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AKC dog show returns to Hanford this weekend

HANFORD — Organizers are hoping that it won’t be raining cats and dogs during the kickoff for the Kings and Sequoia Kennel clubs AKC Dog Show.

The annual dog show, scheduled for Thursday through Sunday in Hanford, will go on rain or shine.

“The show must go on,” club treasurer Pat Noland said.

While it’s only forecast to rain on opening day, Noland said that if the rain becomes too much of a nuisance, many of the outdoor events can be moved inside, but otherwise she’s hoping that the dogs and audiences won’t mind a slight drizzle.

The dog show, hosted by the Kings and Sequoia Kennel clubs, will feature about 800 per day, made up of more than 160 breeds belonging to seven different dog groups.

A new twist this year will be the inclusion of puppy classes.

“There are so many people that come to the dog show with their puppies, and it’s a way to get them out and get them used to the ring and being around people,” show chairman and president of the Sequoia Kennel Club Janice Pardue said.

The puppy shows, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, will feature 25-30 puppies from 4-6 months old in a variety of breeds.  Audiences will enjoy the puppy shows, Pardue said, adding that some of the puppies Pardue has seen at recent shows have been well-trained while some have been, well, typical puppies.

“They’re really cute,” she said. “Sometimes, they’re wiggly wiggly everywhere and other times they’re well-trained.”

In addition to the puppies, the event will also showcase the trained adult show dogs that fans have come to expect.

Last year’s show was stolen by Nik, an Akita that won multiple awards throughout the weekend.  Since retired, the dog was the “all-time winningest Akita in the history of the breed,” Pardue said.

It remains to be seen if a show-stealer like Nik will appear this year, with so many dogs coming to Hanford from all over the country, there’s sure to be something for every dog lover.  

The Kings and Sequoia Kennel clubs will present a donation to the Tulare Sheriff's Department on Friday. 

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'Un-BEE-lievable' spellers

HANFORD — Dozens of students from all over Kings County blossomed into "un-bee-lievable" spellers during this year’s Kings County Spelling Bee.

Around 168 students total from first through eighth grades participated in the spelling bee, which ran from Feb. 26 to March 1 inside the Hanford Civic Auditorium.

Students qualified for the county competition by winning a series of class, school and district spelling competitions. Twenty-one students competed at each grade level.

Leana Cantrell, coordinator of the bee for the fourth year, said every district in the county was represented, including private schools and charter schools. She said each district was allowed to send an alternate that would be able to take the place of the speller in the speller’s absence.

Two grade competitions took place each day, starting with first grade on Tuesday morning and ending with eighth grade on Friday afternoon.

Jeff Frasieur returned as Spell Master, a position he has held for over 30 years in the county competition.

Kings County Superintendent of Schools, Todd Barlow, had the opportunity to visit with the parents and spellers before leading the Pledge of Allegiance each morning.

Many familiar faces returned again this year and Cantrell said it was fun to see the students recognize their competitors and develop friendships through the Spelling Bee program.

She said the first-, second- and third-place winners in the fourth grade competition — Julia Schmitt, Donovan Chantengco and Aiden Josue — have placed together for the last three years.

“The best part of the whole experience is seeing the sportsmanship amongst the students — clapping for each other when someone gets a word right, patting each other on the back when they don’t and congratulating each other when the competition is all over,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell said every alternate was given a certificate of achievement for making it as far as they did and every speller in each grade was awarded a certificate of achievement, a medal and a treat bag for making it to the county competition.

In addition to those items, she said the first-, second- and third-place winners from each grade were awarded trophies.

While there were phenomenal spellers in every grade, Cantrell said the eighth grade competition was the longest, lasting over three hours and 50 rounds.

“We got down to four students and had gone through three pages of words, with no mistakes,” she said. “We ended up working backwards knowing our first and second place winners, and finishing with a duel for third between Stephanie Allison from University Charter School and Rinzen Lim from MIQ.”

The winners of the fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade competitions will move on to compete at the state level. The winners were Rebekah Rehfeld from Jefferson Elementary, Daniel Bico from Armona Union Academy, Ethan Flores from University Charter School and Nicolo Wheaton from St. Rose-McCarthy Catholic School, respectively.

The California State Elementary Spelling Bee will take place on May 11 in Stockton. Cantrell said the Kings County Office of Education, with the help of local sponsors, will cover the cost of the students’ state registration fees.

Cantrell said it was great to see the community come out to support the talent and dedication of all the spellers. She said the audience was made up of parents, coaches, grandparents, extended family, babysitters, classmates and even students’ regular day teachers that went out to support them.

On 25th Anniversary of Hanford girls murder, Sheriff Hopes New DNA Evidence Can Solve Case

A break in the 1994 murder investigation of a Hanford girl has Tulare County Sheriff’s Office investigators hoping to finally bring her killer to justice.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced that detectives now have a composite sketch of a man who is wanted for questioning in the murder of 10-year-old Angelica Ramirez.

“Using a male DNA profile deduced from a crime scene sample, the suspect’s physical description and ancestral background are now known thanks to DNA phenotyping, which provides physical characteristics based on DNA analysis,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.

