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NEWS FLASH - March 24, 2011 8:05 a.m. HST

Firefighters on Big Isle Battle to Save Rain Forest

National Park Service firefighters have spent the week trying to prevent the wild fire ignited by Kilauea Volcano from spreading through a protected rain forest that is inhabited by endangered Hawaiian plants and animals.

Nearly 100 acres of the 2,750-acre east rift zone's special ecological area, an intact lowland rain forest, have already destroyed in the fire ignited March 5 by an eruption at the Kamoamoa fissure.

As of today, the Napau wildfire on the east rift zone of the Big Island's Kilauea volcano has destroyed 2,000 acres approximately seven miles southeast of the Kilauea Visitor Center.

The area is the home of the endangered Hawaiian bat, Hawaiian hawk, and other uniquely Hawaiian plants and animals such as Hawaiian thrush, lama and sandalwood trees, happy face spiders, carnivorous caterpillars, and Hawaiian honeycreepers said Gary Wuchner, National Park Service fire information spokesman.

Mardi Lane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman, described the area as "pristine."

"It best represents what Hawaii was and is a seed source for plants and refuge for birds," Lane said.

"It is a living laboratory of Hawaiian plants and animals."

Firefighters will be working to keep flames from spreading beyond the 100 acres of the refuge, said Rhonda Loh, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park chief of natural resources management.

"It is the focal point of our fire crews," Loh said.

Wuchner said an infrared mapping flight "shows most of the fire are single logs,standing dead trees, stumps, and large dead areas of vegetation...."

National Park Service firefighters were aided by rain in the area Wednesday.

The Napau hiking trail, which begins at the Chain or Craters Road, winds through the refuge.

Firefighters are being hampered by strong gusty trade winds with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. Flames were visible along the south flank and Chain of Craters Road.

Helicopters have been shuttling National Park Service firefighting crews and equipment into the fire area. Forty Park Service firefighters from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Olympic and Yosemite National Parks, the Pacific West Regional Office of NPS, National NPS Fire Office in Boise and the Eldorado, Sequoia, Stanislaus and Los Padres National Forests are being used.

Wuchner said the firefighters may have to camp out near the fire line for safety reasons to reduce the number of helicopter flights.

Helicopter bucket drops are helping to cool hotspots and slow the fire's forward progress.

The Chain of Craters Road was closed approximately 6 miles from the visitor center at Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu.

Reach Grek Kakesako at gkakesako@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 24, 2011 7:15 a.m. HST

Aloha State in Top 5 - in Tax Collections

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Hawaii tax collections grew at the fifth-highest rate in the nation last fiscal year.

Hawaii tax collections rose by 2.66 percent in the 2010 fiscal year compared to the previous fiscal year, behind only North Dakota, North Carolina, Nevada and California.

Despite the increase, Hawaii is still facing projected budget shortfalls of nearly $1 billion over the next two fiscal years.

Nationwide, the Census said state government tax collections dropped 2 percent last fiscal year.

Hawaii was one of 11 states to report increases over the previous year's total tax collections, up from five states in 2009.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 24, 2011 6:45 a.m. HST

Club CPO Says Fire Won't Deter Mission in Paukukalo

WAILUKU >> Officials with the Boys and Girls Club in Paukukalo say a fire that destroyed equipment in a storage container won't affect the youth program operated at the Paukukalo Hawaiian Homes Community Center.

Colin Hanlon, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui, estimated the loss of the container and its contents after Monday's fire would be about $10,000 to $15,000.

The container was used to store sports supplies, furnishings and art.

Hanlon told The Maui News that athletic gear and other equipment from other Boys and Girls Clubs would be used in the Paukukalo program until the equipment can be replaced.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but Maui police say witnesses said two children were playing with fireworks in the area before the fire was reported.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 8:55 p.m. HST

Community Kokua Needed to Help at Ancient Fishpond

A workday is planned for tsunami damaged fishpond in Kihei, Ko'ie'ie, on Saturday, March 26, 8am-10am. This is a cultural event and the entire community is invited to participate... just as in ancient times. The location is at Kalepolepo Park, right next to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: 726 South Kihei Road.

Watch Kimokeo Kapahulehua's personal appeal for your kokua.

(Report Provided by Bob Richardson)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 2:05 p.m. HST

HTA Revises Projections Following Japan Disasters

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) today held a special meeting of the HTA board to discuss plans in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. We wish to express our heartfelt Aloha for the people of Japan and let them know that the people of Hawai‘i continue to support and stand in unity with them during this difficult time.
To this end, one of our initiatives is to support the Aloha for Japan fundraising effort that was announced last week. And we encourage everyone to contribute to the fund with direct monetary donations or by participating in one of the many planned events that will occur over the coming weeks.

The HTA board is also developing plans to respond to the anticipated decline in visitors from Japan due to the disaster. We are projecting the following shortfalls in targeted arrivals from Japan in the coming months:
• March – 25% decrease
• April – 45% decrease
• May – 35% decrease
• June – 30% decrease

To respond to this situation, we have already been getting the word out through national and international news media that Hawai‘i is still open for business. And we are reiterating the statements by President Barack Obama, Governor Neil Abercrombie, and the U.S. Regulatory Commission that there is no danger to Hawai‘i from radiation.

The HTA will also be implementing programs to grow the number of visitors from other major markets to make up for the decline in visitors from Japan. Today, the HTA board took action to achieve these goals by approving $1,869,000 from the Opportunity Fund and $1,186,000 from the Tourism Special Fund Reserve to be used to offset the projected shortfall from the Japan tragedy. These efforts include:

• Three new market saturation programs in key feeder markets in North America;
• Increasing the number of flights from Korea;
• Working to secure additional direct charter flights from China as well as improve air access for visitors from China through Korea;
• Increasing airlift from both Australia and New Zealand;
• Sending a delegation from the HTA to Japan to meet with our travel partners to implement programs to re-stimulate travel from Japan at the appropriate time; and
• Sustaining scheduled group business from Japan, as well as working with meetings planners to reschedule their meetings, if necessary, in Hawai‘i at a later time.

With these initiatives, the HTA remains committed to achieving our 2011 HTA Strategic Plan goals and preserving the momentum of our tourism economy recovery.

Because of the major emphasis on increasing airlift, the HTA is also dispatching David Uchiyama, HTA Vice President of Brand Management, to the Routes Asia 2011 Conference, one of the key airline conferences in Asia. Uchiyama will meet with our Asia airline partners to discuss the development of new air service, protect existing airlift, and help shape the future of air route development for the Asia region.

To fund these initiatives, the HTA will be utilizing monetary reserves that were set aside to respond to emergencies, reallocating some existing marketing funds, and utilizing some money from the HTA’s marketing opportunity fund.
The HTA is committed to maintaining the funding currently allocated to programs in natural resources, Hawaiian culture, festivals and workforce development. We fully appreciate the need to continue programs that help maintain Hawai‘i’s incomparable visitor experience.

We want to express our appreciation to the community, the visitor industry, our travel partners, the HTA’s marketing partners, the HTA board, and Hawai‘i’s government leaders for their cooperation and support of our efforts. We are confident that by working together, our community will be able to respond to this situation, endure our current challenges, and, at the same time, continue to support the people of Japan.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 1:45 p.m. HST

SBA Names State's Top Business Winners

Honolulu – The U. S. Small Business Administration announced the 2011 winners of the prestigious SBA Small Business Awards. Each year, SBA honors outstanding small business owners, entrepreneurs and advocates who demonstrate the business acumen, tenacity and achievement, particularly in the face of adversity, to excel in their industry. Nominees for the annual SBA Awards are evaluated on job creation, growth in annual revenue, innovation, staying power, and contributions to their community. outstanding business owners, advocates, and business leaders will be honored at the 24th Annual Statewide SBA Small Business Awards Luncheon on April 29, 2011, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Winners from Maui County are noted in bold type.

The 2011 Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Hawaii honors Waipahu based Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Inc. Brian Bowers and Dexter Kubota developed this veteran owned architectural/engineering firm into a high performing consulting group specializing in construction management, program management and project development from preliminary analysis through complete design through the Pacific Islands.

Bowers and Kubota will represent Hawaii in the competition for the National Small Business Person of the Year title at the celebration of National Small Business Week in May in Washington, D.C. with winners from the other 49 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Top small business owners were also selected to represent each county in the State.
• For the City and County of Honolulu, Blake Kolona, President of Kolona Painting and General Construction, took Oahu’s top award.
• For Hawaii County, Michael McKinney, President, and Christopher Kaiser, Vice President, of Pacific Quest Corporation in Hilo were chosen as the 2011 Small Business Person.
• Kauai’s Small Business Person of the Year Award recognizes Rob and Lois Silverman, owners of Rob’s Good Times Grill in Lihue.
• Mariah Brown and Les Tomita, Restaurant Destinations, Inc. dba Da Kitchen, were selected as Maui’s 2010 Small Business Person of the Year.

Along with these noteworthy small businesses, business owners and champions from across the State were also honored for their accomplishments and business acumen in ten different categories:

The Entrepreneurial Success Award is given to a company that started as a small business and, with assistance from SBA, has since grown into a successful large business:
• State of Hawaii – Robert M. Fujimoto, Chairman, HPM Building Supply, Ltd. in Hilo.

The Family Owned Small Business Award recognizes a small business with at least a 15 year history that has been owned and operated by the family, creating jobs, increasing revenues and providing opportunities for other family members.
• State of Hawaii – Alan Okami, Vice President, representing KoAloha, Inc. dba KoAloha Ukulele in Honolulu.
• County of Maui – Curtis Takaoka, second generation owner of Tasty Crust, Inc. in Wailuku.
• County of Hawaii – Orville “Puhi” and Melynda Dant, of Fair Wind, Inc. in Kailua-Kona
• City and County of Honolulu – Kanemaru Dental Group, Inc. of Wahiawa, including Dr. Jared T. Kanemaru, Dr. Lester N. Kanemaru and Dr. Gordon N. Kanemaru.

The Small Business Exporter Award is presented to a small business that derives a significant portion of their sales from export outside the U.S. and is supportive of other efforts to export U.S. made products and services.
• State of Hawaii – Joseph Rossi, President & Owner of Maui Babe, Inc. in Wailuku, Maui.
• City and County of Honolulu – Stephen Mulgrew, President of Mulvadi Corporation

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award identifies an individual who has successfully owned and operated a small business, increasing revenue, jobs, and demonstrating potential for long term success for at least three years before reaching the age of 30 at the time of the award.
• County of Kauai – Daniel T. Wright, owner, Tambor, in Hanalei on Kauai.

The Financial Services Champion Award is presented to those individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to increasing access to capital, reducing regulatory burdens and helping small businesses improve their financial conditions through assistance, legislative support and other advocacy.
• State of Hawaii – Patrick Garcia, partner and business consultant, Strategic Financial Concepts, LLC
• City and County of Honolulu – Rodney Batara, partner and CPA, Hedberg, Batara & Vaughan-Sarandi, LLC in downtown Honolulu.

