One Drowning and Several Rescues Prompts Special Weather Statement for Maui

A Special Weather Statement was issued today, Wednesday, February 17, 2010, following a number of water rescues in Maui County. The Maui Police Department reported a drowning and several rescues resulting from adverse wind, wave and water conditions.

At 11:56 a.m., Lahaina Patrol Officers were aassigned to a possible ocean rescue as two people were observed yelling for help from the area known as Black Rock in West Maui.

When police arrived at the scene, the victim was being pulled out of the ocean. Attempts were made to resuscitate the victim at the scene, however, they were unsuccessful. The victim was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The victim was later identified as Daniel Barney, 54, of Spokane, Washington.

County officials are advising the public to be extremely cautious of ocean conditions for the remainder of the day.

Swimmers, surfers and other marine interests are advised to be mindful of their skill level and remain out of the water and well away from areas of potential danger.

Beach goers are also urged to stay out of the water and well away from the shore break due to hazardous wave action and strong rip currents.

The advisory states: If caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against the current. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current and then swim toward shore.

VIDEO: Whole Foods Market Offers List of Local Maui Products

Posted by Wendy Osher

Maui Media toured the new Whole Foods Market in Kahului today that will become the chain’s first Maui store when it officially opens on February 24th.  The 26,366 square-foot store will offer an array of natural and organic health and body care products.  The inventory includes products from 44 local farmers, 29 of which are Maui based.  The vendor list is even larger with more than 200 Hawaii vendors being used to stock shelves, 60 of whom are locally based Maui producers.

Courtesy Photo: Whole Foods Market Kahului.

Local products include orchids by Fragrant Orchids of Maui, jams and jellies by SoMoor, kombucha by Maui Kombucha and more.

“Whole Foods Market celebrates the great variety of local businesses and farms in Hawai`i that grow and make wonderful food, drink and body care products. We are delighted to continue to expand our selection of special local products for our shoppers’ enjoyment,” said Claire Sullivan, Whole Foods Market’s vendor and community relations coordinator.

“Opening our first Maui store presents a particularly exciting opportunity to support and highlight Maui producers, especially those in the farming and ranching community who contribute to the unique beauty and agricultural character of this island.” added Sullivan.

Much of the healthy kale and chard at the Kahului store’s produce department is grown at Rice Farms in Kula. Since 2006, Tom Rice has worked to create a diversified farm on his family property, learning which crops are happiest in the cool, sunny Upcountry climate.

Courtesy Photo: Whole Foods Market Kahului.

Located in Ulumalu in north Maui, Fragrant Orchids of Maui will supply the company’s Kahului store with a selection of potted orchids. The orchids will also be available for shipment to family and friends on the mainland.

Since 1997 joy’s place has been offering meals on Maui’s south shore in Kihei, driven by a commitment to helping individuals achieve optimum health by serving food that has been simply prepared using fresh, organic ingredients. Whole Foods Market Kahului will be the second outlet for the line of live foods recently created by Joy and her partners Joe and Tyua. These live foods are nutrient-dense, plant-based foods that have been crafted without exposure to high temperatures, so they’re high in flavor, color and nutrition.

Pala`au, which means to heal with plants, is a line of Maui-made body care products that will be available at the Kahului store. They are based on a foundation of traditional beliefs, techniques and ceremonial processes from Hawaiian and Amazonian healers. Owner Stephanie Montanez creates and brews the products by hand in small batches on full moons. She makes them with focused herbal intentions, controlling their vibrancy, potency and freshness.

Maui producers whose items will be available at Whole Foods Market Kahului include:

