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Troops due home from Afghanistan

This morning the Hawaii Army National Guard expects to welcome home more than 120 soldiers returning from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. The soldiers are members of the 230th Engineer Company. Ten Army Reservists from the 9th Mission Support Command who joined the unit during the deployment also are returning.


Tax breaks on condo fees might end

Hawaii lawmakers say they will not raise the state’s far-reaching general excise tax, but add that they might end tax breaks on condo maintenance fees and other transactions.

House Speaker Calvin Say said a bill to repeal tax exemptions and credits will be debated again after it failed to pass last year’s legislative session.

Hawaii is facing a $410 million budget deficit in 2011, and rolling back exemptions could generate about $100 million for the state government if it mirrors last year’s initial proposal.


Hawaiian Telcom crews work to fix phone service

Hawaiian Telcom said yesterday a few places remain where customers have been without phone service for several days but that crews are working 10- to 12-hour shifts through the holiday to restore lines.

"We are still responding to trouble situations that were reported to us as a result of the heavy rains," Scott Simon, executive director of corporate communications for Hawaiian Telcom, said yesterday. "The vast, vast majority of our cabling system is working just fine. What we’re dealing with now are isolated pockets, even individual customers where the cable has somehow been infiltrated with water."

Simon said he did not know how many people were affected. The company transferred some technicians from the neighbor islands to help.

Customers who have questions or need help should call Hawaiian Telcom’s 24-hour repair number, 643-6111.


Fewer stings reported from box jellyfish invasion

The influx of box jellyfish along the South Shore abated yesterday, with just 12 stings reported at Waikiki Beach and none at Ala Moana Beach Park as of 1 p.m., lifeguards reported.

"It’s really subsided," said Capt. Paul Merino, who overseas Ocean Safety and Lifeguard operations on the South Shore. "It’s a beautiful, warm Hawaiian day, and the jellyfish seem to have taken a break, which means there will be even less tomorrow."

More than 227 stings were reported Wednesday and Thursday, mostly in Waikiki in the protected area Ewa of the Kapahulu wall.

News coverage of the box jellyfish invasion helped reduce the number of stings yesterday, Merino said.

"People are very cautious today about going in the water," he said. "It really helped to slow down the activity."


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