State roundup for June 4
Tesoro layoffs moving forward
KAPOLEI, Oahu (AP) — Tesoro Hawaii is moving forward with plans to lay off workers in phases at the Kapolei oil refinery as discussions continue with potential buyers.
Spokesman Lance Tanaka says a “handful” of employees were given notices Monday that they will be laid off starting June 17 and 21.
He says if a buyer emerges, that could change. The company previously announced they would postpone layoffs. The state was notified last month the company plans to lay off 165 workers in phases.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz say they are looking for ways to help affected workers.
They say they’ll help ensure there’s no fuel supply disruption.
Tesoro Corp. has said the Kapolei refinery and 32 Hawaii gas stations are no longer in line with the company’s strategic focus.
3 Hepatitis A cases looked at
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii health officials are investigating three cases of hepatitis A, linked to a frozen berry product.
The state Department of Health said Monday the two cases on Oahu and one on Kauai have a common history of consuming Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, which is distributed by Costco.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week approximately 30 cases of the virus in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are potentially associated with the frozen berry blend.
The Hawaii residents became ill in May and are recovering, or have recovered. One required brief hospitalization.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can last from a few weeks to several months. Costco has removed the product from stores and is contacting its members.
Coordinator to battle axis deer
WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — A full-time coordinator has been hired on Maui to help control the axis deer population.
The Maui Axis Deer Working Group has hired 30-year-old Kanalu Sproat. He’ll help the group gather information on axis deer populations from landowners, farmers, ranchers, hunters and others in the community to come up with a control plan.
The invasive animals are overrunning farms and ranches on Maui. Axis deer are native to India and other parts of South Asia.
Maui police say in response to a growing number of deer-related traffic incidents, the state has installed deer warning signs throughout the island.
Sproat’s previous experience includes working for the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program, overseeing rare and endangered plant and bird species.
Honolulu drops program for chronic 911 callers
HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has dropped a program intended to curb chronic 911 callers and the overuse of ambulance services.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://is.gd/EMoO5I) reports that a community paramedic team was created in November after research revealed that the top 10 callers to 911 had taken an average of 52 ambulance rides per year. The plan was for two community paramedics to visit the top 50 callers with the goal of trying to determine the underlying causes of their problems and steer them to more appropriate care.
The program was suspended in early January under the new mayor. Emergency Services Department Director Mark Rigg says it was outside the agency’s area of expertise and took up valuable resources.
The Star-Advertiser says the state has expressed interest in starting its own program.
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