Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014

Kilauea Military Camp's Christmas tree brightens the darkness in front of decorated cabins that spectators can vote for through New Year's Eve. Photo by Dave Berry
EIGHTY-TWO THAI FARM WORKERS found to have been exploited on Ka`u and other farms in Hawai`i have been awarded $150,000 each by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.
Anna Park, trial lawyer for U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission
      The awards follow a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed in 2011against Global Horizons and six Hawai`i farms, including MacFarms of Hawai`i, which draws a majority of its local workers from Ka`u to its macadamia orchards just north of the Ka`u and South Kona district borders. The lawsuit focused on working and living conditions, including the accusation that 20 MacFarms workers hired by Global Horizons were crowded into a house in Na`alehu that was ill-equipped for even five persons. According to allegations, the accommodations “lacked a fully functioning toilet, toilet paper and hot water and had a buckling kitchen floor.” Five farms settled for a total of $3.6 million.
      According to a story by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in West Hawai`i Today, Mordechai Orian, former president of Global Horizons, continued to deny the workers were mistreated. “We paid those guys to the last penny they worked for,” he said. “We tried to keep legal farming in the United States alive, and this is the thanks we get.”
      Orian said the company is no longer in business and cannot pay the awards. “We will fight this ridiculous decision,” he said, and called the awards “insane.”
      Anna Park, EEOC trial attorney in Los Angeles, said the agency is pleased, but the next challenge will be getting money from Global Horizons, she said.
      Awards come from $3.6 million in settlements and $8.7 million Global Horizons is liable for.
      “The million dollar question is whether they’ll ever see any of it,” said Clare Hanusz, an attorney who represents several of the workers with immigration issues. “I’d be surprised if there really was no money, though. I think it’s very carefully hidden.”
      According to the story, Global Horizons plans to appeal.
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Wes Machida is Gov. David Ige's Director of Budget
and Finance.
GOV. DAVID IGE AND WES MACHIDA, Director of Budget and Finance designee, yesterday outlined the proposed biennium budget for the upcoming fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The budget was developed primarily by the outgoing Abercrombie administration to ensure continuation of state services at current levels and to provide the Ige administration with flexibility to make budget adjustments that are in line with its policy and budget priorities.
      The budget anticipates four percent increases in spending during each of the next two fiscal years. Revenues are projected to grow by 5.5 percent each year.
      “One of the most important responsibilities that I have, as governor of the state of Hawai`i, is to deliver a balanced budget to the Legislature and to the people of our state,” Ige said. “To that, I am fully committed.
      “We will not propose new programs when we cannot afford to pay for them – we will live within our means, just like Hawai`i’s families. We will spend public funds wisely to avoid raising taxes.
      “State government should be run like a business, striving to increase efficiency and reduce waste and costs. Accountability and transparency will be the core principles upon which we provide services to our customers, the people of Hawai`i.
      “As government, we must focus our energies to nurture a sustainable economy – a healthy economy to support Hawai`i’s families and allow them to thrive. There is hard work to be done, but we expect no less of ourselves than the public expects of us.
      Highlights of the budget and copies of documents that have been submitted to the Legislature are available online at http://budget.hawaii.gov/budget/executive-biennium-budget.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Lopaka Ryder Photo from youtube
KUMU HULA DEBBIE RYDER, of Pahala, yesterday asked the murderer of her son to turn to God during his sentencing in a Kona courtroom to life imprisonment. Martin Frank Booth pled guilty to the killing, in late 2013, of the popular musician Lopaka Ryder, of Kona, whose body was found in a lava field on the Kohala Coast after he had been missing for months.
      According to the story by Chelsea Jensen, of West Hawai`i Today, Debbie Ryder stood in the court and stated: “You are inhumane to take someone’s life like you did my son. He was a kind and loving person. He was God’s child; Lopaka believed in Him, and he tried his best throughout his 37 years to apply what the Lord guided him to do,” she said.
      “You will have nightmares, and you will have flashbacks for murdering my son. You need to put God in your heart so he can help you live the rest of your life behind bars, and my family and I will make sure of that. And, in the end, only God will judge you according to your actions and the way you choose to live your life.”
The snow-white summit of Mauna Loa as seen from Mauna Kea.
Photo from NOAA
     Booth apologized to the family. “Lopaka was a very talented and loving person. He was a friend of mine. I’m sorry,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do to change that and what I’ve done, and for that I am sorry, and there is no excuse.”
      See more at westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

