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In Brief | Big Island & State | 2-2-14

February 1, 2014 - 10:24pm

Akaka Falls State Park closed for search

Akaka Falls State Park was closed Saturday while Hawaii County Police searched for a man who allegedly went missing Friday evening.

Lt. James Gusman said park attendees reported about 9 p.m. Friday a vehicle was left at the park after closing.

Later, it was discovered the vehicle belonged to 53-year-old Jeffrey Reyes.

According to the police report, Reyes is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 135 pounds with short brown hair and a medium build.

Gusman said police searched for Reyes for a couple of hours Friday night, and continued the search Saturday by air and land.

Gusman said there’s no evidence of foul play. He did not say when the park would reopen.

Second phase of Laaloa work moves forward

Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. continues the second phase of improvements on Laaloa Avenue, 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. 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.

Three schools net cash at Hawaii Science Bowl

Three Hawaii Island schools took home cash for their science departments during the Hawaii Science Bowl held Jan. 25 on Oahu.

Waiakea and Konawaena high schools landed in the top eight of the competition earning each school’s science department $100, according to Maui Electric Co., one of the event’s co-sponsors. Kealakehe High School won the wild-card competition earning the school’s science department $50.

From a competitive field of 20 high school teams from across the state, Maui High School prevailed at the 21st annual bowl. The victory earns Maui High School the opportunity to once again represent Hawaii at the National Science Bowl competition from April 24 to 28 near Washington D.C. Mililani High School, Punahou School and Hanalani School rounded out the top four.

More than 100 students and coaches participated at the state event hosted by Honolulu Community College. As America’s most prestigious science competition for high school students, the National Science Bowl hosts more than 14,000 students nationwide each year.

The National Science Bowl is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Hawaii Science Bowl is co-sponsored by Hawaii Gas, Hawaii Electric Light Co., Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaiian Telcom, Honolulu Community College, Maui Electric Co., Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, state Department of Education; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Department of Energy; and Hawaii Alpha Delta Kappa.

State plans road work, lane closures

Alternating single lane closures will be in effect on Volcano Road, between mile markers 8.6 and 13.4, in the vicinity of Keaau to Mountain View for pavement reconstruction, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Alternating single lane closures will be in effect on Hawaii Belt Road, between mile markers 26 and 27, in the vicinity of Laupahoehoe Gulch, in North Hilo for roadway improvement work.

Alternating single lane closures also will be in effect on Hawaii Belt Road, between mile markers 28 and 29, in the vicinity of Kaawalii Gulch, in North Hilo for roadway improvement work.

Crews will work from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the department.

Umauma Stream Bridge work continues

Alternating single lane closures remain in effect 24/7 on the Umauma Stream Bridge on Hawaii Belt Road, near mile marker 16, in Hakalau for bridge repairs, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Vehicle weight is limited to 25 tons and the speed limit over the bridge is 25 mph. Vehicles weighing 25 tons or more must use Kauniho Road, Old Mamalahoa Highway and Leopolino Road as a detour route, according to the state.

Hamakua Ditch project funding released

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday announced the release of $1.5 million for the lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed project.

The funding will cover construction to repair flumes, ditches, reservoirs and tunnels; removal of sediment in the ditches; modification of intake structures; and installation of new lateral distribution lines for the irrigation system, according to Governor’s Office. The funding was identified by the 2013 state Legislature.

The $1.9 million is just part of more than $15.85 million released Friday for various capital improvement projects administered by the state Department of Agriculture. The projects support the agriculture industry and further preservation of Hawaii’s watersheds.

For statewide projects, the governor released $1 million for planning to continue to inventory irrigation systems throughout the state, prepare historic description of the original irrigation infrastructure, assess the current condition, propose maintenance improvements, identify irrigation source and water use requirements, and develop long-term water use projections.

The governor also released $12.5 million to purchase three land parcels in Wahiawa, Oahu for agribusiness operations; $75,000 to design an extension to the Waimanalo, Oahu, Irrigation System; $700,000 to design a 150-acre agricultural park in Kunia, Oahu; and $75,000 for construction, upgrades and repairs including clearing, lining, repairing and stabilizing the access roads, ditches, flumes, tunnels, reservoirs, diversions and intakes of the East Kauai Irrigation System.

HELCO to update solar panel guidelines

HONOLULU — Hawaiian Electric is preparing to issue new guidelines for installing residential solar systems in an effort to accommodate the high demand for electricity powered by the sun.

The utility’s new guidelines will allow more photovoltaic systems to be installed in Oahu neighborhoods already heavily populated with solar panels.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the new guidelines will update interconnection rules put in place last fall.

Solar energy industry officials have criticized the old guidelines as being unnecessarily restrictive and leading to a sharp slowdown in photovoltaic panel installations.

Hawaiian Electric energy resources Vice President Scott Seu said the revised rules are an attempt by the utility to open up the grid without compromising safety or reliability.

He declined to discuss specifics of the new guidelines until they’re officially released.

By local and wire sources