The Women in Business Champion award goes to those individuals who, as advocates, have fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership and who assist and support women in their quest to own, manage and direct their own company. The honorees are:
• State of Hawaii - Judy Bishop, Bishop and Company in Honolulu

The Minority Small Business Champion title is awarded to those individuals who have selflessly provided assistance and support to minority entrepreneurs and business owners.
• State of Hawaii – Eddie Flores, Jr., President and CEO of L & L Drive –inn and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
• City and County of Honolulu – Claire Tanamoto, President of Empower Oahu
• County of Kauai – Melissa McFerrin Warrack, Executive Administrator at Kauai County Farm Bureau.
• County of Maui – Kai Pelayo, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber and Grand Wailea Resort
• County of Hawaii – Marah J. Hardt, owner and consultant, Oceanlink, in Kailua Kona

Home Based business has emerged as a popular alternative to the high cost of maintaining a business location. The Home Based Business Award goes to an individual who has experienced the reward of owning a home based operation and has also supported others in that effort.
• State of Hawaii – Roger Lane, President, Roger Lane, Inc., Hana on Maui
• City and County of Honolulu – Shane Griffin, Kai ‘Oli ‘Oli – Ocean Joy Cruises in Kapolei

The Veteran Small Business Champion’s award recognizes an individual who has fulfilled a commitment to support advancing small business opportunities for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
• State of Hawaii – Henry “Hank” Cashen, Director, Soldier & Family Assistance Center , U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks
• County of Hawaii – Melvin Arai, Veterans Employment Representative, State of Hawaii

The Tibbetts Award for Innovation recognizes small businesses for the critical role they play in research and development for the government and for their success in driving innovation and creating new jobs. These small businesses have successfully participated in the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
• State of Hawaii – David Kane, Trex Hawaii-Advanced Materials Group, in Lihue

The 2011 SBA Small Business Award winners will be honored with special events on all islands and capped by the 24th Annual Statewide SBA Small Business Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Friday, April 29, 2011, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Hosted by The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the luncheon will also feature the “Winner’s Circle,” a special business expo for award winners to showcase their products and services. Tickets to this inspiring awards event will be available for purchase soon from The Chamber of Commerce at www.cochawaii.org .

For more information on the SBA Awards, call the Hawaii District Office at (808) 541-2990.

(Report Provided by the Small Business Administration)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 10:55 a.m. HST

8,400 Gallons of Wastewater Spill in Wailuku

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii –The County of Maui’s Department of Environmental Management reported that a wastewater overflow of approximately 8,400 gallons occurred on March 22, 2011 in Wailuku. The overflow was caused by a blockage of 6” rocks in a mainline.

The overflow was reported at 3:45 p.m. and was stopped by 4:30 pm.

Wastewater flowed from a manhole fronting Maui County Correctional Center on Waiale Drive and flowed into a storm drain culvert which leads to a fenced retention basin that does not connect to the ocean.

The line was cleared, the water in the storm drain was removed, the spill site was disinfected, and the Department of Health was notified.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 7:15 a.m. HST

Strong Trades Keep Surf High on East Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 a.m. Friday.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Strong trade winds will generate large choppy surf along east facing reefs and beaches.

Wind swell will persist through at least Thursday night producing surf of 6 to 9 feet.

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

A high tide of approximately 2.2 feet is expected between 6:00 p.m. and 7:18 p.m. this evening. The next high tide of approximately 1.4 feet is expected between 4:04 a.m. and 5:22 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 7:10 a.m. HST

Strong Winds Remain in Forecast

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for Maui County in effect until 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: High pressure north of the Islands will produce strong trade winds that will be locally gusty, especially through passes and valleys.

Easterly trade winds will be 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts to 50 mph through passes, valleys and over mountain ridges.

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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 6:50 a.m. HST

Hawai'i Attorney General to Remain Appointed Slot

Hawaii will remain one of a handful of states where the attorney general is appointed, after the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday rejected a proposal to make it an elected position.

The legislation would have asked voters to decide on a constitutional amendment making the state's chief law enforcement officer a nonpartisan official elected to a four-year term.

Changing the way the attorney general is chosen would have removed power from the governor, who currently can name his choice of state leaders, subject to Senate confirmation.

The Hawaii Constitution consolidates executive authority under the governor by putting only that position and that of the lieutenant governor on the ballot.

"I don't believe that having this as an elected position improves the quality of legal advice. In fact, I'm concerned about politicization," Attorney General David Louie told the committee. "Rather than concentrating on what is the right answer, there would be an element of political calculation."

In other states, attorneys general worry about how their actions will be perceived by the voting public, he said. In Hawaii, the attorney general can focus on the law.

Hawaii is one of five states where governors appoint their attorneys general, according to The Council of State Governments.

Forty-three other states elect the position. One state's legislature appoints the attorney general, and another state's supreme court makes the appointment.

Committee Chairman Gil Keith-Agaran said he tabled the bill because it didn't draw much public interest, and the Senate didn't appear to have enough votes for a potential veto override. The Senate had passed the bill 16-9, short of a two-thirds majority needed for an override.

"The issue of whether you have an elected or appointed attorney general cuts a lot of ways," said Keith-Agaran, D-Kahului-Paia. "In some ways, he could be viewed as being beholden to the governor."

Rep. Barbara Marumoto, R-Kalani Valley-Diamond Head, also questioned whether an elected attorney general would be more objective than an appointed one.

"You bring up politicization," she told Louie. "The governor could be a political animal as well."

Louie is one of three of Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's appointees who have not yet been confirmed by the Senate. His confirmation hearings are planned for next month.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 6:45 a.m. HST

Japan Recovery Could Be Costliest in History

TOKYO >> Japan's government said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast could reach $309 billion, making it the world's most expensive natural disaster on record.

The extensive damage to housing, roads, utilities and businesses across seven prefectures has resulted in direct losses of between 16 trillion yen ($198 billion) and 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), according to a Cabinet Office estimate Wednesday.

The losses figure is considerably higher than other estimates. The World Bank on Monday said damage might reach $235 billion. Investment bank Goldman Sachs had estimated quake damage would be as much as $200 billion.

If the government's projection proves correct, it would top the losses from Hurricane Katrina. The 2005 megastorm that ravaged New Orleans and the surrounding region cost $125 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Japan's estimate does not include the impact of power shortages triggered by damage to a nuclear power plant, so the overall economic impact could be even higher. It also leaves out potential global repercussions.

"The aftermath of the tragic events in Japan will obviously alter the domestic economy," said Takuji Aida, an economist at UBS Securities Japan, in a report. "However, Japan's position in the global economy is such that there must also be some transmission of the shock to other parts of the world."

The Cabinet Office suggested, however, that the economic hit could be softened by the expected upswing in public works and construction as the region rebuilds.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami on March 11 laid waste to Japan's northeastern coast, killing thousands of people and triggering a crisis at a nuclear power plant. Tens of thousands of people living near the plant were evacuated.

Utilities have imposed power rationing, many factories remain closed and key rail lines are impassable.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's No. 1 automaker, has halted auto production since March 14 because of difficulty securing components, including rubber parts and electronics. By Sunday its lost production will reach 140,000 cars.

The company said Wednesday it will delay the launch of the Prius hybrid minivan in Japan due to disruptions in parts supplies.

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said the automaker initially planned to roll out the Prius minivan in April. But the disaster has crippled suppliers and destroyed shops, forcing Toyota to postpone the launch.

Another Cabinet Office economic report released Wednesday underscored the new challenges facing Japan, which had been on the mend from a lull in growth late last year.

"The economy is moving toward recovery, but its self-sustainability is weak," it said.

More broadly, the Japanese economy has been lackluster for two decades, barely managing to eke out weak growth between slowdowns. It lost its position as world's No. 2 economy to China last year and is saddled with a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of GDP, is the biggest among industrialized nations.

The government plans to introduce a supplementary budget to tackle reconstruction, though Cabinet members have said additional budgets will probably be needed down the road.

Speaking to the upper house budget committee Tuesday, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the country's deteriorating public finances will not deter the government from reconstruction spending, according to Kyodo news agency.

Cabinet Office spokesman Noriyuki Shikata expressed confidence that the country could handle the massive task that lies ahead.

"This is not something that the Japanese economy cannot overcome," he told reporters Wednesday.

The government also reportedly plans to inject public money into banks to help support lending as companies rebuild. It may finance that from a fund of 11 trillion yen ($135 billion) that is still available under a law on emergency support to banks passed after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 23, 2011 6:35 a.m. HST

Trace Amounts of Radiation Detected in Hawai'i

Trace amounts of radiation from Japan's nuclear crisis were detected in Hawaii for the first time Monday night as fallout spread as far as Iceland, officials said yesterday.

A monitor on the roof of the state Health Department building on Oahu detected "minuscule levels" of an undetermined isotope consistent with the Fuku­shima reactor complex radiation release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

The isotope was "far below any level of concern for human health," the EPA said. It added that the "detection varies from background and historical data in Hawaii."

The sample is being sent to the EPA's national radiation lab in Ala­bama for identification.

"Once we get further analysis done and more information, we'll definitely let everyone know," said EPA spokes­man Dean Higu­chi.

Over the past several days, the EPA's RadNet monitors in San Francisco and Seattle, and in Riverside and Ana­heim, Calif., detected similarly small amounts of radioactive particles consistent with the Japa­nese nuclear incident, including cesium-137, tellurium-132 and iodine-131 and 132, the agency said.

John Learned, a physics professor at the University of Hawaii, said the radiation "will eventually get everywhere in the world," carried by wind and the sea.

"The bulk of their (Japan's) radioactivity is going into the ocean," he said. That radiation will be "tremendously diffused," but it will go up to Alaska and down the West Coast before it reaches Hawaii.

Learned added that the radiation is "nothing like the air burst nuclear testing that went on in years from the past."

Iceland was the first location in Europe to detect the fallout from Japan, Reuters reported.

The EPA set up mobile RadNet detectors in Lihue on Kauai and in Kahuku on the North Shore. Radiation data from the Health Department and Kauai monitors is available to the public at https://cdxnode64.epa.gov/radnet-public/showMap.do. The EPA said it is working to provide public information from the Kahuku monitor.

The Health Department RadNet detector provides information in CPM, or radiation counts per minute, for energy ranges that represent different radionuclides, officials said. The Kauai detector measures millirems per hour.

The EPA said in a typical day, Americans receive doses of radiation from natural sources like rocks, bricks and the sun that are about 100,000 times higher than the radioactivity detected coming from Japan.

The levels from Japan are 100,000 times lower than the radiation received from taking a round-trip international flight, the agency said.

Reach William Cole at wcole@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 6:05 p.m. HST

Wind Advisory Goes On and On for Maui

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for Maui County and for the Haleakala Summit, both in effect until 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: High pressure north of the Islands will produce strong trade winds that will be locally gusty, especially through passes and valleys.

Easterly trade winds will be 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts to 50 mph through passes, valleys and over mountain ridges.

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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 4:10 p.m. HST

Former MPD Officer Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges

On Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at about 1106 hours, former Maui police officer, Lewis GAMBLE (33 yrs), was arrested under the strength of Bench Warrant CR No. 11-1-0156(1) for following charges;

• Sexual Assault in the First Degree
• Assault in the Third Degree
• Impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer
• False Reporting
• Kidnapping

GAMBLE’s bail was set at $250,000.00. The investigation involved a person reported being sexually assaulted.


ARRESTED - Former MPD Officer Lewis Gamble has been arrested on sexual assault charges. (MPD Photo)

(Report Provided by the Maui Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 11:40 a.m. HST

Mayor Endorses 'Aloha Initiative' to Support Displaced Quake, Tsunami Victims

WAILUKU - Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa today announced that he is helping in the launch of "Aloha Initiative," a program founded by Keith Powers and Michiko Ishida-Powers of Palo Alto, CA and Keith Regan and Lynn Araki-Regan of Wailuku, HI.

The mission of the Aloha Initiative is to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home and program needs the public's help. It is estimated that over 450,000 people have already been displaced from their homes in Japan. Some have lost their homes. Some have lost their entire families.

"As the nuclear crisis continues to get worse and there is every expectation that the direct personal and economic effects from these tragedies will be felt for years to come. While we hope that all of the displaced are able to find placement in Japan with the help of the Japanese government and local support groups, they may need some additional help," said Keith Powers, who is also a part-time Maui resident.

"’Aloha’ means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy, the feelings and emotions we want to convey to the people of Japan. Our goal is to assemble a community of people who are willing to open their hearts and the homes to some of the displaced in case they need our support," said Keith Regan.

