Monday, August 5, 2013

Hawaii children head back to school, Schatz, Hanabusa differ on Medicare, UH applicants have military ties, GMO debate hurting papaya farmers, Fukushima children visit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii schoolchildren (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
It's back to school for most of Hawaii's public school students. The new school year for students begins Monday. Teachers headed back to the classroom last week. Hawaii is the nation's 10th largest school system and the only statewide district in the country. Associated Press.

As the new school year kicks off today, more than 180,000 public school students face new, more rigorous academic standards in language arts and math as Hawaii and about 40 other states roll out what's known as the Common Core standards. Star-Advertiser.

Back in April, the Hawaii State Teachers Association ratified a new four-year deal that includes annual pay raises tied to performance evaluations. It's the pilot year for the new grading system and HSTA head Wil Okabe says members are eager to move forward. Hawaii News Now.

With the first day of school right around the corner, "big changes" in how teachers, students and schools are evaluated will go into effect statewide Monday, state Department of Education officials said. Maui News.

Hanabusa, Schatz differ on Medicare drug rebates. The senator and his challenger, who generally share the same views, disagree on this matter of policy. Star-Advertiser.

A program that would help fly homeless people in Hawaii back to the mainland is being greeted with skepticism by the state's human services officials and groups that help the homeless. A provision allowing the state Department of Human Services to coordinate a voluntary "return-to-home" program is included in a new state law. The department said it doesn't have any plans to implement the program at this time, but publicity surrounding it has officials worried nonetheless. Associated Press.

Three of the five finalists being considered to head the University of Hawaii's research efforts, including the UH initiative to create a $1 billion-per-year research industry in the state by 2022, have close ties to the military. Civil Beat.

Six children who lived through the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl are on their way to Oahu for play and respite after a longer stop on Hawaii island. The children, who were affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, landed on Hawaii island June 24 and will visit Oahu from Aug. 16 to 20. Star-Advertiser.

The more than $50 million in salaries and other benefits paid to around 350 non-academic staff have caught the attention of prominent legislators who say they’re concerned Hawaii’s only state university is becoming too administratively top heavy. Hawaii Reporter.

Official language unusable for official business? Native Hawaiian speaker says restrictions on language. KITV4.

This year’s Made in Hawaii Festival will feature more than 100 new vendors, an indication the annual event is growing in popularity. Associated Press.

What was Tropical Storm Gil has weakened to a depression as another storm behind it intensified into Tropical Storm Henriette this morning and could become a hurricane in two to three days. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for August 5. Associated Press.

Oahu

Residents in Nuuanu Valley form a co-op to share their garden bounty and to nurture a neighborhood. Star-Advertiser.

A report ordered by Congress on the Pearl Harbor cruiser USS Port Royal shows that the ship's condition is not as bad as the Navy portrayed in its attempts to retire it early to save money. Star-Advertiser.

Mahealani Richardson, a longtime news anchor for KITV News This Morning, is leaving the Honolulu ABC affiliate to do public relations for Shriner’s Hospital. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

About 70 showed up Sunday afternoon at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences to discuss the state Department of Education’s decision on Friday to discontinue bus service for students of the Pahoa public charter school. Tribune-Herald.

Ohana Ho`opakele, the group seeking to create a pu’uhonua at the soon to be reinstated Kulani Correctional Facility, has filed a complaint challenging the state’s Final Environmental Assessment on the reactivation of the prison. Big Island Video News.

Papaya Nightmares: A Farmer Struggles Amid Hawaii's GMO Debate. The fruit still clings to the branches on this 100-acre papaya farm because sales have plummeted in recent weeks, says the owner, Alberto Belmes, and the fruit is likely to rot where it is. Civil Beat.

Amid an impassioned debate about legislation that aims to restrict genetically modified crops on the Big Island, Civil Beat's Brad Watanabe and Sophie Cocke traveled to the Puna district to check out the papaya fields and talk to the fruit's savior. Civil Beat.

A new bill would make it easier for farmers markets to be set up in private subdivisions. Introduced by Puna Councilman Zendo Kern, the legislation allows homeowner associations to establish markets without obtaining a special use permit. Tribune-Herald.

An expanding swap meet is a growing source of contention in Ocean View. Ocean View Partners LLC filed in March for a new special permit for their farmers market, referred to more often as a swap meet. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The local variety of pineapple known as Maui Gold was almost lost when Maui Land & Pineapple Co. decided to cease its century-old pineapple production in 2009. However, thanks to a handful of the industry's "old-timers" - including former Maui Pineapple Co. President Doug Schenk, who lobbied with other executives to start their own pineapple business on Maui - residents, visitors and pineapple lovers may still enjoy one of the island's sweetest icons. Maui News.

Maui County is seeking bids from contractors for a project to install a street crossing and sidewalks to help students from Kamalii Elementary School walk safely to school in Kihei. Maui News.

Roberts Hawaiʻi celebrated the launch of its new Maui Airport Shuttle on Thursday, officially taking over management of the contract for the walk-up service in Kahului. Maui Now.

Kauai

A mostly residential North Shore town is at a loss on how to handle a lack of public restrooms, and the problem is escalating as more visitors are attracted to a growing commerce in the area. Garden Island.