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State / In Brief

February 24, 2013
The Associated Press

$3M donation gives boost to UH studies

HONOLULU - The University of Hawaii has received a $3 million gift in support of cancer and oceanographic research.

The university said recently that its cancer center and the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology are each receiving $1.5 million from the Denise B. Evans estate.

Oceanography graduate student Yoshimi Rii is among those receiving fellowship money because of the gift.

She said that the funds will give her financial security for the rest of her time in graduate school. She said that the money will give her the freedom to pursue research ideas that wouldn't have been able to study otherwise.

Cancer Center Director Dr. Michele Carbone said that gifts like this one allow the school to quickly build a world-class cancer research program that will benefit Hawaii and the greater community.


86 tons of waste in Oahu recycling drive

HONOLULU - A month-long drive to recycle old, unwanted phone books on Oahu has generated nearly 86 tons of recyclable waste.

Officials for Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages and its sales agent say more than 170,000 directories were deposited at four drop-off points at malls around the island.

Officials say the directories will be recycled in several different ways. Some of the books will be used to generate fuel for Hawaiian Electric Co.

The drive is part of a "Think Yellow, Go Green" campaign also happening in other states, including Alaska, Kentucky and Nebraska.


Native moth species cause of defoliation

HILO - State officials say many trees in mature koa forests of East Hawaii are losing their leaves due to a sudden, sharp increase in a native moth population.

Koa trees between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level in the Hilo and Hamakua regions appear to be affected.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said recently that caterpillars of the koa looper moth are eating the leaves. But department Chairman William Aila said that past experience shows that koa forests can recover from such outbreaks.

The first outbreak documented in writing occurred in 1892. But oral accounts indicate that similar events occurred before. Nearly 25,000 acres of forest are currently affected.

The department is asking people to report koa defoliation and increased caterpillar or moth abundance observed outside the Hilo and Hamakua areas.


Hawaii buys hillside parcel in $1.2M deal

KAILUA, Oahu - The state of Hawaii has closed a $1.2 million deal with Kaneohe Ranch to buy more than 67 acres of hillside property in Kailua.

The deal announced earlier this month is part of an effort to preserve natural wetlands. The hillside includes gullies that drain rainwater into the marsh and the ocean.

Kaneohe Ranch pledged to sell the land to the state in 2009, and officials have since worked on securing funds.

Under the deal, the state will pay $450,000 and a federal program run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will pay $720,000.

Chairman William Aila of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources says the land is important for public education, recreation, endangered species restoration and watershed protection.


Moth to control plant invading ranches

KAMUELA, Hawaii - State entomologists are releasing about 1,000 moths at a Hawaii cattle ranch in an attempt to control a fast-growing weed that's toxic to cattle.

The moth is called the Madagascan fireweed moth. Its larvae eat the leaves of the fireweed plant that's making it difficult for ranchers to raise cattle.

The moths were released Wednesday at Kahua Ranch in Waimea. The state Department of Agriculture hopes to release more than a million moths this year.

The plant is native to Madagascar. It's not known when it was introduced to Hawaii, but it showed up in Big Island pastures in the 1980s. Officials believe fireweed came to Hawaii in mulch imported from Australia.

The weed is now infesting more than 850,000 acres on Maui and Hawaii islands.


Big Isle school employee fined $10,000

HILO - An employee of a charter school on the Big Island has been fined $10,000 for violating the state ethics code.

William Eric Boyd is an administrative assistant at Connections New Century Public Charter School in Hilo.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald said that the state Ethics Commission found Boyd guilty of 20 separate violations of the state ethics code and fined him the maximum allowable under the law.

Commission members determined that he filled out and approved multiple purchase orders for school supplies from businesses owned by him and his wife. The purchases covered items such as books, classroom supplies, custodial supplies and office machines.

Boyd has been ordered to pay the fine within 60 days. He is appealing.


Honolulu Zoo director set to resign post

HONOLULU - Honolulu Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo is resigning his post effective Friday.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's office earlier this month released Mollinedo's resignation letter.

Mollinedo said in the letter that he's proud that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited the zoo. He also said he's proud of the Honolulu Zoo's new entrance and elephant exhibit.

But Mollinedo wrote that he hopes the city focuses on giving the zoo more autonomy and authority over the Honolulu Zoo Society.

He says this would bring zoo governance into compliance with Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines. He says this is critical to maintaining the zoo's accreditation.

Mollinedo was head of the San Francisco Zoo before coming to Honolulu. He became Honolulu Zoo director in December 2010.


5 indicted for allegedly using fake cards

HONOLULU - A grand jury has indicted five New York residents accused of using fake credit cards at high-end stores on Oahu.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the five have been charged with 31 counts of identity theft and other crimes. The five have been identified as 22-year old Falyshia Pierre-Lys; 19-year-old Isatta Bassie; and 24-year-olds Shawnese Adams, Sean Khani and Tamel Vaughn.

They are accused of using fake credit cards over four days in April 2012.

The five are accused of racking up close to $325,500 in purchases from Honolulu retailers after checking into one of the Trump hotels in Waikiki.

Authorities say purchases were made at such high-end stores as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci and Neiman Marcus.



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