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Transformation in Armona

ARMONA — After almost 10 years, Armona has rescinded a moratorium on new water connections, opening up the possibility for growth and development in the small community.

“Things are looking up,” Jim Maciel, chairman of the Armona Community Services District, said. “It’s starting to blossom after a lot of years of being dormant.”

Back in 2008, Maciel said engineers determined that the community’s water supply was unable to support new housing connections, so Armona had to cap-off the connections it had and essentially halt other development within the community until additional water became available.

Armona residents have had some of the highest water rates in the state in an effort to get better water. It’s taken a while and there were challenges and frustration, but the plans finally came to fruition recently.

Last September, the district completed a new well and water treatment facility that has been providing residents of Armona with some of the highest quality water in the state, Maciel said.

The water was safe before, but Maciel said the treatment facility has taken care of some of the secondary issues, such as color, taste and odor. He said the water is now of “outstanding quality” and he gets comments from residents saying it’s the best water they’ve ever had there.

“We have crystal clear water,” Maciel said. “Our water is every bit as good as what you get in a bottle that you buy in a store.”

Along with two existing wells, the new well and treatment facility has made it possible to provide fire protection and water for an additional 635 homes, Maciel said.

Maciel said this will enable the Armona north subdivision to be fully developed, which has around 300 additional homes planned.

He also said a new 15-unit townhouse development is under review at the Kings County Community Development Department and said he knows of more developers interested in building housing developments in Armona now that the water will no longer be a detriment.

Supervisor Craig Pedersen, whose district encompasses Armona, said he is proud of what the district has been able to accomplish with its water treatment facility. He said there will now be commercial opportunities to bring more rooftops and housing.

Donna Clemons, who is also on the Armona Community Services District board, said the first thing people think of when they think about Armona is bad quality water. With that issue out of the way, she believes it will truly bring population growth and affordable housing developments.

“We’re a viable alternative to Hanford or Lemoore,” Clemons said, adding it is a very welcoming community.

Clean water isn’t the only change that has happened in Armona.

Kings County completed a paved walking path linking the Armona north subdivision with the core of Armona at 14th Avenue and Front Street.

Maciel said this allows people to walk to the central part of Armona without having to walk on Front Street, which he said is a heavily-traveled road.

Though he said it may not look like much, the pathway is being used and has added to the overall safety of pedestrians by getting them off the roadway.

Pedersen, who grew up in Armona and went to elementary school there, said it’s sometimes hard to find funding for the unincorporated and underprivileged area after paying for fire and police services. He said he’s glad the county has been able to help with small, but important projects like the walking path and crosswalks for students to get safely to school.

“It’s great and I hope we can do more of that type of thing in Armona,” Maciel said. “Eventually maybe get some curbs and gutters and sidewalks.”

Maciel said once the well and water treatment facility went on line, it seems like other things have been falling into place.

“It’s looking good, the community is starting to get better,” Maciel said. “It’s going through this transformation-type thing. We’re starting to look more positive all the time; things are happening in town and we’re just real happy about what’s going on in our town.”

Maciel said he is proud that residents approved the additional water fees, which showed the state that the community would be able to afford to support the well and treatment facility. He said without the residents’ willingness to pay, the district would still be having trouble with the state water board.

“I’m proud to live in Armona and proud of our people,” Maciel said, adding the next hurdle is being able to reduce water rates for residents. “I think our little town is starting to flourish a little bit.”

The Armona Community Services District is proud of the accomplishments and believes growth is headed in the right direction.

“I wouldn’t consider living anywhere else,” Clemons said.

Crews set up Monday for the 2018 World Ag Expo.

The 51st World Ag Expo is here

This year at the World Ag Expo, there is more of the same and some new attractions to check out.

Diligently, the crews of over 1,400 exhibitors set up their displays Monday for the World Ag Expo.

Last year, around 105,780 people attended the expo, representing 71 countries and 43 states.

Attendees can look forward to a few new events this year, including a livestock seminar and demonstration on Wednesday afternoon in the Arena, a woodworking demonstration, the Italian Trade Agency pavilion, and a wide variety of new seminars that cover everything from organic farming to new technology in the agriculture industry.

There will also be new parking available on the south side of the center.

Tom Finn, the chairman of the World Ag Expo, said the expo is a place to grow an agriculture business and every year the expo is growing and expanding.

