New coach and new hope for baseball team

For the past few years, a new baseball season has meant a new head coach for the Molokai High School team.

Hopefully, Mike McCutcheon, the fifth head coach in the last five years, will stick around long enough to bring the winning ways back to a program that captured the state Division I championship in 1999 and 2000.

McCutcheon replaces former big league pitcher Steve Trout who coached the Farmers last season.

McCutcheon, a Maui County police officer and a 1995 graduate of Molokai High, begins his first year as head coach for the Farmers. The team had its first preseason game Friday afternoon against King Kekaulike at the Baldwin High School Invitational Baseball Tournament at Maehara Stadium.

After defeating Waipahu 5-4 the day before, King Kekaulike easily handled Molokai 10-1. King Kekaulike scored in all six of its innings, helped by six Molokai errors.

McCutcheon is the school resource officer at Molokai High School in his eighth year with MPD. In seven years with the Arizona Diamondback organization, McCutcheon rose to Double-A in the minor league system.

But he is better known locally for setting a record while pitching for Molokai. McCutcheon, a lefthander, struck out a state-record 23 batters in a 16-inning complete game that stretched over two days and 248 pitches. The Farmers lost that game 3-2 to Baldwin. Now that players are limited by the state to pitch no more than 10 innings per week, it is unlikely this record will ever be broken.

The Farmers six-game regular season in MIL Division II begins in March. McCutcheon said he would try to pick up some extra games against Division I opponents to help prepare his players to take their game to the next level.


Drainage improvement work dedicated in Kapa’akea

DHHL Deputy Director Robert Hall, left, along with Rev. Roy Horner at today's ceremony dedicating the completion of a flood prevention project in Kapa'akea Loop.

Project designed to prevent flooding of Molokai homestead

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and residents of Kapa’akea today celebrated the completion of work aimed at preventing flooding of the Molokai Hawaiian homestead community.

“When heavy rains hit this portion of Molokai, the flooding that occurs disrupts the lives of residents and causes a potential hazard for the entire community,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Albert “Alapaki” Nahale-a. “The health and safety of homesteaders is a priority for the department and this work is designed to alleviate area flooding.”

The Rev. Roy Horner presided over the ceremony followed by a community gathering at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center.

“Today we join with the beneficiaries of Kapa’akea and the people of Molokai in celebrating another successful community partnership,” Nahale-a said.

DHHL Deputy Director Robert Hall, who was present at today’s ceremony, said that this drainage project has been over five years in the making. “The project itself is not a total solution but it does mitigate the problem,” he said.

The $200,000 project consisted of drainage improvements along the east and west drainageways and along Kapa’akea Loop within the Kapa’akea Subdivision, less than a mile east of Kaunakakai.

The work included clearing of brush and debris, grading, installation of temporary and permanent erosion control measures (turf reinforcement matting and grassing), and relocation of existing structures along the east and west drainageways.

The recently completed $200,000 DHHL project will channel flood water into the ocean at Kapa'akea Loop.

The work also included removal and adjustment of existing asphalt concrete pavement and installation of new permanent traffic warning signs along a section of Kapa’akea Loop, where the east and west drainageways intersect Kapa’akea Loop. The project also reconstructed and provided smooth riding connection and transitions to existing driveways along Kapa’akea Loop.

This project will help protect 45 lots in the Kapa’akea Loop from potential flooding. “This is a simple project, but it’s important to help the homesteaders,” said Hall.

The construction contractor is Island Construction and Demolition LLC and project manager is David Souza. Austin Tsutsumi and Associates, Inc. is the design consultant.

Opinion: Don’t believe everything you read about Big Wind

By Robin Kaye

We applaud Steve Morgan for trying to educate your readers on the proposed industrial wind power plants targeted for both Molokai and Lanai (and perhaps Maui as well). And we hope that his intentions of objectivity continue to guide his writing.

There are a number of related issues we would like to raise for The Molokai News’ readers.

Abandoned turbines on Big Island.

First, we’d like them to have a better understanding of the much-touted Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI). HCEI was passed under the Lingle administration and set a number of goals for getting Hawaii off of fossil fuels.

It might help to first know that 70 percent of the fossil fuel imported to Hawaii goes for transportation (airplanes, ships, automobiles, etc.) while the remaining 30 percent is for electricity. HCEI sets some remarkable goals — making Hawaii energy 70 percent renewable by 2030, with 30 percent of that change coming from “conservation.”

