POSTED: Saturday, May 30, 2009

Call center gets long extension

Gov. Linda Lingle has signed legislation that permanently continues a one-stop call center that construction crews and others can use to locate underground gas pipes, telephone conduits, cables and water and sewer lines.

The intent of the bill is to prevent disruption of service to customers, reduce the costs of damage to underground facilities and improve excavators' safety.

A pilot program, known as the “;Hawaii One Call Center”; and begun in 2006, was to have ended this year unless the Legislature acted to extend it.

The state Public Utilities Commission operates the program.

The measure was backed by The Gas Co., Hawaiian Telecom and the Building Industry Association-Hawaii.


Isle-based soldier gets Silver Star

A Hawaii-based soldier received the Silver Star yesterday for his actions in Iraq last year.

Sgt. Scott Kenyon was honored with the Army's third-highest wartime medal at a ceremony at Schofield Barracks.

Kenyon was leading a security team in Anbar province when they encountered two Iraqis trying to plant an explosive device and came under fire.

Despite being struck with bullets to his body armor and helmet, Kenyon continued fighting and leading his team.

He even engaged in a hand-to-hand battle before restraining an Iraqi.


Suspect in teen sex attempt indicted

A 37-year-old Maui man was indicted Thursday for allegedly arranging to have sex with a 14-year-old girl he met on the Internet, the state attorney general's office said in a news release.

Prosecutors say Chris Mabe traveled to Honolulu last weekend thinking he was going to meet a girl he had been chatting with via the Internet for about a year.

But prosecutors say Mabe had actually been communicating with an undercover officer who is part of a task force fighting Internet crimes against children.

Mabe was arrested in front of the Waikiki Aquarium when he showed up for the meeting on Sunday. He was charged with the electronic enticement of a minor.

Mabe was being held on $40,000 bail. He faces a mandatory 10-year prison term if convicted.


Agencies for homeless get $3.9M

The city has awarded nearly $3.9 million in federal stimulus money to eight local organizations that serve the homeless or those at risk of homelessness, the mayor announced yesterday.

They are: Institute for Human Services, $1.1 million; Catholic Charities Hawaii, $973,432; Kalihi-Palama Health Center, $500,000; Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, $219,840; Helping Hands Hawaii, $500,000; Waikiki Health Center, $180,000; Legal Aid Society of Hawaii $300,000; and Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, $100,000.

“;At a time when state and private financial support for charitable organizations is declining, I'm gratified that the city was able to use this federal stimulus money to address one of the most significant socioeconomic problems facing us,”; Mayor Mufi Hannemann said.

The funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program.



Tax 'error' helps county official's dad

HILO » A $2.1 million apartment building in Hilo owned by the father of Hawaii County official Gerald Takase was left off of county tax rolls.

Takase is deputy corporation counsel for the county.

The county, which was notified of the discrepancy by West Hawaii Today, calls it an “;error.”;

An 18-unit building was competed on the property last year, but it retained a residential vacant lot classification into the new 2009-10 tax year.

Stan Sitko, who heads the Real Property Tax Division, says he is investigating why appraisals were not updated.

Allan Takase has been paying about $1,325 a year in property taxes since he purchased the property. The value of the building will add about $17,000 to that tax bill.