JAKARTA, Indonesia >> A strong earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia’s Papua province on Sunday, causing panic among residents but no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the magnitude 6.5 earthquake was centered about 33 miles northeast of Waren, a town on the northern coast of Papua island. It was followed by two strong aftershocks, the first of magnitude 5.3, the second of magnitude 5.5, the agency said.
The initial quake, with a depth of 82 miles, caused residents in Serui to pour into the streets in panic, said Daud Yusuf of the agency’s local office.
He said the tremor was also felt in nearby Biak island, and Enarotali town on the main island.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the initial quake’s magnitude at 6.4 at a depth of 22 miles.
There were no reports of a tsunami.
The impending return of five-day-a week government services was widely welcomed Friday, the final furlough day for state and city employees.
“My boyfriend and I went down to (District Court) to get his traffic abstract, and we couldn’t get that done because it was closed for Furlough Friday,” said Kelly Wiles, 22, of Kaneohe, recounting a previous Furlough Friday frustration.
Twice a month for as long as two years, government offices, schools and other public facilities were closed as workers were forced to take unpaid days off to help close budget deficits.
To complicate matters, the state and each county had different furlough schedules. Most troublesome for parents of young children were the 17 furlough days in the 2009-10 school year, when they had to find child care on those days.Furloughs will be no more when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
Many government workers will get extra days off in exchange for pay cuts, but offices will remain open five days a week.
Haku and Nohea Kamelamela, 36, twin sisters from Makiki, work at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua. Because they are considered essential staff, they did not take furlough days, but said they were affected by the absence of co-workers who did.
“Sometimes we had to make decisions without upper management (on furlough), but unless the decision was very serious, it was not a problem,” Haku Kamelamela said.
Furlough Fridays also meant no janitorial service at the correctional center.
“Everyone is relieved (furloughs are) over,” Nohea Kamelamela said.
Robyn Hironaka, 30, of Mililani, who works for the Department of Health as an office assistant, said she used furlough days to run errands and catch up on rest.
“A lot of us got used to the furloughs, and now in a way I’d rather have the time off since we are taking a pay cut anyway,” said Hironaka, who works part time at Starbucks to make up for the reduced income.
Kaneohe residents Casie and Blake Yoshimura, both 35, are also state workers — Casie for the Department of Health and Blake for the Department of Public Safety.
The couple said they used the days off to catch up with friends or errands but had to cut back on eating out and some entertainment to make up for the money lost to furloughs.
Public school furloughs, though not an issue for the past year, still left a lasting impression with many parents.
Eileen Nims, 43, a mother of three from Mililani who works at Pearl Harbor Navy College as an academic counselor, said she had to adjust her work schedule to care for her children when school was out on Furlough Fridays.
Her children attend Mililani elementary and middle schools.
“The year of furloughs was just crazy,” Nims said. “It seemed like there wasn’t one five-day school week.”
Nims saw other effects of budget cuts.
“Everything that was considered to be extraneous — music, PE, foreign languages — was cut,” she said.
One school that avoided furloughs was Lanikai Elementary, a public charter school with more than 300 students and a nonunion staff.
“They redid their budget to avoid the furloughs,” said Wendy Ferri, who has two children at Lanikai.
Despite a series of contentious meetings on Molokai this week, San Francisco-based Pattern Energy won’t be fleeing Hawaii, according to David Parquet, the wind-energy developer’s director of development for special projects.
Representatives from the company met with the community about their plans to build roughly 90 wind turbines that would span about 200 acres, or 2 percent of the land on Molokai.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Parquet told PBN. “Residents still want to know what the impacts are. As we go through this we are seeing people getting engaged on questions. They aren’t saying ‘yes,’ but they are engaged with us.”
Parquet said the three meetings were attended mostly by the same people, estimating that the turnout was about 25 people each night. While he acknowledged there was opposition to the wind farm, he said the project would hinge on ensuring that the residents of Molokai had a strong benefits package that would balance the benefits of the project for the rest of the state.
Pattern Energy’s recent foray into the increasing drama surrounding the 400-megawatt wind project, which aims to bring energy from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu via undersea cables, follows a missed mid-March deadline by Boston-based First Wind, the original wind farm developer for Molokai, to secure land for the site.
In interviews leading up to the meetings, local residents and community leaders indicated to PBN that resistance to the Big Wind project had grown increasingly widespread and organized since First Wind’s departure.
Several people noted that opposition to the project was intensified becasue Molokai Ranch, which has a history of tension with the community, was supporting Pattern Energy. The developer has signed a lease option with the ranch for 11,000 acres.
