The News

Water officials stress importance of surface supply, storage

Drought and slashed water allocations are taking its toll on Valley farmers.
At the same time, the groundwater table continues to fall. Water agencies would like to see the proposed Temperance Flat Dam built on the San Joaquin River to hold more water, especially in wet years.

Rail advocates stree jobs, economic development

High-speed rail in California remains a highly charged subject of contention by opponents who see it as a costly boondoggle that slices up valued farmland.
And although initial building demolition for the project has begun, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors is reconsidering its support of high-speed rail, which it has supported for the past seven years. The board is scheduled to reconsider the matter July 29.
Supporters of the project believe it could sharply reduce Fresno’s unemployment rate while providing new employers and jobs for years to come. In addition, they point out that Fresno could become the high-speed rail capital of the United States.

Pitman Family Farms continues poultry expansion

Following two large property purchases last year in Kings County, Pitman Family Farms of Sanger is moving its growth northward with the expansion of its poultry farms in Madera County.
Earlier this month, the Madera County Planning Commission approved two conditional use permits for new buildings at its ranches in Madera and Chowchilla, said Robert Mansfield, lead planner with Madera County.
With the approval, the company, known for its pasture-raised chickens, turkeys and ducks, will add three new poultry barn structures totaling 75,000 square feet at its ranch at Road 20 1/2 and Avenue 18 west of Madera.

Five carriers vying for Visalia’s municipal airport

The federal Department of Transportation announced late last month that Merced’s city-owned airport would lose its flight subsidy under the Essential Air Service program this fall after falling short on the threshold of serving at least 10 passengers per day.
Under a 2012 Federal Aviation Administration requirement, airports within 175 driving miles of a large- or medium-hub airport must average at least 10 enplanements a day to qualify for the program (Alaska and Hawaii are excluded). In California, El Centro also lost eligibility

Sustainability a key word with new Fresno buildings

Sustainability is a key word for major Fresno area developers like Ginder Development Corp., which plans new offices and retail centers that conserve water and energy while using renewable materials that are environmentally friendly.

Expanding quick lube biz celebrates 15 years

A local family is celebrating 15 years of a business decision that had its patriarch come out from under the cow and go under the hood.
Third-generation Washington state dairy farmer Rick McGuire moved wife Cathy and family to Visalia in 1986, “following the cows” as the Pacific Northwest’s dairy industry took a hit, said son Ryan McGuire, 34.
Rick McGuire worked full time — literally seven days a week, Ryan said — selling bull semen that would be frozen and shipped across the country. Ryan said it was exhausting work for Rick. The father-and-son duo was able to find respite in restoring old Ford Mustangs — first a 1968 Shelby then a 1968 California Special.

Property management firms enjoy brighter days

Property management took a blow during the real estate crash, but has since been a steady income business for specialists like Manco Abbott and Robert L. Jensen & Associates as the rental housing, office and retail market bounces back.

Visalia vehicle sales up 13 percent

Visalia’s largest car dealer Don Groppetti said auto and truck sales in the Visalia market are up a strong 13 percent year over year. That’s more than double the state average for new registrations of 5.6 percent in the first quarter of the year. The sales pickup is good news for more than dealers since car sales are a major component of tax revenues for the city. The City of Visalia just passed its new two-year budget this week estimating a 3 percent increase each year in sales tax revenue.

Study: Mexico’s farm labor supply drying up

A decline in farm workers from Mexico has some Fresno-area farmers investing in automated harvesters and planting crops that are less labor intensive, such as almonds.
As another alternative, some farmers are simply cutting back on the crops they grow in response to labor shortages and lack of water.

Valley projects look to the sun for clean water

Following a full build out next year, developers of an unlikely system in the farming fields near Firebaugh are counting on desalination as a solution to California’s water shortage.
Unlike conventional desalination that uses an energy intensive process of reverse osmosis to remove salt and impurities, the Aqua4 technology by WaterFX relies on the sun’s rays to treat brackish groundwater.
Since June 2013, the company has been turning out fresh distilled water for the Panoche Water and Drainage District from its pilot test facility located along North Russell Avenue just west of Firebaugh.