Author Archives: Sean Aronson

Perfect Timing

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

New growers market exceeds organizers’ expectations.
By Sean Aronson

With the possible change in the Young Brothers delivery service, the need for fresh, local produce is more important than ever.  And an upstart growers market could be just the thing to make that produce available to fellow Molokai residents.

The Aina Momona Grower’s Market began last week and looks to establish itself as a weekday compliment to the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  It is held Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 3:30 to 6pm of each week.  The market occurs in the parking lot of Molokai Community Service Council, across the street from Molokai Burger.

Organizer P.J. White said their first day was a resounding success with a steady stream of people buying products from plants to corn to wood.  

The event was so successful that everything was sold in less than an hour.  And the Tuesday market was canceled because there was nothing else to sell.  At least 25 people were turned away on Tuesday because everything had sold the day before.

White said they need lots more contributors, and it seems there is clearly a market for a variety of products.  And if the first week was any indication, vendors will have no trouble selling everything they bring.

The Growers Market is also expanding to include fish and shrimp, according to White.

As of now, the market has 12 local growers, selling a variety of produce and herbs.  The growers include medium sized farms like Beach Boy and Kumu as well as individuals such as Mana`e resident Mike Kelly, who sold keawe wood.

“We have a good selection of items,” said White.  “We just need more of everything.”

White said with the proposed barge schedule changes limiting the amount of perishable food that will come from Maui, buying and selling Molokai-grown produce is a great idea.  She hopes it will put an even greater emphasis on getting local food from the tree to the dinner table.

“People like to have to fresh stuff and what better way of getting in than from your neighbor,” said White.

If you would like to sell your extra produce, please contact P.J. White at 567-6713.

Front and Center

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Molokai’s reef remains in focus for many residents and scientists.
By Sean Aronson

Molokai’s southern coral reef has been here for millions of years, and while local residents have known of its value for generations, many are again waking up to its importance thanks to a United States Geological Survey report.

The recent publication of the USGS report has spurred interest, and scientists and residents alike are hoping to capitalize on this to get financial support for the reef’s preservation.  

“Molokai has reefs that are dead – they just don’t know it yet,” said Robert Richmond, marine biologist from Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Richmond spoke to the Molokai Governor’s Advisory Council last week.

Checking In

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Molokai bills stay active in the Hawaii Senate and House.
By Sean Aronson

There continues to be legislation that will have an impact on Molokai in the Senate and House.  Issues that range from GMO’s to fisheries to Molokai Ranch have all seen the light of day in the past few weeks.  Here’s a run-down of the action.


There are two separate bills addressing the use of genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMO’s.  One seeks to ban their use, while another hopes to take away the power of the legislative bodies to prohibit their use.

House Bill 1663 would ban the use of GMO’s for taro only. It “prohibits the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically modified Hawaiian taro in the State.”

Ranch on the Bidding Block

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Molokai Properties says land is up for sale if price is right.
By Sean Aronson

It’s been almost a year since Molokai Ranch closed its doors, but its importance to this island continues to keep it in the headlines.  The most recent chapter in the Ranch saga occurred at a hearing on last weeks’ House resolution requesting a fair appraisal of Molokai Properties Limited (MPL) land.

Dan Orodenker, General Manager for MPL, said in a live hearing Friday that the Ranch land is for sale if the right offer was on the table.  Rumors about MPL’s willingness to sell have been flying around Molokai for months, but this was the first public statement from MPL addressing the issue.

HCR 95, introduced last week by Ken Ito, Chair of the Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee (WLO), requests the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to conduct a fair and accurate appraisal of MPL’s lands.  The resolution cites MPL’s failure to allow access for subsistence hunting and farming as well as its lack of commitment to provide water and sewer services to West end residents among the reasons for State intervention.

Between a Barge and a Hard Place

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Young Brothers proposes several changes to Molokai shipping service.
By Sean Aronson

Molokai is full of talk about sustainability and self-sufficiency, but every day brings reminders of how far away this island is from either.  Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the reliance on weekly barges for nearly everything – fuel, food and building supplies. For these essential items, the island is serviced by just one company, Young Brothers, Ltd.   And a number of proposed changes to the delivery schedule and rates of these barges has this community talking.

Currently, Molokai’s two weekly barges arrive on consecutive days, Wednesday and Thursday.  This presents storage problems for the island’s grocery stores because they must essentially unload and keep a weeks’ worth of merchandise in just two days.  It also means the shelves are virtually empty on Monday and Tuesday.

Under the proposed changes, Molokai would receive a barge on Monday and Thursday. The biggest difference is that the Monday barge will be going directly from Honolulu to Molokai, whereas before the Wednesday barge was going from Honolulu to Maui and then on to Molokai.  

