Hawaii Headlines

Honolulu City Council approves housing tower in Chinatown

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu City Council has endorsed an affordable rental housing tower for older adults on city land in Chinatown.

Council members voted Wednesday to provide regulatory approval for the 156-unit Halewaiolu Senior Residences project for older residents with low incomes, Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Michaels Organization anticipated starting construction by June and delivering the project with monthly rent as low as $578 in 2023.

Project supporters include Democratic Gov. David Ige, affordable-housing advocates, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and some older residents.

Ige said in a Jan. 12 letter that Halewaiolu will help address an affordable-housing crisis that has existed in Hawaii for decades.

The project will also help meet a state goal of adding 22,500 affordable homes by 2028, Ige said.

Some Chinatown residents said the project is badly needed.

“Honolulu has a critical need for affordable rentals for seniors who make up a vital but vulnerable segment of our population,” Warren Hamamoto told the council Wednesday.

Project opponents consist primarily of leaders of a group of Chinese cultural organizations.

They expressed fears the 17-story tower will redirect what they characterize as harmful emissions from a neighboring mortuary’s crematorium to the headquarters of Lum Sai Ho Tong Hawaii.

The cultural society has maintained the three-story Tin Hau Temple next to the Halewaiolu site for 132 years.

Hawaii Sports

Rainbow Warriors fall short against Anteaters

The Maui News

Brad Greene had 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, and UC Irvine held off the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team 53-51 on Friday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.

Casdon Jardine scored 14 points and James Jean-Marie added 12 to lead the Rainbow Warriors, who fell to 4-5 overall and 2-5 in Big West Conference play when Justin Webster’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed the mark.

The Anteaters improved to 9-4, 5-0 in the Big West.

In Irvine, Calif., the UH women’s team never led in falling to UC Irvine 82-68.

Amy Atwell had 16 points, Jadynn Alexander scored 13, and Kelsie Imai and Kasey Neubert each added 12 for the Rainbow Wahine (3-4, 2-3).

Kayla Williams scored 20 points to lead the Anteaters (8-5, 5-0).

The teams play again today.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Michigan Wolverines athletics has 11 positive coronavirus tests

ANN ARBOR (AP) — The University of Michigan athletic department reports 11 positive test results for COVID-19 from Jan. 23-29.
The school paused its whole athletic department last weekend after several positive tests for a new COVID-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate. The school said then that it was pausing athletic activities “until further notice and up to 14 days.”
In its latest testing update Friday, the school said there were 3,215 student-athletes, coaches and staff tested from Jan. 23-29. There were 11 positive tests, all athletes.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Detroit Tigers finalize 1-year, $2 million deal for ex-New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers finalized a $2 million, one-year contract with catcher Wilson Ramos on Friday.
Ramos played 45 games last season with the New York Mets, hitting .239 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. Ramos was an All-Star in 2016 for the Washington Nationals and in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 33-year-old Ramos could give Detroit a boost after its catchers struggled last year. Jake Rogers hit .125 in 35 games, and Grayson Greiner batted .118 in 18 games.
Austin Romine hit .238 but agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs recently.
“Adding a reliable veteran catcher was one of our priorities this offseason, and we know that Wilson will be a great fit for that role,” general manager Al Avila said.
“He’s still producing on the field at a high level after 11 years in the big leagues, and we feel his presence in the clubhouse will be a major positive both for our young catchers and pitching staff.”
Detroit is trying to rebuild around pitching prospects like Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.
“I’m excited to join this team during such at exciting time,” Ramos said.

New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos looks on between batters against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 2 in Baltimore. (AP file photo)

“Whether it’s playing in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera or working with a really talented group of young pitchers, this was an opportunity that I was excited to take on.”
Until the shortened 2020 season, Ramos had hit double-digit home runs for seven straight years.
Detroit announced the signing Friday, and the Tigers designated infielder Sergio Alcántara for assignment.
Ramos earned $3,425,925 in prorated pay from a $9.25 million 2020 salary — as part of a $17.5 million, two-year contract that included a $2 million signing bonus and a $1.5 million buyout of an unexercised 2021 option.

