Endangered io found shot in Kona

HONOLULU — Two endangered Hawaiian hawks were found wounded on the Big Island after apparently being shot with a pellet gun, and federal wildlife officials want to know who is responsible.

The io were treated at the Three Ring Ranch, a Kailua-Kona exotic animal sanctuary and wildlife rehab facility.

One was found April 27 and the other on March 20, said Ann Goody, the facility’s curator. She said finding two injured birds in six weeks is alarming because the sanctuary normally sees just one hurt every several years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating and seeking information from the public about what happened to the birds, said George Phocas, the agency’s resident agent in charge for Hawaii and Pacific islands.

The Hawaiian hawk is “protected by state and federal law both, and it has cultural significance to the native Hawaiian culture,” Phocas said. There are about 3,000 of the hawks remaining.

“It’s kind of like the bald eagle of the islands,” said Bryan Landry, a special agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The birds were a symbol of royalty in Hawaiian legend, according the agency.

Goody suspects the hawks were shot because they were diving down and eating chickens. She fears that people who keep chickens are harming the hawks to stop them from killing chickens they rely on to help put food on the table.

“Because of their nature, the young birds tend to strike at anything that moves,” Goody said. “These guys are going right after people’s chickens.”

The hawk found in March has been treated and released, Goody said, while the one found last month is recovering with a bullet lodged in its chest and is expected to be released in a week or two.

Hawaii unemployment drops to 4.9% in April

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in April, the state’s lowest rate since October 2008, officials said Thursday.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage point from 5.1 percent in March. The rate is 1.2 percentage points lower than the 6.1 percent seen in April last year.

Unemployment has consistently declined since August of 2011, when it was 6.7 percent.

When the rate began climbing in 2008, the country was experiencing the Great Recession — the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The slight drop in unemployment in April from March was not because more people had jobs, but because some left the workforce.

State officials say 100 fewer people had jobs in April compared with March, while 1,550 left the workforce.

In all, 614,000 people were employed in April and 31,850 were unemployed in a total labor force of 645,850.

The national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in April, 7.6 percent in March, and 8.1 percent in April last year.

Unemployment rates in the counties in April were 3.9 percent in Honolulu, 6.6 percent in Hawaii County, 5.7 percent in Kauai and 4.8 percent in Maui. The county rates aren’t seasonally adjusted.

Statewide, the mining, logging and construction industry has seen the biggest increase in non-agricultural jobs in the last 12 months. There were 32,100 such jobs in April, compared with 28,800 jobs in April 2012.

DOT wants Saddle Road support letters

State Department of Transportation officials are asking the public to write letters to the Federal Highways Administration in support of funding for the last section of the Saddle Road extension.

DOT Director Glenn Okimoto said the department must submit its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant application by June 3. Okimoto said he would like to include letters from the community talking about the importance of extending Saddle Road from Mamalahoa Highway makai to Queen Kaahumanu Highway near Waikoloa Beach Drive. Okimoto said letters must be submitted to the DOT no later than May 24.

DOT officials said residents should consider the following criteria when preparing the letters: long-term outcomes, job creation, economic activity, improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and system, contributing to the United States’ economic competitiveness, fostering livable communities by increasing transportation choices, improving energy efficiency, reducing dependency on oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and systems.

Address letters to Glenn Okimoto, Director, Department of Transportation, State of Hawaii, 869 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Thieves take $284 in cans, bottles

Police are investigating the theft of $284 worth of cans and bottles from the Salvation Army in Kailua-Kona.

The Salvation Army’s Gary Todd said the organization noticed the theft Sunday morning. Twelve to 15 large bags of unsorted cans and bottles were taken from a locked dog kennel at the Kalani Street facility.

The money from returning the cans for deposits was to be used for youth programs and scholarships to send students to camp, Todd said. The Salvation Army was hoping to raise $5,000 by July for those scholarships.

Anyone wishing to make additional can and bottle donations may contact Todd at 333-1248.