Despite all of this information being publically available, some Molokai residents say Young Brothers is not acting in the best interest of the island.

Here’s an excerpt from an email that made the rounds through various Molokai email lists earlier this month:

“In a nutshell, Young Brothers is trying to sneak a schedule change past the PUC [Public Utilities Commission]. No fresh vegetables? Everything, vegetables, cattle, will have to route through Honolulu taking two or more days. They also want to end the Maui to Molokai link.  YB did not tell Molokai or Lanai residents the truth of what they are

Young Brothers did hold a public meeting on Feb. 2nd in Kaunakakai to discuss the proposed barge schedule change as well as changes to the rates for shipping.  In addition, all of these changes were laid out in documents that are available on the Young Brothers website.

Connecting The Drops

Monday, March 16th, 2009

The future of Molokai’s water is top concern for advisory committee.
By Sean Aronson

As Molokai residents plan for the future of this island, preservation of native resources is at the top of the list.  This includes having animals to hunt and plants to eat. But it all begins with water.

A small group of concerned citizens gathered last week to hear the presentation of a water plan for Molokai.  The proposal will be submitted to the Maui County Department of Water Supply (MDWS) sometime this summer.  It will then go to the Maui County Council, where it may be adopted as official policy for the next twenty years.

Carl Freedman, a consultant working for the MDWS, presented a draft of his strategy.  His work is heavily influenced by the outcome of the Molokai Water Working Group, a group that met seven times over the course of a year to address water concerns on the island.  That body issued their report in May of 2008.

Molokai High School Basketball – A Season to Remember.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Molokai High School Basketball – A Season to Remember.

A Class Act

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Molokai boys finish fourth at Hawaii’s state basketball tournament.
By Sean Aronson

It may not have ended with arms raised and a trophy hoisted, but 2009 was a successful season any way you slice it for the Molokai boys basketball team.

“This was a great night for basketball and a greater night for Molokai,” said Head Coach Lee DeRouin following his team’s defeat in the semifinals of the state tournament.  

It was the first time Molokai boys finished in the top four since 1988, when teams competed in one big tournament.  In 2007 the state tournament was divided into two divisions, with the Farmers playing in the smaller of the two.

Molokai was one of 12 teams selected for the Div II state championships.  They earned a first round bye, which means they were automatically into a quarterfinal matchup with Pahoa High School from Hawaii Island.  They won that game, setting up a semifinal contest with Castle High School from Kaneohe, Oahu.

After a great comeback in their previous game, Molokai could not perform another miracle in Honolulu – but they came pretty darn close. The Farmers, the number four seed, challenged the number one seed, Castle, and put up a great fight last week, losing 57-44.

“We left everything on the court,” said Kinohi Kelly-Paleka, a senior who had four points in the loss.

After a ferocious first half by Castle, which saw them hit eight three-pointers, the Farmers were down 15, 35-20.  But they stormed out of the second half, holding the Castle Knights to just four points in the third quarter while cutting the lead to seven.

But in the fourth quarter, Molokai seemed to lose a little of their luster as close shots did not fall and balls bounced off their hands.  Turnovers were also a problem, as several key possessions were squandered with errant passes and sloppy dribbling.

With a little more than three minutes to go and trailing by eight, the Farmers forced an offensive foul on Castle and it appeared a comeback was in the making.  Senior Scottie Rapanot hit a short jumper and Molokai had cut the lead to six. After a foul on a Castle player and a missed three pointer by Micah Ritte-Managan, the deficit was back to nine with fewer than two minutes to play.

Molokai was forced to foul on the ensuing possessions and Castle hit their foul shots.  When several Molokai three-pointers clanked off the rim, the reality of defeat settled on the faces of the players and coaches and DeRouin called a timeout to gather his team.

“I told them to go out their and finish the game with class,” said DeRouin.

Despite their trademark defense, the hot-shooting Knights kept Molokai guessing with good inside-out penetration and constant motion on the perimeter.  Castle also had an outstanding point guard in Michael Santos, an all tournament selection.

Santos had great ball control and was adept at slowing the pace of the game down, just when the Farmers were looking to cut into the deficit.  Several times it was Santos’ guard play that prevented a total collapse for Castle.  And it was his foul shooting down the stretch that sealed the victory.

The one place Molokai did have an advantage was in the rebounding category, combining for 21 offensive boards and an overall advantage of 15 (48-33).  Despite Castle having a taller and larger center, the Farmers were dominant in the front-court, with senior Joseph Akaka scoring at will under the basket.

