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Ride to your heart's content

HANFORD — After kids got their fill of Easter egg hunting on Friday during the Easter Eggstravaganza, many of them took the opportunity to ride something that is a community staple at Civic Center Park: the Hanford carousel.

Originally located in Tulare County’s Mooney Grove Park, the 1930s Allan Herschell carousel was relocated to Hanford in the 1980s.

Since coming to Hanford, the wooden ride has depended on community support to stay in good working order.

This year, the Hanford Chamber of Commerce — which has a contract with the city to operate the carousel — is selling $30 season pass wristbands that allow the rider an unlimited amount of rides during the carousel’s season.

Chamber Executive Director Joey Joslin said the season lasts from now until the end of Thursday Night Market Place, around September or October. The carousel is open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. and will also operate during Thursday Night Market Place, which starts in May.

Individual rides on the carousel are $1 per ride, so anyone who buys a season pass wristband is essentially paying for just 30 rides but in return will be getting as many as they can handle without becoming too dizzy.

“We’ve already had people purchasing [the wristbands] and getting five or 10 rides just on the day that they purchase it,” Joslin said.

The chamber has done ride wristbands in the past, but Joslin said this is the first year that the wristbands were specifically printed for the current year’s entire season.

Joslin said the city helps supplement some of the carousel’s insurance and maintenance costs, but the wristbands will help maintain the high cost of operating the carousel, which gets inspected every year.

“It doesn’t generate as much money per year as it actually costs to operate it,” Joslin said. “So by doing this, it allows us to have a little bit of an additional push of income to be able to do things.”

Besides the carousel’s structural components, Joslin said the horses and benches need to be repainted and there are brass elements that need to be maintained.

“There’s about $20,000 worth of beautifying maintenance that we would like to do to it,” Joslin said, adding each horse costs about $300 to get repainted.

Joslin said the carousel does about 15,000 rides per year, most of which are during Thursday Night Market Place, so the chamber wants to make sure it keeps the ride in top shape at all times.

“It’s a great thing to have a wooden carousel because they’re so rare, but it’s a really great thing to have a beautiful wooden carousel,” Joslin said.

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Easter Eggstravaganza ushers in spring weather

HANFORD – Children hunting for Easter eggs while sweaty parents complained about the heat can only mean one thing – spring has sprung.

On the hottest day so far this year, hundreds gathered at Civic Center Park to meet the Easter Bunny, play games, ride the carousel and hunt Easter eggs.

“It’s never been this big,” said Susie Chavez, recreation supervisor for Hanford Parks and Recreation.

More than 300 children paid to enter the hunt, with about 240 pre-registering before the event. Chavez said that the number of pre-registered children in past years is usually around 60.

About 3,000 eggs were scattered in the grass in front of the Civic Auditorium, up from the original number of 2,000 thanks to a last minute donation from Hanford optometrists Michael S. Mayer and Dr. Aakash Shah.  

When the clock struck noon, children of all ages ran onto the grass like a scene from the Normandy invasion, gobbling up the plastic eggs containing candy and prize tickets. 

“It takes longer to put them out than it takes for the kids to grab them up,” Chavez said before the event. “They’ll be gone in about 30 seconds.”

It may not have even taken that long for the grassy areas in front of the auditorium to be completely stripped of the colorful plastic prizes. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” played throughout the park during the egg hunt – though perhaps only the Easter Bunny knows if that was planned or if it came on the radio randomly as part of some cosmic coincidence.

Hanford siblings London, 9, and Bentleigh Burcham, 7, had a strong game plan going into the hunt.

“We’re going to team up, then we’ll add up the [prize] tickets and split them up,” London – who had his eye on a toy shark - said.

“And if we don’t like the prize, we’ll trade,” his sister said.

The game plan to get as many eggs as possible was a little more straight-forward for Lemoore 5-year-old Ezra Vargas.

“I’m going to run,” he said.

Prizes included candy, stuffed animals, toys, musical instruments, fidget spinners and more.

The Easter Bunny and Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” greeted children and posed for photos before the event. Two inflated bounce houses were full of a constantly rotating group of children. Inflatable slides were just as busy, with children screaming and laughing while sliding down and then making the trek back up to do it again.

Mini train rides were also available for the second year in a row.

Booths were also open for Hanford Parks and Recreation to get better acquainted with the community. Chavez said that since the Hanford YMCA closed in 2014, Parks and Rec has tried to fill the void in terms of community and family activities.

“What we want is to let the community know exactly what it is Parks and Rec does,” Chavez said.

The hunt is on at the Easter Eggstravaganza

Parker Bowman, the Sentinel 

The Easter Bunny high-fives a fan Friday at the Easter Eggstravaganza in Hanford. 

Pathologist: Stephon Clark was shot 8 times, 7 from behind

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Sacramento police shot Stephon Clark seven times from behind, according to autopsy results released Friday by a pathologist hired by Clark's family, findings that call into question the department's assertion that the 22-year-old black man was facing officers and walked toward them when he was killed.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players prompted the NFL to adopt new safety rules designed to prevent concussions, also determined Clark took up to 10 minutes to die.

Police officers, concerned Clark could be alive and armed, waited about five minutes to approach him after the shooting in his grandmother's backyard. Clark was not armed; police apparently mistook a cellphone in his hand for a gun.

"The proposition is he was facing officers is inconsistent with prevailing forensic evidence," Omalu said at a news conference with family attorney Benjamin Crump.

He said it was not clear if Clark would have survived had he gotten immediate medical attention, and he noted that any of the six bullets that hit him in the back and one in the neck could have been the fatal shot. An eighth bullet went into Clark's thigh.

