As 2017 draws to a close, both Kingsburg and Selma look back on a year of welcoming new business to town, citizens concerned over crime concerns, the keeping of cultural traditions and the beginnings of new ones. Here’s a review of events from 2017.


Kmart closes

KINGSBURG – The announcement of Kmart’s closure was met with disappointment by local economic leaders and shoppers alike. The local store was among 100 nationwide that shuttered their doors. The building has since been purchased by State Foods Supermarket for $2.8 million. “The location makes perfect sense because it’s central to all our other locations,” State Foods CEO Mufid Mike Alamsi said.

Selma residents build Free Libraries

SELMA – Forty Selma residents gathered Jan. 21 to build 20 Little Free Libraries at Selma Unified’s first-ever library build day at the local Home Depot. The Little Libraries resemble small houses and will be stocked with free books. The libraries were later installed throughout the community. SUSD Library Coordinator Maria Petropulos said the effort will build literacy in town. “It gives me so much joy to see kids and parents and grandparents and Selma Unified employees all coming together to build these,” she said.

Selma High stages ‘A Spare Me’

SELMA – Selma High’s drama department’s “A Spare Me” play explored the concept of cloning and identity in its January production. English teacher/director Brynn Saponara said the modern drama depicted a utopian society where people’s personalities were being uploaded and backed up to create new people. “It’s the adult society deciding to ‘spare’ the children that they lose so they always have them,” she said.

Safe Food Alliance to build in Business Park

KINGSBURG – Safe Food Alliance broke ground Jan. 25 in the Kingsburg Business Park. Safe Food Alliance supports the food manufacturing industry through training, auditing, food lab testing and research. The firm’s new 20,000-square-foot lab will triple the size of their operations. Their relocation is projected to bring 30 full-time jobs to town and generate $10 million in revenue.

Olson named Citizen of the Year

KINGSBURG – Maxine Olson was named as the 2017 Citizen of the Year at the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Awards Banquet in January. Corsaro's Family Pizza was named as the Business of the Year, Jacquelyn Kesting as Junior Citizen of the Year, Terri Wilson as Elementary Educator of the Year and Kingsburg High’s Mike Schofield as High School Educator of the Year. The Public Safety Award was awarded to Police Records Supervisor Corina Padilla. Lincoln Elementary School was named Recycler of the Year.


Kingsburg High stages ‘Mary Poppins’

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg High’s drama department showcased local talent through its February production of “Mary Poppins.” The show is known for its high-spirited dance numbers and whimsical songs, but also conveys an important message for families, the young actors said. “Mary Poppins” combines the 1964 Disney film and books by P.L. Travers to tell the story of a magical nanny that enters the lives of the Banks family.

Kings River floods

KINGSBURG – The Kings River filled with water during the wet winter of 2017 and eventually spilled over its banks. Businesses such as the Kings River Golf and Country Club, Gun Club, Club Royal Oak and Riverland RV parks were flooded. Kings River Water Association’s Steve Haugen said this was the most water the river has seen since 2011. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office closed the river for recreational use in late March.

Chipotle opens at the True North development

SELMA – Chipotle became another of the businesses to open at the True North development on Floral Avenue. Signage was installed on Feb. 2. Interim City Manager Greg Garner said the development was a sign of the city’s growth. “[It’s] more visible evidence of the economic expansion underway in our city,” Garner said. The Mexican food eatery joined Subway, AT&T and Starbucks in developing there.¬

SAC’S ‘13’ heralds new season

SELMA – If you can recall the awkwardness of puberty and the challenges of making friends while you’re still trying to figure your own self, then you’d identify with the characters in the Selma Arts Center’s first production of the year, “13 The Musical.” The show was staged from Feb. 17-25. Actors said although the show had energetic choreography and upbeat music, there were several underlying themes audience members could glean from the performance. “It’s about friendship and not screwing over other people, the good people, just so you can be with the popular crowd,” says Brittany Smith, 16, playing the outcast Patrice.

