Showing posts with label raises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label raises. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Hawaii pays health-care workers' student loans, big raises for Hawaii County government execs, newborn found in Honolulu trash bin, UH football program loses money, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii health care workers’ student loans to be paid. Just in time for Christmas, the state told 492 Hawaii health care workers this week that it will pay off their student loans — up to $100,000 — in return for a two-year commitment to stay in the islands. Star-Advertiser. Kauai Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii health care workers grateful for loan forgiveness
. Coincidentally on Friday, Gov. Josh Green — age 53 — made his final loan payment on his own 30-year-old student loan, which ran up to $315,000 with interest. Star-Advertiser.

New Hawaii homeless coordinator Mizuno saw his unhoused brother die. Hawaii’s incoming homeless coordinator — state Rep. John Mizuno — knows the tragedy of homeless personally. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lags in preparing kids for kindergarten, state DOE report shows.
In the Hawaii public schools’ first statewide assessment of children’s kindergarten readiness, less than one-third of children entering kindergarten this fall demonstrated “baseline readiness” for school, according to new state Department of Education data that evaluated basic language, math and social skills, and physical development. Star-Advertiser.

New report on cycle of poverty in Hawaii urges state lawmakers to find solutions. A new report shows Hawaiʻi's lack of economic mobility imposes a high cost on us all, but especially on our keiki. The report found kids pay the biggest price with poorer health outcomes, less education, and lose out on future economic productivity. KITV4.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case is pushing for legislation that would restrict international imports of protected ornamental reef fish and coral collected through destructive practices. The Hawaii Democrat introduced the legislation, known as the Saving Natural Ecosystems and Marine Organisms Act to the House on Nov. 17, after which it was referred to the House committees on Natural Resources, Ways and Means, and Foreign Affairs. Star-Advertiser.

State Hospital Workers Who Witnessed A Nurse’s Murder Have Been Denied Workers Comp. A doctor treating four employees said the decision is "unconscionable" and will delay their ability to address the trauma they experienced. Civil Beat.


University Of Hawaii Athletics Needs Your Money To Survive. Here’s How College Sports Finances Are Changing. UH's lack of the big revenue seen by other college athletic programs is hampering its ability to compete, especially in the high-finance sport of football. Civil Beat.

Newborn baby abandoned in trash bin rushed to hospital in serious condition. Honolulu police have opened a child abandonment case after a Kahala resident saved a newborn baby girl from a trash bin  Saturday night, officials said. Hawaii News Now.

Overheated Leeward Park To Get Shade Trees — And Volunteers To Water Them. The pilot project near Maili Elementary School could be a model for more efforts to cool Oahu's hot spots. Civil Beat.

High bacteria levels found in  Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant sample. The sample, which was taken at 8:08 a.m. Thursday, exceeded the single sample daily maximum limitation for enterococcus under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the plant, according to a news release from the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hefty raises for county execs. Mayor Mitch Roth’s pay will increase from $162,582 to $199,068 on Jan. 1 and $209,028 on July 1.  Council members will receive raises to $85,728 on Jan. 1 and $90,024 on July 1, with the chair receiving hikes to $94,308 on Jan. 1 and to $99,024 on July 1. Tribune-Herald.

Council OKs Puna route study after initially rejecting bill. The Hawaii County Council voted Wednesday to reject $1.5 million for a study of possible alternate routes into Puna before immediately calling for a do-over and accepting the funds. Tribune-Herald.

PATH expands HIBIKE system and continues partnership with Mass Transit Agency, offering free HIBIKE Bikeshare to Hele-On Riders. People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i (PATH) has just completed the expansion of their HIBIKE bikeshare system with funds awarded from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant through the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation and administered by the County Department of Public Works.  Big Island Now.


New Database Tracks Millions In Donations And Government Funds For Maui. Readers have asked Civil Beat to follow where donated monies are going. Civil Beat.

Construction at Olowalu begins while officials still decide on final fire debris holding site. A temporary storage site for Lahaina fire debris is under construction in Olowalu on Maui.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Aftereffect from Lahaina wildfire will create opportunities for some businesses. The Maui County Office of Economic Development is looking for options for businesses that are facing increased challenges due to the fires and the tightening commercial real estate market. Star-Advertiser.

Maui Police Department offers cash rewards for tips on illegal fireworks. Law enforcement agencies across Hawaii are employing various strategies to crack down on illegal fireworks as New Year’s Eve approaches. Star-Advertiser.


Environmental lawsuit halts plans for West Kaua‘i Energy Project. Plans for a more than $250 million renewable energy project on the westside of Kaua‘i are in limbo, following lawsuits by two community groups that allege its environmental impact was not properly assessed. Garden Island.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Almost half of Emergency Management Agency positions vacant, Inouye's son to run for state Legislature, raises in store for public schools executives, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency Struggles To Fill Many Key Jobs. About 45% of HIEMA's civil service jobs are vacant, forcing the agency to use temporary and exempt employees to fill in. Civil Beat.

Hawaii public school executives’ maximum salaries raised to $192K to $206K.  Seven months after angry public testimony helped to compel the state Department of Education to scale back a proposal to raise salaries of officials at the top levels of Hawaii’s public school system, the state Board of Education has approved salary increases of 4.6% to 6% for the 2023-2024 fiscal year for 21 out of 25 of its “subordinate superintendents.”  Star-Advertiser.

Inouye’s son making first run at House seat against La Chica. The son of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye plans to make his first foray into politics at the age of 59 by challenging fellow, first-time Democratic state Rep. Trish La Chica for the House seat representing Waipio-Mililani in 2024. Star-Advertiser.

Late state Sen. Sam Slom to be celebrated at Capitol. Friends, family and legislative colleagues have planned the only public “celebration of life” for state Sen. Sam Slom, who died in May at the age of 81 after serving 20 years in the Senate. Star-Advertiser.

