– March 3, 2015

Latest Local News

Written on 03/03/2015, 11:56 am by Business Journal staff
Acclaimed actor Viola Davis has canceled her announced appearance at September's Central California Women's Conference due to a scheduling conflict.
Written on 03/03/2015, 11:38 am by Business Journal Staff
Home prices in Fresno, including distressed sales, increased by 6.9 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014, according to a report released today by CoreLogic. On a month-over-month basis, Fresno home prices, excluding distressed sales, increased by 0.9 percent in January compared with December 2014. In Madera, home prices, including distressed sales, rose by 9.5 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014. Excluding distressed sales, the year-over-year increase in Madera was 10.6 percent according to the report. On a month-over-month basis, Madera home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.2 percent in January 2015. In the Visalia-Porterville area, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 3.1 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014. On a month-over-month basis, Tulare County home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.6 percent in January 2015. In the Hanford-Corcoran area, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 6.8 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014. On a month-over-month basis, Kings County home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 1.6 percent in January 2015. The report is the latest evidence that the Central Valley is outpacing many other parts of the county in terms of home sales price appreciation. According to the report, average U.S. home prices nationwide rose by 5.7 percent in January compared with January 2014. “House price appreciation has generally been stronger in the western half of the nation and weakest in the mid-Atlantic and northeast states,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “In part, these trends reflect the strength of regional economies.” Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic’s president and CEO, predicts home prices “will continue to rise throughout the year and into 2016. A dearth of supply in many parts of the country is a big factor driving up prices,” he added.
Written on 03/03/2015, 9:46 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A 9-year-old Fresno girl has won the 14th annual National Elementary School Spelling Bee. Her winning words: "hydrofoil" and "paucity." Ananya Vinay outspelled 34 other students in grades three to five to take the top spot at the event in Long Beach. Last year she placed fifth. The Fresno Bee reported Monday ( ) that the fourth-grader at Fugman Elementary School took home a $1,000 prize. The event is modeled after the Scripps National Spelling Bee held annually in Washington, D.C., but is geared toward younger students. The second place winner was a 10-year-old from Riverside who misspelled "medallion."
Written on 03/03/2015, 9:17 am by Business Journal Staff
The Edison High School Academic Building won the Excellence in Design award from the Coalition for Adequate School Housing and American Institute of Architects’ California Council. The award was presented to Darden Architects and Fresno Unified School District at the 2015 Coalition for Adequate Housing’s annual convention, held Feb 25 in Sacramento. Tony Avila, the project architect, Marty Dietz, Darden Architect’s managing principal and Jeff Friesen with FUSD accepted the honor at the convention. The excellence award in the “new built” category, the most prestigious honor given at the organization’s annual gathering, recognizes a building’s superior design, functionality sustainability and positive impact on the community. The EHS Academic Building, completed several years ago, features a modern, sleek exterior supported by bright yellow pillars and a dramatic glass-walled entrance. “We are very proud of this award and I am sure FUSD is too,” said Phil Dietz, Darden’s marketing director.
Written on 03/03/2015, 9:05 am by Business Journal staff
The Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation has received a $103,000 grant to help provide ongoing oral health services to more than 2,500 underserved children in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Merced counties. The Cigna Foundation is providing the "World of Difference" grant to help the Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation bring its mobile dental-office van to more than 75 rural and inner-city communities. The grant will help cover oral health supplies, sealants that prevent decay on primary molars and other expenses. “Every day, our dental professionals see children who are experiencing tooth decay and gum disease — health challenges that are completely preventable. We are excited to be joined by Cigna and the Cigna Foundation to expand our services so that more children of all backgrounds can enjoy smiles that last a lifetime,” said Tai Hartman, executive director for Fresno-based Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation.
Written on 03/02/2015, 1:14 pm by Business Journal staff