Blossom Trail kicks off

KINGSBURG – An opening ceremony for the Blossom Trail was Feb. 3 at the Historic Train Depot. Organizers said the abundance of rainfall and snow would likely yield a bumper crop of blooms for visitors from around the world. The Trail is in its 29th year and lasts from February through March. “The blossoms bring travelers from more crowded parts of the state and we feel like our cities keep them,” Tourism Associate Director Kristi Johnson said.

Sun Hong Kong rings in Chinese New Year

KINGSBURG – Sun Hong Kong Chinese restaurant celebrated the Chinese New Year Feb. 5 with clanging, fireworks and a lion dance troupe from the Huadu Chinese Middle School Association. Restaurant owner Yong Kang Miao’s son, Jason Miao, said the family has kept the tradition since they opened 18 years ago. “It’s supposed to bring prosperity and good luck,” Miao said. “Firecrackers ward off bad luck and evil spirits.”

Kingsburg competes in Small Business Revolution

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg entered the Small Business Revolution online competition and was in the running to win $500,000 to revitalize Downtown. Kingsburg made the top five, but Bristol Borough, Pa., took first place. At a Feb. 22 reveal party, city leaders said the publicity would still help spur tourism. “The exposure we got was worth more than half a million dollars for sure,” Mayor Michelle Roman said.

Arson burns Selma Chamber office

SELMA – The Selma Chamber of Commerce was among four buildings damaged in a string of arsons on Feb. 28. Chamber members worked at City Hall until their offices were repaired. Three commercial and one residential building were set on fire. Fire investigators looked into whether these fires were connected to fires previously set in unoccupied homes in town, Fire Chief Mike Kain said.

“We suspect some similarities, but we want to make sure and are talking with neighbors to see if we can connect the dots,” he said.

Hemi rescue brings residents together

KINGSBURG – A cat getting lost is one thing but a cat that gets stuck on an island in an overflowing river is another. After Samantha Kibler’s cat Hemi went missing for 12 days, it was finally rescued from a spit of land just off Riverland Resort. A plea on Facebook brought Laura Householder to the rescue. A team of at least 30 volunteers cleared shrubbery with chainsaws and machetes. After nearly two weeks of leaving food and setting traps, Hemi was finally found. “I believe God sent me angels to help me get my cat,” Kibler said. “Some of us that just don’t give up no matter what it takes,” Householder said.


Ladies sparkle in Denim and Diamonds

Women enjoyed the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Denim and Diamonds’ theme of this year’s Ladies Night Out March 2. Pam Morris took first place in the fashion contest while Amy Wilber took second and Melissa Troxell placed third. The Chamber went on to host a second Ladies Night later in the year.

SAC offers ‘Gypsy’

SELMA – Selma Arts Center’s “Gypsy” opened March 10 and offered both heart-wrenching and light-hearted scenes. Rebecca Shroyer Mattox starred as Mama Rose Hovick. The musical highlighted a story about a mother pressuring her two daughters into a life of show business. “There are some serious undertones, that emotion and that play between the mother and the daughter that’s very serious and very relatable,” Director Nicolette Anderson said. “But the funny bits and light-hearted music keeps it light and keeps it going.”

Grace Church of the Valley starts construction

KINGSBURG – Grace Church of the Valley started building a worship center and an education building at the old Del Monte site at Marion and Gilroy streets in March. The facility is scheduled to open in spring 2018. “We’re excited. We feel a great sense of momentum,” Lead Pastor Scott Ardavanis said. The church purchased the site for $1.7 million four years ago and has been having services on Sundays at the Kingsburg High Little Theater in the meantime.

Selma names Citizen of the Year

SELMA – Dr. David King was named at the 2017 Citizen of the Year Award at the annual Selma District Chamber of Commerce banquet March 30. Other honorees included Les Schwab Tire Center as Business of the Year, Jamie Harris and Chad Wenter as co-Educators of the Year, Scott Sanders for Distinguished Service to the Community, Simon Sihota for Excellence in Agriculture and John Banda as Junior Citizen of the Year.


