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Aloha! it's ~

 
May 5 - 31, 2010

March 30 - April 16, 2010

March 19 - 30, 2010

March 11 - 19, 2010

March 4 - 11, 2010

February 25 - March 4, 2010

February 9 - 25, 2010

February 1-8, 2010

January 2010

December, 2009 (partial)

April 16 - May 5, 2010
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NEWS FLASH - May 31, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Amy Hanaiali'i Wins 16th at 33rd 'Hokus'

The 33rd annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards — Hawai'i's version of the Grammys for locally produced music — commenced last night at the Hawai'i Convention Center, with long-time industry favorites and newly beloved performers being recognized for their contributions to the local music scene.

Amy Hanaiali'i walked away this year with her 16th Na Hoku award for best album of the year, for her 2009 album "Friends and Family of Hawai'i," a collaborative album, which features duets with notable local male musicians such as Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Nathan Awe'au, as well as a duet with country music star Willie Nelson.

"It's such an honor to have even been nominated," Hanaiali'i said. "Being nominated for a Hoku means as much to me as being nominated for a Grammy. This album means so much to me because I had the opportunity to work with so many talented men. It just has a great strong male presence about it. I just feel so honored."

Hanaiali'i was nominated for five awards last night.

The biggest awards of the evening went to Mailani for female vocalist, Uncle Willie K for male vocalist, Jeff Peterson for slack key album of the year, Ho'okena for group of the year, and Uluwehi Guerrero for Hawaiian album of the year.

New-on-the-scene artist Anuhea got the prize for most promising new artist, as well as the award for best contemporary album, for her self-titled debut album.

"I feel especially honored because the Na Hokus are awarded by my musical peers, and to get the award for promising new artist makes me want to continue to do my best, and keep on keeping on," Anuhea said.

'Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro received two awards — for best instrumental album for "Live," as well as the people's choice award for favorite entertainer of the year.

The ceremony kicked off with a Hollywood-style red carpet event, which included all of the fanfare that is expected of an awards show — fast-paced interviews, style chatter (Kapulanakehau Tamure of Na Palapalai wore a dramatic Sig Zane dress with a regal flair) and plenty of flash photography.

The ceremony itself was a sold-out, black-tie affair, punctuated by shrieks of support from fans, friends and family members cheering their favorite artists.

This year's ceremony for the first time was preceded by a four-day Hawaiian music festival, the Na Hoku O Hawai'i Music Festival. Proceeds financed an upgrade to the television broadcast of the awards ceremony.

International recording artists Mick Fleetwood and Kenny Loggins were guests at the festival and performed at the awards ceremony — along with a long roster of award nominees, such as Mailani, Nesian Nine, Anuhea, Hanaiali'i, Hapa and Henry Kapono.

One of the highlights was a collaborative rendition of reggae artist Matisyahu's peace anthem, "One Day," performed with an Island twist by Shimabukuro, Fleetwood, Loggins and Hapa's Barry Flanagan.

The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts awarded 20 Na Hoku awards during the ceremony.

Reach Kawehi Haug at khaug@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 30, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

Honolulu-Based Coast Guard Cutter Heading to Help in Gulf

The Honolulu-based Coast Guard Cutter Walnut will deploy to the Gulf of Mexico today to assist in oil spill response efforts.

"The crew of the Walnut is ready and willing to utilize our oil spill equipment and training to assist the residences of the Gulf Coast in this multiagency response," said Lt. Andrea Holt, executive officer of the Walnut. "Even though we will be deploying more than 5,000 miles from our homeport in Honolulu, the crew is ready to meet this challenge."

The Walnut will be deployed for four months.

In addition to its oil skimming equipment, the cutter is equipped with satellite, radio and communications equipment that will allow it to direct recovery vessels working with them.

Coast Guard Cutter Walnut is one of 16 cutters designed with oil skimming capability and one of several responding to the oil spill.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 30, 2010 7:15 a.m. HST

Rainbow Wahina Stun #1 Alabama, Advance to College World Series

Jenna Rodriguez hit a two-out, two-run walk-off homer as the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine softball team stunned No. 1 seed Alabama, 5-4, today in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to reach its first Women's College World Series.

UH (49-14), the 16th seed, goes to next week's Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The tournament starts Thursday against Missouri and will extend the Rainbow Wahine's road trip, which began May 10 with the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

It was a shocking turn of events, which saw Alabama (52-11) overcome a 3-0 lead for a 4-3 advantage and witnessed the pitching mastery of Tide ace Kelsi Dunne (30-6), who struck out 16.

The player the right-handed ace couldn't master was Rodriguez, who played in last year's Junior College World Series.

Rodriguez staked UH to a quick lead with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning. She batted 3-for-4 (UH only managed five hits) and drove in all five runs.

UH lead-off hitter Kelly Majam, the nation's home-run leader at 30, opened the bottom of the seventh with a walk, taking a 3-2 changeup from Dunne.

But Dunne then struck out the next two batters — Jessica Iwata for the fourth time in the game and Melissa Gonzalez for the second time.

With the crowd in a frenzy sensing a victory and another Alabama berth to the WCWS, Rodriguez slammed the first pitch high over the left-field foul pole, sending the Rainbow Wahine and their small contingency of fans into a wild celebration.

After she launched her hit, Rodriguez stayed near home plate, watching to make sure the ball stayed fair, much like Carlton Fisk, a Boston Red Sox famous moment that UH coach and Massachusetts-raised Bob Coolen should know about.

"Simply amazing. This is the best day of my life," Coolen told ESPN.

When asked how a 16th seed could advance to the World Series, he said, "Chemistry. Chemistry, all the way."

UH's first berth to the Women's College World Series comes on the 30th anniversary of the men reaching their only trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

The Rainbow Wahine had to dispatch two teams from power conferences — the Pac-10 Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference — to earn the trip. UH beat Stanford and Texas Tech to advance to the Super Regional. Last five of the other eight teams in the WCWS are frm those conferences.

UH jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Rodriguez's three-run homer and held the lead until the sixth.

In the bottom of the first, UH's Majam opened with a single. One out later, Gonzalez walked and Rodriguez followed with a homer to left.

UH hardly threatened after that as Dunne was dominant.

In the top of the fourth, Charlotte Morgan hammered a blast over the right-field fence to make it 3-1.

In the top of the sixth, Alabama's Kayla Braud bunted for a hit, but was forced out at second. Morgan then walked before Larsen hit a three-run homer to left-center for a 4-3 lead.

Meanwhile, Dunne was in control after the first-inning slip up. She recorded 16 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings and is the school record holder for most strikeouts in a season at 355.

UH, the home team today, started left-hander Kaia Parnaby, who pitched in both games Saturday with no decisions. She pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out four.

Stephanie Ricketts, who replaced Parnaby in the top of the sixth, got the win.

Dunne was yesterday's first-game winner and second-game loser yesterday.

Parnaby started the second game Saturday, a game UH led 7-1 before winning 8-7.Alabama won the opener, 8-0.

Dunne pitched a two-hitter to beat UH in Saturday's opening game, which was pushed from Friday to Saturday because of inclement weather. But Dunne, who came in relief with the game tied at 7 in the second game, saw her 17-game winning streak snapped in the second game.

UH, which hit three homers in the second game yesterday and two today, increased its NCAA record for most home runs for a season at 154.

Yesterday's second-game victory by the the Rainbow Wahine ended the Crimson Tide's 28-game winning streak, tying the best-of-three Super Regional at a game apiece and forcing today's winner-take-all game.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 30, 2010 7:05 a.m. HST

Interisland Airfares 'Leveling Off'

The wild swings in airfares that characterized the interisland travel market over the past five years appear to have subsided, with the base fare stabilizing at a level that is only modestly higher than when Aloha Airlines folded in the spring of 2008.

A number of factors, including more direct flights to the Neighbor Islands from the Mainland, have helped keep interisland carriers from jacking up rates aggressively, analysts said. The current lowest one-way interisland fare of $58 compares with a $49 fare that was the lowest available at the time Aloha went under.

Fares rose in the months after Aloha's demise, then fell when Mokulele teamed with Indianapolis-based Republic Airways to bring new jet service to the interisland market in the fall of 2008. Fares began climbing again when go! and Mokulele merged in October 2009. The $58 base fare charged by Hawaiian and go! Mokulele has been in effect since late last year.

go! airlines set the stage for dramatically lower interisland fares when it entered the market in June 2006 offering limited one-way fares of $19 and $29. Its base fare of $39 was well below the $80 and $90 lowest fares available before go!'s arrival.

Hawaiian and Aloha were forced to match go!'s pricing, which forced all three to offer the discounted tickets at below cost — a major factor in Aloha's collapse.

While go! called the shots in ticket pricing back then, Hawaiian is in the driver's seat today, said Peter Forman, a local aviation historian and author.

go! Mokulele tried to raise the minimum fare to $63 in January. But when Hawaiian didn't match the fare after one week, go! Mokulele was forced to roll back to $58.

"Hawaiian has been showing the constraint not to raise ticket prices. One reason is that Hawaiian is flying fuller planes so they don't need to raise their fares," Forman said.

go! Mokulele, on the other hand, has been struggling to fill its planes, he said. Hawaiian's load factor has averaged 84 percent since the start of the year, while go! Mokulele's planes have been about 67 percent full, on average.

"They (go! Mokulele) really can't raise their prices in that situation," he said. "Any airline can lower fares. But if go! wants to raise fares it will need Hawaiian's cooperation."

And go! Mokulele can ill afford to see its market share in the Islands slip any further with its parent company, Mesa Air Group, struggling to work its way through bankruptcy .

Forman said he doubts either Hawaiian or go! Mokulele is able to make money charging $58 per ticket, which is why they sell only a limited number at that price. According to Hawaiian's website, coach fares go up incrementally depending on availability, topping out at $127.

Hawaiian is better positioned to absorb losses with lower-priced tickets because it has a robust Mainland and international business, he said.

Hawaiian's geographic diversification has helped it maintain profitability as demand for interisland flights has waned. The 7.4 million passengers who traveled on interisland flights last year were the fewest in at least 20 years, according to data from the state Department of Transportation.

Interisland passengers peaked at 10.5 million in 1996 before beginning a steady decline. The numbers perked up slightly in 2007 after go! came into the market, but then resumed their slide in 2008.

"When Mainland-based carriers began flying straight to the outer islands there wasn't the need to connect through Honolulu anymore," said Steve Danishek, a Seattle-based travel consultant.

"Alaska Airlines is going to all the islands now from places like Seattle, Portland and Sacramento using their 737s," Danishek said.

Indeed, the DOT's figures show that the number of airline passengers using Hono- lulu International Airport as a transit point has dropped sharply, falling from more than a million in the early 1990s to just over 9,000 last year.

Forman also said better hospitals and more shopping options on the Neighbor Islands these days mean residents there have fewer reasons to fly to Honolulu.

Even though fares for interisland flights have stabilized, many local travelers still long for the days of the airfare wars.

"I fly way less now," said Daniel Takashima, 31, who grew up on O'ahu but moved to Maui after high school.

"All my family is here," said Takashima, a graduate of Waipahu High School. "Before when it was 40 bucks I would fly once or twice a month. I would come to O'ahu for birthday parties, I would come to almost every one. Now I come back maybe twice a year, mostly on holidays and special occasions."

Raka Washburn, who traveled to the Big Island on business last week, said her roundtrip fare was more than $200.

"These prices are outrageous. If I had to pay for it out of my pocket I sure as heck wouldn't be traveling as often," said Washburn, a Kane'ohe resident and former Aloha Airlines employee who works for an environmental engineering firm.

Roy Goo, a Kaua'i resident who is moving to Honolulu to work at the University of Hawai'i, said he has cut his interisland travel in half since the days of bargain-basement fares.

"I would try to go back and forth maybe two times a month on leisure trips. Now I'll go at most once a month."

Singer-songwriter Keola Beamer and his wife Moana flew to Honolulu from their home on Maui last week to rehearse for an upcoming Memorial Day concert.

"We may not consider the extra, kind of fun trip any more. But we have to travel for work," Moana Beamer said.

Added Keola Beamer, "We feel like there is a lack of competition. And we particularly miss the Superferry where we could just load all our stuff on board."

Reach Alan Yonan Jr. at ayonan@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 29, 2010 7:25 p.m. HST

Removed Baldwin Principal Seeks to Set Record Straight

WAILUKU - Saying she wanted to dispel rumors spreading through the community, Baldwin High School Principal Natalie Gonsalves disclosed via e-mail a May 21 document titled "notice of investigation" from Complex Area Superintendent Bruce Anderson.

It states that Anderson's office has "learned of alleged inappropriate information" in a Baldwin High School letter distributed to the parents of graduating seniors regarding commencement.

Anderson confirmed last week that Gonsalves had been placed on leave "pending an investigation," but he refused to provide details. He said Gonsalves' leave started May 20, the day before Baldwin's graduation ceremonies.

Anderson's letter to Gonsalves doesn't specify what "inappropriate information" was in the letter to parents and guardians.

Vice Principal Philip Gilbert has been assigned as principal. Gilbert has declined to comment.

Gonsalves sent written comments in an e-mail to The Maui News last week. She wrote that the letter that prompted the investigation was distributed to parents at a senior parent meeting for graduation and is similar to one that has been distributed for years "with very few minor edits."

"Although I did not compose the letter, I am the principal, therefore, the department considers me responsible," Gonsalves wrote.

Gonsalves could not be reached at a cell phone number she provided, but in another e-mail, she said she wanted to clarify the reason she was on leave.

"I just wanted to squelch all the nasty rumors I'm hearing. When people aren't told, it leaves them the opportunity to conjure up anything," she said.

Anderson could not be reached for comment.

In his written notice to Gonsalves, Anderson discourages her from speaking "to any individual concerning the case as it may jeopardize the integrity of the investigation process."

"Please be advised that the department strictly prohibits any form of retaliation," he added.

On Saturday, Gonsalves wrote in an e-mail that being away from the campus and students has been "very difficult" for her.

"The school was . . . IS . . . my life," she wrote. "I hope this matter is resolved, and I can go back to doing what I was hired to do . . . make changes and move the school."

She said student reading and math scores have "greatly increased" since her administration began in 2006. In addition, the school has kept its accreditation status from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Gonsalves said she's sure accreditation will be renewed for another three years.

Gonsalves said she's had to make difficult decisions at Baldwin, some of which she knows may not have been liked by the staff.

"Change is difficult for anyone, and a few of the staff may not like the change, but we must always remember why we're there . . . it's for the students," she said. "The day I stop making decisions that are for the students is the day I should step down from my position."

Last week, public school students began their summer recess.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 29, 2010 4:55 p.m. HST

Governor Praises Citizens for Toughing It Out

Today Governor Linda Lingle offered the folling position statement on the economic recovery of Hawai'i:

"All of us in Hawai‘i have been deeply impacted by the global recession. We’ve had to make tough decisions and sacrifices– in government, in business and in our households – to deal with the impacts that began hitting our economy in mid-2008.

In true Hawai‘i fashion, our state pulled together to tackle these difficult issues. It has not been an easy task, and there have been disagreements, even heated debate, along the way. But for the most part, we have remained focused on being fiscally responsible, turning our economy around, getting our residents back to work, and setting the foundation for a stronger future.

Over the past few weeks, we have been seeing the positive results of this collaboration and sacrifice.

This week, after eight months of discussions, and with the help of many, “Furlough Fridays” in our schools are over. We crafted an agreement everyone can work with, and most importantly, going into the next school year, our students will be in school full-time.

We should maintain the focus on education that was brought about by this difficult ordeal to ensure that education remains a top priority. For the past seven-and-a-half years, my Administration advocated for reforms in our public schools. The Furlough Fridays chapter has galvanized parents, educators, government leaders and the community, and given us the means and desire to ensure real change occurs.

We are also beginning to see an encouraging turnaround in the factor that led to Furlough Fridays – declining revenues. Tax collections for the first 10 months of the fiscal year have improved. In addition, the revised outlook by the Council on Revenues, which previously forecasted a 2.5 percent decline in tax collections this fiscal year, now points to positive growth. While it will still be some time before we return to pre-recession 2008 revenue levels, there is no disputing our economy is clearly headed in the right direction.

Due to these improving tax collections, the State has been able to issue tax refunds which had been delayed due to the budget shortfall. Over the past week, refunds totaling $64 million have been issued to more than 105,000 tax filers. In total, an estimated 209,000 of the 380,000 tax filers to date will receive $125 million in refunds in the coming weeks.

The tourism sector is also seeing signs of recovery, having now recorded five consecutive months of increasing visitor arrivals and a second straight month of increased visitor spending. I credit the visitor industry for taking swift action to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to ensure Hawai‘i remains a top destination. The State worked closely with hoteliers and other tourism industry executives over the past year-and-half to focus on attracting visitors in the midst of the global recession.

This is good news for our job market, which is seeing an improvement in job creation. In April every island saw a decrease in unemployment, and statewide, Hawai‘i was tied for the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.7 percent, compared to 9.9 percent nationally.

Still, many of our residents remain unemployed, and one of my top priorities is to get them back to work by implementing a number of job creation initiatives.

Working with the Obama Administration, this month the state launched the Hawai‘i Premium Plus program to incentivize private sector companies and non-profit organizations to hire unemployed residents by subsidizing their health insurance premiums for up to a year. The program will reimburse employers up to $140 per month – using state and federal dollars – for up to a year for each qualified person hired through this initiative, which represents roughly half of what it costs a company to provide health insurance for a full-time employee. The goal is to hire up to 6,450 individuals who are currently on unemployment, which would reduce the state’s unemployment rate by one percentage point.

The State’s Summer Youth Employment Program is also helping to put Hawai‘i’s young people, ages 14 to 23 into jobs that pay $8 or more per hour. Under this program, jobs are being offered at federal, state and county government offices and at non-profit organizations statewide.

This month, we reached a milestone in helping to create construction jobs. Under a plan launched in collaboration with the construction industry and the counties in December 2008 to accelerate capital improvement projects statewide, the State has advanced over 800 new projects totaling over $1.8 billion. It is estimated that these projects are helping to generate over 23,000 direct and indirect jobs in the construction industry and other related sectors.

Hawai‘i has also been in the national spotlight as a leader in our pursuit of clean energy. In just the past few weeks, Nissan selected Hawai‘i as a launch site for its Leaf electric vehicle, a South Korean company unveiled plans to build an electric vehicle assembly plant in Hawai‘i, General Motors entered a partnership with The Gas Company to test hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology, a new wind energy project was approved in Kahuku and the state announced federal stimulus rebate programs for electric vehicles as well as Energy Star refrigerators.

Hawai‘i’s film industry is also going strong, with major productions underway including Walt Disney Pictures’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and “The Descendants” starring George Clooney, as well as the recent announcement by CBS that it will add the new “Hawai‘i Five-0” series to its fall lineup.

In addition, I recently approved the final EIS for the $1 billion TMT Thirty-Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, which is widely supported by the Big Island community because of the economic benefits the project offers and the potential to spur career and education opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Finally, I will be headed to Asia at the end of this week to strengthen our relationships with China and to promote tourism, exports, investments, clean energy and education opportunities. I will also visit Japan to meet with our Japanese tourism and business partners. This outreach to international markets is critical to Hawai‘i’s long-term economic future and our role as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

While all of this is certainly good news and reason to feel optimistic, there is still a lot more to achieve. My entire cabinet and their departments are dedicated to work day in and day out to complete the goals we’ve established for ourselves as well as the ones we were elected to do.

Please check out my website at www.hawaii.gov/gov to secure weekly updates."

Mahalo and aloha!

Governor Linda Lingle

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 29, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Whale Sanctuary Boss Moving Up

KIHEI — The superintendent of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is getting a new job with the federal sanctuaries program.

Naomi McIntosh has been the humpback whale sanctuary superintendent since 2003.

She's soon to assume a newly created position as the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' regional education and outreach coordinator for the Pacific.

McIntosh is expected to lead the construction and development of several new projects in Hawaii and American Samoa in her new post.

She'll also be coordinating educational programs and planning for the new marine monument at Rose Atoll in American Samoa.

The marine sanctuaries regional director, Allen Tom, will be acting superintendent for the humpback whale sanctuary.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 5:15 p.m. HST

Water Commission Issues Summary on Easy Maui Decision

HONOLULU – The State Water Commission issued a groundbreaking decision on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 in Paia, Maui in a flexible approach that meets most of the needs of competing water demands.

The Commission balanced competing demands for stream waters with the needs of the stream resources at 19 east Maui streams (Waikamoi, Alo, Wahinepee, Puohokamoa, Haipuaena, Punalau/Kolea, Honomanu, Nuaailua, Ohia, West Wailuaiki, East Wailuaiki, Kopiliula, Puakaa, Waiohue, Paakea, Waiaaka, Kapaula, Hanawi, and Makapipi streams.) The Commission ordered an annual restoration of water to two streams (Hanawi and Makapipi) totaling 0.66 million gallons per day (mgd) and restoration of water on a seasonal basis totaling 8.6 mgd in the wet season and 0.45 mgd in the dry season in four streams (Waikamoi, West Wailuaiki, East Wailuaiki, and Waiohue). The Commission continued the current flow and diversion levels on the remaining 13 streams.

The seasonal restoration will benefit Hawaii's stream resources, estuarine waters and fish nurseries in the ocean and support agricultural operations.

This new seasonal approach balances the needs of the resources and the demands of offstream users where all interests share the bounty during the wet seasons and share the limits in the dry seasons. (Two streams maintained annual flow restoration because there are downstream water users in one, and in the other an extremely small restoration will greatly benefit the stream biota.)

The Commission’s decision also strongly emphasized responsible management of public trust resources. The Commission ordered Maui County to begin construction within three years to fix the extremely leaky Waikamoi Flume to eliminate waste and provide a more reliable water source for Upcountry domestic and agricultural uses. Commissioners stated that Maui County needs to develop alternative water sources, conservation and reclamation for water supplies. Maui County relies upon stream water for approximately 85 percent of its water needs for the Upcountry system. Due to long-term drought, this is a precarious position for the people of Maui and the County needs to shift the balance of water supply to more reliable sources that do not come at the expense of Hawaii's resources and downstream users of these same waters.

The Commission also ordered HC&S to document and address reservoir system loss of water to reduce waste. In addition, the Commission mandated HC&S to provide annual public reports documenting the actual uses of all east Maui surface waters to maintain accountability and transparency for the public to be assured the water remains in agricultural use. Maui County and HC&S need to make the necessary investments to repair existing infrastructure and to develop responsible and reliable alternative water sources to meet their critical domestic and agricultural water needs.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 2:50 p.m. HST

County Offers Free Summer Parks Programs for Youth

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii -- The County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation today announced that registrations are still being accepted for summer youth programs on Maui, Molokai and Lanai during the months of June and July. All activities and events are offered at no charge; registration is required for most programs as listed below. For general Parks information, visit www.mauicounty.gov/parks.

MAUI
Registration now through June 30
Kihei Girls Softball League
For girls ages 5 thru 15 years; clinics will start in mid June (Registrants will be notified by the South District Office when dates have been set.). For more info: Jake or Todd at 879-4533

Saturday, June 5 from 3-6 p.m.
Maui Skateboard Series - Keopuolani Skate Event, Keopuolani Skate Park All ages and abilities welcome. For more info: Andrew Beerer at 283-8600

Friday, June 18 from 4-8:30 p.m.
Hershey’s Track and Field Games
For boys & girls 9-14 years of age who reside in Hawaii; Satoki Yamamoto Track & Field Facility (War Memorial Stadium). To register:
Keoni Tengan at 572-8122 or keoni.tengan@mauicounty.gov

Saturday, June 19 from 4-7 p.m.
Maui Skateboard Series - Lahaina Skate Jam All ages and abilities welcome. Front St. Basketball Courts, Lahaina.
For more info: Andrew Beerer at 283-8600

June 21 - July 23, 2010
“Let’s Go Fishing!” Program
For students entering grades 3 - 5 (both boys and girls encouraged to attend). Learn the basics of fishing, different ways to prepare your catch, ocean preservation and many more fishing-related activities. To
register: Jackie Fuentes at 270-8041 or jacqueline.fuentes@mauicounty.gov

Saturday August 21, 2010 - 9:30 a.m.
Bicycle Safety Program
All ages and ability welcome; Hope Chapel in Kihei, Early Registration begins in Mid- July. To register: Jake or Todd at 879-4533

June 12 & 26, July 10 & 24, August 14 & 28, 10 a.m. - noon Wheelie Tennis Program For children, youth and adults of all abilities; Pukalani Tennis Court. To register: Tara Sabado at 270-7979 or tara.sabado@mauicounty.gov

MOLOKAI
Registration now through June 14; program held June 14 - July 15 Molokai Learn to Swim Program For ages 3 & up; Cooke Memorial Pool, Molokai. Space is limited. For more info: Mike Mangca at 553-5819 or Parks Recreation Office at 553-4141

Registration now through June 18; season begins in July Molokai Youth Basketball Program For boys & girls 8 - 9 years; registration forms can be picked up at the Kaunakakai Gym recreation office or selected school offices. For more info: Mike Mangca at 553-5819 or Parks Recreation Office at 553-4141

LANAI
June 21 - 25, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Lanai Jr. Lifeguard Program
For youth ages 13-17; Hulopoe Beach Park, Lanai. To register: Verna Del Rosario at 563-9942 or verna.delrosario@mauicounty.gov
.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 2:50 p.m. HST

Wells Fargo Bids $55M to Hang Onto Makena Beach and Golf Resort

Wells Fargo Bank submitted the high bid of $55 million at an auction today for the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.

Wells Fargo, which is the trustee for a group of lenders owed more than $192.5 million by the hotel's owners, beat out a competing bid of $50 million.

Real estate developer and broker Christopher Lau, the commissioner appointed by the court, conducted the auction and the sale now moves to a confirmation hearing before Second Circuit Judge Shackley F. Raffetto.

"There was a huge amount of interest in the property," Lau said. "I spent hundreds of hours these past few months introducing potential investors from all over the world to the property.

"In the end, though, the economy remains uncertain and in this environment no one was prepared to bid anything close to what the mortgage lender is owed."

He said the mortgage represented only a fraction of the over $400 million of total debt that the current owners had taken out to acquire and develop the property.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 2:20 p.m. HST

Governor Signs Bill Banning Shark Fins in Hawai'i

HONOLULU — Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to ban shark fins.

Gov. Linda Lingle on Friday signed a bill prohibiting the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins, which are used in pricey Chinese dishes.

Exceptions will be made for researchers who have obtained a permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Lawmakers hope the new law will help prevent the overfishing and extinction of sharks harvested for their fins.

Many Chinese consider shark fins to be a delicacy. Shark fin is served in high-end Chinese restaurants in soup and as fillets in gravy.

The bill passed the state Legislature earlier this year with broad support.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 1:40 p.m. HST

Healh Officials Warn of Transporting Animal Disease from Asia

HONOLULU - The state veterinarian is alerting Hawai`i residents traveling to Korea and Japan to be careful not to bring back the notorious Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), a highly contagious viral disease of cattle, swine, sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals. Although humans are not susceptible to the disease, unsuspecting travelers may transport the virus to non-infected regions. For Japan, the outbreak is currently limited to Miyazaki Prefecture, Southern Island of Kyushu. To date, FMD has not been detected in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today imposed temporary import restrictions on beef products from Japan. To view the USDA news release, go to: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2010/05/japan_beef_vs.shtml

"We are advising recent travelers to and from South Korea and Japan that have visited farms there to stay away from Hawai`i farms, ranches and zoos," said James Foppoli, state veterinarian with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture. "Travelers going abroad, especially to countries in Asia, should avoid contact with animals, or areas where animals have been held, for at least five days before returning to Hawai`i and should avoid contact with animals for at least five days after returning to Hawai`i."

Currently, agriculture officials in S. Korea and Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture are scrambling to contain the disease, which can be spread from animal to animal, by animal products including meat products, by the wind, on the wheels of vehicles and on human clothing. The virus may also stay active in the nasal passages of humans up to 28 hours. As of May 28, 2010, about 150,000 cattle and swine in affected regions in Japan have been euthanized to stop the spread of this virus.

Controlling the movement of food, people and their activities related to contact with livestock is important with respect to FMD. Increasing emphasis is being placed on disease surveillance at all international ports, including Hawai`i. Due to the worldwide popularity of agro-tourism, which has become an important diversification for many livestock operations, there is an increased risk for entry of foreign diseases via human carriers. International movement of livestock into Hawaii directly is prohibited by Federal law.

Precautions that travelers can take include:
- Do not visit farms and ranches in the affected counties while traveling until this outbreak is over.
- Laundering or dry clean all clothing, jackets or coats before returning to the U.S.
- If you have visited a farm abroad, or if you've traveled and live, work or plan to visit a farm in Hawai`i, shower, shampoo, and change into clean clothing. Wash or dry clean clothes--don't risk taking the FMD virus home on contaminated clothing.
- Remove all dirt or organic material from shoes, luggage, personal items, etc. Wipe the items with disinfectant.
- Don't bring prohibited products home. And declare all food and agricultural material on the U.S. Customs declaration form and the Plant and Animal Declaration Forms, which are distributed prior to landing.
- Avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for at least five days prior to and five days after returning home.

Because the FMD virus may be carried on other animals, HDOA’s Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility may bathe certain dogs and cats arriving from the S. Korea and Japan.

"This disease is particularly feared because it is easily transmitted and potentially economically devastating to livestock industries" said Foppoli. "Although our isolated location protects us somewhat from exposure from infected livestock, the risk of human movement of foot and mouth virus is not negligible.

"We are posting information on the Japan and Korea outbreaks on the Department’s website to keep local livestock ranchers informed and updated. Web information also includes biosecurity measures for ranches and farms and how to spot symptoms of the disease," Foppoli added. "With this particular disease, early detection and eradication is crucial mitigate adverse impacts to industry."

FMD is characterized by fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats and between the hooves. The disease can be confused with several other animal illnesses. Whenever blisters or other typical signs are observed, laboratory tests must be completed to confirm the disease. Most animals recover from FMD, but it may cause extreme weakness and severe losses in the production of meat and milk.

Once infected, animals become "virus factories," capable of spreading high numbers of viral particles to other animals and into the environment. Infected swine, in particular, can release millions of viral particles when they exhale. The virus can become airborne and can be breathed in by nearby susceptible animals. Once infection is introduced, it is very difficult to prevent the spread. The only continents currently free of the disease are North America, Australia and Antarctica.

The FMD virus also can be carried in the raw meat, animal products or milk from FMD-exposed or infected animals. The FMD outbreaks in South Africa was started after waste food containing raw meat scraps was collected from international ships and fed to swine.

More information and updates on FMD can be found on the HDOA website at: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/ldc/fmd-folder/fmd-japan-korea-outbreak-information-page

The U.S. State Department fact sheet for travelers: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_1182.html

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 9:25 a.m. HST

America's 'Best Beach" is in...New York?

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Hamptons hoi polloi probably assumed it was always No. 1.

Coopers Beach, with pristine white sand gently sloping toward a shoreline of lapping waves, convenient parking and amenities and nary a gum wrapper in sight, has been selected as America's best beach in an annual survey released Friday to coincide with the start of the summer vacation season.

"New York has world-class beaches, but I don't think a lot of people in the United States know about them," said Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research. Known by the moniker Dr. Beach, this is Leatherman's 20th year of compiling a list of the country's top 10.

This year's list includes two beaches in Florida, and Leatherman said he was not worried about pollution from the oil spill affecting those locations. Siesta Beach in Sarasota took the No. 2 spot on the list, and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne was No. 10.

He said Cape Florida, on the southeast coast, "doesn't get the wave activity" that can lead to tar balls washing up. As for Siesta Beach, he said he had looked at currents and believes "there's very low probability the oil will get to southwest Florida."

Leatherman's list also features another New York beach, Main Beach in East Hampton, Long Island, not far from Southampton. Main Beach takes the No. 5 spot on this year's survey.

"When most people think of a beach vacation destination, they go south," Leatherman said. "I kind of think the east end of Long Island is a well-kept secret for most Americans."

Rounding out the top 10 are Coronado Beach, Calif. (3), Cape Hatteras, N.C. (4), Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Honololu (No. 6), Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Mass. (7), Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, S.C. (8), and Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii (9).

Coopers Beach has been a contender for the top spot in recent years, but this is the first time a New York beach has made it to No. 1, Leatherman said. He considers factors like water quality and temperature, cleanliness, weather, sand, safety and facilities in making his list.

Once a beach makes it to the top spot, it is retired from consideration in future years, he said. Leatherman added that designation as the country's No. 1 beach usually brings as much as a 20 percent bump in tourism.

"Both Main and Coopers beaches have been recognized in the past as being among the top 10 beaches in the country — and to now hold the top spot is especially significant when you consider the quality of the company we're in," Moke McGowan, president of the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement.

Main Beach was in the headlines in April after a 13-ton baby whale washed ashore and had to be euthanized; thousands of onlookers visited the ailing mammal on the seashore while it struggled for life over several days.

Several miles away on Coopers Beach, locals trying to get a jump on summer spoke about the cleanliness of the beach and described it as a welcoming, family-oriented playground.

"It's wide, the sand is like baby powder," said Carol Gerbereux, a visitor for at least 40 years. "It's just a beautiful location; it has wonderful facilities and it's just a pleasure to come here."

Joseph Graygor, another longtime devotee, said litter is a no-no. "It's a very, very clean beach," he said. "There's no garbage on it." He also said a concession stand, showers, and other amenities are key assets at Coopers. "The parking area is very, very close to the beach. There are some beaches where you have to park a long ways away and walk a long way."

Village residents get access via a beach parking permit; those without permits face a $250 fine. But non-residents can also visit for a daily fee of $40 — it is the Hamptons, after all. Alcohol is banned, along with tents, bonfires and overnight camping.

Laura Masterson, a lifelong Southampton resident, noted that people thousands of miles away from Coopers Beach can visit via webcam. "It's a gorgeous place to be," she said as she settled into a beach chair. "We were just in Florida. We've been to Puerto Rico and Bermuda and you can't find beaches as beautiful as this."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 8:55 a.m. HST

'Concentrated Solar' Energy Project Planned for Maui

A type of solar technology that's never been used in Hawai'i will be tested here to help power the Maui High Performance Computing Center.

Arrays of so-called concentrated photovoltaic panels are being installed near the center under an Air Force Research Laboratory contract funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Concentrated photovoltaic panels differ from the flat panels used in conventional flat panels in that lenses are used to focus light on photovoltaic cells.

The technology also differs from conventional photovoltaic in that it is typically mounted on devices that move the solar panels to track the sun's movement.

