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Contributed by Kathy Hotchkiss 

The Sasins garden is a wonderful place to visit. 

Job fair provides opportunity

HANFORD — Whether unemployed or seeking to improve their situation, veterans and non-veterans alike showed up to the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” job fair.

The Employment Development Department (EDD) put on the annual job fair in conjunction with several other organizations Thursday at the Hanford Civic Auditorium with the goal of helping to reduce unemployment among veterans and the community at large.

By an hour into the four-hour event, 97 Kings and Tulare county residents checked in. The final count of attendees was 166 and around 59 percent of participants were veterans.

There were 60 employers offering jobs, internships and apprenticeships, and 13 community-based organizations offering resources for job seekers.

Andrew Schantz, a partner at New York Life Insurance Company, said they are always looking for new agents.

“One of the things we like about veterans is that they are regimented and they follow a system,” Schantz said. “That is what makes agents successful.”

Each booth had its own way to entice job seekers. The most interactive display was the simulated welding program that the Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California had to promote its apprenticeship program.

Scott Lewis, the Carpenters Training Committee's district coordinator, said that eight of the 10 crafts they train include welding in some way.

Plenty of employers had positions open. However, not all participants were looking to be hired right away.

A Lemoore resident and reservist, Dominique Ross, previously served in the Marine Corps for four years and is currently studying criminal justice online at Park University. She attended the fair to learn about careers that she could have after she finishes her education.

Between Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties, the rate of unemployment among veterans in 2015 was close to 8 percent according to the Employment Development Department. The unemployment rate in all of California in 2015 was around 6 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

James Romero, 38, served in the Navy, worked in dairy production for 15 years and has been unemployed for two months. This father of two and Tulare resident came to the job fair at the advice of his Veterans Affairs representative.

“I’ve got a lot of feelers out there,” Romero said. “I’m just waiting for job offers.”

Romero said he appreciated the variety of business at the job fair. Although much of his employment background is more mechanical in nature, Romero said he was open to trying anything that was interesting and had “a good work-life balance.”

Another Tulare resident, Anna Rodriguez, explained to Kaweah Medical Center representatives her need to clean.

Rodriguez has a job cleaning a gym in Tulare County. She saw this job fair as a way to find a housekeeping position that had more benefits, particularly health care benefits.

The job fair sponsors and the American Legion in Hanford made it possible for all attendees and employers to have lunch.

Elizabeth Martinez, employment program manager for the EDD, said the event was meant not only to reduce unemployment within the veteran community but also the entire community.

Scott Holwell, Kings County Veterans Service Officer, said they moved the event from Lemoore back to Hanford because past attendees said it was difficult for them to get to the fair in the past couple of years. He said for the past six years they had held the job fair at West Hills College in Lemoore.

The 2018 "Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet" job fair brought opportunity to many

Farm Day captivates Kings County students

HANFORD — Did you know that different types of chickens lay differently colored eggs? Or that some eggs have two yolks inside? Well every third-grader in the county now does.

Third-graders across Kings County participated in Farm Day, which took place Thursday at the Kings Fairgrounds and is a collaborative effort on the part of the Kings County Farm Bureau, the Kings County Office of Education and the Kings Fair.

Farm Day strives to teach students about the positive contributions farming makes to the community and the local economy — which is what the Kings County Farm Bureau is all about.

Now in its 14th year, Kings County Farm Day brought together 2,390 third graders and 106 teachers from 36 schools for the unique field trip.

With the help of 26 businesses, 10 equipment operators and 26 animal presenters, students from across the county had the opportunity to learn about the many facets of agriculture through interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences.

Volunteers guided students through a number of exhibits that allowed them to climb on tractors, pet a variety of farm animals and learn the process of how food gets from the farm to the fork.

Joselyn Vega, Dawon Brown and Camila Alvarado are third-grade students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. The students said they had a great time at Farm Day and learned a lot of new things on their field trip.

Camila said her favorite part was learning about different fruits and vegetables. In case you’re wondering, her favorite type of fruit is apples.

While Dawon said his favorite part of the day was being able to go inside the helicopter, Joselyne said she loved seeing the chicks at the Farmer John station.

“They’re so cute and adorable,” Joselyne said, adding she now knows why chickens scratch their feet on the floor (it’s to get rid of the bugs).

The goal of Farm Day is to spark an interest in agriculture – a dominant industry in the Valley – at a young age for the next generation of consumers. As educational as it is fun, Farm Day teaches children valuable lessons about where food comes from.

“Farm Day provides us with a special opportunity to teach local students about the importance of living in a farming community,” said Farm Day Chairman Brian Bergman in a press release. “Our goal is for every child who attends Farm Day to gain an increased awareness of the positive contributions that agriculture makes not only to our local community and our economy, but to the world.”

Dusty Ference, executive director of the Kings County Farm Bureau, said Farm Day is a great opportunity to remind students that agriculture exists in Kings County.

“This also shows them what agriculture entails and lets them know there are jobs and other things for the future that come from the ag industry,” Ference said.

This is the third year Ference has experienced Farm Day as executive director, and he said his favorite part is seeing the kids experience new things and hearing their questions.

“They come up with some great questions — things that we don’t think about sometimes,” Ference said. “It’s a different perspective.”

Ference said most of the presenters and volunteers have participated in Farm Day for many years and look forward to the event every year.

Future Farmers of America students were the tour guides for classes and other FFA students and 4-H students were presenters as well.

Vidak authors measure to limit where sex offenders can live

State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) announced he is amending his Senate Bill 1143 to prevent sex offenders from secretly moving in next door to schools, parks and child care centers. 

Vidak says that the Jessica's Law (Proposition 83 of 2006) residency limit for sex offenders is not being consistently enforced by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Both the State Supreme Court and CDCR say that the residency prohibition section of Jessica's Law is unconstitutional. The residency restriction prevents sex registrants from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

"Our SB 1143 will force these sex offenders to at least, before they attempt to buy or rent near a school, park or child care center, notify the property owner in writing that they are a registered sex offender who was convicted of committing a crime against a child. The property owner will be allowed to use this information as a reason to decline renting or selling the property to the sex offender."

Hanford City Councilman Justin Mendes informed Vidak about a sex offender who was living next door to a child care center and that the Hanford police were prevented by the court ruling from forcing the sex offender to move out.

SB 1143 is in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting assignment to a policy committee.