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Hawaii Island News, 24 January 2012 through 25 January 2012

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Here are some of the stories I’m tracking through Wednesday, 25 January 2012:

Governor Abercrombie says it’s time to “seize the moment”; Hawaii Island could gain a fourth state senate seat; hunters protest land restrictions.

Sources cited include the Associated Press, the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald“, Stephens Media, and the Hawaii County Police Department.

GOVERNOR ABERCROMBIE FOCUSES ON JOBS AND EDUCATION IN THE STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

(Associated Press).  Governor Neil Abercrombie told the state Legislature on Monday that it’s time to move forward and leave behind the drama of the recent past, saying lawmakers have an opportunity to maintain economic momentum, bolster education, and help provide older Hawaii residents better access to long-term support.  In his annual State of the State address, Governor Abercrombie said Hawaii’s economic recovery has been steady over the past year and that there were several positive signs, including growth in visitor arrivals and expenditures, increased general excise tax revenue and a decline in initial unemployment claims.  Abercrombie said it was critical for lawmakers to continue the positive thrust acheieved through the labor savings and budget cuts that got the state through a period of weak tax revenues.  To further bolster Hawaii’s economic recovery, a primary focus will be placed on the construction industry, where nearly $2.3 billion in pending projects and a recent bond and refinancing sale will combine to spur immediate job creation.  Early in his speech, Abercrombie addressed the contentious contract negotiated with the Hawaii State Teachers Association, saying he will continue to press the union for an agreement, and , in the meantime, will continue to focus on progress under the “Race to the Top” program.

HAWAII ISLAND COULD GAIN ANOTHER STATE SENATE SEAT

(Stephens Media).  The Hawaii Supreme Court wants the state Reapportionment Commission to get out of court and get back to work.  According to Reapportionment Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks, the terse court order clears the way for a fourth state senator from Hawaii Island.  Marks said she’s heard people from around the state ask tht the commission not change their particular state House or Senate districts as the maps are redrawn.  Marks said, “there are changes in the numbers, so it’s invevitable the lines are going to move.”  The commission and the state chief election officer had requested “reconsideration and/or clarification” following a 06 January opinion telling the commission it must remove nonpermanent military and students before allocating the number of state senators and representatives to each island unit.  The court ruling followed lawsutis from Hawaii state Senator Malama Solomon, members of the Hawaii County Democratic Party, and Kailua-Kona attorney Michael Matsukawa, who said he filed the suit on behalf of Hawaii Island residents.  The commission plans to meet Monday to work on new maps mandated by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

HUNTER PROTEST RESTRICTIONS

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  On Monday, about 20 hunters and their supporters took to the street to protest a state plan to ban hunting within 4,800 acres of public forest located south of Hilo.  Feeling their way of life is being threatened, the demonstrators held pro-hunting signs and waved at motorists, while they met outside the state’s Forestry and Wildlife Division headquarters on Kilauea Avenue.  The demonstration was peaceful with passing drivers giving an occasional honk  as they passed through the area.  Earlier this month, the state released a 15-year management plan that calls for installing 17 miles of fencing to keep pigs, goats, and sheep out of four mangement areas above the 3,300-foot elevation level.  Ken Mohica, a lifelong hunter from Fern Acres, said the plan is “not about hunting”, noting that closing of the hunting areas will leave too little land to sustain the activity.  Mohica siad, “they’re taking away all the prime hunting areas right now with this fencing project…I feel theyhave enough area fenced off already where they can save their plants.”  Mountain View hunter John Friffiths, who helped organize the protest, said “we’re just the people of Hawaii.  We’re just trying to get together to stop these land-grabs.”

ANTI-DRUNK INTERLOCKS BECOMING A HUGE SUCCESS

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  The Hawaii Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is calling the first year of the tate’s ignition interlock law a success.  The statute, which took effect on 01 January 2011, allows first-time DUI offfenders to drive legally after installing a device that prevents their cars from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol is 0.02 percent or higher, one-quarter of the state’s DUI threshold.  Arkie Koehl, MADD’s volunteer chairman, said he’s “absolutely delighted and overwhelmed”, saying, “we didn’t expect anything like this.”  Koehl said the mainland interlock expert, Dick Roth, predicted the county would be lucky to get about 100.  As it turned out, Hawaii has grown faster in interlock installations in the first year of the law than any other state in the country.

MAN CHARGED IN ROBBERY CASE

(Hawaii County Police Department).  Police have charged a 22-year-old Kailua-Kona man with 11 offenses for allegedly robbing a business in Kaloko Business Center V and the Keauhou Store earlier this month.  James Kekai Hao was charged with two counts of robbery and theft, three counts of terroristic threatening, and single counts of kidnapping, assault, property damage, and marijuana possession.  Hao’s bail was set at $80,500 and he was held in the Kona police cellblock pending his intitial appearance Monday in Kona District Court.

MOTORIST’S ADVISORY

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald/U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii).  Oahu-based military units will convoy from the Pohakuloa Training Area to Kawaihae Harbor on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. via the Saddle Road, the Mamalahoa Highway, Waikoloa Road, the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, and the Akoni Pule corridor.  The convoys include large military vehicles, some with trailers.  Motorists are advised to be alert and drive with caution.  For details, call 969-2427.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAWAII ISLAND FORECAST THROUGH WEDNESDAY, 25 January 2012:

Hilo and vicinity–Hazy sunshine mixed with a few windward showers.  A few showers at night.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Mostly sunny and hazy.  A few upslope showers by late afternoon.

Highs near 79.  Lows near 64.  Winds shifting to the southeast by Wednesday, 8 to 16 mph.  Sunrise Wednesday–6:57 a.m.

KBIG-FM/NATIVE-FM HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH WEDNESDAY, 25 January 2012:

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat to 1 foot.  Kona and Banyans–1 to 2 feet.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–6 to 7 feet.  Hamakua–5 to 6 feet.  Hilo and vicinity–1 to 2 feet.

For the latest in community events, sports updates, and entertainment news, visit kbigfm.com, nativefm.com, kaparadio.com, and espnhawaii.com.  For more state and local stories, go to the righthand sidebar under “Hawaii 24/7”.

Thanks for joining us today!

Russ Roberts, editor

Laupahoehoe, Hawaii–along the beautiful Hamakua Coast.

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