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Around Kings County /John Lehn / No snow/ more

January 25.2018-

EDC President John Lehn to retire

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 5.38.47 PMKings County Economic Development president John Lehn will retire in April he has announced. County administrator Rebecca Campbell says that the Board received a letter of resignation from John Lehn, Job Training Office Director and EDC president effective April 30, 2018 after 41 years of working with Kings County.Lehn says 31 of those year has included heading up the EDC.

“I hope to help with the transition” say Lehn adding that the county will start the process of finding a replacement for his  position. Lehn says both locals and candidates from out of the area will have a chance to apply. Lehn, who lives in Hanford, says he has no plans to leave the area.

Asked how the economy is doing in Kings County Lehn says it is the best in a while, pointing to low unemployment and the fact  that companies have now acquired and plan to open two large vacant buildings totaling about 2.6 million square feet.

Kings industrial inventory is low for a change.”We are even seeing signs developers may build spec space here “ due to expected demand.

Some of that demand is coming from non-traditional sources including an influx of cannabis businesses as well as a start-up electric car maker.

One cannabis grower acquired the old cotton storage complex at 1.6 million square feet and Faraday Future, the electric car maker, has leased the 1 million sf Pirelli Tire building after decades of it sitting idle.

Asked if Faraday Future is making progress on their Hanford plant, Lehn assures us that behind the scenes “ there is a lot going on” leading to the remodeling of the big building to make the prototype speedster electric car and the beginning of the hiring process. The LA company has been beset with rumors and staff departures in recent months, but no firm news. But Lehn is in a position to have a clearer picture.

Lehn also says Airgas Specialty Products has begun construction on their industrial ammonia facility in the Kings Industrial Park. Typical uses are NOx abatement, refrigeration, food processing, and the production of semiconductors.

On the retail front, Hanford’s Premiere Collision is building a new repair complex along Hwy 198’s frontage road west of 12th.The company is owned by John Nelson.

Snow is no-show – warmer winters

It is the height of the rainy season now – the last week of January, but the next two weeks look high and dry for all of California forecasters say.

That is not good news when snow is already a no-show up and down the Sierra as the state continues to experience a warm winter. Climate scientists are predicting more of California’s winter precip will fall as rain. One does not have to look far toes it is already upon us.

Huntington Lake at over 7000 feet, and source of the Friant Kern Canal, has no snow on the ground the week. The water content in the upper San Joaquin River watershed is only 0.3in while the April 1 average should be 32.7 inches.

Not that the place hasn’t gotten wet – even though well below average.Huntington Lake’s June to July average precipitation is 22.4 inches (we got 32 inches this time last year) but just 9.5 inches has fallen this winter. The state says the San Joaquin Basin Precipitation Index is 47% – dry but not calamitous like the snowpack.

Scientists say rising temperatures are shrinking the frozen reservoir with winter averages up 2 degrees across the sierra.“Rising temperatures are projected to shrink the average acreage of Sierra Nevada snowpack by half.” says Daniel Walton, researcher at UCLA

Western Growers to fight restrictive immigration bill

Western Growers CEO Tom Nassif says an immigration bill popular with House conservatives and authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. would devastate western agriculture – stripping farmers of their workforce.

Nassif says “under the Goodlatte bill, all current unauthorized farmworkers would be required to become guest workers under the H-2C program, which mandates they return to their home country before participating in the guest worker program.”

“In the coming days and weeks, Western Growers will work with the greatest urgency to prevent the Goodlatte bill from coming to the House floor while we also pursue a workable solution in Congress.”

Trucking rates move higher

Trucking rates are on the rise – affecting the movement of ag products over long distances.

Recent reports say that the reason for the rapid increase in trucking costs is the lack of availability of trucks and shortage of drivers in some areas. Other say the federal requirement to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) into all trucks to better track driver hours of service is a key factor.

The Packer ag newspaper reports that “truck rates as high as $10,000 to New York from California’s Imperial Valley were reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Jan. 16. At the same time a year ago, that trip reportedly cost $6,000 to $6,200. Two years ago, the rates were $5,800 to $6,000 to New York.”

Alfalfa fields show promise for groundwater recharge

A two-year study demonstrates that flooding alfalfa fields shows strong potential for refilling groundwater supplies. University of California specialists who conducted the study flooded fields near Davis and in the Scott Valley of Siskiyou County. In each case, most of the water percolated into the water table, and the practice had only minimal impact on the crop. The university has studied similar projects in California orchards and vineyards.

UC assesses potential for elderberry production

In California, they’re grown mainly to act as a windbreak or attract beneficial insects, but elderberry plants also produce fruit—and the University of California wants to learn if elderberries could succeed as a crop. UC researchers have planted elderberries at four farms in the Central Valley, to assess farming practices and market potential. Elderberries are now used in jams, syrups, wines and liqueurs, but most commercial production occurs in the Midwest.

California Farm Bureau contributed to this article.

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