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Newswatch

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Thursday, September 9, 1999



Millennium Moments

Millennium special

Seeing stars

IN the past 30 years, astronomers the world over have descended on Hawaii's mountaintops to establish observatories. Mauna Kea alone has more than a dozen of them; the first there was built in 1968 by the University of Hawaii.

Observatories are atop Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet; Mauna Loa, at 13,677 feet, and Maui's Haleakala, at 10,023 feet.

Astronomy today continues a long tradition of stargazing in Hawaii, harking back to the Polynesians, who used celestial navigation to find remote Pacific islands, says Donald N.B. Hall in "Atlas of Hawaii," edited by Sonia and James Juvik.

In 1881, King David Kalakaua visited California's Lick Observatory, which led to the building of an observatory on Oahu in 1910.

In the 1950s, Walter Steiger led successful efforts to create facilities on Oahu and Haleakala, Hall says.

The Big Island's business community soon began promoting Mauna Kea as a site for future telescopes, and in 1964, with Gov. John Burns' backing, a summit road was built, Hall says. Since then, Mauna Kea has become the world's most-concentrated site of telescopes.

Among the nations represented there: the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Taiwan.


Hawaii ranks high in health care access

WASHINGTON -- Although they tend to be older and less healthy, Americans living in rural areas are largely ignored by HMOs. But not in Hawaii.

A survey of HMO coverage in rural communities found that Hawaii is one of only five states where most rural residents have a choice of at least two HMOs for medical coverage.

Nationwide, the study found, 90 percent of the 9.2 million Americans in rural areas who use Medicare had no more than one HMO to turn to for coverage -- and 73 percent had no HMO available at all.

The survey by Families USA, a health consumer watchdog group, comes as Congress and the president are considering restructuring Medicare.

One proposal under consideration would cut costs and improve quality by relying on competition among managed health care plans (HMOs).

People on the Big Island and Maui, who make up 81 percent of the state's rural residents, have access to two HMOs. Those on Kauai have access to one HMO.

Only some residents of Molokai -- fewer than 1 percent of all the state's rural Medicare beneficiaries -- have no HMO option.

The survey found that only in tiny Rhode Island does a higher percentage of rural residents have access to more than one HMO than in Hawaii.

Chamber to honor Army boss Shinseki

Gen. Eric "Rick" Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff and former Kauai resident, will be given a hero's welcome ceremony by the Chamber Commerce of Hawaii during his four-day visit, his first since being named head of the Army.

Only one public appearance is scheduled for the four-star general and Kauai High School graduate, who arrived here today after attending the Pacific Asia Commander's Conference in Singapore.

Shinseki, who took over as head of the 470,000-member U.S. Army in June, will be presented the chamber's Order of the Splintered Paddle for "outstanding service to Hawaii, to country and mankind" during a special luncheon tomorrow.

Besides business, military and government leaders, Shinseki will be honored by a delegation from Kauai led by Garden Island Mayor Mary Maryanne Kusaka and Marci Kurutani, Kauai High School student body president.

Following his speech, Shinseki and his wife will fly to Kauai for a one-day visit before returning to Washington, D.C., Sunday afternoon.

City to widen program easing traffic woes

The city Department of Transportation Services is holding a second round of traffic-calming workshops in Palolo and Pearl City.

"Traffic calming involves citizens in identifying problems and solutions for traffic safety issues in their neighborhoods ," said Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Meetings are scheduled at Jarrett Intermediate School at 6 o'clock tonight and 6 p.m. tomorrow at Pearl City Highlands Elementary School.


Clarification

Tapa

Bullet Money collected or pledged during the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon at Ala Moana, Kapolei and on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai -- not that made in calls to KITV-4 -- will stay in the state to help those with muscular dystrophy; the rest will go to support researchers working to find a cure. An article Tuesday reported that all money raised in Hawaii would remain here.

Correction

Tapa

Bullet The inaugural concert in Bishop Museum's "Na Mele" series will be Wednesday, Sept. 15. An incorrect date was given in Tuesday's paper. For information, call 848-4187.






Police, Fire, Courts

Police/Fire

By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers

Firefighters battle blaze at Kapaa Quarry landfill

Fire crews this morning are battling a brush fire at the city landfill at Kapaa Quarry.

Five fire engines are battling the blaze, which was expected to burn for most of the day.

The fire is burning a "green waste" pile 40 feet high and two football fields wide. Green waste consists of tree branches and other plant clippings, said fire Capt. Richard Soo.

The blaze was reported at 1:06 a.m. at Kapaa Quarry Road and Kalanianaole Highway, officials said. The cause of the fire is not known, but it's the second fire there in the last two weeks.

Trio arrested in beating, robbery at Kmart lot

Three 25-year-old men were arrested yesterday for allegedly robbing a man after luring him to the Nimitz Highway Kmart with the promise of shark fins.

The man got a call saying that shark fins were available for purchase at Pier 17, police said. When he went to the pier, he met up with two of the suspects. The suspects directed the man to the Kmart where a third suspect was waiting. The three suspects then allegedly beat and robbed the man of his money and cellular phone at 1:30 a.m., police said.

About two hours later, the three suspects were located and arrested downtown.

German visitors thwart armed robbery attempt

KAILUA-KONA -- Two German tourists foiled a robbery attempt by an armed man yesterday when one of them hit the would-be robber with her purse, police said.

The women, one 23 years old from Berlin and the other 26 from Grossziethen, were walking on Alii Drive about 7:45 p.m. when the man approached them with a gun.

The women ran and the man gave chase. One of the women then turned and hit him with her purse, police said. The suspect ran away.

He is described as slim, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with blue eyes, wearing a hood hat, a red woolen scarf around his face, a blue jacket, white shirt and dark pants.

Anyone with information should call police at 326-4208 or CrimeStoppers at 329-8181.

Unidentified body found beneath Pali Lookout

Honolulu police are trying to identify a body found beneath the Pali Lookout yesterday morning.

A hiker came across a decomposed body. It was removed by the Fire Department helicopter.

It's unknown whether the dead man jumped from the lookout or whether foul play was involved.

No identification was found on the body, clad in shorts and T-shirt, said fire Capt. Ray Lum of Rescue 1. He estimated the man may have been dead about a week. The only description he could provide was that the victim had black hair and might be 5 feet 10 to 6 feet and 180-200 pounds.

Crews search Kahana Valley for missing man

A search was expected to resume today for a Kahana Valley man, reported to be depressed over a divorce and financial woes.

Residents noticed a pickup truck parked there at 7 a.m. Tuesday that remained there yesterday.

Police asked for Fire Department assistance about 10:30 a.m. yesterday. Fire rescue crews, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, police dogs and helicopters from the police and fire departments were involved in the search.

After three portions of Kahana Valley were gone over, the search was suspended shortly after 5 p.m.

The man's brother said he and the 47-year-old hiker were last in the valley two years ago and that the missing hiker didn't normally go to Kahana Valley.






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