Tos Farm Inc. has taken out a $1.66 million building permit to construct a new walnut hulling warehouse in Hanford. The company has been hit by two fires that destroyed walnut facilities costing millions of dollars in damages in 2016 as well as 2013. Fire at walnut industry sites are a constant danger. The company said they would not comment.

Melon season is here

It is late June and the Westside of the Valley is ready for harvest time for melons, led by cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons.

”We are expecting a similar volume to last year,” says California Cantaloupe Board manager John Gilstrap.

The Westside season including Kings County, begins around July 1, producing melons all summer. California grows about 75 percent of all cantaloupes grown in the nation. The state used to plant up to 90,000 acres in the 1990s but today it is about a third of that that according to a UC Davis study. Drought has cut the plantings even more. Yields per acre today are triple what they were back in the 1930s. Westside growers shipped about 18 million cartons of cantaloupes in 2016. The trade publication The Packer says “a supply glut drove down prices on cantaloupes and honeydews in 2016.”

New veterans' clinic gets permit

The long-awaited construction of the new, larger Veterans Administration Clinic serving Tulare and Kings counties is at hand with the issuance of a $2 million construction permit to remodel the old IRS building at 1000 N. Mooney at Prosperity in Tulare.

The permit was issued earlier this month for the remodel of the 10,000-square-foot building, built in 2006. The property on 2 acres, has been vacant since the IRS relocated to Visalia in 2013. The facility already has some 172 parking places.

The project was confirmed by the Government Services Agency (GSA) saying the current lease will be superseded by a new GSA lease upon the VA’s occupancy. The term of a superseding lease is 15 years.

Currently, the clinic is located at 1050 Cherry St. - just north of the Tulare Regional Medical Center, in a building that has far less parking and is two-thirds the size or less than the new facility. The Mooney location should improve access for vets who drive here from the two-county region. The clinic offers services to veterans who live in Kings and Tulare counties. Some 11,000 veterans live in Kings County and 16,000 in Tulare County.

COS Hanford Center is growing

Now with official state-recognized “Center”status, the COS Center is working to complete several construction projects this summer for the fall. The largest is the new $2.2 million Pavilion complex that should “help students find a gathering place with the feel of a campus" says trustee John Zumwalt of Hanford. Students here said they wanted an area to socialize and host events. Also underway are four new classrooms reflecting growth at the community college, he says. The state recognition comes with new annual funding of $1.3 million a year, making the construction possible. The Hanford COS campus has about 1,100 full-time equivalent students.

Livestock, poultry farmers protect their animals

The California Farm Bureau reports farmers work hard to keep livestock and poultry as comfortable as possible during heat waves providing shade, cooling mist, well-ventilated barns and plenty of fresh water. Dairy farmers say cows tend to produce less milk during hot days, even when under shade and misters. Poultry producers say they adjust their birds’ diet during the summer but the birds still eat less, meaning they take longer to reach market weight.

Selma’s Lion Raisins installing solar

Lion Raisins of Selma is proposing to install a 1.1 megawatt solar electric system on a 5.5 acre portion of its 18.15-acre parcel. The system will be used to offset electricity use at the packing facility adjacent to this property.

Carrot king tells layoff

Grimmway Farms, the Kern County carrot king, is laying off around 400 workers as they consolidate operations this summer. The company employs 5,000.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at sierra2thesea@gmail.com

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