The test also will look at how concentrated photovoltaic panels compare to conventional panels and how they perform in a tropical environment. Up to an acre of land may be used to install the arrays.

"This initiative provides a basis for a grounded, research-based expansion of solar energy alternatives in Hawai'i and other high solar-isolation island areas," said Thomas Glesne, a program manager for Schafer Corp., which is leading an industry consortium for the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Other partners in the project include Maui-based Rising Sun Solar, which is installing the panels built by Emcore Corp. of Albuquerque, N.M. The Dowling Co. and Munekiyo & Hiraga Inc. are helping with site development and permitting work.

Output from the 100 kilowatt array of panels also will be monitored to see how it can offset power needs of the computing system.

The Schafer Corp.'s announcement of the project follows other news this week that Castle & Cooke Hawai'i Inc. wants to build the state's largest solar farm on O'ahu.

That project, on roughly 120 acres near Mililani, would generate up to 20 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 6,000 homes. It would use conventional photovoltaic panels.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 7:05 a.m. HST

Injury Accident Closes Highway in West Maui

(Editr's Note: Highway was reopened to traffic at 7:33 a.m. No other details are yet available)

Maui Police report that a vehicle accident - with injuries - has closed a portion of Honoapi'ilani Highway betwen Ho'ohui and Napilihau Roads in West Maui. No other details are available at this time.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 28, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Revenue Forecast Ahead of Expectations

Hawai'i's economy continues on the upswing with the state Council on Revenues' latest forecast showing an increase in general fund tax revenue for the remainder of this fiscal year and next.

The council met yesterday and predicted a 0.5 percent growth in tax revenues for the fiscal year that ends June 30, compared with a 2.5 percent decline forecast in March.

"The latest projection reflects an improving economy and is an encouraging sign that Hawai'i is headed in the right direction," Gov. Linda Lingle said. "While the upward adjustment is positive, we need to remain focused on creating jobs, stimulating our economy and monitoring the state's cash flow."

The council's forecasts are used by the governor and lawmakers when drafting the state budget.

The upbeat forecast is another sign that the state's economy is recovering from the recession. Improvements have been seen in tourism, the housing market and unemployment .

In April, the state's jobless rate was 6.7 percent, down from 6.9 percent in March and the lowest level in more than a year.

Visitor arrivals and spending also continue to improve over last year. The number of visitors to the Islands increased 1.9 percent in April compared with the same month in 2009, and spending rose by 0.5 percent.

The council also noted that changes in the release of tax refunds will affect revenues.

Earlier this year, Lingle had delayed all state income tax refunds from April until July to temporarily save $275 million and help the state get through the fiscal year.

When adjusted for the delay in state tax refunds, the council said, revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30 could climb by as much as 4 percent. That's because delaying tax refunds until after July adds to the state's revenue in the current fiscal year.

But Lingle said last week that she would release most of the tax refunds sooner because of improved revenue collections.

Moving the refund release date up reduces the forecast for revenue for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. The council forecast 8 percent growth, but adjusted it downward to 6.2 percent because of the change in tax refunds.

Either way, the 2011 forecast is higher than the 6 percent growth forecast by the council in March.

A 1 percentage point increase in the revenue forecast roughly translates to $40 million.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 4:25 p.m. HST

Hannemann Makes Governor Quest 'Official'

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced this afternoon that he will run in the Democratic primary for governor, telling a rally that he will focus on issues such as education, the economy and the environment.

"It's all about fulfilling the promise that Hawaii is capable of producing home-grown leaders," Hannemann said at a rally at Fern Elementary School in Kalihi, where he attended as a child.

Hannemann will not officially file until just before the deadline in July.

Hannemann will face former congressman Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary in September.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona is the leading Republican candidate.

Abercrombie, who resigned from Congress in January to focus on his campaign, has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. press conference. But he released this statement before the press conference and following Hannemann's announcement:

"Mayor Mufi Hannemann has been raising money and holding campaign rallies for the governor's race since June of last year, all the while using the city government and Honolulu's rail project in particular as political leverage. This latest pronouncement is just the latest step in planning to enter the race for governor sometime in July," Abercrombie said.

"If he is truly running for governor, the Hawaii State Constitution requires the mayor to resign from office. Even if he has found a loophole to exploit, he displays a continuing willingness to violate the spirit of the Constitution for his own personal advantage. Although I was not required by law to resign, I did so because I didn't feel it was right to campaign for governor in this critical election year while holding public office and collecting a government paycheck. Mayor Hannemann has a different view."

The mayor's candidacy had long been expected and Hannemann supporters even opened up a headquarters on Kauai yesterday to add to a campaign committee, several union endorsements, a campaign Web site, and other steps that indicated the mayor would make a run.

In a release, Aiona said of Hannemann: "We can't afford him."

Aiona criticized the mayor for "a record of raising taxes and increasing the cost of living for our residents on Oahu."

Aiona added: "I'm running for governor to ensure balance, integrity and accountability in state government while reducing the financial burden on our working families and small businesses, creating jobs and investing in the quality of our education system so all of Hawaii's children have a brighter future."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 3:15 p.m. HST

Maui 'Sister City' Delegation Leaves Sunday for Japan

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-- Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today that Maui’s first youth delegation to visit Sister City Fukuyama, Japan will leave Sunday for a 10-day cultural exchange tour. The delegation includes 22 students from Baldwin High School, Maui High School, Seabury Hall, King Kekaulike High School, Maui Waena Intermediate School and Iao Intermediate School.

Mayor Tavares met recently with the students, who said they are looking forward to a homestay with Fukuyama families, a visit to the local high school, Fukuyama’s renowned Rose Garden, the Hiroshima Peace Park and the first festival of summer: the Tokasan Matsuri in Hiroshima City. The students will be making origami cranes with peace poems attached to them to add to a display at Sadako's Monument at the atomic bomb site. They will also experience traditional “Noh” drama and try their hand at making chikuwa and okonomiyaki, two famous food products of the Hiroshima region.

“This is an exciting ‘first’ for Maui County, as this is the very first group of Maui students to participate in a cultural exchange trip with our newest Sister City, Fukuyama City,” Mayor Tavares said. “Maui County has enjoyed hosting groups of students from Fukuyama, and I am pleased that a Maui delegation of students will be able to continue this global friendship by visiting Japan. Our community can be proud of this group of students who will travel abroad and share our aloha with a Sister City.”

The Maui students will be interviewed at a radio station in Fukuyama city about their visit to Japan, and will meet with Fukuyama Mayor Akira Hada and Deputy Mayor Kazuhiko Kaihara. University campus visits are included as well as a final stop at Disney Sea in Tokyo.

The Sister Cities Youth Tour is sponsored by the Maui Japanese Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Maui County Sister Cities Foundation through the County of Maui Office of Economic Development.

After sharing a 10-year Sister Chamber relationship, Fukuyama City officially became Maui County's newest Sister City in February 2008, with Maui County becoming Fukuyama City's first-ever U.S. Sister City. Located in Hiroshima Prefecture, Fukuyama City celebrates a Rose Festival each May to commemorate the 1,000 rose seedlings planted to boost the spirits of residents after the city was destroyed by an air attack in 1945. Today the city continues its efforts in beautifying the city with roses, earning its name, the "Rose City." The city shares many similarities with Maui County, including a focus on developing environmental technologies to protect precious natural resources while preserving a unique cultural identity.

For more information on the Maui County Sister Cities program, visit www.mauicounty.gov/mcbrc and click on “Sister Cities.”

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 11:55 a.m. HST

Maui Again Leads State Rebounds In Visitor Arrivals, Spending

HONOLULU – For the second month in a row the average daily spending by air visitors increased, up to $162 per person in April 2010 from $157 per person last April, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Total expenditures by air visitors was steady (+0.5%) at $760.2 million. Arrivals by air grew for the fifth consecutive month, increasing 1.1 percent from April 2009 to 536,194 visitors.

Maui again saw the highest growth in total visitor arrivals (+3%) in April 2010. Arrivals on Hawai‘i Island (-5.5%), O‘ahu (-2.5%) and Kaua‘i (-1.1%) decreased compared to last April. Maui was the only island with continuous arrival growth since the beginning of 2010. All other major islands showed fluctuations in arrival growth.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West (+5.8%) and Canada (+2%) rose but arrivals from U.S. East (-4.7%) and Japan (-1.4%) declined compared to April 2009. Visitors who came by cruise ship grew by 4,571 compared to last April. In total, there were 552,059 air and cruise visitors in April 2010, up 1.9 percent compared to the same month last year.

For the first four months of 2010, total spending by air visitors increased by $132.8 million to $3.5 billion, or 4 percent higher compared to year-to-date 2009. Total visitor days by air and cruise visitors rose 2.8 percent while total arrivals increased 3.6 percent from year-to-date 2009 to 2,223,599 visitors.

Read the entire report here.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 10:45 a.m. HST

December 7, 1941, Medal of Honor Winner Dies

SAN DIEGO — Retired Navy Lt. John Finn, the oldest Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, has died at his Southern California home. He was 100.

Navy Lt. Aaron Kakiel says Finn died early today on his ranch near Live Oak Springs, where he lived for more than 50 years.

Finn earned the nation's highest military valor award for his heroism on Dec. 7, 1941. Finn was stationed at what was then called Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station, which also came under attack by Japanese planes.

Finn manned a machine gun and began firing from an exposed location on Japanese aircraft, suffering serious wounds in the process.

He received the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15, 1942, from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Born July 23, 1909, in Los Angeles, Finn was the oldest of the 97 Medal of Honor recipients still living.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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

7.2 Quake Rumbles Off Vanuatu in South Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 rattled the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu early Friday, triggering a brief tsunami watch for the area, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning for Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia but canceled it about an hour later.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit just after 4 a.m. local time and was centered 300 miles northwest of the capital, Port Vila, at a depth of 22 miles.

Authorities in Vanuatu said they were checking for information on the quake.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 7:45 a.m. HST

Hannemann to Make Governor Run Official Today

Mayor Mufi Hannemann told disc jockey Billy V of KINE-FM 105 this morning that he will announce his intention to run for governor this afternoon.

"Something's happening today, a special press conference around 2 p.m. in the beautiful town of Kalihi," Hannemann told the deejay.

Asked if he would be announcing his candidacy, Hannemann, between chuckles, said: "I'll be all in today, Billy V. I'm going to make it official at 2 p.m. today."

The news conference will be held at Fern Elementary School on Middle Street.

Hannemann joins Democrat Neil Abercrombie and Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona in the race.

Hannemann, who yesterday opened a gubernatorial campaign office on Kauai, has already received the backing of several unions, including the ILWU and SHOPO.

Hannemann is not expected to resign until the July 20 filing deadline for candidates.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 27, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

State's Largest 'Solar Farm' Proposed for Central O'ahu

Central O'ahu could become home to the largest solar energy farm in the state under a proposal by Castle & Cooke Hawai'i Inc. to produce enough electricity from the sun to power 6,000 homes.

Castle & Cooke plans to convert roughly 120 acres of an agricultural park it owns just south of Mililani into fields of photovoltaic panels capable of generating 20 megawatts of electricity as early as next year.

If realized, the project would be about 17 times bigger than Hawai'i's largest existing solar farm, a 1.2-megawatt facility on Lana'i that began operating last year and was developed by Castle & Cooke.

There are several other plans for large-scale solar farms around the state, but none of the known projects would rival what Castle & Cooke is proposing.

"It would be among the largest in the country," said Ted Peck, energy administrator at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The largest solar energy farm in the United States is a 25-megawatt system in Florida, Peck said.

The Mililani project stands to become the fourth-largest source of renewable energy on O'ahu, behind the recently commissioned 110-megawatt Hawaiian Electric Co. biodiesel-fueled generators, the city's 46-megawatt HPower garbage-to-energy plant and a proposed 30-megawatt North Shore wind farm.

Castle & Cooke's proposal, however, is subject to the state Public Utilities Commission deciding whether the project is subject to a state law requiring HECO to solicit competing bids for any new power generation system over 5 megawatts.

Under Castle & Cooke's plan, four separate companies would each design, build, own and operate a 5-megawatt photovoltaic system in a solar energy park. Castle & Cooke would run one system and serve as park landlord, leasing three roughly 30-acre parcels to independent operators for 20 years or longer.

Castle & Cooke in its proposal to HECO said the solar park arrangement represents a new model of renewable energy generation in Hawai'i, creating efficiencies for solar system operators and benefits for electricity consumers.

HECO earlier this month requested that the PUC clarify whether a solar energy park with four separately owned 5-megawatt systems would be exempt from the procurement law.

Because of the PUC review, HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said it's premature to comment on Castle & Cooke's plan.

"We're looking at many projects of different technologies and sizes to reach our goal of 40 percent of electricity from renewable sources statewide by 2030," he said in a statement. "And solar farms could make a valuable addition to the renewable energy portfolio on O'ahu."

Carleton Ching, a Castle & Cooke spokesman, declined to comment because of the regulatory review.

COST CONCERNS

Peck said the PUC's review will focus on whether the arrangement is cost- effective for HECO's electricity customers. "Ratepayers can rest assured that this is paramount in (the PUC's consideration)," he said. "If it makes sense for the utility, if it makes sense for the PUC and consumers, and if it makes sense for Castle & Cooke, then we're thrilled."

In the PUC filing, HECO said it believes the solar park format would benefit O'ahu electricity consumers because the four developers would be able to share some infrastructure and other costs that would be passed on to ratepayers.

Putting out a request for competitive bids to produce 20 megawatts of renewable energy generation would potentially add to the cost of electricity and the timetable for production.

Castle & Cooke in its proposal said it has letters of intent with three developers, each of which would need to negotiate separate power purchase agreements with HECO. Castle & Cooke didn't identify the developers, but said in its proposal that the first energy production could begin by June 2011.

ON FARMLAND

One key advantage of the planned Mililani solar energy park is its proximity to a pair of HECO 138-kilovolt transmission lines that would allow a convenient connection to O'ahu's electricity grid and an ability to regulate input of the power.

Relatively high sun intensity in the area that makes the land good for farming also makes the the site good for solar energy production.

The solar energy park site is part of a roughly 500-acre agricultural park between Mililani and Castle & Cooke's proposed Koa Ridge residential community.

The ag park known as Mililani South or Mililani Agricultural Park is leased by local farmer Wayne Ogasawara, who subleases most of the property to other farmers. Formerly the land was part of a pineapple plantation operated by Castle & Cooke affiliate Dole Food Co.

Castle & Cooke is offering tenants on the solar energy park site comparable or better-quality land on which to relocate operations. The developer said in its proposal that the energy farm site has low-productivity soil. Under state land-use law and county zoning, a commercial photovoltaic power system is an allowed use on such land.

The developer didn't disclose any estimated costs for the 20-megawatt project in its proposal, but it could run over $100 million given that Castle & Cooke's 1.2-megawatt system on Lana'i cost it $19 million.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 9:20 p.m. HST

Apolo Set to Land on Maui Tomorrow

Olympian skating superstar Apolo Ohno heads to Maui this week with the winners of the "Follow Apolo Ohno to Maui" sweepstakes conducted by Alaska Airlines earlier this year.

Ohno's arrival is scheduled for 10.45 a.m. on Thursday at Gate 33.

Lt. Gov. James Aiona and Maui Surf Groms — a youth group who hopes to make surfing an Olympic sport — will meet Ohno and the winners at Kahului Airport before the group begins their five-day vacation at the Grand Wailea Resort.

During their stay, sweepstakes winners and their guests will join Ohno for a private luau.

Ohno, who won eight medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, is the most decorated winter Olympian. The Alaska Airlines' plane features the skater wearing a lei, skating across the airplane's fuselage and encouraging travelers to "Follow Apolo to Hawaii."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 8:10 p.m. HST

Fire Crews Quickly Douse Kihei Blaze

KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii – Crews from Kihei, Wailea, and Kahului fire stations responded to a fire reported at 11:23 a.m. today in Kihei.

Firefighters brought the fire under control 20 minutes later and fire officials reported the fire extinguished at 12:20 p.m. this afternoon.

The fire on South Kihei Road impacted a 12 ft. x 12 ft. storage shed and a half-acre of brush. Damage to the shed and contents are estimated at $4,000.00. The fire appeared to have started in the brush near the shed.

The shed had no occupants at the time of the fire and no injuries are reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 3:10 p.m. HST

State Exceeds Goal in Creating Projects, Jobs

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today announced that the State has advanced more than $1.8 billion in capital improvement projects (CIP) statewide, exceeding the original goal of the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s plan launched in December 2008 to accelerate public infrastructure construction as part of a comprehensive effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Over the past 17 months, the State has successfully opened bids for, awarded contracts for or started construction on 827 capital improvement projects totaling $1,851,513,340.

The original 18-month plan focused on 1,500 capital improvement projects totaling $1.8 billion which were previously budgeted and approved by the Legislature. While the State has focused on these 1,500 projects, the State has expanded its plan to include 2,470 construction projects, totaling $4,621,269,610.

“We remain focused on working collaboratively with the construction industry, trade unions and counties to help revitalize our economy and create jobs,” said Governor Lingle. “This comprehensive and aggressive capital improvement plan is a key component of moving our state forward, and investing in the modernization of our public infrastructure, buildings and facilities.”

The State estimates the $1.8 billion in capital improvement projects has generated approximately 23,884 direct and indirect jobs statewide in the construction industry and other related sectors. This is based on a Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism formula which estimates that for every million dollars invested, 12.9 direct and indirect jobs are created.

The number of direct construction jobs created by the capital improvement projects is approximately 5,554. This is based on a formula used by the construction industry which estimates that for every million dollars, three direct construction jobs are created.

Investing in capital improvement projects and the modernization of Hawai‘i’s infrastructure is a major part of the Governor’s five-point action plan to stimulate the economy. Other components of the five-point plan include increasing tourism marketing and outreach; lowering business fees and providing tax relief; attracting private investment, especially in renewable energy technology; and maximizing federal dollars and partnerships.

Progress of all the capital improvement projects can be tracked on the Governor’s website at www.hawaii.gov/cip.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 2:20 p.m. HST

MS Study: Hawai'i Homes Nation's Most Energy Efficient

Hawai'i's homes are the most energy efficient in the nation on average, according to a ranking by Microsoft Corp.

The software giant compiled a list of average energy efficency scores for homes in each state and found Hawai'i homes came at 81. That compared to the national average of 61.

Called Hohm Scores, the analysis compares a home's actual and potential energy efficiency. Microsoft said its www.microsoft-hohm.com makes available scores by ZIP code, city and state.

"The Hohm Score provides an easy way for anyone to measure their home energy efficiency, and compare it with others," said Troy Batterberry, Microsoft Hohm product unit manager.

"If each of the 60 million households improved their Hohm Score by five points, collectively that would equal an estimated $8 billion in savings a year."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 1:10 p.m. HST

Maui Police Arrest, Release, Arrest, Release Same DUI Suspect on Same Day

LAHAINA — After posting $1,000 bail to be released on a drunken-driving charge, a woman was arrested a few hours later on another impaired-driving charge following a traffic collision in Lahaina, police said.

The first arrest occurred at 5:28 a.m. Sunday when Sandra K. Schwartz, 62, of Pukalani, was stopped for traveling 60 mph in a 40-mph zone on Honoapiilani Highway near Kaniau Road in Lahaina, said Capt. Charles Hirata, commander of the Lahaina Patrol District.

Lahaina patrol officer Matthew Bigoss arrested Schwartz after she showed symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol, Hirata said.

After being booked at the Lahaina Police Station and charged with DUI, Schwartz posted bail to be released at 9:10 a.m.

About two hours later at 11:30 a.m., police again encountered Schwartz when they were dispatched to a vehicle collision on Honoapiilani Highway near Kahana Ridge Road, Hirata said. He said the vehicle she was driving collided with another vehicle, slightly injuring the other driver.

Hirata said Schwartz again appeared to be impaired and couldn't pass field sobriety tests administered by Lahaina patrol officer Kean Uehara. Schwartz was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant, Hirata said. She reportedly was under the influence of prescription drugs.

She posted another $1,000 bail to be released at 3:15 p.m.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 10:25 a.m. HST

Aiona Praises Maui Prep, Mililani Students for National Science Achievement

HONOLULU - Lt. Governor Duke Aiona today issued the following statement to congratulate students from Maui Preparatory Academy and Mililani High School and for their high marks at the National Science Olympiad Tournament.

“On a national stage against tough competition, these students performed admirably and represented Hawai‘i with honor and distinction. I'm proud of them.

“The Science Olympiad in Hawai‘i continues to gain steam with more than 750 students in 40 public, private and home schools participating every year.

“I continue to support the expansion of the Science Olympiad Urban Schools Initiative to Hawai‘i to serve a larger number of students and teachers in underserved communities.

“The initiative would improve science, technology, engineering and math education and open up new doors for many students in research and technology. Students who engage in STEM education, with the support of parents, teachers and mentors are gaining critical thinking skills that will help them throughout their future careers.”

About 2,400 middle and high school students from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Canada competed in the 26th annual Science Olympiad National at the University of Illinois on May 22. The students, representing 120 teams of champions from across country, competed in more than four dozen events in areas such as astronomy, genetics, chemistry, computing and zoology.

Students from Maui Preparatory Academy and Mililani High School and received honors in the following subject areas:

Julia Addie Goldblatt from Maui Preparatory Academy ranked 7th in the nation for Ecology (Life, Personal & Social Science) that emphasized content knowledge and process skills in the area of ecology and adaptations in North American biomes.

Chad Uyehara and Tru Dang from Mililani High School ranked 10th in the nation for Elevated Bridge (Engineering) which challenged students to design, construct and test the most efficient bridge meeting pre-specified requirements.

Arielle Ujo and Cyrus Takahashi from Mililani High School ranked 10th in the nation for Technical Problem Solving (Inquiry & Nature of Science) that required students to measure, gather and process data manually and technologically to solve given problems.

(Report Provided by the Office of Lt. Gov. James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr.)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 9:15 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Named 'Best Value Destination' By SmarterTravel Editors

HONOLULU – Hawaii was recently named “Best Value Destination” in the SmarterTravel Editors’ Choice Awards 2010, beating out other contenders, including Las Vegas, Mexico, Australia, and Argentina.

According to the company’s website, Hawaii earned the title as this year’s best value destination based on sales and deals. The site also noted “With a three percent drop in overall year-over-year travel prices and a 10 to 15 percent decrease in premium hotel rates, plus four new air routes so far in 2010 and the likely addition of new low-cost carrier service from Allegiant, Hawaii was the obvious choice. While the summer peak season should be busy, last-minute deals may still be available, as will discounts for the rest of the year.”

“Value is measured by the total experience a visitor gets when they come to Hawai‘i,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). “It is an honor to have earned this award because it is also a reflection of our people, our culture and our place.”

John Monahan, president and CEO of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) added, “We’ve always believed Hawaii has been a great value for travelers and it’s satisfying to see the editors at SmarterTravel agree. This recognition is the result of hard work and collaboration within Hawaii’s tourism industry. The mission has been to keep the destination competitively priced by providing travelers attractive deals without sacrificing quality in these tough economic times.”

SmarterTravel Editor’s Choice Awards named winners in 17 categories, including the best airlines, airports, reward/loyalty programs, providers, and reward cards among others. Overall, SmarterTravel gave the highest marks to companies that have remained focused on providing value and service for a great customer experience.

“Our editors follow the ins and outs of the travel industry every day and they have chosen the best of the best in each category,” said Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel. “These winners are meeting the needs of today’s traveler.”

For more information on the complete list of winners, visit SmarterTravel.com. SmarterTravel® is the largest online travel resource of independent expert advice for the budget conscious traveler. SmarterTravel has an unbiased team of travel experts who analyze travel trends and offer money-saving strategies and travel tips. SmarterTravel is a division of Smarter Travel Media LLC.

For more information about Hawaii, the Islands of Aloha, visit gohawaii.com.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - May 26, 2010 6:30 a.m. HST

State Clarifies Rules on Solar Tax Credits

The state has updated tax guidance that some solar installation companies say was needed to clear up confusion that had been crimping their businesses.

A new tax information release published by the state last Friday seeks to clarify how state tax credits of up to $5,000 per system may be used.

"This gives us the clarity we need," said Mark Duda, president of the Hawai'i Solar Energy Association. "It will allow continued growth."

Local companies that install solar photovoltaic systems had been worried about the impact of tax credit guidance published by the state tax department earlier this month. The department issued the ruling after detecting some confusion and perhaps abuse on how tax credits were being filed.

Under the tax rules, homeowners can claim state tax credits of up to 35 percent or a maximum of $5,000 per system. The guidance issued earlier this month sought to clarify what constituted a system for tax credit purposes.

But some solar installers believed the guidance wasn't clear enough when it came to multiple systems on a single home.

Some people read the rules to say the tax credit could not be applied to more than one system per house despite there being legitimate reasons for splitting up connections.

The new guidelines seek to provide additional guidance on what constitutes a legitimate, fully integrated and independent system to provide more clarity.

Duda said the industry, along with the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the tax department had worked together to come out with the added guidance.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 11:55 p.m. HST

Water Commission Restores Portion of Stream Flows

PAIA -- State Commission on Water Resource Management members reached a historic compromise late Tuesday night, returning some water to six East Maui streams, but leaving both sides in the water dispute dissatisfied.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar General Manager Chris Benjamin called it "another bite from the apple," noting that the commission's action came in addition to losing millions of gallons a day in eight other streams in a commission decision two years ago. HC&S also is awaiting a contested case ruling that could mean that Hawaii's last sugar producer will lose another 34.5 million gallons a day in the Central Maui Na Wai Eha, or four great streams, debate.

The complainants' attorney, Alan Murakami, of Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., immediately called for -- and had recognized -- a contested case hearing request the moment the proceedings ended. That means the plaintiffs will seek binding arbitration for another, more favorable result.

The commission voted to restore water to four streams only in the wet season, Waikamoi, West and East Wailuaiki and Waiohue, with 1.68 million gallons per day, 2.46 mgd, 2.39 mdg and 2.07 mdg, respectively. In the dry season, West and East Wailuaiki and Waiohue will get 0.26 mgd, 0.13 mgd and 0.06 mgd, respectively.

The county Department of Water Supply lobbied hard for the commission to leave Waikamoi alone since it primarily serves 10,000 Upcountry customers. In the dry season, water diversions will remain in place and no stream water from Waikamoi will be restored.

Two other streams, Makapipi and Hanawi, will receive more water year round, or annually, totaling 0.66 million gallons a day.

Commission staff had recommended that 10.46 million gallons per day be restored to streams, to provide habitat for native plants and animals, and to improve conditions for Hawaiian taro farmers in the region. That report revised an earlier recommendation made in December, which called for water to be restored to only one of the streams.

Murakami had said he was generally satisfied with the staff recommendation.

He noted HC&S currently draws 88 percent of the water in all East Maui streams, using an average 167 million gallons per day, in addition to 72 mgd it pumps from wells. With that in mind, Murakami said what his clients were asking for was reasonable.

But HC&S' Benjamin said the plantation, which has suffered under drought and deep losses for the past several years, needs every drop.

For a complete story on the decision, see Wednesday's Maui News.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 5 p.m. HST

Mayor To Address Panel at Stream Meeting in Pa'ia

PAIA, Maui, Hawaii -- Mayor Charmaine Tavares will appear before the State Commission on Water Resource Management at a public meeting being conducted this afternoon at the Paia Community Center.

The commission is deliberating on a petition to amend the Interim Instream Flow Standards for streams in East Maui.

Mayor Tavares will advise the Commissioners that due to Maui County’s severe drought conditions, a decision to impose restrictive Instream Flow Standards for the Waikamoi Stream could result in a situation where little or no water is available for the nearly 10,000 Upcountry water customers. The severity of the impact would affect these water customers, including homes, many small businesses, farmers, ranchers, 10 schools, 11 churches and three medical care facilities.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 4:55 p.m. HST

Furlough Fridays Expelled From 2010-2011 School Year

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle, Board of Education Chairperson Garrett Toguchi, and Department of Education Interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced today all 17 “Furlough Fridays” scheduled for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year will be eliminated from the public school calendar, returning nearly 171,000 children back to the classroom.

The agreement was made possible due to a unique three-way public-private partnership between the State, teachers and the major banks in Hawai‘i. The plan calls for use of $57.2 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund, $2.2 million in federal funds, and six planning days the teachers have agreed to give back to the state. A $10 million line of credit from local banks is also available if needed.

“I am happy to announce that furloughs are over and children will be able to return to the classroom for the entire upcoming school year. We have been able to do this without laying off teachers, increasing the size of classes, raising taxes, or adversely impacting the State budget,” Governor Lingle said. “I am particularly proud that the major banks in our state stepped up and offered a line of credit that will give the Department of Education access to additional funds, if needed, to help end the furloughs.”

“On behalf of our teachers, principals, school officials and support staff, I am pleased we were able to reach this agreement today and allow teachers to start their summer recess knowing instructional time has been restored,” said Interim Superintendent Matayoshi.

“Students, administrators, teachers, staff and parents ought to be commended for being resilient, keeping their heads high and doing everything they could to weather a difficult academic year,” said Board of Education Chairperson Toguchi. “While we worked hard to avoid and end furloughs in the past year, I’m glad funding has now been approved to support the supplemental agreement reached between the Board of Education and the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, giving back to students all the days they deserve to be in school.”

“Although furloughs are behind us now, improving public education is a never-ending task, and our continued support will be critical to keep student achievement rising and to prepare graduates for college and careers,” Toguchi added.

Earlier in the day Governor Lingle signed Act 143 (SB2124 SD2 HD1 CD1) which makes $67 million available from the State Hurricane Relief Fund to restore instructional days. Governor Lingle has pledged to release $57.2 million appropriated under this act to restore 11 of the 17 furlough days.

Teachers, through a supplemental agreement signed by the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association and the Board of Education, have agreed to give up six paid teacher planning days.

Because the Department of Education has said it may need additional funding beyond the $57.2 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund and $2.2 million in federal funds the Governor has pledged to release, a group of local banks has agreed to provide a line of credit of up to $10 million to assist the department if necessary. The line of credit has no upfront costs and the banks have generously offered to give back all interest costs.

“Hawai‘i’s banking community is pleased to partner with the Governor, Legislature and the DOE/BOE in putting our students first and closing the chapter on Furlough Fridays," stated Don Horner, chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank.

The Board and Department of Education will now begin its work to finalize the official calendar for the 2010-2011 school year.

In addition to the hurricane relief money, Governor Lingle has pledged to release up to $2.2 million in federal State Fiscal Stabilization Funds to make certain charter school students also have a full school year. The money is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Part B funds, which governors have discretion over how to use. Governor Lingle has elected to dedicate all of the Part B funds toward improving the quality of public education.

“While most of the 31 charter schools managed to find innovative ways to minimize the impact of furloughs, including 17 charter schools that did not take any furlough days, they should not be penalized and need extra funds to avoid furloughs in the coming school year,” Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. said.

The money appropriated from the Hurricane Relief Fund does not become available until July 1, 2010 and the law requires any unused amount to be returned back to the hurricane fund. Because money in the Hurricane Relief Fund is invested, the Administration will work with the Department of Education to make money from the fund available in a manner that does not adversely impact the fund’s interest earnings.

“We recognize that this has been a very difficult time for our state, including our students, teachers and other school employees, parents and the general community,” said Governor Lingle. “I appreciate the public’s patience as we worked to return students to the classroom without creating a budget deficit.”

“At this time, our focus is to look forward to ensure all Hawai‘i students get the most out of their time in the classroom by working together to improve the overall quality of education,” the Governor added.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 4:05 p.m. HST

35,000 Hawai'i Tax Refunds Sent, Another 70,000 Coming Soon

HONOLULU – The State began issuing tax refunds totaling $21 million to 35,000 Hawai‘i state tax filers last Friday, four days after Governor Linda Lingle announced the Department of Taxation would begin issuing the refunds as a result of improving tax collections. Another 70,000 refunds totaling $43 million have been processed and will be issued to tax filers as early as this week.

The first batch of refunds included 25,000 of the earliest filers who had signed up for automatic direct deposit. These filers received their refunds on Friday. Approximately 4,000 refund checks were mailed on Friday, and an additional 6,000 checks were mailed out yesterday.

The Department of Accounting and General Services, which processes the automatic payments and paper checks, plans to electronically deposit 50,000 refunds into tax filers’ bank accounts on Wednesday. In addition, approximately 20,000 check payments will be mailed out starting this week.

“We are pleased that we are able to get refunds out to tax filers,” said Governor Lingle. “We are able to issue the refunds at this time because of higher than expected tax collections, which is an encouraging sign that our economy is beginning to recover. I want to again thank Hawai‘i taxpayers for their patience and understanding as we continue to work to address our budget shortfall, while setting the foundation for a stronger economic future.”

Governor Lingle announced on Monday, May 17 that the State would immediately begin issuing state income tax refunds that were processed during the months of January and February. She made the decision after tax revenue collections for the first 10 months of the current fiscal year came in higher expected.

The total estimated refunds for taxpayers who filed during this period is approximately $125 million, which represents 53 percent of the $238 million claimed to date. An estimated 209,000 of the 380,000 tax filers who are due refunds as of May 24 – 55 percent – will incrementally receive refunds from Friday of last week into mid-June.

The refunds, including individual, corporate, and fiduciary income tax returns, are being processed based on a first-in-first-out basis, with first refunds going out to the earliest tax return filers.

The State had planned to delay 2009 tax refunds within the legally allowed 90-day refund period until early July 2010 to help mitigate the State's projected $721 million revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2010 (FY10), which ends on June 30, 2010. Delaying the refunds would have provided an estimated one-time savings of $275 million. The Administration opted for the refund delay in order to avoid the need for additional massive cuts to education, health and human services and other programs, as well as avoid tax increases next year.

As of April 30, 2010, actual tax revenue collections indicate the revenue decline for the current fiscal year will be smaller than forecasted by the Council on Revenues. For the first 10 months of FY10, actual tax collections were down 1.0 percent. In contrast, the Council on Revenues had forecasted a revenue decline of 2.5 percent.

The Administration will continue to assess the State’s cash flow before determining whether additional tax refunds can be processed before July 20, which is the deadline to comply with the legally allowed 90-day refund period.

The Tax Department requests that filers check on their refund status by accessing their website at www.hawaii.gov/tax and clicking on the link entitled, “Looking for Your 2009 Individual refund Status” under “Spotlight.”

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 12 p.m. HST

Water Main Break Closes West Maui Roadway

Maui Police report that a water main break in the Hale Maka'i area of Lower Honoapi'ilani Highway in west Maui will close the road for an indefinite period today.

