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No need to be 'shellfish' — it's all you can eat

HANFORD — The Rotary Club of Hanford is throwing a party that may “crabtivate” the imagination of shellfish lovers.

The 42nd annual Crab Feed, the Rotary Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year is scheduled for 6-10 p.m. Satuday at the Hanford Civic Center.

“We fly in 1,600 pounds of live, fresh crab straight from Alaska. It’s never frozen,” Rotary club President-Elect John Kuykendall said.

This will be the 42nd annual Crab Feed, which Kuykendall said sells out of its run of 500 tickets every year, though as of Wednesday morning, this year’s event is “not quite sold out,” he added.

Tickets run $85 per person, $60 of which is tax-deductible. Ticketholders are treated to all-you-can-eat crab, Harris Ranch tri-tip and an open, fully-stocked bar.

 In addition to savory food, the event will also feature an auction that Kuykendall said can only be described as “tremendous.”

“It may be the best collection of auction items we’ve ever had,” he said.

One of the items expected to be highly sought after is a flying tour of everything Central Valley agriculture.  The lucky bid-winner will be have the opportunity to go on a plane ride over many several Valley agricultural operations – getting a rare bird’s eye view of the enormity of the valley that feeds the entire country.

Fliers will hover above Kings County’s walnut and pistachio fields, dairies populated by hordes of grazing cow and even citrus fields closer to the foothills.

Sponsored by the Kings County Farm Bureau, the winner will also receive a membership to that organization and the opportunity to visit the farms and dairies seen in person during an on-site visit to be scheduled after the plane ride.

Another prize, donated by Jim Logsdon, is the chance to fly above the county in a Vietnam War-era Navy plane.  Kings Gun Center has donated a Remington XCR hunting rifle as well as a Mathews Triax hunting bow.

“It’s a hunter’s dream,” Kuykendall, who officially takes office as president in July, said.

Throughout the night, entertainment will be provided by local folk and country musician Tim Mattos.

“He wrote a song called ‘The Hanford Song’ that has become the unofficial theme song of Hanford. He’ll be performing with three other all-star musicians,” Kuykendall said.

The money raised during the event will go toward the Rotary Club of Hanford’s various charitable causes, including their annual trip to the Central American country of Guatemala, where members of the organization contribute to providing fresh water systems in the small country’s remote jungle areas.

Kuykendall has been to Guatemala twice for the project. Rotarians provide their own airfare, lodging and pick up their own checks on the trip so that all the money donated can go directly toward helping the underserved communities, he said.

Throughout the years, the organization has also helped to raise money for medical clinics in that area and, last year, provided 42 custom wheelchairs to needy children in the area. The wheelchairs are designed in a way that they can be adjusted to stay comfortable and functional, even as the child grows up.

Locally, the Rotarians provide scholarships for local students, support local women’s shelters , the Shelly Baird School and help to provide housing for veterans injured while serving.

For more information, call 559-362-6048.

Polar blast grips Midwest, strains aging infrastructure

CHICAGO — A blast of polar air enveloped much of the Midwest on Wednesday, cracking train rails, breaking water pipes and straining electrical systems with some of the lowest temperatures in a generation.

The deep freeze closed schools and businesses and canceled flights in the nation's third-largest city, which was as cold as the Arctic. Heavily dressed repair crews hustled to keep utilities from failing.

Chicago dropped to a low of around minus 23, slightly above the city's lowest-ever reading of minus 27 from January 1985. Milwaukee had similar conditions. Minneapolis recorded minus 27. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saw minus 25.

Wind chills reportedly made it feel like minus 50 or worse. Downtown Chicago streets were largely deserted after most offices told employees to stay home. Trains and buses operated with few passengers. The hardiest commuters ventured out only after covering nearly every square inch of flesh against the extreme chill, which froze ice crystals on eyelashes and eyebrows in minutes.

The Postal Service took the rare step of suspending mail delivery in many places, and in southeastern Minnesota, even the snowplows were idled by the weather.

The bitter cold was the result of a split in the polar vortex, a mass of cold air that normally stays bottled up in the Arctic. The split allowed the air to spill much farther south than usual. In fact, Chicago was colder than the Canadian village of Alert, one of the world's most northerly inhabited places. Alert, which is 500 miles from the North Pole, reported a temperature that was a couple of degrees higher.

Officials in dozens of cities focused on protecting vulnerable people such as the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing.

At least eight deaths were linked to the system, including an elderly Illinois man who was found several hours after he fell trying to get into his home and a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn. Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple's SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern Indiana and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.

Temperatures in Chicago were expected to tumble again into the minus 20s early today. Some isolated areas could see as low as minus 40, according to the National Weather Service. Daytime highs could climb into the single digits before warming up to the comparatively balmy 20s by Friday.

