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This undated photo provided by Ethan Allen Inc. shows their Disney hub modular storage unit. (Ethan Allen Inc. via AP)

Saving a piece of Hanford history

HANFORD — Patricia Dickerson had a secret, and it took every ounce of willpower she had not to tell anyone about the secret. But now the secret is out and she’s excited to tell the public about her news.

The Hanford Carnegie Museum, where Dickerson is the general manager, will now hold another significant piece of Hanford history: the bell tower that stood in front of the old fire station on Lacey Boulevard.

As of Thursday, the old fire station is gone but the bell tower now sits in front of the Carnegie at 109 E. Eighth St.

“We lost the firehouse, but we didn’t lose this. We won this battle,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said when she and the Carnegie’s Board of Trustees realized that there was no way to save to old fire station from demolition, they came up with the idea to save and preserve at least one piece of the station’s history.

So, she said she went to City Manager Darrel Pyle’s office and asked if they could keep something. She said they knew the entire building was coming down so she asked for the bell tower, which stood in front of the building at the corner of Lacey Boulevard and Kaweah Street.

Dickerson said she was afraid the museum wasn’t going to get the bell tower, so she kept quiet but kept hoping.

“We didn’t hear anything for about a week, and then [Building Superintendent Randy Shaw] called and said it was ours,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said she didn’t know when the museum would be able to get the tower because the construction company was afraid of the tower possibly breaking, so they saved the tower at the site until all the demolition was done.

On Tuesday, Dickerson said she finally got the call that the bell would be ready to be picked up on Thursday morning.

Originally, the tower was supposed to be put in the backyard of the museum, but Dickerson said it ended up being too big. So, the bell tower now sits proudly in front of the museum facing Eighth Street.

“Now, everybody can see it,” Dickerson said.

The bell that used to hang on the tower has a long history, including being hidden during World War II so that it wasn’t melted down for scrap metal. Eventually the bell resurfaced and was placed on the tower outside the old fire station at 404 W. Lacey Blvd.

The bell was moved again to Fire Station No. 1 at 350 W. Grangeville Blvd., but the tower stayed at its previous location on Lacey Boulevard for decades.

The next step is getting a replica bell made to go on the tower, Dickerson said. She said donations will be taken to go toward funding the replica bell.

Dickerson wanted to thank Shaw and Pyle, without whom she said this wouldn’t have happened. 

Pyle said the city ensured the Hanford Fire Department was able to keep as much memorabilia from the old fire station as possible. He said they kept lettering off the building, the fire pole and even wall paper from inside the station.

“After the fire department secured those pieces they felt captured the essence of the station, we were happy to share with the Carnegie so that visitors and residents alike could enjoy the history,” Pyle said.

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HANFORD — The fate of downtown has always been a hot button issue in Hanford; where the downtown preservationists battle those with an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude.

Dickerson also gave a lot of the credit to the museum’s board and volunteers, who have been putting in a lot of time and effort into making this possible.

“It’s our history — the history of Hanford,” Dickerson said. “Our mission is to preserve and protect, which is what we’re doing.”

Dickerson said she couldn’t be happier about the timing of the museum getting the tower. With new carpet inside and new displays ready to be showcased, everything seems to be coming together for the grand reopening of the museum on March 10.

“We’re just excited that it all came together,” Tristan Long, vice president of the board, said.

“Getting that bell tower in, that’s just perfect,” Dickerson said. “We saved something, and that’s everything.”

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Black History Month Committee awards 6 scholarships

HANFORD— The Black History Month Committee awarded $1,000 scholarships to six students in Kings County and the Wanda Williams-Hinton award to the Traffic Kingz Motorcycle Club and Traffic Queenz Social Club at the celebration dinner Feb. 24.

The scholarship application process included two letters of recommendation and an essay. The winners are all seniors in high school: Mehek Boparai, Maya Taylor-Collins, Michelle Duran, Ramiah Jordan, Ashley Salas and Katelynn Williams.

Boparai of Sierra Pacific will attend the University of Pennsylvania. She plans to major in English and pre-medicine. Her goal is to become a doctor and potentially a Congresswoman.

Taylor-Collins of Hanford High will attend College of the Sequoias to become a physical therapist.