Relay For Life raises funds

SELMA – Cancer survivors and their caretakers kicked off the eighth annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life at Fowler High. The relay took place April 1-2.

Elias hired as city manager

SELMA – Selma City Council hired David Elias as its city manager in April but was forced to accept his resignation in November after the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office filed embezzlement charges against him.

Elias formerly worked as Fowler’s city manager and was charged with 13 counts of misappropriating public monies by using that city’s credit cards to make personal purchases. If convicted, Elias faces up to 16 years in state prison. Councilman Louis Franco was the lone ‘no’ vote stating that he had concerns over the circumstances in which Elias left his employment with Fowler.

“Until those concerns are fully resolved, I personally think we should continue to look.”

Henry R. Perea was hired on Nov. 21 to serve as an interim city manager.

Castaneda hired as Community Services leader

KINGSBURG – Adam Castaneda was hired as Kingsburg’s new Community Services department leader as of April 3. Castaneda previously worked as the Chamber of Commerce executive director and now replaces Ashlee Winslow-Schmal.

Sikhs host annual parade

SELMA – Local Sikhs commemorated the day their faith was first established by hosting their annual Vaisakhi celebration on April 16. The day included a parade, singing, informational booths and free cultural food. Selma’s Kirpal Singh Sihota was among the thousands gathered at the grounds of the Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast. “All the teachings are in the holy book, the Guru Granth,” Sihota said of the large book transported on the first parade float. “That’s the ultimate guru. All the teachings are there.”

Teen killed, two injured in drive-by shooting

SELMA – The Selma Police reported a teen was killed and two more were injured at an April 16 party. The incident took place near Sarah Circle and Thompson Avenue. Officers said a 15-year-old boy was found with gunshots wounds and he was later pronounced dead at the scene. Two men were also injured, one from a gunshot wound and the other from flying vehicle glass. The department didn’t release the names of the victims.

Chevy wins at Kingsburg Car Show

KINGSBURG – Mike Borges and Richard Martella of Hanford are the co-owners of the customized red 1969 Chevy C-10 that won Best of Show at the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce Car Show on April 15. Borges credits a number of artisans for doing the work that went into creating the winning entry. “This was subbed out over a few contractors. It was a 13-year build,” he said.

Neighborhood Watches meet

SELMA – Eric White Elementary neighbors met with the Selma Police Department in April to give an update on their Neighborhood Watch efforts. They said the stepped up vigilance is paying off but continued gang activity is prompting them to get more neighbors involved. Rosemary Alanis spearheaded the effort and said she won’t let her children attend community events unsupervised for fear of their safety. “That’s sad because this is my city. I grew up here. We have to change this city.”

Community Planners advise Kingsburg

KINGSBURG – A Community Planning Assistance Team visited Kingsburg in late April to help the community assess commercial strengths and weaknesses in an ongoing effort to revitalize Downtown. Recommendations included having fewer offices and more retail shops and better signage. They suggested businesses such as a one-screen theater and a massive new hotel/restaurant would bring more visitors to the area. A large archway to mark visitors’ arrival to Downtown was another idea. “We suggest you strengthen [your Swedish identity] since you’re one of the few Swedish communities in the nation,” Planner Robert Paternoster said.

Police investigate drive-by

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg Police Department investigated a drive-by shooting that took place 1:30 a.m. on April 26. Several gunshots were fired at a residence in the 1100 block of Union Street from a light-colored SUV. The vehicle headed west on Union Street toward 10th Avenue. The department didn't say if any residents were injured. It was unclear about the number of suspects and the make and model of the SUV.

Riverbend Church moves to Historical Park

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg Historical Society’s annual dinner was April 30 at its Historical Park. The Riverbend Church was a featured facility as it recently relocated to the park. Now completed, the church serves as a place of worship and is rented for weddings and other celebrations.


Selma celebrates Cinco de Mayo

SELMA – Selma celebrated Cinco de Mayo in early May with a series of assemblies at local schools and a dance at the Senior Center. Eric White Elementary sixth-graders took part in the school’s revived Cinco de Mayo celebration and showed off their folklorico dance skills.