State Central Committee of Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi votes to oust chairperson Jung. The State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i on Sunday voted to remove Chairperson Dennis Jung and begin the process to elect new party leadership. Maui Now.

Hawaii Ethics Commission Steps Up Training Of Government Employees. Since a new law requiring state legislators and employees to complete live or online ethics training classes every four years went into effect Jan. 1, the number of people taking the course has increased significantly as compared to 2021. Civil Beat.

50,000 acres of state farmland set to move under Department of Agriculture management
. About 50,000 acres of Hawaiʻi farmland managed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources are set to be transferred to the Department of Agriculture. The move is two decades in the making. Hawaii Public Radio.


Waikiki climate change study underway, city says. The city Department of Planning and Permitting says it’s kicked off a nearly $400,000 pilot project to study the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Oahu’s prime tourist zone. Star-Advertiser.

Cesspool Conversions: Honolulu Seeks To Connect More Homes To Main Sewer System. A proposal to install sewer lines for a section of Ewa Beach is shaping up as a litmus test for the effort as homeowners say they need more help covering the costs. Civil Beat.

Hawaii to be first to offer Filipino History Culture course in public school curriculum. Waipahu and Farrington high Schools will be the first in the nation to offer a student created Filipino Studies class in a public school curriculum. Hawaii News Now.

Teaching Kids To Read In Hawaii Is Going Back To Basics. Makakilo Elementary is one of about 80 schools in the state to receive funding from a roughly $50 million federal grant awarded in 2019 to improve literacy among the country’s youngest readers. Civil Beat.

Tour helicopter makes ‘precautionary landing’ on small island near Honolulu‘s airport. Honolulu Ocean Safety responded to a helicopter that had made a “precautionary landing” on a small island near the Honolulu Airport Saturday morning. Honolulu EMS officials say the incident happened just after 10:00 a.m. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

County delays Waikoloa siren installation. HI-EMA Communications Director Adam Weintraub Weintraub acknowledged that Waikoloa Village is a particularly at-risk community — the village only has one way in or out for about 7,000 residents — he added that HI-EMA, responding to personnel shortages, has prioritized installing emergency sirens for coastal communities that currently do not have redundant sirens in case of tsunami. Tribune-Herald.

County hopes water study will shed light on Hilo Bay contaminants. After the bay was found to not meet state water standards in 2009, county, state and federal agencies have investigated various methods for improving it. Tribune-Herald.

Surf schools to find out Nov. 17 if they can operate at Kahalu‘u Beach Park. After years of public meetings, draft rules with numerous amendments and jurisdictional disputes, surf schools wanting to operate at Kahalu‘u Beach Park will find out on Nov. 17 if they are awarded one of four coveted spots determined by a lottery. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Inmate Serving Two Life Sentences Dies In An Arizona Prison. Richard Keokeo Taylor Jr., 51,  a Big Island man who spent nearly 28 years in prison for the robbery of a downtown Hilo Pizza Hut in 1995 has died at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Civil Beat.


State Land Board OKs Olowalu For Ash And Debris Disposal From Maui Fires. The site would be monitored for 30 years for any leakage of contamination into the groundwater and ocean. Civil Beat. Maui News.  Associated Press. Hawaii News Now.

Deadlines near to receive FEMA wildfire disaster aid. On Friday, federal officials reported that more than $236.8 million already has been approved for 6,505 Maui households affected by the high winds and wildfires. Star-Advertiser.

Immigrants on Maui hesitant to apply for disaster assistance. The deadline is approaching for Maui residents impacted by the August fires to apply for FEMA assistance, but there is some concern that many in the Latino community have not yet applied. KHON2.

Maui’s struggling small businesses driven by the spirit of aloha. Dreams shattered. Shops burned to the ground. Irreplaceable losses. These are the realities that small business owners in Lahaina are dealing with as the three-month mark of the devastating Aug. 8 fires draws near.  Star-Advertiser.

Gift drive, celebration aim to lift spirits of young Maui fire survivors. Kanani Oury aunched “Makana no na Keiki” — an online Christmas gift drive and in-person holiday event for children directly affected by the Maui wildfires — to spark joy for that community, but she aches for the stories pouring into her email inbox from families asking for presents for their kids. Star-Advertiser.

Dispute shuts down a major community hub in West Maui. There is one thing that both sides agree on -- that state Rep. Elle Cochran started the hub in the Kelawea Mauka subdivision of Lahaina. But volunteer managers asked her to leave -- and when she didn’t, they decided to dismantle the hub. Hawaii News Now.


Next tool for saving Kaua’i forest birds from extinction introduced. A dozen researchers and technicians on Thursday began releasing incompatible male mosquitoes to try and stop the near-certain extinction of at least four species of Native Hawaiian honeycreepers. Kauai Now.

Coco Palms debate continues as demolition nears.
As the developer of the Coco Palms Resort reported being just weeks away from commencing demolition of the deteriorated site and constructing a 350-room resort, county officials and members of the public continued to debate the possibility of halting the project in two separate meetings this week. Garden Island.

2-mile-long fence on Kauai ready to protect seabirds.  Pono Pacific Land Management LLC built the $1.7 million fence along the perimeter of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai’s north shore. Star-Advertiser.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Hawaii scores low in Kids Count report, ag grants go looking for farmers, Teamsters strike closing restaurants, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii is 44th in nation for keiki economic well-being. Hawaii’s astronomical costs for child care and preschool are a major reason the economic well-being of keiki here has worsened comparatively, pushing the state down from 35th place to a dismal 44th among the 50 states on that measure in the latest annual Kids Count Data Book report. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Farmers Could Use Some Help Landing Grants That Would Boost Farm Operations.
Nonprofits have stepped in to help with grant writing but the state agriculture department has been slow to take advantage of available pots of money. Civil Beat.

