POSTED: Saturday, August 01, 2009

DLNR improves phone service

An automated phone service at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources will now receive after-hours calls for violations of state natural and cultural resources law, the department reported yesterday.

The voice-mail service will ask callers to leave a detailed message, which officers will check regularly and respond to when available.

Details include the type of resource violation, where the violation occurred, and contact information so officers can follow up, said Laura H. Thielen, Board of Land and Natural Resources chairwoman.

Regular business hours for the DLNR are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the toll-free number is 643-DLNR (3561).

Lana keeps on track to miss Hawaii

Tropical Storm Lana “;may have reached its peak”; as it continues on a track that will keep it well south of the Hawaiian Islands, forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said yesterday.

Lana's maximum sustained winds increased yesterday to about 50 mph with higher gusts. Tropical storm-force winds extend 45 miles from Lana's center, which was about 550 miles southeast of Hilo at 5 p.m. The system was moving west at about 16 mph, forecasters said.

“;On this track, the area of strongest winds associated with Lana should be passing well to the south of the Hawaiian Islands in about 36 to 48 hours,”; forecasters said.

The storm is expected to weaken over the weekend. “;In terms of intensity, Lana may have reached its peak,”; according to the hurricane center's 11 a.m. advisory.

Lana is the first named storm for the Central Pacific in the 2009 hurricane season.

Beverage container redemption is up

The amount of people redeeming beverage containers has increased this year compared with last year.

According to the state Department of Health, the beverage container annual redemption rate increased to 79 percent between July 1, 2008, and June 30 compared with 72 percent during the previous year.

Karl Motoyama of the Office of Solid Waste Management speculated that the increase in redemption rate might be resulting from the weak economy.

Big Isle loses state funds for housing

HILO » A Hawaii County-supported housing project is moving ahead, despite the loss of more than $1 million in state funding.

The Governor's Office says the money for the Kaloko Housing Program was not released by a June 30 deadline because the Hawaii Public Housing Authority had submitted an incomplete application.

A spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle, Russell Pang, says a revised application failed to make the cutoff date. He says the Legislature had shortened the deadline for use of the funds from two years to one year.

A Hawaii County spokesman says the project still has more than $11 million in county and federal funding. He says it will move forward, but it could be slightly smaller than planned.

The project is to include housing units for homeless working families.