Akaka, one of the most consistent players in the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) this year, was the only Farmer to be included on the all-tournament team. He averaged 16.3 points and 12 rebounds in the Farmers' three games in Oahu.

Quarterfinal Game
The previous night, the Farmers defeated a tough team from Hawaii Island.  Pahoa was the Big Island League runner-up and featured a player, Jonathan Viernes, who had scored 33 points the night before.

Molokai did a great job of containing Viernes, but still found themselves down 30-26 at halftime.  

After Kinohi Kelly-Paleka hit a jumper in the lane, and a Pahoa turnover, Joseph Akaka had a layup to bring them within three. At that point the determination of the Farmers was evident and their defensive intensity was too much for Pahoa.  They held the Pahoa Daggers scoreless for the next six minutes, combining a full-court press and tenacious in-your-face-defense.

With good guard play and slowed down offense, the Farmers held their small lead in the fourth quarter to secure their victory and advance to the semi-finals for the first time in twenty years.

Third-Place Game
After their semifinal defeat, the Farmers were understandably less than enthusiastic about their next game.  But the chance to play at the Blaisdell Arena held enough excitement to get the Farmers amped for the third place game against the Kohala Cowboys, of Oahu.

After a slow start, the Farmers found their rhythm in the second quarter, but still found themselves down 12 at half.  Kohala came out blazing in the third and ran the lead to 26.  Molokai had a tremendous comeback in the fourth, outscoring the Cowboys 23-12, but still lost by a score of 70-55.

The big bright spot for the Farmers was the play of senior Micah Ritte-Managan. An all-MIL selection in 2008, Ritte-Managan had been injured nearly the entire season and struggled to find his shooting touch in the first two games of the playoffs.  After shooting a dismal one for 11 in the Castle game, he converted on five of eight field goals to score 15 in the loss.

Next Year
Molokai loses five players to graduation – Scottie Rapanot, Joseph Akaka, Kinohi Kelly-Paleka, Micah Ritte-Manangan and Daniel Espaniola.  All five saw significant time for the Farmers, with Rapanot and Akaka forming the nucleus of the team. Ritte-Manangan was hurt for much of the season, but saw playing time at states.

Kelly-Paleka was arguably the MVP for the Farmers in their defeat over Pahoa, sparking their comeback and scoring several key baskets down the stretch. And while Espaniola did not see as much playing time as the others, he was vocal on the bench and often gave the team a much-needed emotional spark.

Junior starters returning will be guards Herbert Antolin and Kawaiola Kalipi.  Coming off the bench, returnees include Alvin Ringor, Julien Bumatay and Keoni Kahoalii. Sophomore sensation Kamakana Duvachelle-Andrade and Ryan Rapanot rounded out the crew.

DeRouin said the loss of the seniors will be tough, but he is confident the team can return to the state tournament with a strong squad next year.

A Second Family

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Boy’s basketball team is close-knit in victory and defeat.
By Sean Aronson

The next night brought an even bigger Molokai fan base and this time, the fans taped two ‘Go Molokai’ signs to the wall.  But their opponent, Castle High School, is a local favorite and they too had a crowd to match that of the Farmers.  

After a first half that saw the opposing team hit eight three pointers and Molokai miss a half dozen easy shots, the Farmers were down fifteen.  The crowd looked sullen, but knew their boys wouldn’t give up without a fight.  They were proven right when the team stormed out of the locker room and brought the crowd to their feet with a spirited third quarter comeback.

Things got heated as the Farmers climbed all the way back to within six points. After a mad scramble for the ball, a Castle player rose to his feet looking to taunt a Molokai player, Scottie Rapanot.  Rapanot, bigger and certainly stronger than the skinny guard, just walked away without a word or so much as a dirty look.

It was the perfect image for a team that never allows it to get involved in the taunting and mind games so often found in basketball.  And this resistance is made even more admirable when you consider the hard-nosed intensity Molokai plays with.

Their on-court tenacity is something to behold.  Every loose ball, every rebound sees a Farmer or two or three darting to the floor or boards to secure the ball. More times than I can remember, I overheard fans comment about the ferocious focus with which Molokai plays.  It can be seen in the eyes of every player, on every possession.

That kind of passion can not be taught, but it can be fostered, and Coach Lee DeRouin has done just that in his short time with the program. He and Assistant Coach Lester Delos Reyes (a stand-out player in his own MHS days), have brought discipline and drive to this team.

This is epitomized by their chant of ‘1, 2, 3, hard work’ every time they leave a huddle.

I’d like to thank the entire team and coaching staff for letting me witness their passion on and off the court, and for a short time, feeling like a member of their family.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Farmers Advance to Semi-Finals

Friday, March 6th, 2009