Kumu Farms receives Mayor’s Small Business Award

Kumu Farms — Molokai’s source for fresh, healthy and gourmet farm products — received the award for Exceptional Small Business (11-25 employees) at last night’s 2012 Mayor’s Small Business Awards. More than 250 people attended the ceremony at the King Kamehameha Golf Club on Maui.

From left, Maui County Alan Arakawa, Manu Vinciguerra of Kumu Farms and Pamela Tumpap, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, at last night's 2012 Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

Located in the Ag Park across the highway from the Molokai Airport, Kumu Farms has been doing business on Molokai since 1981. The 120-acre farm specializes in organic papaya and harvests about 20,000 pounds of papaya per week. The farm also grows 4,000 pounds of sweet basil and 500 pounds of other fresh herbs plus many specialty crops. The farm, including its retail outlet, employs 25 local people.

Accepting the award last night was Emanuela (Manu) Vinciguerra who spoke about the importance of statewide agriculture and how Molokai is already a model for coexistence and partnerships between all types of farmers: biotech, homestead, organic and backyard farms.

“We are all one big ohana and this award is the result of our teamwork that exists at Kumu Farms,” said Manu. “It wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t all working together.”

Manu Vinciguerra and Grant Schule of Kumu Farms.

Molokai Chamber of Commerce President Rob Stephenson congratulated Kumu Farms on the accomplishment.
“Please join me in congratulations to Grant Schule, Manu Vinciguerra and the entire Kumu Farm’s team of agriculture professionals for their accomplishment in receiving this prestigious award,” wrote Stephenson. “Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to the Molokai community.”

Awards were also handed out for Young Small Business Person of the Year to Josh Jerman, The Wailea Group, LLC; Exceptional Small Business (10 or fewer employees) to Joe Rossi, Maui Babe, Inc.; Exceptional Small Business (26-50 employees) to Les Tomita and Mariah Brown (Da Kitchen); Outstanding Non-Profit Business to The Maui Food Bank; and the Lifetime Achievement Award to John B. Guard, III & Susan Guard (The Pet Shop, Inc.).

“Small business is Maui County’s most important economic engine, and we should never forget the sacrifices that business owners make every day to keep their businesses operating,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “They take on risk, work long hours, and put their personal assets on the line while providing jobs, services and goods to our community. We are fortunate to have such a strong small business community in Maui County and are privileged to honor them.”


Third quarter honor roll for Molokai High School announced

The principal’s honors list are students who have earned grade point averages of 4.0 or above while enrolled in six or more courses, four or more of which are solid courses. For the third quarter of the 2011-12 school year, they are:

Grade 9: Edel Mae Alvarez, Tiera-Lee Bishaw Marquez, Kelsie Espiritu-Tanabe, Alexandra Gilliland, Olelo K.P.A Hamakua Poepoe, Sarah Jenkins, Kristin Tancayo.

Grade 10: Xrystina Bicoy, Kilo Au Lani Kaawa-Gonzales, Mia Mendija.

Grade11: Michael Kikukawa, Ronalyn May Carino, Cara Connolly.

Grade 12: Charisse Manley, Chelsea Simon, Tiffany Tanielu.

The honor roll students who earned grade point averages of 3.5 to 4.0 for the third quarter of the 2011-12 school year are:

Grade 9: Trevor Takata, Makana Arce, Stazandra Dudoit Cuello, Katalina Santiago, John Pol Espejo, Waipuna Kelly-Paleka, Shanrese Pedro, Michaiah Soares.

Grade 10: Jeremy Ilaban, Paul Parker, Brayden Willing-McCutcheon, Taylor Tamanaha, Laureano Torres Batara, Rizpah Torres-Umi, Monaliza Espejo, Kahumoku Lindsey.

Grade11: Piikea Hanaoka, Faron Kamakana, Esther Lopez, Francis Ventura, Brittanie-Rae Nerveza, Hauoli Falealii, Lesley Escobar, Michael Onofrio.

Grade 12: Kate Sandy Espejo, Leenell Hernandez, Dallin Tancayo, Julian-Daniel Bicoy, Kailen Inouye, Kaloko Akina, Petrisha Alvarez, Moriah Jenkins, Natalia Levi, Kayla Matson, Mikayla Pico.

Boys volleyball team tied for top spot in MIL

Despite losing a four-set match to rival Seabury Hall on Friday on Maui, the Molokai boys volleyball still remains tied for first place in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II standings with a 5-1 record.

Molokai senior Dayson Gomes (#10) puts the ball over the defense of Kamehameha Schools Maui in Saturday's win over KSM on Maui. Photo courtesy of Ka Leo o Na Koa.

The Farmers were able to win a marathon first set 30-28 at Erdman Athletic Center before losing the next three sets 25-11, 26-24 and 25-15.

Top players for Molokai were Roycee Colairo with 11 kills, Dhavin Spencer-Basa, eight kills, Brahunson Kaai with seven kills and two blocks. Hauoli Falealii finished with 38 assists.

