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POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vandals imperil future of races at Maui Raceway

KAHULUI » Maui Raceway Park may have to cancel the rest of its races for the year after vandals destroyed structures and fences on its drag strip.

The Valley Isle Timing Association, which organizes races at the park, says vandals caused about $40,000 in damage when they wrecked five structures, including a ticket booth, and tore down new fences over the weekend.

The nonprofit says it has no money for immediate repairs.

County parks officials said they are surveying the damage.

They said the electronic gate leading to the park was open because it had been damaged earlier.

Organizers have already canceled races scheduled for Aug. 21 and 22.

The association said it will meet this week to decide how to handle future races.

Maui may drop tax for kuleana lands

The Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee has voted to exempt owners of so-called kuleana lands from property taxes.

The lands have been handed down through the generations since the Kuleana Act of 1850. It allowed commoners in Hawaii to apply for title to land they had lived on and farmed.

Committee Chairman Joe Pontanilla was the only member of the panel to vote against the proposal Monday. He had wanted to allow kuleana land owners to pay the minimum property tax of $150.

Pontanilla pointed out that minimum taxes are assessed on kuleana lands in Hawaii's three other counties.

But Council member Gladys Baisa said native Hawaiians should not be taxed off their properties.

Remains of WWII airman are found

BUDAPEST, Hungary » The remains of a U.S. airman killed in Hungary near the end of World War II are headed to Hawaii, officials said today.

The remains of Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Steinford were discovered five years ago in a mass grave in the town of Zirc in western Hungary, where he had been buried with 26 Soviet soldiers.

Steinford, a native of Iowa, was part of a 10-man crew of a B-17 bomber that was shot down near Zirc on March 14, 1945, while returning from a mission over Hungary to its base in Italy. Col. Evan Roelofs, the air attache at the U.S. Embassy, said the crew, except for Steinford, parachuted safely from the plane and that Steinford was listed as missing in action.

Steinford's remains were identified using dental records and other anthropological evidence by members of the U.S. military's Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Museum of Natural Sciences in Budapest.

Lt. Gen. Jozsef Hollo, director of Hungary's Military History Museum, said Steinford's ID tags had been found recently, when the contents of the grave in downtown Zirc were being relocated to another cemetery.

Steinford's remains will be taken to the Army's Central Identification Lab at Hickam Air Force Base for final positive identification.

Chaminade plans inauguration fete

Chaminade University will mark the inauguration of Brother Bernard Ploeger as its ninth president with a two-day celebration Sept. 18 and 19.

Ploeger's investiture is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 19 in Mamiya Theatre with a reception to follow in Keoho Plaza. It will be preceded by a 2 p.m. Mass in St. Patrick Church, 1124 7th Ave.

On Sept. 18 the university is planning a concert at 7 p.m. in Mamiya Theatre with the Hawaii Vocal Arts Ensemble led by Chaminade associate professor of music Timothy Carney. The events are free and open to the public. Go to www.chaminade.edu/inauguration/index.php for more information. Reservations can be submitted by e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or call the president's office at Chaminade at 735-4741.

Funds granted for Kona airport study

The state has received $1.5 million to conduct an environmental assessment for improvements at Kona Airport, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said.

The funds were gained through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study $745 million in renovations and improvements at the airport in the next 20 years.

The improvements include a hotel, conference center and international concourse.

Library celebrates 80th year

Wailuku Public Library, the first public library on Maui, will celebrate its 80th anniversary by hosting a series of free special programs tomorrow.

Located in the Maui Civic Center Historic District, the library was known as the Maui County Free Library when it opened on Aug. 6, 1929. In 1966 the library was renamed the Wailuku Public Library, and added to the National Register of Historic Places 20 years later.

As a part of the anniversary celebration, the public is invited to join in festivities from 12:30 to 8 p.m. including a blessing ceremony, hula performance and musical entertainment.

Marcos children pay respects to woman who led revolt

Former President Corazon Aquino's body made its final journey through the Philippine capital today to be buried next to her assassinated husband in a culmination of grieving for the icon hailed as the example of moral leadership.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was at odds with Aquino after she called Arroyo to resign because of vote-rigging allegations, paid a quick visit to the wake this morning upon her return from the U.S.

The accidental opposition leader who led the 1986 “;people power”; uprising and drove away the 20-year repressive rule of Ferdinand Marcos died Saturday at age 76 after a yearlong battle with colon cancer.

In a highly symbolic gesture, the late Marcos' two children paid their last respects yesterday to the woman who toppled their father. Aquino's brother-in-law, former Sen. Agapito “;Butz”; Aquino, welcomed them at the wake, saying the family had “;no fight with the children”; of Marcos.