– March 31, 2015

Latest Local News

Written on 03/30/2015, 2:55 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno-based United Security Bancshares, parent of United Security Bank, announced that Bhavneet Gill has been selected as vice president and chief...
Written on 03/30/2015, 12:06 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno's newest Walmart Neighborhood Market location will open during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 1. The grand-opening ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m.  The new store is located in the former Cedar Lanes bowling alley at 3131 N. Cedar Ave. and is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. At 41,000 square feet, the facility features a full line of groceries, health and beauty aids and a pharmacy counter.  "With our fresh produce and convenient location, we are hoping to provide Fresno residents a great option for their everyday grocery shopping," said Matthew Enochs, store manager. The new store employs 95 full- and part-time staff members.  The grand-opening celebration will include presentations of $8,000 in grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to local community groups including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California and McLane High School.  The new Walmart Neighborhood Market will also host "A Big Family Welcome" on April 4. The event will give customers a chance to meet Enochs and enjoy family friendly activities such as face painting, cupcake decorating and free food samples while supplies last. The community event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The Cedar Avenue facility is the third Walmart Neighborhood Market to open in the Fresno area in recent years. The first store opened at 6855 N. Willow Ave. Northeast Fresno in May 2013 and was followed in September 2013 by the Clovis location at Shaw and Clovis Avenues.
Written on 03/30/2015, 10:31 am by Business Journal staff
Grammy Award-nominated pop singer Ariana Grande announced that Fresno will be included in the second leg of her "The Honeymoon" tour this summer. Grande is scheduled to perform at the Save Mart Center on Aug. 31 between dates in Las Vegas and Boise. This is Grande's first North American headlining tour. The Honeymoon Tour kicked off Feb. 25 with Latin singer Prince Royce as a special opening guest. Tickets for the Fresno show, as well as all summer engagements, go on sale April 4 on Grande last performed in Fresno at The Big Fresno Fair on Oct. 13, 2012 joined by local singer Ryan Beatty.
Written on 03/30/2015, 10:16 am by Business Journal staff
Business sale transactions in the Central Valley are on a sluggish pace so far in 2015 — 8 percent lower than last year, according to the BizBen Index that collects and reports data on the rate of small and mid-sized business transfers. There were 135 Central Valley Businesses that changed hands from January through March, compared to 147 in the same period last year. In Fresno County, 90 businesses were sold in the first three months of the year, compared to 86 in the same period of 2014. There were 69 businesses in the City of Fresno alone that were sold this year There were 42 Tulare County businesses sold from January through March, down from 58 in the same period last year. So far this year in Kings County, two businesses have been sold, compared to three in the same period last year. In Madera County this year, one business was sold, compared to none in the same period last year. According to BizBen, a high rate of business sales is an indicator of economic growth as banks are making more loans and buyers are growing confident in the profit potential of new investment opportunities. There were 3,927 California businesses sold so far this year, compared to 3,937 in the same time last year.
Written on 03/27/2015, 2:47 pm by Business Journal staff
The Madera County Auditor-Controller announced today that the Board of Supervisors has filed its financial statements with the state before the required March 31 deadline for the first time in at least 15 years. In the past, Madera County has been criticized for not completing the annual audit on time, with files arriving up to a year late in some cases.  "That era is over," said Todd Miller, Madera County auditor-controller. "Our County staff stepped up and completed two years work in the past nine months, spending their evenings and weekends in the office." Miller made the announcement during the Board of Supervisor's meeting today, thanking the county for helping him obtain needed resources in the auditor-controller department. Late audits have previously delayed funds flowing to the county, while grant money has been lost or not applied for.  "This accomplishment is important to the people of Madera County," he said. "On-time audit reported mean enhanced cash flows to the county and should improve the county's credit rating."
Written on 03/27/2015, 11:22 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno State alumnus David Vartanian has pledged to fund an annual $1,000 scholarship for a Fresno State pre-veterinary major in honor of his pet English bulldog.  The Ag One — Mr. Murphy the Bulldog Scholarship will honor Vartanian's adopted pet that died March 7, six days before the official campus bulldog mascot Victor E. II died.  "Mr. Murphy brought hope, joy and, most of all, love to everyone who met him," said Vartanian, a 2008 graduate of the Craig School of Business who is now director of sales for PepsiCo in the western United States. "I hope this scholarship will help a Fresno State junior or senior each year follow a professional career in enriching the lives of animals and their owners." Vartanian said the scholarship is a tribute to Mr. Murphy's team of veterinarians at Fresno Pet Emergency and Referral Center and NorthPointe Animal Hospital.  Fresno State's pre-veterinary major is part of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on training and has placed students in veterinary programs throughout the country. "We are sincerely appreciative of Mr. Vartanian's gift," said Randy Perry, chair of the Animal Sciences and Agriculture Education departments. "Pre-veterinary is our most popular animal science major so this scholarship will be put to good use, especially since veterinary students are always in demand."
