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Grandmother who helped convict Honolulu power couple dies

HONOLULU (AP) — The grandmother of a former Honolulu deputy city prosecutor who was at the center of a federal corruption case has died. A family attorney tells The Associated Press that Florence Puana died at her home Thursday morning. She was 100. Puana is the grandmother of Katherine Kealoha, who led a unit in the Honolulu prosecutor’s office that focused on career criminals. Kealoha and her retired Honolulu police chief husband Louis Kealoha were accused of defrauding relatives, banks and children to maintain a lavish lifestyle. The couple pleaded guilty to bank fraud in October in order to avoid other trials against them.


Hawaii Senate committee approves edible medical cannabis

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii state Senate committee has given preliminary approval to a bill authorizing the sale of edible medical cannabis products. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that even if the bill passes the Legislature the products are unlikely to be legally available for many months. Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee Chairwoman Rosalyn Baker says the state Department of Health would have to develop rules and regulations before edible cannabis products are sold. The health department would set guidelines for dosages, ingredients and packaging. The bill was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.


Military housing rentals offered to Hawaii school teachers

HONOLULU (AP) — The  Hawaii Department of Education has launched a new program allowing teachers to live in military rental housing. Hawaii Public Radio reported the housing initiative is one way that the department plans to address the problem of retaining and recruiting teachers. A study found the state's high cost of living is one of the greatest challenges for staffing public schools. Public school teachers can apply to live in military housing at the U.S. Army's Schofield Barracks on Oahu. Rent would cost $2,500 per month for two-bedroom houses and $2,600 for three-bedroom homes.


Former PG&E attorney to head EPA West Coast office

The Environmental Protection Agency has named a former attorney for the nation's largest utility to head its West Coast office. John Busterud replaces the regional director ousted from the post last week. Busterud worked for Pacific Gas and Electric for three decades. He will manage more than 600 staff employees and oversee environmental protection efforts across EPA’s Region 9. The region includes 50 million people living in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Former director Mike Stoker said he got a call last week from senior agency officials in Washington, D.C., telling him to resign.


Honolulu seeks private proposals to operate Haiku Stairs

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has requested proposals from private organizations interested in providing managed, fee-based access to its famed Haiku Stairs. The city has announced that any interested party would need to restore, maintain and operate the Oahu staircase that attracts 4,000 people annually. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns most of the property where the stairs are located and says it spends $250,000 annually trying to deter trespassers. The staircase has caused injuries and costly rescues of hikers who ignore security guards and trespassing signs. The board says it intends to turn over the stairs or have them removed.


Coast Guard abandons plans to move grounded Hawaii ship

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — The Coast Guard says it has scrapped plans to move a fishing vessel that ran aground after inspectors discovered flooding in the boat. West Hawaii Today reported the 63-foot ship named Midway Island was grounded Feb. 3 north of Hilo. The Coast Guard says the environmental impact of the grounding has been minimal and that there is no evidence of pollution discharge caused by water in the ship. Contractors found water in the fish hold and the engine room while preparing the ship to be moved. The Coast Guard says it will continue to monitor the vessel until a new plan is approved.