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As 2017 draws to a close, both Kingsburg and Selma look back on a year of welcoming new business to town, citizens concerned over crime concerns, the keeping of cultural traditions and the beginnings of new ones. Here’s a review of events from 2017.

January

Kmart closes

KINGSBURG – The announcement of Kmart’s closure was met with disappointment by local economic leaders and shoppers alike. The local store was among 100 nationwide that shuttered their doors. The building has since been purchased by State Foods Supermarket for $2.8 million. “The location makes perfect sense because it’s central to all our other locations,” State Foods CEO Mufid Mike Alamsi said.

Selma residents build Free Libraries

SELMA – Forty Selma residents gathered Jan. 21 to build 20 Little Free Libraries at Selma Unified’s first-ever library build day at the local Home Depot. The Little Libraries resemble small houses and will be stocked with free books. The libraries were later installed throughout the community. SUSD Library Coordinator Maria Petropulos said the effort will build literacy in town. “It gives me so much joy to see kids and parents and grandparents and Selma Unified employees all coming together to build these,” she said.

Selma High stages ‘A Spare Me’

SELMA – Selma High’s drama department’s “A Spare Me” play explored the concept of cloning and identity in its January production. English teacher/director Brynn Saponara said the modern drama depicted a utopian society where people’s personalities were being uploaded and backed up to create new people. “It’s the adult society deciding to ‘spare’ the children that they lose so they always have them,” she said.

Safe Food Alliance to build in Business Park

KINGSBURG – Safe Food Alliance broke ground Jan. 25 in the Kingsburg Business Park. Safe Food Alliance supports the food manufacturing industry through training, auditing, food lab testing and research. The firm’s new 20,000-square-foot lab will triple the size of their operations. Their relocation is projected to bring 30 full-time jobs to town and generate $10 million in revenue.

Olson named Citizen of the Year

KINGSBURG – Maxine Olson was named as the 2017 Citizen of the Year at the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Awards Banquet in January. Corsaro's Family Pizza was named as the Business of the Year, Jacquelyn Kesting as Junior Citizen of the Year, Terri Wilson as Elementary Educator of the Year and Kingsburg High’s Mike Schofield as High School Educator of the Year. The Public Safety Award was awarded to Police Records Supervisor Corina Padilla. Lincoln Elementary School was named Recycler of the Year.

February

Kingsburg High stages ‘Mary Poppins’

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg High’s drama department showcased local talent through its February production of “Mary Poppins.” The show is known for its high-spirited dance numbers and whimsical songs, but also conveys an important message for families, the young actors said. “Mary Poppins” combines the 1964 Disney film and books by P.L. Travers to tell the story of a magical nanny that enters the lives of the Banks family.

Kings River floods

KINGSBURG – The Kings River filled with water during the wet winter of 2017 and eventually spilled over its banks. Businesses such as the Kings River Golf and Country Club, Gun Club, Club Royal Oak and Riverland RV parks were flooded. Kings River Water Association’s Steve Haugen said this was the most water the river has seen since 2011. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office closed the river for recreational use in late March.

Chipotle opens at the True North development

SELMA – Chipotle became another of the businesses to open at the True North development on Floral Avenue. Signage was installed on Feb. 2. Interim City Manager Greg Garner said the development was a sign of the city’s growth. “[It’s] more visible evidence of the economic expansion underway in our city,” Garner said. The Mexican food eatery joined Subway, AT&T and Starbucks in developing there.¬

SAC’S ‘13’ heralds new season

SELMA – If you can recall the awkwardness of puberty and the challenges of making friends while you’re still trying to figure your own self, then you’d identify with the characters in the Selma Arts Center’s first production of the year, “13 The Musical.” The show was staged from Feb. 17-25. Actors said although the show had energetic choreography and upbeat music, there were several underlying themes audience members could glean from the performance. “It’s about friendship and not screwing over other people, the good people, just so you can be with the popular crowd,” says Brittany Smith, 16, playing the outcast Patrice.

Blossom Trail kicks off

KINGSBURG – An opening ceremony for the Blossom Trail was Feb. 3 at the Historic Train Depot. Organizers said the abundance of rainfall and snow would likely yield a bumper crop of blooms for visitors from around the world. The Trail is in its 29th year and lasts from February through March. “The blossoms bring travelers from more crowded parts of the state and we feel like our cities keep them,” Tourism Associate Director Kristi Johnson said.

Sun Hong Kong rings in Chinese New Year

KINGSBURG – Sun Hong Kong Chinese restaurant celebrated the Chinese New Year Feb. 5 with clanging, fireworks and a lion dance troupe from the Huadu Chinese Middle School Association. Restaurant owner Yong Kang Miao’s son, Jason Miao, said the family has kept the tradition since they opened 18 years ago. “It’s supposed to bring prosperity and good luck,” Miao said. “Firecrackers ward off bad luck and evil spirits.”

Kingsburg competes in Small Business Revolution

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg entered the Small Business Revolution online competition and was in the running to win $500,000 to revitalize Downtown. Kingsburg made the top five, but Bristol Borough, Pa., took first place. At a Feb. 22 reveal party, city leaders said the publicity would still help spur tourism. “The exposure we got was worth more than half a million dollars for sure,” Mayor Michelle Roman said.

Arson burns Selma Chamber office

SELMA – The Selma Chamber of Commerce was among four buildings damaged in a string of arsons on Feb. 28. Chamber members worked at City Hall until their offices were repaired. Three commercial and one residential building were set on fire. Fire investigators looked into whether these fires were connected to fires previously set in unoccupied homes in town, Fire Chief Mike Kain said.

“We suspect some similarities, but we want to make sure and are talking with neighbors to see if we can connect the dots,” he said.

Hemi rescue brings residents together

KINGSBURG – A cat getting lost is one thing but a cat that gets stuck on an island in an overflowing river is another. After Samantha Kibler’s cat Hemi went missing for 12 days, it was finally rescued from a spit of land just off Riverland Resort. A plea on Facebook brought Laura Householder to the rescue. A team of at least 30 volunteers cleared shrubbery with chainsaws and machetes. After nearly two weeks of leaving food and setting traps, Hemi was finally found. “I believe God sent me angels to help me get my cat,” Kibler said. “Some of us that just don’t give up no matter what it takes,” Householder said.

March

Ladies sparkle in Denim and Diamonds

Women enjoyed the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Denim and Diamonds’ theme of this year’s Lad