Hawaii Island News, 07 September 2009

The Labor Day weekend has proven to be deadly with three  people killed and two seriously injured from motor vehicle accidents.  According to a fire department report, a head-on crash near Waimea on Saturday night killed Brandon Ng, his wife Suzanne, and their five-year old son.  Rupert Tripp, Jr., of Keaau, a singer  with the trio Kohala, was flown to the Queen’s Medical Center.  Tripp was listed in guarded condition.  Eight-year old Aimee Ng remained in critical condition.

What appeared to be a report of suspected drowning at the Hilo Valhalla Apratments in Puueo has resulted in the arrest of a man for suspected abuse.  Police Lt. Greg Esteban told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that an ambulance took the girl to the Hilo Medical Center where she later died.  Esteban said detectives are questioning a man in his 30s about the incident.

Hawaii’s newest fire station will soon open in Pahoa.  Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that the $5.3 million Pahoa station on Highway 130 should be ready by October.  Oliveira said the station has three bays, each of which is long enough to store two fire vehicles.  A powerful ventilation system will remove diesal and other harmful fumes.  The station is large enough to store a rescue helicopter during emergencies.

(AP).  Hawaii and the rest of the nation are enjoying Labor Day today, the unofficial end of summer.  It’s a federal, state, and city-county holiday.  Government offices will be closed.  There will be no mail delivery.  Banks, schools, and libraries will also be closed.  Parks, recreational centers, and municipal golf courses will be open.

(AP).  Honolulu police say they expect to charge a 29-year-old man with second degree murder in the strangling death of a teenager who was found in an alley two weeks ago.  Amateur kickboxer Crobit K. Ahn was arrested at his home Friday and held in connection with the death of 18-year-old Iris Rodrigues-Kaikana.  She was last seen alive by friends the night before her body was found August 24th.

(AP).  Former professional football player Jesse Mahelona has died in a single-car crash on the Big Island.  On Saturday, police identified Mahelona as the driver of a 1996 Honda sedan which left the Kealakehe Parkway and hit construction equipment in Kailua-Kona.  Police believe alcohol was a factor in the fatal crash.  Mahelona was a standout defensive lineman at Kealakehe High School before he was drafted in 2006 by the Tennessee Titans.  Mahelona also played for the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Hawaii Island News, 06-07 September 2009

(AP).  Former NFL player Jesse Mahelona is dead after his car crashed on the Big Island near his home.  Police say Mahelona’s 1996 Honda went off the Kealakehe Parkway and struck some construction equipment around 1 am Saturday in Kailua-Kona.  Mahelona was a standout lineman at Kealakehe High School before he was drafted in 2006 by the Tennessee Titans.

Hawaii County is proceeding with plans to build a wastewater system for the Queen Liliuokalani Village in North Kona and to expand a wastewater treatment facility in Honokaa.  According to “West Hawaii Today”, both projects are part of an effort to comply with Environmental Protection Agency requirements to close large capacity cesspools.

For nearly five decades, homeowners in the Alii Kai subdivision in Kailua-Kona have tried to get major improvements to a park located between Lehua and Pakalana roads off Royal Pnciana Drive.  According to “West Hawaii Today”, these residents will have their chance to address their concerns with design consultant ABG Design of Honolulu on September 10th, 6:30 pm, at Kahakai Elementary School Cafeteria.  Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald said he would do what he could to make sure the area is what the neighborhood wants.

The Mamalahoa Bypass near Keauhou will be closed to one-way traffic on Labor Day.  In other road issues, construction activities will resume Tuesday, September 8th along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway.  Work includes closures in both directions at the Henry Street and Malulani Street intersections for electrical work.  Multiple lane closures will be in effect in both directions between Lako Street and Henry Street for road resurfacing operations.   Alternating single lane closures will be in effect Tuesday on the Volcano Road between the Keaau Bypass Road and the Panaewa Bridge in the Volcano-bound direction from 6:30 am to 1:00 pm for road resurfacing operations.

