Camarena Health opens in Chowchilla

CHOWCHILLA — Camarena Health celebrated the opening of its newest Urgent Care with a ribbon cutting ceremony and facility tours open to invited guests and media on Wednesday.

The 9,000 square-foot facility is located in the heart of Chowchilla off Hospital Drive. It will provide urgent care and walk-in access to the residents of Chowchilla and surrounding communities with room to grow and bring additional services in the near future.

“Camarena Health has been proudly serving the community of Chowchilla for almost 20 years,” said Paolo Soares, CEO of Camarena Health. “We are very excited about this new location in the City of Chowchilla as it will allow us to bring much needed urgent care services to residents while continuing to meet the healthcare needs of the community for many years to come.”


PressBox Sports Grill owners Thomas and Davita Miller are in the process of opening a new Fresno restaurant they describe as modern California cuisine meets French technique. The Millers have been working with a local designer on the feel of “Bulle”, coming this summer to a former Chase bank building at Marks and Herndon avenues.

“Our design concept is a luxury modern garden feel,” Miller said. “The ambience will be lively.”

He describes the restaurant as “extreme farm to table,” using the finest local ingredients possible. Taking an heirloom approach to its cuisine, Bulle will avoid genetically modified foods and embrace sustainability. The protein will be free range and hormone free.

“So the goal is going to be using the most free of all the radical particles that we deal with in our society today,” said Miller.

French technique will be prevalent — think braising, boiling and other unique touches. The name “Bulle,” which means “bubble” in French, was chosen because bubbles are a joyful but possibly overlooked part of people’s lives, he said. They represent boiling temperatures for food and liquids. People love them in champagne.

The plan for Bulle is to open around July or August this year. Plumbing is being installed before any major cosmetics are completed. Miller said on Monday he’s paying for permits to get the ball rolling this week for bigger plans. Miller anticipates more features to be added as the process of creating the restaurant continues.

It’s going to be a busy year for the Sunset Square Shopping Center. Across from Bulle, in a former Rite Aid building, the 27,000 square-foot Syctron Freeplay Arena is set to open for families possibly by the end of March. The lease for the play arena and three new restaurants for the Sunset Square Shopping Center earned the 2023 CoStar Impact Award for lease of the year in 2023, selected for the real estate information firm by a panel of local industry professionals.

“This large retail vacancy was a blight on the area for many years,” said Jeff Pace, president of Colliers, a local judge. “Once occupied, the tenancy will add an innovative use to this neighborhood center and increase foot traffic for the benefit of other small retail tenants in the center. The use really compliments the neighborhood by providing a new facility for healthy indoor family recreation.”

Big Lots opening in Madera? What does Ross sign mean?

Madera residents have made it known that they’d like more shopping options in their own city. The appearance of a Ross Stores sign at the Madera Marketplace shopping center sparked an excited social media conversation among them about when a location might open on Cleveland Avenue, just west of Highway 99. It’s the latest indication that bigger retail might be looking at the city of Madera more than it has in the past. In fact, Big Lots, the discount retailer, said several years ago that it would be coming back to Madera. Locals have been wondering if it will ever happen. The 36,760 square-foot space the discount retailer was set to occupy in the Country Club Village shopping center, just east of Highway 99, has been empty for two years. Big Lots said it has not abandoned plans to open a store at 1143 Country Club Dr.

“The original opening dates were pushed back due to some construction delays, but we’re on track for a summer 2024 grand opening,” company spokesperson Joshua Chaney said in an email to The Bee. Big Lots stores typically employ around 25 to 30 full and part-time associates, Chaney said. Jobs available for the Madera store will be posted on the company’s careers web page a few months ahead of the summer opening. As Madera grows, residents increasingly crave more retail options and often complain on social media that they’re tired of driving to Fresno and other far off points to find the big retail options they want. The city of 68,000 people has been growing, seeing a population increase of nearly 11% since 2010. In the past few months, they’ve seen the opening of a Smart & Final store and an In-N-Out restaurant in the same corridor where Ross is set to open. Ross Stores would not provide details about when it will open the store planned for the tenant space next to the city’s Smart & Final store. Pearson Companies CEO Peter J. Orlando, a real estate broker who works with Ross Stores in the Central Valley, wrote in an email to The Bee that it could be a few months before a date is known.


