Today is Saturday, 10 December 2011. Here are some of the stories I’m tracking this weekend:
Traffic fatalities drop on Hawaii Island; new police hotline targets strange activity; county gets federal windfall for housing help.
Sources cited include: The Associated Press, Stephens Media, the Hawaii County Police Department, and the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”.
TRAFFIC FATALITIES DECREASE ON HAWAII ISLAND
(Stephens Media). According to a report released by the state Department of Health, Hawaii County roads are taking nearly a third fewer motorists’ lives than in the early to mid 2,ooos. Traffic crash and injury data show that 98 motor vehicle occupants died on Hawaii Island roads between 2006 and 2010–a 30 percent decrease from the 140 lives lost between 2001 and 2006. On the downside, the data also indicate that the county still accounts for 30 percent of traffic deaths statewide, although the county has only 13.6 percent of the state’s population. Department of Health Traffic Safety Coordinator Kari Benes says a decline in road deaths can be attributed, in part, to increased police enforcement and visibility, prosecutors reducing the number of drunken driving cases being dismissed, and an overall improvement in emergency response times. Benes also notes that projects such as “shattered dreams”, a program that shows teens the perils and consequences of drunken drivers, have had a definite effect on reducing traffic deaths. Still, more than 75 percent of the drivers involved in 107 fatal car crashes on Hawaii Island tested positive for alcohol and about 70 percent had drugs in their system.
NEW POLICE HOTLINE TARGETS STRANGE ACTIVITY
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). The Hawaii County Police Department has established a new telephone hotline for the community to report suspicious activity. The new number is called the “Kuleana Hotline”, and police are using it as a way to “prevent tragic events in public places, including schools, restaurants, and other locations where members of the community gather.” Police Lt. Greg Esteban says the new hotline is not a replacement for the crimestoppers line or the 911 number, noting the new number will be “an avenue for reporting something that may not be criminal yet but has the potential to turn disastrous if not prevented…this is being proactive for preventing a crime.” The Kuleana Hotline number is 961-2219.
COUNTY GETS FEDERAL WINDFALL FOR HOUSING
(Stephens Media). Hawaii County has received an unexpected windfall–three times as much money for its community housing projects as it usually receives. The sudden $3 million dollar appropriation comes with an important restriction. Hawaii County has only until 5 January 2012 to accept applications from nonprofits and government agencies interested in ensuring the money reaches low-income families who need housing assistance. The money can be used for rental housing, homeownership, and tenent-based rental assistance programs. In the past, federal housing funds channeled through the state have been divided evenly among Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai counties. About two weeks ago, the state decided to allot the entire amount to one county each year, beginning with Hawaii County. Susan Akiyama, who administers the program for the county, says the funding “is a good thing…I’ve always received a lot more requests for funding than I had money for.” Akiyama notes that while the windfall is most appreciated, “tight deadline is a challenge.”
SUSPECT PLEADS NOT GUILTY
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). Eighteen-year-old Seferin Tilipau of Hawaiian Paradise Park has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an October home invasion in the Puna District subdivision. On Friday, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Tilipau, to stand trial 20 March at 9 a.m. On 23 November, Tilipau was indicted on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree burglary, and first degree assault. He remains in custody at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center, unable to post $500,000 bail. Tilipau allegedly forced his way into the mome of 69-year-old Mary Davy on 22 October, punched her in the face several times, and stabbed her numerous times with pair of gardening shears. Davy was hospitalized at the Hilo Medical Center with what authorities called “severe head injuries.” She has since been released and is recovering from the attack at her home.
MEDICAL USB DRIVES AVAILABLE
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). Those interested in finding out more about the flashID Emergency Identification System USB drives that were described on 9 December may contact Waiakea Lions Club member Jonathan Lum at 808-990-5586. This devise could save your life in an emergency situation.
HAWAII COUNTY POLICE REPORTS
During the week of 28 November through 04 December, Hawaii Island police arrested 22 motorists for drunken driving. Three of the drivers were involved in traffic accidents. So far this year, there have been 1,347 DUI arrests compared with 1,410 during the same period last year, a decrease of 4.5 percent. So far this year, there have been 21 official traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island compared with 24 during the same period last year, a decrease of 12.5 percent. DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue islandwide.
STATE OF HAWAII NEWS BRIEFS FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a helicopter’s hard landing in West Oahu. The FAA says a pilot in a Mauna Loa Helicopters Robinson R-22 was practicing auto-rotations near Kunia Wednesday when the chopper made a hard landing. Auto-rotations are maneuvers when a pilot lands with simulated power loss. An FAA spokesman siad there was substantial damage to the hilicopter but no reported injuries.
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle has signed a bill into law that allows officials to remove personal property stored in public areas. Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have complained the bill could unfairly target Oahu’s homeless population, whos belognings are often seen in public places, including parks and sidewalks. Marc Alexander, Governor Neil Abercrombie’s coordinator on homelessness, said the controversial law would provide service providers an opportunity to reach out to homeless people.
A man who accepted a plead deal has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for a fatal shooting on Maui in 2009. Robert Chiarizia pleaded no contest to reduced charges of first- degree assault and keeping a firearm in an improper place. Alan Alika Vegas was killed during the October 2009 shooting in Kaupo.
A suspect is in police cusstody thanks to three men who come to the rescue of a woman screaming for help on Punahou Street in Honolulu. Ferdinand Bermejo is charged with sexual assault and kidnapping. He’s being held on $100,000 bail at the Honolulu police cellblock. Police say Bermejo allegedly followed a woman early Wednesday and dragged her as she screamed. Neighbors heard the screams, saw the suspect on top of the woman, and pulled him off her. They detained the suspect until police arrived to arrest him.
The Rock & Roll Motorcycle Clubs’s 16th annual Toys for Tots Motorcade and Rally is set for Sunday at 10 a.m., beginning and ending at Aunty Sally’s Luau House on Piilani Street. The event includes the collection of new toys for needy children, lucky number drawings, bicycle presentations, and food concessions. For details, call Ellsworth at 935-5519.
Mrs. Santa Claus will be visititng the Keaau Public and School Library, 10 a.m., Wednesday, 14 December. For details, call Maxine at 982-4281.
Join staff and volunteers from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary at the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site in Kawaihae, 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, 14 December. This date marks the kick-off event for the 2012 whale watching season. The event includes a whale watch and a special presentation by the sancturary. For details, call Gregg at 882-7218, extension 101.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST FOR HAWAII ISLAND THROUGH SUNDAY, 11 December 2011:
Hilo and vicinity–partly sunny with showers throughout the day. A few showers at night.
Kailua-Kona and vicinity–partly sunny and hazy. A chance of upslope showers by late afternoon. A few showers at night.
Highs near 81. Lows near 67. Winds shifting to the east southeast by Sunday, 6 to 12 mph.
KBIG-FM/NATIVE-FM SURF REPORT THROUGH SUNDAY, 11 December 2011:
Hapuna Beach breaks–flat to 1 foot. Hamakua–3 to 4 feet. Kona and Banyans–1 to 2 feet. Ka’u and Pohoiki–3 to 4 feet. Hilo and Honolii–3-4 feet.
Sunrise on Sunday–6:44 a.m.
For the latest community events, sports updates, and entertainment news, visit kbigfm.com, nativefm.com, kaparadio.com, and espnhawaii.com.
Russ Roberts, editor