Surf fun at Ko Molokai Keiki O Ke Kai Summer Surf series

Before the first keiki surf event on June 9, the competitors got together for a group shot.

Over two meets, a total of 59 keiki surfers have taken to the waves at Waialua for the annual Ko Molokai Keiki ‘O Ke Kai surf meet.

The baby bumps at Waialua, 19 miles east of Kaunakakai, were perfect for beginner and the more advanced wave sliders alike. For the competitors 8 and younger, adult helpers were in the water pushing the keiki into the waves. The older surfers generally paddled into the waves on their own.

Kelsey-Lee Bicoy-Juario, left, finished near the top in the first two events and now sits in third place in the 9 and 10-year-old age group. On the right is Channon Bush showing off his form.

The three meets in the series are all on Saturdays — June 9, June 23 and the finale coming up on July 7. A pa’ina and awards ceremony will be held after the July 7 meet. Competitors are all asked to wear their Keiki Surf shirt to the final meet for a group photo.

Keiki surfing is all about having fun, and it looks like this guy is definitely enjoying himself.

The Molokai Community Service Council has helped support this event over the past 23 years. Organizers also wanted to thank the Waialua ‘ohana as well as the other surf companies across Molokai, Hawaii and the mainland who have offered support and donations for this event. A big mahalo to the Friendly Isle United Fund for its continued support of Ko Molokai Keiki O Ke Kai Summer Surf Series.

Rafael Adolpho sits in second place in the 10 and 11-year-old age group after two events.

It’s not too late to enter the final meet. Registration for the July 7 event opens at 9:30 a.m. with the meet starting at 10:30 a.m. Call 558-8110 for more information.


Reyes of Kaunakakai fails to qualify for Olympics in 100-meter swim event

Ilia’s mother Louann created this banner to support his efforts to qualify at the Olympic Trials. Louann and Fred Reyes live in Kaunakakai. Ilia has been living on Oahu to train with his former UH swim coach Victor Wales.

Ilia Reyes’ dream of making the U.S. Olympic Swim Team in the 100-meter freestyle event came to an end yesterday in the qualifying race at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Even with the world’s greatest swimmer Michael Phelps dropping from the 100-meter event, Reyes was not able to qualify for the semifinals as a top-16 finisher. The Kaunakakai boy finished his swim Thursday morning in 51.81 seconds, good enough for 134th out of 165 swimmers. Scott Robinson had the fastest qualifying time of 49.08 in the event.

Reyes, 22, the best competitive swimmer to come out of Molokai, will have one more chance to make the team tomorrow when he swims in the 50-meter freestyle event.

Reyes served as captain of the University of Hawaii men’s swim team last year before graduating. It was during his senior year at UH that he swam a 100-meter Olympic Trials qualifying time. It was the summer before his junior year at UH in 2009 that Reyes broke the Hawaii record in the 50-meter event and qualified for the Olympic trials by making the cut — 23.49 seconds — in that event.

Although he got his start swimming laps at Cooke Memorials Pool, Reyes had to leave Kaunakakai as an 11-year-old to attend Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama in order to train as a competitive swimmer.

Health violations shut down Kanemitsu Bakery for second time this year

Kanemitsu Bakery at 79 Ala Malama St., an institution on Molokai, has been shut down for health code violations. A date for reopening is uncertain.

Kanemitsu Bakery has been shut down for the second time this year for health code violations, leaving Molokai’s oldest business with an uncertain future.

The order to suspend its operations came on Monday from the State Department of Health. Kanemitsu Bakery, at 79 Ala Malama St. in Kaunakakai, has been a part of life on Molokai since 1926.

While this sign indicates that the restaurant will remain open while renovations at the bakery take place, both the restaurant and bakery were not doing business when visited on Wednesday.

According to Kanemitsu Manager Blossom Poepoe, an ant caused the home of Molokai hot bread to get shut down.

“They (the DOH) got a complaint from someone who got some bread,” said Poepoe. “I went to look at it (on Monday) and there was a little ant inside the bread. So that’s why they shut it down.”