Shoemaker named Raisin Festival Queen

SELMA – Sierra Shoemaker was named as this year’s Raisin Festival Queen. Earning the title fulfilled a childhood dream, she said. Shoemaker is the daughter of Brandon and Rene Shoemaker. Her younger brother, Evan, served as her escort for the festival.

“I’m ecstatic! This has been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember.”

The five-day festival is sponsored by the Selma District Chamber of Commerce and included a variety of entertainment, food vendors, rides and competitions. Karen Ramirez’s raisin-apple jalapeno jam took Best of Show in the raisin food contest.

Selma starts community garden

SELMA – Jim and Kristin Horstmann spearheaded the effort to start a community garden at Sylvia and First streets in Selma on a lot owned by Christ Driven Church. Organizers hope to grow a sense of community along with the produce. “We want to provide a place for food, fellowship and community and a place to thrive,” Kristin Horstmann said. “And not just a green space, but a green space that feeds people,” Jim Horstmann added.

Bears reflect on folklorico experience

SELMA – The Selma High Los Paisanos program’s End of the Year show was May 20 at the Selma Arts Center. The show featured different dance styles from Mexico but was a bittersweet end for the seniors. They’d been involved with folklorico dancing since middle school and have built friendships closer to family. “For me, it’s kind of sad,” Julissa Chavez said. She’s danced since seventh grade and high school graduation was just days away. “All these people have become like family and I’ll no longer see them.”

Roman named as Swedish Festival Queen

KINGSBURG – Lindsey Roman was named as the 2017 Swedish Festival queen during the festivities May 18-20. The community celebrated its uniquely Swedish culture with a parade, dancing and ethnic meals. This year, the queen also had an attendant, Clare Bennett. “I’m just so excited to do this and have fun,” Roman said. “I’ve always looked up to the Swedish Queen and now that I am her, it’s really surreal. It’s cool.”

Memorial Day services keep history alive

Both Kingsburg and Selma held Memorial Day services May 29 at their respective cemeteries to honor veterans buried there and teach the next generation to show appreciation. Hundreds of U.S. flags were erected in honor of local veterans.


Selma High holds graduation

SELMA – As the graduating seniors at Selma High take their next steps into adulthood after their June 8 graduation ceremony, they stopped to not only thank their families, but encourage the incoming freshmen to make the most of their time as Bears.

“Without the love and support of our family members and friends, we wouldn’t be here today,” graduate Gobinder Pandher said.

Kingsburg High graduation

The Vikings’ graduation took place June 8 before a packed stadium at Kingsburg High.

Engstrom marks 40th year

KINGSBURG – The Kingsburg Summer Band Concerts series started with a June 22 performance at Memorial Park. Conductor Dale Engstrom said a new twist was having a featured theme for each show. This year marked Engstrom’s 40th year conducting the band. “Doing this is in my DNA and I must continue with this great tradition.”

Woman injured in Selma shooting

SELMA –Selma Police reported a woman had been shot twice in a possible drive-by shooting June 15. Gunshots were reported on the 2100 block of Park Street. Officers found a woman in her 50s with two non-life threatening gunshot wounds to her hip. Neighbors said the shots may have been fired from a vehicle but no vehicle description was given.

Fugazzis comes to Kingsburg

KINGSBURG – Fugazzis owner Mike Filgor announced he was opening another of his Italian restaurants at 1335 Draper St. Filgor already operates Fugazzis in Hanford, Visalia and Tulare.

“This is part of our natural growth as a company,” he said. “We want to continue expanding.” The restaurant’s indoor dining space seats about 30 people while the outside patio seats 40. The restaurant will also have a bar area.


SAC stages ‘Carrie’

SELMA – The Selma Arts Center continued to tackle stories of outcast characters, this time with “Carrie – The Musical” in July. Abby Halpern starred in the role of Carrie White, a high school outsider who took bloody revenge on her bullying classmates at their senior prom. Director Claudio Laso says this format tells the story in a more emotional way. “The book is super detailed and the movie itself, both iterations, are a different way of telling it,” he said.

