By CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK
Six Home Depot employees want the iconic “granders” wall in Kailua Village to be a source of community pride.
Since Thursday, they have been voluntarily restoring the iconic wall, located in Kona’s Waterfront Row, which for decades has recognized the anglers and top-notch professionals who have caught a grander — a marlin weighing 1,000 pounds or more.
The project leaders — electrical department supervisor Cheryl LeMieux, plumbing department associate Bruce Newlun and appliance sales specialist Renee Medeiros — noticed the wall’s wear and tear, as well as vandalism, while walking around downtown earlier this year.
The six decided the neglected, weathered wall didn’t befit Kailua-Kona, a fishing town considered by many to be “the marlin capital of the world.” Kona is also home to the famous Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, LeMieux said.
They decided restoring the wall, with its more than 60 records and photos, would be a great hands-on service project for the Home Depot Kailua-Kona store. Once every quarter, store employees roll up their sleeves and get dirty while voluntarily working to improve the community through various projects, LeMieux said.
“This was just an opportunity to give back,” she said. “After all, we have the resources and skills to transform the scruffy, worn-down granders wall. By restoring it, we’re sort of helping restore Kona’s pride and its famed image of being the prime fishing ground (where you can) land the coveted grander. It’s also an example of what’s good about our community.”
Home Depot wanted to get the project done before next month’s World Cup Blue Marlin Championship. Held annually on July 4, the tournament features teams who fish for eight hours in their time zone to see who can catch the largest blue marlin. The winner takes all; there’s no second place. The Maui Jim team, with Capt. Thomas Casey and angler Scott Shaw, won last year’s tournament by catching a 729-pound marlin in the waters off Kona.
Home Depot contacted Clark Commercial Group property management portfolio manager Patti Kiernan and assistant commercial portfolio manager Laura Gentry, asking for permission and collaboration on the project. Home Depot provided the all-volunteer labor and approximately $300 worth of materials, including paint, varnish, refurbished frames, updated lighting and Plexiglas. Meanwhile, Clark worked with a local photographer to restore the photos, including transforming them all into black and white, LeMieux said.
When Hawaii Island residents and visitors see the finished wall this weekend, LeMieux hopes they’re filled with pride and amazed by the feats accomplished by anglers.
They will learn about Kona Capt. George Parker, the first person in the state to land a blue marlin grander in the Pacific Ocean. They’ll notice that 52 years ago angler James Schultz and skipper Murray Heminger Jr. were the first to capture a grander in Kona waters. The biggest grander ever caught was 1,640 pounds and was landed in 1986, LeMieux said.
To date, more than 70 granders have been caught in Kona waters and Home Depot hopes to eventually put all the records, with photos, on the wall, LeMieux said. “It’s a work in progress and we’re happy to do it,” she added.
Email Carolyn Lucas-Zenk at firstname.lastname@example.org.