The Waimea Solid Waste Transfer Station is scheduled to be closed for paving on Tuesday, September 15th through Thursday, September 17th.  The transfer station is secheduled to reopen on Friday, September 18th.  The facility’s HI5 Recycling Center and Mixed Recycling Bins are scheduled to be closed on Monday, September 14th in preparation for the paving work.  During the temporary closure period, residents are encouraged to use the Honokaa and Puako Solid Waste Transfer Stations.

(AP).  Part of the Molokai Forest Reserve is closed indefinitely because of the danger of falling trees, smoldering hot spots, and other threats stemming from a wildfire.  The fire has already burned 8,000 acres since it was first reported August 29th.  The fire is largely contained.  The Makakupaia section of the forest must remain closed while firefighting efforts continue.

(AP).  Testimony is expected this week in the trial of a couple whose 12-year old daughter weighed 29 pounds when they finally sought medical attention.  Denise and Melvin Wright, Jr. are charged with second-degree attempted murder and face life in prison with the possibility of parole if they are convicted.

Hawaii Island News, 05/06 September 2009

(AP).  The state Department of Health says Hawaii’s swine flu death count rose by four between June and August to 10.  Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo says one of the four was a 5 year old.  She says the case marks Hawaii’s first swine flu death involving a child.

Hawaii County’s Windward Planning Committee has issued a special permit needed to build a new Fire Department adminstrative complex in Hilo.  Those testifying against the permit believed a radio tower at the proposed facility would endanger the health of the community.  According to the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, the complex will be built on 5.4 acres of land on the Hamakua side of the Mohouli Street Extension, about midway between Komohana and Kukuau streets.

Ken Fujiyama, the current lease holder for the Volcano House, tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” he will hsut down the popular lodge in the first week of January for several months of rennovations.  Work will include some structural remodeling, roof repair, and the installation of fire suppression equipment.  When the lease expires December 31st, he’ll have five days to clean up and prepare for shutdown.  Fujiyama says he will try to move as many of the lodge’s employees as he can to Hilo, where he operates the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort and Nani Mau Gardens.

The state Department of Health is warning customers not to eat Kellogg’s Eggo Cinnamon Toast Waffles and Kellogg’s Eggo Toaster Swirlz Cinnamon Roll Minis due to possible contamination that could cause illness.

Douglas Dykstra has been selected as the recipient of Hawaii Community College Chancellor’s Award for his dedicated and outstanding service to the university.  Also known as the  Hawaii CC  ‘A’ali’i Award, it is given to an employee who served the college in an exemplary fashion, with grace and effectiveness despite many challenges and obstacles.  Dykstra was appointed recently as chancellor of Windward Community College.

(AP).  The state Board of Education has rejected a $5 million budge cut to the public library system that called for the temporary closure of branches and employee furloughs.  Without the cutback, libraries will operate as usual, pending the outcome of contract talks involving the state and unions that represent library workers.  The decision means that the Kealakekua Public Library will remain open until further notice.  The Holualoa Public Library was shut down earlier this year.  State Library Paul Mark tells “West Hawaii Today” that two fundraising efforts are underway to keep libraries open, but he is not sure if the funds raised could be used to pay for staffing costs.

(AP).  A judge on Kauai has ruled state law shields and protects an independent filmmaker from Hawaii Island from subpoenas in a property dispute.  A party to the suit wanted to see unpublished interviews and raw footage shout by Puna resident Keoni Kealoha Alvarez, who had been documenting Native Hawaiian burial practices.

Hawaii Island News, 04/05 September 2009

The fate of the Kealakekua Public Library remains uncertain as the Board of Education considers ways of keeping the state’s public libraries open during a time of financial constraint.  The Kealakekua Branch is one of three libraries that could be closed.  The Holualoa Public Library was shut down earlier this year.  State Library spokesman Paul Mark tells “West Hawaii Today” that two fundraising efforts are underway to keep libraries open, but he is not sure if the funds raised could be used to pay for staffing costs.

Police are investigating the theft of a backpack and an undisclosed amount of cash from a man and a woman walking along Kapiolani Street in Hilo.  According to police, the couple was confronted by three men early Tuesday morning in an area below UH-Hilo.  One of the men may have been armed with an aluminum baseball bat and a knife.  All three suspects are described as being of medium build, 5 foot 10 inches tall, and weighing about 150 pounds.

