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Firefighter honored for rescue effort

The Coast Guard honored a Honolulu firefighter with its highest public award last week for his efforts in trying to save five Coast Guard crewmen of a helicopter that crashed in the ocean in 2008.

Firefighter Alika Winter received the Distinguished Public Service Award.

The Coast Guard also awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award to the Honolulu Fire Department for its immediate response, dispatching all available crews to the crash site offshore.

Winter risked his life the night of Sept. 4, 2008, trying to rescue the crew of an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. He repeatedly dived into the water near the wreckage, which was unstable and in danger of sinking.

Cmdr. Thomas Nelson, Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Wischmeier, Petty Officer 1st Class David Skimin and Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Nichols died in the training accident three miles south of Honolulu Airport.

Volunteers tidy Pearl Harbor streams

More than 200 soldiers, sailors and volunteers from civic groups cleaned up the banks of two Pearl Harbor streams of weeds and trash on Saturday.

The participants spent about two hours along Kapakahi Stream on Waipio Peninsula and Puuloa Natural Spring near Blaisdell Park in Waimalu, beginning around 8:30 a.m.

Participants included sailors from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and soldiers and civilians from Wheeler Army Airfield.

Several groups, including Hula Halau Olana, Aiea-Pearl City Business Association, Pearl City Lions Club, Geotech Solutions and Waipahu High School also were to provide volunteers. The city Department of Environmental Services organized the event.

Coffee pest might require quarantine

State agriculture officials are weighing a quarantine on the shipment of green coffee beans from South Kona due to an infestation by a pest called the coffee berry borer.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported yesterday that since the bug’s presence was confirmed early last month, 21 areas of infestation have been identified, most in South Kona, with one as far east as Waiohinu.

Hawaii had been one of the few remaining coffee-producing areas in the world that had not been infested by the borer, a small African beetle which has been known to cut crop production by up to 20 percent.

Lyle Wong, plant industry administrator with the state Department of Agriculture, said Friday an advisory committee would meet soon to recommend a quarantine.

A quarantine means that green, or unroasted, beans would have to be treated with heat or an insecticide before they could be shipped off the island.

Wong said such an interisland quarantine would probably not contain the pest.

"There are other ways for the borer to move," he said. "It can hitchhike on a vehicle, for example."

Maui hospital to retool its monitor gear

Maui Memorial Medical Center will receive $2.5 million to finance the design, construction and equipment to upgrade its patient monitoring system.

The money is part of $4.5 million the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. received from the state for hospital improvements. The rest of the money will go toward the design and construction of a new parking lot at Maluhia Hospital on Oahu.

Star-Advertiser staff and news reports

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