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– September 30, 2014

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Latest Local News

Written on 09/29/2014, 2:44 pm by ben
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developing has awarded more than $230,000 to Valley public housing agencies to help low-income residents gain...
Written on 09/29/2014, 2:09 pm by Business Journal staff
A Visalia doctor was sentenced today for illegally dispensing oxycodone and other painkillers to patients without a legitimate medical need.Dr. Terrill Eugene Brown, 61, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for the crime. United States District Judge Lawrence O'Neill also ordered Brown to forfeit more than $182,000 and three BMW sedans that he gained from the illegal prescriptions. The case found that Brown had prescribed highly addictive prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone to patients without a medical necessity. Brown then deposited the cash earned from the prescriptions into different personal bank accounts so as to avoid reporting requirements that would have alerted the Treasury Department to the large cash transactions. Brown, who practices in Selma and Visalia, was reprimanded by the California Medical Board in 2007 for inaccurate record keeping for patients seeking medical marijuana. The case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Medical Board of California, California Bureau of Investigation. Brown's arrest was one of many that have come out of Operation Footprint, a nationwide law enforcement initiative that targets large drug trafficking organizations by identifying the transfer of drug proceeds through financial institutions, bulk cash smuggling and other forms of money Operation FootprintOxycodone, also known as “oxy,” is a narcotic analgesic or painkiller and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Oxycodone-based Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, and users will often crush and snort the pills or dissolve and inject them to get an immediate high. The abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and sometimes death. Hydrocodone, which is is sold generically or under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Lortab, Lorcet, and Norco, is an addictive prescription painkiller, the abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Written on 09/29/2014, 1:43 pm by Business Journal staff
With five Papa John's restaurants already on their way in the Central Valley, Dixie Foods International now has the Central Valley market on the brand by acquiring two more in the Fresno area.Last month, the Las Vegas-based franchisee announced it would open five new Papa John's pizzarias in the Central Valley as part of a development agreement signed with the chain in March. Those locations will now join two more in the Fresno area now that Dixie Foods has purchased from PJ Fresno Enterprise, Inc., including one at 1512 Champlain Drive in Fresno and another at 1798 Ashlan Ave. in Clovis."He just had two here and wanted to focus on Southern California," said Dixie Foods CFO Richard Groberg of PJ Fresno Enterprise's owner. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Groberg said the transaction should be complete before the end of the year. Dixie Foods is also planning to open three other Papa John's in Fresno by year's end, as well as one in Hanford and another in Lemoore. Over the next two years, Dixie Foods plans to open a total of 24 Papa John's restaurants within the trade area stretching from Fresno to north of Sacramento as part of its development agreement. The newest acquisitions are not a part of the development agreement. "We continue to be excited about the opportunity to bring the Papa Johns' brand in Northern California and this fits within that strategy," Groberg said. Besides Papa John's, Dixie Foods International also operates 13 franchised Capriotti's Sandwich Shops in Texas, Nevada and Southern California, and is also preparing to open two restaurants under the brand of celebrity chef Alex Stratta.
