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Fourth annual Guns vs. Hoses

HANFORD — The Hanford Police Department is seeking vengeance against the Hanford Fire Department — all in the name of charity, of course.

The fourth annual Guns vs. Hoses charity basketball game, where police officers go head to head against firefighters, will take place Saturday, March 23, at Sierra Pacific High School.

Four years ago, Hanford PD approached Hanford Fire Department with the idea of playing in a basketball game to raise funds for the community, which the firefighters accepted.

The event continues to grow every year, with proceeds from the game ticket sales benefitting the Hanford Police Officers and the Hanford Firefighters associations. The funds go toward charitable causes like bicycle helmet giveaways, sports sponsorships or other community-oriented programs.

Hanford firefighter Gabe Martinez said last year’s funds went to recently-passed Kings County firefighter Keith Hernandez, who was battling cancer at the time.

This year, funds will be given to Ellice Blevins, said Hanford Police Sgt. Albert Cano.

Blevins, the assistant principal of Sierra Pacific High School, is battling stage 4 small intestinal cancer. The police department became aware of Blevins through the school’s School Resource Officer, Nancy Gallegos.

In turn, Blevins wants to start a scholarship for students in the Hanford district that have had cancer, are currently going through cancer or whose immediate family has gone through a cancer battle.

Cano said knowing who the teams are helping takes on a special meaning for the players. He said that’s the reason the game was started in the first place — to help people and give back to the community.

“We all know someone who has dealt with cancer,” Cano said. “It’s one of those things we wish we could just get rid of.”

Food and drinks will be sold and there will also be raffle prizes. Martinez said the raffle items were donated by companies, organizations and individuals from the community and include a “Thin Red Line” flag and “Thin Blue Line” flag.

Proceeds from the raffle items are added to the charity funds.

The fire department has won every year since the event’s inception, garnering a coveted three-peat last year. They’re definitely hoping for another win this year, but they’ll have to get through Hanford PD’s bolstered 13-man lineup first.

“I don’t know where we’re going to put the trophy,” Cano said confidently. “We’ve been nice enough to loan it to the fire department the last few years.”

Martinez said the fire department’s 12-man roster is mostly made up of veterans and a few newcomers, and he has faith in the team.

“None of us are really good, but we’re all about hustling,” Martinez said. “We have the right mindset.”

While the back-and-forth bantering and competition between the two departments is fun, both sides agree that the main goal is community involvement. Martinez said firefighters and police officers love interacting with the community and making a difference.

“We’re here to serve the community,” Martinez said. “We’re not just a face, we care about the citizens.”

Cano said it’s good for the community to see the officers and firefighters out of their uniforms and just having fun, while also raising money for a worthy cause.

“We’re hoping for a large crowd,” Cano said.

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Chihuahuas to Wolfhounds — dog show has it all

HANFORD — Dogs of all shapes and sizes turned the Kings Fair into their own, personal yard Friday as part of the Sequoia and Kings Kennel clubs’ annual American Kennel Club Dog Show.

From baby Chihuahuas to middle-aged Irish wolfhounds, the dog show showcased a varied assortment of adorable pooches.

“It’s nothing but Chihuahuas,” Belinda McCormick said about her preference for the tiny canines.

McCormick, of Visalia, showed two of her young dogs during the puppy class Friday morning.

“Watching them just makes you want to go out and get a puppy,” club treasurer Pat Noland said.

On the other end of the are-they-cuddling-you-or-are-you-cuddling-them size spectrum were Linda Souza’s Irish Wolfhounds.

Originally bred to hunt wolves, the breed is now laid back and has an almost lazy temperament, Souza said.

Father Quincy is 5 – middle-aged by wolfhound standards – and son, Quinn, is almost 2 years old. The dogs eat about three pounds of kibble each per day and weigh nearly 200 pounds each.

Souza has been showing fogs for about 45 years and is now encouraging her grandchildren to get into the hobby, saying that it’s been a great way for her to make friends and stay in contact with good people with similar interests.

“It’s the comradery and spending time with the dogs. It’s a combination of those two things.  Of course, the competition is fun but you don’t always win, so there has to be something else besides the winning because you don’t win all the time,”

Souza is from San Martin, south of San Jose, and drives with her dogs to multiple shows a year, she said, with visits to Oregon and New Mexico coming up. Because of the dogs’ large size, flying isn’t an option, but Souza said she likes going on road trips with them, even on long drives to places like New York.

“Some of the breeds may look big and brutal, but they’re all very sweet,” Noland said.

In the afternoon, the Sequoia and Kings Kennel clubs, which encompass Tulare and Kings counties, presented representatives from the Tulare Police Department a check for $5,000 to support the department’s K-9 Unit.

The dog show runs from 8 a.m. to around 4 p.m. today and Sunday. 

Lemoore man sworn in as CHP officer

WEST SACRAMENTO – Jared Wilde of Lemoore has successfully completed the six-month cadet-training course at the California Highway Patrol Academy, officials said.

