Here are some of the local stories I’m following through Saturday, 04 February 2012:
Child’s death trial set for Hilo; construction industry woes continue; Governor releases funds for Ka’u irrigation and Paauilo slaughterhouse; legislators want control of zip lines; and part-time Hawaii resident Roseanne Barr seeks Green Party presidential nomination.
Sources cited for this summary include the Associated Press, the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, Stephens Media, and “Hawaii 24/7 News.”
ACCUSED CHILD MURDERER TO FACE TRIAL IN HILO
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). A lack of secure court facilities in West Hawaii has resulted in another high-profile death case being transferred to Hilo for trial. On Thursday, Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra moved the case against Ezekiel R. H. Wakinekona to Hilo. Wakinekona faces manslaughter and abuse charges stemming from the January death of 3-year-old Marley Makanani. Ibarra said the court house on Halekii street is inadequate to hold and try the prisoner. Ibarra noted that if the case remained in West Hawaii, it would require enhanced security that could compromise the safety at other facilities.
GOVERNOR ABERCROMBIE RELEASES FUNDS FOR HAWAII ISLAND PROJECTS
(Stephens Media). Thanks to the release of $4.15 million from the state to Hawaii County, improvements to a Paauilo rendering plant and slaughterhouse will soon begin. The money will be used for planning, design, construction, and equipment. This was one of nine capital improvement projects benefiting from the more than $13 million released by Governor Neil Abercrombie on Thursday. Dutch Kuyper, the president and chief executive officer of the Parker Ranch, expressed his gratitude for the support from the state and county for the beef-processing facility. Kuyper said, “from a sustainability perspective, we can deploy land assets to food production quicker than to energy. This will allow us to accelerate plans we have had in the works.” Other funding includes $500,000 for renovating the existing water tunnel system in Ka’u, $2.5 million for improvements to state irrigation system reservoirs, and $1 million for a comprehensive statewide plan to inventory irrigation systems.
LEGISLATURE EYES ZIP LINE CONTROL
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). Hawaii Island representatives are helping develop legislation to establish more control over Hawaii’s rapidly expanding zip line industry. Although an investigation into the death of a zip line worker in Paukaa has not been completed by the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division, Hawaii Island state representative Mark Nakashima said the time is ripe for legislation on the increasingly popular eco-tourism activity. Nakashima said, “they (zip lines) are good for our economy, but you want to make sure there are some controls on where and when they are built…we need some mechanism for public input and control of this prolifertion of all these zip lines.” Nakashima added that there is a companion bill which “looks more at the environmental impact of ecotourism activities” than does his bill which focuses more on zip line safety. That bill has gained the support of Hawaii state representatives Jerry Chang, Cindy Evans, Faye Hanohano, Clift Tsuji, and Bob Herkes–all from Hawaii Island.
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY TRYING TO RECOVER
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald). According to county statistics, the number of building permits issued on Hawaii Island and their value dropped for the sixth straight year in 2011. Craig Takamine, the president of the Hawaii Island Contractors’ Association, says there is hope for improvement this year, noting “we see somewhat of a renewed confidence in development work.” The county’s Building Division issued 2,973 permints last year, about 1 percent down from the 3,012 permits pulled in 2010. That’s quite a bit lower than the record 5,663 permits issued in 2005, the only year island construction projects exceded $1 billion. Public sector construction picked up a bit in 2011 with 202 permits issued, a 25 percent increase over the 162 lodged the previous year. Takamine said he hopes the state’s sale late last year of $1.28 billion in general obligation bonds will finance some major Hawaii Island projects, including a permanent building for the UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy.
ROSEANNE TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT
(Associated Press). Part-time Hawaii Island resident and former reality television host Roseanne Barr said Thursday she’s running for the Green Party’s presidential nomination. The actress-comedian said in a statement that she’s a longtime supporter of the party and looks forward to working with people who share her values. Barr said the two major political parties aren’t serving the Ameriacn people, noting that “the Democrats and Republicans have proven that they are servants bought and paid for by the percent who are not doing what’s in the best interest of the American people.”
COUNTY COUNCIL PASSES NEW BUILDING CODE
(Stephens Media). Despite an unrly crowed shouting “kill the bill” and two recesses, the Hawaii County Council passed a new building code by a vote of 7-2 with Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong and South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford voting no. Yagong said the abrupt recess and the use of police officers to control the crowd was unprecedented in his years in county government. Puna Councilman Fred Blas said he felt threatened when R. J. Hampton, an aide to former Puna Concilwoman Emily Naeole, singled him out in a “diatribe” from the testifier’s table, saying Blas was a “cancer” with an agenda to benefit his own property holdings and letting his constituency down by not advocating on their behalf. Most of the 48 people offering testimony objected to the inclusion of safe rooms and the potential for fines and imprisonment for those not bringing their structures up to code. According to council members, an estimated 30 percent of structures on Hawaii Island are not up to code.
DRUG DEALER GETS TEN YEARS
(Hawaii Tribune-Herald/Hawaii County Police Department). A 35-year-old Mountain View man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for distributing drugs. Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura rejected a request for probation by David Chong Fook Leong, who, according to prosecutors, has three prior felony convictions. Leong pleaded no contest in November to attempted promotion of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. The police Ice Task Force arrested Leong and 41-year-old Ann Marie Cantere on 02 February 2010 in the Home Depot parking lot in Hilo. Prosecutors say the pair had almost an ounce of methamphetamine, numerous re-sealable packets, and $2,493 when they were arrested. Cantere was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April after she pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.
HAWAII COUNTY DECLARED A DISASTER AREA BECAUSE OF DROUGHT
(Office of the Governor). On Thursday, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie declared Hawaii County a primary natural disaster area resulting from ongoing drought conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the declaration, which allows island farmers and rancher to apply for available federal relief. The declaration became effective 18 January 2012. Qualified farm operators are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA Farm Service Agency to cover loses.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAWAII ISLAND FORECAST THROUGH SATURDAY, 04 February 2012:
Hilo and vicinity–Partly sunny with a few showers. A few scattered showers at night.
Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly sunny and hazy. Expect a few upslope showers in the evening.
Highs near 80. Lows near 63. Winds shifting to the east on Saturday, 10-20 mph. Sunrise Saturday–6:54 a.m. Sunset Saturday–6: 14 p.m. Hilo tides: High tide–1:39 a.m./12:51 p.m. Low tide–8:17 a.m./6:59 p.m. Total hours of daylight on Saturday–11 hours, 19 minutes, and 42 seconds.
KBIG-FM/NATIVE-FM HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH SATURDAY, 04 February 2012:
Hapuna Beach breaks–flat to 1 foot. Kona and Banyans–1 to 2 feet. Ka’u and Pohoiki–3 to 4 feet. Hamakua–3 to 4 feet. Hilo and Honolii–2 to 3 feet.
For the latest in community news, sports updates, and entertainment news, visit kbigfm.com, nativefm.com, kaparadio.com, espnhawaii.com, and “Hawaii 24/7 News” along the righthand sidebar.
Thanks for joining us!
Russ Roberts, editor
Laupahoehoe, Hawaii–along the beautiful Hamakua Coast