A man wielding a knife held up an ABC store, injuring a cashier before he fled with one of the store’s cash drawers Thursday morning.  According to police, the suspect entered the ABC store in the Coconut Grove Market Place on Alii Drive, attacked the female cashier, demanded cash, and took the one cash drawer he could seize.  If you have any leads, call police.

(AP).  Film industry executives and artists are warning that planned layoffs at the Hawaii film office means Hawaii could lose out on some lucrative Hollywood projects.  Governor Linda Lingle’s administration has put four of the six staffers in the film office on a list of more than 1,100 layoffs.  The office coordinates permits and tax credits for film and television projects, helping the state rake in $146 million last year.

(AP).  The proposal to bar smelly people from Honolulu buses has turned out to be a stinker.  Lawyers from the city and the American Civil Liberties Union said the proposed ban was vague and could lead to uncontitutionally subjective judgments.  Members of the public also pointed out that bad odors could be produced by disease, or be carried from a person’s workplace.

Governor Linda Lingle is warning of what she calls a “fundamental restructuring” of state government because of continuing budget problems. In a webcast on Thursday, the governor said she  wants to reduce payments for social service program  beneficiaries and eliminate programs that can be provided by volunteers, local  agencies, and the federal government.

A roadblock that prevented Mesa Air Group to use the name Aloha Airlines for its go! airlines has been lifted.  Aloha’s former majority shareholder and a bankruptcy trustee asked a judge to dismiss their challenge to block the rebranding of go!.  The judge approved the order earlier this week.

Hawaii Island News, 04 September 2009

Deputy Corporation Cousel Brooks Bancroft tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that a car accident caused by former Mayor Harry Kim will cost taxpayers almost one hundred thousand dollars.  Californial resident  Debbie Balise originally wanted $250, for injuries suffered in the September 27, 2006 accident.  Bancroft told the Hawaii County Council that Balise was willing to settle for $99,500.

Tyler Webster and her husband Shorty Wilson have posted a sign above their partially rennovated building at Keawe and Mamo Streets in Hilo reading “Who needs a tsunami…we have the building department.”  The couple told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” they posted the sign after months of trying to get the Department of Public Works Building Division to give them permission on the rennovation of the former Keawe Diner Building.  The series of delays dat back to the later half of 2007.

Police are investigating the death of 49-year old Victor Bajor, whose body was found in a Hawaiian Paradise Park home.  Captain Randall Medeiros of the criminal investigation division told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that an autopsy is scheduled for this morning.   Medeiros said police have not ruled out a possible homicide.

The Hawaii County Council has asked the state Board of Education to elevate the status of a proposed cafeteria at Keaukaha School.  Councilman Dennis Onishi told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that plans to renovate the lunch room were cancelled in 1997 because the Hilo school was set to get a new cafeteria.  That upgrade never happened, leaving a crowded, run down room with obsolete equipment in its place.

South Kona Council member Brenda Ford tells “West Hawaii Today” that Oceanside 1250 has paid its bond premium and intends to make its annual payment before the September 13 due date.  Ford says the bond payments are meant to keep secure funding for the completion of the Mamalahoa Bypass road which cuts through the Oceanside Hokulia development.  Just a reminder to those using the Mamalahoa bypass–the bypass will be closed on Monday, Labor Day.

Hawaii Island police say 47-year old Jeff Jones of Kealakekua was injured seriously Tuesday afternoon following a moped crash into a stone wall near the intersection of Alapa and Kaiwi streets in the old Kona Industrial Area. Police tell “West Hawaii Today” it is yet to be determined if another vehicle contributed to the accident.

Hawaii Island News, 03 September 2009

The Hawaii County Council has passed a bill allowing Puna landowners to use emergency shelters while they build their homes.  Once he receives the measure, Mayor Billy Kenoi will have 10 working days to sign or veto the bill.  Maoral spokesman Hunter Bishop told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that the mayor has not taken a position on that bill and has not indicated whether he will sign it.

Twently Hawaii firefighters have gone to California to help battle the wildfires raging through that state.  National Park representative Tessa Chieves told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that thirteen firefighters from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park left Hilo Wednesday morning for the California fire lines.

