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NOE GARCIA, The Sentinel 

Sierra Pacific forward Lauren Zantos backs down a defender during the second quarter of a CIF State Division IV first-round game against Van Nuys at Sierra Pacific High School on Tuesday. Sierra Pacific won 59-45.


Local
Surf Ranch to host job fair

LEMOORE — The weather is slowly starting to warm up and before we know it, it’ll be summer. Luckily for some, they may be working by the waves at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore.

The Surf Ranch has several open job positions and will host a job fair on Tuesday for job seekers to find the perfect people to join the team — even if they don’t know how to hang ten.

Open positions include security guards, facilities technician, food servers, housekeeping, cook and lifeguard.

Slater, one of the world’s most prominent professional surfers, opened the Surf Ranch last year and hosted two competitions for the World Surf League – one of which was open to the public for the first time.

The man-made wave pool boasts the “perfect wave”, which combines cutting-edge science, engineering and design to create the longest open-barrel, high-performance wave in existence.

While there are no immediate plans to open the ranch to the general public on a full time basis, it has definitely created quite a buzz not only in the surfing world, but locally as well.

The ranch has brought celebrity visitors to Lemoore — some 100 miles inland from the ocean — to get private surf sessions.

Amy Ward, Lemoore Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the wave pool has had an impact on the local economy by bringing people to the city, where they eat at local restaurants or stay at local hotels. Hotels were booked solid during last year’s competitions.

Additionally, Ward said the ranch brings more jobs to local residents, who in turn invest back into the area.

Ward said it was “amazing” when the Surf Ranch decided early on that it wanted to be a part of the Chamber and even fly a Lemoore flag on its grounds. She said the partnership has really evolved over the last couple years.

She said volunteers from the ranch help out at events around the city and are starting to understand the importance of their role on the community.

“They are deeply committed to being more engaged with the local community,” Ward said.

The ranch’s commitment to the community is further evidenced by the fact that one of its administrators, Nicole Matthews, now sits on the Chamber’s board of directors.

Ward said Matthews has been bringing ideas to the table about how to bring more investment to the area. She said it’s all incredibly exciting to see and knows there is a world of possibilities moving forward.

“It’s a big deal,” Ward said.


Local
Students spend afternoon learning at Carnegie Museum

HANFORD — Students from the California Connections Academy visited the Carnegie Museum Wednesday to take in some local history.

Connections Academy, an accredited, online K-12 education program, teachers, students and parents from around the Valley visited the museum for some hands-on learning.

“We never even knew this [museum] was here. On several occasions, we’ve been on field trips where we never even know the place existed before,” Andrea Kemp of Visalia said. “It’s really neat.”

Kemp’s son has been attending the school for two years and is set to graduate next year.

She said that the experience for both her and her son has been better with the Connections Academy than with her previous charter school.

“My son enjoys the classes. He has really good teachers. They take the time to take interest in him as an individual and a student,” she said.

The students, around a half a dozen in total, joined parents and three Connections Academy teachers on the tour of the museum, learning about the museum building itself, the early days of Hanford, gold mining and other topics.

“I wish this program was around when I was a student,” English teacher Teresa Chacon said. “Traditional brick and mortar schools aren’t a good fit for everyone.”

Chacon, who has taught 11th graders with the school for over four years, said that the program is a great way for students with social anxieties or non-traditional schedules to keep up with their educations.  Due to being online, students can make their own schedules or participate in online chats while teachers go over material via webcam.

The school, established in 2004, is open and free to students in many California counties. The Central Valley hub comprises Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Tulare and Kings county students.

Chacon said that since students are encouraged to go at their own pace and on their own schedules, it gives students and teachers the chance to get more one-on-one time.  It’s not uncommon for students and teachers to go over schoolwork via phone for up to an hour at a time.

“We’re able to spend more time with students individually than in a brick and mortar setting,” algebra teacher Daniel Bowe said. “Even though we’re separated, we’re somewhat more engaged.”

Tours of the museum are offered to the public. Call 559-584-1367 for more information.

For more information about the California Connections Academy, visit www.connectionsacademy.com.


Washington
AP
Cohen assails Trump before Congress

WASHINGTON — In a damning depiction of Donald Trump, the president's former lawyer on Wednesday cast him as a racist and a con man who used his inner circle to cover up politically damaging allegations about sex, and who lied throughout the 2016 election campaign about his business interests in Russia.