No word on the cause of the break, or alternate traffic diversion suggestions.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 11:10 a.m. HST

Baldwin Principal Suspended, Being Investigated

WAILUKU - Baldwin High School Principal Natalie Gonsalves has been placed on leave "pending an investigation," Department of Education Maui District Superintendent Bruce Anderson confirmed Monday.

Anderson said Gonsalves' leave started Thursday, a day before Baldwin's graduation ceremonies.

Vice Principal Philip Gilbert has temporarily been assigned as principal and is managing the school, Anderson said. Baldwin's last day of class is Wednesday.

Gonsalves could not be reached for comment. A call to Gilbert's office was not returned.

Gonsalves served as principal of Honokaa High School before taking over at Baldwin in 2006.

Baldwin parent and co-chairperson of the school's 2010 Project Graduation Dave Jorgensen said the news about Gonsalves "came as a total shock, and it is very unfortunate to have happened at the end of the school year before graduation."

Parent Brandy Gaddis said she learned of Gonsalves' departure from her daughter, and there seemed to be much discussion and speculation among the students about what had happened.

Gaddis said that when she had met with Gonsalves previously about school issues, the principal had listened to her and been professional and responsive.

"My experience has always been good with her," she said. "She took care of business."

Ilima Loomis can be reached at iloomis@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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

DOH Cites Goodfellow, HECO, PVT for Violations

HONOLULU -- The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch has issued Notices of Violations and Orders against Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. and PVT Land Company, Ltd., for air permit violations.

Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. was cited for failing to conduct monthly visible emissions observations on their 400 TPH Norberg Mobile Jaw Crusher and the Caterpillar Diesel engine. Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. has mobile crushing and screening plants located throughout the state. The violations were discovered on September 16, 2009 during an inspection; a penalty of $7,100 has been imposed in a consent decree for the violations.

PVT Land Company, Ltd. was cited for late submittal of their January to June 2009 semi-annual monitoring report. The report was received on December 16, 2009, more than 3 months beyond the required date for submittal. PVT Land Company, Ltd. operates a construction and demolition landfill in Nanakuli, O‘ahu. The violation was discovered on December 16, 2009 during an annual inspection; a penalty of $1,600 has been imposed for the violation.

The DOH Clean Air Branch issues air permits to minimize air pollution impacts on the public. Through the permit process, the DOH ensures continuing compliance with applicable state and federal emission standards. In general, penalties are assessed on violators to remove any economic benefit they may have gained from their noncompliance and put them in a worse situation than those who comply with the law. Parties have the right to request a hearing to contest DOH orders.

In a separate incident, The (DOH) has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO), for alleged violations of the state’s hazardous waste rules at their Waiau facility. DOH cited HECO for three counts of failure to make a hazardous waste determination and for one count of storage of hazardous waste without a permit. HECO faces a total penalty of $53,500. HECO may request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty order.

The DOH conducted a hazardous waste and used oil inspection of the Waiau faciliy in 2008, and after further investigation found that HECO had disposed of paint thinner, solvents and used oil on several occasions without making a hazardous waste determination. HECO also stored open containers of hazardous waste in four satellite accumulation areas in their Environmental Laboratory.

The DOH Hazardous Waste Program is fully authorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to inspect, monitor and enforce on businesses handling hazardous waste. These include generators, transporters and treatment, storage and disposal facilities. Other elements of the program include permitting of hazardous waste and used oil activities, oversight of corrective action which includes clean up of contaminated sites; providing compliance assistance and outreach to small businesses to help minimize their hazardous waste; and data management; and used oil contract management.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 25, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

High Winds In Forecast for This Morning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of Haleakala which is in effect until NOON today.

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

2. EFFECTS: Winds over the summit areas of Haleakala are expected to be 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 45 mph through noon today.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURTES: 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 access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 25, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

BankOh ATM Expansion May Lure More Chinese Visitors

An agreement that will allow Bank of Hawaii and its participating merchants to accept bank cards from China's largest issuer will provide more incentive for Chinese visitors to travel to the Islands, officials say.

Chinese visitors who hold cards from China UnionPay, a bank card association similar to Mastercard or Visa, will be able to walk into more than 1,000 merchants locally to make purchases. The visitors also can use the cards to conduct transactions at Bank of Hawaii's 484 automatic teller machines.

More than 2.1 billion cards have been issued by CUP member banks.

The joint market development agreement for merchant and ATM terminals announced yesterday is the first CUP has signed with an American bank. The relationship also calls for the two sides to promote each other in their respective markets.

"For us in China this will be great publicity," said Betty Brow, Bank of Hawaii executive vice president and head of its international banking division. "This will actually encourage more visitors to come to Hawai'i. Most Chinese visitors travel with cash. This will give them more confidence because they don't have to worry about converting their currency," she said.

Chinese travelers are much sought after among visitor destinations around the world because they spend more than counterparts from any other country — about $7,200 per person per trip, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Hawai'i has averaged just over 50,000 Chinese visitors in each of the past five years, and that number is expected to grow because of China's growing economy and new wealth.

Bank of Hawaii will initially enable about 1,000 of its participating merchants, primarily those geared toward tourists, to accept the CUP cards, Brow said. The bank plans to add another 1,000 to 2,000 merchants over time. The cards can be used as credit or debit cards, but most Chinese use them as debit cards, Brow said.

Bank of Hawaii is reprogramming its ATMs to have the transaction screens display messages in Chinese characters for CUP card holders, Brow said. The bank also is waiving the ATM transaction fee for CUP cardholders.

Executives from both companies attended a signing ceremony yesterday at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, including Cai Jianbo, first executive vice president of China UnionPay; Al Landon, BOH chairman and chief executive officer; and Peter Ho, BOH president and chief banking officer.

"With a growing number of visitors from China coming to Hawai'i every year, this is a tremendous opportunity to provide extended customer service, and to ensure they are able to access funds and make transactions when needed," Landon said. "This agreement is expected to help Chinese tourism and spending here in Hawai'i, and ultimately will help to create an overall positive experience in Hawai'i for Chinese visitors."

Cai said China UnionPay would consider expanding its relationship with Bank of Hawaii in the future.

"Hawai'i is one of the most important markets for CUP," Cai said. "CUP attaches great importance to the cooperation with BOH. The two parties shall explore further cooperation opportunities on the basis of this agreement."

Reach Alan Yonan Jr. at ayonan@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 24, 2010 3:10 p.m. HST

Police Continue Search for Missing North Shore Woman

Maui Police released a statement today reiterating that the missing persons case focusing on locating Laura Vogel continues.

Referring to the case as "open and active," the press release explaines that several searches in the area of the Pauwela Lighthouse on Maui's North Shore have repeatedly reavealed nothing. Searches have included helicopters, officers and emergency responders, community volunteers, search and rescue dogs and Civil Defense personnel.

While no new evidence has been revealed, Police encourage anyone with details to contat the department's Criminal Investigation Division at 244-6425, or Crime Stoppers at 242-6966.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 24, 2010 10:05 a.m. HST

Hontel Hana-Maui Cuts Staff from 200 to 90 "For Now"

The developing reorganization of Hotel Hana-Maui has cut its in-house staff from nearly 200 positions to about 90 "for now," according to a news release from the new management company, Green Tea.

About 100 jobs will be involved in outsourcing contracts with Hana-area businesses, Green Tea said.

It said the goal is to return the 70-room hotel to a stable financial footing, following a period in which the previous owners were close to foreclosure by their lenders.

"Our first priority is to restore the equilibrium between expenses and income," said Joy Berry, a partner in Green Tea. "That meant stabilizing the work force in line with the size and performance of the property — about 90 employees for now — with new job descriptions that provide greater flexibility. We are bringing the focus back to our core proficiency — which is to drive room nights — and paring away operations that can be better and more cost-effectively performed by specialists.

"As such we have outsourced several functions to date that have created about a hundred job opportunities in the Hana community."

Longhi's, one of the oldest and most famous restaurants on the island, has been retained to manage food and beverage operations including the hotel's two restaurants and the Hana Ranch roadside restaurant, which is owned by the hotel.

Longhi's is hiring 75 to 80 workers from the Hana area to staff the operation.

Landscaping and maintenance service has been contracted to Pulama, a Hana company that is hiring eight local workers.

The contract to operate the hotel-owned Hana Ranch Store has been awarded to Terry Mynar, who is hiring eight to 10 local employees.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 24, 2010 8:25 a.m. HST

Moloka'i Veterans Getting Impatient About Center Delays

Veterans on Molokai are upset they have waited for nearly four years to obtain permits to build a modest, $112,000 veterans center in Kaunakakai.

Larry Helm, commander of the nonprofit organization Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, said nearly 100 veterans met last week to discuss their problem with an attorney. About 364 of the 600 veterans living on Molokai belong to the group.

Helm said his group has written to Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares asking her to investigate the situation after being told by the county Department of Water Supply three months ago that there was a hold on the project.

Mahina Martin, Tavares' communications director, said the mayor's office is still looking into the matter.

The problem surrounds the accuracy of the site plan submitted by the veterans' contractor.

The delay also was brought about, Martin added, because the veterans modified their plans.

In 2005, Molokai Ranch gave the group a 17,000-acre parcel of unimproved land on Wharf Road outside Kaunakakai.

"We then went door to door at the Legislature, got a $250,000 state grant," Helm said.

That money was released in 2007 and has been sitting in a credit union collecting interest while the matter is stuck in the county's bureaucracy, Helm said.

Helm wrote to Tavares that the department said there is not enough water pressure for fire protection on the 4-inch waterline fronting the property.

But Helm said the county's fire chief does not believe a problem exists.

"Water was never an issue," Helm added. "Planners gave us the green light to build."

There are now four businesses and seven houses served by the waterline, and the fire chief has said that an additional structure would not be a burden, Helm added.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 24, 2010 7:15 a.m. HST

SS Maui To Serve As Underwater Classroom, Lab

The SS Maui, a little-known shipwreck off the coast of the Big Island, is about to be turned into an underwater laboratory for oceanography students and teachers.

University of Hawai'i students and professionals will spend three weeks starting next month doing field work surveying the SS Maui, an interisland steamer that struck a reef in 1917 at Makalowaena off Kona Coast State Park.

Six students from UH's Marine Options Program on O'ahu and Hilo will survey the site with digital cameras, diagrams and measurements.

The underwater classroom is made possible by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program, which preserves historical, cultural and archaeological resources in the sanctuaries and the UH Marine Option Program.

The program also is open to six elementary and six high school students and teachers from the West Hawai'i Explorations Academy for part of the field study.

The students and teachers will camp near the shore at Kekaha Kai State Park this summer and launch inflatable dive boats from the beach to access the wreck site using snorkel and scuba gear, according to NOAA.

The SS Maui was carrying sugar when it ran aground and struck a reef at Makalowaena in a Kona storm, according to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuary website.

The UH Marine Options program gives undergraduates interested in the ocean a chance to network with professionals and other students.

"The SS Maui wreck site gives students a chance to practice maritime archaeology and contribute to our understanding of Hawai'i's historic underwater resources," Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime heritage coordinator with the Pacific Island Region, said in a statement. "We're very excited about the growing interest in Hawai'i's unique maritime heritage and the opportunity to include both university and high school students in this program."

The program models one led last summer at Shipwreck Beach on Lana'i.

The program's goal is to share the information with the public and create an interest in Hawai'i's coastal resources. For more information about the Pacific Islands Region maritime heritage program go to www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/about/pacific/mhp.html.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 24, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

State Sitting on $1.3B in Stimulus Funds

Hawai'i received $1.3 billion of federal stimulus money as of March 30 and has spent $584 million. The cash was credited with saving or creating 2,566 jobs in the first quarter.

Congress approved the stimulus money in February 2009 and intended it to be used on "shovel-ready" projects to help jump-start the nation's stalled economy. Excluding entitlement programs such as food stamps and jobless benefits, Hawai'i agencies, on average, have spent 21 percent of the funds allotted. However, some agencies have lagged in their efforts to get the money out.

One of those is the agency charged with watching over the economy, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, or DBEDT.

So far, DBEDT has received $37.3 million in stimulus money, but spent only $446,964, or 2 percent. The money created 12 jobs.

DBEDT officials say they have been slow to spend the money in part because they want to use it to advance a specific goal — cutting the state's dependence on crude oil. That has meant the agency is moving more slowly to make sure the money is used wisely.

"We are in the process of transforming our energy system, so we needed to take this funding and not waste it quickly by just getting it out there," said Ted Peck, DBEDT's energy administrator.

The money in question is aimed at projects that increase energy efficiency and reduce reliance on imported energy. That includes photovoltaic rooftop power systems, efficiency retrofits for buildings, and solar water heaters. In Hawai'i that money also is aimed at projects meant to "transform" the state's energy sector by spurring the development of an underwater power cable, and investments in electric vehicles and chargers.

Much of that transformation has yet to occur.

STRICT DEADLINES

Peck acknowledged that some projects are behind schedule but blamed changing federal guidelines, sluggish state procurement processes and the complex nature of Hawai'i's plan- ned energy projects for the delays.

"We're not last to get our money out but we're certainly not first," he said. "A number of states did a very simple set of programs — they put all their chips in one type of project or one type of program."

States face strict deadlines for spending stimulus money, or risk losing it.

Last year, the state Department of Agriculture forfeited $119,826 in federal stimulus aquaculture grants that it was unable to use before a federal deadline.

Overall, Hawai'i is expected to get $1.29 billion in stimulus money. That includes money for capital improvement projects, tax breaks, unemployment insurance and food stamps.

Despite the large infusion of federal money that started last summer, there were 14,740 fewer jobs statewide during the first quarter versus the first three months of 2009, according to the University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization.

Most of the money awarded to DBEDT comes from two main grants, including $25.9 million for energy programs and $9.6 million for energy efficiency programs.

The energy programs include:

• About $5 million for consultants and studies of proposed undersea cables to transfer wind-generated electricity from Lana'i and Moloka'i to O'ahu.

• About $4 million for electric vehicle and charger system rebates and grants.

Energy efficiency programs include:

• About $3 million for solar water heaters for Hawaiian homesteads residences.

• About $3 million for a state rooftop photovoltaic power system.

Contracts for the two energy-efficency projects have been awarded, according to DBEDT. Additionally, there are 10 energy program deals in place involving $16.7 million, according to DBEDT.

Eight of the deals awarded were to other local government agencies including the University of Hawai'i. There is also a recently awarded $2.99 million contract with AECOM Technical Services Inc. to conduct environmental studies for the undersea cable.

ELECTRIC CARS DUE

While contracts have been awarded, the money hasn't been spent yet.

In addition, DBEDT has more than a dozen other contracts that need to be awarded by the end of September and spent by May 2012. The agency also needs to award $3 million in grants for electric vehicle charger systems before Sept. 30. DBEDT plans to solicit applications for those grants in mid-June.

Those grants, along with approximately 200 electric vehicle purchase rebates worth $4,500 each, and $500 charger rebates also must be spent by the end of April 2022. The rebates, which can be combined with a $7,500 federal tax incentive, are aimed at stimulating demand for electric vehicles.

Just when electrical vehicles will arrive in volume in Hawai'i remains unclear. However, one major manufacturer — Nissan Motor Co. — has said Hawai'i will be one of the initial markets next year to receive the highly anticipated Leaf, a mass-produced electric car. The company expects to produce about 50,000 Leafs during the first year.

Projects such as the undersea power cable are a good use of stimulus money, said Jennifer Sabas, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's chief of staff in Honolulu.

"If we are going to succeed in the Hawai'i clean energy (initiative), that is a key requirement to have a renewable resource on O'ahu," she said. "These (stimulus) dollars provided the perfect opportunity for the cash-strapped state to do this. So we will try to push them to try to keep it moving forward."

However, Sabas also expressed concern that DBEDT isn't deploying money quickly enough to create jobs that are needed now.

"It just doesn't seem like (DBEDT) has moved forward with as much speed as I think we would like them to, especially even on the efficiency" projects, Sabas said.

RULES 'TUGGING'

DBEDT should be able to spend all stimulus money in a timely fashion, Peck said. The agency is prepared to pump unused money into easier-to-accomplish energy efficiency projects, if needed, to ensure that stimulus money is not forfeited back to the federal government.

"I'm not going to let that happen," Peck said. "We're committed to not spending this money ill-advisedly, so we're going to make sure we maximize the benefit and get it out in a timely fashion."

Most state agencies face challenges spending stimulus money on time and efficiently, said Mark Anderson, the state's stimulus funding coordinator. That's because it isn't easy to spend money both quickly and efficiently.

The stimulus program "has the job creation aspect to it and they want us to spend the money quickly," Anderson said. "At the same time, there's this unprecedented transparency effort under way, and they want us to take all actions to avoid waste, fraud and abuse.

"These requirements are sometimes tugging at each other."

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 23, 2010 9:10 a.m. HST

Wind Advisory Continues Through Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

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

2. EFFECTS: Winds over the summit areas of Haleakala are expected to remain above 30 mph through this afternoon.

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 access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 23, 2010 8:20 a.m. HST

New Legislation Would Extend Unemployment Benefits

WASHINGTON — People who are out of work for long stretches would get expanded unemployment benefits through the end of the year under a bill Democratic lawmakers plan to pass this week.

The bill would also extend, for a year, about 50 popular tax cuts that expired in January. The bill would be paid for, in part, by tax increases on investment managers and on some U.S.-based multinational companies.

In response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill would increase taxes on oil companies by $10.9 billion over the next decade to finance the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

House leaders said they plan to vote on the bill early this week, leaving just a few days for the Senate to act before Congress goes on a weeklong vacation for Memorial Day. House leaders had planned to vote last week, but were still waiting for some cost estimates, and a few issues were unresolved.

Delays in extending the tax breaks have left thousands of businesses unable to plan for their tax liabilities. Delays in passing a long-term extension of emergency unemployment benefits have forced thousands of laid-off workers to live month to month with no certainty of income.

BILL'S PROVISIONS

Unemployment benefits for many will start to run out June 2, unless Congress acts. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in many states, at a cost of $47 billion.

Laid-off workers would continue to get subsidies to buy health insurance through the COBRA program through the end of the year, at a cost of $7.8 billion. States would get $24 billion to help cover Medicaid costs.

"This is a bill about creating jobs, preventing outsourcing of jobs overseas, closing loopholes that corporations and wealthy individuals (use for) ... avoiding U.S. taxes and meeting the needs of those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

The bill started as a one-year extension of popular tax breaks, but has grown into a grab bag of unfinished business lawmakers hope to complete before Memorial Day. The overall cost of the bill will top $150 billion and could approach $200 billion.

Most of that spending would be added to the federal budget deficit, generating opposition from Republicans and unease among some Democrats.

"It really seems to be a deficit extender bill, not a tax extender bill," said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The tax cuts, which total more than $30 billion, would be retroactive to Jan. 1 but would again expire at the end of December. They include a property tax deduction for people who don't itemize, lucrative credits that help businesses finance research and develop new products, and a sales tax deduction that mainly helps people in states without income taxes.

Among other provisions:

• Increase the 8-cent-a-barrel tax that oil companies pay to finance the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to 32 cents a barrel, raising $10.9 billion over the next decade.

• A three-year delay in imposing a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors. The cuts would be delayed until 2014, when lawmakers will have to address the issue again. The cost was still being calculated Thursday, but was expected to be about $60 billion.

• Expansion of the Build America Bonds program, which subsidizes interest costs paid by local governments when they borrow for construction projects, at a cost of $4 billion.

• $1 billion for summer jobs programs for ages 16 to 21.

• $1.5 billion in relief for farmers who suffered crop damage from natural disasters in 2009.

• $4.6 billion to settle long-running class-action lawsuits by black farmers and American Indians. One lawsuit concerns the government's management and accounting of more than 300,000 trust accounts of American Indians. The other is a discrimination lawsuit brought by black farmers against the Agriculture Department.

The bill would raise taxes on multinational companies by $14.5 billion over the next decade. It would increase taxes on investment managers, including hedge fund managers, venture capitalists and many real estate investment partnerships, by $18.6 billion over the next decade.

Investment managers typically get a fee to manage funds or assets. They also get a share of the profits earned for investors above a certain level. Under current law, the profit-sharing fees, called carried interest, are taxed as capital gains, with a top rate of 15 percent. The bill would tax 75 percent of the fees as regular income, with a top tax rate of 35 percent, scheduled to rise to 39.6 percent in 2011.

The tax increase is opposed by the financial services industry.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 23, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

In Djou Victory, Other 'Victor' Was Mail-In Ballotting

Voters of the 1st Congressional District made it clear: When given the choice, most of the people in the district prefer to mail their ballots.

Turnout for the three-week-long special election was 54 percent. Out of 317,337 registered voters in the district, 171,417 people cast a vote, according to the final tally released shortly after 9 last night.

That's substantially more than the 13.3 percent turnout in 2003, the last time there was a mid-term, winner-take-all election to replace the 2nd Congressional District representative. That election was a traditional, polling-place election.

This election was the first to use a mail-only format with such a large voter base.

Two mail-only City Council special elections last year attracted 41 percent and 45 percent of voters.

Statewide voter turnout was 66 percent in the 2008 general election — a presidential election year — and a record-low 53 percent in 2006.

Of those who voted in this special election, only 2,302 people, or 1.3 percent, chose to walk in to use ballot booths set up at Honolulu Hale. The overwhelming number of voters mailed in their ballots.

Chief elections officer Scott Nago said there were no glitches reported.

Some political observers viewed this election as a test case to see if future elections might go mail-only. Ultimately, the decision will be up to the state Legislature.

It was during the 2003 legislative session, following the 2002 special elections to fill the vacancies left by the conviction of Councilman Andy Mirikitani and the death of U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, that state lawmakers passed a law to allow state and county election offices to use the all-mail system under the extraordinary circumstances requiring a special election.

Election officials said they wanted the option to go to all-mail because of evidence that it would be more efficient from a logistics standpoint and possibly save money. The election cost the state an estimated $900,000, whereas the more traditional type of election would have cost roughly $1.2 million.

On the Mainland, Oregon has been conducting elections by mail-only ballots for the past decade, while many jurisdictions in Washington state use vote-by-mail exclusively.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 22, 2010 6:10 p.m. HST

Rebublican Djou Wins Seat Abdicated by Abercrombie

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou has likely won the special election in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, the first Republican sent to Washington, D.C., to represent the Islands in two decades.

According to the state Office of Elections, Djou leads with 39.5 percent of the vote, followed by 30.8 percent for state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and 27.6 percent for former congressman Ed Case. The remaining 11 other candidates attracted the rest of the vote.


The results are for ballots mailed in or dropped off through Friday and a portion of ballots received today, accounting for most of the votes cast in the winner-take-all special election. The Office of Elections plans to release a final count later tonight.

Djou would serve out the remaining months of former congressman Neil Abercrombie's term in Congress, which ends in January 2011. Abercrombie resigned in February to concentrate on his campaign in the Democratic primary for governor.

The September primary and November general election will determine who replaces Abercrombie in Congress.

Djou would be the first Republican from Hawaii sent to Congress in 20 years and only the third since statehood.

Case and Hanabusa split the Democratic vote, as public and private polls had predicted.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 22, 2010 12:20 p.m. HST

High Winds Back in Forecast for Maui

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

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

2 EFFECTS: Winds have increased over Haleakala and are expected to remain above 30 mph through Sunday afternoon.

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 access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 22, 2010 11:40 a.m. HST

Winds, Dry Conditions Promt Red Flag Fire Warning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Red Flag Warning for leeward sections of all Islands, 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 winds and relative low humidity will create critical fire weather conditions this afternoon.

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

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 22, 2010 11:10 a.m. HST

East Maui Stream Flow Follw-Up Meeting Set for Tuesday in Pa'ia

PA‘IA, MAUI – The State Commission on Water Resource Management will hold a meeting on Tuesday, May 25, in Pa‘ia, Maui, to hear public testimony and decide on a petition to amend the interim instream flow standards for 19 east Maui streams: Waikamoi, Alo, Wahinepe‘e, Puohokamoa, Haipua‘ena, Punalau, Honomanu, Nua‘ailua, ‘Ohi‘a, West Wailuaiki, East Wailuaiki, Kopili‘ula, Puaka‘a, Waiohue, Pa‘akea, Wai‘a‘aka, Kapa‘ula, Hanawi, and Makapipi.

The meeting is scheduled at 1 p.m. at the Pa‘ia Community Center, on the Hana Highway in Pa‘ia, Maui.

The Commission deferred action at its December 16-17, 2009 meeting, directed staff to collect additional data from key stakeholders, and come back to the Commission. This meeting is to hear recommendations incorporating the additional data.

The Commission has the responsibility of establishing instream flow standards to protect the public interest in streams statewide.

Instream flow standards are essentially the amount of water required to flow in a stream for the protection of native fish and wildlife, traditional and customary practices, recreation, scenic views, and other beneficial stream values. The Commission must also balance these instream uses with non-instream uses, such as water for drinking and home use, agriculture, cultivation of taro, and hydropower.

The streams under consideration have been used for more than 100 years to provide water for sugar in the central Maui plains. More recently, surface water has also gone to upcountry Maui residents for domestic and agricultural use.

A little over one year ago, the Commission amended the instream flow standards for the hydrologic units of Honopou, Hanehoi, Pi‘ina‘au, Waiokamilo, and Wailuanui. The Commission staff spent the last year implementing the standards, monitoring the release of water, and investigating stream conditions for these east Maui streams.

Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations to participate at this meeting should call (808) 587-0214 or toll free from Maui 984-2400 ext. 70214 for assistance at least four days prior to the meeting. For additional information on this meeting, visit the Commission’s website at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 22, 2010 9:10 a.m. HST

Maui Joins Global Sites for 'World's Largest Swimming Lesson'

KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation announced today that the Kihei Aquatic Center will be one of more than 175 sites around the world holding a simultaneous swimming lesson in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record.

Part of the international “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson,” (WLSL) the Kihei event will be held very early Thursday morning, starting at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Participants of all ages are welcome, but each must be registered to take part in the world record attempt. Registration begins an hour earlier at 3:00 a.m. There is no cost for the lesson; however, all participants must be registered, in-position and ready to begin the lesson prior to the official start time of 4:00 a.m.

Other sites joining the simultaneous attempt stretch from Zambia, Lebanon and Dubai to Europe, Canada, the Philippines, South Korea and throughout the United States.

The world record attempt is part of an effort by a coalition of the nation’s leading water safety and training organizations to draw attention to the message that swimming lessons save lives. The Maui swimming lesson is being coordinated by Fran Yamamoto of the County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Aquatics Division.

For more information, contact the Aquatics Division at 270-6138 or visit www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 22, 2010 7:20 a.m. HST

Solar Energy Industriy Adds 1,500 Jobs in Hawai'i

More than 1,500 jobs were added to the Hawai'i economy last year as the solar energy industry expanded, according to an industry trade group.

The Solar Energy Industries Association said the jobs here were part of the 17,000 created in the industry nationwide last year by the business. The association released the employment study as part of its lobbying effort to extend the Department of Treasury's grant program and the solar manufacturing investment tax credit for two years.

The industry is arguing the extension would add 200,000 jobs to the solar workforce and 10 gigawatts of new solar installations.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 9:15 p.m. HST

Family Houseless After Fire on Moloka'i

Hoolehua, Molokai, Hawaii - A fire first reported at 1:30 pm today burned approximately one third of a 2,000 square ft. home in the Hoolehua area of Molokai near the airport and caused an estimated $150,000 in damages to the structure.

The family that occupied the house was home at the time but not injured. The family reported the loss of a family pet bird. The structure fire triggered a brush fire that burned an estimated half-acre of adjacent agricultural land. Fire officials report that firefighters had to contend with 20 mph wind conditions and mulch located on the agricultural land.

Fire crews from the Hoolehua, Kaunakakai and Pukoo fire stations responded to the scene and the fire was extinguished at 5:30 pm. No injuries are reported and the cause of the structure fire is under investigation. The displaced family is being assisted by the American Red Cross.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 4:40 p.m. HST

A&B Foundation Grants $25,000 to Help After Kahului School Fire

KAHULUI – May 21, 2010 – The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation, funded by the business activities of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. and its subsidiaries, has granted $25,000 to Kahului Elementary School to assist with the school’s extraordinary needs as a result of a fire that gutted classrooms at Kahului Elementary School just last month. The
grant was presented today to Kahului Elementary School Principal Fern Markgraf and a group of teachers whose students were displaced from their classrooms in Building G.

A&B Foundation President Meredith J. Ching said, “Our ties to Kahului run deep, and we were immediately concerned about the teachers, students and families who would be negatively impacted. The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation is pleased to offer a grant of $25,000 to help Kahului School get back on its feet, as soon as possible, after this
unexpected emergency. We know that many books and some school supplies have been donated by concerned members of the community and hope our funding will help Kahului School to continue its good work the rest of this school year, and beyond, until repairs are completed.”

The A&B Foundation’s Hawaii Contributions Committee includes HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin, KT&S General Manager Glenn Wilbourn and A&B Properties Vice President Grant Y.M. Chun; Chun is an alumnus of Kahului School.

Ching explained, “All of us at Alexander & Baldwin feel a special tie to the community of Kahului, which was started in 1948, first as a dream—and then as a plan—to provide Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) employees with opportunities to own their own homes. Thousands of homes were developed by Kahului Development Company, which today is A&B Properties, and sold to retirees and employees of A&B companies and, later, to the general public. We continue to support the well-being of the many families living in these neighborhoods which together
comprise ‘Dream City.”

During 2009, the A&B Foundation granted more than $400,000 to 68 Maui County charities. The Alexander & Baldwin Foundation is funded by the business activities of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. and its subsidiaries; on Maui, they include Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S)/Maui Brand® Sugar; East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI); Kahului Trucking & Storage Company; A&B Properties, Inc.; A&B Wailea LLC; and Matson Navigation Company.

For more information, visit website www.alexanderbaldwin.com and look for the A&BFoundation link.

(Report Provided by the Alexander and Baldwin Foundation)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 3:10 p.m. HST

Lana'i High Students Arrested for Exploding Bomb on Campus

WAILUKU — Two Lanai High School students were arrested last month for setting off a homemade pipe bomb that destroyed lockers at the school in March, Maui County police said.

Damage was estimated at $1,500 to the lockers, with all 15 connected lockers having to be replaced, said Lt. Ernest Soares, commander of the Lanai Patrol District. He said no one was hurt in the explosion, which occurred on March 27, a Saturday, when school wasn't in session.

During a Maui Police Commission meeting Wednesday, Assistant Chief Danny Matsuura credited Lanai school resource officer Kimberly Masse with doing good investigative work to identify the suspects. She was investigating the theft of a phone at the school and talking to a suspect when she learned he was involved in the pipe bomb case, Matsuura said.

He said the students at first had planned to leave the pipe bomb under a 124-gallon propane tank in the center of the campus. But one suspect talked the other one out of doing that, and the pipe bomb was instead left by the lockers, Matsuura said.

One suspect was expelled from school, police said.

After being arrested last month, the two 18-year-old Lanai City men were released pending further investigation.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 2:50 p.m. HST

Kawafuchi Steps Down as State Tax Director

Kurt Kawafuchi, the director of the state Department of Taxation, will leave the Lingle administration in June.

A spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle said Kawafuchi is leaving the job by mutual agreement. Kawafuchi declined comment.

Kawafuchi was first named deputy tax director in January 2003, shortly after Lingle took office, and has led the department through the governor's two terms.

Kawafuchi is an attorney and certified public accountant who previously worked in private practice and as a tax attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 12:15 p.m. HST

Abrups 'Mayday' Signal Near Maui Concerns Coast Guard

Coast Guard rescue coordinators in Honolulu were trying to determine if anyone was in need of help after receiving a mayday call early Friday.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center watchstanders here received a mayday call about 1 a.m. Friday and were asking for assistance determining if anyone is in distress.

Watchstanders reported the one-time mayday call gave no position or vessel description. The voice only stated, "Mayday, we're going down."

The radio signal was received at the Coast Guard Very High Frequency (VHF) radio tower on Haleakala. The signal was then transmitted from the radio tower to Sector Honolulu's command center.

Anyone with information regarding this call is asked to contact Sector Honolulu immediately at 842-2600.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 11:55 a.m. HST

Unemployment Drops Across Aloha State in April

HONOLULU - The Hawai`i State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced today that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 6.7 percent, a 0.2 percentage point decline from 6.9 percent in March. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 9.9 in April from 9.7 percent in March. There were 593,950 employed and 42,550 unemployed in April, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 636,500.

Hawai'i Unemployment Rate
(Not Seasonally Adjusted)

April 2010
March 2010
April 2009
State
6.3
6.8
6.5
Maui County
8.3
8.9
8.3
Maui Island
8.2
8.8
8.1
Moloka'i
11.8
12.5
13.1
Lana'i
6.0
6.6
8.3
Honolulu
5.2
5.6
5.5
Hawai'i County
9.5
10.1
9.2
Kaua'i
6.0
6.6
8.3
U.S.
9.5
10.2
8.6
Source: State of Hawai'i, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Click here to view the entire report.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 11:45 a.m. HST

Energy Storage Seminar Coming to UH-Maui College

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaii- The benefits and challenges of implementing electrical energy storage will be the focus of the Hawaii Energy Storage Seminar, which will be held Wednesday, June 16, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the University of Hawaii Maui College. The free, one-day event will include discussions on the latest technologies being used on the electric transmission grid, as well as real-life case studies of large-scale storage systems currently in use and being planned.

The Hawaii Energy Storage Seminar is sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy, the County of Maui, HECO, HELCO, MECO, and the University of Hawaii Maui College. Business owners, architects, engineers, developers, home owners, renewable energy contractors and non-profit and government entities interested in renewable energy resources are encouraged to attend.

Space is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis; deadline to register is Wednesday, June 2. Lunch is available at the seminar for a nominal fee. For more information and to register, visit www.mauicounty.gov and click on the “Renewable Energy” tab on the lower right.

“This seminar is an exciting step forward for Maui County in developing reliable alternative energy systems,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “In Hawaii, we have an abundance of clean energy resources such as solar and wind power, and addressing the capacity for storing this variable energy is a critical component in harnessing these resources efficiently. This is an important opportunity for us to learn about the solutions currently available and those being developed.”

According to Juan Torres, manager of the Energy Systems Analysis Group at Sandia, “Energy storage can play an important role in the electric grid, and this need will continue to increase as demand grows and renewable generation becomes more pervasive. Hawaii is in a unique position to see some excellent benefits of storage because of its small, isolated grid and high renewables penetration goals. Maui is an excellent location for the seminar and we’re grateful to all the sponsors that have come forward to help out. We are hoping that more events like this will happen in the future.”

