POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

Police ready traffic checks for holidays

Police said they will be conducting sobriety checkpoints during upcoming holiday periods through March 1, and also on Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine's Day.

In addition to tonight, the holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day.

Police reported 53 people killed on Oahu roadways due to traffic collisions as of Dec. 23, more than the 46 killed in all of 2008.

Of this year's deaths, 30 were caused by speeding and/or impaired driving, police said.

“;In addition to killing yourself and others, the emotional trauma and financial burden of a crash can be devastating for your family,”; said police Traffic Division Commander Thomas Nitta.

As part of the federal 52/12 program, police also will have impaired driver checkpoints every week until September at unannounced times and locations.


Appeals court backs ruling that halted anti-rail ballot

The state Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld a Circuit Court decision that prevented an anti-rail initiative from appearing on the November 2008 General Election ballot in Honolulu.

In its decision published yesterday, the court found that an initiative petition requires the signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters during the last mayoral election rather than 10 percent of the votes cast.

The group Stop Rail Now submitted an initiative petition asking for a special election to put an anti-rail question before voters. But then-City Clerk Denise De Costa found that the number of registered voters who signed the petition was about 10,000 short of the 44,525 signatures required.

After the group's petition was initially rejected by De Costa, the City Council voted to put a rail transit question on the November 2008 ballot. That vote passed in favor of rail transit by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin.

Stop Rail Now appealed the Circuit Court decision just on the question of the number of signatures required to qualify a ballot initiative.

But while not ruling directly on the issue, the appeals court decision suggested in a footnote that De Costa may have been correct in also denying the Stop Rail Now petition because it asked for a special election within 180 days of a regularly scheduled election.


'Yard Waste' wins contest

Kathy Tosh's wreath, “;And to Think It All Began with Yard Waste,”; won the top Mayor's Holly Award and a $200 prize in the city's 24th Annual Holiday Wreath Contest.

The City's Commission on Culture and the Arts selected the best-in-show wreath from 84 entries by residents and community groups, the city announced. Judging was based on criteria such as craftsmanship and creativity.

The wreath, made of dried plant materials, will be on display in the Lane Gallery of Honolulu Hale through Sunday.

The contest theme was “;Holiday Memories”; in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Honolulu City Lights event and the 50th anniversary of statehood.



Group to use county grant to push koa

HILO » Hawaii County's Department of Research and Development has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Hawaii Forest Industry Association.

The association says the money will be used to promote koa wood through a campaign titled “;Koa: Standing the Test of Time.”;

The group says it has already begun evaluating its “;Hawaii's Wood”; branding program and making recommendations to revise materials to better encompass more information about koa and other Hawaiian hardwoods.

It says new strategies are being put into place to broaden the public's awareness of, desire for and appreciation of koa.

More than 20,000 acres of koa trees are now being grown commercially. The association says koa will remain in restricted supply for at least 15 to 20 years as the new trees mature.