Local man sentenced to 15 years in fatal traffic accident

A Molokai man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Sept. 7 for a fatal collision five years ago on Maui.

Curtis Wright, 27, of Kaunakakai, had pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent homicide and first-degree negligent injury in the Aug. 25, 2006 crash.

A police traffic investigation determined Wright’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, and he was driving at least 70 mph in a 45-mph zone on Kuihelani Highway when his rental sedan rear-ended a three-wheeler Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was stopped at a red light at the Waiko Road intersection.

Thirty-eight-year-old Filbert Carvalho Jr. was operating the motorcycle, with his wife, Leilani, as a passenger.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo also mentioned in court that a few months after the fatal collision, in March 2007, Wright was arrested for drunken driving and later convicted.

Wright was ordered to pay $34,179 in restitution.


Shorthanded Planning Commission takes care of business

The Molokai Planning Commission had four commissioners missing from the Sept. 14 meeting and three absent from yesterday’s regular noon meeting at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center.

Molokai’s only political representation that actually meets on Molokai, the MoPC can have up to nine appointed members and needs a majority vote of five in order to pass any motion. For this reason, quorum is sometimes not obtained.

Despite the inconsistent turnout, as a body, the MoPC has still accomplished its work this month. In the past two meetings, the MoPC has approved three exemptions from Special Management Area permits, approved two minor SMA permits, deferred an SMA assessment and amended a County Special Use Permit.

President of the Molokai General Hospital Janice Kalanihuia at her first meeting as a member of the Molokai Planning Commission on Sept. 14.

On Sept. 14, an SMA minor permit was granted for soil sampling of excavation in the Kaunakakai area. Seven test pits four feet deep on Wharf Road will be sampled. In the past, traces of contaminated soil were found when drainage work was done. The MoPC placed conditions on the permit, including the requirement of archeological monitoring and notification of anyone within 500 feet of the work. Oceanit Laboratories, Inc. will be doing the work on behalf of the Maui County Department of Public Works.

Also on the same day, Richard Young was granted an SMA assessment exemption for the construction of a trellis to support photovoltaic panels. A 630 square-foot trellis on the home in Kawela will hold up 20 panels. According to Young, they will provide 75 percent of the home’s needs.

The Commissioners also concurred with the Maui County Planning Department to grant an SMA exemption to Veronica Marquez for an addition to her Ranch Camp house. A 1,054 square-foot living area addition, which will include a bedroom, bathroom and recreation room, will be added to the existing three-bedroom, one-bath house.

Yesterday, the MoPC unanimously approved an SMA exemption for the interior repairs of a one-bedroom condo unit at Wavecrest Resort. The request, from owner Kris Cherni, was made to repair flood damage to the unit. The construction will include plumbing and electrical work.

A request from John Comstock to add a bedroom and a retaining wall to his property in Ranch Camp was deferred yesterday. The site improvement requires 85 cubic yard of fill and grubbing across 4,040 square feet as well as 12 inches of excavation for 10 footings and a retaining wall. The Commissioners considered a possible site visit to look at how the grading may affect water drainage. Instead, they decided to defer until the next meeting when they can consult with project architect Richard Young.

The Commissioners approved a request from Sprint Nextel Hawaii to replace three cellular phone service antennae on the roof of the Lucy Wilhelm Center in Kaunakakai, commonly known as the Paddlers’ Inn building. The new antennae, with a maximum height of 34 feet, will be lower than the current ones. They will match the color of the roof but still need approval from the County Design Review Panel. The Commissioners, in particular Lori Buchanan, had the consultant William Keoni Fox review all sections of the plan. Discussions of bandwidth interference were resolved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners. A Special Use Permit and an SMA minor permit were unanimously approved.

The Sept. 14 MoPC meeting marked the first appearance of Janice Kalanihuia, president of Molokai General Hospital, as a Commissioner. Absent from that meeting were new members Zhantell Dudoit and Ron Davis. Chair Mikiala Pescaia was also absent along with Don Williams.

At yesterday’s meeting, Don Williams, who has not been to a meeting in months, was officially removed from the MoPC. Out of the eight remaining members, Dudoit, Davis and Nat Bacon were also missing.