Dr. Clyde Sakamoto, Chancellor of UH Maui College, which is providing the meeting facility, stated that “the ability to learn directly from experts and the opportunity to meet the people who run leading-edge energy storage for a federal national laboratory is an invaluable opportunity for our students, and definitely will be a rewarding experience for our faculty.

“I have always believed that Maui offers a location, environmental resources and community support for research and development that will advance the cause of renewable energy.”

The storage seminar will also cover the many purposes storage can serve
- from allowing a utility to shift power generated in non-peak hours to stabilizing power generated from intermittent renewable resources.
Discussions will also cover technologies such as flywheels, thermal storage, and compressed air storage, and a presentation on the battery system being used by Castle & Cooke at its La Ola photovoltaic solar farm.

On Thursday, June 17, 2010, Castle & Cooke will be hosting a tour of the La Ola solar farm; separate registration is required and transportation fees will apply. Also on Thursday, Sandia experts will be offering free one-on-one consultations on both Maui and Oahu to allow interested parties to get feedback on their particular issues.

For more information on the seminar, the solar tour and consultation sessions, visit www.mauicounty.gov (click on the Renewable Energy tab) or call (808) 270-7142.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 7:50 a.m. HST

Inaugural Kaiwi Crossing Not For Faint at Heart

Past and future will be blended at the inaugural PA'A 'Eono Hoe outrigger canoe race on Sunday.

It is the latest version of a Moloka'i-to-O'ahu paddling race, and it will feature a unique mix of old and new rules for six-person canoes.

The 32-mile course will start at Papohaku Beach, Moloka'i, and finish at Maunalua Bay, O'ahu.

The most significant rule is an old one — only six paddlers will be allowed per team, meaning there will be no relief changes throughout the race ('eono is the Hawaiian word for six; hoe means to paddle).

Most long-distance canoe races — including the Moloka'i Hoe and Na Wahine O Ke Kai — allow teams to use three or four relief paddlers.

"When you look back at the initial crews that crossed the (Kaiwi) Channel, there were only a few that were daring enough to do it iron," veteran paddler Kamoa Kalama said. "This is a very strong attempt to acknowledge that."

The first two Moloka'i Hoe races in 1952 and 1953 did not allow relief changes. Every race since then has allowed relief paddlers.

'Eono Hoe race director Manny Kulukulualani said around 30 teams are expected to participate on Sunday.

"This is a race for experienced paddlers who can handle going that distance," said Kulukulualani, who will also paddle in the race. "The first crews in the (Moloka'i Hoe) did it, so I've always thought about what it was like for them. Now we get to see how tough it really is."

Because there will be no relief changes, the paddlers said pacing themselves during the race will be key.

"When you do (Moloka'i Hoe), you go all out because you know you're changing every 20 minutes," Kulukulualani said. "This is going to be more like a true marathon."

Kalama said his Team Hawai'i masters crew is prepared to take short breaks in the middle of the Kaiwi Channel.

"We'll stop to drink water, eat something," Kalama said. "We'll even have guys change (positions in the canoe) just to try and stay fresh."

The other significant rule revolves around modern technology. The race will feature an "open design" criteria, meaning canoes of any size can be used.

In most other long-distance canoe races, the canoes must meet a specified criteria. For the Moloka'i Hoe, for example, all canoes must weigh 400 pounds.

In Sunday's 'Eono Hoe, some canoes will weigh as little as 200 pounds.

Team Kamanu, led by captain Jimmy Austin, will paddle one of the new 200-pound canoes.

"We're hoping that those 200 pounds that we don't have to carry across the channel will create less fatigue on our bodies," Austin said.

Kulukulualani said technological advances have allowed canoe builders to make lighter canoes.

"So why not get creative and see what they can come up with?" he reasoned. "I understand the tradition that goes with this sport, but this is just a chance to try something different."

Austin added: "There's nothing wrong with wanting the sport to evolve while keeping the tradition. If these new canoes can get you across the channel faster, who wouldn't want to race in a faster canoe?"

At the same time, Kulukulualani said he does not want the 'Eono Hoe race to compete with the Moloka'i Hoe or Na Wahine O Ke Kai.

"The Moloka'i Hoe will always be the main event in paddling," he said. "This is just something different at a different time of the year to keep the sport going."

Team Kamanu and Team Livestrong are considered the top men's teams using lighter canoes. Team Pa'a, Lanikai and Hui Lanakila are the top men's teams using specified canoes.

In the women's division, Waikiki Beachboys and Hui Lanakila are considered the top contenders. Both crews will use specified canoes.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

$125M in State Income Tax Refunds Start Going Out Today

It's not a lot of money in the scheme of Hawai'i's $50 billion-plus economy.

But the nearly $125 million in state tax refunds that start going out today will provide a welcome psychological lift as businesses try to come back from an exhausting economic downturn.

"I'm glad to hear that," said Frank Kudo, chief executive of New City Nissan in Kalihi. "Let's hope the consumers will pick up this economy, because it sure is needed."

Refunds for those who filed their state income tax returns in January and February — about $125 million of the total $207 million of refund claims to date — will be sent to about 143,000 tax filers starting today. The first to get their refunds will be those who signed up for direct deposit. Mailed refund checks begin going out May 28.

While state tax refunds usually start arriving well before May, this year Gov. Linda Lingle and the state Legislature decided to delay sending checks out until July to help balance the budget. But with tax collections improving in recent months, Lingle decided she could release some of the refunds now.

The exact economic impact of the refunds is difficult to ascertain.

But the timing of the refunds — coming as a nascent recovery takes hold — is embraced by many businesses. At Hawaiian Islands Creations, chief executive Leigh Tonai said there had been signs of a recovery under way, but then a slowdown occurred in recent weeks among retailers.

For his 10 surf shops, same-store sales slowed around the end of March.

That typically occurs for some retailers as shoppers hit the pause button while they figure out their taxes. But retailers say the wallets usually come out again after mid-April.

Tonai said that didn't occur this year.

"It's been slow the last month, month and a half and I would think some of that is because people aren't getting their money back from the state," Tonai said.

But state tax refunds will be arriving over the next few weeks. That's got Tonai thinking he's going to be seeing more customers buying T-shirts, tops, skateboards and other items.

"I would expect some kind of bump because of that."

'A GOOD THING'

The same is expected at Newtown Appliances Sales and Services Inc. in Pearl City, which already is seeing an increase in customer traffic because of the pending rebate program on energy-efficient refrigerators.

Sharon Kawasaki, Newton office manager, said April was slower than normal.

"We were thinking it probably was because of the taxes," Kawasaki said. She said people probably will be out looking at new appliances again knowing that they're in line for a refund in coming weeks.

"That's a good thing."

It also is a good thing in terms of shopper psychology, reinforcing consumer confidence at a time when it appears Hawai'i's economy is poised for recovery, albeit a slow one.

Some aspects of the state's economy are already beginning to improve.

In March, the average amount hotels charge per available room, a significant measure of visitor industry health, rose for the first time in two years. That was accompanied by a rise in room usage — meaning the industry brought in more by filling more rooms as well as raising prices.

Also in March, the number of people employed rose for a second straight month, while the Coincident Index, a barometer of current economic activity prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, showed increases in February and March for Hawai'i.

But there has been little good news coming out of the public sector. Frequent headlines about state government cuts, furloughs and budgetary shortfalls wear on consumer and business confidence, economists have said.

Lingle's ordering of earlier-than-expected tax refunds was due in part to better than expected tax collections.

During the first 10 months of the state's fiscal year, the collections were off only 1 percent, as compared with the 2.5 percent decline that had been forecast.

The tax returns signal that the tide could be turning.

"It's a sign that shows government's financial situation is improving," said Eugene Tian, an economist with the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

"That will encourage people."

'At the right time'
Lowell Kalapa, head of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, agrees that it may help boost consumer confidence, though he said he wishes Lingle had released the refunds earlier. In normal years the refunds would start going out in February, he said.

"Certainly not having the money out there in the consumers' hands is going to hinder any kind of activity," Kalapa said.

But the lifting of the moratorium on some refunds is better than keeping the money in the government's hands, he said.

"It's good news for the taxpayer, that's for sure. They depend on refund checks."

Having the money out there should result in more spending and more jobs, he said.

"I think a lot of people will be happy."

Not everyone agrees with that last point, because consumers' reluctance to spend may linger even as the economy revives.

There's still some question whether people will run out to spend their tax returns, or whether they will add to savings or pay down debt.

It's thought that some of the $250 federal stimulus checks that went out to Social Security recipients last year went to paying off credit card balances and other debt.

"We do need to realize this is a different circumstance," said Barbara Poole-Street, Chaminade University acting dean of Professional Studies and a professor of economics.

At New City Nissan, Kudo is hoping people are tired of saving and hunkering down.

"Anytime anyone has any discretionary income, that's good for us," he said. "It will be hitting us at the right time."

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Federal Funding Eyed As Source to End Furlough Fridays

A bill making its way through Congress could provide Hawai'i with an estimated $91 million to save education jobs and potentially help eliminate furlough Fridays next school year, according to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's office.

According to the "Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010," legislation written by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, some $23 billion would be distributed among the states in fiscal year 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education to preserve education jobs across the country. The measure comes as states face dramatic cuts to public education and hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs nationwide.

The bill, which last week garnered the support of President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, or stimulus package, which provided Hawai'i with more than $129 million in emergency education funding last school year.

Both Inouye and U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka say they support the measure and see it as one possible source of funding to end furloughs of Hawai'i's public school teachers. The bill appears to have significant support among Democrats, the Washington Post reported last week, but a few Democrats and some Republicans have said they are concerned that the measure increases the federal deficit.

"Education is the lifeblood of society, and the lessons we teach our keiki and young adults are the greatest investment we can make in our future. Hawai'i's public school system is in shambles, with furlough Fridays altering the education of a generation. I support this proposal," Inouye said in a written statement to The Advertiser yesterday.

The bill is likely to receive consideration in the U.S. Senate sometime after the Memorial Day recess, said Peter Boylan, Inouye's press secretary. The House already has approved a measure that provides similar funding to states.

Akaka said furlough Fridays have put Hawai'i's students at a disadvantage and that the infusion of cash is necessary to reverse the "crippling effect" the economy has had on education budgets across the country.

"All of our nation's children deserve the best education possible, and this bill would provide the funding needed to keep Hawai'i's schools open, our teachers in the classroom and our children learning so they can have every opportunity to succeed. I applaud Chairman Harkin's initiative," Akaka said in a written statement.

The first furlough day scheduled for next school year is Aug. 27.

MONTHS OF SPARRING

For more than nine months, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the state Board of Education and Gov. Linda Lingle bickered over numerous plans and agreements to eliminate the school year's 17 furlough Fridays, which were agreed to last September and implemented a month later.

The furlough days resulted in Hawai'i having the shortest school year in the nation.

A decision by lawmakers during the legislative session to set aside $67 million from the state's Hurricane Relief Fund to eliminate next school year's furlough days theoretically ends the remaining 17 furlough Fridays in the teachers union contract. But the bill must still earn Lingle's approval, and she or the next governor will need to release the money to officially restore the furlough days.

The potential federal dollars could be another source of money to eliminate furlough days. However, the U.S. Department of Education, according to the bill's language, will require states to apply for the funds and federal education officials may place restrictions on where the money can be spent and the conditions states must agree to by accepting the money.

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said the additional federal money would be welcomed, but he said education officials would have to look closely at the conditions placed on those dollars.

"If the federal legislation puts conditions on receiving the money, like Race to the Top grants — even to get the stabilization money there were a lot of hoops to jump through — we'd have to take a look at that and see if we can actually meet those conditions," Toguchi said.

Toguchi also said the "Keep Our Educators Working Act" was prompted by the hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs that have been occurring across the country. Hawai'i's situation is different, he said.

"We've avoided layoffs and went to furloughs instead. I wouldn't say we're in a better position, but I would say that arguably we made a more responsible decision to maintain quality of education by not laying off thousands of teachers," Toguchi said.

"The furloughs, reluctantly, have allowed us to weather the period that it took the feds to realize they need to provide more support to public education."

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 21, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Pedestrian Killed Along Highway on West Side

Lahaina Police responding to an accident report last night found that a pedestrian had been struck two vehicles.

Maui Police say that, shortly before 9 p.m., Rene Humberto Quijada, an adult male, was on the roadway on Honoapi'ilani Highway near Wahukuli Beach Park - near Mile Marker 23. According to the report, Quijada enter into the path of a 2007 Suzuki sedan that struck him while on the inner lane of the highway. The victim was then struck by a 2004 Cadillac. Both vehicles were traveling couthbound. Paramedics transferred Quijada to Maui Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

This is Maui County's eighth traffic fatality of 2010, compared with seven at this time last year.

(Information Provided by Maui County Police)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 9:45 p.m. HST

Accident Closes Honoapi'ilani Highway Near Ka'anapali

Maui Police report that a vehicle accident has closed a portion of Honoapi'ilani Highway in Lahaina between Leiali'i Road and Ka'anapali Parkway. Northbound and Southbound traffic are being alternated along the mauka shoulder around the scene. Traffic, as a reult, is moving very slowly.

No word on injuries, the cause of the accident, or when the road is expected to reopen.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 1:40 p.m. HST

Watchdog Groups Wants Licenses Revoked for 'Hawai'i News Now' Troika

A local media watchdog group today called for the revocation of the broadcast licenses of KGMB, KHNL and K5 television stations, saying the newsroom merger between three of Hawaii's five largest stations is an "egregious violation" of federal law.

At a news conference, Media Council Hawaii said the newsroom merger, branded as Hawaii News Now, violates laws barring multiple ownership of television stations in a single market.

"Raycom has basically taken control of three stations in the market and we urge the FCC to act on its ownership rules and revoke their broadcast licenses," said Adrienne Biddings, staff attorney for Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law. The Washington, D.C-based institute represents the Media Council.

Raycom officials had no immediate comment.

Documentation for the newsroom merger, which were recently made public after The Advertiser filed a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the deal is in fact a sale, said Chris Conybeare, the Media Council's president.

The records show that Alabama-based Raycom, owner of KGMB and KHNL stations, will receive more than 90 percent of the cash flows of the three stations and will handle nearly all of the operations of the three stations, including sales functions, news gathering, promotions and back-office support.

"(They) clearly show that the Raycom deal in Hawaii is one of the most egregious violations of public trust and FCC rules," Conybeare said. Federal law bars multiple ownership of television stations in single market, unless the FCC grants a waiver to do so.

In October, Raycom merged the newsrooms of K5 and local NBC affiliate KHNL with that of local CBS affiliate KGMB, resulting in the termination of a third of the stations' staff and the simulcasting of some news programs. Raycom said at the time that the merger with KGMB was needed to prevent one or two of the stations from going under as the local television advertising market had fallen by $20 million, or about 30 percent.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com,

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 1:30 p.m. HST

Due to Budget Constraints, County Pools to be Closed on All Holidays

WAILUKU - The County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Aquatics Division, announced today that due to budget constraints it will implement the closure of all County pools on County-recognized holidays, beginning Memorial Day on Monday, May 31, 2010.

Additional closures may be necessary pending details of upcoming County employee furloughs.

The County currently recognizes 13 holidays (14 in an election year):
New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, King Kamehameha I Day, Independence Day, Statehood Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

For more information, call the County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Aquatics Division, at 270-6135 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/aquatics. For daily pool schedule information, call the Maui County Pools Information Line at 270-8208; the recorded message is updated by 9 a.m. daily.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 12 p.m. HST

Governor, Delegation Heading to Far East for 'Hawai'i Week'

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle announced today she will lead an official Hawai‘i delegation to China from June 4 to 15 to build and expand tourism, investment, trade, energy and education opportunities for Hawai‘i. A key portion of the trip will focus on “Hawai‘i Week” at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

The Governor’s mission, her fourth to China to promote Hawai‘i, will cover Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming and Beijing. The Governor will also visit Japan (June 16 to 19) to meet with tourism partners in Tokyo.

“This trip to China is another important component in our ongoing effort to expand long-term economic development and business opportunities for Hawai‘i in the emerging China market,” said Governor Lingle. “It is vital that our state continue to build and strengthen relationships in Asia, especially China, that will position Hawai‘i businesses and residents to capitalize on future economic and investment opportunities and strengthen our cultural and educational partnerships.”

In Shanghai (June 5-9), Governor Lingle will join representatives and participants from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the visitor industry and entertainers from Hawai‘i at the “Hawai‘i Week” celebration to take place in the United States Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. During the Expo’s “Hawai‘i Week,” Governor Lingle will participate in various functions planned by HTA including news conferences and media interviews, as well as an Aloha Night dinner reception, which will be attended by Chinese government officials, senior travel trade partners, major tour wholesalers, airline partners, and key media. The Shanghai Expo is expected to attract more than 70 million visitors, 86 percent of whom will come from domestic China.

While in Shanghai, Governor Lingle will deliver a keynote address at an American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai Distinguished Speakers Luncheon about the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative. She will also participate in seminars on investing in Hawai‘i, and studying at Hawai‘i’s colleges and universities.

Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture officials will also be in Shanghai to promote the sale of Hawai‘i agricultural products in China. They will be joined by officials from the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources as well as the agriculture industry, including representatives from the Hawai‘i Export Nursery Association and the Hawai‘i Tropical Flowers Council. The Hawai‘i Agriculture team will meet with Chinese officials in both Shanghai and Beijing.

In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province (June 10-11), Governor Lingle will be joined by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i’s 2010 Narcissus Queen Tour to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Sister-State-Province relationship between the State of Hawai‘i and the Province of Guangdong. Governor Lingle and Guangdong Province Governor Huang Huahua will also discuss the next 25 years of trade, investment and education opportunities. A large proportion of Hawai‘i’s ethnic Chinese citizens trace their heritage to Guangdong Province, now known as China’s foreign trade powerhouse, accounting for almost one-quarter of China’s exports to the world.

Governor Lingle will visit Kunming in Yunnan Province (June 12-13) where she will be welcomed by Yunnan Governor Qin Guangrong. Yunnan, one of China’s most environmentally and culturally diverse provinces, is located at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains and is working to become China’s “Sustainable Province.” Governor Qin and Governor Lingle will discuss a relationship centered on clean and renewable energy development. The Chinese Chamber of Hawai‘i and the Narcissus Queen Tour will also be in Yunnan Province.

Governor Lingle will have two days of official meetings in Beijing (June 14-15). She will meet with Chairman Shao Qiwei of the China National Tourism Administration on opportunities for increased Chinese travel to Hawai‘i. This will be Governor Lingle’s ninth meeting with Chairman Shao in seven years.

Official meetings are also scheduled with the China Ministry of Commerce (MOC), regarding “Hawai‘i House,” a Hawai‘i products import initiative by the MOC. She will also promote investing and studying in Hawai‘i as a part of several seminars that are scheduled.

Governor Lingle invites those from Hawai‘i interested in more information about this mission to China, including the possibility of participating in some of the events and activities, to contact the following:
• “Hawai‘i Week” at the Shanghai Expo, Shanghai, please contact the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority at 808-973-2252.
• Non-“Hawai‘i Week” events and activities in Shanghai and about the visit to Guangzhou, Kunming and Beijing, please contact the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism at 808-586-2355.

Governor Lingle will stop in Tokyo to meet with travel industry partners and Japan Association of Travel Agents before returning home.

Delegation and Expenses

Delegation to China
The following individuals will participate in different segments of the China trip, with the majority attending the Hawai‘i Week activities in Shanghai:

Governor Linda Lingle
House Speaker Calvin Say, representing the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives (Shanghai only)
Senator Donna Mercado Kim, representing the Hawai‘i State Senate (Shanghai only)
Ted Liu, director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Mike McCartney, president and CEO, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) (Shanghai only)
Kelvin Bloom, chair, HTA (Shanghai only)
David Uchiyama, vice president brand management, HTA (Shanghai only)
Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i 2010 Narcissus Queen Tour (Guangzhou, Kunming and Beijing only)
Duane Okamoto, deputy director, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture
Lyle Wong, plant industry division administrator, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture
University of Hawai‘i, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Hawai‘i Export Nursery Association
Hawai‘i Tropical Flower Council
Linda Smith, senior policy advisor
Major General Robert Lee, state adjutant general (traveling to China/Asia for other business)

Delegation to Japan
Governor Lingle
Mike McCartney, president and CEO, HTA
Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison
Brennon Morioka, director, Department of Transportation

Governor Lingle’s expenses, including various event-related expenses in China, will be paid for through a combination of funding sources, including the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and Governor’s Office and Executive Branch departmental budgets.

Funding for the Hawai‘i agricultural team is from a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service.

Expenses for HTA officials and Hawai‘i legislators for Hawai‘i Week at the Shanghai Expo will be paid for by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

Linda Smith will be paying her own expenses with personal funds.

Non-government agencies and individuals will cover their own expense.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 8:30 a.m. HST

Na Wai Eha Report Outlines History, Effects of Diversion vs. Restoration

WAILUKU - A U.S. Geological Survey study 4 years in the making and released this week describes the effects of taking millions of gallons of water daily from "the Four Streams" of Na Wai Eha that originate in the West Maui Mountains.

USGS also presented a complex matrix showing the amounts of stream water needed to return to each of the Central Maui streams to revitalize flora, fauna and aquatic life; to recharge the aquifer and to promote taro growing. The report also details the amount of water necessary to resume mauka-to-makai, or mountain-to-ocean stream flow, something not seen for more than a century of stream diversions to irrigate sugar crops.

"The idea is to give people and the commissioners the tools to understand the effects of a decision to divert water and adjust those diversions," said USGS hydrologist Delwyn Oki, who presented the findings of his 176-page report to about 50 people in Maui Economic Opportunity's classroom Tuesday night.

Here's a few of the USGS study's conclusions, which relied on data obtained between 1984 and 2009:

* Aquatic life and taro are better able to thrive when water is restored to streams and water temperature is lowered.

* Restoring minimal amounts of continuous stream flow would enable fish that already exist in the streams, such as shrimp and gobies, to thrive.

* Restoring instream flow would help recharge the underground aquifer that Maui County pumps for domestic water use.

* Increasing instream flow also would improve water quality in the aquifer.

* To achieve constant mauka-to-makai stream flow, the minimum amounts of water required would be: 1 million gallons per day for Waihee Stream, 1.3 mgd for north Waiehu and 1.1 mgd for south Waiehu (they converge to create Waiehu Stream), 5.2 mgd for Iao Stream and 6.8 mgd for Waikapu Stream.

It's estimated that 70 million gallons per day is diverted from the Iao, Waihee, Waikapu and Waiehu streams by the Wailuku Water Co.

The results were obvious conclusions to many who oppose the more than century-old practice by sugar producers, several audience members said on Tuesday.

"This report justifies our cause," said taro farmer John Duey of Hui O Na Wai Eha, one of the groups seeking the return of water diverted from streams. "Now it's up to the commission to do its job."

East Maui Irrigation President and Hawaiian Commerical & Sugar Co. Water Management Director Garret Hew said he couldn't comment on the report Wednesday because he hadn't had time to review it. HC&S gets water for some of its fields from the Wailuku Water Co. system.

HC&S Senior Vice President of Agricultural Operations Rick Volner said that, technically, the record is closed on the Na Wai Eha hearings, so supposedly new information can't be introduced.

But the USGS said that it did the work, in large part, to help create solutions to the ongoing water disputes.

"In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that competition exists for the limited surface-water resources in Central Maui," according to the report. "However, quantitative instream flow standards for Central Maui streams have not been established. Additional scientific information, including ecological information and stream-flow data, is needed to establish technically defensible instream flow standards that will support equitable, reasonable and beneficial allocation of the water resources."

"We have no position," Oki said about the Na Wai Eha contested case. "We are just presenting the information."

In October, commissioner and hearings officer, Dr. Lawrence Miike, recommended restoring about half of the diverted water back to the streams. The Commission on Water Resource Management is deliberating and will release its decision before the end of this month, state officials have said.

Oki said he gave commission staffers a copy of the report on Monday, and he briefed commissioners late last year on his preliminary findings. In fact, the commission as well as Maui County and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs were all partners in developing the USGS report, according to the document.

The report can be found on the USGS Hawaii website at pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5011/. The USGS plans another meeting on its findings at 8 a.m. on Friday at the American Water Works Association Hawaii Section 36th Annual Conference in Honolulu.

USGS Pacific Islands Water Science Center Director Stephen Anthony said officials held Tuesday's meeting on Maui first in order to give residents here a "heads up" about the findings. Anthony said officials would return in two months for a follow-up meeting on the report.

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

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

'Fewer Than Normal' Number of Cyclonic Events Predicted for Hawai'i

The central Pacific should see only two or three tropical cyclones this hurricane season — fewer than normal — but federal and state officials yesterday pleaded with everyone to be ready for the Big One.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday proclaimed that the annual Hurricane Preparedness Week will be May 24-30 this year, and urged Island residents to remember the lessons of 1992's Hurricane Iniki, which devastated Kaua'i.

"We just don't have the resources right after a hurricane to get to your particular family and to help every single family in those immediate hours right after the hurricane," Lingle said. "The burden is on you for your own family. ... The government is going to get there as quickly as they can."

An average hurricane season in the central Pacific typically means the arrival of four to five tropical cyclones, an umbrella term for tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

But this season's projections call for a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season of two to three tropical cyclones, a 25 percent chance of a normal season, and a 5 percent chance of six or more tropical cyclones, said Jim Weyman, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

This year's lower-than-normal forecast is based on expectations that fewer hurricanes will move into the central Pacific from the eastern Pacific, and cooler waters will form in the equatorial Pacific from La Niña conditions, Weyman said.

Hurricane season in the Pacific begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

While the number of expected tropical cyclones is relatively low, the forecast seems to follow a general trend of fewer systems in the 1950s through 1970s, an increase in the 1970s through 1990s and a decrease from the 1990s through now, Weyman said.

But there certainly have been exceptions, such as Iniki — and three hurricanes last year that put the Islands on alert.

The closest and scariest was Hurricane Felicia, which bore down on Hawai'i in August and sent thousands of residents scrambling for emergency supplies before Felicia fizzled out just before reaching the southern edge of the Big Island.

The most powerful hurricane last year, Neki, posed no major threat to the main Hawaiian Islands. But Neki caused U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Honolulu to fear for the safety of workers in the remote Northwest Hawaiian Islands, said Barry Stieglitz, head of Fish and Wildlife's Pacific refuges project.

Last year's hurricane season forecast was for three to five tropical cyclones — and seven actually materialized.

LEEWARD O'AHU PLAN

On Tuesday, Lingle signed a bill into law that authorizes the director of state Civil Defense to work with Honolulu officials to develop a disaster preparedness plan specifically for the Nanakuli and Wai'anae state House districts along the Leeward Coast.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Karen Awana, D-44th, (Honokai Hale, Nanakuli, Lualualei), proposes a disaster preparedness plan for the Leeward Coast. That coast has one highway leading into and out of the area, a large homeless population, elderly residents with limited access to disaster shelters, and many residents who rely on public transportation.

"A disaster preparedness plan is so critical to our community," Awana said in a statement. "If a major disaster closes the road, this places our people in serious jeopardy. We need to have a plan in place so that we are prepared to deal with the inevitable disaster that will strike. It's a matter of health and safety."

Yesterday, Lingle reminded all Island residents not to become complacent and to use the annual Hurricane Preparedness Week to get ready for the worst.

Hurricanes have cost the state more money than any other kind of natural disaster, she said.

And since 1959, the central Pacific has seen 63 hurricanes, 49 tropical storms and 58 tropical depressions, Lingle said.

Lingle then recalled the night that Iniki made landfall on Kaua'i in 1992 and urged everyone to learn from those lessons.

"I know it's been a while now," she said. "Some of the young people don't remember it at all. We need to make it real for them. They need to understand how serious this issue is."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 20, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Wind Advisory Extended Through This Evening

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

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

2. EFFECTS: Expect east winds of 25 to 40 mph with higher gusts today.

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 access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 19, 2010 4:10 p.m. HST

Lana'i Customers To Get Credit for Uncollected Trash Dates

LANAI CITY, Lanai, Hawaii— The County’s Solid Waste Division announced today that Lanai residential refuse customers will receive a credit of $27 on their June/July refuse collection statement for the three-month disruption of service. Refuse collection was disrupted from December 2009 to February 2010 when the island’s only refuse truck experienced mechanical problems. In order to accommodate the narrow streets of Lanai, the refuse truck is smaller in size than most refuse trucks and is the only one of its kind in the County’s fleet. It was shipped to Maui for repairs and could not be temporarily replaced during the three-month service disruption.

Lanai residents can expect to receive the bill reflecting the credit adjustment in mid- to late June, 2010 after the Maui County Council approves rates and fees for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins July 1, 2010.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares, Managing Director Sheri Morrison and Department of Environmental Management Director Cheryl Okuma traveled to Lanai recently to personally thank 14 community volunteers who assisted with refuse collection from December 2009 to February 2010.

Each of the volunteers was presented with a certificate of recognition by Mayor Tavares during the mahalo BBQ luncheon held at the County’s Highway Division baseyard in Lanai City.

“For months these outstanding Lanai volunteers assisted senior citizens, the disabled and others unable to remove their own trash,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “In typical Lanai fashion, they immediately stepped up to help without hesitation. Helping their community comes naturally for these volunteers and we’re very grateful for their dedication during such a challenging time.”

Mayor Tavares also recognized staff executive assistant Darlene Endrina, who serves as a liaison from the Mayor’s Office to the Lanai community. “Darlene was a key part in helping to connect volunteers with those who needed assistance. Her hard work made a difference in successfully coordinating a very valuable community service with the efforts of County employees and our Lanai volunteers,” Mayor Tavares said.

For more information, Lanai residents can call the Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, at (808) 270-1731 or toll-free: 1-800-272-0125 and request extension 1731.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 3:50 p.m. HST

Hawai'i PUC Charmain Named to FCC Position

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced today that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appointed Carlito P. Caliboso, Chairman of the PUC, to the FCC’s Joint Conference on Advanced
Telecommunications Services (Joint Conference).

The Joint Conference was convened in 1999 as part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to ensure that advanced telecommunications services, including broadband services, are deployed as rapidly as possible to all Americans. It serves as a forum for an ongoing dialogue between the FCC, state regulators, and local and regional entities regarding the deployment of advanced telecommunications capabilities and is comprised of commissioners from state public utilities commissions and members of the FCC. See http://www.fcc.gov/jointconference/.

Chairman Caliboso welcomed the opportunity to participate on the Joint Conference. “I am honored to have been nominated and appointed to serve on the Joint Conference and look forward to serving alongside other State commissioners and commissioners of the FCC. This is a critical time when telecommunications services, internet, and broadband technologies and regulatory policies are undergoing rapid and significant changes, which will have a profound effect on consumers locally and nationally,” said Caliboso.

Chairman Caliboso and Chairman Robert Clayton of the Missouri Public Service Commission were nominated by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to the Joint Board in early February 2010. The FCC confirmed the appointments of both Chairman Caliboso and Chairman Clayton to the Joint Conference on May 4, 2010. See attached FCC Order released May 4, 2010.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn serves as the Federal Co-Chair, and Commissioner Larry Landis of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, serves as the State Co-Chair of the Joint Conference.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 3:45 p.m. HST

Aiona Announces Immediate Summer Job Openings for Youth

HONOLULU - Lt. Governor Duke Aiona today announced more than a thousand jobs that pay $8 or more per hour are available immediately for young people, ages 14 through 23, from low-income families through the new 2010 Summer Youth Employment Program.

The program allows teens and other young adults from O‘ahu to sign-up for government and non-profit jobs at the Youth Summer Job Enrollment Day. The event will be from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, at the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR), Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building, 830 Punchbowl St. in downtown Honolulu.

“This is about providing our young people with an opportunity to develop skills, attitudes and commitment necessary to succeed in today’s workplaces,” said Lt. Governor Aiona. “We are excited about this opportunity for our young people to earn wages, gain meaningful work experience and be exposed to great careers.”

The Summer Youth Employment Program provides summer jobs for young people who meet at least one of the following criteria:
• Attending a Title I school designated as having a high percentage of students from low-income families; or
• Receiving free or reduced-price lunches; or
• In a household receiving public cash assistance; or
• In a household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp benefits; or
• In a household with a gross annual income at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for Hawai‘i.

The Office of Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona, DLIR and the State Department of Human Services (DHS) are partnering on this project. DHS is financing the program using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal stimulus funds. The summer jobs are offered at federal, state and county government offices and at non-profit organizations statewide.

Specifically, a minimum of $3 million in TANF funds will go to the program, with funding for Neighbor Islands totaling $1.8 million. Additional federal funds are available if enrollment in the program is larger than expected.

The Lt. Governor has traveled to the Big Island, Maui and Moloka‘i to discuss the program with Workforce Development officials, and is scheduled to visit Kaua‘i on May 21 and Kona on May 26. Young people on the Neighbor Islands who are interested in the program should apply as soon as possible at their nearest DLIR Workforce Development Division Office.

(Report Providced by the Office of Lt. Gov. James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr.)

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 3:40 p.m. HST

COPD Impact in Hawai'i Subject of New DOH Report

HONOLULU -- In recognition of 2010 International Year of the Lung, the Hawai‘i Department of Health Chronic Disease Management and Control Branch and the Hawai‘i Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Coalition have collaborated to produce the Burden of COPD in Hawai‘i Report 2010, examining the burden of COPD in our state.

COPD is a chronic, systemic disease which includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. It is the fourth leading killer in the United States and second leading cause of disability. COPD kills more than 120,000 Americans every year (the equivalent of one death every 4 minutes). More than 12 million people are diagnosed with COPD, with an estimated equal or greater number who don’t even know they have COPD.

“The Department of Health recognizes the huge costs of COPD and other lung disease, in terms of death and disability in our state,” said Health Director Chiyome Fukino, M.D. “We also recognize the great importance of collaborating with the international community to increase awareness of lung disease.”

In 2008, over 30,000 Hawai‘i adults reported being diagnosed with COPD. In addition, total emergency room COPD visits in Hawai‘i increased 54.8% from a total of 1,263 visits in 2000 to 1,956 in 2005.

COPD is the only one of the top 10 killers that continues to increase (163% since 1965), whereas heart disease, cancer, and stroke have decreased approximately 65% during the same period of time. Smoking and secondhand smoke remain major causes of COPD, but it is estimated that one in six COPD patients never smoked.