Wilde graduated from Kings Christian High School in Lemoore in 2009 before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management from Fresno Pacific University.

Prior to attending the CHP Academy, he was employed as a welder for American Stainless Professionals in Lemoore.

Cadet training for Wilde started with nobility in policing, leadership, professionalism and ethics, and cultural diversity, and included mental illness response and crisis intervention techniques.

Officials said the over six-month course covered vehicle patrol, accident investigation, first aid, and capture-and-arrest of suspected violators, including those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Wilde also received training in traffic control, report writing, recovery of stolen vehicles, assisting the motoring public, issuing citations, emergency scene management, and knowledge of various codes including the vehicle code, penal code and health and safety code, officials said.

CHP said Wilde was assigned to duty at the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office.

Trump pays respects to 23 killed by Alabama tornado

BEAUREGARD, Ala. — Standing near the slab that's all that is left of one family's garage, President Donald Trump on Friday surveyed the devastation wrought by a powerful tornado that ripped through a rural Alabama town, uprooting trees, tearing homes from their foundations and killing nearly two dozen people.

"We saw things that you wouldn't believe," said Trump, overlooking a debris field strewn with branches and other wreckage in Beauregard, which bore the brunt of Sunday's storm. Mangled metal siding, wood planks, piping and electric wires lay strewn on the ground, along with remnants of everyday life: clothing, a sofa, a bottle of Lysol cleaner and a welcome mat encrusted with dirt.

Trump and the first lady spent the afternoon meeting with survivors, victims' families and volunteers trying to rebuild after the massive tornado carved a path of destruction nearly a mile wide, killing 23 people, including four children and a couple in their 80s, with 10 victims belonging to a single extended family.

The trip was a familiar one for Trump, who, now in the third year of his presidency, has traveled to the sites of numerous disasters and tragedies, including hurricanes, shootings and wildfires.

The day began with an aerial survey of the area by helicopter, which flew over swaths of land where trees had been flattened. Trump and his wife, Melania, also visited a church serving as a makeshift disaster relief center for survivors. He later observed a moment of silence before white wooden crosses commemorating each of the victims.

Head bowed, Trump and his wife held hands as they paused in front of each of the markers. Trump shook his head as he stood in front of one, which had been decorated with a tiny pair of children's sneakers.

Trump has at times struggled with his role as consoler-in-chief during trips to survey damage and meet with tragedy victims. He memorably tossed paper towels into a crowd as he surveyed damage following hurricanes in Puerto Rico — a move that some saw as inappropriate given the circumstances — and marveled at a yacht that floodwaters had deposited on a family's property during a trip to the Carolinas.

"At least you got a nice boat out of the deal," Trump told the family. He was caught on camera telling a person to whom he had just handed food to "have a good time."

This time, however, Trump appeared to avoid any such distractions aside from some hubbub caused by his decision to sign Bibles, which Providence Baptist Church had been distributing, along with clothing and other supplies, including diapers, toiletries and personal care products.

Before signing autographs or posing for photos with the volunteers there, Trump thanked law enforcement officials and other first responders, as well as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is assisting state and local response efforts.

"I wanted to come the day it happened," he said, adding that Gov. Kay Ivey had asked him to wait.

Before leaving the church, Trump posed for a photograph with a fifth-grade volunteer and signed the child's Bible, said Ada Ingram, a local volunteer. Ingram said the president also signed her sister's Bible.

The pastor, Rusty Sowell, said the president's visit was uplifting and will help bring attention to a community that will need a long time to recover.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint," Sowell said.

Earlier, Trump spent time with three families who lost loved ones, hearing their stories and dispensing hugs. He also met privately with survivors and family members, including a woman mourning the loss of 10 relatives.

"What they've been through is incredible," Trump said after emerging from the meeting.

Before Trump arrived in Beauregard, Renee Frazier stood amid bricks and lumber that used to be her mother's home and waved as the helicopter carrying Trump passed overhead. Minutes before, Frazier, whose mother survived the tornado, had been arguing with relatives who opposed Trump's visit, calling it more about politics than compassion.

Frazier disagreed.

"I want the president here to see what happened to my mom's house," she said. "I want him right here on this land because my mom is about love and unity."

Down the road, where several people died, Trump supporter Bobby Spann said he hoped the president had learned "how to be a Southerner and how to respect people" during his brief visit.

Spann said he also hoped Trump realized how much help is needed.

"Houses need to be replaced. You can't help the dead folks, but you can try to help the ones that's still living," said Spann, chewing on a yellowroot twig. The tornado had partially peeled away the roof of Spann's mobile home.

Trump had said before the visit that he'd instructed FEMA to give Alabama "the A Plus treatment" as it recovers — rhetoric that stood in contrast to Trump's response to disasters on less politically friendly territory. Alabama supported Trump by a wide margin in the 2016 presidential election, and he carried about 60 percent of the vote in Lee County, where Beauregard is located. Blue Trump flags flying outside homes are a frequent sight in the town, and many were seen waving Friday.