The shooting occurred March 18. Two officers responding to a call of someone breaking car windows shouted that Clark had a gun before firing 20 bullets at him.

The shooting has produced nearly daily angry but peaceful protests in the downtown area of California's capital city.

On Thursday, hours after creating an emotional interruption at his brother's funeral, Stevante Clark helped defuse tension by asking protesters not to block thousands of fans from entering a downtown NBA arena for a third night.

Police in riot gear stood waiting outside the Golden 1 Center as fans wove through barricades and fencing to enter a Sacramento Kings-Indiana Pacers game. But protesters never came, heeding calls from Stevante Clark and Black Lives Matter organizers to avoid the arena. Instead, they blocked rush hour traffic on nearby downtown streets.

Delivering Stephon Clark's eulogy Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton praised demonstrators for their restraint and urged them to follow the lead of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his advocacy of nonviolent protest.

"I want the folks in California to know that there's nothing wrong with how these young people are standing up," he thundered. "They're not being violent, they're asking for you to stop being violent to them."

More than 500 people packed into the church to celebrate Stephon Clark's life, remembering his dance moves, smarts and love for his two young sons.

Stevante Clark interrupted the musical and scriptural celebration by hugging and kissing the casket, leading the crowd in chanting his brother's name, pounding his chest and shouting. Others on the stage attempted to calm him, with limited success.

Sharpton hugged and consoled him and told the crowd not to judge how families grieve.

"This brother could be any one of us, so let them express and grieve," Sharpton said. "We are proud of them for standing up for justice."

The Kings and their owner have been supportive of the Clark family.

West Sacramento resident Onyeabo Aduba, 33, said he canceled reservations Thursday at a restaurant near the arena for his girlfriend's birthday because of the protests. But Aduba said he's supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and is frustrated that efforts such as requiring police to wear body cameras haven't made real change.

Turning the focus nationally, Sharpton and others chastised President Donald Trump for failing to comment on police shootings of young black men. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the Clark shooting and demurred, referring to it as a local issue.

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Lemoore selects voting district map

LEMOORE — In November there will be an election for the Lemoore City Council and it will be different.

Two council members will be up for reelection and only voters who live in their districts will be eligible to vote. The city is switching from at-large voting (all voters in the city voting on any candidate) to district-only voting (where only voters within a district can vote for a candidate from the district).

The city initially planned to change from at-large voting to a district voting closer to 2020. However, the city received a letter threatening litigation, according to a city staff report regarding the change.

The city said the letter said that Lemoore's at-large election system violated California Voting Rights Act that was enacted in 2002.

According to the League of Cities, cities that have gone through litigation to defend themselves in cases similar to Lemoore's case have faced legal fees as high as $7 million.

So, City Council approved to beginning the process of drawing maps and selecting one to be the way residents of Lemoore elect their council members.

After three months of public input and discussion, the council selected map 104 out of the five presented maps. Map 104 presented the least likelihood that the council could get sued before having to redistrict after the 2020 census.

Shalice Tilton, who consulted the city in the map-drawing process, said if there is a district that can be drawn with 50 percent or more of any minority population of voting age and the city did not have that as a district, then the city would be open to potential civil rights lawsuits.

In map 104, district D has 49 percent of residents that identified Latino and are of voting age. This was the closest that anyone who tried to draw a map could get to the ideal 50 percent.

The map splits Lemoore into five districts A, B, C, D and E.

Mayor Ray Madrigal, District A, and Councilman Jeff Chedester, District C, are up for reelection.

District A covers the West Hills College Lemoore area and goes into town no farther than Vine Street, no farther north than Cinnamon Drive and no farther south than the 198.

District C covers the city below D Street that is not part of District A.

Councilman David Brown is in district C, which mostly covers north of Cinnamon Drive, south of Hanford Armona Road and east of Lemoore Avenue. District C also has a portion of town north of Hanford Armona Road and another portion south of Cinnamon Drive that meets district A.

Councilman Eddie Neal is to represent district D, which covers downtown Lemoore and Heritage Park. It is the only district that has borders that touch all districts and the city boundary.

Councilwoman Holly Blair is in district E, which covers the city north of Hanford Armona Road except for the portion that belongs to district A.

Each council member lives in the district they represent.

The map will take effect 30 days after March 20 when it was adopted.

Cannabis tax, ordinance amendment up for Council discussion

HANFORD — After a long meeting on March 20 ended with uncertainty, the Hanford City Council is once again set to discuss the future of the cannabis industry in Hanford.

During a study session before the regular meeting, Council will hear a presentation from HdL Companies consultants on a possible cannabis tax structure.

The city is considering implementing a tax measure that would be imposed on any cannabis businesses that locate in the city as a way to generate revenue. Any measure would be voted on by Hanford residents during the Nov. 6 general election.

Council will vote on the cannabis tax measure later in the evening under general business.

During the regular meeting, Council will continue the discussion they started on March 20 involving amending a city ordinance to allow both medical and adult-use commercial cannabis businesses to locate in Hanford.

Due to emergency cannabis regulations enacted in December, the state essentially created a wall between medical and adult-use cannabis licenses, which is expected to cause a shrinkage in the medical cannabis market.

During the March 20 meeting, Council members had differing views on allowing cannabis intended for recreational use because Council initially chose to only go the medical cannabis route.

Besides a few grammatical changes, the proposed amendment removes the word “medical” from the ordinance and leaves the all-encompassing word “cannabis.”

On the consent calendar, which contains items that are considered routine and are not discussed unless a council member or community member asks that the items be discussed, is a five-year lease agreement between the city and Rabobank, 218 Douty St.

Under general business, Council will also discuss:

  • A project list for gas tax funding.
  • Adopting the 2018-19 fiscal year goals and objectives.