Hawaii News — Quince Mento Retires As Civil Defense Adminstrator

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.
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.
(Submitted by Bobby Command.)

Letters — From Kelly Greenwell, Regarding Roger Christie

Kelly Greenwell
PO Box 1779
Kailua Kona, HI 96745
November 30, 2011
The Honorable Judge Florence T. Nakakuni
U.S. Attorney
PIKK Federal Bldg.
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 6100
Honolulu, HI 96850
Dear Judge Nakakuni,
I have been asked to write you in defense of Roger Christie.  I am not able to comply simply because Roger Christie has committed no crime.  Instead the crime he is involved in was committed, as in so many thousands of other instances, by the very cartel that you represent.

A cartel that has supplanted justice with control and is quite arguably approaching the highest level of corruption since the dark days of prohibition.

You personally may not think that you represent this social phenomenon but you are none the less a member of that cartel.  The critical cause for alarm here however is not the injustice suffered by an American such as Mr. Christie or even the individuals directly involved with the transformation from justice to control, but instead the emergence of a nation of frightened and self-centered individuals too obsessed with their own survival to involve themselves in the prevention of the reoccurrence of a system that slaughtered six million members of its society for reasons no sane individual can possibly understand – less than one hundred years ago.

Mr. Christie comes from a community whose membership – at least those retaining enough hope to cast a vote in a recent election – mandated that he, by a 63% majority be left alone to continue his entirely transparent business of dispensing marijuana as an alternative to the poisonous swill that has caused so much real grief in our community, alcohol.

To hold this man in contempt of a law that only your cartel recognize as serious—without bail (a condition characterized only by the most heinous of crimes) is a gross and hideous miscarriage of justice and a blatant exhibition of control by your cartel.  I don’t need to explain why I am therefore writing to my community in an open letter to you rather than petitioning for Mr. Christie.

You, your Honor, share the daunting task, with Mr. Christie, of reversing this regrettable and reprehensible trend toward the loss of justice in our society and the restoration of the essence or spirit of law as afforded to every American by the Constitution of these United States.

I, of course, don’t have a lot of faith in your capacity to turn against the trend but I do know that if you fail to take up the challenge the scales of justice will tip toward totalitarianism and, as other nations are struggling to emerge from that very yoke, slip into the horrific mode that gripped Germany such a short time ago.

I do hope, for all of us, that you are presently considering how to frame an apology to our community for the profound affront to our wellbeing by the unjust treatment of one of our contributing members, and that you choose justice over the corrupting power of control and further that we all recognize the vital significance of this matter to our own survival.


Kelly Greenwell

Puna News — Highway 130 Meeting In Pahoa Thursday

Hawai’i Island’s District 2 State Senator Gilbert Kahele is hosting a Highway 130 update in Puna on December 1st 2011. 

 Building upon the recently completed DOT forum held in September, Hawai’i Island’s District 2 State Senator is using this forum to specifically address all State Highway 130 projects in Puna and to help clarify some of the issues that were addressed in September at the DOT Town Hall held in Keaau. Sal Panem, Hawai’i Island’s District Engineer will be the featured speaker and is expected to give a comprehensive report on Highway 130 and all transportation projects associated with the Puna Highway. Mr. Panem will also give a current status update and time line for both short term and long term projects.

“Highway 130 is my #1 priority in Puna. The feedback I received from the Transportation Town Hall I hosted in September was that those that attended felt not enough time was spent on Highway 130 and the information that was provided was not clear and concise. Several members of the community who have spent a significant amount of time on Highway 130 said they felt confused and unsure of the projects time line and specific details. I discussed this with the State DOT directors and we were all in agreement that we should go back to Puna and provide a presentation focused exclusively on Highway 130, and we are doing just that. We have decided to go into the heart of Puna and host this forum at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility on December 1st. My one request is that the community come out and attend this important meeting and we get as much participation and attendance from the forty thousand plus residents of the Puna District. Tell your family, friends, neighbors and community associations, if Highway 130 is important to you come out and attend this meeting, I am providing you, my constituents of Puna the opportunity to be heard, I hope to see you there” — Senator Gil Kahele

Kona News — Help Find Missing Kayaker

Big Island Police are searching for a 41-year-old kayaker reported as possibly missing.

