Transit post nominee advances
The City Council will likely confirm Wayne Yoshioka as city transportation director after he vowed to recuse himself from situations with his past employer that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
A committee unanimously approved the appointment of Yoshioka yesterday to succeed Melvin Kaku, who became director of the city's Department of Emergency Services.
Councilmembers said they believe Yoshioka, who has been serving as acting director since Dec. 1, is qualified for the position.
However, they were concerned about potential conflict of interests with PB Americas, a planning and engineering firm recently awarded $79 million from the city for work on the planned fixed guideway system. Yoshioka, who resigned as a supervising transportation engineer for PB Americas on Nov. 31, said he has been letting his deputy director, Richard Torres, handle business involving his former firm.
"I do propose recusing myself from business that involves invoices and contract amendments," said Yoshioka, a close friend and high school classmate of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
The full Council is expected to decide on Yoshioka at its Jan. 23 meeting.
Maui school gets cafeteria funds
WAILUKU » The oldest U.S. school west of the Rockies is receiving the newest cafeteria and kitchen on the Valley Isle.
Lahainaluna High School will be getting $9.4 million for design and construction of the cafeteria and kitchen.
"We're happy that the funds have been released," Principal Michael Nakano said.
Nakano said the cafeteria, more than 50 years old, was designed for about 215 students, and enrollment is now at more than 1,000.
The money was released by Gov. Linda Lingle as part of $10.9 million worth of improvements to three Maui high schools.
Baldwin High School will be receiving $860,000 to improve its telecommunications system, in addition to $533,000 provided in 2006.
King Kekaulike High School is receiving $650,000 toward funding the design of a new auditorium.
Lahainaluna, founded by American Protestant missionaries to teach the Hawaiian elite and missionary children in 1831, became a public technical high school in 1923.
Mars is safe, observatory says
HILO » Mars is safe from a direct hit by a recently discovered asteroid, according to the latest data from the University of Hawaii on Mauna Kea and from other observatories, NASA said yesterday.
The UH telescope, with its 7.3-foot (2.2-meter) mirror, was among the instruments showing Mars is safe from asteroid 2007 WD5 by a margin of at least 2,500 miles, NASA said.
That is still close, considering that the distance from Earth to the moon is about 239,000 miles.
Police, Fire, Courts
2 teens detained after explosion
WAILUKU » Two teenage Maui boys remained at juvenile detention facilities on Oahu following their arrest for allegedly setting off a pipe bomb at Kahului School.
The boys, ages 15 and 16, were charged with first-degree criminal trespassing and first-degree criminal property damage. The case has been referred to Family Court.
The incident took place around 11:15 a.m. Jan. 2 while the elementary school was not in session, Maui police Sgt. David Silva said Tuesday.
Silva said the bomb, made from a PVC pipe, ripped off a corner of a desk and detached a portion of the sink from a wall outside the classroom. Silva said a witness saw the boys flee from the school.
Fire engulfs home on Big Isle
Fire broke out at a Mountain View, Big Island, house Tuesday after the owner reported spilling gasoline in his garage and under the house.
When firefighters arrived, the back of the single-story home located at 11-3522 Lehua St. in the Fern Acres subdivision was engulfed in flames, fire officials said.
The fire extended from the rear of the house through the attic crawl space and out of the front roof vent. The back bedroom and kitchen were also burned, fire officials said.
Fire investigators have not determined the cause or a damage estimate of the 3:43 p.m. fire, which was brought under control at 4:21 p.m.
The resident, who was the only occupant, was not injured.
Crews rescue man from vessel
Coast Guard air crews rescued an injured 60-year-old man yesterday from a fishing vessel about 100 miles north of Kauai.
The man, an engineer on a foreign-flagged ship, the Cap Carmel, had suffered head, neck and shoulder injuries from a fall while about 1,000 miles from Oahu.
Crews from Air Station Barbers Point, including a rescue swimmer from a helicopter, brought the man to Lihue Airport, where an emergency medical services crew drove him to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
He was reported in stable condition.
Suspect charged in bank heists
Federal prosecutors have charged William A. Mara III, 33, with bank robbery and attempted bank robbery.
Mara's mother walked into the Kapolei police station two days after the robberies and identified him as the suspect in surveillance photos she saw on TV news.
Mara was arrested and charged Monday with robbing two banks on Jan. 2.
Mara allegedly entered the Dillingham branch of Hawaii National Bank at 2:25 p.m. and passed a demand note to the teller, threatening to shoot, according to a statement by a special deputy U.S. marshal.
Mara fled the bank on foot without any cash, the affidavit said.
At 3:35 p.m., Mara allegedly entered the Waipahu branch of American Savings Bank and passed a demand note saying to "put the money in the bag and I have a gun I'll shoot."
The teller handed Mara $3,100 and he fled on foot, the affidavit said.
Anonymous callers also identified the man in the photos as Mara. Mara's mother said he admitted to her that he had robbed the bank.