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By Paul C. Curtis

KAUAI, Hawaii (The Garden Island, Dec. 31) - A young Princeville resident formerly known essentially locally as a budding young surfing star became an inspirational hero to the world for the way she survived a harrowing shark attack.

Bethany Hamilton, 13, went from small-island obscurity to international superstar as a result of the Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31 attack in waters off Ha‘ena on the North Shore.

Much more than the attack itself, though, it was her upbeat attitude, her faith in God, and the love from and for her family and friends that helped propel her to superstardom.

She made both the New York and Los Angeles talk-show circuits, found time to surf in both California and back on her native Kaua‘i, and essentially resumed something approaching a normal life despite the fact that she lost nearly her entire left arm in the attack.

And although Associated Press reporters on O‘ahu tabbed her story as one of the top sports stories in the state this year, the girl's story is much bigger than just a sports story on Kaua‘i.

The Garden Island staff as a unit covered the story from the morning of the event, and continue to follow Hamilton's story. We brought readers the exclusive story of Holt Blanchard, whose daughter Alana was surfing with Hamilton that morning and who likely saved Hamilton's life.

Of, course, lots of other news happened this year, including things that were newsworthy for not occurring.

The good news was that there were no murders this year, and we again dodged anything close to a hurricane during the annual six-month Pacific hurricane season.

A Jack Harter Helicopters crash in July claimed five lives near Wai‘ale‘ale, including pilot Mark David Lundgren of Puhi.

Brayden Mohica-Cummings of Kapa‘a wins admittance to The Kamehameha Schools as the result of prevailing in a lawsuit. In an agreement with school officials, his attorneys work out a deal to allow the 12-year-old, non-Hawaiian child to remain at Kamehameha at Kapalama Heights on O‘ahu until he graduates. The court cases and decisions inflame many members of both the Native Hawaiian community and those outside it.

A Kapa‘a man successfully kept a low profile, while his daughter attended Kapa‘a Elementary School under an assumed name, for five years, until someone discovered he might be a kidnapper who allegedly abducted his daughter from his former wife in Florida. Earlier this month, Jon Bryan, 45, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of concealing a child contrary to a court order, in the case involving Angeline Bryan-Hoercher, 11.

Beach access, commercial development and the war on drugs took spotlights on the island at various times of the year, with four people arrested on trespassing charges while trying to access the beach near Papa‘a Bay Sunday.

Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste, serving his first full year in office in 2003, made the controversial decision to remove homeless Kauaians from county beach parks.

Former United Public Workers union president Gary Rodrigues was convicted of nearly 100 criminal counts for allegedly defrauding the union and members of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is a Kapa‘a resident, and was sentenced in October. Daughter Robin Rodrigues Sabatini, 39, also a Kapa‘a resident, received a four-year prison sentence earlier this month for her part in the alleged crimes.

Andy Irons of Hanalei made history for being the first Hawai‘i resident to win back-to-back world professional surfing titles.

Lloyd Polarin Albinio Jr., 24, of Kapa‘a, fired two shots inside the terminal at Lihu‘e Airport, and was arrested on terroristic threatening charges.

Here is a brief look at some of the other news items of 2003, by month:

January: Jonathan Kanuni Viado finds $30,000 in cash, and gives it back to the person who lost it. Former Waipake resident Gary Baldwin makes a plea agreement in his fraud case involving an Arizona eye surgeon. Ian Costa is named county planning director. Shanna Pollard is named publisher of The Garden Island, and Dr. Lee Evslin is named chief executive officer of Wilcox Health.

February: the first member-elected board of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative is sworn in. Retired Honolulu car dealer James Pflueger is arraigned in Hanalei court on charges of conducting un-permitted grading work on his family's land near Pila‘a.

March: a fire destroys the administration building and other classrooms at Wilcox Elementary School; arson is suspected. Roy Nishida is named the county's anti-drug coordinator. Grove Farm representatives announce plans to construct a surface-water-treatment plant to provide needed water to the Lihu‘e area. Lihu‘e's Jeanette Otsuka Chang of Otsuka's Furniture & Appliances in Kapa‘a is named U.S. Small Business Administration small business person of the year for all of Hawai‘i. Kaua‘i native Alicia Malia Michioka is first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant. Baptiste sends his first county budget to the County Council, $95 million for operations and $17.7 million for capital improvements. Dennis Fujimoto, TGI sports editor and photographer, is named statewide media advocate of the year by nominators from the state Department of Human Services' Vocational Rehabilitation & Services for the Blind division.

April: ground is broken for the U.S. Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) facility at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Kekaha. The second phase of the West Kauai Technology Center opens. Takashi "Tak" Nishii returns to Princeville Corporation, this time as president. Gary Baldwin gets probation, makes restitution, in his fraud case involving a Phoenix eye surgeon. He has since moved to the Pacific Northwest.