Green signs bill to improve aid-in-dying law.  As of June 1, it is easier for terminally ill patients to obtain prescription medication to end their suffering.  Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Has Been ‘Sweeping’ Homeless From Public Lands For More Than 100 Years. The term "homeless sweep" doesn't appear in Hawaii newspapers until the early 2000s, but officials have been ordering large-scale homeless enforcements since at least 1901. Civil Beat.

Hawaii unemployment fund experiencing ‘painful’ growth. Hawaii’s unemployment insurance fund is more than two-thirds of the way back up to adequacy after depletion during COVID-19’s economic shock in 2020, but the recovery is causing pain at an inopportune time for businesses paying into the fund. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii insurers could face more scrutiny over executive pay.  State lawmakers say they may seek a legislative fix to ensure the state’s nonprofit health insurers, which enjoy generous tax breaks, disclose the compensation of their top executives and board members following a decision by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in April that effectively allows some insurers to keep the information secret. Star-Advertiser.

Talks resume in Hawaii Gas Teamsters strike, but no deal reached. Contract negotiations between Hawaii Gas and unionized employees on strike have resumed, but the two sides don’t appear any closer to reaching an agreement. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

$2 million insurance coverage added for island coral reefs. With the Central Pacific hurricane season underway, an insurance policy covering up to $2 million in damage to Hawaii’s coral reefs is now in effect. Star-Advertiser.

Cleaning Up: The Aftermath Of A Honolulu Union’s Embezzlement Scandal. Members of IBEW 1260 had to pick up the pieces after former business manager Brian Ahakuelo and his wife were convicted. Civil Beat.


4 Honolulu councilmembers plan to vote against pay raises.  On July 1, the new Honolulu city council budget will go into effect. Including, a 64% pay raise for council members, unless eight of them vote no to the pay raises.  KHON2.

Honolulu Council treads lightly on salary, outside employment talks. The Honolulu City Council will continue discussions on whether members can hold outside employment after killing a bill this month. Hawaii Public Radio.

In the governor’s backyard, 8 homeless patients settle in at medical respite tiny village. Pulama Ola village opened on May 31st, and is now home to eight homeless patients who were recently discharged from local hospitals. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Chinatown Lions Club collaborates with Mayor Blangiardi to beautify downtown parks. Dozens of people, including Mayor Rick Blangiardi and city administrators, joined Honolulu-Chinatown Lions Club in cleaning up Smith-Beretania Park and Doctor Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park. Hawaii News Now.

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden considers limiting visitors and charging fees.  Nestled beneath the Koʻolau mountain range on Oʻahu, Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden was a once-hidden gem. But social media has heightened awareness about the garden’s natural wonders. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Community Development Authority tasked with slew of projects. The Hawaii Community Development Authority was created nearly 50 years ago with a broad-purpose name despite having a singular initial focus: improving one community, Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

Former mayor documents COVID-era frustrations, alliances in book. Interviews with 25 Hawaii leaders reveal early concerns that the islands could become overrun with COVID-19 while others hoped the Pacific Ocean would provide a natural “border” to keep the virus out, according to a new book by former Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his longtime deputy managing director Georgette Takushi Deemer. Star-Advertiser.

Water disruption forces closure of popular Diamond Head State Monument on Oʻahu. 
The popular Diamond Head State Monument on O‘ahu was cleared at mid-day Sunday after the park’s water system had to be shut down.  Maui Now. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Planning commissions talk shoreline setbacks.  A joint meeting of the Windward and Leeward Planning commissions on June 2 concluded their discussion of several proposed revisions to the county’s planning rules, which would, among other things, require that all new developments be located at least 40 feet inland from a shoreline, twice as far as is currently permitted. Tribune-Herald.

Council members debate establishment of sustainability office.  Formation of a proposed new Hawaii County agency has stalled following lengthy debates among members of the Hawaii County Council. Tribune-Herald.

Land board action paves way for conservation of 642 acres in N. Kohala. Hundreds of acres of land in North Kohala have been re-dedicated to conservation by a nonprofit that purchased the land last year. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

As tourists flock to eruption, agencies urge respect. Even as lava fountains from the erupting Kilauea Volcano continue reaching heights of up to 30 feet, Hawaii tourism officials urged visitors to be respectful when flocking to Hawaii island to get a glimpse of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Star-Advertiser.


Tax could fund projects, but some worry about cost. Maui County could have seen around $283 million in added income if it had followed other counties four years ago in adding its own surcharge to the state’s general excise tax, according to tax officials’ estimates.  Maui News.

Maui County finance director to serve on national AI committee. Maui County Finance Director Scott Teruya has been appointed to a national exploratory committee that will look into how artificial intelligence could potentially help local government.  Maui News.

Maui Residents Fight To Save Kihei’s Last Wetlands. County officials continue to approve new building permits close to shore despite rising seas. Civil Beat.

Damaged Lahaina playground closes.
The Lahaina Recreation Center playground has been closed until further notice due to safety concerns over the damaged playground surface, the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation announced Friday. Maui News.


Kawakami leads Kaua‘i delegation in visit to Philippines. A Kaua‘i delegation’s weeklong venture to the Philippines was deemed a success on both the business development and diplomatic fronts, as the group reforged its partnership with the country. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i visitors spent heavily in April.
A robust tourism industry is on pace to surpass $2 billion in visitor spending this year, in large part to a stellar start to the 2023 season on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.


