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KKCC Pūalu Awards

Posted July 7, 2015, 03:36 PM HST

KKCC Board Chair Dale Suezaki, Friends of NELHA and KKCC Executive Director, Kirstin Kahaloa. KKCC courtesy photo.

Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce’s Pūalu Awards were recently presented to individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations in West Hawai’i whose dedication and hard work improved the community during the chamber’s annual Installation Banquet and Membership Luncheon.

According to KKCC officials, the awards celebrate those who work together.

A total of nine awardees were recognized in seven different categories, ranging from environmental awareness to excellence in the visitor industry. The winners were picked by KKCC’s Pūalu Awards committee, based on nominations received by Chamber members.

Susan Maddox was awarded the honor in the Community Education category for her dedication and aloha to the community through continuous involvement and contributions to a variety of organizations.

The Environmental Awareness award was received by two awardees, Keller Laros and Friends of NELHA. Laros was recognized for his contributions to the well-being of manta rays in their marine environment. Friends of NELHA, a non-profit dedicated to sharing the possibilities of environmental preservation, energy, and food development, was the second awardee of the category.

Dickinson General Contracting received the Pūalu award for Business Innovation, which is awarded for commitment to improving or enhancing employee’s lives. Dickinson also received the County of Hawai’i Small Business Association’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award earlier this year.


The Pūalu Lifetime Service award was presented to Marni Herkes for her lifelong commitment to the community as exemplified by her personal and business achievements. Herkes has been a member of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce since 1983.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel won the Visitor Industry Marketing award for its global acclaim in everything from its architecture to customer services, environmental awareness, golf, and its hospitality and aloha.

Earl Regidor and Ke Ola magazine were the recipients of the Culture & Heritage Pūalu award. The award was presented to each of the recipients for their exhibited actions and practices that promote island traditions and preserves multi-cultural heritage.

Rick Vidgen was named Chamber Member of the Year during the luncheon. Vidgen, a member of KKCC’s Government Affairs Committee, wrote position statements on critical legislative issues. Among the many items that have occurred over the past six months, Vidgen’s leadership made it possible for KKCC to act quickly as various decisions were being made.


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