Blizzard Boys share robotics project with Mayor Arakawa

From left, the Molokai Blizzard Boys: Kapahu Chow, Erik Svetin, Noah Keanini, Caele Manley and Gus Lodise. (Team member Kai Kalani was not present.) Discussing the team project with Mayor Alan Arakawa is Kimberly Svetin, STEM and robotics volunteer.

The Molokai Blizzard Boys’ robotics team presented Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa with a project idea last Thursday that could save both energy and food — two items that are essential to the sustainability of Molokai.

Mayor Arakawa came to Kaunakakai for his “County on Your Corner” program, an informal public meeting to share and gather ideas. After listening to a litany of complaints against the Molokai Humane Society, Arakawa seemed pleased to turn his attention toward the boys who had patiently waited their turn.

Five of the six boys on the team stood in front of the room at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center to share their First Lego League experience. The boys, ages 9 to 13, spoke into the microphone about what attracted them to robotics, what they hope to do when they grow up and what are their favorite foods.

Yes, robots and food do mix. The Blizzard Boys go to Maui on Nov. 5 for an FLL competition with the theme “Food Factor — Keeping Food Safe.” The Boys will be scored on how well their project, involving a Temperature Saving System (TSS), improves the quality of food by finding ways to prevent food contamination.

The TSS is a monitoring system that could save money and energy for businesses that use industrial freezers and refrigerators. The Boys have developed a wireless sensor along with an app for a smart phone or Ipad that will transmit temperature data. The app receives information from temperature sensors located on or in the refrigeration system. If there is a radical increase or decrease in temperature, the app will sound an alarm. It will also have a list of local engineers to call to assist in restoring the appliance. With easy access to this data, store managers can constantly monitor temperatures inside of freezers and refrigerators, saving time and money.

The first student to address Mayor Arakawa was Gus Lodise, 9, a fifth grader at Kaunakakai Elementary. In his first year of robotics, Gus said he joined because he wanted to improve his teamwork, thought it would be fun, and for the experience.

Next up was Caele Manley, a 10 year-old sixth grader who is home-schooled. He said robotics is “fun” and some day he hopes to be a pro surfer.

Noah Keanini is a sixth grader at Kaunakakai Elementary and hopes to be a robotics engineer some day. “I joined robotics because I love engineering, robotics and working with my friends,” he said.

Erik Svetin, 11, has four years experience in robotics, the most of anyone on the team. A seventh grader at Molokai Middle School, Erik said he joined robotics, “to practice teamwork and to have fun with Legos.” He said he would like to play professional baseball.

Kapahu Chow, 13, is an eighth grader at Molokai Middle School who, “thought it would be cool to join robotics and my friends went to it.” He has been involved in robotics for two years and some day hopes to be an engineer.

After the Blizzard Boys presented to Mayor Arakawa, they were inspired and wowed by a 20-minute mentoring session by Dave Taylor, a professional engineer and the department head of the County of Maui’s Board of Water Supply. He talked to them about their First Lego League project and innovative solution, what he does for Maui County’s water supply, the County’s use of generators for their water system (where the same solution could be applied to the boys’ problem) and the importance of going to college.

When the Blizzard Boys go to Maui for the FLL competition, the TSS project will represent about 80 percent of the points with the remaining 20 percent coming from the design and performance of the robot.

The Molokai robotics teams are now in their third year of competition and fourth year of existence.

“Mahalo a nui loa, everyone, for your continued support of our growing Molokai robotics program,” said STEM and robotics volunteer Kimberly Svetin.

Waikiki Beach Boys break Team Bradley win streak in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race

... AND THEY'RE OFF!!! A total of 72 crews push through the starting line of the 2011 Na Wahine O Ke Kai race at Hale O Lono harbor.

Going into Sunday’s Na Wahine O Ke Kai race, Team Bradley was tied with the Offshore Canoe Club for the longest winning streak in race history. The team of Hawaiian wahine paddlers had won the past six consecutive races of the unofficial world championship for outrigger canoe races.

Team Bradley comes together just before pushing off in their attempt to set a record of seven straight victories. The Hawaiian team finished second.

