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State roundup for September 28

Strong month for state tourism

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s tourism economy ended the summer with double-digit increases in visitor arrivals and spending.

That’s according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s August statistics. The authority said Thursday spending grew 14.6 percent last month compared to the previous year to $1.19 billion. August arrivals increased 11 percent.

Arrivals from the U.S. West grew almost 8 percent for the 10th consecutive month of growth. Japanese arrivals increased nearly 13 percent last month, but remained lower than the August 1996 record.

Observatory has to evacuate

KULA, Maui (AP) — Technicians are working on equipment at Haleakala Observatory after generators used to cool the telescope overheated, prompting an evacuation.

Maui fire officials say smoke from the basement led to the evacuation of the building on Wednesday night. Fire spokesman Lee Mainaga wasn’t able to say how many were evacuated and for how long.

No damage or injuries were reported.

Panda Express sued in sex case

KAPAA, Kauai (AP) — A federal agency claims teenage girls working at a Panda Express restaurant on Kauai were groped and demeaned.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s federal lawsuit alleges sexual harassment on behalf of a group of female employees, including teens.

The complaint says a male supervisor at the Kapaa restaurant sexually abused at least three female teens starting in 2008. The commission says that one teen who reported the harassment had her hours cut and was forced to resign and that another teen quit to avoid verbal obscenities and sexual advances.

The commission is suing the Rosemead, Calif.-based giant Chinese fast-food chain.

$250K grant for space study

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is getting a share of nearly $500,000 in space transportation infrastructure grants.

The Federal Aviation Administration said this week Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism will get a $250,000 matching grant. The grant will be used to analyze the feasibility for a potential commercial FAA launch site.

The FAA also announced a $200,000 matching grant to Colorado for a similar study and a nearly $24,000 grant to an existing spaceport in California to buy a firefighting system.

Oahu residents plead guilty to gambling operation

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Oahu residents are pleading guilty to operating an illegal gambling business in Waianae.

Lloyd Robert Marshall and Nitta Mitsuko Marshall are also pleading guilty to 13 counts of evading currency regulations while handling proceeds from the business.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday the Marshalls agreed to use their property as a site for illegal cockfighting contests and dice and card games between 2009 and 2011. Police observed from 100 to 600 people at these events. People attending paid parking and entrance fees.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says the Marshalls each face up to five years in prison for the gambling charges and 10 years in prison for each of the counts related to evading currency regulations.

They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 28.


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