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NOE GARCIA, The Sentinel 

Hanford players and coaches line up for the National Anthem before the West Yosemite League game against El Diamante on Tuesday.

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Surf's up

With just days before their first big splash, the ‘Founders’ Cup Of Surfing’ competition, expected to draw 5000 visitors to Lemoore, Kelly Slaters Surf Ranch received approvals of conditional-use permits to not just open for public events but allow a series of phased expansions as well.

The impact of all this sets Surf Ranch well on the road to placing the unlikely water venue on the map of Kings County.

At the upcoming May 5-6 event, sponsored by the World Surf League, five teams from around the globe will face off in what is said to be a preview of coming surfing competition in the 2020 Olympics.

About the event World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt says in a release that “This technology has captured the imagination of the global surfing community and created a number of new opportunities for the WSL.”

Kings County too, is catching a wave.

The technology, perfected in Lemoore, has been the engineering and construction of a wave machine in a huge wave pool that the professional surf champ says creates the "longest, rideable open-barrel man-made wave in the world." The result is that surfing experts from all over and their fans are beating a path to Lemoore for an inland surf competition, expecting a great show.

Earlier this month the Kings County Planning Commission approved plans to not only take the Surf Ranch concept public but heard about expansion ideas well into 2026. An outline of the plans came in an environmental impact report.

The report offers a development time-line. The current permit allows only private use for the 155-acre site, including the year-round operation and maintenance of an existing wave generation system and water ski lake. The project was first approved in September 2015.

Daily operations and maintenance hours are between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., staffed by up to 15 people, including operations and maintenance, guest services, water safety, and security personnel. Existing structures include a design center, board room, three equipment room / storage shelters, a control tower, and four portable lifeguard stations.

To this point, the facility has been closed to the public and only available for use by staff and consultants involved in the research and development of the prototype wave system. Conditional Use Permit Application No. 17- 05 now allows the owner to open the facility to the public for private surfing lessons and programs and a limited number of annual professional invitational surfing events. A portion of the 155-acre site would be dedicated to the development of additional prototype wave generation systems.

For special events, up to six a year, the facility will be staffed by up to 30 people, including operations and maintenance, guest services, water safety, and security personnel. Attendance is estimated to be up to 50 guests per day. The applicant may also install up to six portable temporary lodging units for guests.

Up to 8,000 visitors for special events

Also the facility will be authorized to host up to six professional surfing events per year, each approximately two to three days in duration (e.g. Friday-Sunday), the first of these events on May 5-6, 2018. Other activities that may occur in conjunction with these events include: ancillary musical performances, vending (food and alcoholic beverages), and limited tent and recreational vehicle camping. Temporary event infrastructure may include bleachers, music performance areas, sound equipment, and lighting equipment. Contracted services will include traffic control, security, temporary lighting, potable water, portable toilets, wash stations, and trash services for each event.

These special events will draw a big crowd - up to 8,000 guests per day. But the applicant expects that the May 5-6 event will be somewhat smaller, approximately 5,000 guests per day.

Parking for the inaugural event will be available at West Hills College in Lemoore and at the Tachi Palace in Kings County. The operator will provide shuttles between the event and these two locations. Parking for future events with up to 8,000 guests will be provided on site. General event hours of operation will be between 6 a.m. through 11 pm.

More construction planned

Phase 3 of the proposed permitted use of the Surf Ranch Project will allow development of up to seven proposed ancillary structures and up to two proposed prototype wave generation systems.

Each of the seven proposed structures will occupy up to 10,000 square feet and up to two-stories. They include: 

  • Wave Operations Building - Building houses administrative program for support of wave operations functions, inclusive of offices, conference rooms, and event space.
  • High Performance Training Center - Facility include training rooms, lockers, offices, as well as equipment storage. 
  •  Surf Operations House - In support of surf related activities, the Surf Operations House includes a commercial kitchen component, lockers, storage, as well as public interfacing gathering spaces.
  • Multi-purpose Recreational Facility - The facility houses large flexible program which support the commercial activities related to Wave and - Surf Operations, in addition to back of house programmatic elements. 
  • Wave Support Facility - Required building which houses equipment related to the operation of the Wave-Generating Machine.

