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In Brief | Big Island & State | 11-13-13

North swell prompts high surf warning

A high surf warning is in effect for the Big Island’s north- and east-facing shores through 6 p.m. today. Some north-facing shores along the North Kona coast will also see high surf.

The combination of a powerful low pressure system north of the Hawaiian Islands and a strong high pressure system far to the northwest has generated a large north swell that was forecast to build Tuesday night and peak today, according to the National Weather Service.

The service forecast waves ranging in height from 25 to 35 feet along for the island’s north-facing shores and 15 to 20 feet along east-facing shores. The coastline from Upolu Point in North Kohala to Richardson Beach Park in Hilo will feel the brunt of the high surf, said National Weather Service Senior Meteorologist Tom Birchaud.

A portion of the Kona coastline, from Keahole Point to Kiholo Bay, is also forecast to see high surf, Birchaud said. The service forecast waves ranging in height from 15 feet to 25 feet for the area.

Birchaud said Kona will see some of the surf because the north swell will travel through the Alenuihaha Channel and catch the exposed north-facing shores, particularly near Kekaha Kai State Park.

The service categorized the surf’s impact as “very high” warning that waves may sweep across portions of beaches, roadways, coastal benches and lava flows. The National Weather Service also warned of powerful longshore and rip currents and that breaking waves may impact harbors making navigating harbor channels dangerous. It further cautioned inexperienced swimmers to remain out of the water and off beaches and adjacent beachfront areas.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said with the high surf expected to continue today, Hilo Bayfront Highway will likely remain closed until at least this afternoon. The road has been closed since Sunday night.

Oliveira added that Civil Defense had not received any reports of property damage because of surf as of Tuesday afternoon.

Flash flood watch issued for Hawaii Island

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a flash flood watch for Hawaii Island through Thursday afternoon.

Abundant moisture moving over the islands from the east will combine with a developing upper level trough to bring the threat of widespread moderate to heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms, according to the service. The area of heavy rain was expected to begin moving over Hawaii Island on Tuesday evening before gradually shifting westward.

Forecasters said the rain will be widespread and slow-moving affecting urban areas in the lower elevations. Heavy rain is also expected over the higher elevations and will likely produce flash flooding.

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding, according to the service, which also noted that it does not have to be raining heavily in an area for flash flooding to occur there.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said it closed the Waimanu Trail in North Kohala on Tuesday afternoon until further notice. All camping permits have been canceled.

Winter storm watch issued for summits

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a winter storm watch for Big Island summits through Thursday afternoon. As much as 3 inches of snow is forecast to fall.

Deep moisture is expected to move over the Big Island from the east and southeast and combine with an upper level trough to bring the threat of widespread winter weather, according to forecasters.

The service forecast southwest winds of 40 to 60 mph with localized gusts reaching 70 mph. Temperatures are expected to be in the 20s and 30s.

The Mauna Kea Access Road remained closed as of press time Tuesday, according to the Mauna Kea Weather Center.

A winter storm watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel. The service cautioned that visibility may be significantly reduced at times.

Small craft advisory issued for Big Island

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a small craft advisory for waters off Hawaii Island effective through Thursday morning.

Forecasters said the advisory was prompted by a large north swell producing rough seas. The service forecast northeast winds reaching 10 to 20 knots — 11 to 23 mph. Rough seas of 8 to 17 feet are also expected.

A small craft advisory means that wind speeds of 25 to 33 knots — 29 to 38 mph — and/or seas are expected to be 10 feet or greater and expected to produce conditions hazardous to small craft, according to the service. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid navigating in such conditions.

Police searching for missing woman

Big Island police are asking the public’s help locating a 26-year-old Hilo woman who was reported missing on Monday.

Amanda Schwartz was last seen at 11:35 p.m. Nov. 4 on Lotus Blossom Lane in Ocean View, Ka‘u, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. She may be in need of medical attention.

Schwartz is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 140 pounds with blue eyes and brown and blond hair, according to police.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts should contact the nearest police station or call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Man sought in Hilo burglary investigation

Big Island police are searching for a man wanted for questioning in connection with a reported burglary and theft last month in Hilo.

Several items valued at more than $300 were stolen Oct. 30 from a home on lower Haihai Street, according to the Hawaii County Police Department

Investigation by detectives led to the identity of a possible suspect, Kalei Kaaumoana, 21, of Hilo, according to police. He is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He is also wanted for questioning in connection with other burglaries in the Waiakea Uka area, according to police.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective John Rodrigues at 961-8222 or jrodrigues@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Police locate man reported missing

Big Island police have located James Johnston, who was reported missing on Sunday.

