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Big Island of Hawaii News, 29 May 2013 through 30 May 2013. Post #2009

Author:

The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories:

HEADLINES:

UH Kona campus groundbreaking.

Park fees may increase.

Mental exam ordered for murder suspect.

Governor Abercrombie honors former councilman Hoffman.

Woman’s body found in waters near Kalapana

Hilo seeks greater housing density.

Kona meth dealer gets prison time.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Stephens Media).  On Tuesday, University of Hawaii officials broke ground for the new Hawaii Community College at Palamanui.  The new West Hawaii campus will be the 11th campus in the University of Hawaii System.  UH-Manoa President M.R.C. Greenwood told reporter Chelsea Jensen that “we should see this as a commencement, we are graduating from planning to doing…and, that’s very important.”

According to reporter Jensen, university officials believe that students currently attending the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii in Kelakakekua will start classes at the new North Kona facility in the spring of 2015.  John Morton, the vice president for community colleges, added that construction should begin soon at the location off the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, just past mile marker 91.  If there are no delays, construction of the physical campus should be done by late 2014.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking was for phase 1A and 1B of the community college, which includes the first 24,000 square feet of learning space.  That space will have classrooms, laboratories, and support areas for 200 students in the culinary arts, nursing and health programs, and student services administration.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  The man suspected of killing 40-year-old Mateo D. Balinbin, Jr. of Nanawale Estates will get a mental exam before trial testimony begins.  According to reporter John Burnett, Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas suspended the scheduled hearing and ordered a full mental evaluation of 43-year-old Seon Keoni Aki of Nanwale Estates.  Reports from three medical professionals are due on 02 July, and a hearing on those reports is set for 09 July.

Aki’s court-appointed attorney Francis Alcain asked for the delay because “there was some information contained within the (police) reports that made it appropriate at this stage.”  Before Aki was led out of the court room, shouted out references to Aki’s record as a sex offender.  According to court records, Aki is considered a felon and a registered sex offender.  Aki has served time for third-degree sex assault.  Aki remains in custody at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $360,000 bail.

( Stephens Media).  Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has commended former Hawaii Island County Councilman Pete Hoffman for his dedication to Hawaii Island and to community service.

The governor visited Kona to present Hoffmann, one of Hawaii County’s two outstanding Older Americans of the Year awardees earlier this year, with a commendation from himself and another from the state Senate.  Abercrombie told reporter Erin Miller that when he decided to run for governor, Hoffmann was one of the first County Council members he sought out, because “I knew he had the people of Hawaii in his heart.”

Hoffmann served four terms on the County Council and has volunteered with the West Hawaii Community Health Center board, helped found the Waikoloa Community Development  Corporation, organized the Waikoloa Senior Center, ran a school supply drive at Waikoloa Elementary School, and worked with the Hawaii Island Food Basket, Meals on Wheels, and the Senior Summer Produce Board.

(Stephens Media).  According to reporter Erin Miller, a proposal to increase park fees “drew a tepid community response in hearings on both sides of the island Tuesday evening.”  Miller said around a dozen people attended the Hilo meeting, with six people offering testimony.  No one attended the Kona meeting.

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Bob Fitzgerald told reporter Miller that  “people are usually more likely to attend a meeting to voice negative opinions than supporting ones, so the low turnout was likely a positive…we’ll look at the  emails that come in…we’ll still discuss among ourselves.”

According to P and R spokesman Jason Armstrong, email submitted prior to Tuesday’ hearings was split.  Following Tuesday’s hearings, Firzgerald and Parks and Recreation Director Clayton Honma said they would “consider other community input and make a rules change recommendation within 60 days.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hawaii police are still investigating the unexplained death of a young woman whose body was recovered from a fishing line near the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area.  Police told reporter John Burnett that the body is that of a Caucasian woman in her late 20s or early 30s, about 5-foot-r to 5-foot -8 with a slim build, short brown hair and a tatoo of “Veritas” on her lower back.

Police Lt. Greg Esteban of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section has not ruled out foul play, adding that “there are suspicious injuries on the body.”  Detectives are reviewing recent missing persons records in an attempt to identify the woman.  Those with leads in this case should call Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  At its 06 June meeting, the Windward Planning Commission will consider allowing greater housing density for downtown Hilo.  If the proposal is approved, the Hawaii County Code would allow residential densithy to be increased from a limit of 1,000 square feet of land per unit to 500 square feet, and allow onsite parking.  Hawaii County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd said current guidelines put residential parking mostly within the downtown commercial zone.  Jeff Melrose, the president of the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association, told reporter Tom Callis that the current code “limits how many people can live downtown.”  Melrose said the HDIA is supporting the proposed changes, adding that “if you want to do this fundamental step in revitalizing downtown, you really have to enable residential improvements, residential development.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald/West Hawaii Today).  On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Michael Sakuma to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for conspiring to distribute and posses with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court records, Sakuma pleaded guilty on 25 January 2013, admitting in court to having possession of more than seven-and-a-half pounds of methamphetamine which he intended to distribute on Hawaii Island.  U.S Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said court evidence revealed that the Hawaii Police Department executed a search warrant on Sakuma’s home in a warehouse located in Kailua-Kona, where “the methamphetamine was recovered from two safes concealed behind a wooden shelving unit.”

The court noted that Sakuma had once been a “significant drug dealer on the Big Island for some time, and that he was responsible for the distribution of wholesale quantities of methamphetamine.”

HAWAII ISLAND WEATHER THROUGH THURSDAY, 30 May 2013:

Hilo and vicinity–Some sunshine with a few windward showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly cloudy with a few upslope showers.

Highs near 80.  Lows near 69.  Winds shifting to the east, 6 to 12 mph, by Thursday.

Sunrise Thursday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Thursday–6:55 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Thursday–13 hours, 13 minutes, and 57 seconds.

HAWAII ISLAND TIDES FOR THURSDAY, 30 May 2013:

Hilo High Tide–7:54 a.m./8:12 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–2:28 a.m./1:12 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–8:32 a.m./8:50 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–3:03 a.m./1:49 p.m.

HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH THURSDAY, 30 May 2013:

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–flat to 1 foot.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–2 to 3 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 3 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–1 to 3 feet.

OTHER:

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