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Newswatch
Police, Fire, Courts

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Tuesday, July 30, 2002


Raw sewage spills
into Keehi Lagoon

About 150,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Keehi Lagoon after a 36-inch sewer main from the Kam Highway Wastewater Pump Station ruptured last night, said Craig Nishimura, assistant chief of the city Department of Environmental Services.

Officials were notified of the break at 6:15 p.m. yesterday and halted the spill about 8 p.m. by rerouted sewage to another main, he said. A passerby apparently noticed the spill near the Disabled American Veterans Hall at 2685 N. Nimitz Highway.

About 330,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from the rupture with 150,000 gallons entering the lagoon and the rest pooling on the ground, Nishimura said. Workers cleaned up the ground and disinfected the area, and took water samples for contamination testing. Warning signs were posted, and officials will continue to monitor the area, Nishimura said.

Broken utility pole
knocks out power in Kailua

A broken utility pole knocked out power to about 1,200 Hawaiian Electric Company customers in Kailua last night.

Customers along Kailua Road and Hamakua Road lost power about 7:30 p.m., said Fred Kobashikawa, HECO spokesman. HECO crews restored power to about 600 customers by 8:35 p.m. and to the rest of the customers by 10:25 p.m., he said.

The outage began after a guy line to a utility pole near the intersection of Kailua Road and Hamakua Road broke, causing the pole to break, Kobashikawa said.

Police shut down all four lanes of Kailua Road at the intersection while repair crews worked to replace the broken pole. Traffic was rerouted to nearby streets. Police reopened the intersection for morning traffic just before 6 a.m. today.

Sasamura leaves city to rejoin truck dealer

Ross Sasamura is leaving his job as director of the city Department of Facility Maintenance, a position he has held since 1999.

Replacing him will be Larry Leopardi, who has been the head of the Road Maintenance Division of the Facility Maintenance Department and, before that, was engineering program manager for the state Department of Transportation. He is a civil engineer who has an MBA from the University of Hawaii.

Sasamura is leaving to become vice president for sales for HT&T, a local dealer of trucks for which he previously worked.

A mechanical engineer, he also spent more than eight years in the Automotive Equipment Service Division.

Sasamura is the third member of Mayor Jeremy Harris' Cabinet to leave this summer.

Budget Director Caroll Takahashi resigned last month while her longtime deputy and replacement, acting Budget Director Ben Dimond, left earlier this month.

Lane closures affect Pali and Kalanianaole

The state Department of Transportation advises Oahu motorists that the right lane of Pali Highway in the Kailua-bound direction will be closed from the emergency truck ramp to just beyond Castle Junction from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday to install new telephone duct lines.

Also, for the same time period and days, one Koko Head-bound lane of Kalanianaole Highway will be closed between Ainakoa Avenue and West Hind Drive for resurfacing and waterline work.

Sierra Club endorses city Bus Rapid Transit

The National Sierra Club has named the city's Bus Rapid Transit project as one of 20 projects across the country that could reduce traffic, pollution and sprawl.

The Sierra Club report "Smart Choices, Less Traffic" lists the 20 best and 29 worst plans for easing traffic conditions and air pollution. The Honolulu project was cited as a "transportation solution for the 21st Century."

The 32-mile Bus Rapid Transit is expected to carry 46,000 riders a day to 31 stops between Pearl Harbor and Waikiki. The $67 million first leg from Iwilei to Waikiki is going through the planning process and recently won a key vote from the City Council.

Critics say the proposal forces people out of their cars and into mass-commuter vehicles and could make travel worse by taking up lanes now dedicated to free-flowing traffic in certain areas.

But according to the Sierra Club report: "The project would serve 8,613 low-income households within a half-mile of the stops, and would reduce air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides by more than a third."


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[TAKING NOTICE]

Doctor at Queen's honored
as professional of the year


Star-Bulletin staff

Dr. Stephen Wallach, cardiologist and hospitalist at Queen's Medical Center, was honored by Hospice Hawaii last week as its 2002 Health Care Professional of the year.

Wallach has supported Hospice Hawaii's mission to provide hospice and end-of-life care in the community for many years, the organization said.

"This is complimented by his own efforts for our patients needing care at the Queen's Medical Center," it said.

Ken Zeri, Hospice Hawaii's former director of clinical operations, said Wallach spends a lot of time working with patients and families.

Wallach has been chief of staff at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and chief of the Department of Medicine at Queen's. He is past president of the Hawaii Society of Internal Medicine, Hawaii Medical Association and the Honolulu County Medical Association.

Also receiving awards at Hospice Hawaii's annual meeting Wednesday at the Hale Koa Hotel were Kathy Summers, Patient Visitor Volunteer of the Year; and Jacqueline Hansen, Office Volunteer of the year.

Creative Impressions was honored with the 2002 Business of the Year award and Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center with the Community Supporter of the Year award.

Stephen A. Kula, Hospice Hawaii president and chief professional officer, said, "These great contributions from individuals and businesses show that there is a tremendous amount of giving and spirit within our community."

>>>><<<<

>> Four Hawaii students or student teams made the runoffs at National History Day held at the University of Maryland in June. They are: Kristy-Lei Juan of Waipahu Intermediate School; Kalyn Matsuda and Markee Nobriga of Kahuku Intermediate; Austin Spring, Daniel Allen and Sienna Palmer of Kahuku High; and Jhonavie Ganir and Roniza Gonzales of Maui High.

