Valley Children’s First in US To Use Genetic Testing to Prevent Hearing Loss

Valley Children’s Precision Medicine Program has been named the first U.S. hospital to use an advanced form of genetic testing to help save the hearing of babies born with certain variants of a gene linked to hearing loss.

Through a gentle cheek swab, doctors at the hospital are now able to diagnose a variant of the MT-RNR1 gene that is less equipped to resist potential hearing loss as a side effect of the usage of antibiotics to treat infants in neonatal intensive care units.

While aminoglycosides — the antibiotics in question — are efficient in treating infections in infants, they also run the risk of attacking human proteins vital to the development of hearing. Despite being safe for most infants, at least 1% of hearing loss found in these children can be attributed to the side effect of the antibiotic.

The new, non-invasive test allows doctors to check the compatibility of an infant’s MT-RNR1 gene to see whether or not hearing loss may develop with the use of aminoglycosides.

“Genes are like the individual instructions in a book that tell the body how to build and work, so understanding them is important in creating a treatment plan for each patient,” said Dr. Jeremy Woods, Valley Children’s geneticist and director of the Precision Medicine Program.

Woods went on to explain that the new test replaces older techniques that could not be analyzed in a time-efficient manner, forcing doctors to accept the potential risk of hearing loss when using aminoglycoside antibiotics.

“Previously, we would have to wait weeks for the results of MT-RNR1 genetic testing. Now, we can have results back in under an hour,” Woods said. “That gives us plenty of time to choose a safer antibiotic to treat a seriously ill baby.”

The advancement is one of several tools used within Valley Children’s Precision Medicine Program; earlier this year, genetic testing modules were integrated as part of patient electronic information systems, allowing providers to order comprehensive genetic tests to provide care recommendations based on the specific genetic makeup of the patient.

The hospital is also one of just five other institutions to participate in Project Baby Bear— a Medi-Cal pilot program using rapid whole genome sequencing to improve care for infants suffering from undiagnosed illnesses.

Ethan Conrad Properties acquires the Merced Mall

Hey Merced, let’s warmly welcome Ethan Conrad Properties!

Ethan Conrad Properties acquires the Merced Mall. The mall, strategically positioned at the best retail location in Merced, will be renamed Marketplace at Merced. ECP has already received significant interest from over 300,000 SF of anchor tenants. The renovation project calls for 2 additional pads along W. Olive Avenue. More good things are ahead for Merced.

Refresco acquires VBC Bottling Company, beverage manufacturer in Modesto, California.

On April 2, Refresco completed the acquisition of the VBC Bottling Company, a family-owned contract manufacturer of premium beverages, strategically located in Modesto, California. This acquisition is a step forward towards Refresco’ s vision of ‘our drinks on every table.’ A key component of our strategy is to identify the right opportunities for acquisitions. This acquisition aligns well with our strategy as it provides strategic growth, key manufacturing capacity and enables Refresco to expand geographically. In addition, this investment provides us with capacity for strategic categories so we can support their fast growth.

CEO Refresco, Hans Roelofs, commented:
“Acquiring VBC is another step in executing our proven Buy & Build strategy. The company’s strong customer base strategically located facility, and warehousing capacity further strengthens our footprint in North America. Additional canning capacity along the West Coast improves our ability to service all our contract manufacturing customers.”

Brad Goist, Chief Operating Officer at Refresco North America, said:
“This acquisition is a step forward towards Refresco’s vision of ‘Our drinks on every table.’ We will integrate VBC Bottling Company into our operations to better serve our customers and support their growth goals in the various categories where capacity is needed. I look forward to welcoming the more than 180 employees to the Refresco team and seeing what successes we accomplish together as a team and in the years to come.”

We are all excited about this great addition to our operations and give our new colleagues a warm welcome to the team!


June 14th, 2024 marked a significant celebration of various milestones for a prominent employer in Madera, CA EVAPCO, Inc:

    • The Madera facility of EVAPCO opened its doors 45 years ago.
    • The latest addition, the Sierra Building, commenced manufacturing the new “Evo-Air” units.

About EVAPCO, Inc.

EVAPCO, Inc. is an industry-leading manufacturing company with global resources and solutions for worldwide heat transfer applications. We are dedicated to designing and manufacturing the highest quality products for the evaporative cooling and industrial refrigeration markets around the globe.

Founded in 1976, EVAPCO’s mission is to provide first-class service and quality products in the following markets:

    • Commercial HVAC
    • Industrial Process
    • Power
    • Industrial Refrigeration

The powerful combination of financial strength and technical expertise has established the company as a recognized manufacturer of market-leading products on a worldwide basis. We have earned a reputation for technological innovation and superior product quality by featuring products that are designed to offer operating advantages including:

    • Higher system efficiency
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Lower annual operating costs
    • Reliable, simple operation and maintenance
    • Sound reduction
    • Water management

Committed to providing the most advanced products in the industry – Technology for the Future, Available Today!

