Category: Quality of Life

Fresno’s Fulton Street named one of America’s top main streets

Fulton Street was named one of 10 semifinalists on Monday.

From art to architecture you will find a little something different along Fresno’s Fulton Street.

The longtime pedestrian mall re-opened to vehicular traffic last October. On Monday the street was recognized in America’s main street contest.

“As an organization, we feel awesome to be in this running because it really is prime time for Fulton Street and Fulton District with the reopening of Fulton street six or seven months ago,” said Chilingerian.

The goal of the national contest is to help promote the importance and strong economic benefits of main streets and the small businesses that help them thrive

Fulton Street was named one of 10 semifinalists on Monday.

There are currently 18 vacant storefronts on Fulton.

Many have sat empty for years and are in need of renovation to be brought up to code.

Officials hope this type of national attention will catch the eye of potential business owners.

“We’re already seeing some businesses come in and open but something like this would bring even more foot traffic and even more potential businesses so I think national attention like this is really exciting for us,” said Jenna Chilingerian.

The winning main street will receive $25,000 in cash and prizes to help revitalize their street.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for more faade improvements tenant improvements like so those are the things we’re looking at right now,” said Chilingerian.

The winner will be announced June 4.

http://abc30.com/community-events/fresnos-fulton-street-named-one-of-americas-top-main-streets-/3532558/

PG&E gives support to Stockton Scholars program, others

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is contributing $1 million in local workforce development and educational initiatives in the San Joaquin County area.

The utility company recently announced it will donate the half the funding to the Stockton Scholars program, and the other half will go to New Energy Venture Academy and other initiatives. The academy focuses on providing students with educations that support careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“For Stockton to succeed, our young people must succeed. However, the cost of higher education is expensive and can prevent some of our students from reaching their goals,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. “Stockton Scholars was created with the belief that talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

Tubbs went on to say that Stockton Scholars is committed to getting rid of the financial barriers preventing students from receiving those seemingly unattainable higher-education goals.

“I am grateful for the support of PG&E and their commitment to the future of our youth and the future of Stockton,” Tubbs said.

PG&E employees will also volunteer time to help promote career awareness.

The utility company said money would help create opportunities.

“Education is the foundation for building a career and strengthening our communities,” said Travis Kiyota, vice president of California External Affairs for PG&E. “PG&E wants to support students by helping ensure there’s money for college or career training, and that these students have someone to turn to for questions, support and encouragement. We succeed through collaboration and are proud to partner with Stockton Scholars to help create opportunity.”

PG&E gives support to Stockton Scholars program, others

Special job training program is about to ‘take off’ at Reedley College

By Reuben Contreras

Reedley College is creating a runway for those who want to get their pilot’s license and work in the airline industry.

This fall the community college will have a new Flight Science Program that will allow students to get behind the controls of an airplane within two years.

“The first job you get, you get a flight instructor for a year or two and get flying experience so that you can legally be a co-pilot at an airline, that takes about two years,” said Flight Science Program Coordinator John Johnson.

He says most programs at other public and private schools take up to four years, and cost of tuition is double the $65,000 charged at Reedley College. Plus, this program is the only in the state that allows students to pay with federal financial aid or VA benefits.

“That’s what makes our program so great is that people who don’t have a lot of money laying around can enter the program and get through it,” said Johnson.

Friday the community college hosted an open house for its Flight Science Center with students visiting from local elementary, middle and high schools.

“They showed me examples of jet engines and propeller engines, and then they had us use the simulators,” said Kingsburg High School Student David Reimer. “So actually we got to fly a simulator plane.”

That flight simulator shows students how to fly a plane on a computer with three screens. Students can get a virtual feel for flying around Reedley Airport or Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Reedley College also plans to use electric planes for training, once they get approval from the F.A.A. The aircraft are funded by Measure C and are part of sustainable aviation project of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center.

“When that happens I think that’s going to be awesome,” said Johnson. “Electric planes are the wave of the future, just like we are seeing with automobiles.”

Enrollment is now open for classes that begin in August.

http://abc30.com/education/job-training-about-to-take-off-at-reedley-college/3462291/

Gas-tax grant means more trains to Sacramento and a new passenger station in Madera

April 28, 2018 04:27 PM

Updated April 28, 2018 04:30 PM

Progress seen in effort to start medical school in Valley

 

  • Legislation clears one hurdle
  • “Today marks a renewed effort to undertake the construction of major new medical infrastructure projects in the Valley”

A proposal to fund creation of a San Joaquin Valley medical school has passed its first committee vote in the state Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support, says the bill’s author, Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced.

