Stete briefs 12/29


Akaka, Schatz vote for disaster aid package

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s two senators have voted with the majority in supporting a $60.4 billion disaster aid package.

Sens. Daniel Akaka and Brian Schatz voted for the measure Friday. It was one of the first major votes for Schatz, who was sworn in Thursday to succeed the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Most of the money in the bill is aimed at recovery and rebuilding efforts for victims of Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast in October.

The measure also includes such things as $150 million for fisheries disasters and $56.8 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to track, map and clean up marine debris.

The measure now goes to the House.

Grand jury indicts man accused of pushing tourist

LIHUE, Kauai — A man accused of pushing a Japanese tourist off a cliff on Kauai earlier this month has been indicted on a charge of attempted murder.

The Kauai police department is seeking the public’s help in finding 37-year-old Justin Wynn Klein. Police have been looking for Klein since the Dec. 16 incident.

Klein is believed to be homeless, as prosecuting attorney Justin Kollar says authorities have no fixed address for him.

Police said the 31-year-old tourist was released from a hospital Wednesday. Police have said that a witness saw Klein throw the woman from a cliff in the Kalalau Valley.

Bail on the grand jury warrant was set at $1 million.

Auwahi Wind farm up and running

ULUPALAKUA, Maui — The 21-megawatt Auwahi Wind farm on Maui is up and running.

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced Thursday that the wind farm on the Ulupalakua Ranch is in full commercial operation with eight new wind turbines turning on the southeast ridge of Maui’s Haleakala volcano.

Sempra president and CEO Jeffrey W. Martin says the project will help Hawaii reach its goal of securing 40 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

The power from the wind farm is being sold to Maui Electric Co. under a 20-year contract.

The wind farm is expected to generate enough energy to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes.

Maui brush fire burns 1.5 acres, threatens homes

KAHULUI, Maui — Maui fire officials say an overnight brush fire burned 1.5 acres and threatened homes before being extinguished.

Authorities said flames were as high as 40 feet when crews reached the scene of a fire early Friday roughly 16 miles east of Kahului Airport.

Fire officials say the blaze was brought under control in about 30 minutes and extinguished in just over an hour.

Nobody was hurt and no property was damaged. Officials say they’re still trying to find out what caused the fire.

Motorcyclist killed in Hanapepe

HANAPEPE, Kauai — Kauai police say a young man died after his motorcycle collided with a truck in Hanapepe.

Police have identified the victim as 25-year-old Brian Cesario of Kalaheo.

Police say Cesario was traveling east on Wednesday evening when his motorcycle struck the truck making a left turn from the Kaumualii Highway onto Puolo Road.

Cesario was taken to Kauai Veteran’s Memorial Hospital where he died of his injuries. Police say he was not wearing a helmet.

The 71-year-old driver of the pickup received minor injuries.