State inks deal for e-voting
The state has signed a $43.4 million contract with Hart InterCivic to use its paper ballot and electronic voting system in the next five elections.
Each polling place will have a Hart InterCivic eScan - a paper ballot system - and eSlate - an electronic voting system with a verifiable paper audit trail. Voters can choose which system to vote on, an Office of Elections news release said.
An evaluation committee selected Hart InterCivic's system, which meets the requirements of the Federal Help America Vote Act, because of its ease of use, the release said.
The contract expires in 2016 with an option to extend for two years.
Firms fined for wetlands damage
The Environmental Protection Agency fined Frank Coluccio Construction Co. and Castle Family LLC $68,000 yesterday for filling wetlands adjacent to Hamakua Stream in Kailua without federal permits.
Officials had informed Coluccio and Kaneohe Ranch Co. Ltd., as well as the property manager for Castle Family, that permits were required for filling the wetlands. Under an agreement with Castle Family, Coluccio had cleared the wetland vegetation at the site to create a project equipment and materials staging area.
In a February 2005 inspection, the Department of Health and EPA observed large stockpiles of excavated soil and rock that had been dumped into the wetland habitat. Neither company had obtained a required permit to do so.
Officials said Coluccio filled almost an acre of wetlands, which are part of a system running from Kawainui Marsh to Kaelepulu Pond and to the ocean.
The EPA ordered the companies to implement a plan to remove the fill from the wetlands and restore the habitat. They are also required to monitor the restoration site and submit annual progress reports to the EPA for up to five years.
Hawaiian air fixes jet's engine
A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 is back in service today after one of its engines was replaced following a turbine blade failure.
No one was injured Monday when the Hawaiian jet was forced to return from Kona 10 minutes into the flight, Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Keoni Wagner said. The jet was en route to Honolulu.
Wagner said turbine blade failures "do happen from time to time. It's just part of our business. I'd say it is a statistically rare event for that to happen."
It was the third engine failure since Hawaiian started using Boeing 717 jets seven years ago.
Repair work idles Superferry
The Hawaii Superferry last night abruptly cancelled today's voyages after saying earlier that all systems were go.
The company cited an unexpected delay in the completion of repair work.
Earlier, the company said it would make a trip to Maui today on an altered schedule.
Rough weather forced the vessel Alakai to remain dockside from Sunday through Wednesday. Routine maintenance inspections during that time identified the need for repairs to the vessel's auxiliary rudders.
Voyages yesterday were cancelled for those repairs.
The company said it will notify passengers today concerning the resumption of service. Updates are also available at the Web site, www.HawaiiSuperferry.com.
Storm forces Haleakala closure
Haleakala National Park made a valiant attempt to stay open in the face of continuing bad weather yesterday, but it finally closed at 3 p.m. due to flooding on the road to the summit.
"The park has experienced very heavy rains and high winds throughout the day," officials announced.
"We are so pleased that we were able to welcome visitors to the park today. We try our best to balance visitor interest against safety concerns, and I think we've done a good job this time," said incident commander Barry Lewis.
Officials said they would make another assessment this morning. For information, call 572-4400.
Police, Fire, Courts
Man arrested in sex assault
Police rearrested a 19-year-old Punaluu man on 15 sexual assault offenses, previously adjudicated in Family Court and allegedly committed against a girl, police said.
The man was a minor when he allegedly committed the offenses against a Windward Oahu neighbor during a period of three years and will face charges as an adult, a spokesman from the prosecutor's office said.
They include attempted first-degree sexual assault and 14 third-degree sexual assault offenses.
The offenses allegedly took place from June 2005 through February 2007.
The man stipulated to waiving his rights in Family Court yesterday and can be tried as an adult.
He was released on his own recognizance.
He will be arraigned March 11.
Clerk calls police to stop forgery
A 32-year-old woman was arrested after she allegedly tried to cash a forged check.
Shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday, the woman entered a Waimanalo retail store and allegedly tried to cash a forged check for $1,200. Police said she presented a forged state identification card.
The cashier recognized the suspect from a prior incident and notified police. The woman was arrested on suspicion of second-degree forgery, unauthorized possession of confidential information and attempted second-degree theft.
Homes safe during Makakilo blaze
A Makakilo brush fire, which began Wednesday evening, had devoured between 50 and 75 acres yesterday but did not threaten any homes.
At 6 a.m. yesterday, ground crews began fighting the blaze with up to 13 units at its height, and the Honolulu Fire Department's helicopter, Air 1, made water drops.
The fire was contained at 2:30 p.m. but flared up at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, fire Capt. Earle Kealoha said.
Firefighters tried to extinguish the perimeter of the brush fire. However, trees and large brush cut from the fringe of the perimeter and thrown into the middle of the burned-out perimeter reignited, Kealoha said.
Air 1 made its last water drop at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday, and ground crews left at about 9 p.m.
The fire initially started Wednesday off Wainohia Street, but by sunrise yesterday "had advanced up the mountain and ended up coming off Elele Street," Kealoha said.
Firefighters, due to darkness and steep and rugged terrain, did not fight the fire overnight Wednesday, at which time it spanned five acres.
Undercover police catch suspect
Choosing to break into someone else's van is a bad decision. Picking a van filled with undercover cops is just plain bad luck.
That is just what happened late last night, according to police.
Undercover officers in street clothes were on a stakeout in a van at Sheridan and Kamaile streets on the makai side of the Keeaumoku Street Wal-Mart. Just before midnight a man opened the front passenger door and searched a duffle bag on the floor, police said.
The officers hid behind the back seat watching the suspect, police said. The suspect allegedly removed the bag from the van and continued searching it on the sidewalk.
The officers slid open the van's passenger door and confronted the suspect.
A brief struggle followed before the suspect, 45, was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized entry into a vehicle and resisting arrest.
Suspect in bank robbery arrested
Police arrested a 24-year-old man yesterday afternoon in Kaneohe suspected of robbing a Kalihi bank last week.
At 11:19 a.m. Jan. 23, the suspect allegedly entered the American Savings Bank in Kalihi and handed a teller a demand note. He left, with an undisclosed amount of money, on a gray bicycle headed east on North King Street.
The Kaneohe Crime Reduction Unit received a tip on the suspect's whereabouts and found and arrested him yesterday at a Kaneohe home at 45-697 Kamehameha Highway.