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Sonora grad helps band go green to earn eagle

By Leon Romero
La Habra Journal

When Sonora High School’s marching band performs they transport a trailer carrying all of their instruments and equipment, and it quickly became apparent to them that retrieving and setting up instruments in the dark was a very dangerous and inefficient task.

Going green: Recent Sonora graduate Matthew Hinkley, 17, installed solar panels on the Sonora Band trailer to power lighting and replaced the interior of the trailer for his Eagle Scout service project. Universal Wiring and Ganahl Lumber donated equipment and the project was completed July 1.
Going green: Recent Sonora graduate Matthew Hinkley, 17, installed solar panels on the Sonora Band trailer to power lighting and replaced the interior of the trailer for his Eagle Scout service project. Universal Wiring and Ganahl Lumber donated equipment and the project was completed July 1.

That all changed recently when Sonora graduate and soon to be Eagle Scout, Matthew Hinkley, 17, decided to take charge.
Hinkley graduated from Sonora with high honors this year and was a part of Sonora’s marching band where he played the tenor saxophone, therefore he’s very familiar with the daunting obstacles that came with the trailer’s unfortunate circumstances.
In order to become an Eagle Scout Hinkley needed to organize and complete an Eagle Scout service project that would benefit his community, so he set his focus on how he could improve the band’s trailer. He decided on completely renovating the trailer by adding new flooring, walls, and lights both inside and outside.
The 1998 Pace American Cargo Sport trailer was purchased two years ago by the band president at the time, Mike Rivers, because they were getting tired of having to constantly rent cargo trucks.
This project began in early April of this year when Hinkley contacted La Habra based electrical wiring company Universal Wiring, asking if he could show them his PowerPoint presentation on how he could accomplish this project with their help. Owners Paul and Irma Prado were very impressed with his presentation and his desire to help his community, so they decided to assist with the project by donating all of the electrical components.

Work crew: Scouts from Troop 919, family and friends helped Matthew Hinkley remodel and install solar panels in the Sonora Band trailer.
Work crew: Scouts from Troop 919, family and friends helped Matthew Hinkley remodel and install solar panels in the Sonora Band trailer.

The company donated two solar panels, two 12-volt batteries, over 12 LED lights, necessary wires, and labor, which totaled out to over $3,000, according to Universal Wiring co-owner Irma Prado.
Ganahl Lumber also assisted with the project by donating a $100 gift card to their stores, which assisted with the new flooring and walls.
The trailer renovations began on June 25.  Hinkley directed a team consisting of the Boy Scouts from La Mirada Troop 919, family, friends and the Sonora Band Director, Jerome Diebolt, to remove and replace the oil soaked and paint splashed interior plywood. On July 1, Universal Wiring installed the electrical system, and the following day renovations were completed.
Sonora High School chemistry teacher, Jack Hawkins, is familiar with Hinkley’s accomplishment and said he couldn’t be any more proud of him.
“I’ve worked with many students that have done Eagle Scout projects before, and Scout_Solar_Trailerall have been good, but none have been as unique and as far reaching and have the ability to serve as many people as this one does,” Hawkins said.
Now that Hinkley has completed his Eagle Scout service project he is currently in the process of submitting his final application to the character board of the Greater Los Angeles Area Council in order to advance to the final rank of Eagle Scout.
Those primarily benefiting from Hinkley’s achievement are the members of the marching band that will now be able to see clearly while transporting their costly instruments. Sonora High School student and marching band member, Ashley Miller, is excited to put the new trailer to use during her final year at Sonora.
“This project is going to be very handy for the upcoming years, because we won’t have to scramble around in the dark looking for stuff anymore,” Miller said.
With a bright future ahead of him, Hinkley is headed into his first year at California State University, Fullerton where he says he’ll Eagle Scout_Trailermore than likely enroll in the pre-med program, because he would like to spend the rest of his life helping those in need.
“I enjoy lending a hand,” Hinkley said. “If someone needs help I’ll be there, because I feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.