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NEWS FLASH - BREAKING NEWS FROM MAUI COUNTY

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. Now available:


Aloha! it's ~

February 25 - March 4, 2010
(Back to Today's Breaking News)


NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 5:20 p.m.

President Signs 'Travel Promotion Act' to Create New Jobs, Business

HONOLULU - The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, welcomed news today that President Obama has signed the Travel Promotion Act into law. The new legislation will create economic growth and thousands of new American jobs by welcoming millions more international travelers to the United States.

“The Travel Promotion Act is a victorious development for the state of Hawai‘i. International visitors are a significant part of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry, accounting for almost 33 percent of Hawai‘i’s visitor arrivals and contributing $3.7 billion in expenditures. This new legislation will contribute to our efforts to attract more international visitors to the islands,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of HTA. “We appreciate the efforts of Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation for their hard work to get this bill passed,” he added.

The Travel Promotion Act is consistent with the direction of HTA’s strategic plan, which focuses on improving Hawai‘i’s tourism economy, generating more taxes, and most importantly, more jobs. Currently, tourism accounts for nearly 17 percent of the state’s economy and for more than 151,000 Hawai‘i jobs.

The Travel Promotion Act establishes a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination and communicate U.S. security and entry policies. According to analysis by Oxford Economics, the bill is estimated to drive $4 billion in new consumer spending annually, provide $321 million in new federal tax revenue each year and create 40,000 U.S. jobs nationwide. Further, it is expected to reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Overseas visitors spend an average of more than $4,000 when they visit the United States.

The Travel Promotion Act is modeled after successful state-level initiatives and is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. The fee is collected once every two years in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority was created in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawai‘i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with our economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org.

For more information on the Travel Promotion Act, visit http://www.ustravel.org./news/press-releases/president-obama-signs-first-ever-travel-promotion-program.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 3:10 p.m.

Kalaupapa Patient Released on $25,000 Bond

Kalaupapa Hansen's disease patient Norbert K. Palea can be released on $25,000 bond while awaiting trial on charges of shipping crystal methamphetamine from Oahu to Molokai, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled this morning.

Palea, 68, is the youngest resident of the Kalaupapa Hansen's disease settlement.

According to a criminal complaint filed against him this week, Palea allegedly shipped illicit drugs to Molokai last year and again this year.

Federal drug agents followed Palea during a state-sponsored trip to Oahu Feb. 25 and 26 and allegedly discovered some 18 grams of crystal meth in a box he tried to send to Molokai.

Kobayashi ordered Palea to surrender his passport, undergo drug periodic tests and complete a drug-assessment program.

The $25,000 bond will be signature-only, meaning Palea doesn't have to post cash with the court but will be liable for the sum if he fails to abide by the terms of his release.

"I don't want to see you again," Kobayashi told Palea.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 2:55 p.m.

Gas Prices Drop on O'ahu - Climb on Maui

The average price for a gallon of gas statewide was $3.41 this week, unchanged from last week, according to the AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch.

Honolulu's average price was $3.32, unchanged from last week and a month ago. It was up 95 cents from the same time a year.

Hilo's average was $3.45, down five cents less from last week. It was two cents higher than last week and 93 cents more than a year ago.

Wailuku's average was $3.81, one cent higher than last week, two cents higher than last month and $1.20 higher than at the same time last year.

(Report Provided by AAA Hawai'i)

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NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 1:45 p.m.

Hawai'i Misses Cut in 'Race To the Top' Competition

Hawaii was not among the 16 states and jurisdictions that will advance as finalists for the first round of the federal Race to the Top competition, the U.S. Department of Education announced this morning.

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion effort to reform the country's public education system and about 40 states and the District of Columbia applied to get grant money from the federal government. Winners from the first round will be chosen from the 16 finalists and announced in April.

Hawaii had been eligible for some $75 million in the first round of the Race to the Top competition. The U.S. DOE did not immediately release information regarding Hawaii's application or explanations about why the state was not chosen to be among the finalists.

"During the next two months Hawaii will need to demonstrate we are serious about meeting the criteria set forth in the Race to the Top application," Gov. Linda Lingle said in a statement. "These criteria include implementing a performance-based evaluation and compensation system for teachers and principals; eliminating statutory, financial and policy barriers to the growth of quality charter schools; and making a firm commitment to increasing student achievement, particularly in math and English."

Applications for the second round are due on June 1 of this year, and Hawaii education officials have said they plan to apply again.

Lingle said that Hawaii could be awarded up to $75 million in federal funds in the second round.

"Hawaii should also demonstrate that we can implement a new education governance structure that holds a single person — the governor — accountable for the success or failure of our school system," Lingle said.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 8 a.m.

Taxpayers Still Paying for Superferry

Hawai'i taxpayers aren't done yet paying for the failed Superferry project.

The state Department of Transportation's Harbors Division has awarded a $218,000 contract to Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. to tow a state-owned barge, which had been used to load vehicles on and off the now-defunct interisland ferry, from Maui's Kahului Harbor to Honolulu.

Deputy director of harbors Michael Formby said the $10 million barge Manaiakalani is being moved primarily so it can be better protected from the sea conditions at the Kahului port, where it is battered by storm surges.

In addition, Hawaii Superferry stopped paying insurance on the barge after filing for bankruptcy in May, he said.

"Our primary concern was to make sure that it is stored in a protected harbor, and we have extra berthing space here (at Honolulu Harbor)," Formby said.

Irene Bowie, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, said members of her organization will be happy to see the barge leave. Maui Tomorrow was one of the groups that sued the state in 2005 for failing to do an environmental impact statement on Hawaii Superferry and the $40 million in ferry-related improvements at four state harbors.

Superferry shut down last March after the state Supreme Court ruled the company couldn't operate without the environmental review.

Had an EIS been required, the ferry owners might have been required to build on-board loading ramps and likely would have learned of surge problems within the state's north-facing commercial harbors, Bowie said.

"All of this goes toward the Superferry fiasco. We'll be glad to have the last remnants leave Kahului," she said.

The state already has spent nearly $3 million on repairs and improvements to the Kahului barge and mooring system. Healy Tibbitts, which designed and built the barge, was paid $414,000 last year for structural repairs.

Formby said the marine construction firm was the only company to submit a bid for the towing contract. The original bid was more than twice the current contract price, but the DOT was able to negotiate it down, he said.

The barge is structurally sound, Formby said, but Healy Tibbitts must take a number of steps to prepare the vessel for its voyage, including hooking up a "bridle chain" to which a tow line will be attached, and securing any loose equipment.

The company has been given until April 8 to finish the job.

The barge relocation was in the works long before last weekend's tsunami scare, Formby said. There were concerns that potential surge predictions of six feet or more would have damaged the vessel and other harbor facilities.

There are no potential buyers on the horizon for the Maui barge or for a second one docked in Honolulu that was supposed to have been used at Kawaihae Harbor. Mention has been made of possibly using them as work barges or converting one or both to a floating drydock, according to Formby.

Meanwhile, there continues to be interest among some government officials in re-establishing interisland ferry service, albeit on a much smaller scale.

"We know from the Superferry experience that would require at least an environmental assessment and possibly a full-on environmental impact statement," Formby said.

Bowie said Maui Tomorrow "long ago asked for a final tab" of taxpayer money spent in connection with the Superferry project but has never received a complete answer from state officials.

"I think it's ironic that Gov. (Linda) Lingle wants to look so closely at the EIS for O'ahu's rail system, but her office allowed the Superferry to go through all along without one," she said.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 4, 2010 7:05 a.m.

Strong Trades Continue High Surf on East Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CONTINUED the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MAUI and MOLOKAI now 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: Strong trade winds are producing advisory level short period surf along east facing shores of most islands.

Surf along east facing shores will be 6 to 8 feet through Thursday afternoon.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.1 feet is expected between 5:45 p.m. and 7:03 p.m. this evening. The next high tide of approximately 1.6 feet is expected between 4:15 a.m. and 5:33 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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 - March 4, 2010 6:35 a.m.

Water Main Repaired, Reopening South Kihei Road

Maui Police reopened a section of South Kihei Road early this morning that had been closed while crews repaired a broken water main. The break was reported yesterday around 4 p.m. near East Waipuilani Street. South Kihei Road was closed between that intersection and Nohokai Streets until shortly after 2 a.m. today.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 5:05 p.m.

Popular Potato Chips Recalled From Hawai'i Store Shelves

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has been notified by the U.S. FDA of a voluntary recall of Tim’s Cascade Snacks – “Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips-Sweet Maui Onion” and “Hawaiian-Sweet Maui Onion Rings”. The manufacturer is voluntarily recalling the product due to possible health risks. The DOH will be notifying product distributors and retailers statewide today to remove the product from sale. The DOH will follow-up with on-site visits to retailers tomorrow to ensure the recalled products have been removed from store shelves. To date, the DOH has received no reports of illness related to these recalled products.

Consumers are urged to check their cabinets for the product and to either discard it or return it to the store where it was purchased. All other Tim’s Cascade products are not subject to this recall. More information is available below from the manufacturer.

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

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 3:05 p.m.

Lawsuit Favors Maui Man After Misinterpreted Urine Test

HONOLULU — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit accusing a Maui-based car dealership of refusing to hire a man because of a perceived disability.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that under the terms of a consent decree approved in Honolulu federal court, Valley Isle Motors Ltd. will pay the man $32,500.

In its lawsuit, the commission accused the dealership of reneging on an offer to hire the job applicant as a salesman only after a urine test revealed he was taking prescribed medication.

It says Valley Isle Motors then erroneously perceived the unidentified man as too disabled to do the job.

The commission says the dealership's conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 2:15 p.m.

Tax Relief Bill for Employers on Way for Governor's Signature

HONOLULU - A bill that will help businesses with anticipated soaring unemployment insurance (UI) rates has cleared the Hawaii State Senate today and is now headed to the Governor to be signed into law. HB2169, HD2, introduced by Rep. Karl Rhoads, will provide significant tax relief for employers while maintaining unemployment benefits for those who have been laid off through no fault of their own.

“I am very pleased that the Senate approved my bill, HB 2169, lowering unemployment insurance tax rates,” said Rep. Rhoads, Chair of the House Labor and Public Employment Committee. “HB 2169 is now on its way to the Governor, and I hope she will sign it by March 12. Her prompt signature would allow the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to include the new lower rates in employers’ first quarter statements.”

