State / In Brief

The Associated Press

Space squadron to operate from Kauai

LIHUE — The U.S. Air Force has approved a naval facility and airport as the preferred alternative site for a technical squadron tasked with monitoring satellites in support of the national security space mission.

The Space Control Squadron would operate out of the Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility in western Kauai, the Garden Island reported Tuesday.

“By selecting a site on Kauai, the Air Force will create a new, highly technical squadron to monitor U.S. satellites in support of the national security space mission, ensuring that the military and other national security agencies have access to satellite communication, intelligence, and key information,” federal officials said in a news release.

The unit is also expected to bring more federal funds and jobs to the state, Schatz said. The squadron would support 88 new Hawaii Air National Guard positions, including 29 full-time positions and 59 part-time positions.

The basing process is expected to be completed by 2020, with the unit becoming partially operational by 2021 and fully operational by 2022, federal officials said


Settlement reached over deadly fire

HONOLULU — Plaintiffs and defendants reached a settlement over a deadly Honolulu high-rise fire, although the amounts to be paid by insurance companies remains confidential, attorneys said.

A settlement conference concluded Tuesday regarding the July 2017 Marco Polo building fire that killed four people, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Dean Ochiai ordered the defendants to make financial disbursements out of an escrow account by Jan. 15.

The fire at the 568-unit condominium building was one of the worst in modern Honolulu history, requiring the efforts of about 130 firefighters for more than four hours before the blaze was extinguished.

The fire affected 200 of the building’s units, including 30 that were destroyed, mostly on the 26th through 28th floors. The building was built in 1971 before sprinkler systems were required, officials said.

Investigators ruled in October 2017 that the cause could not be determined because of extensive damage in the unit where the fire originated.

The fire killed 54-year-old Britt Reller and his 87-year-old mother Jean Dilley, 71-year-old Joann M. Kuwata, and 81-year-old Marilyn Van Gieson.


Business leaders protest plastics bill

HONOLULU — Members of the Oahu business community took to the grounds of Honolulu’s city government building to protest a bill that would ban a range of single-use plastic items.

Retail and wholesale business leaders gathered at the Honolulu Hale on Tuesday to speak against what they believe is a poorly crafted measure by the city council, news organizations reported.

Bill 40 would prohibit the use of certain plastic items and polystyrene containers by restaurants and food manufacturing companies. The bill would give Mainland competitors an advantage because the law would not apply to their products, operators said.

The primary concerns of businesses involve the seemingly wide breadth of the latest draft and the timeline for its implementation. The bill’s list of targeted products has expanded beyond its original intent of phasing out plastic straws, stirrers, utensils and bags, they said.

The demonstration by about 200 people included a display of packaged goods they believe would be prohibited from being sold. They included Hawaii kitchen staples such as macadamia nuts, animal crackers, kimchi and drink cartons.