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Local
How does Main Street Hanford use its revenue?

HANFORD — Most residents know Main Street Hanford as the organization that arranges Thursday Night Market Place; but what exactly does it do with money it receives from the City and downtown businesses?

Businesses located within Hanford’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) pay an additional assessment along with their annual business license fee. This assessment, collected by the city of Hanford, is then dispersed to two places: Main Street Hanford and the City’s Downtown Reinvestment Fund.

According to the City, the total BID assessment has been just over $103,000 for each of the City’s last two fiscal years. Main Street currently receives $81,000 per year and the remainder of approximately $22,000 is moved to the Downtown Reinvestment Fund.

Money from the Downtown Reinvestment Fund can only be spent on projects within the BID boundaries — such as the recent parking lot rehabilitation project at Sixth and Douty streets.

What do downtown Hanford businesses get from Main Street for their $81,000?

The short answer is that Main Street spends over $300,000 per year promoting and supporting downtown Hanford. Actual expenditures in 2016 were $313,253 and about $320,000 is estimated for this year.

The difference between the $81,000 Main Street receives from the City and the $320,000 it spends is made up by revenue generated by Main Street events.

What exactly is that $320,000 used for?

About 40 percent of the money pays for the 27 events the organization puts on. Thursday Night Market Place runs from May until September and makes up 23 of those events. Just the direct expenses for putting on Thursday Night Market Place are $96,000; the combined cost of the other four events is $33,000.

Main Street Hanford has two full-time employees, Executive Director Shelly Johnson and Office Manager Michelle Brown, which means its second-largest expense is payroll. Payroll and payroll taxes run about $100,000 a year, or 31 percent of the total.

Johnson and Brown are responsible for planning and executing all Main Street events and coordinating all the volunteers who help at each one. They also take care of all the administrative duties associated with operating a $300,000 per year enterprise.

Johnson said Main Street seasonally employs around eight people to work during Thursday Night Market Place; but besides that, has over 50 volunteers to work various events.

After payroll, one of Main Street’s largest single costs is insurance at $20,000 per year. Other large line items are professional services, which include both accounting and legal services at $10,000 per year and rent at $8,400 per year.

Below are some ongoing services Main Street provides:

  • Façade grants — matching funds for storefront renovations.
  • Power washing — undoing what the crows do to the sidewalks.
  • Twinkle lights — maintenance and replacement of holiday lights.
  • Lending library — business books in Hanford Public Library.
  • BID member education — how to take advantage of Main Street and other programs.
  • Advertising/promotion — image building, supporting BID members’ promotions.

How do events benefit downtown?

Thursday Night Market Place alone brings 65,000-70,000 people downtown each year. Witches’ Night Out brings about 2,000 people downtown and tickets were sold out as soon as they went on sale this year.

Each event requires extensive planning, coordinating and working with multiple city departments to get the proper permits, licenses and insurance.

Besides taking a brief two-week break at the end of the year, Johnson said she and Brown have very little downtime and are always looking ahead and working on the next event. She said she loves the job and is passionate about making downtown successful.

Staff time is also spent advocating for businesses within the BID, recruitment of new businesses (Main Street met with 19 potential businesses last year) and partnering with other organizations such as the Hanford Chamber of Commerce for activities that benefit the entire community.

Main Street has also responded to the unexpected needs of BID members over the years:

  • Vendome building fire — assisted four businesses with relocation and provided $1,000 cash to each business.
  • ADA inspections — following a series of lawsuits against some BID members for not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Main Street put on an educational workshop and provided $500 each to nine member businesses to help pay for an ADA compliance inspections.
  • Historic carousel — granted $10,000 to rebuild the gears.
  • Downtown projects with the city of Hanford — granted $65,000 for multiple projects for plants, trees and tree grates.

What’s the bottom line?

Main Street Hanford receives $81,000 per year from the city of Hanford and turns it into about $220,000 — total spending minus paid employees — worth of events, promotion, maintenance, services and cash grants for downtown businesses.

Johnson said the organization is proud to be able to take the assessment funds collected and essentially triple those funds to organize activities and events downtown and promote downtown in general.

“We feel good about the benefit we’re providing,” Johnson said.


Local
New emergency operations center in Avenal

AVENAL – Avenal opened its new emergency operations center last Thursday designed to be used as a shelter for victims and as a headquarters for disaster preparedness, planning and response in Avenal.

