Thursday, March 26, 2015

Missing Kohala teen sought

Police are seeking the public's help locating a 16-year-old South Kohala girl reported as missing.

Judie Kahele-Taetuna was last seen June 2 on Opelo Road in Waimea, according to police.

She is described as being of Hawaiian descent, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing between 145 and 169 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair that has been partially dyed blond, according to police.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to 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 in Hilo. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Guardsman critically injured in crash

A 44-year-old Hawaii Army National Guardsman suffered critical injuries in a one-vehicle crash Tuesday evening on Saddle Road.

Responding to the 6:56 p.m. call, police determined the man, who is from Ewa Beach, Oahu, was operating a Humvee traveling west on Saddle Road when he attempted to avoid a goat that jumped onto the roadway near mile marker 36, near the old main gate at the Pohakuloa Training Area and Bradshaw Army Air Field.

The vehicle then ran off the right side of the road, up an embankment and overturned. The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and pinned underneath. He was subsequently extricated and transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital in critical condition. He was later transported to The Queen's Medical Center on Oahu for further treatment, according to police.

A 21-year-old passenger, who is also a guardsman from Kalihi, Oahu, was not injured.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are assisting with the investigation.

Public warned about possible email scam

Police are warning the public about a possible email scam in which the sender poses as a Hawaii County Police Department officer.

A Kauai woman reported receiving several emails as part of an apparent Nigerian scam attempting to obtain large sums of money, according to police.

The emails contained a photo of a Hawaii County Police Department officer, the department's logo and other information that had been pulled from the department's website in an attempt to mimic official letterhead and impersonate a police officer pressuring her to comply with the scam, according to police.

Police encourage the public to report any similar scams to police by calling the department's nonemergency line at 935-3311.

Kainaliu woman missing

Police are searching for 42-year-old Naomi Sanders, who was last seen at her Kainaliu home Monday night and was reported missing.

Sanders is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-3 and 120 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. She has a tribal print tattoo on her upper right arm. She was last seen wearing dark denim pants and a dark red long-sleeved shirt.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Police Department's nonemergency line at 935-3311.

Akaka to host talk on indigenous rights

HONOLULU -- U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is holding a hearing on the implications of a United Nations declaration respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Akaka, a Democrat representing Hawaii and chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, will hear from government, Native American and nonprofit representatives during the Thursday meeting in Washington, D.C.

The United States joined the U.N Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last December, which encourages nations to support self-determination, eliminate discrimination and work to secure the rights of indigenous peoples.

The declaration sets the rights of the world's 370 million indigenous people to perpetuate their culture, identity and culture. It also covers rights relating to employment, health and education.

Sushi maker recovered

Police have located a sushi maker, valued at $12,000, that was reported stolen during a February burglary in Hilo.

The appliance was found May 28 in Hilo following a tip from the public, according to police, who are continuing the investigation.

Maui council approves $565M budget

WAILUKU, Maui -- The Maui County Council has given final approval to a $564.73 million budget that restores funding to nonprofits without raising the minimum property tax.

The Maui News reported Wednesday council members approved a plan to take funds from money that had been earmarked to replace an aging fire truck and for watershed protection programs.

The budget represents a 9 percent overall increase in county spending over the prior fiscal year.

Council members had been divided over a plan to keep the minimum property tax at $150 by cutting more than $2.4 million in spending, most of it in grants to nonprofit organizations including Special Olympics, Project Graduation and Hospice Maui.

$35K to rid state Capitol of bird droppings

HONOLULU -- Hawaii is paying $35,000 to rid the state Capitol building of bird droppings.

KITV reports Wednesday the state plans to hire a contractor to install new bird netting and clean the building's windows.

It's a month-long task that is expected to begin next month.

Existing netting to keep birds from roosting on a ledge outside the building has deteriorated over the years.

State Comptroller Bruce Coppa said the bid came in about 50 percent lower than expected because of the sluggish economy.

He said the 42-year-old building needs other improvements such as fixing a leaky roof.

Hillary Clinton to attend APEC in Hawaii

HONOLULU -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to be held in Hawaii in November.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday Clinton, who visited Hawaii as first lady, is likely to press for a greater role for women in Asia-Pacific economies.

Clinton is to be in Waikiki for the Nov. 11 APEC ministerial meeting made up of trade and foreign ministers.

U.S. ambassador to APEC Kurt Tong said he hopes APEC leaders draft a statement to make women more welcome as entrepreneurs and business leaders.

An estimated 20,000 people, including 2,000 journalists, are expected to attend the APEC conference.

Feds want $7.9M from city, Oahu nonprofit

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wants $7.9 million back from the city and a Central Oahu nonprofit unless they can prove the program is in compliance with rules on how the money is spent.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday recent monitoring of the Wahiawa-based ORI Anuenue Hale program called into question whether the money is being used properly to aid the elderly and those with severe disabilities.

HUD also believes a wellness center was being underutilized.

City Managing Director Douglas Chin said the city or ORI need to repay the money unless corrective action is taken within 30 days.

Chin said the city immediately suspended further payment and began discussions with ORI.

$8M cut from Hawaii per-pupil funding

HONOLULU -- The state Board of Education has approved cuts for various programs to help tackle a nearly $33 million budget reduction over the next two fiscal years.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday per-pupil money schools receive is to be cut by nearly $8 million.

The board Tuesday approved recommendations for where the reductions should be made.

The cuts include eliminating about $5 million in 2013 for adult education and reducing the non-salary budget for the Lahainaluna boarding program by 10 percent.

Plans also call for transferring $1.5 million for learning centers and about $3 million for alternative learning programs to the weighted student formula, giving principals authority to decide whether programs should continue to be funded.

Castle High School performing arts learning center's director said doing so would dissolve such centers.

Honolulu gets new law on property tax exemptions

HONOLULU -- Honolulu's acting mayor has signed a bill that should help the city make sure people are rightly claiming a property tax exemption given to those who own historic homes.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, clarifies and standardizes conditions under which homeowners may qualify for the exemption.

Acting Mayor Douglas Chin signed the bill Wednesday in the place of Mayor Peter Carlisle who is traveling to Taiwan and China to promote tourism and sister-city relationships.

Chin said the city plans to enforce violations of all exemptions. Chin said cleaning up exemption abuse has been a Carlisle administration priority and the city will soon hire two auditors who will verify compliance.

The city said those found in violation of the exemptions may be required to pay back taxes and penalties.

New law penalizes johns

HONOLULU -- Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed into law a measure that targets people who solicit prostitutes near schools or parks.

The legislation makes it a misdemeanor to offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of sexual conduct within 750 feet of a school or public park.

A misdemeanor comes with a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

Previously, the crime was considered a petty misdemeanor, with imprisonment up to 30 days and a mandatory $500 fine.

Rep. Karl Rhoads, a Democrat representing downtown Honolulu, said the bill sends a message that children and parents have a right to use public thoroughfares without being exposed to prostitutes, pimps and johns.

Firm to help reform historic preservation

HONOLULU -- Hawaii has hired a private company to help reform the State Historic Preservation Division after a federal audit found evidence of mismanagement at the agency.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday that it has awarded the $186,387 contract to Solutions Pacific, LLC.

Last year, a National Park Service report said the division failed to maintain a readily accessible historic properties database and had unqualified people reviewing federal projects affecting historic properties. The park service warned the state could lose more than $500,000 in federal grants each year unless it fixed the problems identified in the investigation.

Solutions Pacific is to help revise operational procedures to meet federal requirements and help develop an evaluation and retention plan for the division's staff.

The state was given two years to implement the park service's corrective measures.

By local and wire sources

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