The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.
Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories through Friday, 31 May 2013:
Hilo Medical Center faces growing deficit.
County Council postpones foreclosure legislation.
Smoking ban begins at Hilo Medical Center.
County Council delays GMO proposal.
Sulphur smell reported at PGV facility.
DETAILS (with sources cited):
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). The Hilo Medical Center is in a deep financial hole. According to Howard Ainsley, the CEO of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation’s East Hawaii Region, the Hilo Medical Center will account for almost $2 million of the state hospital system’s $7.2 million deficit predicted for next year. Ainsley tells reporter Colin Stewart that “let me tell you, there’s a financial crisis with HHSC…unquestionably, our board, and the other HHSC region boards are very, very, very concerned about how we’re going to operate going forward.”
Avery Chumbly, Chairman of HHSC’s Corporate Board, adds that by the end of the current fiscal year, Hawaii’s ‘saftety net” hospital system is looking at a $1.2 million deficit…but that’s spread across all 13 hospitals in the system, and that’s fairly minor compared to Fiscal Year 2014.”
Hospital administrators tell reporter Steward that, if those projections hold firm, “that will likely mean cuts to services or even layoffs in East Hawaii if the state doesn’t provide emergency funding.”
(Stephens Media). According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, the Hawaii County Council has decided to postpone a measure that would have permitted the county to foreclose on property when taxes are two years past due, instead of the current figure of three years.
Hawaii County Councilwoman Brenda Ford told reporter Lauer that “we’re facing a real property tax increase…that’s on the backs of people who are paying their taxes and that isn’t fair..it isn’t that I want to foreclose on people…I want them to pay their taxes.” If the council approves the new measure, the foreclosure change would add an estimated $3 million to the county treasury in two years and “as much as $6 million the following year.” Council members who oppose the measure believe people “probably don’t pay their taxes on time because they don’t have the money.”
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). Sally Ancheta, the East Hawaii coordinator for the Coalition for a Tobacco -Free Hawaii, tells reporter Colin Stewart that the ban on tobacco at all East Hawaii public health facilities “is a huge thing…it used to be…people could smoke in certain areas…in the parking lots…now, all of their campuses are tobacco-free.”
Ancheta says the tobacco ban includes “products besides cigarettes, such as cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and even electronic cigarettes, which deliver nicotine via water vapor, rather than smoke.”
Howard Ainsley, the CEO of HHSC’s East Hawaii region adds that “we’re honestly a little late coming to the dance on this…a lot of hospitals across the country made their campuses smoking free. We did take notes from West Hawaii and Maui, which did their implementation already…ultimately” it was “the right thing to do.” Ancheta says the new policy is an important first step for a health care provider, and “should be applauded.”
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). Hawaii County Council members will have some more time to consider a measure that would restrict the use of genetically modified (GMO) crops on Hawaii Island. According to reporter Tom Callis, the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee delayed consideration of the issue until 02 July after Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille introduced a “substituted” version of the GMO bill.
Council members indicated that they wanted to conduct “another round of public testimony due to the revisions and more time to consider the legislation.” Wille supported the delay, saying “I agree with the sentiment…I’m trying to be responsive and I definitely would like the feedback.”
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). A report of “a strong smell of sulfur” around midday Wednesday prompted the dispatch of Hawaii County fire and hazardous materials crews to the Puna Geothermal Venture Facility.
Battalion Chief Warren Sumida told reporter Hunter Bishop that six emergency vehicles and 11 crew members from the Pahoa engine company and the Kaumana hazardous materials unit arrived at the scene at 12:12 p.m. and “reported only a slight ‘rotten egg’ smell of sulfure in the air at the perimeter of the PGV site.”
PGV plant manager Mike Kaleikini said a maintenance pipe that was being cleared of standing water on the site “is believed to be the source of the odor…there were no equipment failures or malfunctions at the plant…it was just a maintenance exercise.”
Sumida said emergency crews completed their operation at the plant site at 2:55 p.m.
HAWAII ISLAND WEATHER THROUGH FRIDAY, 31 May 2013:
Hilo and vicinity–Cloudiness with a chance of a few scattered showers.
Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly cloudy with rain possible below Captain Cook.
Winds shifting to the east southeast, 6 to 12 mph, by Friday.
Highs near 82. Lows near 68.
Sunrise Friday–5:41 a.m. Sunset Friday–6:55 p.m. Total hours of daylight Friday–13 hours, 14 minutes, and 25 seconds.
HAWAII ISLAND TIDES FOR FRIDAY, 31 May 2013:
Hilo High Tide–9:31 a.m./9:07 p.m. Hilo Low Tide–3:24 a.m./2:36 p.m.
Kailua-Kona High Tide–10:09 a.m./9:45 p.m. Kailua-Kona Low Tide–4:01 a.m./3:13 p.m.
HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH FRIDAY, 31 May 2013:
Hapuna Beach breaks–flat. Kona and Banyans–flat to 1 foot. Ka’u and Pohoiki–2 to 4 feet. Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 3 feet. Hilo and Honolii–1 to 2 feet.
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