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State / In Brief

September 28, 2012
The Associated Press

Feds declare Kauai drought disaster area

LIHUE - The U.S. Agriculture Department has designated Kauai County as a disaster area because of ongoing drought.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a letter sent Wednesday to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie that the declaration will give farmers access to assistance.

The letter says Kauai is on the list because it has had at least eight straight weeks of severe drought during the growing season.

Honolulu, Hawaii and Maui counties already have the designation.


Visitors bureau celebrates Presley movie

LIHUE - The Kauai Visitors Bureau is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Elvis Presley movie, "Blue Hawaii."

"Blue Hawaii" will be screened and a Presley tribute artist will perform at a celebration hosted by the agency at the Kauai Marriott Resort on Saturday.

The movie was filmed on Oahu and Kauai in 1961. It was released later that year, but didn't debut on Kauai until early 1962.

It was the first major motion picture to showcase Kauai as Kauai, and triggered a wave of interest in the island.

The last 20 minutes of the movie were filmed at or near the now-closed Coco Palms Resort. The film ends with a lagoon wedding scene in which Presley and his fiancee are carried to a chapel in a double-hulled canoe.


Hawaii County gets new elections official

HILO - Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi says an elections specialist from her office will be filling in temporarily as elections administrator.

Kawauchi said that Elizabeth Lehua Iopa has the support of the clerk's office and elections division staff. Iopa has worked for the division since 2008.

The division has been without an administrator since an investigation found alcohol and privately owned sign-making equipment in an elections warehouse.

Two employees fired as a result were reinstated to their positions after union grievance hearings but neither has returned.

The two workers are suing the county, Kawauchi, the county council chairman and a county-contracted private investigator for defamation.

In August, the county clerk's office came under fire for opening a dozen polling places late on the day of the primary election.


Guilty plea in Makaha bus stop death

WAIANAE, Oahu - The man charged with negligent homicide in a hit-and-run crash that killed a 3-year-old boy at a west Oahu bus stop has pleaded guilty.

Potasi Uta Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday in a plea deal that will put him in prison for 20 years.

Ashton Brown died at the bus stop alongside Makaha Beach in March. Four of his family members were also injured. His father was across the street setting up camp for the reportedly homeless family.

Uta's family members say they've raised money for Ashton's family.

Under the plea deal, Uta must complete his 10-year sentence for a 2004 burglary before he begins his 20-year term for the negligent homicide case.


$250K FAA grant for Hawaii space study

HONOLULU - Hawaii is getting a share of nearly $500,000 in space transportation infrastructure grants.

The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism will get a $250,000 matching grant. The grant will be used to analyze the feasibility for a potential commercial FAA launch site.

The FAA also announced a $200,000 matching grant to Colorado for a similar study and a nearly $24,000 grant to an existing spaceport in California to buy a firefighting system.


Skydivers fear fate of Dillingham Airfield

WAIALUA, Oahu - Hawaii is considering returning a North Shore Oahu airfield to the U.S. Army.

Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday that the state says it's losing $700,000 to $1.5 million a year on the Dillingham Airfield, leaving skydivers wondering what will happen to the popular recreational aviation venue.

The Army says the state hasn't told them whether the lease will be terminated. The state's lease with the Army expires in 2014 but the Army says the state can opt out before that.

The state has operated the 65-acre property since 1962.



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