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State / In Brief

April 18, 2011
The Associated Press

Bill would require stores to fix pets

HONOLULU - Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would require pet stores to sterilize cats and dogs before they're sold.

Advocates for House Bill 243 say it would reduce feral cat suffering due to overpopulation and lower the number of animals euthanized by shelters.

Inga Gibson, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said Hawaii has a large number of feral cats, which can lead to starvation for some animals and the spread of disease.

Gibson said the sale of unsterilized cats is one of the causes behind feral cat colonies. The Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife says feral cats also threaten the state's endangered birds.


Mourners gather to honor blast victims

HONOLULU - About 50 mourners gathered to remember five men killed in an explosion that tore through a fireworks bunker.

People bearing flowers and cards attended a memorial Thursday evening just outside a road leading to the Waikele site of the April 8 blast, which also left one man injured. A small caravan of cars then transported immediate family to the explosion site.

Authorities said the blast occurred as workers were dismantling fireworks inside.

The bunker, where seized fireworks were stored before being destroyed by Donaldson Enterprises Inc., still holds explosives that make it too dangerous for investigators to enter.

Officials and family have identified the victims as Bryan Cabalce, 25, of Wahiawa; Robert Freeman, 24, of Aiea; Neil Sprankle, 24, of Mililani; Justin Kelii, 29, of Kaneohe; and Robert Leahey, 50.


Military and Tesoro simulate Hawaii spill

HONOLULU - Members of the military and petroleum refining company Tesoro are preparing for how they would respond to a catastrophic oil spill.

The Coast Guard, Navy and other government officials on Thursday simulated their reaction to a hypothetical oil discharge at Barbers Point Tesoro Single Point Mooring.

The Coast Guard says more than 160 people participated in two weeks of drills and training leading up to Thursday's simulation.

The National Preparedness Response and Exercise Program is conducted every three years to satisfy federal oil pollution response exercise requirements.


Soldier found guilty of murder after trial

HONOLULU - A Schofield Barracks soldier was found guilty in the murder of a civilian contractor on a U.S. base in northern Iraq.

The Army said Thursday that Spc. Beyshee Velez, of Cleveland, was found guilty of shooting and killing contractor Lucas Vinson last year.

The trial was held at Wheeler Army Airfield.

Velez, who served three tours of duty in Iraq, was also found guilty of pointing a loaded weapon at three other contractors and fleeing authorities.

The presiding military judge sentenced Velez to 26 years, reduction to lowest enlisted grade and dishonorable discharge.


Four Hawaii college chancellor finalists

HONOLULU - A Hawaii Community College chancellor search committee has named four finalists for the position.

College officials said the finalists will visit the campus this week and speak at public forums in Hilo and Kona.

The candidates are Alexander Capdeville, a professor in the adult and higher education programs at Montana State University; Daniel Bain, president of Independence Community College in Kansas; Noreen Yamane, Hawaii Community College's interim chancellor; and Kathleen Curphy, most recently provost for Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

Public forums for the candidates are to be held on the Manono campus in Hilo on Tuesday and on the West Hawaii campus in Kona on Wednesday.


Suspected gambling room in city facility

HONOLULU - A Honolulu gambling room where police say a man was beaten to death is in a building owned by the city.

KHON reported Thursday that Marin Tower is a city-owned apartment building with businesses on the ground floor. Chinatown Business and Community Association President Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock says the building attracts criminals.

Four men have been indicted in the murder of 42-year-old Nuc Pham. Police say he was beaten to death over a gambling debt.

Charged with murder are Maauga Imoa, Alexander Nguyen, Manu Tonga and Sione Vulangi. Witnesses told police the four men work for or are somehow connected to the gambling room.


Dead whale washes ashore on Big Island

HILO - A badly decayed whale carcass about 35 to 40 feet long has washed ashore in the Big Island's Puna district.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported last week that the whale was too far away from the road to be towed away and too far away from the ocean to be pulled out to sea.

Officials were hoping the whale will either decompose at the remote site near the Wai Opae tide pools, or be carried away by high tide.

Marine biologists believe the same carcass - believed to be of a humpback whale - showed up partially submerged against the Hilo breakwater March 6.

David Schofield, a marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the whale has been on and off the reef for a couple of weeks.



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