In Brief | Big Island & State | 1-17-14

Second phase of Laaloa work begins Jan. 27

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Second phase of Laaloa work begins Jan. 27

Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. will begin the second phase of improvements on Laaloa Avenue on Jan. 27, according to the Hawaii County Department of Public Works.

Isemoto submitted the lowest bid at $4.4 million to complete the second phase of improvements to include sidewalks, curbs, gutters, street parking, dry wells and bicycle lanes, according to the department. The work will stretch 3,800 feet mauka of the avenue’s intersection with Alii Drive.

Isemoto will also be making improvements on approximately 550 feet of Alii Drive, north and south of the road’s intersection with Laaloa Avenue, according to the department.

The county anticipates the first phase of the project, which began in July, extending Laaloa Avenue mauka to Kuakini Highway, to be complete in June. The second phase should be complete in July.

Crews will work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Plastic bag ban goes into effect today

Businesses on Hawaii Island may no longer provide single-use plastic bags to customers starting today, in accordance with the Hawaii County Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, according to the Department of Environmental Management.

The ordinance, adopted in 2011, prohibits businesses from providing single-use plastic bags with handles to customers. The ordinance did provide a one-year transition period.

Plastic bags without handles that are used for retail items such as meat, produce, bulk items, garments and prescription drugs are exempt from the ordinance, according to the county. Paper bags are still permitted.

A business that violates the ordinance will be sent a warning letter. A second violation would result in a civil fine of $250 per day and a third violation would result in a civil fine of $500 per day. Subsequent violations would be assessed a civil fine of $1,000 per day, according to the department

For more information, visit hawaiizerowaste.com or contact the department at 961-8942 or bring-ur-bag@hawaiicounty.gov.

Man wanted for theft turns himself in

A 51-year-old Hilo man wanted for theft turned himself in to police Wednesday afternoon in Hilo.

Benjamin Fonseca was arrested and charged with contempt of court, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. He was also arrested on suspicion of second-degree theft and 28 counts of forgery. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives continue their investigation.

Fisherman found adrift off Kona Coast

A fisherman is safe ashore after his vessel ran out of gas and he spent the night adrift off the coast of Kailua-Kona on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu.

At 6:11 p.m. Wednesday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received a report from the Hawaii County Fire Department that a man was overdue from a fishing trip. The fisherman was last seen Wednesday afternoon on his 17-foot fishing boat approximately 40 miles west of Kailua-Kona near a NOAA data buoy, according to the Coast Guard.

Watchstanders created a probable search area based on the limited available information and launched an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, an 87-foot patrol boat, was also dispatched from its home-port in Honolulu.

At 1:20 a.m. Thursday, the airplane crew spotted a boat within the area of interest, 9 miles west of Kailua-Kona. Kittiwake arrived at 4 a.m. to take the vessel in tow.

Kittiwake transferred the passenger and vessel to a Hawaii County Fire Department rescue boat which continued the tow to Keauhou Marina, according to the Coast Guard.

The fisherman was not equipped with safety equipment such as a working VHF radio, flares and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, according to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to remain aware of their vessel’s fuel capacity and other limitations, especially during times of severe weather and high surf. For more information on boating safety, visit uscgboating.org.

High surf advisory issued through Sunday

A high surf advisory is in effect for north- and west-facing shores of Hawaii Island through 6 a.m. Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu forecast waves ranging in height from 12 to 20 feet along north-facing shores and surf ranging in height from 8 to 10 feet along west-facing shores. Forecasters said the surf is being fueled by a large northwest swell.

The service categorized the surf’s impact as “moderate” and advises the public to expect strong breaking waves and rip currents that can make swimming dangerous and heed all advice given by ocean safety officials.

Drought leads to disaster-area declaration

The Big Island has been declared an agricultural disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of ongoing drought conditions, a designation that may make farmers eligible for assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency, including low-interest emergency loans.

Maui County was also included in the designation. Both counties have areas designated as either “severe” or “extreme” drought, according to Sen. Brian Schatz who also released a statement on the designation.

Navy: Fuel found outside Hawaii tank

HONOLULU — The Navy said there’s fuel outside the first layer of a tank suspected of leaking at an underground Oahu facility.

The Navy is working with state and county officials to investigate a possible fuel leak after a discrepancy was found in the Red Hill tank’s levels earlier this week.

Navy Region Hawaii spokesman Tom Clements said there’s fuel outside of the steel tank, but it’s not clear whether there is any fuel outside the tank’s concrete and rock layers.

He said measurements will take several days to complete.

State Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said officials aren’t aware of any threat to the environment or public health.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is also monitoring the situation and investigating.

Guam murder suspect attorney argues case

HAGATNA, Guam — The attorney for a 31-year-old Guam man accused of killing a toddler says the case against his client doesn’t add up.

Pacific Daily News reported John Jesse Castro faces charges of aggravated murder and assault. Bail is set at $1 million.

His attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, said there is no probable cause to indicate that Castro was responsible for the death of the 23-month-old Yigo girl.

Van de Veld said the autopsy found contusions on the back of the child’s head that occurred several days before the victim was brought to the hospital Jan. 11. The child was left in Castro’s care the night of Jan. 10.

In a court proceeding Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Jesse Nasis said “several days” referred to the period before the autopsy was performed Monday.

Mom who lied about baby is sentenced

HONOLULU — The lawyer of a 22-year-old woman who tried to give her newborn to authorities by pretending to find the baby on a beach says she kept her pregnancy a secret because she didn’t want to disappoint her family.

Keala Simeona was sentenced Thursday for filing a false police report. Defense attorney Don Pacarro says Simeona can keep the misdemeanor off her record if she stays out of trouble for a year. Her sentence includes 25 hours of community service.

Police said Simeona reported finding an infant girl on Honolulu’s Sandy Beach in April and took the baby to the hospital.

Pacarro said Family Court returned the baby to Simeona.

Simeona could have taken advantage of Hawaii’s Safe Haven law, which provides immunity from prosecution for leaving an unharmed newborn within 72 hours of birth at a fire department, police station or hospital.

Ex-Bengal named to American Samoa Cabinet

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene is poised to become the youngest Cabinet director of American Samoa’s territorial government.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga this week announced the 31-year-old has been appointed to lead the American Samoa Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the territorial Legislature.

Moliga said Fanene is a bright young man, who has leadership skills and will direct the youth on the right path.

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Fanene was drafted by Cincinnati in 2005. He played seven seasons for the Bengals and started 10 games for the team in 2009. He joined new England in 2012 but was injured in training camp and eventually released.

By local and wire sources

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