The bill sets new lower rates for the next two years. Without the legislation, unemployment rates are scheduled to increase dramatically due to the struggling economy and high state unemployment. As a result, on average, an employer would now pay, per employee, $630 instead of $1070 in the first year, and $970 instead of $1520 in the second year.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

• Sets, for calendar years 2010 and 2011, the wage base at 90% of the average annual wage.

• Sets, for calendar year 2010, the employer contribution rate at schedule D and for calendar year 2011, the employer contribution rate at schedule F.

• Retains the maximum weekly benefit rate at 75% of the average weekly wage until December 31, 2011.

• Returns the maximum weekly benefit rate to 70% of the average weekly wage on January 1, 2012.

• Authorizes special assessments upon employers to pay the principal and interest costs on loans received from the U.S. Secretary of Labor provided that the director of Labor and Industrial Relations develops a fair and equitable manner in which these payments are made.

• Mandates recalculation of the adequate reserve fund beginning in 2012.

“Lowering unemployment insurance rates was the highest priority of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii for this Legislative session,” added Rep. Rhoads. “Both the House and the Senate fast-tracked this important legislation. HB 2169 will defer $241 million in UI taxes over the next two years. This is an important piece of good news to the business community during these difficult economic times.”

(Report Provided by ther State of Hawai'i, Legislative Branch)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 9:20 a.m.

1,600 Hawai'i Residents May Lose Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Labor Department said 1,600 Hawai'i residents are among thousands of Americans who could lose their unemployment benefits in the coming days if Congress fails to act.

The benefits are part of a larger package of government programs that are expiring Sunday because senators couldn't agree on how to pay to keep them going.

However, the Senate's second-ranking Republican leader says he expects GOP lawmakers will vote to extend unemployment benefits, derailing a fellow Republican's objections.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona says the extension will pass, but only because it's temporary. Kyl told "Fox News Sunday" that a longer-term extension will cost much more — and Congress must find a way to pay for it before Republicans will go along.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 7:50 a.m.

Maui Economic Opportunity Running "Virtual Fundraiser"

Maui Economic Opportunity, the community service organization that has helped, supported and - in more than one case saved lives in Maui County for 45 years, is holding a "virtual Fundraiser" on eBay.

Sanday Baz, MEO Executive Director, issued the following plea:

"Please help us raise money for a permanent home for MEO’s transportation department. Support our capital campaign for the creation of a new facility for MEO’s transportation department. From now until 6pm on Saturday March 6, 2010 eBay is hosting a silent auction. Please go to http://donations.ebay.com/charity/charity.jsp?NP_ID=36615 to view and bid on items donated to support our new transportation facility.

"Over 50 items are available and include…
Lunches and dinners at Maui restaurants, even lunch with the Mayor!, gift certificates for Costco, cleaning, and electrical services, rounds of golf, helicopter tours, jewelry, art and many many more.

"Many thanks go to the generous donors of these items and thank you for your support in purchasing them!"

(Report Provided by Maui Economic Opportunity)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 7:10 a.m.

Furlough Reductions Inching Forward - Maybe

Showing Gov. Linda Lingle and educators that options are available, state lawmakers yesterday moved bills that would dedicate money from the state's hurricane relief fund and rainy-day fund to reduce teacher furloughs.

The negotiations on furloughs are part of the collective bargaining process, so lawmakers are unable to intervene. But the bills indicate that lawmakers are willing to provide state money to help finance a resolution.

Lingle, the state Board of Education, the state Department of Education and the Hawai'i State Teachers Association have the power to alter the two-year contract with teachers that contains 34 furlough days over two school years.

Yesterday, the state House and Senate voted to position the furlough bills and dozens of others for first crossover between the two chambers tomorrow, a significant marker in the 60-day session.

In the Senate, senators passed a bill that would take $86.1 million from the roughly $180 million in the hurricane relief fund to end furloughs. In the House, lawmakers approved a bill to provide $50 million from the rainy-day fund that Lingle wants to use to reduce furloughs in exchange for teachers giving up some of their planning days.

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-14th (Halawa, Moanalua, Kamehameha Heights), said senators wanted to move the hurricane relief bill quickly "so that there's no excuses why we can't solve the problem."

State Sen. Clayton Hee, D-23rd (Kane'ohe, Kahuku), said that while he supported using the hurricane relief money for furloughs, he believes the bill should also require a financial and management audit of the Department of Education.

Hee said the department lacks the "change agents" necessary to make progress. He also said the department and the school board have appeared to align with the teachers union, not the state, in labor talks.

"This is like giving candy to a diabetic," Hee said.

State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai'i Kai), described it as "extortion money" to bail out the teachers' union.

But state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Downtown), said furloughs have brought shame to the state and deprived students of classroom instruction time.

"We're creating a whole new generation of latchkey kids," he said. "Unacceptable."

MINIMUM CLASS DAYS

Lawmakers also pushed through bills to set a minimum number of classroom instruction days or hours at public schools, proposals that have raised concern among public-sector labor unions because of the potential influence on collective bargaining.

Teacher furloughs have left public-school students with the lowest number of classroom instruction days in the nation.

The House and Senate also agreed to advance a constitutional amendment that would give the governor the authority to appoint members of the school board, with advise and consent of the nominees by the Senate. School board members, who set statewide education policy, are now elected.

Lawmakers also kept alive bills to restructure the Department of Education into two main divisions —- academic and administrative —- and to raise the salary cap for the state schools superintendent to attract national interest in the post.

While teacher furloughs and structural changes to public education have been focal points, the larger context of the session has been the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit through June 2011.

The House, which will complete its draft of the state budget this month, moved several tax proposals to help the state generate new revenue and balance the anticipated spending cuts to state programs.

The House opted not to scoop hotel-room taxes that go to counties- — instead capping the amount at existing levels for five years — and would make up the difference by eliminating dozens of general-excise tax exemptions of business activities and imposing a 1 percent GET on the activities.

REVENUE ENHANCERS

The House would raise insurance-premium tax rates and rein in several tax credits —- including deferring deductions for high-technology investments — to save the state money.

"This is a period of time when the demand for services goes up, and we just need the money," said state Rep. Karl Rhoads, D-28th (Palama, Chinatown, Downtown).

But state Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawai'i Kai), described the tax and fee increases as "job killers."

Like last session, the House approved a $1 increase in the barrel tax on oil products to raise money for food security and renewable energy initiatives. This time, lawmakers would exempt aviation fuel to help local airlines and would also divert $10 million from the tax to the state's general fund to help with the deficit.

Lingle vetoed the barrel tax last year, citing concern about rising fuel costs for consumers, and lawmakers failed to override.

Lawmakers also moved a bill to increase a salary reduction for lawmakers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, judges and top state administrators from 5 percent to 8 percent, which would bring their pay cut closer to what many state workers received.

On a potentially controversial policy issue, the Senate approved a bill to allow "compassion centers" to dispense medical marijuana and to tax marijuana sales. The Senate also backed a bill to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, and would instead impose civil fines.

The Senate also moved a bill to ban the use of plastic bags at larger businesses to help protect the environment, but senators appeared open to amend the bill to exempt counties, such as Maui, that already have tougher prohibitions.

FIREWORKS, FLAGS

The Senate passed bills to increase permit fees on fireworks, with the revenue dedicated to county law enforcement, and to allow state inspections of shipping containers to search for explosives. The House, however, delayed action on an illegal fireworks task force for further review.

Several lawmakers said public complaints about excessive fireworks displays on New Year's Eve and other holidays will likely not subside until the state considers a statewide ban.

Wary of public perception, the House amended a campaign finance bill to preserve a ban on political donations by state and county contractors. The bill would have relaxed the ban for contractors who have smaller government contracts.

State Rep. Barbara Marumoto, R-19th (Kaimuki, Wai'alae, Kahala), said there should be "no return to pay-to-play in any form."

The House, responding to pleas from military veterans, passed a bill that would allow residents of planned communities to erect flagpoles to display the American and state flags.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Fasi Memorial Set for This Morning in Honolulu

A memorial service for former Mayor Frank Fasi is scheduled for today in the Honolulu Hale courtyard.

Following a private service for family and invited guests from 10 to 11 a.m., which will be shown on television monitors set up outside City Hall, the public will be allowed inside Honolulu Hale, where people may pay their respects until 6 p.m.

Enter through the main doors on South King Street.

The longtime Honolulu mayor died Feb. 3 at age 89.

He will be buried tomorrow at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Services are private.

Burial will be preceded by an 11 a.m. motorcade from Nu'uanu Memorial Park & Mortuary onto South King Street to allow Fasi's casket to pass by Honolulu Hale and the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building.

The motorcade will then proceed mauka on Alapa'i Street, 'ewa on Beretania Street, mauka on Queen Emma Street and head directly to Punchbowl.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 3, 2010 6:40 a.m.

Lahaiana Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance Meeting Set for Next Week

LAHAINA, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management announced today that an informational meeting on the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance will be held at the Lahaina Civic Center on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.

Businesses, including restaurants and wholesale bag distributors who will be affected by the ordinance, which will take effect on January 11, 2011, are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be open to comments from attendees.

For more information call the County’s Recycle Maui County hotline at (808) 270-7880, or visit www.mauicounty.gov/recycle

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 3:20 p.m.

Pro Bowl 'Officially' Headed Back to Islands

HONOLULU—The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, and the National Football League (NFL) have announced that the next Pro Bowl is confirmed for January 30, 2011, the Sunday prior to Super Bowl XLV. The game will be televised live on FOX with kickoff at 2 p.m. HST at Aloha Stadium.

“The Pro Bowl has been a part of our community for more than 30 years and we look forward to welcoming the game back to Hawai‘i in 2011,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “We know how much the Pro Bowl means to our residents, the players and to the thousands of fans from the mainland who enjoy visiting our state for the game. The Pro Bowl is a great investment for our state with both economic and community benefits.”

HTA will invest $4 million per game for 2011 and 2012. In 2009, the Pro Bowl accounted for $28.6 million in visitor spending, generated $2.9 million in state taxes and attracted 18,000 visitors to Hawai‘i for the game.

“Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl generated more excitement and interest in the event and also kicked off Super Bowl week in an innovative new way,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “We are pleased to return to the State of Hawai‘i, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years.”

In 2009, HTA’s sports marketing program accounted for approximately 73,500 visitors, $106 million in visitor spending, and $11.3 million in state taxes.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority was created in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawai‘i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with our economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information on the HTA, please visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 2 p.m.

