– July 28, 2014

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Latest Local News

Written on 07/28/2014, 12:16 pm by Business Journal staff
Sacramento-based Pacific Ethanol Inc. has been awarded a $3 million matching grant from the California Energy Commission to develop a sorghum feedstock...
Written on 07/28/2014, 12:11 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Federal experts are recommending that California test inmates for immunity to a sometimes fatal soil-borne fungus before incarcerating them at two Central Valley state prisons where the disease has killed nearly three dozen inmates, according to a report obtained Friday by The Associated Press. A federal judge last fall ordered the state to move nearly 2,600 susceptible inmates out of Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because of the deaths and illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the state go further by using hypersensitivity skin tests that could identify inmates who already were exposed to valley fever. Those inmates could thus safely be housed at the two state prisons near Fresno because they largely are immune to repeat infections. The experts said that is a better option than the current practice of screening out black and Filipino inmates and others who statistically are more susceptible to the fungus, which grows naturally in the soil in the Central Valley and other dry locations such as Arizona and Mexico. They project that system-wide testing would find 13 percent of the prison population is immune because the inmates previously were exposed. Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed receiver who controls prison medical care, said the office is reviewing the report. Don Specter, director of the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office, said the state should start testing inmates as soon as possible. His firm persuaded U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco to order vulnerable inmates removed from the two prisons last year. Skin tests would sharply reduce the number of infections, the experts said. About 5 percent of inmates at the two prisons would be expected to be infected annually if no steps were taken, according to the 52-page report. Using the skin tests would reduce that to about 2 percent, preventing a projected 268 cases each year. With the commercially available skin test, approved this month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, inmates would be injected with a noninfectious strain and evaluated 48 hours later. Inmate would have the right to refuse to be tested, Hayhoe said. The steps the state already has taken, including removing black and Filipino inmates, should reduce annual infections only slightly, preventing 44 infections annually, the experts projected. At their peak in 2011, valley fever infections at the two prisons were up to 153 times higher than surrounding areas, researchers found. The two prisons combined to produce 83 percent of valley fever cases in the entire prison system, which includes about 135,500 inmates in 34 state prisons as well as private prisons in California and other states. The same year, more than 20,000 cases were reported nationwide among the general population, most of them in Arizona and California. Prison infections declined in 2012, but were still more than 20 times higher than among the general surrounding population. State officials say valley fever was killing six to nine inmates each year and costs the state more than $23 million annually to care for infected inmates and employees. The fungus usually produces no symptoms, but in about 40 percent of cases it causes mild to severe flu-like symptoms or more serious infections. Valley fever can spread to the brain, bones, skin and eyes, leading to blindness, skin abscesses, lung failure and death. A study released in February by the affiliated National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that valley fever killed three employees at the two prisons between January 2009 and June 2013 and sickened 103 other employees.
Written on 07/25/2014, 3:52 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno State President Joseph Castro has appointed Fresno business leaders Will Lyles and Barry Bedwell to the University Advisory Board. Bedwell, president of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, graduated from Fresno State in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He also serves on the President's Commission on the Future of Agriculture at Fresno State, on Mayor Ashley Swearengin's President's Council and the Chancellor's Agricultural Advisory Committee for the California State University system. Lyles, vice president and board member with Fresno construction company Lyles Diversified Inc., graduated from Purdue University. He is a member and past board chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County and a member of the Advisory Council for the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State.Lyles and Bedwell will join 13 other community members on the board to provide advice to Castro on how to improve the university. Other members of the board include chairwoman Sandy Brown along with Dr. Noemi Donoso, Juan Arambula, Nancy Ayala, Armen Bacon, Dr. Katherine Flores, J. Michael McGowan, Michael Patton, James Shekoyan, Gena Strang-Behrens, Julie Tone, Zoua Vang and Allysunn Walker-Williams.
Written on 07/25/2014, 3:06 pm by Business Journal Staff