“Our goal is to provide survivors with an opportunity to get away and recharge themselves both physically and mentally,” said Mayor Arakawa. “While monetary support is critical, we must also consider the importance of mental support for the survivors. Even if many choose not to come to Maui for respite, they will receive word through this program that our islands care and embody the true spirit of Aloha."

The details of how this will work, who will come, how they will be placed, who will pay for their transportation, and visa and other issues, are all questions that the Aloha Initiative say will be addressed in the coming weeks.

“Right now, our primary goal is to build a community of families that are willing to host someone for a week, for a month or even for a year. We also have people signing up to help in other ways like offering to host dinners and to provide clothing. We are also encouraging members of the business community to support this effort with commitments of in kind contributions of flights, food, clothing, etc. Everything helps." added Powers. “To sign up to volunteer or to learn more please visit our website (www.AlohaInitiative.com) or our Facebook Page or email us directly at contact@alohainitiative.com.”

(Report Provided by The Aloha Initiative)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 11:10 a.m. HST

Electric Customers Would Pay for Undersea Cable

House lawmakers advanced a bill yesterday that would allow Hawaiian Electric Co. to pass along to ratepayers the cost of a proposed undersea cable that would transmit electricity to Oahu from wind turbines on Lanai and Molokai.

Although wind-power plans are still in the early planning stages and face significant community opposition, proponents say for the entire proj­ect to move forward, there needs to be early action on setting up a regulatory framework for the eventual development and financing of the undersea cable.

The bill (SB 367) authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to create the surcharge HECO would collect.

The cost of the undersea cable has been estimated at between $500 million and $1 billion, although a state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism official said it is too early to put a firm price tag on it.

The wind turbines, which HECO says could deliver a combined 400 megawatts of electricity to Oahu, are a major component of the state's plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The bill was approved during a joint meeting of the Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection and the Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Voting against the bill were Reps. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kane­ohe Bay) and Gil Riviere (R, Schofield-Kahuku).

More than 30 people submitted testimony via email opposing the bill, while two people testified against the measure in person.

Supporting the bill at the hearing were representatives from DBEDT and HECO.

Henry Curtis, director of the environmental group Life of the Land, told lawmakers his organization opposed the bill for several reasons, including the fact that it allows HECO to recover costs for the improvements it would need to make to its grid even if the wind proj­ect never materializes.

"That just seems really weird, especially when the utility wants the ratepayers to take all the risk," Curtis told lawmakers.

"They want to take not 1 percent of the risk for themselves."

Reach Alan Yonan Jr., at ayonan@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 10:30 a.m. HST

HMSA Seeking 4.2 Percent Hike This Year

Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state's largest health insurer, is seeking to boost premiums 4.2 percent in July for its 89,110 small-business members.

The increase would apply to all three HMSA plans — Preferred Provider Plan; Health Plan Hawaii Plus, its health maintenance organization plan; and CompMED plan, a program that features higher deductibles and lower benefits.

Last year, HMSA increased rates 7.6 percent for its Preferred Provider Plan and 15.5 percent for its HMO plan.

"We're requesting this rate increase based upon our recent experience with health and drug cost trends, and we are cautiously optimistic that we can sustain sub-double-digit rate increases prospectively," HMSA Chief Financial Officer Steve Van Ribbink said.

While much smaller than last year's increase, the 4.2 percent rate hike exceeds Hono­lulu's 1.7 percent inflation rate over the past year.

If approved by the state Insurance Division, the rate increase would match the lowest increase in five years for the Preferred Provider Plan.

HMSA, which filed the increase with the state yesterday, said for the first time it is unifying rate increases of its three health plans to limit volatility that had been prevalent in recent years.

HMSA?is putting all three plans into one big risk pool "so that we have one universal increase (that) will allow us to have greater stability in rate increases across all product types so we don't have that volatility," Van Ribbink said.

HMSA, which had 693,683 members at the end of February, said the rate increase would affect 9,600 small businesses with 200 or fewer employees whose plans renew on July 1. Overall, HMSA has 10,300 small-business groups which employ 124,236 members.

"The reason this is an important filing is because it affects approximately 93 percent of the (small-business) groups," Van Ribbink said.

HMSA also serves larger business groups, as well as members of Medicare, Quest and the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

The insurer is coming off a year in which its fourth-quarter profit of $14.3 million boosted it into the black for the full year with earnings of $5.3 million. In 2009 the insurer lost $64.4 million.

"My hope is that future increases will be no more than 6 to 7 percent — the historical trend — because of what we've been able to accomplish in terms of our reimbursement provider payment model which encourages quality and not quantity," Van Ribbink said. "I think we are better able to bend downward the health care cost trend into the future. At the same time, we also would expect to improve the quality of health of our members."

Gary Hanagami, executive director for the Hawaii Food Industry Association, said owners of his 200 member businesses won't like the increase but will be pleased it wasn't higher.

"I can almost hear a collective sigh of relief when this number comes out," said Hana­gami.

Business owners have come to expect medical rate increases because of the aging population and Hawaii being in the middle of the Pacific.

"We don't get as many younger transient workers who would offset some of our population base," said Hana­gami.

HMSA said the proposed 4.2 percent increase incorporates a 4.4 percent rate hike for its medical plans and a 3.4 percent rate increase for its drug plans.

Reach Dave Segal at dsegal@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 9:50 a.m. HST

Maui Speller Wins State Bee - Heading to D.C.

Maui Waena Intermediate School eighth-grader Christopher Kim has won the Hawaii State Spelling Bee.

Kim told The Maui News that he wanted to win because it was the last year he would be eligible to enter. He will now represent Hawaii in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It begins in June in Washington, D.C.

Kim beat 13 other spellers for the state title Saturday night by correctly spelling "obfuscatory."

He is a non-native English speaker who speaks only Korean at home.
Esther Kim, who is of no relation, was the first runner-up.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 8:40 a.m. HST

State Unemployment 'Steady' But Job Growth Stagnant

Hawaii's unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent in February for the third consecutive month as the state's lackluster economic recovery failed to spur any significant job growth, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported yesterday.

The jobless rate has inched downward since peaking at 7 percent in mid-2009, when recession-weary businesses were laying off workers to cut costs. Hawaii's unemployment rate was as low as 2.3 percent in 2006 before the recession hit. Nationally the unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in February from 9 percent in January.

The recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

However, job growth often lags during an economic recovery because businesses that cut payrolls during slow times are reluctant to refill those positions until they are assured that the economic growth is solid.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization is forecasting the state unemployment rate to average 6 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2012.

The unemployment rate is derived from a telephone survey of Hawaii households conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A separate BLS?survey of businesses showed that the number of nonagricultural jobs in Hawaii was unchanged at 595,700 in February.

The professional and businesses serv­ices sector gained 1,000 jobs, according to the DLIR report. Three other categories — leisure and hospitality, financial activities and other serv­ices — each added 100 jobs.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 800 positions, while job losses in the construction industry totaled 100.

The state unemployment rate is adjusted for seasonal variations, like extra hiring by retailers for the holidays. Rates for individual counties are reported on an unadjusted basis. Honolulu had the lowest jobless rate at 5.2 percent, followed by Maui County at 7.9 percent, Kauai County at 8.5 percent and Hawaii County at 9.4 percent.

Reach Alan Yonan Jr., at ayonan@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 8:20 a.m. HST

Winds Could Top 50 MPH Today, Tonight

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for Maui County and extended the Wind Advisory for the Haleakala Summit, both in effect until 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Strengthening high pressure north of the State is increasing trade winds across the Islands.

Easterly trade winds for the County will be 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts to 50 mph through passes, valleys and over mountain ridges.

Easterly trade winds for the Haleakala Summit will be 25 to 40 mph gusting to 50 mph.

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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 7:10 a.m. HST

Coast Guard Pacific Ports Monitoring Japan Radiation

GUAM – The U.S. Coast Guard is working to ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system in the aftermath of the tragedy in Japan. Based on an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there is no indication that harmful radiation will reach the U.S., whether it is the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The U.S. government has determined that radiation levels outside a zone of 50 miles centered on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant do not pose a human health hazard. As a result, the Coast Guard has issued a Navigational Warning advising vessels to avoid transiting within a precautionary area of 50 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

As vessels and cargo which remain outside of the precautionary area do not pose any human health hazard, they will not be subject to additional screening or evaluation. Vessels known to have transited the precautionary area shall be considered for additional screening. However, the probability of contamination remains low for these vessels and any hazards are likely below levels considered to be hazardous to human health. Coast Guard Sector Guam will employ a three-part protocol to ensure the safety of vessels and cargo that have transited the precautionary area en route to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

1. Perform an at-sea boarding to check for elevated levels of radiation on the vessel and its cargo.
2. Ensure on-dock screenings of all cargo offloaded from Japan to the Ports of Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
3. Ensure availability of appropriate emergency response teams if harmful levels of radiation are detected.

To date, there have been no vessels that have transited within the 50-mile zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant en route to U.S. ports, including the Territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Moreover, normal shipping routes of vessels departing ports open for operations in Japan do not place any vessels within 100 nautical miles of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Coast Guard, at the highest levels, will continue to monitor the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Coast Guard Sector Guam will continue normal screening, boarding, and inspection procedures to ensure the continued safety and security of ports and waterways in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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

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NEWS FLASH - March 22, 2011 6:45 a.m. HST

Some Lahaina Trash Still To Be Picked Up

Update on LAHAINA Refuse Collection Routes:

MANUAL routes left back yesterday will be picked up today (as reported yesterday).

AUTOMATED routes will be missed today, a result of manpower shortage. Monday's and today's automated routes will be picked-up tomorrow, Wednesday, March 23.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 1:10 p.m. HST

State Joins Nation for 'World TB Day' Thursday

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) joins others across the nation and world to observe World Tuberculosis Day on March 24. On this day in 1882, Robert Koch announced the discovery of tuberculosis (TB) bacillus. Although many people believe that TB is a disease of the past, it is still a leading killer among infectious diseases worldwide.

Historically, the state of Hawaii has the highest TB case rate in the nation. Over the past decade, Hawaii reported an average of 123 new TB cases per year. In 2010, there were 115 new cases of active TB disease in Hawaii reported to DOH, with Oahu reporting the highest number of TB cases in the state. The vast majority of these cases completed medications and are now cured. The total number of new TB cases remained stable from prior years (117 cases in 2009). In 2010, almost 9 out of 10 new TB cases in the state were foreign-born.

In 2010, the total number of active TB cases reported statewide was 115 (8.5 cases per 100,000 population). Distribution of active TB Cases in 2010 by county was:
• Hawaii County: 12 new TB cases (6.5 cases per 100,000)
• Honolulu County: 81 new TB cases (8.5 cases per 100,000)
• Kauai County: 7 new TB cases (10.4 cases per 100,000)
• Maui County: 15 new TB cases (9.7 cases per 100,000)

TB is a disease that is commonly seen in the lungs and can be spread from person-to- person through the air. When a person with active TB disease in the lung or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings, tiny drops containing M. tuberculosis may be spread into the air. If another person inhales these drops there is a chance that they can become infected with TB. Two forms of TB exist, both of which are treatable and curable:

1. Latent TB infection – when a person has TB bacteria in their body but the body’s immune system is protecting them and they are not sick. Someone with latent TB infection cannot spread the infection to other people.
2. Active TB disease – when a person becomes sick with TB because their immune system can no longer protect them. Someone with active TB disease may be able to spread the disease to other people.

