be closed temporarily beginning Friday, Dec. 11. The site was designed to be an interim facility; a permanent site is being built and is expected to open in late Spring of 2010.

The facility has been accepting vehicles, appliances, scrap metal, tires, propane tanks and car batteries. During the temporary closure, no materials will be accepted in accordance with State Department of Health permit requirements.

For more information, contact the Solid Waste Division at (808) 270-7875. Callers on Molokai may dial 1-800-272-0117 and request extension 7875.

Maunaloa School Gets Hope

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Maunaloa School Gets Hope

Mary Cochran, Molokai’s representative on the Hawaii Board of Education (BOE), gave the folks at Maunaloa Elementary School a reason to believe they have a fighting chance. Cochran promised to take a good look at the school’s proposed consolidation, adding that she believed there were better places to cut money from the education budget.

The west end school is one of 20 statewide that is on a consolidation list made by the BOE last year in an effort to decrease Hawaii’s education budget. Maunaloa is one of four schools currently being evaluated to see if it can be shut down.

“We have to start talking about doing business in a different way,” Cochran said. “There are other departments that can be cut without going to the school level.”

Cochran was on Molokai last Monday for a routine meeting, but Maunaloa’s potential closing quickly became the main topic of discussion. Cochran promised to start investigating the situation before Christmas. The evaluation process goes through a series of reports and recommendations, but ultimately the decision ends up in the laps of Cochran and the 12 other members of the BOE.

The nine-year veteran of the BOE said the board is currently in the process of reviewing all of their programs that cost more than $500,000.

Cochran specifically mentioned the $30 million spent on outside firms like Edison Alliance and America’s Choice. The BOE’s public affairs officer, Alex Da Silva, said the firms are mostly used to collect data and help schools build a more effective curriculum. Cochran said there has been talk amongst board members to get rid of those service providers within two years.

She also mentioned the payroll system – the Department of Education is the only state agency without a computerized system – and the Internet Technology staff as places that should be cut before school programs. The 2009 Department Directory listed 147 employees in its IT branch.

“Who are these people? What the heck do they do?” Cochran said. “There are places within the department that we can really outsource.”

Rochelle Borden, an administrative service assistant at Maunaloa School, also suggested that Cochran and the board look at other schools on Oahu for consolidation before Molokai. 
“There are places on Oahu with three schools all on the same street, within a mile of each other,” Borden said. “If you close one or two of them, you would save way more than the $500,000 you will for closing Maunaloa.”

There are three neighborhoods on Oahu with multiple elementary schools on the same street. Enchanted Lake, Keolu and Ka`elepulu schools in the Windward District are all within a one-mile radius of each other and have an enrollment well under their capacity. Those schools are also on the state’s consolidation list.

In comparison, Maunaloa students would likely be sent to Kaunakakai Elementary which is 17 miles away. While their enrollment (60) is also well under the state-determined capacity (115), Borden said that number isn’t completely accurate.

A school’s capacity is determined by the number of classrooms it has. According to the state, Maunaloa has 11 classrooms. However, the kitchen, cafeteria, library, computer lab and a workroom affectionately known as “the dungeon” are all included in that list. None of them are actually used as classrooms, so the school actually fills a much greater percentage of its capacity than the numbers show.

“I just fell like we are being treated more as a business than an educational institute. That’s the message that our kids are getting,” Borden said.

Other community members added their own ideas about how to make Maunaloa more financially sound including adult classes, preschool classes, and using empty rooms as DOE office space.

The next task force meeting regarding Maunaloa consolidation will be held on Jan. 26 at the school’s cafeteria.

Cargo Company Accused of Cherry-Picking

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Cargo Company Accused of Cherry-Picking

A California-based company interested in beginning inter-island shipping services in Hawaii is being accused of “cherry-picking” by long-time Hawaii shippers Young Brothers, Limited.

Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines currently sends cargo from the mainland to Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo. In March, they applied to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for permission to do in-state shipping at those ports every other week.

tug and barge service, but it is not an identical service,” he said.

Vossbrink said Pasha only proposed the business because several large Hawaiian companies originally asked for it. Ten of those large businesses have submitted letters to the PUC showing their support for the new service. However, Catalani said not only does Young Brothers currently provide the same service, but it is also one of its most profitable divisions.

Hawaii state laws say that Pasha must show a necessity for the new service in order for it to legally be allowed. The PUC may rule on the case before the end of the year. Because the case does not involve increased rates there will not be a public hearing, but the public is encouraged to voice their opinion.