More AP baseball: and AP_Sports

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Dallas Stars put 7 goals up on Detroit Red Wings for easy win Thursday

AP Sports Writer
DALLAS — Joe Pavelski scored his fourth goal of the season, Jake Oettinger stopped 20 shots in his first NHL start and the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 7-3 on Thursday night to finish undefeated in their season-opening four-game homestand.
Denis Gurianov had a goal and two assists while Ty Dellandrea had his first NHL goal and first assist — both coming in the final 5:08 when Dallas stretched out a one-goal lead. Seven Stars scored.
“That’s Jake’s first win of many to come in his career, and Ty’s first goal of many to come in his career. It’s nice that they both got them on the same night,” coach Rick Bowness said of the two first-round picks. “They deserve it, they worked hard to get here, and they’re great prospects.”
Andrew Cogliano, Jamie Oleksiak, Justin Dowling and John Klingberg added goals for the defending Western Conference champion Stars, who last season didn’t win until their fourth game during a 1-7-1 start, and now are 4-0 for the first time in 10 seasons. Miro Heiskanen, their standout young defenseman, had three assists.
Valtteri Filppula knocked in a rebound for his first goal for the Red Wings (2-5-1). Tyler Bertuzzi added a power-play goal in the third period, and Danny DeKeyser made it a one-goal game with 6:56 left.
“Made it 4-3 there, and it got away from us,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said.

AP Wire Michigan Sports

Detroit Pistons defeat shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers 107-92 on Thursday

DETROIT (AP) — Blake Griffin scored 23 points and the Detroit Pistons took advantage of Anthony Davis’ absence Thursday night in a 107-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron James had 22 points and 10 assists, but only two of those points came after halftime.
Detroit led by one before Griffin’s 3-pointer with 6:54 remaining started a 16-0 run. The Lakers went nearly seven minutes without scoring.
Wayne Ellington added 20 points for the Pistons.

Detroit Pistons guard Delon Wright, front, drives by Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder during the second half Thursday in Detroit. (AP photo)
Minnesota Headlines

Man charged in fatal hit-and-run crash in St. Paul

ST, PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Maplewood man, accused in a fatal hit-and-run, spent hours drinking at a bar before the crash, according to prosecutors in Ramsey County.
A criminal complaint filed Thursday charges Robert Kinney with criminal vehicular homicide-leaving the scene in the Jan. 22 crash which killed John Benjamin in St. Paul.
Police say the 68-year-old victim was walking near an intersection when he was struck. He was found in a snowbank and died at the scene.
According to investigators, they received an anonymous tip that Kinney was drinking heavily that night at the 5-8 Tavern in Maplewood and that his car matched the description of the one police were seeking. The bar is just blocks from where Benjamin was struck.
Kinney was arrested at his home Jan. 26. Police say he was told he was being taken into custody for a hit-and-run that happened Jan. 22. A criminal complaint says Kinney told officers he realized his car had some damage, but he didn’t know what had happened, KARE-TV reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Kinney has hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Minnesota Headlines