Thursday, June 8, 2023

Kilauea volcano erupts after 3-month pause, Honolulu council pay raise still in play, second homeless sweep in Kailua-Kona, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kilauea erupts and spurs an onslaught of visitors. Kilauea Volcano has started erupting within Halemaumau Crater, U.S. Geological Survey officials said, and droves of people are already making their way to see the lava flow. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii Public RadioTribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4

Hawaii Ranks Highest in Debt To Income Ratio.
For every single dollar of income, Hawaii household have an average of 2.26 cents worth of debt. KITV4.

USS Daniel Inouye warship prepares for first deployment.  The USS Daniel Inouye, the Pearl Harbor-­based warship named for the late Hawaii senator and war hero, is gearing up for its first deployment amid a tide of geopolitical tensions and uncertainty. For the ship’s crew of 320 sailors, it’s about more than just sailing a ship through the Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

Gift from University of Hawai‘i Regents Chair seeds Hawai‘i Sustainability Fund. According to UH, it will help students develop skills and knowledge to tackle climate change and resource issues in the islands and beyond. Hawaii Public Radio. Kauai Now.


Pay Increases For Honolulu City Council Members Remain On Track After Marathon Session. A bill that would prohibit council members from external employment was removed at a hearing Wednesday. Correction: This story originally reported that salary raises for council members and city officials were passed as part of the city’s overall operating budget. That is incorrect. The measure was not voted on Wednesday. Only the legislative budget was passed after a council vote.  Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Council approves $3.41B budget. The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the city’s $3.41 billion operating budget and a $1.34 billion capital improvement plan for the 2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Council unanimously advances Narcan bill. The Honolulu City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to advance legislation that would require bars, nightclubs and other high-risk venues to carry nasal sprays of naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Oahu traffic deaths rise in first 5 months.
For Oahu, the numbers increased to 27 fatalities compared with 23 at the same time last year, with double the number of motorcycle-related deaths — 12 compared with six at the same time last year. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu rental, utility relief program reopens next week. The City and County of Honolulu’s Rental and Utility Relief Program will temporarily reopen for new applications next week. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

The ‘out-of-the-box’ solution to HPD’s recruiting woes: 3-day workweeks for all patrol officers. In addition, when the schedules shift every few months, they’ll get two weeks with five days off. Hawaii News Now.

City parking meter upgrades aimed to fix nearly $5M loss. There are about 4,000 on-street parking meters stretched across Oahu. Customers’ money goes in, but the City isn’t seeing a complete return in revenue. KHON2.

This new UH shuttle bus isn’t just electric. It will (almost) drive itself. There’s a new member of UH-Manoa’s Rainbow Shuttle service. And this bus isn’t just electric, it will also mostly drive itself. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Kona Police Remove Homeless Camps From County Aquatic Center.
The number of homeless residents outside the county-owned athletic facility had swelled in recent weeks. But for the past several days outreach workers have been telling those living there that the police were coming, so many had already cleared out before Wednesday. Civil Beat. West Hawaii Today.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

EPA fines Big Island business $130K for illegal cesspool
. The EPA has also ordered Kaloko Storage 188 LLC and Extra Space Management Inc., the respective owner and operator of Extra Space Storage at Kanalani Street in Kailua-Kona, to close its large-capacity cesspool to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Star-Advertiser.


Council gives final approval to $1.07 billion budget. The Maui County Council passed its $1.07 billion version of the fiscal year 2024 county budget on second and final reading on Tuesday. Maui News.

Community meetings on Alelele rockfall project in East Maui draw 100+ residents. More than 100 people attended community meetings held over the weekend in Kīpahulu, Hāna and Kaupō, to hear updates on the Alelele Point rockfall project. Maui Now.

Native Hawaiians clash with West Maui resort over erosion mitigation efforts.  Resort officials in West Maui want to restore the disappearing shoreline in front of their hotel. However, Native Hawaiian activists say they are doing it the wrong way. Hawaii News Now.


Coco Palms developer reaffirms commitment. Attorney Mauna Kea Trask, representing the Coco Palms developer RP21 Coco Palms LLC, said that his client was committed to restoring Coco Palms during the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Kaua‘i Island Community meeting on the evening of June 7, 2023 at Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi. Garden Island.

Green waste closed at Līhu‘e refuse transfer station until further notice. Green waste at Līhu‘e is estimated to be closed through next week, as State officials and invasive species crews are on site and responding. Kauai Now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

House and Senate agree on state budget, Honolulu council members set to receive 64% raise, bill expands medically assisted suicide, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

House And Senate Agree On State Budget, But Tax Cuts Still Aren’t Finalized. The new budget includes $170 million to build teacher housing across Hawaii, and $280 million to subsidize rental housing. Negotiators from Hawaii’s House and Senate agreed late Tuesday on a state budget for the next two years, a step that clears the way for finalizing dozens of other bills in a race toward a critical deadline on Friday. Civil Beat.

Time is running out for proposed visitor impact fee legislation. If Hawaiʻi lawmakers agree on a visitor impact fee for access to its state parks and trails, it’d be the first in the nation to do so statewide. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s Medically Assisted Suicide Program Is Poised To Be Expanded. Patients may soon have shorter waiting periods and more provider options. For years, advocates have argued that patients face too many obstacles to take advantage of Hawaii’s law allowing medically assisted suicide. The procedure will likely become more accessible after a bill got a boost on Tuesday to bypass the Legislature’s chaotic conference committee stage. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers may repeal Cold War-era speech restrictions. A Cold War-era law in Hawaii that allows authorities to impose sweeping restrictions on press freedoms and electronic communications during a state of emergency could soon be repealed by lawmakers over concerns about its constitutionality and potential misuse. Associated Press.

Committee Agrees On Expanded Coffee Labeling Bill. The Hawaiʻi House and Senate in conference committee on Tuesday agreed to an expanded coffee labeling bill, that includes ready-to-drink coffee beverages and prohibits the use of the term “All Hawaiian” for coffee that isn’t produced entirely from beans grown and processed in Hawaiʻi. Big Island Video News.

