In brief | Big Island & state 100813


Contractor causes brief power outage

A contractor installing landscaping at the Hawaii Electric Light Co. baseyard in Kailua-Kona caused a brief power outage for 1,400 customers, Administrative Manager Rhea Lee said Monday.

The contractor was digging in the baseyard and struck some underground electrical equipment, Lee said. The outage lasted 28 minutes, and the customers were switched to another circuit to restore power, she added. Power was out at about 11:30 a.m. Monday and restored by about noon.

21 arrested for DUI from Sept. 30 through Sunday

Police arrested 21 motorists for alleged drunken driving Sept. 30 through Sunday. Five of the drivers were involved in traffic crashes. Three were younger than 21.

So far this year, there have been 1,005 DUI arrests compared with 1,084 during the same period last year, a 7.3 percent decrease. There have been 1,041 major accidents, compared with 1,120 during the same period last year, a 7.1 percent decline.

So far this year, there were 23 traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island compared with 30 during the same period last year, a 23.3 percent decrease.

To date, five fatalities were related to drugs only, one to alcohol only and six to a combination of both.

DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue islandwide.

Cabanilla appointed as House Majority Floor Leader

HONOLULU — Hawaii state Rep. Rida Cabanilla is replacing Rep. Karen Awana as Majority Floor Leader in the House.

Speaker Joseph Souki said Monday afternoon that he believes the Democrat will remain a positive force in the Legislature with the move.

Awana resigned her post as floor leader on Friday amid an investigation into how she spent campaign funds.

Souki said he accepted her resignation so she could focus on “rectifying her situation.” Awana is still a House member.

Cabanilla is chairwoman of the Housing Committee, representing Ewa, Waipahu and nearby areas. She has been in the House since 2005.

Hawaii substitute teachers must wait for back pay

HONOLULU — The attorney general’s office says the state won’t be able to pay 9,000 people back pay for their work as substitute teachers until next March.

The teachers are owed the money as the result of a 2005 Circuit Court ruling saying the state underpaid Hawaii substitute teachers millions of dollars from 2000 to 2005.

The ruling said a 1996 law required the Education Department to pay substitute teachers the same daily rate as “class II teachers.”

The attorney general’s office said in a statement Monday the court won’t finalize a settlement agreement between the parties until Dec. 16 or later.

Only then will the state be able to begin what the attorney general’s office called the “massive undertaking” of calculating taxes and benefits, preparing W-2 forms and issuing the paychecks.

Alaska, Hawaii establish space partnership

HONOLULU — Alaska and Hawaii on Monday agreed to work together to develop satellites, rockets and other aspects of space launches.

The two Pacific states will also share designs for rockets and satellites, cross-train personnel and share business and market development opportunities.

Universities in both states are working on miniaturized satellites, noted Craig Campbell, the president of Alaska Aerospace Corp., which his state established to develop a high-technology aerospace industry.

Hawaii is on the leading edge of making sure the small satellite technology works, and soon expects to launch one of the so-called “CubeSats,” he said.

Alaska, meanwhile, also owns and operates a launch complex on Kodiak Island.

Hawaii doesn’t have a commercial spaceport, though rockets may be launched into space from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

The range is used primarily for military purposes, but the University of Hawaii has plans to launch a miniature satellite from there soon.

Hawaiian Telcom seeks more from FCC on rural plan

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Telcom is asking the Federal Communications Commission for a larger subsidy to provide broadband Internet to rural areas in Hawaii.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that the telecommunications company is asking for the funds as part of the FCC’s “Connect America” program.

The FCC says Hawaiian Telcom has already received about $1.4 million to subsidize broadband service to more than 1,800 homes.

The next phase of the program is expected to last five years, with $1.8 billion to be spent nationwide.

The FCC plans to adjust to a location-specific funding formula that reflects “the unique circumstances and operating conditions in the noncontiguous areas of the United States,” including Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The FCC estimates 1.5 percent of all households in Hawaii don’t have access to broadband service — 17.7 percent of its rural population. That compares favorably with the rest of the country, where 6 percent of all Americans and 23.7 percent of the rural population can’t access broadband.

By local and wire sources