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For Saturday, April 30, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:59 a.m. HST, Apr 30, 2011

Marks to lead redistricting panel

The Hawaii Supreme Court has named a leader of the group charged with redrawing election district lines.

The court appointed Victoria Marks, a retired state Circuit Court judge, as the ninth member and chairwoman of the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission yesterday.

The court stepped in after the commission was unable to select a leader.

The commission is evenly divided between members appointed by Republican and Dem­o­cratic legislative leaders, with each side getting four picks.

They were unable to agree on a leader within 30 days of convening in mid-March, leaving the decision to the court.

Marks is one of 18 people who applied for the position.

Legislature OKs shield law extension

The state Legislature has given final approval to a two-year extension of a law protecting journalists from having to reveal anonymous sources and private notes.

House members gave unanimous approval to House Bill 1376. The so-called "shield law" was set to expire June 30.

Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) was the only member to speak on the bill, saying he felt the shield law should be made permanent.

The House voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a Senate version of the bill, which will be sent on to the governor.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have a permanent shield law, according to testimony on the measure. Hawaii's law is stronger than others because it protects online bloggers.

DOT installs fencing around harbors

The state Department of Transportation is scheduled to complete a perimeter fencing improvement proj­ect around Hono­lulu Harbor and Kalaeloa Harbor by mid-November.

The $1.07 million state-funded proj­ect, which was three years in the making, is to provide security with minimal impact.

There are no raised threats that prompted the proj­ect.

"Security has been needed for a long time," said transportation spokes­man Dan Mei­sen­zahl.

The dark aluminum fencing resembles wrought iron fencing.

"It's thin, dark, blends in with the water … and is very durable and long-lasting," Mei­sen­zahl said.

The new fencing has gone in wherever there's no fencing or barbed wire, from Pier 1 near Forrest Avenue and South Street to Pier 40 near Libby Street, a block past Wai­aka­milo Road, he said.

School receives $5 million gift

Damien Memorial School said it received the largest gift in school history this week, a $5 million grant from the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation.

The money will be used in $12 million worth of construction proj­ects, including a new athletic complex, new two-story library with additional classrooms and new administration building, the school said in a press release.

Damien is an all-male school with more than 400 students from seventh to 12th grade. The school will soon add sixth grade.

Police open new station in Pahoa 

Hawaii island’s new Pahoa police station, which will temporarily serve as the Puna district’s main station, will be opened for operations Monday.

The new station will offer more services,including permit applications and registration of firearms, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments are required; call 965-2716.

The new station is larger and more modern than the Keaau police station, which is too small to keep up with the district’s needs, the department said. Puna is the third-busiest police district on the Big Island, after South Hilo and Kona.

Located just north of Pahoa town on Highway 130, the new station will be open to the public from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, except holidays and furlough days.

The station will continue to offer driver’s license renewals and vehicle registration.

The Keaau facility will be converted to a substation.

The Hawaii County Police Department reminds the public to call 911 for emergencies and 935-3311 for nonemergencies.

Pharmacy school design is completed

The University of Hawaii at Hilo has completed the design phase for a permanent building for the College of Pharmacy, thanks in part to $5.5 million in funding from the state Legislature in 2009.

WCIT Architecture of Hono­lulu designed the building, which will cost an estimated $66 million.

University officials said money is being sought from the Legislature and other sources for construction of the only school of pharmacy in the Pacific region.

During a site visit in Hilo, a group from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education said the lack of a permanent building is a serious concern.

Let’s dance

Master instructors Royland Lobato and Richard Marquez will give free 90-minute classes in Afro-Cuban folkloric dance today at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the University of Hawaii-Manoa temporary dance building, makai of the parking structure. Classes are open to the first 40 participants.

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