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In Brief | Big Island & State | 12-10-13

Updated: 
December 9, 2013 - 10:41pm

Tree trimming to force lane closures in Honalo

Hawaii County Department of Public Works Highway Maintenance Division crews will again assist Hawaiian Telcom with the removal of vegetation from cable lines today along Mamalahoa Highway in Honalo, according to the county. Hawaiian Telcom will replace several cable lines at the same time.

Alternating lane closures will be in effect while crews are performing work between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the county. Motorists are advised to use the Mamalahoa bypass via Halekii Street and Alii Drive.

DLNR to hold public hearing in Kailua-Kona

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing from 6 to 9 p.m. today in the Kealakehe High School cafeteria regarding amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules relating to stony coral and live rock.

The proposed amendments would clarify what activities constitute “damage” to stony coral and live rock as well as establish a formula for calculating administrative penalties for such violations, according to the department.

All interested parties are urged to attend a public hearing to present relevant information and opinion for the DLNR to consider. Those unable to attend can mail comments by Dec. 27 to the Division of Aquatic Resources, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 330, Honolulu, HI 96813.

A similar public hearing is slated from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Aupuni Conference Room in Hilo, according to the department.

The draft rules are available at state.hi.us/dlnr/dar/rules/drafts/stony_coral_live_%20rock_dr.pdf.

Firefighters douse blaze off highway in North Kona

A brush fire reported early Sunday morning burned approximately 4 acres in North Kona.

The fire was reported at 2:15 a.m. near mile marker 17 on Highway 190, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department. State and county firefighters extinguished the blaze, which did not threaten any structures, around 1 p.m. Monday.

Two Hilo men arrested in connection with burglary

Two men were arrested Friday after police received a call shortly after midnight reporting suspicious men on a boat at Wailoa Small Boat Harbor, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

South Hilo patrol officers responded to the 12:10 a.m. call and learned the men removed items from the boat and fled in a pickup truck. A few minutes later, police located the truck nearby and observed eight fishing poles with reels in the truck’s bed, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Police arrested 47-year-old Milton Ahnee of Hilo and 36-year-old Dennis Poai of Hilo. Both were taken to the Hilo police cellblock while Area I Criminal Investigations Section detectives continued the investigation.

Detectives recovered the truck and executed a search warrant. In addition to the stolen fishing poles, they allegedly recovered 0.9 grams of a crystalline substance, paraphernalia associated with the use of crystal methamphetamine, a rifle and ammunition, according to police.

At 9:40 p.m. Friday, detectives charged Ahnee with burglary and theft. His bail was set at $20,000. Poai was charged with burglary, theft, promoting a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and four firearms offenses. His bail was set at $121,000.

Both men remained at the cellblock pending their initial court appearance on Monday.

Puna woman arrested for burglary, domestic charges

Hawaii Island police have located 40-year-old Mary Lolita Santos of Mountain View, who was wanted in connection with a reported burglary and domestic incident in Kurtistown on Aug. 16 as well as on bench warrants.

Santos was arrested in Hilo on Nov. 20 and charged on bench warrants for second-degree theft stemming from a May 19 incident at a store on Makaala Street in Hilo and two counts of contempt of court, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. While at the Hilo police cellblock, she was also charged with shoplifting for a July 12 incident at a store on Makaala Street in Hilo, with fourth-degree theft for an Aug. 17 incident at a store on Henry Street in Kailua-Kona and with second-degree theft for a Nov. 13 incident at a store in Waiakea Plaza in Hilo.

Santos was also arrested on suspicion of burglary, assault, terroristic threatening, criminal property damage, phone ripping and violation of a protective order in connection with the Aug. 16 incident in Kurtistown, but released pending further investigation.

Police search for missing 70-year-old Hilo man

Big Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating a missing 70-year-old Hilo man.

John Richard Strange was last contacted by a caretaker on Dec. 3 and has not been seen since, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

Strange is described as Caucasian, about 5 feet eight inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds, and having with a tan complexion, brown eyes, wavy grey medium-length hair and a full beard. Strange also has several tattoos on both inner forearms. He uses a wheelchair for mobility and requires medication.

Strange’s family is concerned for his safety and well-being, police said.

Anyone with information on this case or who may know Strange’s whereabouts should call Lt. Gregory Esteban at 961-2252 or email at gesteban@hawaiicounty.gov.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Maui councilwoman introduces pesticide bill

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui County may join Hawaii and Kauai counties in regulating pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

County Councilwoman Elle Cochran introduced a bill Friday that would mandate commercial agricultural entities disclose pesticides and GMO use. It would also establish pesticide buffer zones and require the county complete an environmental and public health impact study about pesticides and GMOs.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa last month signed a pesticide disclosure agreement with agricultural giant Monsanto, which operates farms on Maui and Molokai.

Cochran told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the mayor’s agreement doesn’t go far enough because it’s voluntary.

She said mandatory disclosure requirements would ensure the public gets more information.

The Maui News reported Monsanto is asking the council to give the voluntary disclosure agreement a chance.

Kauai surfers save woman from drowning

LIHUE, Kauai — Two surfers in their 60s saved the life of a 20-year-old woman off Kauai.

The Garden Island reported 66-year-old Don Brown and 63-year-old Steve Childers pulled the woman to safety at Polihale Beach on the island’s west side.

Brown and Childers were about to conclude surfing Thursday when two men drove up and said a woman was in trouble.

They drove a quarter-mile to where a crowd had assembled. The woman was in rough water and strong current 100 yards off shore.

They paddled about four minutes and Childers reached the woman first. She was pulled onto his board.

Kauai County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said firefighters arrived at 3:05 p.m. The woman was treated and released at Kauai Veterans Medical Hospital.

Seventeen people have drowned off Kauai this year.

Group calls for timely brown water advisories

LIHUE, Kauai — An environmental group says health advisories on brown water need to be more timely and comprehensive.

Carl Berg of Kauai Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force said advisories on brown water, which can carry pathogens that cause disease, are often delayed. He also said they don’t cover all the areas affected by heavy rain and brown water.

The state Department of Health issues advisories on brown water that flows after storms. The water may contain pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, chemicals and associated debris.

Health Department spokesman Watson Okubo said staff members are cautious about issuing health warnings without verifying the situation. Berg said the department should err on the side of caution.

2 youngest senators seek to lower college costs

HARTFORD, Conn. — The two youngest members of the U.S. Senate are co-sponsoring a bill aimed at lowering college costs that includes withholding federal funds from schools that don’t meet affordability and quality standards.

Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are planning to introduce the legislation next week. The two are still paying off their college loans.

Murphy said higher education is out of reach for many Americans because of skyrocketing tuition. He said too many students are leaving college with heavy debt.

The legislation would fund a competitive program to encourage schools to lower costs and reduce the time needed to get a degree. The bill also calls for schools to lose federal funding if they don’t meet the affordability and quality standards developed under the legislation.

By local and wire source