– September 20, 2014

Food bank to receive $45K from Walmart

The Community Food Bank got 3,442 votes from Walmart's Fighting Hunger Together campaign.The Community Food Bank got 3,442 votes from Walmart's Fighting Hunger Together campaign.The Community Food Bank of Fresno will receive $45,000 as part of Walmart's Fighting Hunger Together initiative.

In all, 40 organizations across the country will split up $3 million in total grants as part of the campaign that had Facebook users voting through "likes" for the organization they thought would do the most good in alleviating hunger.

The Community Food Bank received 3,442 votes, coming in at 11 out of 100 food banks and partner feeding agencies to be selected.

Forty of those organizations, including Community Food Bank, will receive $45,000 each while another 60 are set to receive $20,000.

The grants are intended to support efforts like local backpack programs that provide meals to children at their schools and programs to teach families how to grow their own healthy foods.

Last year, the Fresno Community Food Bank received $50,000 from the Fighting Hunger Initiative, which was first launched in 2010 as a $2-billion commitment by Walmart to help fight hunger in America.

The Community Food Bank, established in 1992, serves 160 thousand people every month and distributes 22 million pounds of food every year through shelters, churches and other partner agencies.


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Written on 09/19/2014, 3:59 pm by Business Journal staff
Kaiser Permanente Northern California was again ranked as having the second top Medicare health plan out of more than 408 health plans in in the country,...
Written on 09/19/2014, 3:33 pm by Leah
Owner Bluff Pointe Golf Course What we do: Bluff Pointe Golf Course and Learning Center is one of the best and friendliest places in the Central Valley to practice and play golf. We have built a 9-hole course and a short game practice facility for all to learn, with a great coaching staff in place to help. Education:Graduate of Sanger High and Reedley College where I started playing golf as a beginner.  Attended Fresno State where I began coaching golf; attended and received Teachers Certification from the United States Golf Teachers Federation (USGTF): attended and received Teachers and Masters Certification from the Masters Golf Teachers Course; became a certification course instructor for the USGTF. Age:57 Family:  Two daughters Jessica and Jennifer and three beautiful granddaughters Kayleigh, Allison and Zoe. You’ve been teaching golf for nearly 35 years. Tell us a little about what brought you and kept you in the sport. Sports were very important to me growing up. I participated in everything including football, basketball, track, and tennis, but hitting a golf ball was it. There is nothing like the feeling of hitting a ball crisp and solid — you hit one good shot and you’re hooked.  The challenge of golfing was the other thing that just grabbed me — creating and figuring out the shot at hand is a huge part of the love I have for the game. What is your vision for the Bluff Pointe Golf Course? My vision started with renovating the old course from a 5-hole to a 9-hole course. I wanted an executive course with drivable par-4s, some very scenic par 3s, and different lengths. There are 4 teeing areas on each hole and the shortest are called the fun tees. Our new short game facility is one of the best, offering 6 bunkers and up to a 60-yard approach shot length. We have a putting green that is approximately 4,000 square feet. There is enough room for all with subtle breaks. We're having a grand opening celebration on September 27th from 10am-3pm, and the public is invited to attend. Buffalo Wild Wings will be serving free food, along with other restaurants. All of the major golf vendors like Callaway, TaylorMade, and more will be there as well. We'll also have a shuttle service for people after they park. How have players responded to the changes over there?We are getting great responses with people saying that the opportunity to make a par or a birdie is so much more fun, it’s an awesome challenge trying to hit over the edge of the lake, and the shorter lengths of holes are more fun. It’s great still being able to use your driver on 4 of the par 4s, or if you want more of a challenge, you can play them from the back tees as par 3s. The longest par-4 is a 330-yard dogleg right around water. The short game facility has an American flag on a 40-foot pole for our veterans. How would you describe the golf scene in Fresno?We love golf here in Fresno, and we are so fortunate that the weather is pretty good all year. We have great kids and adults playing at the first tee level and middle, high school and college level players. We have golf events for Executive Women's Golf Association and the SIRs group. There are plenty of places to play. We have some great tour players that came out of Fresno like Nick Watney, Kevin Chappell, Derek Ernst, Kevin Sutherland and Joan Pitcock. How did the economic downturn impact golf? Have things improved?The economic downturn was extremely hard on our local golf courses. Public courses were selling themselves on different discounted media like Facebook and, country club memberships were offering free sign ups and just monthly memberships, and some pros were leaving the industry for lack of lessons. Luckily for me, I was able to withstand the downturn because of my loyal students and friends that continued to preserve, and I’m grateful for that. Things have now improved, and I have seen a huge turn around with people buying golf equipment, rounds of golf, and especially the new interest in lessons. My business partner Kevin Cameron and I decided to invest in an awesome piece of property and have begun the effort to create something special in Bluff Pointe. We've already done a lot in a short period of time. What’s your advice for people out there interested in becoming professional golfers?There are two different ways you can do this. If you want to be a club pro running a pro shop, you go through the PGA of America, and they expect you to go to school as if you're attending university, and it takes 4-6 years. If you already love golf and want to teach, you can go through the US Golf Teachers Federation, which offers 1-week courses where you'll have to pass oral, written, and playing ability tests and demonstrate that you can play well and teach. I say go for it! I highly recommend doing what you love, and if you have a passion for it, you will be successful. I decided to turn Pro in 1994, and am doing something that I love. What is the best advice you ever received? I remember in the 8th grade, after track practice going into the office of my PE coach Bob Gillies. I put my track shoes on his desk and told him I was quitting because I was the slowest on the team, I couldn't long jump very far and my triple jump was short. He looked at me and said, “If you quit this you will probably quit everything you do...”  Wow, that scared me so much that I just picked up my shoes and continued to get better. I finished the next race 8th out of 30 kids, and found out that I was a very good long distance runner. I often think of his statement to keep pushing onward. What was your very first job and what did you learn from it? I worked at Kellner Lumber Yard on Weber Avenue, where I cut, stacked, and moved lumber. The key things I learned at a young age was the importance of being responsible, teamwork and getting a project done on time. I also learned to always be early or on time, which is something that I live by now. What do you like to do in your spare time?Besides playing golf, I enjoy fishing, writing and going to the mountains and the ocean. I also like tooling a piece of leather and watching a great movie.
