State roundup for February 9


Human services director quits

HONOLULU (AP) — The director of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services is stepping down from her position, effective immediately.

The governor’s office says Patricia McManaman announced her decision Friday, citing personal reasons. She has led the department since 2010.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is naming Deputy Director Barbara Yamashita as acting director.

Prior to becoming director, McManaman practiced law in Hawaii for more than 30 years. She also served as a per diem judge in District Court and Family Court for 17 years.

The governor touts highlights of her leadership including making it faster to access food stamps and other public benefits.

Fixes to begin at vets cemetery

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — A renovation of gravesites at Makawao Veterans Cemetery on Maui is set to begin later this month in a project that aims to bring the facility up to national veterans-cemetery standards.

The $1.1 million restoration project is expected to take one year and will include the refurbishing, cleaning and realignment of more than 1,500 gravesites. The project follows a similar restoration program at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at its Punchbowl on Oahu.

The project work for Makawao Veterans Cemetery was recently awarded to BCP Construction of Hawaii.

Hawaii State Veterans Services Director Ronald Han Jr. said new burials will continue as usual at the cemetery, but sections undergoing renovation will be blocked to visiting families and cordoned off for safety reasons. The project is expected to begin in mid-February.

The seven-acre cemetery is nearing capacity. But Han said it’s still on track for a 10-acre expansion. Officials have said they hope to begin construction on the expansion this year.

In the renovation project, there will be only one vase per gravesite, Han said. Exceptions will be granted for markers that have cemented vases that were put in place decades ago.

Removing those vases could threaten gravestones, he said.

“How do you replace a grave marker that was placed 50 years ago?” he said. “It’s not the family’s fault that these things are changing.”

Plans call for the contractor to work on about 500 gravesites at a time, with each cluster taking about three months to complete.

A total of 1,554 headstones and 132,000 square feet of turf on the northern half of the cemetery will be renovated. The gravesites represent about two thirds of the 2,400 gravesites at the cemetery.

The state is requesting more federal money to complete the rest of the cemetery, Han said.

The Maui cemetery is among five in the state undergoing restoration work.

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