“Personally, I don’t think this project will go forward if Molokai Ranch has any part of it,” Karen Holt, executive director of the Molokai Community Service Council, told PBN.
While officials from Maui County have reported that sentiment toward the wind farms was overwhelmingly negative during First Wind’s attempts, the company did make some inroads with important community leaders and associations.
In 2006, First Wind pledged $50 million to a campaign spearheaded by the Molokai Community Service Council, a 30-year-old local nonprofit that was trying to purchase Molokai Ranch. If the plan had been successful, First Wind would have leased the land needed for the wind farm.
It never happened. But First Wind early on had aligned itself with portions of the community openly hostile toward Molokai Ranch, which has a long history of conflicts with the community concerning development issues.
Whether the newfound “alliance” between Molokai Ranch and Pattern Energy will ultimately prove to be a liability to the “Big Wind” project moving forward remains to be seen. But Parquet said that he hopes that “Molokai residents that have tensions with Molokai Ranch would view this project differently.”
If not, Lanai could become host to the entire 400-megawatt wind farm.
(Report Provided by Pacific Business News)
On Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 at about 11:00 a.m., Maui Police Department Officer Sean MARZOEKI was placed under arrest on the strength of Warrant of Arrest/Information Charging, issued in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit by the Honorable Judge Joseph CARDOZA. The warrant charges MARZOEKI with two (2) counts of THEFT IN THE FIRST DEGREE and two (2) counts of FAILURE TO ACCQUIRE A FIREARM PERMIT with bail set at $5,000.00.
MARZOEKI turned himself in at the Wailuku Police Station, was processed without incident and released after posting bail. His arraignment and plea court date is set for Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 8:30 a.m., in Second Circuit Court.
MARZOEKI has been with the Maui Police Department since August 27, 2001. MARZOEKI is currently on restricted duty.
Honolulu – Governor Neil Abercrombie today released the following statement on contract negotiations with the Hawai’i State Teachers Association:
“From the beginning of our Administration, we have made it known that we can live within our fiscal constraints if all public employees make a shared sacrifice of a 5 percent pay reduction and equal employer-employee contributions for health care benefits.
“Our last, best and final offer to the Hawai’i State Teachers Association meets those targets while maintaining instructional time for students. I hope teachers will be given the opportunity to vote on the proposal so we all can move the focus to preparing for the new school year and giving our children the best possible education.”
The cruiser USS Port Royal returned to sea for a seven-month deployment this morning following more than $40 million in repairs after running aground near the Honolulu Airport Reef runway two years ago.
Rear Admiral Dixon Smith,commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said that the Navy has moved on after the Feb. 25, 2009 grounding incident.
“I’ve put it behind me,” Smith said. “We’ve moved forward. The ship has moved forward. It was an unfortunate incident that we all learned from.”
Smith said only 10 percent of the 300 sailors who were on the ship when it ran aground, will be on the deployment. The deployment will take the 9,600-ton warship to the western Pacific and the Middle East.
Of the Port Royal’s 30 officers, only one remains in the wardroom. All of the cruiser’s 30 chief petty officers, the warship’s core of senior enlisted sailors, have been replaced through the Navy’s normal rotation procedure.
“This is a brand new crew,” Smith said.
The warship was lodged on the reef for three days and had to be towed to Pearl Harbor after the incident that happened at dusk while the ship was transferring crew members to a smaller boat. The Port Royal had just completed an $18 million refurbishment and was on its first day of sea trials when it ran aground.
The Port Royal underwent more than $40 million in new repairs from the incident. Last year the Navy spent another $20 million to fix cracks discovered in the Port Royal’s aluminums alloy superstructure.
It cost the Navy $6.5 million to restore the reef and the Navy also paid the state another $8.5 million in a settlement over the damages. In its restoration effort, the Navy reattached nearly 5,400 coral colonies.
About two dozen friends and family members were at Pearl Harbor’s Mike pier — which was the same dock the Port Royal returned to after the 2009 incident — this morning.
Capt. Eric Weilenman now commands the Port Royal. He is the third Port Royal Skipper following the dismissal of Capt. John Carroll who was in charge of the warship at the time of the grounding. Three other officers and a sailor received nonjudicial punishment.
The Navy’s Safety Investigation Board found several factors contributed to the grounding, including an apparent failure to recalibrate navigation equipment within a period of 72 hours.
Reach Gregg Kakesako at email@example.com
(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
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