In Brief | Big Island & State | 2-8-14


CIP funds headed to HHSC-affiliated hospitals

More than $19.1 million was recently released for various capital improvement projects that will upgrade and improve eight Hawaii Health Systems Corp. facilities statewide. Hawaii Island HHSC-affiliated hospitals are slated to receive more than $10 million.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the funding release on Thursday. The funding was identified by the state Legislature and approved by the governor.

Kona Community Hospital will receive $4 million for renovations and upgrades to address increased activity in the pharmacy, bring the obstetric area to current standards, fix leaking showers, upgrade security doors and continue the ER remodel.

Ka‘u Hospital will receive $475,000 for three projects, according to the governor’s office.

The hospital will receive $201,000 to address items discovered during renovations of the roof, doors, windows and air filtration and cooling systems, and hazardous material abatement; as well as to address repairs before additional renovations begin.

The hospital will receive $199,000 to upgrade pipes which often require repairs. In June, the hospital septic tanks were found to be corroding and posing a potential hazard to the integrity of the wastewater system. Funds are needed to finance the engineering assessment and repair the system. Remaining funds will be used to design the facility’s plumbing upgrade.

The hospital will also receive $75,000 for an energy audit to determine cost-efficient ways to reduce energy usage and install energy-saving equipment.

Hilo Medical Center will receive $5.5 million for five projects at the facility, according to the office.

Some $2.1 million is headed for the center’s angiography suite renovation and upgrade. Existing equipment will be brought to current standards.

The hospital is slated to receive $1.59 million to replace washers and dryers. In addition to serving Hilo Medical Center, the washers and dryers service Ka‘u Hospital and Hale Hoola Hamakua.

For planning of a new Hilo Medical Center Long-Term Care Facility, the governor released $250,000. The new facility would replace the existing long-term care facility that no longer meets Medicare and Medicaid survey requirements

The hospital will also receive $850,000 for fire alarm and fire suppression systems upgrades and replacement. The project will upgrade and replace fire alarm and fire suppression systems to protect the health and safety of patients, visitors and employees while the existing system will be redesigned to meet national fire protection requirements.

To equip the hospital with a patient security system and security access system to guard against infant abductions, dementia/Alzheimer patient elopements, and unauthorized access to sensitive areas, the governor released $250,000. The system will meet the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Joint Commission regulations.

The governor also released $4.8 million for projects at Kauai HHSC-affiliated facilities; $3.52 million for projects at Oahu HHSC-affiliated facilities; $800,000 for projects at Maui HHSC-affiliated facilities; and $50,000 for a project at an HHSC-affiliated facility on Lanai.

Veterans cemetery renovation set to begin

WAILUKU, Maui — A renovation of grave sites at Makawao Veterans Cemetery on Maui is set to begin later this month.

The Maui News reported the $1.1 million restoration project is expected to take one year and will include the refurbishing, cleaning and realignment of more than 1,500 grave sites.

The project work was recently awarded to BCP Construction of Hawaii.

Hawaii State Veterans Services director Ronald Han said new burials will continue as usual at the cemetery, but sections undergoing renovation will be blocked to visiting families and cordoned off for safety reasons.

The project is expected to begin in mid-February.

The seven-acre cemetery is nearing capacity. But Han said it’s still on track for a 10-acre expansion.

Officials have said they hope to begin construction on the expansion this year.

Hawaii residents snap up Bruno Mars tickets

HONOLULU — Credit card information shows that 42 percent of the tickets purchased for three sold-out Bruno Mars concerts in Hawaii were purchased by people outside the state.

According to the Blaisdell box office and Ticketmaster, those purchases were made by people on the mainland and Canada. But Hawaii residents managed to snap up 58 percent of the 17,000 tickets.

Promoter Tom Moffatt told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he hadn’t experienced a sellout like he saw Monday in his 50-year career.

Ticket sales started at 9 a.m. and set a Blaisdell sellout record by 11 a.m.

The Hawaii-born singer will perform shows at the Blaisdell Center Arena on April 18, 19 and 21.

Tickets for 40 performances during his spring-summer tour went on sale the morning after his halftime Super Bowl show.

Illegal fishing off Maui leads to 10 citations

KAHULUI, Maui — The Department of Land and Natural Resources has issued 10 citations for illegal fishing activity in north Maui waters.

Two citations were issued to an offshore lay net fisher who caught nearly 300 pounds of fish at Kanaha Beach Park. Most of the fish caught by the lay net fisher were amaama or striped mullet. Lay net fishing is currently banned around Maui.

Other citations were for possession of an undersized kumu, or goatfish, and possession of an undersized octopus.

The alleged violations occurred in November. Department spokeswoman Deborah Ward said Thursday the agency doesn’t have figures for more recent citations.

The Maui-based Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit issued the citations with the help of other enforcement personnel from the department.

Waikiki man pleads guilty in welfare fraud case

HONOLULU — A Waikiki man with a Mercedes-Benz, a sailboat and an inheritance admitted in court Thursday that he used various identities to illegally receive food stamps and other government benefits.

Kevin Halverson, who also goes by the name Vaughn Sherwood, pleaded guilty to stealing from the government, identity theft and possessing a firearm he wasn’t allowed to have because he’s a felon.

Halverson, 67, said he used various identities to illegally receive benefits such as medical care, rental subsidies and student tuition assistance. He said that even though he has a master’s degree in geography from the University of Hawaii, he fraudulently received federal grants and loans, which he used to take classes at Kapiolani Community College and for “living expenses.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Johnson said Halverson didn’t tell the state he inherited more than $300,000 when his parents died.

Halverson may owe about $200,000 in restitution, Johnson said, adding it’s not clear because he may have been legally entitled to some of the money.

Halverson faces up to 10 years in prison for stealing government property, up to two years for identity theft and up to 10 years for firearms possession. A judge could order him to serve the sentences consecutively. Sentencing is scheduled for May 22.

Prison guard indicted on drug, other charges

HONOLULU — A 31-year-old Hawaii prison guard has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine into prison.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported James “Kimo” Sanders III of Kailua, Oahu, also was indicted on bribery and drug-related counts covering the period between October and Jan. 12.

Sanders, a Halawa prison guard, was arrested Jan. 12 and charged with methamphetamine distribution and bribery. He pleaded not guilty and was released to his grandmother on a $50,000 bond. He also was ordered to wear a positioning device.

Hawaii human services director steps down

HONOLULU — The director of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services is stepping down from her position.

The governor’s office said Patricia McManaman announced her decision Friday, citing personal reasons. She led the department since 2010.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is naming Deputy Director Barbara Yamashita as acting director.

Prior to becoming director, McManaman practiced law in Hawaii for more than 30 years. She also served as a per diem judge in District Court and Family Court for 17 years.

The governor touts highlights of her leadership including making it faster to access food stamps and other public benefits.

Hawaii moves to shore up Oahu’s electrical grid

HONOLULU — Hawaii is exploring ways to improve the security and resiliency of Oahu’s electrical grid.

The state Department of Defense on Friday said it’s working with Hawaiian Electric, IBM, U.S. Pacific Command and other entities on a study that will come out in May.

Researchers will analyze weather pattern data to better understand how cloudy days and lack of wind will affect the power supply. This is becoming more important as the island generates more electricity with solar panels and wind turbines.

They’ll also strive to understand how to better protect the grid from attacks like one that hit Silicon Valley last April.

In that incident, unidentified individuals fired shots into a power plant substation, causing outages. They also snipped fiber-optic lines to knock out phone and 911 services.

By local and wire sources