Hawaii Headlines

Kona pot dispensary opens

HONOLULU (AP) — A new medical marijuana dispensary plans to begin sales in Kailua-Kona today.

Hawaiian Ethos is the eighth and final licensed medical cannabis dispensary to receive approval from the state Department of Health.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the dispensary plans to open another retail center in Hilo.

Hawaiian Ethos communications director Diana Hahn said it’s taken the dispensary longer than it hoped to open, but she says it used the extra time to learn about local patients’ needs.

Hawaiian Ethos is the second dispensary to open on Hawaii island. Big Island Grown Dispensaries opened in Hilo in January and in Waimea in March.

The state legalized medical cannabis in 2000, but dispensary sales began just two years ago.

North Dakota

Couple goes from flower girl, ring bearer to bride, groom

MANDAN (AP) — A North Dakota couple who were kids at a wedding ceremony nearly 20 years ago are tying the knot themselves.
Renae Zachmeier and Daniel Schimetz were to take their vows Saturday at the Church of St. Joseph in Mandan.
Renae and Daniel are getting married in the same church where they met in 1999 when she was a flower girl and he was ring bearer.
Daniel was about 8 years old and Renae about 4 at the time. The Bismarck Tribune reports the couple only vaguely remembers the wedding and sharing their first dance.
The couple started dating in August 2017 and got engaged in June 2018.
Renae says, “If it wasn’t for that wedding, none of this would have ever happened.”

North Dakota Sports

McQuade softball tournament by the numbers

Bismarck Tribune

How does a person start to break down a softball tournament as large as the Sam McQuade Charity Softball Tournament? Well, just about everything can be broken down by numbers.
So, let’s crunch some numbers, starting with 0.57. That’s the amount of rain a storm dumped on Bismarck on Friday morning. Not enough to be a threat, just enough to act like a ladle dumping water in a sauna. That leads to 104, the estimated heat index in Bismarck this afternoon at the peak time of the tournament.
By then, some of the record 464 teams will be headed home, while others will have to find a way to beat the heat in between games. Umpire-in-Chief Mike Wolf says the number is the highest for any year without an international division. It’s the most gathered in Bismarck and Mandan for a single tournament.
Other numbers to note:
3: Tournament rainouts (1986, 2011, 2014).
7: International tournaments (Bosnia ’06; Baghdad ’07, ’08, ’09; Kosovo ’10, ’12; and Kuwait ’12.
472: Teams playing in 2010, including an international division.
15,784: Total number of teams to have played.
1.5 million: Dollars raised for charity.
Forty-Four and Counting
“They allow disabled players to play. I’ll be the disabled ump if I can’t get to 50.”
Umpire Al Ziemann of Mandan is determined to get to the half century mark for tournaments worked. Umping in the A/B Open division, Ziemann is the only umpire to have worked all 44 McQuade tournaments.
“It’s the camaraderie that keeps you coming back,” Ziemann said.
‘Family reunion’ for All Air Force Alumni team
When the guys who once played softball with Steve “Pup” Shortland get together for what amounts to a “family reunion,” it generally involves playing softball.
This week, the Washington, D.C., All Air Force Alumni team has its sights locked in on the McQuade Softball Tournament men’s Class A/B Open. The team made up of all Air Force alumni — and a couple of active-duty guys — will have a long way to come back after a 22-0 loss to Mandan Heartland Investors on Friday.
Shortland coached the All Air Force softball team for 17 years. The players on his roster this weekend all played for him before.
“It’s a reunion team of players that played for me,” said Shortland, whose team took first and second in the men’s Masters 35 in two previous McQuade appearances. “We chose to play Open because some of the younger guys wanted to be involved.”
The Air Force Alumni didn’t land in Bismarck by accident. A few years back, Shortland and his Team USA toured the area and met Jack Jones, who suggested his team try out the McQuade. After two successful runs, the team took a year off due to scheduling difficulties, then returned this year, with one goal in mind.
Seeing old friends a couple times a year is nice. But winning is the goal and the tournament has only just begun.
Four Generations
Ian Ely has more than just a passing interest in the McQuade tournament. The Century junior-to-be was a batboy for the Wounded Warrior team in 2014, but had to wait until this year to finally play.
Ely, son of Shannon McQuade-Ely, grandson of Sam McQuade Jr. and great-grandson of founder Sam McQuade Sr., finally go to take the field as part of Mandan’s Team Bang.
The team, made up of kids too young to play in Bismarck’s leagues but not Mandan, opened the tournament with an exhibition against the USA Patriots, former Wounded Warriors on Friday.
McQuade-Ely’s twin daughters played in last year’s tournament.
Wolf’s Den
Wolf’s neighbors know that when the McQuade tournament is in town, the ump’s home becomes a gathering place for visiting umpires. Umpire Brad Eiesenbeis is in his 30th year. He comes back yearly from Minnesota.
“There must be five or six campers. His neighbors block off the street,” Eisenbeis said. “Everyone gathers at Mike’s house. There must be 60 people staying there.”
That would be half the crew of 119 umpires from 16 states in town this weekend.
“I recruit year-round when I go to national events,” Wolf said. “They come here and they go tell their friends. They say you have to see it once. It sells itself.”

