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POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Native Hawaiian education gets $7.6M grant

Some $7.6 million in federal funds has been allotted for native Hawaiian education initiatives, including a program to combat homelessness and another to improve reading and mathematics instruction.

The funds are being provided through 14 grants from the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said yesterday.

Some $1 million is going to the University of Hawaii's Heluhelu Maoli program to develop schoolwide reading programs and improve mathematics instruction.

The program is expected to serve some 2,800 Hawaiian students, 300 teachers and school staff, and more than 1,000 parents.

Other grants include $823,711 for curriculum research and development and $705,030 for a tutoring program.

Hilda expected to stay clear of isles

Tropical Storm Hilda is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by midday Thursday, but forecasters say it is still on track to pass 300 miles south of the islands.

The storm had sustained winds of 65 mph yesterday but is expected to increase in intensity to at least 74 mph to qualify as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service. It is traveling westward at about 11 mph.

The center of the storm will be about 300 miles south-southwest on its closest approach to the islands beginning at midday Friday, said meteorologist Vladimir Ryshko.

Ryshko said its likely effects on Hawaii will be to intensify the tradewinds during the weekend and bring rainfall after it passes.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is watching Tropical Storm Ignacio, which was generated in the eastern Pacific off Baja California. Its projected path would take it northwest of Hawaii.

Old building overhauled to conserve

A 132-year-old Chinatown building is taking a step into the 21st century, going “;green”; with an energy-efficient photovoltaic system.

The historic Wing Wo Tai building, originally built for a Chinese import business in 1877, now features a rooftop with photovoltaic panels and an interior with low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient lighting.

Officials with the Nature Conservancy, which owns the building and uses it for its headquarters in Hawaii, said they wanted to reduce carbon emissions in its consumption of energy.

“;As a conservation organization, we felt it was important to lead by example. We have to 'walk the talk.'”; said Suzanne Case, the conservancy's executive director.

The nonprofit group was able to find a firm that provided the upfront cost for the photovoltaic system, in exchange for the conservancy agreeing to purchase power from it, said conservancy spokesman Grady Timmons.

She said the change has reduced water use by 30 percent and overall energy consumption by nearly half.

Hawaiian Electric Co. still provides the building with some power during the day and all the power at night.

The 13,000-square-foot building is now one of only 307 existing buildings worldwide to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System.

Other certified buildings include the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the Starbucks Center in Seattle.

'Aging in Place' is focus of workshop

A free informational workshop will be held for Hawaii seniors and families from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Ala Moana Hotel's Hibiscus Room.

The Elderhood Project and KHON2 are presenting the “;Aging in Place”; event, with speakers and exhibitors representing government, private and nonprofit service agencies.

Breakout sessions will cover such topics as care-giving, legal issues, health care options, finances, estate planning and scams, and government assistance programs for seniors.

A documentary film called “;The Graying of Hawaii”; will be shown during the lunch hour.

Maui expo will light up Grand Wailea

The Maui County Energy Expo 2009, highlighting alternative energy plans and technologies, is set for Sept. 10-11 at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa.

This year's conference, a follow-up to one in 2007, features presentations by working groups from the Maui County Energy Alliance, product and technology exhibits as well as panel discussions.

There will also be a public comment session on an “;Energy Action Plan”; under development for Maui County.

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares said reducing the county's dependence on imported fossil fuel is a priority, and “;the expo is one way that government, the private sector and members of the community can work together to shape our county's energy future.”;

For information and to register online, go to http://www.mauicounty. gov/energyexpo.