Feds to study effect of vog
HILO » Two federal agencies will send representatives to Hawaii next month to assess the health effect of vog on Big Island residents, the state Health and Agriculture departments said yesterday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will send staff to work with state agents in doing the assessment, the joint statement of the two departments said.
The announcement followed a meeting of a state and federal Interagency Task Force to begin to consider ways of responding to greatly increased levels of volcanic fumes since March 12.
Winds have generally carried the fumes to the southwest through the Kau district, away from Hilo, but occasional reversal of the wind has carried the fumes to the nearby Volcano community and Hilo.
The fumes, commonly known as vog, have caused respiratory problems for sensitive people, eye irritation in cattle and severe crops losses for protea and other flower growers.
Army's presence might grow
The Army plans to relocate 1,300 soldiers to Hawaii over the next five years with the bulk of them stationed at Schofield Barracks, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced yesterday.
The number of soldiers was included in a supplemental environmental impact statement on the growth of the Army to support future operations in the Pacific, Abercrombie said.
Col. Wayne Shanks, spokesman for all Army operations in the Pacific, said he could not confirm the number of soldiers being relocated to Hawaii since that study will not be officially released by the Pentagon until Friday.
Shanks said he has not seen the final environmental study pointing out that the draft study released in May outlined four options that included anywhere from 1,500 to 7,500 additional troops in both Alaska and Hawaii.
Shanks added that nothing will be official until after Army leaders at the Pentagon make a final decision of the restructuring of troops in the Pacific. "That could take place 30 days after the study is released next Friday," Shanks added.
He did confirm that additional troops would be soldiers whose skills would be as engineers, military police and intelligence specialists.
Health care exec joins HPU board
Raymond P. Vara Jr., executive vice president and chief executive officer of operations for Hawaii Pacific Health, has joined the board of trustees for Hawaii Pacific University.
Vara graduated with a degree in business administration from HPU in 1993 and received his master's degree from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Vara oversees Straub Clinic & Hospital, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi and Wilcox Health on Kauai.
College attendance study revised
Hawaii's community colleges saw a 1.3 percent gain in enrollment between 2000 and 2005, according to revised figures from a Rockefeller Institute report.
However, its ranking in the report only changed from 47th to the 45th-lowest enrollment growth among states.
The revision comes because the original report counted Maui Community College as a four-year rather than a two-year college.
A Page A3 story in the Star-Bulletin's May 26 edition, quoting the initial report, incorrectly said that community college enrollment in Hawaii dropped 12.5 percent. Other revisions include:
» The difference in enrollment growth for four-year universities and community colleges was 16.6 percent rather than 37.2 percent, and Hawaii's ranking was 46th instead of 47th.
» The UH community college's share of full-time equivalent college enrollment was 30.5 percent instead of 26.8 percent, and Hawaii's ranking was 14th instead of 20th. This share was above the national average of 27.7 percent.
» The population 18 and over attending community college in Hawaii was 2.6 percent rather than 2.3 percent, and Hawaii's ranking was 20th instead of 25th.
Police, Fire, Courts
Guard saves trio from boat mishap
The Coast Guard rescued three fishermen yesterday morning after their fishing boat overturned three miles north of Kauai in rough seas.
The Coast Guard said it received a distress signal from the 15-foot vessel, Dauntless, at about 9 a.m. when the vessel was taking on water or had already sunk.
The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter from Oahu, which picked up the three fishermen at 11:27 a.m.
The helicopter rescue crew spotted the fishermen on top of the overturned boat at about 10:30 a.m.
A Coast Guard swimmer was lowered into the water, and each fisherman was sent up to the helicopter in a rescue basket.
They were flown to Lihue Airport where an Emergency Medical Services team awaited the men, who appeared to be in good condition, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard said the fishermen used a Personal Locator Beacon to send the distress signal, without which they would have not been able to notify the Coast Guard.
At the time, the strong tradewinds were blowing at 20 knots, and seas were 7 feet, the Coast Guard reported.
30-foot fall hurts Manoa Falls hiker
Fire crews rescued a tourist hiking on the Manoa Falls trail after she slipped and fell 30 feet into a rocky stream bed yesterday.
At about 5:30 p.m. the woman fell into a stream bed but landed on her feet in ankle-deep water and did not suffer serious injuries, Fire Capt. Earle Kealoha said.
The Manoa fire company and a rescue squad hiked into the area, stabilized the woman and placed her on a metal basket. She was airlifted to a nearby parking lot, where she was taken by ambulance to the Queen's Medical Center in stable condition, Kealoha said.
Sidewalk robbery leads to an arrest
Police arrested a 32-year-old Kaimuki man yesterday for allegedly robbing a 47-year-old man June 17 when he refused to give him a cigarette, police said.
The victim was smoking on a sidewalk in Honolulu when the suspect approached him and asked for a cigarette, police said.
When the victim refused, the suspect allegedly punched him and took jewelry from him, police said.
The suspect was found yesterday through investigation in the Oahu Community Correctional Center, where he was arrested for suspicion of second-degree robbery.