In Brief | Big Island & State | 11-22-13

Governor releases funds for Palamanui campus

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released an additional $2.4 million to cover the cost of completing Hawaii Community College at Palamanui’s first phase.

Abercrombie announced the funding Thursday for the West Hawaii campus as part of a larger release of capital improvement project funds totaling $83.9 million for the University of Hawaii’s campuses statewide, which includes Hawaii Community College campuses. The funds were allocated by the state Legislature and approved by the governor.

The $2.4 million in funding will be used to complete simultaneously the construction of the Palamanui campus’ first phase, which includes separate culinary arts and health sciences and student services buildings totaling 24,000 feet, according to the governor’s prepared media statement.

John Morton, vice president for community colleges, said the $2.4 million will cover items that were removed from the first phase. The items were deferred to reduce the cost and allow the project to go forward with the $22.7 million the university had to spend.

Among the items that will now be included, thanks to the release of additional funding, are photovoltaic panels and equipment for the culinary arts kitchens and science labs.

Work on the first phase of the project began in May with the hope of contractor F&H Construction of Maui and California completing the buildings in late 2014. F&H Construction was awarded the $22.7 million contract, which will increase to $25.1 milion.

Right now, students attending University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii do so in classrooms scattered across a retail center in Kealakekua. Roughly 450 students currently attend school at that campus, which has 12,500 square feet of classroom and office space. Planned second and third phases of the 78-acre Palamanui campus would bring the community college’s capacity to 1,400 students. The first phase brings the capacity to 700 pupils.

In addition to the $2.4 million for Palamanui, the governor released:

• $50 million for the planning, design and construction for maintenance and repair projects at various campuses statewide. The Manoa campus will receive $37.6 million, the Hilo campus $1.9 million, the West Oahu campus $41,000, community colleges $10.1 million and $251,00 for various projects statewide.

• $28 million for the design and construction for health and safety projects at various campuses statewide. The Manoa campus will receive will receive $5 million, the Hilo campus $9.4 million and community colleges $13.5 million. Among the projects are structural repairs, lighting, traffic safety and electrical system upgrades, and other safety and code requirements.

• $3.5 million for the design and construction of a road connection and a new means of exit and entry at the West Oahu campus.

Waimea man wanted for questioning by police

Big Island police are searching for a 24-year-old Waimea man wanted for questioning in connection with a theft investigation.

Brandon Kelii Paulino-Pawai is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 190 pounds with brown eyes and black hair, which may have a lighter tint, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. He also has a tattoo on the left side of his neck.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-331 or contact Detective Levon Stevens at 326-4646, ext. 275, or

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the police department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or contact Stevens. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

No tsunami triggered by small Big Island quake

No tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-2.4 earthquake that struck Thursday morning southwest of Hilo, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu.

The temblor struck at 7:36 a.m. Hawaii time, according to the center. It was located about 40 miles southwest of Hilo and about 8.6 miles west of the Kilauea summit. It had a depth of 5 miles.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported one response of the earthquake being felt in the Volcano area.

Police seek owner of bracelet found in waters

Big Island police are trying to locate the owner of a Hawaiian bracelet that was found in June in waters off Richardson Beach Park.

The bracelet is 5/8-inch wide with a flower print and the name Leinaalaokaawapuhi on the outside, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. It also has engraving on the inside, which the owner will be asked to describe.

The owner of the bracelet should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Erhard Autrata Jr. at 961-2213.

Hawaii homelessness up 8.6 percent since 2010

HONOLULU — Federal officials said the number of homeless people in Hawaii is up 8.6 percent since 2010 to more than 6,000, despite a drop in the national estimate.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday that of nearly 4,000 homeless households in the state, more than 700 include at least one adult and one child.

The report said the bulk of Hawaii’s homeless live in transitional housing or outside of shelters. Only about 1,200 of Hawaii’s homeless live in shelters.

The estimate is based on a count made on a single night in the last week of January. Nationwide there were more than 610,000 people homeless during the count, a 4 percent drop compared with the previous year.

The study included people in 3,000 cities and counties.

Senor Frog’s in Hawaii settles harassment suit

HONOLULU — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said a shuttered Waikiki restaurant and bar has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle complaints of male managers sexually harassing 13 female employees.

The federal agency said Thursday the Hawaii arm of the Mexico company that owns the Senor Frog’s chain agreed to change its policies if it decides to reopen.

The complaint filed nearly two years ago accuses managers of groping female workers’ breasts and buttocks and demanding sex from them. EEOC officials accused the managers of making offensive sexual comments, with harassment occurring daily.

A settlement agreement filed Thursday in federal court in Hawaii said the company, La Rana Hawaii LLC, admits no wrongdoing. A lawyer for La Rana didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The restaurant closed in August 2012.

Maui officer charged with slapping daughter

WAILUKU, Maui — An 18-year-veteran Maui Police Department officer has been charged with abuse after allegedly slapping his daughter.

KHON-TV reported 46-year-old Nelson Johnson was arrested Wednesday and charged with abuse of a family member.

Police said the girl’s mother reported that Johnson and his daughter argued Tuesday and he slapped her. The girl fell back and her head hit on a wall-mounted air conditioner.

Police said the girl was diagnosed with a concussion at Maui Memorial Medical Center. She was treated and released.

Johnson’s bail was set at $1,000. He posted bail and was released.

Maui police did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Hawaii arts foundation director resigns

HONOLULU — The director of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has resigned following an outcry over the foundation’s use of a photo of a revered dancer and teacher.

Commission Chairwoman Barbara Saromines-Ganne said Eva Laird Smith told commission members Wednesday she will step down Dec. 31.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the foundation sparked outrage in the Native Hawaiian community with its use of a photo of Iolani Luahine to promote Hawaii Fashion Month.

The 1968 photo shows Luahine in her traditional kihei shawl.

Promotional materials cropped out Lauhine’s head. Critics said the image should not have been used and exploits Native Hawaiian culture for commercial gain.

Foundation board members Wednesday acknowledged that the promotion violated its use agreement.

Laird Smith did not return messages seeking comment.

By local and wire sources