POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Invasive fire ant found on west side of Big Island

An invasive, stinging insect known as the little fire ant has spread to the west side of the Big Island from the east side, state agricultural officials said yesterday.

The ant was detected earlier this month at two locations in Kailua-Kona, at a residence and at a holding yard for a landscaping firm, according to the state Department of Agriculture. It is likely that there are unreported infested locations in West Hawaii, according to state entomologists.

The tiny ant, from South America, is considered among the world's worst invasive species, officials said. It is about 1/16 th of an inch long and pale orange, and packs a painful sting that may cause large red welts as well as blindness in pets. The ants can overrun a property and will freely move into homes.


Bill would shift Kalaupapa from Health Department

The Molokai settlement where St. Damien cared for Hansen's disease patients would be managed by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands under a bill before the Legislature.

State Sen. Kalani English's proposal would transfer management of Kalaupapa Settlement from the Department of Health once there is no longer a resident patient population.

The Vatican made Father Damien a saint last year for his selfless care of leprosy patients in the 19th century on the island of Molokai. The Belgian-born Roman Catholic priest died of the disease himself in 1889.



County's cost for water falls short of rate

HILO » A new study says Hawaii County's Department of Water Supply is recuperating only about 90 percent of its costs.

The finding opens the possibility of rate increases for residential and agricultural customers, possibly as soon as July.

Consultant R.W. Beck on Tuesday recommended a 5.8 percent increase this year, followed by increases of 3.7 percent and 2.2 percent the following years.

Consultant Ann Miyahira Hajnosz says rate increases may also be necessary the two years after that.

A 5.8 percent increase would add about $5 to a typical $77 bimonthly residential water bill.

The study says county residents pay on average $38.69 a month for water, compared with $28.60 on Oahu, $29.80 on Maui and $41.40 on Kauai.