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POSTED: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Koa forest on Big Island up for auction

Hilo » A public foreclosure auction is to be held June 10 for more than 13,000 acres of koa forest on the Big Island.

The auction involves the default of millions of dollars in loans tied to a failed logging venture.

Hawaii Forest Preservation of Oahu borrowed $8.7 million that was due to be paid in 2006. A court-appointed commissioner, Joel LaPinta, said the company owed $6 million as of March 19.

LaPinta said that when the property is sold, Hawaii County will get nearly $400,000 in overdue taxes, penalties and interest.

The auction is set to be held at the Circuit Court Building on Oahu.

The timber project was announced in 2001, but it faced community opposition and delays in obtaining state approvals.

Freitas due for promotion

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Hawaii Community College chancellor Rockne Freitas is being recommended for a promotion to a $225,000-a-year position in the University of Hawaii administration.

He would move to the UH system as vice president for student affairs and university and community relations if the Board of Regents approves UH President M.R.C. Greenwood's recommendation at a meeting Thursday.

His annual salary would be adjusted to $209,256 because of UH salary restrictions.

A former National Football League player and coach, Freitas was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and the Oregon State University Sports Hall of Fame.

He has held leadership positions at Kamehameha Schools and GRG Enterprises and previously served as vice president for university relations for the UH system and associate athletic director for UH-Manoa.

He has been chancellor of HCC in Hilo and its University of Hawaii Center in West Hawaii since 2004.

Maui bill curbs car cell use

WAILUKU » Maui County Councilman Mike Molina believes that as of July 1, the county will join the rest of the state in banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Other hand-held electronic devices also would be banned under a bill approved 7-0 last week by the Committee of the Whole. All nine members of the council sit on the committee.

Molina, the chairman of the committee, says the measure is intended to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers.

The bill allows for the use of hands-free electronic devices. But the committee approved an amendment that would bar use of such devices by underage drivers and anyone with a learner's permit.

UH graduates 58 doctors

Fifty-eight new physicians are receiving degrees this weekend from the University of Hawaii at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

They include 12 native Hawaiians—a record number for a single class.

Bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees also are being awarded to 53 students in public health, biomedical sciences, communication sciences and disorders and medical technology.

The graduating native Hawaiian doctors include Kamehameha Schools graduates Jordan Lee, the medical school's 2010 class president, and Marcus Iwane, American Medical Association 2008 Minority Scholar. Click here for a list of graduation ceremonies.