Written on 09/29/2014, 11:43 am by Ben Keller, Business Journal staff writer
Building permits were up in the first nine months of the year compared to 2013, but construction values showed a slowing of activity in areas like new homes and offices in the San Joaquin Valley.Throughout Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties, 11,091 construction permits were awarded to builders so far this year, according to a weekly report by Construction Monitor. That's up 33.8 percent from the same time in 2013 when 8,290 permits were issued. Of the permits awarded in the first nine months of the year, 9,875 were for residential construction compared to 7,043 the year before. New single-family homes fell from 2,292 permits to 1,902 and apartments and condos went from 33 to 17, although alternative residential energy projects rose from 2,431 to 5,609. Commercial permits totaled 1,216 in the first nine months of the year, down slightly from 1,247 last year. Among those, banks and professional buildings went from 56 permits valued at $52.18 million by 2013's third quarter to 48 so far this year for a total of $45.81 million. Commercial remodeling and finishing went from 642 permits totaling $105.05 million to 627 permits totaling $134.63 million. Retail, warehouse and dining projects fell from 46 permits totaling $55.85 million to 31 permits totaling $21.79 million, while industrial/manufacturing buildings went from 55 permits totaling $56.45 million to 30 permits totaling $38.21 million. Permits for alternative commercial energy projects increased from 56 last year to 79 so far this year, but total values fell from $65.99 million to $38.04 million. The value of all construction projects came down around 3.5 percent compared to last year, going from $1.058 billion in the first nine month of 2013 to $1.02 billion in the latest three quarters. Residential construction values dropped around 4.9 percent from last year, going from $666.79 million to $633.46 million. Single-family homes went from $535.2 million to $457.5 million, but apartments and condos rose from $26.36 million to $45.81 million. Commercial construction saw a slight decline as well, going from $391.48 million last year to $387 million so far this year for a 1.1 percent drop. Lennar Fresno topped the list of home builders working in the Central Valley so far this year with 279 permits awarded for a total value of $73.26 million. The company was followed by Wathen Castanos with 161 permits totaling $33.9 million, Woodside Homes with 118 permits of $30.574 million, Wilson Homes with 128 permits of $30.573 million and Bonadelle Homes with 89 permits of $25.44 million. Roebbelen was the largest builder of commercial projects in the Valley with one permit valued at $32.18 million, followed by the City of Fresno with 20 permits of $17.02 million, Quiring General with five permits of $16.42 million, ImMODO Energy with three permits of $14.75 million and Target Constructors with 13 permits totaling $10.27 million.
Written on 09/29/2014, 11:32 am by Business Journal staff
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law today designed to help Fresno County continue providing care for the indigent and undocumented population. Assembly Bill 2731 was introduced by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea in order to help Fresno County with budget flexibility. By delaying repayment of the $5.5 million the county owes to its local Road Fund for Maintenance-of-Effort, AB 2731 enables the county to provide health care for its indigent population.  Fresno County had previously contracted with Community Regional Medical Center and local health clinics to offer medical services to some of the community's poorest residents. The contract was terminated Sept. 1 but the county's payments were not scheduled to end until December.  "With this action by Assemblyman Perea and Governor Brown, the state is giving Fresno County the budget flexibility it says it needs to continue to provide safety-net health care for the remaining uninsured," Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said in a prepared statement.  Bill proponents said it is now up to Fresno County to take affirmative steps to use the budget flexibility to continue paying for indigent care medical services.  "Without care this population will suffer unnecessarily. It's time for the Board of Supervisors to step up and do the right thing for these people in our community who pick our crops and provide us with services," Perea said.  The bill was supported by local agriculture and farming organizations including the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the Nisei Farmers League. 
Written on 09/26/2014, 10:41 am by Business Journal staff
Nine solar projects in Tulare and Kings counties have been completed under a partnership of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co. and Coronal Group LLC. The solar arrays, the first under Panasonic and Coronal's exclusive partnership, were built jointly by Panasonic and ImMODO Energy Services of Visalia. Each array produces around 1.5 megawatts of solar energy for a total of 13.5 megawatts of AC power to Southern California Edison's grid, enough to power approximately 14,500 homes annually. The projects are located in Tulare, Farmersville, Farmersville, Portland and Hanford. Panasonic and Coronal Group acquired the projects from Marcquarie Capital in 2013, helped with a $50 million funding commitment by insurance and investment company Ullico Inc. The projects are part of Southern California Edison's California Renewable Energy Small Tariff program where the utility offers long-term contracts to small-scale suppliers to meet its renewable energy goals. "The completion of these nine projects, the first commercial projects to be finished under the Panasonic-Coronal platform, marks an important milestone and there are more in the pipeline," said Jonathan Jaffrey, CEO of Coronal, in a release. "Our total joint project development with Panasonic, now more than 100 megawatts, is an indicator of both the success of our platform and the rising interest in solar projects.