Duran of Hanford West will attend California State University, Fresno to major in multimedia. She wants to become a video producer.

Jordan of Kings Christian will attend College of the Sequoias and plans to later transfer to Gold Canyon University to pursue a degree in communications.

Salas of Corcoran High is waiting to hear back from California State Universities in San Diego and Sacramento. She wants to become a registered nurse.

Williams of Lemoore High will attend West Hills College for its psychiatric technician program.

Contributed by the Black History Month Dinner 

Representatives from the Traffic Kingz Motorcycle Club and the Traffic Queenz Social Club received the Wanda Williams-Hinton Community Service Award.

The Wanda Williams-Hinton Community Service award goes to an organization or person that helps the community in some way. The Traffic Kingz and Traffic Queens were selected for their events like the Easter Egg Hunt in Coe Park and donating backpacks to kids at the start of the school year.

The committee also recognized Bryan Austin and Renewing Faith Global Outreach Ministries for their service to the community.

Putin's nuke boasts are unlikely to change balance of power

WASHINGTON — Russia's claim to have developed new strategic weapons impervious to Western defenses seems unlikely to change the balance of global power.

Russian nuclear missiles already have the ability to annihilate the U.S., and U.S. defense strategy is based mainly on the deterrent threat of massive nuclear retaliation, not on an impenetrable shield against Russian missiles.

Some analysts said President Vladimir Putin's statements about the new weapons may speed up what they see as an emerging arms race with the United States. Just last month the United States cast Russia as the main reason it needs to develop two new nuclear weapons: a lower-yield warhead for a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile.

The Trump administration has vowed to expand U.S. nuclear strength, while criticizing Russia's buildup. Putin's remarks seem unlikely to change that equation or divert the Trump administration from its path toward modernizing the full U.S. nuclear arsenal at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars while also expanding missile defenses.

Putin, in a state-of-the-nation speech Thursday in Moscow just days before he is expected to win another six-year presidential term, said his new weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone that could be armed with a nuclear warhead, and a hypersonic missile that has no equivalent in the world.

Putin said Thursday that Russia has these new strategic weapons and many more, declaring: "No one has listened to us. You listen to us now."

The United States should now revise its Russia policy and engage in a serious dialogue on global security, Putin said.

"You will have to assess that new reality and become convinced that what I said today isn't a bluff," he said. "It's not a bluff, trust me."

The Pentagon recently mentioned Russia's work on two of the weapons Putin mentioned: the underwater drone with intercontinental range and a hypersonic "glide vehicle," which is a weapon that Washington and Beijing also are working on. The Pentagon has not publicly talked about the nuclear-powered cruise missile mentioned by Putin. It is reminiscent of U.S. work in the 1960s on a similar weapon, dubbed "The Big Stick," but ultimately scrapped.

The White House dismissed Putin's comments.

"President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known all along, which Russia has denied: Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems for over a decade in direct violations of its treaty obligations," Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said in response to Putin's announcement.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert noted that Putin was speaking ahead of the March 18 election.

"We think he was playing to the audience," she said, adding that Putin's boasts were irresponsible. She said it was "unfortunate" to watch a Russian video animation Putin showed during his address that she said depicted "a nuclear attack on the United States." She called the animation "cheesy."

Although Putin said his announcement was intended to get America's attention, he also said he was open to talks with the U.S.

"We aren't threatening anyone, we aren't going to attack anyone, we aren't going to take anything from anyone," he said.

Putin claimed his new weapons will render U.S. and European defenses useless, suggesting an escalation of the stakes in a long-running struggle for stability in the post-Cold War world. Moscow has long threatened to find technological ways around Western missile defenses that it sees as threatening and that the West denies are aimed at Russia.

Thomas Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Putin's statements are consistent with a larger pattern of Russian thinking about nuclear weapons and Russia's role in the world. The Trump administration interprets Russian statements and actions over the past several years, including its annexation of the Crimea and military incursions into eastern Ukraine, as requiring a stronger U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said the U.S. will stick to its insistence that U.S. missile defenses are not a threat to Russia.

"This is not about defense; it's about deterrence," she said, adding that the Defense Department was not surprised by Putin's weapons claims.