Hawaii Headlines

Removal of Haiku hiking stairs proposed by board

HONOLULU (AP) — A Honolulu city agency has proposed removing the popular Haiku Stairs hiking staircase that spans Oahu island’s Koolau Mountains.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said it could cost about $1 million to remove the staircase with 3,922 steps that attracts 4,000 people yearly, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

While it is extremely popular, the access that the staircase allows has been a cause of injuries and costly rescues of hikers, officials said.

Work to remove the stairs along the side of the Koolau Mountains in Kaneohe could begin next year and finish in mid-2022, officials said.

The water board owns most of the property where the stairs are located and said it spends $250,000 a year trying to deter trespassers from using them.

The agency cited safety and potential liability concerns due to the poor condition of the staircase’s lower half.

The city spent $875,000 refurbishing the staircase in 2002 in anticipation of a land transfer from the Coast Guard, which ended public stair use in 1987. But the exchange was not completed and the climb remains an illegal adventure.

Honolulu’s Democratic Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he would like the parks and recreation department to take possession, while also noting the need to “ensure the experience is made safer for hikers and first responders.”

Hawaii Headlines

Prosecutor: She ‘lies as easily as she draws breath’

Katherine Kealoha taken into custody after guilty verdict


The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Two U.S. marshals led a former Honolulu prosecutor out of a courtroom Friday when a U.S. judge ordered her detained after a jury found her guilty of conspiracy and he expressed concern that she could try to obstruct justice before being sentenced.

Katherine Kealoha left her purse with her defense attorney as the marshals approached to take her into custody after the bail hearing.

She “lies as easily as she draws breath” and will do anything to avoid consequences, prosecutors said in court documents seeking her detention.

“This defendant is a walking crime-spree,” Michael Wheat, a special federal prosecutor, told the judge in court, saying she holds sway with police and has tampered with grand jury witnesses in the past.

Her lawyer said Friday that the judge should consider that the 48-year-old Kealoha had previously complied with all the conditions of her release on bond during the trial.

“That has to count for something,” defense attorney Cynthia Kagiwada said. She also said there was no showing that Kealoha had engaged in obstructive behavior.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright interrupted: “We heard from 12 people yesterday.” In finding Kealoha and her husband, former police Chief Louis Kealoha, 58, guilty of conspiracy Thursday, the jury also determined they obstructed justice.

The jury also convicted two officers in a plot to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle Gerard Puana for the theft of a mailbox to discredit him in a family financial dispute.

Prosecutors said during the trial that the Kealohas were afraid the uncle would reveal fraud that financed the couple’s lavish life. Maintaining their power and prestige was a motive for the framing, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors didn’t oppose allowing Louis Kealoha, police Lt. Derek Hahn and Officer Bobby Nguyen to remain free on bond. The jury acquitted retired Major Gordon Shiraishi.

Louis Kealoha didn’t attend his wife’s bail hearing. They have appeared hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm when arriving at court since their 2017 indictment and during the trial that began in May.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence but legal observers believe Katherine Kealoha could get less than 10 years behind bars.

The Kealohas face another trial on bank fraud and identity theft charges involving allegations that she bilked relatives and children whose trusts she controlled.