Written on 09/26/2014, 8:46 am by Business Journal staff
Kaweah Delta Health Care District will soon provide emergency and locally-based neurosurgical coverage to patients in the Visalia community.  The District's board of directors approved a three-year agreement with University Neurosurgical Associates to provide neurosurgical emergency department calls and consultations. The services will be available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  The neurosurgical team is comprised of six surgeons based out of Fresno and one who will reside in Visalia. The group is also expected to develop a Visalia-based medical office for patient consultations and referrals.  "It will provide our patients and the community with ready access to neurosurgical consultations and emergency care for cranial neurosurgical needs such as blood clots, bruising or swelling in the brain," Lindsay Mann, CEO of Kaweah Delta, said. "Conditions such as strokes, which can be managed medically, but often require the immediate availability of neurosurgical capabilities will be supported by this agreement." Currently, Kaweah Delta is the only level III trauma center between Fresno and Bakersfield, and administrators hope the neurosurgical agreement will help the facility become a level II trauma center. This would mean Kaweah Delta would be able to serve patients in need of more critical care including cranial surgery.  The board of directors also approved several other projects recently, including development of a second Urgent Care Center in northwest Visalia. The facility will provide radiology and lab services for patients and relieve pressure on Kaweah Delta's Emergency Department which currently sees more than 90,000 patients a year.  Expansion of the district's Quail Park Enhanced Assisted Living Facility was also approved, and the center will now have 25-beds instead of 12.  Development of a 3,000-square-foot outpatient rehabilitation center in Dinuba is also being planned. This fall Kaweah Delta will open Dinuba Rural Health Clinic, its fourth rural clinic, and the outpatient center is expected to be across the street. 
Written on 09/26/2014, 8:34 am by Business Journal staff
The CRU Wine Company is hosting its Fifth Annual Grape Stomp on Oct. 11. The event will be from 12-3 p.m. and is open to the public.  The festivities begin at noon and participants will receive a stemless wine glass and T-shirt. Friendly grape stomping competitions of two and four person teams will also be held with sign-ups beginning at noon. Prizes will be given to the best stompers and most spirited teams.  Price for participation is $25 for wine club members and $30 for non-members.  A BBQ lunch is included with the cost of admission and music will be provided by the Marie Wilson Band.  For more information call (559) 673-6372 or visit cruwinecompany.com.
Written on 09/25/2014, 11:53 am by Business Journal staff
WestCare California has received a donation of $16,300 from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to support a group that helps HIV and AIDS patients cope with the disease.WestCare California, based in Fresno, hosts multiple programs to lift up those suffering from disease, domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse and other issues. With the latest gift from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the organization will fund The Living Room's Family Table HIV/AIDs Prevention Lunch Program. Through the lunch groups, clients are able to cope by fellowshipping and receiving comfort from others afflicted by the deadly viruses. The group will meet at The Living Room, a facility ran by WestCare California at 901 E. Belmont Ave. in Fresno. The facility seeks encourage and support the well-being of those affected or at risk for HIV and AIDS through services like case management, client advocacy, hot meals, transitional housing, referral for rapid testing and support groups.
Written on 09/25/2014, 11:39 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno's Philanthropy Inspired by the Needs of our Community (PINC), a nonprofit founded in 2008 to support other local nonprofits, is looking for an organization to support for 2015. PINC raised a record $50,000 during a June fundraising event for its 2014 beneficiary, Transitions Children's Services, which serves children in foster care. Applications are being accepted from organizations with a focus on women and children. Applications are available at pincfresno.org.  Applications will be accepted until midnight on October 20.  All applications must be either submitted by e-mail to info@pincfresno.org. or mailed to P.O. Box 3413, Pinedale, CA 93650. No late applications will be accepted. Proof of 501(c)3 status must be submitted with application. Applicants can expect to receive a confirmation of receipt within 24 hours of their submission. The top 3 applicants will be invited to present their organization to the entire PINC membership at a November meeting, with the winner to be announced later that month. Since 2009, PINC has raised $189,500 through its annual fundraising events benefitting Angel Babies of Hinds Hospice ($15,000), Marjaree Mason Center ($25,000), Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California ($35,000), Break the Barriers ($28,000), Catholic Charities – Diocese of Fresno ($36,500), and Transitions Children’s Services ($50,000). “PINC welcomes beneficiary applications for our 7th annual fundraising event and looks forward to supporting those in need in the coming year,” said Analiese Domingos, founder & current president of PINC, in a statement.  “We are excited to once again have the opportunity to make a lasting difference for one of the numerous agencies that works so diligently to serve the women and children in need throughout our community.”

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