POSTED: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Volcanoes Park to test buses

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is receiving a nearly $1 million grant to test the use of hydrogen-powered hybrid buses for shuttle service.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said last week that the project will reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs.

He said it will also protect the park's fragile resources.

The test program will run for two years.

In total, the National Park Service and its partners will contribute a total of $2.4 million to the project.

The state of Hawaii, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Hawaiian Electric Co. are among the project's partners.

Families urged to buy bus passes early

The state Department of Education is asking families to purchase school bus passes for the upcoming school year, before the back-to-school rush.

The majority of public schools start on July 30 and about 30,000 student riders, or 75 percent, have not bought bus passes yet, according to department officials.

“;Even students who are entitled to free bus passes must complete an application form,”; said James Kauhi, the department's acting manager of student transportation services.

School bus fare is 35 cents a trip (except in Maui County) and passes can be bought for the academic quarter or full school year.

The DOE said parents can download bus pass applications at iportal.k12.hi.us/SBT or contact their child's school.

State to acquire thousands of acres

More than $3 million from the State Land Conservation Fund is being used to acquire land having cultural, archaeological and natural resources values.

The state will use more than $2.5 million to buy more than 3,500 acres at two locations on Oahu and two on the Big Island.

The rest of the money will go to the Maui Coastal Land Trust for the acquisition of an agricultural conservation easement over 27 acres in Pupukea on Oahu's North Shore. The land is to be held by the North Shore Community Land Trust for its agricultural and open space values.

State officials said the funds will leverage about $6.6 million in matching federal funds and $1.5 million in private and county funds toward the protection of Hawaii's resources.

Chaminade awarded $70,000 grant

The Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation awarded a $70,000 grant to Chaminade University for a program to train preschool managers.

The Castle Colleagues Program provides management training to early childhood education directors and offers management skills and resources.

Maui measure would ban shark tours

WAILUKU » A Maui County Councilman has introduced a measure to ban shark tours off the county's three islands.

Wayne Nishiki of South Maui said last week that the county has the power to ban shark tours by blocking business licenses for the such activity.

No shark tours operate on Maui, but Nishiki said he wants to make sure they don't start.

Two companies take tourists to see sharks in waters off Oahu's North Shore.

The tourists jump into submersible cages to get an up close look at sharks. The tours attract sharks by throwing bloody fish bait into the water.

State and federal officials say feeding sharks is illegal, but the North Shore tour operators say they are following the law.