Sikhs educate through Cultural Exchange

SELMA – As part of a national effort to spread awareness of their culture and beliefs, local Sikhs sponsored the first Selma Cultural Exchange July 5 at Lincoln Park. Organizers say the educational outreach is one of many efforts they’re making to stave off future attacks against members of their faith. Discrimination and hate crimes have increased against the Sikhs after the 9/11 attacks. The day included comments from local dignitaries touting Sikhs’ contributions and a free luncheon of food representing different cultures in town. “This is unifying all cultures,” said Bev Cho of Cho’s Kitchen. “We’ve got different ethnicities here, and we’re just sharing and showing we’re united.”

Grand jury investigated Tri-County

KINGSBURG – The Fresno County grand jury released a report after investigating the financial records of the Tri-County Health Care District. The grand jury called into question the district’s financial management practices. The jury recommended that Fresno County conduct annual audits and that Tri-County evaluate the performance of its professional contractors and advisers. They also recommended the district consider selecting new advisers at least every three years.

A response by Tri-County in September disagreed with most of the findings, acknowledged or explained others but said others could not be followed in a fiscally responsible way.

Tri-County’s legal counsel Moses Diaz characterized the investigation as a “primarily political complaint” from a member of the Kingsburg Citizens Committee.

As a member of that committee, Betsy Tunnell said the response is “filled with justifications made to cover up and divert attention away from the findings.” Tunnell said if it weren’t for intervention by the grand jury, little would change.

Council considers another housing plan

KINGSBURG – Shortly after approving the annexation process on two proposed housing developments, Kingsburg City Council approved a third one. The latest development was approved at the July 19 meeting. The latest annexation is for a 39-lot development on 13 acres of land north of Kamm Avenue between Academy and Mendocino. The development now goes to the Fresno County Local Agency Formation Commission for consideration. Piara Ghuman of AKS Enterprises, Inc. in Lindsay is the developer.

Groft hired as Chamber director

KINGSBURG – Kaitlyn Groft was hired as the new executive director of the Chamber of Commerce July 19. “It’s been a great experience so far,” she said. “I love doing the work and being involved in the community. All of that is important in the long run.”

Festival offers peachy good time

KINGSBURG – Peaches may not be canned down the block any longer, but that didn’t stop Kingsburg’s Holy Family Catholic Church from continuing to celebrate the summer fruit at its annual Peach Festival. The July 21 event at the church park marked the 11th year and included a baking contest, silent auction, kid’s games and music.

Homeless program gets Selma office

SELMA – Fresno County’s Department of Behavioral Health opened a new Multi-Agency Access Program office at 2045 Grant St. in Selma. A ribbon-cutting was July 27. The agency is designed to meet rehabilitation, living assistance, behavioral and mental health and suicide prevention needs.

“We recognized that a home wouldn’t be enough,” Dawan Utecht said. “[The homeless] have other needs that need to be met in order for them to maintain housing.”


Farmer's market gets new management

KINGSBURG – Peter DeYoung, Founder/CEO of Ag Marketing Worldwide, took over management of Kingsburg’s Community Farmers Market. A first market was Aug. 12 at Coffee Pot Park. Various food vendors sold fresh fruits, vegetables, snacks and other goods. The market will operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The market is part of the California Fresh Farmer’s Market Association. “Our markets are not just about fruits and vegetables,” DeYoung said. “It’s an eclectic collection of things for the entire family.”

Selma concerts rock Lincoln Park

SELMA –Selma District Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Concerts in the Park kicked off with an Aug. 5 performance by the B Side Band. The event included food and garden booths. The series included Art in the Garden, Prestige and the Sounds of Freedom.

“It’s a great opportunity to come out and get to know your neighbors,” Chamber President Char Tucker said. “People can absolutely get up and dance. It just depends on if the music moves them.”

