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NEW FOR 2010: Maui TV News Breaking News stories are now being archived. Click here to scan through all the Breaking News items for 2010.
Aloha! it's ~
 
August 3 - September 6, 2010

March 30 - April 16, 2010

March 19 - 30, 2010

March 11 - 19, 2010

March 4 - 11, 2010

February 25 - March 4, 2010

February 9 - 25, 2010

February 1-8, 2010

January 2010

December, 2009 (partial)

NEWS FLASH - September 6, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

Kolea Return Signals 'End of Summer'

America's first Labor Day was celebrated in New York on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, as a "workingmen's holiday." Since then, the day (changed in 1884 to be the first Monday in September) has also come to mean the end of summer.

As is often the case, we Hawaii residents see things a little differently. Labor Day is as popular a holiday here as it is in other states, but our cue that summer is ending arrives on the wing. We know autumn is closing in when our Pacific golden plovers, or kolea, begin arriving for the winter.

Hawaii hosts other migratory shorebirds, but we know the kolea best because these graceful, solitary birds winter in the same spot year after year. When that spot is your yard, you can look forward to years of bird-watching. Kolea can live at least 25 years.

Although they remain wild birds, some plovers come to recognize their yards' caretakers, learning over time that these people aren't threats. If you feed your plover (they're crazy about hard-boiled eggs) you may have a winter pet for years to come.

Adult kolea begin returning from their Alaska breeding grounds in August. The earliest are females, tuckered out, I imagine, from laying their four eggs. Males soon follow; fledglings get here last. All fly here nonstop and arrive tired and hungry.

This year, the earliest e-mail notice I received with kolea news came from Ira Tagawa. "I saw the first kolea on Monday, July 26. I thought it was an early return. Have these enchanting birds started their long journey back already?"

Some first-year, injured or undernourished birds aren't up to the nonstop, 3,000-mile (one-way) journey and spend the summer in Hawaii. If you haven't seen the bird all summer, though, and one day it's there, it likely came back early.

Birds return early if eggs fail to hatch or hatchlings die. Causes for this can be an exceptionally cold Arctic spring, or death by predators such as hawks, falcons and Arctic foxes. Sometimes caribou and reindeer trample plover nests and eat plover eggs.

On Aug. 2, I receive an unsigned e-mail titled simply "Kolea." The message: "last week ... 3 at Diamond Head Cemetery and at least 12 in the field adjacent to Kaelepulu Elem. School."

Since then, the birds have continued to trickle in. One amusing e-mail came from a reader, Joanne: "I am ecstatic to tell you that our wonderful Golden plovers have returned to Lanikai — at Bluestone to be exact!! At approx. 4:26:19 PM today I spotted Maile at her usual territory near my bldg. I called out her name and whistled and she started coming closer with her funny little run and stop approach."

What tickled me about this letter, besides the bird coming when she was called, is that unknown to Joanne, I live in the same condominium complex. Joanne and I have since met, but I haven't yet met Maile.

I don't have names for my kolea, because I live next to a golf course and have an entire troupe to watch and enjoy. Most of those birds are back now, performing their dainty ballet all over that immense lawn. I hear their calls — Chu-EET! Chu-EET! — day and night. A golf course, where bugs are plentiful and cats can't hide, must be heaven to those famished birds.

Last week, while giving a slide show about Palmyra to a group of friends, a photo of a Pacific golden plover came up. "Kolea!" my friends' little girl called out.

A lot of us are calling out the same word. Summer must be over.

Susan Scott can be reached at www.susanscott.net.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 5, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Swarming Bees Require O'ahu Airlift

Two hikers who sustained multiple bee stings were airlifted by the Fire Department helicopter out of an area behind the Luana Hills Golf Course in Kailua this afternoon.

The two men were among a party of four hikers who were attacked by bees about 1:23 p.m. The group was not able to continue and rescue personnel were called to help.

The helicopter took the two men to an area on Auloa Road, said Fire Capt. Earle Kealoha said.

They were treated at the scene, and taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition, said Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the city Department of Emergency Services.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 5, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

'Miracle' No Dead After Major New Zealand Quake

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — The powerful earthquake that smashed buildings, cracked roads and twisted rail lines around the New Zealand city of Christchurch also ripped a new 11-foot (3.5 meter) wide fault line in the earth's surface, a geologist said Sunday.

At least 500 buildings, including 90 downtown properties, have been designated as destroyed in the 7.1-magnitude quake that struck at 4:35 a.m. Saturday (1635 GMT Friday) near the South Island city of 400,000 people. Most other buildings sustained only minor damage.

The quake cut power across the region, roads were blocked by debris and gas and water supplies were disrupted, but Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said services were being restored Sunday.

Power was back to 90 percent of the city and water supply had resumed for all but 15 to 20 percent of residents, he said. Portable toilets had been provided and tanks of fresh water placed around the city for residents.

Parker said it would take a long time to fully fix some core services such as water and sewerage. "Our first priority is just people," he said. "That's our worry."

Up to 90 extra police officers had flown in to Christchurch to help, and troops were likely to join the recovery effort on Monday, he said.

On Sunday, specialist engineering teams began assessing damage to all central city buildings, said Paul Burns of the city's search and rescue service. Officials said schools across the region would remain closed for the next two days to allow time to check whether they were safe.

Only two serious injuries were reported from the quake as chimneys and walls of older buildings were reduced to rubble and crumbled to the ground. Prime Minister John Key said it was a miracle no one was killed.

Part of the reason the city escaped major injuries was because the quake happened before dawn, Key said.

"If this had happened five hours earlier or five hours later (when many more people were in the city), there would have been absolute carnage in terms of human life," he told TV One News Sunday.

Canterbury University geology professor Mark Quigley said what "looks to us that it could be a new fault" had ripped across the earth and pushed some surface areas up. The quake was caused by the ongoing collision between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, said Quigley, who is leading a team trying to pin down the source of the big quake.

"One side of the earth has lurched to the right ... up to 11 feet (3.5 meters) and in some places been thrust up," Quigley told National Radio.

"The long linear fracture on the earth's surface does things like break apart houses, break apart roads. We went and saw two houses that were completely snapped in half by the earthquake," he said.

Roger Bates, whose dairy farm at Darfield was close to the quake's epicenter 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Christchurch, said the new fault line had ripped up the surface across his land.

"The whole dairy farm is like the sea now, with real (soil) waves right across the dairy farm. We don't have physical holes (but) where the fault goes through it's been raised a meter or meter and a half (3 to 5 feet)," he told National Radio.

"Trouble is, I've lost two meters (6 feet) of land off my boundary," he added.

Experts said the low number of injuries in the powerful quake also reflects the country's strict building codes.

"Thank God for earthquake strengthening 10 years ago," Anglican Dean of Christchurch, Rev. Peter Beck, told TV One News on Sunday.

Euan Smith, professor of Geophysics at Victoria University, speculated that the very soft soils of Christchurch had "acted like a shock absorber over a short period ... doing less damage to smaller buildings," he told The AP.

The prime minister, who flew to Christchurch to inspect the damage, said it was "an absolute miracle" that no one had died.

Key said the city "looks like something off a movies set," with wrecked buildings, buckled roads, busted water mains and sewerage systems and some flooding caused by broken water pipes.

Rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, water and sewerage systems "would be a major cost" that central government would have to meet, he said.

Canterbury Emergency Management Office manager Jon Mitchell said the central city would remain cordoned off with no public access before Monday, except for inner-city residents.

Scientists from GNS Science began installing extra seismographs in the region Sunday to record seismic data from the continuing stream of aftershocks rocking the region. More than 60 had been recorded by mid-afternoon Sunday.

Up to 40 portable seismographs were being set up, including some due from Stanford University in the U.S., the agency said.

Seismologists study aftershock sequences to help learn more about the mechanics of the main shock and rupture, and to check whether stress in the earth's crust has been transferred to other faults in the region.

New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth's crust where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.

New Zealand's last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island's Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12 inches (30 centimeters) closer to Australia, seismologist Ken Gledhill said at the time.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - September 4, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Rock Slide Closes Portion of Honoapi'ilani Highway Near Pali

Maui Police report that a rock and landslide closed Honoapi'ilani Highway this morning shortly after 5:30 a.m.

The slide closed cloth lanes at mile marker 11. After about 40 minutes one lane was cleared and used for contra-flow. By 6:30 p.m. both lanes were reopened to traffic.

(Information Provided by Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - September 3, 2010 1:50 p.m. HST

Matson Drops Fuel Surcharge 3.75 Points

Matson Navigation Co. is lowering its fuel surcharge by 3.75 percentage points, to 21.75 percent from 25.5 percent, effective Sept. 12 for its mainland-Hawaii service.

The state's largest ocean shipper said the decrease represents a reduction in shipping costs ranging from $100 to $150 per container.

It is the second consecutive decrease for the state's largest ocean shipper and comes on the heels of a 2 percentage-point decrease to 25.5 percent on July 18.

Matson also said it is lowering its fuel surcharge for its Guam/Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia service by 3.75 percentage points, to 23.25 percent from 27 percent, on Sept. 12.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 3, 2010 1:20 p.m. HST

7.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks New Zealand - No Tsunami

WELLINGTON, New Zealand >> A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries or serious damage.

The temblor hit at 4:35 a.m. (6:35 a.m. Friday, Hawaii time), shaking thousands of residents awake, New Zealand's National Radio reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach said "no destructive widespread tsunami threat existed, based on historical earthquake and tsunami data."

The quake, which hit 19 miles west of the southern city of Christchurch, shook a wide area with some residents there saying buildings had collapsed and power was severed.

Christchurch police reported some road damage in parts of the city of 400,000 people, with a series of sharp aftershocks rocking the area. Police officers cordoned off some streets where rubble was strewn about from the quake.

Christchurch resident Colleen Simpson said panicked residents ran into the street in their pajamas. Some buildings had collapsed, there was no power, and the mobile telephone network had failed.

"Oh my God. There is a row of shops completely demolished right in front of me," Simpson told the Stuff news website.

Another person from Christchurch, Kevin O'Hanlon, said the jolt was extremely powerful.

"I was awake to go to work and then just heard this massive noise and 'boom,' it was like the house got hit. It just started shaking. I've never felt anything like it," he told the news website.

The earthquake was 21 miles below the Earth's surface, the geological agency GNS Science said. Radio reports said items were tossed from store shelves and roof tiles cracked by the strong temblor.

New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth's crust where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - September 3, 2010 6:20 a.m. HST

Economic Recovery Declared 'Underway' on Maui

Maui's resilient tourism sector is leading the island's economic recovery.

Maui, which suffered the largest declines in visitor arrivals and spending of all major islands last year, is now at the head of the pack.

It will still be "some time" before economic activity returns to pre-recession levels, said economist Leroy Laney. Laney delivered his remarks yesterday at a forum in Kahului sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank.

Residential real estate sales are another bright spot for Maui's economy, but the island's construction sector trails both Oahu and the Big Island, said Laney, a professor of economics and finance at Hawaii Pacific University.

"Barring any unforeseen misfortunes an economic recovery is now under way or at least imminent for the Maui economy, but don't expect a rapid return to normal," he said in a presentation at the Maui Beach Hotel.

Through the first seven months of the year Maui's visitor arrivals and spending are up 7.8 percent and 16.4 percent respectively compared with the same period in 2009. For all of 2009, arrivals and spending fell 8.8 percent and 13.6 percent.

Added flights to Maui by Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines, as well as Canadian carriers WestJet and Air Canada are helping boost arrivals, Laney noted.

Steep discounts on travel packages last year began luring tourists back to Maui, and some of that is continuing, Laney said. "Visitors are still searching for value," he said.

There has always been a dichotomy in Maui's retail sector between centers that cater to tourists and those that mainly serve residents, according to Laney.

High occupancy rates at hotels and time-share properties are driving sales at nearby shopping areas like Whaler's Village in Kaanapali, he said. Some regional malls more oriented to the local market, such as Queen Kaahumanu Center, "are still seeing mild declines in sales," he added.

Construction activity on Maui is lagging behind the rest of the state, with activity in the second quarter running about 30 percent behind year-ago levels.

Laney said industry sources told him part of the weakness in construction activity can be traced to the county's 50 percent affordable housing requirement for new residential development and an ordinance requiring a water meter permit before construction can begin.

Several commercial projects planned by Alexander & Baldwin are expected to boost the island's construction sector in the years to come.

Maui Business Park Phase II along Hana Highway in Kahului is targeted to break ground in early 2011 and be completed in late 2012. A&B is also moving ahead with Kahului Town Center, a mixed-use project with residential, retail and office space, planned for the site of the old Kahului Shopping Center, which was destroyed by fire several years ago.

Maui's residential real estate sales, like elsewhere in the state, are being fueled by declining prices and low mortgage rates, Laney said. Single-family home sales are up 43 percent year to date, while condominium sales have risen 64 percent. Prices are down 7 percent for single-family homes and down 32 percent for condos.

One of the downsides of declining prices is that lower property valuations "have serious implications" for county tax revenue, about 41 percent of which come from property taxes, he said.

"There were some great years during the last real estate boom, but it's over for a while," Laney said.

Maui's main agricultural company, Hawaii Commercial & Sugar Co., is expected to see a rebound in sugar production this year. The state's last remaining sugar plantation is estimating it will produce 170,000 tons of sugar compared with 127,000 tons a year ago. An increase in yield also is forecast to 11 to 12 tons per acre from last year's 8.4 tons per acre.

Reach Alan Yonan Jr. at ayonan@star-advertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 3, 2010 6:10 a.m. HST

Aleutian Quake Spawns No Tsunami

A large earthquake early this morning shook Alaska's Aleutian islands but did not cause a tsunami, officials said.

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck at 3:16 a.m. in Alaska (1:16 a.m. Hawaii time) and was centered about 30 miles east of Adak in the Aleutians, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach said the earthquake did not generate a tsunami.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - September 2, 2010 10:15 p.m. HST

Moped Rider Injured in Kahului Crash

Maui Police say a 31 year-old Kahului man is in stable condition tonight after being upgraded from critical condition earlier this evening. The man was riding a moped that was struck by a vehicle in Kahului this afternoon.

The accident happened at 5:05 p.m. tpday on West Papa Avenue at Honowai Street. A 2005 Jeep Liberty, driven by a 63 year-old woman from Kahului, was traveling west on Papa Avenue, turning left when it collided with a Honda moped, travelling east on West Papa.

The moped operator suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash and was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition. He was later upgraded to stable condition. The woman was not hurt.

Police are investingating the possible involvement of speed, drugs and alcohol as factors in the crash.

(Information Provided by The Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - September 2, 2010 1:05 p.m. HST

Governor Prasies Lawmakers on Recktenwald Confirmation

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today commended the State Senate for confirming Mark E. Recktenwald as the next Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice:

“I am very pleased that the State Senate has voted unanimously to confirm Mark Recktenwald to be the fifth Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court.

“The people of Hawai‘i can feel confident, as I am, that they will have a Chief Justice who will guide our courts with fairness and integrity in upholding the rule of law and our constitution.

“I commend the Senate for conducting a fair and timely confirmation hearing. I also want to thank the members of the public who took the time to submit comments to me as I made my selection, as well as those in the community who submitted testimony or testified at the confirmation hearing.

“Over the past year as a Supreme Court Associate Justice and two years prior as Chief Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Chief Justice-Designee Recktenwald’s performance has been exceptional. The public’s comments and testimony – from individuals in the legal community and across the political spectrum – gave us further insight into his strong legal intellect, thoughtful leadership and upstanding character.

“I look forward to taking part in the official swearing in of Hawai‘i’s next Chief Justice – Mark Recktenwald – and seeing him preside over our state’s Judiciary.”

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - September 2, 2010 12:05 p.m. HST

County Offices, Facilities to Close for Labor Day

WAILUKU, MAUI - All County of Maui offices will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, September 6, 2010.

Central Maui Landfill will be open from 7 a.m. - noon. Olowalu Recycling & Refuse Center, Hana Landfill, Lanai Landfill and Molokai Landfill & Recycling will be closed.

All County pools will be closed on the holiday due to budget constraints. Pools will be open on Saturday and Sunday. The public is advised to call 270-8208 for daily recorded pool schedule information, which is updated by 9 a.m. seven days a week.

The Waiehu Golf Course will be open; trash collection is expected to follow a normal schedule.

For more information on County services, programs and schedules, visit www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - September 2, 2010 10:45 a.m. HST

Kalaupapa Pastor Passes Away

The Rev. Felix Vandebroek, pastor of a church in Kalaupapa, where a dozen of his parishioners have leprosy, died Friday at the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts Center in Kaneohe. He was 82.

Vandebroek had just returned from a monthlong visit with his family in Belgium, and wasn't feeling well during the week he stayed at the center before returning to Molokai, said the Rev. Chris Keahi, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Vandebroek didn't answer Keahi's knock on the door Friday evening and was found on the floor on Saturday morning, Keahi said. The priest had heart problems and diabetes, he added.

Vandebroek was born n Belgium and came to Hawaii in 1956 as one of the country's last missionaries. His longest ministry was at St. Raphael parish in Koloa, Kauai, for 24 years, Keahi said. He was transferred to St. Francis of Assisi Church on Molokai in 2007, the latest in a line of priests to follow in the footsteps of Father Damien De Veuster, who was declared a saint in 2009 for his work with leprosy patients.

Meli Watanuki is among a dozen patients who still live on Kalaupapa. She and husband Randall assisted Vandebroek with church matters. She cried as she talked about the priest, describing him as a strong man and a private person who had a sense of humor. They often bantered over who really ran things, she said.

"If I no like something, I tell Father straight. He say, 'You not da boss, I da boss.' But if something broken, I go office and get work order to fix. ... Father say, 'You and me, we are boss together,'" she said.

Watanuki said she and others would always laugh when Vandebroek would say at the end of a service, "OK; we pau."

"I miss him a lot," she said. "He was a really smart man. He understands everything."

Like the priests before him, Vandebroek "take care of us like their children," Watanuki said.

Vandebroek "was always kind and well-loved by people no matter where he went, especially on Kauai, where he was for 24 years," Keahi said. "They would always send him care packages after he left. Most of all, he enjoyed children wherever he went. He was sad there were no children on Kalaupapa, but I told him his children were adults."

Keahi said until another priest is found for Kalaupapa, he will send whoever is available on a weekly basis.

The funeral is next Thursday at St. Patrick Church, 1124 7th Ave. in Kaimuki, O'ahu. Visitation is at 5:30 p.m., followed by Mass. Tentatively, the burial is set for Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. at the Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe.

Reach Pat Gee at pgee@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 2, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

Bankruptcies Easing Slightly in Aloha State

The number of Hawaii residents filing for bankruptcy protection in August eased slightly from July, but cases remained above the 300 mark for the sixth month in a row.

There were 329 filings in August compared with 345 cases filed in July, according to federal Bankruptcy Court statistics. Although the volume of cases is high by historical standards, filings have been trending down since peaking at 391 in April. The number of August filings was the lowest since February, when there were 291 cases filed.

David Farmer, one of three federal bankruptcy court trustees operating in the District of Hawaii, said he's noticed the downward trend. He said the improving economy, including rising visitor arrivals, appears to be having an impact.

"The dollar that I pull out of my wallet probably started with a tourist," he said.

However, some of the decline in bankruptcy filings could have been the result of what he called the "summer effect."

"We observed this last year. A lot of debtors and their counsel go on vacation in August," he said.

Filings also continued to ease on a year-over-year basis. The number of August filings was up 27.6 percent over August 2009. That was the smallest year-over-year increase since last fall.

Bankruptcies began their climb after the recession broke out in late 2007. After averaging 115 filings a month in 2007, the pace accelerated to 173 a month in 2008 and 258 a month in 2009. For the first eight months of this year, filings have averaged 337 a month.

Farmer said the number of bankruptcy filings has varied widely in cities around the country, with places like Las Vegas and California getting hit the hardest and cities in the Midwest generally faring better.

During a recent meeting with bankruptcy trustees from around the country, Farmer said, there was discussion about whether there would be more filings in their areas in 2010 than in 2005, when a change in the bankruptcy law resulted in a record number of bankruptcies in Hawaii and elsewhere.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but I'm guardedly optimistic that if tourism says up we'll do better than 2005," Farmer said.

Reach Alan Yonan Jr. at ayonan@star-advertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 1, 2010 8:30 p.m. HST

Discovery Gunman Came from Lahaina

SILVER SPRING, Md. » A man who railed against the Discovery Channel's environmental programming for years burst into the company's headquarters with at least one explosive device strapped to his body yesterday and took three people hostage at gunpoint before police shot him to death, officials said.

The hostages -- two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard -- were unhurt after the four-hour standoff. Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said tactical officers moved in after officers monitoring the gunman on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage.

An explosive device on the gunman's body detonated when police shot him, Manger said. Police were trying to determine whether two boxes and two backpacks the gunman had also contained explosives.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said authorities had identified James J. Lee as the likely suspect.

Lee listed Hawaii as his hometown on his MySpace page.

Property records show Lee was given ownership of a 12.5 percent stake in a Lahaina residence in 2003 through a family trust, and that he sold his interest in 2007 for $90,000.

It was not immediately determined what period he lived in Hawaii or when he moved to the mainland.

On his MySpace page, Lee said he is single, 43, and lives in Silver Spring, Md.

County police and firefighters last night looked at a laptop screen that showed an image of a body lying face up, surrounded by blood. Authorities also sent in a robot to disarm the explosive on the gunman's body. Police Capt. Paul Starks said the suspect had fired a gun at least once. He also said police think the suspect was acting alone but are investigating all possibilities.

Manger said police spent several hours negotiating with the armed man after he entered the suburban Washington building about 1 p.m. None of the 1,900 people who work in the building were hurt, and most made it out before the standoff ended.

Lee was convicted of disorderly conduct for a protest he organized outside Discovery's offices in February 2008. According to court records, he paid homeless people to carry signs and set off a scramble when he threw fistfuls of cash into the air, calling it "just trash."

Lee served two weeks in jail after his arrest, during which doctors evaluated his competency to stand trial. County State's Attorney John McCarthy said Lee was ordered to stay 500 feet away from Discovery headquarters as part of his probation, which ended two weeks ago. A magistrate ordered a doctor's evaluation, but the result was not immediately available yesterday.

"The Discovery Channel produces many so-called 'Environmental Programs' supposedly there to save the planet," Lee said in an ad he took out in a Washington newspaper to promote the protest. "But the truth is things are getting WORSE! Their programs are causing more harm than good."

In court and online, Lee faulted the Discovery Channel for shows as varied as "Future Weapons," "It Takes a Thief" and "Planet Green."

A lengthy posting that could be seen yesterday on a website registered to Lee said Discovery and its affiliates should stop "encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants," a possible reference to shows like "Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting." Instead, he said, the network should air "programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility."

Discovery Communications Inc. operates U.S. cable and satellite networks including the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 1, 2010 4:10 p.m. HST

Mayor Charmaine Tavares Releases Funds for Air Ambulance

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii- Mayor Charmaine Tavares has released $672,215 to fund the State’s Emergency Aeromedical Helicopter Services to augment other existing emergency medical services within Maui County.

Better known as the air ambulance program, the State service is jointly funded by the County of Maui and the State Department of Health to dispatch helicopter air ambulances transporting trauma victims from the scene of the trauma to a hospital, and also between hospitals. The State currently provides 50 percent of the cost of the service.

“As we examined our budget restraints earlier this year I had hoped that the State Department of Health and Maui Memorial Medical Center could pay for this important service, which is under their jurisdiction,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “Since the State and hospital are not able to financially support the entire cost, I’m pleased that together with the Council, we have found a way to help pay for such a vital service for the islands of Maui County.”

During the budget deliberations in April, Mayor Tavares proposed that the air ambulance could be funded in part by utilizing unanticipated real property tax revenues. The final budget ordinance reflects funding of $672,215 from the County’s general fund for the air ambulance.

Maui County’s air ambulance is capable of responding to any island in Maui County and is the only air ambulance in the state to serve multiple islands. Over the past three years, a total of 70 flights have occurred between Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Oahu.

All flights are conducted under extensive protocols based on national aeromedical, triage and transport guidelines established by the Association of Air Medical Services, the American College of Surgeons and the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians.

To effectuate the protocols, a Memorandum of Understanding has been executed between the State Department of Health, and the County departments of Transportation, Police, Fire and Public Safety and Parks and Recreation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - September 1, 2010 2:30 p.m. HST

Senate Committee Unanimous in Endorsing Recktenwald

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 to recommend approval of Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald’s appointment as chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The recommendation goes to the full Senate, which is scheduled to vote on the appointment tomorrow.

Recktenwald would be the state’s fifth chief justice, replacing Ronald Moon who stepped down this week because of the state constitutional mandatory retirement provision requiring judges and justices to retire at age 70.

Moon turns 70 on Saturday.

Paula Nakayama, the most senior associate justice on the five-member high court, is acting chief justice until the new one is sworn in.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - September 1, 2010 10:25 a.m. HST

Brush Fire Closes Hana Highway at Kailua

(Editor's Note: Police report fire out, road open at 11:08 a.m.)

A brush fire has closed Hana Highway between Mile Markers 10 and 11 in the Kailua area.

The fire was first reported shortly after 9 a.m. No estimate has been given on when the road will reopen. Also, no word has been provided on the size or cause of the fire.

(Information Provided by Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - September 1, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

July Best Tourism Month in Five Years

July was the best month for visitor performance that Hawaii has seen in five years. Arrivals and spending were up on all islands and from every major market, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which released monthly visitor statistics yesterday. It was the first month that saw all indicators rise since September 2005.

But don't expect July's momentum to last beyond the summer season. Softness is already building as Labor Day approaches and the start of school keeps would-be travelers closer to home. The lack of fall group business, a legacy of the financial bailouts and the AIG effect, will continue to weaken tourism.

