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POSTED: Monday, March 30, 2009

Mauna Kea hotel back in business

KAILUA-KONA » The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which shut down after sustaining structural damage from the 2006 earthquake and aftershock, is open for business after undergoing $150 million in repairs and renovations.

More than 300 people attended a grand-opening celebration Friday, including former Vice President Dan Quayle.

"The grande dame of the island of Hawaii is now ready to welcome the visitors of the world once again," said Mayor Billy Kenoi. "It's indicative of the progress and there's still hope and optimism in the community to have the hotel open again despite all of the economic challenges we're facing."

The Mauna Kea shut down on Dec. 2, 2006, about two months after an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 and a 6.0 aftershock struck off the Kohala Coast on Oct. 15. It was forced to close during record tourism in the islands. The resort has reopened amid a global economic crisis that has hit the Hawaii tourism industry hard.

Hotel General Manager Jon Girsonde said 383 employees, representing about 85 percent of those who left when the hotel closed, have returned.

 

New Big Island courthouse opening

HILO » A new, $91.7 million courthouse is due to open in Hilo.

The building, called Hale Kaulike, or "House of Justice," is due to open today.

It has seven general-purpose courtrooms, two family courtrooms, a law library and holding cells. It also has meeting rooms for witnesses, attorney interviews and grand juries.

The estimated cost for the building was $60 million when it was proposed in 2003. That included $53 million for construction and $7 million to buy the land on Kilauea Avenue.

But the plan gained 35,000 square feet and had a new estimated price tag of $86 million when construction began in 2005.

The final $91.7 million cost excludes $600,000 for two works of art paid for by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.