Emergency funds approved to keep Pearl Harbor monument open as shutdown drags on

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is hiring security guards. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is hiring security guards. (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Dec. 27, 2018 at 6:01 PM HST
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HTA OKs emergency funds to keep Pearl Harbor monument open as government shutdown drags on

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HTA has approved a $126,000 cash infusion to a consortium of nonprofits scrambling to keep the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument open amid the government shutdown.

Chris Tatum, new President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced the emergency funding at the HTA board meeting Thursday morning.

It allocates $14,000 a day to keep one of the state’s most-visited attractions including the Arizona Memorial open through Jan. 6.

“I want to thank the nonprofits for stepping up for keeping it open to date. It’s such an important part of Hawaii, the visitor experience and more importantly, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

A group of nonprofits had stepped up to keep the Pearl Harbor historic sites up and running during the government shutdown, which started last week.

But this week, they warned they would run out of money on Friday.

It costs up to $18,000 a day to keep sites open, but figures have been revised as the shutdown continues.

“We are ecstatic. We are so happy that HTA was able to come through and graciously help up us keep the park open,” said Aileen Utterdyke, Pacific Historic Parks president.

“It’s a park that represents a lot of people who sacrificed their lives for the United States.”

[Read more: Here’s how the federal government shutdown is impacting Hawaii]

Every day, up to 5,000 people make their way to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. It’s a trip many people plan months in advance.

The HTA’s decision came after discussions with nonprofits that chipped in to keep the park running, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Governor and local lawmakers.

“I think that’s a great idea. I think we need to help support some of these entities that are not under our direct jurisdiction, but also need help,” said State Rep. Richard Onishi, House Tourism Committee Chair.

Tour guides told Hawaii News Now Pearl Harbor was extra busy today with visitors thinking it would be shut down tomorrow. For many, coming to Pearl Harbor is a dream come true. After worries their visit could be derailed, the Fishel’s praised the state for stepping up.

“I would be very proud of the state of Hawaii for doing that. Other people better get off their butts and the fix the problems,” said Mike Fishel of Ohio.

A quarter of all Hawaii tourists visit Pearl Harbor.

That’s why last week the group of non-profits — Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum — pooled together close to $100,000 from their operating budgets to keep the monument up and running during the government shutdown.

Other states are also pitching in to keep their national parks open during the shutdown, recognizing their broad economic impact. In Utah, for example, the governor signed off on an $80,000 grant that will carry three of its most popular parks through the end of the year.

Contact www.pacifichistoricparks.org if you’d like to help Pacific Historic Parks.

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