2010 has been declared Year of the Lung by Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. Hawai‘i joins hundreds of collaborating organizations to focus global attention on lung diseases as a common cause of morbidity and mortality in all populations and age groups worldwide. Worldwide, 19% of total deaths and 15% of disability-adjusted life years are due to lung disease. The Year of the Lung initiative is being organized by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, which includes key professional respiratory societies across the globe, including the American Thoracic Society.

“The Hawaii COPD Coalition offers free lung health testing clinics throughout the state as well as monthly support group meetings and an annual education day,” said COPD Coalition Coordinator Valerie Chang, J.D. For more information visit www.hawaiicopd.org.

Copies of this report will be available at both http://hawaii.gov/health and www.hawaiicopd.org.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 3:30 p.m. HST

Crews Break Ground for New Recycling Facility on Lana'i

LANAI CITY, Lanai, Hawaii-- Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today that construction has begun on Lanai’s new recycling and redemption center. Phase I operations will include redemption of HI5 beverage containers; during Phase II, the center will also accept recycling of glass and plastic containers, metal cans, newspaper and cardboard.
Future planned expansion at the facility will include recycling of vehicle batteries and appliances pending available funding.

The facility is located on a 1-acre parcel leased by the County from Castle & Cooke, Inc., off the 12th Street access road in Lanai City.

“I’m glad that after lengthy negotiations with Castle and Cooke, we have reached an agreement to allow the new recycling and redemption center to become a reality for the Lanai community,” Mayor Charmaine Tavares said. “Increasing recycling is an important goal outlined in our County’s Integrated Solid Waste Plan, and it will extend the life of the Lanai Landfill and help the residents and businesses of Lanai become more sustainable.”

Funding for the facility was provided by the County of Maui Department of Environmental Management in the form of a grant for a three-year pilot project. The grant was awarded to Tri-Isle RC& D, which is overseeing the construction of the site and all phases of operations.

Tri-Isle RC&D has been operating the only HI5 redemption site on Lanai for the past five years.

Cost of the initial phase of construction is $235,727, which includes grubbing, grading, compacted crusher waste, driveway and cement slab.

Additional funds will be used for fencing, shelter, electrical work and landscaping. Work is being performed by Lanai Builders; construction on Phase I is expected to be completed this summer.

For more information, call the Department of Environmental Management, Recycling Section at (808) 270-7880. Callers on Lanai may call toll-free: 1-800-272-0125 and request extension 7880.

For current information about landfills, residential refuse collection and recycling, visit www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 2:50 p.m. HST

Graduation Ceremonies Prep at War Memorial Stadium to Close Section of Parking Lot

WAILUKU - The County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation has announced that in preparation for graduation ceremonies at the War Memorial Stadium, a fence will be erected tomorrow along a section of the stadium parking lot located near the tennis courts at the War Memorial Complex.

The public is advised that there will be no through traffic or parking allowed in the fenced-off area. The area is expected to be reopened for use on May 24, 2010.

For more information, contact Pat Rocco at 270-7232 or Mice Kahula at 270-7392.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 19, 2010 8:25 a.m. HST

High Winds Expected Though Tomorrow Morning

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for the SUMMIT of HALEAKALA in effect until 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

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

2. EFFECTS: Expect east winds of 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts today.

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 access NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts for any updates.

The NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The 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 - May 19, 2010 6:25 a.m. HST

Maui Council Votes to Fix Property Tax Rates

WAILUKU - The County Council voted unanimously Monday to fix the real property tax rates as it had last discussed them in April, but two members voted with reservations.

Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala said he would like to review the agricultural and conservation rates, which are both $5 per $1,000 on the current list.

That puts them on the same level as improved residential and apartment, the two categories where renters live.

Proposed rates range from $2.50 per $1,000 valuation for homeowner to $14 per $1,000 for time-share properties. However, the effective rate for homeowners is much less, considering the deduction that owner-occupants get on their assessed value.

The council met Monday to take public testimony on tax rates to be imposed in the next budget. No one showed up to comment on the fuel tax (from 0 for biodiesel to 16 cents per gallon for gasoline) or the vehicle weight tax (2.75 cents a pound for cars, trucks and noncommercial vehicles, 4 cents for the rest).

Four people testified on property taxes. Pat Borge objected to the difference between the rate for improved residential, $5, and commercialized residential, $4.

As a landlord, he said, he has a long-term tenant, and if the taxes are higher, he will "pass that on to my tenant."

"Most people are trying to save money to buy a house," he said, so raising taxes on renters just hurts them.

"I should open up my long-term rental" as a bed-and-breakfast, he said. That got Council Member Mike Molina's attention.

After the meeting, Molina said he wanted to revisit the rates for improved residential and commercialized residential to consider the issue of "equality." Monday's vote was on a resolution to set the rates. The ordinance now goes to first reading, where Molina and Kaho'ohalahala may bid to revise the list.

Short-term rental landlords had complained that times are hard and a high real property tax rate could put them out of business.

Borge scoffed at that. First, he said, people living in five-bedroom houses in Maui Meadows "gotta be up there" in income.

"Let's be fair," he said. "The poor are gonna be poor, and the rich are gonna be richer."

He said people who choose to be part of the visitor industry should accept that there will be flush and slack times.

"I have been in tourism for 30 years," he said, running a livery stable and riding tour.

"When it's slow, it's slow. My horses gotta eat. I don't come running to you for feed for my horses. You understand that chance if you're going to be in the tourist business."

Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 4:35 p.m. HST

New Escalators Operational at Kahului Airport

KAHULUI – The state Department of Transportation (DOT) is pleased to announce that two new escalators have been installed at the Kahului Airport in the security check point area. The new escalators replace the previous escalators, which were demolished and removed after twenty years of service.

“We are pleased that the escalators are back in operation at the Kahului Airport,” said Marvin Moniz, Maui Airport District Manager. “We apologize for the delay in service during the construction period, but the new escalators will make it a lot easier and safer for everyone to enter and exit the airport with ease.”

Work included intensive coordination with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as the escalators are located after the TSA checkpoint and involved relocating of screening equipment. Most of the installation work was done at night in order to minimize the impact to the operations at the Kahului Airport, which limited work hours.

The general contractor for this project was the ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation, and the construction management firm was TM Designers, Inc. The construction cost for this project was $727,024. The project, which was recently completed, took just over one year to complete.

In collaboration with the TSA, the DOT Airports Division will be installing new flooring at the TSA checkpoint, which will begin in early June 2010 and take about two weeks to complete. This work will also be done at night to minimize disruption to the airport.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 2:15 p.m. HST

HMSA Reports $1.52M Profit in First Quarter

The Hawaii Medical Service Association swung to a profit in the first quarter from a loss last year.

The state's largest health plan reported a $1.52 million profit in the period.

That compared with a loss of $13.9 million a year earlier, when increases in healthcare costs outpaced gains in member dues.

The insurer said it had an $8.71 million operating loss during the quarter, but that investment gains helped it to a bottom line profit.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 1:35 p.m. HST

MECO Tops HEI Utilities in National Solar Power Achievement

HONOLULU – For the second consecutive year, the Hawaiian Electric utilities claimed three of the top ten spots in the national rankings for the use of solar power, according to a report released today by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA.)

In SEPA’s ratings for total solar watts per customer, Maui Electric Company ranked second. Hawaii Electric Light Company serving Hawaii County ranked third, and Hawaiian Electric Company was ranked ninth. Other Hawaii utilities also performed well in the rankings. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative ranked sixth in total solar watts per customer.

“These results would not have been possible without the efforts of the utilities and our local solar energy industry. We are committed to working with them to increase our use of renewable energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.

The rankings move the Hawaiian Electric neighbor island utilities even further up the list from last year. In 2009, Maui Electric ranked fourth, Hawaii Electric Light Company ranked sixth, and Hawaiian Electric Company came in ninth. “The utilities in the Hawaiian Electric family are to be commended for the amount of solar electricity they have integrated into the grid to date,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA executive director.

“Serving territories that are physically separated from the rest of the nation makes it even more important for these utilities specifically to take advantage of clean local resources like solar energy,” Hamm said. “As a result, the Hawaiian Electric utilities are serving as leaders in the utility industry by exploring cutting edge potential solutions to issues related to intermittency and power storage that will allow for even greater integration of solar electricity in the future.”

SEPA is a non-profit organization comprised of more than 700 electric utilities and solar industry members. Its focus is on research, education, utility outreach and interaction with the many organizations dedicated to the solar industry.

The complete report is available on-line at www.solarelectricpower.org.

(Report Provided by Maui Electric Company)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 12:05 p.m. HST

Free Local Screening Available on 'World Hepatitis Day'

HONOLULU – Wednesday, May 19, 2010 is World Hepatitis Day in Hawai’i. The Hawai’i State Department of Health (DOH) is joining others across the nation and world to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with chronic viral hepatitis B and C.

Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Governor James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr. have declared May 19 as World Hepatitis Day in Hawai'i. Their proclamation encourages residents to recognize the importance of hepatitis education and encourages testing for those at risk.

DOH health centers and other community-based sites are offering free screenings to the public on Wednesday, May 19 to encourage people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. Individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 to find the free screening location nearest them. Click here for locations for free screening.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Heather Lusk, DOH hepatitis C coordinator. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, 1 percent to 3 percent of people in Hawai’i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawai’i, and Hawaii has the highest rate of liver cancer in the U.S.

“Many people with hepatitis B and C get liver damage or cirrhosis from the disease, which can be minimized by making healthy choices such as not drinking alcohol,” said Lusk.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, such as countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is easily spread from mother to child through contact with blood and other body fluids. Infants born to mothers who have hepatitis B infection warrant special treatment at birth.

More information on hepatitis B and C is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis, or by calling 1-888-443-7232. For more information about World Hepatitis Day, go to www.aminumber12.org.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 11:40 a.m. HST

Maui Filmmakers Win Emmys for 'Bhutan'

Maui video producer Tom Vendetti and associate producer/composer Christopher Hedge have brought home Emmy Awards in two categories for the documentary "Bhutan: Taking The Middle Path to Happiness."

Vendetti and Hedge each won Emmys for their collaboration in the historic/cultural program/special category, and Hedge's score won the musical composition/arrangement prize in the 39th annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards presented Saturday night at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

"There's an intense amount of anticipation waiting for the announcement, but when the award was announced, all this weight went off my shoulders," an exhilarated Vendetti said Monday morning after returning to Maui. "When I was at the podium, I felt relaxed and a tremendous relief compared to a minute earlier."

Working with fellow video artists Robert C. Stone, also from Maui and John Wehrheim from Kaua'i, Vendetti and Hedge made the Bhutan film in 2005 and released it in 2007. It visits the remote Himalayan country, located between India and China, showing not only Bhutan's robust people and dramatic beauty but its culture's unique concept of "gross national happiness."

Since 1972, Bhutan's government has sought ways of balancing environmental protection and preservation and the psychological well-being of its people against the pressures of economic development.

"I believe there's a lot of wisdom to be found around the world," Vendetti said of the film's theme. "The concept of gross national happiness is extremely important."

It entails protecting the environment, transparency in government, protecting culture, "and then having economic stability," he said. "It's essentially taking the middle path as the world is embracing globalization and materialism."

The production has been distributed nationally on PBS and has been seen around the world at various film festivals, he said.

Vendetti also collaborated with producer Wehrheim and director Stone on "Taylor Camp," a documentary about a unique commune that sprang up on the island of Kauai in 1969, that will screen at 7 p.m. June 2 in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Meanwhile, young filmmaker Kara Henderson and Ma Ka Hana Ka 'Ike have won the "Best of GoodTube" award from "Profiles in Caring," a television show that has won four Emmy Awards and is broadcast on more than 100 stations in the U.S. and globally.

Henderson's contribution to the program was a nonprofit video documentary that chronicles the Hana program for at-risk students to change their lives by participating in building projects that develop and improve facilities in the area. This spring, students have been installing renewable energy systems in Hana homes.

Henderson is a former student in the program who just completed her bachelor's degree in media arts from Brigham Young University and has two documentary films in progress.

"By connecting youth with their community and focusing on sustainable directions, Ma Ka Hana Ka 'Ike is helping create future leaders like Kara Henderson for our islands," said Rick Ruiz, the organization's founder and executive director.

The award-winning segment for "Profiles in Caring" can be viewed online at www.hanabuild.org.

Rick Chatenever can be reached at scene@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 11:20 a.m. HST

Big Islands Bans Smoking If Minors In Car

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today moved to implement an innovative jobs creation initiative she first introduced in her State of the State Address in January that would incentivize private sector companies and non-profit organizations to hire unemployed residents by subsidizing their health insurance premiums for up to a year.

The new Hawai‘i Premium Plus program will reimburse employers up to $140 per month for each qualified person hired through this initiative. This $1,680 one-year reimbursement represents roughly half of what it costs a company to provide health insurance for a full-time employee for one year. The program will cost a total of $10.8 million, with 65 percent of these funds coming from the federal government.

When Hawai‘i Premium Plus reaches its enrollment cap of 6,450 newly hired individuals, it would be the equivalent to a reduction in the state unemployment rate from 7 percent to 6 percent. These individuals must have been unemployed for six weeks or longer prior to being hired. Employees hired between May 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011 can qualify for this program.

According to an analysis by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawai‘i Premium Plus is expected to produce a net increase of more than $6.1 million in State tax revenue during its first year and nearly $13.9 million during its second year. It will also reduce the drain on the State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, potentially saving more than $50 million.

Governor Lingle discussed her plans to seek Medicaid federal matching funds for this jobs creation initiative when she and other governors met with President Barack Obama last February at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was also at that meeting. Hawai‘i recently received federal approval.

“States are important partners in encouraging job growth and improving the health security of American families,” said Cynthia Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification. “I commend Hawai‘i for its commitment to working with businesses to create more jobs and expand affordable health coverage.”

“This innovative program will assist thousands of people who currently receive or have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits by helping them obtain jobs and health coverage,” Governor Lingle said.

Qualified employees can have family incomes up to 450 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. For example, a single-person household can have a gross annual income of up to $56,100 and still qualify. A family of four can have a gross annual income of up to $114,156 and qualify.

“Hawai‘i Premium Plus will stimulate our state economy by reducing the unemployment rolls, encouraging businesses across the Islands to expand, and bringing in millions of new federal dollars,” the Governor said.

Information for employers, including application forms and a list of frequently asked questions, is available online at www.PremiumPlus.hawaii.gov.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 9:10 a.m. HST

Big Islands Bans Smoking If Minors In Car

Local anti-smoking advocates are applauding a new Big Island law that prohibits smoking in a vehicle when a minor is present.

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the bill into law May 10, adding a new dimension to the county smoking ban, which already covers public buildings, county parks and restaurants and bars. The law will take effect Aug. 8.

The measure, which aims to protect children from secondhand smoke, was introduced by Hawaii County Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason of Puna and approved by the Council on April 20.

Hawaii County is the second-largest local jurisdiction in the country to ban smoking when children are in a vehicle and the only county in the state to take smoking bans that far, said Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. "Our kids will be healthier and Hawaii residents will save millions in health care costs relating to smoking," Zysman said in a news release.

"Big Island keiki are particularly impacted because asthma prevalence is highest in Hawaii County," said Sally Ancheta, Hawaii island program coordinator with the American Lung Association in Hawaii. "With vog and existing asthma conditions, it's especially important to reduce our children's exposure to secondhand smoke."

The mayor's executive assistant, Hunter Bishop, said Police Chief Harry Kubojiri and police commanders are discussing enforcement of the new ordinance.

"It may be problematic to enforce, such as in vehicles with tinted windows, but police will be enforcing it as best they can," Bishop said.

Reach Mary Adamski at at madamski@starbulletin.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 8:30 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Resdents Getting Better at Paying Debt On Time

Hawai'i residents were a little more punctual with their credit card payments during the first quarter, with their delinquency rates dropping slightly.

TransUnion LLC, a major U.S. credit agency, reported Hawai'i's 90-day delinquency rate fell to 0.90 percent during the January-to-March quarter. That ranked it as 39th highest among all states and Washington, D.C.

That compared to Hawai'i's 0.95 percent delinquency rate in the October-to-December quarter. Hawai'i's average credit card debt was $5,831, or fifth highest nationally.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 7:20 a.m. HST

Kaiser Reports $700,000 Net Loss in First Quarter

Financial losses more than doubled at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.'s Hawaii Region during the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2009.

Kaiser, the state's No. 2 health plan, reported a net loss of $700,000 for the first quarter as operating expenses grew faster than revenue.

A year earlier the health maintenance organization had sustained a loss of $300,000.

The carrier said it was satisfied with the results given the economic downturn in Hawai'i and Kaiser's ongoing commitment to providing quality healthcare at a competitive price.

The health plan also reported:

• Operating revenue rose by $4.8 million compared with a year previous, coming in at $238.4 million.

• Operating expenses grew by $5.5 million to $240.7 million.

• Kaiser's operating loss, or revenue minus expenses, was $2.3 million. A year earlier the loss was $1.6 million.

• Higher investment income this year helped blunt the loss. Kaiser earned $1.6 million on its investments during the first quarter, or $300,000 more than a year earlier.

Kaiser also reported a 2.4 percent jump in membership totals when compared to the 2009 first quarter.

The health plan reported that it ended the first quarter with 227,300 members.

That was 5,430 more than a year earlier.

Kaiser said some of the growth came as large commercial group customers and their employees looked for value. Member gains included those from the Hawai'i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

The state's largest health insurer, the Hawaii Medical Service Association, is expected to report a loss when it issues its first quarter financial results today.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 18, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

Clooney Film Stars Kaua'i as Kaua'i

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — Hollywood filmmakers have long used Kaua'i as a stand-in for Vietnam, Mexico, Tahiti and other tropical locales.

But Kaua'i has been starring as itself for the past month during the filming of "The Descendants" — a movie about the wealthy progeny of Hawaiian royalty and American missionaries starring George Clooney.

"It's portraying Kaua'i for Kaua'i, Hanalei Bay for Hanalei Bay, the St. Regis for the St. Regis," said George Parra, co-producer of "The Descendants."

The film, set for release next year, is based on a novel by Hawai'i author Kaui Hart Hemmings. Clooney plays the lead role of Matt King, a Honolulu attorney who travels from O'ahu to Kaua'i with his two daughters to search for his wife's lover.

Parra gushed about the warm hospitality the crew received on Kaua'i, especially in Hanalei, a "sleepy little town" on the island's north shore.

"We were taken aback" at being welcomed with "open arms," Parra said by phone from O'ahu, where the final weeks of the movie are being shot.

Titus Kinimaka opened up his heart and surf shop to the cast and crew and can be seen as an extra in some of the beach scenes filmed on Hanalei Bay, said Parra.

Parra praised the St. Regis Princeville Resort, where Clooney and others also stayed and where part of the movie was filmed.

He also lauded the Westin, where 100 members of the cast and crew stayed.

The Westin extended its bar's hours to accommodate the late filming schedule.

To compensate for lacking meeting space, the resort created ad hoc offices for the production crew by removing furniture from three villas.

"Particularly, everybody in Hanalei were super warm and welcoming," said Parra, who has been in the film-making industry for 25 years and has filmed in Hawai'i for 20 years.

Art Umezu, the county film commissioner, said the movie would boost the island's economy, noting the cast and crew stayed for several weeks and frequented local businesses.

The film hired upward of 200 to 300 Kaua'i extras. About 45 appeared in scenes filmed at Tahiti Nui restaurant in Hanalei. Between 30 and 40 are in beach scenes on Hanalei Bay.

Of the film's total budget of $20 million, Parra said up to $15 million may have been spent on Kaua'i, a figure he won't be able to verify until filming has been completed.

The island's tourism industry may also get a lift once the movie is released.

"People are going to see that on the screen, they're going to look at that and say, 'Where is that?' and 'I want to go there,' " Parra said.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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

Hawai'i Taxpayers Will Start Receiving Refunds This Month

Taxpayers who filed state returns in January and February will get their refunds this month instead of having to wait until July.

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that she would release most tax refunds sooner than expected because revenue collections have improved as the state's economy improves.

Lingle had delayed tax refunds from April until July to temporarily save $275 million and help the state get through the fiscal year.

"It's good to have some good news to report," Lingle said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

Taxpayers who have direct deposit will get their refunds as soon as Friday. The state will start to mail out refund checks on May 28.

Lingle said she would release $125 million worth of tax refunds, or about 60 percent of the $207 million in claims filed so far. She said the state will monitor cash flow and determine whether to release additional refunds before the July 20 deadline set by state law.

Under state law, the state has 90 days to release tax refunds but typically sends out the money shortly after the filing deadline in April.

The governor asked people not to telephone the state Department of Taxation to ask about the status of their refunds because it could slow processing. She said she did not file her own tax return until April and will have to wait like other late filers for any refund.

Roy Vierra, a surf shop owner and surfing instructor, said he recognizes the state's budget crisis but wonders why the state is not as understanding when it comes to taxpayers who are late filing their returns.

"They didn't say, 'We're going to be late paying out, so you guys can be a little late paying in,' " he said. "That never was said."

REVENUES DOWN 1%

State revenue collections are down 1 percent from last year through the first 10 months of the fiscal year. The state Council on Revenues has estimated that revenue collections would fall 2.5 percent. The council is scheduled to meet on May 27 to update the state's revenue forecast.

"The revenues are improving," Lingle said. "I'm happy to be able to report this, and I wanted to thank the people all across the state for the patience that they've shown during this time as we tried to both meet our obligations to have a balanced budget, to be conservative in how we budget, but also try to get their refunds out as quickly as we could."

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, was initially critical of Lingle for delaying tax refunds.

But state lawmakers, like Lingle, decided that the delay was better than deeper state spending cuts or higher taxes to help close a $1.2 billion budget deficit through June 2011.

DELAY IN 2011, TOO

The state budget's projections assume that the next governor will also delay tax refunds next year. The new governor also has the option of releasing the refunds sooner if the economy continues to improve.

State lawmakers also passed a bill that would require the state to pay interest on tax refunds not released within the 90 days required by state law.

Lingle has until July 6 to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without her signature.

"I think it's a good sign," Oshiro said of Lingle's decision to release tax refunds. "It's a positive sign that the economy is turning around."

Lowell Kalapa, president and executive director of the Tax Foundation of Hawai'i, called Lingle's move political. He said she should have released the tax refunds sooner.

"When you look back on it, sure it looked really dour and depressing when she announced she was going to hold, but when you think about it, if that money had been back in the economy maybe we would have pulled out of this quicker," Kalapa said.

"While she is not running for office, there are others in her party that are certainly running for office," Kalapa said. "And it would look pretty good that the Republican governor has said, 'Oh, my poor souls out there are starving because they're not getting their refunds, and therefore I'm going to refund the money.' "

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 17, 2010 11:20 a.m. HST

CBS Adds 'Hawai'i 5-0' to Fall Lineup

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that CBS has picked up the remake of "Hawaii 5-0" as part of its new fall schedule.

The show — based on the CBS hit that aired from 1968 to 1980 — features Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett and "Lost" cast member Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly.

The cast also includes Taryn Manning, Grace Park and Scott Caan.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 17, 2010 8:20 a.m. HST

Blue Planet Out to Switch All the Lightbulbs on Moloka'i

Sometimes, making a difference can be as simple as changing a light bulb -- literally -- as in switching from an old, incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent light.

Though there are clearly far larger issues to tackle, from a global-warming standpoint, the Blue Planet Foundation is encouraging people to take that one simple step by offering free CFLs to every resident on Molokai.

An average family in Hawaii can save $80 to $240 a year in energy costs with CFLs, according to the Hawaii Energy Program. A CFL requires 75 percent less energy than ordinary bulbs and has a life span 10 times longer than a regular, incandescent bulb.

One simple step but an island of difference.

The free, one-for-one exchange allows residents to bring in their old light bulbs for a new FEIT-13W CFL Eco-bulb. Up to 30 light bulbs are allowed per household.

Since launching the project in April, the project has swapped more than 18,000 bulbs, which the Foundation estimates will save more than $2 million for the Molokai community.

The foundation's goal is to swap 44,000 bulbs for CFLs this month and next, and ultimately, up to 90,000 to reach every household on the Friendly Isle. The isle has about 3,000 households, based on post office box data, with an average of 30 bulbs needed per household, so the goal is within reach.

Molokai could use it, according to Kimberly Svetin, president of Molokai Drugs, which is offering the one-for-one exchange at its Kamoi Snack-N-Go ice cream shop in Kaunakakai.

The isle has historically paid the highest electricity rates in the nation, with the current average residential rate at more than $0.33 per kilowatt-hour. An average household pays up to $200 a month for electricity, according to Svetin. To date the shop has swapped nearly 3,000 bulbs.

One CFL can save about $30 over its product life of between seven to 10 years, and buyers will recoup its cost in six months.

Also, the Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program offers instant in-store cash rebates (from $1 to $15) on qualified CFL purchases at stores like Costco, Longs Drugs and Walmart.

There are more than 19 different kinds of CFL bulbs -- A-type, tubed, globe, chandelier, indoor and outdoor reflectors -- and it's best to use the right one.

The most commonly seen spiral-shaped bulbs are best suited for desk and floor lamps, while globes work best in bathroom light fixtures. Dimmable lights are also best for dimmer switches.

What you need to know is that CFLs shouldn't be thrown into the trash because they contain small traces of mercury that can leak if broken.

Retailers like Home Depot now accept used CFLs for recycling, while Lowe's is rolling out a program soon. Local retailers like City Mill and Hardware Hawaii, however, do not. Maui County is working on a recycling program for Molokai residents.

Molokai is ahead of the times, given that incandescent bulbs will be phased out across the U.S. starting in 2012 (as approved by Congress).

Changing a light bulb is not as costly as installing a solar water or solar photovoltaic system, or revamping your entire home. But it's one simple step that anyone can take.

Just think. One person, or one household, can make a difference, one light at a time. Can Oahu follow suit Can the rest of the state?

For more information on where to switch your bulbs on Molokai, go to greenmolokai.org/trade-in-locations. For more information on CFLs, go to hawaiienergy.com/cfl/index.html.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 17, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Hawai'i to Start Seeing 'Effects' of 'Health Care Reform'

Some of the first changes under the health care reform act will begin in the next few weeks, with senior citizens, older college students and the uninsured gaining benefits. For people who use indoor tanning booths, the news isn't as good.

Local health care experts say some of the first effects of health care reform will start in June, though the sweeping changes expected under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won't occur for several years.

"There are numerous changes that impact health insurers, businesses and individuals and that is why a number of them are going to be phased in over the course of four or five years," said Hawai'i Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt. "The bill was more than 2,000 pages long."

The controversial act was signed into law on March 23 after a bruising debate on Capitol Hill, with advocates saying the reform bill will result in expanded coverage and numerous improvements to the nation's health care system.

Critics have complained the bill marks greater federal government intrusion into health care and may result in higher costs. Those concerns, however, did not stop the bill from becoming law and now some of the first notable changes for the consumers are about to take effect.

Some of these have generated controversy, such as young adults up to age 26 being able to stay on their parents' health plans as part of the act's overall goal of having everyone insured. The Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state's largest health insurer, is among insurers nationally that have agreed to implement this provision more than three months early.

On June 1 it will open its rolls to the young adults, allowing people who would ordinarily lose their health coverage because of age, school graduation or school status change to keep health care insurance through their parents' policies. They won't be eligible for the coverage if they have insurance from an employer group.

That potentially could affect health care coverage for thousands of people, said Fred Fortin, HMSA senior vice president. That's only one of a mind-numbing number of changes within the bill.

"We just felt this was the right thing to do," Fortin said.

Also in June, there will be relief for 34,300 Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the so-called doughnut hole or gap in Medicare Part D coverage. These people will automatically receive a one-time payment of $250, with the first group of rebate checks being mailed on June 15, according to AARP.

MORE CHANGES LATER

Other changes that take effect on June 23, or 90 days after the signing of the reform bill, include:

• Subsidized coverage through a high-risk insurance pool for people with existing medical conditions who haven't had insurance coverage for the past six months. The state declined to establish this pool by itself and will instead rely on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set it up.

Bruce Botorff, AARP Hawaii associate state director, said he's heard of this problem from people who have an existing illness, are unemployed and haven't been able to get health coverage.

"That's one of the issues I've heard several times," Botorff said.

Schmidt said there are relatively few people in Hawai'i who would get coverage through such a pool.

He said that's because the state has one of the lowest uninsured rates in the nation because of the Hawai'i Prepaid Healthcare Act and because of a recent law that allows self-employed people, even if they have pre-existing conditions, to be treated similarly to others in getting insurance.

According to DHHS, 8 percent of Hawai'i residents have diabetes , and 29 percent have high blood pressure, two conditions that are used as reasons to deny health coverage.

• Another program will be established by the end of June that will help reimburse employer plans for costs of early retirees over the age of 55 who are not eligible for Medicare. The reinsurance would kick in for retiree claims totaling between $15,000 and $75,000.

The DHHS estimates there are 21,800 Hawai'i residents who have early retiree coverage through their former employers, and that the program would provide premium relief to the retirees.

• Beginning July 1, a "tanning tax" of 10 percent will be imposed on people receiving indoor tanning services.

• The Internal Revenue Service already has begun mailing notifications to 18,500 small businesses and nonprofits in the state to tell them about tax credits amounting to as much as 35 percent of the premium costs paid for workers.

The tax credit would help make offering health insurance more affordable for those businesses. To qualify, the companies must have fewer than 25 full-time employees that make average annual wages of less than $50,000.

MORE COVERAGE

There also are a host of other, larger programs that take effect six months after the bill's signing. Some of these go to the bill's intent of promoting more health coverage. While Hawai'i has one of the lowest uninsured rates — less than 10 percent of the population — it's estimated that 123,000 people go without health insurance.

These changes include coverage of preventive health services, coverage of emergency services without prior authorization and allowing OB/GYNs or pediatricians to be designated as primary care providers.

The most significant of the changes later this year may be those that deal with what DHHS says are consumer protections in health insurance. Insurers won't be able to cap how much they'll pay out on the coverage they provide.

"Removal of lifetime and annual benefit limits will certainly be significant for those struggling with serious illnesses," Schmidt said.

Insurers are also prevented from rescinding someone's coverage except in the cases where there's been fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Nationally there have been complaints of insurers taking away coverage from people with certain conditions or people who may be prone to certain illnesses.

The changes coming this year aren't favorable for everyone. Art Ushijima, president and chief executive officer of Queen's Health Systems, said there were cuts in Medicare payments to providers in April and more are scheduled in the fall.

"We're trying to assess that impact right now on our budgeting," said Ushijima, who acknowledged the bill has been good for patients. "From a consumer standpoint, those things that have been effected are good."

ANALYZING EFFECTS

Still, Ushijima and others locally are trying to figure out further effects of the bill, including how things will change when the biggest of the modifications, the start of health care exchanges where people can buy coverage, are put into effect in 2014.

Ushijima said there might be some positive impact of an incentive program rewarding quality care, but that rules have yet to be written for many of the programs that will be phased in as part of the act in coming years.

"We're all sort of working through this," Ushijima said.

At HMSA, a dozen of the insurer's leaders have been meeting regularly to plan for upcoming changes because of the act. That's in addition to steps HMSA is taking on its own to stem rising health care costs and improve the quality of care.

"Basically we're trying to make it work for Hawai'i," Fortin said. He noted though: "This is a very big thing. There are numerous moving parts."

There remains the possibility that Hawai'i's Prepaid Healthcare Act will come to an end because of a provision saying it will sunset when universal coverage is available. That's potentially one of the biggest issues for the state, but experts said there may not be enough information to determine the effect for some time to come.

Even at that, a declaration of the sunsetting of the Prepaid Healthcare Act — a landmark piece of legislation that mandates employers provide health insurance to employees working more than 20 hours a week regularly — may be decided in courts, said University of Hawai'i Economics professor Jerry Russo.

"I think that's going to have to require a judicial ruling," Russo said.

The state Department of Human Services also is studying the reform act, including a future requirement that expands Medicaid coverage.

DHS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said the increased coverage will mean the state will be paying out more in 2014 and will need to add workers to process the increased paperwork.

"Overall, it's just going to cost the state more money," Schwartz said.

The reform act also may translate into higher health premiums in the short run, Schmidt said.

"We are quite concerned about a number of the new requirements and the impact they'll have on premiums," he said. "I think many commentators have agreed the health care reform act will increase premiums at least over the short term."

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 16, 2010 4:50 p.m. HST

UH Maui College Graduates First Class Under New Name

An estimated 170 students graduated today from the newly renamed University of Hawaii Maui College during ceremonies at the Castle Theater/Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

UH regents in February renamed Maui Community College, which this semester saw record enrollment of 4,078 students — a 23.2 percent increase over the spring 2009 semester.

Degrees were awarded in the following areas of study:

• Bachelor's of Applied Science in Applied Business and Information Technology – 10

• Associate of Arts – 135

• Associate of Science - 68

• Associate of Applied Science – 96

• Academic Subject Certificate – 17

• Certificate of Achievement – 143

• Certificate of Completion – 66

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 16, 2010 4:30 p.m. HST

Emergency Crews Respond at Two Ends of Island

Maui Police and Fire crews have been busy this afternoon. First, a brushfire in Pa'ia closed Baldwin Avenue from Puakou Street and Mahi Ko Street shortly before 1 p.m.

About an hour later a vehicler accident in Lahaina led to the spill of a large amont of transmission fluid on Kohi Road off Hanawai Street. Maui Hazmat crews were on the scene at 2:20 p.m. cleaning up the area.

No word on the casue of the fire or - as of 4:30 p.m., when the road would reopen to traffic. Also, no word on the cause of the Lahaina accident or if there were any injuries.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 16, 2010 8 a.m. HST

Seabury Hall Wins Maui's First State Volleyball Championship

Last year, after the Seabury Hall Academy boys volleyball team lost to Hilo in a five-set heartbreaker in the state tournament, libero Josh Sutherland cried at the utter disappointment of the loss. This year, after the New City Nissan/HHSAA Boys Volleyball Championships Division II final between against Pahoa, Sutherland's eyes were rimmed red with tears yet again.

But this time, they were tears of pure joy, as the third-seeded Spartans powered past Pahoa to win the title 19-25, 25-16, 25-8, 25-19 yesterday at McKinley Student Council Gym. It is the first boys volleyball state championship for a Maui Interscholastic League school.

D-II ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Outstanding Player: Isaiah Ekau, Pahoa

OH: Dylan Hamilton, Seabury Hall; Conner Snow, Seabury Hall; Chad Barretta, Hawaii Baptist

MB: Richard Harpole, Moanalua; Sasha Obradovic, Hawaii Prep

S: Holden Awong, Seabury Hall

L: Josh Sutherland, Seabury Hall

"We came out so nervous because we've never played for a state championship," Sutherland said. "But after that first game, we just said, 'Guys, we've got to relax. We've just got to play our game. They're going to fight us. Let's just make it a good game.' We put everything we had on the line and had tear-jerking results. Absolutely wonderful."