Written on 09/19/2014, 3:17 pm by ben
The Central Valley’s first trade show for heavy duty truckers was just as much about educating the industry as it was about showing off all the shiny new toys.Taking place Sept. 6-7 at the Fresno Convention Center, the West American Truck Show featured some 60 exhibitors pitching everything from new tires, trucks and trailers to loans, insurance and logistics services.Around eight of those companies were also lined up to recruit visitors with job opportunities, while other booths were offering information on emissions regulations, fuel efficiency and other trucking related topics.Outside, several exhibitors dazzled onlookers with their polished rigs during the Show and Shine competition. Attendees inside were treated with entertainment from the Marie Wilson Band performing on the main stage, as well as other multi-cultural musical acts roaming the exhibit hall.The show was organized by Desi Maxx Media Group of Fresno, parent company of Desi Trucking Magazine, along with key sponsors Papé Kenworth, Pilot Flying J and Central Valley Trailer Repair (CVTR). And while not as large as truck shows in the Midwest, such as the Mid-American Trucking Show held in Louisville, Kentucky every year, Desi Maxx President Raman Singh said it was a good start considering 75 percent of the floor space was sold out.“The response that we got right now from our exhibitors, our exhibitors are already requesting next year’s dates,” said Singh, a former truck driver himself.For Bruce Kurtt, vice president of the West Region at Volvo Trucks North America, the show was a chance to demonstrate the company’s latest models of trucks using its patented I-Shift technology.“This has a 12-speed automated manual transmission much like a Porsche would be today,” Kurtt said. “There’s no clutch pedal so it shifts itself.”Kurtt said Volvo is still the only company manufacturing such systems in its trucks after 12 years, giving drivers up to 7.5 miles to the gallon compared to the industry standard of 5.5 miles to the gallon.Since coming into the U.S. in 1981, Kurtt said Volvo Trucks has marketed Central California pretty hard, especially to Indian drivers who tend to make the long hauls to the East Coast and need the most fuel efficient and comfortable ride for the journey.Other features of the truck include a large cab with a mini fridge, multiple drawers, a table that folds down into a mattress, an inverter to plug in electronic devices and space for a 20-inch flat screen TV.Dometic, also an exclusive name in the industry, was at the show promoting its battery-powered air conditioning systems for trucks.Channel sales manager Fernando Mejia said the standalone systems, first developed by the company eight years ago, can run for up to 15 to 18 hours on just 10.5-volts, reducing the need to idle the engine in order to power the truck’s own AC unit.“We’re the first one on this model to achieve the same performance on a back cabin as you would do on your standard rear AC,” Mejia said. Also drawing attention to the units is the fact that they produce no emissions, Mejia said, earning Dometic the coveted approval of both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.For truckers needing freight to haul, Fresno transportation broker JTS Transportation was at the show offering its 43 years of experience connecting carriers to produce and dry goods throughout the country.With five offices nationwide and nearly 10,000 trucking operators in its database, Carrier Relations Manager Alicia Ruiz said the company does a good job connecting carriers in the Valley to multiple destinations and also making sure there are enough goods to deliver on the trip back.“Small- to mid-sized companies are our niche. That’s primarily what’s here in the Valley and that’s what we kind of go after,” Ruiz said. “On a monthly basis, we’re anywhere from 1,100 to 1,200 loads a week. That fluctuates obviously with the season.”With the California Air Resources Board’s Truck and Bus Regulation requiring many trucking businesses to begin upgrading their fleets, Engs Commercial Finance had a lot to share about loan options and connecting them with lenders.Business Development Manager Steve Lujan said one incentive is the California Capital Access Program (CalCap) that works together with CARB’s On-Road Heavy Duty Vehicle Program to provide up to 100 percent coverage on certain loan defaults.Emissions regulations in California have drawn many to finance brokers like Engs, which has worked closely with dealers and lenders since 1952 to provide multiple loan and lease solutions to truck, trailer and equipment operators.“We’re not a bank so the banks are going to be very low but our average rates are going to be in the 8 to 12 percentage for a VC (Venture Capital) customer and we’re going to be in the 6s for A (Angel) customers and we even get down in the fives,” said Lujan, who covers the company’s Northern California territory.Besides its latest endeavor, Desi Maxx Media has also partnered with JGK Media Inc. over the past six years to put on the biannual APNA Truck Show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, not far from its headquarters.The last APNA Truck Show in June 2013 had approximately 15,000 visitors over a span of two days. Fresno’s show saw 3,400 attendants  and generated an estimated 250 room nights in the area.With so many commercial trucks making the daily drive through the Central Valley’s busy corridor, Singh said Fresno was ripe for a similar event, especially since the nearest trade shows for the industry are in Southern California. Even the Great West Truck Show held in Las Vegas was cancelled this year due to light attendance.“That was our  main motive; cost effectiveness for the people who are in the Valley because those are the people who need the truck show,” he said. “Those are the people who need the education so that has to be brought back to the Valley.”According to the Employment Development Department, around 7,371 companies are involved in specialized freight trucking in California, including 487 in Fresno County accounting for more than 171,000 commercial trucks.
