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Big Island of Hawaii News, 31 May 2013 through 01 June 2013. Post #2030

Author:

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

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories through Saturday, 01 June 2013:

HEADLINES:

Dead woman identified.

Missing couple found alive.

Mayor Kenoi makes cabinet changes.

Property taxes are going up.

County Council approves $394 million budget.

Credit Union robbery.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hawaii Police have identified the murder victim whose body was found caught up in a fishing line near Kalapana as 25-year-old Brittany-Jane Royal.  According to reporter John Burnett, an autopsy conducted Wednesday concluded that Ms. Royal was strangled.  Police have classified the death as a homicide.

Lt. Greg Esteban of the Criminal Investigations Section said that the victim had recently moved to Hawaii Island and had been living in the Kalapana area.  Esteban told reporter Burnett that “she was positively identified through fingerprints.”

Police said Ms. Royal’s body was found early Tuesday morning by people on board a fishing vessel near where the lava enters the ocean in Kalapana.  Lt. Esteban said a second-degree murder investigation is under way.  Police have not yet identified a motive for the murder nor have they arrested a suspect in the case.  Those with leads in this case should call Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386.

(Associated Press).  According to AP reporter Jennifer Sicno Kelleher, an Idaho man and his California girlfriend were camping in Waipio Valley, unaware that police had begun a search for them after a family member reported receiving “a cryptic phone call from someone claiming to have one of them.”  Fortunately, the couple was alive and safe.

Twenty-one-year-old Kevin Butler and 18-year-old Kimberly Linder called their parents Wednesday night, just hours after police asked for help in finding them.  Apparently, the couple had checked out of their Kona hotel on Friday and told their families they planned to camp in a tent in a valley as part of their backpacking adventure to Hawaii Island.

Things were moving along nicely until Linder’s mother, Christine Cearley, received a disturbing call “in the middle of the night.”  Plans were being made by some family members to fly to Hawaii Island to search for the couple when Cearley got a text message from her daughter saying everything was alright.

Police Captain Richard Miyamoto told the AP that officers were closing the missing persons case and didn’t plan to investigate the anonymous telephone call.

(Stephens Media).  On Thursday, Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi announced a major change in his cabinet.  According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd will return to her former position as head of the county Department of Environmental Management.  The new planning director will be Duane Kanuha, a former state Land Use Commission chairman and a former county planning director.

The new appointments take effect on Monday, 03 June 2013, pending approval by the Hawaii County Council.

Mayor Kenoi told reporter Lauer that the reshuffling had no connection to recent court rulings critical of the Planning Department and Leithead-Todd.  Kenoi said he wanted to put “an experienced leader at the helm of DEM.” an agency that faces “big decisions” on a waste-to-energy incinerator and other waste reduction technologies.  Kenoi said he tapped Leithead-Todd “based on her past experience…she’s the best for the job…the clock is ticking to get waste reduction technology in place…we have a little less than four years…that’s why the move is so important.”

(Stephens Media).  On Thursday, the Hawaii County Council passed a “beefed up” budget that will add 28 staff members, a new videoconferencing site for North Kohala, the continuance of the Ka’u videoconference site in Ocean View, and millions of dollars for new computers and equipment.

According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, South Kona/Ka’u Councilwoman Brenda Ford and Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan opposed the measure because it would require the raising of property taxes to pay for the improvements.

Supporters, such as North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, told reporter Lauer that “there’s a lot of work put into this budget by a lot of departments and a lot of us…I think there’s going to be a lot of improvements in the budget and on the ground.”

Among those improvements are the addition of five new police officers for Puna and Ka’u; the replacement of fire trucks in Keaau and Honokaa; 12 new firefighter positions; two new lifeguards; a new shuttle bus route in Waikoloa; expanded service to Puna; two clerks; and a mechanic and a mechanic’s helper for Mass Transit.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hawaii County has embarked on an ambitious $394 million dollar plan to improve public services throughout Hawaii Island.  Homeowners will be assessed higher taxes to pay for these improvements.  On Thursday, the Hawaii County Council approved a more than 10 percent increase in property taxes, “citing a need to provide better services in areas that have taken a hit following the last recession.”

According to reporter Tom Callis, the higher property taxes, raning from 10.2 to 10.8 percent, will give the county “$18.8 million in additional revenue…for the owner of a $250,000 home, that means an extra $150 a year.”  In an attempt to take the sting out of the double-digit raise in property taxes, the County Council also supported a resolution “that states  it will seek tax reductions for the 2014 fiscal year.”

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille told reporter Callis that , while the resolution is not legally binding, “what it shows is our intent to make a real effort …to cut expenses and to explore them comprehensively and to also look at different streams of income.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hawaii Police say a man who brandished what “appeared to be a handgun’ robbed the Hamakua Coast Community Federal Credit Union in Pepeekeo Thursday afternoon.

Police Lt. Greg Esteban of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Section told reporter John Burnett that a masked man entered the credit union shortly after 1 p.m., pointed “what appeared to be a handgun” at two tellers, and demanded cash.  Esteban said “nobody’s in custody,” and added that the man, whom he described as “covered from head to toe”, left with an undetermined amount of money.  Esteban said the suspect fled on foot.  No shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident.

The suspect, who was recorded on video surveillance equipment, is described as a man in his 30s, between 5-foot-8 and 6-foot in height, with a husky build.  He was reportedly wearing camouflage pants, a sweatshirt, and a baseball cap.  Esteban added that “a flourescent, green-colored cloth item” covered the suspect’s face and he was wearing sunglasses.  Those with leads in this case should call Detective Joel Field at 961-2381.

HAWAII ISLAND WEATHER THROUGH SATURDAY, 01 June 2013:

Hilo and vicinity–Some sunshine and a few brief showers.

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

Highs near 84.  Lows near 67.   Winds shifting to the east southeast, 6 to 12 mph, by Saturday morning.

Sunrise Saturday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Saturday–6:56 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Saturday–13 hours, 14 minutes, and 54 seconds.

HAWAII ISLAND TIDES FOR SATURDAY,  01 June 2013:

Hilo High Tide–10:56 a.m./10:01 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–4:15 a.m./4:13 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–11:34 a.m./10:39 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–4:52 a.m./4:50 p.m.

HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH SATURDAY, 01 June 2013:

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–flat to 1 foot.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–3 to 4 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 4 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–1 to 3 feet.

OTHER:

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Aloha,

Russ Roberts, site administrator

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