State roundup for March 29
Hawaii gets 8% more visitors
HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Tourism Authority says nearly 8 percent more travelers came to the islands in February compared to the same month last year and spent almost 10 percent more during their stay. The agency said more than 675,000 visitors came to Hawaii last month. Total spending topped $1.2 billion. Average daily spending climbed 6.6 percent to nearly $200 per person.
Authority President Mike McCartney says the agency continues to focus on distributing economic growth by encouraging visitors to travel around the state.
He says all Hawaiian islands are experiencing an increase in travelers and visitor spending. Arrivals from western U.S. states climbed 8 percent and grew 4 percent from Japan.
Lahaina bypass partially reopens
WAILUKU, Maui(AP) — A portion of the long-awaited Lahaina bypass highway has opened to traffic.
The project has been in the making for more than three decades.
The first part of the 9-mile highway opened Wednesday. That stretch, nearly a mile long, runs between Lahainaluna Road and the Keawe Street extension. The bypass project is aimed at helping drivers avoid the congestion on Honoapiilani Highway in the Lahaina town area.
State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter says a key piece of the first phase was the construction of the 360-foot-long Kahoma Stream Bridge, which cost more than $24 million to build. The bridge spans the Kahoma Stream gulch. The first phase has a $77 million price tag, with most of it funded by the federal government.
Ruling in spy case is appealed
HONOLULU (AP) — The attorney of a Pacific Command defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to his girlfriend is appealing a judge’s ruling keeping him in custody while he awaits trial.
Birney Bervar filed the appeal on behalf of Benjamin Bishop in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Wednesday.
Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi on Monday ordered Bishop detained on the grounds he’s a danger to national security because he could divulge classified information if released.
Bishop is charged with one count of communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining national defense documents and plans.
A hearing on the appeal was scheduled for Thursday.
Boy arrested in school assaults
HONOLULU (AP) — An 11-year-old boy is under arrest, accused of assaulting three adults at a Makalapa school.
The boy allegedly assaulted a teacher, an educational specialist and a vice principal. Police arrested the boy Wednesday on suspicion of assault.
The case is being investigated.
Hanalei Elementary to reopen after heavy rains
LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — Students are returning to Hanalei Elementary School after heavy rains closed the school on Kauai’s north shore for a day.
The state Department of Education says all public schools on Kauai will be open Thursday and school bus transportation will be provided.
Hanalei Elementary closed Wednesday when heavy rains shut down Hanalei Bridge and created dangerous road conditions.
The National Weather Service called off a flash flood watch for Kauai late Wednesday.
Kauai County is urging homeowners whose properties were damaged by the rain to contact the Lihue office of the American Red Cross.
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