Molokai’s first Ag Country Fair on May Day at Lanikeha

With May Day, often called Lei Day in Hawaii, falling on Saturday, Kualapuu Elementary School will be celebrating with a royal court ceremony today. The other Molokai public schools celebrated with a royal court investiture yesterday because today is another Furlough Friday.

Tomorrow the big event will be Molokai’s first Ag Country Fair calling for ag unity in our community. The fair at the Lanikeha Center in Ho’olehua will showcase Molokai grown produce, meat products and informational exhibits.

The goal of the Molokai Homestead Farmers Alliance is to have agriculture be the foundation for Molokai since sustainable living encompasses our island. The event is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fair will feature subsistence recipe contest, an ag country store, game fowl show, dog show, entertainment, horse rides, games, grease pig contest, craft booths, lei contest, orchid project and informational and display booths.

GMO protest begins at 8 a.m.

Not just agriculture will be on display at Lanikeha. Prior to the fair, the strength of Molokai’s activism will be on display at a GMO protest beginning at 8 a.m. and running until 11 a.m. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are grown extensively on Molokai in corn seed crop by the island’s largest employer, Monsanto, as well as by Mycogen.

The GMO corn is grown with a special bacteria inserted into its genetic structure to make it resistant to pests and herbicides like Roundup. Those opposed to GMOs believe it is an unhealthy agricultural solution and is damaging to those who ingest it as well as those who work and live around the fields where it is grown.

Molokai as a model for energy efficiency

Also as part of the ag fair, the Kalama’ula Mauka Homestead Association presents Molokai’s First Energy Efficient & Renewables Show. Kalama’ula Mauka’s project called Molokai 2020 has a vision to raise social consciousness and see Molokai as a potential leader for island sustainability in the 21st century. The Blue Planet Foundation and Molokai Robotics Team students will be doing CFL bulb exchanges at the fair all day.

Information on a variety of energy efficient green products that take advantage of government stimulus money will be available. This can include grants, tax credits and rebates on products ranging from solar hot water heaters to personal wind generators and whole house fans.

Energy consultant Mary Doeffinger with zEnergy Solution will discuss special rebates for the outer islands retrofits. Michael Leone will be giving seminars on the hour on several topics including wind generation, electric vehicles, charging stations and solar photovoltaics. 21st Century Lighting will be there to enlighten us on LED and inductive lighting.

It all starts at 8 a.m. at the Lanikeha Center in Ho’olehua.


Planning Commission tables exemption request on East End home construction

Steve Chaikin chosen to be Molokai Planning Commission Chair, replacing Joseph Kalipi

At the Molokai Planning Commissions previous meeting of April 14, the decision to choose a new chairperson and vice chairperson was deferred because only five commissioners were in attendance. At yesterday’s meeting of the Planning Commission, there again were only five members in attendance. Three members were absent and Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares has not yet appointed a person to fill the ninth commissioner seat.

This time, however, the commissioners decided not to put off choosing a commission leader for this year. Molokai’s only political representation that actually meets on Molokai chose Steve Chaikin to be chair and John Sprinzel to be vice-chair. Chaikin had been chair of the commission in the past and served as vice-chair under Joseph Kalipi, who was not in attendance yesterday.

In regular business, the commission considered a request to exempt the construction of a new East End home near the Ualapue fishpond from Special Management Area rules.

In an interesting twist, Molokai Staff Planner Mikal Torgerson, who had initially recommended concurrence with the Maui County Planning Department to grant the exemption, withdrew his recommendation after a discussion of the home’s septic system and general layout. Apparently, the submitted drawings of the project showed two different locations for the septic system.

The applicant, David Archinal from California, was represented at the meeting by Luigi Manera of Architectural Drafting Service in Kaunakakai. Manera provided a letter from the state Department of Health approving the underwater septic system. This met with strong objection from commissioner Nat Bacon who felt it was not clear if the state had approved the location mauka or makai of the new home. Bacon also wanted more information on the potential impact this system would have on the surrounding wetlands. Commissioner Chaikin also requested additional information on how the chlorine in the system dissipates into the environment.