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:25 pm by MATTHEW CRAFT, AP Business Writer
(AP) — With Wall Street focused on the debut of Alibaba Group, the stock market drifted into the weekend and major indexes ended little changed. Investors watched as the Chinese e-commerce giant surged 38 percent Friday, in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba gained $25.89 to end at $93.89. By the end of the day, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell less than a point, a sliver of a percent, to 2,010.40. It finished with its best weekly gain in a month. Alibaba lined up its initial public offering of stock at $68 a share the day before, raising $21.8 billion from investors. That vaulted Alibaba to the top tier of technology companies in terms of market value. It's bigger than but smaller than the titans of tech, Apple and Google. "We know there's a lot of demand from institutional and retail investors, so it's not a surprise to see it rally that quickly," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, the online brokerage. Alibaba was the big story Friday, but the rest of the week belonged to the Federal Reserve. At the end of a two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Fed issued a statement saying that it planned to keep its benchmark lending rate low. Some investors had earlier voiced concerns that the Fed might be in a bigger hurry to hike rates. "Janet Yellen (the Fed's chairwoman) told people exactly what they wanted to hear," Kinahan said. Encouraged, investors sent stocks to record highs this week. The S&P 500 index has now climbed 9 percent in 2014, better than the average gain for a full year. In other trading Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average edged up 13.75 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 17,279.74. The Nasdaq composite fell 13.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,579.79. German business-software company SAP announced plans to buy Concur Technologies for $7.4 billion. Concur's stock jumped $19.02, or 18 percent, to $126.82. Oracle's stock slumped after the announcement late Thursday that Larry Ellison, the tech company's billionaire founder, is stepping down as CEO after 37 years. Ellison remains the company's biggest shareholder. Oracle's stock fell $1.75, or 4 percent, to $39.80. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.58 percent, from 2.62 percent late Thursday. Britain's main index rose slightly after voters in Scotland rejected a referendum to break from the U.K. Some warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have shaken the U.K economy. Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent, and Germany's DAX was flat. Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.6 percent as the yen's weakness gave a boost to companies that rely on exports. In commodities trading, precious and industrial metals fell, extending their losses for the week. Gold dropped $10.30 to settle at $1,216.60 an ounce. Silver sank 67 cents to $17.84 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $3.09 a pound. Oil fell 66 cents to $92.41 a barrel as the dollar gained strength. Oil trades in dollars, so a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive to traders holding other currencies. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils imported by many U.S. refineries, rose 69 cents, to $98.39 a barrel in London. In other futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange: — Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $2.611 a gallon — Heating oil was flat at $2.717 a gallon — Natural gas fell 7.3 cents to $3.837 per 1,000 cubic feet_______________________AB Business Writer Kelvin Chan contributed from Hong Kong
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:09 pm by MAE ANDERSON, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Alibaba debuted as a publicly traded company Friday and swiftly climbed more than 40 percent in a mammoth IPO that offered eager investors seemingly unlimited potential for growth and a way to tap into the burgeoning Chinese middle class. The sharp demand for shares sent the market value of the e-commerce giant soaring well beyond that of Amazon, eBay and even Facebook. The initial public offering was on track to be the world's largest, with the possibility of raising as much as $25 billion. Jubilant CEO Jack Ma stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as eight Alibaba customers, including an American cherry farmer and a Chinese Olympian, rang the opening bell. "We want to be bigger than Wal-Mart," Ma told CNBC. "We hope in 15 years, people say this is a company like Microsoft, IBM, Wal-Mart. They changed, shaped the world." The company's online ecosystem stands apart from most e-commerce rivals because it does not sell anything directly, preferring to connect individuals and small businesses. It enjoyed a surge in U.S. popularity over the past two weeks as executives made sales pitches centered on Alibaba's strong revenue and big ambitions. "There are very few companies that are this big, grow this fast and are this profitable," Wedbush analyst Gil Luria said. Trading under the ticker "BABA," shares opened at $92.70 and nearly hit $100 within hours, a gain of 46 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening. Demand was so high that the company raised its price ahead of the debut. Alibaba's Taobao, TMall and other platforms account for some 80 percent of Chinese online commerce. Most of Alibaba's 279 million active buyers visit the sites at least once a month on smartphones and other mobile devices, adding to the company's attractiveness as online shopping shifts away from laptop and desktop machines. The growth rate is not expected to mature anytime soon. Online spending by Chinese shoppers is forecast to triple from its 2011 size by 2015. Beyond that, Alibaba has said it plans to expand into emerging markets and, eventually, into Europe and the U.S. The company does not compete with its merchants or hold inventory, serving more as a conduit that links buyers and sellers of all kinds. "The business model is really interesting. It's not just an eBay. It's not an Amazon. It's not a Paypal. It's all of that and much more," said Reena Aggarwal, a professor at Georgetown. Alibaba's revenue from the quarter ending in June surged 46 percent from last year to $2.54 billion. Its earnings climbed 60 percent to nearly $1.2 billion, after subtracting a one-time gain and certain other items. In its last fiscal year ending March 31, Alibaba earned $3.7 billion, making it more profitable than eBay Inc. and Inc. combined. As of Thursday, Amazon had a market value of about $150 billion, eBay $67 billion. Based in Ma's hometown of Hangzhou in eastern China, Alibaba began in 1999 when Ma and 17 friends developed a fledgling e-commerce business on the cusp of the Internet boom. Today, its main platforms are its original business-to-business service,, consumer-to-consumer site Taobao and TMall, a place for brands to sell to consumers. The IPO's fundraising target handily eclipses the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012, the most for a technology IPO. If all of its underwriters' options are exercised, it would also top the all-time IPO fundraising record of $22.1 billion set by the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. in 2010. Yahoo stands to be a big winner. The U.S. company, which has been struggling to grow for years, is in line for a windfall of $8.28 billion by selling 121.7 million of is Alibaba shares. And founder Jack Ma is selling 12.75 million shares worth $867 million. Some analysts think the pricing is conservative. Wedbush's Luria gives the stock a one-year price target of $80. Research firm PrivCo said the stock is worth $100 a share because of all of the private companies that Alibaba has taken stakes in. Alibaba offered 320.1 million shares for a total offering size of $21.77 billion. Underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to about 48 million more shares. The company and its bankers avoided mishaps like those that plagued Facebook's stock debut on the Nasdaq in May 2012. The social network's first day of trading was marred by technical glitches. Despite an IPO that was hyped even more than Alibaba's, Facebook's stock closed just 23 cents above its $38 IPO price on that first day and later fell much lower. The stock took more than a year to climb back above $38. Gartner analyst Andrew Frank said Alibaba's success shows that Chinese Internet companies are beginning to challenge Silicon Valley. "It's not the first Chinese company we've seen in the Internet space but it's certainly the biggest one that seems to be resonating," he said. "It's a symbol that the Internet dreams of wealth and power are not just limited to a few small cities in the West Coast in the U.S."