A Wyoming-based corporation has received a $15 million state grant to relocate its headquarters to Fresno, where it plans to manufacture semiconductors and energy storage systems. In the process, the company plans to create at least 500 new, full-time jobs and make nearly $21 million of capital investments in the region.

Tynergy was one of a dozen companies awarded nearly $150 million in grants and tax credits as part of the latest round of the CalCompetes program by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development announced Nov. 17. The announcement comes weeks after members of the Fresno City Council and Fresno County Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Will Oliver hosted a City Hall news conference announcing the Fresno CHIPS Act.

The proposal would create incentives for manufacturers of semiconductors. The Fresno County Economic Development Corp. said in a social media post that Tynergy plans to offer starting salaries of $70,000 per year, complementary training programs and a “robust” benefits package, including childcare services for all employees.

Tynergy is a subsidiary of Indonesia-based green energy company Mirah Green. It bills itself as a sustainable energy development company with a goal to “eradicate poverty through affordable and clean energy while taking climate action.”

CapRock breaks ground on Visalia location

VISALIA – On Aug. 24, CapRock Partners announced their groundbreaking of Building I, a 1.27-million-square-foot industrial warehouse development that will provide 100s of jobs once it finishes construction in the third quarter of 2024. The construction of this facility is part of CapRock’s Central Point masterplan, which upon completion will total up to 5-million-square-feet of logistical distribution space to lease to various companies likely to fall under the “fortune 100 banner;” such as companies like, or akin to, Amazon or UPS.

While CapRock doesn’t currently have a tennent set to occupy the space – which began construction this summer – the facility will allow its occupant to reach over 50 million customers with one-day ground shipping.

“CapRock is excited to be underway in constructing the first building at CapRock Central Point III in Visalia, a vibrant industrial market and logistics hub providing unmatched connectivity in the heart of California’s Central Valley,” CapRock’s senior vice president Bob O’Neill said in a press release.

As Visalia is located approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles and 230 miles south of San Francisco, it has become a hub of logistical distribution spaces. The city’s industrial park is already occupied by prominent companies such as UPS, Amazon and FedEx.

However, location isn’t the only thing Visalia has to offer. According to O’Neill, the layout of the city itself makes the implementation of facilities such as Building I more practical.

“The city of Visalia is actually one of the best planned cities in the state of California, as far as their master plan,” O’Neill said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette. “They’ve invested heavily in the infrastructure to service these industrial areas, in order of widening streets and providing great access to the 99 freeway and Highway 198.”

Not only does Visalia’s infrastructure benefit the developing facilities and their future effectiveness, it also benefits the city itself.

“Once Building I is completed, the new property tax bases will benefit the city, as opposed to what it was before with just farmland,” O’Neill said.
Should CapRock deem the area as highly desired, they will move forward with the implementation of construction of three other buildings, which will bring more jobs and more tax funds.
“It’s all going to be driven by market demand in the overall economy,” O’Neill said. “So if (Building I) leases during construction, and we’re seeing robust demand that’ll warrant us proceeding with these other three buildings, we will go ahead and do that.”

Building I — along with the rest of Central Point III — will be located at 4001 N. Plaza Drive, adjacent to the 88 acres of land CapRock previously sold to UPS for the development of one of the logistics company’s largest facilities in the Western U.S. CapRock has various other facilities around California as well as in other states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas. They are an investment and development organization that hopes to continue spreading west and up the coast to create more distribution centers to allow people faster access to various products and services.


When Ashley Furniture moved into a 525,000 square foot facility on South Harlan Road in 2018, it’s doubtful that they had planned on outgrowing the facility in just five years.

But that’s exactly what has happened.