Lance Oliver of Kailua-Kona was last seen at Kahaluʻu Beach Park on November 22. He was scheduled to travel north along the coast to the Mahukona Beach area, then south to the Puʻuhonua O Honaunau City of Refuge, and finally return to Kahaluʻu Beach Park sometime around December 12.

He is described as 6-foot-2, approximately 200 pounds with a muscular build and short brown hair. He left in an inflatable boat or kayak.

Oliver has no cell phone or other form of communication with him.

Police ask that anyone with information on his 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.
For full details, view this message on the web.

Letters — ‘Value of Hawaii’ Public Discussion At Basically Books Dec. 10

Wanted to let you know…
On Saturday, Dec. 10 at 11am Basically Books in downtown Hilo will host a public discussion about the future of Hawai’i. Written for a general audience and released in 2010, THE VALUE OF HAWAI’I features a range of expert voices that passionately discuss issues from tourism to agriculture, water rights to education, Hawaiian issues to the economy, homelessness, healthcare, and more. Please join co-editor Jon Osorio and author and educator Mark Panek for a public discussion of Hawai‘i political and social issues, what we value about our home, and our community’s power and responsibility to work towards a different future. Visit http://tvoh.manoa.hawaii.edu to learn more. Free. All are welcome.
Christine Reed
Basically Books
160 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, Hawaii 96720
808-961-0144, Fax: 808-935-1553
Toll-free: 1-800-903-6277

Island Events — Jennifer Welliver To Host Reading At Basically Books

In That’s NOT What Grandmas Are For and That’s NOT What Grandpas Are For grandchildren can enjoy activities and learn how to share chores with their grandparents through heartwarming stories about Hawai`i animals. Jennifer Welliver will read from her books and also share her new weight-loss book, Sip and Nibble.
Sat., Dec. 10, 2 pm
Basically Books
160 Kamehameha Ave., Downtown Hilo

Politics — Checking In On Helene Hale

93-year-old former Big Island legislator, Hawaii County Councilwoman, and Board of Supervisor Helene Hale is in good health and doing well, keeping abreast of local politics by reading the local newspaper daily. Here she is pictured with 9-month-old JJ at her Hilo home recently. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Sentiment — Thankful For The See’s Candies From VJ

Thank you for the See's Candies, VJ Bales!

Lately I’ve been pretty repelled by online life and, sad to say, disinterested in spending my limited free time publishing my thoughts on bigislandchronicle.com.

Today my husband came home with the mail and, in the pile, there was a box from See’s Candies.  The label read, “To Tiffany Edwards Hunt and family, Thanks for everything! Velma Bales.”

Velma Bales?! Could this be VJ Bales, who was the lifestyles editor for the Laramie Daily Boomerang when I worked there as a general assignment reporter?  We worked together in that newsroom more than a dozen years ago!

VJ Bales was such an inspiration to me.  I flash back to her, wearing her big-brimmed hats, dark sunglasses, and thick foundation.  I loved listening to her talk on the phone and hearing her hearty and infectious laugh resound through the newsroom. I flashed on images of her in the Boomerang newsroom as I read the See’s Candies label.

I was completely dumbfounded.  I have not spoken to this woman in years.  My brain just could not compute the fact that she had sent my family and me three boxes of chocolates from See’s, expressing gratitude to me.

I ate the candy and tried to Google information about VJ.  Nothing came up.  I tried variations of “Velma Bales” and “VJ Bales” and “VJ Reckling Bales” with “Laramie, Wyoming” in the search box.  The most I could find via Google was a Sept. 29, 1964 Lusk Herald obituary on VJ’s father, Dr. Walter Ervin “Doc” Reckling.  He was a physician and surgeon and community servant in Lusk, Wyoming, where my grandmother taught school for ranch families at one time.

