Monday, January 18, 2016

Marines still hold hope for survivors following collision of helicopters carrying 12; Hillary Clinton, Duke Aiona, Thirty Meter Telescope, Honolulu rail tops in polls; Maui mulls private electric utility; Kauai recycling challenged, Banyan Drive redevelopment plans; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Over the past two decades taxpayers have paid about $450 million toward the cost of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, but lawmakers were told last week the Hawaii Tourism Authority still owes almost as much for the center as when the state first started paying for it in 1995. Star-Advertiser.

The search continues for 12 missing marines after two military helicopters crashed late Thursday off O‘ahu’s north shore. Coast Guard Captain Jim Jenkins said there are no plans to call off the mission and still believes there’s hope for survivors. Hawaii Public Radio.

The search for 12 Marines who were on board two helicopters that collided off Oahu's North Shore has entered its fourth day on Monday, with rescuers scouring a widening search area in hopes of finding survivors.  Hawaii News Now.

The ongoing search for 12 Marines who are missing after two helicopters crashed off Hawaii entered the third day with no plans Sunday to call off or suspend the massive effort, the Coast Guard said. Associated Press.

Federal, state, and county officials are searching for a third day today for 12 Marines who are missing after the two helicopters they were in crashed off Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Far beyond Hawaii's shores, family and friends of the Marines refuse to give up hope. KITV4.

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Creating more affordable housing, helping the homeless and seeking greater fiscal accountability top the Legislature’s 2016 agenda.  On Friday, House and Senate leaders provided more details of their agenda this session. Civil Beat.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is clearly the most popular candidate for president among Hawaii voters early in the 2016 election season, with 35 percent of those surveyed saying they would cast their ballot for her if the election were held today, according to a new Hawaii Poll. Star-Advertiser.

A substantial majority of Hawaii residents supports the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, while a plurality opposes a convention that aims to form a Native Hawaiian government. But it’s a different story for Native Hawaiians, most of whom oppose the telescope while a narrow majority supports the Na‘i Aupuni convention, or aha. Star-Advertiser.

A state legislator is taking issue with comments made at a legislative hearing Wednesday by a top state land department official that implied the agency’s law enforcement officers need semi-automatic weapons to guard against fishermen from the Philippines and Indonesia working in local waters who may be Muslim. Civil Beat.

Opposition to NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries is growing among Hawaii residents, according to the latest Hawaii Poll. Star-Advertiser.

More people are working in Hawaii than ever before, and the additional income being generated is keeping card machines whirling. Star-Advertiser.

The final quarter of 2015 was the 24th consecutive quarter of growth in credit and debit sale transactions in Hawaii, meaning sales in the state were up 7 percent for the year, according to First Hawaiian Bank’s Business Activity Report. Pacific Business News.

Commentary: Bishop Museum is selling off land. HC&S is ending sugar operations. The University of Hawaii is shelving plans for a building in Sen. Dan Inouye’s honor. More stark reminders of what Hawaii is like without Inouye. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Former Hawaii Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona insists he has not made up his mind about running for Honolulu mayor, but the latest Hawaii Poll may give him encouragement. Aiona, who on Friday acknowledged that he is considering a run, came out on top in a three-way poll question asking registered voters whom they’d select as mayor if the election were to occur today, beating out incumbent Kirk Caldwell and the second-most powerful person at Honolulu Hale, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin. Star-Advertiser.

With nearly 300 concrete columns planted firmly in the ground from East Kapolei through Central Oahu and nearly six miles of guideway built on top of them, most Oahu residents now say they think rail construction should proceed, the latest Hawaii Poll shows. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is scheduled to leave tonight to attend the United States Conference of Mayors annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C. and to meet with federal officials on homelessness and the Honolulu rail project. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu voters might have the chance to enact meaningful police reform when they cast their ballots this November. On Friday, the Honolulu Charter Commission was supposed to make decisions on several measures that would toughen up police oversight in the city. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Candidates can start pulling papers for this year’s election in just two weeks, but who plans to run for the county’s most important seat is still a big question mark. West Hawaii Today.

A few thousand dollars here, a few thousand there. Pretty soon it starts to add up. In the case of a special County Council fund for contingencies, it adds up to $900,000. Each council member at the beginning of the fiscal year received $100,000. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Planning Director Duane Kanuha announced the state and local governments have entered into a cooperative agreement that will enact a Banyan Drive redevelopment agency, similar to the Hawaii Redevelopment Agency that helped Hilo recover following the 1960 tsunami. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County is looking to take the wheel on revitalizing Hilo’s beleaguered Banyan Drive with a new planning agency that could largely take over the state’s role in overseeing leases and development on the Waiakea Peninsula. Tribune-Herald.

Access to Waipio Valley could remain restricted for 8-12 weeks even after no new cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in the area, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense officials. Tribune-Herald.

A state-funded project to upgrade the Big Island’s largest port facility has reached its final phase. On Friday morning, state Department of Transportation officials and lawmakers broke ground on the interisland cargo terminal of Hilo Harbor’s Pier 4 project. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii state Office of Aerospace Development is anticipating that environmental assessment for Kona International Airport will be completed in the coming weeks. Pacific Business News.

Torrential summer rains knocked out construction work for several weeks, and the discovery of shabby fill material on Highway 11 sent a 500-foot retaining wall back to the drawing board to the tune of $900,000. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Homelessness, energy, public school infrastructure needs - such as cooling hot classrooms - the economy, health care issues, penal reform and perhaps even a statewide lottery are among top issues expected to confront Maui County's state lawmakers in this year's lawmaking session that kicks off Wednesday. Maui News.

An independent operator should run Maui County’s power utility — not Hawaiian Electric, according to a study of utility ownership models released on January 15. Civil Beat.

A consultant hired by the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa recommended that Maui County seek a new private entity to oversee Maui's electric grid while leaving power generation and transmission in the hands of Maui Electric Co. Maui News.

The owner of a plantation on Maui who is looking to turn the property into a development with small businesses and more than 1,400 homes expects for the project's environmental impact statement to be submitted for review this week. Hawaii News Now.

The developer of Waikapu Country Town, a development of more than 1,000 homes and acres of farmland surrounding the Maui Tropical Plantation, expects to submit the project's draft environmental impact statement to the state Land Use Commission this week. Maui News.

With approval for the site plan in hand and many procedural hurdles already cleared, the physical work on West Maui's long-awaited hospital is soon to begin. Maui News.

Kauai

Citing rising costs and inadequate funding, Reynolds Recycling is making cuts around the island. Garden Island.

The seawall fronting the Pono Kai Resort in Kapaa has been dedicated — below budget and ahead of schedule. Garden Island.

Incoming ninth-graders and their parents got a surprise recently when they learned advanced classes will not be offered at Kapaa High School next year. Garden Island.