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In Brief | Big Island & State | 4-9-14

Updated: 
April 9, 2014 - 9:05am

Police looking for three missing teens

Hawaii Island police are searching for three teens who were reported missing.

Addie Cragg, 17, was last seen in Kona on Jan. 8. She is 5 feet 5, weighing 140 pounds with blue eyes and long, straight strawberry blond hair.

Isaiah Fourshey, 17, was last seen in Hilo on March 25. He is 5 feet 10, weighing 170 pounds with brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Tiffany Faris-Saffery McCandless, 15, was last seen in Hilo on March 25. She is 5 feet 2, weighing 185 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

Anyone with information on any of the teens’ whereabouts should call the police department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hilo man charged with unlicensed contractor fraud

A Hilo man has been charged with three felonies after allegedly posing as a licensed contractor, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

At 4:34 p.m. Friday, 37-year-old Ricky Mesa was charged with first-degree theft and two felony counts of unlicensed contractor fraud. His bail was set at $60,000. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Monday, police said.

The charges stem from two separate incidents in 2012. In September 2012, Mesa identified himself as a licensed contractor to a Hilo couple to do electrical, plumbing and drywall work. In November 2012, he identified himself as a licensed contractor and received more than $30,000 to install a photovoltaic system for a 69-year-old Pahoa man but never completed the work. He was charged under a law that went into effect in July 2012 that makes it a felony to perform work while falsely claiming to be a licensed contractor, police said.

Fire damages Pahoa home

Hawaii County Fire Department officials are investigating the cause of an early Tuesday structure fire in Pahoa.

Responding to the 12:19 a.m. report, firefighters arrived at a 1,700-square-foot, single-story residence on Hibiscus Street to find the structure approximately 30 percent involved in the fire, according to the department. The fire was concentrated to the front and middle portions of the home.

All occupants were evacuated from the home prior to the arrival of fire personnel and no injuries were reported, the department stated.

The fire was extinguished at 1:25 a.m. Tuesday and the damage is estimated at $157,500, the department stated.

Police arrest 25 for suspected DUI

Hawaii Island police arrested 25 drivers for suspected drunken driving between March 31 and Sunday. Three drivers were involved in traffic accidents and two were younger than age 21, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

Police have made 352 suspected DUI arrests this year, compared with 362 during the same period in 2013. Puna officers arrested eight motorists and South Hilo officers arrested seven while Kona officers arrested six and South Kohala officers arrested four, the department stated.

There have been 431 major accidents this year, compared with 356 during the same period in 2013. To date, there have been four traffic fatalities on Big Island public roadways, compared with 11 at this time in 2013, the department stated.

To date, one of the fatalities has been attributed to drugs and one to a combination of drugs and alcohol, the department stated.

Hilo man charged with meth trafficking

Hawaii Island police have charged a Hilo man with meth trafficking and other offenses stemming from the execution of a search warrant on Monday, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

At 6:55 p.m. Monday, Area I Vice Section officers served the search warrant at a home in the Waiakea Uka area of Hilo. They recovered 84.4 grams of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $17,500, paraphernalia associated with the distribution and use of crystal meth and 30.6 grams of marijuana, the department stated.

Police arrested 45-year-old Wesley Kailimai of Hilo and took him to the Hilo police cellblock while Vice Section detectives continued the investigation.

At 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, detectives charged Kailimai with first-degree meth trafficking, second-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, two counts of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $301,000. He remains in the cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for today, the department stated.

Saddle drilling project gets FONSI

The University of Hawaii ruled a drilling project in the Humuula saddle region will not have a significant environmental impact, according to a final environmental assessment published Tuesday.

The project aims to get a better understanding of the “groundwater system contained within Mauna Kea: to confirm the extent of the new aquifers identified in the Saddle by the initial test hole; to document the geologic structures overall as well as those that impact the groundwater system on the western flank of the Saddle; and to conduct sampling and analysis of water samples in order to determine their source(s), their chemical compositions, and their ages/residence times in the Saddle aquifer(s). … In order for one to manage the groundwater resources in this region, we need to understand the extent of the resource, the source of the recharge into the system, and the residence times of the water within the aquifers underlying the Saddle region,” the document said.