Seabury Hall, which returned all seven starters from last year's team, finished a championship season with a 12-0 mark and just the third title for a neighbor island school. In 1969, Hilo High won the first boys volleyball state championship. In 2005, Kauai's Kapaa won the first Division II title.

Seabury Hall's Dylan Hamilton led his team with 17 kills, and fellow outside hitter Conner Snow pitched in with 13 kills and two aces.

Pahoa's Isaiah Ekau, named the most outstanding player of the Division II state tournament, finished with a match-high 20 kills, but Seabury Hall's balance eventually stymied fourth-seeded Pahoa's lone Dagger.

"They're not very up and down," said Seabury Hall coach Caleb Palmer of his team. "They're just great kids and great players, and they delivered today."

The previous two state tournaments, Seabury Hall was unable to deliver. In 2008, as the MIL champ and the second seed in the state tournament, the Spartans lost their opening-round match to Hawaii Prep. Last year, the third-seeded Spartans frittered away a 2-1 lead in an eventual five-set loss to No. 2 seed Hilo.

This year, Seabury Hall's state tournament run started ignominiously with an opening-set loss to Kohala. But the Spartans cruised through the rest of that match, and yesterday's championship was a mirror image of that day.

Ekau -- sporting a bleach-blond mohawk -- put on a one-man show in the first set. After racking up 51 kills in the first two matches of the tournament, the 6-foot-1 senior pounded nine kills in the opening set. His high-flying kills came from all over the court, from the left side (both front row and back row), from the back-row pipe and from the back row on the right side. He also served up an ace and blocked a Seabury Hall spike. It was an impressive solo performance as Pahoa won the first game.

"We knew he was the guy we were going to have to stop, and he came out just cranking," Hamilton said. "Our block was a little weak. He got through it a couple of times, and that threw us off a bit."

But Ekau got no help from his teammates. Senior outside hitter John Byrd, who had 36 kills in the first two matches of the tournament, struggled mightily. He finished with more errors (nine) than kills (eight), and only one other Spartan had more than one kill.

"We needed some key guys to come through today," said Pahoa coach Ikaiko Marzo. "We didn't have them come through in tonight's match. Last night they came through. But we can still say we were in the championship."

Meanwhile, Seabury Hall's balanced attack gradually took over. Relying on Hamilton and Snow, who took advantage of the shot block of Pahoa's 5-foot-4 setter Christopher Mendoza, the Spartans flummoxed and frustrated Pahoa.

Seabury Hall's block keyed on Ekau, who had seven kills and six hitting errors in the last two sets as the Spartans pulled away for the title.

"This is way better than I could have ever dreamed of," Sutherland said. "Coming into this, I never knew I would feel like this. I just had just a hope that maybe we'd win the championship. No Maui team has ever done it. I thought it was maybe possible, but I didn't think we'd actually do it."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 16, 2010 7:20 a.m. HST

State Isn't Ready for Primary Elections

A crucial primary election is just four months away, and the Office of Elections is behind schedule in preparing for it thanks to the special election for Hawai'i's 1st Congressional District seat and lingering funding and staffing issues.

Elections officials say they'll be ready when Hawai'i voters head to the polls Sept. 18, but voters will see some changes this year — not least of which will be a 28 percent decrease in the number of polling sites statewide.

That translates into 97 fewer polling stations in communities.

Planning for the 2010 election season got off to a rocky start last year, with the resignation of the state's chief elections officer, delayed contract procurement for voting machines, and budget cuts that put seasonal hires in jeopardy and led to the decision to cut the number of polling stations.

State Sen. Brian Tani-guchi, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, said new leadership at the state Elections Office and steps taken to address concerns mean the state is in a far better position than a few months ago.

"I know they're working really hard," Taniguchi said.

He added, "Whether that's going to be enough, I'm not sure."

Others agreed, saying they're cautiously optimistic that planning for the elections, though delayed, now appears to be on track.

"We still have time," said Jean Aoki of the League of Women Voters.

RESOLVING SITUATION

Scott Nago, who was appointed new chief elections officer in February following the departure of his predecessor on Dec. 30, said all of the concerns raised during the legislative session, when the office was requesting an emergency appropriation, have been resolved or are nearing resolution.

The Legislature approved $390,000 in emergency funding for the office, bringing its budget to near-2008 levels. Of the appropriation, about $140,000 went to cover some costs of the special election. The rest went to expenses for the regular 2010 election season, including for about 15 seasonal hires.

The appropriation, though, wasn't enough to bring up the number of polling stations, in part because it was too late to plan for the larger number of voting sites.

Some observers worry that fewer places to cast ballots could lead to longer lines and other logistical headaches when voters head to the polls.

Nago, though, is upbeat despite the tight schedule he's under. He said the special election isn't "really taking much from the primary and general" elections and is "good experience for seasonal staff."

'WE'LL BE READY'

Ballots for the special election are due May 22.

Nago added, when asked about preparation for the primary election in September and the general election Nov. 2, "We just want to get through the special election, then we'll tackle the primary and the general. We'll be ready."

Voter participation in the 2010 elections is expected to be higher than in previous years because that contest is shaping up to be among the most important in decades. Voters will choose a governor, lieutenant governor, several state House and Senate members, and probably Honolulu mayor.

"This is big. This is huge," Aoki said. "We'll have a gubernatorial election and most probably a mayoral election."

The league has raised concerns about there being fewer polling stations this year, but Aoki added that advocates recognize the money constraints the elections office is under.

"We have to face facts," Aoki said.

Aoki also said she was worried early on about how the elections preparations were shaping up, but now feels better with a chief elections officer in place.

"We have great confidence in him," Aoki said of Nago. "I think we have a very good chance of having a good election."

There were serious concerns during the legislative session about the ability of the state Office of Elections to put on a smooth primary and general election, especially after the departure of elections chief Kevin Cronin. The state Elections Commission moved fast, though, to promote Nago, a longtime state elections staffer, into the top spot.

Since he's taken over, Nago has addressed several issues, including:

• The delay in getting new voting machines, which couldn't be purchased until the state adopted new rules for them. Those administrative rules were adopted this year, and a contract for new machines with a Texas-based company was issued in March for three election cycles.

Nago said the machines will be ready in time for the primary elections, but he couldn't immediately provide details on when they will be in the state or when workers will start inspecting them.

• Vacant and seasonal hire positions, which were filled starting in February, allowing the elections office to move forward on everything from issuing contracts for ballots and other supplies to training the roughly 2,500 volunteers needed to run polling stations.

• The question of overseas and military voters, whose ballots must be distributed at least 45 days before a general election under a new federal law intended to give those voters more time to complete and return voting forms.

WAIVER SOUGHT

Nago is seeking a waiver of that law for this election, and said he will probably get word in July on whether the waiver is approved. If it isn't, the state will not be able to certify the results of the primary until after the required period. But Nago said that won't affect the general election.

"That wouldn't affect the timeline at all," he said.

The Legislature acted this session to move Hawai'i's primary elections up to the second Saturday in August, to comply with the law. But at the 11th hour, lawmakers decided to make the change effective in 2012.

Taniguchi, of the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, said he's concerned a denial of the federal waiver might mean problems.

The state will send out about 2,000 overseas ballots this year, more than in some previous elections, because of increases in military deployments, he said.

"What if there's a close race? ... (The overseas ballots) could mean the difference. We cannot certify" until all those votes are in, said Taniguchi. "It does make it a little uneasy in terms of the November election."

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said she'd like to hold a briefing soon to get an update from the elections office on planning for the primary and general elections.

She said it appears the emergency appropriation was enough to tackle worries about how the state would be able to put the elections on. But Kim said she still has concerns, and isn't sure all will go as planned come Sept. 18.

"With the congressional special election" dominating work at the election office, "questions arise as to how prepared we are with the primary."

Issues facing the state elections office as the primary elections near:
• New chief: Scott Nago was appointed the state's new chief elections officer in February, following the departure of his predecessor, Kevin Cronin, on Dec. 30. Nago takes the top spot at a crucial time, but observers say he is dealing with it well.

• Tight budget: The Office of Elections saw budget cuts like every other state department, but worried those cuts would translate into real problems at the polls, since they threw into question whether vacancies and seasonal hire positions could be filled. An emergency appropriation of $250,000 in the session that just ended helped ease those worries. The fiscal year 2010 budget for the office was about $3.9 million.

• Fewer precincts: Because of tight funding, the elections office decided to cut the number of precincts statewide by 28 percent. That means 97 fewer polling stations statewide, for a total of 242.

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 16, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Governor Still Mum on Civil Unions Decision

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that she has not made up her mind on civil unions but described the bill passed by the state Legislature as the equivalent of same-sex marriage.

Her description is identical to complaints from religious conservatives who oppose civil unions and to a resolution approved yesterday by state Republicans who want her to veto the bill.

"It does appear to me on reading it, that it really is same-sex marriage, but by a different name," Lingle told reporters during a break at the state GOP convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. "But I want to wait and hear people out."

Lingle has said in the past that she would consider some form of domestic partnership legislation but she has opposed same-sex marriage.

The governor made it clear yesterday that she believes domestic partnerships are different from the civil unions described in the bill.

The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples who enter into civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as in marriage under state law.

Couples in civil unions, however, would not be recognized under federal law. Gay rights activists believe this distinction, as well as the fact that civil unions would not have the same social and cultural significance as marriage, separates civil unions from marriage.

The bill also specifically states that it is not the intent of the Legislature to revise the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

"Civil unions is an alternative legal mechanism to ensure that all couples and families get the same equal treatment under the law. But it's not a marriage," said Alan Spector of Equality Hawai'i, a group that has campaigned for civil unions.

BY A DIFFERENT NAME

Spector said a poll taken for activists in March 2009 showed that people draw a distinction between civil unions and same-sex marriage. Support for civil unions, the poll found, is far higher than same-sex marriage.

"The other point is, if civil unions and marriage were the same thing, how many married opposite-sex couples would be willing to trade in their marriages for civil unions?" he asked.

State Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawai'i Kai), who served as chairman of the state GOP convention, called civil unions "a rose by another name."

"Look, if we want to do this, let's go back to the people," he said, urging a state constitutional amendment on the issue for voters.

Lingle said she has appointments scheduled with advocates and opponents of civil unions and has not decided whether she will sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without her signature. She has until July 6 to decide, but must inform the state Legislature 10 days before if she intends to veto the bill.

"I just think there are very good points being made on both sides," she said.

Speculation about what Lingle would do on civil unions started immediately after the state House passed the bill on the last day of session in April.

GOP OPPOSITION

Republicans passed a resolution at their state convention yesterday urging Lingle to veto the bill. Many of the Republicans at the convention were wearing red stickers that said: "Veto HB444."

The resolution states that while people are free to choose their own lifestyles, "their choices may not always be good for all of society."

The resolution describes marriage as a fundamental institution that should be protected and reserved for heterosexual couples.

It cites the 1998 state constitutional amendment that gave lawmakers the authority to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

While "equal rights are guaranteed no matter a person's gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, no such guarantee exists for the institution of marriage," the resolution states.

The resolution characterizes the bill as "same-sex marriage in disguise or merely by another name."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 15, 2010 4:20 p.m. HST

Charity Walk Raises More Than $344,000 for Maui Agencies

WAILUKU, MAUI – The Maui Hotel & Lodging Association recently celebrated 32 years of giving back to the community with its annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Saturday, May 15. Over 1,800 walkers gathered at the War Memorial Soccer Field for a fun morning of exercise, camaraderie, good food, great prizes and fabulous entertainment. At the end of the day, an impressive total of $344,149,532 was raised for to benefit Maui County charities. (Last year, the event raised $312,000).

The bulk of the participants included visitor industry workers, non-profit agencies and business representatives. Many of these hard working walkers begin their fundraising efforts months prior to the event by collecting individual pledges, hosting bake sales, chili & stew cook-offs, benefit luaus, car washes, even dunking booths and concerts.

Top individual fundraiser was Mitch Mitchell representing Hale Makua who collected $5,862. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa took in top honors of the property bringing in the most with $22,211. HC&S was the business who raised the most at $7,824. Winning the award for non-profit raising the most was repeat-awardee Hale Makua who collected $25,446.

“We are proud to host this annual fundraising endeavor. The Charity Walk represents the visitor industry’s commitment to giving back to the community -- all monies raised on Maui County, stays in Maui County,” said Carol Reimann, Executive Director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association. “Our ability to provide for Maui’s non-profits – especially during these tough economic times - is a direct reflection of the integrity & philanthropic conviction of the fine businesses in the visitor industry. And Maui has always done it in grand style – our island continues to raise more funds per capital than any other island in Hawaii.”

The Visitor Industry Charity Walk is a statewide event that takes place simultaneously on Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. This year the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association also hosted a walk on Molokai. The Charity Walk is one of Hawaii’s largest single-day fundraiser with thousands of walkers and typically raises over $1million annually to benefit charity. Funds will continue to roll in throughout next month and a final tally will be announced in August.

Mark your calendar for next year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk – May 14, 2011.

For additional information, please contact the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association at 244-8625 or info@mauihla.org .

(Report Provided by the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association)

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NEWS FLASH - May 15, 2010 5:35 a.m. HST

Nissan Starts Taking Orders for Electric Car

Nissan North America will start taking reservations today from the public for its new Leaf electric car through its www.NissanUSA.com website.

Nissan has said Hawai'i will be one of the early markets where the Leaf will be available next year. It will be available in select markets in December.

The Leaf carries a suggested price of $32,780. But it's eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and a $4,500 Hawai'i rebate.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 15, 2010 5:15 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Inmates in Mainland Prisons Skew Census

For more than 200 years, U.S. census campaigns have counted prisoners according to the states in which they are incarcerated.

The practice, part of the U.S. Census Bureau's "usual residence" rule, traditionally has been regarded as an efficient and mostly innocuous way of enumerating prison populations with little risk of double-counting.

But census reform advocates are calling for change as the U.S. prison population has soared and the implications of the practice have become clearer.

The usual residence rule has particular impact on states like Hawai'i that ship thousands of inmates to out-of-state prisons to ease prison crowding — and on the receiving states as well.

Momi Fernandez, director of the Data and Information/Census Information Center at the Native Hawaiian advocacy group Papa Ola Lokahi, said the impact of the rule costs Hawai'i millions of dollars in lost federal funding and ultimately hurts prisoners in their attempt to re-integrate with their communities upon their release.

Census reform advocates also argue that large concentrations of prisoners — particularly in the small, rural communities where prisons-for-rent have proliferated in recent years — compromise the integrity of census data and raise threat of gerrymandering during district reapportionment.

In the 2000 census, prisoners from Hawai'i unknowingly played a part in just such a scenario.

According to census data, Native Hawaiians accounted for roughly half of the resident population of Appleton township in Swift County, Minn. — because of a contract between the state of Hawai'i and the Corrections Corporation of America, which operated the district's Prairie Correctional Facility.

Peter Wagner, founder of the Massachusetts-based Prison Policy Initiative, said counting Hawai'i prisoners as residents of the district surrounding the prison artifically inflated the area's population profile for redistricting purposes and unfairly weighted the influence of district voters in county governance.

Wagner is one of a growing number of people calling for the U.S. Census Bureau to amend its "usual residence" rule so that inmates are counted in the areas in which they normally reside (and to which they would likely return upon release) rather than where they are held as prisoners.

"The Census Bureau wants its data to be useful," Wagner said. "Two hundred years ago, (the usual residence rule) made sense. But now there are many more people in prison and the way census data is used by local governments and other agencies is much more complex."

Fernandez also said the "usual residence" policy — which defines residence as where a person eats and sleeps most of the time — is in direct conflict with a state statute [HRS 11-13(5)] which states that a person does not lose residence while incarcerated.

1.4 MILLION IN PRISON

Despite a rare decline in overall U.S. prison population last year, the number of Americans behind bars has increased exponentially over the last several decades, from fewer than 175,000 in 1972 to more than 1.4 million this year.

As of May 10, Hawai'i had 1,935 inmates in Mainland facilities, all in Arizona, according to the Department of Public Safety's Corrections Division. Saguaro Correctional Center houses 1,875 of the prisoners; 60 more are housed at Red Rock Correctional Center. Both facilities are in Eloy, Ariz., which has a total population of 10,500, according to a 2005 census estimate.

Wagner said that the census bureau plans an early release of prison count data this year to provide states and counties with information necessary for a more accurate enumeration of their populations for policymaking purposes.

In March, Maryland became the first state to enact a law requiring that inmates be counted according to where they are from, not where they are incarcerated.

Fernandez said she supports any reform that allows Hawai'i prisoners on the Mainland to declare their rightful residence — both for the good of the state and themselves.

Conservative estimates place the cost (in lost federal funding) of each uncounted resident at about $1,200. Fernandez said a more likely estimate is $2,500, putting Hawai'i's total in lost federal funding at nearly $5 million.

"Could we use that?" Fernandez said. "Heck, yeah! We have to pay to have (inmates) housed in other states. Why not count them as part of our population and use the additional funding to offset the cost — especially in these economic times?"

Fernandez said she has received letters from inmates in Arizona who are upset that they are not being included in the Hawai'i count.

DIFFERENT COUNTS

Part of the problem, both Wagner and Fernandez note, is the differing ways individual prison populations are enumerated. In some areas, prison employees are sworn in as official census takers and allowed to go cell to cell to enumerate the population of their facility. In other places, like Hawai'i, staffing limitations make such detailed counting unfeasible.

This year, the responsibility for collecting census information on Hawai'i's nearly 6,000 inmates housed in state fell to management analysts who examined existing information from the system's data files.

A similar procedure was used at the Saguaro facility, Fernandez said.

"One of the prisoners said a guard came and asked for his ethnicity but nothing else," she said.

"He realized later that it was for the census. He and the other Hawai'i prisoners didn't get an opportunity to answer for themselves."

According to the Census Bureau, more than half of the the populations of Halawa Correctional Facility and Waiawa Correctional Facility are Native Hawaiian.

Fernandez said the disproportionate number of inmates who identify themselves as Native Hawaiian underscores the potential damage of not counting prisoners held out of state.

"It affects programs," she said. "When they get out of prison, they're expected to rejoin their communities. They'll need Native Hawaiian health programs, continuing education, job training, access to libraries and roadways, and other services. Many come out and become very effective members of society, but we have to make sure that these services are available, and to do that we need an accurate count."

Fernandez said she has spoken with Lt. Gov. James Aiona about the issue and she intends to raise it again at an upcoming convention of justice center advocates on the Mainland.

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 14, 2010 2:25 p.m. HST

Hawai'i Students Score High at International Science Fair

Six Hawai'i high school students won awards at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair today in San Jose, Calif.

The Hawai'i Academy of Science 2010 delegation to the International Engineering and Science Fair in San Jose included 23 students from public and private schools on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.

High competition brings the best students from around the United States as well as the world. This year Intel ISEF hosted more than1,500 students from around the world, representing approximately 50 countries.

Hawai'i excelled, placing 1st, 2nd and 4th in the Grand Awards Division as well as winning special organizational awards.

1st PLACE GRAND AWARD ($3000) – Nolan Kamitaki, Waiakea HS, Senior

Project: "Gene Dosage and Expression in Human Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines"

BEST OF CATEGORY ($5000 +$1000 to school) – Nolan Kamitaki, Waiakea HS

2nd PLACE GRAND TEAM AWARD ($1500)

Megan Kurohara & Hannah Rojeski, Hilo HS Juniors

Project: "A New Spin on Green Energy: Increasing Hydrogen Evolution in a Spirulina Derived Photobiological system"

In addition to their awards, the 1st and 2nd place winners get "naming rights" to minor planets in our solar system. This program is sponsored by the Ceres Connection at Lincoln Earth Asteroid Research from MIT.

4th PLACE GRAND AWARD ($500) – Mali'o Kodis, Waiakea HS, Senior

Project: "Diversity of Foliar Fungal Endophytes in Wild and Cultured Metrosideros polymorpha Inferred from Environmental PCR and ITS Sequence Data

4th PLACE GRAND TEAM AWARD – Michael Flynn & Taylor Nakamura, Maui HS, Juniors

Project: "Muon Detection at Elevation"

Special Awards given by organizations and corporations

AMERICAN STATISTICAL ASSOCIATION ($1000 Award) -

Nolan Kamitaki, Waiakea HS

EUROPEAN ORGANIZATION FOR NUCLEAR RESEARCH (CERN) –

Michael Flynn, Maui HS, won an expense-paid trip to CERN to either Switzerland or France.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 14, 2010 1:05 p.m. HST

Governor's Office Revises 'Half-Staff' Statewide Order

Today the Office of Governor Lingle had to retract the statewide order to fly flags at half-staff tomorrow in honor of Peach Officer's Day, the culmination of National Police Week. Now the order is to separate the State and U.S. flags, as detailed in the following communication from her orrice:

"It has been brought to our attention that because Saturday, May 15 is both Peace Officers Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day, the U.S. flag should fly at full-staff, in accordance with U.S. Code (365 USC 175).

The Governor's proclamation that was sent out yesterday applies only to the Hawaii state flag, which should be displayed at half-staff at state and county buildings on Saturday in observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day.

We apologize for the error."

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 14, 2010 11 a.m. HST

County Facilities to Undergo 'Energy Audit' from ARRA Funding

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today that through the U.S. Department of Energy, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as stimulus funds, will be used for a 90-day contract to conduct an investment-grade energy audit on County facilities. The $50,000 contract was awarded to Honolulu-based Energy Industries, LLC.

Twelve County facilities including the Wailuku, Paia, Lahaina, Makawao, Kihei, Kahului, Napili, Kula and Wailea fire stations, Kaunoa and West Maui senior centers and the Mitchell Pauole Community Center on Molokai are included in the energy study, which will recommend building retrofits, identify energy saving measures, and propose sizing of renewable energy generation systems.

“I’m pleased that we will be able to use federal stimulus funds to help find ways to reduce the costs of operating County facilities,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “The results of the energy audit will take us one step closer to achieving significant cost savings when the recommendations are applied to our many County buildings. This is another opportunity that we’re pursuing as we continue to look at ways to reduce expenses.”

Energy Industries, LLC is Hawaii company with offices on Maui, and in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. The company specializes in reducing the energy expenses of its clients by identifying and implementing energy conservation measures, equipment retrofit programs, or efficient designs reducing electrical demands.

Energy Industries has completed over 1,000 building energy audits and has completed data logging and energy efficiency design for more than 600 commercial and industrial facilities.

The contract is administered by the County’s Office of Economic Development. For more information, contact the County’s energy commissioner Victor Reyes at (808) 270-7203 or email victor.reyes@mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 14, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

Furlough Fridays Still On Table for Next Year

A political stalemate blocked efforts to restore furlough days to this year's public school calendar in Hawai'i, but the Board of Education may not have to rely on Gov. Linda Lingle's largesse next year.

The BOE has the option of lifting the 17 furlough Fridays from next year's school calendar in hopes that Lingle — or the next elected governor — would release the money to pay for the restored instructional days.

But that would mean taking a risk.

"The question is, do we take the chance and within our budget we restore the days with the hope we get the money?" BOE Chairman Garrett Toguchi said.

If the board takes that action and Lingle or the next governor does not release money for furlough days, Toguchi said that would leave the public school system's budget short, requiring all 17 days to be implemented in the latter part of the year.

The first furlough day next school year is scheduled for Aug. 27.

Today is the final furlough day this year for Hawai'i's public schools, marking the end of more than nine months of consternation and numerous unsuccessful plans and agreements to eliminate the school year's 17 furlough Fridays since they were agreed to last September and implemented a month later.

The furlough days resulted in Hawai'i having the shortest school year in the nation.

A decision by lawmakers during the legislative session to set aside $67 million from the state's Hurricane Relief Fund to eliminate next school year's furlough days theoretically ends the remaining 17 furlough Fridays in the teachers union contract. But the bill must still earn Lingle's approval, and she or the next governor will need to release the money to officially restore the furlough days.

JULY 6 DEADLINE

Toguchi has urged Lingle to release the $67 million. While the governor has indicated she would be willing to release up to $57 million to restore 11 of 17 furlough days, she has until July 6 to make a final decision on Senate Bill 2124.

Toguchi noted that the supplemental agreement reached between the BOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association would restore 17 furlough days through a combination of $67 million and teachers giving up six planning days.

"If she doesn't intend to veto the bill, but hasn't made it clear if she is going to release the money, then the options are that we can implement the agreement, but part of it is a gamble," Toguchi said.

Lingle spokesman Russell Pang said the governor is holding to her position of spending $57 million to restore some furlough days, and that talks continue with the Department of Education.

As public school principals wrap up the current school year, they're being told to plan for next year as if furlough days will continue, Toguchi said.

Ruth Silberstein, principal of Palolo Elementary, said the school is planning next school year to mimic the current year. To reduce the effects of furloughs, the school had moved its short Wednesday schedule to Friday. Teachers also agreed among themselves to teach an extra hour each day after school to make up for the lost instructional time.

"We're planning as if furlough days will continue, but we're hoping that they don't," Silberstein said.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE

By rearranging the school's weekly schedule, students were actually missing only 45 minutes of instruction time on weeks when a furlough Friday occurred, she said.

"Until the furlough days are actually eliminated, we have to continue doing what we're doing," Silberstein said.

The top three gubernatorial candidates have all expressed commitments to eliminating furlough Fridays.

Last week, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, said he believed Lingle would release $57.2 million of the $67 million appropriated by the Legislature.

"With the funding appropriated by the state Legislature, and the HSTA's willingness to allow children to return to class on six noninstructional days, we have the resources to achieve a comprehensive solution to end teacher furloughs," Aiona said in a news release on May 4.

Former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, said he would implement the supplemental agreement between the BOE and HSTA, including releasing all the money necessary to fund it.

"We need to look beyond furlough Fridays. Restoring instructional days will get us back to where we started," Abercrombie said in a written statement.

"Furlough Fridays would have never happened if I were governor. If I had been governor, I would have gotten all parties together and met continuously until we reached a solution to ensure that we put the interests of Hawai'i's children first. Instructional days are central to that mission," he said.

Dean Okimoto, chairman of the Mufi Hannemann Exploratory Committee, said Hannemann's commitment would be to ensure public school furloughs are eliminated. The Honolulu mayor, a Democrat, has not yet officially announced his candidacy for governor.

"There would be no furlough Fridays in a Hannemann administration," Okimoto said. "Public education is a priority and there would be no furlough Fridays."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 14, 2010 6:50 a.m. HST

'Cash for Clunkers' - Refrigerator Style - Offers $250 to Consumers

Get ready to junk that old refrigerator in the kitchen or garage.

The state is launching a federally funded recycling and rebate program to pay Hawai'i consumers $250 for replacing energy-hogging fridges with more efficient new models.

Rebates will be available on purchases starting May 24 from 35 retailers statewide, and end June 23 unless the rebate money runs out sooner.

There's enough money for about 10,000 rebates, and some retailers are preparing for a rush.

"We hope it will have a good effect, maybe 10 to 20 percent (higher sales)," said Clyde Hamai of Hamai Appliance on Maui. "If people are wise, and do take advantage of this like they did with cars, it should have a big effect."

The program is modeled after last year's federally funded Cash for Clunkers program that provided rebates for buying more fuel-efficient automobiles, though federal officials left it up to states to pick which large appliances qualify.

Local program officials said the fridge rebate will help Hawai'i become more energy independent, boost business for retailers and help consumers save money.

"Refrigeration is one of the appliances that eat up a lot of energy," said Randall Hee, president and chief executive officer of Kaua'i's nonprofit electricity provider, Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative. "It takes an old refrigerator that ends up in the garage full of beer off the system."

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said fridges account for the largest portion of household energy bills after electric water heaters and air conditioners.

If 10,000 old refrigerators are replaced by energy-efficient models that use 50 percent less energy, it would save about 100,000 barrels of oil and 7 million pounds of carbon emissions over the life of the fridges, the state said.

A 10-year-old fridge uses 63 gallons of oil every year. A new fridge will save 28 gallons of oil annually, with the electricity cost savings ranging from $80 to $90 a year. Ray Starling, manager of the Hawaii Energy Efficiency Program, said the savings for consumers can add up to $1,700 to $2,000 over the lifetime of a fridge at present electricity rates — or more if rates rise.

At $250, the rebate can amount to 25 percent or more off the cost of a new moderately priced fridge meeting energy efficiency qualifications.

To prepare, Sears increased its inventory of fridges from the normal one month's supply to three months, said Chris Jellings, appliance manager at the Pearlridge store. "We have plenty of stock," he said. "We should be able to get people whatever they need."

The state will allocate each retailer a specific number of mail-in rebate applications so that purchases and rebates won't exceed rebate funds. If one retailer runs out of applications, it's possible another may still have some.

new fridge must qualify
To qualify for the rebate, new fridges must meet certain Energy Star ratings. A list is available at energystar.gov. The old fridge must be working and be recycled through participating retailers, some of whom may include a charge for delivery and removal.

Funding for the program initially was expected to be $1.2 million that the state is getting as its per-capita share of $300 million in federal stimulus money divided among states for rebates on a range of large appliances. DBEDT added another $1.3 million from other sources of federal stimulus funds to enhance the fridge rebate program.

After the fridge rebate program ends, Hawai'i consumers will still be able to obtain rebates for new Energy Star qualified appliances, including fridges, under existing state programs. More information on those programs can be found at hawaii energy.com for O'ahu, Maui County and Big Island residents, and at kiuc.coop for Kaua'i residents.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 1:20 p.m. HST

State PUC Approves Another First Wind Power Project - for O'ahu

(Honolulu, Hawaii) – The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a power purchase agreement between Kahuku Wind Power and Hawaiian Electric Company for the utility to purchase renewable energy to be produced by the 30 megawatt (MW) wind energy project to be constructed on Oahu’s North Shore.

Under the terms of the contract, Kahuku Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, will sell as-available renewable energy to Hawaiian Electric at pre-determined prices over 20 years, providing a valuable hedge against fluctuating oil prices.

Located west of Kahuku town in the hills near Charlie Road, the wind energy project will consist of 12 Clipper Liberty wind turbines each having 2.5-MW capacity. Kahuku Wind Power will also include a battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output. The battery storage system has been developed by Xtreme Power, Inc. and will be the largest of its kind in Hawaii. The project will also include a microwave communication system to connect the wind energy project to the Hawaiian Electric system operations and dispatch center. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year.

When completed, Kahuku Wind Power will be the only wind energy project on Oahu and one of the largest wind energy projects in the state. It will have the capacity to generate an estimated 80,000 megawatt hours each year – enough energy to power the equivalent of 7,700 Oahu homes, reduce oil consumption by about 153,000 barrels a year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 96 million pounds per year, according to statistics from the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

First Wind has been in discussions about the project with Kahuku residents, community organizations and businesses in the Ko`olauloa and North Shore districts, and has worked with federal, state, and county agencies to obtain permits.

As part of the permitting process, First Wind developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in the State's Department of Land and Natural Resources. The plan will be modeled on the HCP developed for First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind Power on Maui, which was the first operating wind energy project in the United States to implement an HCP. The Kaheawa HCP is a mitigation and wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions designed to protect and minimize incidental harm to a federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project.

“With long-term pricing de-linked from the cost of oil, this new source of renewable energy is a step toward breaking our vulnerability to the fluctuating price of oil and increasing our energy security,” said Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Dick Rosenblum.

“First Wind appreciates the opportunity to work with Hawaiian Electric and the people of Oahu to decrease Hawaii’s reliance on imported fossil fuels for its electricity needs. Kahuku Wind Power is an important step toward meeting Hawaii’s clean energy goals and First Wind is proud to be a part of this process,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.

“This will be a major addition to Oahu’s portfolio of renewable energy sources,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. “First Wind brings demonstrated wind farm experience to this project and we welcome the opportunity to work with them to help meet the state’s goals of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.”

First Wind also owns and operates the 30 MW Kaheawa wind energy project above Ma’alaea, Maui which provides up to 9 percent of the electricity distributed by Maui Electric Company. Kahuku Wind Power will join Kaheawa as the state’s two largest wind energy projects.

Oahu has the largest population among the Hawaiian Islands and thus the greatest demand for electricity. But the island has comparatively fewer potential sources of renewable energy than other islands in the state.

(Report Provided by First Wind)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 12 p.m. HST

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff To Honor Fallen Officers

HONOLULU – In honor of Hawai‘i’s law enforcement officers who lost their lives protecting the people of Hawai‘i, Governor Linda Lingle has ordered state flags at state and county buildings to be flown at half-staff on Saturday, May 15, 2010, which will be observed as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” in Hawai‘i and across the nation.

The Governor’s order is in accordance with flag protocol which calls for U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor our nation’s law enforcement officers.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve in law enforcement and put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and keep our state and nation safe,” said Governor Lingle. “Police officers are among our first responders who are committed to watching over our communities and ensuring the safety and well being of others. They are exemplary role models of courage, honor and selfless service.”

“On Peace Officers Memorial Day, we honor the men and women of our law enforcement community who put their lives in harm's way to protect and ensure the safety of our residents and families,” said Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. “Nothing can ever repay the debt that we owe to those fallen heroes who gave their lives while protecting ours.”

Governor Lingle and Lt. Governor Aiona also declared May 9 through 15, 2010, as “Police Week” in Hawai‘i in conjunction with National Police Week.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 8:20 a.m. HST

Chamberlain's Keawakapu Home Listed at $19M

King of the TV miniseries Richard Chamberlain has listed his oceanfront Maui home at Keawakapu Beach for sale at $19 million.

Realtor Nancy Callahan sold Chamberlain the half-acre property on which he built the four-bedroom, 3 1/2 -bath home with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest house, and is "honored" to have been retained to sell the home.

Chamberlain is "such a gentleman, a very kind man," she said.

The beach is what many people envision as paradise and as such, his neighbors include other celebrities and people of high net worth, including film director Richard Donner and multifaceted show-business luminary Shep Gordon, who is also a charter member of Hawaii Regional Cuisine Inc., a non-chef among a hui of chefs who put Hawaii cuisine on the map.

"Here's what my thought is," Callahan said. "The beach is outstanding, but what they did (in designing and building the house) is of such quality -- attention to detail -- it truly is exquisite." The home will be sold furnished, exclusive of Chamberlain's art collection.

The 6,150-square-foot home and 1,980-square-foot carriage house (guest quarters), completed in 2005, is gated and, among its many features, has 100 feet of beach frontage.

