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State briefs for December 17

Future USS Inouye heads to sea for builder trials

BATH, Maine — For the first time in two years, a destroyer built at Bath Iron Works headed to sea on Wednesday to begin builder trials.

The future USS Daniel Inouye headed down the Kennebec River to the open ocean with protocols in place to keep workers safe during the pandemic.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer will be equipped with the latest Aegis radar system that allows it to simultaneously track and engage ballistic missiles along with conventional missiles and aircraft.

The ship is named in honor of the late U.S. senator from Hawaii, who died in 2012. Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Italy in World War II.

The shipyard has been dealing with shipbuilding delays that were exacerbated by the pandemic and a two-month strike over the summer. The Thomas Hudner was the last previous ship to head to sea in 2018.

Some businesses in small Maui town get tourism boost

WAILUKU, Maui — Some local shops and restaurants in a small town on Maui’s north shore say they have experienced a boost in tourism since the state launched a pre-travel coronavirus testing program in October.

Owners of stores in Paia, known for its small shops and proximity to big wave surf spots, said the policy change has helped business in recent weeks.

At San Lorenzo Bikinis Maui, store manager Breanna Racoma said business has been “pretty good” since tourists were allowed starting in October to bypass a 14-day quarantine and instead prove they tested negative before they traveled to the island.

A few eateries in Paia have had customers waiting in line for food, even on weekdays. Some of the shops include the Paia Fish Market, Flatbread Company, Milagros Food Company and Tobi’s Shave Ice North Shore.

Racoma said her store gets about 11-25 walk-ins a day — almost as many as the store served before the pandemic.

“Some days are dead, but then other days it’ll be cranking,” said Stu Soley, an owner of Soley Aloha Boutique & Gallery. “Things have been pretty good.”

Several of the town’s shops remain closed or reduced their hours. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, Paia Gelato, Vana Paia and Surf Club Tacos have been closed since the pandemic began, though the taco restaurant announced last week that it would reopen for takeout soon.

Other restaurants, such as the family-operated Bap Paia, opened for takeout months ago but have since closed.

Honolulu gets 1st electric bus in plan for no emission fleet

HONOLULU — Honolulu introduced its first bus in a series of imports that the city hopes will result in an exclusively zero-emission fleet by 2035.

“Our administration set a bold goal to transform our public bus fleet to 100% renewable fuel by 2035 and we are now steps closer to achieving it,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in statement on Tuesday.

The first bus is a 40-foot, zero-emission battery electric bus with a capacity of 38 people. It is the first of three buses funded by a grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration.

The city Department of Transportation Services bought 17 electric buses in 2020 and expects to continue collecting shipments through at least 2021.

Honolulu’s public bus system, TheBus, operates more than 500 vehicles that transport more than 200,000 people each weekday.

The city’s transition to zero-emission buses will help decrease greenhouse gas pollution while reducing Honolulu’s reliance on imported oil, local officials said.

The new buses will be decorated with a design created by Transportation Services Deputy Director Dre Kalili that was inspired by traditional Hawaiian bamboo stamping.

They will be deployed on routes based at the Ka­lihi-Palama Bus Facility in a few weeks, officials said.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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