Monday | December 11, 2017
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State briefs for March 16

Maui airport gets upgrades amid economic shift from sugar

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Maui airport is getting upgrades that officials hope will boost tourism as the economy-driving sugar industry phases out of production.

Workers are spending the coming months finishing a cell phone lot and breaking ground on a $350 million rental car facility, among other Kahului Airport improvements.

Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz says tourism is all that’s left after sugar.

Hawaii’s last sugar plantation, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., will close by 2017.

Officials hope upgrading the state’s second-busiest airport will boost the travel industry and accommodate more tourists.

Four paved lanes will replace the airport entrance by the summer in a two-phase project costing a total of about $73.7 million.

Moniz says the Airport Access Road will help with increased traffic.

Public not allowed at Kauai committee meetings on feral cats

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — A Kauai committee tasked with coming up with solutions for the island’s feral cat problem has been holding its meetings behind closed doors, which Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura says allows members to express their ideas more freely.

Yukimura brought the committee together to help draft a feral cats bill that she plans to introduce to the County Council. The nine-person committee has been meeting for more than a year without allowing members of the public to join in.

Basil Scott, a member of the committee and president of the Kauai Community Cat Project, said the meetings are being kept under wraps because of the contentious subject matter.

“I have had a problem with this because the meetings are held in secret,” Scott said. “It’s not illegal to the letter of the law, but the spirit of the Sunshine Law, the intent, is that openness must be maximized.”

Yukimura said the committee’s meetings are not subject to the Sunshine Law, which requires certain proceedings and records of governmental agencies to be open or available to the public. Holding the meetings in private keeps things from being taken out of context and prevents committee members from having “to spend a lot of time defending themselves from people who were not in the room,” she said.

Yukimura would not name the members of the group but said the Kauai Humane Society has representation on the committee.

“We are looking at how to allow and regulate managed cat colonies while at the same time holding caregivers accountable for reducing the number of cats over time, which they assert will happen,” Yukimura said.

The Kauai Community Cat Project estimates there are between 15,000 and 20,000 stray, abandoned or feral cats on Kauai.

Yukimura said there will be room for public debate once the feral cats bill is introduced. She did not provide a time frame for when that would happen.

State’s faith leaders look to step up efforts for homeless

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii faith leaders are seeking ways to better help a growing number of homeless residents who have been turning to churches for food and a place to sleep.

Dozens of leaders representing multiple faiths met with homeless service providers Monday to discuss giving to those in need.

The Institute for Human Services provided workshops on a range of topics for attendees, including helping mentally ill individuals and giving more effectively.

Family Promise, which relies on a network of churches hosting families for a week at a time, was praised for its efforts to assist the homeless and so was St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal. The Kalihi church has set up housing in the church’s parking lot for homeless families out of a converted shipping container.

“Our real push is for the intact families who are out there, who frankly don’t need services,” said Rev. David Gierlach “They just need a roof over their head. And there’s lots of them.”

Connie Mitchell, executive director of IHS, said the nonprofit organization is looking to see more churches taking in families in need of support while they get back on their feet.

“We really want our churches to consider that, if they have property,” said Mitchell.

Rev. David Rivers of Central Union Church in Honolulu said he has seen an increase in the number of homeless people showing up at his church over the past year. The church is considering opening a similar housing project on the property for families, he said.

“I think that we have the space,” Rivers said. “The next part is the conversation that would have to be had with the congregation about why we are doing this.”

Hawaii churches have also been working with nonprofits like IHS to seek out permanent housing for homeless people.

 

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