I also found Velma Bales listed in the bibliography section of June Willson Read’s book on “Frontier Madam: The Life of Dell Burke, Lady of Lusk.”

Following my Internet search, I opted to try the telephone, calling directory assistance for Laramie, Wyoming.  Within a few minutes, I was dialing VJ’s number.  Then there was VJ answering the phone.  It felt like I was calling a ghost! It was haunting but intriguing all the same. As soon as I heard her alive and well, I shouted, “VJ Bales!” into the telephone.  “You must be 94!” Oops, I aged her by 10 years with my bad math. We had a wonderful visit on the telephone, going back a dozen years, and making a connection beyond our newspapering.

I honestly don’t know how we got on to the topic but, turns out, Velma Bales knew Ralph McWhinnie, a University of Wyoming registrar who wrote, “Those Good Years at Wyoming U.” When VJ first said Ralph McWhinnie’s name, I was just as floored as I was to receive the See’s Candies box in the mail from her.

Ralph McWhinnie’s  great niece is a friend of mine who I met while attending University of Wyoming in the early 1990s and who has in the last couple of months come to live out here in the islands.

If Velma was a friend on Facebook, she would have read about that in one of my status updates.  But Velma isn’t connected to the Internet at all.  She hasn’t even seen this website.  She gave me a dismissing laugh when I teased her about not having an iPhone.  She doesn’t have a computer.  She doesn’t even have a working television, she said. She said she gave up technology when she retired from the Laramie Daily Boomerang.  These days she uses a typewriter to work on drafts of a biography about her father.  She laughingly recalled a guy I don’t remember from the Boomerang back shop about being able to revisit the lineotype machine to set type.

Throughout our phone conversation, I was trying to figure out why Velma thanked me with three boxes of chocolates.  She said she appreciated my friendship at the Boomerang, things I said to her then, and my accomplishments since then as a writer.  She urged me to update my address and share my accomplishmemts with the University of Wyoming Alumni Association.  She said she knew my address at one time thanks to the Alumni Association, but her brother had to obtain my address “with his resources”, I presume she meant the internet, for her to be able to send the chocolates.

What a flashback from the past and generally an inspiring conversation this holiday weekend!  I can picture VJ Bales, nestled in her old brick house on Park, hunched over a typewriter, trying to find the right words to lead into details about the life of Dr. Reckling.  It’s nice to be reminded of Velma — or, VJ, as I know her.  Her byline was “VJ Bales,” and she was the one who knew about all the births, deaths, weddings, commendations and social occasions in Laramie for decades.

VJ was actually the one who taught me about community journalism and who gave me the book entitled, “Community Journalism: A Way of Life by Bruce Kennedy.”

How appropriate that one of my long-lost journalism grandmothers contact me at this time, reminding me of how I came to get involved in journalism and what it means to me, online and offline. In recent weeks I have been questioning this writing life in the age of the Internet.  I’ve had these ideations of dropping out of cyber life and rediscovering my handwriting with journaling.  But then Velma reminded me of the romantic life of the typewriter! I just have to wonder, where does she get her ribbon?

I guess we can thank the internet that VJ’s brother found my mailing address.  Now VJ and I are going to be pen pals, and I can rediscover the virtue hand-writing by catching her up on the last 12 years. Time to get working on VJ’s thank-you card. I’ll include this writing.

Hilo News — Alleged Counterfeit Money Scammers Arrested

(Media release) — Big Island police have charged two men in connection with an investigation into the manufacturing and passing of counterfeit U.S. currency in the Hilo area.

On Nov. 19 at about 10:38 p.m., South Hilo patrol officers arrested 24-year-old Chase K. Tam of Hilo and 27-year-old Alexander M. Barnett of Keaʻau on multiple counts of forgery after they were identified as allegedly using counterfeit currency for payment at a Hilo gas station.

