Thursday, January 7, 2016

End of an era for Hawaii sugar as last mill to close, Hee sentenced to prison in telcom scam, Hana pier pau, Honolulu government salaries high, investment group to buy Island Air from Ellison, Hamakua Springs, Uncle Billy's shuttering, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Wendy Osher
Maui sugar mill, photo by Wendy Osher, Maui Now
The owner of the last sugar plantation in the state has decided to quit farming what was once Hawaii’s biggest crop in a move that will lead to layoffs for nearly all of the Maui farm’s 675 workers and mark the end of the long, sweet industry in the islands. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s last sugar plantation will stop growing sugar cane this year, marking the end of an industry that strongly influenced Hawaii’s politics, economy and culture for more than a century. Civil Beat.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. on Wednesday announced that it is “transitioning out of farming sugar” at its Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation on Maui to move toward diversified agriculture and will lay off nearly all of its 675 employees there. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s last sugar plantation is getting out of the sugar-growing business, signaling the end of an industry that once powered the local economy and lured thousands of immigrants to the islands. Associated Press.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. today announced that it is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company plantation on Maui. Maui Now.

The last sugar plantation in the state, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., will be phasing out of sugar by the end of the year and moving into a diversified agriculture model, parent company Alexander & Baldwin announced. Maui News.

Hawai‘i’s last sugar plantation is closing. Alexander and Baldwin announced Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company on Maui will stop producing sugar by the end of the year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Alexander & Baldwin will lay off hundreds of workers as it transitions away from farming sugar by the end of the year, it was announced Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

The year 2016 will mark the end of an era in Hawaii. After 180 years in the state, the sugar industry is shutting down. Hawaii's last remaining plantation is phasing out it's sugar operations this year. As the industry goes away, so does jobs. KITV4.

The sugar farming industry in Hawaii is coming to an end, with the last Hawaiian sugar plantation to shut down by the end of the year. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model. KHON2.

Gov. David Ige said the state plans to put in place a rapid response team to help the 645 workers at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. who will lose their jobs beginning in March. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii leaders react to the end of Hawaii's sugar era. Pacific Business News.

Albert Perez, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, commented on today’s announcement that A&B is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company plantation on Maui. Maui Now.

Generations of Maui families are feeling the body-blow of the reality that Hawaii’s last sugar plantation will close at year’s end, but not all are able to articulate those feelings. Star-Advertiser.

Those who have been waging a campaign to stop cane burning on Maui were practically euphoric Wednesday, following the announcement that sugar would be phasing out of production. Star-Advertiser.

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The Hawaii Medical Association is making recommendations for Hawaii’s nascent medical marijuana dispensary system, saying it wants doctors to have a say in the process. Civil Beat.

Nuclear Victims: Will We Help Vets Who Cleaned Up After Atomic Blasts? Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai pushes to compensate military personnel exposed to radioactive soil and debris in the Marshall Islands. Civil Beat.

Following another round of lineup changes, Na‘i Aupuni announced Wednesday that 154 people will attend the February convention to discuss Native Hawaiian self-governance. Four delegates were added to the list after Na‘i Aupuni learned that delays and failures with computer systems caused candidates to miss the deadline to sign up for the convention, or aha. Star-Advertiser.

Na‘i Aupuni announced Wednesday that 154 individuals will participate in the February ‘aha to discuss self-governance. Garden Island.

Less than three years after he bought the struggling carrier, billionaire Larry Ellison is relinquishing control of Island Air to an investor group headed by Hawaii venture capitalist Jeffrey Au. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The Hawaii Community Development Authority is facing a budget deficit because of $1.2 million in annual funding taken away after the state gave 30 acres of land in Honolulu to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a deal meant to resolve a decades-long dispute. Pacific Business News.

Businessman Albert S.N. Hee was sentenced to 46 months in prison Wednesday for seven federal tax convictions, with Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway describing Hee as a person who helped “tons of people,” but also engaged in a well-organized, long-term pattern of cheating on his taxes. Waimana Enterprises Inc. in 1995 won the exclusive license to provide telecommunications services to customers on Hawaiian home lands, and in 1996 partially assigned that authorization to Waimana subsidiary Sandwich Isles Inc. Star-Advertiser.

Businessman Albert Hee has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on charges that he took millions of dollars from his telecommunications company, Waimana Enterprises, to pay for personal expenses — including massages. Civil Beat.

Four Honolulu officials make more than $200,000 annually and another 110 earn more than $100,000. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell appears to be on pace to hit his goal of upgrading aging restrooms and playgrounds at 40 Oahu parks and has even found the resources to install new play equipment to replace broken items at an additional dozen facilities. Star-Advertiser.

It will cost taxpayers $25 million to fix the ventilation fans in the H-3 tunnels. KHON2.

It's a dispute over a dump in Nanakuli. Some neighbors in that area are filthy mad about the landfill in their backyard, and now the company in charge of the trash site wants to make the landfill larger. KITV4.

Honolulu police are cracking down on the use of illegal fireworks after the police department received a record number of fireworks-related calls leading up to 2016. Associated Press.

Development plans for the former Aiea Sugar Mill site will be tweaked to comply with federal restrictions that came with the money used to buy the property, but community stakeholders and officials continue to move forward nearly 15 years after work began on a master plan. Star-Advertiser.

The median price of a single-family home on Oahu in 2015 reached a record $700,000, an increase of 4 percent from 2014, while the median price of a condominium for the year rose 3 percent, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

It took nine years, but Oahu’s housing market finally hit a new hundred-grand level — $700,000 — for annual median prices of single-family houses. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Road projects throughout the county suffered from a 2014 lava flow emergency that drew attention and resources eastward to Puna. The County Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to return more than $2 million in lapsed gas tax revenues to the projects where they were originally intended. West Hawaii Today.

The County Council helps those who help themselves. A group raising money to fight a dengue fever outbreak in the South Kona fishing village of Milolii discovered that Wednesday, when it was awarded $5,000 from South Kona/Kʻau Councilwoman Maile David’s contingency relief fund. West Hawaii Today.

Hamakua Springs Country Farms on the Big Island of Hawaii is shutting down, its owner announced on his blog late Wednesday afternoon. The 600-acre banana and hydroponic vegetable farm in Hilo was once known for its tomatoes, which it stopped producing about two years ago. Pacific Business News.

Saddle Road is set to lose some of its last sharp curves and dangerous disposition. Road and Highway Builders, an affiliate of Texas-based Sterling Construction Co., is the low bidder on a $57 million 6-mile stretch above Hilo, and work is set to start in the next few months, the company announced. West Hawaii Today.

Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel — a fixture on Banyan Drive for half a century — will close Feb. 1. Aaron Whiting, hotel manager and grandson of founder William J. Kimi Jr., said the family exhausted its options and more as it sought to keep the aging hotel running while facing the expiration of its state land leases. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Based on feedback and input received from the Hana community, the Hawaii Department of Transportation will not proceed with the Hana Pier rehabilitation project. Instead, the pier will be removed completely. Hawaii News Now.

Don Medeiros was sworn in Wednesday morning as director of the county Department of Transportation. Maui News.

Hoapili Hale, the state 2nd Circuit Court building in Wailuku, was expected to reopen today after being closed at noon Tuesday because of a sewage water leak. Maui News.

Whale-watch tour operators and cetacean researchers and experts report that humpback whales returned to Hawaiian waters a couple of weeks later than in recent years but currently are quite plentiful and at normal numbers. Maui News.

Kauai
Potential rules governing barking dogs on Kauai underwent major renovation Wednesday as the County’s Committee of the Whole took on their current barking dog bill. Garden Island.