Posters Featuring Little Fire Ants Adorn Maui Bus Interiors

WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today that the Little Fire Ant Working Group, which she helped to convene last fall following the discovery of the stinging ants on Maui, is working together with the County's Department of Transportation to raise public awareness by displaying informational posters regarding the invasive species on all Maui Buses. The eye-catching and informational posters were designed by Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) PR & Education Specialist Lissa Fox.

According to Transportation Director Don Medeiros and Deputy Director Wayne Boteilho, nearly 200,000 people ride the Maui Bus each month, with over 6,500 daily boardings.

“The goal is to spread this information faster than the ants spread themselves,” said Mayor Tavares. “This invasive species is a significant threat, and it’s important that we stay focused on early detection. A little awareness goes a long way, and by educating and alerting people we have a chance of not just keeping this situation under control, but eradicating the ants from our island.”

According to Fox, the bus posters are part of a bigger outreach program that is in development, including a video, public service announcements, trainings for targeted public groups, website, education in the classrooms, etc.

“If we are to prevent the establishment of the Little Fire Ant on Maui, we absolutely need the help of people looking in their backyards, at their workplaces, schools, everywhere,” said Fox. “In other campaigns to detect these ants, up to 90-percent of the infestations were reported by members of the public. We’re fortunate to have this collaboration between the County, MISC and Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). By combining our efforts we stand a chance of stopping the Little Fire Ant before it gets out of control.”

Mayor Tavares initially convened the working group after the State Department of Agriculture announced the detection of a colony contained to one-half acre of land in Waihee in early October 2009. The group is comprised of representatives from the Office of the Mayor, Maui Invasive Species Committee, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tri-Isle RC&D and the USGS-Pacific Basin Information Node.

Although only 1/16th of an inch in length and slow-moving, the stinging Little Fire Ant has the potential to cause damaging effects if left uncontrolled. Because they form massive super-colonies and don’t hang on well, brushing up against an infested plant or shaking the branches of a tree can bring an unpleasant surprise.

“HDOA is successfully controlling the only known infestation on Maui, but resource professionals believe the Little Fire Ant exists elsewhere on our island, silently growing and expanding undetected,” Fox said. “If populations of the Little Fire Ant go undetected, the lifestyle we enjoy in Hawaii will change. Stinging ants raining down on us is not something we want to learn to live with. Agriculture, tourism and the environment will all be affected.”

For more information and to view the Little Fire Ant poster, visit the County’s website at www.mauicounty.gov (under the “Mayor” tab, select “Environmental Program” then “Invasive Species”) or call Environmental Coordinator Kuhea Paracuelles at the Office of the Mayor at (808) 270-8299.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 9:05 a.m.

Bankruptcies Continue to Soar in Islands

The number of local consumers and businesses filing for bankruptcy protection soared by 29 percent in February, reflecting the continued weakness in Hawai'i's economy.

Bankruptcy filings rose to 291 from 226 last February, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The number of cases is the second highest monthly total during the past 12 months, behind December's 321 filings.

"The volume keeps going up, and I see no signs of it decreasing," said bankruptcy attorney David Farmer.

Filings on O'ahu were up 22 percent to 171, while Big Island bankruptcies increased 77 percent to 48. Maui filings were up 36.3 percent.

The one bright spot: Kaua'i, where bankruptcies dropped by 20 percent.

Farmer, also a court-appointed trustee for bankruptcy cases, said an increasing amount of the filings involve homeowners, whose equity has diminished.

"This is an indication of how tight money is," Farmer said.

One notable business bankruptcy during the month involved the owner of a Big Island saw mill.

Haina Properties LLC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy on Sunday, listing debts of $1 million to $10 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million.

Bob Marr, a former logger, bought the 49-acre mill property in October 2007 for $3.3 million. Lenders filed a foreclosure suit against Marr in June.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 8:25 a.m.

HMSA Seeking Another Rate Hike

The Hawaii Medical Service Association plans to raise premiums by an average of 7.8 percent for roughly 11,000 small businesses that buy health insurance for their employees.

The rates, if approved by the state Insurance Division, would go into effect in July. They come as Hawai'i's largest health insurer reports continued financial losses.

"We don't like it, but it's one of the most important things for employees," said Richard Botti, head of the Hawaii Industry Food Association and Legislative Information Services of Hawaii, which represent about 1,100 small businesses.

HMSA has recorded losses during the past four years as benefit use by members and higher payments to hospitals and doctors sapped its finances. The health plan said it realized the state's small business owners are still facing difficult times.

"But the reality is our members' health care costs are continuing to outpace revenue and we must adjust rates to cover costs," said Steve Van Ribbink, HMSA executive vice president.

The proposed 7.8 percent average increase would affect about 120,000 workers employed by small businesses and enrolled in HMSA's Preferred Provider Plan that includes drug, dental and vision.

HMSA proposed even larger increases for other plans offered to small businesses.

This includes an average 15.1 percent rise for its health maintenance organization plan known as Health Plan Hawaii Plus.

Another average 10.5 percent increase is being proposed for the CompMed plan, a program that features a higher deductible and lower benefits for workers.

HMSA said without the increases it would have a shortfall of $64.4 million this year. The state Insurance Division has 60 days to review the request and either grant, or approve a modified rate.

Last year, the rate request for the same small business employer group was modified slightly by the Insurance Division, though still amounted to a double digit increase.

The July 2009 rate increase was higher than the roughly 5 percent average increase nationally last year in family premiums, as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

An Advertiser comparison of HMSA preferred provider rate increases with data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows HMSA's premiums have surged more than average rates nationally in the past five years.

But over the past decade, HMSA has increased rates at a slower rate.

MORE CHANGES SET

Still, Van Ribbink said the skyrocketing health insurance costs are of great concern to HMSA, which does not see the trend as being sustainable. He said if costs continue to increase at the same pace it will diminish access to quality health care.

As such, HMSA said it will begin changing how it pays doctors, hospitals and other health care providers this year from reimbursements for office visits and other services to a program that looks at health outcomes and efficiency.

Van Ribbink said HMSA doesn't want to interfere with the physician-patient relationship, but is trying to encourage ways to improve patient health while bringing down costs.

"Whether there is healthcare reform or not, this actually needs to be done," said Van Ribbink, who also serves as HMSA's chief financial officer.

That may help in the future, but for now small businesses are facing an increase in health insurance premiums along with other higher costs, notably the at least six-fold increase in average unemployment insurance that's on tap for this year.

Some small businesses split some of the health insurance premium costs with workers, while others pay all the premiums for employees.

"It's just tough doing business right now," said Botti.

"We're all going through hell."

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 7:05 a.m.

Kalaupapa Patient Facing Crystal Meth Trafficking Charges

Norbert K. Palea, 68, the youngest Hansen's disease patient still living at Kalaupapa, is facing federal drug charges after allegedly trying to ship crystal methamphetamine to the remote Moloka'i peninsula while on state-sponsored visits to O'ahu.

Palea used state vehicles and drivers to transport boxes containing "ice" to Honolulu International Airport and even required the help of a state worker to sign documents for one of the shipments, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit filed yesterday in Honolulu District Court.

He is in federal custody, charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute the drug. A detention hearing on his eligibility for bail is scheduled for March 15, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Muehleck.

Palea was recently spotlighted on a segment of Hawai'i Public Television's "Long Story Short" program, hosted by Leslie Wilcox. He also was prominently featured in news coverage of the group of Kalaupapa residents who traveled to Rome in October to attend canonization ceremonies for Father Damien de Veuster, the Belgian-born Catholic priest who contracted Hansen's disease and died at Kalaupapa in 1889 while ministering to patients there.

According to the affidavit by DEA Special Agent Patrick Wong, when Palea was found in possession of crystal meth at Honolulu International Airport in November, he denied wrongdoing and said the state Department of Health, which administers the Hansen's disease settlement, "was to blame for a lack of investigative activity at (Kalaupapa) following numerous thefts."

Palea also invited both Wong and Maui police to "investigate the drug addicts there."

Spokeswoman Janice Okubo, of the Health Department, would not comment yesterday on the criminal case.

She said her agency doesn't "think there are drug problems (at Kalaupapa), but we have asked the police to help us, and there is an investigation going on now."

The affidavit said the DEA probe began with a tip from retired HPD officer Melvin Nakapaahu, now working as an investigator in the U.S. attorney general's office, that Palea was transporting drugs to Kalaupapa and would be flying to Honolulu on Nov. 16 and returning to Moloka'i the next day.

Agents stopped him at the Honolulu airport Nov. 17 and found nine plastic bags containing 4.6 grams of suspected methamphetamine in a box he was planning to take to Moloka'i, according to Wong.

Palea told the agents he had been given the box to deliver to another individual at Kalaupapa. He said he was wrongly under suspicion because "he had dealt drugs before" and "people naturally blame him for bad things that happen" at Kalaupapa, according to the affidavit.

Palea, who was involved in a 1992 drug case, was not arrested at that time, but was put under surveillance when he returned to Honolulu on Feb. 25.

A state government sedan picked him up at the airport and drove Palea to a Kaimuki bank, where he was seen "counting a large sum of cash" at the teller's window, Wong said. He was then followed to a Longs Drugs store and from there took a bus to Leahi Hospital near Diamond Head, where Hansen's disease patients receive treatment.

The following day, lab tests confirmed that the substance seized from Palea in November was indeed methamphetamine, the affidavit said.

On Feb. 26, Palea arrived at the Honolulu airport in a state car and paid $24 to ship a box to Moloka'i, according to Wong.

Palea paid the shipping bill himself, but his driver had to sign the paperwork because of the effects of Hansen's disease on Palea's hands, the affidavit said.

When agents searched the box, they found two plastic bags containing 18 grams of methamphetamine, the report said.

Wong said the quantity of drugs "is not consistent for personal use but rather is more consistent with distribution."

According to accounts of Palea's life, he was first sent to Kalaupapa when he was 5 years old because a doctor misdiagnosed a mosquito bite on his ear as Hansen's disease. He was sent home but later developed the disease and returned to Kalaupapa.

Reach Jim Dooley at jdooley@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 2, 2010 6:45 a.m.

Strong Winds Continue Critical Fire Threat

1. EVENTS: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has EXTENDED the Red Flag Warning for LEEWARD portions of all islands, NOW 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: Strong and gusty trade winds and a dry and stable atmosphere will persist into Tuesday, creating critical Fire Weather conditions.