But it is also important to know that the proposed 400 megawatt (MW) Big Wind project, would, due to the wind’s intermittent nature, only provide 10 percent of Oahu’s electrical needs. Only 10 percent.

The state’s legislation, HRS269-92, lays out these goals and raises the possibility of penalties for HECO should they not meet those goals. What is equally important to realize, however, is that all those penalties are subject to waiver — in fact, there could be NO penalties at all for HECO. But if there are penalties imposed, the law makes it quite clear that those penalties must be paid FROM SHAREHOLDER FUNDS ONLY; they cannot be passed on to ratepayers. And so we ask: Could that be why HECO is pushing so hard for Big Wind?

On Lanai, Friends of Lanai unequivocally opposes this industrial wind power plant. We cannot see that in exchange for providing 10 percent of Oahu’s electrical needs, one quarter of our island would be grossly disfigured — and most likely destroyed. The view planes, which Molokai and Lanai residents see every day would be permanently altered by 170 turbines, each 100 feet longer than a football field, each as tall as the tallest building in our state — the First Hawaiian Bank Building in Honolulu.

Here’s a scale drawing of just one such turbine:

There are many environmental issues to consider with this mammoth project, starting with the proposed undersea cable. Much has been written about the supposed safety of this transmission line. Yet similar words must surely have been written about the undersea cable carrying Oceanic Cable’s transmissions that broke mid-channel last year.

Everything is “unbreakable” — until it breaks. The cable, we’re told, will only be laid during the seasons when the humpback whales are not in Hawaii. What if the cable breaks during whale season? Will they wait to repair it when no whales are present? Is there any danger to marine life should the cable be accidentally sliced in two?

The EIS is supposed to address these issues, but the EIS process is years from completion.

Recently, one of the largest reported colonies of the endangered Hawaiian Petrel (U’au) was found on Lanai hale, and the developer’s own study indicated the possibility of massive “kills” of this bird as it flies directly through the proposed site. Just imagine: these birds travel long distances at night, choosing Lanai as their home because of the absence of light. With the wind power plant, there will be 170 bright flashing red aviation warning lights (like the lights just found to be detrimental to birds on Kauai) scattered directly in their flight path. And the spinning blades — their diameter will be equal to the full length of a Boeing 747.

We on Molokai and Lanai frequently hear from HECO (and on Lanai, as well from Castle & Cooke) that this industrial wind power plant will “guarantee” our electric rates to be equal to Oahu’s. There are two problems with accepting that as fact: 1) HECO, Castle & Cooke, even First Wind do NOT set electric rates. They are set by the Public Utilities Commission; and 2) no one is talking about how much O’ahu’s rates will go UP to pay for the cable and the grid work on O’ahu.

Two bills recently approved by two House and two Senate committees authorize HECO to pass on all the costs associated with the cable to “ratepayers.” So, before our two islands’ rates are equaled to Oahu’s, theirs are likely to be substantially raised. The conversation about “levelized” rates is both premature and deceptive.

There are many dates floating around regarding the timelines for this proposed Big Wind project. At a recent Senate hearing, the U.S. Department of Energy representative said it would probably not be online until 2020. DBEDT and HECO have told the public that the required EISs won’t be completed until sometime in 2014 or 2015, and then the permitting process takes at least another year. And all that assumes the absence of litigation or the impact of community opposition.

Too many of the recent articles in Honolulu’s print and online media have simply copied the press releases and announcements of Hawaiian Electric (HECO), Castle & Cooke (C&C), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT.) These agencies and businesses are all unabashed PROPONENTS of Big Wind, so their words only reflect what they want the public to believe. But despite their optimism, and their desire to paint this industrial wind power plant for Oahu but built on Molokai and Lanai, this is NOT an inevitable project. It is no more inevitable than the long-gone Superferry.

Here’s an example of that kind of press coverage. Of the myriad stories about HECO and C&C’s recently announced “community” benefits package, only our neighboring Maui News bothered to speak with ANY community member for their reactions and input. [Note: This and other related articles can be found on our website:]

This package was HECO’s and C&C’s thinking for our community; it was NOT the community’s benefits package. The announcement indicated that it reflected conversations with, among others, Friends of Lanai. Had any reporter asked FOL if that were true, they would have learned that since its inception two years ago, the position of FOL has consistently been this — there are NO benefits that justify taking one-quarter of Lanai for an industrial wind power plant for Oahu. Period.

