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COS picks new superintendent/president

VISALIA — College of the Sequoias has found its new superintendent/president, and it's someone very familiar with the school.

Brent Calvin, currently the vice president of student services at the college, was selected by the COS Board of Trustees on Tuesday after they interviewed four finalists on March 2.

"As a former student and longtime employee of the College of the Sequoias, I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead this great institution,” Calvin said on Wednesday.

Calvin’s first day as president will be July 1, one day after current president Stan Carrizosa’s tenure ends. Carrizosa announced his retirement from COS in August 2017.

Calvin has worked at COS for a total of 16 years and has served as vice president of student services since 2013.

Prior to his current position, Calvin served as an athletic director, academic dean and vice-president of administrative services. He also served as interim superintendent/president for a while before Carrizosa was hired in 2012.

In fact, while Calvin was academic dean, the COS Hanford Educational Center did not have a provost yet, so he also served as the campus dean of the Hanford center for a while.

“I really enjoyed that time there,” Calvin said.

Calvin grew up in Visalia, where he attended Redwood High School before starting at COS.

“I’m excited because this is not just another community college to me, this is definitely home,” Calvin said.

Calvin earned his associates degree from COS; his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton; and two master’s degrees: an MBA in Business Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a Master of Education from Northcentral University in Arizona.

Looking forward, Calvin said he’s excited about finishing and implementing the college’s 2018-2021 strategic plan, which he said follows the state chancellor’s vision for success.

He said a lot of people at the college have been working hard to make sure students get in and out of the college faster with degrees, certificates or transfers.

Although John Zumwalt, vice president of the COS Board of Trustees, said Carrizosa is a tough act to follow, he knows Calvin is well-known in the community and “very much loves COS.” He said Calvin has learned from Carrizosa and will make a great fit as superintendent/president.

“We’re confident he’ll apply his knowledge and do a real good job,” Zumwalt said. “We expect a seamless transition.”

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New downtown Hanford Mexican restaurant

HANFORD — Restaurant Guanajuatense opened March 1 in downtown Hanford. Maria Gallardo, 54, opened the restaurant after living in Hanford for 23 years.

Gallardo and her family moved from Penjamo, Guanajuato, a town in Mexico. There, Gallardo owned her own shop selling food but wanted one day to own her own restaurant where she would cook as well.

After moving to the United States, Gallardo cooked at several different local restaurants. She opened her new restaurant in The Old Fire House space.

The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Gallardo's daughter, Xochitl Castillo, said that they will serve authentic Mexican food. Gallardo's specialty is her costilla de puerco – pork ribs. They will also have fresh tortillas made on site.

Trump administration escalates California immigration feud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought the Trump administration's feud with California to the doorstep of the state Capitol on Wednesday, suing over its so-called sanctuary state law and dramatically escalating a war with the liberal powerhouse in a sharp exchange of words with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Sessions was defiant as he spoke to local law enforcement officials about the lawsuit, citing a series of California laws that he says are unconstitutional and violate common sense.

"I can't sit by idly while the lawful authority of federal officers are being blocked by legislative acts and politicians," he said, straying from his prepared remarks.

Brown didn't hold back in his response, calling Sessions a liar and saying it was unprecedented for the attorney general to "act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer." He accused Sessions of "going to war" with California to appease President Donald Trump.

"What Jeff Sessions said is simply not true and I call upon him to apologize to the people of California for bringing the mendacity of Washington to California," the governor told reporters.

The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues from marijuana policy to climate change and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won't cooperate.

The governor and state Attorney General Javier Becerra, who has sued the Trump administration numerous times, held a news conference just blocks from where Sessions spoke at a hotel, but they never interacted.

Sessions also used his speech to sharply criticize Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for warning the public about an unannounced raid by federal deportation officers recently in California. Sessions said it allowed hundreds of "wanted criminals" to avoid arrest.

"How dare you?" Sessions said of Schaaf at a California Peace Officers Association meeting in Sacramento. "How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda?"

Schaaf later echoed the refrain to slam Sessions for tearing apart families and distorting the reality of declining violent crime in a "sanctuary city" like Oakland.

