Former USS Arizona Memorial worker claims corruption

(Via KHON)

A former park guide at the USS Arizona Memorial is stepping forward with allegations against management and a lawsuit.

KHON2 first reported in March that tour companies were selling tickets when they’re supposed to be free.

Earlier this week, several reports revealed that top managers either knew or were involved.

John Landrysmith worked as a park guide at the USS Arizona Memorial for three years. As a war veteran, he said it was his dream job.

“To be able to tell people from around the world why this place was so significant and why it was so important was one of the most fulfilling things I ever did,” he said.

Landrysmith welcomed visitors and distributed tickets, but in 2013, he says management began telling workers to set aside tickets for tour companies.

“This made it incredibly hard, because this would mean the next day when we would open the doors, and in many cases before we would even have people inside the facility, we would be out of tickets for the entire day,” he said.

Landrysmith said managers told staff the money would be used to help improve the park, which he says never happened. He reported his concerns to a manager.

“The next day, I was called into the office and given a verbal warning for insubordination,” he said.

Landrysmith also claims his former employer made the situation difficult for him and changed his work shift.

Attorney Michael Green will be filing a lawsuit naming four managers at the USS Arizona. His client wants the people who allegedly knew about the wrongdoing to be held accountable.

“It kind of makes me sick to my stomach,” he said.

Paul Deprey, National Parks Service superintendent, told KHON2 he could not comment on issues related to employees under the National Park Service’s privacy policy and that “nothing has been submitted to the National Park Service related to this at this point.”

Deprey said park officials evaluated the program, uncovered problems and corrected them immediately.

“We’ve taken several steps over the past, well since January really, to improve how we operate the program and improve how the program, the ticket reservation program, can provide improved services to our visitors,” he said. “I think that those stand as examples of us recognizing when there are problems and taking appropriate actions to respond to those problems in an appropriate manner.”

“Do you want your job back?” KHON2 asked. “If they offered it to me, I would take it,” Landrysmith said. “I very much would like to have my job back. It was quite an honor as a veteran to be able to continue to honor those men.”

Landrysmith left his job earlier this year.

Community concerns raised for Kalihi Safety is top issue for residents

(Via KITV)

Could gangs be back in Kalihi?
An increase in violent youth is just one of the concerns for the Kalihi community.

Parts of North King Street are still dim, five months after 55-year-old Dominador Aguilar Junior was hit and killed along the Kalihi road.
Where he died a set of brighter LED lights went in over the crosswalk, but residents wait for the rest of the dark road to be lit up.

“There have been fatalities here in Kalihi in the past few months on over a quarter-mile strip of road. We just want to make the situation better,” said Daniel Holt, the chair of the Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Board.

The city has plans to switch the lamppost lighting to the brighter LEDs, buy a timetable to do that hasn’t been given to the community.

Dim streetlights aren’t the only reason Kalihi is going through a dark time.

“We are having youth violence, gang violence. It seems to be centered around Farrington High School,” stated Holt.

Violence has some worried about a resurgence of gangs and the problems they bring.

“Residents are seeing more of the weapons and more of the fights,” stated Debbie Spencer-Chun with Adult Friends for Youth.

“There have been big fights. A woman said the youth were running through the housing project with knives and a handgun. When it gets to that level something needs to be done,” said Holt.

On Monday, a teen reportedly pulled out a gun on the Kalihi street. But just as surprising was the reaction from other teens.

“They’re not afraid when it comes to fighting. Recently there was firearm branded and nobody ran,” said Malakai Maumalanga, with Adult Friends for Youth.

In fact, many gather around. Crowds of spectators come out to see the violence. They are even given advanced notice of fights or challenges, posted on social media by gang members.

Kids have been taught how to use this technology, and they are using it to do negative behaviors: Posting inciting messages and challenging people to fight from other communities.

To help deal with the increase in violence, a task force formed to bring together those impacted by it, and those who may be able to reach the teens themselves.
The group says combating the violence will be a challenge, without any city or state funds while some in the community don’t even want to admit there is a problem to begin with.