Further, if you look closely at that package, you will quickly see that the two largest “community benefits” were to help preserve the watershed and to fix our leaking water delivery pipes (which currently lose about 25 percent of our precious water through leaky pipes.) No one thought to ask why were those two offerings not considered as the landowner’s responsibility and obligation for the past 25 years? Why only now offer to help preserve our only aquifer? But no one asked.

So, to our neighbors on Molokai and Maui, we say keep asking the hard questions. Keep insisting that the “powers” listen to you — and to us. The government officials who are promoting all this won’t be here forever, but our keiki and our history will be.

Robin Kaye is an organizer for Friend’s of Lanai, a group that exists to give voice to the many Lanai residents who strongly oppose the Oahu industrial wind power plant on Lanai.

American Girl raises awareness about endangered Hawaiian monk seal

Maunaloa fourth graders, with members of the Kauai Monk Seal Watch Project, in class today.

When Ronalee Eckberg and Tim Robinson from the Kauai Monk Seal Watch Project first started coming to Molokai five years ago, the local population of monk seals was estimated at 10 to 15 seals.

Much has changed since these two began visiting Molokai fourth grade classes to educate our youth about the endangered Hawaiian monk seals. This year, the population of monk seals that spend time on Molokai is between 40 and 50.

But the biggest impact on the KMSWP came from a company known for making dolls. In 2009, American Girl Publishing approached Robinson to consult on children’s literature related to the American Girl dolls product line. As a result, The Girl of the Year Doll for 2011, Kanani, lives in Hawaii and helps save monk seals in the plots of the two books published this year.

Robinson hopes this wide exposure through the American Girl books will raise awareness about Hawaii’s endemic monk seals, which number between 1,100 and 1,200 and are still endangered.

“The animals are only really visible when on beaches to rest but I think we’re making a start at national recognition with this project,” said Robinson. “The first step is name recognition, and this is going to really put it out there.”

With the American Girl catalogue going out to 41 million families, Robinson hopes that the name “Hawaiian Monk Seal” will be introduced to 12 to 16 million people. With the Kanani doll, associated products and a stuffed seal in the 2011 American Girl catalogue, the potential audience is enormous.

Today, Robinson and Eckberg had a captive audience of nine fourth graders at Maunaloa Elementary School. Each student asked thoughtful questions on the biology and ecology of monk seals. The students also learned about the impact that the North Pacific garbage patch has on monk seals.

Of course any time you discuss monk seals on Molokai, KP2 always comes into the conversation. Now known as Ho’ailona instead of KP2, the monk seal became famous when the Wall Street Journal came to Molokai to report the story about how Ho’ailona was removed from the Kaunakakai wharf area by officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Robinson and Eckberg explained to the students why NOAA took Ho’ailona when he was no longer a small pup and began to endanger the swimmers he used to play with in the water. He was taken to California because of his cataracts. Unfortunately, Ho’ailona’s poor eyesight will never allow him to live in the wild again.

Robinson also wanted to thank Michael Drew, general manager of the Hotel Molokai, for his continuing support of their program with his donation of hotel rooms for the visit. “This really enables us to continue providing the school presentations for Molokai’s fourth graders,” said Robinson.

As the most endangered marine mammal living in U.S. waters, monk seals must not be disturbed in their natural environment. Students shared stories about seeing monk seals around Molokai and having friends or family members bother them. Because many people do not understand how to treat monk seals, the KMSWP handed out fact sheets to the students.

Here are a few of the bullet points on the fact sheet:

• Never approach or disturb a seal.
• Never try to feed a seal.
• Never take dogs on the beach without a leash. They can injure seals or make them sick.
• If you need to walk by a seal on the beach, go on the mauka side, not between the seal and the water.

Report seal sightings to 1-800-256-9840 and violations to 1-888-853-1964.

Math Day returns to inspire keiki on STEM

Last year's Math Day at the Mitchell Pau'ole Center featured lots of fun and educational activities. Photo by Linda Venenciano.

Our governors (both Lingle and Abercrombie) talk about the importance of STEM education, as does President Obama.

But on Molokai, it’s more than just talk. Here, the school and community leaders continue to prove their commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education with the second annual Molokai Math Day on Saturday.

It was a little over a year ago that Molokai launched its robotics program and recently sent three teams to the state’s sixth annual LEGO League Championships. On the high school level, both the Molokai A and B teams earned the Judges’ Rookie Award at the VEX Pan Pacific Championship in December.

