In Brief | Big Island & State 3-4-14


Police warn of phone calls in utility scam

Hawaii Island police are warning the public about a telephone utility scam.

A Hilo woman received a phone call from someone posing as a representative of Hawaii Electric Light Co. The caller claimed the recipient’s electric bill was overdue and threatened to shut off her electricity unless she paid the bill.

Police caution the public not to respond to requests for information or payment that comes by telephone or through the Internet. If you think a notification from a utility company might be legitimate, confirm it by calling the published phone number in the phone book — not any phone number you receive over the phone or Internet.

Police arrest 29 for DUI

Hawaii Island police arrested 29 motorists for driving under the influence of an intoxicant during the week of Feb. 24 thorugh Sunday. Eight of the drivers were involved in traffic crashes. Two were younger than 21.

So far this year, there have been 224 DUI arrests compared with 205 during the same period last year, an increase of 9.3 percent.

Kona officers arrested 14 motorists while South Hilo officers arrested eight, according to police. North Hilo officers arrested one motorist, Puna officers two and South Kohala officers four.

There have been 276 major accidents so far this year compared with 235 during the same period last year, an increase of 17.4 percent.

So far this year, there have been three traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island compared with nine during the same period last year, a decrease of 66.7 percent.

To date, one fatality was related to a combination of both alcohol and drugs.

DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue islandwide.

No contest plea in Nanakuli school theft

HONOLULU — A former clerk is pleading no contest to stealing nearly $20,000 from a Hawaiian-focused charter school.

The state attorney general’s office announced Monday that Christine Atisanoe pleaded no contest last week to second-degree theft.

She was charged with stealing the money while working as a clerk for Ka Waihona O Ka Naauao Public Charter School in Nanakuli from 2010 to 2012. An internal audit by school officials found she didn’t deposit money collected from students and parents for various activities including meals, field trips and after-school programs.

Prosecutors said she used the money to pay her utility bills and credit cards.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 15.

Police probe early morning stabbing

WAIANAE, Oahu — Police are investigating a stabbing at Maili beach that left a man in critical condition.

Emergency responders said the 42-year-old man was taken to a hospital in critical condition after the early Sunday stabbing.

Police have not made any arrests and are investigating the case as an attempted murder. Park workers say some homeless people sleep in the area and in the park’s bathrooms.

Maui proposes to drill exploratory well

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui County is proposing to drill an exploratory groundwater well in West Maui to develop a potential new water source to meet future demand in Lahaina and nearby areas.

Lahaina’s population grew 23 percent between 2000 and 2010 and is projected to grow 13 by percent by 2020.

The Maui News reported the well would be on an abandoned pineapple field. A draft environmental assessment said it would pump 1.44 million gallons of water from Honolua Aquifer daily.

The county may convert it into a permanent production well if the water meets quality standards.

The proposed project is meant to supplement the water from the Mahina Surface Water Treatment Facility. The surface water system has difficulty meeting water needs in the region during reduced rainfall or drought.

Hawaii seed industry spending declining

HONOLULU — Recent estimates show that spending by the seed research and development industry went down over the last two years but it remains Hawaii’s top crop.

Estimates by the National Agricultural Statistics Service show a 10 percent drop in spending by seed companies during the 2012-13 season. In the season that ended in June, the value of seed company spending statewide was at $213 million. In the 2011-12 season, that figure was at $238 million.

The drop was the second consecutive annual reduction after a less than 1 percent dip from the 2010-11 season record of $239 million — the seed industry’s first decline in more than two decades, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

The seed industry, which in Hawaii involves experimenting with plant traits for mass reproduction on the mainland, has attracted criticism as the debate over genetically modified organisms continues to intensify. Many in the agricultural industry support seed research because it can enhance crop viability.

Because seed companies don’t sell the seeds they produce in Hawaii, the Statistics Service uses the cost of production to represent industry value.

Since 2006, the value of the seed industry has topped any crop in Hawaii. The No. 2 crop in Hawaii tends to be sugar cane, generating about $70 million or $80 million in annual sales.

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association President Mark Phillipson said reduced spending doesn’t necessarily mean scaled-back operations. He said it could be from operational efficiencies or changes in product lines being pursued.

“One year doesn’t make a trend,” he said. “Next year could see (spending) go up 10 percent.”

Water commission vacancy to be filled

HONOLULU — The nominating committee for the state water commission is meeting this week to review applications to fill a vacant seat.

The committee will send a list of at least three qualified people to the governor. The governor will nominate one person from the list to fill the position. The Senate will vote on the nomination.

The selected individual will serve a four-year term beginning July.

The water commission has jurisdiction over land-based surface water and ground water.

Seven people sit on the commission, five whom are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The heads of the state departments of health and land and natural resources fill the other two seats.

By local and wire sources