POSTED: Monday, November 30, 2009

Hurricane season reaches quiet end

The 2009 hurricane season blows quietly into history today with no tropical storms on the horizon.

Meanwhile yesterday, strong gusts battered parts of Oahu, and sections of Maui were getting 2 inches of rain per hour. A high-surf advisory remains in effect around sections of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Maui thanks to northwest swells.

Hurricane Felicia in early August was the storm that came closest to the islands this year. At one point it was a powerful Category 4 hurricane. Even as a tropical depression, it produced heavy rainfall as it passed the islands.

Last month, Hurricane Neki, another Category 3 storm, passed south of the islands before heading up into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, prompting the evacuation of 17 people at Laysan Island and French Frigate Shoals.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said yesterday that developing El Nino conditions translated to above-normal tropical cyclone activity, with seven storms since June 1.


Lingle releases $3M for health centers

Gov. Linda Lingle has released more than $3 million to improve energy efficiency at state health centers and other Department of Health facilities.

The money includes $1.1 million for air conditioning improvements at Diamond Head Health Center.

The funds will pay for the design and construction of replacement air handlers and fan coil units.

Lanakila Health Center on Oahu is due to receive $584,000 to improve its air conditioning system.

The governor says it is essential that Lanakila's air conditioning and ventilation systems perform at optimum levels because the center houses a tuberculosis clinic. Tuberculosis is an airborne disease.

Wailuku Health Center will get $268,000.


Catholic Charities gets $4,000 for immigrants

Catholic Charities received $4,000 from proceeds from the 31st Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk to help immigrants adjust to their new lives.

The nonprofit agency's General Immigrant Services Program assists with citizenship assistance, acculturation, ESL and interpretation/ translation services; it guides at-risk families toward self-reliance. More than 140 individuals were served last year, a release said.

The charity walk in May raised $1.13 million to help more than 190 local charities.


Punahou wins berth in WorldQuest event

Punahou beat 25 schools to take part next spring in the 10th annual National WorldQuest Competition in Washington, D.C.

Lahainaluna High School came in second after tying Punahou and losing in the sudden-death round of the competition Nov. 14, sponsored by the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council. Held at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus, students from 26 schools tested their international awareness of global issues, pandemics, geography and other topics.

“;PAAC's programs often provide high school students with their first exposure to global affairs as a whole or to specific international topics,”; said Natasha Chappel, program director, in an announcement. “;Our events allow students to discover the world through engaging activities.”;

PAAC's is Hawaii's only educational program for high school students that focuses exclusively on global and international issues in the Asia-Pacific region, a release said.



Mental health firm gets $5K for repairs

Mental Health Kokua has received $5,000 from the Bank of Hawaii Charitable Foundation to support repairs and renovations to group homes on the Big Island.

Greg Payton, executive director and chief executive officer of Mental Health Kokua, said in a news release the funds will help “;provide better housing environments for the people we serve in Hilo and Kona.”;

He said the grant will be used to do interior and exterior renovations and repair work at Hilo Hale, Hale Amau, PATCH Place and Kealahou.

The nonprofit organization served 148 clients last year on the Big Island, including 33 in Kona and 115 in Hilo.