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Cannabis company contacts city

HANFORD — The Hanford City Council met Tuesday night and it seems cannabis will be a reemerging issue in the coming New Year.

The first City Council meeting in December after an election is normally reserved for the “changing of the guard,” where newly-elected Council members take their oaths of office. This year, however, due to new election laws, results must first be certified by the Kings County Board of Supervisors, which will take place at the board’s Dec. 11 meeting.

So the current City Council had the opportunity to serve on the dais once last time together before the three new members take their oaths of office at the regularly scheduled Dec. 18 meeting.

On the agenda for the evening was a request from Genezen Hanford LLC for additional time to apply for a conditional use permit and cannabis business permit.

Genezen was one of the three cannabis businesses that were awarded the opportunity to get cannabis permits in November 2017. The company was awarded the opportunity to obtain 17 cannabis permits, including 14 cultivation permits, one distribution permit and one manufacturing permit.

Community Development Director Darlene Mata said when the city awards permits, it is expected that the companies then pursue conditional use permits and building permits in their continuing development efforts.

However, Mata said after Genezen was awarded the permits, the city did not hear from the company for almost one year. Recently, Genezen sent the city a letter requesting additional time to apply for a conditional use permit.

“Normally [with] most of our permits we expect some effort to be done in that 12-month period, and we did not see any effort during that time,” Mata said of Genezen.

Mata said the two other cannabis companies who were awarded permits —Caliva and Premium Extracts — both pursued and obtained their conditional use permits and one is moving forward with applying for a building permit.

In its letter, Genezen asked Council to give the company until Dec. 31 to apply for a conditional use permit.

While Council members expressed their disappointment in Genezen officials for waiting this long to get back in contact with the city, Council voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Diane Sharp as the only “no” vote, to allow the extension, with the caveat that Genezen apply for both a conditional use permit and temporary cannabis permit and pay the necessary fees involved.

“Glad they’re still around,” Councilman Justin Mendes said.

If Genezen does not follow through, the company would lose the permits it was awarded by the city and would have to reapply for them, if the city were to open up the permit application process again next year. Going through the process again would cost the company thousands of dollars in application fees.

Additionally, now that Measure C — which established a cannabis business tax in the city that would be levied on the cannabis businesses — has passed, Mata said she has gotten several inquiries from interested parties asking if the city will open up the application process for additional cannabis permits.

She said she anticipates bringing the issue, along with new state laws and changes, back to Council in January 2019.

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'Stuff the SWAT Truck' seeks toys for needy children

HANFORD — Next time you see a S.W.A.T. vehicle, it may not be full of tactical weapons, but instead with stocking stuffers and other presents.

The Central Valley Regional S.W.A.T. Team will host its 10th annual Stuff the S.W.A.T. Truck toy drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Target.

“It’s joyful to see. It’s exciting to see when kids who may not be getting anything [for Christmas] otherwise get something small like a box of crayons or a coloring book or puzzles, it’s something,” Hanford Police Department’s  Ryan Tomey said.  “You go and you get to see a little bit of a change for the better for a little while. It’s the brighter side of what we do for a living.”

When the children realize that some of their presents aren’t coming from Santa, but from local law enforcement, it helps build a good relationship, the detective said.

Tomey said that in addition to doing something positive to help reverse any lack of trust that members of the community may sometimes have for law enforcement, the toy drive is also personally fulfilling. An overwhelming majority of those in law enforcement are parents, which gives them an added boost of empathy toward the plight of children who may not have the perfect Christmas mornings they see on TV.

“A lot of us are cops by day and fathers and mothers by night,” he said about why the project has become important to those officers that participate

In addition to toys, officers will accept non-perishable food items and clothing.

The idea for the event started a decade ago in a perhaps unlikely place – assault practice. Tomey and his team wanted to do something positive for the community and Stuff the S.W.A.T. Truck was born.

Each year, around 500 families benefit from the project, he said.

The law enforcement team benefit as well, Tomey said.

“It’s good to see the team get excited about something and work together,” he said.

After the collection, groups of officers will work to separate the toys by gender and age group while others deliver the presents. Other officers will go on a mission to local stores to purchase items for older children who, Tomey said, are often overlooked during holiday gift drives. Gifts of clothing and other items will be secured for teens.

Needy recipients for the donated gifts are found mostly through local churches, school resource officers and tips from the public. Tomey can be reached at 559-585-4725 with any such information.

During a call to service, an officer may notice that there isn’t much under the Christmas tree and will make sure to come back later bearing some of the collected gifts or will inform the next shift of the children’s needs.  Tomey described it as a “team effort.”

Tomey said one year around the holidays he responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence and came back mere hours afterward with presents for the children — something that undoubtedly would have lifted an otherwise heavy mood.

“The guys that are working, they’re the frontline guys. They see who’s who,” Tomey said. “It’s a little more heartwarming when we run into the kids who need it and don’t ask for it or are out there but don’t have the resources to come find us.”