>> Maui High School students Nicolas L. Lau and David G. Blevins placed seventh in the national finals of the 2002 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition in Washington, D.C. They were accompanied by teacher Neill Nakamura.

>> Leslie Ann Manuel of Waipahu High School was awarded a $20,000 Citigroup Foundation scholarship.

>> Kauai High School student teammates Erin Liddell and Jessica Speetjens were among the 24 regional semifinalists in the 10th annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards. They created the futuristic idea of The Intelli-Hand, a prosthetic hand that looks, feels and moves naturally due to breakthroughs in haptics, neurobiology and polymer technology.

>> Teacher Lorey Ishihara of Kahuku High School was one of eight finalists for the Richard T. Farrell Teacher of Merit award, which recognizes excellence in teaching history. She was recognized for her work at a National History Day ceremony at the University of Maryland.


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Corrections and clarifications

>> The Hawaii Medical Service Association's prescription drug plan for state employees includes an average co-payment of $5 for generic brands, $15 for preferred brands and $30 for all other brands. A Page A6 article yesterday incorrectly reported that the co-payment is $20 for all other brands.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Managing Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at fbridgewater@starbulletin.com.






Police, Fire, Courts

Police/Fire

By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Brush fire blackens 250 acres in Olowalu

LAHAINA >> A brush fire burned an estimated 250 acres of land about a half mile mauka of the main highway at Olowalu in west Maui Sunday.

State and county fire fighters took a little less than eight hours to contain the blaze which was reported at about 10:34 a.m. State firefighters were on the scene yesterday to fight the fire on state brush land, said Glenn Shishido, a state forestry spokesman.

No one was injured and officials had no damage estimates but said no damage had been done to endangered species in mountain areas. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

WAIKIKI

Cigarette cited in blaze at Waikiki apartment

Fire officials said it appears a cigarette started a Waikiki apartment fire that hospitalized one woman and killed six lovebirds about 2 a.m. yesterday.

The 53-year-old victim who lives with her husband in the third-floor apartment at 330 Hobron Lane told investigators that she remembers leaving a lit cigarette on a reclining chair in the living room while she went to the bathroom. Fire officials confirmed that the fire did start in the living room.

The woman suffered smoke inhalation and first-degree burns and was treated and released from the Queen's Medical Center.

HONOLULU

art
CRIMESTOPPERS PHOTO
The suspect, in his 40s, wore a blue "Las Vegas" T-shirt.




Man sought in robbery of Chinatown bank

Honolulu police want help finding a man who robbed the First Hawaiian Bank Chinatown Branch yesterday.

Police said the man entered the bank at 2 N. King St. about 9:45 a.m., walked up to a teller, demanded money and then fled on foot after receiving an undisclosed amount.

Bank surveillance cameras captured images of the robber who is described as in his 40s, 6-feet, about 180 pounds.

He has black wavy hair and a mustache. He was wearing a dark blue T-shirt with the words "Las Vegas" on the front, a light blue baseball cap and sunglasses.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Eric Yiu at 529-3436 or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME by cellular telephone.


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[The Courts]

Fugitive Gary Baldwin free on $274,000 bail

Kauai businessman Gary J. Baldwin, a fugitive wanted in Arizona, posted a $274,000 bond Friday and is free while awaiting extradition.

Baldwin, 55, is wanted on a September 1986 grand jury warrant on three counts of felony theft and one count of felony fraud, in connection with the theft of $300,000 from the Dulaney Eye Clinic in Phoenix two years earlier.

Baldwin denied the charges at a hearing Friday but does not dispute that he is the man wanted by Maricopa County and is not fighting extradition.

At the hearing, Baldwin requested and is entitled to a warrant of arrest signed by the governor, which is expected to be issued Aug. 23.

Baldwin must remain on Oahu and check in daily with Honolulu police until he is escorted back to the mainland.

Girl accuses teacher of previous sex abuse

A girl who accused a Wahiawa Middle School teacher of sexually assaulting her more than a year ago told a prosecutor recently that the same teacher had also assaulted her on a previous occasion, the teacher's attorney said.

Victor Bakke, attorney for social studies teacher Gabriel Kealoha, questioned why the girl waited so long to make the second allegation. He indicated in court yesterday that he plans to use the girl's statement at trial, presumably to question her credibility.

Bakke also successfully petitioned the court to dismiss the prosecutor from the case because she may become a potential witness.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn agreed, saying if the girl denies making the statement, Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy will have to take the stand as the sole witness to the statement.

The victim had many opportunities to disclose this alleged second incident but did not until a May 23 phone conversation with Murphy and with no witnesses present, Bakke said.

Murphy, head of the prosecuting attorney's Sex Assault Division, will be replaced by another deputy prosecutor at the September trial, which could be delayed to allow the new prosecutor more time to prepare.

Kealoha was charged last December with fondling and sexually assaulting the 14-year-old eighth-grader in May 2001. The incident allegedly occurred on a Sunday on the school campus but was not reported until late last year.

Kealoha, who has taught at the school since August 1998, was removed from the classroom immediately after the allegations surfaced. He remains on paid administrative leave.





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