Railroaders teach history

Members of the Fresno County Model Railroad Club meet at the Pioneer Village train depot where they run trains every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. The display is open to the public and new members are welcomed to join. Visitors can tour the downstairs and the upstairs where members have recreated mountainous, foothills and Valley floor regions depicting local history in miniature scale. “Without the railroad, none of this would be here,” Superintendent Kevin Hughes said of the importance of railroads on the San Joaquin Valley’s development.

Phelan named as KHS principal

KINGSBURG – Ryan Phelan was hired as Kingsburg High’s new principal after serving three years as the administrator of the Alternative Education Center. Assistant Principal Ryan Walterman replaced Phelan and Ivan Nunez, a Kingsburg High teacher, replaced Walterman. Later in October, Don Shoemaker was named as the new superintendent for the district.

“Kingsburg’s already a great district that’s doing great things,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t have big visions to come in and change everything because I think what they’re doing is fantastic.”

‘Lion King Jr.’ takes the stage

SELMA – The Cool Kids Players had enough actors for its “Lion King Jr.” production for two different casts. The two troupes took turns performing the musical from Aug. 24-27. The show is based on Disney’s animated film in which the young Simba is tricked into running away from his lion tribe after his father Mufasa’s untimely death.

Kingsburg Railroaders host display

KINGSBURG – Friends of the Historic Kingsburg Train Depot Steve Britton and Don Smith set up a model railroad exhibit Aug. 16 with plans to bring the display back for Santa Lucia. Aside from the HO scale, trains in other gauges were also displayed.

Village Bakery & Cafe up for sale

KINGSBURG – Diane’s Village Bakery & Café owner Diane Hurtado has decided to sell the business after 17 years, but is remaining open until there’s a buyer. “We’ve been very busy, actually. We’ll keep it going through the end of the year,” Hurtado said. She’s retiring to spend more time with her family, including four grandchildren. “It’s been a very hard decision,” she said. “When you do something for 17 years, it becomes a part of you.”

Health District board ousts president

SELMA – The Selma Health Care District board has a new president after a 3-2 vote at its Aug. 31 meeting. The move came amid objections about President Stanley Louie’s handling of finance management. Rose Robertson, a recently elected board member, was voted in as the new president.

Robertson raised concerns over a lack of insurance, the lack of an annual report, feeling rushed to make legal decisions, emergency meetings called to hire legal counsel, checks bouncing, and Louie’s assertion he could single-handedly sign checks. Robertson said she felt Louie did not support the entire board and had exposed them to liability because of his actions or failures to act.

“For all these reasons, you should be removed as president of this board,” she said.

Teen girl killed in shooting

SELMA – Desiree Austin, 16, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on Aug. 31, the Selma Police reported. A barbecue was taking place and about a dozen people were in the driveway of a residence on 1400 block of Mill Street around 9:30 p.m. Austin was struck in the back by three bullets and was taken to Community Regional Medical Center but died from her wounds. Austin was a Selma High sophomore. The residence was also struck by gunfire from a small-caliber weapon. Witnesses said a dark-colored SUV left the area at high speeds after the shooting.

BLD restaurant to open

KINGSBURG – Jose Almanza will open a BLD Fresh restaurant in the old Burger King building on Sierra Street. The restaurant will serve American food for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. “I’m very excited and optimistic,” he said. Almanza, of Clovis, has worked 30 years as a franchisee for a large restaurant chain. He chose Kingsburg as he liked the look and feel of the town and felt the location of the restaurant would be good for business.

Neighborhood Resource Center opens

SELMA – A new Neighborhood Resource Center has opened in Selma to help families with a variety of support needs. The office is located at 2117 Selma St. It will relocate to a new office on East Front Street once office renovations are complete. Staff includes family advocates, case managers and differential response coordinators. Director Angelita Echeveste-Duran said they’re available to help with a full range of prevention, intervention, treatment and educational services. The center offers parenting classes, parent support groups, case management, translation services, help filling out forms for Medi-Cal, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or tax forms, home visits, internet job search, family therapy and parent-child interaction therapy.

