Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Teaching telescope to be idled, Mauna Kea access restricted as Hawaii prepares for Thirty Meter Telescope, VA promises improvements, Honolulu bird limit ruffles feathers, GOP hosts first fundraiser, Hawaii worst place to make a living, geothermal exploration expands, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy University of Hawaii
Hoku Kea telescope, courtesy University of Hawaii
Under pressure to reduce astronomy’s footprint on Mauna Kea, the University of Hawaii at Hilo plans to remove its Hoku Kea teaching telescope after wasting nearly $800,000 in federal grants on the project. Tribune-Herald.

The state is proposing to restrict public access to a large portion of Mauna Kea’s summit — the site of recent protests against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. The Department of Land and Natural Resources drafted new “emergency rules” that would “protect against imminent peril to public safety and natural resources,” according to documents posted Monday on the department’s website. Tribune-Herald.

A new set of administrative rules could restrict use of and access to a one mile area near the Mauna Kea Access Road. The Board of Land and Natural Resources will vote on the proposed administrative rule changes during its Friday meeting on Oahu. Big Island Video News.

The local Republican Party hosted its first fundraiser for the 2016 election last week. It was a sell-out and party leaders say this is only the beginning.  Hawaii Public Radio.

The U.S. Secretary of Labor and the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs are in Hawaii to find out what issues our local veterans are facing – this time it’s jobs. KITV4.

Acknowledging the "crisis" last year over long patient wait times, the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said the agency is "making progress, we're making improvements, but we're not where we need to be yet." Star-Advertiser.

Doctors Angle to Make Extra Money From Elite Access. A new concierge system offers access to quality care only to Hawaii patients who pay a premium, which places strain on other primary care doctors. Civil Beat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday said abnormally warm waters that threaten the spread of major heat stress to Hawaiian reefs are likely to return. Garden Island.

A pair of Oahu-based shark experts — Kim Holland and Carl Meyer — are working on an analysis of shark behavior in Hawaiian waters. The report is expected to be released by the end of the year. Holland said he and Meyer are staying tight lipped on the subject until their report is finished. Garden Island.

Struggling members of Hawaii’s middle class aren’t imagining it: Hawaii really has become a very tough place to get by. In fact, it is the nation’s worst place to earn a living, according to a recently released money-rates.com survey. Civil Beat.

47 Years Later, Hawaii Senator Meets Birth Mother. Sen. Glenn Wakai reunited with Yoko Boughton, who lives in Okinawa. Civil Beat.

Sixteen medical marijuana dispensaries will open in Hawaii for the first time on July 15, 2016, but only eight license applications will be granted in the state. Pacific Business News.

Henk Rogers, the entrepreneur who made "Tetris" famous, announced Monday the launch of a new company that offers batteries for rooftop solar systems and a way to disconnect from the electric grid, something he says more Hawaii residents will want if NextEra Energy Inc. becomes their electric company. Star-Advertiser.

More than 20 years ago, video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers popularized “Tetris,” a strategic game that requires players to make efficient use of alternating puzzle pieces as they perpetually fall from the sky. Now, the 61-year-old hopes the work he’s been doing at his energy lab on the Big Island will help provide the pieces to solve a much more complex puzzle — energy independence. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

A bill that requires Oahu residents with 10 or more birds on a residential property to get a permit has some bird enthusiasts crying foul. Star-Advertiser.

The company that runs the city's landfill will not contest charges in a federal case involving the discharge of millions of gallons of contaminated stormwater into the ocean near Ko Olina Resort. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii residents would buy more local eggs if they could find them — and they’re willing to pay a premium for freshness, a recent food sustainability survey shows. That finding meshes nicely with plans for a solar-powered egg farm in central Oahu that would start with 300,000 hens and possibly expand to 1 million egg-layers. Civil Beat.

The limited supply of single-family homes on Oahu pushed the median price to $700,000 in June, tying the record set a year ago and placing homeownership out of reach for many first-time buyers. Star-Advertiser.

The number of condominiums sold on Oahu in June jumped by 22 percent even as the median sales price fell 6 percent compared to the same time last year, while the median price of a single-family home remained flat as the number of sales rose 7 percent, the Honolulu Board of Realtors said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

A week into Oahu's plastic bag ban, some folks are wondering why so many plastic bags are still being given out at island grocery checkout stands. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

After obtaining permits in March to begin exploring for geothermal energy under the dormant Hualalai volcano, researchers with the University of Hawaii are looking to more than double the number of survey sites included in the project. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Opinion: News that the organization Stop Cane Burning filed a lawsuit in the state’s new Environmental Court against the state Department of Health over–you guessed it–cane burning has moved at least one legislator to offer some proposals for weaning Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) off of the dirty, archaic method of harvesting sugar. And I wasn’t surprised to see that the legislator is state Representative Kaniela Ing, D–South Maui. MauiTime.

Kauai

The Kauai Police Department has completed its investigation into the January death of a pedestrian who was struck by a car and then struck a second time by a police officer who was responding to the scene. Garden Island.

Kahoolawe

At least two jobs will be saved and around five volunteer trips to Kahoolawe will be secured as the state Department of Health recently extended its restoration project for the cash-strapped Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, which is facing layoffs and program cuts in light of a budget shortfall. Maui News.