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POSTED: Friday, August 07, 2009

Senate to study layoffs' impact

A special state Senate committee has been appointed by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa to look into the effects of the state-ordered layoffs and furloughs.

In a memo to senators, Hanabusa said there is a worry “;about the impact that reduced or eliminated government services will have on business and the public.”;

Big Island Sens. Russell Kokubun and Dwight Takamine will coordinate the review, with plans to first look at the effects of shutting Kulani Correctional Facility and cutting the number of plant quarantine inspectors on the neighbor islands.

“;The state budget is an important thing to balance, but we need to keep our eye on the impacts it will have on our state economy,”; Kokubun said.

Hearings on the layoffs are planned fir Thursday and Friday in Hilo and Kona and on Aug. 19 at the state Capitol.

Isle-based sailor killed in Afghan war

A 21-year-old Kaneohe-based sailor died Wednesday while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan, military authorities said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Christian Garcia was a hospital corpsman from Tyndall, Fla., according to Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

Garcia joined the Navy in July 2006 and reported to Hawaii in February before deploying in May.

His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Panel advances ex-DBEDT official

The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs unanimously approved Monday the nomination of Ray Jefferson to be the assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment and training.

Jefferson, a former deputy director for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, was nominated after the committee reviewed his nomination two weeks ago.

His nomination will now move to the floor of the Senate for a final confirmation vote.

Hilo building to get $5.3M upgrade

The 92-year-old Hilo federal building is getting a $5.3 million renovation, the U.S. General Services Administration said in a news release.

Contractors Hawaii Inc. was awarded the contract, which is being paid for through federal stimulus funds, last month. Work is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in spring 2011.

Plans call for a seismic retrofit of the building, installing life-safety systems, repairing interior and exterior finishes, performing historic preservation work, Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and other upgrades.

Built in 1917 and expanded in 1936, the federal building and U.S. Post Office total about 50,333 square feet.

The project is being completed in two phases. U.S. Department of Agriculture and other offices will be relocated during the construction, although the post office will remain open.

New UNLV president has Hawaii ties

LAS VEGAS » The Board of Regents voted unanimously yesterday to appoint a former University of Hawaii administrator as president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

The regents approved the appointment of 58-year-old Neal Smatresk as the university president for the next two years.

Smatresk has been the university's executive vice president and provost since 2007, and has been acting president since the board demoted the former president, David Ashley, last month.

Smatresk came to UNLV from UH-Manoa, where he was vice chancellor for academic affairs from 2004 to 2007.

His starting salary is $289,120 per year.

Maui man gets 20 years in rape case

WAILUKU » A 45-year-old Maui man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping a woman at knifepoint.

Alexander Ayau Wilsey had pleaded no contest to first-degree sexual assault. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped a kidnapping charge.

The woman and Wilsey know each other.

She says he raped her Feb. 5 after picking her up in Lahaina and driving her to a dirt road leading to a beach near Launiupoko Park.

Defense attorney David Peterson says Wilsey is remorseful for what he did.

Wilsey's criminal history includes 33 convictions for crimes such as assault, burglary and abuse.