John Lindt

John Lindt 

This week, the Corcoran City Council considered dueling ordinances to either allow or ban commercial cannabis facilities in the city after public hearings saw substantial community opposition.

Council, in a 5-0 decision Tuesday, voted to "ban it," says City Manager Kindon Meik. “The Council carried out their due diligence and listened to the community."

The vote means Hanford will be the only community in the county to allow the controversial industry to grow.

Opponents suggested there would likely be a glut of cannabis production in California that could lead to one-third of the commercial cannabis businesses closing within one to two years. So tax benefits for the community could be short-lived.

Countering this negative was the possibility of a new company opening a plant in town at Orange and Highway 43 with the creation of 50-80 jobs.

Community opposition appeared to sway the Council.

Kings County taps new leadership

The Kings County Board of Supervisors recently announced they had hired current Assistant CAO Rebecca Campbell to replace Larry Spikes as the County Administrative Officer beginning in January. Campbell has worked with the county beginning in 2005 after a 10-year stint in the military. She has been with the county administrative office since 2007. A Hanford resident, Campbell says managing finances is a key responsibility, noting the county depends on both state and federal monies for more than half its budget.

Also, the board hired long-time county staffer Jimmy Hook as the Agricultural Commissioner replacing Tim Niswander, who retired. Hook starts in the position Dec. 4. Hook was born and raised in Corcoran and joined the county ag department some 10 years ago after studying veterinary science at Fresno State. Hook has a masters in public administration. He and his wife live in Hanford.

Faraday Future parts with CFO

Electric car maker and start-up Faraday Future has not had an easy road to build cars in Hanford, at least to date, with financial issues and staff turnover in the news. The company announced in August it would lease the long-vacant Pirelli Tire plant in the Hanford Industrial Park and hoped to start remodeling it late this year for the production of a new car line next year. As of today, the city building department says they have received no plans.

But city Community Development Director Darlene Mata says Faraday continues to be in touch with her office and its plans are going forward.

Meanwhile, the company’s CFO Stefan Krause says he quit in October, unhappy with how things were running. On Nov. 10 Faraday Future publicly criticized Krause for “malfeasance and dereliction of duty” and announced that Pascal Coustar will temporarily lead the operations of FF's financial management. Both sides said they would see each other in court.

Two other top staffers including Chief Technology Officer Ulrich Kranz also left the company according to published reports. Another report this week says India’s Tata Motors has invested in Faraday Future - hoping to tap their technology.

The company spokesperson has not returned calls.

Gas price rise not just new tax

Gas prices this month have taken off in California as motorists face a one-two punch; an increase of 12 cents for gas taxes and another like increase in what are refinery and oil prices margins. Gas Buddy says the average price in the state is now $3.27, up from $3.07 in October. Refiners are exporting more gasoline and a run-up in crude is pushing up prices too.

The best price in Hanford this week is $2.87 at Costco.

AAA says the overall spike was the largest consumers have faced in 2017. The last time fuel prices were this high was in September 2015.

German Rail picked as HSR partner and 'early train operator'

Deutsche Bahn AG has been selected by the California High-Speed Rail Authority as the 'early train operator' over three other companies.

The early train operator will be a consultant advising CHSRA on the purchasing of rolling stock, track, systems and stations as well as use of their capital, operating and maintenance assets.

They will bring their experience on station design, train interiors, fares, security, safety, dispatching and maximizing revenues says CHSRA. The Deutsche Bahn AG consortium would get a maximum of $30 million for their multi-year work.

California ski resorts opening

Here is a promising sign for the upcoming winter. Look for storms to bring a foot of snow to the upper Sierra late this week as several ski resorts say they will, or are already, open for the season - before Thanksgiving.

Resorts including Tahoe’s Boreal, Mount Rose, Northstar (opens Nov. 23) and Mammoth are already open.

Closer to home look for up to two feet of snow in the Central Sierra and up to three feet in the upper parts of Yosemite says, NWS Hanford. China Peak says they hope to open by Nov. 24. The wet multi-day storm is being called the season’s first 'atmospheric river'.

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

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