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:06 pm by hannah esqueda
Fitness centers and gyms across the country are looking to gain a competitive edge over one another and tap into the next workout trend. Trends like juice bars, cross-fit and Zumba workouts and their younger fans have dominated the industry in the past, but market research and population trends suggest the industry may need to look to senior citizens in the near future. In 2012, there were an estimated 43.1 million senior citizens in the U.S. By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that number will nearly double, with 83.7 million people aged 65 and older.This increase is primarily attributed to the 76 million strong baby boomer generation who, according to a 2013 Market Research report, are expected to lead more active lifestyles and exert greater market power than previous generations. As they retire, they will have more free time and disposable income on their hands, making them a desirable group for the health and fitness industry. Gyms and fitness centers are beginning to jump on that trend and several local facilities have already begun focusing on healthy and safe programs for senior citizens. “As we grew our practice with [seniors] we kind of saw that there was a need for our patients to have a space that’s comfortable and safe for them [to exercise in,]” Aamer Hayat, chief operating officer of Avecinia Wellness Center, said. Located in Clovis, the center is a holistic primary care practice serving patients throughout the valley. “Our focus is on lifestyle medicine,” Hayat said. “Instead of just taking pills we want people to do yoga or stress management.”The practice’s elderly patients in particular have benefitted from focusing on fitness, he said. When the practice moved into its current building last year, a 220-square-foot yoga studio was built inside the office. “We had been hearing from our elderly patients that the gym is too big, too uncomfortable. They didn’t like going there,” Hayat said. “Here, it’s a small classroom so it’s not overwhelming to the seniors.”Avecinia Patient Specialist Dania Abdul-Resoul agreed and said that the smaller studio helps facilitate a more intimate setting for the seniors. She said that by keeping class sizes small, instructors are able to work more closely with the seniors and ensure they are not overwhelmed or left behind during the routine as they might have been during past experiences at a gym.Not all gyms are unwelcoming to seniors however, and Lifestyles Fitness Center Director Patrick Tazio said his facility works hard to ensure it is a comfortable place for older members. “We’ve had a gradual increase in seniors in our classes,” he said. “Out of all the local fitness centers in our area, we’re known as having a senior friendly center.”Lifestyles is a member of Silver Sneakers Fitness, a national program partnered with Medicare, and offers several classes specifically geared towards seniors. Lessons emphasizing strength and balance are some of the most popular with the 65 and older age group and classes include senior aquatics, Osteo-Pilates, Sit-N-Be fit, Steady Steps and Breathing Easy. “We offer a variety of programming but we’re definitely seeing growth in that age group,” Tazio said. Built in 1996, the 55,000-square-foot gym in Visalia is part of the Kaweah Delta Health Care District and offers fitness programs for members and medical patients. The center is in the process of moving the physical therapy areas to a new building in hopes of opening up 9,500 square feet of space for functional fitness and classes, he said. In addition to offering senior-specific fitness programming, Tazio said the gym emphasizes customer service and works hard to ensure employees are friendly with older members. “We try to give them the same amount of attention as others who may be more fit or may be coming in here for more serious training,” he said. “We want them to feel like if they come here they will get all their needs met.”Unlike younger generations, the health and fitness needs of seniors often extend beyond mere physical activity.At Lifestyles, the facility’s ground-floor cafe is often a gathering place for seniors before and after their fitness classes. “There’s groups that meet there in the afternoons to play Mahjong or cards,” Tazio said. “I think they’re looking for a social outlet and are interested in relationships that they can build.”Hayat agreed and said that when it comes to senior fitness, it’s important to focus on their overall wellbeing. “For a lot of seniors, sometimes they start to feel lonely when they sit around at home. But, here, they can meet new people and be social when they come to the class,” Hayat said. “For some of them, it’s the highlight of their day and they like to stay for a while after class to sit and talk.”Avecinia has a lounge area with a fireplace and coffee service that the seniors like to sit in after the classes, he said. While the center’s four yoga and Pilates classes were originally designed with patients in mind, they are open to anyone willing to pay the $35 monthly fee. A majority of those who partake in the classes are baby boomers with mobility issues, Hayat said. “If a senior has back problems and posture problems, they would ordinarily be prescribed pain medication and scheduled for some surgery, however at Avecinia we suggest yoga and massage therapy as a means of treating their condition,” he said. The center’s physicians work with fitness class instructors to monitor the patient’s mobility and physical progress and make sure the instructors know how to treat seniors. The chair-yoga class is one of the best for seniors since it allows them to be relaxed while also staying fit, Abdul-Resoul said. Hannah Esqueda  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3461 or e-mail
