POSTED: Saturday, June 27, 2009





Share your stories of statehood


        Were you around when Hawaii became a state in 1959? We'd like to hear from you for a commemorative 50th-anniversary edition.

What do you remember about that day—Aug. 20, 1959? Was it small-kid time for you, were you caught up in the moment? Do you remember the parades or the sounding of church bells? What are your impressions half a century later? If you were older in 1959, what did you think about Hawaii becoming a state? Has statehood been good for the islands? Why or why not? If 1959 was way, way before your time, we'd like to hear how you feel about statehood, too.


Please write to the addresses below. Include your name and phone number.


E-mail your thoughts to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Or mail them to Statehood, Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 210, 96813.


Matson and 3 unions still talking

Contract talks between Matson, the largest shipper of goods to Hawaii, and three unions continued into last night, past a strike deadline that had been set for 9 p.m. Thursday.

Charles Khim, a union attorney, said the unions could call a strike or management could lock them out if contract negotiations break down.

Three unions representing ship captains, officers, radio operators and engineers were negotiating with Matson Navigation Co. over a new contract. Both sides said yesterday that progress had been made.

Khim said issues for the unions include eliminating a two-tier wage system and the outsourcing of union jobs.

The Masters, Mates & Pilots, the American Radio Association and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association represent about 1,000 to 1,500 members eligible to work for Matson. Their contract expired June 15.

Isle students in Korea good to go

Four of five Hawaii students who were initially quarantined in South Korea because of swine flu fears have been released from a Seoul hospital.

The fifth will be released today or tomorrow.

Ruth Limtiaco, spokeswoman for the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, which sponsored the trip, said five other students and one chaperone held at an Incheon hospital are due to be released by tomorrow. They had tested positive for swine flu but showed no symptoms.

Limtiaco says one other chaperone remains at another Incheon hospital with pneumonia and is expected to remain there through Wednesday.

Eleven other students and two other chaperones are continuing on their tour.

Upcountry Maui water running low

Upcountry Maui residents have been asked to reduce their water consumption by 5 percent, as county water officials announced a drought watch.

The areas include Haiku, Makawao, Olinda, Haliimaile, Pukalani, Kula, Omaopio/Pulehu, Keokea, Ulupalakua, and Kanaio.

As of Thursday, reservoirs were empty at Waikamoi and about a third full at Kahakapao, the county said.

Customers paying agricultural rates are exempt from the request.

Big Isle cell-phone law set for Jan. 1

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi signed a bill Thursday requiring the use of hands-free equipment with a mobile phone device while driving.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1. Violators may be fined up to $150. Anyone causing a collision while using a cell phone without a hands-free device may be fined up to $500.

Those exempt from the ban are emergency responders, drivers using two-way radios for work, and drivers with an FCC amateur radio operator license.

National union to honor McElrath

A national teacher's union plans to honor the late Hawaii activist Ah Quon McElrath with a human and civil rights award named after labor rights leader Cesar Chavez.

The National Education Association will posthumously present the award Thursday at its annual meeting in San Diego.

McElrath spent most of her career as a social worker for the International Longshoremen's and Warehouse Union.

The Honolulu-born daughter of Chinese immigrants pushed the state Legislature to increase unemployment benefits for workers and improve workers compensation and disability insurance.

She also secured federal funds to build homes for low-income workers.

McElrath died on Dec. 11, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.

School Street offramp to be closed

The School Street offramp from the Waianae-bound lanes of H-1 freeway will be closed from 9:30 p.m. tomorrow through 5 a.m. July 10, the state Transportation Department announced.

The closure is part of a $2.5 million project for drainage and other improvements in that section of the H-1.

Transportation officials advise motorists to use the Vineyard Boulevard or Houghtailing Street offramps.

Big Isle offers low-rate loans for home fixes

Hawaii County's Office of Housing and Community Development is accepting applications to its Residential Emergency Repair Program, which offers low-interest loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners who are seeking to repair and improve their primary residences.

The loans can be used for improvement projects such as roof repairs, electrical and plumbing work, sewer improvements, termite treatments and the installation of solar water heating.

Loans range in value from $2,500 to $25,000 at a 3 percent interest rate. Loan payments are deferred for 15 years, at which the loan must be paid. Applicants 62 or older or with special needs may have 30 percent of the loan forgiven as a grant.

For more information, contact Dawnelle Forsythe at 959-4642.