VIDEO: Kahului School gets $25,000 grant to recoup losses from fire

May 21, 2010, 5:51 PM HST · Updated December 17, 7:14 AM
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By Wendy Osher

The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation today issued a $25,000 grant to Kahului Elementary School to mitigate impacts of a campus fire reported last month. The grant was presented to Kahului Elementary School Principal Fern Markgraf and a group of teachers whose students were displaced from their classrooms. 

Three classroooms at Kahului School were destroyed in the April 18 fire. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Damages were estimated at around $500,000. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Kahului School Principal Fern Markgraf accepts a $25,000 grant from A&B Foundation Hawaii Committee Member Grant Chun. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The fire caused an estimated half a million dollars in damages.

It was reported in the early morning hours of Sunday April 18th at the school’s G building, located at the Wailuku end of campus.

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Capt. Milton Matsuoka with the Maui Police Department said investigators have pretty much determined the origin of the fire and are still looking into arson as a possibility.  Matusoka said some kids were seen in the area, but the department has yet to specify people of interest.

School administrators say they will use the money first to recoup losses of learning materials.

The fire destroyed three third grade classrooms and displaced dozens of students who have since been accommodated at other areas on campus.  Special accommodations were also made for “Speedy” the fish, who got a new tank and pump, and a new view from the corner of the school library.

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A&B Foundation President Meredith J. Ching said, “Our ties to Kahului run deep, and we were immediately concerned about the teachers, students and families who would be negatively impacted.  We know that many books and some school supplies have been donated by concerned members of the community and hope our funding will help Kahului School to continue its good work the rest of this school year, and beyond, until repairs are completed.”

The A&B Foundation’s Hawaii Contributions Committee includes HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin, KT&S General Manager Glenn Wilbourn and A&B Properties Vice President Grant Y.M. Chun; Chun is an alumnus of Kahului School. Ching explained, “All of us at Alexander & Baldwin feel a special tie to the community of Kahului, which was started in 1948, first as a dream—and then as a plan—to provide Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) employees with opportunities to own their own homes. Thousands of homes were developed by Kahului Development Company, which today is A&B Properties, and sold to retirees and employees of A&B companies and, later, to the general public. We continue to support the well-being of the many families living in these neighborhoods which together comprise ‘Dream City.”

During 2009, the A&B Foundation granted more than $400,000 to 68 Maui County charities. The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation is funded by the business activities of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. and its subsidiaries; on Maui, they include Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S)/Maui Brand® Sugar; East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI); Kahului Trucking & Storage Company; A&B Properties, Inc.; A&B Wailea LLC; and Matson Navigation Company.

Kahului grew out of a master-planned community initiated by HC&S and the Kahului Railroad Company to provide home ownership opportunities for their employees and retirees. More than 60 years later, the community has grown to serve over 4,000 households. Kahului Elementary School was the first school established to serve families living in what was then known as “Dream City.”

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