The California Department of Water Resources announced a slight bump in the amount of water that will be delivered this year to State Water Project customers. Storms in mid-December and early February mean water deliveries will increase by an additional 204,000 acre-feet, bumping the state's allocation from 15 to 20 percent for total deliveries of 840,000 acre-feet. There are 29 public water agencies that take delivery of State Water Project resources, and the agencies requests add up to 4.1 million acre-feet of water. A 20-percent allocation would be the second-lowest since 1991 when agricultural customers got a zero allocation and municipal customers received 30 percent.  
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:02 pm by Business Journal staff
The Big Fresno Fair is accepting submissions for the inaugural San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition this spring.  The competition, held in partnership with the California Olive Oil Council, is open to olive oil producers throughout the state and must use the most recent olive harvest. Entries will be accepted through May 8 and must fall in one of the two classes, extra virgin or flavored olive oil.  "At The Big Fresno Fair, we pride ourselves on showcasing the best in Fresno County and beyond, and by adding this competition we are able to now showcase the quality and variety of top-notch olive oil producers we have right here in Fresno County and throughout the state," said Stacy Rianda, deputy manager at The Big Fresno Fair. "This has been in the works for a while and we are expecting a great turnout of entries for our first year." Competition categories in the extra virgin olive oil class include historical blends, historical singles, Spanish blends, Spanish singles, Tuscan singles and Italian blends. Flavored olive oil categories include citrus, herbal and other flavors.  Producers may submit multiple entries under one category but may not submit a particular entry to more than one category. All entries must be for sale commercially at the time of submittal.  Judging will take place on May 21 and 22 by a panel of six olive oil sensory experts at the California Olive Oil Council headquarters in Berkeley. Gold and silver medals will be named for each category as well as a best of show winner, all of which will be announced on May 29.  Competition winners will be have the opportunity to have a booth in the Wells Fargo Agricultural Building on both weekends during the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.  Additional information about the competition requirements and deadlines can be found here. 
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:43 am by Business Journal staff
Yolanda Castro, 45, was arrested during her shift last week at the Internal Revenue Service in Fresno following an indictment by a grand jury on 10 counts of tax fraud and making false statements to a government agency. Castro, a 20-year IRS employee, prepared and filed false tax returns for herself, family members and others between 2007 and 2013, according to the indictment. The indictment also states that Castro claimed a credit for education expenses in 2008 she did not incur, providing phony textbook receipts to support the claim. Castro also claimed child care expenses that were never incurred, according to the indictment. If convicted, each of Castro's 10 charges carry maximum penalties of three to five years in prison and fines of $10,000 to $250,000.
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:33 am by Business Journal staff
Sunnyside Bicycles is holding a book drive this month to benefit Reading Heart, an organization started by 8-year-old Danay Ferguson of Fresno. Ferguson, a third grader, is the youngest person to file for a business name in Fresno County history. Reading Heart collects books and donates them to the less fortunate. Ferguson was recently honored with an African-American Heritage Award from the 31st Assembly District. Sunnyside Bicycles is offering two Electra beach cruisers as raffle prizes for books donated through March 31. Each book is good for one raffle entry. Winners will be drawn and notified on April 1. The goal is to collect 600 books for Reading Heart. Vanessa McCracken said she was impressed and inspired with Ferguson's mission, and motivated to help. "I immediately began to think of how I could show my support for this young businesswoman with a heart of gold. A book drive with a little incentive seemed like the best idea," she said. Sunnyside Bicycles is located at 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road, Suite 104 just east of Fowler Avenue.
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:15 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno State's Urban Entrepreneurship students will host an open house event at the Pacific Southwest Building in downtown Fresno this Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.  Guests are invited to tour areas of the building not regularly available to the public such as the underground vault, private movie theater, penthouse-style lofts and views from the 15th floor balcony.  The free event will be held in conjunction with Fresno's Art Hop and feature local art, live bands, raffle prizes and refreshments.  "We believe in Downtown Fresno and want to see it thrive. We realized that if people could see the grandeur of the [Pacific Southwest Building] and learn about the opportunities in the area, it would help them understand the remarkable personality of the area," said Nick Wiebe, event organizer.  The Pacific Southwest Building, previously the Security Bank Building, was purchased by Southern California developer Sevak Khatchadourian in 2011 and renovated for both residential and commercial use. 

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