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Cannabis permit application period is now open

HANFORD — The application period for medical cannabis permits in Hanford is now open, and both the city and the cannabis companies are taking every precaution to make sure the process is mutually beneficial.

The application period opened Aug. 2, but Community Development Director Darlene Mata said she has not received one application thus far. She said she probably won’t start to see any applications come in until a week before the period ends on Oct. 2.

Mata assumes the companies want to take their time and make sure they are submitting complete and accurate applications, because effectively, any business interested in applying for a cannabis permit would hand over a check to the city for thousands of dollars, without any guarantee that they will move forward in the application process.

And if the companies do move forward, they could end up paying the city upward of $9,000 to apply for a cannabis permit.

This cost is definitely worth the end result, said Genezen spokeswoman Randi Knott.

“If folks are taking the time to review our applications, then the taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for it, we should,” Knott said.

Genezen is proposing to bring a medical cannabis facility to Hanford’s industrial park that would eventually occupy 1.65 million square feet of the existing Calcot facility on Idaho Avenue.

Knott said Genezen is currently in the middle of putting its application together and should have everything ready to submit to the city in the next few weeks.

After receiving the permit applications and necessary documents from medical cannabis companies — at this point, Mata has no idea how many she will actually get — city staff will conduct a three-phase review process.

The first phase in the application process is preliminary and will include background checks and criminal history. This preliminary determination of eligibility will cost the businesses $4,252, not including a $135 Live Scan fee and $300 background review.

The second phase includes ranking each submitted application according to location and its individual business, neighborhood compatibility, safety and security, air quality, labor and employment plans. This phase will cost businesses $1,689.

Only the applicants who receive 80 percent or more on the city’s scoring scale will move on to the third phase.

The third phase includes another ranking system based on community benefits, enhanced project safety and environmental benefits. This phase will cost businesses $2,241.

The scores from the second and third phases will be combined and the top applicants will be forwarded to City Manager Darrel Pyle.

From there, Pyle will take the applicant recommendations to the council for final approval and awarding of permits. This part of the process will cost businesses an additional $1,102. 

City Council decided last month that they would cap the number of permits allowed at 26, with eight freestanding facility permits and two cannabis campus permits, with eight more individual permits at each campus.

City Council directed Mata to use full cost recovery, so she said she worked with a consultant from HdL Companies to prepare an estimate of the time it would take to process the permits and used full city costs for the employees and consultant to come up with the fees for each phase.

Knott said the company is familiar with these types of application processes, and considers the Hanford phased application process to be a fair and just “the cost of doing business.”

Knott said Genezen has definitely done its research and is hoping to provide employees with job training and education for the over 1,000 jobs the company intends to create.

Knott said everyone at the city has been communicative and open about their intentions for the medical cannabis business in Hanford.

She said the company wants to ensure it is doing the right things for the community, and is excited to move forward.

Production of the 'The Dixie Swim Club' coming to Hanford

“The Dixie Swim Club” is an upcoming production by the Kings Players that promises to make a splash, and will be showcased at the Temple Theater for the month of September.

"It is a laughter-filled tribute about the relationships between five Southern women who have been meeting at a beach cottage every August for 33 years without interruption," said Wyleen Luoma of Kings Players. "The production has a 'Steel Magnolias' meets the 'Golden Girls' vibe to it that interlaces moments of bawdy comedy, long-standing rivalries and steadfast loyalties."

The five friends try to relive and revive the team spirit that once made them the stars of their high school’s swim team.

Among the five friends are: "Sheree" the control freak played by Bethany Reynolds; "Dinah" the up-tight lawyer played by Mary-Catherine Paden; "Lexie," who takes narcissism to new levels played by Danielle Bellman; "Jeri" Neal, a nun like no other played by Samantha Highfill; and "Vernadette," who is attended by disaster at every turn, is played by Nicole Devol. 

For Reynolds, playing Sherri was a real challenge because of her character's perfectionist tendencies while Bellman gushed about being able to play Lexie.

“Everybody loves Lexie. How could they not love Lexie,” said Bellman.

Like Reynolds, Director Debbie Walker also had some challenges as she deals with by having to age the actors from their mid-40s to their mid-70s throughout the course of the play, but at the same time managing to preserve the essence of their earlier selves in a way that the audience will recognize.  

"In spite of their very different personalities, or perhaps because of them, the five of them manage to achieve a bond between them that survives betrayals, and grievances after 33 years," said Luoma.

“Dinah is up tight on the outside, but secretly on the inside, she is a very loving person,” said Paden of her character.

Highfill said her character, Sister Jeri Neal, is always “bubbly and happy” right to the point of total exasperation.

Hanford students enjoy the eclipse

The great American solar eclipse made its way through the entire country Monday, from Oregon to the Carolinas, and even though California was not one of the states experiencing complete totality, schools all over Hanford made sure they had some fun viewing the eclipse.

By ordering hundreds of NASA approved sunglasses, students and teachers were able to enjoy the rare occurrence of a solar eclipse.

At St. Rose-McCarthy Catholic School, the solar eclipse was exceptionally exciting for the students and staff. Teachers made sure to do a weeklong study with the students leading up to Monday’s solar activity.

Fr. Michael Moore was a physics major and along with science teacher, Vicky Rioux, they were able to talk with the students about the eclipse for a few minutes before the eclipse passed through.

The best viewing time for California was to start at around 10:19 a.m. and the staff made sure to hand out to every student sunglasses before they could view the eclipse so as not to damage their retinas.

Extra precautions were taken by the Hanford Elementary School District on Monday so that students would be able to enjoy the eclipse without worrying about students looking up at the sun.

“We adjusted our recess times from 9:40 to 10:20 a.m. so that students would not be outside during the eclipse,” said Superintendent Joy C. Gabler.

Permission slips were sent home and had to be brought back signed in order for students to be a part of any solar eclipse activity. Students were also not allowed to be outside without their teachers.

“Students were outside with their teachers so that they can be supervised, so that they don’t look directly at the sun,” said Gabler. “We respect the fact that it is an exciting time, but children have an intrinsic nature, and want to look up, so that’s why we are taking precautions to adjust recess.”

HESD sent out certain guidelines in an email to teachers that they had to follow in order to be a part of any solar activity. Most of those guidelines were taken from NASA’s official website.

The guidelines urge people not to look directly at the sun without eye protection or to look at it through pinholes in paper or foil.

HESD also sent out ideas on solar eclipse activities that would help the students view the sun. One of those activities was to make a cereal box viewer. Jefferson Elementary School actually used shoe boxes for that same activity. 

Sentinel file photo  

A company called Genezen is proposing to turn this sprawling, 1.6 million square-foot, 48-building warehouse site on Idaho Avenue into a medical cannabis cultivation and production operation.