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Parker Bowman, the Sentinel 

Left to right, host JP Raposo, Dr. Thomas R. Scherer, monologue slam winner Dezmen Diaz and Silvia Gonzalez at the Hanford Multicultural Theater's first monologue slam Sunday. Diaz was crowned winner of the event and presented the grand prize of $500. 

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Dezmen Diaz wins first MTC monologue slam

HANFORD – Figuratively and literally, Hanford native and actor Dezmen Diaz dropped the mic on the audience at the Multicultural Theater Company’s first monologue slam Sunday.

Monologue slams are events where performance, poetry and competition meet. They’re a way for actors, comedians and poets to hone their craft in front of critical audiences.

Diaz, a California State University, Fresno theater graduate, would go on to win first prize, as voted on by a panel of judges and those in the audience, which came with $500 in prize money donated by Dr. Thomas R. Scherer, a general surgeon at Adventist Health and MTC Artistic Director Silvia Gonzalez’ husband.

“It feels great. This is my first slam ever and Hanford is my hometown,” Diaz said. “But the money is going right into savings.

While performing his monologue, a solo piece from the play “Den of Thieves,” Diaz put down the microphone and spoke directly to the audience, not needing the electronic amplification to be heard.

“I felt like the mic was holding me back. Two seconds in, I thought, ‘no, this isn’t working’ and I dropped it,” Diaz said. The previous night of the two-night event which saw the top voted-performers return to perform, Diaz used the mic on a mounted stand and found it limiting. “I had to go from the diaphragm, just like they taught me in school,” he said.

After Diaz’ three-minute monologue, event host and Hanford MTC Associate Artistic Director JP Raposo remarked that the performance was “an epic mic drop.”

Diaz, now a substitute teacher in Fresno, recently got a talent agent and plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of acting in movies and television.

According to Gonzalez, over 100 ticket-buyers attended the event held outside the Bastille downtown Saturday – not including passersby who stopped to take in a few scenes and poems. Nearly 80 tickets were sold for the Sunday show.

With only two audience votes between first and second place and the audience and judges voting the same way, the competition was tight.

Lemoore High School’s Keziah Willis took second with her performance of Nikky Finney’s poem, “Red Velvet,” of which Rosa Parks is the subject.

The third place winner was Michael Jasso, a poet that frequents the bi-weekly Loud Mouth Poetry Slam in Visalia. His piece Sunday, different from his Saturday poem, was about a comedy class where the instructor espoused the potential value in knowing “one good racist joke” and Jasso’s aversion to mean-spirited punchlines.

Pioneer Middle School’s Even Jorgens’ monologue was about his frustrations with his father’s “boring” habit of watching and reading the news. “Let’s watch cartoons,” Jorgens pleaded in the humorous piece.

Lemoore-based Navy man Dalton Willis’ piece “Dark Place” examined the fine line between genius and madness. Dressed in a hospital gown, wearing no shoes, Willis pondered aloud, “Why does great beauty come from great pain?”

In between performances, Gonzalez took the stage to thank the event’s sponsors and explain the importance of local art.

“If we all support each other artistically, we grow as a community,” she said. “We want Hanford to be an art hub. We don’t want to have to go to Fresno or anywhere else. We can have it here.”

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Poets, actors, comedians 'slam' the Bastille

Employment workshop for women vets

HANFORD — Kings County Library in Hanford is hosting a workforce development event for female veterans to teach them how to better market themselves to potential employers on Wednesday morning.

The workshop, “Authentic Personal Branding,” will be presented by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, a veteran and a marketing consultant. She is also an award-winning author.

Tiscareno-Sato said using compelling language and storytelling techniques to communicate a person’s value is powerful and hard. Tiscareno-Sato said she went through the same transition many of the women she works with are going through 18 years ago when she transitioned from her career as a captain with the U.S. Air Force to a global marketing management role.

This event is also meant to serve as a way for female veterans to learn what resources are available to them to help gain employment.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Those interested in attending can register online or by phone.

The workshop is designed to guide participants how to translate experiences in their lives and specifically their time in the military to qualities and characteristics desired by potential employers.

This event is also suggested for potential college students preparing to write their college essays for undergraduate or graduate school.

This event is put on in partnership with the California Women Veterans, California Transition Assistance Program, Kings County Library and Veterans Connect at the Library.

Participants are expected to share their most significant, interesting or valuable moments from their military service to help create their personal brand.

To register online,, or call (916) 653-1402.