Last month, the Lathrop City Council approved a conditional use permit for the company’s proposed expansion – which was temporarily shelved after community concern during a public hearing prompted further review – that will allow for the construction of a nearly 1.5 million square foot concrete tilt-up building on Dos Reis Road. The company’s existing 525,000 square foot building – 50,000 square feet of which is utilized as a furniture showroom and retail store – on South Harlan Road will eventually be vacated and put up for either lease or sale.

There will be 110,000 square feet of showroom space in the new 1.5 million square-foot building. It will include the largest Ashley Homestore in the region coming in at 110,000 square feet — just 6,641 square feet less than the Living Spaces showroom in Manteca at Union Road and the 120 Bypass. It will also be the largest distribution center ever built in Lathrop. By comparison, the Wayfair distribution center in Lathrop has 1.1 million square feet.

Because Dos Reis Road runs along the back side of Lathrop High School, and because the land in the area was designated for a new use in the general plan update adopted by the council earlier this year, members of the community raised concerns about the impact of truck traffic in the area and the proximity to students attending school at Lathrop High.

According to the staff report and presentation prepared for the council, the property will be roughly 1,500 feet from the property of the high school – with a green belt of undeveloped land between the two – at its closest point, and an extensive landscape buffer that will ultimately provide more than 388,000 square feet of landscaped to create a cushion between the two competing uses.

All truck traffic, according to the Central Lathrop Specific Plan and outlined in the documents prepared for the Ashley project, must access the site from north of Dos Reis Road – including Manthey Road, Roth Road, and I-5. As a condition of approval, the applicant must install signage on Lathrop Road, Spartan Way, Golden Valley Parkway, Dos Reis Road, and Manthey Road to the south of the north driveway to the property that clearly prohibits trucks from using that route.

Onsite signage must also be posted on the site that prohibits trucks from turning right on Manthey Road when leaving the site – sending all trucks north to Roth Road where they can access I-5. One of the additional conditions of approval will be the applicant constructing a roundabout at the intersection of Dos Reis Road and Golden Valley Parkway – serving as an “enhanced gateway” to the area and featuring monumentation, enhanced landscaping, lighting, and other associated elements.

Pedestrian actuated flashing warning lights are also stipulated as a condition.

New behavioral health and human services building opens

A new Kings County Behavioral Health and Human Services building that will house over 100 county employees in 45,000 square feet was unveiled Wednesday morning.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday was emceed by Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves and featured speeches from representatives from Kings County administration, Kings County Behavioral Health and Kings County Human Services.

“On behalf of my colleagues on the board of supervisors, both past and present, we are so proud to stand here today and officially open the Kings County Behavioral Health and Human Services Building,” Neves said. “We are grateful to our community for their patience and support as we have navigated the long process to get here today.”

The Old Hospital was constructed in 1911 but eventually closed until 1973. Rather than demolishing the building in 2014, Kings County decided to repurpose the building through a remodel sales lease agreement.

The new building will house the Behavioral Department’s Administrative Offices, Children’s Psychiatric Services, the KIND Center children’s outpatient clinic and Human Services adult programs like their Adult Protective Services and In Home Supportive Services.

Divert Breaks Ground on Turlock Facility

Divert, Inc., a technology company operating in the food waste space, broke ground yesterday on a state-of-the-art integrated recovery facility in Turlock, CA. The new facility will capture and turn wasted food into carbon-negative renewable energy, bringing California closer to reaching its net-zero carbon pollution goal by 2045. The event featured Divert CEO Ryan Begin and several dignitaries, including California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, and Keenan Krick of the nearby Second Harvest Food Bank, which was the recipient of a generous food donation by Divert in conjunction with its retail partners including Albertsons, Safeway, and CVS.

Begin, who will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Organic Produce Summit in July, thanked the many different people and entities that have had a hand in bringing this project to fruition, including the city of Turlock and the state of California. He added that “none of this would be possible without our customers.” He noted that Divert’s business model involves taking packaged food waste from retailers, eliminating the need to dump it in landfills and instead turning it into energy.

“California is a proving ground for our model,” he said, adding that the company’s first facility was a $30 million project built by Kroger and placed in Compton, CA.

