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POSTED: Sunday, July 05, 2009

Churches unite to impact voting

Several Hawaii churches are uniting to register tens of thousands of new voters in hopes of influencing 2010 elections for the Legislature and governor's office.

Hawaii Family Forum is leading the effort, which also includes several Protestant churches, the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and the Mormon church.

Federal tax law bars churches from endorsing or supporting candidates.

But the effort's leaders want to remind churches around the state that they can educate parishioners about candidate positions on important issues, register voters and conduct get-out-the-vote drives.

Motivating them is opposition to now-stalled legislation that would allow same-gender couples to enter into civil unions.

Abortion and gambling also are top concerns.

Water use down in Maui amid drought

WAILUKU » Water use in Upcountry Maui has gone down slightly since the county declared a drought in the area amid dry weather conditions and falling reservoir levels.

The Department of Water Supply says water use fell to 8.23 million gallons per day in the week following the drought announcement, compared to 8.7 million gallons per day in the previous week.

Water Director Jeff Eng says light rains have helped reduce water demand by a small amount.

The National Weather Service's drought information statement says West Maui has deteriorated into a severe drought, while east-facing slopes of Maui and Molokai remain in a moderate drought.

The county asked Upcountry residents and businesses from Haiku to Kanaio to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 5 percent.

Quarantined isle students extend stay in South Korea

The group of Hawaii students whose South Korea trip was disrupted by swine flu is staying a few days longer in Seoul, a spokeswoman said.

The 21 students and four chaperones with the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council had planned to return today, but will now return Tuesday. The extra days will allow the group to participate in some activities they had to skip at the beginning of the trip.

The students are visiting the Blue House, the home and office of the president of the Republic of Korea, and meeting pen pals from a Seoul high school during their extended stay.

Yesterday, the students attended a celebration of the Fourth of July at the United Service Organization where they performed hula for other guests.

South Korean officials put the group into quarantine when they arrived June 22 at Seoul's Incheon Airport because five students had high temperatures.

Tests confirmed they had swine flu. The students who tested positive were taken to a hospital and the others were quarantined at their hotel. Later tests showed five more students and two chaperones also had swine flu.

All students and chaperones resumed their itinerary on June 28.

EPA grant to help students learn affects of pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is giving $93,256 to a Waianae stream assessment program.

The Ka Wai Ola O Waianae Moku project will assess human impact on streams and how it affects the waters along Waianae Coast. Once the project is completed, an action plan will be developed to address water quality issues in the streams.

The project will teach students the risks of pollutants, and encourage them to reduce toxic pollution in their communities. The Pacific American Foundation will help manage the project, but Waianae Coast community members will also participate by setting benchmarks, priorities, and ranking issues.

Drowning victim identified as Honolulu man, 21

The city Medical Examiner said an autopsy shows that a a 21-year-old man whose body was found in the Magic Island lagoon last month drowned.

The victim was identified as Eric Liu of Honolulu. Liu was found in the lagoon after 7 a.m. on June 20.