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:05 pm by ben
The mock trial program at Fresno State has been relatively under the radar since the first group of students began presenting simulated law cases around nine years ago.As the latest academic year begins, however, the program is enjoying a little more recognition on campus and across the country since making it to the national championship in Orlando, Florida in April.The team is now getting invitations from the likes of Yale and Stanford to compete in campus tournaments testing their legal knowledge and tact in the courtroom.Local attorney Gordon Park, one of seven coaches in the program, said many of the latest offers are extended only to the top 50 schools that competed in the national tournament.“It’s exciting for Fresno as a community to be able to go back and compete at Columbia,” said Park, a partner with Fresno law firm McCormick Barstow.Housed in the criminology department, Fresno State’s mock trial program started from humble beginnings in 2005 with the persistence of Park and late criminology professor Harvey Wallace.Since then, mock trial students have gone on to several national championships, while the program currently ranks at around 68 out of some 300 colleges, accounting for 750 teams nationwide. Additionally, the university has also hosted two award-winning regional tournaments, giving even its newest members a chance to compete against big name schools in the state. But more than that, Park said, is that dozens of mock trial students have gone on to become respected lawyers, educators, police officers and other professionals, armed with the confidence and critical thinking skills they learned by presenting evidence and making an argument before judges in a real-world legal setting.“The kids who have gone on to law school, who get into law school, who are now getting law jobs because of mock trial, that’s what it’s all about,” Park said. “We have everything from teachers and police officers and all of them credit mock trial with improving public speaking, confidence and the ability to make a presentation.”As a class and a club, the mock trial program also looks good as an extra curricular activity that students can put on a resume in addition to a host of other campus groups many are involved with.President Gage Marchini, for instance, serves as the senator of clubs and organizations for Fresno State’s student government Associated Students, Inc. when not taking classes for his agribusiness major.But the six hours a week that students devote to the program is worth it for the full-time junior who first joined mock trial while attending Highland High School in Bakersfield.“I hear nothing but how much it will help us from attorneys and judges who judge us at these tournaments, and all they can say is how prepared we seem when we’re there and how much more experienced we will be going into law school,” said Marchini, who hopes to become an attorney practicing in the area of water law.But even with 20 students enrolled in the program this year—its smallest group to date—cost constraints limit various tournaments throughout the country to a selected few and some college invitations must be turned down altogether.Mock trial gets anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 each year from the college and the program has been lucky enough to get $20,000 this year from Fresno State’s Institutionally Related Activities fund—up from $15,000 in years past.Even still, Park said that’s a small slice compared to UCLA’s $50,000 mock trial budget, and just one tournament across the country can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $10,000 to accommodate a team of 10 over a weekend.“We’re a blue collar, low-budget team making the most of our money,” Park said. Additional funds do pour in from the community as part of a sponsorship program started in 2007 that has seen a pickup in local businesses investing in the class, many remaining consistent over many years.Businesses and individuals interested in making a donation can contact the College of Social Sciences’ Director of Development Kent Karsevar at Donations are also accepted online at www.fresnostate.advancement/giving/givenow.html and typing “mock trial” in the box marked other.“We’re trying to find individuals or organizations that will commit to five years regardless of the amount, so these students, as they’re beginning to plan their academic year, they at least know what’s coming in,” said Luz Gonzalez, dean of the College of Social Sciences that offers the mock trial class.For many high school students in the Valley, Fresno State’s mock trial program is a reason to stay in the Valley. For Junior Abigail Hudson, the program helped her to hone her career interests beyond the little spark she got at Bullard High School in Fresno. Whereas high school mock trial teams only offer a peak into criminal cases, Hudson said college opened her up to a passion in civil law and newfound opportunities in the local area.“I had no intention of staying in Fresno for college or for my career path,” said Hudson, who serves as executive vice president in ASI. “Now, having all the connections that I do in Fresno makes me want to stay in Fresno and be an attorney in Fresno.”Next month, Fresno State’s mock trial class will compete against several other college teams on the campus during its annual Dog Pound Challenge. The class is also planning a fundraising dinner at the Satellite Student Union on campus where the public can purchase tickets to see mock trial students put on a piece of the trial they’re working on. Other competitions scheduled this year will have teams traveling to Arizona, Nashville, Cal State Berkeley, Yale, Air Force, Stanford, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Nevada.The students are also shooting for another national championship in a fictional civil case involving one parent suing a family for negligence after their 11-year-old daughter was killed in a shooting accident.Two teams will first take on the case at the regional competition in Fresno Feb. 15-16 before they can move on to the ORCS Tournament in Newport next March and the national tournament in Cincinnati in April.“Usually Fresno State wins two to three individual awards, which is a lot for one team,” Park said. “Last year, for the first time almost every tournament we entered we won trophies.” Ben Keller  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3465 or e-mail