Prosecutors say Katherine Kealoha stole from her now-99-year-old grandmother in a reverse mortgage scheme that forced her grandmother to sell her family home. They say Kealoha spent the money on Maserati and Mercedes-Benz car payments, a banquet when her husband became police chief and Elton John concert tickets.

Prosecutors say some was lavished on her firefighter lover.

Katherine Kealoha also faces a third trial on a separate indictment accusing her and her pain physician brother of drug dealing. She used her position as a prosecutor to cover up their crimes and protect her brother, the indictment said.

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Katherine Kealoha as the ringleader of the conspiracy. She invented an alias, Alison Lee Wong, to forge documents, and tried to have her grandmother declared incompetent to silence her, prosecutors told the jury.

Jurors watched a deposition from Puana’s mother, Florence Puana, who was unable to testify in court because of her failing health.

Gerard Puana testified that Katherine Kealoha came to them with an idea about taking out a reverse mortgage on her grandmother’s home to help buy a condo her uncle wanted. Kealoha said she would consolidate her debts — which prosecutors described as massive — and promised her uncle and grandmother that she would pay off the loan.

Wheat noted that Kealoha tampered with potential witnesses, including sending letters trying to convince them Alison Lee Wong was a real person.

“Well, it’s pretty clear who Alison Lee Wong is,” Seabright said. “It’s Katherine Kealoha.”

Kealoha had an innocent man incarcerated and tried to silence her grandmother “after engaging in an outright theft of their money,” Seabright said.

“To be clear, it was her own grandmother she did this to,” he said.

She also got her firefighter boyfriend to lie about their affair to a grand jury and convinced the man whose childhood trust she controlled that his mother would go to jail if he didn’t lie and say Kealoha gave him his money, Seabright said.

Attempting to obstruct justice is “Ms. Kealoha’s bread and butter,” Seabright said.

Kenneth Lawson, who teaches criminal law at the University of Hawaii’s law school, attended her bail hearing and said he knows how humiliating it is to be detained. He said he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining prescriptions to feed an opioid addiction.

Kealoha will “adapt” at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, he said, adding that like he did, she will be able to trade her legal expertise for “food and candy.”

Hawaii Sports

Wie to take off rest of the season

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Michelle Wie says she’ll take a break for the rest of the year to try to get healthy.

Wie had surgery on her right hand in October and tried to return in February, completing one tournament. She sat out a month and returned to the LPGA Tour’s first major and to her hometown event in Hawaii, both times missing the cut. After withdrawing from the U.S. Women’s Open, the 29-year-old Wie played in the Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National and shot rounds of 84-82.

In an Instagram post Friday, Wie says, “After doing everything I could to play this year, I have made the decision to take the rest of the year off from competitive golf.” She says that will be her best chance to “finally get healthy.”


Hailstorm destroys thousands of acres of crops

MADELIA, Minn. (AP) — Thousands of acres of corn and soybeans have been destroyed by a hailstorm that moved through southwest Minnesota. And, in some cases it’s too late in the season for farmers to replant.
Agronomist Steve Michels at Crystal Valley co-op in La Salle says dozens of farmers he works with sustained losses. Golf ball-sized hail fell during the storm that also generated three tornadoes June 20.
George Sill, who farms near Madelia, says he lost 150 acres of soybeans and 90 acres of corn with another 200 acres damaged to varying degrees. Sill says that for the crops that were destroyed you couldn’t even tell he had planted.
Michels tells the Star Tribune it’s too late for corn to be replanted, but soybeans can be replanted until about the first week of July.
Information from: Star Tribune,

Iowa Headlines

Court revives fired agent’s whistleblower claim

DES MOINES (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has revived a long-running lawsuit that claims a state agent was fired in retaliation for his complaint about speeding by the governor’s security detail.
The court on Friday ruled that a judge erred in dismissing a whistleblower claim filed by former Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Larry Hedlund. The decision sends the 6-year-old case back to a lower court for a trial.
The Department of Public Safety terminated Hedlund, a top criminal investigator, in 2013. The move came shortly after Hedlund had reported Gov. Terry Branstad’s vehicle for speeding and filed a complaint to superiors alleging it was a common and dangerous practice.
The department claimed that Hedlund had been insubordinate in unrelated actions.
On Friday, the high court affirmed a judge’s dismissal of Hedlund’s age discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.
The court’s majority says jurors could find the department’s treatment of Hedlund “petty, wrong, or even malicious” but not “outrageous.”

