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Mooney Museum opens doors for early Christmas

LEMOORE — For a change of pace, it’s the ghosts of Christmas past that will be visited this weekend.

The historic Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum hosts its annual Christmas Open House Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re going to have lots of things going on,” museum president Lynda Lahodny said of the free event.

The museum is a fully-furnished 1893 Victorian style home, wherein turn-of-the-century décor and its lifestyle has been preserved. The museum will open its doors to those seeking a local spot to shop for Christmas presents while also stepping back into to experience Lemoore’s historic beginnings.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will even be making an appearance from noon to 3 p.m. to take photos with children and take note of which Pokemon toys they want for Christmas and which “Fortnite” dances they’ve mastered.  A professional photographer will be on-hand to take photos of families – which they will receive via email – for $5.  Visitors are also welcome to take their own photos for free in lieu of having a professional snapshot taken.

There will also be $1 hayrides offered.

The yard will host dozens of local vendors selling stocking stuffers, weather permitting, Lahodny said. Though, if an as-of-now-unlikely rain should occur, the event will still take place inside the museum.

“I’m wanting it to rain really bad, but I don’t want it to rain on Sunday,” Lahodny joked.

The museum itself is completely decorated for Christmas, including a new tree, which Lahodny described as “gorgeous,” as well as new ornaments made of old sheet music.

A new draw to the Mooney Museum’s Christmas open house emerged last year when the kitchen became a show room for a small village of decorative Department 56 model homes.  The display of the popular brand of small-town models will make a return this year with over 50 pieces “beautifully lit up.”

“It’s worth seeing just for that,” Lahodny said.

The day will also be scored by live music by the Rollin’ West Band, the Youth Fiddlers and more who will perform outside, weather permitting. Inside, there may also be some calming guitar music and Lahodny herself may play a little of the pump organ.

Sarah’s Shop will be open, selling ornaments and local history history books, among other items. Sarah’s Sweet Shoppe will also be open for those whose sweet tooths were not satisfied on Thanksgiving. The shop sells pomegranate jelly, apple butter, jalapeno jam, Christmas cookies and other items.

“It’s nice that we’ll have something outdoors but also have things going on in the house at the same time,” she said.

The museum’s new — so to speak — 1890s Henney Buggy will also be on display for the first time since being donated.

While not operational at just yet, the buggy will be available for photos and will also be on display during the Lemoore Christmas Parade, where it will be “driven” by an actor portraying Dr. Lovern Lee Moore, the city’s founder.

“He gets around for someone his age,” Lahodny joked.

Showing love by shopping small

HANFORD — Today may be Black Friday, but downtown Hanford business owners are already looking forward to tomorrow, which is Small Business Saturday.

In an effort to support local shops that make communities strong, American Express launched Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to “shop small” and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.

This year, Main Street Hanford is encouraging people to #shopsmall in downtown Hanford and show love to your favorite places.

Small Business Saturday continues to be an annual holiday shopping tradition — just one part of the larger shop small movement to support small businesses every day and everywhere,” said a statement from Main Street Hanford. “A visit to the family-owned Fatte Albert’s Pizza Co. or a stop at Workingman’s Store not only supports our local economies, but also promotes thriving communities.”

This Saturday, if you shop and dine in downtown Hanford, you can expect to find major discounts and fun activities.

Kristie Cuenca, owner of Kris Janel Boutique, said shopping at small businesses is a way anyone can support their community and help the downtown area prosper.

Kris Janel Boutique is a women’s apparel store for all ages and sizes focused on hip trends and female empowerment located at 227 N. Irwin St.

With just over a year as owner of the boutique under her belt, Cuenca is looking forward to her second Small Business Saturday and has something special planned this year.

Last year during the holidays, Cuenca ran her own toy drive with the toys going to a local church. This year, she is going even bigger and has become a drop off site for the Toys for Tots program through the month of December.

In an effort to promote the drive and Small Business Saturday, Cuenca contacted B95, a radio station out of Fresno.

Along with announcing the drive on the radio, the station will broadcast live from Kris Janel Boutique from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and also have raffles, prizes, giveaways and contests.

In addition to storewide sales, Cuenca said anyone who brings in a new, unwrapped toy for the toy drive — from Saturday through the end of the drive next month — will receive 20 percent off their purchase.

Cuenca said she hopes this promotes not just her store and the toy drive, but the entire downtown Hanford area and its small businesses.