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 - March 1, 2010 6:10 p.m.

Minnesota Visitor Dies in Downhill Bike Crash on Haleakala Tour

A Minnesota woman who lost control of her bicycle during a downhill bicycle tour on Maui died on Wednesday, the Maui News reported.

Karen Narveson, 64, of Mankato suffered head injuries after she crashed into an embankment on the north shoulder of Baldwin Avenue below the Maui Veterans Cemetery, police said.

The accident happened at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday. She died the next day at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Police said the woman was wearing a helmet.

The Free Press in Mankato reported that Narveson was vacationing on Maui with her husband, Al, and several other couples.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 5:40 p.m.

Obama Christmas Vacation Cost Helicopter Companies $200,000

A Minnesota woman who lost control of her bicycle during a downhill bicycle tour on Maui died on Wednesday, the Maui News reported.

Karen Narveson, 64, of Mankato suffered head injuries after she crashed into an embankment on the north shoulder of Baldwin Avenue below the Maui Veterans Cemetery, police said.

The accident happened at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday. She died the next day at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Police said the woman was wearing a helmet.

The Free Press in Mankato reported that Narveson was vacationing on Maui with her husband, Al, and several other couples.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 5:40 p.m.

Obama Christmas Vacation Cost Helicopter Companies $200,000

The owners or operators of about 20 sight-seeing aviation companies and flight schools estimated today that they lost about $200,000 in revenue when their operations were substantially restricted or shut down altogether during President Obama's Christmas vacation here.

Representatives of the affected companies are asking federal officials to reimburse them for the losses they suffered during the Obama stay from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.

In addition, members of the newly formed Oahu Aviation Initiative hope to enter talks with the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration to make flight restrictions much less severe the next time Obama visits Oahu while protecting his health and safety at the same time.

Company owners said they were not informed of the flight restrictions until Dec. 19 and many of them had no option but to shut down entirely during the president's visit.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 3:30 p.m.

Abercrombie Officially Enters Race for Governor

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie officially entered the governor's race this morning.

On his first day after leaving Congress, Abercrombie filed nomination papers with the state Office of Elections in Pearl City.

Abercrombie will open his campaign headquarters in Ward Warehouse on Saturday. The originally scheduled opening was postponed because of the tsunami warning.

"I am more energized, more determined and more committed than ever," Abercrombie said in a statement.

"In my 19 years in the Congress, I put my entire focus on representing the people of Hawaii. Now, I am putting everything into becoming the people's governor."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 2:20 p.m.

High Surf Warning Continues Through Tomorrow Morning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF WARNING for NORTH and WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and NORTH FACING SHORES of MAUI in effect until 6:00 A.M.TUESDAY.

A high surf warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline, producing very dangerous swimming conditions and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: A large swell from the northwest produced by a powerful storm several days ago will produce large waves along affected shorelines.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui are expected to rise to 15 to 25 feet today.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai is expected to rise to 12 to 20 feet today.

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 3:18 p.m. and 4:36 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.4 feet is expected between 3:24 a.m. and 4:42 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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 - March 1, 2010 12:20 p.m.

UH-BYU Men's Volleyball Match Reset for 6 p.m. Tonight

Tonight's men's volleyball match between Hawaii and Brigham Young will start at 6 p.m., a half hour later than previously announced.

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest was originally scheduled for Saturday in Wailuku, Maui, but was postponed due to the tsunami scare. Saturday night, the school announced that it would be played at 5:30 p.m. tonight.

The Warriors defeated the Cougars in five sets Friday night, UH's first win over the Cougars since 2006.

All seats for tonight's match will be general admission. Ticket prices are $3 for students, $7 for seniors and $8 for adults.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 11:30 a.m.

Lana'i Automated Refuse Pickup to Resume Thursday

LANAI CITY, Lanai, Hawaii—The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management Solid Waste Division announced today that residential curbside refuse collection will resume on the island of Lanai beginning Thursday, March 4, 2010, following the completion of repairs to Lanai’s automated refuse truck.

Customers are advised that beginning the week of March 8th, Monday pickups will be made on Wednesdays. In order to restart refuse service as soon as possible, the following schedule will be in effect:

Thursday, March 4 – Pick-up for customers who normally receive refuse service on Monday.
Friday, March 5 – Pick-up for customers who normally receive refuse service on Tuesday.
Monday, March 8 – No refuse will be collected.
Tuesday, March 9 – Regularly scheduled refuse pick-up for Tuesday customers.
Wednesday, March 10 –Customers who normally receive refuse service on Mondays will now receive service on Wednesdays.

All Lanai refuse customers will receive credit for missed refuse collection service on their next bill, which is scheduled to be mailed in June of 2010.

The truck is scheduled to return to Lanai from Maui on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. While on Maui, Valley Isle Commercial completed extensive servicing on brakes, hydraulics, and computer and electrical systems.

“We appreciate the patience Lanai residents showed while inconvenienced by the disruption of service,” said Cheryl Okuma, Department of Environmental Management Director. “We would also like to thank the many volunteers who assisted those in need, especially the disabled and elderly, by organizing alternative refuse services within the community.”

For more information, please contact Executive Assistant and Lanai Liaison Darlene Endrina at the Office of the Mayor at (808) 559-0471.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 8:45 a.m.

Strong Winds to Remain Above Advisory Levels Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for MAUI COUNTY in effect until 6:00 P.M. this evening.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Northeast winds of 25 to 30 mph with higher gusts can be 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 - March 1, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Monthly Emergency Siren Test Scheduled for Today

As a reminder, today - being the first of the month - the regularly scheduled testing of the County's emergency sirens is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. After the eight blasts in advance of Saturday's tsunami, residents and visitors may be startled at the sound. However, as the radio announcements says, "...this is only a test..."

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NEWS FLASH - March 1, 2010 6:55 a.m.

HMSA, Kaiser Own Hawai'i Insurance Market

Hawai'i is among the least competitive states for health insurance, with the top two providers accounting for 98 percent of the private coverage, according to a new report from the American Medical Association.

The study, "Competition in Health Insurance," looked at commercial coverage in 42 states and the District of Columbia to determine the level of competition in each market.

It determined what everyone living in Hawai'i already knows: The Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente dominate the market. But what was interesting was that no other state studied had as high a concentration.

The report said HMSA has 77 percent of the market and Kaiser 21 percent. It defined the market as fully insured enrollments in preferred provider programs and health maintenance organizations. It did not include in its computations people who receive their health care coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The market share number cited for HMSA was higher than the Hawai'i Insurance Division's estimate of about 67 percent.

Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt said HMSA and Kaiser combined have about 88 percent of the market, with UHA, the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association and Summerlin Life and Health combining for about 12 percent of the market.

Schmidt said he has tried to foster more competition in the state for health insurers, including helping Summerlin come into the market and lobbying for rate regulation. Hawaii Medical Assurance Association recently announced it will purchase Summerlin's health plan membership in Hawai'i.

"I have tried different ways to provide choice and competition for Hawai'i's consumers because generally speaking that's a good thing," Schmidt said.

"Markets that are competitive and provide a number of choices have a lot less problems than the concentrated markets."

Insurers must present their proposed rate adjustments to the state Insurance Division before they can take effect. Schmidt said he believes Hawai'i has less of a problem with unreasonable rates than states without the regulation.

But he still receives complaints from doctors about payments they receive from HMSA and that doctors wanting access to the 67 percent of the market the insurer represents have little choice but to go with HMSA, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

"The doctors can't join together to negotiate with HMSA because of antitrust law," Schmidt said.

"I believe HMSA would ... argue that over the past couple of years they have been sensitive to the doctors and hospital complaints about reimbursements and have increased those."

The increased payments are one reason HMSA has had only one profitable quarter since the end of 2006. Increased medical care usage and lower financial gains from invested reserves also are responsible for the negative returns.

Kaiser also has had mixed financial results over the same period.

The American Medical Association said the results of its study show that market concentration is gaining nationally, with more states being counted among those where the two largest insurers have 70 percent of the market or more.

The group said this had not benefited the nation.

The study found that most markets it reviewed fit into the "highly concentrated" category, where insurers had the potential to raise premiums higher than in competitive markets while potentially holding payments to doctors and other health care providers to levels below those found in markets where there is lots of competition.

"These markets are ripe for the exercise of health insurer market power, which is detrimental to society," said the study.

"The near total collapse of competitive and dynamic health insurance markets has not helped patients," AMA President J. James Rohack said in a statement issued to the media.

"As demonstrated by proposed rate hikes in California and other states, health insurers have not shown greater efficiency and lower health care costs. Instead patient premiums, deductibles and co-payments have soared without an increase in benefits in these increasingly consolidated markets."

The association called for greater antitrust reviews for mergers among insurers.

In Hawai'i, the state just concluded the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association's proposed purchase of Summerlin's health plan membership is structured in such a way that it does not have authority to approve or reject the sale. It also determined the transaction does not fall within federal antitrust review regulations.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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

Strong Winds, Dry Weather Prompt Red Flag Fire Warning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Red Flag Warning for Maui and Molokai, in effect until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday.

2. EFFECTS: 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.

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 - February 28, 2010 7:50 p.m.

Strong Winds to Continue Through Tomorrow

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for MAUI COUNTY in effect until 6:00 P.M. MONDAY.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Winds are increasing across the State as an area of high pressure builds in to our north.

Northeast winds of 25 to 30 mph with higher gusts can be 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 - February 28, 2010 2:40 p.m.

Some Beaches Still Closed After Tsunami Prep Steps Misfired

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii - The tsunami warning event yesterday caused sewage spills to the ocean in three locations:

Kahului (the ocean fronting Hale Nanea and some of the drainage ditches near the 24 Hour Fitness gym), Paukukalo and Napili.

Warning signs are posted in the affected areas and the County of Maui's Department of Environmental Management is working with the Department of Health to determine when the ocean in these areas will be safe to enter.

Due to runoff caused by today's heavy rains - which would render test results inconclusive - previously scheduled testing could not be conducted today. Testing is planned for tomorrow, Monday.

The public should continue to look for warning signs in these areas before entering the ocean.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 28, 2010 6:50 a.m.

HECO Backs Down from PV Moratorium Push

Hawaiian Electric Co. is backing down from a proposal to freeze installations of photovoltaic systems on some islands until studies could be done on how their use is affecting the stability of electrical transmission grids.

