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Ramirez recalled, Sharp to take over

HANFORD — Residents in Hanford City Council’s District D voted in a special recall election Tuesday night and decided to recall Councilman Francisco Ramirez and replace him with Diane Sharp.

Sharp said she was at the elections office watching the results come in.

She said she was obviously excited about the win and happy for her team for running a successful campaign, but was more so humbled by the news.

“I am feeling humbled and honored that the citizens would put their confidence in me,” Sharp said.

The Kings County election’s office posted semi-official results of the election Tuesday night.

The district has 3,475 registered voters, but only 384 people voted in the election; an 11 percent turnout of voters. The election consisted of two polling places and a vote by mail option, with 342 voters voting by mail.

According to the election’s office, there were 234 votes (61.58 percent) in favor of recalling Ramirez and 146 votes (38.42 percent) against the recall.

The candidate voting breakdown is as follows:

  • Shelli Barker – 42 votes (12.43 percent)
  • Paula Massey – 50 votes (14.79 percent)
  • Lou Martinez – 94 votes (27.81 percent)
  • Diane Sharp – 137 votes (40.53 percent)
  • Write-in – 15 votes (4.44 percent)

Sharp mentioned her fellow candidates, who she called “great people” and said she was “fortunate and honored to be on the ballot with them.” She said she hopes they will continue to stay active in city government issues.

Sharp said she’s trying to hit the ground running and has already sought information on the next council meeting and is trying to get up to speed on city issues like cannabis and the budget.

“I look forward to digging into that,” Sharp said.

Sharp said she wanted to dedicate her victory to her mother, Janet Sharp, and her late father, Sid Sharp. She said many people know or knew of her parents and they are the reason why her family has a good name in Hanford.

“They led the way and have given me a great example of serving the community,” Sharp said.

Sharp is taking over Ramirez’s seat at the tail end of his term, which was set to expire in November. Although she is very much focused on the task at hand, Sharp said she plans on running for reelection in November.

Ramirez, who called the election “bought-and-paid-for” and “rigged”, said he would have beaten Sharp in a regular election, considering there were 146 against the recall and only 137 votes for Sharp.

Ramirez said he would “definitely” run for council again in November.

“I want to thank all the citizens for their support,” Ramirez said. “I’ll be back in November.”

City Clerk Jennifer Gomez said the elections office has to wait at least three days for any mail-in ballots to trickle in before the results can be made official.

However, Gomez said the elections office doesn't expect any remaining ballots to drastically affect the number of votes and is certain the outcome will remain the same.

If the results are made official in time, Gomez said she may be able to get the results certified by Council at its next regularly scheduled meeting, which is Feb. 6. If this happens, Sharp will be sworn in at that meeting and begin her term immediately.

'Legacy Exhibit' showcases five decades of art

HANFORD — When Valley artist and teacher Carlene Kostiw wants to say something, she lets her brushes do the talking for her.

“When I do a painting, it just comes through the heart. My brushes just dance through a new subject matter, and I discover new things,” she says.

The Kings Art Center will host the work of Kostiw and her students beginning this weekend.

“A Legacy Exhibit” will prove to be just that as it celebrates not just the work of Kostiw, who has been painting for five decades, but students spanning that time, as well.

“They’ve been extremely generous to invite me back and I thought it was a beautiful gesture for the Kings Art Gallery to not only show my work, but the work of some of my students over the past 50 years,” Kostiw says.  

Kostiw, who previously had a one-person show at the Kings Art Gallery in 2004, has been teaching at her studio in Fresno for over 40 years and is excited to have tracked down some of her favorite works from present and past students for the exhibit.

While some of her students have been with her since the beginning, some have moved out of the area, making it difficult to procure all the pieces necessary – a task that took Kostiw about a year.

Art pieces have come in from students who now live across the state, in places like Cambria, Carmel and Placerville.

Kostiw said she wanted to display work from her students because it’s their work that has strengthened her own.

“Working on this art has fulfilled avenues of life for the students and myself. Without being challenged by my students, I would not have reached the heights of my talents,” Kostiw said. 

Kostiw set up her studio after receiving her education from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, and receiving formal training at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and California State University, Fresno.

The watercolorist specializes in vibrantly colored portraits, landscapes and still-life paintings. Much of her work evokes a kind of historical nostalgia, making the viewer miss a time they were never privy to.

The artist’s photorealistic work brings captivating portraits of characters in motion and warm rural images of California’s landscape to the collection.      

“I wanted to provide a presentation of people, as well as historical themes,” she said.

Of the 44 pieces on exhibit, eight were painted by Kostiw. That may sound few in number, perhaps, but not in volume. Kostiw likes to paint large and many of her works are about 20-by-40 inches, large enough canvases to virtually capture the entire landscape the art means to capture.

Among her subjects are the San Joaquin River and an old Valley train station. But her favorite is a piece that captures local sunflowers.

“The reason that’s so much of a favorite of mine is that it’s all just sunshine. It makes me feel good and everybody who sees it, it makes them feel good, too,” she said.

Contributed by Brandi Noel Photography 

Local country singer-songwriter JJ Brown will attend the 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony this weekend. 

Kings County business
EDC President John Lehn to retire

Kings County Economic Development president John Lehn will retire in April, he has announced.

County administrator Rebecca Campbell says that the Board of Supervisors received a letter of resignation from Lehn, who is the Job Training Office Director and EDC president, effective April 30, after 41 years of working with Kings County. Lehn says 31 of those years has included heading up the EDC.

“I hope to help with the transition,” said Lehn, adding that the county will start the process of finding a replacement for his position. Lehn says both locals and candidates from out of the area will have a chance to apply. Lehn, who lives in Hanford, says he has no plans to leave the area.

Asked how the economy is doing in Kings County, Lehn says it is the best in a while pointing to low unemployment and the fact that companies have now acquired and plan to open two large vacant buildings totaling about 2.6 million square feet.

Kings industrial inventory is low for a change. ”We are even seeing signs developers may build spec space here" due to expected demand, he said.

Some of that demand is coming from non-traditional sources including an influx of cannabis businesses as well as a start-up electric car maker.

One cannabis grower acquired the old cotton storage complex at 1.6 million square feet and Faraday Future, the electric car maker, has leased the 1 million-square-foot Pirelli Tire building after decades of it sitting idle.

Asked if Faraday Future is making progress on its Hanford plant, Lehn assures that behind the scenes “there is a lot going on” leading to the remodeling of the big building to make the prototype speedster electric car and the beginning of the hiring process.

The LA company has been beset with rumors and staff departures in recent months, but no firm news. 

Lehn also says Airgas Specialty Products has begun construction on its industrial ammonia facility in the Kings Industrial Park. Typical uses are nitrogen oxide abatement, refrigeration, food processing and the production of semiconductors.

In other news, Hanford’s Premiere Collision is building a new repair complex along Highway 198’s frontage road west of 12th Avenue. The company is owned by John Nelson.