The actor is relocating to Los Angeles to refocus on his acting career, including his upcoming role on the TNT show "Leverage," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Chamberlain rose to fame five decades ago as Dr. Kildare on the eponymous NBC-TV series and regained prominence in the 1980s by starring in TV miniseries including "Shogun," "Tai Pan" and "The Thorn Birds."

Callahan does not believe Chamberlain's celebrity adds to the price of the home or to its ability to sell.

"I am very old-school. I learned very early on that homes sell themselves. Brokers should just give good information," she said. Home buyers either "feel" a house or know "it's not my home," she said.

The luxury real estate market slowed, along with everything else during the recession, so a high-end home nowadays may be on the market for as long as a year.

Three years ago, when the market was very different, a luxury home might sell in 30 days, she said.

At that level, buyers are not looking for properties to "flip," she said. "They're buying it for themselves and for their family -- to keep."

There will be no open houses at the Chamberlain property and showings are by appointment only to qualified potential buyers, Callahan said.

Lookee-loos need not call.

Reach Erika Engle at eengle@starbulletin.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 8 a.m. HST

New State Solar Tax Credit Plan Clouding Prospects

Companies that install solar panels on homes are worried their business may be damaged by confusion over new rules on solar tax credits.

"I've already got concerned customers who have said 'put my project on hold,' " said Alex Tiller, chief executive officer of Sunetric, one of the largest residential system installers in the state. "The customers are scared because there's a lack of clarity."

Hawai'i's solar panel industry has grown with the help of tax credits that encourage the installation of photovoltaic systems. At issue is how homeowners can claim the state tax credits, which amount to 35 percent or a maximum of $5,000 per system.

The state Tax Department earlier this month put out revised guidance on the tax credit, given what may have been an abuse of them. The new rules sought to define what constituted a system for the purposes of a tax credit.

Tiller said the new guidance is unclear when it comes to multiple systems on a single home and seemingly disallows more than one system per house. That's got customers balking at purchases.

For example, under the old rules a homeowner might order $30,000 worth of panels to handle all of the energy-generating needs, Tiller said.

The panels would be configured into two systems for a variety of legitimate reasons, including having redundant systems, Tiller said.

Having two systems also would translate into less wear and tear , allowing them to run cooler and have a longer life.

The two systems also would mean the homeowner would qualify for two separate $5,000 tax credits, lowering the overall systems cost to $20,000.

Under the new rules, such a setup would be considered a single system and the homeowner would get only a $5,000 credit, Tiller said. Besides the lower credit, the break-even period on the systems also would be lengthened.

"It will really hurt the industry and cost a lot of jobs," Tiller said.

State Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi would not comment yesterday. But state Energy Administrator Ted Peck said he, the industry and others are trying to resolve the issue.

"We're working very hard to get this clarified," Peck said.

He said the tax ruling had nothing to do with a change in the state's renewable energy policy, which has been to encourage as much of the photovoltaic power as possible. The state has set a goal of getting 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Peck said the situation may be resolved through adding additional examples in the tax guidance of how the tax credit may be used.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 7:05 a.m. HST

Foreclosure Resales Hit Four-Year High in Hawai'i

Real estate in Hawai'i's foreclosure pipeline hit a high for the year last month, signaling that homeowners continue to struggle with mortgage payments even as the economy and real estate market are showing signs of a slow recovery.

The increase in foreclosures in Hawai'i comes as the nationwide total dipped for the first time since the economy faltered more than two years ago, according to a new report.

Research firm RealtyTrac reported that 1,474 Hawai'i properties were in some stage of foreclosure in April. The figure was a little more than double the year-earlier figure of 684 properties, and was the highest this year next to the 1,302 properties in January. Only one other month had a higher count, and that was December at 1,534.

Relatively high levels of unemployment as well as property values that are still off from peaks a few years ago are largely behind the still-heavy foreclosure problem.

Nationally, foreclosure activity in April decreased by 2 percent from a year earlier. It was the first year-over-year decline for any month reported by RealtyTrac since the company began tracking foreclosures in 2005.

"April was the first month in the history of our report with an annual decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity," James Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Saccacio said the April figures show that foreclosure activity nationally has begun to plateau — but at a very high level that isn't expected to drop off in the near future.

Hawai'i was one of six states with foreclosure counts that at least doubled in April from a year before.

At one foreclosure filing for every 348 households, Hawai'i's foreclosure rate was 11th-worst in the country. It was also worse than the national average of one filing per 387 households.

Until early last year, Hawai'i had maintained one of the best foreclosure rates in the nation, but since then has sunk in the rankings. That's partly because home prices in other states crashed earlier and are now faring better, while Hawai'i's housing market experienced a more moderate downturn that only recently has shown signs of a nascent recovery.

Accurately quantifying distressed Hawai'i home mortgages is tricky using RealtyTrac data because of how the company counts foreclosures.

RealtyTrac reports three types of foreclosure-related filings on property — default notices, trustee sale notices and lender repossessions — and the data can include filings on the same property counted in different months.

The data also aren't limited to residential property, and include commercial property such as condotels and timeshare units.

California-based RealtyTrac said it collects data from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, representing about 90 percent of the U.S. population.

Among Hawai'i counties, Honolulu had the most filings at 581, but the lowest rate, at one filing for every 580 households.

Kaua'i had the next best rate at one filing per 313 households, based on 95 total filings.

On Maui, the rate was one filing per 187 households, based on 353 total filings.

The Big Island had the worst rate, at one filing per 179 households, or 445 filings in all.

Statewide, the bulk of the foreclosure filings in April — 1,093 of the 1,474 filings — were trustee sale notices representing properties headed to auction.

Some 268 filings were lender repossessions.

There also were 113 default notices, which are filed in some but not all cases.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 13, 2010 6:45 a.m. HST

Governor Signs 'Birther Bill'

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday signed into law the so-called "birther" bill that is intended to limit the number of requests for President Obama's Hawai'i birth certificate.

Hawai'i state officials receive dozens of requests for Obama's birth certificate each month from people who believe he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and thus not eligible to be president.

The new law, Act 100, allows state agencies a limited exemption from Freedom of Information requirements when duplicative requests for information are made by the same person. Although the law covers all agencies, the measure targets people who repeatedly request a copy of Obama's Hawai'i birth certificate.

The requests are being made to the state Department of Health, which keeps the birth certificates.

In testimony before the Legislature in February, DOH Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said her department receives about 50 e-mail inquiries a month for Obama's birth certificate, primarily from the same four to six people.

"The time and state resources it takes to respond to these often convoluted inquiries are considerable," she testified.

Fukino has repeatedly vouched for the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate.

State law limits access to birth certificates to those who have "direct and tangible interest." This would include the person named in the record, the spouse, parent, descendant or personal representative; someone involved in marital, parental or death litigation; and official agency or organization representatives, including the health director.

State Sen. Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), introduced the measure at the request of the Lingle administration. Espero said he wanted to introduce a bill that would have allowed limited access to birth records, but the DOH said it couldn't support such a measure.

Espero said yesterday the new law will take some pressure off the DOH staff, but he said it will not end the birther controversy .

"It will certainly provide some relief and help that Department of Health staff (needs), although I don't think it will by any means put an end to the birther issue," Espero said. "There are people out there, and mostly from the Mainland, who are just rabid about this and I don't think anything we provide or give them will convince them otherwise."

Espero said he has spoken with birthers and has appeared on conservative talk radio shows. "I tell them that the Republican administration (of Lingle) has gone on record as saying that (Obama) is a son of Hawai'i, but they still don't believe us," he said.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 12, 2010 8:20 p.m. HST

Coca-Cola Awards $1,000 Scholarship to UH-MC Sophomore

A University of Hawai`i Maui College sophomore, Stephanie Harrison, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Coca Cola as a result of her nomination to the 2010 All-USA Academic Team.

Harrison, working toward an Associate of Science degree in Substance Abuse Counseling, is one of two UH Maui College students nominated for the team, an honors program sponsored by USA Today newspaper.

A second UH Maui College nominee, Ryan Buckley, is a second-year student working towards his Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Business and Information Technology.

Both are members of UH Maui College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. They were among more than 1,500 students from community colleges across the United States and territories nominated for the competition. There were 20 selected to the team, honored at a convention of the American Association of Community Colleges held in April.
Harrison, from Santa Clarita, Calif., expressed appreciation to the faculty at UH Maui in supporting her studies in her chosen field.

“Gratitude goes to my mentors and advisers, Lee Stein and Elisabeth Armstrong, for their continued support and guidance,” she said.

Buckley was an early admissions student as a senior at Hana High & Elementary School and anticipates earning his bachelor’s degree in Spring 2011, looking to employment in information technology or management. He also anticipates working toward a master’s degree from the University of Hawai`i.

“As for the environment, I find UHMC to be an excellent learning environment with outstanding faculty,” he said. “Although I believe the (ABIT) curriculum may need to be updated, the faculty is what I find exceptional.”

Phi Theta Kappa (www.ptk.org) is an honors society for two-year colleges, with 1,200 chapters in colleges across the globe. Students accepted into the society have completed 12 hours of an associate degree course with a grade point average of 3.5 or better.

The American Association of Community Colleges (www.aacc.nche.edu) is an advocacy organization representing 1,200 educational institutions granting two-year associate degrees, headquartered in the National Center for Higher Education in Washington, D.C.

(Report Provided by the University of Hawai'i - MauiCollege)

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NEWS FLASH - May 12, 2010 6:10 p.m. HST

Police Recapture MCCC Escapee

This afternoon Maui Police recaptured Henry Kahaleauki, the Maui Community Correctional Center inmate who escaped cutody last Saturday while attending his brother's funeral.

Acccording to the report, Kahaleauki was riding in a vehicle that was stopped by Maui Police at the intersection of North Kihei Road and Pi'ilani Highway around 3 p.m. today. The two other men in the vehicle were also arrested. For details of the original escape, click here.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 12, 2010 7:10 a.m. HST

Experts Predict Gas Price Drops for Memorial Day

Gas prices are poised to fall as Memorial Day approaches, a welcome change for motorists who have gotten used to seeing increases cut into their summer vacation money.

Experts who had been predicting a national average of more than $3 per gallon by Memorial Day now say prices have likely peaked just beneath that threshold. Rising supplies and concerns about the global economy have helped send wholesale gasoline prices plummeting by 25 cents a gallon since last week.

"Gasoline supplies are about as good as they've ever been going into the summer driving season," says oil analyst Phil Flynn of PFGBest in Chicago.

The decline in prices is starting to filter down to motorists, but it will take several weeks for the full effects to be reflected in pump prices, which average $2.91 nationwide.

A drop would be welcome news to motorists in Hawaii. An AP check on the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the 50 states and the District of Columbia showed the Islands with the nation's highest price: $3.564.

Alaska was second at $3.524. Of the other state's paying more than $3 a gallon, California was at $3.151, Utah at $3.113, Idaho at $3.104, Washington at $3.102, Connecticut at $3.084, New York at $3.076, Illinois at $3.044 and the District of Columbia at $3.005.

By summer, the nationwide average could be below last summer's peak of around $2.70 a gallon, says Tom Kloza of Oil Price Information Service. In July 2008, the retail price of regular gasoline peaked at $4.11.

Economists say the coming drop in energy costs will not have a significant impact on overall consumer spending or economic growth. But motorists will feel better having a little more money to save or spend on clothes, dinner or a summer vacation.

Chrystal Harned, who paid $3.01 a gallon the other day, says she will be more likely to take a road trip this summer if prices fall.

"It's good to go see people and get out of the town and spread your wings a little bit," says the 36-year-old waitress and bartender, who lives just outside Rochester, N.Y. She says business is picking up these days, but "you don't want to put it all in the gas tank."

Since May 3, oil prices have declined by 12 percent to $76.20 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline prices have declined by 10 percent to $2.19 a gallon.

Analysts were forecasting a nationwide retail average well above $3 a gallon just a few months ago. So what changed?

• The European debt crisis escalated. This undermined confidence in the strength of the global economic recovery and prompted analysts to lower their energy demand forecasts. The crisis also sent institutional investors flocking to the dollar, a relative safe haven. And, these days, when the dollar goes up, the price of oil goes down.

• Supplies of gasoline have risen steadily. As of April 30, the U.S. had 225 million barrels of gasoline in storage — about 5 percent more than a year ago. Output from refineries has been growing at a faster pace than demand.

• Political unrest in oil-producing nations has been muted. This is a wild card that could change quickly. But lately, violence in Nigeria and tensions in the Middle East have been relatively minor, traders say.

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had no impact on fuel prices because it's had only minimal impact on petroleum production, analysts say.

Predictions of $3-a-gallon gas have come true in states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Nevada. Distance from the nation's refining hub along the Gulf Coast or high taxes are contributing factors.

If pump prices fall by 25 cents per gallon — in line with the decline at the wholesale level — that will knock about $12.50 off the fuel bill of a typical motorist burning 50 gallons a month.

Economist Ken Mayland of ClearView Economics suspects most drivers will view the lower prices as temporary and that they'll pocket the savings.

The federal government's Energy Information Administration has been forecasting a nationwide average of $3 a gallon for at least a part of the driving season. It's not ready to concede that gasoline prices have reached their high point.

EIA's Tancred Lidderdale said a resolution to the debt crisis in Europe, a decline in the dollar and fresh signs of global economic growth could send oil prices back up.

"The market is volatile," he says.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 12, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

State Retirement Fund Surges Back in Value

The Hawai'i Employees' Retirement System portfolio rose by $308 million to $10.52 billion during the three months ended March 31, capping a year in which its investments came roaring back off market lows.

ERS trustees yesterday learned the value of investments rose by 3.3 percent in the January-to-March period, or more than what it would be expected to produce given its policy benchmark.

Rod June, ERS chief investment officer, said the gain was helped by fixed income investments outperforming expectations and by an increase in U.S. stocks. A decline in international equities held by the fund offset some of the increase, he said.

The gain was a welcome one for the pension plan, which is used to pay retirement benefits for former state and county workers. The value of the investments is coming back from a stinging downturn in prior years as the economy and financial markets sank.

During the past year, the fund has charted gains each quarter, coming back from an astonishing plunge in investment values that began in 2008 and continued into 2009 as Wall Street tried to recover from a financial meltdown.

June said during the one-year period the ERS portfolio — which is managed by a mix of professional money managers — surged 29.6 percent.

That equated to a $2.39 billion increase as the portfolio recovered from the low of $8.12 billion at the end of March 2009.

"We've all seen the market really rise," said June, explaining the gains were led by a surge in U.S. and international equities.

The pension plan uses a combination of funding from the state and counties along with investment gains to pay for current retirees' benefits, as well as establish funding for future benefits. The ERS seeks an 8 percent annual return on its investments.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 11, 2010 4:10 p.m. HST

2010 Lana'i Mouflon Sheep Hunting Season Details Released

HONOLULU -- The Department of Land and Natural Resources announces that application forms for the 2010 Lanai Mouflon sheep hunting season, together with instruction sheets, are available at all Division of Forestry and Wildlife offices statewide.

“It is imperative that hunters obtain and pay particular attention to the hunt instruction sheet and addendum for more changes in the application process,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson.

Pursuant to Title 13, Chapter 123, "Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting” (§ 13-123-2), the cooperative agreement between DLNR and the landowner, and the written request of the landowner, the following special conditions and procedures will be in effect for this hunt:

The 2010 Lanai Mouflon sheep season will consist of three hunts. Deadline for submitting applications is 4 p.m. Friday on May 28.

The Archery Only Hunt will be held over eight consecutive days, beginning July 31, 2010 and ending on August 7, 2010.

The Muzzleloading Hunt will be conducted for two consecutive weekends (Saturday and Sunday), August 14 and 15, 2010 and August 21 and 22, 2010.

The General Rifle Hunt will be held over nine consecutive weekends (Saturday and Sunday), beginning on August 28, 2010 and ending on October 24, 2010.

Hunter assistants will only be allowed to accompany hunters who are senior citizens (age 65 or older) or disabled.

The bag limit for the 2010 Lana‘i Mouflon Sheep Season will be two Mouflon sheep (one ewe and one ewe or atypical/non-typical ram) per hunter per season (regardless of the type of equipment used). Upon check in, hunters will be issued both tags. All heads of rams harvested must be disposed of in the trash bin provided by the State of Hawai‘i located at the Lana‘i hunter check station.

There will be no lottery drawing of permits conducted for the Archery Only Hunt and no limit on the number of archers who will be allowed to participate. However, interested archers must apply for this hunt by submitting an application for a permit.

Hunters participating in the Archery Only Hunt will not be allowed to apply for, or participate in, either the Muzzleloading Hunt or the General Rifle Hunt lotteries. Participation in the Muzzleloading Hunt and General Rifle Hunt will be assigned by lottery drawing. Interested hunters may apply for either the Muzzleloading Hunt Lottery or the General Rifle Hunt Lottery, but may NOT apply for BOTH. The lotteries will be held on Monday, June 28 at the State building in Wailuku, Maui (muzzleloader drawing at 11 a.m. and general rifle at 12 noon.)

Archery hunters may check in on the Friday preceding the first day of the Archery Only Hunt or daily during the hunt between the hours of 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to validate permits and receive their tags.

All archery hunters must check-out of the hunting area daily and report their take or their intent to hunt the next day providing their tags remain unfilled.

For hunt rules and details go to http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw or contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife offices at: (808) 587-0166 (Honolulu), (808) 984-8100 (Maui), (808) 274-3433 (Kaua‘i) or (808) 974-4221 (Hawai‘i).

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 11, 2010 3 p.m. HST

DLNR Sets Maui Meeting for Ma'alaea Harbor Improvement Input

KAHULUI – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Engineering Division will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday, May 19, 2010, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to discuss a planned improvement project at Ma‘alaea Small Boat harbor.

The meeting will take place at the ground floor of the "Sea Flight" building, Ma‘alaea Small Boat Harbor, 101 Ma‘alaea Boat Harbor Road. DLNR Engineering and Boating and Ocean Recreation divisions staff and the project consultant will brief meeting attendees on the planned project and answer questions.

The project will include the construction of a new ferry terminal building at the end of the South Mole, a new comfort station, new waste water treatment system, sewer pump-outs, concrete paved parking areas and access roads, concrete piers, electrical, water and sewer utilities.

“Our small boat harbors offer a vital connection to recreational and commercial ocean activities. It is important that they be kept in good working condition. By repairing the heavily used Ma‘alaea Small Boat Harbor, the boaters, community and visitors will have a safer, cleaner and more hospitable facility, and enjoy greater access to the ocean that surrounds our islands,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson.

This project, which will be funded through federal grants administered by the Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and state funds, will re-build a major portion of the small boat harbor, replace badly deteriorated facilities, and correct public health and safety concerns. It will also provide the boaters with easily accessible sewer pump-out systems to dispose of their sewage instead of disposal by other means.

DLNR’s Engineering Division will advertise this project for bids this month and open the bids in June 2010.

For more information call DOBOR at 587-0122.

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

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NEWS FLASH - May 11, 2010 10:40 a.m. HST

Out-Of-Control Satellite Drifting Over Hawai'i, Cable TV At Risk

LONDON — A TV communications satellite is drifting out of control thousands of miles above the Earth to the east of Hawaii, threatening to wander into another satellite's orbit and interfere with cable programming across the United States, the satellites' owners said Tuesday.

Communications company Intelsat said it lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 5, possibly because the satellite's systems were knocked out by a solar storm. Intelsat cannot remotely steer the satellite to remain in its orbit, so Galaxy 15 is creeping toward the adjacent path of another TV communications satellite that serves U.S. cable companies.

Galaxy 15 continues to receive and transmit satellite signals, and they will probably overlap and interfere with signals from the second satellite, known as AMC 11, if Galaxy 15 drifts into its orbit as expected around May 23, according to the two satellite companies.

AMC 11 receives digital programming from cable television channels and transmits it to all U.S. cable systems from its orbit 22,000 miles above the equator, SES World Skies said. It operates on the same frequencies as Galaxy 15.

"That fact means that there is likely to be some kind of interference," Yves Feltes, a spokesman for AMC 11 owner SES World Skies, told The Associated Press. "Our aim is to bring any interference down to zero."

He would not name any of the cable television channels or providers that could be affected or say how long the interference could last.

DirecTV Inc., the largest US satellite TV company, said it will not be affected. Comcast Corp. said it was monitoring the situation.

Cox Communications Inc. said it could not immediately specify if its service would be affected and Dish Network Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. had no statements on the matter or did not return Associated Press calls seeking comment.

"We are confident that service disruptions will be minimized or avoided," said Dianne VanBeber, a spokeswoman for Intelsat.

Galaxy 15 is floating over the Pacific Ocean slightly to the east of Hawaii, said Emmet Fletcher, space surveillance and tracking manager for the Space Situational Awareness Programme at the European Space Agency, an 18-nation consortium.

He said Galaxy 15 was highly unusual because it continued to send out television signals, unlike other malfunctioning satellites that automatically went into complete shutdown when their navigational systems malfunctioned. A spokesman for the satellite's manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corp., did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The dead satellites still are a threat to other satellites, but less of one than Galaxy 15 poses, Fletcher said.

"They'll just cruise around the geobelt, drifting wherever they go, potentially causing havoc, when you lose control of them," he said.

The geobelt is the relatively narrow band of space where satellites can move in orbits that allow them to appear stationary in the sky in relation to specific points on earth.

Feltes, the SES spokesman, said one option to prevent interference with U.S. television would be using AMC 11's propulsion system to shift that satellite about 60 miles away to an orbit that's still within its carefully prescribed "orbital box" but as far away as possible from Galaxy 15.

He said SES had other strategies under consideration but declined to provide details.

"We have all of our technicians, all of our specialists on this case," he said.

Both companies said there was no risk of an actual collision between the two satellites in space.

Intelsat said it was analyzing signals from Galaxy 15 daily in order to predict its trajectory and was trying to figure out if it can shut down the satellite's transmission so it would not interfere with AMC 11.

VanBeber said cable companies could also adjust their equipment in order to minimize any interference.

She said satellites like Galaxy 15 today cost $250 million to build, launch and insure but it probably cost less when it was launched in 2005.

Feltes said the two companies, both based in Luxembourg, were cooperating closely.

"They have tried numerous things to regain control of the satellite or to have it finally shut down," he said. "It needs some collaboration to bring the impact of this failure to an absolute minimum."

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 11, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Maui Leads Way As Statewide Hotel Revenues Climb

Hotel occupancy climbed enough in March that the local lodging industry was able to turn the corner on a key measure of profitability for the first time in two years.

Revenue per available room, or "revpar," rose to $122.43 in March from $119.21 a year earlier, according to a report released today by Hospitality Advisors and Smith Travel Research.

"After 24 consecutive months of room revenue losses, the rise in monthly occupancy during March was finally able to outpace room discounting for a modest revenue gain," said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive officer of Hospitality Advisors LLC, a local travel industry consulting firm.

Average statewide occupancy rose to 70.6 percent in March from 65.2 percent a year earlier. Occupancy has increased in six out of the past seven months. But with deep discounting, hotels hadn't been able to post an increase in revenue per available room — until March.

The turn in revpar shows that hotel owners are beginning to regain some leverage in pricing power lost during the extended downturn in the visitor industry.

"The first-quarter results are encouraging as confidence continues to slowly rebuild in the market," Toy said.

That's not to say that discounting is over. The average daily room rate fell to $173.41 in March from $182.83 a year earlier. While room rates were down, the rate of decline continued to slow.

"People are shopping deals. They know they can wait to book their hotel until the last minute and still get a deal," said David Carey, president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Enterprises Group. "And it's not just Hawai'i. People are shopping for deals at all leisure destinations. When you have discounting and occupancy stays level, it's a huge profit squeeze."

But four consecutive monthly increases in visitor arrivals have helped fill hotel rooms, and airlines say they are planning on adding airseats in the months ahead. That has hoteliers feeling more hopeful.

"Signs are better than they have been for this summer in terms of advance bookings," said Carey, whose company operates 26 hotels on four islands. "But we're going to have to see volumes continue to increase in order to get sustained revenue gains."

The biggest increase in hotel occupancy in March was on Maui, where the rate rose by 9.7 percentage points to 72.4 percent. O'ahu's rate rose to 6.4 points to 76 percent. Kaua'i posted a 5.8 point drop to 55.7 percent, and the occupancy rate on the Big Island fell by 1 percentage point to 57.9 percent.

Nationally, Hawai'i's 70.6 percent March occupancy rate was the third highest in the country, trailing New York at 72 percent and Miami at 77.9 percent.

Hawai'i's $173.41 average daily room rate also was third highest, behind Miami at $182.70 and New York at $188.06.

Reach Alan Yonan Jr. at ayonan@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 6:25 p.m. HST

Hawai'i in 'Bottom 10' - in 'Good' Category

A new report showed that 9.8 percent of all mortgages issued in Hawaii were in negative equity in the first quarter of this year, the 10th lowest percentage of any state.

Of the 230,246 mortgages outstanding, 22,594 were in negative equity, meaning the borrower owed more on the loan than the value of the home, according to CoreLogic, a firm specializing in consumer, financial and property information.

Total mortgage debt in Hawai'i was $256 billion, with net homeowner equity of 63 billion. The average loan-to-value ratio was 80 percent.

Nationwide 23.7 percent of mortgages were in negative equity, according to CoreLogic, which surveyed 47 million properties accounting for 85 percent of all mortgages in the U.S.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 3:15 p.m. HST

Hawaiian Electric Parent Company Profits Surge

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. today reported a 32.8 percent rise in its first quarter earnings due to higher electricity rates and usage.

The company said it netted $27.1 million, or 29 cents per share, during the three months ending March 31, 2010, compared to $20.4 million, or 22 cents in the year-earlier period.

Shares of Hawaiian Electric were up 96 cents, or more than 4.3 percent, to $23.08 on the New York Stock Exchange today.

The company said higher electricity rates added $9 million in revenue during the quarter while kilowatt hour sales rose 1.9 percent.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 3 p.m. HST

Power Outage Slows Traffic on Dairy Road

Maui Police report slow traffic on Dairy Road at Alamaha Street in Kahului. Power to the traffic signal has malfunctioned and northbound vehicles are not able to turn left onto Alamaha Street.

Maui Electric Company crews are on the scene and hope to have the signal functioning again by 3:30 p.m.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 12:20 p.m. HST

ML&P Losses Continue - But Not As Bad

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. reported a slimmed-down loss of $2.7 million in the first three months of this year compared with a $13.2 million loss in the same period last year

The company said a land sale and employee benefit cuts helped to produce the narrowed loss, which came on $10.7 million in revenue for both comparable quarters.

Maui Land's earnings equated to a net loss of 33 cents per common share of stock in the first quarter, compared with a $1.65 per-share net loss in the year-ago quarter.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 11:50 a.m. HST

DCCC Abandons Hawai'i Special Election Effort

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are abandoning efforts to win a special election in Hawaii as a party feud threatens their prospects in President Barack Obama's native state.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Crider today said the organization would stop spending for the May 22 contest to replace Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who left Congress to run for governor.

The DCCC said it would save the money it would have spent on the special election for the general election in November.

National Democrats have been smarting over the Democratic fight between state Senate president Colleen Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case.

Hanabusa is favored by the state's two senators, Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka, as well as labor. The DCCC blamed local Democrats for infighting.

Republican Charles Djou is leading in the polls. The Democratic campaign committee has spent an estimated $300,000 on the race, much of it for ads critical of Djou.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 11:20 a.m. HST

MCCC Escapee Remains at Large, Description Corrected

Maui Police report that the Maui Community Correctional Center inmate who took advantage of the opportunity of attending his brother's funeral Saturday to escape remains at large.

In their update, Police made one factual correction. Thirty-eight year-old Henry Kahaleauki is five feet, eight inches tall. The previous news release indicated he was six feet, one inch tall.

Kahaleauki should not be approached and is considered dangerour. Anyone with information of his whereabouts is asked to call 911, contact Criminal Investigation Division 244-6425, or Crime Stoppers 242-6966.

(Report Provided by The Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 10, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Older Hawai'i Unemployed Turning Earlier to Social Security

Older Hawai'i workers who have lost jobs in the recession are exhausting unemployment benefits, spending down their nest eggs and turning to Social Security early in a trend that could threaten their long-term financial security and shows how tough the job market is for seniors.

New Social Security figures show that the number of Hawai'i residents who signed up for early retirement last year — in many cases after being unable to find new jobs — was up 36 percent from 2005. Meanwhile, state figures show 22 percent of all claimants for unemployment benefits are over 55.

Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawai'i, said older workers are being hit particularly hard in the recession and are struggling to compete with younger workers for fewer jobs. She said the downturn is forcing many to make tough choices, such as opting to draw Social Security early, which means they'll get smaller monthly checks, reduced by about 25 percent.

"They're compromising their retirement," Stanton said.

The financial pressures on older workers could have widespread implications for the graying population of baby boomers who are living longer than their parents and in some cases are ill-prepared for retirement because they didn't save enough or their savings shrunk in the financial meltdown.

Advocates say seniors nationwide are facing the same economic pressures and that many have started drawing early retirement to stay afloat.

They also say the situation in Hawai'i could become especially acute, because seniors make up a larger percentage of the state's population. About 20 percent of the state's population is over 60.

DESPERATE CHOICE

Last year, some 9,612 Hawai'i residents filed for early retirement benefits, according to Social Security figures. That's up about 15 percent from 2008, when 8,343 filed, and up 36 percent from 2005.

Statewide, in 2008, some 154,183 retired workers were getting Social Security benefits.

Early retirement claims are also up nationally, experts said. There are about 75 million baby boomers nationwide, born between 1946 and 1964. Boomers can start drawing early retirement under Social Security at 62.

"There's (seniors) losing their jobs. If they are at retirement age, they're forced to take early retirement," said Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay, of the Social Security Administration office in Hawai'i. "Some of them have no choice. It's a source of income for them, rather than having no income at all."

Meanwhile, state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations statistics show that of the nearly 19,500 who filed for unemployment benefits last year, 3,939 — about 20 percent — were 55 or over.

Advocates say that seniors may not always be first on the layoff list.

But if they are laid off, they're finding themselves struggling — more than their younger counterparts — to find new jobs. At a time when jobs are scarce, advocates and seniors say, employers are sometimes hesitant to train someone who could retire soon. Many jobs may also require technical or computer skills that seniors may not have.

'OVERQUALIFIED'

Martha Loezius, 71, said she has run into just those sorts of barriers since she was laid off in September from Bank of Hawaii. She has applied for positions that are well below her skill level and has told employers she's willing to make much less than the $68,000 a year she was earning.

But Loezius said if she gets a callback at all, it's to tell her she's over-qualified.

"They can't come out and say that you're too old," she said.

Loezius said she hadn't planned to retire for at least a few more years. Her husband is six years younger than her, and the two were hoping to retire about the same time. But now, Loezius has pretty much accepted that she won't find another job. She and her husband have cut their expenses because of the job loss, and Loezius said she plans to start drawing Social Security this year if she can't find something before her unemployment benefits run out.

"It's really changed my life," she said.

Anticipating the wave of older workers searching for jobs, the Kupuna Education Center at Kapi'olani Community College started a class in the spring to teach baby boomers how to market themselves in a changing job market and even how to start an "encore career" in their 50s and 60s.

HOPE IN 5 YEARS?

Toni Hathaway, education coordinator at the center, said the downturn has pushed lots of baby boomers into retirement before they were ready or has meant layoffs for people who have been doing the same job for their whole lives. Many of them, she said, don't have updated resumes or cover letters, and they probably aren't up on all the latest technologies.

But, she said, there are ways older workers can set themselves apart: They can highlight their experience, their work ethic and the fact that they're reliable. She also thinks that though older workers may be struggling now, they'll be in demand when the economy bounces back — in five years or so.

"Once the economy gets under way, we're not going to have enough younger workers," she said.

Steven Cook, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, teaches the KCC class with his wife, Barbara, a gerontologist. He said the spring class attracted mostly older workers who had been laid off and were actively seeking work. The key for older workers, he added, is figuring out what they want to do, and then trying to determine how they can market "transferable skills" they have or learn new ones.

Cook also said older workers are ideal mentors and dependable workers.

"Ageism is alive and well in the workplace. When an employer hires, they tend to want to go with the younger workers because they believe they can get more production out of them over a lifetime," he said. "But this is shifting because of older workers' experience, their work ethic and their responsibility level."

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 9, 2010 11:05 a.m. HST

Moloka'i Middle School Student Wins Maui Peace Poem Prize

MAKAWAO -- An eighth grade student from Molokai Middle School was the grand prizewinner for Maui County in the 11th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.

Michaella Tancayo was selected from a field of more than 420 entries in Maui County. County Mayor Charmaine Tavares presented Tancayo with a certificate recognizing her achievement.

Tancayo also received a glass peace sculpture created by renowned Maui artist Elan Vital
Tancayo’s winning peace poem, “Freedom,” skillfully weaves English and Hawaiian into a linguistically rich lyrical rhyme pattern using vivid images of Dr. King’s strength and character.

The poem begins with “Listen closely for I have a tale/No kekahi kanaka i ha’awi kona leo/he preached and preached with his strong mana/Ua ha’awi kona pu’uwai i na kanaka a mina ‘ohana.” Tancayo concludes with “January 18, 1968, the day to always remember/E mau ana no, Martin Luther King, Freedom rights forever.”

Poetry organizer Melinda Gohn said, “Michaella’s poem describes King's struggle and dream. She implants a unique Hawaiian tone to her work.”

“We are delighted to receive work of this complexity from Maui County students,” said Gohn, coordinator of the International Peace Poem Project, the non-governmental organization sponsoring the competition.

In addition to Tancayo, the Project recognized more than 80 student winners, some from as far away as the island of Molokai. All winners received a complimentary poster of Dr. King and a certificate from Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

Some 200 people attended the awards ceremony Wednesday (May 5) at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.

The contest is to promote peace through writing and pays tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was instrumental in using nonviolent means in obtaining civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities.
The International Peace Poem Project was started in June 1996.

More information about the Project and the Dr. King awards may be obtained by going to the group’s web site at peacepoem.org.

(Report Provided by The Maui Peace Poem Project)

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NEWS FLASH - May 9, 2010 8:15 a.m. HST

Maui Author's Book 'Best of Year' in Hawai'i

HONOLULU - Maui author Wayne Moniz has won the Readers' Choice Award for Best Hawai'i Book of 2009 for "Under Maui Skies and Other Stories.

Sponsored by the Honolulu Advertiser, the award was presented April 30 at the Ka Palapala Ho'okela Awards at Honolulu's Bishop Museum hosted by the Hawai'i Book Publishers Association.

In the book according to a release, Moniz "presents seven tales of his island home, each in a different genre: love, detective, adventure, war, science fiction, and ghost stories, and a Western."