The utility yesterday said it was asking the state Public Utilities Commission to rescind a request made earlier this month to stop the installations when homeowners and buildings are connected to its electrical grids on the Big Island, Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i.

It requested the moratorium pending studies that could review concerns the utility has about system reliability and stability and come up with technical and policy solutions if needed. The utility said it had seen some problems with grids tripping off-line that it believes were caused by increasing amounts of photovoltaic systems.

But HECO's proposal surprised photovoltaic system installers, some of whom said a suspension of work would drive them out of business. They said the request was unjustified at the current levels of photovoltaic systems on the islands and that they doubted HECO's claims about system instability, because no specifics had been given on the outages.

Yesterday the utility said it regreted the unnecessary and unintended alarm among PV companies.

"It was not meant as an immediate stop," said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.

"Instead it was a signal that we need to move promptly to address these major issues to avoid tough choices."

Ted Peck, state energy administrator, said he was encouraged by HECO's position change.

"They have recognized the sensitivity of the community to this issue," said Peck, explaining that the state has been trying to foster collaboration on renewable energy issues as it drives toward a goal of getting 40 percent of electrical power from sustainable resources and another 30 percent through a variety of conservation issues.

"The fact we are among the first in the nation to really contend with this issue is one more affirmation of the groundbreaking work we're doing in this state."

Others, while applauding HECO's changed position, harbored questions about the utility's motives for requesting the action in the first place. Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, noted that HECO signed an agreement with the state to help foster renewable energy use here.

"Now is the time for the utility to meet their end of the obligation," Mikulina said. "It's a new era for energy."

There, too, remains a divide between the utility and some of the installers, who see HECO as focusing on photovoltaic installations as a cause of problems, when that might not be the case.

"We've never been shown that PV installations are causing these outages," said Mark Duda, head of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

"I'm not saying that can't happen, but we've never been told or shown data that that had happened."

Duda also praised HECO, though, for changing its proposal. "It's nice that they've disavowed this plan."

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 8:30 p.m.

Tsunami Rushes Water - Does Not Deliver Destruction

Maui - and all of Hawai'i - survived a genuine scare today when a tsunami generated by a powerful and devastating earthquake and Chile raced across the Pacific Basin.

A quarter of the World's nations were on alert - but no land was more vulnerable than the Aloha State.

Here is how the tsunami wound up being - Mahalo Ke Akua - a "non-event" in the 50th State.

Mahalo for checking the Breaking News page at Maui TV News. Today we were "hit" nearly 70,000 times.

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 6:30 p.m.

UH Reopens Campus Systems After Tsunami Threat Passes

With the tsunami warning for Hawai'i cancelled today at 1:38 p.m., University of Hawai'i campuses statewide have resumed normal operations.

The public is advised to contact individual campuses and facilities for specific information about the status of special events and other activities. Contact information for individual campuses is available online at www.hawaii.edu/emergency.

(Report Provided by the University of Hawai'i System)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 6:05 p.m.

Sewage Spills Blamed on County - County Responds

“In the face of warnings that the tsunami could be significant we made the difficult decision of shutting down wastewater pump stations in low lying areas and water service to those in these same areas,” said Dave Taylor, Chief of the County’s wastewater division. “We realized that if large enough waves impacted our pump stations while running live with electrical power, the ocean salt water would cause short circuiting and permanent damage to the pump stations. These wastewater pump stations that serve thousands of customers would be seriously damaged and repairs could take up to several months or longer. During repairs we would have had to cope with raw sewage impacting our beaches and ocean and low lying neighborhoods would have no sewer service.

“By temporarily shutting down the pump stations for the duration of the expected tsunami warning, we expected to be able to drastically limit serious long term impacts to the environment and low lying areas.

"Because of the seriousness of the tsunami warning of an imminent tsunami, we weighed the difference between a temporary effect versus long term damage that and chose a temporary shut down rather than put our community through the dilemma of long term loss of sewer service.”

While power was down to the wastewater pump stations, sewage overflowed in several areas. Four pump stations in Wailuku/Kahului and one in Napili were involved.

The public is advised to avoid entering the waters in the following areas due to possible sewage contamination: North Shore from the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Waiehu Golf course; West Maui in the Napili area. There were no wastewater spills in South Maui. Signs are being posted at affected areas. The signs will be removed after testing reveals that water quality is normal.

************

A copy of the Department of Health's news release issued earlier this afternoon is provided below for reference:

Subject: Wastewater Spills Island of MAUI

CWB has been notified of wastewater spills on the island of Maui. As Maui County started up pump stations in low lying areas, after the tsunami all clear was given, problems occurred. Four pump stations in Wailuku/Kahului and one in Napili were involved. The facilities in Wailuku/Kahului are: Hawaiian Homes, Waiehu, Wailuku, and A&B pump stations. The Napili pump station is Napili #4.

Public is advised to avoid entering the waters at the following areas due to possible sewage contamination: North Shore from Kuau fronting Mama’s Fish House restaurant to the Waiehu Golf course; South shore from Wailea to Sugar Beach; West Maui from Puamana to Kapalua. Warning signs are being posted and water tests will be conducted.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 5:25 p.m.

Mayor Praises Public for Calm Cooperation During Tsunami Warning

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares issued the following statement in priase of the public - and county crews - during the tsunami warning that put the world on edge for several hours today:

“In these types of situations we must be prepared to protect the public,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “When the worse case scenario doesn’t occur – we can count ourselves lucky that we dodged another bullet. In this case when the state’s tsunami warning center forecast a dangerous surge due to the earthquake in Chile, we acted to do everything possible to protect the public’s safety and our community.

“If the worse had happened, we know that everything possible was being considered and being done to protect life and property. If one life would have been lost, that would be one life too many.

“I was able to view potential tsunami inundation areas in our county via a military Black Hawk helicopter today. Seeing Kahului Harbor, other parts of Maui, as well as Molokai and Lanai by air gave me a good scope of the situation and what was occurring.

“I want to thank our community for being prepared, listening, and respecting the advisories and directions provided by emergency management personnel. County, State and Federal agencies do their best to look out for everyone’s safety and the cooperation of the public is crucial in these times.”

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 3:25 p.m.

Coast Guard Survey Reports No Significant Damage

HONOLULU -- U.S. Coast Guard crews completed port and waterways overflight assessments throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and have found no significant damage as a result of the tsunami originating from the earthquake in Chile.

Coast Guard crews from Air Station Barbers Point conducted aerial assessments for potential persons in distress, port and waterway damage and pollution threats. Coast Guard boats and cutters, stationed out of Sand Island, also were underway during this threat to respond to any distress calls.

Capt. Barry Compagnoni, Captain of the Port, Honolulu, re-opened the Port of Honolulu to vessel traffic at about 2 p.m. Hundreds of vessels, including two cruise ships, remained off the south shore of Oahu during the port's closure.

"The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous cooperation from the recreational and commercial boating community throughout Hawaii," said Capt. David Swatland, the 14th Coast Guard District's chief of response. "Hundreds of vessel owners proactively took the necessary and judicious steps to ensure the safety and security of their crews, their vessels and Hawaii's maritime transportation system."

"Coast Guard search and rescue planners worked extremely well today with their local, state and federal partners to ensure the safety and security of Hawaii's maritime community," said Compagnoni. "While our thoughts and prayers are with those devastated by this tragic earthquake, I'm extremely proud of the men and women who worked so diligently today to be astute guardians of the maritime environment."

(Report Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 2:15 p.m.

County Issues 'All-Clear,' Updates Closures

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-- Following the "All Clear" issued for Maui County, the following advisories are in effect:

WASTEWATER— Flushing and sending water down drains can begin again at 3:00 p.m.
WATER— Water service will gradually be restored beginning at 3:00 p.m.
ELECTRIC POWER— The public is urged to continue conserving electricity until about 4:00 p.m. while the system gradually comes back online.
ROADS— As of 1:50 p.m. Police have reopened all roads.
AIRPORT— Airport officials expect flights to get back on schedule by approximately 2:00 p.m. following delays. The Airport access road has been reopened.
BUSES— All Maui Bus services will resume regular schedules.
STATE PARKS-- Closed until tomorrow: Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve; Makena State Park.
Waianapanapa State Park has been reopened.
ALL BEACH AREAS-- All ocean users are advised to avoid entering the water at the following areas due to possible sewage contamination: North Shore, from Kuau fronting Mama's Fish House Restaurant to the Waiehu Golf Course; South shore from Wailea to Sugar Beach; and West Maui from Puamana to Kapalua. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
WAIEHU GOLF COURSE-- Will remain closed today.
ALL HOLDING AREAS-- Have been closed: Lahaina Civic Center; Baldwin High School Gym; Hana High School Gym.
COUNTY LANDFILLS-- Will remain closed today on Maui, including Olowalu Convenience Center, Hana Landfill and Central Maui Landfill. Molokai and Lanai Landfills are open.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 1:55 p.m.

Tsunami Center Cancels Warning for Hawai'i

HONOLULU – The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has cancelled the TSUNAMI WARNING for the State of Hawaii effective 1:50 p.m. HST, Saturday, February 27. The WARNING was based on an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile that occurred at 8:46 p.m. HST, Friday, February 26, 2010. It is up to each county civil defense agency or emergency management agency to issue the “all clear” for their respective county.

Operations at Hilo International Airport are being restored now and the airport will open to the public shortly. The access road to Kahului Airport has also been reopened and passengers are free to leave the terminal.

The State also advises boaters and ocean recreation users to exercise caution as ocean conditions may still be affected by strong currents.

PTWC observed some increases in wave height with the highest reported height being at Kahului at 3.2 ft. Wave activity has calmed, prompting the cancellation of the TSUNAMI WARNING.

Governor Linda Lingle signed an emergency proclamation earlier today.

“We were extremely fortunate and thank goodness our State came through this without any reported incidents,” said Governor Lingle. “Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives and those injured in yesterday’s earthquake in Chile.”

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i - Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 12:07 p.m.

UH-BYU Maui Volleyball Game Canceled

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-- The UH-BYU Men's volleyball game scheduled for this evening has been canceled. No other information regarding the game is available at this time.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 12:05 p.m.