Michaela Dodge, a Heritage Foundation missile defense expert, said Putin's statements confirm that the Trump administration was right to build its recent review of nuclear weapons policy around concerns about Russia.

The administration's view is that Russian policies and actions are fraught with potential for miscalculation leading to an uncontrolled escalation of conflict in Europe. It specifically points to a Russian doctrine known as "escalate to de-escalate," in which Moscow would use or threaten to use lower-yield nuclear weapons in a limited, conventional conflict in Europe in the belief that doing so would compel the United States and NATO to back down.

Leos show they 'Khan' go Mongolian

LEMOORE —The Lemoore Leos Club is taking over a nearly 20-year old Lions Club tradition — but it’s really a tradition that goes back to the days of Genghis Kahn, nearly a millennia ago.

The Leos will host Mongolian Night for the first time this Saturday.

Food will be served by the Leos and cooked up by members of the West Hills culinary team.

For those unfamiliar with the Mongolian-style barbecue, the diner’s choice of different raw meats and veggies are grilled on a large, flat service and mixed with any and all available spices — or no spices at all — in a move that historians have called the first case of “fast food,” though it has more in common with a stir fry than with McDonald’s.

The Leos voted to take the event over from the Lemoore Lions Club and turn it into their signature fundraiser, according to Flavio Florez Jr., Lions member and adviser to the Leos.

“I just give them guidance and they run with it,” Florez said. “I just tell them to find causes they believe in.”

Florez estimates that this year’s Mongolian Night event could be the biggest in its history, due to an increased social media presence by the Leos.

“Last year, we had about 100 people, but this year could be bigger,” he said.

The event will be held from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Lemoore Civic Center. Adult donations are $15 and $7.50 for children under 12. Ages 4 and under are free.

There will also be a silent auction during the night.

The Leos have contributed to efforts helping the National Relief Fund, as well as more localized charitable contributions like helping raise money for the Lemoore Rec Center and working with Valley Children’s Hospital.

Last year, the group raised money for the rec center by taking and selling Easter Bunny photos.

“Hopefully Mongolian Night gives us more of a budget so [the Leos] can donate where they want to donate,” Florez said.

The Leos club, established about five years ago, is comprised of 22 members between the ages of 12 and 18.  When Florez became the club’s adviser about a year and a half ago, the club had a scant four members.  Florez, already a Lion, decided to become the group’s adviser when his son joined the Leos.

“We love the Leos because they’re the future of the Lions,” Florez said, adding that he knew of two Leos who have graduated to the Lions Club.

Island Elementary hosts annual carnival, variety show

LEMOORE — Variety is the optimal word at Island Elementary School’s annual variety show and carnival.

“It’s a mix of everything,” said Island Boosters president Brooke Lopes.

The event, slated for Saturday afternoon, will take place rain or shine, though organizers are hoping for shine.

A fundraiser for the Boosters, the event’s activities include student variety show performances, carnival games, auctions and a dessert auction.

“It was traditionally a pie sale when I was a student,” said Lopes. “But we’ve changed it a bit to include all desserts.”

The students, grades kindergarten-eighth, will perform songs based on this year’s theme: “Where the Stars, Stripes and Cardinals Fly.” Performances include a rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” by the first-graders and the kindergarteners’ version of “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.

“We felt like with everything going on politically right now, we’d go with an Americana theme because it would be good to just go back to being proud of the United States, its roots and the [school mascot] Cardinals,” Lopes said.

It’s also a way to thank the many military families that students of the school belong to, she said.

The event will raise funds for the Island Boosters’ general fund. Recently, the boosters have helped financially with student field trips, gifts for teacher appreciation week and have also purchased a new water filtration unit for the school’s faculty.

The live auction will be held in between the performances of each class, while the silent auction will be ongoing throughout the day.

Auction items include a miniature horse born last year, bicycles, art made by the students and even a special campus parking spot.

“Parking there can be a little bit crazy,” Lopes jokes.

In addition to the ongoing silent auction, carnival games will be available throughout the day as well.

Lopes said the games include standard fare like ring toss, football throws through tires and whatever else her team has come up with.

“My chair people are awesome, so I just let them go with it,” she said.

Admission is free, though carnival games are an additional fee. Food, including tri-tip will also be sold.

Lopes said the event has gotten larger since the school became a charter school.