Late-winter storms slow California's dive back into drought

PHILLIPS STATION (AP) — A stormy close to California's rainy season has slowed the state's plunge back into drought, bringing the vital Sierra Nevada snowpack to just over half of average, water officials said Monday.

The welcome run of rain- and snowstorms last month more than doubled the state's snow totals for the year, hiking it to 52 percent of normal.

Runoff from snow historically supplies a third of California's water, and the April snow survey done Monday typically is the most important for gauging how much — or how little — water California's cities, farms and wildlife can expect after the winter.

"A good March, but certainly not a great March," state snow-survey chief Frank Gehrke told news crews who followed him to the snow-covered Phillips Station for the survey.

Gehrke measured 32.1 inches of snow with a metal rod, one of hundreds of manual and electronic readings the state uses to gauge Sierra snowpack.

Californians may have caught a break thanks to the late-season storms, but "it's not nearly where we would like to be," Gehrke said.

California had only about a quarter of its normal snowpack going into March, typically the last month of the rainy season.

The dry winter sent most of arid Southern California sliding back into drought, less than a year after Gov. Jerry Brown ended the state's drought emergency.

A near-record wet winter in 2016-2017 snapped the previous five-year drought, which triggered a 25 percent water-conservation order for cities and towns.

Despite this year's drier than normal weather, state reservoirs remain fuller than usual thanks to water held over from the previous winter.

With the emergency declaration lifted, Californians are using almost as much water as before the previous drought. State officials so far are largely relying on messaging to urge residents back to water-thrifty ways.

"Potentially, we're living off our savings from last year so we have to be very prudent in our water use," Gehrke said.

The latest national weekly drought reading, compiled by U.S. government agencies, shows 41 percent of California in drought, an improvement from 48 percent two weeks earlier.

A storm forecast for the end of the week is expected to be a warm one, adding little more to the state's snowpack, officials said.

Senate candidate Ruben Macareno to visit Hanford

HANFORD — State senatorial candidate Ruben Macareno (D) is scheduled to appear in Hanford on Saturday for his first press conference in Kings County.

Macareno announced his senate bid a year ago against Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) for the 14th State Senate District. The primary election will be held on June 5.

Macareno grew up in Tulare County in a farm-laborer family. He attended elementary school in Farmersville and then went on to graduate from Exeter High School.

His first foray into the political world was an internship he got with then-Congressman Edward Roybal after moving to Los Angeles. He also worked at the Los Angeles Times newspaper for many years, and most recently, was the executive director for the Coalinga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Macareno said he believes he is the most experienced candidate, having worked in Washington, D.C., for the National Association for Latino Appointed and Elected Officials. He also served as chairman of the Tulare County Democratic Central Committee and founded the Latino Democrats of Tulare County.

According to Macareno, Vidak’s only concern during his tenure has been farming, and Macareno believes the district needs a “working senator” who knows about a wide array of different industries in the area.

Macareno will not be the only Democratic candidate vying for the senate seat. Abigail Solis from Earlimart and Melissa Hurtado from Sanger are also in the running as Democrats.

He said both Republicans and Democrats in the area have been overlooked in Sacramento, but with over 10 years of experience and many contacts in the state capital, he thinks he can be the person to bring together the proper coalitions to get things done.

“I’m the most well-rounded in that regard,” Macareno said.

A big issue in the Central Valley, and one he will be speaking about in Hanford on Saturday, is water. Macareno said because the Valley depends on water to sustain the agriculture industry, it is something that needs to be protected.

He said he wants to stand up to “corporate farmers” who sell their water for profit in Southern California instead of growing their crops, especially because good water years are not always guaranteed.

“There’s no easy solution,” Macareno said. “But we can’t be giving away our water.”

As a husband and father, Macareno said he also understands the importance of family values and the concerns of local families with issues like unemployment and health care.

“Kings County is important,” Macareno said. “It’s a great sample of the entire Valley.”

In addition to water issues, Macareno is to talk about his other platform issues, including:

  • California educational funding and abuse of local control money in many school districts.
  • The need to reduce the premium of workman’s compensation to aid small business owners.
  • Protecting children and seniors when it comes to health care coverage.
  • Leveraging and bringing in new and innovative job markets, working in collaboration with Silicon Valley and bringing high-tech jobs to the Central Valley.

The 14th State Senate District includes all of Kings County and parts of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.

Parker Bowman, the Sentinel 

Michael Jasso performs at the first Hanford Multicultural Theater Company monologue slam Sunday at the Bastille in Hanford.