That project was funded and is owned by the retailer. The Turlock facility is owned by Divert and will take food waste from multiple retailers throughout California and the neighboring states. Begin applauded California and said, “It is an amazing place to do business.” In fact, he thanked the California Legislature for passing progressive legislation that addresses the food waste issue and mandates action. The Turlock facility is owned by Divert and will take food waste from multiple retailers throughout California and the neighboring states. Begin applauded California and said, “It is an amazing place to do business.”

In a press statement prior to the event, Begin said, “The wasted food crisis is a major contributor to climate change and food insecurity. States and municipalities are on the front lines, under increasing pressure to ensure that their communities live in healthy, sustainable environments. It is fitting that today’s announcement falls on April 26, global Stop Food Waste Day.

For the past 16 years, Divert has been at the forefront of working to prevent waste through our sustainable infrastructure and advanced technologies. This is a transformative opportunity to scale Divert’s proven solutions in California and further accelerate our vision for a waste-free future.”

He refers to himself and partner Nick Whitman as “garage entrepreneurs” who worked on perfecting the concept for many years before the Kroger facility was completed 11 years ago. The 65,000-square-foot Turlock facility will further deliver on Divert’s commitment to transform waste from retailers and other companies into carbon negative renewable energy, thereby preventing it from emitting harmful methane in landfills. The facility will also provide companies with data analytics, giving them the insights to take preventative steps to waste less and donate more food that is still edible.

The facility brings Divert closer to its plans to have 30 facilities across the United States within 100 miles of 80 percent of the US population in the next 8–10 years. The company currently manages about 0.5 percent of US wasted food from 5,400 food retail stores. Its goal is to grow that to 5 percent through its expansion plans. Once fully operational in 2024, the Turlock facility will be able to process 100,000 tons of wasted food a year. The facility will offset up to 23,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—the equivalent of taking nearly 5,000 gas-powered cars off the road each year. The facility’s renewable energy production will be enough to supply roughly 3,000 homes each year.

“The wasted food crisis is a major contributor to climate change and food insecurity. States and municipalities are on the front lines, under increasing pressure to ensure that their communities live in healthy, sustainable environments.” – Ryan Begin

States are increasingly implementing legislation to tackle climate change, including tax incentives, stricter laws for reprocessing wasted food, and stronger liability protection for food donations, as outlined in the federal Food Donation Improvement Act of 2022. In California specifically, the state’s SB 1383 law, passed in 2016, requires the diversion of wasted food from landfills through waste prevention or donation and encourages the use of anaerobic digestion to create renewable energy.

Ma told the crowd that she has been passionate about the food waste issue since she was a supervisor in San Francisco and had to deal with shrinking landfill space. She carried that passion into the California Legislature as a member there and is now doing what she can as State Treasurer.

In a pre-event statement, she said: “I am proud of the work my office and partners across California are doing to address climate change and meet the state’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals through green financing. The green bond issued through the California Public Financing Authority is one example of how California is leading on climate change through quality, long-term green infrastructure opportunities. We applaud Divert’s commitment to tackling our state’s wasted food crisis with the development of this new facility, making strides toward a stronger economy and a better-quality life for the people that we serve, now and into the future.”

“I am proud of the work my office and partners across California are doing to address climate change and meet the state’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals through green financing. The green bond issued through the California Public Financing Authority is one example of how California is leading on climate change through quality, long-term green infrastructure opportunities.” – Fiona Ma

Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, thanking Divert and all the other partners for bringing this project to her town. She said it will not only bring new jobs and economic growth to the region but make important strides in reducing the footprint of wasted food. During the event, a team from Second Harvest Food Bank created 60 boxes of food, which it planned to distribute to needy Turlock families. Krick noted that the food bank will be an ongoing partner of Divert, delivering usable food to those in need as part of the facility’s operation when it is up and running. Founded in 2007, Divert creates advanced technologies and sustainable infrastructure to eliminate wasted food. The company, which is headquartered in Massachusetts, provides an end-to-end solution that prevents waste by maximizing the freshness of food, recovers edible food to serve communities in need, and converts wasted food into renewable energy.