The Hawaii State TB Control Program is working to prevent TB across the state. To achieve this, more than 50,000 Hawaii residents get tuberculosis screening each year. Many cases of tuberculosis are identified by screening, especially among those who are from areas where TB rates are much higher (Asia and the other Pacific Islands). The State TB Control Program seeks to quickly identify TB cases to insure they are cured and prevent the unnecessary spread of TB disease. Most patients are diagnosed and successfully treated at the department’s Lanakila Clinic in Honolulu. The TB Control Program also works in partnership with Hawaii hospitals and clinicians to reduce TB across the state.

Remember: TB is treatable and almost all patients are cured after they take their medications.

For more information on tuberculosis, please call the State of Hawaii Tuberculosis Control Program at 832-5731 or visit the Department of Health Web site at www.hawaii.gov/health/tb.

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

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 10:15 a.m. HST

Trash Routes in Lahaina, Pukalani and Makawao Not Picked Up

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii -- Trash pickups were missed today for all routes in Lahaina, as well as areas in Pukalani and Makawao on Makani Road, Maui Pine Subdivision (Koehana Pl, Iini Way, Olino Way), Kapuahi St, Apana Road & all side streets, Maui Uplands (Kaupea St, Kaiaulu Pl, Hoene St, Ulana St, & all side streets).This delay is due to staff shortages and equipment mechanical problems. We are scheduled to pick-up the missed routes tomorrow March 22. The County of Maui’s Solid Waste Division announced today.

Every effort will be made to pick up the refuse Saturday March 22, 2011 when crews are available. For more information, please call the Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, at 270-7875.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 9:35 a.m. HST

FEMA Flood Map Appeal Deadline Approaching

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The Planning Department announces that April 19, 2011 is an important appeal deadline for property owners in areas affected by proposed flood insurance rate map changes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing changes to the flood insurance rate maps (FIRM) for Maui County. These changes include the de-certification of multiple levee segments on Iao Stream and Kaunakakai Stream and the integration of a statewide hurricane study. Residents are strongly urged to check whether the FIRM changes affect them. Properties placed in special flood hazard areas can be affected by:
• mandatory flood insurance requirements, if you have a federally-backed mortgage;
• in terms of renovation or new construction, a higher building cost and/or compliance with the new elevation and substantial improvement standards.

Notification of revisions to the flood insurance rate maps were published on January 19, 2011 which marks the beginning of a 90 day appeal period where property owners can challenge the information on the proposed flood maps (e.g. floodplain and floodway boundaries, the proposed height of the flood waters (base flood elevations) and base map errors and omissions). The appeal period ends April 19, 2011.

Requests for changes to the proposed base flood elevations (BFEs) must be based on scientific or technical data and are called appeals. Requests for changes to the proposed map information other than the BFEs are called protests. Appeals and protests along with all supporting documentation (two copies) shall be filed within the 90 day appeal period to:

Floodplain Administrator
County of Maui, Department of Planning
250 South High Street
Wailuku, HI 96793

and shall be forwarded by the floodplain administrator to FEMA for review and action. Changes requested after the 90 day appeal period are called Letters of Map Change (LOMC) and may require an extensive application process and fees.

For a detailed listing of the proposed BFEs and information on the statutory period provided for appeals, please visit FEMA’s website at http://www.fema.gov/plans/prevent.fhm/bfe or call FEMA Map Information exchange, tool free, at 1-877-FEMA MAP.

Copies of the proposed FIRMs are available for review at the Department of Planning, 250 South High Street, Wailuku, HI 96793 or online at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat. Please contact Francis Cerizo or Carolyn Cortez at (808) 270-7253 for further information.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 7:25 a.m. HST

5.7 Quake Shakes Manila

MANILA, Philippines - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 has slightly shaken buildings in the Philippine capital and nearby provinces. It is not expected to have caused any damage as it occurred deep under the ocean floor.

Renato Solidum, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, says movement in the local Lubang fault set off the earthquake that was felt after nightfall Monday in metropolitan Manila and the nearby provinces of Batangas and Bulacan.

Solidum says he was not expecting any damages or injuries. Some residents felt dizzy and got jittery.

The Philippines, like Japan, lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire where earthquakes are common.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 7:20 a.m. HST

Latest Totals: 18,000 Dead; $235B to Rebuild Ravaged Japan

FUKUSHIMA, Japan - The toll of Japan’s triple disaster came into clearer focus Monday after police estimates showed more than 18,000 people died, the World Bank said rebuilding may cost $235 billion and more cases of radiation-tainted vegetables and tap water turned up.

Japanese officials reported progress over the weekend in their battle to gain control over a nuclear complex that began leaking radiation after suffering quake and tsunami damage, though the crisis was far from over, with a dangerous new surge in pressure reported in one of the plant’s six reactors.

The announcement by Japan’s Health Ministry late Sunday that tests had detected excess amounts of radioactive elements on canola and chrysanthemum greens marked a low moment in a day that had been peppered with bits of positive news: First, a teenager and his grandmother were found alive nine days after being trapped in their earthquake-shattered home. Then, the operator of the overheated nuclear plant said two of the six reactor units were safely cooled down.

“We consider that now we have come to a situation where we are very close to getting the situation under control,” Deputy Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said.

Still, serious problems remained at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. Pressure unexpectedly rose in a third unit’s reactor, meaning plant operators may need to deliberately release radioactive steam. That has only added to public anxiety over radiation that began leaking from the plant after a monstrous earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan on March 11 and left the plant unstable. As day broke Monday, Japan’s military resumed dousing of the complex’s troubled Unit 4.

The World Bank said in report Monday that Japan may need five years to rebuild from the catastrophic disasters, which caused up to $235 billion in damage, saying the cost to private insurers will be up to $33 billion and that the government will spend $12 billion on reconstruction in the current national budget and much more later.

The safety of food and water was of particular concern. The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium. Rain and dust are also tainted.

Early Monday , the Health Ministry advised Iitate, a village of 6,000 people about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the Fukushima plant, not to drink tap water due to elevated levels of iodine. Ministry spokesman Takayuki Matsuda said iodine three times the normal level was detected there — about one twenty-sixth of the level of a chest X-ray in one liter of water.

In all cases, the government said the radiation levels were too small to pose an immediate health risk.

But Tsugumi Hasegawa was skeptical as she cared for her 4-year-old daughter at a shelter in a gymnasium crammed with 1,400 people about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the plant.

“I still have no idea what the numbers they are giving about radiation levels mean. It’s all so confusing,” said Hasegawa, 29, from the small town of Futuba in the shadow of the nuclear complex. “And I wonder if they aren’t playing down the dangers to keep us from panicking. I don’t know who to trust.”

All six of the nuclear complex’s reactor units saw trouble after the disasters knocked out cooling systems. In a small advance, the plant’s operator declared Units 5 and 6 — the least troublesome — under control after their nuclear fuel storage pools cooled to safe levels. Progress was made to reconnect two other units to the electric grid and in pumping seawater to cool another reactor and replenish it and a sixth reactor’s storage pools.

But the buildup in pressure inside the vessel holding Unit 3’s reactor presented some danger, forcing officials to consider venting. The tactic produced explosions of radioactive gas during the early days of the crisis.

“Even if certain things go smoothly, there would be twists and turns,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. “At the moment, we are not so optimistic that there will be a breakthrough.”

Growing concerns about radiation add to the overwhelming chain of disasters Japan has struggled with since the 9.0-magnitude quake. The resulting tsunami ravaged the northeastern coast. All told, police estimates show more than about 18,400 died. More than 15,000 deaths are likely in Miyagi, the prefecture that took the full impact of the wave, said a police spokesman.

“It is very distressing as we recover more bodies day by days,” said Hitoshi Sugawara, the spokesman.

Police in other parts of the disaster area declined to provide estimates, but confirmed about 3,400 deaths. Nationwide, official figures show the disasters killing more than 8,600 people, and leaving more than 13,200 people missing, but those two lists may have some overlap.

The disasters have displaced another 452,000, who are living in shelters.

Fuel, food and water remain scarce. The government in recent days acknowledged being caught ill-prepared by an enormous disaster that the prime minister has called the worst crisis since World War II.

Bodies are piling up in some of the devastated communities and badly decomposing even amid chilly rain and snow.

“The recent bodies — we can’t show them to the families. The faces have been purple, which means they are starting to decompose,” says Shuji Horaguchi, a disaster relief official setting up a center to process the dead in Natori, on the outskirts of the tsunami-flattened city of Sendai. “Some we’re finding now have been in the water for a long time, they’re not in good shape. Crabs and fish have eaten parts.”

Contamination of food and water compounds the government’s difficulties, heightening the broader public’s sense of dread about safety. Consumers in markets snapped up bottled water, shunned spinach from Ibaraki — the prefecture where the tainted spinach was found — and overall expressed concern about food safety.

Experts have said the amounts of iodine detected in milk, spinach and water pose no discernible risks to public health unless consumed in enormous quantities over a long time. Iodine breaks down quickly, after eight days, minimizing its harmfulness, unlike other radioactive isotopes such as cesium-137 or uranium-238, which remain in the environment for decades or longer.

High levels of iodine are linked to thyroid cancer, one of the least deadly cancers if treated. Cesium is a longer-lasting element that affects the whole body and raises cancer risk.

Rain forecast for the Fukushima area also could further localize the contamination, bringing the radiation to the ground closer to the plant.

Edano tried to reassure the public for a second day in a row. “If you eat it once, or twice, or even for several days, it’s not just that it’s not an immediate threat to health, it’s that even in the future it is not a risk,” Edano said. “Experts say there is no threat to human health.”

No contamination has been reported in Japan’s main food export — seafood — worth about $1.6 billion a year and less than 0.3 percent of its total exports.

Amid the anxiety, there were moments of joy on Sunday. An 80-year-old woman and her teenage grandson were rescued from their flattened two-story house after nine days, when the teen pulled himself to the roof and shouted to police for help.

Other survivors enjoyed smaller victories. Kiyoshi Hiratsuka and his family managed to pull his beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle from the rubble in their hometown of Onagawa. The 37-year-old mechanic said he knows it will never work anymore. “But I want to keep it as a memorial.”

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 21, 2011 6:50 a.m. HST

'Creative' GET Alterations Aimed at Plugging Holes in Defecit

Ironing out the tax code, state House lawmakers want to suspend general excise tax exemptions for several business activities over the next few years to help reduce the budget deficit.


GENERAL EXCISE TAX EXEMPTIONS
State House lawmakers want to temporarily suspend general excise tax exemptions on several business activities and impose a GET on these activities over the next few years to help balance the budget. The bill — HB 799 — would generate the largest source of new revenue in the House’s deficit reduction plan.

Some business activities that would lose the GET exemption:

>> Subcontractor deduction
>> Sublease deduction
>> Gross receipts from rental or leasing of aircraft or aircraft engines used for interstate transport
>> Amounts received for aircraft service and maintenance
>> Amounts received from loading or unloading ships and tugboat services

How the GET would be applied on those business activities:

>> 2% from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2012
>> 3% from Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2013
>> 4% from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015

How much the temporary tax would generate:

>> Fiscal year 2012: $55.7 million
>> Fiscal year 2013: $162.8 million
>> Fiscal year 2014: $234.7 million
>> Fiscal year 2015: $276.3 million
Source: State House Finance Committee staff

Tax purists contend that exemptions can distort the tax code by providing tax breaks for favored industries while others have to pay. But some of the state's most influential business interests, including Hawaiian Airlines, Outrigger Enterprises Group and Alexander & Baldwin, defend the exemptions as a way to help offset the pyramid effect of the general excise tax.

The 4 percent general excise tax — 4.5 percent on Oahu because of a rail transit surcharge — is the state's largest source of revenue. The broad-based tax is applied on most business transactions, but numerous exemptions have been carved out over the years.