Structures 1-5 – timeframe for construction to begin between 2018 to 2022. Construction timeframe for each structure will take approximately two to four months to complete.

Structures 6 and 7 – timeframe for construction to begin between 2020 to 2024. Construction timeframe for each structure will take approximately two to three months to complete. those structures are for a learning center and equipment/storage. 

As for additional wave generations technology, Prototype 2 and Prototype 3 – timeframe for construction to begin between 2020 to 2026. Construction timeframe for each prototype will take approximately 6 to 12 months to complete.

Surf Ranch is located at 18556 Jackson Ave, Lemoore, CA 93245

Students develop leadership skills

HANFORD — It can be difficult going out of one’s comfort zone and meeting new people, let alone trusting them, but students from across the valley converged at Hanford West High School on Wednesday and did just that.

Hundreds of students spent the day inside the gym doing trust activities and getting to know each other during a leadership development day. The event was in conjunction with the California Association of Student Leaders.

Although 17-year-old Carlos Osoria, a senior at HWHS and “not an extrovert”, didn’t think he would have a good time, he admittedly had a great time at the leadership development day.

“I love it. It’s very fun,” Osoria said. “It basically throws you into the pool instead of letting you put your toes in first.”

There were about 200 kids from five schools: Hanford West, Parlier High School, Orange Cove High School, Sierra High School and East Bakersfield High School. Joe McMahon, activities director at Hanford West High School, said this is the second year the school hosted the event.

McMahon said the students did great, especially interacting one-on-one with each other without the use of electronic devices.

“It’s just awesome to see them actually talking with each other, face-to-face and nobody’s texting,” McMahon said. “I think it’s awesome that we can get them to do that.”

Justina Rocha, 17, a junior at Hanford West, said she’s been involved with ASB and leadership classes since middle school. She said she likes that leadership classes prepare her to make a change in the world and be an advocate for others.

Rocha said being involved with leadership has taught her how to carry herself and be a good communicator.

“It helps us grow as students and people and it helps us in the long run,” Rocha said, adding what she’s learned will help her in the future.

A lot of the students may not realize that they go through the same issues in their lives, McMahon said, adding it was neat to watch the students slowly get to know each other, find things in common and get comfortable with each other.

Rocha said she enjoyed the event for the different perspectives and views she was able to encounter during the activities. Personally, she said she likes stepping out of her comfort zone and meeting new people.

“I like talking to other people, and I like creating those connections,” Rocha said.

Along with trust activities, the students learned about cultural competence and being aware of others’ values, morals and cultures and understanding how to be respectful of those things.

Jonathan Rangel, 16, a sophomore at Parlier High School, said he had an amazing time at the leadership development day. He said one of his main takeaways of the event was cultural competence and being respectful of others.

“Meeting new people is like my adrenaline. I love meeting new people,” Rangel said, adding he can’t wait to take what he learned and reach out to other kids at his school.

McMahon said every skill set they learned is transferable and applies to other aspects of their lives and beyond high school, like communication and working with others. He said he hopes the students will take what they learned back to their respective campuses and show other students.

Osoria said it was interesting getting to know other students and getting out of his comfort zone.

“It’s a very fulfilling experience,” Osoria said. “You get to put yourself out there, which is something that you don’t typically do on a day-to-day basis.”

Hops Forged Brewing Co. takes up residence downtown

HANFORD — The downtown scene will get a little livelier in the near future thanks to new a business moving into the neighborhood.

Hops Forged Brewing Company — a local beer-making operation started by Brian Alves, AJ Soares and Jordan Loewen — signed a lease earlier this month, and plans are for the formerly empty spot to be a taproom and base of operations for brewing.

