Neighborhood Newsmakers

Wednesday - June 16, 2010
By MidWeek Staff
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Pearl City brothers Sean and Kyle Luster of the band Just Us have begun their summer tour around the nation, starting with their arrival in Phoenix, Ariz., May 26 to shoot a commercial for Chevrolet using their song Just Us - Come for the Ride. They also accepted the keys to a Suburban for use while on tour. They then drove to Dallas, Texas, for a performance at Six Flags and a private tour of the newly renovated Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

They completed several more performances at Six Flags in St. Louis, Mo., where they “rocked the house, threw out lei into the audience and had everyone dancing. We also performed for a private fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network.”

Next up for the group are gigs at the Mall of America and then on to more Six Flags theme parks and malls.


Washington State University has announced students named to its spring 2010 Presidents Honor Roll, including several from the West Oahu area. To be eligible for the distinction, undergraduates must have earned a GPA of 3.75 in at least nine graded hours in a single term, or a 3.5 based on at least 15 cumulative hours of graded work.

The hardworking students are Valerie Heu, Katrina Higa, Cheryl E. Kobayashi, Alyssa Nii and Scott Shigeoka of Aiea; Daniel Shin, Bryson Tamamaha and Kevin Yokomura of Kapolei; Karla Nicole Hao Yin Lee, Connie Ngai San Ng, Nicholas Pang, Chimene Sienkiewicz and Lissa S. Watanabe of Pearl City; Kryssa Isobe, Michelle Morinaga and Stacy Y. Sasaki of Waipahu; and Kevin Young of Ewa Beach.


Jenna Wagner of Kapolei has been awarded a scholarship worth $1,500 from the Scholarships for Military Children program, sponsored by H.J. Heinz Special Markets. As part of the application process, Wagner had to write an essay that answered the question “What point in history would you visit today and why?”

The Kapolei High School graduate answered: “I have always been fascinated with the European Renaissance of the 14th to 16th century, a cultural movement that affected literature, art, politics, religion, philosophy and most intellectual aspects of life.

“Literally meaning ‘rebirth,’ the Renaissance was a period of innovation in all aspects of culture, and people in this time yearned to learn and create, which is very inspiring. Through my education, I hope to one day become a teacher and contribute to the world like those who advocated education during the Renaissance did.”

Wagner will use the money toward her junior year at UH West Oahu, where she is majoring in English Secondary Education.

Andy Riley of Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting in Pearl City has received the $2 Million Center Sales award at a recent convention in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

“I’m honored to be singled out for accolades from among all 475 Maaco franchises,” Riley said. “I have a great team supporting me in the center and at the corporate office.”

The Pearl City shop is located at 98-746 Kauahao Place.

Faith Yamagishi of Ewa Beach has been promoted to vice president of operations for Graham Builders, a local design-and-build company. She will be responsible for overseeing the sales, design, estimating and construction departments as well as working closely with clients from the beginning to the completion of their projects.


Yamagishi, who has been with the company since 2003, takes over the role from Evan Fujimoto, who has been named president. Before joining Graham Builders, she worked as an accounting manager for Alakai Mechanical Corporation, where she assisted the controller in preparing financial statements, oversaw accounts, and forecasted and monitered the cash flow of the company.

She is a graduate of the University of Phoenix, where she received an associate’s degree in accounting and studied with Dale Carnegie Training on a leadership training course for managers.

Ewa Villages resident Eric Batalon has been named volunteer manager with the Blue Planet Foundation, a local organization enlisting friends statewide to help Hawaii move off of fossil fuels. Batalon will be responsible for helping build the clean-energy movement, engaging residents in reducing fossil fuel use, and growing the volunteer capacity of Blue Planet.

“As I see it, he is our ‘director of human energy,’” said foundation executive director Jeff Mikulina. “Eric’s experience and energy will help build the popular support needed to drive public policy forward.”

Prior to joining Blue Planet, Batalon was the volunteer coordinator for Lanakila Meals on Wheels. The UH graduate also is the current president of both the Network of Volunteer Leaders and the Kiwanis Club of Honolulu.

Ewa resident Morris Nakamura‘s oil painting, MDA Summer Camp, Mokuleia, has been accepted into the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Art Collection. This is the third painting by Nakamura, who has adult spinal muscular atrophy, to be added to the collection.

“We’re honored to welcome Morris Nakamura’s latest work into the permanent MDA Art Collection,” said MDA president and CEO Gerald Weinberg.“His contributions undoubtedly will delight all who see them as they travel to galleries and museums as part of special exhibits.”

Nakamura’s newest edition is on display at MDA’s national headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., and can be seen by visiting


Waikele resident Gregg Murphy has been hired as project developer for RevoluSun. His responsibilities will include working with residential customers to find the best solar systems and financing options available to meet their energy needs.

Murphy brings 12 years of solar experience to RevoluSun, having lived in a solar-powered home for 11 years. He also taught courses on solar power at Washington State’s extension campus at Skagit Community College. He has previously helped families in Washington, Mexico, Nicaragua and Hawaii become energy independent and was the owner of Solar Northwest.


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