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Hanford moves forward with awarding cannabis permits

HANFORD — The Hanford City Council moved forward in the process of approving permits for several medical cannabis companies at Tuesday night’s meeting, possibly leaving the door open for more.

Back in July, Council agreed to limit the number of cannabis permits to eight freestanding facilities and two cannabis campus permits with eight individual permits each; a total of 26 permits.

The city received 27 permit applications from five companies in October and city staff completed a three-phase review process on each of the applications.

Council discussed awarding 21 cannabis permits to three different medical cannabis companies, including:

  • Caliva  - one cultivation permit, one manufacturing permit and one distribution permit
  • Genezen - one cannabis campus permit, 14 cultivation permits, one manufacturing permit and one distribution permit
  • Premium Extracts - one manufacturing permit

All five companies that applied passed the first two phases of the review process, but only Caliva, Genezen and Premium Extracts passed the third and final phase. The third phase included an interview with Community Development Director Darlene Mata, Police Chief Parker Sever and consultants from HdL Companies.

The two companies that applied for a permit but were not recommended to council were Essential Farms and Bridge the Gap. Essential Farms applied for one cultivation permit, one manufacturing permit and one distribution permit, while Bridge the Gap applied for one cultivation permit.

Councilman Justin Mendes asked Mata why the two companies were denied in the third phase if they passed the first two phases. He said not being able to talk well during an interview shouldn’t matter as much as having a good business plan.

Mata and Sever said the interview process was a way to make sure the owners of the companies knew their business plans and were familiar with what they were trying to accomplish.

“We have a lot riding on this, and it was important for us to try to select the best companies,” Sever said.

Mendes said he was fine awarding permits for the recommended businesses, but also suggested setting up some sort of appeals process for the businesses that weren’t recommended. His idea was supported by both Councilman Francisco Ramirez and Councilman Martin Devine.

Council voted unanimously to award the recommended number of permits to Caliva, Genezen and Premium Extracts, but the decision will not be final until there is a public hearing on the matter during the next regular Council meeting on Nov. 21.

Council also gave Mata direction to look into an appeals process so Bridge the Gap or Essential Farms can have another shot at obtaining permits.

Randi Knott, spokeswoman for Genezen, told council she was pleased with their decision and thanked Mata and Sever for all their hard work.

“There are just so many opportunities from doing this and we’re so very excited,” Knott said.

Rand Martin, who was at the meeting on behalf of Caliva, told council the company was excited to become part of the “Hanford family” and said it was “one of the more enjoyable experiences” he had working with city staff.

“We found Hanford welcoming us with open arms,” Martin said. “We’re very excited about working with you to make sure that this industry really does deliver all the things that we anticipate it to.”

Jose Rivas, founder of Premium Extracts, thanked the city for all its hard work, especially Mata and Sever, and said he was looking forward to locating in Hanford.

After the public hearing, the next steps for the cannabis companies would be to obtain conditional use permits and undergo an environmental analysis.

Contributed by Dana Hodson 

On Nov. 4, Hanford West High School's AP English Literature students journeyed to California State University, Fresno to watch Thomas-Whit Ellis’s play “Native Son,” based on Richard Wright’s novel. Teacher Kristy Sahagun said her class enjoyed the enriching and educational opportunity and the class plans to watch another play in their final months as seniors. Student Dana Hodson said "the book/play is one the corrupt society can benefit from due to its enlightening perspectives on controversial issues.”  After watching the play, student Parker Sommers was “ecstatic to view this adaptation from the original novel.”  "I absolutely loved this play," said student Carlos Osorio. "The book itself was powerful, so seeing an equally impactful play really amplified the deeper meanings for me." 

Man arrested after stealing elderly woman's wallet

HANFORD — A man was arrested Tuesday after allegedly stealing an elderly woman’s wallet as she was getting change to give to him, police said.

Hanford Police officers said 35-year-old Gabriel Lopez asked the woman for spare change and as she opened her purse to get some money out of her wallet, Lopez grabbed the wallet out of her purse.

Police said Lopez and the woman struggled over the wallet, but Lopez was eventually able to rip the wallet from the woman’s hands and ran away.

Officials said officers were called to the area of 225 W. Seventh St. at around 10 a.m.

Witnesses in the area followed Lopez and attempted to corner him while waiting for law enforcement, police said. They said a witness in the area also video recorded part of the incident with their cell phone.

When officers arrived, they said Lopez was still in possession of the stolen wallet and they took him into custody.

Officials said Lopez is on parole and was also in possession of a dagger when arrested.

Authorities said Lopez was booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of robbery, elder abuse, possession of dagger and parole hold.