Still, it was a really good run while it lasted.

"July was the best month that we've ever had," said Ward Almeida, general manager of the Lotus at Diamond Head, a boutique hotel on Waikiki's quieter Gold Coast. "We had quite a few days where occupancy was in the 90 percent range or we were sold out."

Almeida and other members of Hawaii's visitor industry benefited from a 9 percent increase in visitor arrivals, which rose to 680,743.

Strong arrivals growth helped push total visitor expenditures up 23.3 percent to $1.1 billion. Per-person-per-day spending rose 10.6 percent to $168.30.

However, the increases, which came off one of the worst years in Hawaii tourism, were not high enough to spark a lasting rebound in hotel rates. And, while the growth was encouraging for businesses throughout the state that have faltered during the industry's most recent two-year decline, the state does not expect visitor expenditures to recover to 2007's peak until 2013.

"While we see many positive indicators, we are mindful that the global travel industry, including Hawaii, has not fully recovered from successive years of lower consumer and business spending," said Mike McCartney, HTA president and chief executive officer.

Growth in arrivals continues to reflect the attractive pricing and value-added packages being offered by Hawaii hotels, travel partners and island businesses, said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.

Low prices inspired Scott Kim and Brienne Dylewski of Tuscon, Ariz., to stay in a hotel on a recent visit to see family. The pair snagged a $1,400 Expedia package for two that included round-trip airfare, a rental car and four hotel nights.

"The prices were much cheaper than when we've visited Hawaii before," Dylewski said. "I've told quite a few people that if they didn't go out to eat at pricey places, they could have a pretty inexpensive trip. And the beach is free."

In addition to the pull of attractive pricing, July also benefited from the absence of the H1N1 flu, which weakened the Japan market last year, said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Enterprises Group. A 57.3 percent increase in traffic related to several citywide meetings and conventions, including the Baptist World Congress and the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, and the military's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, which brought 20,000 sailors to Oahu, helped, too, Carey said.

But it's still the kind of economic climate where even business travelers are watching their spending. Kim Carroll of Long Beach, Calif., said her husband's company picked up the tab for most of the couple's stay on Oahu. However, they still cut corners.

"We try to find out where the locals go for dinner," she said. "We like to get the free food at happy hour."

While July was uniquely positive, Outrigger's Carey said he continues to worry about tourism's future.

"The overall economic outlook isn't negative, but it certainly isn't robust," he said. "Several of our core market states are doing poorly. There are a big chunk of people who are flat out of work, and they used to be our customers."

Recovery of Hawaii's visitor industry will be gradual, Wienert said.

"We look forward to continued increases in visitor arrivals. However, tourism's recovery cannot be measured by arrivals alone," she said. "Recovery relies on increased spending by our visitors."

Reach Allison Scaeffers at aschaeffers@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 31, 2010 2:45 p.m. HST

PUC Approves 'Decoupling' to Encourage Renewable Enery Projects

HONOLULU – To encourage the Hawaiian Electric Companies (Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company, and Maui Electric Light Company) to accelerate the adoption of clean energy resources, including renewable energy generation and energy efficiency programs, the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (Commission) today approved a decoupling mechanism that is designed to de-link the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ revenues and profits from their electricity sales.

On February 19, 2010, the Commission approved a decoupling mechanism subject to the issuance of a Final Decision and Order in Docket No. 2008-0274. The Commission, in a 2-1 decision, issued its Final Decision and Order today.
Decoupling represents a transformational change from traditional rate-making. Under the traditional approach, utilities like the Hawaiian Electric Companies recover their fixed costs partially through fixed charges, such as customer charges, and partially through volumetric charges such as energy (or per kilowatt-hour (kWh)) charges. This rate design works for utilities when sales gradually increase from year to year, such that increases in revenues are sufficient to recover the fixed costs approved by regulators in the utility’s last rate case, while also compensating the utility for cost escalation due to needed expansion or modernization of system infrastructure and inflation, all while maintaining an adequate return on the utility’s investments to attract investors. The more a utility recovers its fixed costs from volumetric charges, the more a change in sales will affect earnings. Periods of consistent sales volume increases could lead to elevated earnings. Thus, utilities may have an incentive to increase sales, which could
then lead to over-earnings.

In the event that sales become stagnant or are on a long-term decreasing trend, and the corresponding falling revenues fail to fully recover fixed costs, utilities traditionally initiate a rate case to request an increase in revenues. However, since rate proceedings may take many months to adjudicate, it may be difficult for utilities to maintain their financial health. Under these conditions, it is not unusual for utilities to file rate cases in quick succession in an effort to reset their rates to compensate for falling sales and increasing costs.

For the Hawaiian Electric Companies, the conservation, energy efficiency, and customer-sited renewable generation measures that are advanced in Hawai‘i’s recent energy policies and laws will contribute to falling sales. Thus, while these measures move the State toward important energy goals that all stakeholders and the Commission support, the erosion of electricity sales and revenues may result in negative financial impacts to the Hawaiian Electric Companies. Decoupling, which delinks or “decouples” the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ revenues from the amount of electricity or kWh they sell, is intended to remove the disincentive for the Hawaiian Electric Companies to aggressively pursue Hawai‘i’s clean energy objectives.

The decoupling mechanism approved by the Commission includes: (1) a sales decoupling component, or Revenue Balancing Account, which is intended to break the link between the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ sales and their total electric revenue; and (2) a Revenue Adjustment Mechanism, which is intended to compensate the Hawaiian Electric Companies for increases in utility costs and infrastructure investment between rate cases.

Chairman Carlito P. Caliboso said that “decoupling is a superior way to regulate electric utilities during these critical times, and it is the best regulatory model to move Hawai‘i toward a clean energy future, while also protecting the financial health of the Hawaiian Electric Companies. A financially unhealthy utility costs consumers more. So, we need to see that the financial health of electric utilities is maintained so that they can continue to provide reliable service to consumers at a reasonable cost. With decoupling, the Hawaiian Electric Companies should have no economic or financial dis-incentive to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.”

The final order and entire docket record may be accessed through the Commission’s electronic Document Management System at the following website address: http://dms.puc.hawaii.gov/dms/.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Public Utilities Commission)

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NEWS FLASH - August 31, 2010 11:15 a.m. HST

Livestock Owners Must Re-Register Brands

HONOLULU – Owners of livestock brands in Hawai`i are required to re-register their brands with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

Hawai`i law requires owners of livestock in the state to register their brand to secure its validity and individuality. While it is not mandatory to use brands in Hawai`i, it is mandatory for owners using brands
to register them.

Typically, cattle are branded prior to one year of age so owners have a permanent and unique identification on their animals that traces them back to their ownership. HDOA’s Livestock Disease Control Branch reviews brand applications and approves brands after determining that the brand is not the same or similar to others that are registered. Branding continues to be the most practical and approved means by which cattle ownership is determined, particularly in the Western U.S. where most states require cattle moving interstate to be brand inspected.

In Hawai`i, there are about 1,100 cattle operations ranging from herds of about 16,000 cows to those with just a few head. For the period of 2005 through 2010, there were 682 brands registered in Hawai`i. Brand owners are required to re-register their brands every five years.

For more information and applications, brand owners should contact HDOA’s Livestock Disease Control Branch at (808) 483-7106 (Oahu) or e-mail: hdoa.info@hawaii.gov.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Agriculture)

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NEWS FLASH - August 31, 2010 10:35 a.m. HST

Visitor Spending Continues Upward Trend

HONOLULU – Total spending by visitors who came to Hawai‘i in July 2010 grew 23.3 percent or $210 million from July 2009, to $1.1 billion. Total expenditures for the first seven months of 2010 was $6.4 billion, up 10.2 percent compared to the first seven months of 2009, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism
Authority.

The increase in visitor expenditures for July 2010 was due to higher average daily visitor spending ($168 per person, compared to $152 per person in July 2009) and a 9 percent growth in total visitor arrivals to 680,743 visitors. This was the eighth consecutive month of positive growth in visitor arrivals since December 2009.

All top four visitor markets reported increased arrivals compared to July 2009, led by U.S. East (+12.3%), Canada (+10.7%), Japan (+8%), and U.S. West (+3.4%).

For the first seven months of 2010, total visitor days for all visitors grew 6.1 percent compared to year-to-date 2009, while total arrivals rose 6.2 percent to 4,079,818 visitors.

Read the entire report here.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - August 31, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

New Makena Owners Have Big Plans for Revitalization

The new owners and managers of the 1,800-acre Makena Beach and Golf Resort are making plans for substantial revitalization that will change its focus from an uber-luxury resort to one with broader community appeal.

Majority owner AREA Property Partners, an international real estate investor and fund manager that was one of the property's original lenders, said yesterday it had assumed ownership of the resort along with Trinity Investments LLC and Standford Carr Development, ending the foreclosure process.

The lender group's $95 million credit bid surpassed a $55 million credit offer from Wells Fargo Bank, the trustee of the mortgage lending trust that foreclosed on the property last September. The lending trust had been owed more than $192 million in principal plus interest and other costs on its mortgage loan.

The resort, which is located on the southern shore of Maui, includes a 310-room hotel, two 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. championship golf courses and 1,300 acres of land with entitlements for residential development.

With the ownership transfer complete, the new owners now begin the challenge of repositioning the property for success in Maui's competitive resort market.

Makena was almost shuttered last year after former owner Everett Dowling elected to walk away from a $575 million loan that included investment from Honolulu-based Trinity Investments and Morgan Stanley Real Estate. Dowling, who had acquired the resort from the financially strapped Seibu Group of Japan, had planned to turn the property into one of Hawaii's most luxurious resort developments but abandoned plans amid dropping tourism levels and a tightening financial market.

The infusion of new capital and business expertise will be good for the Makena Resort and for Maui's hotel market, said Joe Toy, president and chief executive officer of hotel consultancy Hospitality Advisors LLC.

AREA and Trinity have long been active in Hawaii's luxury resort market. "These players are a strong team with the right expertise," Toy said. "They also are people who are committed to the island."

AREA and Trinity own the Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu and previously owned Maui's Fairmont Kea Lani Resort and the Embassy Suites Kaanapali. Their partner, Landmark, currently manages the Kahala and previously managed the Embassy Suites Maui as well as the former Kea Lani Hotel & Resort. Landmark said yesterday it has been appointed to manage the Makena resort.

Since hotel maintenance and development of the resort's vacant lands were deferred during the last two ownership cycles, Toy said repositioning will be a long-term project requiring much patience and capital.

AREA worked with the lender from the start of foreclosure to ensure that the hotel stayed open and guests continued to enjoy the resort experience, said Bradford Wildauer, AREA partner.

"Over the last year, many parties including the receiver, the lending trust and its agents and the hotel management company made extraordinary efforts to stabilize the hotel operations and position it for a transition to long-term ownership," Wildauer said. "In assuming ownership of the property, AREA and our partners are expanding our commitment to the resort, its employees and guests. We plan to revitalize Makena so that it continues to be a premier destination resort."

While Dowling had planned to replace the hotel with another and build out the acreage with luxury residential development, the new owners will update the existing hotel striving for about a four-star level, Wildauer said.

"The prior owners had a vision that fit a different economic time," he said. "We are looking for a vision that fits the current economic time."

By the end of this year or the beginning of next, the team plans to reopen nine holes at the south golf course and be ready to present a redevelopment plan that may include affordable residential housing and public access, said Carr, who joined the project because of his long-standing relationship with Trinity Investments and his affinity for Maui, where he was born and raised.

"We believe Makena is a special place but it shouldn't be exclusive or only for the rich and famous," Carr said. "We want it to be accessible to everyone. The topography and characteristics of the land give us the opportunity to create diverse housing."

In addition to working on the hotel's physical plant, investors will work with the hotel's union employees and managers to improve guest experiences, said Shawn Sweeney, Landmark's senior vice president of operations, who will oversee Makena.

"While this will not be an immediate refurbishment, we intend to make a guest experience difference with the resources we have," Sweeney said.

"The resort has always had a tradition of service, and the employees have gone through so much uncertainty in the past few years."

Reach Allison Scaeffers at aschaeffers@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 4:25 p.m. HST

Bottomfishing Begins Wednesday

HONOLULU -- The Department of Land and Natural Resources announces the re-opening of State marine waters to the new fishing year for bottomfish on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. The fishing year was closed earlier this year on April 20, 2010 and remained closed until August 31, 2010. Seven bottomfish species were affected by this closure: onaga, ehu, opakapaka, kalekale, gindai, lehi, and the hapuupuu.

The proposed total allowable catch (TAC) for the new fishing year is 254,050 pounds of Deep 7 bottomfish. The TAC is monitored through commercial landings. The bottomfish fishery will close when the 2010-2011 commercial landings reach the TAC limit, or on August 31, 2011 when the fishing year ends, whichever comes first.

The Department also reminds bottomfish fishers that the State's twelve bottomfish restricted fishing areas will continue to remain closed to bottomfish fishing.

Fishers are advised to consult the Department's website for the locations of the twelve restricted fishing areas.

All other existing State rules for bottomfish and fishing for bottomfish remain applicable. For details, please visit the Department's website: http://www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/bottomfish.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 3:55 p.m. HST

New Rules Make Access to Kanaha Pond 'Simpler,' says DLNR

HONOLULU – Public access to visit Kanaha Pond -- one of Maui’s most scenic wetlands, and permanent home to the endangered Hawaiian stilt (‘Aeo), Hawaiian coot (Alae-ke‘oke‘o) and Hawaiian duck (Koloa-maoli) -- has now been made simpler, under recent administrative rule changes.

Kanaha Pond wildlife sanctuary is open from sunrise to sunset, between August 31 to March 31 annually. Permits to visit inner sections of the sanctuary are no longer needed from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

However rules for public visitation remain in place, to keep the sanctuary safe for wildlife, plants and people. Visitors may walk in to view wildlife, plants, and the wetland vistas, and must remain at all times on the marked roads and trails only. Pets are not allowed.

Entrance signs with rules for visiting are prominently posted at the two entry gates on the ocean side of the sanctuary. One access gate is near the Valley Isle Produce end of the sanctuary. The other gate is just past the tall naupaka hedge, half a mile to the east farther along Amala Place. No changes have been made for visiting the Observation Kiosk situated off Old Haleakala Highway, it remains open year-round.

Administrative rule changes for wildlife sanctuaries can be found on the DOFAW website at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/ Click on “Administrative Rules” under Resources and look for Title 13 Chapter 126.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 3:15 p.m. HST

'Iao Park to Close Tomorrow, Wednesday for New Coat of Paint

KAHULUI – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will close ‘Iao Valley State Park on Tuesday, August 31 and Wednesday, September 1 while it is painting railings along the main walkways and bridge that lead to the garden area, lookout shelter and stream trail. Park closure is needed to ensure public safety and allow painted fixtures to dry.

The painting is part of the Division of State Parks’ park beautification and ongoing facilities maintenance. Maui Painting has been awarded the $11,500 project.

The park will reopen on Thursday, September 2. However remaining sections of the park will also be temporarily blocked off to complete the painting by Friday, Sept. 3. Areas not being painted will remain open to public access. DLNR appreciates the public’s patience during this temporary inconvenience.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 3:05 p.m. HST

APEC Meeting in 2011 Designated 'National Special Security Event'

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today announced that the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting which will be held in Hawai‘i next November has been designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano informed Governor Lingle in a letter dated Friday, August 27, 2010 that she has approved the Governor’s request for the National Special Security Event designation. Governor Lingle submitted the official request in May after she and State Adjutant General Major General Robert Lee met with Homeland Security and Secret Service officials in Washington, D.C. in February to discuss security for the APEC meeting.

Under the NSSE designation, federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, and public safety agencies will coordinate operational security as well as contingency plans for the APEC meeting that will be held in Honolulu November 12 -13, 2011.

According to Secretary Napolitano’s letter, “the United States Secret Service will coordinate the development and implementation of the overall operational security plan; the Federal Bureau of Investigation will coordinate intelligence, crisis management, hostage rescue and counter-terrorism planning; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate emergency response and recovery planning.”

“We appreciate Secretary Napolitano’s designation of the 2011 APEC meeting in Hawai‘i as a National Security Special Event,” said Governor Lingle. “This designation by the federal government will help the State and City cover some of the costs relating to the 2011 APEC Leaders Meeting. This will allow us to maximize our resources to ensure that Hawai‘i is able to showcase our state to the international community as a high-level business and meeting place for the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Hawai‘i meeting, which will be hosted by President Barack Obama, will be the first APEC leaders meeting held in the United States since the first meeting convened on Blake Island, Washington in 1993. The Hawai‘i Convention Center will host the various meetings that will take place during the week.

The international gathering is expected to attract over 10,000 participants from throughout the Asia-Pacific region to Hawai‘i, including leaders from 21 APEC economies, senior government officials, business leaders, international economists, Asia-Pacific experts and worldwide media.

The Hawai‘i bid, which was submitted in January 2009, was a collaborative effort between the Lingle-Aiona Administration, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Hawai‘i’s tourism and business community, the City and County of Honolulu, Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation and the East-West Center. Hawai‘i was among several U.S. locations vying to host the 2011 APEC Leaders Meeting.

The joint effort is being coordinated by the APEC Hawai‘i Host Committee comprising business, government, education and military leaders.

Read Secretary Napolitano's letter.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 1:55 p.m. HST

Whale, Rescued Off Kihei, Dies from Pneumonia

A rare Blainville's beaked whale rescued on Maui earlier this month died yesterday from pneumonia and other ailments.

A necropsy performed last night disclosed that the male whale suffered from moderate pneumonia, severe gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease and deteriorating body condition.

The 110-foot-long, 1,800-pound whale was rescued in shallow waters Aug. 16 from South Maui and flown to the University of Hawaii at Hilo Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility for marine mammals that opened in December.

A group of 15 to 20 volunteers have been working around the clock to help save the whale.

No beaked whale has ever survived to the point where it could be released back into the wild, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

Beaked whales are deepwater swimmers that are rarely seen, and less than 20 have been held in captivity.

Reach Gregg K. Kakesako at gkakesako@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

Beaked Whales Secretive - But Not Rare - in Hawai'i

Two weeks ago when federal biologists, University of Hawaii researchers, a couple of veterinarians, about 30 volunteers, some flatbed truck drivers and the pilots and crew of a Coast Guard C-130 joined forces to get an ailing beaked whale to a marine mammal hospital on the Big Island, a lot of us Hawaii residents had one burning question: What is a beaked whale?

It's a common question because beaked whales don't often show themselves to humans. These whales rarely breach, have a low, scattered blow and regularly dive to 3,000 feet and below, staying there up to 90 minutes.

But just because they're out of sight doesn't mean they're rare. With 21 species and counting, beaked whales make up nearly one-fourth of the 86 known cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). And there likely are more. Since the development of molecular analysis and ongoing efforts by field scientists to get biopsy samples, the world's knowledge of beaked whales is expanding.

Beaked whales get their name from their snouts. Like bird and dolphin beaks, these whales' snouts vary widely in size and shape according to species.

The beaked whales' distinction is in their teeth and jaws. Beaked whales are considered toothed whales, but females' teeth never erupt from the gums and males generally have only two teeth. In several species the teeth rise from the gum of the lower jaw, like tusks, at the front or sides of the mouth.

Sometimes the protruding teeth point a little forward, but mostly they stick up. Gooseneck (aka stalked) barnacles tend to grow on the constantly exposed teeth, causing the whale to look like it has a bunch of feathery flowers sprouting from each side of its mouth.

But there's nothing feathery about the stems in those bouquets. Judging from the extensive long, crisscross scars on the males' bodies, researchers believe that the males use their tusklike teeth in fights with other males.

As for eating, since beaked whales lack functional teeth, they use suction to draw their prey of squid and fish into their mouths.

For the last 10 or so years, a team of research biologists has been studying the beaked whales found in Hawaii, photographing, tagging and taking DNA samples of the animals, mostly off the Big Island's Kona Coast.

The most common species here is Blainville's beaked whale, about 14 feet long. The scientists estimate that about 140 individuals live in our vicinity. The second most common is Cuvier's, 9 feet long, with about 55 individuals here. Hawaii's third beaked whale, Longman's, is seen less often and needs more study.

Robin W. Baird of Cascadia Research Collective, a scientific and educational organization based in Olympia, Wash., heads the beaked whale (and other species) research team. Baird shared his picture of this endearing young Blainville's beaked whale with me with this request: He's looking for photos of beaked whales in Hawaii's waters.

You can contact Baird about photos, and check out the team's amazing pictures of these special whales in Hawaii, at www.cascadiaresearch.org/hawaii/beakedwhales. htm#pubs

As of this writing, the Blainville's beaked whale being cared for at the University of Hawaii Hilo's cetacean rehab facility is alive and swimming. Along with everyone, I'm rooting for her to recover, but already she has given her clan a great gift. As a result of her stranding, more of us now know about, and appreciate, another group of Hawaii's native marine mammals.

Susan Scott can be reached at www.susanscott.net.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 30, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Pukalanai Man Dies in Two-Car Crash Sunday

A Pukalani man is dead following a two-vehicle crash yesterday morning in Kahului. Maui Police say 75 year-old David K. Dutro of Maui endured life-threatening in juries following a near head-on collission at 11:26 a.m. on Haleakala Highway Extension, a few hundred feet makai of the intersection with Hana Highway.

According to the report, a 2010 Dodge Caliber, driven by a 27 year-old woman from Cambridge MA, and occupied by a 31 year-old man - also from Cambridge, was travelling west on the extension road when it impacted the eastbound 1996 Mercury driven by Dutro in the eastbound lane. Both the man and women were being treated for injuries at Maui Memorial Medical Center Sunday evening. Dutro died from his injuries while at the hospital.

Dutro's death is the 10th trafftc fatality of 2010. There were eleven at this time last year.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - August 29, 2010 11:45 a.m. HST

Na Hale O Maui Plan Would Turn Foreclosures into Affordables

WAILUKU - A request by nonprofit Na Hale O Maui for $1.1 million from the county's affordable housing fund, for its program of turning foreclosed properties into affordable homes, will be reviewed Tuesday by the County Council's Budget and Finance Committee.

The organization has been identifying single-family homes in foreclosure, rehabilitating them and selling them to qualified buyers at affordable prices using a $3 million federal grant.

However, the federal grant effectively prohibits Na Hale from acquiring homes built before 1978 because of lead paint removal requirements, said the nonprofit group's executive director, John Andersen. This has kept many properties in Dream City Kahului and Waiehu out of their reach, he said.

The cost of lead paint removal from a kitchen and bathroom would be $25,000 to $50,000, which would price the homes out of the affordable range, he said.

If Na Hale were to receive the money from the county's Affordable Housing Fund, it would disclose the presence of lead paint to buyers, said Andersen, adding that in most cases the professional recommendation is to not remove but to encapsulate the lead paint by painting over it.

Andersen estimates that the county funds would help Na Hale turn eight to 10 foreclosed properties into single-family affordable homes.

Since October, Na Hale has acquired 10 foreclosed homes, about one a month. Five of them have been rehabilitated and sold, two are in escrow and three are in the rehabilitation process, said Andersen. So far, 21 families have been prequalified for homes; there is room for more, he said.

Prospective buyers have to take a one-hour orientation seminar on homeownership and mortgages, meet the income limits and be preapproved for a mortgage by a lender. For a family of four, the federal Housing and Urban Development income criteria is $107,500, which is "most of the work force," he said.

Na Hale retains ownership of the land through a 99-year renewable lease, while the buyer owns the home and improvements. This arrangement, similar to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands homestead program but without the blood-quantum requirement, keeps prices down and allows Na Hale to keep the property "affordable in perpetuity."

If buyers choose to sell, they will not reap the full net profits in a sale and are subject to a strict resale formula.

Homes are being sold for between $250,000 and $320,000, while being purchased for between $350,000 and $410,000, Andersen said. The rehabilitation cost runs between $15,000 and $20,000.

So Andersen estimates that the subsidy for each home runs about $100,000.

Na Hale acquires only homes "that have been abandoned," he said. "We are not displacing anybody. Residents have moved out prior or during the foreclosure process."

He acknowledged the "tragedy" of the foreclosures and families who have lost their homes, but he also views an opportunity the likes of which "we have never seen." The Na Hale affordable housing program puts families in existing homes, hundreds of which are languishing in foreclosure, and does not tap more water and create more urban sprawl, he said.

"These houses are sitting vacant, and we have to deal with them," Andersen said.

Na Hale is currently embarking on phase 2, using the proceeds of sales to purchase more foreclosed homes. Andersen said Na Hale will continue to acquire and sell more foreclosed homes with the money until it runs out.

The meeting will be begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers on the eighth floor of the Kalana O Maui building. For more information about Na Hale, call 244-6110 or e-mail info@nahaleomaui.org or visit nahaleomaui.org

Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 28, 2010 7 a.m. HST

November Elections May Not Be Final, Final for a While

Certifying this year's general election results might be delayed, after the U.S. Defense Department denied yesterday Hawaii's request to ignore a new federal law that gives overseas troops more time to vote.

The law, passed last year, requires states to distribute absentee ballots to overseas and military voters 45 days before this year's general election. Hawaii's problem is that the state's primary is on Sept. 18, exactly 45 days before the general election.

One option could be for the state to agree to a consent decree to receive and count overseas ballots late, as it did in 1986. State law requires that ballots must be received by the close of polls.

Federal officials have asked the state whether it would agree to a consent decree, according to a July 27 letter from state Chief Election Officer Scott Nago to Federal Voting Assistance Program Director Robert Carey.

But Nago did not agree at the time, saying it was "premature" until the state found out whether it could get a waiver from the federal requirement.

"I guess we could argue as to how many days from the completion of the polls would be an adequate amount," said Dante Carpenter, chairman of the state Democratic Party. "If you say one week, well, I guess you'll have less screams than if you say two weeks. But there will be screams."

Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said yesterday that discussions with federal officials are expected to commence "soon," but he did not specify how soon when asked by the Star-Advertiser.

The elections office also did not address the possibility of delaying election results.

About 300 military and overseas voters had requested ballots for the general election as of yesterday, Nago said. In the 2008 general election, 827 overseas ballots were cast out of a total of more than 456,000. In 2006 only 237 overseas ballots were cast.

Three other states — Alaska, Colorado and Wisconsin — were also denied waiver requests, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In his waiver request, Nago said 35 days was sufficient time for distributing general election ballots, citing past elections in Hawaii in which ballots were received within 30 days. But the federal government found the argument inadequate and noncompliant with the new law.

Also at issue was the fact that Hawaii law does not allow the return of ballots via e-mail. Ballots can be e-mailed, faxed and mailed out but can be returned only by mail and fax.

"Although facsimile transmission is compliant with ... electronic transmission requirements, it is the least desirable method of electronic transmission, given that it is the least available among overseas active duty military voters, reserve component military voters and overseas DOD civilian employees," the Defense Department said in its waiver rejection.

U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said the department is working with states to bring them into compliance.

However, lawsuits may be filed against any state that does not voluntarily comply, she said.

In 1986 the federal government entered into a consent decree with Hawaii to permit a late count of 632 overseas ballots 10 days after the polls closed.

"I guess the question now is, When will that other date be?" said Carpenter. "Everything goes on hold, but I guess that's a way of honoring the time of 45 days."

Carpenter wishes the state Legislature had adopted an earlier date for the primary election, "especially since we've always contended that we have more troops per capita than any other state," he said. "What I'm wondering is why nobody considered what would happen if the waiver was rejected."

Pushing up this year's primary election day was considered at the state Legislature last year but was rejected because of fears of low voter turnout and complicating the primary election's operations.

Polling stations are typically reserved two years in advance to ensure availability and accessibility, and moving up the date this year would have affected training for poll workers.

Election officials have already been forced to close 97 polling stations around the state, with 242 stations left. Hawaii also has typically had among the worst voter turnouts in the nation.

"The Office of Elections is already undermanned, with the closing of all the stations," said state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which heard the bill. "We relied on this waiver."

Instead, the Legislature passed a law that would push up the primary date to August in 2012.

Karamatsu said he can see delays in certifying election results, which typically takes days after the polls close.

Jean Aoki, legislative chairwoman of the League of Women Voters, said she also did not envision a waiver denial.

She said close races might rely on the absentee ballots and that the state must ensure all votes are counted.

"The elections office does not need this on top of all the other problems they've had," she said. "They're really gonna be hard pressed to meet this deadline."

Reach Gene Park at gpark@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 27, 2010 1:45 p.m. HST

'Gritty,''Scrappy' Waipio Back in Little League Semi-Final

Waipio's gritty Little League team, coming through the loser's bracket, stunned Georgia and its ace Jacob Pate, 12-5, today to advance to the United States championship game in the Little League World Series game at Williamsport, Pa.

Waipio lost its opening game to Georgia last Saturday but came back to eliminate New Jersey and Ohio before beating Georgia twice, 7-4 yesterday and again today.

Waipio will play Texas for the U.S. title game tomorrow at 10 a.m. Hawaii time on ABC. That game will follow the International championship game between Taipei and Japan.

The winners play Sunday for the World Series title.

If they make it that far, it would be five games in five days for Hawaii, a tiring schedule more appropriate for major leaguers than Little Leaguers.

Noah Shackles doesn't mind.

"I'm pumped," the 13-year-old third baseman said.

Georgia scored four runs in the top of the third for a 4-0 lead, but Waipio rallied, keyed by a video replay challenge by Waipio manager Brian Yoshii that overturned an out on a stolen base attempt.

The runner, Ty DeSa, was called out for the second out in the bottom of the third. But with the call overturned, DeSa, went back to second with one out. He advanced to third on a groundout to second and scored on a wild pitch to cut it to 4-1.

Waipio used wildness by Pate to put two runners on. Then Shackles hit a ball that went off the glove of a hard-charging centerfielder for a triple that scored two runs. A wild pitch scored the tying run.

"They didn't give up, and they'll do whatever it takes to win," Yoshii said.

Waipio took a 7-4 in the bottom of the fourth on DeSa's double that broke a 4-all tie and put runners on second and third. With the infield in, Shiloh Baniaga's grounder went through shortstop for a tough error, allowing two runs to score for a 7-4 lead.

Georgia tallied a run in the top of the fifth to make it 7-5. Kahoea Akau was the defensive standout in the inning, turning in a double play and getting an assist for the final out.

In the bottom of the fifth, DeSa singled in a run and Baniaga hit a two-run single through a drawn-in infield for a 10-5 lead. Kaimana Bartolome's bloop single made it 11-5. A passed ball made it 12-5.

Georgia ace Jacob Pate held Hawaii last week to two runs and one hit in a 6-2 win in last week's tournament opener for both teams. On Friday, Pate allowed seven runs, four hits and three walks.

"It was a little easier because we had seen him before and had hit him a little bit," DeSa said. "We knew his pitches. We were ready for him."

Hawaii won its second straight game over Georgia in a matchup of local leagues going for a second Little League crown — Georgia won in 2006, and Hawaii two years later.

"I felt pretty confident with a 4-0 lead and Jacob on the mound, but give them credit. They really shortened their swings and put that ball in play," said manager Randy Morris, who also guided the 2006 club.

After Kahoea Akau caught the last out on a popup, the 4-foot-11 second baseman threw the ball down hard to the turf and joined his teammates to exchange handshakes with the Southeast champs. Families and friends in the stands cheered as some waved ti leaves they had been carrying for good luck.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 27, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

Hawai'i, Four Other States, Denied Waiver for Voting by Deployed Troops

MADISON, Wis. — Hawaii is one of four states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands were denied requests on Friday to ignore a new federal law meant to protect the voting rights of deployed troops and other Americans overseas, while five states were granted the waiver.

Not getting the waiver calls into question how the affected states — Wisconsin, Hawaii, Alaska and Colorado — will comply with deadlines for counting all votes cast by members of the military and other Americans living overseas.

Hawaii election officials were not available for comment this morning. However, Chief Election Officer Scott Nago has previously said if the waiver were denied that the state would still hold the election on Sept. 18 and ballots received from military service members after Election Day would still be counted.

The Defense Department granted Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington the waivers.

U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said the department was working with those denied to bring them into compliance. The department will file lawsuits against any state that doesn't voluntarily comply, she said.

The Wisconsin board that regulates elections issued a statement saying it was committed to ensuring all military and overseas voters fully participate in elections and will begin working immediately with the DOJ to work out what steps to take next.

Wisconsin election director Kevin Kennedy said before the decision was handed down that a denial would not change how the state holds its Sept. 14 primary. Under the new federal law, ballots to members of the military and others living overseas have to be sent 45 days before the Nov. 2 election.

Wisconsin and other states with August and September primaries sought the waiver saying they don't have enough time to formalize the ballot and get it sent to those voters by the Sept. 18 deadline.

Minnesota and Vermont responded to the law by moving their Sept. 14 primaries back to August. Maryland initially asked for a waiver for its Sept. 14 primary, but then determined it could get the ballots to military and overseas voters before the election.

The head of a nonprofit group that advocates for military and overseas voters said the 45-day requirement under the law isn't that big of an issue because all states can e-mail ballots to voter.

The 45-day requirement was the worst-case scenario for how long it would take a ballot to be sent and returned by mail, said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and of the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Of those that requested a waiver, three have already had their primaries — Colorado on Aug. 10, Washington on Aug. 17 and Alaska on Aug. 24. Six of them are on Sept. 14 — Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. The Virgin Islands' primary is Sept. 11 and Hawaii's is Sept. 18.

Advocates who pushed for the Military and Overseas Voter Act said more time is needed to send ballots overseas and get them returned and counted on time. The potential delays and problems are most extreme for members of the military as the mail gets sent from port to port, base to base.

Last year the Pew Center on the States identified problems with the turnaround of military and overseas ballots in 25 states. The report found that it took states anywhere from 21 to 60 days before an election to mail ballots to overseas voters and sometimes they didn't come back until it was too late to be counted.

Bob Carey, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, said shortly after the law passed in October that it would affect 1.4 million military members and their 400,000 voting-age dependents. Many more American civilians living overseas are also affected.

In Wisconsin, which has a 10-day post-election grace period and extends other options to military voters, there has been little appetite for holding the primary earlier than the traditional September time.

Wisconsin's final general election ballot is available to overseas voters between 29 and 39 days before the election, which is not enough time to ensure all ballots will be returned in time to be counted, the Department of Defense said in its denial letter to the state.

In the 2008 general election, of the roughly 10,000 ballots sent to members of the military and overseas voters claiming Wisconsin as their home state, 28 percent were not returned. Of that ones that were, only 4 percent were not counted because of errors.

Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Andrew Welhouse said the state needs to do everything possible to ensure all of the votes are counted.

"I understand that they're saying the tight timeline between the primary and the general election makes that tough, but again, we're talking about the people serving overseas, away from their families, keeping us safe," Welhouse said. "Why wouldn't the government — at every level — do everything they can to help them vote?"

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 27, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Beaked Whale's Condition Improving Under Careat Hilo Facility

A rare Blainville's beaked whale rescued on Maui earlier this month is progressing in its recovery, officials said Thursday.

Volunteers from the University of Hawaii at Hilo continue to tend to the 11½-foot-long, 1,800-pound whale at the school's Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility on the Big Island.

The whale was rescued in shallow waters Aug. 16 from South Maui and flown to the marine mammal hospital that opened in December.

Beaked whales are deep-water swimmers that are rarely seen, and less than 20 have been held in captivity. None have survived long enough to be returned to their natural habitat, the university said.

"We're fully aware of the challenge we face, but are encouraged by how well she is doing," said Jason Turner, director of the facility and UH-Hilo marine science professor. "While the animal's condition has periodically slipped, it has generally remained in stable condition."

Turner said the whale is able to swim on her own and is being tube-fed, but has not yet accepted solid food.

The group of 15 to 20 volunteers have been working around the clock to help save the whale, said David Schofield, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine mammal response coordinator.

They are still trying to pinpoint the exact nature of the animal's ailment. The results of initial blood tests pointed to a kidney problem, but her signs appear to have improved.

The whale also has elevated glucose levels, which could be a sign of diabetes. However, experts are working with very limited information since the species is so understudied and they have no baseline health data for comparison, officials said.

Full rehabilitation could take months and will require expansion into a nearby larger and deeper facility that will allow the whale to swim at greater depths before returning it to the ocean.

Researchers are looking to the patient to learn what they can about the deep-diving whales that spend little time at the surface.

Robin Baird, who has filmed groups of Blainville's beaked whales off the Big Island, hopes regular high-frequency acoustic recordings can be made because very few sounds have been made from the species.

According to NOAA, the estimated number of animals in the Hawaiian stock is 1,200 to 2,200, the Northern Gulf of Mexico is about 100 animals and there is no current estimate for the Western North Atlantic Stock. The species is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 26, 2010 2 p.m. HST

Fire Behind Fire Station Closes Makawao Avenue

(Editor's Note: Emergency Crews report That roads in the area reopened to traffic at 3:31p.m. today)

Maui emergency crews are working a brush fire that started around 11 a.m. today behind the fire station on Makawao Avenue. As a result, Makawao Avenue is closed from Old Haleakala Highway to the Haleakala Bypass.

Crews say so immediate threats exist to homes, property or lives and they expect to have the situation under control by appriximately 3 p.m. today.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 26, 2010 7:55 a.m. HST

Mayor, Staff, Planning Budget Meeting for Public Input Around County

WAILUKU, MAUI - Mayor Charmaine Tavares will host a series of community meetings this September to take public testimony regarding the proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Citizens with an interest in the County budget are encouraged to attend a meeting in their local area and offer testimony as individuals or on behalf of an organization. Both written and verbal testimonies will be accepted.

The budget meetings are designed to provide an opportunity for members of the community to present what is needed for their area. Input from the community meetings will be taken into consideration when the administration constructs the fiscal year 2011-2012 budget.

“Each year before submitting my Administration’s proposed budget to the County Council, I begin by gathering input from the community,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “This is an important first step and I encourage the public to participate. Their suggestions and concerns are valuable and appreciated.”

The program office of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will conduct public hearings preceding the Mayor’s budget community meetings in Kahului/Wailuku and Hana, and on Molokai and Lanai. CDBG will gather views and comments from interested persons who wish to participate in the preparation of the County’s proposed Annual Action Plan for the 2011-2012 fiscal year relating to the County’s grant application for approximately $2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Community Development Block Grant is a federal program created by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-383). CDBG funds received will be utilized for housing and community development needs primarily benefiting low and moderate income persons.

Meeting times and locations are as follows:

Makawao/Pukalani/Kula:
Wednesday, September 8; 6:00 p.m. Budget Meeting; Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Pukalani

Kihei/Makena:
Thursday, September 9; 6:00 p.m. Budget Meeting; Kihei Community Center

Kahului/Wailuku:
Wednesday, September 15; 5:45 p.m. CDBG Public Hearing; 6:00 p.m.
Budget Meeting; Velma McWayne Santos (Wailuku) Community Center

Lahaina:
Thursday, September 16; 6:00 p.m. Budget Meeting; Lahaina Civic Center

Paia/Haiku:
Tuesday, September 21; 6:00 p.m. Budget Meeting; Paia Community Center

Hana:
Wednesday, September 22; 5:15 p.m. CDBG Public Hearing; 5:30 p.m.
Budget Meeting; Helene Hall

Molokai:
Wednesday, September 29; 5:15 p.m. CDBG Public Hearing; 5:30 p.m.
Budget Meeting; Mitchell Pauole Community Center

Lanai:
Friday, October 15; 5:15 p.m. CDBG Public Hearing; 5:30 p.m. Budget Meeting; ILWU Hall

For more information on the budget meetings, contact the County of Maui Budget Office at 270-7855 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/budget. For information on the CDBG public hearings, contact the County of Maui CDBG Program Office at 270-7213 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/mayor and click on Community Development Block Grant.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 26, 2010 6:35 a.m. HST

County, State, Private Teams Continue to Battle Hilo Blaze

HILO -- State, county and federal fire fighting teams now numbering 110 continued to fight the Mauna Kea fire along Saddle Road, now in its fourth day. Mauna Kea State Recreation Area remains closed until further notice.

In the air, 5 military and charter helicopters continued water drops to help prevent spread of the fire and address flare-ups in the burn area, which includes area designated as critical habitat for native Hawaiian endangered species.

Today, crews also continued work with bulldozers to improve the fire control line on both the west and east sides of the fire. Mop-up continued on the fire perimeter.

Roger Imoto, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii branch manager said “If the weather stays the same, there is a good chance we can continue to make progress. But there is still a very real threat that if the wind should pick up, the fire could take off again into critical habitat for endangered palila forest birds.”

The bulk of the manpower are hand crews working in steep terrain that is inaccessible to bulldozers and where the fire is as yet uncontained.

Fire fighting night operations will continue on the ground again tonight, with mop up and patrols driving along the fire break to make sure no spot fires jump the firebreak line.

Burn area acreage has been revised to 1,386 acres with 60% containment. The National Weather Service is providing spot-weather forecasts for the incident. Today at 2:30 p.m. relative humidity was 60%, temperature 65 degrees and winds 2-5 mph out of the west.

A section of the old Saddle Road alignment has been reopened to traffic to avoid the fire area. The public is urged to drive with caution due to fire vehicles leaving the Mauna Kea State Recreation Area and Pohakuloa Trailing Area base.

-----------------

Resources on the fire
5 helicopters = 3 Army (1 Sea Stallion, 2 Blackhawks)
Plus 2 contracted civilian helicopters

Total personnel: 110 are on scene, representing resources from
Hawaii County Fire Department (6)
Pohakuloa Training Area (24)
US Army 35th Brigade, 25th Infantry (20)
DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (44)
Div. of State Parks (2)
National Parks Service (8)
Private contractors (6 includes bulldozer operators)

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 25, 2010 7:05 a.m. HST

Halloween Provides Economic Boost to Lahaina, Report Says

LAHAINA - Front Street restaurants and bars have benefited the most from Halloween celebrations in town since 2007, a Hawaii Pacific University professor of travel industry management reports in a study commissioned by the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund.

Released Monday, the study shows that gross restaurant sales for about 30 businesses amounted to $390,654 on Halloween 2007, the year before organized adult activities ended. In 2008, Front Street restaurant sales on Halloween dropped 18.3 percent to $319,165, with sales falling another 11.2 percent from 2008 to 2009 to $283,419.

The drop in sales from 2007 to 2009 came to about 27.5 percent, according to the study.

Professor Jerome Agrusa said he gathered sales figures from most restaurants for Halloween day and made estimates for other restaurants that did not participate in the study.

The impact of Halloween varied by restaurant, he said.

One restaurant tallied $34,000 in gross sales on Halloween, while it normally has sales of $20,000 on an average day. Another restaurant had $25,000 to $30,000 in sales when it usually does only $4,000 in a day.

Halloween also helps restaurant employees on Front Street, many of whom can earn five to seven times more in tips on that one day, he said.

"They wait all year for that day," Agrusa said.

In July 2008, the Cultural Resources Commission denied permits for the LahainaTown Action Committee to sponsor Halloween events in the historic district, with panel members saying the party atmosphere and risque costumes were culturally insensitive to the area that was once the seat of the Hawaiian monarchy. The action meant the end to the closure of Front Street, an adult costume contest, vendor booths and portable toilets set up to handle the tens of thousands of visitors to the event.

The study also found that in 2007, $2,795,121 in sales was generated; in 2008, $2,820,230; and in 2009, $2,607,538.

Agrusa said there were more hotel rooms in West Maui in 2008 than in 2007, and hotel rooms had not yet been discounted to attract visitors being lost because of the recession. So, hotel revenue in 2008 was higher than 2007.

However, by 2009, room discounting was occurring and hotel room occupancies had dropped compared with 2007 and 2008. Room occupancy rates for Halloween were high, though, in all three years for Halloween day.

West Maui hotels were at 96 percent occupancy in 2007, 93 percent in 2008 and 91.2 percent in 2009, according to the study.

The study was commissioned by the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund because the organization determined that the community discussion about Halloween festivities on Front Street has "lacked comprehensive, objective economic benefit data."

"The board believed it was important to get objective economic data on the Halloween event," said fund spokesman Lance Collins. "It is impossible to have a reasonable discussion without all the facts."

The nonprofit group, set up for community education and benefit on the west side, may forward the study to the county Planning Department, but no formal decision has been made yet, Collins said. And no decision has been made by the group on whether to present the study to the Cultural Resources Commission, he said.

Brian Perry can be reached at citydesk@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 25, 2010 6:35 a.m. HST

Inouye Scolds Candidates - Urges Them to 'Keep It Clean'

Like a disapproving uncle, Hawaii's senior Democrat on Tuesday urged the two leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to stop issuing negative comments about each other and instead concentrate on policy differences.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is seeking a ninth six-year term in November, released a statement saying the gubernatorial campaigns of both former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and ex-Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had issued remarks "that walk a very fine line between fair and foul."

"We're all better than that," the 85-year-old Inouye added.

The senator also chided former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who released a statement Saturday endorsing Abercrombie and criticizing Hannemann as the "most dangerous politician in a generation."

In a separate e-mail, Case on Monday endorsed former Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's campaign for Honolulu mayor while rebuking one of Carlisle's rivals, acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

"Unfortunately," Inouye said without naming Case, "nastiness is coming from not only within the campaigns.

"It is one thing to endorse a candidate," the senator added. "It is quite another to tear down and gut the opposition by engaging in character assassination. That has no place in Hawaii."

The senator ended his statement by saying, "Let's keep it clean."

Inouye's comments were the latest in a string of remarks stemming from a flyer that Hannemann's campaign sent voters recently.

The mailer attempted to compare the birthplaces, spouse names, and business and executive experience of the two Democrats. It has been criticized for belittling Abercrombie's political and professional history, and for obliquely referring to the ethnicity of the candidate's wives.

Abercrombie lambasted the flyer, and on Friday, Inouye and Republican Gov. Linda Lingle were critical too. Hannemann apologized for it at the top of a debate between he and Abercrombie Friday evening.

In a statement Tuesday, Hannemann spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said, "We appreciate the wise words of our senior senator and agree fully with him. Our campaign looks forward to continuing to focus on the issues that are important to the people of our state."

Laurie Au, an Abercrombie aide, said the campaign agrees with Inouye that Hannemann's flyer was inappropriate.

"We have made it a point to focus our campaign around issues of leadership and policy, and we do not engage in personal attacks," she said in a statement. Case's comments about Hannemann were made "with no input or coordination with our campaign," she added.

Case did not respond to a request for comment.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 24, 2010 8 a.m. HST

Governor Applauds 'Race to the Top' Funding Decision for Hawai'i

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today applauded the collaborative efforts of education and community partners that resulted in Hawai‘i being named a Race to the Top grant winner. The U.S. Department of Education made the announcement this morning that Hawai‘i is among 10 states and the District of Columbia in the competition’s second round of grant awards.

Hawai‘i will receive $75 million to implement comprehensive initiatives to reform the state’s public education system to improve student achievement.

“We are extremely pleased and proud that the U.S. Department of Education has approved Hawai‘i’s Race to the Top application,” said Governor Lingle. “With the Race to the Top funding and the support of the U.S. Department of Education, Hawai‘i has a tremendous opportunity to make the systemic changes needed to raise performance in the classroom so students are prepared for college and their careers,” said Governor Lingle.

“Getting to this point would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the Hawai‘i Department of Education – under the leadership of interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi – the Board of Education, the community and my Administration,” the Governor said.

“Securing this grant is just a stepping stone. We will now begin the hard work of implementing our education reform plan, which includes a common core curriculum tied to a new on-line state test while tracking student progress and rewarding teachers by linking 50 percent of their evaluation to student achievement. I am especially excited about our pledge to have 100 percent of high school graduates ready for a career and college without the need for post secondary remediation programs,” the Governor added.

Governor Lingle is scheduled to speak by phone with Secretary Duncan this morning about Hawai‘i’s Race to the Top grant. A letter from the Secretary to the governors of the winning states is attached.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - August 24, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Wins $75M in "Race to the Top' Education Funding

Hawaii will get $75 million in the second round of the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" school reform grant competition.

The state is among nine states and the District of Columbia selected for the grants.

In a statement, Hawaii schools superintendent said, "Race to the Top has served as a rallying call to boldly transform public education and schools across our nation. Today, the federal government invested $75 million in Hawaii over the next four years and secured its investment with the unwavering commitment of our educators and stakeholders to execute Hawaii's blueprint for education reform."

Hawaii's Race to the Top application includes plans to turn around poor-performing schools, improve teacher effectiveness, better prepare high school graduates for colleges or careers and make other sweeping reforms.

In addition to Hawaii, the other winners are Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

The grant amounts, based on state population, range from $75 million to $700 million.

The Race to the Top competition has instigated a wave of reforms across the country, as states passed new teacher accountability policies and lifted caps on charter schools to boost their chances of winning.

The aim of the historic program, part of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan, is to reward ambitious changes to improve schools and close the achievement gap.

Tennessee and Delaware were named winners in the first round of the competition in March, sharing $600 million. The applicants named winners Tuesday will share a remaining $3.4 billion.

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 24, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Polls Show Abercrombie, Hannemann Knotted - Both Ahead of Aiona

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann might be knotted in the Democratic primary for governor, but both Democrats hold double-digit advantages over Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the leading Republican, in hypothetical matchups for the November general election, a new Hawaii Poll has found.

Hannemann had a 54 to 37 percent cushion over Aiona with 9 percent undecided. Abercrombie had a 53 to 41 percent edge over Aiona with 6 percent undecided.

The margins were similar in a Hawaii Poll taken in late April.

"They both have very substantial leads, and Aiona has got a tough road ahead," said Rebecca Ward, president of Ward Research, which conducted the poll for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now. "Either Democratic candidate, at this point, looks comfortably ahead of Aiona."

The poll was taken by telephone from Aug. 10-17 among 604 likely voters statewide. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Aiona has a primary against John Carroll, an attorney and former state lawmaker, but his campaign has been setting the pieces in place to build for the general election. The lieutenant governor has outlined public-policy positions on the economy and education but he has not tried to engage Abercrombie and Hannemann as the two Democrats command the attention of voters before their primary.

The Republican Governors Association has financed television advertisements to keep Aiona's name in the mix, while Aiona is waiting to launch his own aggressive ads. The winner of the Democratic primary will likely deplete much of his campaign money in September and will have to reload to take on Aiona.


The Hawaii Poll found several positives for Aiona. He leads Abercrombie and Hannemann among independents, as he did in the last poll in April. He also is doing well among Hawaiians.

Aiona's favorability rating is also equal to that of both Democrats. Fifty-seven percent said they have a favorable opinion of Aiona, while 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Independents rated Aiona higher than Aber-crombie and Hannemann.

Aiona must attract independents and moderate Democrats because the Republican base in the islands -- about a third of voters -- is not enough of a springboard.

Aiona had help over the weekend from an unlikely source when former U.S. Rep. Ed Case endorsed Abercrombie in the Democratic primary and offered a damning assessment of Hannemann. Case, a moderate who appeals to independents, said both Abercrombie and Aiona are "honest, independent, experienced candidates capable of governing competently and inclusively."

"It would be a singular achievement for us all to vote in the Democratic primary to reject the brand of fear-based exclusionary machine politics practiced by Hannemann, and to then each and all make an issues-based choice between Abercrombie and Aiona in the general election," Case wrote in an e-mail to his supporters on Saturday.

The Hannemann campaign said yesterday that Case's "hateful e-mail assassinates the character of Mufi Hannemann with accusations that are completely devoid of any facts."

