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Hanford Carnegie Museum revived

HANFORD — The Hanford Carnegie Museum is getting some work done in hopes of breathing new life into the historical building.

“We need to bring more people in and one way to do that is to get the museum looking perfect again,” Patricia Dickerson, Hanford Carnegie Museum general manager, said. “That’s the only way we’ll keep this place alive.”

The Carnegie will be closed for the next couple weeks as it gets all new carpeting. The roof will also be restored before the museum hosts a grand reopening on March 10.

The building, located at 109 E. Eighth St., opened in 1905 as Hanford’s first library and remained as such until 1968, when the city and county libraries were combined and moved to the current Kings County Library.

After the building was empty, the Hanford City Council considered demolishing it. However, petitions were presented to the city council to keep the building as a historical museum. It reopened in 1975 to offer exhibits, tours and shows.

For the past month, Dickerson, board members and other volunteers have been helping move items and even tore all the carpet out of almost every room themselves, which she said was a big help and money saver.

The Carnegie runs strictly on donations with some help from membership and rental fees, so it has taken time to save enough money for the repairs. Dickerson said the board has wanted to restore the roof for about four years and the carpets haven’t been replaced in about 12 years.

“With everything going on with all the other historical buildings, we’ve got to save one of them,” Dickerson said in reference to the city tearing down the old fire station recently.

Dickerson said she and the museum’s board members have been cleaning the basement out so that more items could be stored there to make room for displays in the first and second floors.

“We didn’t realize how much stuff was here until we started this,” Dickerson said. “It’s been quite the adventure.”

One of the many things Dickerson is looking forward to is a new display room filled with new items people may not have seen before. A room upstairs that was previously used a storage room is now going to be converted into an additional display room.

“I can’t wait,” Dickerson said while giving a tour of the museum. “We never noticed how big these rooms were until we did this.”

Also, a small area to the right near the top of the stairs will be turned into a research room, Dickerson said.

She said at least one person every week goes into the museum to look at old books and do historical research. With the new research room, all the books can be in one place and it will be easier for patrons to find what they’re looking for.

Along with getting the perimeter fence repaired last summer, Dickerson said the gift shop has also been redone and will now sell art from local artists that will be exclusive to the museum. Slowly, but surely, she said improvements are consistently being made.

Dickerson said the museum has been lucky so far with donations and its memberships, but she would like to see more people visiting and experiencing this little piece of Hanford.

“We’ve got so much stuff people should see,” Dickerson said.

She said she would love for everyone to go to the grand reopening of the Carnegie on March 10 and see all the new things the museum has done.

Contributed by Tabatha Wells 

On Friday evening, students from the Hanford West High School Media Arts and Communication Academy held a candlelight vigil and balloon release in honor of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Tribes cut out of California pot market might grow their own

LOS ANGELES — American Indian tribes that say they have been cut out of California's legal marijuana market have raised the possibility of going their own way by establishing pot businesses outside the state-regulated system, which is less than two months old.

The tribes floated the idea of setting up rival farms and sales shops on reservations after concluding that rules requiring them to be licensed by the state would strip them of authority over their own lands and their right to self-governance.

The possibility of the tribes breaking away from the state-run system is one more challenge for California as it attempts to transform its longstanding medicinal and illegal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry.

For tribes to participate in the state-run market, "they have to give up their rights to act as governments, with regard to cannabis," said Mark Levitan, a tribal attorney.

At issue are legally thorny questions about who governs whom, taxation and the intersection of state marijuana laws with tribes that the federal government recognizes as sovereign nations within the U.S.

Under regulations issued last year, California would retain full control over licensing. Tribes would have to follow state rules, including "submission to all enforcement," to obtain a license to grow or sell marijuana. Any application must include a waiver of "sovereign immunity," a sort of legal firewall that protects tribal interests.

Without state licenses, businesses cannot take part in the legal state pot market. California has more than 100 federally recognized tribes, the most of any state, and estimates of the number either growing and selling pot or eager to do so varies, from a handful to more than 20.

Unlike those that have prospered from casino gambling, some are in struggling rural areas and would welcome a new source of cash to improve schools and pave roads.

After long-running negotiations between tribes and state officials failed to produce an agreement before broad legal sales began Jan. 1, the California Native American Cannabis Association warned state officials that tribes "may engage in commercial cannabis activities through our own inherent sovereign authority."

If tribes choose to step away from California's market, "the state will have no jurisdiction to enforce its cannabis laws and regulations on tribal lands," the group said in a sharply worded letter to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's administration in December.

Tribes "just want to be able to do business in the state of California and elsewhere, just like anybody else," said Paul Chavez, former chairman of the Bishop Paiute tribe.

The dispute in California differs from another legal pot state, Washington, where seven tribes have marijuana compacts with the state and others are in negotiations or awaiting the governor's approval. The compacts allow tribal marijuana businesses to participate in the legal system, such as selling tribe-grown pot to retailers off the reservation.

In California, the tribes are circulating a proposal that calls for the governor to strike agreements with them. Those pacts would allow them to participate in the legal market, while the state would recognize a tribe's "exclusive authority" to regulate commercial marijuana activity on its lands.

Tribes are eager for a settlement, but reaching a deal in the Legislature could take the remainder of the year.

"Everyone agrees conceptually there should be an even playing field, a level playing field," said state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat at the center of the negotiations in Sacramento.

In addition to the problems in Sacramento, tribes are facing uncertainty at the federal level.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the marijuana trade in states where the drug is legal, which also guided enforcement on tribal lands.

The shifting ground has put a chill over development plans — including in an isolated stretch of eastern San Diego County.

Nevada-based GB Sciences Inc. announced last year that it would build and manage a commercial cannabis company on tribal lands, nurturing plants, manufacturing products and distributing them across the state.

The tribe, the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, would get an ownership stake, jobs and 40 percent of the profits. GB Sciences would get income for its marijuana research and a foothold in the largest legal pot market in the U.S.

But the projected $8 million project is on hold, with the status of tribes in the pot market unclear.

Issues involving sovereignty touch a sensitive subject for tribes, and they see the predicament with marijuana as part of a history of exploitation.

The state rule "harkens back to the end of the 19th century ... when federal and state policies favored extermination or forced assimilation of California tribes," the tribal group wrote.