TODAY

– October 20, 2014

Blueberry and blackberry tours, tastings planned

A blueberry and blackberry field tour is planned from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, departing from the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

The tour, sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Tulare County, and the UC Small Farm Program, will stop at small and large farms and packing facilities; van transportation is available for 20 people, while a caravan will be arranged for the rest of the group. The cost is $20 to $35.

Topics to be addressed include blackberry sunburn protection, blueberry field design, soil and water acidity and blueberry packing and cooling.

A subsequent blueberry and blackberry field day event is planned from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at the Parlier center, at 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., eight miles from Highway 99’s exit at Manning Avenue. A tour of blueberry trials and demonstrations is on the menu, along with tastings of about 50 blueberry and blackberry varieties. The cost is $25 to $35.

Presentations by blueberry experts and UC researchers will take place, and educators from the University of North Carolina will attend. That school’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention researches sustainable agriculture practices.

Those interested in the events can register online at http://ucanr.org/bbd

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Written on 10/17/2014, 2:02 pm by Hannah Esqueda
Two new Habit Burger Grill locations are coming to the Valley. Leases have been signed for a 2,400-square-foot location in Hanford and a 2,400-square-foot...
Written on 10/17/2014, 2:01 pm by Ben Keller
The Madera County Board of Supervisors is set to vote next month on the first full-scale commercial development in the fast-growing Madera Ranchos area.Up until now, the residential island between Highway 41 and 99 has been home to only a handful of shops and restaurants serving the community.Oakhurst-based developer G.C. Brown Developers, Inc. is looking to add more options with a 40-acre shopping center at the southwest corner of Avenue 12 and Road 36 across from Liberty High School.If approved, the development, dubbed “Liberty Village in the Ranchos,” will feature 53,800 square-feet of commercial space anchored by a 25,300 square-foot grocery store.Other pads in the center call for a fuel station, convenience store, drug store and two fast-foot drive thru restaurants.“This was a property (G.C. Brown) acquired in 2003 with a vision of providing the Madera Ranchos with opportunity to get goods and services with reasonable prices in close proximity to their homes instead of going to Madera or Fresno,” said Russell Shaw of Shaw Real Estate & Development representing G.C. Brown Developers.Shaw said he’s hopeful the project will fly through the county after the Planning Commission gave its nod in a 5-0 vote Sept. 9. First, the Board of Supervisors will have to see past the obvious concerns, including some 5,500 new traffic trips descending on the quiet community at full build out.Another is the estimated 5,285 gallons per day of wastewater to be generated by the shopping center and 50 cubic yards of solid waste per week.Also, the completed project will require some 6,776 gallons of water per day, further increasing the demand on groundwater at a time when the Madera Ranchos’ three working wells are already losing production due to the declining water table.“The services they’re bringing are needed in that community but groundwater is a major concern,” said Manuel Nevarez, Supervisor for District 1 covering southeast Madera County. “I would not trade any potential impacts for the convenience of having more shopping.”However, Shaw said the developer plans to install a half-million gallon storage tank on site and a water treatment system to alleviate some of the impact on groundwater supplies.And at just 3.65 gallons per square foot per year, he added that the demand is significantly less than that of the four decades prior when former property owners Elmer and Richard Hansen grew almonds. “The default is to sell it to someone to farm almonds and we’ve been approached many times about that and we said ‘No, that’s not in the best interest of the community,’” said Shaw.Once approvals are in and the property is rezoned from agricultural to commercial use, Shaw figured construction could start on the property early next year, beginning with electric infrastructure and connecting to Madera County’s water and sewer lines under Maintenance District 10A.Centered in the heart of the Madera Ranchos community, Shaw said Liberty Village will serve as a one-stop shop for residents needing groceries, fresh produce, gas and prescription drugs instead of having to take the trip to Fresno or Madera.He added that students from Liberty High School currently driving down Avenue 12 to Subway, Pizza Factory or Ranchos Market would also have closer food options for breakfast or lunch.