Fire closes highway on Kauai
HANAMAULU, Kauai » A quick-moving brush fire jumped the lone road linking Lihue and Kapaa yesterday, snarling traffic for dozens of miles.
The brush fire, which began near the entrance of the Kauai Hilton at about 3:30 p.m., jumped across Kuhio Highway, buffeted by tradewinds. No lives or structures were threatened by the fire, although employees of Kauai Fruit & Flower Co. were evacuated as a precautionary measure. Fire officials estimate that 50 acres burned on the makai side of Kuhio Highway, and 30 acres on the mauka side.
The highway was completely closed at about 3:45 p.m. and did not reopen until just before 5 p.m. The traffic jam snarled every feeder road in both Lihue and Kapaa. Kauai officials turned to the radio to ask people to stay off the roads. By 5:45 p.m. only one lane in either direction had been opened.
Kuhio Highway is the lone link between Kapaa and Lihue, the two major population centers on Kauai.
Blackmail suspect to admit guilt
Rajdatta Patkar, the Indian national facing federal charges of blackmailing Bob Awana, the former chief of staff to Gov. Linda Lingle, will plead guilty Tuesday to one of five counts of blackmail.
Pamela Byrne, a deputy public defender representing Patkar, who was extradited from Japan in March, said, "The plea agreement does say they will drop four of the five charges, which leaves him with a single, two-year maximum offense."
She cautioned that although the federal prosecutors and defense might agree to the plea agreement, it must be approved by the court and that will not happen until Patkar is sentenced.
The plea agreement had been scheduled before U.S. Judge Michael Seabright yesterday but was postponed while attorneys discussed the agreement and what restitution Patkar would make.
Awana resigned last week as he faced unconfirmed media reports that the blackmail involved Patkar's threats to reveal an extramarital affair between Awana and a woman in the Philippines. Upon receiving the alleged e-mail from Patkar, Awana said he went to the U.S. Attorney's Office to seek an investigation. The prosecutors, Awana said, asked him to send money to Patkar to confirm the blackmail.
State looks to reduce emissions
Now that Gov. Linda Lingle has signed a bill that mandates Hawaii reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, work begins on how to accomplish that goal.
The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007 earmarks $1 million for a task force to draft "practical, technically feasible and cost-effective" ways to do that by the end of 2009. Lingle signed the bill this week.
Hawaii is the second state, after California, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
"Hawaii now has one of the most aggressive laws in the nation to fight global climate change," Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter director, said.
Pollutants found in Palolo Stream
Signs warning of pollution in Palolo Stream below Anuenue Elementary School were posted yesterday after city workers discovered sewage is entering the creek via a storm drain, the state Department of Health said yesterday.
The sewage could be a leak in a sewer main or illegal sewer connections to the storm drain system, wrote Watson Okubo, chief of the monitoring and analysis section, Clean Water Branch.
The leak was discovered via dye testing, Okubo said. The quantity of sewage leaking into the stream will not be known until its source is found. Warning signs will be removed when testing shows that the sewage leak into the storm drain system has stopped.
Coming this weekend in your Star-Bulletin:
More than $1 million in federal funding from President Bush's Faith Based Initiative program has helped local churches and community groups organize to feed and shelter homeless and low-income families, support homebound elderly people and rehabilitate ex-convicts and their families.
A new book by David P. Penhallow chronicles the magic that Grace Guslander worked in turning Kauai's Coco Palms into the image of an island paradise captured in such films as "South Pacific" and "Blue Hawaii."
Business: The hard work and sacrifices of four generations of the Chong family have turned the Aala Meat Market Inc. in Kalihi into a thriving and profitable business in a highly competitive industry.
Travel: It's time to cruise to the desert as writer Robert Bone visits Egypt via the Black Sea.
Sports: Transpac 2007 is ready to set sail, and new technology could yield the fastest times in the history of the 101-year-old California-to-Honolulu race.
Police, Fire, Courts
Police use Taser to subdue man with box cutters
Police used a Taser gun to subdue a 36-year-old Kalihi man who allegedly lunged at police officers with box cutters at a Kalihi restaurant last night.
Around 8:10 p.m., police received a call that a man was sitting outside a restaurant on North School Street waving two knives. Officers found the man sitting at a table inside the restaurant.
The man put both his hands inside his pockets and tried to leave the restaurant as officers approached him, police said. Near the exit, the man allegedly pulled out two box cutters and slashed at a police sergeant who had arrived as backup.
The sergeant was not injured and officers used a Tazer to stop the man. When shocked, the man fell holding the knives and cut his arm on one of the box cutters, police said. While on the ground, the man resisted orders to drop the knives and was shocked again, police said. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree terroristic threatening.
Police seek man in slaying probe
Police are looking for Tyler Aaron Condon, 22, for questioning in connection with a killing in Ewa on Wednesday.
Condon was seen fleeing the parking lot of the townhouse complex where the victim was stabbed. "We have reason to believe that he was the last person that saw the victim alive," said police Sgt. Kim Buffett.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Jake Ira Hale, 28, of Wahiawa. Hale bled to death from his stab wounds, the office said.
Police said Hale was seen Wednesday morning at about 6:15 calling for help outside a Palm Villas II townhouse at 91-1060 Mikohu St. Neighbors went to help and tried to stop the bleeding from his wounds. Hale was taken to Hawaii Medical Center West, where he died that morning.
Police said Condon was seen driving out of the parking lot in a white four-door Buick with the license plates FJE-138. Buffett said the vehicle is registered to someone who is in Iraq and is not related to the case. She added that the vehicle could have front-end damage because it hit another vehicle before fleeing.
Condon is described as 6 feet tall, 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.
Robber victimizes bank in Waimalu
Police are looking for a man who robbed a Waimalu bank yesterday afternoon.
The suspect entered the Waimalu Central Pacific Bank located at 98-1247 Kaahumanu St. just after 3:40 p.m. yesterday.
The man allegedly passed a demand note to the teller, who handed the man an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.
The man then fled on foot makai on Kaahumanu Street toward Kamehameha Highway. He is described as in his late 20s.