By Star-Bulletin Staff

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Millennium Moments

Millennium special

Braguinha gave birth
to ukulele

''MY dog has fleas?" Not really, but anyone who's strummed a ukulele likely was taught to tune the instrument's four strings to pitches asking that four-word question.

The modern ukulele was adapted from a foreign import -- the braguinha, brought here by Portuguese immigrants in 1878, says "Firsts and Almost Firsts in Hawaii" by Robert C. Schmitt. But since no one aboard knew how to play the instrument, Schmitt says, ukulele history here didn't really begin until August 1879, when the second boatload of Portuguese immigrants included people who could actually make the uke sing. Also aboard were craftsmen who could fashion the instrument.

So it came to be that the earliest local ukulele manufacturer was Augusto Dias, who in 1884 opened a shop on King Street to sell and repair ukuleles and other musical instruments, Schmitt says.


Isle women's organization
to celebrate

Judge Veronica Simmons McBeth will speak as women leaders celebrate a 15th anniversary of their organization here with an 11:30 a.m. luncheon Nov. 8 at the Coral Ballroom of Hilton Hawaiian Village.

McBeth, presiding judge of Los Angeles Municipal Court, will discuss "Renewing Public Trust in the Courts."

In a somewhat unorthodox decision, she gained national fame in sentencing a Los Angeles slumlord to house arrest in one of his own tenements.

The women's organization here began more than 15 years ago, with a chance meeting between Sharon Narimatsu, now acting Leeward Community College provost and organization president, and Shirleyanne Chew, now business major accounts manager for GTE Hawaiian Tel.

They came up with the idea of a women executive networking group, with members from both government and business.

"For years, men had had their networks, such as Rotary Clubs, that provided them opportunities to interact with, and learn from and support each other," Narimatsu said. "Shirleyanne and I felt that women needed a forum to share information to help each other achieve professional goals."

They initially formed a group of about 15 that became the Organization of Women Leaders. "I'm pleased to say we now have more than 100 members," Narimatsu said.

For reservations, call 621-2482.


Man found near field had been shot to death

Seng Thong Lovan, 37, who was found dead Friday near a pineapple field in Kunia, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, according to an autopsy report.

There have been no arrests, but homicide Lt. Allen Napoleon says investigators are tracking leads in the case.

Local design company sues Super Prix owner

A business hired to promote the Hawaiian Super Prix has sued the race organizers for unpaid bills totaling $30,959.

The race, which was to be held next month at Kalaeloa Airport and was the world's richest purse, was canceled after failing to meet financial obligations.

Joseph Wingard of Wingard Design filed the lawsuit yesterday in Circuit Court against Hawaiian Super Prix, a California limited liability company. Wingard Design provided design and art production, print advertising, sales kits, ticket brochures, Japanese language inserts to brochures, posters, T-shirt design and other promotional services.

Boat-fueling company may face further fines

If the Honokohau Marina & Ice House on the Big Island doesn't comply with fuel tank rules by Friday, it may face further fines by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The marina in Kailua-Kona was recently fined $3,000 by the EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health for violations of underground fuel tank rules.

The marina, which fuels boats, didn't have leak detection devices on its tanks and failed to upgrade or close its substandard tanks by a 1998 deadline, according to the EPA.

It isn't known if the violations caused a fuel leak.

A hole the size of a pin can release 400 gallons of fuel in a year, enough to contaminate millions of gallons of fresh water, according to the EPA. To prevent leaks, federal law required all regulated underground storage tanks to have protective equipment by last December.

Program for new moms receives federal grant

Prenatal and postpartum care services for mothers and their children in Hawaii recently received a grant of $523,500 from the National Health Start Initiative, thanks to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

The funds go to Malama A Hoopili Pono Project, which provides community and culture-based care for expectant and new mothers.

"This unique project will save young lives by ensuring infants receive the critical health care services they need at the very early stages of their development," Inouye said. "It gives infants a healthy start in life and the chance to reach their full potential."

The Malama A Hoopili Pono program, developed this year on the Big Island as a pilot project, specifically targets Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino women.

Families get to return to renovated housing

Seventeen families have begun returning to units at the Maile II after a 14-month, $4.25 million reconstruction of the Waianae rental housing project.

Renovation of the 30-year-old housing began in August 1998, and residents will see dramatic improvements over their older models, said Donald K.W. Lau, executive director of the state Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawaii.

The improvements include vaulted ceilings, exterior foam insulation with a stucco finish, and landscaped open areas with irrigation systems and playground equipment.

Lau said the renewed community will provide a stable living environment for families who can't afford a safe, decent and affordable home.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Electric Co. presented a $30,000 rebate check to the state for solar heating units that were added in the modernization project.

Maile II is a federally subsidized rental project .

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers

Medical examiner IDs victims of two crashes

A 23-year-old Waialua woman killed Saturday night in a car crash outside Wahiawa has been identified by the medical examiner as Shannon Hirota.

Also identified was the man killed Saturday on Fort Weaver Road when his car slammed into a city bus: Vernon James, 39, of Kalihi.

The medical examiner has not yet identified a man killed early yesterday when his car ran a traffic stop sign and broadsided a van at the intersection of Kaukonahua Road and Kamananui Road.

E-mail to City Desk

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