Tam was charged Monday evening (Nov. 21) with one count each of first-degree forgery and third-degree theft. His bail was set at $5,500 and he made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in South Hilo District Court. On the same day, Barnett was released pending additional investigation.

On Wednesday (Nov. 24), detectives from the Criminal Investigations Section arrested Barnett again after their investigation uncovered information and evidence not known prior to his release on Monday. Barnett was charged Thursday afternoon (Nov. 24) with 36 counts of first-degree forgery. His bail was set at $360,000. He made his initial appearance Friday afternoon in South Hilo District.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

***Commentary*** A Suggested ‘Eat Local, Buy In The Village’ Campaign

This Black Friday I’d like to propose the following resolution, and I would greatly appreciate a member of our Hawaii County Council formally introducing it before the year’s end:

Resolution — by the Hawai’i County Council “Supporting Pahoa Village’s Eat Local, Buy In The Village” Campaign

Nov. 25, 2011

Council of the County of Hawaii

Res. —

A Resolution Acknowledging Pahoa As An Island Destination And Supporting Pahoa Village’s Eat Local, Buy In The Village Campaign

WHEREAS, historic Pahoa Village is eclectic and unique, with an old west facade and wooden boardwalk capturing a rich history of sugar cane fields, railroad transportation, lava flows that have wiped out nearby villages, and generally serving as a place for various heritages of people to congregate; and

WHEREAS, Pahoa’s contribution to the island’s history lies in the faces of old-timers, along with the post-and-pier, single-wall-constructed plantation-style homes and gardens filled with Christmas tree pagoda, anthuriums, orchids, hapu’u ferns, tangerines, avocados and other vegetation that sugar-cane workers shared; and

WHEREAS, Pahoa is unlike anywhere in the world and is considered a destination; and

WHEREAS, Jan Ikeda has had Jan’s Barber and Beauty Shop in Pahoa for over 60 years and Pahoa Cash N Carry has been in business for over 80 years;  and

WHEREAS, Paul Ogesawara and family have operated Paul’s Repair for decades and in recent years opened their second gas station and conveniee store at the family-developed Woodland Center; and

WHEREAS, In 2011, Kaleo’s won the Silver Medal  for Best Big Island Restaurant and a Silver Medal for Best Restaurant Value in the State of Hawaii in the annual Honolulu Magazine poll; and

WHEREAS, Paulo’s  Northern Italian Cuisine is a quaint little Tuscan style bistro on the Boardwalk for over 15 years featuring seafood and homemade pasta; and

WHEREAS, Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant is considered one of the island’s best Mexican restaurant and, in the same complex as the Mexican restaurant, the Luquin’s family owns the historic Akebono Theater, which is over 100 years old and is considered the first theater on the island and frequently hosts headliners in the island entertainment industry; and

WHEREAS, Pahoa boasts two Thai restaurants within a one block radius, being Ning’s Thai Cuisine and Sukothai Restaurant; and

WHEREAS, the outside wall of Sukothai Restaurant bears a mural of a goddess that covered an old mural of the infamous Pahoa boardwalk and those who have loitered on it for decades; and

WHEREAS, Pahoa Village boardwalk also includes Paradissimo Tropical Spa, a massage clinic, a tattooist, Boogie Woogie Pizza, an acupuncture clinic, certified public accountants Kirk Kirkendall and Nancy Kramer, eclectic and quaint boutiques; and

WHEREAS, among shops along the historic commercial section of Pahoa Village Road is Puna Buy and Sell, Puna Style, Sri’s Handicrafts and Lola’s Sexy Bowtik,

WHEREAS, Pahoa Village boasts Puna’s one and only surf shop, being that the lava has spared surfers one surf break called Pohoiki, at Isaac Kepo’okalani Beach Park.  Jeff Hunt Surfboards has been in operation for six years, while surfboard shaper Jeff Hunt has been shaping surfboards in Puna since the early 1980s; and

WHEREAS, Pahoa Village is home to Island Naturals, which evolved from the Pahoa Natural Food Store, affectionately dubbed, “The Natch”; and Read more

Chíc Eco — Building Code Challenges



by Delia Montgomery

Dovetail Partners, Inc. recently published a report titled Building Codes: Barriers to Green Innovation. I am confident that those concerned with the governmental nonsense we tolerate will find it a worthy read. My chosen intro excerpt follows:

Building codes ensure the health, safety and welfare of building users and the public. Unfortunately, many of today’s codes are prescriptive and based on traditional industry standards, thereby precluding innovative approaches to environmentally responsible design.