Testimony can be submitted to the PUC by phone, fax or e-mail. The Molokai Chamber of Commerce is also crafting a letter and has asked for input from Molokai residents.

Molokai Scoreboard

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Molokai Scoreboard

Last Week’s Scores

Girls’ Soccer
12/4  King Kekaulike 8, Molokai 1
12/5  King Kekaulike 6, Molokai 0

Girls’ Basketball
12/2 Molokai 45, Kealakehe 21
12/3 Konawaena 45, Molokai 35
12/4 Iolani 33, Molokai 29
12/5 Molokai 42, Kamehameha-Hawaii 40

Coming up…

Girls’ Soccer
12/11 Molokai v. Kamehameha-Maui @ 3:30 p.m. (Kaunakakai Ball Park)
12/12 Molokai v. Kamehemeha-Maui @ 10 a.m. (Kaunakakai Ball Park)

Girls’ Basketball
12/10 Molokai v. Kamehameha-Kapalana (Moanalua Tournament)

Youth Football
12/11 Molokai Peewees vs. Kapolei @ 12 noon (Kapolei)
12/12 Molokai Peewees combined scrimmage (Aloha Stadium)


Girls’ Volleyball
Kalei Adolpho – MIL Div. II Player of the Year
Danna-Lynn Hooper – MIL All-Conference First Team
Kailana Ritte-Camara – MIL All-Conference First Team
Kalei Vaivai – MIL All-Conference First Team
Kawena Puhi – MIL All-Conference Second Team
Wailani Hernandez – MIL All-Conference Honorable Mention
Natalia Levi – MIL All-Conference Honorable Mention

High Surf Warning for Maui County

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

High Surf Warning for Maui County

The County of Maui issued a warning this weekend to beware of dangerous surf. All beach-goers are advised to stay away from the water with big surf and always keep their eyes to sea at all times.

Two large storms in the North Pacific are expected to create dangerous conditions along the north and west facings shores of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. The first swell hit Friday afternoon and the larger second swell is anticipated to arrive Monday afternoon.

“When people take risks with dangerously high surf, they also put ocean rescue workers and good Samaritans trying to help at risk,” Mayor Charmaine Tavares said.

Tavares asked everyone on the island, especially visitors who are unfamiliar with the area, to be careful near the coast.

Officials said the Halawa, La`au Point, Mo`omomi and Kaluakoi areas may all be affected by the storm. Home owners in those areas should be on high alert as previous storms of this magnitude have caused damage to home and nearby roads. Residents are asked to be ready to evacuate if need be and also keep a close eye on pets during the warning.

The high surf warnings are effective until 6 p.m. Wednesday night when the storm is expected to die down.

Catching Up

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Catching Up

Since the ancient days of the first Makahiki games, Molokai has had a proud athletic tradition. Today, the island continues to produce an unproportionally high amount of sports stars. From high school to college and the pros, our athletes have represented the Friendly Isle well on the national stage. Many have gone on to play sports for colleges throughout Hawaii and on the mainland. A few of Molokai’s now-professional athletes are listed below. If you have information about any of these athletes, or how to get in contact with them, let us know! The Dispatch wants to help share their stories with the island and inspire a whole new generation of great Molokai athletes.

Jarrin Akana -- Basketball

Joe Kupaka – Volleyball

Keith Luuloa –Baseball

Miles Luuloa –Baseball

Mike McCutcheon –Baseball

Kaipo Naki – Basketball

Kimo “Scooby” Von Oelhoffen – Football

West Coast Jams

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

West Coast Jams

Two Molokai musicians tour Oregon and California.

, but I felt to go up there and get that exposure and to be on the same stage as those guys was a benefit for both Rick and I,” he said.

Tanaka said he will be going to Maui soon to finish recording, but will be playing one more show on the Friendly Isle before he goes. He and Schonely will be at Paddlers Inn on Dec. 12.

Split Decision

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Split Decision

Farmers win season opener, fall in rematch the next day

The Molokai girls’ basketball team tipped off their season at The Barn last weekend with a win and a loss against visiting King Kekaulike from Maui. The Farmers came from behind Friday night to pick up a 37-30 win before dropping the rematch 40-37 the next morning.

“Both these games had a similar hard fought style,” said Molokai coach Michael Hooper. “The girls need to learn how to play these types of games if we want to repeat for a state championship.”

