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NOE GARCIA, The Sentinel 

In this Sentinel file photo, Hanford’s Sheyenne Hodge prepares to cross the ball during the first half of a non-league game against Mission Oak at Douty Field on Dec. 28, 2018. Hodge was named the All-West Yosemite League co-Most Valuable Player.

Utilizing the power of art

HANFORD — The time for spring cleaning is just around the corner, and a little color just might be what downtown Hanford needs to spruce things up a bit.

Main Street Hanford would like to “Utilize the Power of Art” in its revitalization efforts by creating a community-driven art project to paint utility boxes throughout downtown Hanford.

Executive Director Michelle Brown said the city’s Parks and Recreation Department reached out to Main Street recently with the idea of utility box art and asked if the organization would spearhead the project.

Brown said she had been thinking about the idea of public art ever since she started working at Main Street Hanford a couple years ago. She said she has toured the murals in other towns and wanted to bring the same color to Hanford.

“Having the city’s support right off the bat is really important and crucial, so I was super excited about it,” Brown said. “We decided to jump right in.”

Mayor Sue Sorensen was especially supportive of the project.

While visiting the Pismo area recently, Sorensen said she saw beautiful artwork on some of the utility boxes there.

She mentioned the idea of art on utility boxes to Alvin Dias, parks superintendent, and said he loved the idea as well. Dias even came up with the slogan for the project, “Utilize the Power of Art”.

After walking throughout downtown Hanford, Brown and Dias designated 24 boxes to be painted. While a few boxes are small, Brown said said most of them are medium to large in size.

Right now, Main Street Hanford is asking artists to submit their art ideas for the boxes. A link on the organization’s website allows anyone to download a template where they can draw an example of artwork they would paint on a box.

So far there have been a handful of great submissions, but Brown said she would really love to get more in order to drive the project forward.

“We have some really talented artists in Hanford,” she said. “I’m hoping they’ll come forward and submit for the project.”

Not only will the project be fun, Brown said she believes the art will rev up pedestrian traffic and lead to revitalization in the area and a more vibrant downtown.

“Adding some color and some art and having it be community driven is exciting,” Brown said.

Sorensen agreed, saying not only would the project showcase great artists, it would also make the city more attractive and highlight the pride people have in their community.

Main Street has formed a committee to not only review the artwork, but also figure out other aspects of the project.

Since the project is still in the very early stages, Brown said funding and a budget is still unknown and the committee is discussing if the artists will be paid or not. They also need to figure out how to maintain the art and keep the project going in the future.

Moving this project forward may also lend way for other art projects to be done city-wide, like murals or art on fire hydrants.

Both Brown and Sorensen said art makes an incredible addition to any city and they would love to see more murals in Hanford.

“It’s awesome to see public art and it always catches my eye, whether it’s small or on a large scale,” Brown said. “I’m hoping that in the future we’ll have both small scale and large scale public art.”

Brown said she is eager to look at all of the artwork and get started on the project as soon as possible.

“I think people will love it,” she said.

Ron Walker / Ron Walker 

Contestant Sophia Medina dances during the Miss Kings County talent competition in 2018.

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Medina looks back on year as Miss Kings County

HANFORD – This weekend, a new Miss Kings County will be crowned.

Ahead of the ceremony, the current title holder, 23-year-old Sophia Medina, is looking back at her time as Miss Kings County.

“I’ve enjoyed my time as Miss Kings County, but I’m excited to see who the next winner will be,” Medina said.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Hanford High School Presentation Center. Ten young women and teens will vie for the title and for the title of Miss Kings County’s Outstanding Teen.

Medina was the inaugural winner of the latter contest in 2012 while attending Sierra Pacific High School.

“Building a sisterhood” with fellow pageant competitors has been one of the highlights of Medina’s year wearing the tiara, she said.

“I’ve also enjoyed going to schools, talking to students about higher education and encouraging them to follow their passions,” she said.

She’ll also be focusing on her own passions in the next step of her post-pageant life. She’ll be taking her Medical College Admission Test soon, in hopes of attending medical school.

“Right now I’m just going to focus on figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

Though her time wearing a sash and tiara is almost up, Medina said she’d like to stay involved in pageantry and has already expressed an interest in becoming a mentor to contestants or even a judge.

Medina will attend this weekend's event to help crown the new Miss Kings County and to perform a folklorico dance, as she did for the talent competition last year. 

At the event this weekend, five Miss Candidates will compete in interview, evening wear, on-stage question and talent.  The five Teen Candidates will compete in interview, talent, evening wear and lifestyle and fitness in sportswear to win the coveted awards.   More than $9,000 in cash awards, scholarships, gifts and accessories will be awarded. Every candidate will receive a scholarship.

