Monday | August 21, 2017
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State briefs for August 12

Shortage of school buses causing problems

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Parents are struggling to get their children to school and make it to work on time with the new school bus contractor for Maui schools still lacking enough qualified drivers for all routes.

Several bus routes continued to be temporarily suspended as all students returned to classes Wednesday. Maui High and Maui Waena Intermediate schools had some of their routes consolidated to help alleviate some of the issues.

The state Department of Education handed out free public bus passes to students who are affected by the shortage, but Mayor Alan Arakawa said the county’s Maui Buses cannot handle the influx of students along with its regular riders.

The school bus shortage is not only causing trouble for parents and students, it is also causing a traffic backup on West Maui roads, state Rep. Angus McKelvey said.

McKelvey asked Gov. David Ige for help. The governor already asked DOE officials for help, who said they are doing everything they can to address the issue, according to an email Wednesday from Ige’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney.

Sprinkler bill advances

HONOLULU (AP) — Some Honolulu residents think a bill that would require older high-rise buildings to retrofit sprinklers would be too costly, while others say the sprinklers would prevent another deadly fire.

The Honolulu City Council pushed the bill through its first reading Wednesday in front of a crowd of residents on both sides of the debate.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell introduced the bill after the July 14 Marco Polo high-rise apartment building fire killed three people and injured 12. The building was built in 1971, which was four years before sprinklers became mandatory for new construction in Honolulu.

Karen Winston Fox flew to Honolulu to testify during the council meeting. Fox’s friend, Britt Reller, was one of the three who died in the fire. She supports the bill, saying Reller died “needlessly.”

Caldwell also made an appearance at the meeting.

Opponents are adamant that retrofitting sprinklers would cause a financial burden, which could leave some people homeless.

The bill goes to the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee next for further consideration.

 

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