WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai`i – Need to talk to someone from the County about your water bill? Trash collection? Property taxes? Then don’t forget to stop by the County Booth at the Maui Fair this weekend!
This weekend’s fair is a great opportunity for an extended County On Your Corner, a program which has been very popular throughout the community. County department heads and staff will be there to answer your questions in person from 5 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. on Sunday at the County booth, located between the ferris wheel and the entertainment tent.
For a schedule of when departments will be represented at the booth or for more information call Communications Director Rod Antone at 270-8222.
MANILA >> Forecasters sounded alarms over a new storm headed for the Philippines today, even as workers repaired seawalls demolished by a typhoon that killed at least 21 people and left scores stranded in swamped communities.
Typhoon Nesat also left 35 people missing and brought some of downtown Manila’s worst flooding in decades before blowing out of the northern Philippines early today toward southern China with winds of 75 mph.
Floodwaters were receding in most places, but many low-lying communities in the north remained in crisis.
Mayor Santiago Austria of the rice-farming town of Jaen in Nueva Ecija province appealed to the government for help, saying many people in his community of 63,000 needed to be rescued but that officials there had only four rescue boats.
“Many people here are still on top of their houses. We don’t have enough boats to reach them and hand them food,” Austria said.
Civil Defense Office chief Benito Ramos said army troops were on their way to assist Jaen.
The town of Obando, north of Manila, remained under waist-high water and officials had not yet been able to check on reports of houses swept away on two nearby islands where thousands of residents live, Mayor Orencio Gabriel said.
In all, 320,000 people were affected by the storm, with 73,000 in evacuation centers and about 100 still stranded, officials said.
Meanwhile, a fresh tropical storm was brewing in the Pacific, government forecaster Bobby Javier said, adding that it already had sustained winds of 52 mph and gusts up to 62 mph and was expected to strengthen significantly before hitting major parts of the country in the next few days.
Ramos said disaster agencies were being kept on full alert because of the new storm.
In Manila, hundreds of workers used cranes to lay sandbags where parts of a downtown seawall were ripped off by the typhoon’s huge waves and fierce winds. Residents made repairs to nearly 5,000 houses damaged in the storm.
Scavengers rummaged through household items carried by the floodwaters — footwear, a basketball, a child’s school bag, a hunter’s hat. Mar Depas, 28, said he collected about a dozen fairly new leather shoes and sandals but was disappointed that they didn’t match.
“I can’t find their pairs. They’re useless,” Depas said. “I came late … most of the better recyclable stuff is gone.”
Typhoon Nesat had unleashed torrents of floodwaters Tuesday that swamped Manila’s downtown areas, rapidly engulfing hotels, a hospital, the U.S. Embassy, business offices and several blocks of residential areas in waist-deep floodwaters.
Power was gradually restored Wednesday to Manila’s downtown area, which strewn with trash and fallen bamboo pieces washed ashore by storm surges. City trains resumed operations.
NEW YORK » Google wants to buy solar panels for your house.
The search giant announced Tuesday that it will provide $75 million to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the country. Google will own the panels, and get paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce.
Google is creating a fund with a San Francisco company called Clean Power Finance that local solar installers will be able to tap so they can offer financing plans to prospective buyers. The plans allow homeowners to install a $30,000 solar electricity system on their house for little or no money up front. Instead, customers pay a monthly fee that is the same or less than what they would otherwise be paying their local utility for power.
Google will earn what it calls an attractive return on its investment in two ways. It gets the monthly fee from homeowners, and, as the owner of the systems, Google will get the benefit of federal and state renewable energy subsidies.
The systems will not carry the Google brand, however. Instead, local installers will offer the financing deal under their own brands.
Solar power has gotten dramatically cheaper, but the up-front cost for a homeowner remains formidable. A typical home system costs $25,000 to $30,000. Federal and state governments offer subsidies to help defray the cost somewhat, but it is still far too much money for many homeowners to shell out.
Solar financing plans are offered by a handful of large solar companies such as SunRun, SolarCity and Sungevity, and they are growing in popularity. Google established a $280 million fund with SolarCity in June to help SolarCity expand its offerings.
But Google’s new fund will flow instead to small, local installers who would otherwise not be able to offer these financing plans. Google says there are 1,400 solar installers in all 50 states.
“Cash sales (of solar panels) have been good, but once you add financing, sales can go through the roof,” said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google, in an interview. “It’s an opportunity to significantly expand the market.”
This is the second such fund established by Clean Power Finance. The company declines to name the investor in the original fund, but says the amount of the fund is larger than Google’s. Google hopes its investment will show a way for other investors to team up with installers to finance many more home solar systems and make a profit in the process.
This is the latest a string of investments Google has made in renewable energy, now totaling $850 million. Google has invested in wind farms in North Dakota, California and Oregon, solar projects in California and Germany, and a project off the East coast meant to help make offshore wind farms possible.
Google has said it is disappointed that it can’t buy renewable electricity for its power-hungry data centers so it is investing to help renewable power expand in scale.
One of Google’s ten philosophical pillars is: “You can make money without doing evil,” and reducing the environmental impact of its business has long been a focus of co-founder and CEO Larry Page. The company says that since 2007, it has completely offset its emissions of greenhouse gases by paying for projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Honolulu – The Hawai’i Supreme Court today rejected the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s contention that the Hawai’i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) is not appropriately handling the case. The Supreme Court noted that the relief requested by HSTA, a petition for a writ of mandamus, is not appropriate in these circumstances.
Last week, the Hawai’i State Ethics Commission dismissed the HSTA’s complaint claiming that the State had improperly communicated with the HLRB.
Earlier this month, the HLRB also dismissed one of HSTA’s motions. In its ruling, the HLRB noted that the actions of HSTA amounted to “an egregious and reckless disregard for the truth” and “appear intended to mislead the board.”
Governor Neil Abercrombie today released the following statement:
“We respect and support teachers and their contributions. The tactics of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association and its attorneys are being rejected across the board by the legal system in every venue. These theatrics serve no public purpose and they undermine the fact that our students are in schools learning and our teachers are in classrooms teaching. We never received any proposed alternatives from HSTA after its board refused to submit our tentative agreement to the membership. It is time to move on.”
HONOLULU – In observance of the memory of former state Representative and swimming legend Keo Nakama, Governor Neil Abercrombie today ordered that all U.S. and Hawai’i flags at all State offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset on Friday, September 30, 2011.
Nakama began his legendary swimming career in the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Irrigation ditches in Pu’unene, Maui as a child. He attended Ohio State University, where he excelled at swimming and baseball, winning Big Ten and National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. During his swim career, he won 27 U.S. National Championships from 100 yards to 1500 meters and set the world record swim for a mile at 20:29. Nakama was the first person to swim completely across the 27-mile Kaiwi Channel from Moloka’i to O’ahu, an accomplishment completed in 15.5 hours.
Nakama also served as a Hawai’i high school swim coach, teacher and athletic director before being elected to the Hawai’i State House of Representatives, where he served for five terms until 1974. Nakama was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1975 and into the Hawai’i Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
A 60-year-old Kauai man faces life in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of defrauding about 140 people in a Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii said Monday that David Ruskjer was found guilty of 22 counts of money laundering, 12 counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud and other charges.
Federal prosecutors said Ruskjer operated a fraudulent investment program on Kauai from September 2004 to December 2008.
Prosecutors said Ruskjer collected millions from clients promising various interest rate returns on their money, but instead paid earlier clients with money he collected from later clients. Meantime, he bought himself a condo, car and motorcycle while losing money on investments.
The case was filed after an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.
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