Sportsman's Warehouse is expanding its operations to include a new retail location in Fresno planned to open in the spring of 2015. The Fresno store will be the fifth Sportsman's Warehouse in California and the retailer’s 57th store nationwide. The new building will span 30,000 square feet and will employ 50 workers. The Fresno store is one of eight new outlets that Sportsman's Warehouse plans to open in 2015. The location has not been disclosed. The stores will offer an extensive selection of hunting, fishing and camping gear, as well as a wide range of apparel and footwear. As with all Sportsman's Warehouse locations, the stores will also feature instruction, seminars and special events related to outdoor activities. "We are thrilled to open a store in Fresno as Sportsman's Warehouse has a great customer base in California," said John Schaefer, Sportsman's Warehouse CEO, in a release. "Not only does this opening represent our continued commitment to expand our loyal customer base, but it is also a testament to our understanding and succeeding in the California market." Sportsman's Warehouse serves outdoor enthusiasts, casual users and first time participants with brand-name hunting, fishing, camping and shooting merchandise.
Written on 07/25/2014, 1:31 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno County public health officials are warning the community that this year's West Nile Virus season could be one of the worst in a decade. A couple of indicators really stick out, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health and Fresno County mosquito abatement districts: • There have been five human cases of West Nile Virus this year, with four classified as "neuroinvasive" and requiring hospitalization. In all of 2013, eight human cases were reported, and two classified as neuroinvasive. • There have been 36 positive West Nile Virus mosquito samples this year as of last week, nearly double the 20 samples reported in the same period last year. “Residents should intensify efforts to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites as well as to eliminate all mosquito breeding sources,” said Dr. Ken Bird, Interim Health Officer, Fresno County interim health officer. “West Nile Virus is a serious, and potentially fatal, disease.” Fresno County residents are urged to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using mosquito repellent, especially in the early morning and evening; making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; eliminating standing water around homes or businesses and reporting dead birds and dead tree squirrels to Residents can also call (800) 821-1577 to speak to a mosquito abatement district representative or  and/or
Written on 07/25/2014, 11:06 am by Business Journal Staff
The Fresno Arts Council has announced the 2014 winners of the Horizon Awards. The annual Horizon Awards are given to recognize individuals, organization and businesses that have made significant contributions toward the enrichment of life in the Fresno community through excellence in the arts. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Fresno Arts Museum, 2233 N. First St. A reception with appetizers will immediately follow.   The Fresno Arts Council selected the following winners and provided commentary: Artist, Bill Bruce is a self-taught painter who got his start in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. He was a member of a group of artists, calling themselves the Artist’s Consortium, exhibiting in small storefronts and Golden Gate Park. Bruce has exhibited at Le Bault Gallery in San Francisco, Coffee’s Art Gallery on the Fulton Mall and has been a member of the Fig Tree Gallery since 1990. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts District Association and is a regular participant in the downtown Art Hop program. Abstract expressionism has been the greatest influence in his work as an artist. His work includes sculpture, three-dimensional art, photography and making use of nontraditional objects to provide artful directions. Business, KMPH- Great Day is a consistent and valuable contributor to the promotion of local artists and art venues through its monthly Arthop segment. KMPH television personalities are regular participants and supporters of community arts and cultural events throughout the year. They regularly provide on air promotion for many of Fresno’s art organizations. Great Day plays an important role in insuring that local talent is exposed to the greater community.      Educator, Janice Stevens is a writer and teacher of writing. Her students have gone on to publish books and many other miscellaneous published pieces. She herself is a published author whose works have served to educate and inform the public on Fresno’s architectural past, the veterans’ experience, and California missions. Her monthly history column “Pastimes” in the Central Valley magazine is published by the Fresno. Her creative works have been heard on air through “Valley Writers Read” on KVPR.   Citizen, Bryan Medina is a poet who has staged the Inner Ear Poetry Jam for 13 years. This thriving event brings new poetic voices to a microphone each year and is one of the longest running events of its kind in the Central Valley. Medina has also put on and or contributed to numerous other events that also have become a part of the artistic fabric of Fresno and shed much deserved light on poets, musicians, and artists of all genres.   Special Award, Vida Samiian hasserved as dean of California State University College of Arts and Humanities. She has had many accomplishments at CSUF, the community, and the San Joaquin Valley including oversight of the development of University High School, CSU Summer Arts in Fresno for 13 years, and the advancement of the CSUF music Department. Her literary publication, The Normal received national recognition. Samiian has also been a staunch supporter of the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fresno Art Museum and students of the arts. She is responsible for the establishment of many arts scholarship funds. Youth, Keegan Bamford learned to read music in kindergarten and has been passionate about it ever since, He started playing the cello when he was 9 years old and was in the advanced orchestra at Bullard Talent for four years, playing principle cellist for two of the four years. His passion for and talent with the cello have made it possible for him to attend University High School, Fresno Orchestra and Opera Academy, and the Colorado Music in the Mountains summer conservatory. He was also selected to play with the Fresno State orchestra. He has been in many honor orchestras throughout the years and he serves as a mentor and guide to fellow cello students. Tickets to the awards ceremony are $20 and are available by calling the Arts Council office at (559)2379734 or online at Tickets will also be available at the door.
