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Hawaii Island News, 27-28 December 2009


(AP).  Hawaii plans to hunt feral goats, sheep, and other invasive species from helicopters next month to protect the habitat of the endangered Palila bird.  State offiicals say they’ll close the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and Kaohe Game Management Area on January 26-27 while shooters fire at the animals from the air.    Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available for salvage by permit only.  For details, call 974-4221 or 887-6063.

Jack Matsui, the man largely responsible for training some of the best fighters to ever enter the ring in the Big Island and Japan tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” he is hanging up his boxing promotion gloves because of decling health and his need for a wheelchair.  Matsui helped train the Japanese boxing team for the 1998 Seoul Olympics and was involved in a wide range of youth athletic programs on Hawaii Island.  Matsui was also a founding father of the Big Island Athlete of the Month program.

(AP).  Images of President Barack Obama celebrating a warm Christmas in Hawaii may give a boost to the state’s visitor industry.  Officials say they don’t expect the president’s visit to attract tourists immediately, but it’s providing free advertising for a financially struggling state that relies on travelers to keep its economy afloat.

The Christmas shoppping season closed out the year with mixed results for many Hawaii Island merchants.  Susan Miyagi, the manager of Sugar Coast CAndy in downtown Hilo, told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that her sales did well with many last minute shoppers.  However, many of those selling craft items at the Hilo Farmers Market attributed their lackluster sales to December rains and flooding which kept many visitors away from their Hilo Bayfront stalls.

The reconstruction of the Keaukaha Military Reservation near the Hilo International Airport is progressing well, with completion of the project expected by January 2011.  Lt. Colonel Chuck Anthony of the state of Hawaii Department of Defense tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that the project is about 40 percent complete.  Anthony says the final work will be a challenge because it’s time consuming putting up walls and doors.  The construction project is an outgrowth of efforts to consolidate Army and Air Force National Guard activities under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act.

Hawaii Island fire crews have contained a Christmas blaze that burned around 25 acres of land at the Yee Hop Ranch in the Kau District.  The fire has been confined to kipuka surrounded on three sides by lava flows.  According to a Fire Department press release, the ranch is about five miles above the 90-mile marker of Highway 11.  There have been ho reported injuries or structural damage.

(AP).  The state’s plan to convert Kulani prison into an academic and military training camp for teenagers is being delayed a year.  The Hawaii National Guard says program employees must receive a full year of training before they begin working with students.  Guard officials also need to wait for federal funding to be approved for the new camp.  The Guard now aims to welcome its first class of 100 students at Kulani in early 2011.  The state shut down Kulani prison in October as part of broader government-wide spending cuts to cope with declining tax revenues.