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Fox Theatre: Thank you for the new lamp

HANFORD — If you have been by the Historic Hanford Fox Theatre lately, you probably noticed the sign on the front marquee, “Thanks city of Hanford and Russ Sterling, one step at a time.”

The step taken by the city of Hanford, according to Dan Humason the owner of the Fox Theater, is the replacement of a modern street lamp with a decorative, historic-looking lamp at Irwin Street and Lacey Boulevard, near the theater.

The light is one of six to be installed in the last few months. Humason called the previous lamp poles “snake” or “cobra” lights.

Lou Camara, Hanford city public works director, said there are around 300 decorative lights in the downtown district.

For over 10 years, Humason said he has been trying to get more historical lamps to replace the modern lamps. Russ Sterling, Hanford city superintendent of streets, said he has no knowledge of more decorative lamps to be installed.

Humason said he hopes that more lights in the historic downtown are changed to the historic-looking lamps. However, Sterling and his team of two may be strained if more lamps are switched.

Currently, Southern California Edison Company maintains the modern street lamps. Sterling’s team is in charge of maintaining the decorative lamps, the banners on the poles and Christmas decorations. Sterling said the current amount of street lights is fine, but depending on how many more lamps are decorative could put a strain on his department.

The funding for the decorative lamp comes from the downtown investment fund, Camara said, which is funded by downtown businesses.

The historic look of the lamp is important to Humason. He said that part of what makes downtown Hanford is the historic aesthetic to the buildings. He went on to say that the historic look shouldn’t stop at the buildings but should extend to the lamps as well.

“In order to enhance the building they need to improve the fixtures on the street,” Humason said. “This is kind of like the jewelry on the block.”

Humason said he tries to go to lengths to make the Fox as historically preserved as possible. In some recent photos of the Fox, the modern street lamp is either avoided or edited out.

Humason equated Hanford’s historic lamps to the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego which has electric street lights that look like gas lamps. All-in-all, Humason is thankful for the city staff and all who were instrumental in getting the lamp on his corner.

“When they do something right we have to thank them,” Humason said.

Speaking of lights, Sterling said that the new, brighter LED lights discussed in the early August Hanford City Council meeting are moving forward. Camara said Southern California Edison Co. will begin changing the bulbs in the late part of summer.

Camara said the city will also begin using LED lights in the decorative lamps and will make the change as the bulbs grow dim.

Seeing shadows on Groundhog Day

HANFORD — While groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter on Friday, local business professionals saw their own shadows — in the form of high school students.

Friday was National Job Shadowing Day, and over 30 students from Sierra Pacific High School’s Business Finance Academy shadowed local professionals in hopes of gaining insight into careers they are interested in pursuing.

From medical to education, finance to law enforcement, students took the day off from school and entered the work force.

Shelsy Hutchison, lead teacher at the Business Finance Academy, said she learned about National Job Shadowing Day at an education conference. She said she put the responsibility onto the students to pick a business or career they were interested in and write a personalized letter to send.

The students were the first students in the Hanford Joint Union High School District to participate in National Job Shadowing Day, and Hutchison said they were excited about picking where they wanted to go.

Students weren’t limited to local business, either. One student shadowed the warden at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, one shadowed the CFO of Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera and another even shadowed a person who works at Google headquarters in Mountain View.

Hutchison said it’s important for students to get real-world experience; otherwise they might end up going into a profession that they later realize they don’t like.

Edward Barajas said he has an interest in finance, which is why he decided to shadow Mark Ulibarri, market president for Bank of the Sierra.

Ulibarri, who sits on the business finance academy’s board, was more than happy to let Barajas shadow him. He said this was the first time a student has visited the bank to learn more about the business and the bank was happy to partner with the academy.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to observe firsthand how the banking industry is,” Ulibarri said, adding Barajas was going to learn about being a teller, opening new accounts and lending.

Barajas said he sees himself becoming a financial planner or accountant in the future.

“I’m just really excited about this experience today,” Barajas said before heading back to the teller desk.

Over at Family Eye Care in Lemoore, Sharmaine Nastor was getting hands-on with some eyeglasses.

Nastor said she’s always known she wants to go into the medical field, but lately has been leaning toward optometry because working with eyes interests her.

After sending the initial interest letter, Nastor decided to take things into her own hands and follow up personally with emails. The persistence paid off and definitely impressed Dr. Jeffrey Garcia, owner of Family Eye Care.

Garcia said the business has an open door policy and regularly allows college students to visit and job shadow in order to learn about being an optometrist and also running a business.

“Whether you choose optometry or any profession, one of the important things is to do job shadowing and research to really find out if that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life,” Garcia said.

Garcia made sure Nastor got a feel for every department, including pre-testing patients, eye exams and working with frames and lenses.

Nastor said she loved learning about the technology used in eye exams and seeing the laboratories.

“It’s a really cool opportunity because not a lot of kids can do this,” Nastor said. “I’m enjoying it here, it’s really fun.”

With the contacts she’s made, Nastor said she would consider doing more shadow days or even an internship on her own time.

Alondra Barocio said she loves working with animals and looked into a job where she could help them, so she decided to shadow a veterinarian.

Dr. Lee Fausett of Hanford Veterinary Hospital said there is sometimes a lot of misinformation about what the life of a veterinarian is, so it’s good for people who are interested in the field to experience it beforehand.

“Most of the time people find it’s much different then what they imagined in their mind,” Fausett said.

Barocio was able to shadow several different people in different areas of the hospital, receiving the broad spectrum of veterinary life.

“I didn’t know I was going to be able to see everything,” Barocio said. “It’s a lot bigger than what I expected.”

After experiencing just a few hours at the veterinary hospital, Barocio said she could definitely see herself pursuing veterinary work as a career.

Fausett said he is open to allowing more students to job shadow at the veterinary hospital in the future.

“We want to foster and mentor the profession,” Fausett said.

Hutchison said she would like to turn the program into summer internships for the students and would love to get more local businesses involved.

Council set to discuss marijuana tax measure

HANFORD — The Hanford City Council will have its first meeting with new council member Diane Sharp on Tuesday.

In a special meeting at 5:30 p.m., Council will recognize former councilman Francisco Ramirez, who was recalled in a special election on Jan. 23, and administer the oath of office to Sharp.

During her first meeting, Sharp will dive headfirst into a study session on future cannabis taxes and a future ballot measure.

Hanford officials want to impose a tax on the medical marijuana businesses that will eventually locate in Hanford this year.

In order for the tax to become law, Hanford voters have to approve it. The earliest chance for them to do so is the general election in November.

According to previous estimates, taxing the marijuana industry could bring around $10 million annually to the city.

During the regular meeting, Council will hold a public hearing to adopt the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.