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Virginia La Salle prays with a man who stopped to talk at a pair of canopies set up for free prayers on the southeast corner of Belmont and Van Ness Street in Fresno.

Big projects lined up for Kings EDC

HANFORD — Whether by air, land or water, big things seem to be happening in Kings County, and many have one thing in common: Kings EDC.

Kings County Economic Development Corporation, known as Kings EDC, is a membership organization that advocates on behalf of the Central Valley, including Kings County, to bring corporations and businesses to the area.

John Lehn, president and CEO of Kings EDC, said representatives travel across the United States to visit large markets and provide the resources needed to assist new businesses to invest and stay in Kings County.

Kings EDC held its annual membership meeting and dinner Thursday night and gave a business report on all things Kings County, including some presentations on much-anticipated projects.

Kelly Slater Wave Company

One of the biggest moments of the night came from Patrick Hazel, president of Kelly Slater Wave Company, who announced that “the greatest wave in the world is in Kings County” — which was met with thunderous applause.

Very little information is known about the Kelly Slater wave pool, located on Jackson Avenue between 18th and 19th avenues in Lemoore, but Hazel offered some tidbits of information and showed the crowd a video with footage of the waves.

The wave pool, Hazel said, creates an 8-foot wave that lasts for a full minute that challenges even the most experienced surfers and is a dream come true for them to ride. He said the goal of the company is to build more of these wave pools around the world to support professional surfing tournaments.

Hazel said it took the company several years to get the Lemoore site to what it is today, and thanked some key players from Hanford, Lemoore and the county, who he said were friendly and welcomed the company with “outstretched arms.”

“We’re going to be here for a long time,” Hazel said.

Faraday Future

Kings EDC Chairman Robert Tuttrup said in 2014, Kings EDC staff worked with the governor’s office, city officials and others to make a case to an unknown company about why Hanford should be a site to assemble electronic vehicles.

The company ended up being luxury electric car maker Faraday Future, which announced in August that it signed a lease to locate in the old Pirelli tire plant in Hanford’s Industrial Park.

Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future’s senior vice president of global manufacturing, spoke to the crowd about the company’s commitment to Hanford and showed a video about the company and its planned first car, the FF 91.

Reckhorn reiterated earlier statements he gave at a Rotary Club of Hanford meeting last month, saying its goal is to become a “global mobility company” that creates a car to make life more connected, intuitive and convenient.

There are few things the company needs to do before coming to Hanford, Reckhorn said, including obtaining permits, securing funding and customer demand. He said the company hopes to eventually employ 1,000 people at the Hanford facility and build the first test cars by the end of 2018.

Along with Hazel and Reckhorn, Capt. David James from Naval Air Station Lemoore gave an update on the base, which he said is growing and will continue to grow in the coming years. He asked that the county and community continue supporting NASL.

A few other projects were also mentioned, including:

  • Hanford Marketplace Costco Center
  • Cannabis manufacturing companies
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Family HealthCare Network’s new building
  • West Hills College Lemoore’s student union complex
  • College of the Sequoias’ student center
  • Utility Grade solar projects

Kings EDC also established awards to recognize businesses, organizations or individuals who have made significant contributions to business development and the economy of Kings County and the region.

Three awards were handed out at the dinner:

  • Agusa received the President’s Award
  • Pitman Family Farms received the Chairman’s Award
  • California Business & Economic Development received the Economic Development Partner Award

Julissa Zavala, The Sentinel 

Family HealthCare Network opens its new building today at 250 W. Fifth St. in downtown Hanford.

Family HealthCare Network new building

HANFORD — Family HealthCare Network announced that starting today, new and existing patients will be served in a new building and will be offered several new services.

The new three-story, 38,050 square-foot building, located at 250 W. Fifth St. in downtown Hanford includes 45 exam rooms, 10 dental operatories, a pharmacy, an optometry center and ample parking.

The current Hanford health center, located at 329 W. Eighth St., officially relocated at the end of the business day Friday.

The new health center will offer all existing primary care services including family medicine, adult and children’s dentistry, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, behavioral health, nutrition and on-site lab services.

New services will include chiropractic care, radiology and ultrasound, and podiatry services. Walk-in services will also be available.

Family HealthCare Network is now scheduling appointments for current and new patients at its new Hanford health center.

For more information on Family HealthCare Network, call 1-877-960-3426 or visit

More ink, less water: News coverage of the drought prompted Californians to conserve, study suggests
More ink, less water: News coverage of the drought prompted Californians to conserve, study suggests

What does it take to get Californians to save water during a massive drought? Apparently, a lot of ink and newsprint helps.

Extensive news coverage of the state’s historic drought prompted residents to conserve water, new research out of Stanford University suggests. The more that major newspapers wrote about the drought, the more people in the Bay Area cut back on their personal water use, according to a report this week in the journal Science Advances.

Indeed, the overwhelming volume of news stories appears to have motivated Californians to conserve even before Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions on April 1, 2015.

The fact that people reduced their water use when they didn’t absolutely have to caught the attention of Newsha Ajami, the director of urban water policy for Stanford’s Water in the West initiative. Ajami wondered whether the media had anything to do with it.

To find out, she teamed up with Kimberly Quesnel, a graduate student in Stanford’s department of civil and environmental engineering.

The pair searched the story archives of six California newspapers (the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee and Orange County Register) and three others (USA Today, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal) to tally all of the drought-related stories that were published.

Their target period of July 2005 to June 2015 included not one but two droughts.

The first occurred from 2007 to 2009, brought about by a combination of “record low precipitation” and “increased demand from urban areas,” the study authors explained. By February 2009, the drought had become so bad that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought emergency.