Nation bids goodbye to George H.W. Bush

WASHINGTON — The nation bid goodbye to George H.W. Bush with high praise, cannon salutes and gentle humor Wednesday, celebrating the life of the Texan who embraced a lifetime of service in Washington and was the last president to fight for the U.S. in wartime. Three former presidents looked on at Washington National Cathedral as a fourth — George W. Bush — eulogized his dad as "the brightest of a thousand points of light."

After three days of remembrance in the capital city, the Air Force plane with Bush's casket left for a final service in Houston and burial today at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter who died of leukemia at age 3.

His plane, which often serves as Air Force One, arrived at Ellington Field outside Houston in late afternoon. As a motorcade subsequently carried Bush's remains to the family church, St. Martin's Episcopal, along a closed interstate, hundreds of people in stopped cars on the other side of the road, took pictures and shot cell phone video. One driver of a tanker truck climbed atop the hulking vehicle for a better view, and at least 15 firefighters scaled a pair of stopped firetrucks to salute.

Upon its arrival at the church, Bush's casket was met by a military band and Houston Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The national funeral service at the cathedral was a tribute to a president, a patriarch and a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. It was laced with indirect comparisons to President Donald Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush's public life and character.

"He was a man of such great humility," said Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming. Those who travel "the high road of humility in Washington, D.C.," he added pointedly, "are not bothered by heavy traffic."

Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of the group sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others.

George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He said he took comfort in knowing "Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again."

The family occupied the White House for a dozen years — the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to extend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries.

The elder Bush was "the last great-soldier statesman," historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, "our shield" in dangerous times.

But he took a lighter tone, too, noting that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply quipped, "Never know. Gotta ask."

The congregation at the cathedral, filled with foreign leaders and diplomats, Americans of high office and others touched by Bush's life, rose for the arrival of the casket, accompanied by clergy of faiths from around the world. In their row together, Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Simpson regaled the congregation with stories from his years as Bush's friend in Washington. More seriously, he recalled that when he went through a rough patch in the political game, Bush conspicuously stood by him against the advice of aides. "You would have wanted him on your side," he said.

Meacham praised Bush's call to volunteerism, placing his "1,000 points of light" alongside Abraham Lincoln's call to honor "the better angels of our nature" in the American rhetorical canon. Meacham called those lines "companion verses in America's national hymn."

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush as a strong world leader who helped oversee the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped bring about the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, signed into law by his successor, Clinton.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the day marked "a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life."

Bush's death makes Carter, also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the oldest living ex-president.

Following the cathedral service, the hearse and its long motorcade drove to the National Mall to pass by the World War II Memorial, a nod to the late president's service as a World War II Navy pilot, then transferred his remains at Joint Base Andrews for the flight home to Texas with members of his family.

Bush is set to lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church before boarding a special funeral train to be carried to his burial today.

Trump ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.

Representatives sworn in this week

SACRAMENTO — Monday, representatives for State Assembly and Senate were sworn in at the capital, including reelected Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and newly-elected state Senator Melissa Hurtado.


Salas was sworn into his fourth term in Assembly District 32. The district encompasses all of Kings County and the Kern County communities of Arvin, Delano, Lamont, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco and part of the city of Bakersfield

He issued the following statement after taking the oath:

“It is an honor to serve and represent communities in the Central Valley and to make a difference for people back home. I am incredibly grateful for their support and deeply humbled by the opportunity to continue fighting for families and individuals in the 32nd Assembly District. I look forward to the hard work ahead.”

Salas was first elected to the State Assembly in 2012 after serving on the Bakersfield City Council. He led a decisive victory over his opponent in November, winning by over 9,000 votes.

Salas currently is a member of the following standing committees: Agriculture, Governmental Organization, Veterans Affairs, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife. He also chairs the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Energy Future.


Eleakis & Elder Photography 

Melissa Hurtado

Hurtado (D-Sanger) was accompanied by her family as she was sworn in as state senator of the 14th Senate District. She was joined by newly elected members of the California Legislature at the State Capitol to take their oaths.

“I am incredibly honored for the opportunity to represent the communities of the 14th Senate district,” Hurtado said in a released statement. “When we started this journey together, our mission was simple – serve the people of the Valley. Walking through the halls of the Capitol today, I know that there is much work to accomplish and many milestones we need to hit before we can truly celebrate. However, as we grow our team, I know that our mission will continue to be at the core of everything we do.”

Senators serve four-year terms in the upper house of California’s Legislature. The terms are staggered, so that half of the Senate’s 40 seats are up for election every two years. This year, nine of the twenty senators being sworn in are completely new to the Senate.

New members of the Senate were sworn in by California’s Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. The Legislature will reconvene for 2019 on Jan. 7, after the holidays.

An alumna of California State University, Sacramento, Hurtado was raised in the City of Sanger, where she previously served as a councilwoman. Senate District 14 includes all or portions of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.

Eleakis & Elder Photography 

Melissa Hurtado