On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center, the community is invited to join the activities and see the kinds of STEM opportunities available to our keiki. A number of graduate students and faculty members will be on hand to guide the youngsters.

From 9-11 a.m., activities for high school students will be presented by UH-Manoa and San Francisco State University graduate students and faculty. Over 15 UH-Manoa math/engineering graduate students will be helping the keiki.

Then, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will be activities for middle school and elementary school students. These will be presented by Aka Ula School students, Molokai High students, UH-Manoa and San Francisco State University graduate students and faculty.

Volunteers care for Molokai Humane Society building and all its furry friends

Volunteers helped put up a new roof covering over the weekend outside the Molokai Humane Society building in Ho'olehua.

The Molokai Humane Society has a new Facebook page and, now, a new roof, to help protect all its guests, furry and otherwise.

Although the roof did not get completed on Saturday as scheduled, the volunteers were able to put up the bamboo shade screens outside the trailer on Maunaloa Highway, one mile east of the airport. Volunteers were out again yesterday to put the finishing touches on the roof outside the shipping container that serves as an office.

In the past, the MHS used an old makeshift roof that would fall down regularly and tear during strong winds. Last week volunteers came out to dig holes and put in supports for the new roof. The new roof offers far more protection from the elements for all the guests that need to wait on busy days.

The MHS is also in the process of getting a new sign so that people will be able to identify the building as the Humane Society.

For the organization, new members will be elected to the board next week. The group is also looking at ways to better serve the community as the only organization that provides veterinary care on Molokai.

Visiting veterinarian, Dr. Hollis, will be on Molokai until Wednesday. Call 558-0000 to make an appointment.

The non-profit organization can also be found under “The Molokai Humane Society” on Facebook. The group’s website is and they can be reached at

Molokai wind farm: Basic questions and answers (Part 2 of 4)

By Steve Morgan

Why not use solar instead of wind power?

This seems like a reasonable question given the amount of sun that we possess. The simple answer is that solar is considerably more costly. In 2008 a study was done by the Department of Energy to evaluate all alternative energy sources including utility-scale solar farms and widespread use of individual rooftop solar systems.

In regard to both types of systems, the cost was roughly double that of wind. A report demonstrating a comparable renewable energy analysis is expected to be released by the DOA in March 2011. This information will also be included in the EIS.

Nevertheless, solar will play a part of Hawaii’s energy portfolio as tax incentives and net metering encourage the development of independent systems. Furthermore, in the event that an independent renewable energy grid is established for Molokai, solar would be a viable option as one of the components of this system.

Molokai is being asked to help supply Oahu’s growing energy demands. What measurable conservation efforts are being undertaken on Oahu?

Over the last five years, due to a combination of various factors including conservation efforts and a weakening economy, Oahu residential customers have cut their average electric usage by 7.2 percent. From 1996 through 2008 Oahu saw a reduction in oil consumption of 3.7 million barrels. Recent large-scale energy projects on Oahu include a 30-MW wind farm on Oahu’s North Shore and a 110-MW biofuel plant at Kalaeloa. Plans are also in place for a second wind farm on the North Shore (Kawailoa), which will create an additional 70MW of power.

Will Molokai be able to receive power from the proposed wind farm?

No, even a single windmill of this size would have too much output for Molokai’s electric grid. Assuming the offer to be the same as Lanai, as part of a benefits package, HECO would establish an independent agreement in seeing that our island’s electric utility would be 100 percent “green” by 2020. In the interim, what is being proposed by HECO would be to guarantee electric rates to Molokai at the same rate as Oahu customers. (Approximately a 50 percent price reduction.)

How long would it take to construct the wind farm on Molokai?

According to First Wind, actual construction would be accomplished within a 12-month period. Without complications, land rights, studies and permits would be accomplished by the end of 2012 and engineering completed by 2013. Actual construction would commence in 2014.

Does First Wind have land rights for the windmills on Molokai?

No, and the track record thus far has been a resistance from Molokai Ranch to sell land. The tipping point in all of this may be the State itself, which is taking a very proactive stance in fulfilling the requirements of HRS 269-92.

Peter Nicholas, CEO of Molokai Ranch, recently acknowledged that the pressure from the government is such that if Molokai Ranch refuses to sell, there is a possibility that the State would condemn the necessary Ranch lands through the process of eminent domain.

Editor’s Note: Wind farm meetings, set up by Molokai Ranch, are scheduled for March 2 at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center; March 3 at the Maunaloa Recreation Center; and March 4 at Kilohana School. All meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m.