May: Justine Michioka accepts the crown of Miss Hawaii USA 2004, given to her by sister Alicia Michioka, the 2003 winner. Both are Kaua‘i natives. Gene Martin III, 9, of Kapa‘a, dies after being hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. The County Council approves a $97.3-million operating budget and $19.4-million capital improvement project budget. The annual Kaua‘i Visitor Industry Charity Walk brings in $96,000. Kaua‘i native Gen. Eric Shinseki, the U.S. Army chief of staff, retires. Lloyd Polarin Albinio, 24, is convicted of first degree terroristic threatening. Operators of the Poipu Beach Hotel announce plans to rebuild and reopen the facility shuttered since Hurricane ‘Iniki in September of 1992. Matt LeBlanc, one of the stars of TV's "Friends," weds model girlfriend Melissa McKnight at an estate overlooking ‘Anini Beach.

June: Beth Tokioka is named director of the county Office of Economic Development. Darius Yasay, 17, of Lawa‘i, dies in a one-car traffic accident near the intersection of Koloa and ‘Oma‘o roads. The first Aloha Airlines nonstop flight from Oakland, Calif. to Lihu‘e arrives at Lihu‘e Airport. The problem of homeless folks living at county beach parks is first discussed at a meeting of the County Council. Kendall Lemn Jr., 19, of Anahola, dies in a one-car crash in Anahola. The first three graduates of Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha charter school get their diplomas: Uimalamalama Kelley, Hi‘ipoilani Kanahele and Kawaimana Kanahele. The cheapest for-sale home on Kaua‘i is $249,000. An air-defense missile test fails when the interceptor missile misses the target missile fired from PMRF. A visitor, 56, drowns at Po‘ipu. Ground is broken for the next 40 units of affordable rental apartments at Kalepa Village in Hanama‘ulu. Over 600 public-school students graduate. AT&T Wireless acquires Cingular on Kaua‘i. Scott M. Yonesaki becomes manager of Kauai Toyota.

July: Alexander & Baldwin purchases Kauai Lagoons. State Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers arrest one, cite 49 others for illegal camping, and dismantle a 300-book library in Kalalau Valley. Kapa‘a High School students begin classes with mandatory T-shirts as school uniforms. Baptiste travels to Japan with Gov. Linda Lingle on a goodwill trip. Puakea Golf Course opens with 18 holes of play. A drowning at Makua on Hanalei Bay claims the life of a Florida woman, 69.

August: a new public-school attendance policy for elementary children irks some parents. Donations come pouring in for Baptiste's war on drugs. Kaua‘i native Warren Haruki, president of Verizon Hawaii, retires. Pflueger is fined over $46,000 by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources for polluting Pila‘a. Over 400 people apply for the 100 jobs at The Home Depot. KIUC officials decided against buying the former Lihue Plantation power plant (which burns biofuel and diesel to generate electricity), but announce intent to purchase for $40 million the Kauai Power Partners unit that is currently delivering nearly half of the power consumed on Kaua‘i. Lingle visits Ni‘ihau, and calls for a no-fishing ring around the island to protect Ni‘ihau residents' fishing grounds.

September: Dee Crowell, Ray Paler and Jim Mayfield are elected to the KIUC board. Five are arrested in a Koloa drug bust. State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, announces plans to seek re-election in 2004. Takayuki and Sally Kimura of Kilauea are named the state's grandparents of the year. Hillary Duff, star of Disney Channel's "Lizzie McGuire," celebrates her 16th birthday on Kaua‘i. Charlie Hiramoto announces his retirement as Kaua‘i Fire Department chief after less than a year on the job.

October: Kaua‘i Police Department Chief George Freitas, the subject of many lawsuits brought by officers under his direction, receives a $200,000 severance package and retires. Home Depot opens in Lihu‘e. Hale Kauai is sold. The 1,000-acre Kukui‘ula development is once again before the Planning Commission. The state's Koke‘e State Park master plan calls for, among other provisions, an end to long-term leases at cabins in the park. Vandals topple gravestones at Lihu‘e Cemetery.

November: former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, a Republican, announces she will run for the state Senate seat currently held by Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau.

December: four people are arrested for trespassing on private property near Papa‘a Bay. Obayashi representatives announce they are selling their Sheraton Kauai Resort in Po‘ipu. A huge bodhi tree is cut down at Kaua‘i High School, prompting student and teacher protests. Dennis Furushima is named fire chief. Jim Furyk wins the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at the Poipu Bay Golf Course. A successful anti-missile missile test is recorded at PMRF. Aloha Airlines sells Aloha Island Air.

January 1, 2004

The Garden Island: www.kauaiworld.com/news



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