POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Congress OKs leprosy monument

Congress has approved a bill authorizing a monument to 8,000 leprosy patients exiled to Kalaupapa between 1866 and 1969.

The measure was included in an omnibus public land management bill passed by the House yesterday, 285-140.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono's office says the legislation is now cleared for President Obama's signature.

The bill does not appropriate any funds for the project, which will be built at Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Instead it says a support group for leprosy patients will be responsible for raising money for the memorial.

The legislation also authorizes up to $500,000 for the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which has locations on Kauai and Maui.

The bill extends the authority of an advisory commission of Kaloko-Honokohau National Park.


Tribute to Mina planned tomorrow

Hawaii flags at state and county buildings will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow in honor of former state Rep. Ted Mina, who died March 8, Gov. Linda Lingle said.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow for Mina, who was first elected to the state House in 1976.


Passport requirements expanding

Beginning June 1, U.S. citizens must present a passport, passport card or other travel documents approved by the U.S. government when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda at sea or land ports of entry.

The Honolulu Passport Agency will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to provide passport information to citizens and nationals. Representatives also will be accepting passport applications without having to make an appointment. The event is part of “;Passport Day in the USA.”;

Information on cost and how to apply for a passport book and/or passport card is available at travel.state.gov. Applications can also be downloaded and completed from the Web site.

The Honolulu Passport Agency is in the Prince Kuhio Federal Building, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 1-330.


Parking is closed at Kailua library

Entrance to the Kailua Public Library parking lot will be closed through tomorrow because of a sidewalk project, but the library and Friends of Kailua Library Bookstore will remain open.


Lingle releases funds for laboratory

Gov. Linda Lingle has released $2.5 million to help fund the design of a Pacific Regional Biosafety Laboratory in Honolulu.

The National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases is chipping in $7.5 million in federal funds for planning and design costs. Construction is estimated to cost $37.5 million, including $12.5 million in state money and $25 million in federal funds.

Once completed in 2012, the lab will be one of 13 such laboratories in the national network funded by the institute.

The Honolulu lab will be located near the Biosciences Research Building at the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The primary user will be the school's Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology.