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Quince Mento Retires From the Hawaii County Civil Defense

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Quince Mento has announced his retirement effective tomorrow (Dec. 1). In his place, John T. Drummond, an administrative officer at Civil Defense, will serve as interim administrator.

Quince Mento (Photo Hawaii 24/7)

Mento, 53, is a Hawaii Island native and 1976 graduate of Konawaena High School. He has been in charge of keeping island residents safe from natural and man-made dangers for three and a half years. Prior to his appointment, Mento worked his way up through the ranks of the Honolulu and Hawaii County Fire Departments from firefighter to assistant chief.

“I’ve spent 29-and-a-half years in public safety, and it takes a toll on you,” said Mento, who added he has no immediate plans except to relax for a while. “This job is 24 hours a day and I need to start thinking about my health.”

Mento said he is proud of the advances Civil Defense has made in the time he has led the seven-person operation. “I think we’ve made some major improvements in the notification system, communications technology and relationships with partner agencies,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the privilege of serving our island and I hope I’ve made some impact.”

Using the word “hectic” to describe the position of the Civil Defense administrator, Mento would not say the job is the toughest among his fellow state directors, but added that situations are unceasing. “Flash flooding, hurricane warnings, lava flows, earthquakes, tsunamis, vog alerts, brush fires,” said Mento. “It is incessant in terms of what is going on.”

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said the retirement of Mento is a significant loss for the county. “It has been an honor and privilege serving with Quince,” said Kenoi. “He is going to be sorely missed and it’s going to be tough to fill his shoes.”

Mento and his wife, Joanne, have two children: Cullen is a freshman at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Grayson is a junior at Hilo High School.

Drummond, who has worked at Hawaii County Civil Defense for more than three years, will serve with the assistance of Police Chief Harry Kubojiri and Fire Chief Darren Rosario during the 45-day search for a permanent replacement.

“We expect to have a new administrator in place by mid-January,” said Mayor Kenoi. “But I expect a smooth transition from Quince, to John and then to the new administrator.”

Volunteers Honored at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Someone once said that volunteers aren’t paid because they are priceless, and the phrase rings true at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, where a total of 1,058 volunteers have logged a cumulative 88,499 hours of priceless service this year. That’s the equivalent of 43 full-time equivalent employees.

Ed Shiinoki

Ed Shiinoki

The park’s volunteer program encompasses nearly every task imaginable.  Volunteers plant endemic seedlings and remove invasive species. They identify and protect sea turtle nesting sites and steer newly hatched turtles to the ocean. Others enlighten visitors by providing guided treks, sharing information at the Kīlauea Visitor Center, or leading cultural workshops. Some help by archiving resources in the park library, or go out in the field to log and protect archaeological sites. Several work in the backcountry maintaining trails, while others help out by filing and tallying volunteer program hours.

Alana McKinney

Alana McKinney

These volunteers are deeply appreciated and relied upon by visitors and staff all year long, but were officially celebrated at a luncheon today in the park. Alana McKinney, Marcy “Minky” Markowitz, Charlie Ricketts and Dave Boyle received special plaques for giving 10,000 hours of service, and Ed Shiinoki and Charlene and Amos Meyers were honored for completing 5,000 hours of unpaid service.

Amos Meyers

Amos Meyers

“My job description is to just help,” says Ed Shiinoki, who spends much of his time leading guided hikes, assisting curious visitors at the visitor center, and building trails, and trail signs. Shiinoki says sharing the dynamic environment of active volcanoes, science and the Hawaiian culture with visitors in a moving, memorable way provides him with a strong sense of joy, and satisfaction.

Charlene Meyers

Charlene Meyers

Shiinoki lives in Volcano and Honolulu, and began volunteering in 2007. He feels a deep connection to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. “This is my pu‘uwai, my heart. Now I belong to the park,” he said.  But volunteers aren’t required to commit as much time as Shiinoki and his colleagues, who are all retired.

Charlie Ricketts

Charlie Ricketts

Volunteers can contribute as little as four hours a week and make a huge difference. Some, like Nell Nunn, complete three-month assignments then move on to volunteer at other national parks across the country.

“I love to travel and to volunteer,” Nunn said. “It gives me the opportunity to get to know parts of the U.S. And I increase my own learning every time I interact with a visitor.” Today marks Nunn’s last day with Hawai‘i Volcanoes, then she’s off to El Morro National Monument in New Mexico.

Dave Boyle

Dave Boyle

“The park’s history was written by volunteers from the very beginning,” said Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “People who love this place have worked hard for nearly 100 years to protect it and educate others about it. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, like other national parks, has been sustained significantly by the donated time of volunteers,” she said.

The park provides dormitory-style housing for a few volunteers from the mainland and other countries, and gives them a small meal allowance. Married couples who volunteer together can share a room in park housing. All volunteers receive training, supervision, and assistance by park employees.

Partner organizations also help the park immeasurably. The Hawai‘i Natural History Association provides funding for volunteer housing, transportation and utilities, as well as funds programs for interpretative walks and talks, backcountry patrols, and endangered species projects aimed at nēnē, hawksbill sea turtle (honu ‘ea) and Hawaiian petrel (‘u‘au) recovery.

The Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and its “Connect People with the Park” efforts focus on education, volunteerism and philanthropy. The Friends group holds monthly Volunteer Forest Restoration Projects, plus raises funds for two critically endangered species via the Nēnē Recovery Project and the Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project.

