Monday, December 13, 2021

Environmental fee for tourists gains ground, audit finds $2M discrepancy in Hanauma Bay funds, Maui mayor recall petition 20k signatures short, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Proposal to charge environmental fee to come to Hawaii gaining support.
There’s growing momentum for the idea of charging tourists an environmental fee to come to Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Should Hawaii Levy a Visitor Green Fee to Protect Our Environment? The idea of a fee to raise money from visitors to fund conservation and environmental management programs that benefit visitors and residents alike has been simmering in Hawaii for some time under a different name—a “visitor green fee.”  University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization blog.

The Spigot Of Federal Broadband Funding Is About To Open For Hawaii. Hawaii historically has not had access to gobs of money to expand access to broadband or upgrade service, so the volume of federal pandemic funding now headed into the state for broadband projects is nothing short of astounding. Civil Beat.

Why So Many Hawaii Families Are Opting Out Of The Public School System.
Private school enrollment rose to 33,540 as of Oct. 1, compared with 31,987 in 2020-21, according to the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. Civil Beat.

Hawaii records 5 new coronavirus-related deaths, 215 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 165 new cases on Oahu, 16 on Hawaii Island, 14 on Maui, 11 on Kauai, three on Molokai and six Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Independent Audit Alleges $2M Discrepancy In Hanauma Bay Funds. The probe is the result of efforts by a nonprofit group advocating for the Oahu nature preserve. Civil Beat.

Summer 2022 is the earliest the rail could begin partial operations, HART CEO says. But the July start depends on a number of pieces falling into place, such as fixing wheel rims that are too small for the track. That would require temporary welding. Hawaii Public Radio.

How The Red Hill Fuel System Has Threatened Oahu’s Drinking Water For Decades. Built in haste during World War II, the facility has a history of leaking despite the Navy’s assurances that it is secure. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

Navy gives inside look of cleanup efforts at Red Hill Shaft.
On Sunday, Dec. 12, the Navy allowed media to visit the affected area at Red Hill Shaft to see fuel recovery operations being done by Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One divers, as well as other contractors. KHON2. KITV4.

Straub Medical Center breaking ground on new Honolulu medical campus. Straub Medical Center, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding, is scheduled to break ground today on a future Straub “campus” that has the potential to keep local doctors, nurses and technicians in the islands, attract new ones and — perhaps more importantly — provide patients with modern facilities and technology instead of their seeking treatment on the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands lace up for highly anticipated return of the Honolulu Marathon. With early-morning fireworks and thousands of eager runners, the Honolulu Marathon made a grand return Sunday. Hawaii’s biggest road race was canceled last year like every other large-scale event over pandemic concerns. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Lawmakers react positively to Decadal Survey results. Two U.S. Congressional committees were pleased with a recent survey naming the Thirty Meter Telescope as a priority project for federal funding. Tribune-Herald.

Pololu Valley lookout plans in the air.
“How good are you at backing up?” Paul Ishikuro asks the driver trying to find a spot to park his SUV in an increasingly crowded lot overlooking scenic Pololu Valley. West Hawaii Today.

Sewage Entering Puakō Groundwater, UH Says Wastewater Treatment Plant Needed. Bacterial levels on the Puakō coastline are higher than State health standards in recreational waters fronting 81% of residential homes sampled. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

The power of flowers. The chief executive of a small but budding orchid-growing cooperative compared the company’s formation to “a phoenix rising out of the ashes.” Tribune-Herald.


Initial effort to recall the mayor falls 20,022 signatures short. Organizers will have 20 days to collect more signatures. Maui News.

DOH issues cease-and-desist, $58K fine to COVID testing clinic on Maui. Officials said NextHealth clinic had been offering COVID testing at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea since in October. DOH said about 982 people were tested at this site. Hawaii News Now.

Charter Commission Adopts Proposals for Department of Human Concerns, Bilingual Government and More. A number of proposals were approved by the Maui Charter Commission this Thursday. Some of these included a new department to separate social services from the housing department, a semi-autonomous water supply board, voting amendments that could increase the odds of ballot initiatives and charter amendments passing and mandates to create a bilingual (English and Hawaiian) government. Maui Now.

Kula Forest Storm Assessment Shows Hundreds of Trees Flattened in Storm. While fencing seems to have held up along the south slopes of Haleakalā, hundreds of trees were flattened along a road in the Kula Forest Reserve. Maui Now.


A mother’s dream becomes reality with inclusive playground. Shana Marie Cruz grew up playing at the Kamalani Playground at Lydgate Park. Garden Island.

Firework permit portal opens Dec. 15. An online portal for fireworks-permit applications opens this week, according to the Kaua‘i Fire Department. Garden Island.

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