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:04 pm by hannah esqueda
Recent college graduates entering the workforce can already expect the slow recovery of the economy and high unemployment rates to hinder their transition into the professional world, but new research suggests a threat may also be found closer to home. A recent study by two Fresno State Craig School of Business professors found that students who have overly-involved parents are failing to develop vital professional skills.Commonly referred to as helicopter parenting, the interaction is characterized by parents frequently intervening on their child’s behalf. In their study, professors Jill Bradley-Geist and Julie B. Olson-Buchanan described helicopter parents as applying “developmentally inappropriate tactics” that are meant to “protect their offspring from potentially negative outcomes and to ensure success.”The irony however, is that parents who try too hard to ensure success for their child may actually bring about the opposite, and the study found the technique hindered student’s ability to be independent and self-sufficient.In the study, several hundred students were asked to complete a survey involving hypothetical workplace scenarios.“Those who reported having helicopter parents were more likely to make decisions that were dependent on their parents,” Bradley-Geist said. For example, students with helicopter parents were more likely to say they would have that parent call into work for them or finish a difficult project. The study also found a connection between helicopter parenting and students lacking professional coping skills like conflict-resolution and self-sufficiency.Employees who lack these skills are more likely to have a difficult time finding success in a professional environment, Rebecca Abell said. Abell is president of Hire Up Staffing Services in Fresno, which specializes in finding placement for employees in the information technology, medical and accounting industries. Conflict-resolution skills are particularly important to employers because too many unresolved problems may begin to affect productivity. Abell said she once placed a younger employee who was eventually let go from her position because she did not resolve a conflict with a coworker. “She failed to resolve the conflict and it kind of escalated in the workplace. The employer finally had enough of it and let her go,” Abell said. While her company tends to focus less on the age of a candidate and more on their experience, Abell said she has noticed that employees between the age of 20 to 29 who have less than two years of work experience are usually recent college grads and share similar characteristics. That age range was part of the target group for the study by Bradley-Geist and Olson-Buchanan. The researchers found that students who reported higher levels of parent or guardian involvement were less likely to be employed. While the study focused on how helicopter parenting affected students, Abell said she has noticed other factors affecting the work habits of recent graduates. “They’re more tech savvy. They come in with higher typing speeds,” she said. “It’s kind of a given that they had a home computer while growing up.”Abell said she has noticed recent college graduates not handling conflict well but thinks it’s a result of technology.“The stereotype is that they don’t have very good face-to-face confrontation and resolution skills. I think they’re used to a degree of emotional separation with text messaging and email,” she said. “Generally, they have a tendency to be non-confrontational.”Very few jobs allow for employees to be non-confrontational, so it’s a vital skill to have if you want to succeed, Abell said. One of her pet peeves is when she places a personal phone call and receives an email in response. “Unless it’s an IT job where you’re in a basement or the back of an office somewhere, you’re going to be dealing with people a lot,” she said. Abell said her company offers personal development services to candidates who struggle with certain aspects of a professional setting. “If somebody sits across the table from us and they’re not giving a lot of personality, we will offer to work with them,” she said. As younger employees gain more experience in the professional world they will begin to develop those skills.Joe Denham, vice president of Denham Resources, agreed and said he has run into a lot of talented and motivated young people. However, many of today’s younger employees are graduating at a time when there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the economy and that has forced an interesting split among them, he said. “It’s probably harder to find success now, so the ones who have found it probably had to work harder for it,” Denham said. Denham Resources is one of the top human resources consulting firms in Fresno and typically works with candidates who already have a lot of professional experience, he said.