“In the event of a critical incident, we will be able to manage the incident for the safety of our residents,” said Avenal Police Chief Rusty Stivers.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the center that is an expansion of the Ken Brown Public Safety Center in Avenal. The new center was paid for by a $250,000 grant from the state.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, worked to obtain the grant for the city.

“I am really proud of the team effort that went into this project and of the hard work that the Avenal Police Department and the city of Avenal have dedicated toward protecting and expanding public safety,” said Salas. “It is an honor to see the project come to fruition. I am pleased that the city and the community will benefit from the new Emergency Operations Center.”

Due to the remote location of Avenal in relation to the rest of Kings County, Salas said the emergency operations center is important for the safety of residents.

“On behalf of the city of Avenal, we thank Assemblymember Salas for his leadership and dedication to our community by securing the funding needed to create an emergency operations center,” Stivers said. 


National
AP
8 killed by driver on bike path in 'cowardly act of terror'

NEW YORK — A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, killing at least eight and seriously injuring 11 in what the mayor called "a particularly cowardly act of terror."

The driver was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting what witnesses said was "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," authorities said. The man underwent surgery and was in critical condition but was expected to survive.

Officials who weren't authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov and said he is from Uzbekistan and came to the U.S. legally in 2010. The officials said Saipov has a Florida driver's license and may have been staying in New Jersey, and a family friend described roots he had in Ohio, where he lived years ago and was a commercial truck driver.

The driver in Tuesday's attack barreled along the bike path in a rented Home Depot truck for the equivalent of about 14 blocks, or around eight-tenths of a mile, before slamming into a small yellow school bus. The mayhem and the burst of police gunfire set off panic in the neighborhood and left the pavement strewn with mangled bicycles and bodies that were soon covered with sheets.

"I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground," said Chen Yi, an Uber driver.

Eugene Duffy, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said, "So many police came, and they didn't know what was happening. People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs."

Police closed off streets across the western edge of lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, and officers rushed into the neighborhood just as people were preparing for Halloween festivities, including the big annual parade through Greenwich Village.

A police bomb squad scoured the truck but found no explosives.

"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

New York and other cities around the globe have been on high alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles. The Islamic State group has been exhorting its followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have seen deadly vehicle attacks in the past year or so.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a "lone wolf" attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

The city's police commissioner, James O'Neill, said a statement the driver made as he got out of the truck and the method of attack led police to conclude it was a terrorist act.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump called it "another attack by a very sick and deranged person" and declared, "NOT IN THE U.S.A.!"

While police did not specifically blame the Islamic State group for the New York bloodshed, Trump railed against the extremist group, tweeting, "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"

Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio after moving to the U.S. The first business, Sayf Motors Inc., used the address of a family friend near Cincinnati with whom Saipov had stayed for a couple of weeks after his arrival in the country. The second, Bright Auto LLC, used an address near Cleveland.

A trucking industry website listed Saipov at a Paterson, New Jersey, address that authorities were searching Tuesday night. Court records related to trucking-related infractions list Saipov with addresses in Paterson and the Cleveland suburbs.

The family friend with whom Saipov stayed in Ohio, Dilnoza Abdusamatova, told The Cincinnati Enquirer Saipov was "really calm" and worked hard.

"He always used to work," Abdusamatova said. "He wouldn't go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work."

Police said Saipov rented the truck at about 2 p.m. in New Jersey, entering the bike path about an hour later on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Center, the site of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history. The truck then turned at Chambers Street, hitting the school bus and injuring two adults and two children.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said. At least two covered-over bodies could be seen lying on the bike path, and the front end of the truck was smashed in, as was the side of the school bus.

Two law enforcement officials said a note was recovered inside the truck. One official said the note was handwritten in a foreign language, possibly Arabic.

The contents were being investigated, but the officials said the document supported the belief the act was terrorism. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Argentina's foreign ministry said five of the dead hailed from that country. Belgian officials said one of the dead was from there.

The city's Halloween parade went on as scheduled after the attack, but security was increased.


Washington
AP
Former Trump adviser's guilty plea could rattle White House

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump dismissed George Papadopoulos on Tuesday as a "liar" and a mere campaign volunteer, but newly unsealed court papers outline the former adviser's frequent contacts with senior officials and with foreign nationals who promised access to the highest levels of the Russian government.

They also hint at more headaches for the White House and former campaign officials. Papadopoulos is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates possible coordination between Russia and Trump's 2016 White House campaign.

Records made public Monday in Papadopoulos' case list a gaggle of people who were in touch with him during the campaign but only with such identifiers as "Campaign Supervisor," ''Senior Policy Advisor" and "High-Ranking Campaign Official." Two of the unnamed campaign officials referenced are in fact former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. Both were charged with financial crimes in an indictment unsealed Monday.