The 53-year-old was found in good health Monday in Waimea, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Police investigate terroristic threatening incident in Puna

Big Island police are investigating an apparent case of terroristic threatening following a confrontation early Monday in Kalapana.

The incident occurred about 3 a.m. Monday in the Seaview Estates subdivision, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. A vehicle was reportedly driving recklessly in the park at the entrance to the subdivision and then pulled in front of a home on Kaliki Kai Street, where the victim, a 59-year-old Kalapana woman, confronted the occupants.

The victim was reportedly struck by propelled objects, which hit her in the arm and hand, according to police. Hawaii County Fire Department rescue personnel treated her at the scene.

Anyone with information about the vehicle or its occupants should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Todd Pataray at 961-2382 or tpataray@co.hawaii.hi.us. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Naniloa Volcanoes Resort buyers going with marine theme

The buyers of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort plan to use a marine theme — with art by artist, Robert Wyland — to transform the beleaguered hotel on Hilo’s Banyan Drive.

Tower Development Inc. of Honolulu and Wyland Hilo Hotel LLC together submitted the winning bid of $5.2 million Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Honolulu, according to David Farmer, Naniloa’s bankruptcy trustee.

Assuming there isn’t an appeal, sale of the 383-room hotel and its nine-hole golf course would be finalized within 14 days, Farmer said.

“For Hilo, this is a good day,” he said.

The buyers could not be immediately reached for comment. But documents filed in bankruptcy court show they plan to invest substantially in the property with renovations and art work and decor by the environmentally conscious artist.

The marine theme would replicate the style used at the former Wyland Waikiki Hotel, renamed the Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach in 2009.

Stabbing suspect to undergo mental exam

A 34-year-old Mountain View man accused of stabbing his longtime friend to death will undergo a mental exam.

Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng on Tuesday requested examination of his client, David True Seal, by a panel of three mental health professionals “for fitness to proceed only.” Seal is accused of the slaying of 32-year-old Rory Thompson Wick on Nov. 5 in the Eden Roc subdivision property where both men lived in separate residences.

Police said Wick was stabbed multiple times in the heart and left lung by Seal, who escaped on Dec. 3, 2009, from the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe, Oahu. Seal had been at large since his escape.

Seal was committed to the mental hospital in April 2002 after being acquitted by reason of insanity for the kidnapping and attempted rape of an 8-year-old girl on Maui.

Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas set a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10 to consider the contents of the examiners’ reports.

Assaults frequent at Hawaii State Hospital

KANEOHE, Oahu — Some Hawaii State Hospital employees say frequent assaults from patients are keeping them away from work for months, even years.

According to the state, there have been 90 assaults on staff by patients as of the end of August at the state’s only public mental hospital, Hawaii News Now reported. Last year, there were 120 and in 2011 there were 132.

Scott Miscovich, who is treating employees who have been injured at the hospital in the past eight months, said he can’t send them back to a dangerous environment.

Emelinda Yarte has been out of work for nearly four years because of an attack in December 2009. The psychiatric technician was leading a group of mental patients up some stairs when she saw a patient punching a worker.

“I went back to help and then he slammed me on the wall and that’s when my jaw got dislocated,” she said. Yarte said she suffered panic attacks when she tried to go back to the hospital.

Her psychologist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Nobody should have to go to work and not know if they’re going to get kicked in the head or punched or have to get surgery for their shoulder when they walk out that day,” said psychologist Mary Horn, who is treating about seven state hospital employees who have been hurt on the job.

Mark Fridovich, the adult mental health administrator for the state health department who oversees the hospital, said when there’s an assault there’s immediate follow-up to determine what can be done to increase safety.

“Assaults do occur. We take each and every one of them very, very seriously,” Fridovich said. “The problem with assault is even a single incident of it can cause incredible harm to the worker and traumatic experience.”

Rep. Gabbard receives New Frontier Award

BOSTON — A Hawaii congresswoman and the founder of an online charity website will be honored with awards given to people whose contributions demonstrate the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.

The New Frontier Awards will be presented Nov. 25 at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government by Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg.

The honorees are Democratic Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in Congress, and Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. The website connects donors with public school teachers who need help meeting their classroom needs.

The awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Institute of Politics to honor Americans younger than 40 who are committed to public service.

By local and wire sources