Friday night’s game was also the debut of The Barn’s brand new gym floor. The bright new parquet with a fierce-looking farmer at mid-court was designed by William Kaole Place with help from one of the school’s art classes.

“The new floor was nice. It was a little slippery at first, but after that it was great,” said senior guard Danna-Lynn Hooper.

played really well,” Michael Hooper said.  “I think we’re going to have a pretty good team.”

Round Two
The following morning, Molokai and King Kekaulike were back in The Barn for a rematch. This time the Farmers’ comeback fell just short.

Once again it was three-pointers from King Kekaulike’s Carillo and junior Tori Kawahara that put the Farmers behind in the first half.

Molokai kept things close until Na Ali`i sophomore Jennifer Treu scored seven straight to give her team a 29-22 edge with time running out in the third quarter.

Jolenta Duvauchelle had a pair of clutch hoops to keep the Farmers close late in the game, but King Kekaulike was able to control the ball and take away too much time in the final quarter.

“We need to work a little more on ball control, sticking with the defense and our mental preparation,” Danna-Lynn Hooper said.

Coach Hooper said with only 10 practice days before their first game, he wasn’t surprised the girls weren’t completely mentally prepared.

“It was kind of expected,” he said. “But this is what we’ll be facing all preseason – big, quick and aggressive.”

King Kekaulike is one of the several Div. I teams Molokai has slated for their 12 game preseason schedule. Coach Hooper said the tough line-up was necessary to have the team ready for the postseason.

The Farmers get back on the court this weekend for four games in four days on the Big Island. All four of their opponents are Div. I teams including last year’s champions, Konawaena.

Hanging Tough

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Hanging Tough

Life in Maunaloa has not been easy for the past couple years.  The unexpected closure of Molokai Ranch was followed by the boarding up of many of the town’s biggest businesses. Now, Maunaloa’s community members are digging in their heels to try to save their most important remaining resource – their school.

“Our school is the heartbeat of our community,” said sixth grade teacher Wendy Espaniola. “[Losing it] would make a major impact on our community, it would shut us down.”

Espaniola is one of 10 community members and educators who were selected to be on the Maunaloa Consolidation Task Force. The task force was formed to evaluate the future of Maunaloa Elementary School. Their job is to present the Board of Education (BOE) with a detailed report of the school and also recommend whether or not it should remain open.

Maunaloa Elementary School is one of approximately 20 schools across the state that is being considered for consolidation by the BOE. The state is threatening to Muanaloa students to another school on Molokai and closing the building. Randy Moore, the Department of Education’s assistant superintendent, said there is a list of criteria that the BOE uses to determine if a school should be considered for consolidation.

According to Moore, schools are required to go through with a consolidation study if: one-third of classroom space is in excess of what the school needs, more than one-third of school facilities do not meet current standards or the school is in danger of becoming so small that it will not offer the range of educational opportunities available at other schools. Maunaloa’s facilities are up to par, but with only roughly 60 students, the school’s small size raised red flags for the BOE.

These rules have been on the books for several years. However, the recent state budget cut has pushed the Board to move much more quickly on the consolidation studies. One school, located in Wailupe, Oahu, has already been consolidated and four other locations (including Maunaloa) are in the beginning stages of the investigation.

“The state financial crisis has certainly accelerated the process,” Moore said. “To operate a school like Maunaloa is probably more than double the cost per student of the average school.”

Just Getting Started
Last week the task force met for the second time at the school’s cafeteria. They presented data about the school and accepted public testimony from community members. The data and testimonies will eventually be used in their report to the BOE, which will be delivered this spring.

The task force will hold its final meeting Feb. 16, 2010 to make a recommendation about the school. Complex superintendent Lindsey Ball and state Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto will also review the task force’s report and make recommendations to the BOE. Based on all of that information, the BOE will make a decision about the school.

According to Moore, the process for Oahu’s Wailupe School took approximately five months to finish. He said the Maunaloa decision is more complicated because of its broader implications to the community, and he expects it to take much longer.

Save Our School
Maunaloa made it on to the BOE’s consolidation list because of its small student body, but in the eyes of the community the school’s size is its greatest asset. 

The school averages 10.5 students per teacher. While budget cuts have led to combining grades for certain subjects and a lack of counselors, parents say that small ratio provides an invaluable relationship between the teacher and students.

