HANFORD — When the Hanford City Council began its journey into allowing commercial medical cannabis businesses in Hanford city limits, two things were made clear: the first was that there would be no cannabis dispensaries located in the city, the second was that a tax measure would be imposed on the businesses as a way to generate revenue for the city.
During a study session Tuesday evening, council had its first discussion on a possible tax measure that would be put on the November general election ballot for residents to vote on.
In April 2017, council approved an agreement with Southern California-based consulting firm HdL Companies to develop a tax measure that would provide the city maximum economic benefits, but at the same time ensure long-term stability for the cannabis business operators.
Consultant David McPherson said all of the companies that will locate in the city now or in the future will look at the tax rates because it will determine if the company will be viable in the area.
The tax would apply only to the cannabis businesses and wouldn't come out of the wallets of Hanford residents.
“This is not a tax on your constituents, this is a tax on the business,” McPherson clarified. “It’s a privilege of being in town and being a business in town.”
Rand Martin, vice president of government affairs for cannabis company Caliva, told council the company is supportive of putting a “reasonable” tax measure on the ballot and helping to get it passed. He said the important things to keep in mind relative to a tax measure are simplicity, ease of enforcement and a tax rate that encourages the volume of activity in the city.
McPherson presented the council with two separate taxing options: a square footage tax based on the size of the company, or a gross receipt tax based on the gross revenue of the company.
Both types of tax options could begin with an initial rate and then automatically adjust every year up to a “not-to-exceed” limit if the council so chooses. McPherson also suggested having no rate increase for the first three years so the industry has time to stabilize.
In addition to what the city may impose, McPherson wanted to point out that medical and non-medical cannabis is subject to state sales and excise taxes, including various cultivation taxes and a 15 percent retail tax.
“Most of this will affect the back-end on the retail, but it’s an accumulative impact to the businesses,” McPherson said, not to mention employee benefits, infrastructure and capital costs, banking services and land purchase or lease agreements.
As far as the types of ballot measures, McPherson said revenue from general tax, which requires 50 percent plus one support to pass, goes into the general fund and can be used for any city purpose. He said a special tax, however, requires at least 66 percent support to pass and the money is designated for only one purpose.
All three special tax measures that were on the last three election ballots in Hanford failed.
The city maintains full cost recovery of staff time through permit and application fees, but if the ballot measure fails, the city will not be able to collect any extra revenue through taxes.
Councilwoman Diane Sharp asked Community Development Director Darlene Mata about what would happen if cannabis companies decide to go against the ballot measure in an effort to save themselves money.
Mata said all three of the cannabis companies planning to locate in Hanford have verbally committed to support a tax measure because they knew the council started this whole process with the intent to impose a tax.
“It was a calculated risk by the council to move forward,” Mata said.
In the end, Mayor David Ayers said it didn’t matter if it was a square footage tax or a gross receipt tax, as long as it is fair to the businesses. He said there will always be places that are cheaper, but thinks the city has a lot to offer in terms of a good partnership.
“For me, I don’t want to be the cheapest guy in town but I don’t want to be the most expensive guy in town,” Ayers said as other council members nodded in agreement. “I’d like to make it attractive.”
Council told city staff to work with McPherson to come up with a proposal that will work best for both the city and the cannabis businesses. Mata said she would have an initial tax measure proposal to bring before the council sometime in March.
HANFORD — After 42 years, Bruce Marchbanks will still help a person in need, but will no longer walk about four hours each day to bring them their mail and packages.
Marchbanks, 68, retired last Friday from the U.S. Postal Service in Hanford.
He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War and served for four years, primarily in New Orleans.
After serving the military, Marchbanks returned to Hanford where he was born and raised.
He intended to go to California State University, Fresno to study child psychology with the hope to help children rehabilitate from and prevent drug addiction. However, in order to help out his family, Marchbanks took a job as a postal worker in 1977. At the time it was a job that paid the bills.
“School does not guarantee you much, but the job had a paycheck,” Marchbanks said.
His job as mail carrier became more than just a paycheck. Marchbanks said that he got to know the families he delivered to, and a lot of the people were the ones he grew up with.
Mostly, Marchbanks enjoyed seeing the families on his route, seeing the children grow up, go off to college and return home afterward.
“Most mail carriers will help someone in a physical way in their career,” Marchbanks said. “Help a person up when they fall … notice when the mail piles up and you take it back to the office … call the police when you see a door open and you know that family is on vacation.”
He also was grateful for the treats and notes he often got around the holidays.
“You get your identity from your job,” Marchbanks said. “You feel like you are worth something when you do a good job and people thank you for it.”
The current postmaster, Timothy Tomlinson, said that Marchbanks was loyal and always in a positive mood on the job.
Tomlinson said it was amazing how long Marchbanks served as a postal carrier because the job is so demanding physically. Most carriers don't make it to 42 years.
Tomlinson recalled how Marchbanks would crack jokes even while the office was swamped with large holiday mail loads.
“He keeps the morale up that way, always cracking jokes,” Tomlinson said.
