Saturday News Briefs

April 17, 2015 9:01pm
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•  Lumber company rejected by court

•  Fresno company expands

•  And more….

Sierra Pacific still liable for Moonlight Fire damages

U.S. District Judge William Shubb has issued a detailed, 63-page order denying Sierra Pacific Industries’ motion to set aside the settlement of the Moonlight Fire case and rejecting every allegation by Sierra Pacific’s counsel that there was fraud on the court.

After an exhaustive review of the law and the record of this case, Judge Shubb concluded that the defendants “have failed to identify even a single instance of fraud on the court, certainly none on the part of any attorney for the government. They repeatedly argue that fraud on the court can be found by considering the totality of the allegations. Here, the whole can be no greater than the sum of its parts. Stripped of all its bluster, defendants’ motion is wholly devoid of any substance.”

The Moonlight Fire ignited on Sept. 3, 2007, on private forest land in Plumas County and raged for more than two weeks, consuming about 65,000 acres of land, including more than 46,000 acres of federal public lands.

A jury trial in the case before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller had been scheduled to begin on July 9, 2012 in Sacramento, but the parties entered into a settlement shortly before trial. At an estimated value of at least $122,500,000, the settlement was the largest recovery ever received by the United States for damages caused by a forest fire.

But in October 2014, Sierra Pacific filed a motion to set aside the judgment for damages resulting from the Moonlight Fire, claiming there had been a fraud on the court.

In rejecting each and every claim by Sierra Pacific’s attorneys, Judge Shubb noted that they were aware of almost all of the facts, which they now claim show fraud-on-the-court before they decided to settle the case. As the Court put it, “defendants made the calculated decision on the eve of trial to settle the case knowing everything that they now claim amounts to fraud on the court.”


Netafim to open expanded Fresno distribution center

Drip irrigation equipment seller Netafim USA is expanding as California copes with a fourth year of drought.

It has a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for April 22 for its expanded 102,000-square-foot distribution center in Fresno that’s designed to handle the increased demand for its drip irrigation products.

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Netafim USA’s CEO, John Vikupitz, will be joined by company officials as he addresses the significance of the expansion, as well as the company’s commitment to providing the innovation and technology needed by today’s farmers to maintain production in the face of California’s prolonged drought.


Warm winter, no snow makes for mountain pass “go”

The California Department of Transportation has removed the winter snow, cleared the debris and made the necessary repairs to open Highway 108 over Sonora Pass.

The opening of the pass is in time for the beginning of trout fishing season in the Eastern Sierra, which begins on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

But weather and road conditions can change rapidly in the Sierra. Caltrans says motorists should expect the worst conditions and be prepared when traveling in areas subject to hazardous conditions. All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires should, additionally, carry chains when traveling during snowy weather.


Record graduating class for Fresno Pacific University

So many people are graduating next month from Fresno Pacific University that they’re moving the event to Fresno’s Selland Arena.

Approximately 570 will graduate in a ceremony starting at 7:00 p.m. Friday, May 8. Graduates—estimates are about 245 from the traditional program, 215 from bachelor’s degree completion and 113 master’s candidates, including 24 from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary—will gather with their families and friends in Selland Arena at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center, near the corner of M and Ventura streets in downtown Fresno.

“Commencement is always a great day, and this year is especially thrilling because we have more graduates than ever ready to step into positions in the Valley and beyond,” says Stephen Varvis, provost/senior vice president. “Our goal and hope is that they will be recognized for effective ethical leadership, generous and compassionate service and professional excellence in business, education, management, ministry and a range of other occupations.


State urges natural control methods for pesky rodents

Rats, mice and voles are commonly sighted around homes and businesses in California at this time of year and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is encouraging Californians to let nature control rodent populations by actively protecting their natural predators – owls, hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures – rather than using poisons to eliminate pests.

Environmentally friendly tactics (such as providing tall trees that raptors favor) will encourage these birds of prey to hang around and remove rodents.

Most raptors use the same nest for many years and some even pass from one generation to the next. Bald eagles are known to have used the same nest as long as 35 years. That makes them an excellent long-term control for rodent populations in the immediate area, the CDFW says.

During breeding season, a family of five owls can eat as many as 3,000 rodents, it says.

Even though the state Department of Pesticide Regulation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have restricted public access to the most dangerous rodenticides, all rodenticides – including the types still available to consumers – are poisons that can kill wildlife, pets and children.

More wildlife could be saved if people would use sanitation, removal and exclusion to keep rodents out of homes and reduce their numbers, CDFW says. Like most animals, rodents will congregate and multiply where food is available and they feel safe. The easiest way to discourage them is to remove or modify anything that could make them comfortable. Sanitation is the first step to controlling rodents.

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