Citizens interested in volunteering at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park may visit www.volunteer.gov/gov, or contact Laura Williams at (808) 985-6304 or email her at laura_williams@nps.gov.

Washington Man Dies in Possible Drowning on the Big Island

A 60-year-old Washington man died Wednesday (November 30) while swimming in waters fronting White Sands Beach in Kailua-Kona.

He was identified as Michael Gene Harvey of Centraila, Washington.

At 8:09 a.m., Kona patrol officers responded to a report of a body floating off shore. By the time officers and firefighters arrived at the scene, the man had been pulled to shore by bystanders but was unresponsive. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:45 a.m.

Police do not suspect foul play. They have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Video: Eating the Worlds Hottest Chili Pepper – The Jolokia Chili Pepper

Jamie Kocher, CEO of the Waimea Bay Chili Pepper Company, and www.BambooandTikis.com, eats the largest and most spiciest part of the Bhut (Naga/Ghost) Jolokia Chili Pepper and this old man almost dies.

Eating the World's Hottest Pepper

Eating the World's Hottest Pepper

The Bhut Jolokia holds the Guinness Book of World Record’s title as the hottest pepper. Jamie personally grows these peppers organically in Hawaii. For hours he writhes in the burning pain from the back heat of the world’s hottest pepper.


To purchase organic seeds or learn more about the chili pepper health benefits, or how to grow them please visit


2011 Keiki Slippah Project Underway

For folks that don’t know Lynn Vasquez-DelCerna (AKA Auntie Pupule = Twitter @pupule ) she has run the Keiki Slippah Wish Project on a volunteer basis for the last few years now.

What started as a small gift to the kids in Mayor Wrights Housing where she used to live because she was tired of seeing the kids run around barefeet has spread across the entire Hawaii Island chain.

Lynn Distributing Slippahs

I asked her about how many slippahs she has handed out and she stated:

“Last year, I stopped counting after 5,000. The estimated amount exceeded 50,000+

I asked her if she wanted to thank anyone in particular for the help that she has received over the years and she stated:

Everyone involved deserves a SHOUTOUT! We do from our hearts for those less fortunate than ourselves. Christmas is a time of sharing, giving, a time for the children to be happy.

Dreams and Wishes comes true; you just gotta believe!

So if you would like to donate to this project, I’m sure she can use assistance in all forms, especially folks on outer islands with a truck.

Check it out they are non-profit:

… In Nov. 2009, with the help of another legendary local woman, Kehaulani Watson, we began the process of setting up The Slippah Foundation, a genuine 501c3 nonprofit corporation! The board consists of Lynn, Kehau and me. We have incorporated, held our first meeting of the board, and are now in the process of getting a Employer Identification Number (EIN), after which we can set up a “real” bank account, when it will become “official.” When that happens, we’ll announce it loudly to the world, right here on slippah.org – Blaine Ferguson

Big Island Carbon Names Chief Operating Officer

Big Island Carbon in Kawaihae on Hawaii’s Big Island has named Dr. Frederick S. Baker as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

Big Island Carbon COO Fred Baker.

Big Island Carbon COO Fred Baker

“Dr. Baker comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be put to good use as we complete the testing phase and ramp up manufacturing of premium granular activated carbon at our plant,” said Big Island Carbon CEO Rick Vidgen.

Amongst other responsibilities, Dr. Baker will oversee day-to-day operations at the carbon plant to ensure that the highly technical processes at Big Island Carbon achieves the desired end result – production of premium grade, specialty granular activated carbon.

Among his many areas of expertise, Dr. Baker has been awarded more than forty U.S. and foreign patents covering the production and applications of activated carbon, carbon fiber, and lignin materials with another six U.S. patent applications on carbon fiber in the USPTO pipeline.

He is recognized in the industry as an expert in the mechanisms of chemical and thermal activation of carbon and how to manipulate process conditions to tailor product properties to specific applications. Dr. Baker holds a Ph.D. in Surface Chemistry, a Bachelor of Technology degree in Applied Chemistry, and professional affiliations including Fellow, Chartered Chemist, and Chartered Scientist in the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a Fellow and past Chairman of the American Carbon Society.  He was most recently a Member of the Distinguished Research Staff at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

About Big Island Carbon, LLC
Big Island Carbon is a high technology start up company with $40+million in venture capital funding that is bringing macadamia shell from Big Island macadamia processors together with new technology modified to fit specific requirements. Two major processes convert macadamia shell feedstock, currently a largely unused byproduct from macadamia processing, into granular activated carbon (GAC) in a biomass conversion process. The plant is located in Kawaihae on Hawaii’s Big Island on land leased from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Big Island Carbon was selected to represent the County of Hawaii in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Hawaii Host Committee’s 2011 Hawaii Business Innovation Showcase November 7 to 13, 2011 in Honolulu. Learn more at www.BigIslandCarbon.com

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 17-Year-Old Female

Big Island police are searching for a 17-year-old girl reported as missing from Hilo since November 7.

Brittney Willet-Chaves

Brittney Willet-Chaves

Brittney Willet-Chaves is described as Hawaiian, between 4-foot-8 and 5-foot-4, between 80-120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a red tank-top.

Police ask that anyone with information on her whereabouts call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Wordless Wednesday – FATTY’S

Fatty's Chinese Kitchen... a hole in the wall restaurant in Waikiki