The next day the Farmers traveled to Kamehameha Schools Maui to play the Warriors on Saturday at noon. Molokai won the first two sets 25-17 and 25-12 before losing the third set 25-20. The Farmers came back in the fourth set to win 25-16.

The week before, the Farmers swept Lahainaluna at home 25-12, 25-23, and 25-23.

In that March 16 victory over the Lunas, Dayson Gomes, Calairo and Kaai led the balanced attack for Molokai with six kills each. Calairo also added five aces while Kaai had three blocks. James Corpuz also served three aces for Molokai.

The volleyball team has two home games this weekend at The Barn against King Kekaulike, 7 p.m. on Friday and noon Saturday.

Ke Nani Kai residents receive $3.87 million jury award against condo association

A view of the Ke Nani Kai condominiums from the pool and clubhouse area during a luau held in September of 2011.

A pattern of harassment and intimidation against the owners at Ke Nani Kai Condominium on the West End has led to an award for residents Jim and Nancy Bevill of $3.87 million from a Maui jury last Wednesday.

The $3.87 million award is a record judgment in this type of case, according to the Bevills attorney Terry Revere. He described the case as the “the West Molokai version of Lord of the Flies or the equivalent of a John Ford Western where an isolated town is run by a villain and his collection of thugs.” Revere said the intimidation lasted for at least six years and continued even after the lawsuit was filed.

The jury found the condominium association’s board of directors, and its employees and agents violated state condominium laws. They were also found to be engaged in a variety of illegal acts including racketeering, civil conspiracy, gross negligence, malicious prosecution, breach of contract, and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Bevills moved to Molokai in 2004 from California and soon found themselves the target of threats, harassment and intimidation from unlicensed contractor Frank Maruzio and resident manager Darrel Borling, who hired Maruzio to do work around the complex.

Other Ke Nani Kai residents, including Darryl and Jody Canady and Bob Aldrich, had also complained about the behavior of Maruzio and Borling to the condo’s board of directors. The board’s failure to act on these complaints led to some of the previous board members being named in the Bevill lawsuit.

Jody Canady, who was called to testify during the eight-day trial on behalf of the Bevills, said one of the strongest pieces of evidence was a taped conversation of Borling yelling at her. She also said that Maruzio once tried to run her off the road and had threatened to kill her husband Darryl. At one point, the Canadys were so concerned for their welfare that they hired a private security guard service for a month. The couple had placed a temporary restraining order against Maruzio but never needed to enforce it.

Aldrich also described these problems that persisted over a period of five to six years. “They (Borling and Maruzio) were the neighborhood terrorists,” he said. Aldrich described numerous threats made against him, the Canadys and the Bevills. Aldrich said a witness saw Maruzio back his vehicle into Nancy Bevill’s SUV intentionally.

“The board wouldn’t do anything,” said Aldrich. “They would label us troublemakers and liars.”

Darryl Canady said a group of about 20-30 condo residents had gathered years ago to discuss these complaints but found the board unresponsive. Jody Canady said the Bevills wanted to settle this case before it went to trial if the board would file an injunction preventing Maruzio from returning to the property. “They just wouldn’t do it,” she said.

When Aldrich and the Bevills started to speak publicly about these incidents, the previous board of directors filed a lawsuit against them for slander. The case was summarily dismissed.

Now, some of those previous board members, including Phil Schutte, Bruce Blough and Michael Preiss are being held responsible for a portion of the monetary damages, according to the Canadys.

The judgment against the association means the 119 owners of the units may also be liable for the damages. Although the association has three different insurance policies, it is still unclear if the individual owners may have to pay.

“It’s still too early to tell (about damages),” said Jody Canady. “It may cost us some money but it sent a loud message to the current board of directors that this is not acceptable behavior. Every single condo complex needs to read this because this kind of thing does go on … We went through a disgusting ordeal. But we are glad to see it happen.”

Aldrich, who didn’t join the Bevills lawsuit because he couldn’t afford the $900,000 of attorney fees, was also pleased with the result.

“This is a wake up call for homeowner associations in Hawaii and across the country,” said Aldrich. “The state legislature gives board of directors too much authority. This is a hard way to deal with it but let’s hope it’s over now and we can move on.”

Molokai art in action

Poetry readings, pottery demonstrations and hands-on workshops are just some of the activities taking place regularly at the Molokai Arts Center behind Coffees of Hawaii in Kualapuu.

By Imogen Reed

Despite the rich history of art and culture on the Hawaiian Islands, Molokai has never had a dedicated place for art instruction. Molokai hosts a few art galleries, such as the Plantation Gallery, which is a great place to find large canvas paintings, and the small selection of galleries around Kaunakakai that sell traditional crafts.

However, Molokai has never had a dedicated center where Molokai people can learn the skills of traditional arts and crafts, or a place where local artists can improve their skills and spread their knowledge. And then the Molokai Arts Center opened in Kualapuu.

A true community center

The Molokai Arts Center is a community studio aimed at being a home for the traditional arts and crafts of the islands. The arts center is not just a place for visitors to go and view samples of Hawaiian art, but is a living, working arts center where people can participate in painting, pottery, jewelry design, ukulele playing, hula lessons and much more.

