(AP). U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye is home from Washington, D.C., for a visit to the Big Island. The Hawaii Democrat will make three public appearances today. He will attend the dedication of a new fleet of Hawaii County buses and the dedication of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Hawaii National Guard Armory at the Hilo International Airport. Then he will travel to the groundbreaking of the Ane Keohokalole Highway, a $35 million project paid for with economic stimulus money. The new highway, also known as the Mid-Level Road, will be the firs road project built by the county in Kona since 1959.
Members of the Hawaii County Council are suggesting several ways to help close the budget gap for the county. Among the ideas being discussed are the elimination of more vacant positions, encouraging early retirement, and seeking more federal money. Mayor Billy Kenoi told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” his budget represents a shared sacrifice and “we need to lead by example.” The mayor said landowners and the 45 musicians who staff the county’s two bands will be asked to sacrifice, since the “County of Hawaii will collect no more than it did last year.”
County Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald and Dodo Mortuary representative Gavin Kaisen tell the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that they want to place proper headstones for approximately 20 unmarked graves in Hilo’s two veterans cemeteries. Kaisen says some of the unmarked graves date back to the 1950s. Families who believe they have a deceased veteran buried without a headstone should call Dodo Mortuary at 935-5751.
Police are investigating a burglary that occurred on March 18th at a Kapaau business, resulting in the loss of merchandise valued at more than $300. A video surveillance camera was able to take a phot of the suspected thief, who was dressed in black and was wearing a mask. Those with any leads should call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.
(AP). The state Department of Human Resources will close 31 offices and lay off 228 employees under its “modernization plan.” The department says the plan will save $8 million a year. The layoffs are effective June 30th. The 31 offices will be replaced by two new processing centers in Honolulu and Hilo. The offices should be operational by October 1st.
The Hilo Medical Center is observing National Doctors’ Day today. Howard Ainsley, the East Hawaii Regional CEO of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, says the purpose of the observance is to recognize the tremendous contributions doctors make to our community every day of the year.
(AP). The Hawaii Senate’s financial planners are proposing taking about $45 million in hotel tax money from the counties to help balance the state budget. The Senate Ways and Means Committee included the hotel tax scoop provision in its version of the $10 billion state budget, which passed unanimously yesterday. Democratic committee chairwoman Senator Donna Mercado Kim says she would not raise the general excise tax paid on most transactions in the state.
(AP). Illegal cockfighting in Hawaii would be recognized for its cultural merits under a resolution approved by a state House committee. The House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Commmittee passed the resolution 4-2 yesterday, advancing it to the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution doesn’t have the force of law, and it wouldn’t legalize cockfighting, which is a misdemeanor under state law.