Former Head Of Charter School Commission To Pay $5,000 For Ethics Violations. Sione Thompson agreed to the payment as part of a settlement with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission over multiple violations between 2018 and 2020. Thompson signed off on multiple state contracts with three nonprofit organizations without disclosing that he also served on the boards of those organizations, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission said in a release Tuesday.  Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Russian Spy Intrigue Fizzles As Hawaii Stolen ID trial nears. A judge has ruled that photographs showing the defendants wearing foreign uniforms aren't relevant to the charges. U.S. prosecutors who introduced Russian spy intrigue into the case of a couple accused of living for decades in Hawaii under identities stolen from dead babies are now saying they don’t want jurors to hear about photographs showing them wearing foreign uniforms. Associated Press.

FBI report: Fraud losses hit record high as scammers target people of all ages. There’s been a sharp spike in losses reported by kupuna who have been victimized by scammers.  Nearly 400 Hawaii residents 60 years of age or older reported being scammed out of more than $16.3 million. Hawaii News Now.

Youth climate justice case gets pushback from HDOT. The 14 youth plaintiffs suing the Hawaii Department of Transportation to take action against emission pollution are standing their ground in their quest for climate justice, even as the DOT requests a budget increase of $1 million to fight this lawsuit. KITV4.

State acquires $26M from Biden to fund coastal climate change initiatives. The U.S. Department of Commerce is slated to give $26 million to eight climate change resiliency projects in Hawaiʻi. It’s part of the Biden Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts initiative, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Hawaii Public Radio.

Agribusiness agency suffers loss with leader James ‘Jimmy’ Nakatani’s death. A state agency set up to foster diversified farming on fallow former plantation agriculture lands has lost its longtime leader, James “Jimmy” Nakatani, who died Sunday. Star-Advertiser.


Despite hefty opposition, commission approves 64% pay hike for city councilmembers. The Honolulu Salary Commission heard passionate opposition Tuesday to raises for city officials and councilmembers, but ultimately voted to approve the pay hikes in a 5-to-1 vote. Under the plan, city councilmembers would get a 64% raise ― from $68,904 a year to $113,304. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu undergoes 2 department leadership changes. Dawn Szewczyk stepped down as head of the Department of Facility Maintenance last week for a job in the private sector.  Additionally, Scott Hayashi has requested to step down from his position as the director of the Department of Land Management. Hawaii Public Radio.

Property tax ideas address credits and exemptions. The Honolulu City Council has established a special subcommittee to investigate certain matters relating to real property taxation issues. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers urge relocation of Marines’ Puuloa Firing Range. Community concerns over the Marine Corps’ Ewa Beach Puuloa Range Training Facility escalated Tuesday when the state House passed a nonbinding resolution urging the relocation of the firing range due to noise, safety and possible lead exposure to nearby homes, the shoreline and sea. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

EPA Not At Fault For Red Hill Crisis, Inspector General Says. In a report released on Tuesday, the EPA inspector general noted that the Navy was subject to a regulatory agreement with the EPA and the state health department at the time of the contamination. Civil Beat.

Navy pledges $6M to update Kalaeola electrical grid. The Navy said Monday that it’s committing $6 million to modernize the power grid supplying Kalaeloa and will work in partnership with Hawaiian Electric. Star-Advertiser.

Army Corps Rolls Out Its New Ala Wai Flood Control Plan. Federal engineers pushed the reset button after rising costs sunk their earlier plan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is developing new plans for heightened flood control in one of Hawaii’s most populous and economically important areas – the Ala Wai watershed – after the Corps scrapped its previous, contentious plan when the costs more than doubled. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Resiliency hub eyed for Hilo: Keaukaha facility would promote ag, bolster food security. The Pana‘ewa Farmers Market could be expanded under a proposed plan for a resiliency hub on Railroad Avenue in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Community Meeting Set For Old Hilo Hospital Master Plan. A community meeting will be held on May 15 to gather input and recommendations for the development of a master plan for the old Hilo Memorial Hospital site at 34 Rainbow Drive. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii's most overcrowded jail releases some inmates. The Hawaii Community Correctional Center is situated in the heart of downtown Hilo and is designed to hold 206 inmates, but is currently over capacity at 295 inmates, making it the most overcrowded jail in the state. KHON2.

DLNR chair meets with advocates for feral cats.  Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Dawn Chang met Tuesday with the principals of ABayKitties, the organization that has provided cat food at a trio of feeding stations at the Queens’ Marketplace shopping center. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now.

Firing called for Prince Kūhiō Plaza GM who stopped legendary Hawaiian entertainers for safety reasons. During the recent Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, legendary musician Melveen Leed and kumu hula Iwalani Walsh Tseu were at a craft fair at the Prince Kūhiō Plaza giving an impromptu performance when the general manager asked them via a vendor to stop performing because of “safety concerns.” Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.

Puna Kai Shopping Center listed again for sale. The Puna Kai Shopping Center is once again listed for sale after a previous online listing was supposedly posted in error. Tribune-Herald.


Bullying, drug and alcohol use down among county teens. A recent survey that studied risk behaviors among Hawaii youth highlighted several areas of improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic, including declining reports of bullying in Maui County as well as use of drugs and alcohol, but mental health remains a concern statewide. Maui News.


Point In Time Count shows homelessness increasing on Kaua‘i. The Homeless Point In Time Count, released last week by Bridging the Gap, showed a 10 percent increase in one-day homelessness on island from January 2022 to January 2023, following a 5 percent increase in the prior year. Garden Island.