The second drought began in 2011, kicking off the driest four-year stretch in California’s recorded history. By 2014, “exceptional drought” conditions were widespread in the state.

Relief finally arrived with El Nino rains in 2016 and atmospheric river-fueled storms in 2017.

If only one of these droughts sounds familiar, that may be because only one of them rated as a big news story. (Hint: It wasn’t the first one.)

Back in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the drought “received limited media attention,” the study authors wrote. Newspapers published “a few” stories in the summer of 2008, after Schwarzenegger issued an emergency proclamation for certain counties in the Central Valley. When that emergency was extended to the entire state in 2009, the story count was even lower.

Ajami and Quesnel noted that at the time, newspapers — and their readers — were preoccupied with other big stories. Among them: the presidential election that put Barack Obama in the White House and the country’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The situation was different by 2012, when newspapers began paying attention to another worsening drought. The number of stories on the subject began “rapidly increasing” in January 2014, when Brown declared a state of emergency.

Was anyone actually paying attention to all those stories? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Ajami and Quesnel turned to Google Trends to see how often people conducted internet searchers for the term “California drought” during the 10-year study period. They found a very high correlation between the number of Google searches and the number of newspaper stories — when one was low, the other was too. Ditto when both were high.

To see whether that had any effect on water usage, the researchers examined customer records in the areas served by the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency. The pair focused on water use by single family residences.

When they compared news coverage to water use, they found a distinct pattern: The more that newspapers wrote about the drought, the more people searched for it on Google and the more residential water use fell.

How much? For every 100-story increase in the number of drought-related newspaper stories published over a two-month period, residential water use fell by 11 percent to 18 percent, according to the study.

Other factors appeared to influence water use as well. For instance, when unemployment went up, water use went down, presumably because people were looking for ways to cut household expenses, the researchers wrote. Changes in the temperature also predicted changes in water use.

But the effect of newspaper articles was distinct.

“The 2011-2016 California drought was unprecedented not only hydrologically but also in terms of widespread political action and publicity,” the study authors wrote. “Residential water use decreased at the fastest rate after media coverage of the drought ramped up.”

AP top story
Doctors still foggy on valley fever symptoms

Rick Parker knew he had valley fever, but his doctors wouldn’t test him.

The 48-year- old was prospecting gold in Mojave, in 2013 when he inhaled some dirt. Not long after, he became fatigued, developed a cough, had lung pain and experienced chills.

The Phoenix native had heard all about valley fever while living in Arizona, where the disease infects thousands annually. But when he asked his doctors in Torrance to test him, they refused.

Emergency room doctors at Torrance Memorial Medical Center told him that nobody in Los Angeles develops valley fever and diagnosed him with tuberculosis. Then his general practitioner said he had pneumonia, then tuberculosis again. Parker said she was about to begin treating him for lung cancer when he locked himself in her office and demanded that she test him for valley fever.

“I knew what I had, and I wasn’t going to put up with a lung cancer misdiagnosis and have them remove a lung for no reason whatsoever,” Parker said. After his tests came back positive, his general practitioner called to apologize, he said and admitted he was her first valley fever patient.

“It’s frustrating, and it’s even more frustrating when you know what you have and nobody will listen,” Parker said.

Parker faced one of the most challenging aspects of valley fever: a lack of awareness among physicians, the very people whom patients tend to trust the most.

Valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis, is caused when fungal spores common in the southwestern United States get released into the air and inhaled. Most people don't develop symptoms, but others come down with a fever, cough, extreme fatigue and a rash, among other symptoms. In rare cases, the fungal spore can spread to the bloodstream, infect other organs, and cause cocci meningitis, leading to a lifetime of health issues and potentially death.

Cases have spiked recently, with infections in California last year reaching the highest number ever recorded.

All local doctors in California’s Central Valley and Arizona’s valley fever corridor, through Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, should recognize valley fever symptoms, public health officials say. But that’s challenging in a medically underserved region known for having a revolving door of new doctors. Once those doctors begin to understand the disease and become good at diagnosing it, they often relocate for new career opportunities, public health officials say.

Despite the high infection rate in Kern County and throughout Arizona, there’s no mandate that all new doctors undergo training on valley fever and how to diagnose it. There are no agreed-upon best practices for raising awareness among doctors. And it’s unclear whether medical professionals even know when valley fever cases are surging because counties have no uniform guidelines for when to declare an epidemic and are not equipped to disseminate the message effectively.

Kaiser Permanente declined to comment for this story, providing only a prepared statement affirming its commitment to continuing physician education on relevant clinical issues, including infectious diseases such as valley fever.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who formed a Congressional Valley Fever Task Force in 2013, said in an August interview that educating doctors in areas where the disease is endemic could lead to the greatest improvement in reducing the toll.

“Where do we go when we don’t feel good? The medical community,” McCarthy said. “They have to have the awareness programs to educate the medical doctors.”

When asked whether he would push for legislation that would mandate training for doctors new to areas where valley fever is endemic, he instead urged insurers to put pressure on health plans. Insurance networks, McCarthy said, need to do more to educate their doctors. “A dream scenario would be every local physician being fully aware of valley fever as they’re incoming and new to our area, and that’s something we’re always working diligently on,” said Michelle Corson, a public relations officer for Kern County Public Health Services.

Dr. John Galgiani, director of University of Arizona’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence, recommends going even further, with regular briefings for doctors in endemic areas.

“Going to a course sounds good, but that information gets cataloged in the backs of doctors’ minds and doesn’t necessarily come bubbling up to the surface if the next patient in their clinic has valley fever,” he said. Instead, repetition is key, Galgiani said.

“Changing practices requires constant and repetitive attention to staying on message and telling people this is important,” Galgiani said.