City to inspect outfall pipe at Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant

(Via KHON)

Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant

Early Thursday morning, the city will inspect the flap gate at the end of an outfall pipe at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The inspection, which will take place from 1-5 a.m., requires the use of a deep-diving manned submersible.

City officials say the inspection is unrelated to last month’s wastewater spill, which involved 5,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilling into Honolulu Harbor and 20 million gallons flooding the plant’s interior.

Flows will be held back during low flow hours. The city anticipates no disruptions to water, sewer or roadways while crews perform the work.

The 84-inch outfall pipe transports primary treated effluent from the plant to a depth of 240 feet and approximately 2.3 miles off shore to blend back into the environment.

The plant services residents and businesses from Kuliouou to Salt Lake, including Kahala, Kaimuki, Waikiki, Manoa, Makiki, downtown Honolulu and Kalihi.

Pearl Harbor park workers allege poor maintenance, mismanagement

(Via KHON)

USS Arizona Memorial

Several new reports are casting a shadow over Hawaii’s most visited tourist site.

Based on interviews with USS Arizona Memorial workers, reports posted by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility allege shoddy conditions and mismanagement at the historic park.

KHON2 first reported in March that tour companies were selling admission tickets to the memorial which are supposed to be free to the public. In these reports, workers say top park managers were complicit in the activity.

There’s also concern over poor maintenance of the memorial, the superintendent’s chronic absenteeism and low morale of employees.

Following these reports, there was no investigation by the National Park Service. The park service tells KHON2 that it’s been working with the memorial to make sure everything is running smoothly.

HFD honors everyday heroes

(Via Hawaii News Now)

The Honolulu Fire Department held a ceremony Thursday to honor those who put their own safety at risk to help others. Only, most of the honorees were not firefighters, they were ordinary citizens.

Their exploits were extraordinary.

“No way I can repay them. They gave me the biggest gift anyone can have” Dennis Tomasu said. 

He was in attendance to give thanks to the crew of the Manoa District Pool. On February 19th, Tomasu suffered cardiac arrest while swimming. He was saved by the quick thinking and acting of those at the pool. Off-duty Fire Fighter III David Stackhouse, along with Pool Manager William Gardner, lifeguards Kaysha Izumoto, Shanda Lee, Crystal Tamura, and Melanie Tsuruda saved Tomasu.

Izumoto administered the CPR. “I just had to remember how many compressions to do. I made sure I was counting out loud and that it was deep enough” she said.

Other stories of heroism ensued.

Australian tourist Raffi Bankbekian was swimming in the Sheraton Waikiki pool in March when he noticed a small Japanese boy floating face down. He grabbed him and got him out of the water. Nearby, Straub nurse Kimm Goshi sprung into action, performing CPR successfully.

Both recalled the incident. 

“There wasn’t a moment of pause, just go into action I guess. At the end of the day, it was a child there, and you’d do it for anyone’s child I guess” said Bankbekian.

“That he survived and I was a part of that is really rewarding. That’s why I got into nursing, to help people” added Goshi.

On July 13, Wayne Mason led a charge to rescue an elderly woman from a house fire in Kalihi.

“It’s just something people should do. If something happens, if they can help, go for it, don’t just stand there” he noted. 

Also honored were Jeremy and Joshua Macomber and Ms. Muriel Macomber.

On May 14 Mr. Kevin Ko entered the Ala Wai Canal and rescued the victim of a car accident.

On May 31, 2014, while off duty, Fire Fighter III Mark Inay and Mr. Eugene Dobler entered a hazardous automobile accident scene to render aid to the victims.

Inay deflected the attention.

“To see my neighbor or somebody down the street step up to help somebody in need, it makes me feel good because it justifies what I do just to see them doing it for somebody else”.

