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New aircraft rescue & firefighting station dedicated at Kona airport

KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow)- The state Department of Transportation (HDOT) celebrated the dedication of a
new Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting (ARFF) station at the Kona International
Airport on Wednesday. The new 24,000 square-foot facility includes five truck
bays and a fueling area, along with improved work and living areas for
firefighters, office space, dorm rooms and a workout area. 

Big Island officials may get raises, mayor demurs

Mayor Billy Kenoi

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The mayor and city council members on Hawaii's Big Island may be getting raises, despite the mayor saying he does not want one.

Mayor Billy Kenoi told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald Tuesday that he will not take a dollar of the proposed raise. Instead, he will make sure it's donated to charity.

Salary commissioners are proposing a 21 percent raise to bring the mayor's annual salary to $132,000.

Salary Commissioner Brian De Lima said the mayor's opinion isn't relevant. He says they're giving the raise to the position, not the person.

County council members would get an 8 percent raise to bring their salaries to $52,000.

Commissioners say that even with the raises, Hawaii County Council members are the lowest paid council members in the state.

Puna residents sue for return of 52 pot plants

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - A group of Puna residents are suing the county and police to get their confiscated marijuana plants back.

Two lawsuits seek the return of dozens of marijuana plants or more than $250,000 in compensation.

The plaintiffs say police seized the plants from them during a 2012 raid, even though they had valid medical marijuana cards and permission to grow the plants on the property.

One lawsuit involves 28 plants and the other involves 24 plants.

The lawsuits say taking the plants was "grossly unjustified, wrongful and improper."

Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday there were no police reports made about the confiscated plants.

A police spokeswoman says the department doesn't discuss pending litigation.

The county didn't immediately comment.

Prosecutors receive report on Kona scuba incident

HONOLULU (AP) - State officials have forwarded a report on their investigation into a Kona scuba confrontation to prosecutors.

Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said Tuesday his office received the report from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. He says the report is being forwarded to the deputy prosecutor in Kona.

It's not clear whether or when prosecutors will file charges.

The confrontation involved an environmentalist campaigning to shut down Hawaii's aquarium fish industry and an aquarium fish collector.

Video provided by anti-aquarium fish collecting activists with the Snorkel Bob Foundation showed the collector ripping the environmentalist's air-supply regulator out of her mouth.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said at the time it was investigating "complaints by two parties involved in an incident" but declined to provide details.

Big Island farmers file lawsuit to halt anti-GMO law

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow)- A lawsuit has been filed by papaya growers and other Big Island groups that grow genetically modified crops to put an end to the anti-GMO law.

The workers claim that the county's law prevents them from earning a living by banning testing of new types of modified crops. Attorneys want the federal court to strike down the law and make the county pay legal fees.

This case is in addition to a lawsuit that was filed in March for farmers to seek relief from the law's requirements.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved. 

Scientists find plastic rock on Big Island beach

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Scientists say they've found evidence of plastic rock on a Big Island beach. The rocks are formed when melted plastic mixes with beach sediment, basalt fragments and other types of debris.

A report in the journal GSA Today says the result is a new type of rock called plastiglomerate.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the scientists focused their research on Kamilo Beach because it receives large deposits of ocean debris, including plastic.

Partial lid containers contributed to 22 percent of the fragments. Fishing equipment was found in 20 percent of the samples.

Three researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and Algalita Marine Research Institute in California authored the report.

GSA Today is the journal of the Geologic Society of America.

Search continues for missing Big Island fisherman swept out to sea

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow)- The U.S. Coast Guard and the Hawaii County Fire Department are searching for a 56-year-old man who was apparently swept out to sea while fishing near the Mackenzie State Recreation Area Friday night.