The Molokai Art Center is a true community art project. The entire center’s funding comes from donations from local people, and after over a year’s worth of fundraising, the center has finally managed to earn enough money to open up and begin art classes for both adults and children.

The Molokai Art Center is aiming to provide art instruction, youth programs, and studio space for local artists, which they hope will ensure the traditional skills of local Molokai and Hawaiian art continue to thrive. Located in Kualapuu at the Coffees of Hawaii Plantation, the art center has already held some fantastic art events that have attracted much interest.

Hawaiian arts and crafts have proven to be a big draw for people visiting the islands. Hawaiian art is less about the intrinsic value of a select few masters, which generates large sums in the auction houses around the world where only people with large amounts of money or access to lucrative credit card balance transfer offers can afford to buy it, but is more about the culture and history of the people of Hawaii. Hawaiian art is something that should be accessible to everybody either living on or visiting the islands, which is why the Molokai Arts Center was created.

Pottery at Molokai Arts Center

The Molokai Art Center is running plenty of pottery workshops where people can learn how to make, not just traditional Hawaiian plates and dishes, but also contemporary pottery, too. A recent visit by Wally Schwab, whose work has been displayed in galleries across the globe, including London’s Victorian and Albert Museum, captivated visitors to the arts center who were able to learn pottery techniques from a true master potter.

Ceramic work done at the Molokai Arts Center.

The center is now running regular demonstrations on pottery, allowing people to learn how to use the potter’s wheel and develop the skills to paint and glaze traditional Hawaiian ceramics. The Molokai Arts Center is an ideal place for both adults and children willing to roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty with clay.

Poetry at the Molokai Arts Center

In February, Molokai Arts Center held a solo poetry reading by Ariana Nadia Nash. Nash is the winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry and is daughter of Molokai residents John and Roshani Nash. The people and culture of the islands have heavily inspired her poems and she read from her recent book entitled: “Instructions for Preparing Your Skin,’ to a packed art center crowd, who found her work “revelatory and uncompromising.”

Another award-winning poet and writer, Donald Sunshine, a Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, was due to read from his latest Molokai-inspired work. Sunshine had planned to read at the art center in early March, but the event was cancelled due to bad weather. Now it looks like Sunshine’s event has been postponed until late fall so that he and his wife Joanna can to return to their farm in Virginia. Anyone interested should speak to the arts center to find when a new date will be set.

A resident of Virginia, Sunshine spends a lot of time on Molokai where his latest book, “Life’s Moment,” was written. In his reading, Sunshine plans to share the humor that can arise from such everyday events on the islands, such as riding a bus in Honolulu or trying to buy groceries at Friendly Market, situations with which many people on the islands can identify.

Anybody with even the remotest interest in the island’s art and crafts should take the opportunity to visit the Molokai Art Center. With such dedicated volunteers, and a packed schedule planned for the year, there is something for everybody.

Veterans Center still needs money to reach completion

The new Veterans Center on Wharf Road in Kaunakakai still needs appliances, fixtures and other improvements before it can open.

Larry Helm, commander of Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, provided an update on the construction of the Veteran’s Center on Wharf Road.

The well-documented problems with getting a building permit from Maui County persisted for about five years. Work began in earnest a few months ago and appears to be moving forward.

However, according to Uncle Larry, more money is needed to reach completion:

“Aloha! As of today (March 23) the Veteran’s Center is 70 percent complete. We need $200,000-$250,000 to finish turnkey projects.

“What needs to be done includes drywall inside, all kitchen appliances, a grease trap, ceiling fans, bathroom fixtures, paint in and out, parking lot with infiltrators, 23 parking space, a flag pole, sewer hook-up, furnishing, etc., etc.

“And then, a big grand opening luau! Mahalo for all who kokua to this endeavor.”

Akua Bless,
Larry Helm

Lynn DeCoite to serve on State Board of Agriculture

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Molokai farm owner Lynn DeCoite to one of two vacant seats on the state Board of Agriculture on Tuesday.

Lynn DeCoite, with her daughter Carrie, at the second annual Molokai Agricultural Fair last year, which she helped organize. DeCoite was appointed Tuesday to the State Board of Agriculture.

DeCoite has been appointed to the Maui County seat. She is the owner and manager of a sweet potato farm, L&R Farms, along with her husband Russell. She is also owner and ranch handler for V-8 Ranch in Hoolehua and is also president of the Molokai Farmers Alliance. DeCoite attended Maui Community College where she studied business administration.

Her appointment as well as others announced Tuesday await confirmation by the state Senate.

Also appointed to the Board of Agriculture is Glenn Hong, president of Hawaiian Tug & Barge Corp. and Young Brothers Ltd.

Those appointed to the Agribusiness Development Corporation were: Letitia Uyehara, director of marketing and special programs at Armstrong Produce Ltd.; Patrick Kobayashi, president and CEO of Kobayashi Group LLC and Derek Kurisu, vice president of purchasing and executive vice president of perishable operations at KTA Super Stores.