Brian Alves’s father, Frank, recently purchased the building, clearing the way for Hop Forged Brewing to lease it from him.

“It just happened to work out perfectly where he wanted to own a piece of downtown Hanford and we were looking for a building simultaneously, so one day I said to him, ‘let’s align our interests, let’s do this together.’ And he got on board. And he has a lot of history with the old Cottage so that building really appealed to him,” Alves said.

The small, home-based brewery has made fans at local tastings and events like Everybody’s Irish for the last six years and Alves is excited to have a permanent spot downtown. HFBC will call 106 W. 7th St. home. The building formerly housed Tequilas’ and is known as “The Cottage.”

“I want to support downtown Hanford and Hanford in general as much as possible,” he said.

The taproom will serve their own in-house-brewed beers, of which they’ll start out with seven to 10 options, hoping to expand that selection to 20 within a couple of years.

“We’re starting out small so that we can grow organically and to test out the market in Hanford, as we’re not exactly sure what to expect,” he said. “There aren’t many businesses like ours around here.” 

Alves said the company is looking to make improvements to the outside of the building, including making room for a patio big enough for at least a few tables, but because the property is in the downtown Hanford historical district, decisions about those improvements may have to be decided by City Council.

The current plan is to open for business in the fall.

“Hopefully the City will be nice to us. We’ll have to navigate through complying with the local codes while getting our vision approved. But six months is our goal,” he said.

The vision for the brewpub’s interior is an “industrial chic look” that pays homage in some way to the history of Hanford, Alves said. 

Alves said that while the pub won’t be serving food of its own, he envisions collaborations between them and neighboring restaurants and perhaps food trucks.  Local bands and musicians will be invited to perform at the spot, as well.

The brewmaster said that one of the things running the company has taught him is that you can’t just brew what appeals to your personal sensibilities, and that HFBC will take their crowd-pleasing mindset into future brews.

“You can’t always brew what you like. You’ve got to appreciate every style of beer,” he said.

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Council conduct called to question

LEMOORE — In an early February 2017 meeting, Councilman David Brown requested a review of the current policies that City Council was expected to abide by in order for the new council members, Brown and Councilwoman Holly Blair at the time, to better understand what is expected of them.

The council agreed to direct city staff to do further research on the topic with no specific deadline.

At the March 20 study session, Janie Venegas, the city clerk, presented a suggested set of policies for the council to abide by since the city found there were no specific rules for council members aside from the code of conduct that council and city staff are expected to abide by.

In an effort to continue the finalization of the council rules, the council held a special study session  Tuesday.

The meeting took a turn when Brown introduced a new item of discussion pertaining to his and some members of the public's disapproval of Blair’s recent social media activity.

In Blair’s Facebook post, she said that she gathers young residents for meetings. She said that council members do not listen when she shares the opinions of younger constituents and that young people don’t feel welcome coming to meetings.

Her post was public on her personal profile initially and then shared on her public profile that has  “Councilmember, City of Lemoore” in the name.

In the comments, Blair encourages community members to engage in the city's meetings while also implying that some fellow city officials are fools.

“I, for one, have given up on trying to talk sense into some of these fools,” Blair says in her post.

Brown,when discussing Blair’s post, brought up the past actions of the previous council members involving former Mayor Billy Siegel. He said that the council was found at fault for not censuring Siegel in his email comments about the Lemoore Leader’s editor, Ed Martin.

The council agreed to table discussion on the issue and put it on the agenda for the coming council meeting on April 17.

The rules of procedure are still being edited and are slated to be voted on at the next council meeting. Venegas and City Attorney Jenell Van Bindsbergen are working to prepare final edits from the most recent study session and ensure the information is in accordance with all current procedures.

When ready the draft is to be attached to the agenda at least three days prior to the council meeting, April 17.