– May 29, 2015

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Latest Local News

Written on 05/29/2015, 11:00 am by Business Journal staff
Kaweah Delta will host free abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screenings at its imaging center in Visalia on June 6. 
Written on 05/29/2015, 9:07 am by Business Journal staff
First Solar, Inc. has donated $10,000 for the creation of a new scholarship at West Hills Community College District (WHCCD).  The donation will establish 10 scholarships of $1,000 for students who graduate from Mendota High School and plan to enroll, or are currently enrolled in WHCCD.  “This wonderful gift by First Solar will create an opportunity for 10 Mendota students to attend West Hills College and receive educational opportunities that will change their lives, the lives of their families and their community,” said Frances Squire, executive director of the West Hills Community College Foundation. The Arizona-based company has developed and constructed several projects in the Mendota community, including the 60 Megawatt North Star Solar Project.  The scholarship donation is part of an effort to give back to the community, said Geoff Dewhurst, project manager of the North Star Facility. “The community warmly invited us to become a part of it and through this connection we were able to see many of the successes of the Mendota community,” he said. “We are proud to support the students and families of the community we have become a part of.” To be eligible for the First Solar scholarship, students must be enrolled full-time at a school in WHCCD and must have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Continuing students and entering freshman can apply, with preference given to students who study to enter a trade degree related to the application or installation of solar projects. 
Written on 05/29/2015, 9:03 am by Business Journal Staff
California’s tomato processors reported this week they have or will have contracts for 14.3 million tons of processing tomatoes for 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The updated expected production total represents a 2 percent increase from the final contracted production total from 2014. This year’s crop could be the largest California processed tomato crop on record. The previous record was set in 2014 when 14 million tons of processing tomatoes were harvested. In a news release issued today, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said the May contracted acreage of 295,000 is 5 percent below the January intentions forecast and 2 percent above last year’s final contracted acreage. Fresno County remains the top California county in contracted planted acreage for 2015 with 91,000 acres of processing tomatoes.  Yolo, Kings, San Joaquin, and Merced make up the remaining top five counties for contracted planted acreage.  The top five counties make up 73 percent of the 2015 total contracted planted acreage for processing tomatoes in California. This early processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Processors in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Written on 05/29/2015, 8:34 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno State-based nonprofit radio station, KFSR will host its first ever live music festival on June 27.  KFSR Fest kicks off at University President Joseph I. Castro’s house, 4411 N. Van Ness Blvd., in Old Fig Garden at 11 a.m. The event will feature three live bands on three stages throughout the day including a jazz, blues and alternative group.  Guest DJ opportunities are available through sponsorship donations and the winners will schedule a date to co-host an hour of radio programming and choose music for the show.  Seating is festival style and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets. No umbrellas or coolers will be allowed into the festival. Tickets are $25 and include a picnic lunch. KFSR is a listener-supported, non-commercial public radio station listened to and operated by Fresno State. The station broadcasts at 2,600 watts and can be heard throughout Fresno and Clovis at 90.7 on the FM dial. As a licensed 501(c)3 organization, contributions made to the station are tax-deductible. 
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:59 am by Business Journal staff
The board of Fresno-based Central California Legal Services is on the search for a new executive director as current director of 21 years Chris A. Schneider prepares to depart. "We seek highly qualified applicants with a vision and demonstrated passion for serving and advocating on behalf of low-income and other vulnerable populations, said Gregory Francisco Gillett, CCLS board president. Established in 1966, CCLS provides free legal advice and representation in civil matters to low-income individuals in Fresno, Kings, Merced, Mariposa, Tulare and Tuolumne countries. CCLS said in a press release that Schneider announced to the board in January that he would leave the organization at the end of 2015. For more information about the job opening, visit
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:47 am by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board announced it has been awarded a  $193,300 grant to train people for solid waste management, wastewater treatment and integrated pest management jobs. The award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will go toward training 70 unemployed and under-employed individuals in those sectors as part of the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program (EWDJT). The EWDJT is a joint effort with Fresno Metro Ministries, Fresno Economic Opportunity Commission, Fresno Building Healthy Communities, Reading and Beyond, Central Labor Council, State Center Community College District, West Hills College and the University of California Cooperative Extension. “The Fresno WIB’s latest 2014 Employment Study Report indicates that the training provided through the EWDJT is aligned with the needs of Fresno County employers who forecast an increase in positions within the Integrated Pest Management and Solid Waste Management and Cleanup sectors,” said Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, in a statement.