Sal’s celebrates 75 years

Sal's Restaurant celebrated its 75th anniversary Sept. 16 with folklorico dancing, mariachi music and traditional Mexican food. Founder Sal Salazar's grandsons, Roman and Salvador Salazar, said they hope to keep the family restaurant thriving into the future. “We were celebrating 50 years when we were kids,” Salvador Salazar said. “It was a big celebration but we didn’t think much of it. Now, after seeing all that hard work that my father and my aunts put in and all the stories we hear, it’s just the cherry on top. It’s awesome and we feel blessed.”

United Health breaks ground

SELMA – United Health Centers broke ground Sept. 8 on a new facility at 2705 S. Highland Ave. in Selma. This will be the 15th UHC facility. The center will house 17 exam rooms, 11 dental stations and three optometry exam rooms. All UHC services will be available including medical, dental, optometry, chiropractic, behavioral health and ancillary services. CEO Colleen Curtis said she’s eager to bring much-needed access to affordable health care to Selma. “We’re the safety net and we should be their first stop, not the [emergency room],” Curtis said. “We’re here to see everyone in the community regardless of what type of reimbursement they have.”

Citizens air safety worries

SELMA – More police officers were sworn in at the August Selma City Council meeting, but citizens continued to clamor for more officers and more patrols to deal with ongoing safety concerns. Citizens keyed in on the need to hire more police officers at better pay immediately.

“Make cuts where they’re needed, whether it be department staffing, department head salaries [or] closing city offices for a week,” resident Brandon Shoemaker said. “Move those monies to support police and fire hiring and retention through increases in salary.”


School board plans for Stadium renovation

SELMA –Selma Unified School Board is getting input from citizens on a variety of upgrades that will be made at Selma High with bond funds. Architects with Teter Architects & Engineers detailed their design proposals and answered questions from trustees and audience members at a Sept. 19 workshop. Residents said they want more seating, more bathrooms and more concession stands. “My biggest concern is when the kids graduate,” Annemarie Summers said of having only 4,500 seats. “Our graduating class is eventually going to grow.”

Selma Cancer Support walk

SELMA –Selma Cancer Support fundraising walk, the Central Valley Cancer Walk, took place Sept. 30 at Pioneer Village. Its goals were to raise money, raise hope and raise awareness. The walk included colorful booths honoring family members, raffles, a barbecue, Zumba and music culminating in a luminaria lighting that night. “If we asked for a show of hands [of people affected by cancer] in any environment, a lot of hands go up,” organizer Marianne Rodriguez said.


Kingsburg High hosts first Viking Classic

KINGSBURG – Kingsburg High School hosted the Viking Classic as its first Western Bands Association competition Nov. 11 at the Kingsburg High School Bowl. The competition brought an estimated 1,500 students and spectators to town. “The Music Boosters and our award-winning Marching Band will host up to 15 high schools for the competition,” Music Booster Secretary Kimbi Sigle said.


Boot Barn opens

SELMA – Boot Barn hosted a ribbon-cutting Oct. 20 for its new store at 3390 Floral Ave. Selma District Chamber of Commerce President Char Tucker presented store manager Kaela Tharp with a certificate and membership plaque to welcome them to the business community. Tharp said the store’s work boots are biggest draw. “Customers are coming in for our work boots. That’s probably what they’re most excited about – the work boots and the work wear right now.”

Gagnon is new postmaster

KINGSBURG – Dennis M. Gagnon was appointed as Kingsburg’s new postmaster at an Oct. 20 swearing-in ceremony at Coffee Pot Park. “I’m excited to embark on this part of my career,” Gagnon said. Gagnon, 37, graduated from Selma High, attended Reedley College and started as a carrier at the Reedley Post Office. He worked there for 13 years before being promoted and served another three years there before this appointment.

Selma Rotary hosts 53rd annual Band Festival

SELMA – Rotary Marching Band Festival organizers hosted its 53rd annual parade through downtown Selma on Oct. 28. The event included a field show competition at Staley Stadium. The theme was ‘Dreams of the Future’ and former Selma Enterprise newspaper owner Jim Brock was the grand marshal. Parade Chairman Jeff Shepard said the festival has changed yet remains the same. “The judging has changed, the crowds have changed, but it’s all the same. It’s parents and grandparents coming out and watching their kids and Rotary putting on an event that everybody enjoys.”


