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In Brief | Big Island & State | 1-15-14

January 14, 2014 - 8:59pm

Firefighters continue mop-up efforts at Puuwaawaa

Firefighters on Tuesday continued efforts to douse a 150-acre brush fire that broke out Sunday evening in a remote area of the Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve.

Twenty-two state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife personnel spent the day extinguishing hot spots within the perimeter of the fire, which is located in a remote area of the reserve off Mamalahoa Highway, according to the DLNR. Crews were expected to resume mop-up efforts today.

The fire was reported at about 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the DLNR. The fire was likely started by lightning.

Woman escapes Hale Nani Correctional Facility

A 40-year-old Mountain View woman is in police custody following an escape Tuesday from the Hale Nani Correctional Facility in Hilo.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mary Lolita Santos was arrested for second-degree escape, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. She is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

Around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to the Hale Nani Correctional Facility, located off Highway 11 in Hilo, after receiving a report from correctional officers that at 9:40 a.m., a female inmate scaled a fence and fled on foot from the minimum security facility, according to police.

After running along the highway and into the Puna-bound traffic lanes, she stopped a blue van and jumped into the passenger side window, according to police. State correctional officers were able to prevent the van from leaving and were able to take Santos into custody. The van then left the area.

Hawaii County Police Department detectives are now looking to interview the van’s driver, who was described as an older Filipino man. He was operating a blue Honda Odyssey van that may have been a taxi, as it was described as having the letters “PUC” on its exterior, according to police.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or may know the identity of the driver is asked to contact Detective Norbert Serrao of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 961-2383 or nserrao@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Police seek Big Islanders wanted on bench warrants

Hawaii Island police are searching for two Hawaii Island residents wanted on bench warrants.

Bryce D. Feary, 28, of Hilo, is 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. He is wanted on two outstanding $50,000 bench warrants.

Shaylyn Momi Araw, 22, is 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair, according to police. Araw, who is wanted on five outstanding $50,000 bench warrants, may be in the Hilo or Pepeekeo areas.

Anyone with information on Feary or Araw’s whereabouts should 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 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

$25M requested to keep Hawaii classrooms cool

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Education is asking lawmakers for $25 million to help keep classrooms cool.

The department on Tuesday presented its supplemental budget request before the state House Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The request totals nearly $32 million in operating funds and $164 in capital improvement project funds.

Many have complained about stifling classroom temperatures that routinely reach the 90s.

The department also wants $10 million in upgrades for science classrooms at 12 high schools.

According to the department’s supplemental budget presentation, administrative requests include $70,000 for an early learning coordinator and $256,000 for a teacher mentor program.

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi touted positive attention Hawaii schools received recently, including praise from federal officials for gains on the National Assessment of Education Progress.

Hawaii watchdog groups to highlight changed bills

HONOLULU — Hawaii government watchdog groups are highlighting bills that have been so drastically amended they no longer resemble their original purpose.

Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii have created a new award for these “gut and replace” amendments during the upcoming 2014 legislative session.

The groups cite 2013 session examples, including a measure about the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission which ended up with unrelated language about geothermal energy.

The groups said their “Rusty Scalpel” award is an attempt to curb the practice. The League of Women Voters says it will be using Twitter to highlight the bills. The groups will announce the most glaring example at the end of the session.

Hawaii to honor former lawmakers as session starts

HONOLULU — Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim says lawmakers in the House and Senate will be joined by former lawmakers as the 2014 legislative session begins to celebrate Hawaii’s 55th anniversary of statehood.

Kim said the former lawmakers joining on the chamber floors Wednesday include former Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi. Ariyoshi served in Hawaii’s Senate when the islands were still a territory and when it became a state in 1959.

Kim said nearly 40 ex-senators and about 50 former House members have said they’ll be part of the celebration.

Hawaii’s regular legislative sessions lasts until May.

Sentencing delayed in Kauai dam break case

LIHUE, Kauai — A retired car dealer’s medical ailment is delaying his sentencing for a Kauai dam breach that swept seven people to their deaths in 2006.

James Pflueger told the Garden Island newspaper a leg condition is preventing him from traveling from Honolulu to Kauai for the sentencing, which was scheduled for next week.