But 42 miles and almost five-and-a-half hours after paddling out of Hale O Lono Harbor, it was the rival Waikiki Beach Boys team that crossed the Kaiwi Channel and landed at Duke Kahanamoku Beach first.

The Waikiki Beach Boys won the Molokai-to-Oahu race in a time of 5 hours, 25 minutes, 2 seconds, almost two minutes ahead of Team Bradley (5:26:58).

Lae'ula O Kai (Red) enters the water at Hale O Lono harbor. The team finished eighth overall in a time of 5:54:03.

Last year, Team Bradley found the strength to overtake the Waikiki Beach Boys in the last five miles of the race. This year, the course was about half an hour faster, favoring the Beach Boys.

The Waikiki Beach Boys missed the course record set by Team Bradley in 2008 of 5:22:05.

A total of 72 teams from California, Australia and across the South Pacific competed in the 32nd crossing from Hale O Lono to Waikiki.

OffShore Canoe Club, out of Newport Beach, Calif., had claimed six straight wins from 1986 to 1991.

Go to www.pseresults.com for a complete list of race results.

Lady Farmers top St. Anthony in volleyball home opener

Sophomore Taylor Keliihoomalu puts down a kill shot in the second set of Saturday's victory over St. Anthony. Waiting for the return, from left, are: Leenell Hernandez, Taylor Tamanaha, Shania Mollena-Lopez, Lehiwa Pedro and Natalia Levi.

Despite losing its top players from last year’s state championship team, the Molokai High School girls’ volleyball team showed this weekend that it will still be a top contender in Division II in the Maui Interscholastic League.

The lady Farmers hosted St. Anthony in the first home matches of the season on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. It was a straight set victory Friday with the crowd at The Barn pumping up the team. The final score was 25-8, 25-13, 25-23.

Senior Leenell Hernandez led the Farmers with 12 kills and 13 digs. The other senior team leader, Natalia Levi, finished with five kills and nine digs. Carol Kahee showed her hustle with 14 digs while sophomore Heather Place passed extremely well, earning 19 assists. Junior Sotrell Ingram, a newcomer to volleyball this year, had six kills while Taylor Keliihoomalu finished with four aces.

On Saturday, the Trojans pushed Molokai to four sets but were still defeated 25-13, 25-19, 14-25 and 25-14. Hernandez was again the top finisher with 19 kills while Levi had 10 kills and three aces. Sophomore Shaniah Mollena-Lopez had a real impact with 26 assists. Keliihoomalu added eight kills and three consecutive aces in the second set, while Kahee scored four aces.

“I think we came out a little sluggish, not quite the energy of Friday night with the crowd here,” said Molokai Head Coach Matt Helm. “Also we knew they were going to come out much better, it was evident they came out ready to play.”

Taylor Keliihoomalu serving one of her three straight aces in the second set against St. Anthony Saturday.

The momentum of the match shifted to St. Anthony’s advantage early in the third set. The Trojans consistency and shot placement kept the Farmers off balance.

Even in the beginning of the fourth set, St. Anthony seemed to be the stronger team. With the game tied at 10-10, Molokai took a timeout and rallied with renewed energy. The Farmers jumped out to a 16-10 lead and never looked back.

“We let down a little bit, but I also think St. Anthony is playing well,” said Helm. “They’re getting better every game. Last night it was the same thing, the third set we looked a little tight and St. Anthony got a little more comfortable.”

Helm said the team is in good shape heading into the heart of the season. “We are improving on a daily basis, we’re contending for a championship,” said Helm. He sees Seabury Hall, Hana and St. Anthony as Molokai’s top competition in the MIL.

Helm had some positive comments to make about some of his younger players.

“Coming off the bench, Shania Mollena-Lopez did a great job of setting. Our returners are always going to play well, like Leenell Hernandez and Natalia Levi, but with the addition of Shania, she played really well. Sotrell Ingram did great last night in the middle. Our other middle, Lehiwa Pedro, she’s a freshman, she did some great things last night too.”

The next home game for the lady Farmers is Oct. 7 and 8 versus Hana, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday.

Reinstated Hawaiian Government seeks kokua for upcoming election

Kupuna Moke Kim encourages anyone to register by Sept. 30 for the Nov. 5 elections for the Reinstated Hawaiian Government. Contact Molokai RHG representative Duke Kalipi at 213-5416 for more information.

