Thursday | June 30, 2016
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Reception today for ‘Aloha Aina’

After nearly two years of hard work, the East Hawaii Cultural Council has released “Aloha Aina: Big Island Memories” a 288 page collection of stories, essays and poems authored by nearly 80 kupuna recalling their memories of life on the Big Island during the past century. “Aloha Aina: Big Island Memories” will be introduced to the Hamakua public at a reception held at the Hotel Honokaa from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. today.

Copies of “Aloha Aina: Big Island Memories” may be purchased at this reception, $25 for the black-and-white edition and $45 for the color edition. Proceeds from this book will support the arts and culture of East Hawaii Cultural Center.

There will be readings of selected stories by Jackie Pualani Johnson and by Randal McEndree at the Hotel Honokaa reception. Light refreshments and homemade snacks will be available while enjoying the reception.


The Hawaii Preparatory Academy Middle School Handbell Choir, under the direction of Georgia Polakova, will offer a series of free public performances to welcome the holiday season starting today at the noon, at the Parker Ranch Food Court during Lokahi festivities, the “Big Island Giving Tree” project; followed by two Saturday, Dec. 8, events: 9 a.m. at the Parker School Farmers Market and 5 p.m. at the Kings’ Shops, Waikoloa; and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. at the Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

The handbell choir, offered as a Middle School elective, has been part of the HPA Middle School experience for more than 25 years. The choir consists of 14-17 students who play for seven weeks, usually performing after only four weeks of rehearsal.

“What I like best about the handbell choir is the group dynamics that must happen to have a successful performing handbell choir,” said Polakova. “The members must be positive and supportive of their fellow handbell players. There must be unity among the group or the music just doesn’t come together. It’s quite exciting to see the students’ faces when they realize they can contribute to the group and bring forth beautiful music.”

The Middle School Handbell Choir’s first CD, A Ka Makani Christmas, is available for $10 at all HPA Handbell Choir performances, at the HPA Bookstore, HPA Village Campus office, Isaacs Art Center, and online at All proceeds benefit the HPA Middle School Handbell Choir.

For more information about the group’s holiday performances, call 885-2500 or 885-2501.


The Honokaa Jazz Band is performing today at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Gates Performing Theatre at 3 p.m.

Since 1978, when Gary Washburn joined the Honokaa High School faculty as band director, the school’s jazz band has grown to be one of the state’s top high school bands. The group has won numerous awards and recognition locally and nationally, including the Alliance for the Arts Award (2007), National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Award for “Best Community for Music Education” (2010), and the prestigious Grammy Signature School award (2011), which was awarded to just 36 schools nationwide.

The band has been recognized by the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives and in 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie proclaimed April 20 as “Honokaa Jazz Band Day” in the state of Hawaii.

This talented group of young people has performed throughout the state and has opened for the National Veterans Affairs Council Convention, the National Upward Bound Conference, the Air Force band, “Hana Hou,” and the Royal Hawaiian Band, among others. The group also has performed with Ollie Mitchell, Slyde Hyde, David Shapiro, and David Benoit, and has appeared numerous times on local television. In 2010, the band attracted national attention with its performance on National Public Radio’s “From the Top.”

Numerous band alumni — most notably award-winning songwriter and producer Ryan Hiraoka, Maelan Abran and Amy Mills — have gone on to pursue successful careers in music, winning four individual Na Hoku Awards and studying opera in New York City.

Washburn also has been recognized for his outstanding and inspirational work with students. In 2011, Washburn was named a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). Student members of NSHSS nominate a single educator who has made the most significant contribution to their academic career. Educators nominated as Educators of Distinction must be “an outstanding role model and positive influence, someone who has made a lasting difference in the student’s life by encouraging him/her to strive for excellence.”


Emergency Farm Loans are available for Hawaii County farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is providing Emergency Loans to help producers. Emergency loan funds may be used to: Restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, Pay essential family living expenses, Reorganize the farming operations and Refinance certain debts, excluding real estate.

Due to the drought in the County of Hawaii, deadline to apply for an emergency loan is March 13, 2013.

Further information and applications for the Emergency Loan Program are available at local FSA county offices or online at For questions, please contact the County of Hawaii FSA Service Center at 808-933-8381.

Carol Yurth’s column is published every Sunday and spotlights activities on the Hilo-Hamakua coast. She welcomes items for her column. Reach her by mail (46-1240 Kalehua Road, Honokaa HI 96727) at least 10 days before the requested publication date, call her at 775-7101, or e-mail


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