The House would lift exemptions on several business activities and apply a GET of 2 percent, 3 percent and 4 percent on those activities over the next few years. The bill, HB 799, is the largest source of new revenue in the House's deficit reduction plan. According to recently updated estimates, it would bring in $55.7 million in fiscal year 2012 and significantly more money in future years to stabilize the state's financial plan.

House leaders were behind a similar bill last year, but it fell apart at the end of session after opposition from industry lobbyists and key state senators.

Senate leaders were again skeptical of the proposal this year, but attitudes have changed since the state Council on Revenues downgraded the state's revenue forecast last week, increasing the projected two-year deficit to nearly $1 billion.

"I think we'll consider everything, including that," said state Senate President Shan Tsu­tsui (D, Wai­luku-Kahu­lui).

While the House has approved nearly two dozen revenue-generating bills, suspending GET exemptions is by far the largest, and if the Senate does not go along, it would increase pressure to consider other big-ticket alternatives, such as swapping Hono­lulu rail tax revenue for general obligation bonds, scooping hotel room tax revenue from the counties or even raising the GET.

"Right now we give away close to probably a billion dollars in overall exemptions from GE. Now some of it makes sense because they are taxed in other parts of statute, but many of them are not, they are just given exemptions," said state Rep. Pono Chong (D, Mau­na­wili-Kane­ohe). "It's kind of unfair that we exempt some types of businesses and not others."

Chong said lawmakers are considering cuts to state programs and targeted tax increases, so it is difficult to justify the exemptions.

"How do you raise taxes on people when there is a group of people who still don't pay on their portion?" he asked.

State Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said lawmakers worked hard in the past to lessen the pyramid effect of the general excise tax through exemptions. (The pyramid effect refers to the same money or product being taxed multiple times.)

"Is it going to stifle the economy?" Ige asked of lifting the exemptions. "How does that show up? What impact does it have on the recovery?"

Many economists discourage exemptions and tax credits because they prefer minimal distortions in the tax code.

"Essentially you're opening up all these areas where people are taxed differently. It creates a tax fairness problem, and it distorts behavior," said Carl Bonham, a University of Hawaii-Manoa economist who serves on the Council on Revenues.

Other tax policy analysts see potential risk in suspending the GET exemptions. Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, told House lawmakers they should evaluate state programs and serv­ices first and examine money tucked away in special funds.

Kalapa believes suspending the exemptions could come at a bad time for many businesses. In written testimony he said the proposal "underscores the depth and breadth of the financial crisis that the state faces."

"The point to be made here is that unless elected officials rein in the size and cost of running government in Hawaii, such desperate measures, as this bill represents, may have to be adopted and in doing so will destroy the economic base of the state.

"This is not a compromise situation, but an either-or situation; either expenditures are right-sized or the state's economy is put out of business."

The House proposal touches so many business interests that several observers have dubbed it a full-employment bill for lobbyists. At one late-night hearing in February before the House Finance Committee, state House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) called several lobbyists who testified against the bill back before the committee and lectured them about selfishness for not suggesting alternatives.

But several businesses could lose millions of dollars' worth of exemptions and have naturally turned to lobbyists to help protect their interests.

Contractors face the deepest bite. The loss of a subcontractor deduction could increase their tax burden by $33.3 million in fiscal year 2012, $85.7 million in fiscal year 2013, $123.7 million in fiscal year 2014 and $145.6 million in fiscal year 2015.

The deduction allows primary contractors to deduct amounts paid to subcontractors from gross receipts when calculating their GET burden. If the deduction were removed, the GET would be applied to both the gross receipts of primary contractors and the amount paid to subcontractors working on proj­ects.

Tim Lyons, a lobbyist who serves as president of the Subcontractors Association of Hawaii, has called it "probably one of the truest forms of 'taxing the tax.' "

The Outrigger Enterprises Group has warned that the loss of a sublease deduction could hurt small businesses that sublease in places such as Waikiki.

Alexander & Baldwin told the House that lifting the exemption for the amounts received from the loading and unloading of ships could increase the cost of "virtually everything that is brought into or transported out of the state."

Hawaiian Airlines estimates that the loss of its exemptions — on the gross receipts from the rental or leasing of aircraft or aircraft engines and on the amounts received for aircraft serv­ice and maintenance — could cost up to $73 million in total through 2015.

Keoni Wagner, vice president for public affairs at Hawaiian Airlines, said the airline understands the severity of the state's budget problem but believes the bill would undermine the state's economic recovery and harm its business.

"The current exemptions that exist in the law are helping to promote this growth at Hawaiian," Wagner said in written testimony. "Elimination of the current tax exemptions which affect the airlines would have a disproportionate effect on Hawaiian versus its competitors. Competing airlines have little exposure to state taxes compared to Hawaiian, so the impact on Hawaiian is much larger."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddpledge@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 20, 2011 8:20 a.m. HST

High Surf Advisory Continues for East Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Rough surf of 6 to 8 feet along east facing shores will continue through this afternoon.

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

A high tide of approximately 2.5 feet is expected between 3:24 p.m. and 4:42 p.m. this afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 20, 2011 6:40 a.m. HST

Woman, Grandson Found Alive Amid Quake Rubble

TOKYO >> The voice rang out suddenly, unexpectedly, from the wreckage left behind by the monstrous earthquake and tsunami that ripped through the country's northeast nine days ago.

"Please help! Please help!"

There, on the roof of his collapsed wooden home, stood a shivering Jin Abe, so cold that he had draped layers of towels around his body. His grandmother, Sumi Abe, was trapped inside, too, the 16-year-old told the team of Ishinomaki police officers who had been patrolling the hard-hit city on Sunday.

The two had been stuck there since the March 11 magnitude-9.0 quake struck off the coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that obliterated much of the northeastern coastline. Their neighborhood, too, lay in ruins.

The 80-year-old woman's weak legs kept her from walking, and the teenager had been unable until Sunday to crawl out of the wreckage, police spokesman Shizuo Kawamura said.

Police called in personnel with better equipment to help rescue the woman, whom police found wrapped in several blankets, on top of a collapsed closet.

Grandmother and grandson were weak but conscious, having survived on the food they had in their refrigerator, Kawamura told The Associated Press by telephone. The earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and telephone service throughout the northeast coast.

National broadcaster NHK aired dramatic video of the rescue, which showed a stunned, though coherent, woman. She gave her name when asked.

"Are you hurt?" a rescuer said.

"No," she replied, and asked about her grandson.

Both she and Jin were taken to a nearby hospital.

A couple days after the disaster, an aunt asked police to search for the two. On Sunday, Jin's father, Akira Abe, told reporters gathered at the hospital that he had never given up hope.

"I always believed they were alive," he said.

The rescue offered Japan an uplifting piece of news amid colossal devastation and sadness with thousands of dead and missing. Still, Kawamura said he wasn't smiling.

"We have too many other victims to find to take the time to celebrate," he said.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 19, 2011 9:30 a.m. HST

Wind Still Howling at Haleakala Summit

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for the Haleakala Summit and leeward areas of Maui in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: East winds up to 40 mph, with gusts of 50 mph are expected to continue 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. BE PREPARED FOR FALLING TREE BRANCHES AND LOCAL POWER OUTAGES.

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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 19, 2011 8:50 a.m. HST

East Shore Waves Still Big

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Strong trade winds will produce rough surf along east facing shores.

Rough surf of 6 to 8 feet will continue through Sunday afternoon.

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

A high tide of approximately 2.4 feet is expected between 2:38 p.m. and 3:56 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.3 feet is expected between 2:38 a.m. and 3:56 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 19, 2011 7:50 a.m. HST

LG Headed to DC to Advance Hawii'i Ageda

Working with Governor Abercrombie and Hawai`i’s Congressional Delegation, Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz will travel to Washington, D.C. tonight to pursue the administration’s priorities of job creation, clean energy, human services and fiscal stability.

Schatz will meet with various federal agencies to pursue Hawai‘i`s fair share of federal funding for homeless prevention, Medicaid reimbursement and reimbursement for law enforcement expenses related to APEC. Schatz will also work with FEMA to ascertain the likelihood of federal assistance after the March 11th tsunami.

While there, Schatz will meet with the following members of the Obama administration:

Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, the White House

Anthony Marion Babauta, Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, U. S. Department of the Interior

Frankie Reed, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, State Department

Dorval Carter, Chief Counsel, Federal Transportation Administration

Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Mercedes Marquez, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning & Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Schatz will also attend the Democratic Lieutenant Governor’s Association Policy Meeting and the National Lieutenant Governor Association’s Federal-State Relations Meeting, where he will brief the attendees on recovery efforts in Hawai`i following the tsunami.

Finally, although Congress is in recess, Schatz will meet with senior staff from Hawai‘i`s Congressional Delegation to coordinate and consolidate efforts made on behalf of the State in furtherance of these priorities.

Schatz says, “I look forward to meeting with members of the Obama administration to articulate Hawai`i’s unique needs and opportunities. Now more than ever, we need to be partners.”

(Report Provided by the Office of Lt, Governor Brian Schatz)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 2:35 p.m. HST

Mayor Delivers Porposed '12 Budget to Council a Week Early

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – In the spirit of cooperation, Mayor Alan Arakawa presented Maui County Council members with a copy of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012 a week ahead of schedule.

The budget is based upon improving the infrastructure, putting money into increased employee benefits costs and allowing county departments the flexibility they need to reach their goals.

"This is not a budget of fluff and extravagance but one of necessity," Mayor Arakawa said. "We hope that the council will see that when they look it over.

We hope that getting the budget to the council early will help them in their decision making process."

The mayor also thanked Budget Director Sandy Baz and his staff, including May Anne Alibin, Tehani Nunez, Kristina Cabbat and Jennifer Phillips, for their thousands of hours of hard work.

Anyone who wants to view the 2012 budget may find it at this County website link by clicking on www.mauicounty.gov/index.aspx?nid=139.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 1:55 p.m. HST

EPA's Hawai'i Radiation Detector Shows No Elevated Levels

The Environmental Protection Agency said today that air monitoring readings taken in Hawaii show no elevated levels of radiation.

As of 6 a.m., EPA's RadNet radiation air monitors across the U.S. show "typical fluctuations in background radiation levels," the EPA's website reported.

Daily monitoring reports show no change other than normal background levels of radiation, according to EPA spokesman in Hawaii Dean Higuchi.

The EPA maintains one radiation detector in downtown and plans to add two more — one on Kauai and another on the North Shore, Higuchi said.

State health officials previously said that based on all available information, they do not anticipate a risk of harmful radiation exposure to the islands.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Peter Carlisle issued statements yesterday reassuring Hawaii residents and visitors that the radiation posed no health hazard to Hawaii. And President Barack Obama specifically mentioned Hawaii and Alaska when he said yesterday that the United States and its Pacific territories are safe.

In Alaska, Dr. Bernd Jilly, director of state public health laboratories, also said today that monitoring had shown no readings of above-normal levels of radiation.

(Report Provided by The Associated Prtess)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 12:45 p.m. HST

HTA Provides Real-Time Updates on Japan Crises

The following are updates as of March 18, 2011 (12:45 p.m. HST):

• Governor Neil Abercrombie issued a statement on March 17 reiterating remarks by President Barack Obama that Hawai'i should not be affected by radiation due to the situation in Japan. For the complete statement go to: March 17 Statement by Governor Neil Abercrombie

• In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that air monitoring readings taken in Hawai'i show no elevated levels of radiation. The EPA is providing ongoing updates at the following website: EPA Updates

• The HTA continues to respond to news media from around the world and is delivering the message that Hawai'i is open for business and that the people of Hawai'i are standing in solidarity with the people of Japan during this difficult time.