The Aiona campaign has private polling that shows hypothetical matchups against Abercrombie and Hannemann are much closer than the Hawaii Poll.

"This poll is geared toward an electorate preparing for a contentious Democratic primary election, and does not accurately reflect the coalition of Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats we're cultivating to achieve victory in November," Travis Taylor, a spokesman for the Aiona campaign, said in a statement.

"Without putting up any ads, Duke Aiona already leads among independents and attracts the best favorability numbers among his potential opponents."

Thomas Taflinger, a police officer who lives in Mililani Mauka, said the state is too dominated by Democrats and needs political balance. He said he believes Aiona would be less likely to raise taxes and would be more careful about government spending.

"I know our state is Democratic -- it's been that way for a while -- but there's got to be balance," he said.

Ashley Tanaka, a part-time health aide at public schools who lives in Kapolei, said she feels she can relate to Aiona as a family man. Aiona, a former family court and drug court judge, has described strengthening families as one of the five core themes of his campaign. The other themes are clean energy, economic growth, public safety and education.

"You know how you meet some people and you just get a vibe?" she said. "You kind of get a sense that he's not just for himself."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 5:10 p.m. HST

Dog Parks Focus of Speakers at Meeting Thursday

WAIKAPU, Maui, Hawaii—The County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation announced today that two guest speakers will be sharing their experiences with establishing dog parks on Oahu at a meeting scheduled for this Thursday.

The informational meeting will be held Thursday, August 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Waikapu Community Center. The public is invited to attend and provide input on establishing dog parks and dog park rules in Maui County.

One of the speakers is Elaine Dobashi, president of Hui ‘Ilio Hawaii, a non-profit organization that has partnered with the City & County of Honolulu to operate a dog park in Hawaii Kai. Ms. Dobashi will be sharing her experiences with organizing non-profits, fundraising and creating partnerships for dog parks. Hui ‘Ilio Hawaii raised more than $100,000 to get establish its dog park.

The other speaker, Toni Robinson, is past president of the Hawaii Recreation & Park Association and a recently-retired employee of the City & County of Honolulu Parks & Recreation Department. Toni will be sharing her experiences with dog parks while she was employed with the Parks & Recreation Department and the processes involved in creating, implementing and maintaining dog parks.

Draft copies of the County’s proposed Administrative dog park rules are available at all County of Maui Parks & Recreation district permit offices; copies of the draft will also be available at the meeting. For more information, call 270-8061.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 4:10 p.m. HST

Two Promoted to Captain at MFD

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaii—Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray announced today that two firefighters within the County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety were recently promoted to the rank of Captain. Promoted were Norman Campos and Guy Danley.

“Each firefighter has extensive experience at multiple fire stations, and has displayed the leadership skills ability to guide the personnel assigned to their watch,” said Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray in announcing the promotions. “I have the greatest confidence in each of them as both firefighters and leaders.”

Captain Norman Campos joined the department 23 years ago in 1987, after graduating from Baldwin High School in 1983 and serving in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1986. He served at Wailuku Fire station until 1989, when he was assigned to Kihei Fire Station until 1994.

He was assigned to Pukoo Fire Station on Molokai and promoted to Driver in 1994, and was assigned to Kihei Fire Station where he has served from 1995 to the present.

Campos and his wife Tammy have a son, Norman Campos Jr. ("Oli"), and a granddaughter, Kuumomimakamae Campos. They reside in Kihei.

Captain Guy Danley joined the department in 1992 and was first assigned to Wailuku Fire Station, where he served and was promoted to Driver (Firefighter III) in 2000 and assigned to Kahului Fire Station.

He remained at Kahului Fire Station until his recent promotion to Captain; he has been assigned to Napili where he began last week. Danley is a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) technician and has received extensive training in wildland firefighting.

Danley and his wife Uilani have a daughter, Anela, and a son, Leighton “Kai.” They reside in Makawao.



Captain Norman Campos


Captain Guy Danley

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 3:40 p.m. HST

DLNR Proposing New Rules for Parrotfish, Goatfish and Jacks in Maui Waters

KAHULUI, MAUI - The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday, August 25 on Maui to discuss possible regulations for certain marine fish species, including parrotfish, goatfish, and jacks.

The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria, 795 Onehe'e Avenue, in Kahului.

Aquatic resources staff will present the department's regulated species rule proposals for the islands of Maui and Lana'i. Along with the proposed rules, the meeting will discuss the scientific justifications for the proposals, and will explain the rule making process with suggestions for how the public can get involved. Anyone interested in these nearshore marine resources is encouraged to attend.

"Last year we held two previous rounds of meetings to present information on these fishes," said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson. "We've taken all of these comments and concerns, and developed a set of draft rules that would support the conservation of our marine fishery resources, while balancing the needs of recreational, subsistence and commercial fishers," she said.

The Division has posted on its website several reports on the outcomes of previous public meetings. Interested parties may find these useful for the upcoming meetings.

The website address is: http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/announcements.html#pubmeetings.

For more information contact the Division of Aquatic Resources Maui office at (808) 243-5294. Lanaii residents are encouraged to call the office for more information and/or to provide feedback.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 3:20 p.m. HST

Moloka'i Projects Benefit from Grant Funding

HONOLULU – The Legacy Land Conservation Program (LLCP) will convey approximately $3,267,380 million from the State Land Conservation Fund for land acquisition projects to protect Hawai‘i’s unique and valuable resources.

Seven state, county, and nonprofit applicants will receive grant funds for the permanent protection of lands having cultural, archeological, and natural resource values.

“Participating as a funder in these conservation partnerships is an efficient way to protect important natural, cultural, and agricultural resources,” stated Laura H. Thielen, Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson. “By providing these grants as incentive, the State is utilizing mostly private and federal funds to protect these resources.”

Every State dollar spent will be matched with approximately $3 in federal, county and private funds, for a total of $9,478,312 in matching funds that will be used to acquire approximately 752 acres of threatened or unique natural, cultural, recreational, and agricultural resources. The funds will be used to protect lands and will provide benefits to Hawai‘i residents in the form of scenic open space, watershed protection, agricultural production, and preserved natural and cultural resources.

The Legacy Land Conservation Commission, a nine-member commission composed of cultural, agricultural and natural resource experts and representatives from each county, advised the Board of Land and Natural Resources on this year’s project selections. Governor Linda Lingle released funding for the Commission’s recommended projects in early June.

“Each of the recommended projects protects an important resource,” stated Commission Chair Dale Bonar. “Clean drinking water, our natural and cultural heritage, our agricultural lands – these are the resources that Hawai‘i needs to maintain a connection to its past and build a sustainable future.”

The following are summaries of the approved projects:

County of Hawai‘i and the Trust for Public Land, $945,000 for the acquisition of 10.61 acres on the island of Hawai‘i, coastline lot within Pao‘o ‘ahupua‘a, North Kohala District, to protect over 27 cultural sites from development and maintain the natural landscape and scenic views of the Kohala coastline.

Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry & Wildlife, $500,000 for the acquisition of a conservation easement over 614 acres on the island of Moloka‘i, East Moloka‘i, Kainalu; mauka of Kamehameha. V Highway, to protect critical watershed and prevent erosion damage to near-shore coral reef ecosystems and historic Hawaiian fishponds.

Kaua‘i Public Land Trust and the County of Kaua‘i, $800,000 for the acquisition of 0.74 acre on the island of Kaua‘i, on Hanalei Bay directly next to the Hanalei Pier, to be held by the County of Kaua‘i, to enhance and protect the heavily used Black Pot Beach Park area for Hawaii’s residents and visitors.

Kona Historical Society, $255,592 for the acquisition of 2.11 acres on the island of Hawai‘i, South Kona, makai of Mamaloahoa Highway, to provide a scenic buffer for the historic H.N. Greenwell Store and additional space for preservation of the farming and ranching heritage of Kona.

The Trust for Public Land and O‘ahu Land Trust, $500,000 for the acquisition of a conservation easement over 107.73 acres on the island of O‘ahu, ahupua‘a of Ka‘alaea, in the Ko‘olaupoko District, to be held by the O‘ahu Land Trust, to protect agricultural production and maintain a portion of the rural character of windward O‘ahu.

Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action and the Hawaii Island Land Trust (HILT), $231,788 for the acquisition of 11.14 acres on the island of Hawai‘i, Puna District; ten miles south of Hilo, makai side of Highway 11, with a conservation easement to be held by HILT, to maintain agricultural production on lands with kipuka deep soil and abundant rainfall.

HILT, $35,000 for the acquisition of conservation easements over 6 acres on the island of Hawai‘i, Puna District; in Hawaiian Orchid Island Estates adjacent to Kahauale‘a Natural Area Reserve, to preserve an intact native ‘ohi‘a forest canopy that allows native birds, insects and plants to travel and propagate.

LLCP projects are subject to a consultation process with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the approval of the Governor. Grant funding for projects that protect lands having value as a resource to the State is awarded through the Legacy Land Conservation Program on an annual basis, subject to the availability of funds.

For more information on the Legacy Land Conservation Program please visit
http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/llcp or call (808) 586-0921.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 1:30 p.m. HST

Maui, Neighbor Island See Unemployment Nubers Decline

The unemployment rate fell in all counties in July except for Honolulu, where it was unchanged, the state reported yesterday.

The biggest improvement was on the Big Island, where the jobless rate fell to 10 percent in July from 10.4 percent in June, according to a report from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Hawaii County, which experienced a larger decline in tourism during the recession compared with the other counties, has consistently had the state’s highest unemployment rate.

The jobless rate on Kauai fell to 8.7 percent in June from 9 percent a month earlier, while Maui’s rate fell to 8.2 percent from 8.5 percent. Honolulu County’s rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent. Unemployment data for the counties is not adjusted for seasonal variations.

The statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in July at 6.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week.

The July jobless rate compares to a year ago when it was at a three-decade high of 7 percent.
“We are continuing to see steady improvement in the employment situation in Hawaii,” said Pearl Imada Iboshi, director of the state DLIR.

The unemployment rate is derived from a monthly telephone survey of households conducted by the BLS. A separate survey of Hawaii businesses showed that the state added 5,100 non-farm payroll jobs during July.

Hiring was strongest in the educational and health services sector, which added 2,700 workers. Another 900 jobs were added in the trade, transportation and utilities category, while leisure and hospitality picked up 700 jobs.

The construction industry lost 2,000 jobs, while jobs in the financial sector declined by 100.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 23, 2010 6:35 a.m. HST

Scientists Still Puzzled About Dying Pufferfish

Since February, something has been killing Hawaii's pufferfish. The cause of the deaths isn't known, but local researchers are working to find it.

Because Hawaii hosts 14 species of pufferfish and four species of porcupine fish, the term pufferfish can mean any one of several shapes, sizes and colors of fish. In general, the fish with sharp spikes on their bodies are porcupine fish, and the ones without, including the little tobies, are pufferfish. I'm using the terms pufferfish and puffers here to mean members of both families.

At least 137 pufferfish species swim in the warm temperate and tropical oceans of the world. All those fish, however, have one trait in common: They can inflate their bellies with water or air. Because of that remarkable ability, members of this group are also known in other parts of the world as blowfish, swellfish or globefish.

Some puffers eat seaweed, and others are scavengers, cleaning the reef of dead animals and waste material.

Mostly, though, pufferfish are carnivores. With strong jaws and teeth that resemble white razor blades, these fish can crunch just about anything they can catch. Since puffers aren't fast swimmers, their prey is usually of the slow-moving variety such as snails, urchins and coral. Some pufferfish eat crown-of-thorns starfish, an impressive feat because toxic, needle-sharp spines cover these coral-eating starfish.

Marine animals that underestimate pufferfishes' hunting abilities don't often get a second chance. Once in the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, I saw an enormous porcupine fish (the largest here grow to 28 inches long) leap from the water onto a half-submerged rock to grab a hand-size aama (black rock crab). The puffer swallowed the crushed crab whole.

Anglers and divers who misjudge the power of pufferfish teeth and jaws might live to tell the story, but their hands are never the same. I once dropped into the Wahiawa ER to see my husband and met a fisherman who was missing the tip of his forefinger. The man had been removing a hook from a pufferfish mouth, and the resulting slice was as straight and clean as a guillotine cut.

Pufferfish expand their bodies with water, or air if the fish is at the surface, to avoid being swallowed. Usually that works because the puffer becomes too large for the predator to get in its mouth.

Some fish, though, die trying. Marlins and some sharks have been found dead with pufferfish lodged in their throats. I don't know how long pufferfish can survive in those situations, but if found alive and released, these amazing fish simply deflate their bodies and swim away.

In the case of tiger sharks, though, pufferfish lose. Not only are tiger sharks able to swallow puffed up pufferfish, they are also immune to tetrodotoxin, the deadly poison that bacteria manufacture inside the bodies of most pufferfish.

Tetrodotoxin is one of nature's most deadly poisons. Some people like to tempt death by eating pufferfish in a dish known as fugu, and sometimes death wins. Seven people in Hawaii have died from eating pufferfish.

Researchers who are studying the pufferfish affliction need specimens that are sick or at death's door. Dead ones decompose too quickly to be studied.

We boaters and beach walkers can help by placing a dying pufferfish on ice or in a bucket of sea water, and calling federal veterinarian Thierry Work at 792-9520 for pickup.

When collecting a pufferfish, remember to keep fingers well away from its bladelike teeth and dogs away from the poisonous body. A pet dog died on Kailua Beach some years ago after biting into a dead pufferfish.

Usually pufferfish are in the news because someone has died from eating one. This time, though, it's the fish that are dying.

Susan Scott can be reached at www.susanscott.net.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 22, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

Feds May Sink Hannemann's Hope to Refloat Superferry

HONOLULU — Gubernatorial Candidate Mufi Hannemann (D) has touted reviving the bankrupt Hawaii Superferry as one of the cornerstones of his economic revival plan.

Hannemann made the proposal last month when he announced his 10 point plan to stimulate Hawaii's economy.

Hannemann said he had talked to a group of private investors eager to revive the inter-island ferry service.

But U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda said Friday the Maritime Administration expects to be the winning bidder when the Superferry vessels are put up for auction.

Matsuda said he doubts any private bidder could compete to buy the ships.

The two ferry boats are now docked in Norfolk, Virginia, awaiting sale at an auction. They are under the oversight of the U.S. Maritime Administration after the Hawaii Superferry filed for bankruptcy in July 2009.

Matsuda said Friday, "The Maritime Administration is planning to bid on the vessels on behalf of the federal government, given the investment we have made, and we expect that to happen any time in next month or so."

The Maritime Administration was left holding the bag for $150 million in loans it guaranteed for the Superferry's construction. Matsuda said the only way for a private investor to buy the Superferry vessels would be to bid more than $150 million.

"I can tell you we already have $150 million lien on both ships. So, you can of course, provide a cash bid higher than that amount and take ownership of both the Alakai and the Huakai," said Matsuda.

Matsuda was in Honolulu Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of the Pier 29 container yard at Honolulu Harbor. The project is funded with federal stimulus money.

Matsuda said Maritime Administration wants the Superferry vessels for military and humanitarian projects.

"They are extremely versatile as we saw the military successfully activate them for use in the response to the earthquake in Haiti. We saw what they can do," said Matsunda.

A source who knows the Hawaii investors who want to bring back the Superferry said they were counting on a fire sale, and hoped to pay no more that $40 million for each vessel.

Hannemann Campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said Hannemann is aware that others are interested in buying the Superferry, and that he is just waiting for the process to play itself out.

(Report Provided by KITV-4)

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NEWS FLASH - August 22, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

'Red Flag' Fire Danger Continues

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD SECTIONS of MAUI COUNTY now in effect until 6:00 p.m. today.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create rapid fire growth potential. A Red Flag Warning does not predict new fire starts.

2. EFFECTS: Dry and locally breezy conditions to create critical fire weather conditions through Sunday afternoon.

3. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 21, 2010 9:55 a.m. HST

Sign Testimony Opportunity Coming Tuesday

WAIKAPU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares said she is not "the queen of Maui" and cannot single-handedly change or halt the enforcement of what many small-business owners regard as an outdated, unfair and confusing law restricting business signs.

Tavares and County Council Member Joe Pontanilla explained to a crowd of about 75 mostly business owners that they must go through the Maui County Council to amend the law to their liking. The council will accept testimony on the subject during its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday before proposed amendments are sent to the council's Planning Committee for greater review.

The county's regulations on business signs have been drawing criticism since January, when Planning Department inspectors began responding to dozens of new complaints about businesses allegedly not following the ordinance. Tavares said that most of those complaints have been businesses reporting on one another.

At the informational meeting hosted by county officials Thursday in the Pomaikai Elementary School cafeteria, it also was apparent how the sign law has become a major election issue in the mayor's race.

Mayoral candidate Marc Hodges and former Mayor Alan Arakawa's campaign Chairman Keith Regan seized the opportunity to rail against Tavares and her administration for their handling of the issue.

"The government needs to be helping business now, not hurting it," said Regan.

Hodges called for enforcement to be random instead of complaint-driven.

A few audience members garnered applause when they said that the overabundant campaign bumper stickers and signs are probably the bigger eyesores.

But Tavares noted that courts have ruled campaign signage as protected free speech.

"Political signs are not even in this conversation," she said.

Regan's wife, Maui Chamber of Commerce board member Lynn Araki-Regan, drew loud applause when she accused the administration of damaging business "when dollars are scarce." She also complained that the sign law has been enforced subjectively by inspectors, and that the crackdown is potentially infringing on businesses' First Amendment rights.

Business owners also complained about county inspectors who give them conflicting or incorrect advice.

Araki-Regan suggested a moratorium on enforcement until input could be gathered at public hearings and transmitted to the County Council for reform.

But Tavares said she couldn't endorse a moratorium, because it's not her role to choose which of the county's laws to follow and which ones to ignore.

Several testifiers on Thursday called for the names of those making the anonymous complaints to be made public. That's not allowed under the current system, but Tavares said she also felt that people should have the right to face their accusers, just like they do in the courts.

"What we are seeing is an ever-increasing sign war," said Jocelyn Perreira of the Wailuku Main Street Association.

The audience of many business owners was quiet when environmentalists said that Maui's strict sign laws are part of the island's appeal to visitors. Tourists don't want to come to Hawaii and see a bunch of ugly signs that they can find in their hometowns, they said.

"You can't blame your failing business on a sign," said Marjorie Ball of Maui Outdoor Circle, which helped ratify the 44-year-old ordinance in 2002.

Warren McCord, president of Maui Outdoor Circle, said people aren't going to fly in a plane for eight or 10 hours to go to a place "that looks like Los Angeles."

The mayor also appeared at first to have a chilly reception from the businesses' owners. However, many of those who stuck around to the meeting's end said they'd at least work with the administration and council.

Charlene Yamashiro of Christ the King Church tried to corral business owners to form their own group, which then would bring suggested solutions to the council's Planning Committee. Churches and other nonprofits have complained that the law allows them to put up "promotional banners" only six times a year, so if a church has pancake breakfasts, carwashes and food drives on a regular basis, they can't promote many of the fundraisers and activities that benefit the greater community.

The committee will work out the details of reforming the law before it goes to the entire County Council, said Pontanilla, who holds the residency seat for Kahului, where many of the sign complaints are being made.

Nicky "Beans" Matichyn of Maui Coffee Roasters encouraged business owners to attend the committee and council meetings. Matichyn expressed several areas of frustration, including that he's not allowed to have the word "coffee" in his window. That's just silly, he said.

The law allows businesses to post so-called "informational" signs, such as whether they are open, and their hours of operation. But the amount of space they can give to signs that advertise their products is restricted.

County planner Joe Alueta told the businesspeople that if they ever feel as though they are being treated unfairly or aren't getting accurate information, they should contact the inspector's superior. He said that local sign makers, some of whom were at Thursday's meeting, also know the law inside and out.

Alueta explained some of the intricacies of the law that seem to come up most frequently.

For instance, a mattress company off Hana Highway can decorate its giant plate-glass windows completely with "generic" symbols, such as American and state flags. However, a car dealership across the highway was told to take down its "truck month" sales painted window signs. A grocery store couldn't have up posters of its weekly specials in the window, as well, because those are specific to what they sell, explained Alueta.

However, there is no limit to the number of informational signs a business owner can put up. Those signs provide business hours or what credit cards are accepted and can be 4 square feet in size, and the administration has suggested increasing them to 6 square feet.

A month ago, Marco DeFanis, owner of Marco's Grill & Deli on Hana Highway, said the county ordered him to take down his eight neon "breakfast," "lunch," "dinner" and "cocktails" signs or face a $1,000-a-day fine, which he called insane. So in their place, he put up 10 LED "open" signs. The new signs are cheaper to run, brighter, flash and are completely legal, he said.

"At least when you drive by, you know we're open," said DeFanis in an interview Friday, who added that business actually picked up. "You could have your entire window painted the color of vomit, but you can't say you serve dinner. How does that make any sense?"

At the Thursday-night meeting, Alueta drew a murmur of laughter when he told of how the law also allows a business to put in any window sign they want - as long as it's placed inside and three feet back from actual glass.

"We had to draw the line somewhere," Alueta said.

However, Alueta said for all the people who are upset, this version of the law is streamlined and a vast improvement over what used to be.

Prior to eight years ago, the owner of every business that wanted to install any sign, no matter the size, had to go before the Urban Design Review Board for a permit. Now, permits are only required for businesses that want signs larger than 24 square feet or 64 square feet, depending on the building's size and how far it's set back from the road. The guidelines can be found on the county website.

"When the big boxes came in, they not only put stress on the mom-and-pop stores, but also came in with huge signs," said Alueta, which can still be approved through the county variance process.

Chris Hamilton can be reached at chamilton@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 21, 2010 9:35 a.m. HST

Mateo Challenge Dismissed, Campaign Continues

WAILUKU - A voter challenge to Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo's bid for re-election has been dismissed, and his candidacy can move forward, said Maui County Clerk Jeff Kuwada.

"I did not sustain the objection to Mr. Mateo's nomination papers," he said. "Therefore, his nomination papers are in my view valid."

Lahaina resident Nellie E. Laird-Woods filed the challenge Aug. 11. She contended that Mateo was not eligible to run because he would exceed the council's five-term limit if elected. Mateo was appointed to the council's Molokai seat in 2002, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Council Member Pat Kawano.

Mateo was elected to the seat later that year and went on to be re-elected three more times.

But Kuwada said the council's limit was five consecutive full terms in office.

"If he is elected in the general election this November, (when he takes office) on Jan. 2, 2011, he will have served four consecutive full terms. And therefore by virtue of that he can serve a fifth," Kuwada said.

Mateo is running unopposed.

Three other council candidates - Riki Hokama, Zeke Kalua and Alan Fukuyama - also face challenges, all based on claims that they are not residents of their council districts, as required in the Maui County Charter. Kuwada has said he still is reviewing those cases.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 21, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

Ten New Coral Species Discovered in NW Hawaiian Islands

Scientists returning from a 30-day research expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands found what they believe are 10 new species of coral.

Researchers arrived today from their voyage to the remote string of atolls that make up the largest conservation area in the country, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

They found the species during a series of dives from Nihoa Island in the south to Kure Atoll in the north.

More than half were found at deep water coral reefs more than 150 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Deep water reefs, particularly those in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, have rarely been explored because they're too deep for traditional scuba divers to access but more shallow than the depths visited by most submersible vehicles.

"Every dive that we do in these areas -- you're seeing a reef that no human being has laid eyes on," said Randall Kosaki, the cruise's chief scientist. "It's not surprising what we've come back with has never been seen before."

Scientists plan to analyze the specimens they gathered to verify they're species that haven't been identified previously.

Jim Maragos, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coral expert, estimated there may be a couple of dozen new coral species in the archipelago that haven't been discovered yet.

Researchers saw what they think were some during a 2006 trip but didn't gather specimens because they failed to locate them again.

"We weren't able to find them because it's so large," Maragos said of the monument, which is nearly 100 times the size of Yosemite National Park and home to 69 percent of all coral under U.S. jurisdiction.

Maragos said documenting the species in the area was an important part of being able to preserve it.

"It's one thing to protect something, but in order to really do a good job of managing it, we have to know what is there," Maragos said.

Scientists have been monitoring coral reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands since 2000, when President Bill Clinton designated the area a coral reef ecosystem reserve.

All fishing has been banned since 2006, when President George W. Bush made the island chain a national monument. Visitors are only allowed to enter for research, educational or cultural purposes.

Its geographic isolation and tough usage restrictions have allowed healthy populations of sharks, jacks or ulua fish, coral and other marine life to thrive.

The monument was named a U.N. World Heritage Site earlier this month.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 21, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Red Flag Fire Warning Continues Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD SECTIONS of MAUI COUNTY in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create rapid fire growth potential. A Red Flag Warning does not predict new fire starts.

2. EFFECTS: Dry and locally breezy conditions to create critical fire weather conditions through this afternoon.

3. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 20, 2010 6:20 p.m. HST

Mokulele Brush Fire BurNs About Four Acres

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaii - A brush fire that was first reported at 1:50 p.m. today has burned an estimated 4 acres of vacant land approximately 1/2 mile off of Mokulele Highway in Kahului. According to Acting Battalion Chief Sheldon Holokai the fire is now 100 percent contained and crews are conducting mop-up operations.

Fire crews from Kahului, Wailuku, and Kihei were dispatched. No structures were damaged and no injuries reported. Traffic was not affected. The cause is undetermined and under investigation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 20, 2010 2 p.m. HST

Hawai'i Unemployment Rate Unchanged from June

Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in July, unchanged from June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The size of Hawaii’s labor force, which includes both employed and unemployed workers, fell by 1,700 to 634,700 in July. The number of unemployed edged down by 100 to 40,300.