Michael Cohen, who previously pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, told lawmakers that Trump had advance knowledge and embraced the news that emails damaging to Hillary Clinton would be released during the campaign. But he also said he had no "direct evidence" that Trump or his aides colluded with Russia to get him elected, the primary question of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Cohen, shaking off incessant criticism from Republicans anxious to paint him as a felon and liar, became the first Trump insider to pull back the curtain on a version of the inner workings of Trump's political and business operations. He likened the president to a "mobster" who demanded blind loyalty from underlings and expected them to lie on his behalf to conceal information and protect him — even if it meant breaking the law.

"I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore," Cohen declared.

"My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything: my family's happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honor, my reputation, and soon my freedom," Cohen said. "I will not sit back say nothing and allow him to do the same to the country."

Cohen's matter-of-fact testimony about secret payments and lies unfolded as Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. At a Vietnam hotel and unable to ignore the drama thousands of miles away, Trump lashed out on Twitter, saying Cohen "did bad things unrelated to Trump" and "is lying in order to reduce his prison time."

In testimony that cut to the heart of federal investigations encircling the White House, Cohen said he arranged a hush money payment to a porn actress at the president's behest and agreed to lie about it to the public and the first lady. He said he had lied by claiming that Trump was "not knowledgeable" about the transaction even though the president had directly arranged for his reimbursement. And he said he was left with the unmistakable impression Trump wanted him to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate project, though the president never directly told him so.

In one revelation, Cohen said prosecutors in New York were investigating conversations Trump or his advisers had with him after his office and hotel room were raided by the FBI last April. Cohen said he could not discuss that conversation, the last contact he said he has had with the president or anyone acting on his behalf, because it remains under investigation.

The appearance marked the latest step in Cohen's evolution from legal fixer for the president — he once boasted he'd "take a bullet" for Trump — to a foe who has implicated him in federal campaign finance violations. The hearing proceeded along parallel tracks, with Democrats focusing on allegations against Trump while Republicans sought to undermine Cohen's credibility and the proceeding itself.

As Republicans blasted him as a convicted liar, a mostly unrattled Cohen sought to blunt the attacks by repeatedly acknowledging his own failings. He called himself a "fool," warned lawmakers of the perils of blind loyalty to a leader undeserving of it and pronounced himself ashamed of what he'd done to protect Trump.

Cohen is due to begin a three-year prison sentence in May, and described himself as cooperative with multiple investigations in hopes of reducing his time behind bars. He is seen as a vital witness for federal prosecutors because of his proximity to the president during key episodes under investigation and their decade-long professional relationship.

Cohen gave lawmakers his first-person account of how he arranged to buy the silence of a porn actress and a Playboy model who said they had sex with Trump. He described a February 2017 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office in which the president reassured him that reimbursement checks sent through Federal Express were coming but would take some time to get through the White House system.

In an allegation relating to Mueller's probe, Cohen said he overheard Trump confidant Roger Stone telling the candidate in the summer of 2016 that WikiLeaks would dump damaging information about Clinton.

Trump put Stone on speakerphone as Stone relayed that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that "within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign," Cohen said. Damaging emails U.S. officials say were hacked by Russia were later released by WikiLeaks.

Trump responded by saying "wouldn't that be great," Cohen said.

Stone disputed that account Wednesday, and Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, said Stone and Assange did not have the telephone call that Cohen described.

Cohen's claims that Trump had advance knowledge of the emails contradict the president's assertions that he was in the dark, and it is not clear how legally problematic that could be for Trump anyway. Mueller has not suggested that mere awareness of WikiLeaks' plans, as Stone is purported to have had, is by itself a crime.


NOE GARCIA, The Sentinel 

In this September 2018 file photo, Kelly Slater makes his second run at the Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore during the World Surf League Championship Tour.


Local
LHS library wins award

LEMOORE — The Lemoore High School library was chosen as one of several winners in a national education contest.

The library was named a People’s Choice award winner in the Follett Challenge and will be receiving $8,000 in products and services from Follett.

Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to K-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the U.S. The corporation distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, e-books and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks.

In addition to completing an online application for the annual Follett Challenge, LHS submitted a short video to promote its program, Senior Exit Interview Day, which teaches students the 21st century skills they need to be prepared for life.

The People’s Choice category was based on how many votes the applicants received for their videos from the public.