In place of an eye witness telling a sketch artist what he looks like, the suspect’s likeness was derived from his own DNA left at the crime scene. Sheriff Boudreaux decided to try this new cutting edge approach by enlisting the help of Parabon Nanolabs, a DNA technology company in Virginia.

The results narrow the list of suspects and help produce new leads, he said.

With the new composite sketch in hand, Sheriff Boudreaux is asking the public for any information that might help solve Angelica’s murder.

“We are hopeful someone recognizes him and comes forward with information,” he said. “Any information, however small or seemingly insignificant, can break open this case and bring justice to Angelica’s family.”

Angelica Ramirez was at the Visalia flea market on Thursday, March 3, 1994, with her mother, when she disappeared while walking to the bathroom. Her family searched the flea market, but could not find her. TCSO Deputies arrived and searched the flea market. Tracking dogs were brought in and her scent west of the flea market to the large parking lot.

Two days later, a farmworker spotted a body in an irrigation canal on Avenue 96, approximately one mile west of Road 96, in the Pixley area.

Detectives followed multiple leads and questioned multiple sex registrants. Many DNA samples were collected and compared with the DNA evidence found at the scene with no success in identifying the suspect.

In December 2002, the DNA found at the crime scene was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the FBI’s DNA database, but no matches were found.

Sheriff Boudreaux then turned to the Parabon Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service, which provides predictions of physical characteristics based on DNA analysis and ancestral background approximations.

All evidence and leads previously developed in the Angelica Ramirez murder are now being re-evaluated in view of this new forensic development, he said.

From Parabon’s findings, he said the suspect has light brown or fair skin color, brown or black eye color, black or brown hair and likely no freckles.

The suspect is most likely of Latino ancestry, coming from the Americas and Europe. This individual shows a mixture of Central American and Southwest European ancestry with smaller contributions from West Europe, Northwest Africa and South America.

“For the first time in the 25 years since she was killed, we have a face to this crime,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.

This service has helped agencies around the world solve some of their toughest cases quickly and efficiently, like the Golden State Killer.

Anyone with information to report may contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 733-6218 or anonymously through the Sheriff’s TipNow Program at (559) 725-4194 or

Parker Bowman, the Sentinel 

Thursday's Best in Show winner poses with its handler and officials. 

Contributed / Fresno Pacific Athletics 

Bree Alvarez was honored by the Fresno Pacific University women's basketball team on senior day on March 2 at the Special Events Center at Fresno Pacific University.

Tornado forecasting improves, but still deaths keep coming

WASHINGTON — Sometimes in forecasting tornadoes, you can get everything technically right, and yet it all goes horribly wrong.

Three days before the killer Alabama tornado struck, government severe-storm meteorologists cautioned that conditions could be ripe for twisters in the Southeast on Sunday. Then, an hour before the tragedy, they warned that a strong tornado could occur in two particular Alabama counties within 30 to 60 minutes.

And that's what happened.

Yet 23 people died.

To a meteorologist, the forecast was the equivalent of a hole-in-one in golf or a slam dunk, but with so many people killed, "was it a success or a failure or both?" asked Colorado State University meteorology professor Russ Schumacher.

Forecasters "painted a pretty clear picture that something bad was going to happen," Schumacher said, and "there's certainly success in that. On the other hand, we don't like to see entire communities to be turned upside-down like this. So there's more to be done."

Predicting with any precision where a tornado is going to go is still beyond the limits of meteorology, which is why warnings went out for a large two-county area when a tornado might be only half a mile wide. And getting people to listen and take precautions is another matter altogether.

Forecasting tornadoes combines the hard physics of meteorology, the softer human factors of social science and more than a dash of chaos.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, forecasters look for certain ingredients that can make a tornado. These include warm moist air coming from the south and stormy weather chugging from the west that can bring instability. That's when you can get supercells, which is where tornadoes come from.

But maybe only 10 to 20 percent of supercells spawn tornadoes, said prediction center forecast operations chief Bill Bunting. There are other factors at work, including erratic wind behavior known as wind shear, the amount of cold air present, even the size of the rain droplets, meteorologists said. 

Given all that, the best meteorologists can do is say seven to eight days out when conditions will be ripe for tornadoes, Bunting said. And even that doesn't mean they will happen. And certainly not over all of the large area that meteorologists give in their several-day-out alerts.

From 1994 to 2017, the weather service's "false alarm" rate for tornado alerts was 74 percent, while last year it dropped to 69 percent, according to weather service spokeswoman Maureen O'Leary.

Bunting's office might warn people to watch out across a five- or six-county area or even a two- or three-state region, but "only a very, very small area of that risk area will actually experience dangerous conditions," he said.

And people who don't get hit may not bother to listen the next time, said University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Howard Bluestein.

That's the social problem, which may be even bigger than the meteorology one, Bluestein said. And that's where Kim Klockow-McClain comes in. She is a researcher for the National Severe Storms Laboratory, also in Oklahoma, who specializes in trying to find out why some people listen and react to warnings and others don't.

For example, people in mobile homes, which are especially vulnerable to tornadoes, are less likely to receive or seek out storm alerts, she said. Even though they are told to get out, studies show mobile home dwellers still "shelter in place," Klockow-McClain said. "They think it's the best thing they can do or the only they can do."