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:00 am by Business Journal staff
Medeiros and Son Dairy in Hanford has begun installation on a new 1.1-megawatt solar power system expected to save the milk operation $320,000 annually on utility bills. Visalia-based CalCom Solar is installing the system, expected to be completed this summer. The system is expected to deliver more than $8 million in utility savings over the next 25 years. The system will deploy NEXTracker technology that uses horizontal tracking technology to allow the photovoltaic panels to follow the sun. Medeiros and Son Dairy milks 2,450 cows and farms 1,400 acres in Kings County. CalCom Solar plans to break ground on 12 news photovoltaic projects on farms in the next two months, according to a news release.
Written on 05/28/2015, 10:00 am by Business Journal staff
Clovis-based brewer 559 Local announced it will host a grand opening of its first tasting room in Old Town Clovis Friday at 4 p.m. In 2012, 559 Local — founded by Rhett, Randy and Cheryl Williams — began brewing ales using unique, locally sourced ingredients including peaches and raisins. “We can’t put our beer into a category,” said Rhett Williams in a statement, “because we don’t make our beers to fit into one, we make them to celebrate our foundation and our story. We are located in the Central Valley. We feed the world; why not show that through our beers?” The tasting room features decor made up largely from reclaimed wood, antique Sun-Maid raisin tray and other found items at the Williams family's Caruthers ranch. In March the City of Clovis amended its ordinances to allow beer and wine tasting rooms in the Old Town district. “Until now, the only way for a tasting room to operate legally was to be part of a restaurant or to be licensed as a bar,” said Clovis Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck. “This makes it easier for the small guys to bring their creations to market.” The 559 Local Tasting Room is located at 608 Fourth St., between Clovis and Pollasky avenues. For more information, visit
Written on 05/28/2015, 8:50 am by Business Journal staff
Central Valley schools received more than $20 million in grants from the California Department of Education’s Career Pathways Trust. The money was awarded to several local school districts and community colleges to help support the blend of academic and career technical programs.  West Hills Community College District (WHCCD) was awarded a $10 million grant for its partnership with Reedley College. The schools will work with industry partners including Cal-Organics, Olam International and Grimmway Farms to teach science and math in relation to the business of agriculture.  A similar program debuted at the West Hills College Coalinga campus last year. The Paramount Ag Academy summer program brought students from local schools to the college campus for classes showcasing careers in agriculture.  “Many of the students were from small, rural farming communities such as Avenal, and the students were mostly the children of farm workers,” said Carole Goldsmith, president of West Hills College Coalinga. “Their view of farm work was often limited to harvesting crops in the fields. But our Ag Academy taught them about the opportunities in the agriculture business for workers with technical training and knowledge of math, science and computerized equipment, jobs with bright futures and high pay.” Clovis Unified School District was also selected for the grant program. The district received $2.5 million for its plan to implement a teaching program in partnership with Fresno State, Madera, Clovis and Reedley community colleges and Madera and Sanger Unified school districts. The program is for grades 9-16 and aims to produce single-subject teaching candidates from local colleges and universities.  Fresno Unified School District was awarded $6 million for its plans to refurbish pre-existing career tech programs in high schools.  Visalia Unified School District received $4.7 million for the career prep programs at local high schools. The district received $14.7 million for the creation of its work-based learning courses during the last round of grant funding. The California Legislature passed the Career Pathways Trust Funds project in 2014 to establish regional collaborative relationships with business entities, community organizations and local institutions of postsecondary education. The grants are highly competitive and part of a national trend focusing on career technology preparation. 
Written on 05/28/2015, 8:50 am by Business Journal staff
Following the theft of dozens of plants from Leadership Fresno Class 31’s xeriscape demonstration garden in Woodward Park, Comcast has announced it will make a donation to replace the stolen plants and maintain the site in the future. Leadership Fresno Class 31 held a planting day on May 23 at the project site in front of the Group Activities Center in the park. Several days later, the project was vandalized twice and a variety of foliage was ripped out of the ground. The sustainable xeriscape demonstration garden was designed by Leadership Fresno class members to highlight the beauty and benefits of water wise landscaping while also educating visitors. A plaque in the garden honors the memory of Jack Hall, former chairman of the board for the Fresno Chamber, who served as director of government affairs for Comcast from January 2010 until his passing last year. After hearing about the damage to the garden, Comcast volunteered to contribute $1,000 this year to help replace items stolen. In addition, the company has pledged an annual contribution of $1,000 each year over the next five years for the garden’s maintenance. For additional information on Comcast’s donation or the xeriscape garden, please contact Nick Grim at (559) 260-2861.

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