Authorities searching for Laumaka inmate — Fernando, 24, was serving time for burglary

(Via KITV)

HONOLULU —Inmate Eric Fernando failed to return back to the Laumaka Work Furlough Center after work Thursday morning, according to the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

Fernando left Wednesday morning and he was supposed to return at 3:30 am Thursday. Sheriffs and HPD were notified.

Fernando is 24 years old. He is 5-feet-6-inches-tall and weighs 130 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

He was serving time for burglary. His next parole hearing was scheduled for December. Once found, escape will be added to his charges.

If seen, please call 911 or Sheriff Dispatch at 586-1352.

Work furlough inmate Eric Fernando fails to return

(Via KHON)

Eric Fernando
Eric Fernando

Inmate Eric Fernando failed to return to the Laumaka Work Furlough Center after work Thursday morning.

Fernando left Wednesday morning and was supposed to return at 3:30 a.m. Thursday. Sheriffs and the Honolulu Police Department were notified.

Fernando is 24 years old. He is 5’6″ tall and weighs 130 lbs. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

He was serving time for burglary. His next parole hearing was scheduled for December.

Once found, Escape 2 will be added to his charges.

If seen, please call 911 or Sheriff Dispatch at 586-1352.

Developer team to remodel, expand Mayor Wright Homes

(Via KHON)

Hawaii Public Housing Authority has announced the selection of a private development company to remodel and expand the Mayor Wright public housing complex.

Hunt Companies was chosen to be the lead developer that will transform Mayor Wright Homes into a mixed-used residential complex, looking to increase the amount of rental apartments to about 1,200-1,500.

Other members of the master developer team include McCormack Baron Salazar and the Vitus Group. The team reportedly has collectively designed, planned, funded, developed, constructed and managed 91 similar multifaceted projects, as well as more than 2,000 affordable housing projects across the country.

“All of our tenants are protected by federal law,” said HPHA’s Hakim Ouansafi, “and an area plan we will negotiate will include making sure that they are relocated until the project is completed.”

The state says that public meetings for input on development plans will be held before any construction begins.

There is no word yet on when construction will start.

Mayor Wright Homes is a federal low-income public housing development that has been in use for more than 60 years.

It was built in 1953 and previously modernized in 1984.

American hero visits USS America

(Via Ho’okele News)

Capt. Robert A. Hall, commanding officer of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), hands USS Arizona survivor Lauren F. Bruner, a command coin Oct. 23 after an all-hands call in the ship's hangar bay. U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jonathan A. Colon

USS America (LHA 6) Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -Sailors and Marines aboard the newest amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) held an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay during a visit on Oct. 23 from Pearl Harbor survivor, Lauren Bruner, 93.

Bruner was serving on naval battleship USS Arizona when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. As Bruner shared his stories of being a young 21-year-old fire control rangefinder on Arizona, and earning a Purple Heart for his heroism, America’s crew listened in awe.

His body was 70 percent burned from the flames he encountered during his escape that day. According to many of Bruner’s doctors, it is a miracle that he is still alive and able to share his remarkable story.

“It’s a real pleasure to come and see what the Navy is doing now as opposed to when I was in 70 years ago,” said Bruner. “Good to see you young fellas doing it right, especially seeing [women] on board. We didn’t have that when I was in.”

Surviving an event like the bombing of Pearl Harbor gives Bruner more initiative to share his story with Sailors currently serving in today’s Navy.

“It was a privilege hearing from him,” said Airman Allen Freeman. “His story made me realize just how much our veterans sacrificed for us and how special the camaraderie is between our shipmates.”

Bruner is only one of 10 known Arizona survivors left, which made his visit to America that much more significant.

During the ceremony, Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr., commanding officer of America, thanked Bruner for his service to the country and for the opportunity to hear his personal account about the infamous day in our country’s history.

Following the all-hands call, Bruner signed photos and took pictures with members of the crew and toured the ship’s flight deck.

“Hearing his stories about what he did and what he accomplished is truly special,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Cameron Weisenberger.

