Volunteers needed for harbor project


Volunteers are being sought to help make Honokohau Harbor’s entrance a little more welcoming.

When Gov. Neil Abercrombie visited the harbor months ago, he said the neglected harbor didn’t measure up to the standards of what it should be. During his campaign, Abercrombie had used the harbor as an example of a state project he could tackle quickly, simultaneously improving infrastructure and putting unemployed construction workers back on the job.

Kona resident Les Thuet immediately contacted Abercrombie to say “there’s a wealth of kind, competent and capable people in Kona who would gladly volunteer their services to help with the improvements if given the opportunity.” With friends Jack Ross and Gary Lambert, Thuet formed the Honokohau Harbor Group and made Red Butler its honorary chairman.

Butler, a Kona resident and well-known harbor fixture, has spent at least 20 years trying to enhance the experience at Honokohau Harbor. With the support of Hawaii Big Game Fishing and Kona Outdoor Circle, Butler planted the trees lining the harbor entrance,Thuet said.

Eventually the state accepted the group’s offer to clean up the harbor. Sharp Cut Tree Service is donating its services and will trim the trees around the entrance Saturday. Thuet is now hoping at least 30 to 50 volunteers will help the Honokohau Harbor Group move the discarded leaves and branches to a mulcher, as well as remove “the nitty gritty” around the trees.

The group is also seeking help installing irrigation that will prevent the yellowing of palm trees. The state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation is providing gloves, rakes and equipment. Beverages and lunch will be given to volunteers, Thuet said.

The beautification project begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and will likely continue next weekend. The goal is to compete the project before Phase 2 of Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening begins, he said. The state Department of Transportation has yet to release a construction start date for the long-awaited widening project.

Thuet said the harbor beautification will save the state approximately $8,000 to $10,000.

“The harbor operates at a yearly deficit of $200,000, and given the current economic climate, the state is hurting for help with improvement projects like this one,” he said. “This is an effort by the people of America and Kona, and a chance for the public to do their part in dire times.”

The Honokohau Harbor Group would also like to get three flag poles for the entrance to display the American flag, Hawaiian flag and a flag indicating the fish capture of the day. The cost of the flag poles would be about $4,000, and donations are needed.

To get involved or for more information, call Thuet at 895-3537 or 315-8088.