Mr. Gray also points to a University of California report that highlights the health care shortages in the San Joaquin Valley and suggests a path towards the establishment of more robust medical infrastructure in the Valley, including the establishment of a fully independent medical school at the University of  California, Merced. The report was funded by a budget item Mr. Gray secured in 2015.

“Today marks a renewed effort to undertake the construction of major new medical infrastructure projects in the Valley,” says Mr. Gray. “The UC’s report highlights the compelling access to care failures that families in the Valley know all too well. We simply are not providing adequate health care for one of the fastest growing, poorest, and least healthy regions of the state.”

His bill, AB 2202, appropriates a currently unspecified sum of money to the UC Regents for the construction of a branch campus of the UCSF School of Medicine in partnership with UC Merced and the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program.

“The establishment of a branch campus is a near-term solution that is a proven pathway to opening a fully accredited medical school,” says Mr. Gray. “In this bill, we have taken the lessons learned from medical schools in other regions and applied what we have learned for the Valley.”

The University of California report details the numerous health challenges faced by the residents of the San Joaquin Valley and provides a number of recommendations to improve access to care. The report highlights the importance of leveraging existing infrastructure at the UCSF Fresno Medical Center to provide new access to care options like telehealth and residency expansion while recommending the establishment of a branch campus as the most proven track to a fully independent medical school.

“This report gives us a road map to follow,” says Mr. Gray. “We will highlight these recommendations at a health summit at UC Merced with Chancellor Leland and President Napolitano in early summer and continue the hard work necessary to ultimately establish a school of medicine at UC Merced.”

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/2acc4d6b-12cc-448d-add4-9e1c6f3451dd.pdf

New entertainment venue could come to downtown Bakersfield

  • BY JOSEPH LUIZ jluiz@bakersfield.com

Bakersfield could soon have more entertainment options in the downtown area.

The City of Bakersfield has a 223,000-square-foot piece of land at California Avenue and P Street that it intends to sell to Discovery Management Group LLC, partly for the construction of a venue called Discovery Bakersfield that would include a bowling center, restaurants, a music venue and more.

The city said Discovery Bakersfield would be a 38,000-square-foot, three-story building that would include 20 bowling lanes and a 950-seat music hall.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Community Services Director Jacqui Kitchen. “The City Council has had a vision of an entertainment area here for more than 10 years. I think the residents of Bakersfield deserve this.”

Kitchen said the goal is for the Discovery Management Group to eventually develop the rest of the property with restaurants and other entertainment uses, as well as a possible high-end hotel. Kitchen said she would also like to see some kind of microbrewery locate there.

Kitchen said the creek that runs along the eastern edge of the property would also serve as a great amenity. She said she would like to see a restaurant take advantage of the views.

“Mill Creek is the only opportunity in Bakersfield where you can have a restaurant looking out over the water,” she said. “You can almost imagine you’re sitting somewhere in Germany or Italy enjoying a meal.”

The company has already begun discussions with restaurants and other companies about developing on the property, Kitchen said.

During its April 11 meeting, the City Council authorized Mayor Karen Goh to sign a draft letter of intent from the city detailing terms for purchase of the property, the price of which has been set at $2.2 million. The city will now move forward with the purchasing process.

If the purchase goes through, the venue would be Discovery Management Group’s third location. The company already has a Discovery Ventura and is opening a Discovery San Luis Obispo this summer. Discovery Bakersfield would be its largest venue yet in terms of square footage.

Jeremy Pemberton, founder of Discovery Management Group, said at the council meeting that he believes the music hall in particular will draw a lot of people to the venue. Pemberton said he believes another music veue is greatly needed in Bakersfield.

“Currently, the City of Bakersfield and the county is void of a national touring spot for a music club that can host between 400 and 800 folks,” he said. “With the facility design that we have and the experience that we have, we know that we can create a facility that would eventually become a commodity for the touring industry.”

Pemberton and his brother Joshua initially approached the city in fall 2015 to discuss their desire to open a location in Bakersfield. However, Kitchen said plans were put on hold after the company suffered some setbacks in the process of developing its San Luis Obispo location.

Once the issues were settled and the project was moving ahead, the brothers returned to the city late last year to renew discussions.

“They believe Bakersfield has a young, growing population and a real desire for more entertainment choices here,” Kitchen said. “They think a location in Bakersfield would be a great addition. It’s not meant to replace any of our businesses, but enhance those and give the community more choices.”

If approved, construction of Discovery Bakersfield would start by the end of year and wrap up by June 2019, according to the Discovery Bakersfield Development Project Plan. A soft opening has been tentatively scheduled for June 5, 2019.

Discovery Bakersfield would be part of the city’s South Mill Creek Entertainment District, which already includes Maya Cinemas, the McMurtrey Aquatic Center and the Bakersfield Ice Center.