Police name island’s most wanted

Hawaii Island police are asking the public’s help locating three men, two of whom are wanted on warrants and one who has yet to be identified.

Rexford Milo, 47, is wanted for allegedly threatening a 64-year-old Leilani Estates man with a shotgun, knocking him to the ground, tying him up, and stealing cash, identification and credit cards before driving off in the victim’s pickup truck in August 2010 in Puna, according to the Hawaii Police Department. Milo is described as Caucasian, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Milo may be in the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates area, according to police. The stolen truck is still missing. It is described as a dark green 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4×4. Police caution the public not to approach Milo, as he may be armed and dangerous.

David Botelho, 30, of Honokaa is wanted in an investigation into an alleged burglary, theft and fraudulent use of a credit card, according to police. He is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with short black hair and hazel eyes. He is also wanted on a $20,000 bench warrant.

Police are also asking for help locating an unidentified suspect in a theft case. A Hilo woman reported in April 2010 that cash was withdrawn from her account during an unauthorized ATM transaction, according to police. Investigators recovered surveillance video, which depicts a man using the victim’s bank card.

Anyone with information should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

The cases are being featured on the latest edition of “Hawaii Island’s Most Wanted,” a project of Crime Stoppers Hilo Inc. It airs on Na Leo O Hawaii Community Television Channel 54 on Sundays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. It also airs intermittently on Channel 53.

Man arrested in baby’s death

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Police Department says a Waipahu man has been arrested in connection with the death of a 6-week-old baby boy.

Hawaii News Now reports that 38-year-old Joel Asuncion was taken into custody Wednesday evening. Police have described the baby’s injuries as “non-accidental.”

The baby was reportedly found unresponsive on Tuesday and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

UH regents approve absorbing athletic debt

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s athletics department is getting a $13 million bailout from its chancellor’s office thanks to university regents.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday that University of Hawaii regents approved the plan for the Manoa school. The plan also allows the school’s sports teams to recruit athletes at in-state tuition rates even if the athletes are from outside Hawaii.

The moves will transfer the department’s $13 million in debt to the chancellor’s office.

Athletic Director Ben Jay says he hopes the changes will help the department be solvent by mid-2014.

Chancellor Tom Apple says the school will use interest and working capital to pay off the $13 million over time. He says no tuition will be used.

Boy suspected of setting off ordnance

KAPOLEI, Oahu — Police say a 12-year-old boy was taken into custody after allegedly creating and setting off an explosive device in Kapolei.

Honolulu police spokeswoman Michelle Yu says because of the suspect’s age, police aren’t providing any details about the incident or the device. She says there were no injuries or damage when the device exploded around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the boy was turned over to Family Court.

Missile defense system tested over Pacific

PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Kauai — The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors completed a successful test of a missile defense system by destroying a target launched Wednesday night over the Pacific Ocean.

A separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

The USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with onboard radar. The ship, equipped with an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system, launched a block missile that released a kinetic warhead, which destroyed the target, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

“The kinetic warhead acquired the target re-entry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target,” the department said in a news release.

Initial reports show the Aegis system worked as designed. Officials will evaluate data taken during the test.

The test involved the latest version of the second-generation Aegis system, which can handle engagement of longer-range and more sophisticated missiles. It was the third consecutive, successful intercept test of the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and the SM-3 Block IB guided missile. Previous successful intercepts took place on May 9, 2012 and June 26, 2012.

The defense system has successfully intercepted 25 of 31 missiles since tests began in 2002.

Honolulu seeks artists for rail transit stations

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is putting out a nationwide call for artists to create public art in stations of the city’s planned rail system.

The $5 million public art program will highlight work created by artists who have a strong understanding of and affinity for Hawaii’s history and culture. The art will be displayed at the 21 stations along the route that connects Kapolei with Ala Moana Center and at the train control center in Waipahu.

HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas says professional artists or artist teams are being asked to submit their qualifications and demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of Hawaii’s history, culture and traditions.

Applications can be submitted until June 20. A pre-submittal workshop for interested applicants will be held June 1.

By local and wire sources