Top energy lawmakers optimistic despite divided Legislature

By FRANK JOSSIE of Energy News Network undefined
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In a legislative session likely to be dominated by the state’s pandemic response, two key leaders in Minnesota’s divided Legislature see room for common ground on energy conservation.
Sen. David Senjem, a Republican from southeastern Minnesota, and Rep. Jamie Long, a Minneapolis Democrat, each chair their chamber’s respective energy committee. In recent interviews, both touted a bill called the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act among their priorities for the new session.
“We’ll be bringing (the ECO Act) forward just as quickly as possible,” said Senjem, while Long said it will be “the first bill I act on.”
The ECO Act — HF 164 — would update and expand the state’s energy conservation programs to include electrification measures and higher energy savings goals for utilities. It would also double spending on projects that benefit low-income households while getting rid of overall minimum spending requirements.
The nonprofit news outlet Energy News Network provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.
The bill passed in the Democratic-controlled House last May but failed to get a vote in the Republican-led Senate. Senjem, who succeeded Republican Sen. David Osmek this year as chair of the Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee, is seen as a more eager ally on clean energy legislation.
“I think that there’s a real opportunity to find some agreements and make progress,” said Long, chair of the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee, who co-authored bills with Senjem last session.
Senjem said he expects the ECO bill to be a “bellwether” for energy legislation this year.
“If it does not pass, I’m not sure we can pass a lot of other things this year,” Senjem said.
The state Republican Party’s aversion to clean energy legislation has declined some as Senjem has been elevated to leadership roles on energy and environmental committees. Senjem “provides a strong voice in the Republican caucus on clean energy issues,” said Gregg Mast, director of the nonprofit Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, which named Senjem its 2020 Clean Energy Legislative Champion. “He understands the tremendous economic potential that exists as our energy system transforms and believes Minnesota should be a leader.”
Despite the two legislators’ optimism for 2021, the bill’s path is at risk of being sidetracked by ongoing partisan fighting over the shape of economic relief and Gov. Tim Walz’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota is the only state in the country with a divided legislature.
Other priorities for Senjem include Clean Energy First, another returning bill that would require utilities to prioritize renewables and green technology when replacing aging power generation. Senjem, the bill’s Senate author, said the bill would go through committees again this session and that a compromise will emerge and likely pass.
Democrats had a few objections to the last version of the bill, Long said, but he sees an agreement in the offing. “I think the end product, the place that we’re all pointing towards, is the same, which is that we want to help strengthen the ability for replacing retiring assets with clean energy,” he said.
Long and Senjem have co-authored a bill that let cities pass “stretch codes” that require greater efficiency than the state energy code. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and a handful of other cities have been asking for the Legislature to permit stretch codes to apply first to commercial buildings, Long said.
Long would also like to see the bill that promotes solar on schools re-emerge after being passed by the House last year. A proposal promoting renewable natural gas should get a hearing and move forward in the Senate, Senjem said.
Neither legislator said they expect to see support for increasing the state’s renewable energy standard to 100% by 2050. Senjem said he sees no need for it, especially after a recent Minnesota Power announcement that the utility will be 100% carbon free power by 2050. Xcel Energy announced the same goal and timeline in 2018.
Such legislation might “feel good,” but public opinion and economics continue to drive utilities toward carbon-free power, Senjem said.
The ECO Act was introduced and had its first reading in the House on Jan. 19 and was referred to the Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee.

Minnesota Headlines

Virus forces Bloomington schools back to distance learning

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A large Minnesota school district has been forced to return to distance learning after an outbreak of COVID-19 among its transportation workers.
Bloomington Public Schools brought back preschoolers through second graders on Jan. 19, and had planned to bring back third to fifth graders on Monday. But the district informed parents on Thursday evening that the plan will be on pause until Feb. 12.
Bloomington’s retreat underscores the unique challenges of protecting bus drivers, many of whom are at higher risk of severe illness because of their age. Drivers are often retirees working for supplemental income.
“We want nothing more than for our students and staff to be in schools learning safely,” Superintendent Les Fujitake said in an email to parents. “We understand this is yet another disruption for our families in an already demanding year.”
The Minnesota Department of Health reported another 28 COVID-19 fatalities Friday and 1,145 more cases, raising the state’s death toll to 6,168. The new cases were the result of nearly 46,000 tests for a positivity rate of 2.6%. The weekly positivity rate remains below the 5% threshold health officials use to determine if the outbreak is under control. The state’s test positivity rate peaked at more than 14% in November.
Health care providers across the state have administrated 444,164 vaccine doses. There are 345,636 people who have received one dose and 96,842 who have had the required two. Health officials hope to soon finish inoculating health workers as well as residents and workers at long-term care centers.
Minnesota allowed school districts around the state to resume in-person learning for elementary grades starting Jan. 18. Many districts across the state have done so, at least partially.
“There’s always a tremendous amount of hope, bringing students back to school,” Bloomington schools spokesman Rick Kaufman said. “It’s gut wrenching to now have to move to distance learning. But again, this is the up-and-down of COVID-19 and its impact on our communities.”
At least eight people in the Bloomington district’s transportation department have tested positive, and more than a dozen employees are under quarantine, he said.
Bloomington district is believed to be the first district in the Twin Cities area to experience an outbreak since returning to in-person learning last week, said Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. But he said school leaders know it could happen at any point.
“It’s kind of something that every superintendent is holding their breath over,” he said.

Minnesota Headlines

Otter Tail deputies investigate fatal shooting of horse

ERHARD, Minn. (AP) — Authorities in west-central Minnesota are investigating what appears to be a fatal shooting of a horse that was in a pasture.
Officials in Otter Tail County say they got the call about the horse in rural Erhard on Thursday.
Deputies arrived to find the animal dead in a pasture with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound. The horse was in the pasture with multiple other horses.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.