“[Companies] usually look to us for people that have developed a very specific skill set,” Denham said. While the study conducted by Bradley-Geist and Olson-Buchanan relied on students being able to identify whether or not their parents were overly-involved in their college and professional careers, the research found that younger students were more likely to report having have helicopter parents compared to their older peers.Even though researchers found these students to be more dependent on others and guilty of the same traits that employers dislike, there seems to be some hope that the traits can be outgrown.“We will get very independent people with little experience and then you’ll get some that you can tell they’re still depending on mom and dad and living at home,” Abell said. “Both groups are hard working, just some lack the experience and skills of the other.”Given time, she said, younger employees who may initially lack certain professional skills learn to adapt and are able to compete in the workplace. “Once they’re more experienced they end up being great candidates to hire because of their knowledge and familiarity with technology,” Abell said. Hannah Esqueda  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3461 or e-mail
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:02 pm by Leah
The Visalia City Council this week decided to wave goodbye to Great Lakes Airlines and welcome SeaPort Airlines to serve Visalia through the federally subsidized Essential Air Service (EAS).The vote was 3-2 to go with Seaport rather than quit the EAS program altogether and qualify to receive $2.7 million for airport use. According to a city staff report, the “take the money” option was second best, saying it “would provide substantial benefit to the airport, but having reliable air service provides a greater benefit to the community.”All agreed Visalia has had enough of Great Lakes Airlines, which has served the city for several years. “They ended up being unreliable and chased away business with their frequent cancellations,” said Warren Gubler, Visalia city council member. Gubler sits on the city subcommittee that recommended to the council which of five airline proposals to accept. The subcommittee had recommended Portland-based SeaPort, which will fly daily routes to Oakland and Burbank if the federal Department of Transportation approves the city’s recommendation as expected. Service is likely to start toward the end of the year.SeaPort will fly the 9-passenger Cessna Caravan. The Caravan is a non-pressurized, single engine aircraft. While this aircraft effectively has the same number of seats as the Great Lakes Beechcraft 1900, it is a non-pressurized, single engine aircraft and some travelers may have an aversion to flying that way, notes the city staff report.“I think people will get used to them,” said Gubler, adding “this is the last best hope for the EAS in Visalia.” City Airport Manager Mario Cifuentes said SeaPort has agreed to ”do the marketing necessary to put people in the seats.”The feds have stated that they intend, going forward, to enforce a per-passenger subsidy cap of $200. As proposed, all communities receiving subsidies under the EAS program would have until Sept. 20, 2015 — based on data from Oct. 1, through Sept. 30, 2015 — to ensure compliance with the $200 subsidy cap or face termination of subsidy eligibility. Accordingly, Visalia has just over a year of eligibility remaining if it can’t select an air carrier that can deliver reliable service and board enough passengers to keep the per passenger subsidy below $200, says the report.Visalians would rather fly to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and the report notes that, but the service to date has been subpar through Great Lakes, which has been having pilot shortage issues across its service areas.“The vast majority of our passengers have a history of flying on United Airlines and their code share partners. Almost 90 percent of our regular passengers continue on to other airports by connecting in LAX,” according to the city report. “Unfortunately, given the subsidy amounts requested in the proposals this go around, we have to look more favorably on carriers that can carry the most passengers to the connecting airport if we’re to remain under the $200 per passenger subsidy cap. For instance, given the projected passenger totals included in the proposal from Great Lakes and their requested subsidy amount, we will exceed the $200 per passenger subsidy on an annual basis.”SeaPort does not have landing rights at LAX. But Gubler points to the fact that both Burbank and Oakland have good connections, including international flights out of Oakland. Also, SeaPort Airlines announced a few weeks ago four nonstop flights between Burbank and San Diego International Airport (SAN) beginning on Oct. 1.The proposal for Visalia is for a mix of daily one-stop and nonstop flights to Burbank-San Diego and Merced-Oakland. Fares would start at $59 per one-way trip to Burbank and Oakland. SeaPort is proposing a total of 24 departures per week, 12 to BUR and 12 to OAK, resulting in 216 available seats per week. Gubler said unlike the other proposals, with SeaPort “whatever happens with Merced does not affect us” with the feds ending EAS for Merced this summer. Merced has appealed the decision.If the Visalia council had decided to exit the EAS program, the city could use some of the money from Department of Transportation to subsidize a charter ground transit service to connect to Fresno and Bakersfield airports, suggested Councilmember Greg Collins, who with Steve Nelsen was on the losing side of the 3-2 vote.In the past four years, the subsidized flights from Visalia have attracted from 8 to 11 daily passengers.
