KIF Board to meet on delayed game

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation Board will meet this week to determine the ruling on the premature end to Saturday evening’s high school football game at Vidinha Stadium.

The contest between Kapa‘a and Kaua‘i was suspended at the start of the fourth quarter due to an error with the programming of the stadium lights. Kapa‘a was leading 7-6.

The coordinator for football, Jon Kobayashi, and the athletic directors “will review all pertinent rules and regulations that govern football and situations such as this,” Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said Sunday.

The board, which consists of the three public high school principals, will then review the findings from the ADs and make a decision on the matter, he said. A press release will be issued once a decision is made, Arakaki added.

The game, which started at 4:45 p.m., was supposed to end with the lights on but referees determined it was too dark for the players to safely finish the game. County Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapazo, who was reffing the game, managed to turn the light banks on the west end on, but the east side’s lights remained off.

“The league fully supports the officials as the health and safety of the athletes is of the utmost concern and importance,” Arakaki said. “We appreciate the understanding, patience and cooperation of everyone involved as the league looks into the ruling and determines the outcome in resolving the situation.”

The county, which is on probation from the U.S. Department of Justice, needs to turn the lights off earlier at its parks and stadiums to avoid accidentally killing threatened Newell’s shearwaters and endangered Hawaiian petrels.

The seabirds’ fledgling season runs from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15. During this time, artificial lights can attract the young shearwaters when they are flying at night. This can disorient the birds, causing them to circle the light source until they become exhausted and crash to the ground where they can fall victim to dogs or other predators.

From 1993 to 2008, the population of Newell’s shearwaters on Kaua‘i declined by 75 percent, according to conservation groups.

The county is still in the process of securing the permits that would allow a certain number of incidental “takes” so long as a habitat conservation plan is in place to minimize harm to the birds.

But until that license and plan are approved, the county can be fined thousands of dollars per bird for violating federal laws.

The county in September 2010 entered into a plea agreement with the DOJ after agreeing to be charged with a single misdemeanor count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. With a minimum of 18 bird deaths documented by the Justice Department, the county would have faced a maximum fine of $450,000 for Endangered Species Act violations and a $270,000 fine for MBTA violations along with the prospect of up to five years probation, according to an earlier county news release.

As part of that plea deal, the county has taken a number of steps to reduce the impact to the birds, including shielding the lights at Vidinha Stadium.

An exact date of the KIF Board meeting had not been set by press time Sunday, but Arakaki said the athletic directors are expected to meet today to start their review of the rules.

• Nathan Eagle, managing editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 227) or neagle@ thegardenisland.com.

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