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In Brief | Big Island & State | 1-31-14

January 30, 2014 - 9:48pm

Police arrest man sought in Ka‘u robbery

A Kaʻu man who was being sought in connection with a reported robbery at South Point involving a hatchet is in police custody.

Kaʻu patrol officers arrested Kainoa Kahele-Bishop, 23, of Ocean View on Thursday morning, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. He was taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

The arrest stems from a report Sunday that a 47-year-old Discovery Harbor woman walking near her parked car on South Point Road had been allegedly threatened with a hatchet by Trinety Crapser, 25.

During a scuffle, the victim reportedly suffered a bite on her right forearm, according to police. A man then reached into the victim’s car and removed a bag containing a laptop, a cellphone and a wallet.

The man, later identified by Crapser as Kahele-Bishop, fled in a white Toyota after a passerby stopped to intervene. Crapser then reportedly entered the victim’s car and unsuccessfully attempted to start it before fleeing into the bushes. Police arrested her on Monday.

Crapser is facing charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, and unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by prosecutors in 3rd Circuit District Court. A preliminary hearing for Crapser, who was arraigned Wednesday, is slated for 10 a.m. today in District Court in Kona.

Governor releases capital improvement project funding

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday released more than $20 million in capital improvement project funding that will be used statewide by the Department of Land and Natural Resources for improvements at state parks, small boat harbors and forestry facilities as well as watershed and natural resources protection.

Of the $20 million, some $7.5 million will be directed toward park improvements. Hawaii Island parks are slated to receive $1.9 million, a spokesman with the Office of the Governor said.

Among the funds allocated are: $350,000 for water system development and improvements at Mauna Kea State Recreation Area; $500,000 for roadway, sewer and water system improvements at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area; and $500,000 for roadway, sewer and water system improvements pursuant to current Americans with Disabilities Act, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health requirements at various Hawaii Island parks, the spokesman said.

An additional $550,000 was directed to baseyard improvements at various sites on Hawaii Island, including but not limited to: Kalopa State Recreation Area, Wailoa River State Recreation Area, Hilo Baseyard, Lava Tree State Monument, Manuka State Wayside and Hapuna Beach State Recreation areas.

Abercrombie also released $4 million statewide for improvements at DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation facilities of which $3.2 million is directed toward West Hawaii projects including $1 million for Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and $2.2 million for Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor.

The funding will be used to expand parking areas and access roads, add boat wash down facilities, and improve utility, drain and water transmission mains, according to the governor’s office.

Capital improvement project funding of $1.5 million is headed to construct an ungulate-proof boundary fence at the Manuka Natural Area Reserve to protect approximately 24,000 acres of watershed, dry forest and critically endangered plants and animals. Another $1 million will be spent on construction for dredging at the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor to remove sand at the harbor entrance.

Statewide, some $2 million was released for marine debris mitigation in nearshore waters and along shorelines; $2.5 million for improvements to aging and deteriorating DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife facilities; $500,000 for dam assessments, maintenance and remediation; and $500,000 toward planning for an update to the State Water Projects Plan.

December arrivals down, record set for 2013

HONOLULU — Tourism officials say Hawaii welcomed fewer visitors for the fourth straight month in December.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Thursday more than 720,000 travelers came to the islands during the month. That’s 1.9 percent less than the same month in 2012.

A record was set in 2013, when more than 8.2 million visitors traveled to Hawaii. That’s 2.6 percent more than in 2012, when a little less than 8.1 million people visited.

On any given day in 2013, more than 204,000 visitors were in Hawaii, on average.

Last year’s $14.5 billion in visitor expenditures contributed $1.5 billion in state tax revenues, the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced Thursday. That’s an increase of $30 million — or 2 percent — from the record set in 2012.

Mike McCartney, the tourism authority’s president and CEO, said the HTA is pleased to see 2012 figures surpassed, but traveler numbers fell short of 2013 targets.

“Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, taxes and fuel surcharges have slowed bookings and hampered growth, causing a leveling off throughout the second half of 2013,” McCartney said in a statement.

The downward trend is expected to continue into the first half of this year, particularly during the slower travel period in April and May, he said.

The focus remains on Asia and other developing markets, McCartney said. He said promotions and other efforts saw positive results last year from markets including China and Taiwan.

Lawmakers weigh killing invasive insects

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers want to swat down a pair of invasive pests: the coffee berry borer and the little fire ant.

The insects pose considerable threats to Hawaii’s fragile environment. House lawmakers are proposing to spend $3 million next year to control coffee berry borers, up from $250,000 last year. The tiny African beetles were first noticed in Hawaii in 2010. They live in the fruit of coffee plants and have infested Hawaii’s Kona coffee region. One producer testified Thursday that the bugs infested 20 percent of the coffee brought to his mill this year.

Lawmakers also want to test for and destroy little fire ants. The ants are known to kill young birds and sea turtle hatchlings. Their painful sting also can cause blindness in livestock and pets.

Effort could ease fishpond restoration projects

WAILUKU, Maui — An effort underway seeks to untangle the complex government process for projects to restore cultural Hawaiian fishponds.

The Maui News reported the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has scheduled February hearings in Maui County for public input on a proposal to create a statewide general permit for restoration, maintenance and operation of traditional fishponds.

Other hearings also are scheduled for Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.

Also involved in the effort is Hui Malama Loko la, a group of fishpond practitioners.

The hui’s statewide coordinator, Brenda Asuncion, said projects have been required to comply with as many as 17 regulations and to obtain permits from various agencies.

Asuncion said the current permitting process is a main hindrance for projects undertaken as a “labor of love.”

By local and wire sources