But the DOH said the problems went further. Apparently, health officials, following up on a June 15 complaint, inspected the bakery on June 20 and found “serious deficiencies.” They said the inspector found, “visual sighting of rodents during the inspection, no water available at the rinse compartment of the sink, unclean food preparation surfaces, no soap and hand towels at hand-washing sinks and general unsanitary conditions.”

Customers of Kanemitsu will have to wait for this sign to come down before they can patronize Molokai’s oldest business again.

Officials at the DOH met with owner George Kanemitsu on Oahu on Monday to issue the suspension of all bakery operations.

Mr. Kanemitsu, along with the store’s attorney, will be meeting today with DOH officials for a hearing, said Poepoe. Hopefully, said Poepoe, today’s hearing will offer a plan for reopening and also reduce the $90,000 fine levied against the bakery in May.

An inspection on March 7 and 8 uncovered, “serious deficiencies in the maintenance and manufacturing practices at the facility,” including improper cleaning and sanitizing of cooking implements and surfaces, inadequate rodent control, lack of hot water and general unsanitary conditions, the Health Department said.

Poepoe said the $90,000 fine is now being appealed in court. “How many businesses on Molokai can pay $90,000? Maybe in Honolulu, but not Molokai.”

She went on to say that the current suspension will continue until an overhaul of the operation is complete. “They said they are closing us down until we redo the whole thing — floors, walls, windows, tables, everything,” said Poepoe.

So what are the exact repairs being required? “I don’t know,” said Poepoe. “I’m really confused. You talk to one person and it’s one thing then you talk to the inspector over here and she finds every little thing that violates us, so I really don’t know.”

Poepoe appeared optimistic that the repairs can be made and that Mr. Kanemitsu intends to keep the business going. “It’s doable but it’s a lot of work, it’s a big project.”

In particular, Poepoe sees the work to replace all the floors to be a real challenge. “The bakery is huge, bigger than the whole area,” said Poepoe, pointing to the front of the store.

Besides the floors, the windows will need replacing and must include mesh screens. The walls must all be painted and the tables replaced, as well, said Poepoe.

A complete mitigation plan for the bakery is expected to come out of today’s hearing. Once the work begins, the bakery will have a better idea of when it will be able to reopen.

Closing of Lanai sale set to proceed today: What does this mean for Big Wind? Who is Larry Ellison?

The Hawaii Public Utility Commission granted preliminary approval for the indirect transfer of Lanai’s regulated utilities on Monday. With this hurdle cleared there is nothing stopping the sale of 98 percent of the island of Lanai for today.

On Monday, two groups, Lana’ians for Sensible Growth and Life of the Land, attempted to slow down this process by filing motions with the PUC to intervene in the case.

The purchase of 98 percent of Lanai by Larry Ellison from David Murdock of Castle & Cooke, has been estimated at $500 million. An exact figure for the sale was not made public.

The sale includes the two resort hotels — the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai at Manele Bay and the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, Lodge at Koele — two championship golf courses and club houses, The Experience at Koele and The Challenge at Manele and more than 88,000 acres of land, among other things.

It has only been a week since the PUC filing and the announcement by Gov. Neil Abercrombie of the impending Lanai sale.

It is the speed with which this sale is moving that bother the Hawaiian environmental advocacy group Life of the Land.

“This was filed at the PUC on June 19, and on June 21 the Consumer Advocate gave preliminary support for interim approval. For them to move in two days is remarkably fast because they are a notoriously slow-moving entity. I find that totally bizarre,” said Henry Curtis, Life of the Land’s vice president for consumer issues.

Besides the speed with which this transfer is going through, the potential impact on the Big Wind project is another central concern for Life of the Land.

The deal will allow Murdock to retain the rights to develop a wind farm on the island’s northwest corner. Originally, Castle and Cooke had an agreement with First Wind to build a 200-megawatt windmill project. But when First Wind was unable to acquire the necessary land from Molokai Ranch to develop its project on Molokai, the PUC rejected the original application. Hawaiian Electric Co. must now seek new bids to make up for another 200-mw to satisfy the PUC requirement. HECO continues to work with Castle and Cooke on this project intended to send the electrical power to Oahu through an undersea transmission cable.