“I hope it benefits everybody,” Cuenca said.

Suzanne Martin, owner of Divinity Boutique, located at 115 W. Seventh St. said shopping small businesses means everything to her as a small business owner.

Martin has owned the boutique, which has unique women and children’s apparel and gift accessories, for two years and said it means a lot to the livelihoods of her and her son.

She gives a lot of credit to Main Street Hanford for putting together events that bring people downtown and get them shopping at local small businesses.

“It’s usually a good day,” Martin said of Small Business Saturday. “There’s so much going on this weekend.”

As in the past, Divinity Boutique will have discount scratchers on Small Business Saturday, giving shoppers a chance to get anywhere from 10-50 percent off purchases.

Here are a few other Small Business Saturday highlights:

  • Visit Board & Brush Creative Studios from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for a fun event to kick off the Christmas season, where you can create ornaments for your tree this year. They are hosting a family-friendly $15 for three “make and take” ornament event while supplies last.
  • DJ’s Collectible Shoppe will be having “BOGO” deals on select items all day.
  • Hanford Antique Emporium will be having a storewide sale with discounts of 20-50 percent off.
  • Castaways Consignments will be serving refreshments and having a one-day only jewelry sale. Buy one piece of jewelry at regular price and get the second 50 percent off (equal or lesser value).
  • Shop small at The Ivy Boutique from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with major discounts throughout the day. The Ivy is offering 40 percent off regularly priced items from 10-11 a.m.; 30 percent off from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.; and 25 percent off from 12-4 p.m. Some exclusion applies. While you shop, enjoy coffee or hot chocolate and donuts.
  • Crossroads Appliance will be open from 9 a.m. -5:30 p.m. All items will be 5-15 percent off and select items are going to have major discounts.
  • Divinity Boutique will be giving away scratchers, giving you a chance to get 10-50 percent off your entire purchase from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Amazon expansion means fight for talent

NEW YORK — When tech giants like Amazon expand, other companies don't just worry about losing business. They also fret about hanging on to their employees.

Some of the industries that have defined New York City and the Washington, D.C., area will face increased competition for talent when Amazon sets up shop in their territory, with plans to hire 50,000 new workers amid the tightest job market in decades.

The expansion comes at time of fierce demand for computer programmers, mobile app developers, data scientists and cybersecurity experts. Salaries keep rising as companies from banks to retailers seek new technology professionals to expand their online presence and automate operations. Particularly in demand are software developers, with many switching jobs each year. Even some banks have eased up on their dress codes to project a hipper image.

"It's a very competitive market in New York," said William Lynch, president of the New York-based fitness tech company Peloton. "It really requires you to be smart about how you are reaching the new hiring pipeline."

Tech employment in the U.S. has grown by an average of 200,000 new jobs each year since 2010, a trend that is expected to continue for at least the next decade, according to an industry report from Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, which analyzes data from the Labor Department and other sources. The figure includes all people employed by tech companies, as well as tech professionals in other industries.

In New York, big banks are among the biggest employers of computer technology professionals. J.P. Morgan Chase employs 50,000 people in technology and hired its first artificial intelligence research chief in May. Goldman Sachs has said one-quarter of its employees work in engineering-related roles. Amazon's traditional retail rivals are striving to expand their online business and develop new technologies to improve operational efficiency.

But young professionals are flocking to tech companies, lured by the idea of changing the way people do everything from buying homes to exercising.

"In the past, the traditional career path has been to go into financial services, investment banking and consulting. What we see now is a surge of interest in tech companies," said Dan Wang, a professor of Business and Sociology at Columbia University.

Amazon will begin recruiting in a few months for its two new headquarters in New York's Long Island City and the Washington suburb of Arlington, seeking talent to support an empire that has expanded to include cloud computing services, advertising and, video streaming and TV production. The company expects to hire about 25,000 people over several years for each location. The average salary will be about $150,000 a year.

Amazon's move is only the most dramatic example of technology companies expanding their presence in the East Coast. Instagram opened a new office in New York over the summer and plans to hire hundreds of engineers. Google is reportedly looking to add 12,000 more employees in New York City.

Amazon, now 24 years old, will have to contend with New York's thriving startup scene, where companies flush with venture capital offer young people big roles and the chance to upend new industries.

