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State briefs for April 4

Leaders back
Navy firing of
ship captain;
sailors cheer him

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. defense leaders are backing the Navy’s decision to fire the ship captain who sought help for his cornonavirus-stricken aircraft carrier, even as videos showed sailors cheering him as he walked off the vessel.

Videos went viral on social media Friday, showing hundreds of sailors gathered on the ship chanting and applauding Navy Capt. Brett Crozier as he walked down the ramp, turned, saluted, waved and got into a waiting car.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly abruptly fired Crozier on Thursday, saying the commander created a panic by widely distributing a memo detailing the escalating virus outbreak on his ship and pleading his leadership for help. Modly said Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

The ship is docked in Guam, and so far 137 of the nearly 5,000 sailors on board have tested positive for the virus. The Navy has said as many as 3,000 will be taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday evening to stem the spread of the virus. Crew members are needed to remain on the shop to maintain critical systems and protecting the carrier.

On Friday, Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper supported Modly’s decision to fire Crozier from his command job. He said Modly told Esper he had lost confidence in the captain.

Navy hopes to build major development near Pearl Harbor

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy has announced plans for a major housing and commercial development near its Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii.

The Navy envisions a public-private partnership near a future rail station,.

The project would include 2.3 million square feet of residential and commercial space.

The Navy wants to add housing, shopping and parks and improve commuting for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam service members and workers. The Navy also envisions a security checkpoint and a bus depot on the base to transport workers and military members.

The base’s shipyard is the state’s largest industrial employer with more than 6,000 workers.

The Navy recognizes a “tremendous win-win opportunity” on Oahu that could address transportation challenges and benefit the public and private sectors, Capt. Marc Delao, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, said in a statement.

The development “will draw new residents, businesses, and visitors, and become a community asset,” Delao said.

Meadow Gold
to continue
under new owner

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s largest milk processor is expected to continue operating after its pending purchase by a California real estate investment firm.

The parent company of Meadow Gold Hawaii announced Thursday it reached an agreement in principal for the sale to Industrial Realty Group LLC.

Los Angeles-based Industrial Realty is expected to take over the company as an ongoing business from Dean Foods Co.

A purchase price was not disclosed by Dallas-based Dean Foods, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in November 2019.

A spokeswoman for Dean Foods said reports that Meadow Gold’s operations across Hawaii would close by the end of April were the result of confusion over the purchase agreement.

“Since there appeared to be no interest in the Hawaii business, it was communicated that we were going to have to close the business. Thankfully, this has since changed,” Anne Divjak of Dean Foods said.

The sale is subject to approval by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. Dean Foods expects the sale of Meadow Gold and numerous other subsidiaries to close by the end of April. The deal includes Meadow Gold facilities in Honolulu and Hilo. Industrial Realty is expected to partner with Hawaii-based 8 Cow Dairies to manage operations.

Meadow Gold bought Haleakala Dairy, the creator of the POG drink, in 1999. The dairy produced POG milk caps, which spawned a game that enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1990s.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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