“You can read books or watch movies about what happened, but to have someone who was there tell you about it really puts it into perspective. You can feel what they went through,” he said.

USS Columbus welcomes Air Force civic leaders

(Via Ho’okele News)

Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jacob Bierman explains the torpedo room operations aboard the Los Angeles-class, fast attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762) to members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program. U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Jason Swink

Submarine Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

The crew of the Los Angeles-class, fast attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762) recently welcomed members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program as they toured the submarine Oct. 16 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The group of approximately 30 civilian community leaders from across the United States, serves as a volunteer advisory panel to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Mark Welsh III. The group’s purpose in Hawaii is to learn more about the Pacific rebalance, experiencing a firsthand look at multiple service operations in the Pacific.

The group was escorted by the vice commander of Pacific Air Forces, Maj. Gen. Paul McGillicuddy and Brig. Gen. Kathleen Cook, director of Air Force Public Affairs.

“Today is a wonderful day to showcase USS Columbus,” said Cmdr. Albert Alarcon, Columbus’ commanding officer, upon greeting the advisory group.

“It’s essential for leaders to gain perspective of what the submarine force is capable of accomplishing and, most importantly, to showcase the talent and capability of the young men that proudly comprise Columbus’ crew. My intentions are to showcase that very talent as you tour the ship today,” Alarcon said.

During the tour, Sailors talked about their spaces, their responsibilities, and duties aboard the submarine. The guests had the opportunity to see and hear about daily operations on the submarine, including the control room, the torpedo room and galley.

For Caleb Chandler, a civic leader from New Mexico, this was his first chance to meet with Sailors on an active submarine.

“It’s been great, very informative,” said Chandler. “We’ve learned some things you wouldn’t really think about until you hear

Sailors say, ‘This is how we do this.’ We really appreciate this visit.”

Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Jacob Bierman from Columbus’ weapons department was enthusiastic in explaining his role on board to the guests.

“The crowd seemed genuinely interested in the information that I presented to them,” said Bierman from Grand Haven, Mich. “It’s cool to see their reactions to what kind of information that we were telling them, and they were very appreciative.”

The senior uniformed Air Force officials were equally impressed.

“It is an amazing tour,” said Maj. Gen. McGillicuddy. “Seeing the Sailors and what they do, and how proud they are of what they are doing, it’s just amazing how across all the services we have great Americans signing up to do these jobs.

“It is great Americans doing great things for the country. I couldn’t be more proud of what we are seeing here today,” he said.

The strategic impact that submarines and their crews play to the security of the nation was also noted by Cook.

“In this area of responsibility, it is extremely important that you are great at what you do, and it is clear to me after this visit that every one of those Sailors is impressive,” said Cook.

“It is very comforting to know that with a significant mission like this, you have Sailors out there that absolutely know what they are doing.”

Cook said she is amazed at how young many Sailors are, entrusted with one of the nation’s greatest assets.

“These Sailors are younger than my children,” added Cook. “But their professionalism and the manner in which they explain their equipment, it all comes across in what they do.”

Kay Yeager, a civic leader from Wichita Falls, Texas, said she appreciated getting to see other military branches and the chance to get a glimpse of what submariners do.

“This gives me a great sense of admiration for the men and women who do this,” said Yeager. “They have the stamina to stay under the water as long as they do without seeing daylight.”

After taking some final questions from the tour group, Alarcon concluded with remarks about the life blood of the ship.

“Columbus has a strong reputation for operational success, and it comes down to the great effort that our crew exerts every day,” said Alarcon. “The lasting impression that I want to leave with you leaders today is how great my crew is, the men that I am so proud of every day.”

USS Columbus is the 51st Los Angeles-class submarine and the 12th improved version of this class, which includes a vertical launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles and an improved hull design for under-ice operations.

The ship completed a post-shipyard maintenance availability period in June 1994 in Groton, Conn. after initial construction and shakedown operations. In September 1994, Columbus conducted an inter-fleet transfer to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force.

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