• For ongoing updates, go to the HTA's website at: Hawai'i Tourism Authority Updates

Any impact on visitors should be minimal, and travelers planning to visit Hawai'i should continue to do so with confidence.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 9:20 a.m. HST

State Grant Awards $2.6M to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s State Energy Office announced the awarding of $2.6 million in federal stimulus funds to six organizations that will accelerate Hawaii’s adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and related charging equipment. The grants, provided through DBEDT’s EV Ready Grant Program, aim to contribute to the state’s energy goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030 by reducing consumption of imported petroleum fuels for ground transportation.

The grants, backed by matching funds, were awarded during the First Hawaiian Bank International Auto Show at the Hawaii Convention Center as follows:
• Better Place, $854,000, for charging stations on all islands and the introduction of EVs to a rental car fleet.
• AeroVironment, $820,000, to also install charging stations on all islands, conduct grid integration analysis, and accelerate EV introduction to dealerships and vehicle fleets.
• GreenCar Hawai‘i, $200,000, to introduce EVs to car-sharing services within the hospitality industry.
• County of Kauai, $267,000 for charging stations on the Garden Island and EVs for County fleets.
• City & County of Honolulu, $400,000, for charging stations on Oahu, EVs and an online charger permitting system.
• Plug In America, $50,000, for an EV Ready Guidebook for Hawaii, along with education and outreach.

“With the price of oil escalating because of unstable conditions in the Middle East, it’s even more important for all of us to find ways to cut our use of imported fuel,” said Estrella Seese, Acting Program Energy Administrator, State Energy Office. “Charging an electric vehicle costs much less than filling a tank with gasoline. Drivers will be saving on fuel costs, less fuel will be used for the same amount of mileage, and in the near future, electric cars will run on electricity produced from renewable resources such as the sun and wind.”

Data collection as well as public outreach and education about EVs are part of the contracts. These six organizations were selected from 19 applicants to DBEDT’s EV Ready Grant Program, established to speed up market acceptance of EVs, an important strategy in reaching Hawaii’s 70% clean energy goal.

DBEDT’s EV Ready Grant Program complements the EV Ready Rebate Program, which provides up to $4,500 for the purchase of full-speed, commercially available electric vehicles and up to $500 for EV charging equipment, including installation. The Rebate Program started in August 2010 and has a total budget of $1.4 million.

The EV Ready Grant and Rebate Programs are part of the Transportation Energy Diversification Project, which is supported by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These funds are directed for use in the Hawai‘i State Energy Program through the U.S. Department of Energy.

For more information, go to http://electricvehicle.hawaii.gov

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 8:50 a.m. HST

East Shores Seeing Sloppy, Choppy Big Surf

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Saturday.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Strong trade winds will produce rough surf along east facing shores.

Rough surf of 6 to 9 feet will continued through at least Saturday evening.

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

A high tide of approximately 2.1 feet is expected between 1:54 p.m. and 3:12 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.4 feet is expected between 2:09 a.m. and 3:27 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 8:20 a.m. HST

Wind Advisory Remains Up Through Today

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the ISLAND of MAUI now in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: High pressure north of the state will keep east winds strong and gusty over Maui. Winds will be especially gusty over ridge tops and through some valleys where terrain accelerates the winds.

East winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to 50 mph are expected to continue through this evening.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. BE PREPARED FOR FALLING TREE BRANCHES AND LOCAL POWER OUTAGES. 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 18, 2011 6:10 a.m. HST

Tsunami, Japan Calamities Hitting Tourism Here

Tourist arrivals in Hawaii have slowed as problems from the Japa­nese earthquake and tsunami continue to unfurl and radiation concerns mount.

Booking slowdowns from U.S. travelers, Hawaii's main visitor market, are adding to damage brought about by thousands of cancellations from Japan. Some members of the state's visitor industry also are concerned that travel could drop from the emerging China and Korea markets because much of Hawaii's business from there depends on flight connections in Japan. And, outbound travel sellers are feeling the pinch, too, as Hawaii residents cancel trips to see Japan's famous cherry blossoms.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts anticipates bookings for April and May in Waikiki will come in 25 percent to 30 percent lower than anticipated, said Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and French Polynesia.

The chain has experienced thousands of cancellations, especially on the group side, from Japan, Vieira said. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Outrigger Hotels & Resorts also have reported significant Japan decreases.

"In general, the second quarter will take the biggest hit," said Danny Ojiri, vice president of sales and marketing for Asia Pacific for Outrigger Enterprises. "Nothing will move in April because of all that is happening."

Japan Airlines has experienced a 10 percent decrease in passengers to Hawaii through the end of March, said spokes­man Winston Lee.

"Until the rolling blackouts, shortages of food and supplies improve, people are not going to board planes," Ojiri said. "What's happened in Japan is so high profile that it will affect the Asian business going through Japan, too."

Golden Week, one of the top three travel periods for Japan, had been expected to peak — with growth in the high double-digits — from April 29 to May 3.

"Now we are waiting to find out the extent of the softening," Ojiri said. "We'll know more next week when the guarantees come due."

The drop in the Japa­nese market, which supplied about 17.3 percent of 2010 statewide visitor arrivals, will have broader impacts. Even more troublesome, however, are the signs of a downturn in the U.S. market, which totaled nearly 65 percent of all visitors to Hawaii last year.

"In the last few days, we've seen leisure business lost from the U.S. mostly related to nuclear concerns," Vieira said. "It's from all the comments being made about a nuclear fallout in Japan and their belief that Hawaii is closer than the West Coast."

The pattern will hurt Hawaii if it continues, he said.

"This market is our largest, so it has much more potential to hurt us," Vieira said. "Everything is very uncertain now."

Pleasant Holidays, Hawaii's largest wholesaler, saw cancellations rise when three of its partner hotels, the King Kame­ha­meha's Kona Beach Hotel, the Kona Village Resort and the Four Seasons Hua­la­lai, sustained significant damage, said Jack Richards, president and chief executive officer of California-based Pleasant Holidays LLC.

Bookings began to slow some this week as travelers were bombarded with stories about the radiation scare in Japan, Richards said.

"This is the first week that we've seen a slowdown in demand," he said. "There's no question that Hawaii is now losing some business to Mexico and the Caribbean."

The reported yesterday that 1,000 worried Californians flooded a state hot line for radiation concerns even though the U.S. government and scientists have said radiation from Japan won't endanger people on the West Coast. The same panic is hitting some travelers, Richards said.

"I thought we were pulling out of this thing, and then this happened," he said.

Isle travel sellers are losing revenue as locals cancel their trips to Japan.

Peter Kobayashi, vice president of Koba­ya­shi Travel Serv­ice Ltd., said the company lost $500,000 in sales when six tours to Japan were canceled.

"We gave them the choice to rebook in October, but it's not far out enough for them to commit," Koba­ya­shi said. "The scale of the earthquake and the radiation are just too big."

Marc Shimamoto, owner of Travel Ways Inc., also has seen cancellations from Hawaii residents who had planned to make trips to Japan, Hong Kong and China.

"They canceled because of the radiation problem," Shi­ma­moto said.

Others "just didn't feel that it was right to travel to Japan when so many people are suffering," he said.

"There's been a significant impact on business, and it's going to get worse than it is now," Shi­ma­moto said.

Richards said he hopes that remarks made from the White House yesterday by President Ba­rack Obama will restore traveler confidence.

Obama said, "We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it's the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories in the Pacific."

Meanwhile, members of Hawaii's visitor industry are working to get the message out that the state is open for business and that it's safe to travel here, said Brad Mettler, director of marketing for the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa.

"We were experiencing good growth in the spring, but this will affect that for at least a few months," he said. "Spring is important, but there's still room for recovery if the damages are contained to a few months."

Reach Allison Schaffers at aschaeffers@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 3:45 p.m. HST

100 Free Parking Stalls Open Tomorrow in Pa'ia

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The County of Maui, along with private developers and the Paia community, is pleased to announce the opening of a free 100 stall, temporary parking lot along Baldwin Avenue.

This lot will be open at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 18th, so that local employees, residents and visitors may begin using it immediately. The gravel lot is located makai of the Patsy Takemoto Mink U.S. Post Office on land purchased by Paia 2020 LLC, a business owned by brothers David and Doug Spee and developer Henry Spencer.

Spencer has said the project could not have gone forth so quickly without the help of the County.

“This is what government can do with the help of private businesses and a willing community,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “There was a need here and people stepped up and made things happen.

"Paia desperately needs additional parking," Spencer said. "This, along with the Paia Town Center parking will alleviate a lot of tension I think."

Mana Foods store owners along with the Paia Main Street Association have been working for years to develop the land into a parking lot while it was owned by Alexander & Baldwin. Mana Foods is now leasing the land from Paia 2020 LLC.

Spencer said he eventually plans to turn the gravel lot into a permanent, paved parking lot to accompany a commercial development and a senior housing project.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 3:40 p.m. HST

Maui Resort Among 'Green Business Award' Winners

HONOLULU – Governor Neil Abercrombie today presented the “Hawai‘i Green Business Awards” to seven hotels for their outstanding efforts in sustainable and environmentally conscience business practices.

“Protecting Hawai‘i’s precious resources and moving toward a sustainable future is a part of everyone’s kuleana,” said Governor Abercrombie. “Hawai‘i businesses recognize that a healthy environment is critical to the well-being of our state and our economy. Through proactive and sustainable practices, such as conserving water and electricity, reducing waste and protecting Hawai‘i’s environment, these businesses are doing their part to ensure that our residents and visitors can continue to enjoy a healthy environment.”

The following hotels, with examples of environmental commitments, were presented with awards today:

- Hyatt Regency Waikiki: As an ENERGY STAR labeled hotel, three years in a row and a two time Hawaii Green Business participant, the Hyatt Regency installed an Environmental Management System in 1,229 rooms, 6,000 LED bulbs and fixtures throughout the hotel, they have re-lamped every guest room to CFLs, and have realized a 1,428,325 kWh reduction in electricity use as well as a 4.5 million gallon reduction in water usage. Over the past 5 years, the Hyatt estimates a 20% reduction in their electricity, gas and water usage.

- JW Marriott Ihilani at Ko Olina: With Marriott’s “Spirit to Serve” the community, the
JW Marriott Ihilani has implemented green measures such as lighting retrofits and provision of recycling bins in common areas, meeting facilities, outdoors and landscaping, maintenance and operations, kitchen area, and has recycled and kept
62 tons out of the landfill.

- Kahala Hotel & Resort: As their second time participating in the Hawaii Green Business Program, the resort’s air conditioning systems are on an energy management system, and ceiling fans were installed in all guestrooms that can be used as an alternative for A/C. The property also uses deep water wells to cool their chiller system saving the property 380,000 kWh of electricity and 4.5 million gallons of water annually. The CFL retrofit in guestrooms resulted in an estimated reduction of 180,000 kWh per year. With the installation of high efficiency water aerators and fixtures, the Kahala Hotel has estimated a 40-50% reduction in water usage.

- Kilauea Lakeside Estate: Nearly all of this private retreat’s energy (25 kW) is provided by 120 PV panels providing energy for the facility. Most of the lighting is LED, and all of the water heating is provided with solar hot water systems. Also, low-flow toilets and shower heads have also been installed as water conservation methods and 100% of the resulting water usage is addressed with their on-site water catchment system. Steve and Janine Hunt have dedicated 30 years developing this sustainable retreat on Kauai.

- Ritz-Carlton Kapalua: Runs a Jacques Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program which teaches guests about natural tide pools, the rainforest, humpback whales and local ecosystems through interactive activities with trained naturalists. The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has estimated an 8.6% reduction in electricity and 10.4% reduction in gas, and an 8.9% reduction in water consumption.

- Turtle Bay Resort: Located on the North Shore of Oahu, the Turtle Bay’s green initiatives include: use of locally grown and organic produce, lighting retrofits with nearly 70% of the resort’s lighting converted to CFLs resulting in a 12% reduction in electricity usage, and recycling - with an average increase of 1.8 tons of recycled over the last two years. The property has also converted hundreds of gallons of cooking oil into bio-diesel by partnering with Brigham Young University.

