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In Brief | Big Island & State 10-27-13

Flash flood watch still in effect

A flash flood watch is in effect for Hawaii Island through this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

An area of relatively low atmospheric pressure combined with a southeast flow has brought in a lot of moisture, according to the service. Forecasters said flooding rains are possible.

The service cautioned people to avoid camping or hiking near streams and low-lying flood-prone areas.

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding, according to the service, which also noted that it does not have to be raining heavily where you are for flash flooding to occur.

Bird hunting season opens Nov. 2

The 2013-14 game bird hunting season on the Big Island opens Nov. 2, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resource.

This season runs through Jan. 20, with legal hunting days on the weekends and state holidays.

Wildlife biologists are predicting an “average” season of bird hunting, with the easing of drought conditions in many parts of the state. A Dec. 31, 2007, appellate court ruling determined no game bird stamp sales are allowed for hunting. A valid hunting license only is required for all game bird hunting on public and private lands. All game bird hunting is regulated by Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 13, Chapter 122.

The following area will be open for game bird hunting on the weekends and state holidays for the entire season: Mauna Kea Forest and Game Management Area; Kapapala Ranch Cooperative Game Management Area and Kapapala Forest Reserve; Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve; Puuanahulu Game Management Area; and Kaohe Game Management Area and State Leased Area.

Pohakuloa Training Area will be open for game bird hunting, at the direction of the U.S. Department of Defense, subject to training schedule. Hunters are to call 969-3474 for information on hunting days, open areas and access routes.

Kipuka Ainahou will be open for game bird hunting on weekends and state holidays throughout the game bird hunting season. However, a special permit is required, and is available from DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife offices in Hilo and Waimea and at the Puu Huluhulu Hunter Check Station. Hunters are to avoid the endangered nene geese in the area. Mammal hunting in this area is closed from Nov. 1 through February.

Kahua and Ponoholo Ranch special permit area will be closed due to continuing drought conditions with private landowners concerns with the potential for wildland fires.

All hunters will be required to check in and out at established hunter check stations. First obtain permission from landowners when seeking to hunt on private land. Hunters should also prevent wildfires; not park or drive in tall grass or brush; report fires to 911; and support wildlife conservation, DLNR stated.

Game law violators should be reported to DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement by calling 643-DLNR (3567). Further information may be obtained by contacting DOFAW offices at 974-4221 in Hilo or 887-6063 in Waimea.

Mamalahoa Highway road work this week

Alternating single lane closures are planned this week in both directions on Mamalahoa Highway, between Uluoa Street and Old Kona Village Road, for sign installation, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Crews will be working from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, all projects are weather permitting and lane closures may change at any time without further notice.

Marine to be court-martialed for prostitute slaying

HONOLULU — A Marine accused of killing a prostitute visiting Hawaii will be court-martialed, the Marine Corps announced Friday.

Master Sgt. Nathaniel Cosby is charged with murder in the death of Ivanice “Ivy” Harris, who was visiting Hawaii from Las Vegas.

An Article 32 hearing, the military’s equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court, was held last month to determine whether he should be court-martialed. During that hearing, a Honolulu police detective testified that surveillance footage showed Cosby and Harris meeting outside a Waikiki bar and that they were later seen kissing in the elevator of the hotel where he was staying. Several hours later, the footage showed, Cosby was alone in the elevator and pulling a large duffel bag, which he loaded in the back of a sport utility vehicle.

Originally from Oregon, Harris was visiting Hawaii to celebrate her 29th birthday with her boyfriend, who was also her pimp, and two other women, Det. Dru Akagi said.

Her body was found May 20 in a remote area about 40 miles west of Waikiki.

The prosecution’s theory is that Cosby drove almost to the western-most point of the island to scout a location to dump the body, returned to Pearl Harbor for work and then later dumped the body at about midnight, then returned to the hotel.

Cosby is an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron-171 in the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing based in Iwakuni, Japan. He was on temporary duty assignment in Hawaii in May.

The 39-year-old is being held at a military detention facility in Pearl Harbor.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Honolulu police began the investigation into Harris’ disappearance and death, but the Naval Criminal Investigative Service took over the case.

