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Hawaii Island News, 13 March 2010


(AP).  Firefighters are battling a Big Island brushfire that has burned more than 600 acres near Waimea and forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods.  Fire officials say 40 mph wind gusts caused the fire to spread rapidly.  Residents were evacuated from Kawaihae Village and Kawaihae Transition Homes.  Hawaii County Civil Defense has set up emergency shelters at Waimea Community Center and Waikoloa Elementary School.  Three helicopters are dousing the flames along with five fire companies, three volunteer companies, and several watrer tankers.  Four bulldozers are creating firebreaks to stop the flames from spreading.  Hawaii County Fire Department spokesman Glenn Honda says the fire wasn’t contained as of late last night, but it also wasn’t spreading.

The state House of Representatives has passed an amendment that gives the counties the ability to enact tighter restrictions on fireworks.  According to the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, Hawaii County Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira also asked that legislators support random inspections of shipping containers as well as either a state-wide ban or a “Home Rule” option allowing counties to determine the potential hazards for themselves.

The Hawaii County Charter Commission has advanced several amendments, including a one percent land fund.  At its meeting Friday in Hilo, the commission voted to send the measure in a report to the Hawaii County Council with others that have passed a second reading.  According to the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, if the 1 percent proposal makes it to the November election ballot, there may be a risk of confusion over how it relates to the current 2 percent land fund measure approved by voters in 2006.

Lono Tyson, one of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s first appointments in 2008, is resigning as director of Environmental Mangement.  Tyson’s resignation is effective June 30th.  Tyson told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that “family was a large consideration…family was the main reason I moved to Australia in 2005.”  Tyson said his last few months in office will focus on drafting the department’s budget.

The Hawaii House of Representatives has passed a draft of the state budget which includes over $204 million in capital improvement projects for Hawaii Island.  Among the projects selected for support include $31 million for the UH-Hilo Hawaiian Language Building, $48 million for improvements to the Interisland Cargo Terminal at Hilo Harbor, $40 million for terminal improvements at the Kona International Airport, $15  million for the Kawaihae Road Bypass, and $10.7 million for improvemetns at Hilo and Waiakea High Schools.  The House bill now goes to the State Senate for its review.

The World Triathlon Corporation’s decision to reduce the number of Ironman qualification slots for Big Island residents has local triathletes questioning the race owners’ committment to Hawaii Island.  Triathlete Daniel Hodel told “West Hawaii Today” that he left a meeting with Ironman World Championship Race Director Diana Bersch  worried and concerned about local participation.  Bersch said Hodel misinterpreted her remarks to the community at large.  Bersch said the race organization gives a lot back to the West Hawaii Community besides racing slots.

Plans for a South Kona police station may be drailed by lack of funds.  Department of Public Works Director Warren Lee tells “West Hawaii Today” that Hilo-based Fleming and Associates is expected to submit its completed design and environmental assessment for the station by the end of the year.  However, Lee says he can’t provide a time frame for the bidding process because no funding has been secured in the the 2010-2011 budget.

Bay Clinic’s Mobile Dental Van will be moving from Naalehu to Pahoa on April 6th.  For the first two weeks, the van will be operating on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  But after the first two weeks, the van will be open Tuesday through Friday during the same hours.  The van will be located behind the Pahoa Family Health Center off Pahoa Village Road.  For details, call the Bay Clinic at 961-4080.

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