Supporters of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government met last night at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center meeting room to share mana’o and discuss the upcoming elections scheduled for Nov. 5.

Also known as the Lawful Hawaiian Government or the Kingdom of Hawaii, the RHG is accepting voter registration up until Sept. 30. The group is also looking for individuals to sign up for citizenship. About 15 people attended the meeting.

Kupuna Moke Kim, a longtime Molokai educator, explained how the RHG seeks to re-establish the divine or god-given right of every Hawaiian, and every person in general, to live a free and sovereign life. He provided an overview of Hawaii history going back before 1819, the death of Pai’ea, otherwise known as Kamehameha I.

Uncle Moke then discussed the development of the Hawaii nation and constitution. It was this fear of a sovereign and independent Hawaii that led to the unlawful overthrow of the government in 1893. The American colonists, fearful of losing their economic interests, annexed Hawaii, placed Queen Liliuokalani — the last Hawaiian monarch — under house arrest and effectively ended the self-rule of Hawaii.

“From 1893 to 1999 the government was in exile,” Kim explained. “The government was still there, it just went on vacation.”

According to Kim, the colonists were more attracted to money and the exploitation of natural resources than in understanding the true spirit of aloha.

(Ironically, at exactly the same time in the adjoining Mitchell Pau’ole conference room, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa and his administrators were conducting a public budget and finance meeting.)

In March of 1999 the Kingdom of Hawaiian was reinstated through an action of international law. “They got the paperwork to show that it (the kingdom) never disappeared,” said Kim.

(Click on the story “Lawful Hawaiian Government reaches out to Molokai” for a more complete explanation of the formation of the RHG and its current political efforts.)

Similar organizing efforts of the RHG are being held now on all the Hawaiian islands. With almost 400 “nationals,” or members of the RHG, and another 7,000 citizen applications in the works, the hope is for the upcoming election to bring a unified consensus to the group.

Molokai has nine registered RHG nationals, including Duke Kalipi, the designated representative of Molokai. Call Kalipi, head of the local Hui Kane group, at 213-5416 for more information on voting registration or the RHG in general. Kalipi said the group is seeking any kokua and strategies to help with the Nov. 5 elections. On Molokai, elections are scheduled to take place at Kalanianaole Hall in Kalamaula.

Molokai Farmers Alliance helps Hui Mana build bridges

The Molokai Farmers Alliance, along with Hawaiian homestead organizations statewide, recently completed a video project, “Building Bridges Together,” which profiles Hawaiian homestead communities through the residents who live there.

The project was coordinated and produced by Hui Mana, a group of Hawaiian Homestead leaders. It is now being distributed to all Hawaiian homestead associations statewide.

Among the Hui Mana volunteers was Lynn DeCoite, perhaps best known as a Ho’olehua sweet potato farmer at L&R Farms. She is also president of the Molokai Farmers Alliance.

“You will see the challenges, accomplishments, and the pride and gratefulness expressed by homesteaders and their ‘ohana, as they recount their past and share their great hope for the future generations,” said project coordinator Mele Spencer.

The goal of the project was to encourage residents within the Hawaiian homestead communities to support and engage in their local associations. “Thus, ‘Building Bridges Together’ was to instill in our homesteaders the concept of, ‘Hui Mana – Together with Power,” Spencer said.

All Hawaiian homestead associations, both residential and agricultural, from Hawai’i Island, Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu, were invited to participate to share their projects, ideas, historical background, and ways for communities to improve working together.

Hui Mana was a collaborative effort of the many Hawaiian homestead associations, their volunteer leaders, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, and NeighborWorks® America. Funding for the project was provided by NeighborWorks® America, Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and OHA Trustees, Bob Lindsey and Rowena Akana.

John Kaohelaulii concluded, “In the homestead community, our greatest resource is our people. Getting them involved in community projects and their homestead organizations is the key to our future. Make a difference today, because tomorrow is too late.’’

For more information, contact John Kaohelaulii at huimanateam@gmail.com, Mele Spencer at kpfa@hawaii.rr.com, or any team member.