Wednesday, June 1, 2016

University of Hawaii cleared to import zika virus, Department of Education seeks contractors for $100M school cooling project, biggest RIMPAC yet coming to Hawaii, most ocean debris not from Japan, tourism chief laments Pro Bowl loss, solar capacity varies, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Dr. Vivek Nerurkar, chairman, Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, courtesy University of Hawaii
The Board of Agriculture voted unanimously Tuesday to allow University of Hawaii scientists to import the Zika virus to Hawaii for vaccine trials, paving the way for local researchers to join the growing clamor among companies and scientists worldwide to develop methods to control the virus, which is linked to devastating birth defects in newborns. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Education has reopened its request for contractors to prequalify to bid on cooling projects, including the installation of air conditioners at public schools, as part of the state’s $100 million initiative to cool 1,000 classrooms this year. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Navy says 27 nations will participate in the world’s largest maritime exercises in coming weeks. This is an all-time high for the Rim of the Pacific exercises, which date to 1971. They drills are held every two years. Associated Press.

A study of the eight main Hawaiian Islands shows that ocean debris regularly accumulates around the archipelago, and that most of it is not linked to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, state officials said Tuesday. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
has picked up a superdelegate vote in Hawaii, but he still faces a steep uphill battle in his quest to overtake Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Industries and Florida-based NextEra Energy each have until Friday to walk away from their $4.3 billion merger deal without paying a $90 million termination fee and up to $5 million in related expenses. Civil Beat.

Oahu is half full. Maui County is 70 percent full, and the Big Island is 38 percent. That’s how close each county is to reaching its capacity for residential solar systems that can export excess power to the grid and receive credit. Star-Advertiser.

The head of Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility, had some choice words aimed at some in the solar photovoltaic industry, a sector that was once one of the fastest-growing industries in the state but has slowed since the ending of net energy metering. Pacific Business News.

Commentary: For the second time in just six years, a class action lawsuit brought by a group of retired state and county employees challenging what they say were unconstitutional cuts to their health benefits upon retirement is back before the Hawaii Supreme Court. Civil Beat.

Jimmy Borges, Hawaii’s gentleman of jazz, died Monday at age 80, having faced his recurring cancer with the same gutsy attitude that propelled him from hardscrabble Kalihi to the glittering stages of Las Vegas. Star-Advertiser

Hawaii jazz singer Jimmy Borges died of cancer Monday, two days before his 81st birthday and two days after he won four Na Hoku Hanohano awards. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association said Tuesday the departure of the NFL’s Pro Bowl for Orlando, Florida, is a black eye to the state’s sports tourism sector. Mufi Hannemann said it will be difficult to get the game to return. Associated Press.

The Pro Bowl’s relatively low return on the $5.2 million price of bringing it to Hawaii sparked years of debate about whether the money would be better spent elsewhere. According to HTA statistics, the 2016 Pro Bowl generated $26.2 million for the state’s economy, second only to the PGA Tour, which brings in $55 million. Star-Advertiser.

Planning the future of a popular Honolulu park, by looking to its historic past. Thomas Square is set to get a major makeover, but after unveiling improvements to the public -- city leaders got an earful Tuesday evening over the plans. KITV4.

Oahu’s busiest satellite city hall and driver licensing operations at City Square will relocate two blocks to the new Kapalama Hale in the coming weeks, about nine months later than originally anticipated. Star-Advertiser.

The distributor of arcade machines, deemed gambling devices by a federal judge, and two former arcade owners pleaded not guilty Tuesday to state racketeering and gambling promotion charges. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
More than two dozen people and groups filed to intervene in the Thirty Meter Telescope contested case by Tuesday’s deadline. The motions are scheduled to be considered during a June 17 hearing in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Abandoned vehicles littering the sides of Mamalahoa Highway and elsewhere throughout the island are slowly disappearing, thanks to new contracts inked last month by Hawaii County. West Hawaii Today.

A much-anticipated mauka-makai connector along Alii Drive is one step closer to reality, following final publication last month of a finding of no significant environmental impact. West Hawaii Today.

Over half of all marine debris on Hawaii Island shores is plastic, according to the results of a state wide aerial survey, and is concentrated on the southeastern tip of the island, particularly around Kamilo Point. Big Island Video News.

On Hawaii Island, 2,200 pieces of marine debris were mapped during the August to November 2015 time period. Fifty-two percent of that was plastic. Most was concentrated at Kamilo Point in Ka‘u. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Workers are concerned about the water coming out of the faucet at a school on Maui.KHON2.

The cost of the yet-to-be-built Iao water treatment plant has grown more than 43 percent from an estimated $15 million to nearly $21.5 million. Maui News.

Mayor to discuss ongoing projects.Ongoing county projects will be discussed on the TV show “Your County with Mayor Arakawa” at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Akaku Channel 55. Maui News.

Kauai

Hawaii’s voters have chosen the people they will be sending to the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer and Kauai has a few of her own who will be visiting the mainland to cast their votes. Garden Island.

The waters in the United States are relatively safe for swimming, according to the 2015 Clean Water Report released Thursday by the Surfrider Foundation. Garden Island.

Marine debris on the coastlines of Hawaii is predominately plastic, according to an aerial survey of the eight main Hawaiian Islands. On Kauai, the imagery analysis identified 2,878 pieces of marine debris. Nearly half of it was plastic, and most of the debris was concentrated on the eastern shores of the island. Garden Island.

Molokai

The Department of Hawaiian Home Land's refusal to pay a $15,000 bill could wind up costing taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars. Back in July, the DHHL hired Red Dirt Construction to build a dirt road through six miles of rugged terrain in Hoolehua on Molokai. Hawaii News Now.

Niihau

More discarded plastic, stray fishing nets and other marine debris is washing up on Niihau than on any of the other eight main Hawaiian Islands, according to a recent, first-of-its-kind study by state officials. Star-Advertiser.