North Dakota Sports

McQuade softball tournament underway

BISMARCK — The 44th annual Sam McQuade Charity Softball Tournament started Friday with a record number of 464 teams participating. The three-day tournament features 15 different classes, from Women’s Recreational to Men’s Masters 50+.
There are 40 fields in use across seven complexes in Bismarck and Mandan with over 700 games to be played this weekend. Teams from all over the Midwest travel to the heart of North Dakota to take part.
The USA Patriots, formerly known as the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, played the 2019 McQuade All-Star Tourney Team on Thursday to kick off the event.
Proceeds of this continuously growing tournament are distributed to local charities and organizations.

Follow the Minot Daily Sports on Twitter @MDN_Sports.

North Dakota

South African workers fill Mandan area farm, ranch labor gap

BISMARCK (AP) — Jacque Myburgh is grateful to American farmers.
Since 2017, the 40-year-old native of Pretoria, South Africa, has worked on farms and ranches in the Dakotas under a federal work visa program for temporary agriculture workers. He helped the Hatzenbuhlers of Diamond J Angus west of Mandan with cattle and calving this winter before heading to his summer work on a South Dakota farm.
“It means a lot for somebody like me to have people like American farmers open up their doors for us to come work for them so that we can provide for our families back home,” Myburgh said in March, the day before he left for his new job.
Rancher Stephanie Hatzenbuhler said her family had trouble finding help for their farm and ranch — part of the larger workforce shortage racking North Dakota with as many as 30,000 job openings.
Hatzenbuhler has participated in the H-2A program for three years now, going through a third party for paperwork and arrangements for winter and summer seasonal workers, who are all South Africans.
For the most part, they’ve worked out, though the family’s selected worker for this summer broke his ankle the first day on the job and afterward took a trucking job for a Hoople-area farmer.
“You have to find the right guy, and there’s expense in everything,” Hatzenbuhler told the Bismarck Tribune .
Replacing her summer worker came amid the tough work of planting and calving, but she found a replacement from Williston who had been laid off, which was better than buying another plane ticket to bring a new worker from South Africa.
Winett Mackenzie, 20, comes from a farming background in Fouriesburg, South Africa, and will be with the Hatzenbuhlers until December. He became an H-2A worker for the farming experience and to see how North Dakota farms operate. He plans to return home to farm with his dad after two or three years in the U.S.
Myburgh also plans to spend three years in the U.S. before returning home to his wife, Tonia, and son, Kyle. He worked on his father’s farm until it sold, then had stints as a butcher, engineer and a worker in the jewelry industry, in which his wife worked as an importer.
He enjoyed farming and wanted to work in the U.S., both of which he’s been doing on winter and summer shifts for two years while providing for his wife’s courses in wedding and event planning and for his son’s schooling.
Hatzenbuhler said she knows a few other people who use H-2A workers. As an employer, she has to provide lodging and a vehicle for the worker. Mackenzie will be helping with planting, fencing, haying and harvest.
H-2A workers, mostly from South Africa, have been steadily increasing in the state the last two fiscal years, from 1,500 in 2017 to 1,700 in 2018, according to North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer, who also was labor commissioner until recently. The agriculture sector is a bit different when it comes to the statewide workforce shortage, she added.
“The ag workforce is an interesting thing to try to understand in North Dakota because it’s an industry where you don’t see the same type of employment practice as you would in non-ag-related industries,” Kommer said. Farmers and ranchers don’t often post job openings, she added.
Hatzenbuhler said she prefers workers with previous experience in the U.S. so she can call former employers with questions.
Despite a rocky start to this summer, she said, finding Mackenzie was worth the strain. She’s been happy with him.
“(When) these guys come here, they’re not partying or having fun with other South Africans, they pretty much live with you,” Hatzenbuhler said. “They want to work, so that is their main goal because they’re only here for so long and they have to go back, so you get a lot done with them.”