Roads Closed to Kahului Airport - But Airport Remains Open

Although there are no reports of airlines canceling flights in and out of Kahului Airport, airline travelers should be advised of the following:

- Roads leading into the Kahului Airport have been closed to traffic. These roads fall within the tsunami inundation zone.
- Arriving airline passengers who have a car parked in the parking lot on-site will be able to leave the Kahului Airport area.
- Arriving airline passengers requiring pickup or a car rental will shelter in place at the Airport.

This temporary situation is expected to continue during the 2-3 hour window of time that tsunami impact is expected.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 11:50 a.m.

First Noticable Changes Begin at Hilo Ahead of Tsunami

The first significant surges are reaching Hilo Bay. The first noticable activity occurred about 11:30 - or about 25 minutes after the initial prediction. We will continue to monitor and report as changes occur.

Kahului Harbor observers are also reporting a surge beginning there with depth changes of up to two feet, and water "bubbling" out of the harbor entrance.

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 10:50 a.m.

PTC Issues Updated Weather Statement

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
1029 AM HST SAT FEB 27 2010

NIIHAU-KAUAI WINDWARD-KAUAI LEEWARD-KAUAI MOUNTAINS- OAHU SOUTH SHORE-WAIANAE COAST-OAHU NORTH SHORE-OAHU KOOLAU- OLOMANA-CENTRAL OAHU-WAIANAE MOUNTAINS-MOLOKAI WINDWARD- MOLOKAI LEEWARD-LANAI MAKAI-LANAI MAUKA-KAHOOLAWE- MAUI WINDWARD WEST-MAUI LEEWARD WEST-MAUI CENTRAL VALLEY- WINDWARD HALEAKALA-LEEWARD HALEAKALA-HALEAKALA SUMMIT-KONA- SOUTH BIG ISLAND-BIG ISLAND NORTH AND EAST-KOHALA- BIG ISLAND INTERIOR-BIG ISLAND SUMMITS-
1029 AM HST SAT FEB 27 2010

..TSUNAMI WARNING IN EFFECT...

A STRONG EARTHQUAKE IN CHILE HAS CREATED A PACIFIC-WIDE TSUNAMI...AND A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII. ACTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION...AS THE FIRST WAVE IS ESTIMATED TO ARRIVE IN HAWAII AT 1105 AM HST THIS MORNING. UNUSUAL WAVE ACTION IS POSSIBLE FOR SEVERAL HOURS. EXACT TSUNAMI HEIGHTS CANNOT BE PREDICTED.

A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES...AND ARE NOT SURFABLE WAVES. ALL SHORES ARE AT RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE...
AND YOU SHOULD REMAIN WELL AWAY FROM THE COASTLINE UNTIL THE TSUNAMI THREAT SUBSIDES...AS EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEAR SHORE CURRENTS ARE POSSIBLE. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED BY A TSUNAMI ALSO POSES A SIGNIFICANT THREAT.

TSUNAMI WAVES ARE AMPLIFIED AS THEY ENTER HARBORS AND BAYS...AND SIGNIFICANT SURGES ARE POSSIBLE IN HARBORS SUCH AS HONOLULU...
NAWILILI...HALEIWA...KAHULUI...HILO...AND KAWAIHAE. BOATERS SHOULD HAVE COMPLETED THEIR ACTIONS TO PROTECT PROPERTY. ALL VESSELS AND GROUND CREWS SHOULD HAVE EVACUATED STATE HARBOR AREAS.

TSUNAMI EVACUATION MAPS CAN BE FOUND IN THE FRONT OF THE WHITE PAGES. FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF YOUR LOCAL CIVIL DEFENSE OFFICIALS AND STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR LOCAL MEDIA FOR FURTHER UPDATES. THIS STATEMENT WILL BE UPDATED AS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

(Report Provided by The Pacific Tsunami Center)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 10 a.m.

Civil Defense Updates Narrative on Tsunami Warning

1. EVENT: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at Ewa Beach has continued the TSUNAMI WARNING for the Hawaiian Islands.A tsunami warning means that a significant earthquake has occurred. Tsunami approach confirmed.

2. EFFECTS: An earthquake has occurred at 8:34 p.m. HST on February 26, 2010 near the coast of central Chile with an 8.8 moment measurement. Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami has been generated that could cause widespread damage. Estimated earliest arrival time is now 11:26 a.m. HST Saturday February 27, 2010. Wave height at Kahului Harbor is estimated to be 9-12 feet. Sirens will sound at 6:00 a.m. and will sound hourly thereafter. The last siren will sound thirty minutes prior to the estimated arrival time of 11:26 a.m.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: Persons in low-lying areas should begin emergency preparations. Please refer to the front yellow section of the telephone book for preparedness information and evacuation areas. Prepare your "Go Kit" if you need to evacuate to higher ground. Be prepared to evacuate when advised/ordered by Civil Defense.

A tsunami is a series of long ocean waves. Each individual wave crest can last 5 to 15 minutes or more and extensively flood coastal areas. The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive. Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami waves efficiently wrap around islands. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face. The trough of a tsunami wave may temporarily expose the seafloor but the area will quickly flood again. Extremely strong and unusual near shore currents can accompany a tsunami. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive power. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard.

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 - February 27, 2010 9:50 a.m.

Water Shut Off in Low Lying Areas

URGENT ADVISORY: WATER CLOSURES IN LOW-LYING AREAS

IN ANTICIPATION OF TSUNAMI INUNDATION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE WATER SYSTEM, WATER SERVICE IS BEING SHUT DOWN IN ALL LOW-LYING AREAS OF SPRECKLESVILLE, KUAU, PAIA, KAHULUI AIRPORT, WAILUKU, WAIHEE, WAIEHU, MAALAEA, PUUNENE, KIHEI, WAILEA, MAKENA, NAPILI, HANA AND MOLOKAI. THESE WATER CLOSURES HAVE ALREADY BEGUN AND ARE EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETE BY 10:00 A.M.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 9:40 a.m.

Police Close More Roads in Hana, Elsewhere in County

Road Closures in Hana all County Roadways leading to the shoreline,Lower Keanae Rd, Wailua Rd, Lower Nahiku Rd , Ulainu Rd and Haneoo Rd are Closed.

Hana Hwy 31 Closed between Lelekea all they way to Manawainui Bridge.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 9:30 a.m.

Coast Guard Details Tsunami Readiness Plan

HONOLULU -- U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews are making preparations throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands to provide post-tsunami support following the devastating earthquake in Chile Saturday.

The maritime community is reminded to listen and heed the warnings and advisories from civilian authorities.
Coast Guard cutter and aircraft crews are positioning themselves to be ready to conduct response and survey missions as soon as it is safe to do so.

Capt. Barry Compagnoni, the Captain of the Port, Honolulu, has closed all commercial ports in the Main Hawaiian Islands to incoming traffic; all seaworthy vessels are encouraged to evacuate if possible. All recreational boaters are asked to take immediate safety precautions and avoid the water.

The Coast Guard is focusing on maintaining the safety and security of the region's ports and waterways and is prepairing for any calls for assistance.

Coast Guard teams here are also providing for the safety of their crewmembers and families and are working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure the safety of Hawaii's citizens and to provide for the safety and security of Hawaii's ports and waterways.

An Incident Command Post has been established, and Coast Guard response teams are working closely with its partners in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Hawaii State Department of Transportation, Hawaii State Civil Defense and the Department of Defense.

For more information, please contact 808-535-3230.

(Report Provided by The U.S. Coast Guard)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 9:25 a.m.

Wastewater Plants Shut Down - Flushing Ban Urged

URGENT ADVISORY

THE PUBLIC IS URGED TO IMMEDIATELY AVOID FLUSHING TOILETS AND TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF WATER PUT DOWN THE DRAIN. THE PUBLIC IS ADVISED TO USE HAND SANITIZER PRODUCTS OR ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES FOR HANDWASHING PURPOSES.

IN ANTICIPATION OF TSUNAMI INUNDATION OF THE WASTEWATER SYSTEM, BEGINNING AT 8:30 A.M. THIS MORNING, WASTEWATER PUMPING STATIONS IN LOW-LYING AREAS IN ALL OF CENTRAL MAUI; ALL OF SOUTH MAUI EXCEPT MAUI MEADOWS; ALL OF WEST MAUI EXCEPT WAHIKULI, AND ALL OF KAUNAKAKAI ON MOLOKAI ARE BEING TEMPORARILY SHUT DOWN .

EVERYONE IN AFFECTED AREAS, REGARDLESS OF ELEVATION, MUST RESTRICT PUTTING WATER INTO THE SYSTEM.

THIS RESTRICTION MAY REMAIN IN PLACE FOR SEVERAL HOURS UNTIL FURTHER ASSESSMENTS ARE MADE.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 9:10 a.m.

County Updates Closures List Ahead of Expected Tsunami

The Maui County Office of Information has provided the following update of closures caused by the expected tsunami that should begin arriving in Hawai'i shortly after 11 a.m. today in Hilo. Some of the information has been reported in earlier bulletins, but here it is in one convenient release.

ROADS
As of 9:00 a.m. today, the following roads were reported closed:

In HANA: Waikoloa Road, Haneoo Roadm, Hana Bay Road, Honomanu Road, Lower Nahiku Road, Wailua Road, Ulaino Road, and Honokalani Road.

As of 10:00 a.m. today, the following roads are expected to be closed:
Honoapiilani Highway, from Puamana to Maalaea
North Kihei Road
South Kihei Road
Makena Road
Amala Road
Kahului Beach Road, from Eha Street to Kaahumanu Avenue
Waiehu Beach Road to Kahekili Highway

FACILITIES CLOSED
Maui Community College
Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve
Makena State Park
Waianapanapa State Park
All County of Maui Beach Parks
Waiehu Golf Course
All County Landfills, including Olowalu
Queen Kaahumanu Center
Maui Mall
All Maui Bus services
All Department of Education scheduled daytime events

Further updates will be issued as information becomes available.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 9 a.m.

Police Close Portions of Hana Highway

Road Closed Hana Hwy 360 at Honomanu Bay up to Wailua. Hana Hwy 31 Closed between Lelekea all they way to Manawainui Bridge.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 8:45 a.m.

Tsunami Center Updates Warning

TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 14
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
843 AM HST SAT FEB 27 2010

TO - CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT - TSUNAMI WARNING SUPPLEMENT

A TSUNAMI WARNING CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0834 PM HST 26 FEB 2010
COORDINATES - 36.1 SOUTH 72.6 WEST
LOCATION - NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL CHILE
MAGNITUDE - 8.8 MOMENTEVALUATION

A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG
COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION
SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.

