Friday, January 28, 2022

Hawaii safest state in COVID-19 pandemic, Honolulu to drop indoor gathering restrictions, entangled whale freed off Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Report: Hawaii safest state in COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaii is the safest state in the nation to weather the coronavirus, according to a study released Thursday by the online credit reporting company WalletHub. West Hawaii Today.

DLNR expects to bring in $12M from park fees by the end of the fiscal year. Funding to improve and manage Hawaiʻi's natural resources should be getting a boost this year, thanks to increased visitor fees at some popular parks and trails. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bill would unite state law enforcement under Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Senate Bill 3139 would “consolidate and administer the criminal law enforcement and investigations functions of the Department of Transportation, certain investigations functions of the Department of the Attorney General, functions of the Office of Homeland Security, and current law enforcement and investigations functions of the Department of Public Safety.” Star-Advertiser.

Should OHA Get A Bigger Share Of Hawaii’s Public Land Revenues? The ceded land revenues, which make up a significant chunk of OHA’s annual budget, go to fund programs for Hawaiian beneficiaries. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is again asking the Legislature for a greater share of revenue generated by lands formerly held by the Hawaiian Kingdom. Civil Beat.

Hawaii hotel workers rally for bill to eliminate tax exemption. About 150 members of the Unite Here Local 5 union participated in the effort urging the Legislature to end what the union calls a tax loophole for real estate investment trusts, or REITs. Hawaii lawmakers have considered bills to amend state tax policy on REITs every year since 2014 but haven’t had a single bill become law. Star-Advertiser.

Training begins for Hawaii’s next community and political leaders. The first group of 30 emerging leaders who want to play bigger roles in their island communities — including political candidates and the newest member of the state House — began their first day of a 15-week training program Thursday night. The program called “Partners for Democracy” is backed by Pacific Resource Partnership, a nonprofit organization that represents the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and more than 240 Hawaii contractors. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii schools chief search extended 2 months. Hiring a state superintendent of Hawaii’s public schools is taking about two months longer than originally planned. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii records 10 new coronavirus-related deaths, 2,380 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 1,424 new cases on Oahu, 375 on Hawaii Island, 337 on Maui, 161 on Kauai, seven on Molokai, 16 on Lanai and 60 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Mayor Blangiardi to drop large indoor gathering restriction, no booster requirement being discussed. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he’ll drop the 50% capacity limit for indoor events on Monday, Jan. 31. KHON2.

Attorney: Ex-City Budget Director Can Prove Donna Leong’s Innocence. The $250,000 retirement payment to disgraced police chief Louis Kealoha was done legally, Leong’s attorney says. Civil Beat.

Navy says it will release investigation into cause of Red Hill water contamination. The Navy says it will release its full investigation into what caused the fuel contamination in its drinking water system, clawing back a statement it released earlier this week that said only a summary of the report’s conclusions would be released to the public. Star-Advertiser.

Water From Contaminated Red Hill Well Will Be Treated, Discharged Into Halawa Stream. As the Navy works to clean up the mess, pressure is building to shut down the Red Hill facility permanently. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

As criticism mounts, police commission eyes ways to speed up chief selection process. It’s already been almost eight months since Susan Ballard retired and it could easily be a full year before HPD’s next leader is chosen. Hawaii News Now.

Applications to open for new affordable rental complex in Honolulu. Starting Feb. 1, applications will be accepted for an affordable rental complex at the site that used to house Honolulu’s juvenile detention center. The affordable housing project “Hale Kalele” is on Piikoi Street and will be near the future rail line. Hawaii News Now.

State to offer federally funded mortgage aid. The state has launched a program funded by the federal government to assist about 1,000 Oahu homeowners hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and who may be in jeopardy of losing their homes. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hilo Medical Center over capacity; 36 FEMA-funded medical workers assist. Hilo Medical Center is over capacity and has opened 24 additional beds in its extended care unit to accommodate more patients. Tribune-Herald.

Seven students arrested following large affray sparked by racial remarks at Pahoa High. No one was seriously injured Wednesday morning when a large-scale fracas broke out on the Pahoa High School campus, but an 18-year-old man and six juveniles — all students — were arrested, according to police. Tribune-Herald. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Big Island Now. KITV4.

Box Jellyfish Reported At Spencer Beach, Other West Hawaiʻi Spots. State and county officials issued a rare “Ocean Safety” message on Thursday afternoon, warning beachgoers of box jellyfish along West Hawaiʻi shores. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Maui

Kapalua mansion owner claims to fight ‘noise pollution’ in Cliff House controversy. Questions over shoreline access and public versus private jurisdiction have bubbled to the surface in a controversy that pits a wealthy blockchain entrepreneur against many who frequent the popular Cliff House swimming spot in Kapalua. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Community comes together to restore Haiku playground. Kalakupua Playground reopened over weekend following renovations. Maui Now.

Entangled humpback whale freed of 140 feet of line and gear off Ukumehame, Maui
. An entangled yearling humpback whale was freed of gear by a NOAA-led team of trained responders off Ukumehame, Maui on Wednesday.  Maui Now. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

EPA fines Koloa real-estate company, citing illegal cesspool. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has fined real estate firm Hale Kaua‘i $40,000, after finding a large-capacity cesspool at the company’s Waikomo Road property, which operates as Hardware Hawai‘i. Garden Island.

COVID test giveaways continue, 222 new cases Thursday.
The county anticipated a large turnout for its distribution of at-home COVID-19 tests in Kapa‘a, and that anticipation was right. Garden Island.

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