Dovetail Partners’ mission is to provide authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. See where Hawaii ranks with the challenges presently faced.


Published on BIC through 2011 August

Amongst other things, blog contributor Delia Montgomery, d/b/a Chíc Eco, is an agent for environmental designers and artists. She holds a burning desire to witness local resources be utilized on island for production of goods in sustainable manners.

Hilo News — Cyberbullying And Internet Safety Are Subjects Of Waiakea Parent Night Tuesday

Image courtesy of Cyber-bullying law's Blog

Waiakea Intermediate School’s PCNC and PTA invite you to:



With special guest: Chris Duque, Retired HPD, White Collar Crime Unit, specializing in cybercrime investigations and computer forensics.

     When?      Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011

     Where?    Waiakea Intermediate School’s Cafeteria

          5:30     Doors open/Sign in

6:00- 7:30     Presentation


Does your child spend time on the computer? Do they use the internet? Do they own a cell phone, or perhaps borrow yours?

Are you AWARE or do you know how to PROTECT YOUR CHILD or YOURSELF from any of the following: cyber bullying;  cyber threats; invasion of privacy; social networking; stolen identity; sex predators; and sexting.

Theses are the topics Chris Duque covers to help parents and students understand that online and offline activities interact and are tied to one another, and can have dire consequences.  Decisions made online…. are IRREVERSIBLE.

You won’t want to miss this!

This is a presentation every parent/guardian and student (grade 5 and above)

should hear! Students need to be present with a parent.

Any questions, please contact Dawn Figueira, WIS PCNC at (808) 981-7244.

Air transportation provided by Community Children’s Council Office.


Hugh-isms — Perils Of Pauline?

As this endangered Toys for Tot event — a charity by motorcyclists for poor little kids — vacillates, I keep getting images from that old melodrama about sweet Pauline being tied to the railroad track. I suppose the cops are the railroad locomotive charging down the line.

Come on, is this necessary in a town of our size where the Mayor(elected) says fine and agents of the police chief say nope, while the (appointed) chief ain’t in town to rule on the matter.

Is this a turf war?  Or a legitimate pubic safety issue? Or just a grinch with a badge who wants to steal Christmas from youngsters who already have drawn a short straw in life? 
 (Hugh Clark is a retired newspaper reporter who lives in Hilo.)

Letters — More Snapshots Of The Birth Of A Redistricting Plan

Puna Redistricting Commissioner Rene Siracusa's proposal for two Puna Council districts above. Waimea attorney and blogger Margaret Wille's proposals for Puna are below. Â Screenshots courtesy of Wille.


Here are three possible revisions to the Puna east side area…   the first is Rene’s 11/23 proposal, and then then 2 other possible revisions that I drafted for your consideration.

I had  worked on the Keaau adjustments (including in District 5) immediately after the 11/3 meeting, which potential revision Commissioner Middlefield and Commissioner Carvalho had worked on..
and Joe Carvallo said they would be introducing on the 10th (but that never happened).  It may be they just did not want to start off with another “primarily Margaret authored” plan — which I can understand.

Anyway the main point is that you all helped work on this Plan  so as to be more fair OVERALL AND PARTICULARLY to Hamakua and by way of domino effect this benefited Dist 9 communities Waikoloa and Puako etc….  so just want to make sure the Puna area adjustments are maximized in a way that overall seems good to your various communities.

take care, mw (Margaret Wille)