Today in West Hawaii history | August 5

Aug. 5, 1984: A 15-percent boom in tourism has received partial credit for major economic upswings on the Big Island and throughout the state by economists associated with First Hawaiian Bank. This year should be the best on record since 1977, according to Dr. Thomas K. Hitch, the bank’s retired senior vice president. He said the economy will see five or six percent in economic growth over 1983.

Aug. 5, 1994: A yearlong combined effort between federal, state and private interests has culminated with findings and recommendations to rejuvenate Hawaii’s forests. The 80-page Hawaii Tropical Forest Recovery Action Plan has identified nine guiding concepts and 25 recommendations that call for informing and involving people of the planning and management of Hawaii’s forests; working to establish a sustainable, balanced forestry program for Hawaii; and intensifying research and stewardship activities to support forest restoration, management, protection and use.

Mayor Stephen Yamashiro has received illegal campaign contributions from foreign interests, while three Japanese companies with local ties have been fined for unlawful political donations, according to Federal Election Commission findings. A published report of the FEC review said Yamashiro’s campaign received $4,450 in illegal contributions from foreign companies, yet only $200 was returned. Yamashiro said Hawaii law permitted the contributions, but tougher federal regulations deemed them illegal.

The Kona Brewing Co., which has proposed to open the Big Island’s first brewery in Kealakekua, is given approval for final consideration of a manufacturer beer liquor license from the Hawaii County Department of Liquor Control. The brewing company is still waiting for a zoning permit from the county Planning Commission to operate a brewery in Kealakekua near Pali Uli School on Mamalahoa Highway.

Aug. 5, 2004: Last spring, Big Island students wore down their pencils taking the Hawaii Statewide Assessment, an annual test designed to measure progress in reading, writing and mathematics and compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Four months later, the results are in. Although the scores will not be made public until September, when the state finishes analysis, principals at local schools are pouring over raw data to see how their students fared.

Big Island police have sent prosecutors their investigation into a fatal traffic accident involving an on-duty police officer for possible charges of negligent homicide. Gregory Pluta Jr. died Feb. 15 after Officer Byran Ellis ran into him on Alii Drive while responding to a report of a disturbance. Police subsequently opened a negligent homicide investigation, as they do in any fatal accident. If prosecutors decide to press charges, the case will before a grand jury.

Konawaena Middle School was slated to reopen today after being closed for two days following heavy rainfall that caused two runoffs to sweep through campus.

Hawaii County Council members approve a controversial Clifto’s Kona Coast rezoning request. The council also added a last-minute condition that requires construction of proposed residential, hotel and commercial development to be phased in with the widening of Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Principal developer Cliff Morris has agreed to 50 percent construction in three years, 75 percent in four years and 100 percent in five years — which is the earliest the state DOT believes the second phase of Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening will be complete between Kealakehe Parkway and Kona International Airport.