Permit changes may derail Kauai icon’s restoration

A Kauai County proposal to change the permit process for structures damaged by Hurricane Iniki could mean the end of restoration plans for the resort where Elvis Presley filmed “Blue Hawaii.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that tour guide Bob Jasper says repealing the “Iniki Ordinance” would mean the death of Coco Palms Resort.

Kauai’s council held a hearing Wednesday to consider the plan backed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho. Carvalho told the county planning commission in a June letter that property owners looking to rebuild have had ample time to use the ordinance’s expedited permit process.

“Coco Palms should be made an exception to the ordinance,” testified Larry Rivera, the resort’s former music director.

A local investment group is trying to buy and restore it. Coco Palms Hui LLC is seeking demolition and building permits. The resort is currently owned by Maryland-based Petrie Ross Ventures.

The hotel has been closed since the 1992 storm.

Developer Tyler Greene, a managing partner with Bridge Real Estate Hawaii, said permits under the expedited process would let them skip an environmental impact statement.

The county planning department is reviewing suspended demolition permits for the resort.

Architect Ron Agor, who was hired by developers for the project, says he’s working with county officials to get the permits back on track.

“Until we come to an agreement with the county on what we need to do, the county wanted to be assured that we would not start the demolition process,” Agor said.

Court stops suit over death of soldier’s son

HONOLULU — A federal appeals court “regretfully” upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that claims the Army caused the death of a newborn by ordering his pregnant mother to do physical training against doctors’ instructions.

January Ritchie was about 5 1/2 months pregnant when she went into premature labor while stationed in Hawaii in 2006.

Her son Gregory died 30 minutes after birth. Her husband, Jonathan Ritchie, filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming commanding officers ignored his wife’s pleas not to perform physical duties such as picking up trash and battle-focused training.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that it was “regretfully” issuing an opinion saying a lower court was right to dismiss the case. The ruling criticized what’s known as the Feres doctrine, which prevents civil action against the government for those injured during military service, and said it’s unfortunate the doctrine bars the lawsuit.

The doctrine is “archaic” and based in part on protecting the government from being sued over actions to win a war, said Greg Jacob, policy director for the New York-based Service Women’s Action Network, which is pushing for exemptions to the doctrine for crime victims.

Jacob, a former Marine Corps infantry commander, said the Ritchie case shows a need to change the military’s “command-centric” system that allows commanders to override recommendations of lawyers and doctors regarding troops.

Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote a separate, concurring opinion to “highlight how this case reveals the questionable validity of the Feres doctrine,” which she suggests is unfair toward servicewomen.

The Ritchies now live in Tacoma, Wash., with their three children. January Ritchie is in the Army Reserves, said the couple’s Honolulu attorney, Eric Seitz, who is planning to petition the Supreme Court.

“We were not expecting to win,” he said, but they’re encouraged by the strong language in the opinion.

Crews begin removing sperm whale carcass

HONOLULU — Crews have started the process of removing a carcass of a sperm whale found floating off Oahu.

KHON-TV reports workers on Saturday morning began the disposal of the 30- to 40-foot carcass near He’eia Kea Pier.

The station says the removal has drawn several dozen onlookers.

Fishermen first spotted the carcass Wednesday four to five miles off the windward side of the island.

Officials say lifeguards are warning people to stay away from the water as the carcass is attractive to sharks. Lifeguards have already reported three sightings.

They say the shark warning will be in place for the rest of the day.

Marine mammal officials say towing a floating carcass away from the islands is easier and less expensive than removal from a beach.

Honolulu flight nixed after engine emits smoke

HONOLULU — A United Airlines flight from Honolulu to San Francisco was abruptly canceled after passengers reported seeing smoke from an engine.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Flight 724 had just started going down the runway Friday afternoon in Honolulu when passengers reported hearing a loud bang and seeing the smoke.

The aircraft returned to the terminal and all 325 passengers exited the plane. No injuries were reported.

United Airlines staff helped passengers make alternate arrangements to get to San Francisco.

By local and wire sources