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POSTED: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jury split in case of damaged homes

The developer of the Fairways at Maui Lani must pay nearly $233,000 to six homeowners who said construction damaged their properties.

The decision against developer VP&PK (ML) LLC was made Monday by a Circuit Court jury on Maui.

Damages weren't awarded to five other plaintiffs. In all, 16 people who own 11 homes filed suit, saying that from about 2006 to 2008, dirt blew into their homes and vibrations rattled and damaged their properties. The jury also found that one of the defendants, general contractor Kila Kila Builders, wasn't responsible for any of the damage.

Defense attorneys argued no government agencies found fault with the project, and that an engineer said vibrations at the job site were below a “;damage threshold.”;

Hoku alters pact to avert foreclosure

Hoku Materials Inc. has amended its polysilicon plant construction contract with JH Kelly LLC that would enable JH Kelly to resume work upon notice from Hoku and Hoku's payment of $5 million that is past due.

In July the subsidiary of Honolulu-based Hoku Scientific Inc. initiated a temporary slowdown of construction and procurement activities at the Pocatello, Idaho, facility to preserve cash while Hoku sought to raise additional capital.

JH Kelly later filed a lien claiming it was owed $12 million.

As a result of the amended agreement, JH Kelly agreed to refrain from foreclosing on its $12 million lien until after Dec. 1, 2009. If Hoku makes the $5 million prepayment by that date, then Hoku will have until Jan. 14 to pay the balance of the $12 million that is due.

Hoku is seeking to complete construction of 2,500 metric tons of polysilicon production capacity in March, with the full 4,000 metric tons of capacity in December 2010.

Ad agency restructures, changes name

Milici Valenti Ng Pack Advertising Inc. has restructured and changed its name to MVNP.

Its advertising services and its interactive subsidiary have been combined into an integrated business structure so that Firefly will no longer exist as a separate brand.

No employees were laid off in the restructuring, but promotions were announced, including Markus Staib to chief operating officer, Patrick Spargur to director of online and social (media) strategy, and Creative Director Tammy Uy will oversee the integrated online and off-line creative team.

HC&S to take 5-month harvest break

Drought and maintenance are expected to extend the harvest break for HC&S, the sugar-growing subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

After the harvest is finished in October, the company plans to take a five-month break, said Willie Kennison, ILWU's Maui division director. During the break, most of the 50 HC&S workers affected by the break will be offered jobs in other departments, Kennison said. Workers who are not temporarily reassigned will be eligible to draw unemployment and will be rehired when the work resumes, he said.

“;In the past year, the company has made a real effort to survive and has improved their farming practices,”; he said, adding that the maintenance break will allow the company to continue improvements.

Jobless benefits may be extended

WASHINGTON » Jobless workers in imminent danger of losing their unemployment benefits would get a 13-week reprieve under legislation approved by the House yesterday.

The House bill, which applies to 27 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or higher, would add to the already-record levels of benefits that have been available to the jobless as the country struggles to recover from the recession.

It would not, however, give any extra benefits to the longtime unemployed in states that have lower levels of joblessness, including Hawaii, whose jobless rate was 7.2 percent in August.

The bill goes to the Senate.

FDIC analyzes funding options

WASHINGTON » The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is weighing several costly options as it struggles to shore up the dwindling fund that insures bank deposits.

The agency is considering borrowing billions from healthy banks or imposing a special fee on the banking industry.

Each option carries risk: Drawing money from healthy banks would take dollars out of the private sector. Charging a fee could push weaker banks toward failure.

ON THE MOVE

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The Locations Foundation has named Mary Tess Edu as president. She has been involved with the company since 2002 and a Realtor for Prudential Locations for eight years. Named as trustees were Kevin Byrne, who has been a client solution manager for Prudential Locations for the last seven years, and Brandon Lau, who is a Realtor for Prudential Locations and has been with the company for four years.

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Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Special Staff for the President selected Satu Limaye to be the U.S. representative to the recent Presidential Friends of Indonesia Conference. Limaye is director of the East-West Center's Washington office.