The fact that the workforce is shrinking while the unemployment rate is holding steady indicates that some discouraged job hunters may have dropped out of the labor force and are no longer being counted among the officially unemployed.

The rate was the sixth lowest in the country, ahead of Kansas at 6.5 percent and behind Vermont at 6 percent.
Hawaii was one of 18 instates the country that had no change in the jobless rate in July. Another 18 states and the District of Columbia reported decreases in their unemployment rates, while 14 states registered increases, according to the BLS.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 20, 2010 7:40 a.m. HST

Supreme Court Justice Praises Attorneys for Consitutional Focus

KAANAPALI, Maui - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has praised attorneys attending the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in Hawaii for addressing the issue of how to try suspected terrorists.

Earlier this week, conference participants heard a panel discussion on trying terrorism cases, with the consensus in favor of using civilian courts instead of military commissions in most cases.

Kennedy said yesterday that he agreed with the conclusion, saying, "Article III courts are quite capable of trying these terrorist cases."

During a question-and-answer session, Kennedy was asked how new Justice Elena Kagan would bring change to the high court.

Kennedy said it will be a different court, but he didn't elaborate.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 20, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Red Flag Fire Warning Flies Through Friday

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD SECTIONS of MAUI and MOLOKAI in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create rapid fire growth potential. A Red Flag Warning does not predict new fire starts.

2. EFFECTS: Dry and locally breezy conditions creating critical fire weather conditions through this afternoon.

3. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 19, 2010 2:45 p.m. HST

Osaka, Japan Team Coming to Maui to Play Against Na Ali'i

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii—Mayor Charmaine Tavares will be opening the pre-season goodwill football game between Maui’s Na Alii of King Kekaulike High School and the Fighters of Kwansei Gakuin from Osaka, Japan. Mayor Tavares will toss the coin Saturday, August 21, 2010 at the Na Alii Stadium in Pukalani; the game starts at 7:00 p.m.

The visiting high school football team has been coming to the islands from Japan since the 1970s to play against various Maui high school football teams. The Kwansei Fighters, who recently won their league championship, last played against Na Alii last in 2007.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 19, 2010 2:05 p.m. HST

Hawai'i Economy Growing Faster Than Previously Thought

Hawaii’s economy will grow at a slightly faster rate this year than previously thought, helped by improving visitor arrivals and spending, according to a new state report.

Although the labor market is still expected to contract this year, the number of job losses will be fewer than what was predicted in May, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in its quarterly economic forecast.

“We are pleased by the strong performance of our tourism industry,” Ted Liu, DBEDT director said in a prepared statement. “We have seen job gains in the tourism-related fields during the first half of the year, and this will have a ripple effect that will help minimize job losses in other sectors during the second half of the year,” Liu said.

The forecast calls for visitor arrivals to grow to 6.81 million this year, up 4.6 percent from 2009. DBEDT previously forecast a 2.6 percent increase in visitor arrivals.

Visitor spending is now expected to rise by 8.2 percent to $10.89 billion. DBEDT had forecast a 4.9 percent spending increase in May.

As for the labor market, DBEDT is forecasting total wage and salary jobs to decline by 0.6 percent this year before growing by 1 percent in 2011. Both those estimates represent improvements from the May report when jobs were forecast to decline by 0.9 percent in 2010 and grow by 0.8 percent in 2011.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 19, 2010 1:15 p.m. HST

Dry Conditions, High Winds Raise 'Red Flag' Fire Warning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD SECTIONS of MAUI and MOLOKAI, in effect until 6:00 p.m. FRIDAY.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create rapid fire growth potential. A Red Flag Warning does not predict new fire starts.

2. EFFECTS: A dry and stable atmosphere combined with locally breezy conditions will create critical fire weather conditions through Friday afternoon.

3. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 19, 2010 7:20 a.m. HST

Deadline Nears to Enter Lineup for Maui County Fair Parade

Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii (August 19, 2010) – Get your marching shoes on and sign up to be a part Maui’s biggest parade opening the Maui County Fair on September 30, 2010!

DATES TO REMEMBER:
• Friday, September 10 by 2 p.m. – Parade Application Deadline
• Thursday, September 20 – Mandatory Parade Meeting, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Alexa Higashi Meeting Room at 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
• Thursday, September 30 – Parade starts 4:30 p.m. sharp!
Applications are available for download online at www.mauicountyfair.com and can be dropped off at the Fair Office located in the parking lot of the War Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please call 242-2721 in advance to make sure someone will be at the office.

If you have questions about the parade, please contact Roy Silva, 269-4989

The 88th Maui County Fair will be "Celebrating Community" and held Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3. The highly anticipated event brings the entire community together to enjoy an alcohol-free, smoke-free and drug-free family-oriented educational event with plenty of entertainment, delicious local food, and fun! This year especially, it provides the people of Maui with a well-deserved break from the current economic times and priceless quality time for family and friends. The Maui County Fair is the primary source of funding for many of Maui’s nonprofit and community organizations. It relies entirely on corporate or local business sponsorships, local donations, and volunteers for support.

For information about the Maui County Fair contact Managing Director Sherri Grimes at 280-6889 or visit mauicountyfair.com or twitter.com/mauicountyfair on the web.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Fair)

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NEWS FLASH - August 19, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

Today is Deadline to Register to Vote in Primary

The deadline for Hawaii voters to register for the Sept. 18 primary is today.

Completed forms must be sent to the state Office of Elections or city elections agencies, postmarked by today.

Forms are available at satellite city halls, post offices or at http://hawaii.gov/elections/voters/registration.htm.

The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 2 general election is Oct. 4.

(Report Provided by Maui TV News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 18, 2010 2:10 p.m. HST

New County Law May Streamline Job Prospects for Construction Workers

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii— Mayor Charmaine Tavares has signed into law a bill that her Administration authored to streamline the subdivision process, an action that is expected to expedite hundreds of construction trade workers’ return to work.

The bill, which was introduced to the Maui County Council in September, 2009 at the request of Mayor Tavares, creates more efficiency and predictability in the subdivision process by allowing subdivisions that are consistent with the land use designations and meet all other subdivision requirements to be approved without having to obtain a State land use district boundary amendment, community plan amendment, and/or change in zoning.

“In the past, subdivision applicants found the requirement confusing, and many projects were delayed by this unnecessary red tape,” Mayor Tavares said. “This amendment will allow a number of projects, both large and small-scale, to move forward without having to go through additional legislative land use amendments, which are expensive and time-consuming.

“What this important step means is that projects can move forward and construction workers can get back to work. It should be emphasized that this is work that otherwise would have been held back while lengthy land use processes were dealt with before construction could even begin. I want to thank the members of our construction trades, hotel industry representatives, small and large land owners, professional planners and unions that supported our efforts to amend this law. I also appreciate the Council’s review and passage of the bill.”

Requiring subdivisions to continue to be consistent with the State land use district, general plan, community plan, and zoning has not changed.

Prior to the amendment, the law required that various land use designations for the project parcel match exactly, which often resulted in extensive delays if even one portion of the property did not have matching designations.

A number of residents testified before Council in support of the bill, including hotel industry officials, small landowners, developers, and union officials.

Construction trade officials have testified that the new ordinance is an important step in getting construction trade workers back to work sooner, since there are several major hotel projects that would otherwise have to go through a lengthy land use amendment process before starting construction. Major hotel projects could employ as many as four hundred carpenters and hundreds more from other building trades.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 18, 2010 8:10 a.m. HST

September Tsunami in South Pacific Caused by Rare Double-Quake

LOS ANGELES — The deadly tsunami that pounded several South Pacific islands last year was spawned by not one but two monstrous earthquakes, surprising new research reveals.

Initially, it was thought that a single powerful magnitude-8.1 jolt triggered the tsunami last September 29 that killed nearly 200 people in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Two teams using different research techniques have now separately concluded that the disaster was the result of a rare double whammy — two so-called great earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 8 — that hit within minutes of each other.

What's notable, they say, was that the quakes occurred along separate fault lines and ruptured differently.

Although the researchers differed on which struck first, their discovery of a one-two seismic punch solves a mystery that has baffled scientists since the disaster.

The findings are published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

When the South Pacific sea floor rumbled last year, scientists initially blamed it on a "outer rise" earthquake of magnitude-8.1 caused by the flexing and bending of the Pacific tectonic plate. But tsunami waves did not arrive at the predicted times and the aftershocks did not cluster around the main quake — as they normally would — suggesting that something more complicated was at play.

Using GPS data and deep-ocean tsunami wave observations, a group led by geophysicist John Beavan of the New Zealand geological agency GNS Science determined that the tsunami was actually generated by two powerful quakes — the magnitude-8.1 "outer rise" quake and a magnitude-8 "megathrust" jolt caused by the diving of one plate under another.

While Beavan's group is not sure which hit first, a separate team led by Thorne Lay of the University of California, Santa Cruz, concluded the magnitude-8.1 quake unleashed the megathrust jolt. Normally, megathrust quakes trigger other jolts. Ground vibrations from the first were so strong that they masked the energy released by the second quake.

The second tremor "does show up clearly on seismic records, but only once you look very hard," Lay said.

Scientists not involved in the latest research said the findings shed light on what happened in the South Pacific, but more work is needed.

"It is difficult to say how typical this behavior is in the region," said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Earle. That's because there's a long time between earthquakes and modern instruments weren't available for previous massive earthquakes, he said.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 18, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

Ruby Tuesday to Occupy Former Roy's Location in Kihei

Ruby Tuesday is adding three restaurants in Hawaii, bringing the total in the islands to seven.

RT Hawaii Restaurants Inc., founded by Kaiser High School graduates Ted Davenport and Rick Nakashima, will open a Ruby Tuesday in Kihei, Maui, in January.

The partners plan to open another Ruby Tuesday in Kapolei Commons in 2012, under an agreement with the MacNaughton Group, which is also Ruby Tuesday's landlord at Moanalua Shopping Center.

The Kihei Ruby Tuesday will take the space where Roy's restaurant used to be. The interior will be "gutted," Nakashima said. "The architects are starting to draw right now."

The location of the third new restaurant hasn't been announced, but there are many suitors.

As happens with many national chain restaurants' Hawaii locations, the four current Ruby Tuesdays -- in Mililani, Ala Moana Center, Windward Mall and Moanalua Center -- make the partners proud.

"Our Moanalua and Windward (Mall) locations are (regularly) in the top five in the world, and there are about 900 of them now," Nakashima told "TheBuzz."

The Hawaii restaurants "outperform basically every domestic Ruby Tuesday except the one in Times Square, New York," he said, though it has much greater capacity than the Hawaii stores. "So it's (Big) apples and oranges."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 2:40 p.m. HST

County Offices to Close Friday in Observance of Statehood Day

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-All County of Maui offices will be closed on Friday, August 20, 2010 in observance of the Statehood Day holiday.

County landfills will operate as follows:

• Central Maui Landfill: open 7 a.m. - noon • Olowalu Recycling: open 9 a.m. - noon • Hana Landfill: open 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. • Molokai Landfill and Recycling: open 8 a.m. - noon • Lanai Landfill: closed

All County pools will be closed on the holiday due to budget constraints. Pools will be open on Saturday and Sunday. The public is advised to call 270-8208 for daily recorded pool schedule information, which is updated by 9 a.m. seven days a week.

The Waiehu Golf Course will be open; trash collection is expected to follow a normal schedule.

For more information on County services, programs and schedules, visit www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 2:20 p.m. HST

Yellowjackets Swarming at Haleakala Summit - Again

High numbers of Western Yellowjacket wasps are currently occurring at Haleakala National Park. Yellowjacket numbers typically increase during the late summer and persist through October. Resource managers are actively controlling yellowjackets in heavily visited areas. However, wasps are still swarming. Areas where yellowjacket numbers are extremely high are at the base of Sliding Sands trail where the horse tours normally stop, and at Kapalaoa Cabin. Yellowjackets are also present at lower levels at other locations within the park.

Yellowjackets are aggressive and may sting without warning. They are attracted to water, meat, sweets (both food and drink) and sweet-smelling perfume, cologne, and sunscreen. They may swarm around people who stop for a snack or meal. Unlike bees that sting once and die, yellowjackets sting repeatedly. Do not swat at these wasps as this will only make them more aggressive. If wasps are swarming around you, put away any food or drink and walk calmly away from the swarm.

Yellowjacket stings can be very painful to people, and may cause anaphylactic shock in some individuals. Visitors who are allergic to wasp or bee stings are asked to carry necessary medications and consider not visiting problem areas. If a serious reaction occurs, call 911 and go immediately to the nearest medical emergency facility.

Yellowjackets are an introduced species that established on Maui during the 1970’s. In addition to being a human pest, the yellowjackets are a threat to native Hawaiian ecosystems by preying on native insects.

(Report Provided by Haleakala National Park Service)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 12:10 p.m. HST

Real Property Tax Bills for First Half of Year Sent; Due August 23

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui Real Property Tax Division reminded property owners today that real property taxes are due Monday, August 23, 2010 for the first installment of fiscal year 2010-2011. The deadline set by the Maui County Code is August 20; however, that day falls on the observed holiday for Statehood Day.

Real Property tax bills from the County of Maui have been mailed to property owners or the agents servicing their accounts. Property owners who pay their real property taxes directly and who have not received a real property tax bill should contact the County of Maui Real Property Tax Division by phone at (808) 270-7697; in-person at the Maui Mall Service Center; or online at www.mauipropertytax.com.

Property owners are reminded that failure to pay their taxes on time due to non-receipt of a tax bill will not excuse them from being assessed a 10 percent penalty plus interest at the rate of 12 percent per year. Unless hand-delivered on time, the U.S. Postal Service cancellation mark is the date of receipt by the County of Maui.

For more information, visit www.mauicounty.gov/finance.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 12 p.m. HST

Wastewater Spill Overflows in Lahaina

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management reported that a wastewater overflow of approximately 1,200 gallons was reported at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 16, 2010, in Lahaina. The overflow was caused by rags and debris in the mainline and was stopped by 8:10 p.m.

Wastewater flowed from a manhole on the corner of Lahainaluna Road and Paunau Place, along the roadway, into a storm drain and into a drain grating box that was blocked with dirt and debris. No wastewater reached the ocean.

The line was cleared, standing water was removed, the spill area was disinfected and the State Department of Health was notified.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Voter Registration Nears Record With Two Days Left

With two days left to register for the primary election, Hawaii is inching closer to 700,000 registered voters.

As of yesterday there were a record 693,000 registered voters in the state. That included about 466,000 Oahu residents, said City Clerk Bernice Mau.

Those numbers are up from the 2008 primaries, when there were 667,647 registered voters statewide and 450,522 on Oahu.

Hawaii County has more than 101,000 registered voters, a record and a 1.8 percent increase from 2008.


VOTER DEADLINE THURSDAY
Voter registration forms are available at satellite city halls, post offices or online at hawaii.gov/elections.

Applications must be received or postmarked on Thursday.


The deadline to register to vote in next month's primary election is Thursday.

The primary election is Sept. 18, and voters will head to the polls to cast ballots in the races for governor and Honolulu mayor, along with seats in Congress, the state Legislature, Board of Education and county offices.

Voter registration in Hawaii has been steadily increasing, but voter turnout has been trending downward, especially in the primary election. In 2008 only 37 percent of registered voters here cast ballots, a record low. Turnout in the general election is typically about 10 to 20 percentage points higher than in the primary.

So far, the voter registration process has gone smoothly, Mau said.

Meanwhile, the city will start mailing out absentee ballots for the primary election at the end of the month to about 60,000 Oahu residents.

The last day to request an absentee ballot for the primary election is Sept. 11.

Voters can start requesting absentee ballots for November's general election on Sept. 3.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 17, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

Beached Beaked Whale Flown from Maui to Hilo

A beaked whale weighing nearly a ton was rescued yesterday after beaching itself in South Maui.

It took 30 people to lift the whale onto the sand.

The stricken animal was flown later to a marine mammal rehabilitation pool in Hilo.

"The animal is still in the water and swimming on its own," said Jennifer Turner, assistant director of the Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility in Hilo. "It's really, really quite exciting. ... At least the whale has a chance."

Turner said the new facility, open since December, has enabled scientists and volunteers to save a stranded whale rather than euthanize it.

Turner said a veterinarian was awaiting results of a blood test to determine why the whale was trying to beach itself.

Officials are also attempting to determine whether its hearing has been damaged, impairing its ability to navigate through sonar.

The whale received intravenous fluids to fight dehydration.

Officials at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary received a call at about 8 a.m. yesterday about a whale trying to beach itself near the tennis courts at Maui Sunset condominium.

She said sanctuary officials, along with a network of volunteers and a veterinarian, stayed with the whale until 3 p.m., when it was transferred onto a flatbed truck and taken to Kahului Airport for flight aboard a Coast Guard C-130 to Hilo.

David Schofield, the federal marine mammal response coordinator in Hawaii, said the whale was put into a hospital pool with 25,000 gallons of water.

He said the beaked whale is about 14 feet long and weighs 1,800 to 1,900 pounds.

Schofield said a beaked whale can grow to be about 24 feet long and weigh about 2,400 pounds.

He said beaked whales are known to swim to depths of thousands of feet.

"The fact this animal was near shore and even stranding suggest it was very, very sick," he said.

Reach Gary Kubota at gkubota@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 16, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Drought Brings Campfire Ban to Haleakala

HALEAKALA — Haleakala National Park on Maui is warning visitors of elevated fire risks caused by a prolonged drought.

Leslie Young of Haleakala National Park said Monday that open fires are being discouraged in the park until further notice.

Visitors are being asked to cook their food on self-contained stoves or grills approved by the National Park Service.

Young says the cooperation of visitors and campers will help keep the area safe.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 15, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Abercrombie Re-Receives Most of Refunded Campaign Donations

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie was barred a year ago from transferring almost $1 million in his congressional campaign treasury to his current campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Abercrombie since has refunded almost half of that war chest to donors in hopes at least some of those dollars would find their way to his campaign for governor. An analysis by the Associated Press of his state and federal contribution reports indicate that effort has been largely successful.

"We knew that we weren't going to get all the money, but we were trying to recapture as much of it as possible," said Abercrombie campaign spokeswoman Laurie Au.

Beginning last September, Abercrombie refunded $427,000 to 270 contributors, Federal Election Commission reports indicate. At least 201 of those donors have since given almost $402,000 to his gubernatorial campaign, according to state Campaign Spending Commission records.

"We support the gentleman, so I had no problem contributing to his campaign for governor," said Wil Chee, owner of a development consulting firm in Honolulu, who was refunded $880 last September and has given a total of $1,200 to Abercrombie's gubernatorial campaign since December.

Similarly, lawyer John Edmunds was refunded $2,000 and has given Abercrombie's gubernatorial bid $3,500 since.

That indirect transfer of funds has been crucial to Abercrombie's ability to keep within sight -- financially speaking -- of his rival for the nomination, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Abercrombie had raised a total of $2 million as of June 30, including money from donors who received refunds.

Hannemann's gubernatorial effort has garnered nearly $2.5 million. However, he also has used $672,000 left over from his 2008 mayoral re-election effort, raising his total receipts to about $3.2 million.

The former mayor holds a practical financial advantage in the final weeks of the primary campaign. He had $2 million on hand at the end of June, more than four times that of Abercrombie's $469,000. The primary election is Sept. 18.

University of Hawaii political scientist Neal Milner said Hannemann may use his money advantage for a "last-minute blitz."

"This gives Abercrombie a few more options himself to kind of stave this off at the end," Milner said, referring to the refunded money coming back to the campaign.

Last summer, Abercrombie asked the Campaign Spending Commission to allow him to transfer $919,000 from his congressional campaign committee to his gubernatorial campaign.

Attorneys for the Hawaii Republican Party and Hannemann opposed the move. The commission agreed.

Hannemann and GOP Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, however, were allowed to shift money given to their previous local and state campaigns to their gubernatorial bids because they raised the earlier funds pursuant to state law and not for federal races.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 14, 2010 2:30 p.m. HST

Commercial Signage Topic of Public Meeting Next Week

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Council Member Joe Pontanilla will host a public meeting to get input on and discuss existing laws that affect commercial signs. Particular attention will be paid to regulations that apply to painted promotional signage placed on store windows. Members of the public and business owners are encouraged to attend.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 19, at 6:00 p.m. in Pomaikai Elementary School’s cafeteria in Kahului.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 14, 2010 8:20 a.m. HST

Supreme Court Justice To Address Maui Judicial Conference

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy will highlight the 2010 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference on Maui.

The conference began today but does not get rolling until Monday, with various forums and meetings at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina.

The chief judge of California's Northern District, Vaughn Walker, will host a breakfast meeting Tuesday. He issued a controversial ruling on Aug. 4 overturning California's Proposition 8, which had blocked gay marriages in that state.

The conference highlight is likely to be on Thursday, when Kennedy is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

Kennedy is thought to be the likely deciding vote if the Supreme Court reviews Walker's ruling in the future.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 13, 2010 4:50 p.m. HST

Lingle Nominates Recktenwald For State's Top Justice Job

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today nominated Associate Justice Mark E. Recktenwald to serve as Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court.

Recktenwald, 54, would succeed Chief Justice Ronald Moon to become Hawai‘i’s fifth Chief Justice. He would serve an initial 10-year term as the head of the State’s highest court, while overseeing the Hawai‘i Judiciary.

“I am honored to appoint Associate Justice Recktenwald to be Hawai‘i’s next Supreme Court Chief Justice,” said Governor Lingle. “Justice Recktenwald is highly regarded in the legal community and I have confidence that he will guide our courts in ensuring the rule of law is upheld and the tenants of our Constitution are protected.

“In addition to his outstanding legal expertise, Justice Recktenwald possesses exceptional leadership ability and strong administrative experience that garners respect and admiration, while achieving results. Before serving on the bench, Mark was an effective manager when he was director of the department in charge of protecting and advocating for the interests of Hawai‘i’s consumers and businesses. As chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals Mark brought thoughtful leadership that helped elevate the court’s efficiency, responsiveness and accessibility. During his tenure as an associate justice, he has continued to demonstrate his strong work ethic, knowledge of the law and passion for public service,” the Governor added.

Recktenwald joined the Supreme Court last May when Governor Lingle appointed him to replace retired Associate Justice Steven Levinson. He previously served for two years (2007-2009) as chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, during which time he participated in deciding more than 250 cases on their merits and authored 10 published opinions. Under his guidance, the court moved forward in implementing a 2006 reorganization plan of the appellate system, with an emphasis on deciding the court’s cases more promptly. The Appeals Court also instituted the practice of holding oral arguments on a regular monthly basis.

In both of his prior confirmation proceedings, Recktenwald was unanimously confirmed by the State Senate (25-0 for chief appellate judge and 22-0 for associate justice).

Prior to his appointment to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Recktenwald served as the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (2003-2007). During his tenure, he focused on expanding protections against identity theft and enforcing Hawai‘i’s consumer protection laws, including guarding against unfair and deceptive trade and business practices, and insurance and securities fraud. He also worked to make the department’s services more convenient for the public by expanding and enhancing on-line services.

Recktenwald is a former assistant United States Attorney (1991-1997, 1999-2003) who was responsible for litigating civil and criminal cases including white collar crimes. He served as the health care fraud coordinator and environmental law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and was a prosecutor in wildlife crimes and fraud involving financial institutions, taxes and investment scams. He also worked in the civil division, handling cases in which the government sought civil damages for fraud.

Recktenwald was a partner with the law firm of Marr Jones and Wang (1997-1999) where he specialized in employment litigation. He also worked as an associate with Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel (1888-1991) and was a law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge Harold Fong (1986-1987). In addition, he has experience working as an investigator/researcher for the United States Senate as well as a committee clerk for the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He previously worked as a reporter in the United Press International’s Honolulu Bureau.

He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School.

Governor Lingle selected Recktenwald from a list of five remaining candidates that were submitted to her by the Judicial Selection Commission on June 22, 2010. All of the candidates were interviewed by Governor Lingle, as well as a committee made up of members of the Governor’s senior staff and cabinet. The Governor also invited the public to submit comments on the candidates.

According to the Hawai‘i State Constitution, the State Senate has 30 days to confirm or reject the nomination. If the Senate fails to take action within 30 days, it shall be deemed to have given its consent to the Governor’s appointment.

During her term in office, Governor Lingle has named two of five justices to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, five of six judges to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and 17 of 33 judges to the Circuit Court.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - August 13, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

Maui 800 Among 4,000 Still Uncounted in 2010 Census in Hawai'i

Nearly 4,000 Hawaii households will receive a final knock on the door from local Census workers within the next few weeks, as the U.S. Census Bureau wraps up data collection.

The operations, called Nonresponse Residual Followup, will seek to clarify information on 2010 Census forms that were either mailed back late, incomplete or unclear on residential status as of April 1, officially noted as Census Day.
Enumerators will visit the following number of households statewide:

Hawaii Island 1575
Oahu 1400
Maui 800
Kauai 175

About 200 Census enumerators have been retained for this operation.

On August 10, the U.S. Census Bureau reported $1.6 billion in cost savings for 2010 Census operations, coming in at 22 percent under budget. Mail response rates and workforce productivity during door-to-door enumeration contributed to the savings.

(Report Provided by the U.S. Census Bureau)

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NEWS FLASH - August 13, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

Mystery Still Surrounds Deaths of Pufferfish

Wildlife scientists have been scrambling for months to determine why puffer fish are dying around the Hawaiian Islands, and still do not know whether they will identify the killer.

Thierry Work, a wildlife disease specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said Wednesday that scientists had conducted 72 necropsies on diseased puffer fish that have been found on all the islands except Kauai.

Finding the cause is critical because it could affect the ecosystem or human health, said Work, who is with the USGS's National Wildlife Health Center.

"It's part of understanding the health of the marine ecosystem," Work said. "There's something awry in the marine environment."