While crews were continuing to set up, the Crinklaw crew was answering questions about the Global Unmanned Spray System (GUSS) and ready to show off their products’ driving capabilities.

GUSS was named one of the top new products for this year’s expo. The booths with the top 10 products have a star on the show map and a flag hanging near of the exhibit.

Some crews had an easy set up and some were still working around midday Monday.

BECO Dairy Automation and Grabow Well Drilling Inc. were in the process of setting up displays and making them look nice.

BECO, based in Hanford, will be showing off its products that are made to make the milking experience as productive as possible while keeping in mind the experience for the cows.

As a company, we are always focused on what’s best for the cow,” Colby Brown, operations manager for BECO, said.

Grabow is a 115-year-old business that has been in the Grabow family since they emigrated from Denmark, Derick Grabow said. After starting up the company again in October 2016, Grabow is showing off its water rig for the second time at the expo.

For some exhibitors, the agriculture expo is their main form of advertisement. Standing in the middle of their products, Morgan and Slates Inc.’s representatives explain that they get some of their business from the agriculture expo.

“Other than this, we don’t advertise much outside of this expo,” Rick Temores a representative of Morgan and Slates said.

There are a total of 11 businesses based in Hanford and Lemoore with exhibits at the World Ag Expo: BECO, Baker Commodities Inc., McLellan Inc., Fleetside Inc., Renewable Solar Inc., Swage Kings Inc., Grabow, Morgan & Slates, Monty’s Portables LLC, Marty Martinez Farms, Verdegaal Brothers Inc  and Rent-A-Toilet.

The World Ag Expo estimates that 45 percent of agriculture professionals attending the expo have the authority to make purchasing decisions for their company.

Monday was also a learning day for rural task forces and other investigators. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) arranged for around 40 members of law enforcement to learn about new ways to identify parts of tractors and other large farming equipment.

“It’s all about identifying equipment and returning it back,” Neil Carmody, a special agent with the NICB said.

The group scheduled a session with Kubota and Bobcat, and then the officers and investigators had the opportunity to explore the Expo at their leisure.

Photos: 51st Annual World Ag Expo

Art in the Heart returns in time for Valentines' Day

HANFORD — Art in the Heart, downtown Hanford’s monthly art hop, will live up to its name this month, as the event is held just two days shy of Valentine’s Day.

The art hop, running from 6-9 p.m. tonight, is one of the sponsored projects with the aim of revitalizing downtown’s cultural and commercial significance organized by Heart of Hanford, the “public face” of nonprofit organization Restore Downtown Hanford.

The night of art, music and extended business hours celebrates one full year after starting in February of 2017.

“Most of our advertisement is by word of mouth, so it’s been cool to see an event go on for an entire year just by word of mouth,” said Gabby Bradley, event organizer and production manager at the Soaking Tub.

The Soaking Tub is a skin care boutique located at 227 N. Irwin St., which will be participating in the event.

In art hops past, about six businesses participate by staying open late and hosting live music and artists’ work, but this month’s art hop will have nine participating business in total, The event will see the addition of newcomers Snicklefritz, the children’s boutique, and the Junkyard Gypsies clothing shop, both on North Irwin Street as well as The Children’s Storybook Garden, who started participating a few months ago.

The new establishments were needed to accommodate the growing popularity of the events.

“It’s the demand,” Bradley said. “We have more and more people coming into town for it and more and more artists and musicians that want to be involved. We’re starting to see traction.”

And while the events are a night for celebrating art, music and culture, they’ve also proven to be a celebration of commerce, as well.

Bradley said the events usually spur on business and have had a positive effect on the businesses that participate.

“It’s helpful to be open three extra hours for the event,” Bradley said. “It attracts new people because we do have live art and live music, which is something that’s not here all the time.”

Artists and musicians are urged to contact The Heart of Hanford Facebook page or any of the businesses to get involved.

The other businesses participating are Rock N Roll Deli, Lush Fine Wines, DJ’s Collectibles, One Eleven Coffee and Independent Music.

For more information, visit

Contributed by Nathan Odom 

New Dustbowl performs at Lush Fine Wines during an Art in the Heart art hop downtown last year.  This month's event is scheduled in downtown from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday.

NOE GARCIA, The Sentinel 

Sierra Pacific forward/center Kalea Bush wins the opening tip of Friday's game against Woodlake.