East End resident Saben Kalipi testified that she was concerned about the general impact of shoreline development in this area. She remembers when the area was taro fields and was worried about how new construction might affect the growth of limu ele ele in that area.

Bacon went on to say that he would like to see an SMA minor permit for this 1,125 square-foot home that will be combined with a 792 square-foot deck. At this time the commissioners agreed to defer the exemption until the requested information can be provided at the next commissioners meeting.

Final public hearing on Maunaloa School consolidation set for May 10

A public hearing is scheduled for May 10 at Maunaloa Elementary to accept testimony on the most recent report from the school’s Consolidation Task Force. Based on findings discussed at the last two meetings of the Task Force, the report concludes that it does not make sense to close Maunaloa.

Once testimony is added to the current draft it will be submitted in final form to the complex superintendent. It then gets passed on to Board of Education and the acting state superintendent to make a final decision about Maunaloa’s future.

Rose Yamada, chair of the consolidation task force, drafted the 94-page report that can viewed online at The report is the result of six months of work by this 10-member task force charged with studying the West End school whose enrollment now hovers around 60 students.

Among those on the Task Force are Joe Yamamota, Maunaloa School principal, Lydia Trinidad, principal of the next closest elementary school, Kualapu’u Elementary, and Janice Espiritu, principal of Kuanakai Elementary. All three principals agreed that closing the school did not make sense economically, socially or for educational reasons. If it costs $800,000 a year to keep Maunaloa open, this is a “drop in the bucket” for the Department of Education, said Trinidad at the February task force meeting. This is compared to the impact the closure would have on the Maunaloa community and the students who would be forced to travel more than 30-miles a day on a bus.

Advantages and disadvantages of the consolidation are carefully considered in the draft report, including the fact that the state has already invested over $1 million in repairs and maintenance of the school in recent years.

Another consideration is whether Maunaloa may be expanded to include a middle school if Molokai Middle School goes through the consolidation process.

These and many other topics will be considered at the May 10 public hearing. It begins at 6 p.m. at Maunaloa School. Let your voice be heard on this important issue before the decision is put in the hands of the state board and superintendent.

Another Molokai church damaged, this time by wind

By Maria Sullivan

The steeple of St. Joseph Church, Kamalo, with missing panel. Photo courtesy of Maria Sullivan

The high winds of Holy Week took a toll on St. Joseph Church in Kamalo, on Molokai, tearing a gaping hole in its fragile steeple and blowing the cross off. The damage to this historic church, one of several St. Damien built, is the second calamity to strike the island’s St. Damien Parish in recent months. On Feb. 11, the parish’s main church in Kaunakakai, St. Sophia, was destroyed in a fire.

Sacred Hearts Sister Jessie Kai called Sacred Hearts Father Clyde Guerreiro, pastor of St. Damien, early on Holy Thursday, April 1, to tell him that someone reported the steeple cross missing. The cross had adorned the church since Father Damien built it in 1876.

“I immediately went out to check on it and found the cross lying directly at Father Damien’s feet,” said Father Guerreiro, referring to the life-sized statue of Father Damien standing in the graveyard next to the church.

Tiny St. Joseph is significant among the three Molokai churches built by Father Damien because it remains in the most original condition. The 40-seat chapel is a regular stop for pilgrims. It was one of the places Bishop Silva and 12 mainland bishops visited while accompanying St. Damien’s relic on an island tour last October following his canonization.

Father Guerreiro had already started to raise money this past fall and winter to repair, re-roof and repaint St. Joseph.

“The church has not been re-roofed since the late 1960s,” he said. “Last year I began a letter-writing campaign to 563 visitors to raise funds to repair St. Joseph Church.”

The pastor’s effort led to one benefactor agreeing to re-roof the church, plus $6,000 donated for window restoration, painting and fumigation. However, the steeple damage has raised the price beyond what the parish has available.

“The repair projects are critical to the preservation of this Damien church,” Father Guerreiro said, “because now when it rains, it rains inside the church.”

Father Guerreiro says the church had so far survived on “borrowed time,” but the time is now up.