The local competition is a preliminary to the Miss America Competition.  The young woman chosen as Miss Kings County 2019 will receive a $2000 scholarship to further her education, serve as an ambassador of Kings County for the ensuing year and go on to compete for the title of Miss California in June.

Tickets, $20, are available at the box office. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the show begins at 7.

The Hanford High School Presentation is located at 1762 N. Douty St., Hanford.

Julissa Zavala, The Sentinel 

In this April 2018 Sentinel file photo, students from Woodrow Wilson Junior High School paint a sunflower on the sign for the Hanford Police Activities League.

Boot Barn coming to Hanford

HANFORD — Leo Tolstoy once said, “I prefer a good pair of boots to Shakespeare.”

Many people would agree with Tolstoy, and luckily for them, finding a good pair of boots in Hanford is going to become a little easier.

It has been confirmed that Boot Barn will soon have a location inside the Hanford Mall.

“We’re very excited about Boot Barn selecting Hanford as a place to open up,” said Joanne Doerter, general manager of the mall.

Ken Meany founded the company in 1978 in Huntington Beach and the business now boasts more than 230 stores in 31 states. Aside from boots, the store carries hats, western wear like jeans, shirts and other clothing, gifts and home décor.

Boot barn will occupy a portion of the former Forever 21 space, taking up approximately 10,000 square feet, Doerter said.

Doerter said she believes Boot Barn will fit right in in agriculturally-centered Hanford and the surrounding rural communities.

While an official grand opening isn’t set yet, Doerter said a soft opening is scheduled for March 27.

“We’re definitely looking forward to getting them open and serving the community,” Doerter said.

Speaking of the former Forever 21 space, another portion of that large space is still planned to be occupied by Urban Air Adventure Park. Doerter said plans have been submitted to the city and the mall is patiently waiting and looking forward to that opening as well.

Californians lose millions of dollars in recycling deposits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California consumers lost out on at least $308 million in nickel deposits on cans and bottles in 2018, largely because it's increasingly difficult to find a place to recycle them, according to a new report.

In the last five years, about 40 percent of California's recycling centers have closed, with more than 100 closing in Los Angeles County alone. The state says 1,600 centers remain open statewide, but advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said there are still barriers to Californians finding a place to recycle and that many grocery stores won't take back the empties.

The group's report set for release Thursday suggests several reforms to California's 33-year-old recycling program, which has struggled to be profitable. Democratic state Sen. Henry Stern has also proposed changes to the program.

Consumer Watchdog faults state regulators for lax oversight, saying they should more aggressively fine major retailers that won't redeem containers or undercount the number of deposits they collect. It says the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle, should spend more money to promote recycling centers and punish companies that hoard deposits.

"Overall, the program has been highly successful, but recent years have brought challenges," responded CalRecycle spokesman Mark Oldfield, citing broader market conditions. He said the agency is looking for ways to help increase buy-back locations but put the amount of unredeemed deposits at $272 million, which the consumer group says omits administrative fees that bring the total to $308 million.

The consumer group provided an advanced copy of its report to The Associated Press.

It recommends doubling the amount of deposits to a dime for each glass or plastic bottle or aluminum can to encourage more consumers to recycle, similar to the deposits required in Oregon and Michigan.

Consumers there recycle at least nine of every 10 containers. About three in four containers are recycled in California, but that includes those redeemed by bulk haulers as well as individual consumers. California currently charges 5 cents for containers under 24 ounces and 10 cents for larger containers.

Beyond the $308 million in unclaimed deposits, the group alleges consumers are missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars more, including $200 million in deposits that go to commercial trash haulers and bulk collectors. It also cites a 2014 report from the Container Recycling Institute that shows an undercount in bottle deposits paid by consumers, though Oldfield said that number has never been substantiated.

On the legislative side, Stern's bill would restrict which retailers must accept containers and allow about $3 million in annual incentives to low-volume recycling centers to try to keep them open. A similar bill passed last year but former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.

Stern said he is trying to help smaller "mom and pop" grocery stores while restoring some incentives for recyclers.

"A lot more work has to be done in this area and I'm hoping to work with consumer advocates to make sure people are getting a fair shake here," Stern said.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said he hopes Stern's bill is a starting point for negotiations.

"It's not an overhaul of the system, it in fact creates more exemptions for the grocery stores, which is bad," Court said. "It does a couple things, but it doesn't go far enough."

Stern said the system needs improvements before consumers are asked to make larger deposits. Although Democrats control two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers, Stern said they are cautious about raising fees, even though in theory consumers would get their higher deposits back when they recycle.

"But if we can make a case that there's a good market rational, I'm open," he said.