“There’s a fairly large population there and homes and people that need services,” Shaw said. “It seems to be Walgreens goes into a lot of those places.”According to an analysis by Shaw Real Estate & Development, Liberty Village should create anywhere from 200 to 300 new jobs in the area.Shaw said the project is also donating 2.5 acres of land on the property for a community park and library to serve residents.Liberty Village is not the only new development coming to the Madera Ranchos. Construction begun recently on a new Dollar General discount store at 37303 Ave. 12 scheduled to open early next spring.An application is currently in process with the Madera County Planning Department for Liberty Groves, a proposed 1,320-acre master planned community bordered roughly by Road 34 and Avenue 11. The development calls for around 7,500 residential units, 4.4 million square feet of commercial and business park uses and 92 acres of parks and open space.The Madera Ranchos was originally established in 1958 when Hollywood celebrities Jackie Gleason and Jack Haley filed the first subdivision plans. John Bonadelle was also an original developer of the region.Since then, the area has grown to a population of 8,569, according to the 2010 census, up 17.4 percent from 7,300 in 2000. A report by the Madera Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) in July showed that the area could accommodate an additional 3,500 people if all subdivided land were developed at 3.2 persons per dwelling. Ben Keller  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3465 or e-mail ben@thebusinessjournal.com
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:44 pm by Hannah Esqueda
How to handle generations in the workforce The American workforce now includes members from at least three separate generations born between the 1940s and the 1990s, and with 50 years of cultural differences between them, researchers have found that many of today’s youngest workers have vastly different work habits than their predecessors.Understanding the difference between the generations is something many employers are finding to be increasingly vital. Kevin Green, managing partner at South Valley accounting firm M. Green and Co., said he’s spent some time researching the topic in recent years. “I read up a lot on this a year or so ago. I’m aware of the different generations for sure. You kind of have to be now,” he said. Three generationsat workThese generations include the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1965), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) and Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1997). Green said he is a baby boomer but the company, founded in 1951, has about 60 employees of all ages in its four offices in Tulare and Kings counties. While each individual is different, he said knowing what to expect from certain age groups can help employers make key decisions. Debbie Young, director of the Office for Student Professional Development at Fresno State, said she recently began researching the topic in hopes of better preparing students for the workforce. “We like to look at where our students go after graduation and how they’re doing,” she said. Studying the strengths and weaknesses of Generation Y, also commonly referred to as “millennials,” has proven valuable. Young said she recently gave a presentation on the topic of millennials in the workplace to a group of Fresno Rotary Club members. “The response was great. I’ve heard from several people who were interested in getting a copy to share with their office,” Young said. Todd Sheller, assistant vice president for Lyles Diversified in Fresno, said he asked Young for more information on the topic in hopes of modifying the company’s intern program. “We’re still looking at how to integrate that information into our program, but [the issue] has been on our radar screen for about a year now,” he said. Meeting key needsIn her presentation, Young outlined what attributes employers have traditionally looked for in employees and how the younger generation stacks up. Using this knowledge about millennials and how they’re different from older generations will help the company adapt to best meet their needs as well as inform new hires of key areas they can work on, Sheller said. In the presentation, Young included a slide titled “What do college grads lack today?” where she highlights how the work ethic of a millennial does not always match what their employer has in mind. The presentation points out that this has led to a common assumption that Generation Y is lazy or unmotivated, but in reality, the different generations are motivated in unique ways that may not always be familiar to others.For the baby boomers, work is widely considered to be its own reward and a 2012 Harris Interactive study found that those who put in the right amount of time with a company expected compensation in return. Generation X began to evolve this notion, and most have a strong desire to establish a name for themselves through work. Both approaches are different from Generation Y, which views work as a means to an end. For millennials, work is not it’s own reward but the way towards achieving the lifestyle they desire. While each view encourages hard work, the younger generations tendency to break away from the traditional views on work have led baby boomers to question their commitment. Work-life balanceThis issue is compounded by younger employees craving a balance between their work and family life and seeking alternative schedules. The study found that younger employees (ages 25-34) were less likely to see the need to work the traditional hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. compared to their older counterparts. While the Generation Y respondents were also less likely to see any benefit to showing up early to work, they were far more likely than those 55 and older to take work home or stay later at the office.Working from home was never something baby boomers considered, but Sally Cook, director of human resources at accounting firm Baker, Peterson and Franklin in Fresno, said it’s something the company has learned to be more open to for younger employees. The accounting firm has a range of age groups, but Cook, a member of Generation X, said the largest groups are the baby boomer and millennial generations.