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Kings County is a county located in the Central Valleymarker of the U.S. state of Californiamarker. It is located in a rich agricultural region. Kings County is also home to NAS Lemooremarker, which is the U.S. Navy's newest and largest master jet air station. The county seat is Hanfordmarker. Kings County is part of the HanfordmarkerCorcoranmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA Code 25260). The population was 129,461 at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census. However, the California Department of Finance estimates that the county's population had grown to 154,743 as of January 1, 2009.

History

Kings County was formed in 1893 from the western part of Tulare Countymarker. In 1909 a triangular area of was taken from Fresno County and added to Kings County

The county was named after El Rio de los Santos Reyes (River of the Holy Kings) after the Three Wise Men of the Bible. The river was discovered in 1805 by an expedition probably led by Spanish Army Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga. At the time of the American conquest the name was changed to Kings River. Kings County was organized in 1893 from set-off parts of Tulare County with later additions from the territory of Fresno County.

Historic sites



Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which 0.04% is water.

Kings County is bordered on the north and northwest by Fresno County, on the east by Tulare County, on the south by Kern Countymarker and a small part of San Luis Obispo Countymarker and on the west by Monterey County.

Most of the historic Tulare Lakemarker was within Kings County. Although reclaimed for farming late in the 19th century, it was once considered to be the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes.

Cities and towns



Rural communities



Proposed new city



Indian reservation



Adjacent counties



Transportation infrastructure

Major highways



Public transportation

Kings Area Rural Transit (KART) operates regularly scheduled fixed route bus service, vanpool service for commuters and Dial-A-Ride (demand response) services throughout Kings County as well as to Fresno.

Amtrak trains stop in Corcoran and Hanford.

Orange Belt Stages provides inter-city bus service to and from Hanford. Connections with Greyhound can be made in Visalia or Paso Robles.

Airports

Hanford Municipal Airportmarker is a general aviation airport located just southeast of Hanfordmarker. The privately-owned airport in Avenal is the home of the Central California Soaring Club.

Economy

The economy is based on agriculture. Other important employers include NAS Lemooremarker, the U.S. Navy's largest master jet base and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation which operates three state prisons in Kings County.

At the time of the 2000 census, the median income for a household in the county was $35,749, and the median income for a family was $38,111. Males had a median income of $31,700 versus $24,772 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,848. About 15.8% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.9% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over. In 2003, Kings County had the lowest per capita income in the state of California.

Taxable sales in 2007 totalled $1.33 billion in 2007.

The poverty rate plunged from 21.6% to 15.1% in 2007 while the county’s median household income rose to $46,756, according to census data. Also, the value of Kings County’s crops reached a record of $1.76 billion in 2007, up 36.7% from the prior year. Alex Whalley, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Mercedmarker was quoted in an August 2008 interview as saying that “export-oriented agriculture is doing better thanks to a weakening dollar and rising food prices.” However, the county’s dairy industry was significantly impacted by the collapse in milk prices that began in late 2008. By mid-2009, the price paid to milk producers had dropped to a point that is far below the cost of production. In a July 11, 2009 news story, Bill Van Dam, CEO of the Alliance of Western Milk Producers, was quoted as saying that milk prices are not expected to really recover until January 2010.

Kings County has not escaped the effects of the late 2000s recession. The unemployment rate in October 2009 was 15.5%, up from 10.1% in July 2008.

Demographics

As of the 2000 census, there were 129,461 people, 34,418 households, and 26,983 families residing in the county. However, the California Department of Finance estimates that the population had grown 154,434 as of January 1, 2008. The population density based on the 2000 census was 36/km² (93/sq mi). There were 36,563 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 53.68% White, 8.30% Black or African American, 1.68% Native American, 3.07% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 28.28% from other races, and 4.79% from two or more races. 43.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 7.1% were of Portuguese, 6.2% German, 5.3% Irish and 5.1% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000. 63.6% spoke English, 30.9% Spanish, 1.4% Tagalog, 1.4% Portuguese and 1.3% Samoan as their first language.

There were 34,418 households out of which 46.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.18 and the average family size was 3.56.

In the county the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 35.0% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 134.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 148.8 males. The ratio may be attributed to the presence of three men's state prisons in the county.

Government

Kings County is a general law county under the California Constitution. That is, it does not have a county charter. The county is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. Supervisors are elected by districts for four-year terms. There are no term limits in effect. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected annually by the Board of Supervisors from among its members. On January 5, 2009, the Board elected Supervisor Joe Neves as Chairman and Supervisor Richard Valle as Vice-Chairman to serve during 2009. Other Supervisors include Tony Oliveira, Richard Fagundes and Tony Barba.

The Board of Supervisors appoints a County Administrative Officer. Currently, that office is held by Larry Spikes.

Politics

Presidential election results
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 56.2% 19,710' 42.0% 14,747 1.8% 618
2004 65.4% 21,003 33.7% 10,833 0.9% 274
2000 57.8% 16,377 39.0% 11,041 3.2% 917
1996 47.9% 12,368 43.6% 11,254 8.5% 2,193
1992 41.6% 10,673 38.9% 9,982 19.5% 4,996
1988 56.4% 12,118 42.6% 9,142 1.0% 222
1984 64.1% 13,364 35.1% 7,324 0.8% 160
1980 55.4% 10,531 38.4% 7,299 6.3% 1,191
1976 49.7% 8,263 48.4% 8,061 1.9% 318
1972 56.5% 10,509 39.1% 7,274 4.4% 812
1968 43.1% 7,796 47.8% 8,643 9.2% 1,662
1964 30.5% 5,753 69.4% 13,073 0.1% 14
1960 42.3% 6,991 57.1% 9,439 0.6% 92


In January 2008, the Kings County Clerk reported that of 45,444 registered voters, 21,685 were Republican and 16,664 were Democrat.

Kings has long been a strongly Republican county in Presidential elections. The last Democratic candidate for President to win the county was Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

Kings County is part of California's California's 20th congressional district, which is held by Democrat Jim Costa. The county is represented in the California State Senate by Democrat Dean Florez and in the California State Assembly by Republican Danny Gilmore.

On Nov. 4, 2008 Kings County voted 73.7 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

References

  1. California Department of Finance, Table E-1, City/County Population Estimates with Annual Percent Change, April 2009
  2. Birth of Kings County
  3. Hoover, p. 132
  4. http://www.kartaits.com/
  5. http://www.soaravenal.com/ accessed 1-13-08
  6. US Department of Commerce Study, 2003
  7. http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/ accessed 7-18-09
  8. Hanford Sentinel, August 30, 2008
  9. Hanford Sentinel, July 11, 2009
  10. http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/ accessed 11-21-09
  11. California Department of Finance, Table E-2, California County Population Estimates and Percent Change, Revised July 1, 2000 through Provisional July 1, 2006
  12. Hanford Sentinel, January 6, 2009
  13. http://www.countyofkings.com/admin/index.htm accessed 1-13-08
  14. Hanford Sentinel, January 13, 2008


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