A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE
CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD
COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE
INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS
CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST.
TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT
RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI
WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL
QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE
CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED
BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH
TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD.

THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS

1105 AM HST SAT 27 FEB 2010

MESSAGES WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.

(Report Provided by The Pacific Tsunami Center)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 8:05 a.m.

UH Closes Campuses Statewide in Advance of Expected Tsunami

HONOLULU - A tsunami warning has been issued for Hawai'i following an 8.8 magnitude earthquake near the coast of central Chile. All University of Hawai?i campuses have been closed until further notice.

Waves are expected to reach Hawai?i beginning about 11:05 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Multiple waves can occur; danger can continue for several hours.

Members of the university community are advised to stay off the roads, and more complete instructions are available in the phone book and on the State Civil Defense website. Residents are also advised to monitor news reports or the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website for updated information.

(Report Provided by The University of Hawai'i System)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 6:15 a.m.

Updated Bulletin Adds More Tsunami Info

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, has issued a TSUNAMI WARNING for the State of Hawaii effective 12:46 a.m. HST. This version of their bulletin includes additional information.

A TSUNAMI WARNING means that a destructive wave, or waves, may have been generated by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile at 8:34 p.m. HST, February 26, 2010.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center estimates the first wave arrival time in Hawaii will be at about 11:19 a.m. today, Saturday, February 27, at Hilo. Outdoor siren systems in each county will sound simultaneously at 6:00 a.m. HST, Saturday, February 27, to alert residents and visitors to evacuate coastal areas.On Maui the sirens sounded at 6:04 a.m.

Hilo International Airport will be closed at 6:00 a.m. HST, Saturday, February 27. Please contact your airline if you have a flight booked at Hilo International Saturday morning. All other state airports will remain open at this time and flight operations have not been affected.

All vessels and ground crews are being asked to evacuate state harbor areas at this time.

Residents will be advised by their respective county civil defense or emergency management agencies to evacuate coastal areas. Residents are urged to follow civil defense instructions.

Please minimize travel to keep roads clear for those in the low-lying areas who are asked to evacuate.

To determine whether or not you live or work in an evacuation zone, go to www.scd.hawaii.gov and enter your address in the Tsunami Evacuation Zone Mapping Tool, or check the Disaster Preparedness Guide in the front of your telephone directory.

Please tune in to your local radio and/or television stations for civil defense instructions and information.

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

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 6:05 a.m.

Maui Oceanfront Roads Will Close Ahead of Expected Tsunami

Effective at 10:00 a.m February 27,2010 the following road closures will occur. Lahaina/Kihei-Honoapiilani Hwy from Puamana to Maalaea, North Kihei Rd from Maalaea,South Kihei Rd (Traffic will be directed Mauka to Piilani Hwy to Mokulele Hwy and Makena Road.

Wailuku- Kahului Beach Road at Kaahumanu Ave and Eha St,Waiehu Beach Road to Kahekili Hwy and Amala Road.
No estimated time element on when the roads will reopen.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - February 27, 2010 3:10 a.m.

Tsunami Warning Issued As Wave Confirmed

1. EVENT:The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at Ewa Beach has issued a TSUNAMI WARNING for the Hawaiian Islands.

A tsunami warning means that a significant earthquake has occurred. Tsunami approach confirmed.

2. EFFECTS: An earthquake has occurred at 8:34 p.m. HST on February 26, 2010 near the coast of central Chile with an 8.8 moment measurement. Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami has been generated that could cause widespread damage. Estimated earliest arrival time is now 11:00 a.m. HST Saturday February 27, 2010. Wave height at Kahului Harbor is estimated to be 9-12 feet. Sirens will sound at 6:00 a.m.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: Persons in low-lying areas should begin emergency preparations. Please refer to the front yellow section of the telephone book for preparedness information and evacuation areas. Prepare your “Go Kit” if you need to evacuate to higher ground. Be prepared to evacuate when advised/ordered by Civil Defense

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 - February 26, 2010 9:10 p.m.

Chile Earthquake Prompts Tsunami Advisory for Hawai'i

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami advisory for the state following a large earthquake this evening near the coast of Chile.

The magnitude 8.5 earthquake was reported at 8:34 p.m. Hawaii time and was centered near the coast of Chile.

An advisory was issued for Hawaii and forecasters said there is a possibility that the advisory could be elevated to a watch or warning. If tsunami waves reach the Islands, their earliest arrival time is estimated at 11:19 tomorrow morning.

A tsunami warning is in effect for Chile and Peru. A tsunami watch was in effect for Ecuador.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 5:40 p.m.

DOT Beats Deadline, Obligates 100 Percent of ARRA Funds

HONOLULU — The state Department of Transportation (DOT), together with the four counties, is proud to have obligated a total of $125.7 million in federal stimulus funds for highway improvement projects. The money is being utilized for a total of 23 road projects statewide, all of which are currently underway. This announcement comes less than a year after the DOT submitted the list of 17 projects to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds.

“Getting 100 percent of the ARRA funds into Hawai‘i’s economy and starting 23 road projects statewide reflects an unprecedented amount of collaboration and teamwork between the state, federal agencies, and counties,” said Brennon Morioka, DOT Director. “We took this responsibility seriously, knowing that this money would save local jobs and create more positions for those in the construction field who are struggling to find work,” he added.

The state DOT is serving as the lead agency for transportation projects statewide that will receive federal stimulus funds. The projects were selected by the counties and state based on federal guidelines which included geographic distribution, projects in economically distressed areas and projects that were “shovel-ready”. All states were required to have the federal stimulus funds fully obligated by March 1, 2010.

“We not only were able to put out to bid all 17 projects that we originally submitted, but we are able to move forward on even more projects,” explained Morioka. “Because we are in a very favorable bidding climate and the bids came in much lower than we expected, so we were able to fund 4 additional projects using the stimulus funds.”

Hawai‘i’s list of projects was one of the most diverse in the nation, addressing necessary backlogs in much needed maintenance projects, but also building new infrastructure like brand new roads, road widening projects, and a new bike path, as well as replacing or retrofitting aging bridge structures. The project list, developed through close collaboration by the DOT and the four counties, not only represented a well-thought out investment strategy, it also provided the best opportunity to create jobs for the widest variety of construction trades ranging from masons and carpenters to iron workers, heavy equipment operators, electricians, and painters.

The state projects include:

Kaua‘i
• Pavement resurfacing and improvements to Ma‘alo Road and Kuhio Highway
• Short-term improvements to Kuhio Highway from Kuamo‘o Road to Temporary Bypass Road and South Leho Drive to Aleka Loop

O‘ahu
• Replacing the South Punalu‘u Bridge on Kamehameha Highway
• Seismic retrofit of Farrington Highway and Makakilo Separation structures over the H-1 Freeway
• Seismic retrofit of H-3 at the Mokapu Interchange
• Concrete Pavement Preservation Project of the H-1 Freeway in the Palailai and Kaimuki area

Hawai‘i
• Repairing or replacing parts of steel bridges along Hawai‘i Belt Road

Maui
• Resurfacing areas of Pi‘ilani Highway, Hana Highway and Kalae Highway
• Repairs to Kaahumanu Avenue in the area of Waiale Road Overpass

Moloka’i
• Resurfacing areas of Maunaloa Highway and Kalae Highway

The county projects include:

Hawai‘i County
• Construction of the four-lane, limited access Ane Keohokalaoloe Highway between Palani Road and Hina Lani Street

City and County of Honolulu
• Installing and upgrading traffic signals at various intersections
• Traffic congestion and safety improvements along Harding, 5th and 11th Avenues including turn lanes into the H-1 Freeway on-ramps
• Waipio Point Access Road improvements
• Traffic Management Center auxiliary power upgrades
• Kalaeloa Boulevard widening and reconstruction

Maui County
• Reconstruction and improvements of Market Street from Kahawai Street to Makuhau Road
• Resurfacing of Ohukai Road, Hukulii Place to Hoalike Street

Kaua‘i County
• Construction of a bike/pedestrian path from Lydgate Park to Kapa‘a (phase III)

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

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 5:10 p.m.

Employee Tax Increase Still Coming - But Much Smaller

HONOLULU — An enormous pending tax increase on Hawaii businesses is being reduced under a measure quickly moving toward becoming law.

The bill, which passed its final committee Friday, would reduce the average tax hike from $1,070 to $630 per employee this year.

Businesses currently pay an average of $90 per employee.

The larger tax increase was called for using a complicated formula designed to ensure that unemployment funds keep flowing to the jobless.

The state is spending about $30 million a month on unemployment benefits.

The proposal moderates the tax jump and borrows money from the federal government to keep unemployment funds solvent.

State officials want the bill to become law by March 12, before businesses get their tax bills.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 4:30 p.m.

No New Leads in Search for Missing Woman

Laura Vogel was reported missing by a friend on February 22, 2010, when her vehicle was found in the area of the Pauwela Lighthouse. Earlier searches of the area were met with negative results.

This morning a search was made of the Pauwela Lighthose area with the assistance of tracking dogs provided by Civil Defense. Again, the search was met with negative results and has been suspended pending any new developments. The investigation is still ongoing.

(Report Provided by ther Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 4 p.m.

High Surf Will Remain Overnight

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has EXTENDED the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI now in effect until 4:00 a.m. SATURDAY.

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 north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 8 to 12 feet tonight.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.9 feet is expected between 2:01 a.m. and 3:19 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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 - February 26, 2010 1:30 p.m.

Japan Tsunami Warning Downgraded After 6.9 Quake

TOKYO — A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit off Japan's southern coast early Saturday, shaking Okinawa and nearby islands, where a tsunami warning was issued, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

The quake occurred off the coast of the island of Okinawa at a depth of 6.2 miles at 5:31 a.m. Saturday, the agency said.

It predicted a tsunami up to 6 feet near the Okinawan coast, warning nearby residents to stay away from the coastline. The agency later downgraded the warning to an advisory after observing only a small swelling of tide.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.

Ryota Ueno, a town official in the Nishihara district of Okinawa, said, "I was fast asleep when the quake hit, and I jumped out of bed. It felt like the shaking lasted forever."

There was no major damage in his house, and he then rushed to the town office to meet up with his colleagues and stand by in case of reports of damage from residents, Ueno told a telephone interview with public broadcaster NHK.