More jobs announced as Turlock’s new Amazon fulfillment center opens. How much do they pay?

The new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock opened Thursday morning with big smiles and news of more jobs.

The massive 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse was built from the ground up at Fulkerth Road and Fransil Lane over the last year and a half. The grand opening celebration included the announcement of some 500 more jobs than previously predicted to staff the facility once fully operational. Initially, the online retail giant said it planned to hire some 1,000 workers in Turlock, but now expects to employ 1,500. “This is huge!” said Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, who was among a handful of dignitaries and their representatives at the ribbon-cutting for the center. “It was just a dream that we get this area together and that we start to bring big businesses here, big opportunities for jobs. …. This will be a benefit for decades for our community.”

Turlock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gina Blom, left, and Yosemite Community College District Chancellor Henry Yong, Amazon Turlock Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez and Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak cut the ceremonial ribbon Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, to open the new fulfillment center on Fulkerth Road in Turlock, Calif.

The new facility, the first for Turlock and only the second in Stanislaus County from the e-commerce company, received its first shipment Sept. 25 and has been slowly ramping up production as it works to get fully staffed. The fulfillment center, which began construction in April 2021, had to push back its original projected opening date of “mid-2022” to late September. Like its smaller counterpart in Patterson, which opened in 2013, the new Turlock facility is a so-called nonsortable fulfillment center, meaning it stocks, picks, packs and ships large, bulk or otherwise unusually sized items.

Inside, the floor is filled with 40-foot-high rows that are being filled with everything from patio furniture to outdoor grills, mini-fridges and area rugs. Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez, a Modesto native turned Turlock resident who previously worked in a Tracy Amazon site, said the new center is only about 7% stocked. Inventory is expected to be at 30% by the holidays, with the facility stocked at full capacity by February. A worker sorts items inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif. Oct. 20, 2022.

Already, Amazon has hired hundreds of workers to begin filling its shifts. The facility operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has 12 shifts across its schedule. Hundreds of more openings are expected, with new workers joining daily, Ramirez said.

Starting salary for the new floor positions start at $18.75, or $39,000 a year for full-time workers. The Turlock starting wages are just shy of the new $19 average hourly wage the company announced in September that it was rolling out for most of its front-line warehouse and transportation workers across the country. But Amazon spokeswoman Natalie Banke said wages vary “city by city,” and the $19 was a national average, not the national minimum starting salary. The Turlock salary is the same as Patterson’s, which employs about 600 workers. A worker moves items Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif.

The company also plans to hire an additional 200 to 300 seasonal workers in Turlock, starting now, who will help with the holiday rush. Ramirez said he expects it to take six months to a year for the new Turlock center to be fully staffed. Banke said about 92% of employees so far live in Stanislaus County. On the warehouse floor, a small armada of red hydrogen-powered forklifts zip along rows and rows of 40-foot racks. Associates are lifted 30-plus feet into the air to stock and pick items, with others sorting and shipping on the floor of its two levels. Items then go from the warehouse directly to Amazon delivery vehicles or third-party package carriers for delivery.

A worker drives a power lift inside the new Amazon fulfillment center that recently opened in Turlock, Calif Oct. 20, 2022. “People are very excited about the opening,” said senior site safety manager Myranda St. John, a Modesto rsident who previously worked in one of the company’s Stockton facilities and has seen her commute time cut in half. “Amazon has provided a lot of opportunities for myself and for the larger community. I’ve been able to go from an hourly employee to a salaried employee in less than five years.”

In March of this year, Amazon announced its partnership with Turlock’s California State University, Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College for the company’s Career Choice program. Hourly employees at the new Turlock facility are eligible for free tuition at both institutions. Full- and part-time employees are eligible, but only full-time employees will have all their tuition paid (part-time workers receive half). The entrance to the warehouse floor inside the new Amazon fulfillment center in Turlock, Calif. is seen Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.

