State roundup for June 25


Contract signed to study Lihue bypass

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — Kauai County has signed a contract with an engineering consulting firm to review a route for a Lihue bypass, but some county commissioners are questioning whether the project will be built.

The Kauai County administration last week signed a $450,000 contract for the study with engineering consulting firm SSFM. The county’s portion of the contract is $90,000.

Councilman Tim Byrnum said afterward he initially supported the project because he was told the route would support the island’s next landfill. He’s since been told that may not be the case, he said, and he and others wanted the bypass delayed.

“I don’t support this project at all,” Bynum said. “I hate throwing away $100,000 of our taxpayers’ money.”

County engineer Larry Dill said the project would be a significant benefit to a Maalo landfill.

There are no assurances from the state Department of Transportation that money will be available for the bypass, which could relieve traffic in Lihue, he said, because the agency would not promise money for projects a decade into the future.

The estimated cost of the bypass is $46 million.

Consultants in the first phase of their contract will collect information on existing roads and land use. The final phase will review possible routes and include preliminary engineering, right of way cost estimates and potential permits and clearances needed.

Ken Tashima of the Department of Public Works said a bypass could be 5 to 7 miles long. The study is part of the process to determine if it’s feasible.

“We don’t even know if federal highways is going to even fund this,” Tashima said.

Councilman Gary Hooser questioned why borough administrators would not use $100,000 to explore options to alleviate Kapaa traffic. It’s the worst on the island, he said.

Dill said the bypass is a necessary project that would benefit the county and has support from the state.

Kauai resident Darla Cox tells The Garden Island (http://bit.ly/16uJZnL) that she has lived on the island for a decade and has seen traffic on Kuhio Highway between Kapaa and Lihue go from “a little bit better to worse.”

“It’s horrible — it’s really horrible, actually, especially going toward Kapaa town,” Cox said as she shopped at the Farmer’s Market at Coconut MarketPlace.

She travels the route almost daily, she said, and allocates at least 30 minutes for the drive. It used to take 20 minutes, she said.

Authorities identify hiker who died in fall

HONOLULU (AP) — The hiker who died in a fall in the Koolua Mountains was a 23-year-old woman who moved to Hawaii about a year and a half ago.

Elizabeth Tarpey arranged the hike Saturday on the Puu Manamana hiking trail and was with two others.

Aaron McClendon tells KITV-TV (http://bit.ly/14t96Gi) that Tarpey, a third friend and he had been hiking about three hours when the accident occurred.

He says Tarpey stepped on loose soil and fell.

He says he was behind her and watched her fall about 100 feet into dense foliage. Authorities estimate she fell 300 feet in all.

The Honolulu Fire Department lifted her by helicopter to Queen’s Medical Center, where she died.

Man sentenced to 20 years for girlfriend assault

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A 29-year-old Maui man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for injuring his pregnant girlfriend over six hours.

The Maui News reports Isaiah Shim in a plea deal pleaded no contest to counts including sexual assault, kidnapping and terroristic threatening.

Defense attorney James Brumbaugh at sentencing Friday called for a 10-year prison term. He says the 25-year-old victim spent several hours in a hospital but was not seriously injured.

He acknowledged that Shim on April 1, 2012, hit the woman with a pipe, burned her with a cigarette, squeezed her toes with pliers and sexually assaulted her with a beer bottle but said nothing in Shim’s past indicated he was violent.

Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro says Brumbaugh’s account minimized the victim’s physical, sexual and psychological torture.

2nd Pan-STARRS telescope to be operational in July

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — The second Panoramic Survey Telescope And Rapid Response System telescope at Maui’s Haleakala volcano is expected to be operational next month.

The device is one of four powerful telescopes the University of Hawaii plans to set up to detect large asteroids and comets heading toward Earth.

The first Pan-STARRS telescope was installed at Haleakala in 2010. A comet spotted by the telescope came close enough to Earth to be visible with binoculars earlier this year.

The Maui News reported general contractor Armstrong Pacific has successfully retrofitted the old University of Tokyo Magnum observatory to accommodate Pan-STARRS-2.

The company raised the foundation, replaced structural steel and upgraded mechanical and electrical systems to support the new telescope.

The working conditions at the site 10,000 feet above sea level presented challenges for the 30 workers on the project.

The altitude affected workers, as did the cold, the rain and the sleet, said Kevin Keller, Armstrong Pacific project manager. They had to work closely and communicate with cultural advisers. And there was a 1 hour 45 minute one-way commute, he said.

Still, workers were able to complete the $2 million project on time and under budget, he said.

Keller said in an interview last week that unlike most jobs there were “zero tolerances.” The anchor bolts and mechanical and electrical work “had to be perfect.” When the crane picked up the telescope, “it fit perfectly in place,” he said.

The addition of the second Pan-STARRS telescope will create “by far the most powerful wide-field imaging system in existence,” said Nick Kaiser, principal investigator of Pan-STARRS at the UH Institute for Astronomy, earlier this year.

The Pan-STARRS design combines relatively small mirrors with very large digital cameras to create a viewing system that can observe the entire sky several times each month.

Sentencing postponed in Waikiki gas station scam

HONOLULU (AP) — Sentencing has been postponed again for a co-defendant in a scheme that stole credit card information at Waikiki gas stations.

Akop Changryan (CHAN’-gree-ahn) was to be sentenced Monday. But because of a scheduling mix-up, it’s been postponed to next week. Prosecutors say he installed skimming devices at four gas stations, while co-defendant Vardan Kagramany (kah-gra-MAH’-nee) served as the lookout. Jurors convicted both men of identity theft after they were extradited to Hawaii from California.

Kagramany was sentenced last week to 20 years in prison. The judge said the two men must pay more than $157,000 in restitution.

A spokesman for the Honolulu prosecutor’s office says they belong to an Armenian organized crime network.

Changryan’s sentencing was postponed last week because his lawyer said he needed time to speak with him.

 

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