Saturday News Briefs

May 24, 2013 9:00pm
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•  Elections: They ain’t over ‘till they’re over

•  Putting some muscle into the mussel fight

•  And more…

New construction project set for Bakersfield

Republican hasn’t won Valley Senate seat after all

With almost all of the votes counted, Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak may not be going to Sacramento as a state Senator without winning a run-off race.

The vote count election night and the day after this week showed Mr. Vidak, the only Republican on the ticket, had gotten 51.9 percent of the vote. But not every ballot had actually been counted.

Now that most – but perhaps still not all – of the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted, he has 49.8 percent of the vote (30,993 votes) and Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor, has 43.8 percent or 27,264 votes, besting two other Democrats and a Peace and Freedom party candidate.

If the pattern holds, a run-off between Ms. Perez and Mr. Vidak for the south Valley Senate seat would probably be held July 23.

“I am grateful that the will of the voters is that Mr. Vidak and I get to challenge each other directly so there can be a clear choice,” says Ms. Perez.

The seat opened because incumbent Democrat Michael Rubio quit in February to take a job as a lobbyist with Chevron Corp.


CSU Bakersfield starts work on new student housing

Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for Tuesday in Bakersfield for a new student housing complex.

When finished it will have three four-story residential buildings and a single-story support facility located on the northeast side of campus, where grass fields currently exist. Plans include rooms for 500 students.

In addition, the facilities will incorporate study rooms, lounges, classrooms, a game room, and a multi-purpose room.

It’s designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold equivalency. It will incorporate operable windows that maximize light and ventilation, high performance glazing, along with sun shades, will help reduce the solar heat gain that puts the “bake” in Bakersfeld in the summer.

Bathrooms will incorporate low-flush toilets and solar hot water panels on the roof will reduce annual energy costs. Similarly, energy-efficient light fixtures and controls designed to reduce energy costs for lighting will be utilized throughout the complex.


California among worst places to retire

Thinking about where to retire? Can you say “y’all” with a convincing twang?

Then Tennessee is the place for you. It ranks as the best state for retirees, ahead of even Florida and well ahead of California, according to the study by

Forget beaches, lakes, golf courses or even grandchildren and instead look at hospital beds per thousand, the number of doctors, the crime rate, taxes and even average temperature, it says.

Using these stats plus the cost of living, puts Tennessee at the top of its list and Oregon dead last. California? Our state is ranked 48th.


Reedley student wins business plan competition

Reedley High School senior Katie Olsen has won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Regional Business Plan Competition, earning a spot at the national competition in October in New York City. NFTE is a program offered by Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Ms. Olsen beat out more than 1,000 student participants with her business plan for Hidden Hollow, a wedding and event planning business.

She will next present her business plan at the NFTE National Business Plan Competition, where she will be competing for $10,000 in seed money to launch her business.

AyeeJaee Rios, a senior from Carter G. Woodson Public Charter School in Fresno earned second place for a business plan for Lost Souls Apparel, a customized clothing line. Orlando Lopez, a junior at Roosevelt High School, also in Fresno, took third place for his business plan on Leticia’s Mexican Food Catering.


Childhood hunger in the summer to be discussed

National and community leaders convene in Fresno next week to discuss strategies for promoting the Summer Meal Program to children and parents in order to increase participation, as well as ways to incorporate nutritious food and activities to draw children into summer programs.

Over 16 million children in California lose access to free healthy meals during the summer months when they’re not in school.

For every 100 low-income children in California who ate school lunch during the regular school year, only 17 received summer meals in July 2011.

Scheduled speakers at the Central Valley Summer Meals Summit include Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Cassandra Joubert, Central California Children’s Institute at California State University, Fresno; and Elizabeth Albert, USDA Western Regional Office as well as others.

The summit is hosted by the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, and Food Research and Action Center, with additional support from ConAgra.

It’s scheduled for Wednesday, May 29 at the Mosqueda Center in Fresno.


Family HealthCare Network gets top award for immunizations

The Central Valley Immunization Coalition has given its highest provider award to Visalia-based Family HealthCare Network for its utilization of the California Immunization Registry.

The registry is a confidential computerized database that stores and tracks childhood immunization records and recommends dates when vaccinations are due.

Its use is a regional effort of health care providers in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mono, and Tulare counties with the goal of increasing the rate of fully immunized children and reducing the number of unnecessary immunizations.

Family HealthCare Network had the highest numbers of immunizations entered into the program with 78,697 patients.


Reclamation names new regional manager

Drew Lessard has been named area manager for the Central California office of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Folsom.

As the area manager, Mr. Lessard is responsible for the operation of Folsom, Nimbus, New Melones and Monticello dams.

He’s worked at the office since 2000 as a civil engineer, as deputy area manager and most recently as acting area manager.

The office oversees Reclamation’s operations in 12 counties and includes the Central Valley Project’s American River Division (Folsom Dam, powerplant and reservoir; Nimbus Dam and powerplant and Lake Natoma), the Auburn-Folsom South Unit (the Auburn Dam site and the Folsom-South Canal), the Eastside Division (New Melones Dam, powerplant and reservoir on the Stanislaus River) and the Solano Project (Monticello Dam, Lake Berryessa and the Putah South Canal).


Boaters urged to fight spread of invasive mussels

This holiday weekend, recreational boaters can add some muscle to the mussel fight.

The California interagency effort fighting the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels is urging boaters to remain vigilant over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

People who launch vessels at any body of water are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after using the vessel.

“Boaters have taken an active role in preventing the spread of mussels,” says California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham. “These efforts must continue, so that the state’s aquatic resources are protected and available for the enjoyment of all.”

Quagga and zebra mussels, non-native freshwater mussels that come from to Eurasia, multiply quickly and encrust watercraft and infrastructure, and compete for food with native and sport species. The mussels can be spread from one body of water to another attached to nearly anything that has been in infested water, or via standing water from infested water trapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets.

To ensure watercraft are clean, drained and dry, many local agencies will be conducting boat inspections.

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