Kula reserve could open in September
POLIPOLI, Hawaii » Kula Forest Reserve, which has been closed for most of the year because of wildfires, might be opened for public use by Sept. 1, state officials said.
The reserve was first closed in January for five months after a discarded cigarette ignited a fire that consumed about 2,000 acres. It was reopened July 1 but closed indefinitely again following two wildfires last month.
The Kula Forest Reserve, which includes the Polipoli Springs Recreational Area, features many trails used by hikers, hunters and bike riders. The road to Polipoli also provides access to the upper slopes, including Puu Keokea and the Ballpark Junction, the Skyline Trail and the Kahikinui hunting areas.
Maui District Forestry Chief John Cumming said opening the reserve in September looks promising because there have been no new reports of fire outbreaks. The humidity is also higher but rain is still needed.
"What we would really like is to have three to four days of soaking rain," he said.
State releases $6M for 2 schools
The state released more than $6 million yesterday to upgrade athletic facilities at Kapolei and Pearl City high schools.
Kapolei High will receive $4.7 million for new locker and shower rooms, two physical education classrooms, an announcer's booth, bleachers, concession stands and restrooms, Gov. Linda Lingle announced. Construction is scheduled to be completed in March 2009.
The remaining $1.4 million will pay for an athletic training room at Pearl City High. The room, which will include an office for the athletic trainer and treatment area for students, is scheduled to be done in July 2009.
Odor ID'd and deemed nontoxic
A strong odor coming from Wahiawa Reservoir is hydrogen sulfide emitted from decomposing vegetation in the water, the Health Department has concluded.
Clean Air Branch chief Willy Nagamine said the branch is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to further investigate and control it.
Nagamine said the odor, at times noticeable to motorists on Kamehameha Highway near Schofield Barracks, does not pose any threats. The gas, which smells like rotten eggs, is not flammable.
Reports of strange odors from the reservoir can be made to the department at 586-4309.
Fair offers free health screenings
A summer health fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at Kale's Natural Foods in Hawaii Kai Shopping Center will offer people a chance to talk with health personalities and enjoy free 10-minute massages, free samples of healthful foods and health screenings.
On hand will be D. Laurie Steelsmith, women's health specialist; Dr. Patricia Avula, preventative health specialist; David Snow (Doctor Health); and KITV Channel 4 health reporter Dick Allgire.
Three massage chairs will be available with registered massage therapists to administer massages. Free blood-pressure and body-fat tests also will be provided.
Doctor Health will broadcast his regular Saturday radio show live from the fair from 9 to 11 a.m. on KHNR 97.5 FM.
People who cannot attend the fair can call the radio show during the event at 296-5476.
Police, Fire, Courts
Boy hit by van is critically hurt
KAPAA, Kauai » An 11-year-old Kapaa boy was airlifted to the Queen's Medical Center on Oahu in critical condition Sunday night after being hit by a van.
According to police, the boy, riding a dirt bike, was leaving a private driveway near the junction of Kawaihau and Kanepoonui roads at about 6:30 p.m. when he was struck by a van driven by a 43-year-old Kapaa man.
The boy sustained serious injuries and was taken to Wilcox Hospital via ambulance, police officials said, and he was later airlifted to Queen's.
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, officials said.
Puna driver dies after crashing car
A 47-year-old Puna man died yesterday from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle crash at the south end of Railroad Avenue in Hilo.
He was identified as Kevin E. Bell of Mountain View.
Responding to a 7:07 a.m. call, South Hilo patrol and Traffic Enforcement Unit officers determined that Bell was traveling south on Railroad Avenue in a 1988 Toyota sedan when he came to the dead end and crashed into a rock embankment.
Bell and a 40-year-old female passenger were transported to Hilo Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 11:33 a.m. The passenger was listed in serious condition.
Police suspect that speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. The driver was not wearing a seat belt, while the passenger was wearing hers.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner's inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
It is the 22nd traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with 20 at this time last year.
Suspect sought in bank robbery
Police are asking for the public's help in identifying and finding a man who robbed the Pearlridge branch of Bank of Hawaii Friday.
Police said the man approached and presented a demand note to the teller at the bank, located at 94-211 Pali Momi St., at about 5:40 p.m.
Police said the man fled on foot in an unknown direction.
The man was described as 30 to 40 years old, with blond hair, standing about 6 feet tall, weighing 190 pounds. He was wearing a yellow shirt and sunglasses.
Man victimized in sexual assault
Police arrested a 30-year-old man in Waipahu Saturday after he allegedly sexually assaulted another man who let him into his house.
The suspect befriended the 22-year-old victim and asked to use his shower at his house. At about 10:30 a.m. the suspect threatened and sexually assaulted the victim, police said.
Police arrested the suspect on suspicion of two counts of second-degree sexual assault.
Woman's death under investigation
The Medical Examiner's Office has not determined if foul play is involved in the gunshot death of a 27-year-old Moiliili woman.
An autopsy yesterday revealed Trina Marie Ormeno bled to death due to heart and lung injuries resulting from a gunshot wound to the chest, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
Ormeno was found dead at 7:50 a.m. Saturday by her roommate, who was questioned but released and is not considered a suspect.
Ormeno, a Big Island native, leaves behind three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.
Homicide detectives are investigating Ormeno's death, but the case remained classified last night as an unattended death, not murder.
Police issued a public plea for more information. Anyone who might have heard or seen anything between 9:30 p.m. Friday and 1:30 a.m. Saturday is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cell phone.
Man is arrested in home break-in
A 23-year-old Kalihi man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly broke into an 18-year-old woman's Kalihi home and assaulted her.
The woman suffered only minor injuries in the 1:30 p.m. attack and was treated and released from a local hospital.
Police located the suspect on Republican Street in Kapalama and arrested him on investigation of first-degree burglary.
Neighbor arrested on burglary charge
A 54-year-old Kalihi woman woke up to find a neighbor in her bedroom early Sunday morning.
Police said the woman was awakened by a noise in her room at about 1:55 a.m. and saw a man who then fled. She chased the man and recognized him as her neighbor, but he got away, police said.
The woman called police, and officers found the 33-year-old man at his home. He was arrested for suspicion of first-degree burglary.
Bus rider attacks driver with walker
Police arrested a 49-year-old Honolulu woman Saturday who allegedly attacked her bus driver with a walker.
The woman struck the 45-year-old driver with her ambulatory aid when he tried to remove her from the bus for not paying her fare, police said.
The bus driver sustained minor injuries in the 12:27 p.m. incident but declined medical attention.
Police arrested the woman in front of the Moiliili Community Center on suspicion of interfering with the operation of a public transit vehicle. She was later released pending investigation.