That's the kind of pitch prospective employees hear from Peloton, which announced plans Monday to move into bigger headquarters in midtown Manhattan in 2020. The fitness tech company, which received $550 million in new investment in August, will be hiring thousands of people across locations in the next years, especially in technology, marketing and sales, said Lynch, the company president. It currently has nearly 100 positions open in New York City.

"We are aware of Amazon and it's amazing for New York City. But Google has been here. We've been recruiting against Google for a long time," Lynch said.

The scramble for talent goes beyond tech workers. Technology companies employ more than 3.7 million people in supporting roles like marketing and financing, according to CompTIA.

That panorama is top of mind for people like Dimple Bansal, a business graduate student at Columbia University who is focusing her studies on technology strategy. Last spring, she took an internship at Airbnb and over the summer she interned at Google.

"Tech is a growing landscape. I think it's exciting to bridge the divide between pure technology skills, and to bring the business mindset to these companies that are touching so many lives," said Bansal, 27.

Fire evacuees do their best on a sad Thanksgiving

CHICO, Calif. — Patty Rough lost her Paradise home and most of her belongings in the Camp Fire, and she had no place to cook a family meal on Thanksgiving.

But she and her husband are safe, and she was still able to spend the holiday with her children over plates of turkey, cranberry sauce and pie at a feast for thousands of people put on by volunteers.

She's sad about everything she lost but realizes that others have far less.

"Today we're grateful; I don't know about happy," she said, tearing up as she sat next to her son and across from her daughter. " 'Happy' Thanksgiving is kind of a weird thing at the moment."

Rough is among the thousands of people whose homes burned down when the deadly wildfire ripped through Paradise and surrounding communities. At least 84 people died, and more than 13,000 homes were destroyed.

The blaze was 95 percent contained Thursday, two weeks after it began. Rain that fell Wednesday night and started again Thursday afternoon aided the firefight but complicated the search for human remains in the debris left by the blaze.

Wet, windy, cold conditions were making it hard for workers to see and move.

It wasn't a normal Thanksgiving for any of the evacuees or workers.

Matt Berger, a member of a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team from Orange County, said he and his colleagues are trying not to "get too wrapped up in the fact that we're not at home for the holidays."

"It's just another work day for us — trying to bring some closure to some of the families that are missing their loved ones," he said, standing in the cold outside a Paradise store that didn't burn down.

Volunteers tried to bring a dose of normalcy to the difficult time. The Washington-based nonprofit World Central Kitchen cooked 15,000 meals, teaming up with Chico-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the local university and the town of Paradise to serve them.

Celebrity chefs Jose Andres, who started World Central Kitchen, and Guy Fieri cooked and stopped for selfies with fans while reflecting on the tragedy that brought them there.

"This is going to be a year we're never going to forget," Andres said.

Eduardo Garcia was happy for a warm meal and a place to spend the day. He sat alone at a long table but said he enjoyed the sense of company the gathering in an auditorium at California State University, Chico provided. Years ago, Garcia helped build the auditorium, plastering the outside walls.

He lost the Paradise home where he lived, and his immediate family is in Hawaii. For now, he's living with a friend in Chico.

"I don't have anywhere else to go," he said. "Even though I'm not with my family, you can feel good around other people who are in the same situation."

Outside the Paradise area, scores of people opened their houses to strangers to provide a more intimate Thanksgiving.

Rachael Anderson hosted a displaced mom and daughter at her home in Redding, about an hour and a half from Paradise. Anderson knows what it's like to live in a community devastated by flames: A massive wildfire swept through Redding last summer.

She didn't lose her home, and she now wants to share it for the day with Athenia Dunham and her 15-year-old daughter, Natalie.

"They've lost their home, their traditions, whatever it is that they do. I just want to give them a little piece of home," Anderson said. "That's what Thanksgiving's about; it's not just about your blood family — it's about giving thanks and helping each other."

Faun and Danny O'Neel were hosting three families at their home in the Sacramento-area city of Folsom.

Faun O'Neel's parents and grandparents lost their homes in a Calaveras County fire several years ago, so she said opening hers to others was a "no-brainer."

Thanksgiving at a stranger's house may not be what her guests initially expected, but O'Neel hopes it can provide some calm in a trying time.

"A few hours of normalcy," she said. "Where they can laugh and enjoy other peoples' company without thinking about what they just lived through and what is in front of them."