The new damage has added yet another strain to the 300-plus family parish which has two other churches and stretches across topside Molokai. Other priorities, including building St. Sophia’s replacement, have challenged the parish’s limited budget.

With the island’s unemployment chronically in the double digits, the parish has relied on donations from friends and supporters throughout Hawaii and the mainland.

But Father Guerreiro is optimistic.

“When I saw the cross lying at Father Damien’s feet I thought, ‘Well, I’m a Sacred Hearts priest and my challenges are minor, compared to those that faced my predecessor Father Damien.’ However, I am at the point that I need to ‘Let go, and let God,’ and trust that our benefactors will come forward to help us. We need to preserve this Damien Church before it disappears.”

How you can help

Send your check payable to “St Damien Parish — St. Joseph Church Fund” to: Father Clyde Guerreiro, SS.CC., St. Damien Parish — St. Joseph Church Fund, P.O. Box 1948, Kaunakakai, HI 96748.

For more information contact St. Damien parishioner, Maria Sullivan at, or (808) 553-5181.

Sarento’s/Kai Wa`a Maui to Molokai Challenge has 146 participants

Connor Baxter paddles into Kaunakakai Harbor in first place.

Jimmy Austin finished first in the men’s solo canoe category in the Maui to Molokai Challenge held Saturday. Conditions were favorable with moderate tradewinds of about 15-20 mph coming from the northeast.

The race included 146 canoers and stand-up paddlers and was put on by the Maui Canoe and Kayak Club. Austin finished the 27-mile course from Flemings Beach on Maui to Kaunakakai Harbor in two hours, 34 minutes, 33 seconds.

Andrea Moller placed first in the women’s solo canoe division in 2.58:28. Junya McGurn and David Kalama won the two-person canoe division in 2.33:55 while Bruce Taylor took first in the Surfski men’s division. Connor Baxter won the stand-up solo division in 3.40.03. For complete results visit

Record set in swimming Kaiwi Channel

Long-distance ocean swimmer Chris Palfrey set the record for swimming across the Kaiwi Channel this past weekend.

Swimmer Chris Palfrey set a record of 12 hours, 53 minutes, 15 seconds for crossing the Kaiwi Channel on Saturday. Palfrey set out from Laau Point on Molokai’s southwest shore at 4 a.m. At the same time, Palfrey’s wife Penny began a 72-mile swim from Ka’ena Point to to Kaua’i.

Palfrey became the 12th person to successfully swim across the channel. The last crossing came in September of 2009 when Mackenzie Miller of Kailua became the youngest person ever to swim across the 26-mile Kaiwi Channel at 18 years old. It took Miller 14 hours and 45 minutes to swim the channel.

Volleyball team splits two matches with Hana

Two closely fought volleyball matches took place this weekend at the Barn in Hoolehua when Hana visited Molokai.

On Friday, the Molokai boys volleyball team topped Hana three sets to two by a score of 25-22, 15-25, 25-20, 23-25 and 15-13. For the Farmers Haaheo Falealii led the team at the net with 22 kills. Setting him up was Kawaiola Kalipi with 53 assists and two blocks. David Gomes and Claude Duvauchelle each had nine kills and Julien Bumatay added six kills to go along with five aces. For Hana, Kapena Kaiwi finished with 24 kills and Kemamo Kaupe-Hanchette had 22 assists.

Hana had to wait less than 24 hours to get its revenge on Molokai. The two teams met again at noon on Saturday at the Barn, and this time Hana won by three sets to two. The set scores were 25-22, 25-23, 30-32, 19-25 and 12-15. Falealii again led the Farmers with kills totaling 17 over the five sets and adding two blocks. Claude Kapuni had 12 kills and four blocks for Molokai while David Gomes and Bumatay had 10 kills apiece. For Hana, Kaiwi had 31 kills, five blocks while Kaupe-Hanchett had 24 assists and 16 kills.

Molokai is now in second place in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II standings with a 3-2 record, just ahead of Hana at 2-3. Seabury Hall holds first place with a 5-0 record.