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Councilman tapped for Morita’s post

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Kauai County Councilman Derek S.K. Kawakami yesterday to represent House District 14 in the state Legislature. The district covers Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa and Waipouli.

Kawakami fills the seat vacated by former Rep. Hermina Morita, who was recently confirmed as chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission. He is a nephew of the late House Speaker Richard Kawakami and former Rep. Bertha Kawakami.

Kawakami will leave his seat on the Council, where he serves as chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Kawakami has served on various boards which include the Kauai Police Activities League and the Lihue Business Association. A Kauai High School graduate, Kawakami earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Chaminade University.

Once Kawakami is sworn in as a House member, the County Council will hold a special meeting to select a new member to fill his seat.

Isle-based Marine dies in Afghanistan

A Hawaii-based Marine from California was killed during the weekend while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said yesterday that Lance Cpl. Harry Lew of Santa Clara, Calif., died Sunday in Helmand province. The military says the incident in under investigation. The 21-year-old was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.

Inert ordnance brought to fire station

Police have reopened Farrington Highway after Army bomb experts removed unexploded ordnance, later found to be inert, that someone delivered to the Waianae Fire Station shortly before noon yesterday.

Farrington Highway was closed in both directions between Waianae Middle School and Kaupuni Street. The highway was reopened at about 12:30 p.m.

Fire spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said a resident brought what appeared to be a military round to the fire station in the back of a pickup truck. The round was inert, Seelig said.

Governor picks new court appointee

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has appointed Maui District Judge Rhonda Iwalani Lai Loo to a 10-year term as a Maui circuit judge, his office announced yesterday.

Loo, 49, a graduate of the University of Hawaii law school and a former Maui deputy prosecutor, would fill the vacancy left by Joel August, who recently retired.

The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

“This appointment is a natural step forward for Judge Loo, who has worked hard over the years in serving within the state’s court system,” Abercrombie said. “She is committed to continuing her judicial service in Maui.”

Abercrombie initially appointed Maui attorney Joseph Wildman to the post from a list submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission, but Wildman withdrew his nomination. He said he was grateful for the appointment but withdrew his nomination “because of an unresolved situation” at his prior law firm.

Under the state Constitution, Abercrombie must make his selection from the list. Unlike his predecessor, Linda Lingle, Abercrombie is not disclosing the names of the others on the list from the commission.

PSAS up for vote

The public is invited to vote online for their favorite health-related public service announcement created by Hawaii teen filmmakers. Voting for the Voters’ Choice Award runs through April 15. Go to and click the Teen Video Awards link. Voters need a YouTube account. HMSA received more than 200 video entries this year.

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