According to a Castle and Cooke announcement, “Mr. Murdock will still retain the rights to develop a potential wind farm.” However, residents have speculated that locals may turn against the wind farm proposal since Murdock is no longer their employer.

The PUC is the only state agency with the power to disapprove the transfer of the three Lanai utility companies at a later date. The PUC said that within five years from the closing of the overall purchase and sale transaction, Lanai Island Holdings shall invest a minimum of $10 million in the water and wastewater utilities’ respective operations. The three utilities in question are Manele Water Resources LLC, Lanai Transportation Co. and Lanai Water Co. Inc.

Larry Ellison, the new owner of Lanai, enjoys racing large sailing yachts. Could this be the beginning of a sailing renaissance for Maui County?

What does Ellison want with Lanai?

Ellison, 67, is listed as the third richest man in America, behind only Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, with a net worth of $36.5 billion. This makes him the sixth richest man in the world. He is also a competitive racer of sailing yachts, having recently won the prestigious America’s Cup with Team Oracle, named after the enterprise software company he founded.

Now that he holds the title, Ellison has the right to choose the time and place for the next America’s Cup challenge, considered the third biggest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics and the World Cup. Could the America’s Cup be coming to Hawaii?

It has been said that the famous American yachtsman Dennis Conner had hoped to bring the America’s Cup to Hawaii if the state would improve its harbor facilities to accommodate yachting. Conner and his crew even trained for the Cup in Hawaii. Could Ellison influence the state to make its harbors more sailboat-friendly?

Rumors have started circulating that Ellison will improve the harbor at Manele Bay as well as the Lanai airport to accommodate his Gulfstream jet. If the harbor is improved to handle more sailing vessels, greater sailing traffic between Lanai, Maui and Molokai could be developed.

According to a report in Sports Illustrated, Ellison also plans to remake the entire sport of yachting. Traditionally, the America’s Cup was sailed on 12-meter, deep-hulled yachts. This often put more emphasis on the boat technology than the skill of the sailor.

To make the race more competitive, Ellison has proposed a single design for all teams — a 72-foot catamaran with winged sails. These boats would allow viewing of the race from shorelines, potentially expanding the live audience. More importantly, these sailboats are far better suited for the shallow conditions around the Hawaiian islands. While Team Oracle has already picked San Francisco for its next Cup regatta, smaller races, and eventually the America’s Cup, could make their way to Hawaii.

After the closing on the deal today, Ellison has indicated that he will meet with residents of Lanai and listen to their concerns. The story continues.

Motorcycle accident takes life of Cami Naehu, 33

The people of Molokai are grieving over the tragic loss of one of their own since learning of the accidental death Saturday of Cami Naehu.

Cami Naehu at Hotel Molokai. Photo courtesy of Rick Schonely.

Details of the motorcycle crash that killed Naehu, 33, were released yesterday by Hawaii News Now. According to police, Naehu was traveling east on Kamehameha V Highway just before 5 p.m., near Kealanui Ohina Place just east of the Ualapue area around mile marker 14.

The police reported that the motorcycle crossed the center line, ending up on the westbound shoulder of the road. Once on the shoulder, Naehu traveled up a small berm and collided into a tree. Police say Naehu was wearing a helmet.

She was taken to the Molokai General Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police are investigating speed and alcohol as factors in the crash.

Naehu, who was related to both the Naehu and Dudoit ‘ohanas on Molokai, was a popular local. Growing up on Molokai, Naehu was part of an ‘ohana known for its paniolo tradition. She was known as a rodeo queen as well as a canoe paddler for local clubs. She worked the bar Hotel Molokai where her bubbly and lively personality was well known by most customers.

This is Maui County’s 15th fatality of 2012 as compared to six at this same time last year.

