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POSTED: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Officer saves woman's blind dog

An 82-year-old Big Island woman says police officer John Kahalioumi was the answer to her prayers for help in rescuing her 14-year-old blind dog, Sparky, on Sept. 1.

“;I was crying my heart out because I thought I'd lost Sparky,”; said Edna Kaleo Mendonca, of Kapaau. She had been driving on Kohala Mountain Road when she pulled over to let Sparky out for a bathroom break, Big Island police said.

Sparky, Mendonca's companion since puppyhood, had slipped halfway down a 30-foot gulch.

Mendonca, who fell while trying to rescue Sparky, began looking for someone to help her, then began praying for help.

A few minutes later, Kahalioumi drove up, and Mendonca flagged him down.

Police said the officer climbed down without hesitating and came back with the dog.

“;He was my lifesaver and Sparky's, too,”; she said. “;I said, 'Thank you and God bless you.'”;

She never got the officer's name, so she drove to the North Kohala police station to express her gratitude. The next day, they formally met and had their pictures taken with Sparky.

Mendonca said, “;I appreciate what he did. He's an angel in policeman's clothing.”;

Kauai County gives tables to soup kitchen

A substantial increase in the number of people served by the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Lihue prompted Kauai County to donate two picnic tables, allowing more people to eat at the same time, according to a news release from the county.

In the past few months, the number of people served has doubled from roughly 50 to more than 100, the release said.

“;We had heard that some of the people who went to the soup kitchen for a meal had to wait for others to finish eating and a seat opened up before they were able to eat,”; said Theresa Koki, coordinator of the county's anti-drug office.

After the Kauai County Council approved the donation, the anti-drug office teamed with the parks department to furnish the tables, the release said.

“;Our kitchen/dining facility is very small, so the county's donated tables will help to meet the needs of the people we serve,”; said Larry Groenleer of the Salvation Army.

Waimea High School donated three tables this summer.

Closing Kohala school studied

HILO » A Big Island task force is studying whether Kohala Middle School should be closed.

If so, its 198 students would be relocated to the Kohala High and Elementary campus four miles away.

The financially troubled state Department of Education is looking for public schools it can close in order to save money.

Some members of the task force believe closing the middle school would be a mistake. They argue the campus at the elementary and high school is already crowded.

High school Principal Catherine Bratt is against the proposal. She says mixing middle-schoolers with high-schoolers would lead to behavior problems.

The 12-member panel is to make its recommendation sometime between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

Man convicted for meth shipment

A former Hawaii man has been convicted in U.S. District Court of two charges related to the shipment of about 10 pounds of methamphetamine to Hawaii from Las Vegas.

U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo Jr. says John James Rodrigues faces mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole because of the amount of meth involved and two prior state felony drug convictions. Sentencing is set for Jan. 11.

Prosecutors said yesterday that Rodrigues, 54, was arrested in 2008 after agreeing to sell three pounds of meth to an undercover police officer posing as a drug buyer.

The meth was delivered by Rodrigues' sister, Carrie Hanson. She and another co-defendant, Dusteen Huffman, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.