PAL Kaua‘i: Two units available at Kauhale O Kapa’a. The studios offer a full bathroom with a tub and a kitchenette that opens up into the living space in the heart of  Old Kapa’a town.  Kauai Now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Green and HSTA plan big teacher raises, Hawaii Island seeks to double shoreline setback, Kauai prosecutes illegal vacation rentals, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii teachers union, Gov. Green tout ‘strongest’ contract ever. The $577 million deal includes annual pay increases between 3% and 5% for a total of 14.5% over four years, but some extraordinary terms are also part of the contract agreement, including at least a 32% increase for new entry-level hires, higher pay for nontraditional teachers and a new top pay class for veteran educators. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News. Kauai Now. KHON2.  KITV4.  Hawaii News Now.

State Legislature begins conference committee process to address differing viewpoints. Lawmakers will take up measures on gun laws, tourism management and government transparency in conference committees this week and next. Hawaii Public Radio.

49 endangered Hawaiian species to gain habitat protections. The US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to designate protected critical habitat for 39 endangered plants and 10 endangered animals. The determination comes amid a legal victory stemming from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. Maui Now.


Council member hopes to cut Sand Island Treatment Center’s costs. Council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam did not know that the city had forced the Sand Island Treatment Center into his district in Iwilei, but toured it on Monday to try to figure out how to ease its $36,000 in new monthly costs. Star-Advertiser.

After sitting empty over a year, portion of city’s Homeless Resource Center set to open.
Major developments are underway in regards to the future of a mismanaged homeless housing project that’s been sitting empty in Iwilei more than a year. Hawaii News Now.

River of Life helps homeless with 40 sites across Oahu. River of Life Mission, once the center of blame for homelessness in Chinatown, has reinvented its model to aid the needy by shutting down its Chinatown feeding program and instead helping the homeless at 40 different sites across Oahu, with plans to expand to the neighbor islands and even to foreign countries. Star-Advertiser.

Construction begins on $4.4M project to upgrade busy part of Chinatown. Construction began Monday at Kekaulike Mall where a $4.4 million project will upgrade the busy market space between King Street and Hotel Street. Hawaii News Now.

Why Some Stores In Chinatown Keep Doors Locked During Business Hours. Boutiques and other stores installed buzz-in systems with the onset of the pandemic and decided to keep them as traffic returned to the area. Civil Beat.

Rail will open in July, HART CEO confirms. Lori Kahikina, executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, confirmed that the city’s nearly $10 billion rail line will open for public ridership in July. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

HPD vows to step up gambling enforcement in wake of shooting. The search for an armed man responsible for a mass shooting at a Maili cockfight around midnight Friday that killed two people continued Monday as police promised to step up gambling enforcement in the area. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Proposed rules would double shoreline setback.  Pending revisions to the Hawaii County planning rules could result in developments being pushed farther away from the coast in an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Tribune-Herald.

Document details plan for bottling plant in Hilo. One less hurdle stands in the way of a new proposal to build a water-bottling plant next to the Wailoa River State Recreation Area. Tribune-Herald.

Another chemical leak found at a Maunakea telescope. The University of Hawaii’s 88-inch telescope, also called UH88, was discovered in January to have sprung a leak in its coolant system some time between mid-December and Jan. 10, spilling an unknown amount of anti-freezing agent ethylene glycol. Tribune-Herald.


Traci Fujita named the Council’s representative on MEO Board. Traci Fujita, who currently serves as the director of the Office of Council Services, has joined the Maui Economic Opportunity Board of Directors, filling the Council representative spot. Maui Now.

Surfrider’s water quality monitoring expands; reports ongoing pollution in Wailuku River. Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force program released its annual Maui water quality report for 2022.  Maui Now.

Molokai mobile clinic expands services. The Molokai Community Health Center’s Mana Mobile Medical Clinic is expanding its services to better serve residents on the island’s East Side. Maui News.


‘Undercover sting operations’ mop up illegal vacation rentals on Kaua‘i. Data-sharing agreements with tech companies and undercover “sting operations” have cut the number of illegal vacation rentals operating on Kaua‘i to the lowest rate in a decade, officials report. Garden Island.

Coco Palms Resort to be demolished for a new 350-room hotel. Demolition will soon begin on a Kauaʻi resort once favored by Elvis Presley and other Hollywood royalty before it was heavily damaged by a hurricane three decades ago. Associated Press.

DLNR proposes to drain Wailua Reservoir. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is proposing to drain the Wailua Reservoir and breach the dam after finding that neglected maintenance could threaten the lives of nearby residents if no action is taken. Garden Island.

An Innovative Kauai Farm Project May Depend On Saving A 100-Year-Old Reservoir. Plans to create a community agriculture park in the heart of Kauai’s north shore town of Kilauea stalled for decades until the ratty mattresses, washing machines and wrecked cars were finally hauled off a 75-acre county plot in 2015, transforming an illegal dumping ground into an organic meat and vegetable farm.  Civil Beat.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Board of Education reduces exec raises, students bounce back from pandemic learning loss, LGBTQ flag flap at Ewa Middle School, Oahu $100M first responder complex unlikely, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Proposed raises for Hawaii DOE executives reduced.  A proposal to dramatically raise salary ranges for 25 top state Department of Education executives had to be scaled back after it drew angry reactions Thursday not only from scores of school-level employees and their union, but several state Board of Education members as well. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Student Recovery From Pandemic Learning Loss ‘Exceptional’ Analysis Finds.  The analysis done by the mainland consultant Center on Assessment found overall that students learned at a faster rate after the pandemic than they did before, and that mathematics needs a “steeper recovery” than English in public schools.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii Climate Experts Highlight Positive Points In An Otherwise Dire International Report. Scientists, activists and policymakers in Hawaii say they are not surprised by the heightened warnings contained in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but they have some reasons for optimism. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Pushes For Ban On Deep-Sea Mining. Sea mining could bring adverse effects on the marine floors of Hawaii, creating clouds of mud that push away fish, destroying seabeds and imposing irreversible damage on the seafloor, environmental advocates argue.  Civil Beat.