Broadband Internet service coming to Kalaupapa

Kalaupapa residents and workers will receive broadband Internet for the first time ever around July 4.

Sen. Daniel Inouye News Release

For the first time ever, broadband Internet service will be available to the residents of Kalaupapa, Senator Daniel K. Inouye announced on Friday.

Oceanic Time Warner Cable is providing this service by extending its fiber network down to the previously inaccessible peninsula.

By coupling the feed into the formerly microwave fed insertion point of the cable plant, Oceanic now delivers added bandwidth to the community. Oceanic will also be providing additional video services to Kalaupapa including digital feeds and high definition programming that parallel the service offerings on the “topside” of the island.

“When I shared with Oceanic the limited availability of Internet service to Kalaupapa, they responded by developing a plan to get broadband Internet to this remote community,” said Senator Inouye. “I greatly appreciate Oceanic’s efforts to bring broadband Internet service to Kalaupapa. Making broadband Internet service available will help to improve the quality of life for the residents and workers of the Kalaupapa community. Telecommunications and technology should be made available and accessible to everyone.”

“We are pleased to be working with Senator Inouye and his team on these important initiatives. Besides launching broadband Internet service, Oceanic is committed to enhancing the TV service we provide to the residents of Kalaupapa,” said Bob Barlow, president of Oceanic Time Warner Cable.

Broadband services are expected to be available on or about July 4. Oceanic representatives will be contacting Kalaupapa residents with information regarding the new services.

Appeals court upholds Wai’ola O Molokai water rate increases

Despite the protests by the utility customers at the Sept. 3, 2009 PUC public hearing, the water rate increases were implemented and recently supported by the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii.

More than a year after Wai’ola O Molokai raised its water rates for West End Molokai customers, the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii has denied an appeal of the dramatic increases.

Last Thursday, June 14, the court affirmed the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the permanent rate increase of $360,238 or approximately 284.5 percent rate issued on Feb. 8, 2011. This ruling denies the appeal by the County of Maui to overturn the PUC decision that the increase was “just and reasonable.”

Wai‘ola is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Molokai Properties Limited, parent company to Molokai Ranch. The utility provides water utility services to Maunaloa, Kualapu‘u, Kipu, Manawainui, and the Molokai Industrial Park areas of Molokai.

It was shortly after shutting down its operations in April 2008 that Molokai Ranch announced its intention to abandon its utilities, asking Maui County to provide these services. After much legal wrangling from both parties, an agreement was reached in July 2010 between Maui County and MPL that Wa’ola would continue to provide water and wastewater services.

In addition to mountain water as a source of water, Wai‘ola purchases water from Molokai Public Utilities, another subsidiary of MPL, and from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. MPU serves residents at Ke Nani Kai, Paniolo Hale, Kaluakoi Villas and Papohaku Ranchlands. The county estimates that 3,300 customers are affected by this rate change.

In its appeal, Maui County claimed that Wai’ola’s rate increase was based in part on unauthorized expenses; the Consumer Advocate did not advance the interests of consumers; Wai‘ola failed to satisfy its burden of proof in justifying its depreciation expense; Wai‘ola failed to support an insurance expense of $16,000 by evidence in the record; the rate increase included a cost of sales expense that was not supported in the record; PUC failed to consider whether the ratepayers could afford to pay for the approved increase; and the record supporting $225,000 of regulatory expenses was insufficiently descriptive.

The court supported the decision-making of the PUC and the Consumer Advocate in all these matters. For instance, the court did not consider evidence of whether or not ratepayers could afford the increase. Instead, the court ruled … “[t]he methodology employed by the PUC in its rate-making determination lies within its expertise and discretion.”

Another issue of dispute involved charges to customers in the Kualapu’u area where Wai’ola did not have the proper permits to offer service. The appeals court ruled that, “PUC did not err in allowing expenses related to servicing the Kualapu‘u area to be factored into the proposed rate increases.” As a result, “within 60 days of the date of this Decision and Order, [Wai‘ola] shall file an application to expand its service territory to include the Kualapu’u area.”