Altar Trail celebrates life

SELMA – Centro de Folklor hosted its second annual Dia De Los Muertos Nov. 4 and included an Altar Trail from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 where 12 businesses throughout Downtown Selma hosted altars dedicated to family members. Dance studio owner Oscar Hernandez said is really a celebration of life. “People see the skeletons and think it’s something scary or connected to Halloween. Hopefully, we’re teaching it’s more like our memorial day and that it’s a remembrance for those that have passed on.”

Selma Arts Center goes big with ‘Hunchback’ play

SELMA – When it came to Selma Arts Center’s last musical of the year, directors decided to go big. SAC staged “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” starting Nov. 17. Director Dominic Grijalva said they pulled out the stops for the show. “This is a production that warrants a big set, a big cast, a big sound and we are excited to deliver that to our patrons,” Grijalva said.

Veterans honored at first celebration

KINGSBURG – Gratitude and pride were just two of the emotions breaking through the voices of speakers and attendees at Kingsburg District Chamber of Commerce’s first Veterans Day Celebration Nov. 10. Kingsburg Mayor Michelle Roman was among speakers expressing thanks to the veterans and their families. “I’m a very proud daughter of not only a Vietnam veteran but also the daughter-in-law of a Vietnam veteran,” she said. The celebration included a patriotic ceremony, free Swedish pancake breakfast and speaker Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6152 Commander Steve Nagle.

KCAPS food drive

KINGSBURG – Hundreds of volunteers helped collect, sort and box food stuffs for the annual Kingsburg Community Assistance Program food drive Nov. 15. Kingsburg Ministerial Fellowship leader Jordan Ringhofer told the dozens of young volunteers that their efforts may not eradicate hunger completely, but they would make a difference that lasts all year long.

“You are part of the solution and a visible representation of what can happen when people care about each other,” Ringhofer said.

KCAPS Director Aida Rushing was grateful for the hundreds of volunteers and donors. “For KCAPS, our mission is to show God’s unifying love to everyone we meet. I think love really shined tonight.”

Julgransfest kicks off holidays

KINGSBURG – The tradition June Hess started more than three decades ago continues to bring young and old alike out to sing holiday songs, bop along to traditional Swedish ring dances and share wish lists with Santa on Nov. 24. The Julgransfest, or Christmas Tree celebration, was created to officially kick start the holiday season and give visiting family members something festive to take part in, Hess said.


Holiday parades

Both Selma and Kingsburg were aglow with holiday lights as the two communities hosted parades on Dec. 2. Kingsburg’s long-standing Santa Lucia celebration wound through Draper Street while Selma’s holiday craft fair and Santa’s arrival brought community members out to enjoy the spirit of giving at Lincoln Park.

Avalos now Selma’s mayor

SELMA – Jim Avalos was sworn in as Selma’s mayor at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting. Councilman Scott Robertson was sworn in as mayor pro tempore. Avalos acknowledged family members in the audience and said he hopes the Council can move forward to address economic growth and safety concerns residents have brought to the council over the past year.

“I’d like to thank my mother. Without my mom, I wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful and I’m blessed to be here to see everyone’s support. I thank you all and my wife [Lorane Avalos] as well,” he said.

DuPras remembered

Retired Kingsburg Principal Jennifer DuPras, 55, is being remembered as “a great leader, and incredible mom, and most importantly, a friend to all,” by Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District Superintendent Wes Sever. DuPras was the victim of a double homicide and was found Dec. 11 in her mother’s Fresno home on the 6200 block of North Colonial Avenue. Her mother, Cynthia Houk, 88, was also killed. An investigation is still underway. The Fresno County Sheriff's Department identified the recently retired Washington Elementary principal as one of the victims and questioned DuPras’ estranged husband. A search warrant was used to search his Kingsburg home Dec. 12 but there was no probable cause to arrest him.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or