Attorney William McCorriston said sentencing for his client has been rescheduled for April.

The 87-year-old Pflueger pleaded no contest last year to first-degree reckless endangerment for his role in the Ka Loko dam break on his property. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop manslaughter charges.

Bruce Fehring’s daughter, son-in-law and 2-year-old grandson were among those who died. Fehring expressed disappointment with the delay.

Family identifies hiker who died on Oahu trail

HONOLULU — The family of a hiker who died after falling on an Oahu trail has identified him as 28-year-old Mitch Kai of Moanalua Valley, Oahu.

The family said Kai worked as a firefighter in Kalihi, Oahu, for the Honolulu fire department for more than two years.

Authorities said the hiker died after falling about 50 feet on the Olomana trail Friday afternoon. KITV reported three other people who were hiking with Kai were not injured.

Brother: Hawaii official didn’t have heart problem

HONOLULU — The brother of the Hawaii health director who died after a plane’s crash-landing off of Molokai said she didn’t have any known heart problems.

Maui police announced Monday that Loretta Fuddy died of cardiac arrhythmia, which was the result of stress from the Dec. 11 crash into the water after the single-engine plane lost power. The pilot and seven other passengers survived without major injuries.

The pilot and a passenger who swam to shore have said Fuddy appeared fine while bobbing in the water after everyone exited the plane and waited for help to arrive.

Fuddy’s brother, Lewis Fuddy, said she was healthy and didn’t have any known heart problems.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Its preliminary report said the plane floated for about 25 minutes before sinking.

West Maui hospital on schedule to be ready in 2016

LAHAINA, Maui — The nonprofit operator of a planned hospital in west Maui has picked a board of directors and developers are on schedule to finish construction in 2016.

Residents said the planned Kaanapali facility is needed to serve a growing number of tourists and residents on the island’s west side.

The Maui News reported Tuesday that an attorney for developer Newport Hospital Corp. said the West Maui Hospital and Medical Center is on schedule to be completed around mid-2016.

Attorney Michelle Berner said the hospital’s nonprofit operator, West Maui Hospital Foundation, has chosen a four-member board of directors. Costs for the facility are projected to be between $45 million and $50 million.

Skulls returned to Hawaii after 50 years

HONOLULU — The skulls of a Native Hawaiian man and woman are being returned to their home state after being in Texas for more than 50 years.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the remains were taken by a U.S. Air Force airman after being found near or on a beach between 1940 in 1960.

The skulls are in the possession of the University of Texas at San Antonio. They are, however, expected to be sent to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for reburial on Oahu.

UTSA archaeologist Cynthia Munoz said the airman apparently took the skulls to his home in San Antonio. After the man died, the remains were found in a box in the garage by the man’s son, who donated them to the university’s Center for Archaeological Research last year.

Honolulu police investigate Oahu stabbing death

HONOLULU — Honolulu police say a homeless man has died after being stabbed several times in Kailua, Oahu.

Hawaii News Now reported police responded to the scene near Cinnamon’s Restaurant late Monday night.

Police said the victim was in his 50s and had been sleeping under a stairwell. After the stabbing, he was taken to a hospital in critical condition and he later died.

Neither the victim nor the suspect has been identified. It’s unclear what the motive was.

Police said the suspect ran off after the attack. He is described as a short white man in his 20s who was wearing a black cap, dark pants, long-sleeved shirt and possible work boots.

Location of proposed wind farm raises concerns

HONOLULU — A proposed wind farm in Kahuku is raising concerns among residents who worry about living close to turbines.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser said California-based Champlin GEI Wind Holdings, proposing the project, has scheduled a public meeting Wednesday with a doctor to speak on the health effects of wind turbines.

The first phase of the 15-turbine project calls for eight wind turbines to be erected in the hills inland of the Kamehameha Highway. The Kahuku Mauka Village neighborhood is about 2,000 feet from the nearest proposed turbine.

Wednesday’s speaker is Robert McCunney of Harvard Medical School. McCunney was part of a team of experts commissioned by the industry to look at perceived health effects of wind turbines.

His report said there is no evidence of adverse effects on humans.

By local and wire sources