Scientists learned about the deaths in June but realized the fish have been dying in large numbers since March. Work suspects fish collected so far are just a small number of those that have died.

According to longtime ocean users who have reported seeing dead puffer fish, the die-off surpasses any recent mass death of puffer fish, he said.

The killer is striking mostly stripped puffers, leaving them floating upside down on the surface or washed up on shore with enlarged livers. Some of the fish have gills that shed cells, leaving only the cartilage.


WHO YA GONNA' CALL?
To report a sick or dying puffer fish:

» OAHU: Thierry Work, 792-9520; Bob Rameyer, 792-9521; Renee Eismueller, 792-9523; Greta Aeby, 386-4784
» MAUI: Darla White 345-2312, darla.j.white@ hawaii.gov
» HAWAII: Linda Preskitt, 936-7636, preskitt@hawaii.edu

Most dead puffers have been female, until Work did a necropsy Tuesday on five male fish from Molokai.

Why those fish were all males and other questions remain unanswered because not much is known about puffer fish.

They are considered hardy, surviving longer than other fish in aquariums and live among coral reefs, feeding on crustaceans. Puffer fish inflate when frightened and have poisonous meat.

Die-offs of fish have occurred in the past -- most recently of triggerfish on Niihau, but scientists could not determine the cause because of a lack of samples, Work said.

He hopes to change that outcome for the puffer fish.

Lab tests have come up negative for bacteria, fungal diseases and parasites, and scientists suspect the cause to be a virus or a toxin.

Marine experts are covering new ground searching for the natural poison or virus. They are using molecular testing to find a virus that is causing the deaths out of the millions of possible viruses. At the same time, they are growing fish cells to test the effect of viruses in the fish in labs on the mainland and in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Work is asking the public to look out for sick, dying or dead puffers.

Sick or dying fish should be placed in a bag on ice (do not freeze) or in a bucket of sea water in the shade. Call an expert (see above) who will pick up the fish if it is alive or sick. Dead fish are usually too decomposed to be of much help.

Reach Rob Shikina at rshikina@star-advertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 12, 2010 4:30 p.m. HST

Strong Winds Expected Through Tomorrow Morning at Summit

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA now in effect until 6:00 a.m. FRIDAY.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Expect winds of 30 to 35 mph with higher gusts.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 12, 2010 4:20 p.m. HST

Tavares Receives Invitation to Prestigious International Summit

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-Mayor Charmaine Tavares has been invited by the East -West Center to speak with ten women leaders visiting Hawaii from Asia, the Pacific Islands and the U.S. Mainland as part of the East-West Center’s 2010 Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminar.

The women, who are traveling to Maui to meet with Mayor Tavares this Saturday, are business professionals, researchers, non-profit executives and government leaders from Malaysia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Timor Leste, Mongolia, Vietnam and the U.S.

“Each of these women has created remarkable change in their own communities and I’m very honored by their visit,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “I’m excited to share Maui County’s efforts in sustainable economic growth and the challenges women in leadership face, and to learn about their own innovative work and entrepreneurship.”

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 and governed by an 18-member international board, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The Center is an independent, public, nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government, and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments in the region.

For more information on the Changing Faces program or the East-West Center, visit www.eastwestcenter.org.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 12, 2010 11 a.m. HST

High Winds at Summit Keep Advisory in Place Until Tonight

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA now in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Expect winds of 30 to 35 mph with higher gusts.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 12, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

String of 37 Months of Rising Foreclosures Finally Broken

A 37-month string of rising Hawaii foreclosure filings was broken last month, but industry observers don't agree on whether homeowner mortgage troubles are subsiding.

A report by real estate research firm RealtyTrac said 930 foreclosure actions occurred statewide in July, or 6 percent fewer than the 990 in the same month last year.

It was the first year-over-year decline for any month since May 2007, before the ugly meltdown of the financial and real estate industries took hold.

July's tally of foreclosure activity also was the lowest for any month since 872 filings in November. The peak was 1,534 in December.

The improvement was concentrated in the number of early-stage filings -- default notices and trustee sale notices -- that happen in advance of any foreclosure sale. The number of properties taken back by lenders was higher.

The combined number of default and trustee sale notices was 518, the lowest since February 2009 when there were 466 such filings.

In July, the majority of foreclosure filings were repossessions by lenders. There were 412 such filings, a record high that compared with 323 in the same month last year.

This suggests that so-called foreclosure starts are easing, while more mortgages already in the foreclosure pipeline are exiting the process.

RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist said such a trend has been seen in other states that were hit by foreclosure troubles earlier and harder than Hawaii, including California, Arizona and Nevada.

"It's a good sign," he said. "We're starting to see, in Hawaii, declines in initial foreclosure notices."

However, some observers suspect lenders may only be holding back on processing what they believe is a still-growing backlog of delinquencies due to workload limitations and efforts to work out defaults.

A better idea of whether the worst of Hawaii's foreclosure mess is past should emerge with more data over the next few months.

Local foreclosure attorney Marvin Dang said he hasn't experienced any slowdown in cases at his practice. "I can't say anything's changing for the better," he said.

Compared with other states, Hawaii's rate of foreclosure filings was 16th highest, at one filing for every 551 households.

The national rate was one filing per 397 households. Nevada had the worst rate at one filing per 82 households. West Virginia had the best rate at one filing per 10,307 households.

By county, Honolulu had the most filings with 361, but it had the lowest rate, at one filing for every 934 households.

Kauai had the next-best rate at one filing per 392 households, based on 76 total filings.

On the Big Island the rate was one filing per 381 households, based on 209 total filings.

Maui had the worst rate, at one filing per 233 households, or 284 filings in all.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@star-advertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 5:10 p.m. HST

Ukumehame Fire Limited to 20 Acres, 90 Percent Contained

The acres burned remains at an estimated 20 acres. No injuries are reported and firefighters from Kahului, Lahaina and Napili conducted mop up operations today and monitored hot spots. According to Battalion Chief Karl Kubo the brush fire is now at 90 persont contained and fire crews will monitor the area tonight.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 10 a.m. HST

Crews Continue to Battle West Maui Fires

LAUNIUPOKO BRUSH FIRE
According to fire officials the brush fire at Launiupoko burned an estimated two acres. Firefighters from the Napili, Kihei, Wailuku, and Kula stations along with the Fire Department's crew of specially trained wildland firefighters were dispatched to the scene. Two utility poles were impacted. No injuries are reported. The cause of fire remains under investigation.

UKUMEHAME BRUSH FIRE
Fire officials also report that the brush fire at Ukumehame has burned an estimated 20 acres. Firefighters from Lahaina, Wailea, Kahului, and Kula were dispatched to this fire. The Fire Department's wildland firefighters assisted after leaving the Launiupoko fire. According to Battalion Chief James Kino, three helicopters were assisting firefighters until nightfall yesterday with assistance from six water tankers and heavy equipment provided by Goodfellow Brothers Inc. and the County's Public Works Department.

The fire came within 40 yards of the highway in some areas. Crews monitored the area through the night with a few minor flare-ups reported. Firefighters will be conducting mop up operations today. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. No injuries or structure damages are reported.

A news update is expected to be released at or before 4 p.m. today.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 9:30 a.m. HST

Maui Men Get 22 Years (Combined) in Meth Convictions

A 24-year-old Maui man who pleaded guilty to methamphetamine trafficking charges has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Tyler T. Wallace was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway. She had sentenced co-defendant Darren Estencion to 10 years in prison July 26.

The 42-year-old Estencion had pleaded guilty to cocaine and meth charges.

Prosecutors say over a pound of meth, more than 2 pounds of cocaine and over $12,000 in cash were seized by Maui police from Estencion's residence. They say an additional 3.5 pounds of meth and over $60,000 in cash were seized from a storage locker maintained by Wallace.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 8:50 a.m. HST

Hawai'i On Track to Another 'Golden Era' in Tourism

Hawaii could be back to 7 million visitors by the end of next year, according to University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Director Carl Bonham. Here, a group of Japanese tourists stops to have their picture taken in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki.

Hawaii could be back to 7 million visitors by the end of next year, and the next few months aren't looking too bad, either.

That was the opinion of Carl Bonham, director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), who participated in a Hawaii visitor industry leaders panel discussion at the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) 2010 Tourism Conference, which drew about 400 to the Hawai'i Convention Center yesterday.

"We're beyond where anybody expected us to be at this time, and there is still reason for optimism going on into the fall," Bonham said, adding that he expects Hawaii will finish this year 6 percent ahead of last year in arrivals and that there will be greater growth in visitor spending.

By the end of 2011, Bonham anticipates Hawaii arrivals to return to numbers not seen since 2005, 2006 and 2007. Arrivals broke the 7-million benchmark in 2005 when they soared to 7.5 million. They peaked at 7.628 million arrivals in 2006 and nearly hit the mark again in 2007 when arrivals totaled 7.627 million, but they fell to 6.8 million in 2008.

While others in Hawaii's visitor industry are reluctant to forecast recovery, it was clear from the discussion at most of the sessions yesterday that the destination has begun emerging from the severe downturn of the last two years.

Hawaii's visitor industry saw spending revenues decline 22 percent during the last two years as it weathered the exit of Aloha and ATA airlines as well as the global financial crisis and the shadow left by H1N1, said Mike McCartney, HTA president and chief executive office.

Visitors spent $35.5 million per day in 2007, but that number dropped to $30.6 million per day in 2008 and fell to $27 million by 2009, McCartney said. Finally, after two years of decline, that number is forecast to come back to $29 million by year's end for a total of $12.6 billion in annual visitor spending, he said. If Hawaii's visitor industry works together and stays focused on the HTA's conference theme, "Ao ka Po," which means a new beginning, there will be opportunities for growth in 2011 and beyond, McCartney said.

"Now more than ever, we owe it to the people of Hawaii and our future generations to emerge from tough times, stronger, wiser and more committed to doing what's necessary to ensure a vital and sustainable tourism economy," he said.

Based on airlift, UHERO's Bonham said he expects the shoulder season -- September, October and November -- will be better than anticipated.

"We are still seeing an enormous amount of lift coming into Hawaii, and you either fill the planes, discount them or pull out of the market," he said.

While Marriott International Inc. was pleased with its Hawaii results in July and August, it's too soon to determine how the upcoming fall shoulder season will fare, said Chris Tatum, the company's area vice president for North Asia, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

"We're looking at some pretty challenging times as we move forward," Tatum said, adding that Marriott is planning a marketing blitz in January in the U.S. West Coast, the Midwest and cities like Dallas.

"Our goal is to get out there and sell the destination," he said. "We'll do it until our numbers stop dropping."

But getting visitors to Hawaii is only half the battle, said George Kam, the ambassador of aloha for Quiksilver Inc., who delivered a keynote address on the importance of providing tourists with an authentic Hawaiian experience.

"We know we are going through challenging times here with the load factors and the hotels," Kam said. "Tourism has been challenged all over, but there is something really special about this place."

If Hawaii's visitor industry works together to provide a memorable Hawaii experience to all, the magic of the destination will help combat industry challenges, he said.

"It's our time to take care and malama everything that we have," Kam said.

Gov. Linda Lingle told the conferees that she'll probably travel to China in her final months of office to foster relations with tourism and government officials in the fast-developing Asian nation. Lingle, who will leave office in December, said she is committed to getting direct flights between Honolulu and China.

Reach Allison Schaefers at aschaefers@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 8 a.m. HST

'Red Flag' Flies Over Fire Danger Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD SECTIONS of MAUI and MOLOKAI, in effect from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create rapid fire growth potential. A Red Flag Warning does not predict new fire starts.

2. EFFECTS: Strong and gusty trade winds coupled with dry conditions will produce conditions favorable for rapid fire growth.

3. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 7:50 a.m. HST

Wind Advisory Issued for Summit Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

2 EFFECTS: A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 11, 2010 7:30 a.m. HST

West Maui Fires Knocked Down - But Not Out

The brush fire at Launiupoko was 100 percent contained at 3:32 a.m. today. The brush fire at Ukumehame was monitored through the night by fire crews. At daylight Air One was launched to assist firefighters with the Ukumehame brush fire.

Honoapiilani Highway remained open through the night - Maui Police opened both lanes shortly after 10:00 p.m. last evening. A news update will be released this morning.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 10:20 p.m. HST

Honoapi'ilani Highway Re-Opens in Fire Area; Traffic Crawling

Maui Police have re-opened both lanes of Honoapiilani Highway. Motorists are cautioned to expect slow moving traffic in the area due to traffic congestion. Both directions were closed today from 6:30 p.m. tonight until moments ago between Ukumehame and Puamana. The larger fire is concentrated in the Kai Hele Ku Road area.

Motorists are advised that - should there be a flare-up of the brush fire - it would cause unsafe driving conditions and the closure of Honoapi'ilani Highway may become necessary again.

Still no word on the cause of either fire. There were no injuries and no property has been damaged in either fire. Also, the size of each fire has not yet been estimated. Crews will remain on-scene thtoughout the night and, should it become necessary, Air One will resume water drops at first light.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 9 p.m. HST

West Maui Fires Keep Honoapi'ilani Highway Closed

Fire officials report that the fire at Launiupoko is undergoing mop up operations. The fire at Ukumehame is still active and Honoapiilani Highway remains closed from Puamana and Maalaea.

No structures are damaged. Motorists are advised to avoid the Maalaea and Puamana area. An update on the Honoapiilani Highway closure is expected to be issued aroiund 10 p.m. this evening.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 7:20 p.m. HST

Two West Maui Brush Fires Keep Honoapi'ilani Highway Closed

Multiple fire crews from Lahaina, Napili, Kihei, Kahului and Wailuku are responding to two brush fires in West Maui that have caused the closure of Honoapiilani Highway due to heavy smoke. One brush fire is located near mile post 13 in Ukumehame on the mauka side of Honoapiilani Highway and a second brush fire is located on the mauka side of Launiupoko Park.

The fires were reported around 5:45 p.m. tonight. Of concern at this time is night visibility and wind conditions. Heavy equipment are placing fire break lines in the affected areas. Before nightfall, Air One and Air Two were deployed to assist firefighters with water drops. No injuries are reported, cause is unknown at this time.

Maui Police have closed the highway between Puamana and Buzz's Wharf Restaurant in Maalaea. Motorists are advised to avoid the Maalaea and Puamana area.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 6:30 p.m. HST

Brushfire Near Ukumehame Closes Honoapi'ilani Highway

Maui Police report that a brushfire in the Ukumehame Subdivison has forced the close of Honoapi'ilani Highway from Ukumehame to Puamana Beach park near Lahaina. Firte crews are on the scene now.

The closeure begins at Mile Post 13. No word on any threat to structures or property, the cause of the blaze or when the road may reopen.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 1:45 p.m. HST

Hirono Votes to Bring $100 Million in Education Support to Hawai'i

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today voted to secure education jobs as well as provide Medicaid support to states. The U.S. House voted 247 to 161 to pass H.R. 1586, the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which passed the Senate on August 5th.

“This bill means more than $100 million to Hawaii to help keep teachers on the job and to help the state pay for Medicaid,” said Congresswoman Hirono. “The bill is paid for, and the bill’s opponents know this. One of the ways we pay for the bill is by closing a tax loophole that is used by corporations shipping jobs overseas. In fact, some are voting against this bill because of this tax provision. I’m voting to support working families in America and to end incentives to move jobs out of America.”

(Report Provided by the Office of U.S. Representative Mazie K. Hirono)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 1:25 p.m. HST

Alaska's Ted Stevens, 'Friend to Hawai'i,' Perishes in Plane Crash

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Former Sen. Ted Stevens, an uncompromising advocate for Alaska for four decades has died in a plane crash. He was 86.

Family spokesman Mitch Rose said Tuesday that Stevens was among five people killed Monday night in the crash of a small aircraft outside Dillingham, about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage.

"I have lost my brother," said Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat, in a statement expressing his condolences.

"Our friendship was a very special one," Inouye said. "Sen. Stevens and I worked together to ensure that the small non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska were not forgotten by the lower 48."

"He was a friend of Hawaii and he understood the United States' responsibility to its indigenous people," said Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka. "He was a dear friend. We were ohana."

Stevens began his career in the days before Alaska statehood and did not leave politics until 2008, when he was convicted on corruption charges weeks before Election Day. But a federal judge threw out the verdict because of misconduct by federal prosecutors.

Stevens, a moderate Republican, was appointed in December 1968 and became the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. (The late Strom Thurmond was in the Senate longer than Stevens, but he spent a decade there as a Democrat before switching to the GOP.)

The wiry octogenarian was a legend in his home state, where he was known as "Uncle Ted." Though he was built like a birch sapling, he liked to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk — an analogy that seemed appropriate for his outsized place in Alaska history.

The crash that killed Stevens was not his first. Shortly after being elected to his second full term in 1978, he was aboard a private jet that went down at Anchorage International Airport, killing his first wife, Ann.

Stevens' standing in Alaska was hurt by allegations he accepted a bonanza of home renovations and fancy trimmings from VECO Corp., a powerful oil field services contractor, and then lied about it on congressional disclosure documents.

Indicted on federal charges in July 2008, he asked for an unusually speedy trial, hoping to clear his name before Election Day. Instead, he was convicted in late October of all seven counts — and narrowly lost his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich in the election the following week.

In his farewell speech to the Senate, he said: "I look only forward and I still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me."

Five months after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder dropped the indictment and declined to proceed with a new trial because of misconduct by federal prosecutors. Stevens never discussed the events publicly.

When his party held a majority, Stevens — known as a formidable parliamentarian — was chairman of several Senate committees, including the powerful Rules and Appropriations panels. For three years, he was majority whip. When the Democrats took back control of the Senate in January 2007, he lost his chairmanships but remained ranking Republican member of the powerful Commerce Committee.

His skill in appropriating military and other federal money for Alaska earned him the reputation among many in Washington as a pork-barrel politician.

Revered in Alaska — he was named Alaskan of the Century in 1999 for having the greatest impact on the state in 100 years — he brought in "Stevens money" that literally helped keep the remote state solvent. The Anchorage airport is also named in his honor.

"The only special interest I care about is Alaska," he was fond of saying.

A television reporter once quipped that Stevens could shoot Santa's reindeer and Alaskans would applaud.

He helped shape landmark legislation on Alaska Native land claims, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, fisheries management and public lands.

One of his projects became a symbol of pork-barrel spending in Congress and a target of taxpayer groups who challenged a $450 million appropriation for bridge construction.

The "Bridge to Nowhere" would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska, to an island with just 50 residents at a cost of nearly $400 million. The proposal became a symbol of the waste associated with earmarks, which are items inserted into bills, often at the last minute.

Congress scrubbed funding for the bridge in 2005.

The following year, Stevens became the butt of jokes and satirical songs for describing the Internet as "a series of tubes" and for speaking of sending "an Internet" instead of an e-mail.

Most of the wisecracks portrayed Stevens as an old man who did not understand the technology over which he wielded influence as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Stevens also was known for being easily angered both in private and on the Senate floor. Stevens saw his volatile temperament as a political tool.

"I don't lose my temper," he told the Anchorage Daily News in 1994. "I always know where it is."

When critics called for his resignation after a Los Angeles Times story detailed how Stevens became a millionaire investing in companies he helped secure government contracts, he said: "If they think I am going to resign because of a story in a newspaper, they're crazy."

Stevens also took flak for aiding groups that hired his son, former state Senate President Ben Stevens, as a consultant and for pushing a lease deal with Boeing after it hired his wife's law firm.

In 2007, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided Stevens' four-bedroom house south of Anchorage as part of the probe into his relationship with VECO. Former company chief Bill Allen, who pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators, testified that he oversaw extensive renovations at Stevens' home and sent VECO employees to work on it.

During the trial, Stevens spent three days on the witness stand, vehemently denying any wrongdoing. He said his wife handled the business of the renovation and paid every bill they received. He said he paid $160,000 for the project and believed that covered everything.

It took Stevens some time to initially win over Alaska voters. He was the Republican nominee for the Senate in 1962, but lost in the general election to incumbent Ernest Gruening, and six years later he lost his party's nod to Anchorage banker Elmer Rasmuson.

But when incumbent Democrat Bob Bartlett died in December 1968, Stevens was appointed to the vacancy by then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel, a Republican. Stevens won his first full term in 1972, and in subsequent elections was retained by wide margins. He won his sixth full term in 2002 with 78 percent of the vote.

Theodore Fulton Stevens was born Nov. 18, 1923, in Indianapolis. His parents divorced when he was young and, in 1938, he moved to southern California to live with relatives.

After graduating from high school in 1942, he attended college for a semester before joining the Army Air Corps. He flew cargo planes over "the hump" in the Himalayas during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, Stevens finished college at UCLA and in 1950 earned a law degree at Harvard. Fresh out of law school, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work and, in 1953, he drove cross-country to the Territory of Alaska to take a job in Fairbanks.

In 1954, Stevens was named U.S. attorney in Fairbanks and two years later returned to Washington to work on the statehood issue for Interior Secretary Fred Seaton, a statehood supporter. Eventually Stevens rose to become the Interior Department's top lawyer.

He moved back to Alaska in 1961, opening a law practice in Anchorage. After losing the 1962 Senate race to incumbent Gruening, he won a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives. He was House majority leader when appointed to finish Bartlett's term.

Two years after the 1978 plane crash, he married Catherine Chandler, a lawyer from a prominent Democratic family in Alaska.

When Republicans took control of the Senate in 1981, Stevens became assistant majority leader. In 1984, he ran for majority leader, but lost by three votes to Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. The most senior Republican in the Senate, Stevens served as Senate President Pro Tempore and was third in the line of succession for the presidency until Democrats regained control of Congress in 2007.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 1:20 p.m. HST

Kaho'ohalahala Residency Trial Underway

WAILUKU — Maui County Councilman Sol Kahoohalahala's wife says her husband stays on Lanai on his days off, but resides with the family in Lahaina when he is working on Maui.

Lynn Kahoohalahala told Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza on Monday that the Lanai lawmaker "goes back and forth."

Cardoza is presiding at a non-jury trial on a lawsuit filed by 17 Lanai residents seeking Kahoohalahala's removal. They claim he lives in Lahaina, not Lanai, in violation of the requirement that a council member must reside in the area he represents.

Kahoohalahala's attorney, Ben Lowenthal, says his client did live in Lahaina, but moved back to his native Lanai after deciding to run for the seat in 2008.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 7:15 a.m. HST

Maui Man Convicted of Spying, Selling Secrets

The man who touts himself as the father of the B-2 bomber is facing life in prison when he is sentenced later this year for espionage for helping the Chinese government design a stealthy cruise missile and for disclosing to others secrets about the premier American bomber.

A federal jury found Noshir S. Gowadia, 66, guilty yesterday of using classified data about American infrared detecting devices and skills he obtained while working as a U.S. defense contractor to help the Chinese develop a cruise missile capable of evading heat-seeking, air-to-air missiles and of disclosing to the Swiss government and businesses in Germany and Israel how close an enemy aircraft would have to be for its heat-seeking missiles to target a B-2.

The jury also found Gowadia guilty of money laundering and tax evasion.

"He is disappointed," said David Klein, one of Gowadia's two court-appointed lawyers. "There will be an appeal on the case."

Gowadia made at least six trips into China between July 2003 and June 2005 and exchanged numerous secret e-mails to help the Chinese develop a cruise missile exhaust nozzle that makes the missile harder for American infrared devices to detect.

He testified that he used basic information that is publicly available to analyze the exhaust flow of the Chinese nozzle. Gowadia also said cruise missiles do not need stealth technology because they are already impossible to shoot down using heat-seeking air-to-air missiles.

Kenneth M. Sorenson, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, disputed that.

"We shoot down cruise missiles all the time with IR (infrared, or heat-seeking) missiles," Sorenson said. "They are extremely susceptible to IR missiles. And if they weren't, the Chinese wouldn't have been interested in making a stealthy cruise missile that would be impervious to IR missiles."

Gowadia also sent information about the IR targeting lock-on range of the B-2 to officials of the Swiss government and businesses in Germany and Israel in the hope that they would hire him to make their aircraft less susceptible to attacks from heat-seeking missiles.

He said the data he included in his marketing letters were unusable because they were incomplete. And even if they were complete, nobody could use them to harm the B-2 because the aircraft derives its stealth qualities from its ability to evade detection by radar, not infrared sensors.

"That's clearly ludicrous," Sorenson said. "That can be utilized by foreign governments and potential adversaries to develop methods for countering the B-2 threat."

The government says the Chinese paid Gowadia $84,000.

Neither the Swiss nor the businesses in Germany and Israel hired Gowadia.

The money laundering and tax evasion charges stem from Gowadia's use of secret Swiss bank accounts to receive the income from his private contracting work and funnel just enough money to him on Maui to pay for his multimillion-dollar home and cover his tax exemptions.

The jury listened to 39 days of often very technical testimony and deliberated 5 1/2 days before rendering its verdicts.

Gowadia's adult son and daughter sat through the entire trial. They left the courtroom without comment yesterday.

It took the government five years to bring the case to trial, in large part because of the sensitive nature of the information it needed to present to the jury to prove its case.

In addition to a prison term, Gowadia stands to lose the proceeds of the sale of his home in Haiku, Maui. He had agreed to sell the home following his arrest in 2005, rather than have the interest accumulate while he remained in custody unable to pay the $14,000 monthly mortgage.

Gowadia, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, worked as an aerospace engineer for U.S. defense contracting giant Northrop Corp. from 1967 to 1986. When Northrop won the contract for the B-2, Gowadia said he came up with the conceptual design for the aircraft that would become what Sorenson describes as "our nation's most important strategic asset."

After leaving Northrop, Gowadia set up his own contracting business and continued to work on U.S. defense projects.

Reach By Nelson Daranciang at ndaranciang@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 10, 2010 6:35 a.m. HST

Strong Winds Expected Through Noon Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CONTINUED the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until noon today.

