Opossum caught by a cat trap
HONOLULU - The state Department of Agriculture said workers attempting to capture feral cats near Oahu's Sand Island found an opossum caught in one of their traps.
The department said Thursday that its inspectors picked up the animal. They don't know how the opossum got to the area, but the animals have been known to hitchhike rides on shipping containers.
Opossums are native to North America and are not found in Hawaii. They have a wide-ranging diet, eating insects, bird eggs and rodents as well as fruits and vegetables. They could pose a threat to Hawaii's endangered native birds.
Last year, workers unloading a shipping container at Ward Center in Honolulu found an opossum inside.
Visitor numbers on the rise
HONOLULU - Officials said Hawaii welcomed 10 percent more visitors in the first half of this year compared to last year. Travelers to the islands increased their spending here by 21 percent.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Thursday that 3.9 million visitors arrived in Hawaii from January through June and spent $7.1 billion.
HTA President Mike McCartney said the trend is putting the industry on course to post a record-breaking year.
McCartney said airlines are bringing more travelers to Hawaii by adding flights and routes.
He said this will continue in the second half of the year as Allegiant Travel, Asiana Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines add flights to the state.
Shelter says fewer homeless
HONOLULU - Honolulu's largest homeless shelter said the number of homeless in the downtown area has declined for the first time in four years.
The Institute for Human Services said in a statement Thursday that the 2012 Point in Time Count showed the homeless population dropped 10 percent from last year. The number of chronically homeless downtown declined 11 percent.
IHS said it helped 565 people move from the shelter to transitional or permanent housing in 12 months through June 30.
The state is working on a plan to reduce homelessness around the islands. The plan includes proposals to boost access to stable and affordable housing and increase the availability of health services for homeless people who are mentally ill and suffer from substance abuse.
Highway declared a disaster
HONOLULU - Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a disaster declaration that will allow the state to make emergency repairs to a critical highway on Kauai that was damaged by waves last week.
Waves eroded about 15 feet of Kaumualii Highway's shoulder from July 16 to 19.
The governor's office said continual wave action will undermine the pavement and the sewer force main running beneath the highway.
Abercrombie said Wednesday that the health, safety and welfare of Kauai's people and the local economy would be endangered if the highway were to close or if the sewer force main were lost.
Poll: Hirono in lead over Case
HONOLULU - A new Hawaii poll shows U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono with a double-digit lead over former U.S. Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
Ward Research Inc. conducted the poll July 12 through Saturday. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The poll has Hirono ahead of Case 55 percent to 37 percent.
The winner of the Aug. 11 primary is likely to face Republican former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle in November in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.