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Hawaii Island News, 18 February 2010


The Hawaii County Salary Commission tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that salaries for members of the County Council will be frozen until further notice.  Commissioner Margaret Tokunaga says current economic conditions don’t justify granting raises when a council member starts a new two-year term.

Those supporting the conversion of Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School into a public charter school have a rough road ahead.  Alvin Parker, teh chariman of the state Charter School Review Panel, tells teh “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that his panel has not accepted any applications this year and does not plan to do so until the close of the legislative session.  Charter proponents worry that they may lose the remainder of nearly a half million dollars in federal grants if the state does not lift a suspension on the review of charter applications.

A Fern Acres man who alleges police misconduct during a 2007 search of his home was sentenced on Thursday to 30 days in jail.  According to the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, Judge Greg Nakamura also sentenced David Tatum to five years probation and ruled that he can serve his term on weekends, beginning February 26th.  As part of a plea bargaining arrangement, Tatum pleaded no contest to second degree commercial promotion of marijuana and third degree promotion of a detrimental drug.

A University of Wisconsin study says Hawaii County is the state’s least healthy county.  Alice Silbanuz, the public education coordinator for the state Department of Health, tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” one weighing against Hawaii is the county’s high motor vehicle death rate.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi wants to combine three county agencies into a new transportation department under a restructuring plan he will submit on March 1st.  The mayor tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that his plan would turn the Mass Transit Agency into a full department on July 1st.  The proposed department would include the Automotive Division of the Public Works Department and the Elderly Activities Division of the Parks and Recreation Departmen.

Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona tells “West Hawaii Today” that Hawaii County is set to receive $2.1 million from the state to stop underage drinking.  The money is part of a 2006 federal grant awarded to the state to address underage drinking.  A spokesman says community organizations in each county will decide how the funding will be spent.  Hawaii ranks fourth in the nation for alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths.

Marvin Feldman, an economist with San Francisco-based Resource Decisions, tells “West Hawaii Today” that a recent study shows Kona coffee farmers are losing up to $14.4 million in revenue each year to corporate marketers of 10 percent Kona coffee blends.  Feldman says local growers experience no benefit from blending as it is now practiced.  The economist also says that current Hawaii law results in a partial transfer of profit from growers to blenders and from in-state to out-of-state interests.

Notice to motorists:  On Saturday, February 20th, there will be a partial road closure of Lihiwai Street from Kelipio Place, starting at the one-way to makai of the “Isles” parking entrance from 6 a.m. to 12 noon.  The closure is necessary to accommodate participants in the 13th Annual Hilo Heart Walk and Health Fair.  Motorists are advised to observe and obey all traffic signs.  For details, call the American Heart Association at 961-2825.

An important Town Meeting on the future of Puna is set for Friday, March 5th, 5 p.m., at the Puna Hongwanji in Kea’au.   The purpose of the meeting is for community leaders, county and state officials, and concerned citizens to address some of the pressing social, economic, health, safety, and governance issues facing the community.  For more information, call 974-7421

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