Monday, October 9, 2023

Maui reopens for tourism as island grapples with $31M deficit, state struggles with 50-year-old computer system, real income drops, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

West Maui reopens for tourists exactly 2 months after devastating wildfires. This comes as the governor says hotel occupancy for the month of October and the following months is expected to be very low, despite officially welcoming back visitors back to the island. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. KHON2. KITV4.

Bringing them home: Hawaii’s future doctors set their sights on working in the isles. Despite the high costs of living and myriad challenges in Hawaii, many of the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine’s current students and graduates say, given the opportunity, they want to practice here and give back to their community. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Is Still Struggling To Modernize A 50-Year-Old Computer And Financial Data Systems. The state has scrapped a major computer accounting contract with a mainland vendor after spending millions of dollars on the project. Now, it’s wrestling with the same vendor over a second multimillion-dollar contract, according to state records and administration officials. Civil Beat.

Real Household Income In Hawaii Dropped Significantly In Last 3 Years. High inflation and a slower economic recovery in the state slashed the real median household income in the state by about 9% -- twice the national average. Civil Beat.

Drought conditions have become extreme.  High pressure northwest of the state will slowly track east during the first half of the week, allowing the return of breezy trades with minor fluctuations through mid-week.  KHON2. Tribune-Herald.

State warns of suspicious solicitations for Maui fire relief. For the third time since deadly Aug. 8 wildfires ravaged Lahaina, the state is asking local residents to be wary of suspicious fundraising solicitations. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.


2 Honolulu City Council members respond to Big Tobacco contributions, as council passes bill to ban flavored tobacco products. Although Council Chair Tommy Waters and Council member Matt Weyer sponsored this latest anti- tobacco legislation, according to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, both received contributions from local lobbyists with ties to major tobacco companies. Star-Advertiser.

Navy to monitor Oahu air quality during Red Hill defueling. As the military prepares to defuel the underground Red Hill fuel storage facility, the Navy is setting up air monitoring stations across Joint Base Pearl Harbor­-Hickam and several housing areas affected by the 2021 contaminated water crisis. Star-Advertiser.

Petition launched from Waikiki businesses concerned about street closures. Concerns are growing from Waikiki businesses about street closures on Kalakaua for festivals and fundraisers. The Hawaii Restaurant Association has started a petition calling for better coordination.  Hawaii News Now.

Box jellyfish spotted in Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park. Warning signs have been posted after box jellyfish were spotted today in Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park. Star-Advertiser.

Changing narratives: Kalihi unites for safety.  An Oahu community is hoping to inspire change by rewriting the narrative of a neighborhood that is often thought of as crime-ridden amid rising concerns for safety across Hawaii. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Series of town hall meetings concludes in Hilo. A final town hall meeting in Hilo on Saturday provided a series of minor updates about various Hawaii County projects. Tribune-Herald.

Study to identify alternate route out of Puna could be funded ‘soon’. In 2022, the state Legislature approved a $1 million allocation to Hawaii County to conduct site surveys to determine a suitable location for a Puna Makai Alternate Route, a second major road in and out of Puna that would divert some of the district’s heavy traffic away from Highway 130, currently the only main road connecting the area to Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiʻi County seeks Interim Sustainability Administrator for climate, equity, resilience initiatives. This role is tasked with spearheading sustainability, climate action, and social justice efforts in the county and will play a pivotal role in advancing the county’s commitment to community sustainability, environmental and cultural stewardship and social equity. Big Island Now.


Maui mayor details budget cuts to offset $31.23 million revenue shortfall
.  The proposed budget cuts, large and small, reduce appropriations across a host of county departments, touching on a wide range of programs such as liquor control, housing and human concerns, substance abuse programs, sports and event promotions, tourism management planning, environmental protection and sustainability, and road, bridge and drainage maintenance. Star-Advertiser. Maui News

Council approves measures geared toward fire recovery. Maui County Council members waived council rules and approved a bill on first reading Friday that would allow $12.5 million of former COVID-19 aid money to be given as grants to help businesses directly and indirectly impacted by the Aug. 8 fires. Maui News.

$177 million in federal assistance provided so far to Maui fire survivors. Since the Maui wildfires of Aug. 8, more than $177 million in federal assistance has been approved for 6,210 households, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Maui Now.

Maui Council urges governor to reinstate former water official. The Maui County Council on Friday added its voice to the chorus of those asking for the reinstatement of former state Commission on Water Resource Management First Deputy Kaleo Manuel, who was reassigned in a controversial move following the Lahaina fire disaster. Star-Advertiser.

Homeless shelter for Lahaina fire survivors filling up.  A new pop-up homeless shelter on Maui with air- conditioned group tents, free meals, health services and planned movie nights has drawn considerable use a week after opening to serve people who were homeless in Lahaina before the town was leveled Aug. 8 by fire. Star-Advertiser.

DOH to conduct phone surveys to assess needs of those impacted by Maui wildfire disaster.  The state Department of Health said it will be conducting surveys to assess the needs of Maui residents affected by the wildfire disaster. Hawaii News Now.

DOE safety guidance issued for reopening 3 Maui schools
. As many Lahaina families continue to voice worries over the safety of reopening the three public schools above the burn zone next week, new documents from the state Department of Education are providing details on the actions the schools will take to monitor air safety and next steps if air quality veers into “unhealthy” or “hazardous” categories by federal standards. Star-Advertiser.


KCC bee hives one of the few disease-free sites in state. The University of Hawai‘i, through its UH News program, said the Kaua‘i Community College’s bee hives are one of the few disease-free honeybee sites left in the state. Garden Island.

Access gate to Queen’s Bath in Princeville closed through the winter. “Access to the gate is closed due to hazardous ocean conditions and anticipation of the winter season,” said Kaua‘i Fire Chief Michael Gibson. Kauai Now.

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