Written on 03/27/2015, 11:15 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A small earthquake jolted an area of Fresno County, but there were no reports of damage. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the temblor occurred at 6:30 a.m. Friday and had a preliminary magnitude of 4.2. It was centered 6 miles north of Coalinga and occurred at a depth of 7 miles. Christine Mercer, a dispatcher with the Coalinga Police Department, says the quake wasn't too strong and lasted four or five seconds. She said: "You could kind of hear the rumble and then there was a jerk and that was it." Mercer says police received numerous calls, but none reported any damage or injuries. The USGS website shows a number of smaller quakes in the same area overnight. The largest was magnitude-3.5 at 12:32 a.m.
Written on 03/27/2015, 11:05 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Fresno's deputy police chief was among four people arrested on federal drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and heroin, authorities said Thursday. Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster, 51, was arrested for conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone, heroin and marijuana, the Federal Bureau of Investigations said in a statement. Foster and Fresno residents Rafael Guzman, Jennifer Donebedian and Randy Flowers were arrested as result of a yearlong joint investigation by the FBI and ATF that involved wiretaps and surveillance, the FBI said. Foster, a 29-year-veteran of the Fresno Police Department, oversaw patrol operations for the department's four police districts. He has been a deputy chief since January 2007. Foster has been put on paid administrative leave while the Fresno police conduct an internal investigation into alleged criminal and policy violations, the Fresno Police Department said in a statement. "This is a very sad day for the Fresno Police Department, the citizens of Fresno, the law enforcement profession, and for me personally," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. An affidavit by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent Sherri L. Reynolds shows Foster told Flowers in a Dec. 23, 2014, phone call that he had "100 of those things" for Flowers. Foster picked up a prescription for 100 oxycodone tablets at a Rite Aid pharmacy drive-thru and then drove his black BMW to Flowers' home on West Church Avenue in a pocket of southwest Fresno just outside city limits. Foster picked up another prescription of oxycodone pills on Jan. 27, 2015, and then drove to Flowers' home. Flowers has a criminal history in Fresno County that includes a 1988 conviction for possession of cocaine base for sale; a 1994 conviction for being a felon and addict in possession of a firearm; and a 2010 conviction for delivery of a schedule II controlled substance from Marion County, Oregon, the affidavit says. Neither the FBI nor the Fresno Police Department could provide the name of a defense attorney to comment on the charges.
Written on 03/27/2015, 10:30 am by Business Journal staff
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) announced that long-time Chief of Staff Johnny Amaral is leaving for a position with Westlands Water District. Amaral ran Nunes' first successful Congressional campaign in 2001, and has served as chief of staff since 2002. “This has been, by far, the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” said Amaral. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting a huge number of our constituents and working with the most incredible people in the Central Valley. It was a tough decision to leave this office and our amazing staff, and to part ways with Devin, who is one of my best friends. But I’m looking forward to a new opportunity with Westlands to continue pursuing one of my main goals of the past thirteen years — to end the man-made drought in the Central Valley.” Amaral's title with Westlands will be deputy general manager for external relations, drawing upon his more than a decade of experience on water issues and long-standing relationships with farmers, policymakers and principals stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels, according to a news release from Nunes' office. “Johnny has been crucial to my efforts, both in our home district and in Washington,” Nunes said. “He has deep knowledge of all the key issues facing Central Valley communities, and has handled even the most difficult problems with absolute professionalism and a dose of good humor. I commend my good friend for his many years of service to the people of the 22nd District. While I’m sad to lose Johnny, I think his hiring by Westlands is a positive sign that the water district intends to take a more engaged, pro-active approach to solving the water crisis.” Amaral begins at Westlands on May 1. Amaral will be paid $250,000 a year — a 50 percent raise from his House of Representatives salary, reported The Fresno Bee. Anthony Ratekin, a Valley native and provious field representative for Nunes, will serve as his new chief of staff, based in the Clovis and Visalia offices.
Written on 03/26/2015, 2:48 pm by Business Journal staff
Valley Yellow Pages has announced a new fundraising campaign to help save Storyland Playland in Fresno.  The company has enclosed pre-addressed envelopes for the children's park in the newest edition of its directory. The books are being sent to nearly 250,000 homes and businesses throughout Fresno and Clovis and will begin arriving on doorsteps Friday.  Those who receive the free directories can use the enclosed envelopes to send in a donation to Storyland Playland and help the park reopen.  Earlier this month, the park announced a need for an immediate cash infusion of $500,000 in order to open for the 2015 season. The money is needed for repairs and three months of operational costs. Playland, which is expected to remain closed for at least a year, would need an additional $350,000 to $400,000. After the initial announcement, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo agreed to initiate a fundraising effort for the parks, oversee a new Storyland board and use zoo employees to help get Storyland Playland operating again.  Acccording to a press release from Storyland, the park would meet its $850,000 fundraising goal if every Valley Yellow Pages recipient gave $3 to the cause.

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