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Career and Resource Expo fills a need

LEMOORE — David Flores sat at a table inside the bingo room at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino and diligently filled out several job applications.

“I got here early, right when it started,” Flores said. “So, I’ve been going at it for a long time.”

Flores was at Tachi Palace for the fourth annual Career and Resource Expo, which was hosted by Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) in partnership with the casino and Coca Cola.

It was Flores’ first time at the Career and Resource Expo, and he was hopeful that the expo held a lot of job opportunities

“Everyone’s been really kind that I’ve met,” Flores said. “There are some places that I didn’t know were hiring, and now I do, so it just kind of lets me cast a bigger net to find a good job.”

As a full-time student at West Hills College Lemoore, Flores said he wasn’t looking for any type of job in particular; just anything he could do on the side while he finishes his sociology degree. He said his ultimate goal is to be his own boss as an entrepreneur.

“In the meantime, I need something to sustain me and also give me money to invest,” Flores said.

Flores said he was glad to see so many businesses taking applications on the spot and took advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk to hiring managers face-to-face.

“I think for anyone looking for a career, these are great events to go to,” Flores said. “It’s definitely a plus for the community, for sure.”

Cory Burkarth, communications director for Vidak’s office, said the expo continues to grow every year, and this year had over 80 different agencies and businesses looking to hire, from law enforcement and school districts to city governments and the food industry. He said the only stipulation for businesses to have a booth was that they had to have open and available positions they were looking to fill.

Vidak said he started the expo because of the need he saw in the counties he represents. He said unemployment rates statewide are around 4 percent, but are much higher in Kings and Tulare counties, which are around 7 and 9 percent, respectively.

“My staff and my district director, Paula Vinzant, do a great job of putting employers who have jobs and are looking for people right here,” Vidak said. “It’s an awesome venue, there’s lots of room and it keeps growing.”

Vidak said the event, which saw 400 people last year, was even bigger this year. He said not only are there job opportunities, but educational opportunities as well.

Amado Martinez and Stacy Elenes, both of whom are career service advisers with San Joaquin Valley College in Visalia, took time about every 30 minutes at the expo to do a presentation on resume tips and interviewing skills for anyone interested.

Elenes said SJVC has gone out to the expo every year to present and help the participants with their confidence while job searching.

She said she believes job fairs and career expos are great because hiring managers show up and want to find the right employees to fill positions.

“The people you meet here actually are the decision makers,” Elenes said. “So it’s very important to come in, dress sharp, bring your resume and be ready to introduce yourself.”

Ronny Jungk, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local union out of Fresno, said the union participates in as many job fairs as it can and has found success at the Career and Resource Expo before.

He said a few years ago a veteran who did electrical work while serving got into the program.

“He is currently in a second or third year apprenticeship,” Jungk said. “We have a five-year apprenticeship program, so he’s working his way up the ladder to become a fully-fledged electrician.”

Jungk said there are about 950 members from Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties and the union is always looking for anyone interested in apprenticeships or employment opportunities.

He said electricians do a lot of utility-scale solar projects in teams of up to 250 people at one time, so employees are always needed.

“We get a lot of guys from job fairs,” Jungk said. “We wouldn’t be able to get the projects done without these individuals."

Sears auto center set to stay

HANFORD — Contrary to the early January press release, the Sears Auto Center near the Hanford Mall will remain open.

Sears Holding Company originally announced Jan. 4 that, along with the Hanford Sears store closing in early April, the auto center would close later this month. While the main store is still slated to close, Sears decided to keep the Auto Center open, said the district service manager of automotive, Leonso Anguiano.

Anguiano said that a week prior to the release of the news that the auto center would close, Sears determined that seven auto center locations would remain open despite the main retail stores closing. He said the good performance of the auto centers was the deciding factor in keeping them open.

“We are open seven days a week and we plan on keeping the store open for the community,” Anguiano said.

Griselda Herrera, the manager of the Sears Auto Center, said they have fielded calls and questions from people stopping by asking if they were still open. She said she hopes that business is not hurt because of the confusion.

“They were worried that we’d be open since we are where they take their cars,” Herrera said about the customers that have asked if they are still open.

Sears Holding Co. has yet to announce publicly the decision to keep the auto centers open. Sears Holding Co. did not respond to email inquiry or phone calls.

The auto center employs around 12 people. The closing of the retail store will displace 60 employees.

Sears said it would shut down 39 Sears and 64 Kmart locations in the middle of March or early April.

John Lehn, president of the Kings County Economic Development Corporation, said that Sears has done a good job with this layoff, notifying the employees months in advance of when a Working Adjustment and Retraining Notice is required, 60 days prior to closure.

Joanne Doerter, the leasing manager of the mall, said she does not have a set timeline for when the space Sears is leaving will have a new tenant. “It’s all about timing,” she said.

Two weeks after finding out Sears would be leaving, she is approaching stores that have shown previous interest in space at the mall: Burlington Coat Factory, Boot Barn, Five Below, Home Goods, other home stores, grocery stores and furniture stores.

Doerter did say that Urban Air Adventure Park, which will fill the Forever 21 space, would be opening in June or July.

Sentinel file photo 

The Sears store located in the Hanford Mall. The Sears Holdings Corp. plans to close 103 Sears and Kmart stores.

Couple arrested for embezzlement

HANFORD — A woman and man have both been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit embezzlement for allegedly fraudulently purchasing thousands of dollars’ worth of property from an office account, according to the Hanford Police Department.

On Wednesday, Hanford Police detectives said they served search warrants in the 1200 block of Elm Court and 11100 block of Key Lane in regards to a large embezzlement case involving 35-year-old Brenda Perez and 37-year-old Daniel Stinnett.

Officials said Stinnett and Perez were in a dating relationship and detectives believe the two conspired to purchase items fraudulently using credit accounts from the local doctor’s office where Perez was employed.

Between May 2017 and December 2017, detectives said Perez was working at the doctor’s office, where she fraudulently purchased several items and stole large amounts of cash.

In all, approximately $30,000 worth of property and money was stolen from the office, police said.

During the service of search warrants, detectives said they found several items which were purchased fraudulently in the bedroom of her home on Elm Court, as well as Stinnett’s home on Key Lane.

Perez was booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy to commit embezzlement, embezzlement and grand theft.

Stinnett was booked into the Kings County Jail for conspiracy to commit embezzlement, receiving stolen property and parole violation.