"How dare you vilify members of our community by trying to frighten the American public into believing that all undocumented residents are dangerous criminals?" she told reporters.

Sessions received a polite if not warm reception from law enforcement officials, even when he told them his goal was to make their jobs safer. They applauded politely as he was introduced and after his speech, and more than a dozen gave a standing ovation at the end in a room of about 200 officials.

But many sat expressionless, some listening with arms crossed or chins on their folded hands, and his 25-minute speech was never interrupted by applause or protest.

Outside, dozens of demonstrators chanted "stand up, fight back" and "no justice, no peace" and some blocked traffic on a major thoroughfare. There was a heavy police presence but no arrests.

"This is a reminder that California does not see his federal policies," said Steven Lynn, 33, a Sacramento graduate student. "We are a state of immigrants."

Brown speculated that Sessions' dig on California may be an attempt to ease an openly rocky relationship with the president, saying, "Maybe he's trying to keep his job because the president is not too happy with him."

Trump is set to visit California next week for the first time since his election to see models of his proposed wall along the Mexican border.

California passed sanctuary laws in response to Trump's promises to sharply ramp up the deportation of people in the U.S. illegally. Sessions said several of them prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from making deportation arrests.

State officials say the policies increase public safety by promoting trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while allowing police resources to be used to fight other crimes.

One law prohibits employers from letting immigration agents enter work sites or view employee files without a subpoena or warrant, an effort to prevent workplace raids. Another stops local governments from contracting with for-profit companies and ICE to hold immigrants. Justice Department officials said that violates the Constitution's supremacy clause, which renders state laws invalid if they conflict with federal ones.

The U.S. Supreme Court reinforced the federal government's primacy in enforcing immigration law when it blocked much of Arizona's tough 2010 immigration law on similar grounds. The high court found several key provisions undermined federal immigration law, though it upheld a provision requiring officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Art in the Heart celebration returns to downtown

HANFORD — It’s time again for downtown to be inundated with art and music.

Art in the Heart, the monthly art hop organized by Heart of Hanford, returns from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday night.

The events see local musicians and artists matched up with downtown businesses for a night of entertainment.

“We’ve got exceptional musicians in Hanford, and I don’t think people realize that,” said event organizer Nate Odom.  

This month’s art hop, which is always held on the second Tuesday of each month, will feature a performance by singer songwriter Jonathan Gallegos at the Hanford Antique Emporium. Art by Edward Luena will also be showcased.

“He has an amazing voice; it’s very bluesy and raspy. Just incredible,” Odom said.

Odom said he’s excited for spring weather to start warming up the nights, as art hop attendance has been down during the winter months. He’s also looking to get more businesses, specifically restaurants involved in the monthly events to entice even more people to come out.

Rock N Roll Deli joined the art hop last month and will continue to participate, hosting artist Clarence Mattos and musician Tim Mattos this month.

“It’s a chance to build the community you want to see and live in,” he said.

Odom stressed the importance of creating a culture for local artists to flourish.

“When you’re downtown at the art hop, it feels like all the chaos is just pushed out. The only way to combat the chaos of the world is with art,” he said. “It’s when we convey different perspectives [through art], that’s how we bridge the gaps between us.”

DJ’s Collectible Shoppe will host musician Bobby Grundwald and Lego artist Emily Corl.

The art hops began in the summer of 2016, as the brainchild of Neill Swift, but were adopted by the Heart of Hanford organization.

Heart of Hanford formed in 2016 as the “public face” of the nonprofit organization, Restore Downtown Hanford.

Odom said that Heart of Hanford will be putting an increased focus on preserving Hanford’s historical landmarks, citing the recent City Council decision to demolish the old firehouse at Lacey Boulevard and Kaweah Street, despite public outcry.

The preservation and expansion of Hidden Valley Park is also important to Odom, he said.

“But that’s what’s great about the art hops. It’s good to have something that isn’t just fighting the city on things like the firehouse or Hidden Valley. It’s about coming together and building a community,” he said.