Residents rally to restore smokestack


POSTED: Monday, July 06, 2009

Pioneer Mill Co. closed its sugar plantation in 1999, but residents want to preserve sweet memories of the plantation community, where thousands of people once lived and worked in West Maui.

A fundraiser has been launched to preserve the mill's aging 200-foot-tall smokestack along Lahainaluna Road—a major island landmark.

A 15-foot section at the top of the smokestack has been removed temporarily for safety reasons.

The Lahaina Restoration Foundation has started a “;Buy a Brick”; campaign to raise $300,000 for the smokestack's restoration, installation of a plaque and landscaping.

The nonprofit foundation is selling engraved bricks of various sizes that will be laid to create a circular walkway around the smokestack.

Individual bricks, priced from $100 to $750, may be engraved with the donor's name, name of a loved one or a company name or logo.

“;Whether you want to buy a brick to show your pride in Lahaina, your connection to the mill or want to memorialize a loved one or even yourself, now is your chance,”; said Sam Kadotani, a former mill employee who is leading the fundraising drive. “;Many of us remember this landmark growing up, and for those who worked in the mill, the smokestack has become a beloved part of our family history—something that can never be replaced.”;

Pioneer Mill Co., founded in 1860, became a foothold for thousands of immigrant workers seeking a better life.





        To buy a brick: Contact the Lahaina Restoration Foundation at 661-3262 or visit the Web site lahainarestoration.org.



Kadotani, a Lahaina resident whose Japanese immigrant father worked as a Pioneer Mill tugboat captain, said the plantation enabled many people to earn a living in West Maui.

Kadotani, 86, said he began work as a timekeeper and gained managerial experience later at the plantation hospital, eventually becoming a hospital administrator at Kaiser Permanente.

The plantation and workers helped to build the wealth that eventually enabled its parent firm, Amfac, to diversify and develop Kaanapali, the state's first planned resort.

Kadotani said the restoration of the smokestack is a way to honor the past.

“;Now is our time to give back,”; he said. “;Today this landmark needs our attention and our dollars.”;