- Wyndham at Waikiki Beach Walk: This recently renovated property replaced and retrofitted all fixtures with incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents and implemented energy saving occupancy sensors in office and public restrooms. From 2008-2010, the resort has reduced kWh consumption by 5.4%, and reduced gas usage by 6.5%.
All guestrooms feature low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, and sink aerators to decrease water usage. All reusable hotel items such as furniture, dishes, small appliances, carpeting are donated to local charities and schools.

The hotels were recognized based on criteria including: completing a self-audit checklist evaluating their environmental practices ranging from pollution prevention to water and energy conservation; recycling; environmental purchasing; sharing their information with other participants; attending forums and workshops on greening practices; and participating in quarterly meetings. The hotels demonstrated their “green” practices through exemplary energy and water conserving practices, pollution prevention, and solid waste reduction and recycling efforts.

The Hawai‘i Green Business Program is focused on working with hotels and resorts, due to the visitor industry’s cumulative impact on the environment. The industry’s efforts help to support the state’s clean energy goal of achieving a 70 percent clean energy economy through energy efficiency and conservation as well as renewable energy.

The Green Business Awards Program is a partnership between the State Departments of Health and Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i. The program works in collaboration with county agencies and the Hawai‘i Hotel and Lodging Association to help businesses comply with environmental regulations, as well as to conserve energy, water and other valuable resources.

Participation is open to all hotels, resorts, offices, retail establishments and government entities.
For more information visit the program website at: http://www.hawaii.gov/greenbusiness
or contact Gail Suzuki-Jones, Energy Analyst at 808-587-3802.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 3:10 p.m. HST

Kahului Borders Book Store To Close in May

The Borders book stores at Waikele Center in Waipahu and at Maui Marketplace in Kahului have been added to the list of 200 stores that will close in the coming weeks.

The two stores, slated for closure by late May, will close not long after the Kailua-Kona and Lihue stores shut down next month, as previously announced.

The Michigan-based books-and-music retailer is in the throes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Workforce Development Office had not yet received notice of the closures or impact to employees, so no information about the number of affected employees was available.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 3:05 p.m. HST

EPA Doubling Hawai'i Radiation Detector Count

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doubling Hawaii's radiation monitors to four and adding detectors in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Alaska, even as it downplays the potential danger from Japan's failing nuclear reactors.

The agency Tuesday echoed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in saying it does not "expect to see radiation at harmful levels reaching the U.S."

A United Nations weather forecast, meanwhile, predicts that a "radioactive plume" will reach the Aleutian Islands today and hit Southern California late tomorrow, the New York Times reported.

The forecast shows the plume passing to the north of Midway and Hawaii, the Times said. Some experts have said the distance traveled by the radiation over the ocean would cause it to disperse with little risk to humans.

The chairman of the NRC briefed President Barack Obama yesterday on what the White House called "the deteriorating situation" at the Fukushima power station.

Hawaii currently has two radiation monitoring stations, one each on Oahu and the Big Island. State health officials said they will put the two new monitors on Oahu's North Shore and Kauai.

"The agency decided out of an abundance of caution to send these deployable monitors in order to get some monitors on the ground closer to Japan," said Jonathan Edwards, director of EPA's radiation protection division.

The two new "RadNet" detectors are expected to be in place in Hawaii by week's end, state Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. She added yesterday that radiation levels in Hawaii have not increased.

"We have not seen any change," she said. "All background normal levels."

Honolulu officials sought to reassure the public yesterday that measures are in place to handle possible radiation fallout while re-emphasizing that the chances of danger are minimal.

The Honolulu Emergency Services Department conducted its monthly testing of its Metropolitan Medical Response System, which includes a van and portable monitors about the size of a car battery that can be used for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives detection.

Testing conducted yesterday at Kakaako Waterfront Park did not show any elevated radiation level, said Dr. James Ireland, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

Ireland said the department also oversees a "huge cache" of potassium iodide, which can be administered to prevent iodine radiation from accumulating in an affected person's thyroid gland.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a national strategic stockpile of medicine that would be distributed in the event of radiation fallout, the state Heath Department said.

"So our cache would be used potentially to be the initial distribution pending (those CDC supplies) arriving here," Ireland said.

Radioactive caesium and plutonium are two other potential concerns, and Ireland said there are other agents that protect against ingested radiation that are also cached in the state.

Some experts have raised concern that if there is a nuclear meltdown, larger amounts of radiation could be injected high into the atmosphere and be carried to Hawaii on the jet stream.

"I think there is a risk, certainly (to Hawaii and the West Coast)," said Paul Carroll, program director at the Ploughshares Fund.

In the case of a catastrophic release of radiation, Hawaii would have three to four days to respond, Jeff Eckerd, acting program manager for the Indoor and Radiological Health Branch of the state Health Department, said at a state Senate briefing yesterday. That is based on the direction of the jet stream for the next three to five days and the fact that Hawaii is 4,000 miles away, he said.

Reach William Cole at wcole@staradvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 2:45 p.m. HST

Mayor, Health Officer To Appear Live on Akaku Tonight

KAHULUI, HI, Mar 17 Tune in tonight for a live call-in show, beginning at 5:30 pm on Channel 54.

This is a Special Report on incidents involving Japanese Nuclear Reactors to explain how these events may or may not affect us here in the Hawaiian Islands.

The Special Report will be hosted by Chivo Ching-Johnson featuring guests; Mayor Alan Arakawa and Maui District Health Officer Dr. Loren Pang. Tonight’s guests will be on hand to discuss potential health risks facing Maui County residents resulting from the Japanese nuclear plant accidents and provide residents guidance on how to cope with the issue.

We will be discussing the fears surrounding the possibility of any radiation fallout reaching Hawaii via the jet stream, as well as contingency plans by Maui County Civil Defense. We will discuss the potential health risks and attempt to sort fact from fiction. The program will be accepting live calls in studio, allowing viewers to call in their questions and concerns. The studio call-in number is: 873-3430.

Please note that The State Department of Health has stated that Maui residents are not at presently at risk, are not likely to be at risk and asked that residents not seek or injest Potassium Iodine, or KI.

Please stay tuned to Akaku Channel 54 throughout the next few days to view repeats of this program and to receive news updates on the situation.

For more information, check out our website: www.akaku.org, Facebook: akaku.org or call 808-871-5554.

(Report Provided by AKAKU: Maui Community Television)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 2:40 p.m. HST

Governor Assures Residents and Visitors 'Hawai'i Is Safe'

Governor Neil Abercrombie today echoed comments made by President Barack Obama that no harmful levels of radiation are expected to reach Hawai'i. Governor Abercrombie stated:

“I want to reassure residents and visitors that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the highest authority on radiation in the nation, has indicated Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to Hawai'i. Our state and county monitoring systems have not detected any increase in radiation levels, and based on all available information, state and federal experts do not anticipate any risk of harmful radiation exposure to our islands. We are open for business. Hawai'i continues to be the world’s paradise.

“Residents do not need to take protective measures at this time. Our state Department of Health is working closely with state, county and federal agencies to monitor the situation on a minute-to-minute basis. Ongoing updates and informational sessions are taking place with federal authorities.

“In the meantime, we continue to send our aloha to the people of Japan. As one island people to another, we stand with them in solidarity and in sympathy for the challenges they are facing.”

For more information, please call 2-1-1 or visit www.hawaii.gov/health or http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Neil Abercrombie)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 1:20 p.m. HST

HTA Updates Tsunami Assessment, Plans

The situation in Japan in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami continues to evolve. And the people of Hawai'i have demonstrated a great deal of caring and solidarity with the people of Japan.

Even though the situation changes on a daily basis, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority will provide ongoing updates as information becomes available. The following are updates as of March 17, 2011 (1:00 p.m. HST):

• The Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA) board chair, Ron Williams, and its president and CEO, Mike McCartney, went to the Hawai'i Island on March 14 to view the areas that were impacted by the tsunami, including Ali'i Drive in Kona and Hualalai. They confirmed that there was limited impact to the visitor infrastructure in the area. King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is open and accommodating guests, and most businesses on Ali'i Drive have reopened.

• The last remaining visitors from Japan displaced by cancelled flights due to the tsunami have returned to Japan.

• On March 17, President Barack Obama spoke at the White House about the ongoing situation in Japan. In his remarks he stated, "We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it's the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific." For the complete transcript of his remarks, go to:
President Barack Obama March 17 Remarks

• The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko also stated that the NRC does not expect any harmful levels of radiation to affect Hawai'i. To view the March 13 NRC news release, go to:
NRC March 13 News Release

• "Aloha for Japan," a statewide relief effort for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan was launched by Hawai'i business leaders, the visitor industry, members of the Japanese American community, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, and Japan Consul General Yoshihiko Kamo. Hawai'i's largest banking institutions have all agreed to serve as collection points for donations. Music concerts and TV programs are also being developed. For more information about the effort, go to www.alohaforjapan.com.

• The HTA has been responding to numerous inquiries from news media around the world who are asking about the impact of the tsunami on Hawai'i. On March 15, Mike McCartney was interviewed on CNBC to discuss the impact of the Japan disaster on Hawai'i's tourism industry. The following is a link to the story for your reference:
CNBC Interview with Mike McCartney

Any impact on visitors should be minimal and travelers planning to visit Hawai'i should continue to do so with confidence.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 11:40 a.m. HST

Mayor to Present Budget Proposal Tomorrow Morning

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – All media and members of the public are invited to listen in to Mayor Arakawa’s Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 this Friday March 18th from 8:00am to 8:30am at Council Chambers. Mayor Arakawa will then answer questions regarding the budget from 9am to 10am in the 9th floor Conference Room.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 11:30 a.m. HST

JASH Assisting in 'Aloha for Japan' Fundraising

Honolulu – The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) is assisting with fundraising for the tragic earthquake and tsunami victims of Japan in partnership and collaboration with organizations throughout Hawaii, including the largest banking institutions under the “Aloha for Japan” statewide relief effort.

“An outpouring of support and generosity has come from individuals and organizations across the islands,” said JASH president, Ed Hawkins. “A JASH director from Kauai volunteered to coordinate donations there…it shows everyone wants to be a part of this effort to provide help to the people of Japan,” Hawkins added.

Among Hawaii companies supporting the relief fund is Servco Pacific Inc., which distributes and sells Toyota vehicles.
“This disaster has touched all of us, and we send our deepest condolences to our family and friends, partners, and the people of Japan,” said Mark Fukunaga, CEO of Servco Pacific.

On behalf of its employees, Servco contributed $25,000. Fukunaga said individual employees are also participating with family donations directly to the fund.

“The recovery will be difficult, and we want the people of Japan to know we will be with them,” said Fukunaga.
Other companies have begun their own fundraising effort, including the First Insurance Company of Hawaii which announced a matching funds program for its 300 associates in Hawaii. The First Insurance Charitable Foundation will match dollar for dollar all associate contributions to the "Aloha for Japan" earthquake and tsunami relief program administered by JASH. This matching program will be in effect through April 15, 2011. DFS Hawaii has made a donation of $5,000.

One hundred percent of the donations made to the Japan-America Society of Hawaii’s “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” including those donated to JASH under the “Aloha for Japan” relief fund, will be used in collaboration with Japanese relief organizations to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization established in 1976 by community leaders in Hawaii to promote understanding and friendship between the peoples of Japan and the United States through the special and unique perspective of Hawaii.

The Society provides a variety of social cultural and educational programs for the community, focusing on building relationships between individuals and groups in Hawaii and in Japan.