At 3.8M Square Feet, Visalia’s Largest Industrial Development Unveils EIR

Atlanta-based Seefried Industries has submitted an environmental impact report (EIR) to the City of Visalia for a 284-acre industrial park at the northwest corner of Shirk Street and Riggin Avenue. The big project would require annexation into city limits to move forward. It would expand the Visalia Industrial Park to the north.

Called the Shirk and Riggin Industrial Project, the development would be the largest in City of Visalia history with plans to build 3.82 million square feet of industrial buildings with more than 4000 workers once all phases are constructed. The site plan shows 3,750 parking places for all types of vehicles.

The applicant plans eight industrial buildings for warehouse, distribution and light manufacturing; six flex industrial buildings; two drive-through restaurants; a convenience store; a recreational vehicle and self-storage facility; gas station and car wash.

The footprint shows multiple phases of large industrial buildings, with the corner of Shirk Street and Riggin Avenue having several retail uses located across the street from a proposed Costco shopping center.

The EIR says the project would offer four access points along Shirk Street, five access points along Riggin Avenue and five along Kelsey Street. Onsite orchards would need to be removed, and appropriate landscaping and lighting would be incorporated into the overall site design consistent with applicable city requirements and guidelines.

The project’s draft EIR was filed Thursday with a comment period ending May 28. As is typical, a final EIR would be released, and consideration by the city council after that before the project is submitted to the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for annexation.

Founded in 1984 by Ferdinand Seefried, Seefried Industrial Properties is a privately held real estate firm that focuses on the development, leasing and management of industrial properties across the U.S. The firm primarily focuses on development in core industrial markets and build-to-suits with tenants in core and second-tier markets. Seefried leases and manages approximately 25 million square feet for its institutional and European clients and has developed more than 200 million square feet of space valued in excess of $18 billion across 30-plus markets. Based in Atlanta, the firm has regional offices in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

New $30M investment

In Visalia, Seefried built and leased the 1.2 million square-foot Ace Hardware distribution center on Plaza Drive — now in full operation. In related news, Ace Hardware is installing a $30 million conveyor system expected to automate deliveries from Visalia to all parts of California in a speedy manner. The end result is expected to be higher e-commerce sales from Visalia that could boost the city’s tax revenue.

Seefried also has plans for a second 500,000 square-foot spec warehouse nearby at Goshen Avenue and American Street. The company purchased the Shirk and Riggin property from the Ritchie family.

The company’s site plan for the new industrial park indicates two huge buildings on Kelsey would be first to be constructed, adding up to about 1.8 million square feet across from Amazon.

Seefried is pressing on with these massive plans despite the fact that the warehouse market has cooled in California and in Visalia.

High Speed Rail crosses 198 | John Lindt

Last week, crews from the California High Speed Rail project worked late night and early morning to place 84 pre-cast concrete girders across Lacey Boulevard and over State Route 198 to extend the Hanford Viaduct over the highway.

Girders ranged between 53 and 78 feet long and weighed as much as 79,000 pounds each.

The Hanford Viaduct spans more than a mile — 6,330 feet long and connects to the future Kings/Tulare Regional High-Speed Rail Station.

Hanford company sells just four cars in 23′

Start-up luxury car maker Faraday Future sold just four cars in the past year, the company reported recently. They leased six more.

The LA-based company has its only manufacturing plant in Hanford. But production at the million-square-feet facility has been slow. Faraday Future is facing delisting from NASDAQ as it looks to maintain its stock value above one dollar.

Adding to woes, Faraday has withdrawn its production guidance for 2024, citing current market conditions and lack of funding. Last November, the company planned to assemble 1,000 vehicles this year, “subject to availability of requisite capital.”

The company filed their annual report late with revenue of $0.8 million for 2023 and cost of goods sold of $43 million, compared with no revenue and cost of goods sold in 2022. This reflects that the company only began delivering vehicles in the third quarter 2023. Loss from operations was $286 million for 2023, as compared to a loss from operations of $437 million for 2022.

Last December Nasdaq notified the company that the bid price of its listed securities had closed at less than $1.00 per share over the previous 30 consecutive business days and, as a result, did not comply with Listing Rule 5550(a)(2). The company was provided 180 calendar days, or until June 25, 2024, to regain compliance with this rule. On April 18, 2024, Nasdaq notified the company that since it had not yet filed its Form 10-K it no longer complied with Listing Rule 5250(c)(1).This deficiency is now an additional basis for delisting. Now that report has been filed.

On April 24, 2024, the company received a letter from Nasdaq indicating that the company was not in compliance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c), as the company’s securities had a closing bid price of $0.10 or less for ten consecutive trading days. The letter indicated that, as a result, the Nasdaq staff had determined to delist the company’s securities from The Nasdaq Capital Market. On May 1, 2024, the company timely requested a hearing to appeal the Delisting Determination and requested an extended stay of the suspension pending such hearing with the Panel.

