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In brief | Big Island & State | 3-27-14

March 27, 2014 - 12:05am

Popular walking path to be closed for resurfacing

The Makaeo Walking/Jogging Path at the Old Kona Airport Park will be closed April 10 and 11 for resurfacing work. It will reopen April 12, according to Friends for Fitness.

The public is asked to keep off the area during the work days.

Nene on Oahu for the first time since the 1700s

For the first time since the 1700s, a pair of the endangered Hawaiian geese, or nene, are calling Oahu home. The pair have nested and successfully hatched three goslings at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge near Kahuku, Oahu. It is possible more birds will arrive on Oahu in the future, particularly in places that provide safe and protected habitat like national wildlife refuges. The nene were first observed on Oahu around Jan. 9.

The female nene originally laid four eggs in February and three hatched March 13. Incubation time for the nene is approximately 30 days.

The nene was driven to near extinction in the 1950s. Approximately 30 birds where left in the world – all on Hawaii Island. However, Hawaii’s state bird is on the comeback with statewide totals estimated between 2,450 and 2,550 birds on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Kauai and Oahu. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also received recent reports that nene are moving to new areas on Hawaii and Maui, where they have previously not been seen.

Though James Campbell NWR is closed to the public, residents and visitors are encouraged to do their part in protecting the nene. Should you view a nene on Oahu or in a previously unseen area on the other Hawaiian Islands, report the sightings to the service at 792-9400.

Coast Guard rescues 4 near Molokini Crater

HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard medically evacuated one adult and three children after they suffered jellyfish stings Tuesday while snorkeling near Molokini Crater.

A 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Maui arrived at the scene at 10:10 a.m. and transported the injured snorkelers to the Kihei Boat Ramp, where emergency medical services were waiting. The adult was in shock and the children had minor injuries.

Oahu man indicted for firearms violations

HONOLULU — A federal grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday charging Brian Ancho, 35, with two counts of being an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The indictment alleges that Ancho, an Oahu resident, possessed a Charter Arms Corporation revolver and a Beretta pistol, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney District of Hawaii.

Florence T. Nakakuni, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to allegations contained in a criminal complaint previously filed in court, Ancho was approached by two Honolulu Police Department Crime Reduction Unit officers on March 13. After the officers identified themselves, Ancho attempted to run away from the officers but was apprehended and arrested. Officers then conducted a pat-down search of Ancho’s waistband and discovered that he had a revolver in his waistband. Law enforcement officers later that day recovered a pistol during a search of a vehicle driven by Ancho.

If convicted, Ancho faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

Coast Guard releases investigation of tuna boat sinking

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard recently released the results of its investigation into the June 2010 sinking of the U.S. flagged distant water tuna fleet vessel Majestic Blue 2,100 miles southwest of Hawaii. The investigation revealed 22 crew members safely abandoned ship and were rescued by a sister ship but the master and chief engineer remain missing and are presumed to be dead.

The investigation was unable to determine the exact cause of flooding that originated in the steering compartment. However, the investigation determined that the immediate secondary cause of the sinking was a shipboard practice of leaving watertight doors open.

In addition, response to the flooding was hampered because the engineering officers could not read or communicate in English and were unfamiliar with emergency response procedures.

“A benefit of sharing a report of investigation is an opportunity for all fishermen and mariners to learn something from this casualty,” said Cmdr. Jonathan Maiorine, chief of inspections and investigations for the 14th Coast Guard District. “By reevaluating their own onboard procedures for training, communications and emergency drills we hope to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

The entire report of investigation is available for download on the Coast Guard Homeport website under the investigations tab.

Maui mayor proposes property tax increase

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa is proposing a $622.6 million budget that calls for property tax increases and more than $100 million for capital improvement projects.

Arakawa presented his administration’s spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to the county council Tuesday, the Maui News reported Wednesday. Arakawa said proposed capital improvement projects and other factors are reasons for his proposed hikes in taxes and fees.

The proposed budget includes $116 million for capital improvement projects including upgrades in roads, water supplies, park facilities and wastewater services, as well as construction of new county baseyards. Arakawa said he wants to continue his long-term plans to upgrade infrastructure, an effort with a cumulative effect some people may notice already.

Property tax rates would increase between 6.4 percent and 6.6 percent, under Arakawa’s proposal. The increase would account for nearly $16 million in additional revenue.

Hirono sees first bill as a federal lawmaker pass

HONOLULU — U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii has had her first bill as a federal lawmaker signed into law, a measure speeding up tax breaks for donations made to typhoon relief in the Philippines.

Hirono’s office said Wednesday that President Barack Obama signed the bill into law late Tuesday night allowing taxpayers to claim deductions for donations made between now and April 15 on their 2013 taxes rather than waiting until 2014.

The bill is meant to spur relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the central Philippines on Nov. 8. It killed more than 6,200 people, injured more than 27,000 and displaced about 4 million, Hirono said.

Hirono, a Democrat who was elected in November 2012 to replace the retiring Daniel Akaka, had previously had amendments and other elements within laws pass, but not a standalone bill she introduced.

By local and wire sources