So far, only one resident reported a ruptured water pipe, but no other damage reported, he said.

Masaaki Nakasone, another official at he Nanjo town, said his house shook violently but all furniture and other objects stayed intact.

"First there was a vertical shaking, then the house swayed sideways," Nakasone said.

Okinawa is about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. In 1995, a magnitude-7.2 quake in the western port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 9:10 a.m.

Visitor Spending in January Rises Over '09

HONOLULU – Total expenditures by visitors who came by air in January 2010 rose 3.5 percent ($33.5 million) from the same month last year to $983.3 million, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. This was the second straight month of positive growth in visitor spending since ATA and Aloha airlines
ceased operations in April 2008.

Contributing to the growth in visitor spending in January 2010 was a 2.9 percent increase in total visitor days. In total, there were 532,737 visitors in the islands up 2 percent from January 2009.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West rose 2.2 percent from January 2009. Arrivals from U.S. East (-2.7%) and Japan (-0.6%) were lower compared to last January while arrivals from Canada increased by 17.7 percent.

Read the entire report, including island-by-island highlights.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 7:40 a.m.

DHS Plans to Close Intake Centers, Fire 232 Workers

The jobs of 232 state workers would be eliminated under a cost-cutting proposal that advocates for the poor worry would reduce access to food stamps, cash assistance and medical benefits.

The Department of Human Services confirmed Thursday that its plan to close 31 welfare eligibility locations statewide would result in the loss of the positions.

Two large processing centers, one in Honolulu and another in Hilo, would be created to handle the work previously done in the local offices.

"It is true that applicants and ongoing clients will not be seen in person at the proposed two ... processing centers and they will be encouraged to make contact by phone, fax, mail or online," Human Services Director Lillian Koller wrote in a letter dated Tuesday to the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

"However, for residents who are unable or unwilling to make contact by one of these methods, they will still be able to apply in person at other remaining DHS offices on every island at many community agencies," she wrote.

But state Rep. John Mizuno argued that the job losses would diminish quality of services provided to more than 66,000 residents.

Some are too poor to afford phones, and others will need critical face-to-face help when they can't wait a month for their claims to be processed, said Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), chairman of the House Human Services Committee.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - February 26, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Star-Bulletin Publishers Buys Advertiser

Oahu Publications Inc. has agreed to purchase The Honolulu Advertiser, the state's dominant newspaper, and sell or merge the rival Honolulu Star-Bulletin in a deal that will likely consolidate media voices in Hawai'i.

The acquisition is to be completed over the next six to eight weeks and, if no buyer for the Star-Bulletin is found, could leave Hawai'i with a single daily newspaper.

The financial terms of the agreement between Oahu Publications and Gannett Co., which owns The Advertiser, were not disclosed.

Oahu Publications, controlled by Black Press of Victoria, British Columbia, acknowledged that the Star-Bulletin has lost money for the nine years since Black Press bought it.

Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher, based in McLean, Va., said The Advertiser is profitable.

"We are pleased to be able to purchase The Advertiser, a strong and excellent newspaper," said David Black, the chairman of Oahu Publishing, who has expanded his investments in newspapers on the Mainland and Canada even as the newspaper industry is shrinking.

"We will endeavor to continue the tradition of good Hawaiian newspaper stewardship as exemplified in modern times by (former Advertiser publisher Thurston) Twigg-Smith and Gannett."

Honolulu is among the nation's last major cities with two daily newspapers, as readers increasingly turn to the Internet for information. In the past year, daily newspapers in Denver, Seattle and Tucson have closed, and the newspaper industry continues to struggle to find a financial model that will support original news reporting during the transition from print to online.

The Advertiser, with a weekday circulation of about 130,000 and a Sunday circulation of about 139,000, has been on firmer financial footing than the Star-Bulletin but has significantly reduced staff through layoffs and buyouts, and ordered staff pay cuts during the recession. Gannett has also shrunk the size of its broadsheet newspaper to save on newsprint costs.

The Star-Bulletin has also reduced staff through layoffs, and has frozen wages and converted to a tabloid format to help get through the economic downturn.

The result is that both newspapers have fewer staff and fewer resources at a time when consumer demand for news — including real-time reporting and updates online — has increased.

The Star-Bulletin, founded in 1882, and The Advertiser, founded in 1856, have expanded online operations to compete in the evolving digital age, while relying on print for the advertising and circulation revenue to keep their businesses afloat.

REGULATORY REVIEW

The terms of the sale are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure there are no antitrust issues from the potential consolidation of two competing newspapers. The state attorney general's office has also been notified about the terms.

According to Oahu Publications, the Justice Department will determine by early April if there is a buyer for the Star-Bulletin. If there is a buyer, many of the existing Star-Bulletin employees would likely work for the new owner.

If there is no buyer, the operations of the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser will be consolidated into a single daily newspaper. Advertiser employees would be offered jobs by what Oahu Publications described as an "arms-length" management services company on contract to Oahu Publications.

Oahu Publications would then choose from Star-Bulletin and Advertiser employees to staff a combined newspaper, which would lead to layoffs. Gannett told Advertiser employees yesterday that union contracts would end with the sale, while it is unclear how the deal would affect union contracts at the Star-Bulletin.

Dennis Francis, the president and publisher of the Star-Bulletin, will be the president of Oahu Publications and the publisher of the combined newspaper.

Oahu Publications will continue to have MidWeek, the free weekly distributed on O'ahu, along with military papers and a commercial printing business. In addition to The Advertiser, Oahu Publications would also acquire Gannett's non-daily publications and its printing plant in Kapolei.

Gannett will retain the historic Advertiser building on Kapi'olani Boulevard, a potentially valuable commercial property Gannett has sought to sell.

Wayne Cahill, spokesman for the Hawai'i Newspaper and Printing Trades Council and the administrative officer of the Hawai'i Newspaper Guild, said the union objective is to have a collective bargaining agreement if only a single newspaper remains.

Cahill believes Black may have had his eye on The Advertiser for years. Gannett previously owned the Star-Bulletin, then an afternoon newspaper, but sold it to Liberty Publishing in 1993 to take over the morning Advertiser. Liberty Publishing reached a deal with Gannett to close the Star-Bulletin in exchange for a payout, but after legal challenges and community opposition, sold the Star-Bulletin to Black in 2001.

Cahill said the Canadian publisher told him in 2000 "that he would take over The Advertiser. I think that's probably been his goal."

'DEVASTATING NEWS'

Attorney General Mark Bennett said he doubts antitrust issues will unravel the deal given the economic conditions facing the newspapers and the broad range of local media that accept advertising.

Federal antitrust law is intended to promote competition and discourage predatory business practices and monopoly power over markets.

"It would be difficult to see that antitrust issues would prevent the transaction," Bennett said.

But the loss of a newspaper would likely diminish the amount of original reporting, and would follow consolidation in the local television news market, where KGMB and KHNL, the local CBS and NBC affiliates, merged newsroom operations with K5 into Hawai'i News Now last year.

"This is devastating news," said Richard Port, a Democratic activist who helped organize Save Our Star-Bulletin, a group that fought to prevent the Star-Bulletin from closing a decade ago. "My feeling is the same as before, we do not want a monopoly in Hawai'i."

Gerald Kato, a University of Hawai'i-Manoa journalism professor, said Honolulu has benefited from having competing daily newspapers.

"The possibility that there will be only one newspaper is sad, to say the least," he said.

Kato said he believes it will be difficult to find a buyer for the Star-Bulletin given the recession and the precarious financial state of the newspaper industry.

"I would think that it's going to be difficult — to put it mildly — finding a buyer," he said.

STAFFS STUNNED

Although political and business leaders occasionally have a combative relationship with newspaper reporters and editors, many expressed sadness yesterday about the potential loss.

"The press is a vital part of our community and Honolulu has long been well served by two major dailies and alternative voices. The economy, however, has not been kind to the newspaper business. Many papers all across the country have had to close their doors. It's a sign of the times and it shows no one is immune," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in a statement from Washington, D.C., where he is meeting with federal officials on transit and other issues.

"We hope for the best for all of those involved for whatever the end result of this purchase agreement may be."

The announcement of the deal, made simultaneously in the newsrooms of both papers at 4 p.m., came as a surprise to many reporters and editors whose job it is to get such scoops in advance.

At the Star-Bulletin on Restaurant Row, one reporter described the moments before the announcement as another "near-death experience" at a newspaper that has fought against odds to stay alive.

While some were optimistic a buyer will be found for the tabloid, others expressed fear. "I think the intent is to close the Star-Bulletin," said reporter Robert Shikina, adding that he has not given up hope.

At The Advertiser, stunned employees peppered Evan Ray, Gannett's senior vice president for finance and operations, with broad questions about whether the newspaper's brand would survive and practical worries about healthcare benefits and pension plans.

Rumors of the sale to Black had reached some top editors by noon, but the newspaper's operations committee did not receive official word until a 3 p.m. meeting. Ray himself said he only learned about the deal on Tuesday.

Both newspapers will continue to publish — and compete — during the transition.

Mark Platte, The Advertiser's editor, said he is proud of the newspaper's staff and believes the paper has established itself as the state's dominant news organization.

"It's taken a lot of hard work. And I think this is exactly why David Black wanted to purchase us," he said.

Lee Webber, The Advertiser's publisher, said the sale is a unique opportunity for Black and sets up the newspaper for a much stronger position in the community.

"They're going to do the right thing by this state, and by the readers, and they're going to want to run a profitable organization ... and I believe they'll do that. I believe they'll do it well."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - February 25, 2010 4 p.m.

Police Continue Search for Missing Woman

Laura Vogel was reported missing by a friend on February 22, 2010, when her vehicle was found in the area of the Pauwela Lighthouse near Ho'okipa Beach State Park.

She is described as a 43 year old Caucasian female, approximately 5’8” in height and weighing approximately 140 lbs, with blond hair and blue eyes.

A search was conducted by the Police Department, Fire Department and volunteers on February 23rd, 24th and 25th.

The search has consisted of both a ground and air search efforts which were met with negative results. Police plan to continue the search efforts with the use of tracking dogs, provided by the Civil Defense.

Maui Police ask that anyone with any information on the missing woman call the Police Department at 808-244-6400.

Laura Vogel has been missing since Monday, February 22nd.
Laura Vogel has been missing since Monday.

(Report Provided by ther Maui County Police Department)

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