Stories by Caleb Loehrer

Safari pilot had licensed revoked

LIHUE — The pilot of the helicopter that went down near Koke‘e a month ago had his license revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2010 for drug use but was issued new certifications a year later and rehired after completing a substance abuse treatment program.

Notable mistakes by county employees

LIHUE — Four times a year, county officials issue a report on claims filed by Kauai residents whose property was damaged by government employees. Here are some of the incidents in 2019 that led to financial settlements.

Firefighters call for transparency

LIHU‘E — The Kauai Fire Department’s union representatives called for greater transparency in the long-delayed process of selecting a new chief and said the county Fire Commission may have overstepped its bounds by hiring former KFD Chief Robert Westerman on an 89-day contract to fill the role he left vacant after retiring a year ago.

Rental car company owner says investigation unfair

LIHU‘E — The state Office of Consumer Protection is investigating a Lihu‘e rental car company after a review of one customer’s contract revealed “numerous violations” of state laws, raising suspicions that the business “was likely engaging in unfair or deceptive acts,” according to court documents.

Whistleblowers: FAA refused to inspect Safari helicopters

A Federal Aviation Administration employee says his managers prevented him from conducting an investigation of Safari Aviation, the charter helicopter company whose sightseeing tour ended in a fatal crash near Koke‘e that claimed seven lives on Dec. 26.

Property tax bill fails

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council on Wednesday killed a proposal to increase property taxes for around 200 Kauai residents with rental properties.

From the lifeguard tower

Parker Keawe Smith and Mattaniah Millbrand are lifeguards for the Kauai Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau. They work on the North Shore, chasing drowning strangers on jet skis in some of the scariest seas in the world. In winter, when the big swells roll in, it’s a life or death job on a daily basis.

$24M found in DOW pensions

LIHUE — The Kauai Department of Water pension fund holds $24.6 million, almost all of which is excess funding. That money comes from water service rates and fees, both of which have risen significantly in recent years.

County dumps need work

LIHUE — The County of Kauai is continuing work to get the Kekaha Landfill up to state Department of Health standards after receiving a warning letter from the DOH in November.

Council amends TVR bill 2767

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council on Wednesday approved amendments to a bill that would increase property taxes for certain vacation-rental owners.

Land developer sues county

LIHUE — A North Shore property owner is suing the Kauai County Planning Commission over its refusal to allow him to develop 134 acres of agricultural land in Moloa‘a.

Resident unhappy with county tax refund

LIHUE — A Kapaa resident recently found out she had overpaid on her property taxes by thousands of dollars over the past seven years due to a clerical error at the county finance department, whose officials have admitted they made a mistake but declined to refund about half of the money.

Audit finds $6M in unreported funds

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism failed to report over $6 million to the state Legislature as required by law, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Auditor’s Office.

Shipping company seeks rate hike

The shipping company Young Brothers is trying to raise rates for the second time in two years, and some farmers fear the proposed 34% increase will devastate agriculture and livestock businesses.

Tax hike proposed for some TVRs

LIHUE — A bill that would increase the property taxes of Kauai residents with TVRs on their property was met with opposition Thursday.

Omao man accused of murder prepares for trial

LIHUE — A pair of bloody shorts and other items recovered from the home of an Omao man accused of stabbing his landlady to death will be admissible as evidence in his upcoming murder trial.