Foodborne illness complaints, yellow placard violations up. Health officials have been increasing their restaurant site inspections, leading to an uptick in violations. KHON2.

Deadly fungus detected in Hawaii patient. There has been one confirmed case in Hawaii of Candida auris, a deadly fungus that has sparked national concern as it’s spread rapidly through hospitals and other health care facilities in about two dozen states.  Star-Advertiser.


The First Responders Park Bill Is Dying. Rep. Amy Perruso says she won't advance a bill to fund the state's first responders campus amid questions about the project's relevance. When Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi introduced a measure to provide at least $100 million to build a campus for first responders on 243 acres of agriculture land in central Oahu, the Kauai senator hailed the controversial project as necessary for Oahu’s law enforcement and public safety workers. Civil Beat.

4 Honolulu police officers plead not guilty in Makaha crash. Four Honolulu police officers accused of chasing a vehicle with six Maili Beach Park partygoers in September 2021 entered not-guilty pleas Thursday to charges that they caused a crash, fled the scene and conspired to cover it up. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Associated Press. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

After spate of tragedies on Oahu roads, city prosecutor pushes for jail time in more traffic cases. In the wake of several high-profile fatal crashes, Honolulu’s prosecutor has changed his policy on plea agreements in traffic court in hopes of making the roads safer. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Honolulu councilors paid the least compared to neighbor islands. A 60% salary increase for Honolulu City Council Members and its Chair, recommended by the salary commission, is renewing interest in the process.  KHON2.

Lawmaker’s post questioning LGTBQ flags at Hawaii school draws backlash. Freshman state Rep. Elijah Pierick recently paid a visit to Ewa Makai Middle school, something that public officials often do. What was less usual — and what’s drawing broad criticism — is a video he posted on his Instagram page about that visit. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Ownership of historic Waiāhole Valley up for debate after proposed 600% rent increase.  Rent lease negotiations between the state and nearly 100 tenants in Waiāhole Valley are sparking conversations about the future of this rural, agricultural community. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Woman Cited For Taking Nēnē Gosling From Hilo Park. A 57-year-old woman was cited this morning after allegedly taking a nene gosling from Wailoa River State Recreational Area in Hilo and driving away with it. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaiʻi Community College opens student center stocked with basic necessities. The Kahuaola Basic Needs Center is located at the Manono Campus and is stocked with food, hygiene products and clothes available for pickup. Hawaii Public Radio.


Waiehu rental project’s fate remains undecided. After four meetings, a Maui County Council committee on Wednesday was unable to come to a decision on a 120-unit rental housing project in Waiehu, whose fate could now be determined by the Department of Housing and Human Concerns director. Maui News.

Maui’s mayor wants to buy company that controls water flow to thousands of acres.  Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen says he is reviving a long talked about plan to buy a company that controls the water flow to thousands of acres. Hawaii News Now.

Maui vacation rental supply and unit demand up from 2022, but down from pre-pandemic. While gains were realized in month-over-month data, Maui’s vacation rental supply, unit demand and occupancy in February remained down double-digits from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.  Maui Now.

Maui doctor charged in federal prescription drug investigation. A 74-year-old Maui doctor faces four federal counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances after he allegedly illegally prescribed hydrocodone, Xanax and Valium to an undercover federal agent on Maui. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Mosquito release plan aims to save forest birds on Maui. State and federal officials are moving forward with a plan to release millions of incompatible male mosquitoes into the East Maui wilderness in an effort to save the region’s threatened and endangered forest birds. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.


Kawakami administration breaks down $402 million Kaua‘i budget proposal.  The budget process opened Thursday with a display of goodwill between the Kaua‘i County mayor and Kaua‘i County Council chair. Garden Island.

Coast Guard leads multi-agency exercise at Kukuʻiula Small Boat Harbor on Kauaʻi. At Kuku’iula Small Boat Harbor near Po’ipū, the U.S. Coast Guard and several state, county and volunteer agencies conducted a full-scale search and rescue drill on Thursday morning to practice working collaboratively during emergencies. Kauai Now. Garden Island.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Biden to create new Pacific marine sanctuary, huge raises approved for Honolulu officials, first set of ethics reform bills sent to governor, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hokule‘a and Hikianalia to sail on 4-year voyage. The Polynesian Voyaging Society announced Tuesday that the Hokule‘a is scheduled to embark June 15 on a 43,000-nautical-mile journey circumnavigating the Pacific. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now.

Biden To Create New Marine Sanctuary In Pacific. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he would expeditiously expand and increase environmental protections for a group of remote atolls and islands in the Central Pacific and the nearly 777,000 square miles of waters around them. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Kauai Now.  Hawaii News Now.

Bills on campaign contributions, lobbying, gifts pass Hawaiʻi Legislature; headed to governor. House Speaker Scott K. Saiki introduced HB99, HB137 and HB142 that were recommendations made by the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, which was established by the House in 2022. Big Island Now. Maui News. Kauai Now.

Hawaii Senate President Remains Mum On The Turmoil In His Caucus. Sen. Ron Kouchi isn't talking about whether longtime members of his caucus are bullying their peers over a political appointment. Civil Beat.

Bill could track drivers’ mileage, tax them by the mile. With more electric vehicles hitting the roads, revenue from the state’s fuel tax is dropping, which is money that’s supposed to help repair Hawaii’s roads. Now, a bill is moving through the legislature looking to replace the state fuel tax with a road usage charge program. KHON2.

Required active shooter training in schools could become a reality for Hawaiʻi. House Bill 1329 would require the state education department to develop and implement an active shooter training program in all schools. Hawaii Public Radio.

