Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Honolulu airport rated best, DLNR chief canned for probing waste and abuse, cool schools plan falls to hot construction market, cats killing endangered petrels on Kauai, EPA closes Army cesspools, Big Island gambling sweep, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Honolulu International Airport © 2016 All Hawaii News
Honolulu International Airport is the best airport in the nation for the summer travel season, according to a new study from NerdWallet. Pacific Business News.

The state’s ambitious goal of cooling 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of the year is facing a major setback: All construction bids have come in over budget, meaning completion of the project will likely be delayed until next year, members of the Board of Education were told Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Plans to cool off classrooms throughout Hawaii have been delayed, an assistant superintendent told state Board of Education members Tuesday. The department’s initiative to add air conditioning to 1,000 classrooms has been slowed by high costs resulting from increased construction demand and a shortage of skilled labor, said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for the Office of School Facilities and Support Services. Civil Beat.

Thomas “Tommy” Friel, chief of enforcement for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said he is resigning from his position after only six months on the job because he wasn’t getting the support from above to clean up “a culture of waste, fraud and corruption” in the department. Star-Advertiser.

Just six months on the job, the new Chief of Hawaii's DLNR enforcement division is suddenly forced out. After gushing praise for conservation officer Thomas Friel at his hiring, the state has quickly changed its tune. KITV4.

Enforcement Chief Leaves DLNR. Land Board Chair Suzanne Case thanked Thomas Friel for his brief tenure but offered no explanation for the abrupt departure. Civil Beat.

Legislation establishing an industrial hemp pilot program to allow its cultivation and distribution of its seed in Hawaii for research purposes unanimously passed the Legislature last month and awaits Gov. David Ige’s signature. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has forced the Army to close 12 illegal cesspools on Oahu and the Big Island and ordered it to pay a $100,000 fine, the first time the EPA has imposed a civil penalty against a federal government facility for operating banned cesspools. Pacific Business News.

The Army has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty for operating 12 large-capacity cesspools on Oahu and Hawaii island beyond a ban that went into effect on April 5, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Army has been fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will have to close eight illegal large capacity cesspools on the Big Island. Big Island Video News.

Scientists working to prevent coral reef destruction have stumbled onto some good news. In one of the largest global studies reef studies, researchers discovered fifteen “Bright Spots” where reefs were doing better than expected. Hawaii Public Radio.

As our oceans become warmer and more acidic, scientists need to act to make sure their research spurs policies and action that can reverse environmental decline, Aulani Wilhelm told hundreds of scientists, policy makers, cultural practitioners and others Tuesday at the International Coral Reef Symposium. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The city plans to turn a four-story industrial building in Iwilei into the first all-in-one homeless project of its kind in the islands that will provide showers, laundry machines, two floors of permanent housing, and social services pertaining to mental illness and alcohol and drug abuse. Star-Advertiser.

Legal experts are weighing-in after the Honolulu Police Chief, Louis Kealoha, and his Deputy Prosecutor wife, Katherine, sued the city's Ethics Commission -- claiming they are victims of "vindictive" attacks that have damaged their professional and personal reputations. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu’s police chief and his wife say a federal grand jury targeting them can be traced in part to what they call “vindictive and illegal investigations” by the Honolulu Ethics Commission, and they’re suing to set the record straight. KHON2.

The owners of a papaya farm on Oahu are seeking help from the community in catching the thieves who struck their Punaluu property, resulting in a loss of thousands of dollars. Associated Press.

A total of 75 luxury single-family homes and condominiums on Oahu were sold during May, a drop of 13.8 percent from the 87 homes that sold for $1 million or more in May 2015, according to a report by Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

With the addition of a few ramps and rails, a Bayfront parking lot could soon double as Hilo’s only skate park. Tribune-Herald.

They gave it their best shot. But at least one organizer of a proposed Puuanahulu shooting range, after biting the bullet trying to get it built for more than a decade, said Tuesday he’s about ready to cease fire. West Hawaii Today.

Several koa-oriented initiatives are ongoing on the Big Island, including breeding disease-resistant trees and helping private landowners develop best practices for managing their own acreage. Tribune-Herald.

Four Hilo men were arrested Thursday in connection with nine search warrants served March 1 on seven Big Island establishments and two homes police say harbored illegal gambling operations. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

As Maui's affordable housing crisis mounts, local property owners said they're willing to help - but that the county also needs to adjust some of its laws on housing. Maui News.

Undeterred by early-morning rain, about 30 farmers and residents from Hana to Waihee gathered at the Honomanu bridge Saturday to protest House Bill 2501. Maui News.

Maui Medical Group, one of the island's largest health care providers, is referring 100 pregnant patients to other island doctors because its obstetrics and gynecology department will be down to one part-time physician and one nurse practitioner on Aug. 1. Maui News.

Tenants and landlords are being pointed to resources designed to prevent disputes from escalating to eviction. Maui Now.


photo courtesy Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
cat kills petrel, DLNR
Kauai

A cat was caught on camera picking off two Hawaiian Petrels last week, but researchers say the feral feline is actually responsible for recently killing six of the endangered birds. Garden Island.

Feral cats have been blamed for the recent deaths of endangered seabirds found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Associated Press.

North Shore residents and visitors will have another way to get around this summer. Kauai County received $160,000 from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to bring back the North Shore Shuttle program, said George Costa, Kauai County director of the Office of Economic Development. Garden Island.