2. EFFECTS: A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 10:15 p.m. HST

Strong Quake Rocks South Pacific, 9-Inch Tsunami Reaches New Zealand

Panicked residents of Vanuatu raced for higher ground after a powerful earthquake rattled the South Pacific island nation and generated a small tsunami Tuesday.

"It was quite a significant earthquake, and we're still having a few aftershocks," Ben McKenzie of the New Zealand High Commission told The Associated Press by phone from Port Vila.

The 9-inch tsunami was recorded off the capital Port Vila, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Police said there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries after the 7.5 magnitude quake, though buildings shook and power lines were down.

Police spokesman John Frat told the Associated Press described the temblor as "a very sharp quake — it was the worst I have felt in my life."

"Many people left the center of town and went to higher places, fearing a tsunami," he said by telephone from Port Vila. "We're still experiencing sharp aftershocks and all communications were lost for a time, but things are coming back to normal now."

The four-story office building housing the New Zealand High Commission suffered some damage, said McKenzie, first secretary at the New Zealand diplomatic post.
Office shelves and ceiling tiles fell down and computers were "thrown across the office" by the jolt, he said.

"We're trying to ensure everybody is safe and we're evacuating the building" to check that it's not "structurally damaged," McKenzie said.

Joel Pari, a worker at Port Vila's Trading Post newspaper, said they had not heard any reports of injury or major damage following the quake.

"But it was really strong — it really shook the buildings and everybody fled outside and to higher ground in case of a tsunami," he said.

The government in the nearby French territory of New Caledonia also advised citizens to be vigilant.

Both Vanuatu and New Caledonia lie close to the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", which is a center for seismic activity due to constant friction between geologic plates.

The quake hit about 25 miles northwest of Port Vila at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 2:45 p.m. HST

Refuse Customers in Hana, Molokai Reminded of Furlough Week Collection Day Change

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management reminds residential refuse customers in Hana and on Molokai that regular Friday pickups will be changed this week due to the County furlough day this Friday, August 13.

Customers on Molokai with regular pickups on Friday will receive service on Wednesday, August 11. Customers in Hana with regular pickups on Friday will receive service on Thursday, August 12.

For more information on County furlough days, visit www.mauicounty.gov/furlough.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 2:05 p.m. HST

'Extinguished' Fire Near Kehalani Flares Up Again

WAILUKU - A brush fire located near the Kehalani Subdivision in the Wailuku Heights area that started just before midnight on Thursday, August 5 and was called extinguished by fire officials Saturday evening, flared-up today.

Fire engines from the Wailuku and Kahului stations responded to today's flare-up that was reported at 12:29 pm on South Alu Road. Maui Police closed South Alu Road between West Main Street and Palani Street of the Wailuku Heights area during the incident.

Air One assisted with water drops and no structures are reported damaged. Fire crews are still on scene.



FLARE-UP - The brushfrire that came so close to homes Thursday night has flared up again near South Alu Street in Wailuku (Maui County Photo)

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 1:25 p.m. HST

New Brush Fire Near Wailuku Heights

Maui Police rport that South Alu Road is closed again due to brush firesnear Wailuku Heights. The closed portion is between West Main Street and Palani Street.

Police and fire crews are on the scene. No other details are available at this time.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 7:15 a.m. HST

HC&S Embarks on Navy Biofuel Project

Navy fighter jets and ship could be powered by biofuels grown in Hawaii under an effort funded by the federal government.

The government is spending at least $10 million over five years on research and development at Maui cane fields for crops capable of fueling Navy fighter jets and ships. The project also may provide farmers in other warm climates with a model for harvesting biofuel crops.

Hawaii has become a key federal laboratory for biofuels because of its dependence on imported oil and its great weather for growing crops. It also has a large military presence.

The Office of Naval Research is funding the five-year program at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, a company dating to the 1870s that runs the last sugar plantation in the state.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 9, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Maui Agency, Resorts Lead Hawai'i Businesses in 'Pinnacle' Ratings

Hawaii got some nice ink in Successful Meetings magazine, a trade publication for meetings, incentive and group travel professionals.

The magazine's 2010 Pinnacle Awards celebrate hospitality excellence among convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs), hotels and conference centers. The 72,000 readers of the magazine choose winners by voting online and providing feedback based on professional experiences.

The Maui Visitors Bureau is among 11 CVBs the magazine highlighted, while the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau was among 51 additional winners in one international and four U.S. regional categories.

This is Maui's sixth win, while HVCB is an 18-time winner in the Western region.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is among the 32 featured hotel-and-resort winners. There were seven more Hawaii winners among the 84 additional awardees.

The Makena Beach & Golf Resort reprised a 2007 win, joining two-time winners Turtle Bay Resort, its sister-resort, and Maui's Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort and the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, have placed on the list three times, while the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, has been listed seven times, and the Sheraton Waikiki Resort has won the award 23 times.

Notably absent is the Hawai'i Convention Center. However, readers of Facilities & Destinations magazine, published by a different company, have voted for it so enthusiastically that it has received eleven consecutive Prime Site Awards.

Reach Erika Engle at eengle@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 8, 2010 4 p.m. HST

Brushfires Force Rerouting on Honoapi'ilani Highway

(Editor's Note: The Highway was reopened ayt 4:30 p.m.)

Due to brushfires mauka of Hwy 30 below the Kapalua Airport and just below the Lahaina Fire station. Honoapiilani Hwy traffic is being rerouted via the Lower Honoapiilani Road.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 8, 2010 8:10 a.m. HST

Hawaiian Places Third at State Paddling Regatta

After more than three months of intense competition between Windward-side rivals Kailua and Lanikai, yesterday's state championship regatta was supposed to determine who would finally claim bragging rights.

However, after 38 races, the clubs were tied, and the only thing certain was that each was worthy of a championship.

In the day's final race -- the men's 40 event -- Lanikai finished fourth, followed by Kailua 5 seconds later. That resulted in a one-point difference in the standings and allowed Lanikai to take its second state championship in three years.

Lanikai, which last won the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association state title in 2008, eked by two-time defending OHCRA champion Kailua, 343 to 342, yesterday at Keehi Lagoon.

Hawaiian (307 points), Outrigger (255 points) and Kai Opua (252 points) rounded out the top five in both the overall and AAAA Division (21-39 crews entered) standings.

"This is the biggest thing; it's like Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl all rolled into one," said Lanikai skipper Jimmy Bruhn after learning of the ever-so-close final result. "The coaches, paddlers, and their parents all sacrificed their time and we came out with a positive result."

Nearly 3,500 paddlers representing 59 clubs via six organizations from Kauai to the Big Island flocked to the lagoon. The regatta featured 39 events ranging in length from a quarter-mile to 1.5 miles. Each race allowed up to 14 qualifying six-person crews, ranging in age from 12 and under to 60 and above.

Winning crews were awarded 15 points, with 13 points going to second place, 12 for third and continuing in descending order with last place earning one point. The scoring system forced clubs to not only go for victories in each event, but to consistently place high in order to score points across the board. Lanikai qualified crews in all 39 races, while Hawaiian entered 35 crews and Kailua 34.

"It's so exciting to have such a close race," said Kailua coach Kathy Erwin just after learning of the result, and comforting club members who were disappointed to have come up just short. "Well done, Lanikai. Mathematically, because every place scores a point, (Lanikai) was in a much better position. But, that takes great planning and skill to get to that point."

The Waikiki Beach Boys dominated the senior women's event, and repeated as state champion in one of the day's marquee events. The crew of Dana Gorecki, Frances Lichowski, Jen Polcer, Andrea Messer, Raye Powell and Kaui Pelekane led the entire way, finishing the 1.5-mile race in 12 minutes, 42.01 seconds -- 26 seconds ahead of runners-up Hui Lanakila.

"Now we can sit here and take a sigh of relief," said Gorecki, the crew's stroker and Beach Boys club president. "We were able to come back and repeat what we did (last year) in Hilo. It's not easy. It validates what we're trying to do, keeping us focused."

The squad from Waikiki was in a familiar canoe named "Makani Kai," which it borrowed from Big Island club Keauhou. Gorecki said that partnership has gone on for the last six years, as the clubs assist one another as state championships change sites from year to year.

"It's been a really special relationship," Gorecki said. "They help us out when we go to Hilo, and we try to accommodate them when they are here."

The two clubs competed in the same division yesterday, each vying for the AAA Division (13-20 crews entered) crown. Keauhou came out on top with 226 points, besting Puna (145 points) and Waikiki (133 points).

Hui Lanakila notched 127 points to hold off Keahiakahoe (116 points) and Keaukaha (110 points) and claim the AA Division (7-12 crews entered).

The A Division (1-6 crews entered) went to Kawaihae, which picked up 67 points to fend off Leeward Kai (60 points), Wa'akapaemua (59 points) and Healani (57 points).

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 8, 2010 7:30 a.m. HST

'Smart-Grid' Plan Stalls on O'ahu, Continues on Maui and Big Island

Hawaii regulators have rejected plans for a broad expansion of smart-grid electric technology that would have been paid for by residents and businesses.

Hawaiian Electric Co., the state's primary utility, had envisioned a $115 million smart-grid project reaching 451,000 locations on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. But the utility's proposal fell apart Monday when the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission denied a request for expanded testing of the technology on Oahu.

The "smart grid" concept relies on installing new electric meters that can wirelessly communicate with the utility, allowing it to better distribute power and handle additional renewable energy.

"Our office was concerned that the investment would be made but ratepayers wouldn't see the benefits," said Dean Nishina, executive director for the state Division of Consumer Advocacy.

The utility should create a comprehensive plan for upgrading the electric grid before it makes another attempt to use ratepayer money to put advanced electric meters in homes and businesses, according to the PUC's ruling.

"They want to see the smart-grid road map first," said Peter Rosegg, spokesman for Hawaiian Electric. "It's not a big setback. ... They're saying, 'Let's do it in a more deliberative manner.'"

Opponents of Hawaiian Electric's smart grid proposal said they're not convinced the state should invest so much money on smart-grid technology when other options may be more practical.

"Shouldn't we start by asking, 'What are the best choices? How much do they all cost?' instead of, 'Here's the one we really like and here's everything good about it?'" said Mark Duda, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

Hawaii leaders could consider ways to use more decentralized power, such as rooftop solar panels, before the state spends on a costly smart-grid system controlled by the electric utility, said Henry Curtis of the environmental group Life of the Land.

"This needs more public discussion before we jump in and pick a particular solution," Curtis said. "In the long run, when we can create power at homes and businesses that supply all the needs of those buildings, then the grid is going to become obsolete."

Hawaiian Electric had requested an additional 18 months to expand its smart-grid test. The test would have charged ratepayers $1.35 million to install 5,000 new electricity meters on Oahu, adding to its existing pilot project of 9,400 smart meters.

With its ruling, the PUC closed the smart-grid docket on Hawaiian Electric's initial 2008 request. That means the utility would need to start over with state regulators if it tries again.

Ongoing tests on Maui and Oahu will continue, and Hawaiian Electric may continue to implement the new technology as long as it doesn't pass upfront costs on to its customers.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 7, 2010 9:45 p.m. HST

Waiehu Fire Burns 30 Acres, Kehalani Fire Extinguished

According to Maui Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Shaffer, the estimated size of the brush fire in a macadamia nut field of Kahekili Highway is 30 acres. Fire crews remain on-site.

The fire that began yesterday near the Kehalani subdivision in Wailuku was declared extinguished at 6:45 p.m. this evening.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 7, 2010 5:15 p.m. HST

Kahekili Fire Not A Threat to Property, Lives

The Kahekili brush fire remains in a macadamia nut field off Kahekili Highway in Wailuku, and is approximately 1/4 mile away from the nearest structure.

As a precautionary measure, a fire break is being cut by bulldozers from the County of Maui Department of Public Works and Goodfellow Bros. to protect homes in the Wailuku Country Estates Subdivision. No evacuations have been ordered, and no damage to structures has been reported.

Additional Maui Fire Department resources responding to the fire include five engines, two mini-pumper trucks, two water tanker trucks and a 5-member Wildland fire team. Water tankers trucks are also being provided by the County of Maui Department of Public Works, Goodfellow Bros. and Rojac Trucking.

“We have received huge support from these companies that jump in to assist us,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Shimada. “Their help makes a tremendous difference in being able to protect homes and fight these fires effectively.”

No injuries have been reported and roads remain open to traffic.

The burn area from yesterday’s Kehalani fire is reportedly stable; fire personnel will continue to monitor the area. There has been no significant change in the size of the burn area, and no major flareups today.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 7, 2010 3:05 p.m. HST

Macadamia Nut Field Near Waiehu Catches Fire

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii - Fire crews from the Wailuku, Kahului and Wailea stations are on scene now at a brush fire located in a macadamia nut field off of Malaihi Road in the Waiehu area of Wailuku. Crews are being assisted by 2 helicopters conducting water drops. No structures are threatened at this time.

According to fire officials an estimated 1-2 acres have been burned and the fire is located approximately a quarter mile from the nearest structure. The cause is undetermined. No injuries are reported.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 7, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Restoration of Moku'ula Gets Major Boost

Restoration of Mokuula Island and Mokuhinia Pond on Maui, home of the first three Kamehameha kings, has been proposed, creating a project some regard as significant as the restoration of Iolani Palace.

The nonprofit group Friends of Moku'ula has established a partnership with Maui County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore the wetland area that, according to legend, was guarded by the lizard goddess Kihawahine.

"The restoration is at the same sort of level as Iolani Palace, because the kings resided at Mokuula. This was our former capital," said Shirley Kaha'i, acting executive director of Friends of Moku'ula. "It was a very sacred place."

Army Corps project manager Athline Clark said the Honolulu office plans to provide the planning and technical assistance throughout the entire restoration and consult regularly with the county and Friends of Moku'ula.

Clark said the corps is planning to analyze the surface soil at the site, which is a ball field, before deciding on the method of removing earth to begin to restore the pond, estimated to be about six feet from the surface.

A preliminary test indicated there were higher than normal traces of arsenic in the soil, and the corps is conducting further tests.

"We're making sure it's not significant," she said.

Clark said the corps will eventually be conducting hydrology tests and working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the intent of bringing back the wetlands and native bird habitat.

She said early 1900s maps, sketching the location of the wetlands before they were filled by sugar firm Pioneer Mill Co., showed the pond was large. The area became the county Malu-ulu-o-lele Park in the early 1900s.

"There was a significant amount of wetlands, even more than Waikiki," Clark said. "The maps are pretty astounding as to what was there."

The islet was once occupied by Maui royalty and later by Big Island-born King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands under one kingdom.

In the early 1800s, Lahaina served as the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Moku'ula and Mokuhinia had a political and spiritual connection, making it one of the most sacred places in Hawaii, cultural experts say.

Clark said the original pond, extending makai of Front Street, was larger than the park.

Bishop Museum has conducted studies of the site confirming the location of the Mokuula islet.

Friends of Moku'ula began the project in 1990 and developed support for it by conducting fundraisers and educational tours of Lahaina.

In the early 2000s, Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana announced his support for the project and opposed the development of a shopping center that extended into part of the pond.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares has been involved in supporting the project since she was the county park director and stopped park activities to allow archaeological digs.

County spokeswoman Mahina Martin, former program director for Friends of Moku'ula, said the Army Corps' participation in the project, which began to evolve last year, represents a "pivotal point" in the restoration.

"It underscores the county's commitment to restore the area," Martin said.

Reach Gary Kubota at gkubota@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 5:05 p.m. HST

Kehalani Fire Closes Wailuku Water Treatment Facility

The fire remains estimated at 60 acres; no injuries or damage to structures except waterlines connected to the Iao Water Treatment Facility, which has been shut down while the lines are repaired. The shutdown does not currently affect water customers in the area.

Fire crews are continuing to monitor the area and take care of hot spots. Air reconnaissance flights and helicopter water drops were conducted due to flareups. Operations are continuing with the assistance of three engine companies, two mini-pumper trucks and three water tanker trucks.

The fire threat impacted the several hundred residents and homes in the area, including numerous housing units still under construction. The larger urban area of Wailuku, within a mile of the fire, includes several schools and churches, plus many government offices including the County Building.

“We are grateful for the assistance of Goodfellow Bros., Rojac Trucking and the Department of Public Works for their help fighting this fire, which could have spelled disaster for so many,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “I’d also like to thank the American Red Cross personnel who opened a shelter for residents in the early morning hours, and residents for their cooperation during the evacuations. Our police officers were extremely helpful in providing traffic control measures and coordinating evacuation efforts to get residents to safe ground, and I would like to thank our fire fighters for their skill and tireless dedication in protecting so many homes. It’s never easy to face the very real threat of fire in such a dense urban area, and our County personnel and community partners did an incredible job of keeping our community safe.”

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 3:35 p.m. HST

Public Reminded of New Landfill Hours

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii- The Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, reminds the public that all County landfills are now operating under new schedules that became effective July 1st, 2010 with the beginning of the current fiscal year.

All County landfills are closed on Sundays as previously announced. County landfills located on Molokai, Lanai and in Hana are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The Central Maui Landfill is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Olowalu Convenience Center is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

To view schedules of operation for all County landfills, visit www.mauicounty.gov/solidwaste.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 3:15 p.m. HST

Governor Expresses Disappoint Over Senate Vote on Chief Justice Nominee

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle issued the following statement regarding the decision by the Senate Majority to vote down her nomination of Judge Katherine Leonard as the next Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

“I am disappointed for the people of Hawai‘i who have been denied by the Senate Majority the opportunity to have Judge Leonard as the head of the Supreme Court. However, I know Judge Leonard will continue to serve with distinction on the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

“It’s extremely sad that someone of Judge Leonard’s stature and legal expertise became a victim of bias that had no merit or basis.

“The 14 senators who voted down Judge Leonard’s confirmation represent the height of hypocrisy, given that earlier this year they all voted for a resolution calling on me to appoint more women to the bench. Yet, when given the opportunity to confirm my nomination of a woman who is eminently qualified to serve in the highest judicial position in the state, these senators revealed their true colors that their so-called resolution was purely for show.

“It’s also very telling that not one woman senator supported Judge Leonard’s confirmation, despite being so impassioned about getting more women on the bench.

“I commend Senators Espero, Gabbard, Galuteria, Green, Hemmings, Sakamoto, Slom and Tsutsui who recognized Judge Leonard was eminently qualified to be the next Chief Justice.

“Throughout this difficult confirmation process, Judge Leonard demonstrated her exceptional character. She was forthright, respectful and carried herself with dignity and integrity, despite being subjected to a double standard and unwarranted criticism by a handful of individuals.”

The Governor has 10 days to submit another nominee from the list of the remaining five candidates that was given to her by the Judicial Selection Commission. Upon receiving the Governor’s nomination, the Senate will have 30 days to confirm or reject the nominee.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 11:35 a.m. HST

Sixty Acres Charred in Kehalani Fire - Now Under Control

Current estimated size of the Kehalani Fire is 60 acres; it was declared under control at 6:42 a.m. this morning. Fire crews remain on scene and have been mopping up hot spots and responding to a few flareups.

No injuries or damage to structures have been reported. Officials estimate that the fire came within 50 feet of the nearest structure, and within a few yards of a Department of Water Supply pressure break tank, a critical component that controls the flow of water into the nearby Wailuku Water Treatment Facility.Responding to the fire this morning are three engine companies, two mini-pumper trucks and three water tanker trucks, assisted by Air One conducting helicopter water drops.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Below are the earlier reports on last night's fire:

NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 2:20 a.m. HST

Fire Forces Evacuations Around Wailuku Heights

WAILUKU, Maui, HI - Multiple fire crews are on scene battling a fire that was first reported at 11:49 p.m. Thursday evening. Maui Police have evacuated nearby homes as a precautionary measure. Residences on Makahou Road and Lunakia Street have been evacuated. In addition, residences located in the following developments have been evacuated: Iliahi Townhomes, The Ohia at Kehalani, and The Villas.The American Red Cross has begun mobilizing to set up shelters for evacuated residents.There are no reports of structures damaged at this time and no injuries are reported.

No further information is available. An update is anticipated to be released at or prior to 3:00 a.m.

---------

NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 3:45 a.m. HST

Evacuations End But Fire Continues in Wailuku

Maui Fire Department officials have given the all clear for evacuated residents to return home. The American Red Cross emergency shelter has been closed. An air reconnaissance will be conducted at daylight to assist Fire Department officials with an assessment. Through the night 8 fire engines were assisted by 5 water tankers including a tanker provided by Rojac Trucking Co.

Forty-eight firefighters battled the brush fire that is not yet contained. No homes are in immediate danger and no structures are reported to have been burned. No injuries are reported. The cause is under investigation.



BURN AREA -
This morning's view of an estimated 60 acres that erupted in flames last night between Iao Valley and Wailuku Heights.


FLARE-UP -
Country Fire crews and Air One responded to a flare-up this morning in the Kehalani Fire.


THAT CLOSE -
Fire Crews - again - displayed skill in preventing damages to homes and property. (Maui County Photos)

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 8:45 a.m. HST

Youngest Kalaupapa Patient Pleads Guilty to Meth Charges

A Hansen's disease patient pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to charges that he transported methamphetamine to Kalaupapa when he returned to Molokai from medical treatment on Oahu.

Norbert Palea, 69, Kalaupapa's youngest Hansen's disease resident, pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

He faces up to 40 years in prison when a U.S. district judge sentences him in November.

Palea said he transported the drugs to distribute to others.

He pleaded guilty to having four grams of methamphetamine in his check-in luggage aboard a Pacific Wings flight from Honolulu to Molokai last November.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said members of its Hawaii Airport Drug Task Force tipped off that Palea might be transporting drugs to Kalaupapa.

Palea was then stopped at Pacific Wings' Honolulu terminal and gave out permission to search his luggage.

They found the drugs in nine plastic bags in a cardboard box with Palea's name and telephone number written on the outside.

The DEA seized the drugs but did not arrest Palea at that time.

Palea also pleaded guilty to sending 18 grams of methamphetamine to Molokai by air cargo.

The DEA said that on Feb. 26 one of its task force officers spotted Palea arriving at Kamaka Air's cargo service counter near Honolulu Airport by taxi and dropping off two boxes. One box was sent by the state, and the other was sent by Palea addressed to another Kalaupapa resident.

The DEA said its agents searched the box Palea sent and found 18 grams of methamphetamine in plastic bags tucked into two socks.

Reach Nelson Daranciang at ndaranciang@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

Hirono Set to Vote for Bill That Provides $86 Million in Medicaid Funding for Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii – Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is set to vote Tuesday in support of legislation that would allocate a much-needed $86 million to Hawaii in Medicaid funding for an additional six months.
“I have been pushing for an extension of increased federal support for Medicaid for the past several months. And, while I am glad to finally be able to vote next week for the extension, the piecemeal approach by the Senate and the cold-heartedness of some of its members ultimately hurts those Americans who need our help the most,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

The House passed a similar extension in a safety net package last May that included the extending of unemployment insurance benefits and COBRA premiums subsidies while also blocking cuts to Medicare payments to physicians. But while the unemployment insurance benefits eventually passed the Senate, a scaled-back version of the Medicaid provisions were not approved until today.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the federal share of Medicaid payments to states was increased based on a survey of the employment rates over a 3-month period. As a result of that analysis, Hawaii has received an estimated $360 million increase in additional federal funding. However, that extension is set to expire at the end of the year

“Failing to extend this federal funding would obviously mean a significant reduction in payments to Medicaid providers. Prenatal care, hospice care, health care, especially in rural areas, would all take a hit without this money,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

If approved by the House, the bill will go the White House for the President’s signature.

(Report Provided by the Office of U.S. Rep. Mazie K. Hirono)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

DOT Announces Road Project Closures in Maui County

The Hawai'i State Department of Transportation has released the following list of road closures and construction warnings for highways and roads in Maui County:

MAKAWAO - Single lane closures on Haleakala Highway (State Highway 377) in both directions from Kula Highway (State Highway 37), near King Kekaulike High School, to Kealaloa Avenue, on Monday, August 9, through Friday, August 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., daily, for lane striping and pavement marking.

LAHAINA (CONTINUOUS) - Shoulder lane closure on Honoapiilani Highway in the southbound direction between Aholo Street and Lahainaluna Road. Shoulder lane is closed continuously 24 hours per day, seven days per week, through September for highway widening activities. Traffic will be detoured to the mauka-side of the highway through the work zone.

LAHAINA (CONTINUOUS) - Lahainaluna Road will be closed from Kelawea Street to Ikena Avenue for roadwork related to the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment Project. During closures, there will be no access between Ikena Avenue and Lahainaluna Road. Traffic detours will be used.

WAILUKU (CONTINUOUS) - Waiale Road will be closed in both directions between Nani Street and Oihana Street under the Kaahumanu Avenue, Waiale Road Overpass. Area will be closed continuously 24 hours per day, seven days per week, through September for overpass repairs.
Motorists on Waiale Road are advised to follow detour signs and allow extra travel time for adjusted routes. Motorists traveling in the Kahului-bound direction from Waiale Road may turn left on Kaohu Street, turn right on Market Street, turn right on Mill Street, and turn left on Lower Main Street. Motorists traveling in the Wailuku-bound direction from Waiale Road may veer right towards Main Street, turn left on High Street, turn left on Kaohu Street, and turn right on Waiale Road.

LAHAINA - Single lane closures in both directions on Keawe Street between Honoapiilani Highway and the west entrance to the Lahaina Gateway Shopping Center on Monday, August 9, through Friday, August 13, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., daily, for roadwork related to the Honoapiilani Highway Realignment Project.