(Report Provided by the Japan American Society of Hawai'i)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 9:20 a.m. HST

Solar Water Heater Rebates Doubling for Hawai'i Customers

A cash rebate for Hawaiian Electric Co. customers who install solar water heaters will double to $1,500 for a limited time in an effort to lift sagging sales of the energy-efficient units.

The rebate, which had been $750, will be available for systems purchased between Monday and May 31, or until program funds run out, said Hawaii Energy, the company that administers the state's energy conservation program. The company did not say how much money is available for the program.

The enhanced rebate, combined with a 35 percent state tax credit and a 30 percent federal tax credit, will reduce the cost of a typical solar water heating system from $6,600 to $1,785.

Hawaii Energy said it is boosting the rebate to lift sluggish sales of solar water heating systems. Rebates given out for solar water heaters fell to 3,656 in 2010 from 8,770 in 2009, according to Hawaii Energy.

Program officials said a bold move to increase the rebate was needed to get people's attention.

"We're glad to be able to offer these bonus rebates to help residents take advantage of the benefits of solar water heating in these tough economic times," said Ray Starling, program manager for Hawaii Energy. "Solar water heating significantly reduces electricity usage and helps to lessen our state's dependence on imported oil."

Solar water heaters, which can cut water heating costs by up to 90 percent over an electric resistance heater, are considered one of the most cost-effective ways to cut a household power bill. Once installed, a system will pay for itself in two to four years depending on electricity rates, according to Hawaii Energy.

The standard $750 rebate is paid for by a fee levied on Hawaiian Electric Co. ratepayers. The increased rebate is funded through a federal stimulus grant.

The offer is available on Oahu, the Big Island and in Maui County.

Homeowners also will have the option of combining the old $750 rebate with a new $1,000-interest-free loan. That program, also funded with federal stimulus money, allows participating financial intuitions to make interest-free loans to homeowners for solar water heaters.

The rebates are not available for solar water heaters installed on new homes. A state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, requires most new homes to be built with solar water heaters.

With about 80,000 solar water heaters installed, Hawaii leads the nation in the number of solar heating systems on a per capita basis, according to the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. Over the past three decades the penetration level for residential single-family homes has grown to about 30 percent, the trade group said.

However, the penetration rate should be even higher given Hawaii's abundant sunshine and the various incentives available to homeowners, the association said. Growth of new installations has slowed for a variety of reasons, including aesthetic considerations, lack of understanding of the benefits of solar water heating, and the inability to finance the uppoint cost, according to the association.

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

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 7:50 a.m. HST

High Surf Advisory Issued for East Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Friday.
A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Strong trade winds will produce rough surf along east facing shores.

Rough surf of 5 to 8 feet will build to 6 to 9 feet today. High surf will continue through at least Friday evening. The Advisory may need to be extended into the weekend.

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

A high tide of approximately 1.8 feet is expected between 1:09 p.m. and 2:27 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.5 feet is expected between 1:40 a.m. and 2:58 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 17, 2011 6:10 a.m. HST

Kaua'i Surfer Dies in Monster Surf at Maverick's

MOSS BEACH, Calif. >> A big-wave surfer from Hawaii has died at the Maverick's surf break.

Sion Milosky, 35, apparently drowned on Wednesday evening while surfing waves up to 60 feet at the break off the San Mateo County coast, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Surfer Ken Collins said the lip of a wave Milosky was riding collapsed on him around 6:30 p.m. Another surfer found his body floating about a mile from the break at the entrance to Pillar Point Harbor.

Felton Fire Capt. Loree Borelli said rescue crews responded to a report of a possible drowning around 6:51 p.m. and transported the patient to Seton Coastside Hospital in Moss Beach.

Milosky, of Kauai, was among about a dozen surfers who gathered Wednesday to surf the Maverick's break.

(Report Provided by The Associated Prtess)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 6:10 p.m. HST

'Aloha for Japan' Campaign Aims for $50,000 for Relief Effort

HONOLULU – American Savings Bank (ASB) today announced it has joined the coordinated, statewide “Aloha for Japan” relief effort to benefit victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Starting today, all ASB branch locations will serve as collection points for monetary donations to the relief fund. To lead the donation efforts, ASB will contribute $50,000 to the fund and has pledged to match up to $25,000 in employee contributions made through April 15, 2011.

“Last week’s earthquake and resulting tsunami have significantly impacted the people of Japan and neighboring regions. Many of our employees and members of the community have close ties to Japan and expressed their desire to help those who have been affected,” said Rich Wacker, ASB President and CEO. “ASB is proud to join the relief efforts by serving as a collection point for donations and contributing $50,000. In an effort to encourage our employees to contribute, ASB will also match up to $25,000 in employee contributions made through April 15, 2011.”

As part of the “Aloha for Japan” relief effort, the public is invited to make a contribution to the “Aloha for Japan” fund at any of ASB’s 57 branches across the state starting today through April 15, 2011. All funds collected through ASB will be donated to the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) and ultimately given to the Japan Red Cross Society for earthquake and tsunami victim relief in Japan.

Checks should be made payable to “Aloha for Japan.” Cash donations will also be accepted by its branch tellers statewide.

The Japanese Red Cross Society (Nippon Sekijujisha) was founded in 1877 and has an extensive network of branches in cities, towns and villages throughout Japan. The Imperial Family of Japan has traditionally supported the society with Her Majesty the Empress serving as Honorary President.

JASH is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, dedicated to promoting understanding and friendship between the people of Japan and the United States through the special and unique perspective of Hawaii. JASH provides a variety of social, cultural, and educational programs to the membership and the community.

Serving Hawaii’s businesses and communities for more than 85 years, American Savings Bank provides a full range of financial products and services, including commercial banking, consumer banking, insurance, and investments.

(Report Provided by American Savings Bank)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 6 p.m. HST

Rep. McKelvey Urges Calm, Information on Radiation Possibilities

"Despite the tragedy in Japan, according to the Department of Health, there is no indication of any radiation affecting Hawaii. Should any issues arise, rest assured that proper notice will be made in a timely manner. Also, if you or someone you know has recently purchased potassium iodine, ingesting high amounts will not only be unnecessary given that there is no radiation detected by RADNET, but could also be detrimental to your health given the potential side-effects of potassium iodine, so please refrain from doing so.

"I and other Legislators, whose districts have sustained damages during the tsunami, are working closely with the Governor and other State agencies to address those issues as quickly as possible.

Please keep the people of Japan in your hearts and minds."

(Report Provided by the Office of State Representative Angus McKelvey)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 5:10 p.m. HST

High Surf Advisory On the Way Down

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a HIGH SURF ADVISORY for EAST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Friday.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Strong trade winds will produce rough surf along east facing shores.

High surf of 5 to 8 feet will build to 6 to 9 feet on Thursday.

A high tide of approximately 2.6 feet is expected between 1:10 a.m. and 2:28 a.m. tomorrow morning. The next high tide of approximately 1.8 feet is expected between 1:09 p.m. and 2:27 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

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

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 4:50 p.m. HST

Governor Comments on Revised Revenue Projections

This morning Governor Neil Abercrombie met with House and Senate leadership to continue discussions on the state budget. Last week, the Council on Revenues (COR) lowered its growth projection for fiscal year 2011 to 0.5%. However, due to recent global events including the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Governor is requesting the COR to reconvene to consider revising their projections so that lawmakers have the best and most current estimates. The Governor today released the following statement:

“The state’s fiscal challenge may be greater than we thought due to events that happened since the Council on Revenues made its most recent report.

“My cabinet and I along with the legislature are working together to ensure that we adequately address the immediate shortfall and the budget for the next two years, while still providing the government services that people expect. Raising the rate of the general excise tax is not currently being considered. We are exploring many other options and discussions have been positive.

“Together we will overcome this challenge, I am confident in that.”

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Neil Abercrombie)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 4:30 p.m. HST

Wind Advisory Continues for Maui County

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended the WIND ADVISORY for the COUNTY of MAUI in effect until 6:00 a.m. Friday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: High pressure north of the state will produce strong and gusty east winds.

East winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph will continue.

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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 1:30 p.m. HST

Appeal Deadline Approaches for Proposed FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map Changes

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The Planning Department announces that April 19, 2011 is an important appeal deadline for property owners in areas affected by proposed flood insurance rate map changes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing changes to the flood insurance rate maps (FIRM) for Maui County. These changes include the de-certification of multiple levee segments on Iao Stream and Kaunakakai Stream and the integration of a statewide hurricane study. Residents are strongly urged to check whether the FIRM changes affect them. Properties placed in special flood hazard areas can be affected by:
• mandatory flood insurance requirements, if you have a federally-backed mortgage;
• in terms of renovation or new construction, a higher building cost and/or compliance with the new elevation and substantial improvement standards.

Notification of revisions to the flood insurance rate maps were published on January 19, 2011 which marks the beginning of a 90 day appeal period where property owners can challenge the information on the proposed flood maps (e.g. floodplain and floodway boundaries, the proposed height of the flood waters (base flood elevations) and base map errors and omissions). The appeal period ends April 19, 2011.

Requests for changes to the proposed base flood elevations (BFEs) must be based on scientific or technical data and are called appeals. Requests for changes to the proposed map information other than the BFEs are called protests. Appeals and protests along with all supporting documentation (two copies) shall be filed within the 90 day appeal period to:

Floodplain Administrator
County of Maui, Department of Planning
250 South High Street
Wailuku, HI 96793

and shall be forwarded by the floodplain administrator to FEMA for review and action. Changes requested after the 90 day appeal period are called Letters of Map Change (LOMC) and may require an extensive application process and fees.

For a detailed listing of the proposed BFEs and information on the statutory period provided for appeals, please visit FEMA’s website at http://www.fema.gov/plans/prevent.fhm/bfe or call FEMA Map Information exchange, tool free, at 1-877-FEMA MAP.

Copies of the proposed FIRMs are available for review at the Department of Planning, 250 South High Street, Wailuku, HI 96793 or online at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat. Please contact Francis Cerizo or Carolyn Cortez at (808) 270-7253 for further information.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 9:40 a.m. HST

Baldwin Beach Park Reopened

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii -- Park maintenance workers reopened Baldwin Park in Paia at around 9:30 this morning.

Workers said waves from the tsunami flooded the parking lot and pavilion area Friday morning. Since then nearly all of the pools of salt water have evaporated except for a section of the parking lot closest to the shore. Park officials have barricaded that area until it dries out.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 7:40 a.m. HST

High Surf Advisory Still Up

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH FACING SHORES of MAUI and MOLOKAI and remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.
The High Surf Warning has been cancelled.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: Wave heights of 10 to 15 feet along north facing shores, the swell will continue through early this evening.

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

A high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 12:22 p.m. and 1:40 p.m. this afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or 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.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - March 16, 2011 6:50 a.m. HST

Foodland, Sack N Save Accepting Donations for Japan Relief

Foodland and Sack N Save stores statewide are accepting donations for the American Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan.

Company officials said customers can make a $5, $10 or $20 donation at checkout through April 3. The donation will be added to their grocery bill.

As part of the company's "Kokua Japan" campaign, customers can also donate spare change in coin canisters at checkout.

Foodland Super Market Ltd. has 32 stores on four islands and about 2,500 employees.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - March 15, 2011 8:10 p.m. HST

Governor, CD Teams Assess Damage and Recovery

Governor Neil Abercrombie visited the Big Island of Hawai'i this morning - then Maui this afternoon - to survey the damage caused by Friday's tsunami. Along the way he picked up some fresh ahi, and an even fresher sense of pride in the first responders who helped keep the people of Hawai'i safe during Friday's tsunami alert.

 

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Breaking News Archives

NEW: 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:

   
March 16 - 23, 2011

March 30 - April 16, 2010

March 19 - 30, 2010

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February 9 - 25, 2010

February 1-8, 2010

January 2010

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