“My kids love the school because it is small and they learn more than they would in a bigger school,” said Etty Angst, parent of two children at the school.

Maka Alameida graduated from Maunaloa three years ago and said the personal attention he got from teachers made him a better student.

“You get choke one-on-one time with teachers, so if you fall behind they catch you up quickly,” he said.

Other Molokai residents are concerned about the strain closing the school would put on students and their families with the daily commute to one of the island’s other schools. Most students would have to take the MEO bus to and from school, which means leaving home before 7 a.m. and not returning until late in the evening. The long ride and bus schedule would make it very difficult for any of the students to participate in after-school activities or extra help sessions.

“Logistically it’s a tremendous strain on our youth, I can’t see a first or second grade student having to put in those kind of hours to go to school,” said Molokai High teacher Art Buchalter.

More Than a School
While losing any school can be tough on its students, closing Maunaloa may have even larger implications.

“The community makes this school unique. The kids have a lot of pride in this school, because it is theirs,” said Molokai resident Dart Bicoy.

Over 60 percent of the school’s employees live in the community and would probably have to move to find new work. Espaniola said she was also worried that families would relocate to make the commute easier.

“I think parents would have to move, the value of our homes would go down, whatever businesses we have here would leave too,” Espaniola said.

She and her brother, Danny Espaniola, are both members of the Consolidation Task Force that has to evaluate the school. Danny Espaniola, the current vice principal at the high school and former graduate of Maunaloa School, said he believes this is just another obstacle in the very bumpy road that goes along with living in Maunaloa.

“This community has gone through so much since the plantation era, but it has always bounced back from adversity,” he said. “This is just another hurdle in our challenge – another bump in the road.”

Footsteps For Football

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Footsteps For Football

There hasn’t been a high school football game on Molokai since 1961, but the possibility of ending that streak took a small leap towards reality last month. Mike Kahale, a physical education teacher at Kualapu`u School, recently received a $2,000 grant to purchase football equipment.

Kahale, who has been working to create a high school football team since moving to Molokai five years ago, said the grant from USA Football was a step in the right direction.

“It’s a huge step,” he said. “Getting the equipment was one of our biggest obstacles and the fact that we got it from a nationally recognized organization shows we are willing to look to outside sources to get this done.”

Kahale and his wife, Nichol Helm Kahale, presented a strategic five-year plan to bring football back to Molokai to High School Athletic Director Cami Kimball last year.

“We sat down at the beginning of the year last year and talked about possibly bringing it back to the school,” Kimball said. “It’s on our backburner, but I don’t want to give the impression that we will have a team next year.”

The cost of high school football is exponentially higher than most other sports and a good deal of money would still need to be raised to help pay for travel costs, field maintenance and additional equipment.

Starting a football program seems even more daunting as it comes on the coattails of major budget cuts for high school sports across the state. Supporters of the program will be looking to other outside businesses and organizations to help with funding.

Kahale said Molokai’s most famous football player, Kimo “Scooby” Von Oelhoffen, has offered to help fund the program, but the two have yet to discuss actual dollars and cents. Von Oelhoffen played football at University of Hawaii and Boise State before starting a 15-year NFL career, despite never getting the chance to play in high school.

Crazy Eights
The $100,000-plus price tag that comes with a traditional football team is a stretch at this point, but that doesn’t mean the sport can’t exist at all. In the past year, some of the Maui Interscholastic League’s (MIL) smaller schools have started to look into an eight-man football league.

Eight-man football – rather than traditional 11-man teams -- is played in many rural regions on the mainland and allows small schools with small budgets a chance to play football. MIL Executive Director Joe Balangitao and St. Anthony’s High School Athletic Director Charlie Pico have been working to develop such a league for Maui County’s smaller schools.

“An eight player league is way more suitable for us,” Kimball said. “There is no way we can do a regular league. For us to send that many players every will is just not a possibility.”

Kahale said they still hope to establish a full team in the future, but see the possibility of an eight-man team as good progress.

“It’s not exactly what we wanted, but right now it’s either eight-man or nothing and it is definitely better than nothing,” he said.

Moving Forward

Kahale said the next step is to inform other possible contributors and Balangitao about the new grant. The MIL requires commitments from only three schools to sanction a league.

“We just have to let everyone know we are headed in the right direction and get our plan into the hands of people who can help us raise the money we need,” Kahale said. “We should be afforded every opportunity that every other high school has in Maui County.  Our kids deserve it.”