If approved, Discovery Bakersfield would be the second entertainment venue to open in the downtown area within just a few years. The BLVD, located on Buck Owens Boulevard, opens on April 19.

The 45,000-square-foot business will have a restaurant, three full-service bars, bowling lanes, laser tag, a ropes course, an arcade and more. It is owned by The BLVD LLC and Trifecta Management Group.

The two venues will share some services and features but Discovery Bakersfield would be more focused on music, Kitchen said.

Pemberton said he’s excited about the prospect of developing a project in downtown Bakersfield and working with the city.

“We’re excited about the opportunity here in Bakersfield and we look forward to providing a much-needed first-class concert venue and entertainment facility for the entire community,” he said.

Clovis’ craft beer scene is heating up: ‘We see a lot of potential out here’

Updated April 04, 2018 03:36 PM

Two more housing developments set for Visalia

 

  • San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital to build
  • “Greystone” and “Ashton Park” to be designed for entry-level buyers and young families

Two new residential communities, called Greystone and Ashton Park and totaling 218 detached single-family homes priced from the mid-$200,000s, are planned for Visalia by San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital. The developers say they have closed on 29 acres (151 lots) and plan to close an additional 19 acres (67 lots) next year for the projects.

Groundbreaking is expected in April and the neighborhoods are expected to be open for sale by early 2019. Their retail value is estimated to exceed $52 million.

“Ideally located on prime Visalia land in the Northwest with easy access to excellent schools, these communities will be extremely appealing to first-time and move-up buyers and young families,” says Danny Garcia, vice president of sales at SJV Homes, which is based in Visalia.

Greystone will offer 127 traditional homes with six floor plans ranging from 1,658 to 3,205 square feet on lots ranging in size from 6,800 to 8,200 square feet with some premium lots over

10,000 square feet. Ashton Park will offer 91 garden homes with three floor plans ranging from 1,297 to 1,597 square feet on lots ranging in size from 4,700 to 6,000 square feet. These homes will feature nine-foot ceilings, pitched tile roofs, tile flooring, granite countertops, stainless appliances and two-car garages.

The new communities are located on the northeast corner of West Riggin Avenue and North Akers Street across the street  from the new Ridgeview Middle School. The new residential neighborhoods are located less than four miles from downtown and about four miles east of Highway 99.

Founded in 2013 by Joe Leal, Jim Robinson and Randy Merrill, SJV Homes closed on its 1,000th home in late December 2017.

The Visalia communities are SJV Homes’ 17th and 18th joint venture projects with Presidio Residential Capital, a San Diego based real estate investment company that funds 100 percent of the projects and operations of SJV Homes.

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ formula to determine the local impact of single-family housing in typical metro areas, adding 218 single-family homes will generate $63.7 million in local income, $7.9 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 875 local jobs.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/1b2a39c3-547d-46c7-98a9-b72e265c8d72.pdf

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

By BusinessJournal

March 27, 2018

CodeHS, a company that provides web-based computer science curriculum, has partnered with Reinvent Stockton Foundation to bring coding classes to Stockton high schools.

The Code Stockton initiative formed by the two entities is geared toward expanding computer science programs in Stockton high school classrooms.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with the Reinvent Stockton Foundation to empower Stockton students to meaningfully impact the future,” said CodeHS CEO Jeremy Keeshin in a statement. “With extensive online resources and passionate teachers, our goal is to bring high-quality computer science courses to high schools in the city of Stockton.”

Organizers of the initiative pointed to a U.S. Department of Labor study that showed there will be 500,000 new computing jobs created in the next eight years nationwide, but only 40 percent of high schools have computer science classes.

Participating schools will receive “free introductory computer science courses, online and in-person professional development training for teachers, CodeHS Pro accounts and ongoing implementation support for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.”

Interested schools can sign up at CodeStockton.com before Apr. 10, 2018.

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

 

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!

By ROBIN ABCARIAN

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!
Fresno’s only professional soccer team, the Foxes, play their first game of the season at Chukchansi Park, which is also home to the AAA baseball team, the Grizzlies. Fresno, despite its size, has a dearth of professional sports teams. Nearly 8,000 soccer fans turned out. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)

Like any debut, the Fresno Football Club’s first game was not without a few glitches.

The scoreboard wasn’t working. A fire alarm went off for no reason. Merchandise sales were stalled by sluggish iPads.

But none of the nearly 8,000 soccer fans who turned out Saturday evening at Chukchansi Park seemed to mind. This was, after all, the first game of the first professional soccer team in an absolutely soccer-mad part of the state.

“We’re making history with a new team in Fresno,” said Alex Llamas, 26, a fourth-grade teacher and soccer coach who lives in Clovis. “To bring a soccer club here is amazing.”