  • Healing Dragons (vog tea)
  • Pala`au (body care)
  • Bee Kine (surf wax)
  • Rainbow Ridge Farm (goat milk soap)
  • Kula Herbs (soap)
  • Noni Biotech (noni juice)
  • Top Maui Restaurants (restaurant guidebook)
  • Aftersea Aesthetics (glass water bottles)
  • Ali`i Kula Lavender (lavender culinary creations)
  • Surfing Goat Dairy (goat cheese)
  • Maui Brewing Co. (beer)
  • Tedeschi Vineyard (wine)
  • Maui Cattle Company (beef)
  • Scott McKay (kiawe wood)
  • Anuhea Farms (asparagus)
  • Coca Farms (veggies)
  • Evonuk Farms (herbs and beans)
  • Fresh Island Herbs (vegetables & citrus)
  • Greenleaf Farm (yacon)
  • Zuhair Tamimi (tomatoes)
  • Hali`imaile Pineapple Co. (pineapples)
  • Hana Fresh (vegetables)
  • Hana Herbs and Flowers (pohole fern)
  • Kahanu Aina Sprouts (sprouts)
  • Kanoa Enterprises (taro, luau leaf & chili peppers)
  • Kapalua Farms (vegetables & fruit)
  • Kula Country Farm (strawberries, onions & daikon)
  • Kula Grown Organic Produce (zucchini, cucumber & lettuce)
  • Kumu Farms (papaya, herbs, tomatoes & pesto)
  • Kupa`a Farm (vegetables & fruit)
  • Maui Farmers Cooperative Exchange (cabbage & other vegetables)
  • Ono Organic Farms (tropical fruit)
  • Rice Farms (kale, chard & other vegetables)
  • Waipoli Hydroponic greens (watercress & lettuce)
  • Yee’s Orchard (mangoes)
  • Fragrant Orchids of Maui (orchids)
  • Howard’s Nursery (potted plants)
  • I.N. Komoda Orchids (orchids)
  • Maui Floral (protea)
  • Maui Tropicals & Foliage (tropical flowers)
  • Paradise Flower Farms (lei & tuberose)
  • The Maui Farm (potted herbs)
  • CAKEbakery (cookies, muffins & cakes)
  • Foods4Life (vegan baked goods)
  • Maui Kombucha (kombucha)
  • Ono Gelato (gelato)
  • Coffees of Hawai`i (coffee)
  • Ka`anapali Estate (coffee)
  • Creations by Vasi (salsa)
  • Maui Taro Burgers (taro burgers)
  • Joy’s Place (raw food)
  • Kihei Ice (ice)
  • Maui Pure Island Products (cleaning products)
  • Roselani (ice cream)
  • SoMoor (jams & butter rum sauce)
  • MauiBrand (sugar)
  • Maui Jams & Jelly (jams & jellies)
  • Maui Upcountry (jams & jellies)

Governor’s Maui Council of Neighbor Island Advisors to Focus on Issues Facing Maui Farmers

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui meets today, Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 5 p.m. at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center. 

Guest speakers will include:

Anna Mae Shishido, Maui port supervisor, Plant Quarantine Branch, Department of Agriculture, will speak on the agricultural inspection services on Maui.

File Image.

Warren Watanabe, president of the Maui Farm Bureau, will address issues facing Maui farmers.

Henry Oliva, deputy director, State Department of Human Services (DHS), and Sandie Hoback, a consultant, will speak on the DHS proposal for a reorganization of public assistance eligibility processing functions.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

Hawaiian Air Seeks Approvals for Nonstop Honolulu Tokyo Flights

Hawaiian Airlines filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) seeking approvals to introduce nonstop flights between Honolulu and Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport. If approved, the new service would provide twice-daily flights starting in late October.

The flight schedule is designed to meet the needs of travelers originating from the Tokyo area, with departures following a full day of work and dinner, and mid-day arrivals in time for hotel check-in and a first afternoon in Hawaii.

Both of Hawaiian’s proposed daily flights would depart Haneda shortly before midnight and arrive in Honolulu around noon the same day. The return flights would both depart Honolulu around 6:45 p.m. and arrive at Haneda around 10:00 p.m. the next day.

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, said, “This new service combining the convenience of Haneda with Hawaiian Airlines’ award winning service would offer a new, superior travel product that will increase travel to Hawaii from Japan.”

The new route is in keeping with Hawaiian’s long-term vision to expand its service in Asia and create new economic and cultural opportunities for Hawaii. Japan is Hawaii’s second-largest market for visitors.

Hawaiian plans to serve the Honolulu-Tokyo route with its 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, and new 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the first three of which will join the fleet in April, May and November of this year.

Familiar Maui Faces Resurface on 2010 Campaign Trail

By Wendy Osher

Some familiar names have surfaced on the campaign trail as election season gets underway on Maui.  While as many as 20 people had pulled papers, only two had filed for candidacy so far, according to the last candidate report issued Thursday, February 11, 2010 by the State Office of Elections.