Marchbanks advice for students is to get a part-time job doing something they would like to do. He also advises people starting their first or new job be honest and remember that you are working to make a profit for the company and not a name for yourself. He found that dedication to his work and doing the best possible job was what made him a good worker.
“Don’t steal, don’t lie to your boss and don’t cheat or you will get fired big time,” Marchbanks said as he chuckled. “Keep good ethics.”
Marchbanks and his wife, Ursula Marchbanks, plan on traveling more now that he has retired.
“With him working, it’s been a pretty routine life,” his wife said.
One trip they plan on taking is to New Orleans with a stop in Texas. While in New Orleans, Marchbanks will reunite with “the old chumps” from his days in the Air Force.
Marchbanks and his wife plan to also take time to visit their family on the East Coast and their daughters in Fresno and Sacramento. They also plan to move closer to Ursula Marchbank’s parents on the East Coast.
Tomlinson and Ursula Marchbanks agree that Marchbanks is very loyal and positive.
“He is loyal to his family and his job,” Ursula Marchbanks said. “He has a positive attitude every day, even when he worked really, really long days.”
One constant in Marchbanks’ life is his love of the Lord and desire to help others.
In 2008, he joined members of Oasis church led by a local contractor to help people in Missouri affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“That was enjoyable to help other people,” Marchbanks said. “People that lived there were floored that we came to help.”
No matter where he ends up, Marchbanks wants to continue worshiping the Lord and helping others in whatever way he can.
There are officially 265 days until Halloween but that’s only if you’re paying attention to the calendar and not your heart.
Hanford Antique Emporium will host a night that’s a perfect mix of Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day with its “Nightmare Before Christmas”-inspired couples’ painting night.
The event, titled “Simply Meant to Be” after the lyrics in “Jack and Sally’s Song,” is a night for couples to get out of the house, enjoy some refreshments and try their hand at painting the film’s creepily romantic undead duo.
Hanford Antique Emporium owner and Beautifully Damaged artist Jessica Szalai, a self-described “Disney Die Hard,” has been hosting and instructing the art nights for about a year. They’ve become so popular that the events, which were originally monthly, now occur four or five times a month.
She attributes the popularity to her events’ unique subject matter. While most art nights focus on the usual suspects like still-life, flowers and the like, Szalai’s go against the grain.
“I like to appeal to another demographic. People who like things a little more odd, out-there and, well, goth. But also very cutesy,” she said. “I’ve been lucky in that it seems like other people are interested in the subjects I’m passionate about.”
For $70 per couple, each person gets to paint either Sally or Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion animated Disney film, uniting the two artworks at the end of the night. Materials and refreshments will be provided.
The event, originally scheduled for Friday, has been rescheduled to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16.
With an average of 20 per class, which Szalai described as a “packed house,” the events often sell out.
While the “Nightmare Before Christmas” event is specifically for couples, many of the art nights are open to families. Children as young as 3 have participated, Szalai said.
“I like to encourage art into kids’ worlds,” Szalai, who attended Academy of Art University, said. “Kids get excited to come in and paint and they get so proud of the art they create.”
A children-friendly art night is planned for 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, when the theme will be the new Día de Muertos-inspired Pixar film, “Coco.” That class costs $25.
Szalai, originally from Kettleman City, has owned the Hanford Antique Emporium since June of last year, taking it over from the original owners, and says that the popular art nights have helped draw in customers who may not have been interested in the antique store otherwise.
“They come in for the art and realize that this place is 8,000 square-feet and it’s awesome,” she said.
There are “Star Wars”-themed art nights planned for later in the month. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BeautifullyDamagedLLC or call 852-1504.
Investigators from the Kings County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations successfully recovered two children who were abducted by their father and taken to Mexico, according to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.
A press release from the DA’s office said three investigators and an investigative assistant from the Kings County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, along with state officials, crossed the border into Mexico on Feb. 1 and successfully recovered both children.
The children, ages 2 and 9 years old, were returned to their mother in Hanford last Saturday.
The children were abducted from Kings County in 2016 and taken nearly 2,000 miles south to Michoacán, Mexico, without permission from their mother, said the DA’s office.
Officials said the mother of the children contacted the Kings County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit for assistance, and the unit prepared a case to be submitted to Mexico under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty.
After receiving the case, the DA’s office said Mexican authorities located the children. After court proceedings in Mexico, authorities ordered the return of the children to the United States.
The Hague Convention provides for expedited return of wrongfully abducted or retained children who are taken to signatory countries. Both the U.S. and Mexico have signed the treaty in addition to 60 others.
The Kings County District Attorney operates a specialized Child Abduction Unit to assist left behind parents and recover children who have been abducted or wrongfully retained by a parent, guardian, or other persons.
“The victimization experienced by a child who has been abducted by a parent continues every day that the child is kept from his or her left-behind parent,” said Keith Fagundes, Kings County District Attorney. “Such a negative impact is also felt by the child’s family, friends, and by those in our community.”
Criminal charges against the father are currently under review by the District Attorney’s Office.
“I am extremely proud of our investigators and staff, who worked tirelessly for several days to ensure that these children from our community were returned to their mother here in Kings County,” Fagundes said.