Written on 07/25/2014, 9:38 am by Business Journal staff
Visalia's Valley Commerce Bancorp, parent company of Valley Business Bank, reported second quarter net income of $1.5 million, down about 6 percent from the same quarter last year. Income for the first six months of the year was $2.3 million, also down slightly from $2.4 million for the same period last year. Allan W. Stone, president and CEO of Valley Commerce Bancorp, said the bank has enjoyed higher core earnings this year, driven by a $17-million increase in average loans outstanding for the first half of the year. The bank has also been scaling back on its loan-loss reserves — by $1 million this year and $1.5 million last year. "In the longer term, reversals of loss reserves cannot be relied upon as a source of earnings, so our focus is always on producing steady, sustainable earnings," Stone said in a statement. "In this regard, I am pleased to report favorable trends in loans, deposits, net interest income, and non-interest income. We are working very diligently to make sure these trends continue and our shareholders can feel confident that their investment will continue to gain value in the years ahead." As of June 30, Valley Commerce Bancorp reported about $322 million in deposits, $42.5 million in shareholders' equity and $364.6 million in total assets. Valley Business Bank operates business banking centers in Visalia, Tulare, and Fresno and has branch offices in Woodlake and Tipton.
Written on 07/25/2014, 9:37 am by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Agriculturalist of the Year Award. The award is given annually to an individual who displays leadership and integrity in the Central Valley's agricultural business community. Last year, the award was given to Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson. Baker, Peterson & Franklin, LLP, Certified Public Accountants, is also accepting nominations for their annual Ag Business Award to honor an agricultural organization whose achievements and impact have contributed to the agricultural industry and local community. Last year's recipient was agricultural chemical and fertilizer supply company Gar Tootelian Inc. of Reedley. Nominations for both awards are due Sept. 5 and can be submitted by visiting The awards will be presented during the Fresno Chamber of Commerce's Ag Awards Luncheon taking place Nov. 5 at TorNino's Banquets in Fresno.
Written on 07/24/2014, 11:30 am by Business Journal Staff
Netafim USA, a Fresno-based irrigation company, will present a Farm Grown Central Valley Water Forum Aug. 29 at Chukchansi Park prior to the Tacoma Rainiers vs. Fresno Grizzlies 7:05 p.m. game. The forum topic will center on the current drought conditions and the impacts to the Central Valley Ag industry and rural communities. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, will speak on the issue along with Dave Orth, general Manager of the Kings River Conservation District and Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto. “There is no greater issue in the Central Valley than the current and future availability of water for agricultural use,” said Ze’ev Barylka, marketing director for Netafim USA, in a release. “Forums like this one are an essential step towards developing a long term solution for California’s agricultural community.” The panel discussion will focus on regional and statewide impacts of water shortages, how the system broke down and what coalitions are being developed outside the Central Valley to assist in fixing the system. “This partnership certainly brings to light the vital role that Netafim USA plays in providing emerging water conservation and drip irrigation technologies to the Central Valley Ag and farming industry,” said Jerry James, vice president of revenue for the Fresno Grizzlies, in the release.
Written on 07/24/2014, 11:27 am by Business Journal staff
A recent Firebaugh High School graduate is the recepient of a full-tuition technical school scholarship as part of a contest sponsored by Dirty Jobs television show host Mike Rowe. Colton Stuhr is one of 33 winners of the mikeroweWORKS/UTI Scholarship contest. Stuhr will receive the scholarship to the auto and diesel programs at the Sacramento campus of Universal Technical Institute. Stuhr submitted an application as well as a video making a case for why he deserved to win the scholarship. More than 270 finalist videos were posted on UTI's Facebook page for public voting, with Stuhr garnering 464 votes. The value of each scholarship is about $30,000, with the 33 winners receiving a total of $1 million in scholarship money. In his video, Stuhr talks about his love of working with his hands, helping his grandfather fix tractors, old pickups and even diesel trucks. He also enrolled in his high school's automotive program, learning skills he has used to fix his own 1992 Ford F250 truck. He graduated this year with plans to become a mechanic. "It's what i want to do with my life, and UTI is where i need to be to start that," Stuhr said in his video. MikeroweWORKS is the foundation started by Rowe to help people train for technical jobs such as automotive repair.

Latest State News

Written on 07/28/2014, 12:29 pm by The Associated Press
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Latest National News

Written on 07/28/2014, 12:08 pm by MAE ANDERSON, AP Technology Writer
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Written on 07/28/2014, 11:57 am by CANDICE CHOI, 
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