“We offer a career customization plan to help give them options,” she said. “It’s hard because we definitely have a time of year that’s more intense because of the nature of the industry but we try to make up for it and be more flexible during the other months.” Taking time offGreen agreed and said his company has also seen a new trend in the way younger employees take time off.“Even the way [millennials] take vacation is different. It used to be that you would have two weeks of vacation time a year and take one week off at a time. The younger generations don’t do that,” he said. “They like to take a day off at a time. Most of the time it’s more like a long-weekend compared to a long-vacation.”While these mini-vacations may be undesirable to older workers, they seem to do the trick for younger employees. Green said he sees it as a sign that millennials are very self-aware and know what works best for them. This self-awareness can come at a cost, however, and Green said he has also seen a great deal of arrogance exhibited by Generation Y. “I think there’s a certain cockiness to the [younger generation,] that [baby boomers] never would have gotten away with at that age,” he said. “Some of them can back it up, but some of them can’t.”That arrogance is often exhibited by younger employees snubbing traditional business procedure in favor of innovation and creativity. While entrepreneurship can be a great thing, Green said it’s still important for millennials to see the reality of the business world. “They all are all for entrepreneurship, and that’s great. There are more entrepreneurs than maybe any other generation. But, what they don’t understand is that a lot of those companies don’t make it,” he said. Mentorship mattersBeing mentored by an older coworker would help alleviate this problem and is something many millennials report interest in. At Baker, Peterson and Franklin, Cook said it’s standard to pair all younger employees with an older mentor. “We want to set them up for career success,” she said. “Right off the bat a new hire has a mentor already picked out for them.”While mentor programs offer younger employees an opportunity to learn from their elders, Green said it’s important to remember the many ways Generation Y can teach older employees. “I remember when we got our first computer here at the office. It was just this big, weird confusing thing. But just the exposure to technology during [Generation Y’s] formative years make us different,” he said. “They’re definitely tech savvy whereas [baby boomers] had to learn just what it was to even think in a [digital] way.”In Young’s presentation she said computational thinking is a skill that researchers predict will become increasingly valuable and employees who have the ability to translate hard data into abstract concepts will have an edge over their peers. The individual approachWhile awareness of these generational traits may help employees and employers understand each other better, Green said he hesitates to paint people in such broad strokes. “We tend to want to group people in packages but that’s really a stereotype. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “You can look at those generational assessments for traits but you have to be careful to look deeper at the individual. I can see some generation traits in the people in the office but they are also individuals who are unique.”But Cook said modern technology is changing so rapidly that companies would be remiss to completely ignore generational differences within the workplace. “New technology is enabling people to get information and products faster than ever before so new hires are going to want things faster too. It’s going to make for an interesting challenge but we would be negligent if we ever forgot that this was an issue to pay attention to,” she said. “We’ve been around for almost 100 years and I’m sure the partners want to make sure we stay around for another 100.” Hannah Esqueda  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3461 or e-mail hannah@thebusinessjournal.com
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:42 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stock indexes are closing out a wild week with a big gain. Industrial stocks like Textron and General Electric led the charge higher Friday after reporting strong earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 263 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,380. The Dow was coming off six straight losses and ended the week down 1 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 23 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,886. The Nasdaq rose 41 points, or 1 percent, to 4,258. The market had huge swings this week including several sharp drops as investors worried about slowing economic growth and plunging oil prices. On Friday European markets recovered, as did the price of oil. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.20 percent.
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:41 pm by 
DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press