Faraday Future stock briefly climbed over a dollar in May for two weeks but, since May 28, has been below that threshold at about 50 cents as of this writing.

Faraday’s future is uncertain.

Williamson Act cancelation bill shelved

A bill in the California Assembly to make it easier for farmers in the Central Valley to cancel their Williamson Act contract due to water shortage had divided the farm community. The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, otherwise known as the Williamson Act, authorizes a city or county to enter into contracts with owners of agricultural land to preserve the land for agricultural use, as specified, in return for reduced property tax assessments.

To preserve farmland, it imposes a 25 percent cancelation fee.

This bill proposed by Fresno Assembly member Joaquin Arambula would authorize a landowner, if their land is located in the counties of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, or Tulare, with a water basin in condition of critical overdraft, to petition the board or council to cancel a Williamson Act contract or a farmland security zone contract without penalty if the land meets specified criteria, including, among other things, not having permanent access to sufficient water.

That could speed its conversion to energy projects like solar farms and provide income to the land owner.

As of mid-May the bill was placed in the “suspense file” as it did not garner enough support in committee to move forward.

BOS dumps green energy saving project

Kings County Board of Supervisors had been studying making substantial investments in energy savings at the county campus similar to a project that the same supplier had done in past years. The supplier, Engie Energy, promised net savings over $4 million for the county. The County has completed four successful projects with ENGIE  — a $3 million microturbine co-generation project in 2005, an $8.4 million central heating and cooling plant upgrade in 2009, a $4.1 million solar project in 2011, and an $11.9 million solar project in 2020.

This year an earlier staff report noted that the County has been seeing huge increases in its electricity cost recently, as high as 15% per year. They would like its energy consumption to be reduced as much as possible to reduce the effect of utility price hikes.

Also, the HVAC units at many of the facilities are well past their useful lives and the County would like to use this project to replace its old HVAC infrastructure without dipping into the General Fund.

But in late May the staff and board decided not to move forward with the green energy project.

A staff report says, “Essentially, this project is viewed as being cash neutral, providing more of a benefit in the way of allowing the County a vehicle to replace aging infrastructure, not necessarily providing the County with additional cash on hand, due to project savings, that could be used for other County initiatives and priorities. Additionally, the County recently initiated a comprehensive debt analysis which looked at all current and potential future debt, which included this project, to identify the financial health of the County if it were to take on debt for this project.”

At the conclusion of the debt analysis, staff recommended not to incur long-term debt for this project at this time. The Board agreed.

Egg farmers worried about new bird flu

The current avian influenza outbreak is the “greatest threat” to American egg producers, according to United Egg Producers President and CEO Chad Gregory.

“On-farm biosecurity is at its most stringent levels, and despite these robust precautionary measures, the egg industry has lost flocks to [bird flu] in recent weeks,” Gregory said in a statement. This is a sad and difficult time for affected farmers, who must act swiftly to prevent the spread of the disease and go through an extensive recovery process.”

A massive flock of over 4.2 million egg-laying chickens in Iowa was detected to have bird flu last week.

Walnut acreage down 4%

California’s 2023 walnut acreage is estimated at 420,000 acres, with 385,000 acres bearing and 35,000 acres non-bearing. Bearing acreage was down 4% from 2022.

Strong summer outlook as clean energy grows

Elliot Mainzer — California Independent System operator president — says CAISO is in a stronger position heading into the summer compared to previous years. The agency manages the grid and guides energy investment in the Golden State.

CAISO expects its resources will be able to meet forecasted demand plus an 18.5% reserve margin for all summer months, according to its summer assessment. The grid operator anticipates it will have more than 3,500 MW of surplus supplies over forecasted demand plus the reserve margin during key early evening peak net load hours in September, Mainzer said in the memo.

Lathrop growing by leaps and bounds, ranks among top 5 nationwide in new Census data

Lathrop in San Joaquin County was among the fastest-growing cities in the country in recent years, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data. Among cities across the U.S. with 20,000 residents or more, Lathrop had the fifth-highest growth of residents between the start of July in 2022 and 2023, behind four cities in Texas, Census officials said Thursday. Lathrop’s population increase year-over-year was 13.6 percent and the Census as of July 2023 had the city’s population as 39,857. The four Texas cities that had a higher recent annual increase were Celina (26.6 percent), Fulshear (25.6 percent), Princeton (22.3 percent) and Anna (16.9 percent).

California’s new steel facility in 50 years coming to Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — California’s first new steel production facility in 50 years is set to be built in Kern County. On Wednesday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the $540 million project by Pacific Steel Group. Chevron fined millions by state agencies for oil spills in Kern County. The “zero process carbon emissions rebar mill” will be constructed near Mojave. The group also released an artist’s rendering of the project. The mega facility is expected to create around 400 full-time jobs and 515 construction jobs.