The system's icy grip also took a heavy toll on infrastructure, halting transportation, knocking out electricity and interrupting water service.

At least 2,700 flights were canceled nationwide, more than half of them at Chicago's two main airports. Another 1,800 flights scheduled for Thursday were also called off. Fuel lines at O'Hare Airport froze, forcing some planes to refuel elsewhere before continuing to their destination, an airport spokeswoman said.

Amtrak canceled scores of trains to and from Chicago, one of the nation's busiest rail hubs.

Chicago commuter trains that rely on electricity were also shut down after the metal wires that provide their power contracted, throwing off connections.

Ten diesel-train lines in the Metra network kept running, but crews had to heat vital switches with gas flames and watched for rails that were cracked or broken. When steel rails break or even crack, trains are automatically halted until they are diverted or the section of rail is repaired, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis explained.

A track in the Minneapolis light-rail system also cracked, forcing trains to share the remaining track for a few hours.

In Detroit, more than two dozen water mains froze. Customers were connected to other mains to keep water service from being interrupted, Detroit Water and Sewerage spokesman Bryan Peckinpaugh said.

Thousands of utility customers were without electricity after high winds also caused trees and branches to fall into power lines, especially in the south Chicago suburbs. The ComEd utility in northern Illinois said crews restored power to more than 42,000 customers and were working to restore another 9,400.

About 5,000 Duke Energy customers in central Indiana lost power due to high heating demand that tripped circuits. Another outage affecting 1,000 customers was reported near Kokomo, Indiana, about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.

Nunes named to Dairy Council of California

SACRAMENTO — To help drive its cause of elevating the health of children and families in California through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits, Dairy Council of California has named a new chair and vice chair to its board of directors and is welcoming new board members, including someone who lives in Kings County.

Heidi Nunes, plant manager at Leprino Foods in Lemoore, was one of four new board members appointed to the Council by Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Board members serve a three-year term to help guide and oversee Dairy Council of California through the implementation of its strategic plan, which includes a wide range of nutrition education initiatives and dairy outreach efforts.

Talking with the Sentinel Tuesday, Nunes said she grew up in Gustine, where she lived next to her grandparents’ dairy farm. She said her whole career has revolved around the dairy business, including at Leprino, where she has been employed for more than 22 years.

It was through her involvement on the board of directors for the California Creamery Operators Association, where she has served for five years, that she was able to receive the nomination from Ross.

Funded by California's dairy farm families and local milk processors, Dairy Council of California's science-based nutrition education resources, Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies, training programs and online tools reach millions in California and throughout the U.S.

Nunes said it’s important to educate children and young adults about the dairy industry because she believes there is still a lot of confusion about it.

“You’d be surprised how many people have never seen a cow,” Nunes said.

Nunes said she is glad to be a part of the Council board and is looking forward to attending some of the Mobile Dairy Classroom presentations at local schools in the coming months.

“I’m thrilled to be able to promote dairy education, especially for kids,” Nunes said.

The other three board members include Erin Erin Nutcher, a fourth-generation dairywoman at Hidden Valley Dairy in Newman; Francis Pacheco, vice president of membership and public affairs for the Western Area of Dairy Farmers of America; and Adrienne Spohr, brand manager of Clover Sonoma in Petaluma.

Additionally, Brad Scott, a fourth-generation dairyman at Scott Brothers Dairy, was elected as chair after serving 11 years on the board and Mark Webster, plant manager at processing company Schreiber Foods, was named as vice chair.

“The leadership of Brad and Mark and dedication of our four new board members will provide valuable guidance and support to Dairy Council of California’s nutrition education and advocacy efforts for food access programs that empower healthy eating patterns,” said Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of Dairy Council of California.

To learn more about Dairy Council of California and its efforts, visit

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Police: Rumors of school shooting threat false

HANFORD — After reports of a possible school shooting threat spread online, the Hanford Police Department has investigated the incident and deemed the rumors to be untrue, officials said.

Tuesday, the department began receiving information regarding a possible threat of a school shooting. Officials said it was reported that the targeted schools would be Sierra Pacific High School and Hanford High School.

Police said rumors generated from a social media website and quickly spread through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Hanford officers said they worked through the night and into Wednesday morning investigating the rumors, which were determined to be false. They said they determined there was never a threat to the school, staff or students.

The Hanford Police Department would like to remind parents and students about the seriousness of social media posts containing unconfirmed information, especially when it involves threats of violence.

Officials said any known threats of violence should be immediately reported to the police department for investigation, rather than be disseminated through social media.

“All threats are taken seriously and investigated in conjunction with the school districts, to ensure the safety of all students and staff,” the department said in a press release.