Born and raised on Maui, Moniz has won previous prizes including the Cades Award for Literature, both as a writer and teacher on the high school and college level.

The book is the 10th title for Koa Books, founded in 2005 by Arnie Kotler and based in Kihei.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 5:15 p.m. HST

Fire Crews Extinguish One Fire, Almost Finish Another

The Maui County Office of Information has issued the following updates on two fires being attended to on Maui:

OLOWALU BRUSH FIRE

The brush fire at Olowalu remains at 90% contained and fire officials report that mop-up operations continued today and will be monitored throughout tonight for flare ups.

SPRECKELSVILLE BRUSH FIRE

Fire officials report that the brush fire at Spreckelsville was extinguished at 10:30 a.m. today. An estimated 3 acres were burned. No injuries are reported and the cause remains under investigation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 4:30 p.m. HST

MCCC Inmate Escapes During Brother's Funeral

Maui Police report that this morning, shortly after 9 a.m., Harry Kahaleauki (38) escaped from the custody of the Adult Correction Officers of Maui Community Correctional Center while Kahaleauki was attending his brother’s funeral at Ballard’s Mortuary in Kahului.

Kahaleauki should be approached with extreme caution, and should be considered dangerous. Anyone with information of his whereabouts is asked to call 911, contact Criminal Investigation Division 244-6425, or Crime Stoppers 242-6966.

Kahaleauki is described as: Hawaiian male, 6’1”/ 200 lbs./ black hair/ brown eyes. He was last seen wearing his orange colored M.C.C.C. clothing with iron leg shackles.

*Information provided by Criminal Investigation Division 244-6425.



Harry Kahaleauki (MPD Photo)

(Report Provided by The Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 9:05 a.m. HST

FCC Opening KGMB/KHNL/KFVE Combo Sale to Public Scrutiny

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled in favor of Media Council Hawaii in opening to the public its review of the shared services agreement enabling the consolidation of KGMB-TV, KHNL-TV and KFVE-TV last year.

The stations' parent companies, Alabama-based Raycom Media Inc. and Virginia-based MCG Capital Corp., believe the SSA does not require FCC approval.

Station officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"Contrary to the assertion of (MCG), we believe that classifying this proceeding as permit-but-disclose is in the public interest because the proceeding raises issues upon which the public has a demonstrable concern," the FCC said Wednesday.

The media council believes the SSA violates ownership limits by giving Raycom control over a third TV station in Honolulu, two of which are top-four rated and all of which have statewide reach.

Permit-but-disclose proceedings allow parties to make what are called ex-parte presentations to commissioners and commission employees without the other parties present, but also require the contacts to be disclosed in writing by the next business day.

"Prior to this, we were hamstrung by having to give prior notice whenever we had communication with the FCC and even in matters where we advised other groups and individuals to lobby on our behalf," said Chris Conybeare, media council president.

The Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center represents the media council and says the FCC decision affirms the public right to "have a say in what's happening with their local broadcast stations," said Adrienne Biddings, staff attorney. Commissioners "understand ... that this is such an important matter they want to hear what they have to say and make it part of the record."

The SSA differs from the impending newspaper merger in that the broadcast "spectrum belongs to the public" and those regulations do not apply to newspapers, Biddings said.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin owner David Black offered the paper for sale after consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorney general's office as a condition of his purchase of The Honolulu Advertiser.

Biddings also opposes the newspaper consolidation, noting the ban on common ownership of a paper and TV station in a market was recently lifted. Black "can probably go and buy the Raycom stations" now. The FCC will review ownership laws this year, "so these are important issues we need to be talking about," she said.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 8:35 a.m. HST

Electricity Rates Going Up on Maui, O'ahu - Down on Kaua'i, Hawai'i

Maui customers will see rates rise to 28.41 cents per kilowatt hour this month from April's 25.62 cents. The typical Maui bill will increase by $16.75 to $178.51.

Electricity bills for the typical O'ahu residential customer will jump $8.09 this month. Hawaiian Electric Co. said the typical 600-kilowatt-hour bill for O'ahu residential customers will rise to $158.20 from $150.11 in April.

The effective rate for electricity in Honolulu is 24.84 cents per kilowatt hour in May, an increase from the 23.5 cents last month.

Elsewhere in the state:

Big Island residential rates will drop to 32.20 cents from last month's 32.8 cents. The typical bill will fall by $3.70 to $204.26.

• On Kaua'i, the rate will decline to 34.18 cents per kilowatt hour. Last month the rate charged by the Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative was 34.33 cents.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 8:05 a.m. HST

Honua Kai Completion Vaults Condo Sales in April to Nearly Five-Year High

Ongoing completion of a 700-unit luxury condominium helped push Maui condo sales in April to a nearly five-year high, while single-family home sales rose by a more moderate clip from a year earlier.

The Realtors Association of Maui yesterday reported that condo sales last month on the Valley Isle more than tripled to 158 from 41 in the same month last year. The last time so many condos sold in any month was December 2005 at the tail end of Hawai'i's real estate boom.

The luxury condo project, Honua Kai, has been busy closing sales that it largely made in 2005 and 2006 when it had reported selling 512 of 700 units.

Construction of the first units at the Ka'anapali project began wrapping up last year, accounting for about 150 sales. Sales are continuing this year at a brisk pace as additional units are completed and buyers close sales. Last month, there were 45 Honua Kai sales.

Sales in other parts of Maui also were up. In Kihei, there were 51 condo sales last month compared with eight a year earlier. In Napili/Kahana/Honokowai, there were 16 sales versus six in the same period. And in Wailea/Makena, there were 13 sales versus three.

The median sale price for all Maui condos sold was $455,000 last month, up from $410,000 a year earlier.

Honua Kai sales ranged from $573,300 to $4.5 million, which helped boost the median.

Honua Kai and other large new condo projects can have a significant influence on home sale statistics for Maui because the Realtors Association of Maui counts new-home sales in its data. Such projects, especially high-rises, often result in big batches of pricier sales compared with the resale market.

By comparison, the Honolulu Board of Realtors excludes new-home sales from its data in part to give a more comparable picture of demand and prices for homes.

In Maui's single-family home market, sales were up 76 percent to 88 last month from 50 a year earlier. The median price was $477,500 compared with $497,000 in the same period.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 7:25 a.m. HST

Federal Stimulus Money Saves State's Science Fair Program

Just hours before 22 Hawai'i students left to compete in an international science fair, the state boosted the program with federal stimulus money.

That support will ensure the Hawai'i State Science and Engineering Fair will be able to continue encouraging young minds to embrace math and science.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona yesterday announced that the state will give $425,000 to the Hawai'i State Science and Engineering Fair to fund the year-round program and to expand teacher training.

"It sends a very needed message that the state supports education, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math," said Eric DeCarlo, Hawai'i State Science and Engineering Fair executive council member and University of Hawai'i Department of Oceanography professor.

The grant is part of the governor's initiative to support science, technology, engineering and math education.

Students who are supported in these fields, Aiona said, will go on to provide an educated workforce for Hawai'i in the future.

Yesterday, 22 students from Hawai'i left for San Jose, Calif., to compete with 55 other countries in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest international pre-college science competition.

Last year, nearly 7,000 Hawai'i students participated in science fairs, 500 competed at the state level and 20 finalists competed at the international level with 55 other countries.

Kang Ying "Connie" Liu, the state science fair winner, left yesterday for San Jose with her presentation on triangle inequalities. The whiz kid from St. Andrew's Priory spent a year focusing on trying to find a streamlined approach to new geometric formulas for describing triangle inequalities.

"The science fair provides the opportunity to present a project," said Liu, 17. "It provides the motivation to do it."

Waiakea High School senior Nolan Kamitaki, who has been named a 2010 U.S. Presidential Scholar, said he has been a part of science fairs for six years. Kamitaki won second place in the senior research category for "Gene Dosage and Expression in Human Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines."

"Personally, the state science fair has contributed to who I am today," Kamitaki said. "It's a tremendous process. I've learned so much."

The science fair is put on by the Hawai'i Academy of Science, which was founded in 1925. The state had supported the academy until 2009, when the academy began to seek private donors.

"This allows us to improve and look at ways to extend our teacher training and to increase the awareness of science education in Hawai'i," academy president Gareth Wynn-Williams said.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 8, 2010 6:55 a.m. HST

Three Kihei Teens Hurt in Single-Car Crash Near Maui Tropical Plantation

Maui Police report that three teenagers were injured, two of them critically, in a single-vehicle accident that closed a portion of Honoapi'ilani Highway near the Maui Tropical Plantation early this morning.

Maui Police say that, around 1 a.m. today, a 2008 Chrysler Sebring was travelling southbound on the highway when the driver apparently lost control of the car. The vehicle crossed the centerline and impacted the left shoulder of the road where it went into a ditch. The impact ejected all three occupants from the vehicle - none of whom were wearing seatbelts.

Police identify the driver only as a 19 year-old female from Kihei. The passengers were a 19 year-old male from Kihei and an 18 year-old girl from Kihei. The 19 year-old femaile and 18 year-old female suffered critical injuries in the crash and are being treated at Maui Memorial Medical Center. The 19 year-old male was treated and released.

Police opened the highway at 6:15 a.m.after their investigation was complete. They say alcohol, speed and drugs are being investigated as possible contributing factors in the crash.

(Information Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 5:25 p.m. HST

Fire Crews Nearly Victorious in Two Maui Blaze Battles

The Maui County Office of Information has issued the following updates on two fires being attended to on Maui:

OLOWALU BRUSH FIRE

Fire officials report that the brush fire that started in the afternoon of Monday May 3 in the Ukumehame area and progressed to Olowalu is now 90 percent contained. An estimated 1,100 acres were burned. Firefighters continued to monitor the area for flare-ups last evening. Strong winds are still a factor.

Tonight one fire crew will be on scene to monitor the burn area. No injuries are reported the cause remains under investigation.


SPRECKELSVILLE BRUSH FIRE

The brush fire that was first reported at 10:03 p.m. last night is now 90% contained with an estimated 3 acres burned. Firefighters from the State Airports Division and the County were faced with areas thick with hau plants and winds 35-30 mph. Air One provided assistance with water drops this morning. Crews are conducting mop up operations today. No injuries and no damage to structures are reported. The area is populated by homeless encampments and one cat in a cage was removed by animal control personnel. As a precaution, an additional firebreak has been put in place to protect nearby homes that are approximately 1/2 mile away.

Tonight one fire crew will be on scene to monitor the burn area. The cause remains under investigation.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 3:05 p.m. HST

Maui Events Mark National Police Week

The Maui Police Department will be celebrating National Police Week from May 10 through May 14, 2010. A ceremony honoring five officers and one U.S. National Park Ranger killed in the line of duty will be held at the Wailuku Police Station on Monday, May 10, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

The five officers who will be honored are Officer Harry Fung (November 19, 1941), Officer Frank A.F. Kong (July 11, 1952), Sergeant William F. Roback, Sr. (April 13, 1958), Officer Gene V. Williams (August 9, 1999), and Officer Cerilo Agarano, Jr. (November 9, 1999). The U.S. National Park Ranger to be honored is Park Ranger Suzanne Roberts (September 14, 2004).

The Memorial Services will have candlelight service, where one member from each family will light a memorial candle. The Mayor’s Proclamation will be given by Mayor Charmaine Tavares. Police Chaplain Gary Colton will do the Memorial Address and Police Chaplain Milton Fricke will do the Benediction. It will also feature The Isle of Maui Pipe Band and music played by Officer Denis Cabacungan. The service will be emceed by Officer Kehau Dods and the Coordinator for Police Week is Officer Christopher Schmitt.

Durng the week, tours of the Wailuku Police Station will be given to students from the various schools.

Festivities for Police Week will conclude on Friday May 14, 2010, at Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center from 3:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. There will be an assortment of Police displays, along with appearances by McGruff the Crime Dog and Daren the D.A.R.E. Lion.

(Report Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 2:30 p.m. HST

Critically Endangered Maui Native Bird About to Be Named

The critically endangered Maui parrotbill is possibly the rarest bird species on Maui with only about 500 birds still in existence today. For reasons no one really knows, this bird species has no recorded Hawaiian name. At the turn of the 20th century, the Maui parrotbill was considered very rare by ornithologists. Their restriction to the rugged and largely inaccessible upper slopes of Haleakala on East Maui may have been a factor in their lack of a Hawaiian name. Fortunately, the unique bird is being given a Hawaiian name.

Working with the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project to get an intimate understanding of this species, the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee has just accepted kiwikiu as the new name and proposes this entry in the dictionary:

kiwi•kiu kik Maui parrotbill; the sound and name of the Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys). Onomatopoeia.

The suggested pronunciation uses a soft “w” in kiwi, rather than the harder “v”-like sound. For those who want to examine the word meanings, kiwi means bent or curved as in the blade of a sickle, therefore appropriate for the strongly bent beak of the Maui parrotbill, but not as distinguished as the long, curved bill of the ‘i’iwi (kikiwi). Then kiu, to observe secretively as a spy - though in the case of the kiwikiu, who's spying on who? -, and of course kiu is also a cold chilly wind, such as the brisk ‘Ukiukiu breeze on the upper slopes of Makawao.

The Maui parrotbill, is endemic to the island of Maui and one of our most precious biodiversity jewels. Residing in the ‘ohi‘a and koa forests of Maui, the kiwikiu is a classic example of adaptive radiation. As an insectivorous honeycreeper, it uses its robust parrot-like bill to snap through twigs and pry insect larvae out of wood.

The new name will be soon made available online at www.ulukau.org (the online resource of Hawaiian language source materials) until the next publishing of Mamaka Kaiao, the new Hawaiian words dictionary,.

A ceremony is planned for the fall to dedicate the new name for the bird in their native forest and to present a mele inoa (name chant) to the kiwikiu at that time.

(Report Provided by Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 1 p.m. HST

Cell Phone Ban on Maui Nears Vote

WAILUKU - Seven months after it was first introduced, the Maui County Council Committee of the Whole next week will take up a bill that would ban the use of cell phones and other mobile electronic devices while driving - unless drivers use hands-free earpieces.

Committee members will take up the cell phone ban bill at their meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Council Chambers. Nearly every council member has expressed support for the bill first introduced by Council Member Joe Pontanilla in October.

Maui County is the only county left in the state without a ban on using cell phones, texting, e-mailing, using reading pads or any and all "hands-on" mobile gadgets while driving.

"The proposed bill mirrors the law that went into effect in the City and County of Honolulu on July 1, 2009," said Committee of the Whole Chairman Mike Molina, in a statement released by his office on Thursday. "I have proposed some important changes that I believe will help to strengthen the bill."

Molina's version of Pontanilla's measure now includes a new provision that would prevent teen drivers from using cell phones, even with hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth.

Almost every council member has expressed a desire for the bill to pass soon and believes it will prevent accidents. But the Maui County cell phone ban has been on the back burner for several reasons.

Council members said they wanted to gather input from the Maui Police Department and county prosecutors and also give impacted business owners, such as taxi and delivery drivers, time to prepare for the change.

However, several people in the local business community complained that the ordinance would create an added expense in a time of extra-tight budgets constraints. A few also complained that the earpieces are uncomfortable if you have to wear one for an entire eight-hour shift.

In mid-February, the Committee of the Whole decided in a 5-4 vote to hold off on a vote in hopes that the Legislature would act on a proposed statewide ban that would have superseded the county ordinance. State elected officials in Honolulu, though, were bogged down with the state budget crisis and never got to the issue before the session adjourned on April 29.

Meanwhile, council members also were occupied since mid-March with hammering out their own version of the fiscal year 2011 budget, the bulk of the discussions for which just ended Monday.

"It is important that the council consider the passage of this bill as quickly as possible in order to ensure safety on Maui's roadways," Molina said.

The bill would exempt drivers calling 911 as well as drivers who use two-way radios for work. The traffic violation would be punishable by a fine of about $100.

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

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 12:10 p.m. HST

Maui Police Officer Arrested on Drug Charges

Maui Police report that, shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, Maui Police Officer Ryan Masada (39) turned himself in following an Information Charging Arrest Warrant regarding one Count of Promoting A Dangerous Drug III and one Count of Prohibited Acts Related to Drug Paraphernalia.

He was processed and released without incident at the Wailuku Police Station after he posted bail which was set at $10,000.00.

Masada is a 17 year veteran with the Maui Police Department and has currently been re-assigned within the Department.


Ryan Masada (MPD Photo)

(Report Provided by The Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 8:40 a.m. HST

Hirono Works to Secure 'Prized Spot' for Hawaiian at Tokyo Airport

WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced today that Hawaiian Airlines has been awarded a prized travel slot to operate out of downtown Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Hawaiian Airlines’ selection this afternoon in Washington, DC.

“I am thrilled over this news. Hawaii is Japan’s favorite foreign destination. And now, it will be more convenient for people who live in Tokyo to travel to our islands,” said Congresswoman Hirono, member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I have discussed this with Secretary LaHood on a number of occasions and have written him three times in the past year in support of direct service between Haneda and Hawaii. This has been an issue of long-standing interest to me, dating back to my days serving as Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor. At that time, our advisory group estimated direct flights to Haneda would increase visitors to Hawaii by as much as 10 percent. This will provide a definite boost to our state’s economy and is particularly timely given Japan Airlines’ decision to decrease the number of seats to and from Hawaii.”

In all, five U.S. carriers applied for the four highly sought-after slots: Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines. The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the remaining three routes to American Airlines at New York, and Delta Air Lines at Los Angeles and Detroit.
Today’s decision comes five months after the U.S. reached an agreement with Japan to ease restrictions on flights between the two countries. The U.S. State Department briefed Congresswoman Hirono on the details of the U.S.-Japan Open Skies Agreement during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing held on December 16, 2009.

Throughout the negotiation process, Congresswoman Hirono has written numerous letters in support of the bilateral discussions with Japan. U.S. airline companies have been banned from flying into Haneda since 1978.
A slot is the interval of time an aircraft can takeoff or land at an airport. Slots are granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

(Report Provided by the Office of Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 8 a.m. HST

Firefighters Spend Night Battling Blaze Near Kahului Airport

SPRECKLESVILLE - State Airports Division firefighters and County fire crews responded to a brush Fire that was first reported at 10:03 p.m. last night in the Sprecklesville area.

The area is State-owned land in the vicinity of Kahului airport. Danger to nearby residents approximately ½ mile from the Fire was closely monitored by firefighters and police. The fire did not impact airport operations. At midnight some residents self-evacuated as a precaution. Those residents returned home around an hour later. At daylight this morning an estimated 2 acres were reported burned and the fire is still active. Air One will be dispatched this morning to assist the firefighters with water drops.

According to airports manager Marvin Moniz, heavy equipment assistance was requested from a night crew of Goodfellow Brothers Inc working on the Kahului Airport airstrip. The equipment was needed to remove large boulders that affected access into the area."We want to thank Goodfellow Brothers for their immediate assistance last night. They provided their heavy equipment without hesitation when we critically needed it," said Moniz.

No structures were damaged and no injuries reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

No other information is available at this time.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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

Baldwin Trounces Campbell, Advances in State Playoffs

WAILUKU, Maui — Brysen Dafun pitched a four-hitter and Baldwin exploded for five runs in the fourth inning and six in the sixth last night to rout Campbell, 13-2, in the Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball Championship quarterfinals.

The No. 3 seed and Maui Interscholastic League champ Bears improved to 14-1 in the regular and postseason and will face No. 2 seed and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Saint Louis (17-2) in today's 4 p.m. semifinal at Iron Maehara Stadium.

Baldwin, playing on its home field, is making its first semifinal appearance since 1995, when the Bears went on to win the title.

Campbell, the O'ahu Interscholastic Association runner-up, fell to 11-6.

The Sabers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning (they were the designated home team by coin flip) after Po'o Ka'alekahi hit a one-out single to left field, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, to third on an error and scored on Kale Ka'alekahi's groundout to third.

The Bears took a 2-1 lead in the third on Brock Shishido's two-run single to left, then scored five runs in the fourth on three hits — highlighted by Kaulana Ching's two-run double and Dafun's RBI triple — two errors and a wild pitch.

Baldwin added six runs in the sixth on five hits, highlighted by James Uweko'olani's majestic three-run homer high over the left field fence.

Dafun allowed only three singles.

BALDWIN (14-1) 002 506 0— 13 11 3
CAMPBELL (11-6) 100 000 1— 2 4 4

Brysen Dafun and Dan Kinoshita. Robert Kahana, Ed Gascon (4) and Po'o Ka'alekahi W — Dafun. L — Kahana.

Leading hitters — Campbell: None. Baldwin: Brock Shishido 3-4, 3 RBIs; James Uweko'olani 2-4, home run, 3 RBIs; Kaulana Ching 3-4, double, 2 RBIs; Neil Morioka 2-5; Dafun triple, RBI.

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 7, 2010 6:40 a.m. HST

Moloka'i Native, Distinguised Judge, Passes Away in Oregon

Marybeth Yuen Maul, 85, who served as an attorney and judge on Molokai for nearly 40 years, died April 23 in Eugene, Ore.

A celebration of her life was to be held today at Grace Episcopal Church in Hoolehua, Molokai.

Maul was the first female judge of Asian-American ancestry in Hawaii, according to her family. In 1988 the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center presented her with a Keeper of the Flame Award for leadership and commitment to people of Hawaii.

"She was a pioneer and a role model," said Douglas Chong, president of the Hawaii Chinese History Center.

The daughter of Yun Kee Yuen, who opened the first plantation store on Molokai in the 1920s, "she was an inspiration because her roots were from Molokai and yet she could achieve so much," Chong said. "It's not often that people move away, become very successful and come back to their roots."

Maul earned a law degree from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a labor lawyer in Chicago before returning to Hawaii in the 1950s.

For years she was the only practicing attorney on Molokai, often representing plantation workers.

"Her practice was not marked by celebrated causes, famous clients or extravagant financial returns," wrote Karen Holt in a book, "Called from Within, Early Women Lawyers of Hawaii." Maul was Molokai magistrate from 1957 to 1971 and served later as a state district judge.

"When you think of judges, they're often sending people to jail and nothing changes," said the Rev. Lynette Schaefer, former vicar of Grace Episcopal Church. "Marybeth did what she could before they got to that level, to give them an opportunity to change and a hope for the future."

She served as administrator of the Department of Health settlement for former Hansen's disease patients at Kalaupapa for seven years, retiring in 1992.

"She was pushing me to speak up for myself and also the needs of the patients," said Gloria Marks, who is now president of the Kalaupapa Patients Advisory Council. "She was a good teacher."

She is survived by daughters Robin Campbell and Christy Rice, brother John "Sonny" Yuen, sisters Lilyan Yuen Anderson and Jane Yuen Chang, and four grandchildren.

The family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Molokai Humane Society, P.O. Box 1258, Kaunakakai, HI 96748.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 4:45 p.m. HST

West Maui Fire Flares, But Containment Increases

Fire officials report that the fire is now 80% contained.

Increasing winds have caused sporadic minor flare-ups today. Fifty firefighters, including 15 from the State's Division of Forestry and Wildlife, were on scene today assisted by Air One conducting water drops at various times throughout the day. No injuries were reported.

Tonight, firefighters will continue to monitor the burn area for flare-ups.

The public can expect to see hot spots within the burned area for days to come. The burn area remains closed to public access.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 11:40 a.m. HST

Maui Included in Seemingly Impossible Athletic Attempt

A pair of endurance athletes are on Oahu this morning for the second leg of a five-day, five-island test in which they will attempt iron-distance triathlons daily.

Jason P. Lester and Richard Roll call it the Epic5 Challenge.

Yesterday they completed their first iron-distance triathlon — a 112-mile bicycle ride, 2.4-mile swim and 16.2-mile run — on Kauai.

They are now under way on Oahu. You can follow their progress on: www.epic5.com

The two will be on Molokai, Maui and the Big Island in the coming days.

The Epic5 website says the challenge was Lester's vision.

Despite total paralysis in his right arm due to a childhood injury, Lester has competed in several Ironman and Ultraman competitions.

Last year, he won an ESPY award for Best Male Athlete With a Disability.

The Epic5 Challenge is a fundraiser for Lester's Never Stop Foundation.

Proceeds from Epic5 events will fund the foundation's hopes of developing a performance center in Kailua, Kona, where Lester has lived for the last several years.

Roll is a former world-ranked swimmer from Stanford University. Now 43, he was named one of 2009's "25 Fittest Men in the World" by Men's Fitness Magazine.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 11:20 a.m. HST

West Maui Fire 70 Percent Contained - Area Still Closed

Through the night one fire engine crew and a water tanker kept patrol of the brush fire that started four days ago in Ukumehame, West Maui.

The brush fire had eventually progressed to Olowalu.

Winds picked up last night but had no notable impact to the fire.

Today, over 20 firefighters, including state Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) wildland firefighters, are on scene. Predicted increases in wind conditions remain a concern today.

The fire is now 70% contained.

Yesterday, fire officials reminded the public that the burn area is closed to public access. Dangers due to underground burning roots, falling branches and trees, burning or hot tree stumps and hot smoldering wood materials on above-ground surfaces have made the area unsafe for public access.

No injuries and no damage to structures are reported.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 10:50 a.m. HST

Kalakupua Playground Improvements Scheduled for Monday, May 17


PU’UNENE, MAUI, May 6th, 2010 --- Community Work Day Program will be coordinating a work day at the Kalakupua Playground at the Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park in Ha'iku on Monday, May 17th, 2010.

The playground will be undergoing maintenance and our team of AmeriCorps volunteers will be leading the efforts on site. Improvements include structural safety checks and repairs, and the addition of several hundred bags of new Fibar – the fill material that surrounds the structures to absorb the impact of children at play. Specialized Fibar mats will also be installed. Community members are welcome to join in this work day and are always encouraged to report concerns to CWD at 877-2524.

(Report Provided by Community Work Day)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 7:50 a.m. HST

State Still Investing with Citigroup - Even After Bailout

Hawai'i has continued to use Citigroup Inc. to help underwrite $2.7 billion in debt even after one of the bank's brokers sold the state $1 billion in auction-rate securities that have lost a quarter of their market value and cannot be redeemed easily.

Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, was among the underwriters earning almost $13 million in fees from issuing Hawai'i municipal bonds since the auction-rate securities market froze in February 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Citigroup, based in New York, served as senior manager for Hawai'i on a $645 million sale of revenue bonds for the state's airports system on March 24.

It's surprising that Hawai'i hasn't barred Citigroup from underwriting bonds as a way of pressuring the firm into settling over auction-rate investments, said Thomas R. Ajamie, a Houston- based attorney who represents some individual holders of the securities but does not have any business with Citigroup or the state.

"We always tell our clients, 'If you want to show you are upset, let your money do the talking,' " Ajamie said in a telephone interview.

"The use of Citi to be our underwriters has nothing to do with investing in auction-rate securities," Russell Pang, a spokesman for Lingle, said in an e-mail.

BANK'S RESPONSE

"The State has an exhaustive contract process before any underwriter is engaged for a specific financing which includes a detailed fee proposal which must be approved by the state," Alexander Samuelson, a spokesman for Citigroup, said in an e- mail.

Citigroup's auction-rate securities sales to Hawai'i were proper, and the firm continues to provide bond-underwriting services because of its qualifications to do the work, Samuelson said.

"We believe Citi and its representatives acted appropriately," he said. "As state representatives have publicly stated, Hawai'i's auction-rate-securities purchases were both appropriate and in compliance with applicable laws and policies. Although the state has indicated no current liquidity needs exist, Citi can provide options if those needs change."

Auction-rate securities, backed by pools of federally guaranteed student loans, were sold to the state as low-risk substitutes for U.S. Treasury bills by Citigroup broker Pete Thompson, 60, in Honolulu. They get their name from the weekly, bank-run auctions where the interest rate they pay investors is determined.

The $330 billion auction-rate securities market froze when banks stopped supporting the auctions in the worst credit crunch since the Great Depression. Hawai'i's state treasury wrote off $255 million of its purchase price on the securities to reflect their diminished value, even as Gov. Linda Lingle battled a $1.2 billion budget deficit that forced the state to furlough teachers on many Fridays.

Hawai'i last year rejected as "sorely lacking" an offer by Citigroup to buy back at an unspecified discount the auction-rate securities sold by Thompson, Randall Nishiyama, a deputy attorney general, said in a telephone interview earlier this year. The bank also offered to lend the state as much as $572 million, at 3.85 percentage points above the federal funds rate, according to a term sheet for the proposed deal.

LEGISLATIVE PROBE

Citigroup's auction-rate sales prompted Hawai'i's Legislature to vote April 22 to create a committee to investigate whether the Department of Budget and Finance acted legally by investing one-quarter of the state treasury's spare cash in the securities.

The move followed agreements with 20 firms, including Citigroup, Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit and UBS AG, to pay $94 billion to settle claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission and state regulators that they misled purchasers about the risks of the investments, according to SecondMarket Inc., which runs an exchange in New York where the bonds can be traded.

Most of that money went to small investors who were reimbursed by the banks. The lenders were required only to make their best efforts to reach accommodations with larger investors, according to SecondMarket.

"Every other group seems to have been made whole," Donna Mercado Kim, the Hawai'i Senate Ways and Means Committee chairwoman, said in a March 24 interview.

"I would have been first in line."

Hawai'i's auction-rate purchases began after Thompson, a former community activist who became a broker in 1984, successfully lobbied legislators in 1997 for a change in state law to permit the transactions. The state could "earn at least several million dollars more without raising taxes" or "slashing any existing programs," Thompson said, according to a transcript of his testimony.

Thompson was ranked 51st on the trade publication Registered Rep's list of the top 100 brokers in the U.S. in 2008, with assets under management of $1.6 billion. As a student at the University of Hawai'i in the early 1970s, Thompson was a Vietnam War protester and ethnic-studies instructor, said John Witeck, a fellow activist who now works in human resources at the school in Honolulu.

'VERY METICULOUS'

"Pete was one of the spark plugs, very bright, a charismatic speaker," Witeck said in a March 12 telephone interview. "He was always good with numbers. He's very meticulous, always very organized."

Hawai'i's Department of Budget and Finance, which manages the state treasury, made its first investments in student loan auction-rate securities in 1998, according to a March 18 report by state auditor Marion Higa. The agency's holdings climbed from $427 million in July of 2007 to nearly $1.1 billion in February 2008, when the auctions that allowed investors to sell the bonds began failing.

Hawai'i purchased the bulk of its auction-rate holdings in the last eight months before the market collapsed in February 2008, according to the state auditor's report. The transactions continued even as Citigroup said in internal e-mails as early as August 2007 that the market was failing, according to a 2008 SEC complaint.

While Hawai'i bought all its auction-rate bonds from one broker, other states limit the amount officials can purchase from a single firm. Maryland works with more than 18 brokers and cannot do more than 10 percent of its business with any one, Mary Christine Jackman, director of investments at Maryland's Office of the State Treasurer, said in a telephone interview.

"We never have, nor will we ever, buy auction-rate securities," Jackman said. "Most public funds don't have the depth of bench to do the constant analysis and monitoring that these securities need."

Thompson didn't know the market was failing when he sold the state the bonds, he said in a March 24 interview as he handed out samples of his wife's vegetarian food at a farmers market near downtown Honolulu.

The broker is now employed by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, a joint venture formed last year through the merger of Morgan Stanley's and Citigroup's brokerage businesses.

"I'm sure you've gone through all the legal filings and seen the e-mails that were flying around from higher-ups," Thompson said.

"The guys like me — we didn't know any of it."

(Report Provided by The Bloomberg News Service)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 7:30 a.m. HST

On Swine Flu's 'First Anniversary,' Hawai'i Boasts of Response Record

Twenty-four percent of people in the Islands have been vaccinated against H1N1, ranking Hawai'i eighth in the nation, state health officials announced yesterday on the anniversary of the Islands' first confirmed cases of "swine flu."

Since the H1N1 vaccine became available in October, 340,883 people have been vaccinated, including more than 71,000 students and 9,700 teachers across 342 schools.

"It's not too late to be vaccinated," said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. "There's still plenty of vaccine available."

Only Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa had higher percentages of people vaccinated in their states.

But Hawai'i ranks No. 1 in the nation with 55 percent of Island residents already vaccinated against the regular seasonal flu.

H1N1 was discovered in Veracruz, Mexico, in April 2009 and reached Island shores on May 5, 2009, with positive diagnoses of a child and an unrelated military couple who had recently flown into O'ahu, said Health Director Dr. Chiyo-me Fukino.

Unlike seasonal flu that hits elderly people particularly hard, the H1N1 virus appeared to target young people with no underlying medical problems.

Hawai'i's first H1N1 death was reported at Tripler Army Medical Center on June 19. The 13th — and last — was reported at an undisclosed location on O'ahu in January.

O'ahu had 11 of the state's H1N1 deaths and two occurred on the Big Island.

More than 80,000 of Hawai'i's H1N1 vaccinations can be traced to the annual "Stop Flu At School" campaign, which began in Mililani in 2006 to vaccinate schoolchildren and teachers against seasonal flu.

Park credited her predecessor, Dr. Paul Effler — whom she called "a big thinker" — for helping to create the vaccination program that has since grown to include public, private and charter schools.

With the outbreak of H1N1, Park said it was easy to supplement the school vaccination program with the national supply of H1N1 vaccine.

"Kids definitely seem to be the source of community spread of not just flu, but a lot of ... illnesses," Park said. "Focusing on kids helps the community as a whole."

The next flu season is expected to hit the Islands in October, Park said, and the new vaccinations will include immunization against H1N1.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - May 6, 2010 7 a.m. HST

Three Utility Poles Replaced After Traffic Accident in Makawao

Maui Police report that - last night shortly after 8 p.m.,on Baldwin Ave above Kaluanui Road in Makawao, a vehicle collided with a telephone pole causing three poles to collapse. Baldwin Ave was closed in both directions between Kaluanui Rd and Hui No'eau Visual Art Center. Utility Crews completed repalirs and the road was ropened to traffic at 6:30 a.m.

No word yet on any injuries or the casue of the accident.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Police)

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Breaking News Archives

NEW FOR 2010: Maui TV News Breaking News stories are now being archived. Each month (or more frequently if needed) we will save an archive of all the Breaking News stories covered to date on this page. And you can use the search box in the upper right corner of this page to locate a specific story or topic. Now available:

 
May 5 - May 31, 2010

March 30 - April 16, 2010

March 19 - 30, 2010

March 11 - 19, 2010

March 4 - 11, 2010

February 25 - March 4, 2010

February 9 - 25, 2010

February 1-8, 2010

January 2010

December, 2009 (partial)

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