The new facility, like all Amazon distribution centers, is named after a nearby airport. The Turlock site is named MCE1 for the Merced Regional Airport, which is about 30 miles to the south. “We are very blessed being here in Turlock and we have had amazing response to our hiring and have had no constraints there at all,” Ramirez said. “We will continuously be on-boarding a few hundred associates throughout the remainder of the year.” Amazon Senior Operations Manager Steve Ramirez inside the new large and bulky item fulfillment center that has opened in Turlock, Calif., on Oct. 20, 2022.

Job seekers interested in applying for full-time, part-time or seasonal work at the Turlock Amazon facility can find open positions and applications online at Job seekers can also sign up for text alerts for upcoming Amazon jobs in the region. To sign up, text “AMAZONJOBS” to ” 77088 ,” and then you will receive a series of texts asking you to opt-in for jobs in your ZIP code.

Irvine farm technology company may set up operations center in Bakersfield

An ag-tech startup in Irvine is considering establishing operations in Bakersfield in coordination with city government. M8 Systems, founded by the executive credited with inventing cashier-less retail stores for Amazon, proposes to locally engineer, assemble, test and sell automated irrigation systems that would use sensors and control systems to help farmers use water more efficiently.

No agreement has been finalized to bring the company to Bakersfield, but founder and CEO Max Safai said he hopes to employ six people in the city by the end of this year. By the end of 2024, he said, nearly 20 M8 workers could be working locally — three-quarters or more of its workforce. He said the company’s headquarters would to Bakersfield. “We want to have a close relationship with the city of Bakersfield, and we also want to be where the action is in the Central Valley,” Safai said.

Director Paul M. Saldaña of Bakersfield’s Economic and Community Development Department said companies like M8 are “exactly the type of innovative companies that we’d like to see come to Bakersfield.” He pointed to a $150,000 deal the city recently struck to attract another tech startup, North Carolina battery company SineWatts Inc. “There are a number of innovative companies that we continue to have conversations with, and we hope … to see similar opportunities in the very near future,” Saldaña said. He said the city might offer a financial incentive to M8.

Safai said M8 started in March 2019 after avocado farmers he knows in San Diego County expressed concern about rising irrigation costs. After some tinkering, he performed two “proofs of concept” in his garage that demonstrated the viability of a system to measure water use precisely, detect leaks and then turn off valves as appropriate before issuing a digital alert that a problem has been found. The idea now is to combine irrigation-control equipment — new or already installed in ag fields — with satellite and drone imagery, weather information and cloud-data technology in what Safai called a new application of “smart ag.”

M8’s system would sense changing conditions, including potentially adverse events such as wind that could waste irrigation water, and make automated suggestions around the clock to save farmers money. Any water leaks would automatically result in pressure shutoffs to specific pipes, along with the transmission of text messages to nearby farmworkers. The system would take into account soil status, relative humidity and temperature readings.

The company’s biggest test yet is expected to take place during the next two weeks as M8 brings 23 San Diego County farmers online to test out the system. Safai said the company is also negotiating its first large investment of outside money. While orchards would benefit, Safai said the best application of the technology might be row crops such as the carrots grown in and around Kern. He noted the Central Valley produces revenues of about $17 billion per year, or about a quarter of the U.S. food supply. “This is a very big market for us,” he said.

It will be important to show M8’s customers the company is responsive to their concerns and near enough to do something about them quickly, Safai said. For that reason, he hopes to find a local home for not only product assembly and testing but also procurement, logistics and repairs ready within 24 hours. There will need to be local electrical engineering and mechanical engineering labs, as well as an area for working with fluid flow technology. A small presence would remain in Irvine to perform tasks such as software engineering, human resources management, some sales and finance, partly to serve customers in San Diego County. Eventually the company may lease its products to farmers, as a way of helping them fix their costs, but Safai said the initial plan is to sell the systems directly to farmers and charge them for the company’s data plan. Safai noted he has come to Bakersfield to meet with people about the proposal to set up a local operation. Once here, he found the people he met were “amazingly wonderful, motivated people.”