Board of Education Maui Representative Mary Cochran filed papers to run for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia Council seat that will be vacated by Councilmember Mike Molina, whose term limit expires this year.  Others pulling papers for the seat include: Kahekai Nishiki and Leona Nomura, both of Haiku.

Term limits for Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson also leaves the West Maui seat up for grabs this year.  Five people have already pulled papers for the seat, with Lahaina resident, Alan Fukuyama going one step further by filing papers for the post.  Those pulling papers are: Eve Clute, Eleanora Cochran, Jonah Kapu and Paul Laub.

Other Familiar faces include Former East Maui Councilman Robert Carroll who pulled papers for his old seat; and former candidate Don Couch who pulled papers for the South Maui seat he sought in 2008.

The only incumbent Councilmember to pull papers was Michael Victorino, who currently represents Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu on the County Council.  Those seeking office have until July 20 to file nomination papers.

In the race for Mayor, three people have pulled papers since the Office of Elections opened candidate filing on February 1, 2010.  Those pulling papers include:  Valarie Aquino of Lahaina, Orion Kopelman of Kula and Harold Miller of Kihei.

In the race for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional House seat currently held by Rep. Mazie Hirono, three Maui residents and one Honolulu man have pulled papers.  They are:  Patric Brock (L) of Kihei, Antonio Gimbernat (R) of Makawao, Andrew Von Sonn (N) of Paia, and John Willoughby (R) of Honolulu.

Three Maui residents have pulled papers for House Seats including: Natalie Kama (D) of Wailuku for District 8; Ramon Madden (R) of Lahaina for District 10; and George Fontaine (R) of Kihei for District 11.

The Primary Election is set for September 18 with the General Election on November 2, 2010.

Tavares Testifies: Maui Shortfall will Jump to $73 Million Without TAT Revenues

By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares will testify today before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance at the State Capitol.  Tavares is expected to comment on House Bill 2598 Relating to Transient Accommodations Tax or TAT- which proposes to suspend the distribution of revenues to the counties.  The three year suspension, if approved, would run from July 1, 2010 to June 30 2013.

Tavares said that even with the county’s share of the TAT, Maui is facing a significant revenue shortfall of around $53 million.  “Without the TAT, our shortfall jumps to $70 – $73 million,” said Tavares.  “Making up for these shortfalls puts a huge burden on county taxpayers,” she said.

In written testimony dated February 16, 2010, Tavares said, “The TAT is not a hand out from the State to the Counties—it is a share of what is generated in each county.”

“The visitors will continue to pay the taxes, but if the State takes back our share, we will have an additional 17-20 million dollar shortfall that will have to be made up by County taxpayers,” said Tavares.

Tavares estimates that under the current formula, Maui County would receive 84 cents out of the $12.25 collected in taxes on a room that costs $100 per night.

Tavares said Maui County invests over $3 million in county funds to support the visitor industry.  “We recognize the importance of this industry to the economic well-being of our County,” said Tavares.  She continued, “The investment directly impacts how much TAT is collected.”

In her testimony, Tavares urged the legislature to examine all sources of state revenue including special funds and the state’s own taxing authorities.

“Shifting the responsibility from the State to the County property tax payers and the fee/rate payers for County services, is not fair and undermines the partnership with the State that we have enjoyed in the past,” said Tavares.

Maui Files Suit Claiming it was Stranded with $44 Million in Debt Securities

By Wendy Osher

The County of Maui is demanding a jury trial in a lawsuit it filed last week against Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. The county claims it was stranded with $44.2 million in debt instruments when the firm abandoned its practice of supporting auctions for the SLARS or Student Loan Auction Rate Securities.

According to the docket filed with the U.S. District Court of Hawaii, the County of Maui purchased the securities on or after August 16, 2007.  The suit claims the firm abandoned its practice of supporting SLARS auctions on or about February 13, 2008, claiming it could no longer sell the securities at par.

Today, the County of Maui owns $32 million of SLARS that are not liquid.

The County of Maui further claims it would not have purchased SLARS at all if it had known of the grown risks associated with the investments.

SLARS are secured by pools of student loans guaranteed by government agencies under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares is expected to comment on the litigation during a press conference in Honolulu later today.

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