While several Hawaii Island schools are showing a slight decline in student enrollment, others, such as Keaau Elementary, had to add a class at every grade level, and two classes at the first grade level to keep pace with more students.  Principal Chad Faria told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that his school has also hired three new teachers and fourth is on the way.  Farias said the student increases can be partially traced to fewer parents asking for geographic exemptions.

Thanks to the purging of low-demand courses and an increased student enrollment, H-Hilo is avoiding for now the drastic program and budget cuts experienced by UH-Manoa.  University Relations Director Gerald DeMello tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that the UH-Hilo faculty is taking on bigger work loads and increasing their class sizes to stretch resources.

(AP).  The University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy says scientists have discovered a giant galaxy surrounding the most distant supermassive black hole ever found.  Researchers using the Subaru telescope on the Big Island made the discovery.  They say the galaxy is 12.8 billion light-years from earth and is as large as our own Milky Way galaxy.

State Agriculture Chairwoman Sandra Kunimoto tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that she’s hoping to tap into the invasive species special fund to save 25 of the 52 agricultural inspection positions slated for layoffs.  Kunimoto feels that fund would give some breathing room while the state pursues other sources of money.  Mark Fox of The Nature Conservancy agreed with Kunimoto, telling the state house agricultural committee that inspectors are needed to protect the state from invasive pests.  Fox was reluctant, howerver, to use funds which have been earmarked for eradication efforts.

A bill introduced by Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong to require council approval for the sale of 10 or more acres of county land drew strong support from a group of residents testifying before the County Counci..  Council members postponed their vote on the bill until its September 15th meeting.

Hawaii Island News, 02 September 2009

According to an amended lawsuit filed by “West Hawaii Today”, five County Council members violated the state’s sunshine law when they went on a lobbying trip to Honolulu i April.  The lawsuit claims the council members would “quickly pass” a resolution asking for a repreived from the state’s Clean Election Law.  “West Hawaii Today” believes the trip was an apparent violation of the open meeting law, which prohibits more than two council members from discussing council business outside a public meeting.

A move to give Hawaii Copunty’s auditor fiscal independence failed to gather support and was postponed at the request of South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford.  Ford told the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that she doesn’t want the County Council or mayor to have the ability to cut the legislative auditor’s budget to prevent an unfavorable critique of a specific program.   Hilo councilman Donald Ikeda said the bill is flawed because all other departments must come before the council to justify their spending requests.

A man who calls himself an animal rescuer is running into problems from neighbors who label him as a public nuisance.  According to the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald”, neighbors of Warne “Keahi” Young have asked police, the mayor’s office, and event the planning department to force Young to remove his dogs.  In December 2007, Young faced charges of animal cruelty and was allowed to keep no more than 10 dogs.  Neighbors contend Young has 14 dogs on his property–animals he must remove by next Tuesday.

(AP).  The University of Hawaii at Hilo has named Dexter Irvin to be its new athletic director.  Irvin has been the AD at Dixie State Colleg in St. George, Utah, for the past decade.  He succeeds Kathleen McNally.  She served as athletic director from 2002 to 2009, when she was placed on paid adminsitrative leave until her contract expired later that year.

The Hawaii State Department of Health will distribute antiviral medication to al neighbor islands and prepare hospitals and community health centers statewide for emergency distribution with a full-scale, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency response exercise today.  Planned almost three months ago, the exercise will demonstrate the state’s capacity to widely distribute antiviral stockpile assets to support the state’s response to the ongoing influenza epidemic.

Hawaii County will resurface one mile of Kuakini Highway starting just below Highway 11 to Pottery Terrace starting Thursday, September 10th.  Roadwork will be between 8 am and 5 pm, weekdays.  One lane will be closed.  Motorists are advised to use Walua Road or Lunapule to enter Pottery Terrace and Highway 11 or Ali’i Drive to enter Kailua-Kona.

(AP).  The 64th anniversary of the end of World War II is being marked today at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the ship where Japanese officials signed the surrender documents concluding the war on September 2, 1945.  The Missouri has since been decommissioned and now serves as a museum.

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