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Kings County business
Vitamin World stores to close in Hanford and Tulare

Retailer Vitamin World will shutter stores at the Hanford Mall and in Tulare at the outlet mall in coming weeks. The NY-based company has hired Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC to immediately start going-out-of-business sales at 124 stores in more than 30 states after they declared bankruptcy. The company has more than 440 locations.

Navy’s ‘Liberty Solar Project’ construction likely in 2019

Recurrent Energy Group signed a long-term lease agreement with the U.S. Navy on October 2016 for 930 acres of land on Lemoore Naval Air Station. With this lease, Recurrent plans to construct a 125 megawatts alternating current power project. In return for use of the land, Recurrent will provide a resilient power solution for key operations on the Naval Air Station says the Navy.

The overall timing for the construction of the power project will depend on a number of different variables related to interconnection to the grid, infrastructure improvements and energy offtake agreements says Navy spokesperson Lisa Brundage.

“Our current forecast is for construction activities for the Liberty Solar Project at Lemoore Naval Air Station to commence in early 2019 with project completion by mid-2021 at the latest.”

Turkey is bargain this year

USDA says we ate plenty of turkeys this past week. Nationwide over 240 million turkeys were raised in 2016 and nearly 50 million of those birds are consumed on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving season often marks the low point for the retail mark up for whole turkeys. This year, low wholesale prices were likely a good sign for price-conscious consumers.

Wholesale turkey prices fell in 2017, relative to 2016. Typically prices climb until Thanksgiving. But this year, whole turkey prices have dipped further throughout the summer. The average price for a whole frozen hen in August was just under 97 cents per pound, 3 percent below January and 19 percent below August 2016. As of the fourth week of September, prices had fallen farther to 96 cents.

Dairymen not complaining about price of corn

The U.S. corn crop is estimated to be a sizable 14.578 billion bushels says USDA, pushing December futures down to $3.37 this week, a level that makes feed more affordable for dairymen at a time milk prices are not great. This past summer corn prices looked closer to $4.

California car sales fall

New light vehicle registrations in the state fell in the third quarter of this year, the second consecutive decline says the California New Car Dealers Association. Still, the group predicts annual new light vehicle registrations will remain around the 2 million unit level through 2018.

In the latest report trucks again were better sellers than cars. New passenger car registrations in the state fell 10.7 percent through September of this year, while light trucks were up 7.7 percent. New light truck registrations exceeded 693,000 units so far this year, about 25,000 higher than the total for cars. Light truck registrations trailed cars by more than 100,000 units during the same period in 2016.

The best selling full-size truck was the Ford-F series. Meanwhile, electric vehicles share of all sales rose to 2.5 percent this year from 1.9 percent in 2016. Subaru topped all brands in sales of new vehicles, up 14 percent this year through September.

Hanford area CHP to start Explorer post

Calling all law enforcement hopefuls! The California Highway Patrol Hanford office is expanding the successful statewide CHP Explorer program into Kings County.

The CHP Explorer program is a unique and challenging opportunity for young men and women to explore a career in law enforcement.

Officer Vince Roeber, who will be the adviser for the new program along with several co-advisers, said this will be the first Explorers post for the Hanford area CHP office.

In Kings County, the Hanford Police Department, Lemoore Police Department and Kings County Sheriff’s Office all have Explorer posts.

Officers and deputies consider Explorer posts an integral part of law enforcement operations that provide service to their local community, and the CHP is no different.

Roeber said he has experience with youth, volunteering with the youth group at his church and being a water polo coach at Hanford High School for seven years, and he considers himself “lucky” to be in charge of this new program.

Explorers will be trained similarly to actual CHP officers, something Roeber said is a bonus if they plan to pursue a career in the CHP because they will be familiar with the tactics and structure.

“Because of this training, there is a 95 percent success rate from Explorers who attend the academy,” Roeber said. That's a good success rate, he said, considering only 60-70 percent of cadets make it through the academy.

He also said this could be the way for young people to decide if they really want to be officers, especially because something may sound cool but once they learn what really goes into the job, they may decide it’s not for them.

“I wish I had been involved with this when I was younger,” Roeber said. “It definitely offers a leg up.”

In addition to being trained in many areas of law enforcement, they will be working alongside officers and will get the experience in what a career in law enforcement would be like.

Explorers will gain experience through ride-alongs with officers in the field, DUI checkpoints, community service, office clerical duties, physical fitness training, first responder medical training, fundraising events, traffic control details and Explorer competitions throughout the state.

Explorer competitions are a high point of Explorer training; they provide the opportunity to compete against other posts for honors.

The competitions take a considerable amount of time, effort and training. Preparations begin months in advance and certain Explorers are specifically trained for certain events.

Advisers say competing against other posts fosters a sense of teamwork, camaraderie, pride, fellowship and loyalty among the group.

Competitions consist of law enforcement scenarios, including building searches, SWAT entries, foot pursuits, patrol car driving courses, felony traffic stops, DUI investigations, marksmanship and athletic events.

Roeber said the competitions aren’t all about winning; they are about giving the Explores an opportunity to experience true-to-life situations in a controlled setting.

Minimum requirements to join the CHP Explorer program:

  • Be between 15-21 years of age
  • Have at least a 2.0 GPA
  • Have an interest in law enforcement
  • No alcohol or drug use
  • Good citizenship
  • Have no felony convictions

Roeber said a typical post is between five and 20 people and hopes a lot of people apply.

After filling out an application, Roeber said applicants will be interviewed and given a background check if officers think they are a good fit for the post. If the background is all clear, he said advisers will decide who gets to become a cadet.

Roeber said the Explorers will basically experience long-term careers in the short term. He said they will start as cadets, and then become officers and some will go on to become lieutenants and captains.

Roeber said he is hoping to start meetings in January and invites anyone interested to grab an application at the CHP office and talk with officers.

“This is a great process if this is the line of work they want to go into,” Roeber said. “I encourage them to take this opportunity.”

Pate trial to be postponed again

HANFORD — A jury trial for Todd Pate, who is accused of the 2013 killing of his wife, Melanie Pate, is set to be postponed once again.

Pate’s second trial was originally set to begin Monday, but will most likely not happen until early 2018.

Deputy District Attorney Phil Esbenshade, who is prosecuting the case, said the trial is being postponed due to personal matters involving Pate’s attorney, Adam Nelson.

Pate’s trial in August 2016 ended in a hung jury and mistrial because one of the 12 jurors felt the evidence did not support a conviction of first-degree murder.

Pate previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, but in February, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Nelson also filed a motion for change of venue on March 30, arguing Pate could not receive a fair retrial in Kings County. Among the reasons given was extensive media coverage of the case.

Judge Donna Tarter denied the motion without prejudice, meaning Nelson could file another request for change of venue later. Tarter said the motion didn’t meet the criteria to warrant a change of venue.

Esbenshade said a date for the new trial will be set during a meeting on Dec. 13.

“We’re anxious to set a date,” Esbenshade said. “The family is ready to get this case resolved.”