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George Aguirre, a Reedley High School senior, was blunt. “Soccer is our life,” he told me before the game started. “We never actually thought this would happen.”

You can forgive Fresnans for feeling ignored by professional sports. Fresno State’s teams are beloved, of course. But when it comes to pro sports, Fresno has only the Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Houston Astros.

Despite being home to more than 500,000 people — making it the most populous city in the San Joaquin Valley – Fresno often has the feel of a sleepy little town. On a weekend, downtown streets are mostly empty.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, who has been working with city officials for years to revitalize the sclerotic downtown, told me that he hopes the soccer team — known as both the Foxes and the Zorros (Spanish for foxes) — will help get the city’s blood pumping again.

“It’s a big plus for the city of Fresno,” he said. “We have a large Hispanic population of very rabid soccer fans. It will be great for downtown.”

You always get the sense that Fresno thinks it’s on the verge of something big, that every advance is going to, finally, bring the world here.

The problem is, Fresno is geographically isolated. It’s smack in the middle of the state, surrounded by farmland. It’s about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, and a four-hour drive from San Francisco.

Like many smallish big cities, Fresno struggles with its identity.

Years ago, it called itself the “All-American city.” Some boosters have called it “America’s best little city.” At some point, the Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau dubbed it “California’s year-round playground.”

And then, at least briefly, the city slogan was “Be world class. Be Fresno.” (Some have joked that Fresno should change its name to Fres-yes, but that’s a nonstarter.)

Three years ago, state and federal officials descended on a dirt lot next to a late 19th century Southern Pacific train depot for the groundbreaking of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy project, the nation’s first high-speed rail.

There was much talk about Fresno finally coming into its own as a major California city, connected by high-speed rail to Silicon Valley and San Francisco to the north, and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south. At the time, I wrote that the celebration was so premature it was like “having a christening for a baby that’s still an embryo in a petri dish.”

The hurdles for this project continue to be immense, as my colleague Ralph Vartabedian has relentlessly chronicled. But the payoff for Fresno, if it comes, could be incalculable.

At least while Fresno waits for its moment in the sun, the town has a new professional sports team to root for.

Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team's the first game at Chukchansi Park.
Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team’s the first game at Chukchansi Park. (Kiel Maddox)

 

The team’s owner, Ray Beshoff, is a charismatic Englishman who got to know Fresno after he bought a Mercedes-Benz dealership in town a few years back.

I’ve known Ray for many years, ever since he fell in love with my friend Liza in Greece the summer after our junior year in France. A few months later, he left Liverpool with a few hundred dollars in his pocket and showed up on Liza’s doorstep on Balboa Island. After coming home from class at UC Irvine and finding him on the couch one too many times, she suggested he get a job. He ended up selling cars. Lots and lots of cars. They’ve been married for decades.

“Fresno is really underrepresented in the sporting world,” said Beshoff, who had been toying with buying a pro sports team for a while. “This is a community starving for soccer.”

He put together a group of investors and created the new Fresno Football Club, which is part of the United Soccer League, a step below Major League Soccer.

Beshoff, who owned a Mercedes dealership in San Jose from 2002 to 2015, got to know soccer legend Frank Yallop, who was then head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, and is now the general manager of the Fresno Football Club. Fans may remember Yallop as the head coach of the Earthquakes when they won the MLS cup in 2001 and 2003. Or as the L.A. Galaxy coach who in 2007 brought David Beckham to town.)

Yallop and coach Adam Smith have assembled an international roster — players are from Brazil, Argentina, Sierra Leone, England, Scotland and the U.S.

“The big plan,” Yallop said, “is to have our own stadium. We’re hoping to stay downtown.”

The United Soccer League, he said, expects the team to build its own stadium in two to five years.

Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager.
Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)


On Saturday, the Foxes played another new expansion team, the Las Vegas Light. The Light scored their first goal in the first two minutes of play, and soon the score was 3-0.

It would not be until minute 72 of the 90-minute game that Fresno scored their first goal. In the closing minutes, the Foxes scored a second goal, leaving the final score at 3-2.

“Overall, it was an amazing game,” said Llamas, the fourth-grade teacher, when I reached him by phone after the match. He had the good fortune of sitting next to the Fire Squad, the football club’s independent pep squad, dozens strong, who played drums and chanted during the game. “They bring such a great environment to the field. It makes everyone feel welcome.”

Llamas said he wasn’t disappointed by the Foxes’ loss.

“Right now is a big moment for Fresno,” Llamas said. “Professional teams, the high-speed rail. It’ll bring a lot more people and put us on the map.”

My fingers are crossed.

http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-fresno-soccer-201803120-story.html