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Newswatch

For Sunday, June 26, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services

POSTED:



Prison operator wins state deal

The state has awarded a three-year, $136.5 million contract to a private prison operator to house Hawaii inmates in Arizona, but Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration said it is continuing to develop long-term plans to bring Hawaii's prisoners home.

The Department of Public Safety said Friday the contract with Corrections Corp. of America will allow nearly 2,000 prisoners to be housed at Saguaro Correctional Center and Red Rock Correctional Center.

Corrections Corp. of America was the only bidder for the contract.

The state doesn't have enough prison space to accommodate the return of the roughly 1,700 inmates currently held at CCA facilities in Arizona.

Department Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata said returning Hawaii prisoners will involve expanding prison space in Hawaii, creating alternatives to incarceration and reducing recidivism through community-based programs.

Ballet studio blessing today

Ballet Hawaii will dedicate its new studio on South Hotel Street today with a blessing and a performance. The studio doors will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. at 777 S. Hotel St. Kumu hula Michael Pili Pang will oversee the blessing. Ballet Hawaii, which is celebrating 35 years in the community, offers classes for toddlers and young dancers, and intensive instruction for more experienced performers.

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Drought eases on Big Isle

The Big Island recently became free of extreme drought for the first time in two years, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports, but forecasters still expect below-normal rain through the fall.

"Pastures and general vegetation conditions have been slowly improving over portions of the leeward Big Island slopes," National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama said in a report this month. "However, reports from the agriculture community suggest that this recovery may be short-lived since soil moisture remains poor heading deeper into the dry season."

Shore erosion getting worse

State transportation officials armed with satellite photos last week showed how the ocean is eroding the shoreline along Kahului Harbor, the Maui News reports.

Among the possible responses: Seawalls, groins or concrete "mattresses."

If something isn't done soon, the officials warned at a public meeting last week, Kahului Beach Road could eventually crumble into the harbor. Already, electrical and other wires have become exposed.

The state has budgeted $5 million to deal with the problem, said Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.






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