Written on 09/19/2014, 2:02 pm by Michael Liedtke, AP Writer
(AP) — Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is stepping aside as CEO after 37 years at the helm of the business software maker, ending a colorful reign marked by his flamboyant behavior and outlandish wealth amassed while building one of the world's best-known technology companies.With the changing of the guard announced Thursday, Ellison will be handing over his job to his two top lieutenants, Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, who become co-CEOs. Ellison, 70, intends to still play an influential role at Oracle Corp. He is taking over as Oracle's executive chairman, replacing Jeff Henley in the position, and will oversee the engineering departments as chief technology officer. What's more, Ellison remains Oracle's biggest shareholder with a 25 percent stake in the Redwood Shores, California, company that accounts for most of his $51 billion fortune. Catz, Oracle's chief financial officer until Thursday, will be responsible for manufacturing, legal and finance, while Hurd will supervise sales and all services. Both of them will report to Oracle's board instead of Ellison. Oracle isn't hiring a CFO to replace Catz. "I am going to continue to do what I have been doing the past several years and they are going to continue doing what they have been doing the past several years," Ellison told analysts during a Thursday conference call. Given that Catz and Hurd are already handling many of the same duties as Oracle's co-presidents, the new pecking order may not seem like much of a change, especially among investors who worried about the company's sluggish growth in recent years. Oracle's stock slipped 86 cents, or 2 percent, to $40.69 in Thursday's extended trading following the company's announcement. The downturn may have had more to do with Wall Street's disappointment with Oracle's fiscal first-quarter earnings, which were also announced late Thursday and missed analyst targets, than with the reshuffling of management duties. The shake-up comes at a critical point in Oracle's history. It is trying to adapt to the technological upheaval that is causing more of its corporate customers to lease software applications stored in remote data centers instead of paying licensing fees to install programs on machines kept in their own offices. The shift to Internet-connected software has become known as "cloud computing." "While there was some speculation Larry could step down, the timing is a bit of a head scratcher in our opinion and the Street will have many questions," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives. Although Ellison has steadfastly insisted that Oracle is well positioned to sell more cloud computing services, smaller rivals such as Inc. and Workday Inc. have been growing at a much faster clip. Both Salesforce, started by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, and Workday, founded by longtime Oracle nemesis David Duffield, were created explicitly as cloud computing specialists. In a post on his Twitter account, Benioff cast doubt about whether Ellison is really relinquishing any control. "There always has been, and always will be, one CEO at Oracle," Benioff tweeted. Since he co-founded Oracle with $1,200 of his own money in 1977, Ellison has become has well known for his antics away from the office as his accomplishments as the company's CEO. Through the years, Ellison has driven fancy cars, flown his own jet, raced yachts, wooed beautiful women and owned ornate homes in San Francisco, Malibu and an exclusive Silicon Valley neighborhood, where he spent $170 million on a 45-acre compound designed to remind him of Japan and the samurai warriors that he admires. In 2012, he bought his own Hawaiian island by acquiring 98 percent of Lanai. Last year, Ellison staged the boating race for America's Cup in the San Francisco Bay, where a team of professional sailors that he personally financed won the trophy for the second straight time. Ellison, a close friend of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has always relished his status as the richest person in the nation's high-tech heartland, where free-flowing stock options sometimes turned receptionists and cafeteria workers into millionaires. Money is "a method of keeping score," Ellison once told an interviewer. Catz, 52, is a former investment banker who joined Oracle in 1999. Hurd, 57, has been with Oracle for four years, but is best known the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. Hurd stepped down from HP in 2010 after that company's board raised questions about his expense reports and his relationship with a company contractor. Ellison ridiculed HP for its treatment of Hurd, a close friend, and hired him at Oracle. "Safra and Mark are doing a spectacular job and deserve the recognition of their new titles," Ellison told analysts Thursday.

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