(AP) — The Secret Service is charged with watching the president's back, but who's watching his wallet? When his credit card was declined last month while dining in New York, President Barack Obama wondered if he had become a victim of identity theft. "It turned out, I guess I don't use it enough," Obama said Friday at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "They thought there was some fraud going on," he said, chatting while announcing a government plan to tighten security for debit cards that transfer federal benefits like Social Security to millions of Americans. "I was trying to explain to the waitress 'No, I really think that I've been paying my bills.'" Fortunately first lady Michelle Obama was able to whip out a credit card they could use. Identity theft is a growing problem and an estimated 100 million people have been affected by security breaches in the past year at retailers like Target and Home Depot. "Even I'm affected by this," he said. Employees at Estela, the New York restaurant where Obama dined on Sept. 24 while attending the U.N. General Assembly, said they couldn't discuss the credit card issue. Photos of the president's order had been posted on the restaurant's Instagram page but have since been taken down. The food blog, Epicurius, captured the images and detailed the order in a Sept. 25 post, saying the first couple ate "two orders of endive salad and burrata with salsa verde, tomatoes, and salt cod croquettes."
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:39 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The customized Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in "Easy Rider" is up for auction this weekend in California. Or is it? Gordon Granger of Texas says he bought the original "Easy Rider" motorcycle in 1996 from Dan Haggerty, an actor with a bit part in the 1960s counterculture classic. Both that red, white and blue bike and the one headed for auction Saturday have certificates of authenticity signed by Haggerty. But the actor acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1sQi3b6 ) this week that he has authenticated and sold two Captain America bikes. Now Haggerty says just one of the bikes is legitimate, and it's Michael Eisenberg's — the one going up for sale Saturday with a $1 million minimum. For his part, Fonda says he has no idea which bike is the real one. "There's a big rat stinking someplace in this," said the 74-year-old actor, who co-wrote "Easy Rider." He hopes the weekend sale by auction house Profiles in History is called off. Eisenberg, a Los Angeles real estate agent and collector of Hollywood memorabilia, bought his chopper earlier this year from John Parham, a Midwestern motorcycle parts magnate who had purchased the bike from Haggerty 12 years earlier. Eisenberg insists his bike is the real one, because Haggerty says it is. "Dan Haggerty is the only guy who knows," Eisenberg said. Haggerty did not deny that he signed Granger's authenticating documents. He now says he signed something that simply was not true. "That was my mistake," Haggerty said. "It's not the real bike." Granger, furious at the prospect of this weekend's auction, insists he owns the genuine article. "They know damn well they don't have the real bike," Granger said. "I own the original remaining Captain America bike. The one to be auctioned is a replica." The chopper features a forward-angled front wheel and handlebars, fishtail exhaust pipes and a teardrop-shaped gas tank where the movie's protagonists stashed their cash. It was designed with input from Fonda who insisted on it being decorated with the American flag. "Easy Rider" is a 1969 road film about two drug-using, long-haired bikers, Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), who go on a cross-country odyssey to New Orleans in search of personal freedom and easy money. Four motorcycles were created for the movie, but only one is known to have survived. It was used in the climactic crash scene in which Fonda is thrown off the bike.
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:33 pm by MARCY GORDON, JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press
(AP) — Saying more must be done to stop data breaches affecting consumers, President Barack Obama announced on Friday a government plan to tighten security for the debit cards that transmit federal benefits like Social Security to millions of Americans. Cards issued by the federal government will now have an internal chip replacing magnetic strips to reduce the potential for fraud. Concern is growing over the security of Americans' financial data, with an estimated 100 million people having been affected by breaches in the past year, including at big retailers like Target and Home Depot. In addition, the government will apply the security chips and personal identification numbers, called PINS, that replace signatures to all existing and newly issued government credit cards, Obama said. Payment terminals at federal government facilities will be equipped to handle cards with the new technology. In remarks at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Obama said that for victims of fraud and identity crimes, the experience is infuriating and heartbreaking. He said the problem requires a hands-on approach across the government. It's imperative to ensure "that the American people have the basic safeguards that they can count on," Obama said. The White House says the idea of the government program is to lead by example, to nudge the broader financial industry and retailers toward more secure standards. Obama noted that Home Depot Inc., Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plan to install payment terminals in their stores equipped to handle cards with digital security chips and personal identification numbers, called PINS, which replace signatures. Obama also cited a plan by American Express Co. to support small businesses