Funeral set for war hero Gagalac
Funeral services for Army Sgt. Alexander Gagalac, who was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade on Sept. 9 in Iraq, will be held Thursday at St. John Apostle and Evangelist Church in Mililani.
Visitation will begin at 9 a.m., followed by Mass from 11 a.m. to noon, at the church, located at 95-370 Kuahelani Ave.
Burial with full military honors will be at 1 p.m. at the National Cemetery of the Pacific.
Gagalac was a member of the 25th Infantry Division.
Spiders from China slip into state
Tiny spiders that recently stowed away aboard a shipment of granite from China highlight the potential for foreign pests to arrive in Hawaii in cargo.
Workers discovered the spiders on Aug. 28 at Kalaeloa as they unloaded the granite, which was imported for use in a breakwater. They alerted the U.S. Customs Service, which called inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture.
Three spiders were recovered and later identified by a Bishop Museum entomologist, according to Janelle Saneishi, public information officer for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. The spiders measured just a quarter-inch in diameter, including their legs, she said. Two were in the family Thomisidae. Another was tentatively identified as belonging to either the Theridiidae or Nesticidae family.
"What's happening is there are more and more different types of insects coming on more and more types of cargo," said Carol Okada, Plant Quarantine Branch manager for the Agriculture Department. "We're dealing with different reptiles, spiders, snails, insects. The type of pests is changing because the type of cargo is changing."
She said it was not clear what threat the spiders might pose to Hawaii's ecosystem, but that they do not belong here. "We need to prevent as many injurious invasive species as we can in order to protect our fragile environment," Okada said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects plant material coming from foreign countries, and the state Department of Agriculture handles plant material from within the United States. Other cargo is handled by U.S. Customs and is generally not inspected for invasive species.
School board praises Hamamoto
Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto received passing grades from the Board of Education yesterday during her annual evaluation.
Meeting at Hilo High School cafeteria, school board members said Hamamoto "met expectations" of her job, said board Chairwoman Karen Knudsen.
"Overall, we all agree she's doing quite well, given the circumstances," board member Breene Harimoto said.
Hamamoto assumed the $150,000 top post in the public education system in October 2001 after the resignation of Paul LeMahieu. Last year she got satisfactory remarks in a review that judged her on management of the more-than-178,000-student system and oversight of its finances.
Board member Donna Ikeda said she gave Hamamoto mostly positive comments on a four-page form that covered student performance, school safety, teacher training and recruiting and budget accountability.
But she said the department needs to improve the operations of the various Student Community Councils, or SCCs, which are groups of representatives for teachers, parents, students, staff and community members who weigh in on issues affecting schools.
Lingle oks stadium fix funds
Gov. Linda Lingle has released $12.4 million for repairs and safety improvements to Aloha Stadium.
She released the money last week.
Nearly half, $6.05 million, is for corrosion mitigation, which involves cleaning and re-oating steel surfaces.
Other major work will include repairing and waterproofing the deck, reinforcing the pedestrian concourse bridges to minimize vibration, and other structural reinforcements.
The money also will pay for improvements to the stadium's restrooms and alarm, sewer and water systems, testing its electrical transformers and installing additional handrails in stair walkways.
Design and planning has already started.
Construction is scheduled to begin early next year.
Police, Fire, Courts
Robbery suspect allegedly armed
Police are looking for a man with a handgun who robbed a Kakaako jewelry store last evening, taking about $30,000 worth of merchandise.
Police said the man, between 40 and 50 years old, entered PS Jewelry & Collection at Ward Warehouse.
After seeing some expensive rings, the man, brandishing a handgun, left at about 5:15 p.m. with jewelry worth an estimated $30,000, police said.
Robbery at Macy's leads to charges
Big Island police charged a 23-year-old Oahu man yesterday for allegedly robbing a Macy's department store at Prince Kuhio Plaza.
Jeremyal B. Leedy was charged with second-degree robbery.
Leedy tried on a watch in the jewelry department at Macy's. When the salesperson asked for the watch back, he refused and said he was taking it, police said.
Police said Leedy allegedly made a reference to shooting the employee. Although Leedy never produced a weapon, a witness saw a bulge under his clothing, police said. No one was injured in the robbery.
Police received numerous tips from people who saw the surveillance images, recognized Leedy and called CrimeStoppers.
Detectives thought Leedy might try to flee the island, so they alerted Hilo Airport and provided Leedy's photo.
Security personnel recognized Leedy as he was about to board an Oahu-bound plane at 10 a.m. yesterday, and took him into custody.
Leedy was being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Missing store cash spurs worker's bust
Police arrested an Aiea store employee who allegedly admitted to stealing money from the store.
Police said that on Sept. 10, employees discovered that money was missing from the store. After store employees did an investigation, one of the employees, a 26-year-old woman, admitted to taking the money, police said.
Some of the money was recovered, police said. Officers arrested the suspect Wednesday for investigation of second-degree theft. She was later released pending investigation.