IT COULD BE A WHITE CHRISTMAS on the slopes of Mauna Loa, with the National Weather Service issuing a blizzard watch for Big Island summits in effect this morning through tomorrow afternoon. Snowfall could exceed six inches. Even if the heavy snow does not materialize, very strong winds are expected, according to NWS.
      A blizzard watch means there is a potential for falling and/or blowing and drifting snow with strong winds and extremely poor visibilities. This can lead to whiteout conditions and make travel very dangerous.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Chad Keone Farias Photo from Hawai`i DOE
CAREER EDUCATOR CHAD KEONE FARIAS will take the helm of complex area superintendent for the Ka`u-Keaau-Pahoa complex, succeeding Mary Correa, who mentored him for the position and will be retiring on Dec. 31.
      Farias, 43, has spent his entire career on Hawai`i Island, most recently as Kea`au Elementary principal since 2008. Under his leadership, Kea`au Elementary was one of the pioneers in digital learning among its staff and students, boosting student achievement and lowering chronic absenteeism. Farias previously served as vice principal at Keonepoko Elementary and his alma mater, Hilo High, where he held his first teaching job.
      Hawai`i State Board of Education appointed Farias to the Complex Area post on Sept. 16 to be effective on Jan. 1.
      Correa retires with more than 40 years in the state Department of Education, the last decade as the KKP complex area superintendent. She also served as an administrator at Ho`okena Elementary, Hilo Community School for Adults, Pahoa High and Intermediate and Hilo Intermediate schools. Early in her career, Correa taught at Waiakeawaena Elementary, Laupahoehoe Elementary, Waimea Elementary and Intermediate and Saint Joseph Elementary and Intermediate.
      Correa is known for her phrase, “If can, can; if no can, how can,” which challenged educators to overcome severe socioeconomic barriers and raise student achievement among what had been historically known as Hawai`i’s lowest performing schools. The KKP complex schools have since emerged as a successful improvement model for the state after receiving targeted supports as “Zones of School Innovation” in the DOE’s Race to the Top federal grant. The KKP complex has close to 5,500 students in nine schools spread across the largest geographic region of any complex area in the state.
      Correa’s leadership has been vital in the last four months in weathering two hurricane threats that closed schools, and the Puna lava flow, which forced closure of Keonepoko Elementary indefinitely. She led her KKP team in ensuring a seamless education transition for 1,700 students and 300 staff to relocate to other schools within the complex.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Santa took center stage at Ocean View
Community Center Saturday.
SANTA MADE IT TO OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER Saturday for the community association’s annual keiki Christmas party. Gift, food and other goodies made for a festive event.

KA`U GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM STARTED the season off strong last night. It was the first season game for the girls varsity team against Pahoa and successfully showcased Ka`u’s strength as a team. Holding the lead for most of the game, Trojans took the win with a score of Ka`u 59 and Pahoa 42.
      With a majority of experienced seniors on the roster, the Trojans’ season looks promising. Seniors include Kerrilynn Domondon, Denisha Navrro, Shyann Flores-Carvalho, Kehaulani Ke, Sky Kanakaole-Esperon, Jennifer Tabios, and Bridget Pasion.
      Pasion was high scorer with 15 points, and 
Domondon contributed 12
      The Ka`u Calendar’s journalism intern Kaweni Ibarra wrote the majority of this story.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

NA`ALEHU UNITED METHODIST CHURCH offers Christmas Eve Candlelight Service tomorrow at 7 p.m. with carols, biblical Christmas story and specialty music featuring choir, Aloha Handbells, spiritual dance, trumpets, flutes, `ukulele and more.

CHRISTMAS BUFFET IS AN OPTION for holiday meals Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Kilauea Military Camp’s Crater Rim Café in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park features prime rib au jus, stuffed roast turkey and holiday lamb stew. $26.95 for adults and $13.50 for child 6-11 years old. Open to authorized patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. Call 967-8356 for more information.


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