that upgrade their payment terminals with more secure standards, and a program by payments processor Visa Inc. to inform consumers and merchants about the new technologies. "There is a need to act and to move our economy toward stronger, more secure technologies that better secure transactions and safeguard sensitive data," the White House said in a statement. Obama's executive order also calls for the government to take new measures to help victims of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission will develop a new website for consumers to report identity theft and remedy errors with credit reporting. And Obama called on Congress to enact a single national standard for retailers to notify consumers of data breaches, to replace a patchwork of state laws. Proposals have languished in Congress. In the wake of the massive data breaches, banks and retailers have sped the adoption of digital chips for credit and debit cards. They've set a deadline of October 2015 for wide use of chips in cards and payment terminals. The financial and retail industries have been at odds over solutions and adopting new security technology. The retailers have insisted that banks must upgrade the technology for the credit and debit cards they issue. Banks have countered that retailers must tighten their own security systems for processing card payments. They say it isn't clear whether the digital chips would have prevented many of the retail breaches. Retailers want the chips, but they also want each debit or credit card transaction to require a PIN. Experts say it's harder for criminals to steal PINS than to forge signatures.Similarly, digital chips are considered more secure than magnetic strips. The chips typically make data theft harder and are common in other countries. The magnetic strips use the same technology as cassette tapes to store account information and are easy to copy. By contrast, a digital chip generates a unique code each time it's used. Criminals can steal and sell data from cards with chips, but they can't create fraudulent cards. "Protecting consumer data is a shared responsibility, and merchants must have the same tough data-security standards as financial institutions," Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement Friday. He said many banks "are accelerating the transition to chip technology, which can only be effective if merchants have the technology to accept the cards at the point of sale." The National Retail Federation's president, Matthew Shay, said the group "continues to work with our members and other stakeholders on practical and comprehensive solutions that are less about process and more about progress toward how we collaboratively prevent and combat this criminal activity."
Written on 10/17/2014, 1:31 pm by Business Journal staff
Children's Hospital Central California saw a record 99,908 visits during fiscal year 2014, making it one of the busiest pediatric emergency departments in California.  The hospital announced the record in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting ceremony today for its newly remodeled emergency department. The four-month project was designed to improve patient care. Currently, the average patient wait time to see a doctor is less than 45 minutes, and the remodeling is expected to further increase efficiency in the emergency department. The 39-bed unit is staffed by 125 nurses and 26 physicians and provides emergency pediatric and trauma care for infants, children and adolescents up to 21-years-old. 
Written on 10/17/2014, 10:44 am by Business Journal staff
Unemployment rates fell across the Valley last month, according to new data from the state Employment Development Department. Fresno County's September unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, down from 10 percent in August and below 11.1 percent in September 2013. Between August and September, non farm employment grew by 3,300 jobs in Fresno County while farm employment fell by 1,400 jobs. Government reported the largest month-over increase with an additional 2,200 jobs. On a year-over basis, non farm employment increased by 7,600 jobs while the farm sector shed 300 jobs. Educational and health services reported the largest year-over increase with 2,800 jobs. The September unemployment rate in Tulare County was 11.2 percent, down from 11.7 percent the month prior and below 12.7 percent last year. Year over year in Tulare County, the farm industry gained 800 jobs while the non farm sector grew by 1,800 jobs. The professional & business services sector led the year-over growth with 700 jobs. In Kings County the unemployment rate in September was 9.8 percent, down from 10.5 percent in August and below 11.5 percent a year ago. Year over year, farm industry employment remain unchanged while the non farm sector gained a net 300 jobs. Madera County's September unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, down from 8.9 percent in August and below 9.6 percent a year ago. Year over year in Madera County, the farm industry gained 700 jobs while the non farm industry lost 100 jobs. California's unemployment rate in September was 6.9 percent.
Written on 10/17/2014, 10:27 am by Business Journal staff
Porterville-based Sierra Bancorp, parent company of Bank of the Sierra, announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of 9 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on Nov. 13 to shareholders of record as of Oct. 30. The announcement marks Sierra Bancorp's 63rd consecutive regular quarterly cash dividend.

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