First Jimmy's Travel refund checks mailedThe first of three batches of refund checks for people who paid for Las Vegas trips through Jimmy's Travel has been mailed.
Between 150 and 200 checks have been sent out, according to Paul Kaneshiro, court fiscal officer.
The checks are accompanied by a handwritten apology from Jimmy K.S. Lee, who was sentenced to six months' imprisonment in November for misusing $784,694 of customers' money.
Each of 1,124 claimants who filed complaints against Lee will receive a pro rata share of a $200,000 bond he posted when opening his travel agency in January 1998.
That amount and $6,000 in restitution Lee has paid so far had been in an interest-bearing account until a court order authorized the fiscal office to withdraw the money and begin cutting checks.
A second set of payments will be sent out 2 years from Lee's November sentencing date. The final payments will be sent after five years.
Claimants who do not receive their first partial checks by April 3 should call 539-4338, a number set up for Jimmy's Travel victims.
Monthlong Ching Ming festivities for the Chinese community will kick off with a program at Manoa Chinese Cemetery on April 4.
Ching Ming festival begins
The Lin Yee Chung Association, the managing group for the cemetery, is sponsoring the program, which begins at 9 a.m. The public is invited. Among the scheduled events are performances by the U.S. Marine Band and the Royal Hawaiian Band.
Ching Ming is the traditional period, typically each April, when Chinese families visit the graves of their ancestors in a show of honor and respect.
Waianae fire shifts, threatens homesA stubborn brush fire, which had been creeping up Waianae Valley toward a state forest reserve since last Wednesday, changed directions last night and was posing a threat to property today.
"The key is preventing it from jumping," Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Richard Soo said. "We're using Piliuka Way as a firebreak.
"We don't want it to cross over to the makai side because there's a Hawaiian Home Lands subdivision there."
Firefighters had contained the spread of the fire by midmorning.
"It's still smoking but not spreading," Soo said. "We're trying to wet down the area, but it's dry, so it could flare up anytime."
Soo said the fire had been slowly moving toward the mountain from Wednesday through Saturday, but a change in the wind direction last night caused it to shift.
Helicopters from the Fire Department, state and military were assisting ground companies with today's firefight.
Burning tour bus starts brush fire south of HiloHILO -- A brush fire started by a burning tour bus 45 miles south of Hilo in the Kau district has burned about 400 acres, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense director Harry Kim.
Kau police said they received unofficial reports from firefighters that it could be considerably bigger.
The fire began about 3 p.m. yesterday when the bus caught fire in the Kapapala area. Police said flames were coming from the bus at the time the fire jumped to the brush.
No one was injured on the bus, and no damaged structures were reported in the isolated area. Highway 11 though the area was closed from 4 to 8 p.m., holding up 200 cars, Kim said.
Smoke was also bothering residents of Wood Valley, about two miles away, but night winds cleared the smoke, he said.
The fire spread on both sides of Highway 11, but the portion below the highway was contained by daybreak, Kim said. The portion above the highway remained active, with two bulldozers on site cutting firebreaks in an attempt to stop the fire.
No homes were threatened, Kim said.
Officers raise $1,400 for Special OlympicsOff-duty police officers raised $1,400 for Special Olympics yesterday as waiters in a "Tip-a-Cop" benefit at Red Lobster Restaurants in Waikiki.
The officers were to volunteer as waiters again today from 5-9 p.m.
Police, Fire, Courts
By Star-Bulletin staff
Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers
Back safe on land again
Nanakuli man arrested after fight at WaimanaloA 35-year-old Nanakuli man was arrested early today for attempted murder after he allegedly drove his car at a relative, breaking the victim's leg.
The incident at 41-178 Huli St. in Waimanalo occurred shortly before midnight. Witnesses told police the suspect and his 21-year-old nephew began arguing over cigarettes during a family party. The argument erupted into a fistfight. The younger man was bitten above one eye and suffered a possible fractured arm in the fight. The suspect then got into his car and drove it toward his nephew. A cousin, 24, attempted to stop the suspect and was struck by the car.
The suspect struck a retaining wall and mailbox while fleeing the scene in his car. He was arrested at 1:35 a.m.
Schofield soldier dies after scuba accidentA 23-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier died yesterday in a scuba diving accident at Mokuleia.
He was diving with friends at Mokuleia Army Beach, across from Dillingham Air Field, but was separated from the group by a large wave, authorities said. His friends later found him on shore.
Car strikes, kills cows; no one in car injuredTwo cows were killed and another injured early today when they were struck by a car on Kamehameha Highway near Kahuku Hospital. No one in the car was seriously injured, police said. The collision occurred at 3:15 a.m.
Nimitz-Puuloa collision leaves 1 dead, 2 hurtSpeed and alcohol appear to be contributing factors in a two-car collision at North Nimitz Highway and Puuloa Road early yesterday that killed one man and seriously injured two others, police said.
A 44-year-old man driving a 1987 Ford Mustang on Puuloa Road that collided with a Mazda sedan traveling west on North Nimitz Highway was pronounced dead at Queen's Hospital shortly after the collision was reported to police at 4:05 a.m. Two people, ages 24 and 17, who were in the Mazda are in Queen's Hospital in critical and fair condition, respectively.
Tree cuts power, blocks part of Tantalus DriveGusting winds caused a large tree to fall on Tantalus Drive early today, striking a car and knocking out electrical power to 20 homes in the area.
The car was totaled, but the occupants, including two infants, escaped injury, police said.
The tree, which fell at about 1:30 a.m., blocked a section of the roadway on the 3800 block of Tantalus Drive for over six hours.
Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman Fred Kobashikawa said repair crews spent the morning restringing a 4,000-volt transmission line that was brought down by the tree. Power had still not been restored by midmorning.