The conversations described in charging documents reflect Papadopoulos' efforts to arrange meetings between Trump aides and Russian government intermediaries and show how he learned the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails."

Though the contacts may not by themselves have been illegal, the oblique but telling references to unnamed people — including "Professor" and "Female Russian National" — make clear that Mueller's team has identified multiple people who had knowledge of back-and-forth outreach efforts between Russians and associates of the Trump election effort.

It's a reality that challenges the administration's portrait of Papadopoulos as a back-bench operator within the campaign, an argument repeated Tuesday by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who dismissed him as a "volunteer" with a minimal role.

In charging the 30-year-old Papadopoulos with lying to the FBI, Mueller's team is warning of a similar fate for anyone whose statements deviate from the facts.

"I think everyone to whom Mueller and his team wanted to send a message heard loud and clear the message," said Jacob Frenkel, a Washington defense lawyer.

The White House had braced over the weekend for an indictment of Manafort and for allegations of financial misconduct that it could dismiss as unrelated to the campaign or administration. Then came the unsealing of Papadopoulos' guilty plea and an accompanying statement of facts that detailed his efforts to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his cooperation with prosecutors since his arrest at an airport last summer.

The extent of the contacts is substantial. During a six-month period ending Aug. 15, Papadopoulos met, telephoned, Skyped or emailed his three foreign contacts or five different Trump campaign officials a total of 29 times. He also traveled twice to London and once to Italy. Another trip to Moscow was canceled.

There are clear indications prosecutors used Papadopoulos to gather more information about the campaign as they probe possible criminal activity.

He was arrested in July, but the case was not unsealed until Monday, giving prosecutors weeks to debrief him for information and use him to get deeper into the campaign. He was initially arrested on false statements and obstruction of justice allegations, but as part of a plea deal, pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI, a possible token of leniency in exchange for further cooperation.

In court papers, prosecutors have said prematurely making the case public would hurt his ability to be a "proactive cooperator," which legal experts say could including surreptitious techniques like wearing a microphone to record conversations.

"I would infer from that that he was working proactively on behalf of the prosecutors, which would mean going out and obtaining evidence," said former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg.

Though the campaign officials and other people referenced in the complaint are not named, it's nonetheless possible to ferret out the identities of several.

For instance, Joseph Mifsud is the "London professor" who figures prominently in the case, according to a comparison of court papers and emails obtained by The Associated Press. Mifsud confirmed to The Telegraph newspaper that he is the professor mentioned as a would-be link between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In court papers, Mifsud is described only as a "London professor" who met repeatedly with Papadopoulos and offered to set up meetings with Russian officials who could provide "thousands of emails" with damaging information about Clinton.

The professor is also credited in the document with introducing Papadopoulos to a woman referred to as a "female Russian national" who served as a potential link to the Russian government. Papadopoulos described her incorrectly in emails to Trump campaign officials as Putin's niece. She has not yet been identified publicly.

Mifsud, a vocal Putin backer, told the newspaper the FBI case lacks credibility and that he did not tell anyone he could produce emails that would weaken the Clinton campaign.

Papadopoulos' place on the Trump campaign was formalized in March when Trump adviser Sam Clovis released the names of eight foreign policy advisers amid public pressure on Trump to disclose his foreign policy team.


Crime
One arrested after stolen ATVs found

A man was arrested on the Santa Rosa Rancheria Monday after sheriff’s deputies discovered a stolen all-terrain vehicle and a stolen sand dragster in his back yard.

With the assistance of tribal security staff, deputies said they determined 29-year-old Brandon Angel had been in possession of both the stolen vehicles. 

On Monday, Kings County Sheriff's deputies were called out to the 16200 block of 17th Avenue on the Santa Rosa Rancheria in regards to a stolen off-road all-terrain vehicle being found by its rightful owner.

Deputies said the all-terrain vehicle, along with the sand-dragster, had been stolen while enclosed in a box trailer over the weekend near the 9100 block of East Lacey Boulevard and were reported stolen to the Hanford Police Department.

After recovering the all-terrain vehicle, deputies said they discovered the dragster in a back yard near the 16400 block of Coyote Court. The dragster had been completely stripped and the motor — which was valued at $30,000 — was missing.

Deputies said Angel was arrested without incident nearby and booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property and violating his post release community supervision terms. He is currently being held without bail.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is urged to contact the Sherriff's Office tip line at 852-2999.