Researchers working on an earlier drilling project found an aquifer at a higher elevation than expected.

State expands online jobless services

HONOLULU — Unemployment services online has expanded to include an unemployment appeals system and the ability for employers to electronically file weekly reports. Currently, employers can file payments and access account information online while employees can file and report for unemployment claims, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The Web-based paperless appeals system allows all parties to receive hearing notices, submit requests to reschedule a hearing date, monitor the status of an appeal and receive their decision via electronic notification. This convenient, secure and user-friendly system is available from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Another new aspect of the unemployment program’s Internet services is providing employers the ability to file electronically the Low Earning Report. The system allows employers to file weekly reports of low earning, file amended reports, receive notifications of missing reports and verify report filing. This will expedite claimants benefit payments and eliminate the time-consuming and less efficient paper process for employers.

Claimants and employers who wish to access these services can register for an account at uiclaims.hawaii.gov. To establish an account, businesses need to have the following: registration name and address; FEIN and DOL numbers; gross quarterly wages reported on the most recent quarterly reported submitted; and email account for notifications.

For more information, call 586-9075.

Group gets signatures for GMO initiative

WAILUKU, Maui — A Maui group says it has submitted more than 9,500 signatures in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms in Maui County.

The measure will be heard by the Maui County Council if the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement is found to have gathered at least 8,500 valid signatures.

The Maui News reported the council may either sign it into law or decide to take no action. If the council takes no action, the public will vote on the item in the Nov. 4 General Election.

The global agricultural company Monsanto grows genetically modified crops in the county. Monsanto owns about 3,000 acres on Maui and Molokai and employs about 500 workers in the county.

Another suit alleges priest sex abuse

HONOLULU — Another lawsuit against the Catholic Church in Hawaii claims that a former bishop sexually abused a boy who went to him to report he had been abused by another priest.

Attorneys for the 59-year-old Honolulu man filed the suit last week claiming that the Rev. Joseph Ferrario, now deceased, sexually abused him in the 1960s. The same attorneys filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of a Los Angeles man who claimed Ferrario did the same to him in the 1970s.

The lawsuits are filed under a Hawaii law providing a two-year window for claims of sexual abuse against minors to be made, even if the statute of limitations has lapsed. The window closes April 24.

The Diocese of Honolulu didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

HMSA seeks 12.8% increase

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Medical Service Association is asking the state to approve a 12.8 percent rate hike on its health insurance plans for most small business workers.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday that the insurer said it needs the increase to pay for costs associated with President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul and increased drug costs. The increase would affect plans covering about 77,000 workers in small businesses.

Commissioner Gordon Ito of the state Insurance Division said the agency is reviewing the proposed increase and how it will affect consumers and businesses.

He said the division under the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will try to find a balance between the best interests of consumers and keeping the insurance company financially solvent.

Teach for America in Hawaii could lose funding

HONOLULU — Teach for America in Hawaii said losing about $1 million in state funding will drastically hamper efforts to train and support teachers in struggling schools that need them the most.

The organization has been in Hawaii since 2006, receiving $870,000 in 2012 and 2013 to help the state Department of Education fill a teacher shortage.

But its state funding was cut in half in the House version of the budget and in full by the Senate’s $12 billion budget passed last week. Conference committee discussions on the budget could begin this week.

Hawaii has long relied on recruiting teachers from the mainland to work in schools that are difficult to staff.

Teach for America anticipates having to cut in half the number of teachers who come to Hawaii this year.

Hawaii to continue funding migrant health care

HONOLULU — The state attorney general says Hawaii will continue to provide health benefits for Micronesia migrants until a lawsuit on the issue is resolved.

Attorney General David Louie said Tuesday the migrants will receive uninterrupted access to health benefits while the suit is pending.

A federal appeals court ruled last week Hawaii isn’t required to fund Medicaid for migrants from three Pacific Island nations in Micronesia to make up for reduced federal funding.

The ruling says Hawaii has no constitutional obligation to fill a gap left when Congress cut health care funding for the migrants.

The Compact of Free Association allows Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia citizens to live and work in the U.S.

In exchange, the U.S. military controls extensive land and water in the Pacific.

By local and wire sources