State Senate Bill that would charge outlaw hikers for their rescues moves forward. A measure that would allow county first responders to charge outlaw hikers for the cost of their rescue passed with amendments out of the the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Senate Bill 786 will now be heading to the House Finance Committee. KITV4.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke seeks solutions to 'antiquated' office duties. Without a secretary of state, the lieutenant governor's office takes on some necessary, core functions. Namely, the office has three statutory functions: facilitating name changes, certifying international documents called apostilles, and processing administrative rules. Hawaii Public Radio.


Panel endorses pay raises for top Honolulu officials. The Honolulu Salary Commission on Tuesday recommended pay boosts of 12.5% and greater for the city’s mayor and department heads and a 60.2% pay jump for the leader of the Honolulu City Council. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Bill to fund OHA land repairs dies. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs criticized state House of Representatives leadership Tuesday for not hearing a bill appropriating $65 million to repair harbor infrastructure on land in Kakaako the Legislature gave OHA in 2012 to settle a $200 million debt. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Special meeting on New Aloha Stadium. On Wednesday, the Stadium Authority will hold a special meeting to discuss Gov. Josh Green’s new plan for the project. KHON2.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi kicks off town hall series in Ewa. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi hosted a town hall Tuesday night at Ewa Makai Middle School, where he committed to a site visit at Makakilo Drive following calls from residents to extend the road and alleviate local traffic congestion. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Closure of last big downtown retailer, Walmart, prompts fears.
First the downtown Walgreens closed about a year ago, followed six months later by the shuttering of the neighborhood Longs, and now the last major retailer, Walmart, plans to shut its doors after April 21 — leading to fears that the Fort Street Mall area will become a magnet for even more crime, homeless activity and graffiti. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

A man in need of medical treatment spent days on a sidewalk right outside Queen’s Medical Center. Good Samaritans have been helping 59-year-old Timothy Walker, who’s been on the sidewalk outside the Queen’s Medical Center ER for the past week — surrounded by flies and ants. Hawaii News Now.

Red-light safety camera to issue warnings at Kapiolani intersection. The red-light safety camera at Kapiolani Boulevard and Kamakee Street — the intersection where a teen was fatally struck by a pickup truck — begins issuing warnings on Wednesday, according to state officials. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

A large care home wants to move into a tiny neighborhood. Residents aren’t happy. Residents along Kaneohe Bay are raising alarms about a planned care home that they say looks like a monster home. But the developer says it’s a mischaracterization — and that he scaled down the project to meet community opposition. Hawaii News Now.

Pint-Sized Plants Could Be Our Secret Weapon In Fight Against Invasive Beetle. Hawaii’s invasive species experts announced in January that Oahu had lost its fight to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle, after years of trying to keep their expansion at bay. Civil Beat.

Behind the conversion of a Bishop Street high-rise from offices to housing. The building at 1132 Bishop St. is in the home stretch — now The Residences at Bishop Place. It's still home to the federal bankruptcy courthouse, but the floors above are largely apartments for rent. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Council takes action on sewage plant. A Hawaii County Council committee on Tuesday recommended passage of a bill that would split a rehabilitation project for the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant into two phases. Tribune-Herald.

2 Hawai‘i police detectives involved in fatal shooting in Kona to return to full duty. Two Hawai‘i police officers involved in a fatal shooting 11 days ago of a 32-year-old man in Kailua-Kona were cleared to return to full duty on Tuesday, although two separate investigations are still underway, according to Hawaiʻi Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz. Big Island Now.

Two High-Altitude Balloons To Be Launched On Hawaiʻi Island. The Sierra-Nevada Corporation and World View will be launching the balloons near Waimea between March 23 and 25. Big Island Video News. KHON2.

Kohala agriculture event invites Hawaiʻi Island farmers to plan their future. Members of an agricultural community on Hawaiʻi Island will gather this week to discuss the future of sustainable farming and ranching. Hawaii Public Radio.

Pacific Tsunami Museum reopens: ‘Through stories, we can teach people how to survive’.  The Pacific Tsunami Museum has reopened for visitors and locals alike with a change of leadership and plans for new exhibits. Tribune-Herald.


Housing, water, deer and controversial high school discussed in Maui State of the County address. Mayor Richard Bissen said with just 78 days in, his team is focused on “common-sense priorities” which include water, affordable housing, infrastructure, economic diversification and protecting our environment. Hawaii News Now.

Bissen delivers State of the County address tonight, Budget presentation on Friday. Mayor Bissen’s proposed budget highlights his administration’s priorities of water, housing, infrastructure, economic diversification and environment. Maui Now.

Maui Council tradition of evening budget meetings returns starting March 30. The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee will hold evening meetings throughout the county to receive community input on the fiscal year 2024 budget from March 30 through April 13. Maui Now.

New Kihei High School Will Finally Open Under Deal With Governor, Maui Mayor Says. Maui Mayor Richard Bissen announced Tuesday that he has reached a deal with Gov. Josh Green that will allow a long-awaited high school in Kihei to open. Civil Beat.

Sust’āinable Molokaʻi's new food box program connects local farmers to kūpuna. A new program on Molokaʻi offers residents the opportunity to support kūpuna and local farmers at the same time.  Hawaii Public Radio.


Swimming through sewage — study shows high bacteria count in Kaua‘i waters. Environmental organization Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Blue Water Task Force found large amounts of bacteria in several of Kaua‘i’s waters this month, suggesting that ongoing concerns over fecal contamination of the Garden Island’s streams and beaches are far from over. Garden Island. Kauai Now.

Kaua‘i jobless rate tumbles to 3.0 percent. Local businesses continued to beef up employment rosters to start the year, in turn sending the jobless rate on Kaua‘i to its lowest level for the month of January since the pre-pandemic era. Garden Island.