MAUNALOA - Lanes will be narrowed on Maunaloa Highway on the island of Moloka'i in both directions near Mile Post 13, on Monday, August 9, through Friday, August 13, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., daily, for slope stabilization and drainage improvements. Motorists are advised to use caution through the work zone and to observe all traffic control signs.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Transportation)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 3:45 a.m. HST

Evacuations End But Fire Continues in Wailuku

Maui Fire Department officials have given the all clear for evacuated residents to return home. The American Red Cross emergency shelter has been closed. An air reconnaissance will be conducted at daylight to assist Fire Department officials with an assessment. Through the night 8 fire engines were assisted by 5 water tankers including a tanker provided by Rojac Trucking Co.

Forty-eight firefighters battled the brush fire that is not yet contained. No homes are in immediate danger and no structures are reported to have been burned. No injuries are reported. The cause is under investigation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 6, 2010 2:20 a.m. HST

Fire Forces Evacuations Around Wailuku Heights

WAILUKU, Maui, HI - Multiple fire crews are on scene battling a fire that was first reported at 11:49 p.m. Thursday evening. Maui Police have evacuated nearby homes as a precautionary measure. Residences on Makahou Road and Lunakia Street have been evacuated. In addition, residences located in the following developments have been evacuated: Iliahi Townhomes, The Ohia at Kehalani, and The Villas.The American Red Cross has begun mobilizing to set up shelters for evacuated residents.There are no reports of structures damaged at this time and no injuries are reported.

No further information is available. An update is anticipated to be released at or prior to 3:00 a.m.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 2:10 p.m. HST

Senate Committee Votes 'No' on Leonard for Top Spot

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 4-1 against recommending the appointment of appeals judge Katherine Leonard as Hawaii's chief justice.

"I have serious doubts this nominee can lead the judiciary at this point in her career," said Judiciary Chairman Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D-Moiliilii-Manoa).

Leonard after the hearing said she was disappointed in today's vote, but hopeful she would ultimately be confirmed when the full senate takes its vote tomorrow.

"I just want to say that I am disappointed but I am not discouraged. I believe I am qualified," Leonard said.

The panel sent to the full senate a recommendation to disapprove Gov. Linda Lingle’s appointment of Leonard to a 10-year term.

Lingle picked Leonard from a list of six candidates sent to her from the Judicial Selection Commission, but the Hawaii State Bar Association’s board of directors voted that Leonard was “unqualified.” The board did not disclose the reasons.

“Judge Leonard is eminently qualified, as evidenced by the overwhelming testimony and support from the legal community," Lingle said in a statement after the vote.

“Both the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office and the State Public Defender’s Office – who take opposing sides in the courtroom – testified in her favor, saying she is fair. That’s exactly the type of chief justice that should be on the bench – someone who both sides consider fair.

“Judge Leonard is an outstanding legal scholar and a true leader who will set the tone for jurisprudence in the state for the next decade.

“I remain confident that the full Senate will do the right thing and confirm Judge Leonard as the next Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.”

Lingle, who has been urging senators to approve the appointment, called the bar association’s vote “outrageous.” She said it should be disregarded and Leonard approved for the position.

Just before the vote on Leonard, the committee approved recommendation of Honolulu District Judge Faauuga To'oto'o to a 10-year term on the Circuit Court bench. He too had been deemed unqualified by the bar association.

“To ignore the Hawai‘i State Bar Association’s rating for Judge To‘oto‘o, but not for Judge Leonard makes no sense and creates a double standard," Lingle said.

Leonard, 50, who spent 2 1/2 years as a judge on the Intermediate Court of Appeals, told the committee this week that she feels she has the leadership and meets the qualifications for the job.

The chief justice, one of five members on the Hawaii Supreme Court, heads a judiciary of about 1,800 employees.

Leonard would fill the vacancy created by the departure of Chief Justice Ronald Moon who must retire before Sept. 4 when he turns 70 because of the state’s mandatory retirement law for justices and judges.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 12 p.m. HST

Speed Tables to be Constructed on Holopuni Road in Kula

KULA, Maui, Hawaii- The County of Maui Department of Public Works has announced that speed tables will be constructed on Holopuni Road in Kula beginning August 9, 2010.

The $62,320 project is expected to be completed by August 23, 2010; work will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Monday-Friday by contractor Maui Paving, LLC. The contract includes constructing speed tables, installing signage and striping associated with the speed table installations.

Minimal lane closures are expected; however, motorists are asked to use caution and to follow all traffic control measures when driving through the work area.

For more information, contact the Department of Public Works, Engineering Division, at 270-7747.

(Report Provided by hte Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 10:20 a.m. HST

Case Now Owns Nearly Two Thirds of ML&P

WAILUKU - AOL co-founder Steve Case has significantly expanded his stake in Maui Land & Pineapple Co., buying additional stock that increases his ownership to 62.8 percent of the company.

Case paid $15.6 million to acquire an additional 4 million shares, according to a report filed Monday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal comes just days after Case paid $16.5 million to acquire 4.27 million shares July 28, under a rights offering by the company.

The back-to-back transactions more than triple Case's holdings in Maui Land & Pineapple, to a total ownership of 11.8 million shares.

The company held a rights offering that gave existing shareholders a chance to buy more ML&P stock. The sale was part of an effort to raise cash and retire some $40 million in convertible notes, a portion of the company's significant debt.

Maui Land & Pineapple filed a separate report last week saying it had completed the sale on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chief Financial Officer Tim Esaki said Wednesday that ML&P was pleased with the result of the sale.

"We're actually very appreciative of the confidence expressed by all our shareholders in the company, but in particular we're very fortunate to have someone like Steve Case, who not only believes in the company but also recognizes the importance of the company to the Maui community and economy," he said.

Retiring the convertible notes "obviously is a significant step for us in our efforts to strengthen and improve our financial position," Esaki said.

He declined to comment on what the expansion of Case's ownership would mean for the company.

Case, who has served on the board of directors since 2008, previously held a 41.2 percent stake in Maui Land & Pineapple, giving him a controlling interest.

But with his investment this week, he edged toward two-thirds ownership of the company, a supermajority of shares that could give him significantly greater decision-making power.

Haliimaile Pineapple Co. partner and former Maui Pineapple Co. President Doug Schenk, who is still an ML&P stockholder, said he was encouraged to see Case's investment.

"It's good," he said. "It shows his commitment to the company. I was thrilled to learn he did that."

With the 7-month-old Haliimaile Pine leasing land from ML&P, Schenk said he thought the fate of the two companies was closely tied. Anything that brought Maui Land & Pineapple closer to stable financial footing would be good news, he said.

"We're pulling for them," he said.

ML&P has seen significant changes and challenges over the past several years. Under the management of former Chief Executive Officer David Cole, a former AOL executive brought in by Case in 2003, the already-struggling company laid off hundreds of employees and sold thousands of acres of former Upcountry pineapple fields to raise cash.

Cole also led the company through a number of costly projects, and ML&P had accumulated more than $100 million in debt by the time he stepped down in 2008.

The company subsequently saw a rapid turnover in management, shut down its pineapple operations last year and recorded its biggest loss ever, $123.3 million, at the end of 2009.

But ML&P may be heading toward more stable footing: the company reported a $4.6 million loss for the second quarter of 2010, a significant improvement on the $54.2 million loss reported for the same period last year.

Ilima Loomis can be reached at iloomis@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 10:10 a.m. HST

Weather Service Cancels South Shore Surf Advisory

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CANCELLED the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for SOUTH FACING SHORES of ALL ISLANDS.

2. EFFECTS: Observations indicate that surf along south facing shores is below advisory levels. The south swell is expected to continue gradually diminishing over the next few days, and surf will remain below advisory levels.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS OF THE DECLINING SURF.

4. INFORMATION: This will be the last Maui County Civil Defense notification on this event.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 8:10 a.m. HST

High Surf Expected to Subside By Tonight

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for SOUTH FACING SHORES of ALL ISLANDS in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along south facing shores will be 6 to 8 feet through this morning, then lowering to 4 to 6 feet this afternoon.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.5 feet is expected between 1:10 p.m. and 2:17 p.m. this afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 7:20 a.m. HST

Pelosi Wades Into Hawai'i Gubernatorial Debate

A stinging radio ad by former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann prompted U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to wade into the Hawaii Democratic gubernatorial contest yesterday with a defense of ex-U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

Hannemann recently began airing a 60-second radio ad that claims Abercrombie performed poorly in Congress, missed crucial votes and cost the state $670,000 by resigning in February and forcing a special election to fill his seat.

That prompted Pelosi, the top House Democrat, to release a statement defending Abercrombie, calling him an "effective and courageous leader."

Abercrombie spokeswoman Laurie Au said Pelosi's comments constituted an endorsement, but a Pelosi spokesman was not available to elaborate.

Today's tussle again underscored the stakes in what is shaping up as a gritty race for the Democratic nomination. The victor will likely face Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona in November.

The former mayor has previously criticized Abercrombie's resignation, noting that it led to Republican Charles Djou's victory in a May special election in the district that represents President Barack Obama's birthplace.

Hannemann's ad also assailed Abercrombie's performance in Congress. Citing two congressional watchdog websites and The Washington Post, the ad claimed Abercrombie ranked poorly compared to other House members, did not lead on important issues and had "one of the worse attendance records for roll call votes in this Congress."

The ad concluded: "Neil says to look at his record. We agree." The ad was voiced by an unidentified woman, a shift from other, more positive campaign ads that Hannemann has recorded himself.

Hannemann's campaign did not immediately release background material supporting the ad's assertions.

In response, the Abercrombie campaign released Pelosi's short statement. Abercrombie "served the people of Hawaii with distinction and honor," she stated. He was an "outstanding member of Congress, and he will be an outstanding governor."

In the statement, Au called Hannemann's ad a "disingenuous attack on Abercrombie's congressional record that is intended to confuse the public and distort the facts for personal political gain."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - August 5, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

Moloka'i Vets Threaten to Take Case to Court

Stung by another setback in their nearly five-year battle to build a veterans center in Kaunakakai, a group of Molokai veterans now believes legal action might be the only option.

Larry Helm, a 25th Infantry Division veteran of the Vietnam War, said yesterday he still hopes a lawsuit against Maui County can be avoided with a new settlement before the end of the week.

The latest dispute centers around a conditional use permit, which Helm maintains would resolve only an issue dealing with a water pipeline, but leave the veterans group vulnerable to other possible lawsuits dealing with the construction of the center. Helm is executive director of the nonprofit organization Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, whose membership accounts for more than half of the 600 veterans living on the island.

Planning for the 1,890-square-foot center and an adjoining 1,100-square-foot pavilion began in 2005 after Molokai Ranch donated a 17,000-square-foot parcel in Kaunakakai.

In July 2009, the Molokai Planning Commission approved a special management area permit for the center after a two-year review.

But on Oct. 14, the Maui Department of Water Supply rejected the veterans' building permit because the existing 4-inch water line did not provide an adequate flow needed for firefighting. Maui officials said the veterans group would have to install an extension that would have added $38,000 to the project's cost.

Last month the veterans said they believed the issue was resolved when the county proposed an ordinance that would give the Fire Department the responsibility of dealing with fire protection matters in building permits. However, the Maui County Council Water Resources Committee deferred action on the legislation Tuesday.

On the same day, Helm said the mayor's office asked the veterans to sign a conditional use permit, which a mayor's spokeswoman said would enable them to start construction.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares, in a written statement issued by Mahina Martin, county spokeswoman, said: "The county has proposed an agreement that will allow them to obtain a building permit prior to the completion of a public works project that would install a water line that would meet building permit requirements for water source."

Martin said Maui County has an existing public works project to address the water line need. That project is expected to be completed by October.

Helm said Jim Fosbinber, the group's attorney, said the permit would only resolve the current water flow issue and could leave the nonprofit organization liable for future lawsuits dealing with the construction of the center.

"We left the meeting (on Tuesday) disappointed," Helm added. "All around we are back where we were 4 1/2 years ago."

After Tuesday's meeting, Helm said the veterans met with Roy Silva, Tavares' assistant, and gave him until tomorrow to come up with another option.

Reach Greg Kakesako at gkakesako@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 4, 2010 1:45 p.m. HST

Free Apple Training For Educators Coming to UHMC

A free Apple Education Institute to assist educators in utilizing Apple software systems to develop materials and projects for the classroom will be held Sept. 2 at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

UH Maui College is among three campuses in the UHCC System designated as Apple Training Centers to provide training to educators on use of Apple programs.

According to the Apple training group, the educator training will instruct teachers with a hands-on curriculum on the technology for producing multimedia projects, using programs such as iMovie, iPhoto and GarageBand.

Apple Education Institutes are open to teachers from elementary grades to college. The sessions are free, but space is limited and reservations are required. Register by contacting afussle@hawaii.edu or info@ocet.org, calling 984-3231or going to http://pcatt.org/pcatt/aeimaui2010/index.jsp. The site code to register is 2010maui.

The MAC 101 session will include an Introduction to Mac OS X and Introduction to iLife, the suite of programs for editing and modifying images, creating videos and combining sound with multimedia creations. It will be held on the UHMC campus on Sept. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Laulima 225 and 211. A second session at UHMC is scheduled for Jan. 25.

The institutes are coordinated with the Apple Training Team by the Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training (PCATT), www.pcatt.org in cooperation with the UHMC Office of Continuing Education.

Apple Institute sessions also are scheduled at Kauai Community College on Sept. 14 and Jan. 20, and at Hawaii Community College, Sept. 10 and Jan. 28. PCATT Program Coordinator is Grace Funai, gfunai@hawaii.edu.

(Report Provided by UH Maui College)

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NEWS FLASH - August 4, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

High Surf On South Shores Expected Through Tomorrow

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for SOUTH FACING SHORES of ALL ISLANDS in effect until 6:00 p.m. THURSDAY.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along south facing shores will be 5 to 8 feet today and will remain high through Thursday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.2 feet is expected between 12:33 p.m. and 13:45 p.m. this afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 4, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Harsh Words on First Day of Leonard Confirmation Hearings

After several hours of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman expressed concerns yesterday about whether appeals Judge Katherine Leonard possesses the leadership skills to be Hawaii's next chief justice.

Leonard told the committee that "perhaps in somewhat quieter and different ways," she has demonstrated the leadership and administrative skills for the job.

But Sen. Brian Taniguchi, committee chairman, said he is concerned about what former Hawaii State Bar Association President Paul Alston called the most important criteria for the job: the ability to lead, to inspire judges and to protect the independence and integrity of the Judiciary at all costs.

"I'm not clear she can lead the Judiciary," Taniguchi said.

Taniguchi (D, Moiliili-Manoa) said he has not yet decided how he will vote when the committee meets tomorrow on whether to recommend approving her appointment to the full Senate. The chairman said he has not polled the other four committee members, but thinks Sen. Sam Slom (Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai), the only Republican on the panel, will support Leonard.

He added that part of his concerns is that Gov. Linda Lingle picked Leonard over several others on the list submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission who had more judicial experience, such as Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald Chief Judge Craig Nakamura of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Dan Foley, Leonard's fellow appeals judge who has been on the court a longer period of time.

Leonard, 50, would replace Chief Justice Ronald Moon and serve a 10-year term, which could be renewed by the Judicial Selection Commission. Moon must retire before he turns 70 on Sept. 4 because of the state mandatory retirement law for judges.

Leonard provided the committee members with her personal background of growing up in a small Wisconsin town with working-class parents, moving to Hawaii at the age of 22 because of her interest in orchids, getting a job at a Waimanalo nursery, working as a research associate at a pharmacological school and enrolling at the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson law school, where she became editor-in-chief of the law review.

She was Robert Klein's first law clerk when he became an associate justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court and spent her legal career at the prestigious Carlsmith Ball law firm handling civil cases, including writing the termination plan for the $2.5 billion Campbell Estate.

She became an appeals judge in January 2008, which she said was "a dream come true."

"I have no agenda, no platform," she told the committee, saying she approaches each case by analyzing facts and the law without bias.

She expressed pride that one can read her opinion rejecting Stop Rail Now's request to get on the 2008 general election ballot. "You will never know what I thought of rail transit in Hawaii," she said. "It's not relevant, and you can't tell by reading my case."

When Taniguchi asked her whom she would have picked as chief justice if she were governor, Leonard replied, "Well, I like the pick."

Among the more than 100 people who submitted testimony in support of her appointment were Klein; his senior partner William McCorriston; Carlsmith Ball current and former lawyers; former bar association presidents; retired judges, including Elizabeth Eden Hifo and Corinne Watanabe; Attorney General Mark Bennett; state Public Defender Jack Tonaki; Leonard's former law clerks; and University of Hawaii law school Dean Avi Soifer and several law school professors.

They praised her as an intelligent, hard-working lawyer and judge with sharp legal skills who treats people with courtesy and respect and who possesses the leadership and administrative ability to run the third branch of government.

Bennett and several speakers, including former bar association presidents, denounced the bar association for its confidential process that resulted in the board of directors finding Leonard "unqualified" without disclosing the reasons. Lingle also issued a statement Monday evening saying the recommendation was "outrageous" and should be ignored.

Leonard told the committee that when she was interviewed by the law school board, she was asked about her administrative skills and background but not about her cases.

"I think they listened, although it was hard to tell how open they were or how far along they were in their thinking," she said.

Hugh Jones, a deputy attorney general speaking as the bar association president, said the process has been known to be confidential for years for the same reason the Judicial Selection Commission has confidential proceedings in screening candidates for the bench.

It is to provide protection for people from reprisals when they comment on sitting judges or other lawyers who might become judges, he said.

Jones said many questions were asked when Leonard appeared before the board for two hours Monday, and he said he had "substantial discussions" with her about the concerns by bar members.

In addition to Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz, who was the first lawyer to publicly oppose the appointment last week, former Circuit Judge Marie Milks and Honolulu lawyer Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara told the committee Leonard did not have the record of leadership or administrative ability for the job.

Taniguchi later said he understands the bar association's process and that he himself asked the association in the past to be more open.

But he said the vote by a majority of the board means there are "very serious concerns" probably along the lines of the opposition testimony—that Leonard might be a good associate justice on the high court, but not the chief justice.

Reach By Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 10:30 p.m. HST

Multiple-Car Accident Closes Baldwin Avenue

(Editor's Note: The accident was cleared and the road reopened at 11:20 p.m.)

A vehicle accident has closed Baldwin Ave at Ike Drive near the Hali'imaile Junction. Multiple injuries are reported. No word on when the road will reopen or the extent of the injuries.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 4 p.m. HST

Police Identify Man in Fatal West Side Ocean Accident

A Lahaina man, and former New Jersey resident has been identified as the victim of a fatal accident Monday.

Maui Police say 53 year-old Kevin Wilson and friends were jumping from rocks into the ocean in front of the Ritz Carlton Hotel around noon. Wilson reportedly impacted the rocks and died in the ocean. No more details have been made available.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 3:40 p.m. HST

High Surf Expected Along South Shores Through Thursday

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for SOUTH FACING SHORES of ALL ISLANDS in effect until 6:00 p.m. THURSDAY.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along south facing shores will rise to 5 to 8 feet this evening and will remain high through Thursday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.2 feet is expected between 12:33 p.m. and 13:45 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. NOAA Weather Internet services can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 9:15 a.m. HST

Council Praises Bike Tour Report But Defers Action

WAILUKU - A county-commissioned study of the downhill bicycle industry received rave reviews during a Maui County Council committee meeting Monday, but no one was ready to formally adopt recommendations addressing safety on state and county roadways.

Instead, the council's Infrastructure Management Committee voted unanimously to defer action until a more thorough review of the study is done by council members, bicycle tour companies and other groups interested in traffic safety issues.

Committee Vice Chairman Joe Pontanilla also recommended the deferral, saying he preferred to have committee Chairman Bill Medeiros review the study in committee.

Medeiros was attending to personal business and was absent from Monday's meeting.

Council Member Wayne Nishiki suggested that taking extra time to review the matter would allow council members themselves to take a bike tour down Haleakala.

"I'm being dead serious about this," he said, although no committee members pursued the idea.

Glenn Kimura, the 62-year-old president of Kimura International, went on a downhill bicycle tour himself as part of his company's $249,000 study for Maui County. Nishiki asked him if he enjoyed the scenery during his tour.

Kimura said he wore a helmet that restricted his views, and he concentrated on making his way down the mountain safely. He said he thought the experience was more about enjoying the bike ride itself, and not watching the scenery.

Council members applauded the study's work, which included interviews with bike tour operators, private bicycle enthusiasts and groups such as the Kula Community Association.

The study was praised as comprehensive, excellent and outstanding. Kimura International was commended for its work to include all points of view on the controversial issues regarding bike tour safety, specifically on the slopes of Haleakala.

The consulting firm held two rounds of public meetings and met with officials from various state, county and private entities, including the Maui Police Department, the Mayor's Office and the county Department of Public Works.

Richard Goodenough, owner of Maui Downhill Tours, and Phil Feliciano, owner of Cruiser Phil's Volcano Riders, said they needed more time to read the study thoroughly.

"I do see a lot of good things in there," Goodenough said of the report. He added that he was happy to work with the council and county officials on ensuring bike tour safety.

Feliciano said there were a number of issues he wanted time to digest in the study, adding that he agreed with Kimura that the permit process needed more "teeth" so that private companies can be held accountable for their actions.

Council Member Gladys Baisa, who holds the residency seat for Upcountry, where most bike tours occur, said she attended at least one of the public meetings coordinated by Kimura International and found that all sides (pro- and anti-bike tour) had a chance to provide input.

"I would say it was definitely passionate," Baisa said about the community meetings.

Maui Bicycle Alliance President Walter Enomoto said his group has an e-mail list of more than 400 people who bike for recreation and health.

The alliance "strongly" supports all the short-term recommendations made by the consultant, he said.

Kimura International recommended short-term changes that include prohibiting tours on road segments in Makawao and Paia during business hours; closing a permit loophole to require all bike tour companies to obtain permits for all roadways; and requiring tour leaders be equipped to monitor and control the tour's speed.

There's also a short-term recommendation to space the tour groups as they come down the mountain, require mandatory use of pullouts and the viewing of a safety briefing video.

Enomoto also recommended possible sources of funding within the county's fiscal 2011 budget for design of bicycle tour pullouts or shoulder widening and then actual construction money in the county's 2012 budget.

The alliance was particularly supportive of the private consultant's suggestion that bike tour companies be mandated within the next five years to provide more data on the number of tours and bike accidents per year, Enomoto said.

Kimura's report also calls for the development of a best practices manual for the bike tour companies, that a credential/monitoring program be created and that even the biking customer be screened on his or her bicycling proficiency.

The county's Department of Public Works commissioned the study in 2008, in response to concerns about safety of the tour operations and their impacts on Kula traffic.

The same year, Haleakala National Park ordered that bike tours be suspended from launching within the park, because of safety concerns. Since then, bike rides, both escorted and not, have started just outside the park boundaries.

Kimura said his staff initially held off releasing its study until it could get more information about the National Park Service's plans for possible rules on commercial bike tours. After two years, the private firm decided to go forward when it could not confirm what federal officials planned to do.

Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at claudine@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

O'ahu Woman Saves Keiki's Life As Ironwood Tree Topples

A 3-year-old boy was reunited Monday with the woman who may have saved his life.

Mapuana MacDonald, 48, had her back broken by a falling tree Saturday as she shielded the toddler from a large ironwood tree that was falling on a picnicking family.

Two days after the peaceful picnic at White Plains beach ended in chaos, with five family members injured, Macdonald remains in the hospital, with three broken vertebrae and multiple bruises and scrapes.

She put the pain aside Monday to pull Ezekiel Kanoi onto her hospital bed for a hug and kiss.

It was the first time since the accident they've seen each other. Ezekiel calls Macdonald his “auntie-mommy.” She is full-time babysitter to the boy and his 4-year-old brother.

On Saturday afternoon, Ezekiel was, as usual, right by MacDonald’s side as the tree snapped loudly overhead. “We were on our way, trying to run out, but as soon as the tree hit my head then I grabbed Zeke and I tucked him underneath,” MacDonald said. “Then the whole tree fell on me.”

A paramedic told her the little boy would not have survived being hit by the tree. “It's a miracle,” MacDonald said. “It just looked like a massacre.”

Ezekiel’s father, Ed Kanoi, said it wasn’t until Sunday that he heard the story of how MacDonald protected his son. “Realizing that my son wouldn't be here were it not for the actions of Mapuana; what can you say but thank you, forever and ever and ever.”

MacDonald said she doesn’t deserve any special recognition. “Anybody would have done that for their child. I don't think I am a hero. I just wanted Zeke to be OK.”

Doctors told MacDonald she will recover, but it will be a while before her back is strong enough to pick up the boys.

A Navy spokesman said Monday that grove of trees at White Plains was inspected and trimmed last year and was scheduled for another inspection by September. The Navy said the contractor's arborist has been asked to investigate what may have weakened the tree that fell Saturday That report is due by the end of this week.

(Report Provided by KITV.com)

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NEWS FLASH - August 3, 2010 6:35 a.m. HST

$6.2M Set Aside for Lana'i Airport Fire Station

The state will receive $6.2 million to build an aircraft rescue and fire fighting building at Lanai Airport.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka said yesterday that the money comes from a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Inouye said working families and visitors need safe and timely transportation between the islands. He said the funding will allow first responders to prepare for and respond to any emergency event that might arise at Lanai Airport.

Akaka said the grant will increase safety for residents and visitors flying to Lanai by stationing a new emergency response facility right at the airport.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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Breaking News Archives

NEW FOR 2010: Maui TV News Breaking News stories are now being archived. Each month (or more frequently if needed) we will save an archive of all the Breaking News stories covered to date on this page. And you can use the search box in the upper right corner of this page to locate a specific story or topic. Now available:

 
August 3 - September 6, 2010

March 30 - April 16, 2010

March 19 - 30, 2010

March 11 - 19, 2010

March 4 - 11, 2010

February 25 - March 4, 2010

February 9 - 25, 2010

February 1-8, 2010

January 2010

December, 2009 (partial)

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