Category: Quality of Life

$30 million boutique hotel planned for Three Rivers

It was standing room only at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Wednesday evening, as more than 100 locals turned out to discuss the future of the small foothill community during a town hall meeting.

Much of the debate centered on a proposed 200-room, $30 million “luxury lodge” off Highway 198 and Old Three Rivers Road.

District 1 Supervisor Kuyler Crocker said the town hall meeting was intended to educate residents and hear their concerns.

“We are much closer to the starting line than the finish line here,” Crocker said of the proposed hotel. “Now is the opportunity to learn and give feedback.”

Dubbed Sequoia Resort and Spa in preliminary site plans, the boutique hotel would feature striking, earthen architecture and offer guests an experience directly inspired by the backdrop of Sequoia National Park.

Because the land is already zoned for hotel construction and abides by the Three River Community Plan, principal partner Guatam Patel could legally begin construction without public hearing.

However, Patel told the packed room he is committed to incorporating community feedback into the project’s design, having already sunk 2.5 years and more than $500,000 into finding an appropriate site.

“We are committed to having a local flair to this. That’s where modern hotel design is going,” he said. “Guests don’t want to sit trapped in their room for three nights. They want to go out and experience the local spots.”

The flair will cost you: Rooms at the resort are expected to run at least $300 a night, Patel said.

That was great news to at least one Three Rivers hotelier, who offers a comparatively humbler — and affordable — stay at the Sequoia Motel a mile up the road from the proposed resort.

“It’s not going to compete with us,” said Chris Schlossin, who opened the 12-room motel 23 years ago. “Three Rivers doesn’t have anything of that caliber. It would be a little glowing star on the map.”

Competition

For Schlossin, Airbnb is a much bigger threat to business.

Large groups of tourists rent out vacation homes on the app for rates at which local lodgings can’t compete. The county presented a draft short-term rental ordinance that Schlossin hopes will remedy the situation with occupancy limits on Airbnb homes.

Neither Airbnb or Sequoia Motel is likely to compete with the luxury project Patel envisions, however.

“It’s a high-end place. That’s something the county doesn’t have,” Schlossin said. “It’s encouraging that they’re reaching out to the community. You gotta give the man (Patel) credit for being a good neighbor.”

Patel committed to incorporating local businesses into the hotel’s operation, so long as they “meet a high operational standard,” including a restaurant and retail space. He hopes that the resort could be a draw during the off-season, benefiting local businesses.

“You only have three-to-four months to make your money here. If they could improve business during the shoulder months, that would be wonderful,” Schlossin said.

The bulk of the 102,000-square-foot project will be built offsite, so builders can erect the building in Three Rivers in a matter of days, minimizing disruption to the environment and neighbors, Patel said.

Housing for the hotel’s estimated 30 employees will be included with the project, so as not to further crunch Three River’s long-term rental and housing market.

He also addressed community concerns surrounding water and the area’s fickle water table.

“This is the water nobody else in the community wants, but that we will use and pay dearly to use,” Patel said, pointing to a state-of-the-art company the developer hopes to partner with to treat water and manage effluent.

Besides water, many residents were concerned about the possibility of a rumored incentive to build the $30 million hotel project in Tulare County.

Last year, the Sierra Star reported that Madera County supervisors cut Patel a deal to move ahead with a similar hotel project in Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park.

The incentive took the form of a 50% rebate on the hotel’s transient occupancy tax over 25 years. TOT is a tax levied on travelers who stay at a hotel for fewer than 30 days.

The rate varies by county. In Tulare County, the TOT is 10%.

Crocker said the county hadn’t settled on a number yet and discussions with developer Patel Group were still ongoing.

“I understand why (the county) would (offer Patel) a deal for an upscale development, but it’s still frustrating that other hotels have to pay the full tax. We didn’t get any breaks,” Schlossin said.

The supervisor pointed out that such arrangements were common and would benefit both the county and the developer, providing financial incentives to build while capturing tax revenue that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

“The TOT rebate is favorable to attract business and generate long-term economic activity and taxable commerce,” Crocker said.

Some at the town hall questioned whether that tax should be used to benefit only the Three Rivers community, rather than the county’s general fund.

The argument was a no-go for Crocker.

“While Three Rivers does generate more TOT tax, other county communities generate much more sales tax or property tax and we don’t give them special treatment,” Crocker said. “I’m not going to write a blank check to Three Rivers or any other county community.”

The supervisor pointed to a $400,000 restroom project and expansion of the Three Rivers Historical Museum slated to be completed by the of the year.

The project was paid for out of the county’s general fund, Crocker said.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/local/visalia/2019/07/26/30-million-boutique-hotel-planned-three-rivers-despite-concerns/1827892001/

The water park is coming, so are the jobs. Work under way at Manteca’s Great Wolf Lodge

 

Great Wolf Lodge is bringing a water park back to Manteca, CA. An update on the indoor water park resort and hotel project that is expected to bring 500 to 600 jobs to the Central Valley city.

Yes, the water slides are still coming. So is the hotel. Plus a family entertainment center. And restaurants. But before any of that arrives, expect between 500 and 600 jobs to come to Manteca.

A small-scale village in the form of the Great Wolf Lodge is rising in the Central Valley city just off Highway 120. A representative from a highly anticipated water park resort gave a public presentation at Manteca City Hall on Thursday evening to a packed crowd.

The 500-room, six-story structure is on track to open in June or July of 2020. Construction has been under way since groundbreaking last November. The structure looms large, visible from the freeway next to the Costco and Big League Dreams center.

Steven Jacobsen, vice president of domestic development at Great Wolf, updated the audience on the project’s progress and sought to reassure citizens that the resort would be a good and welcoming neighbor once it opens.

“We’re all about families. And we’re all about providing an opportunity for families to spend time together — quality time,” Jacobsen said. “We’re about creating an incredible experience so the average family can go with family and loved ones and have a great time.”

The new development will feature a connected hotel, indoor water park and family entertainment center. Jacobsen boasted of more than 50 activities “under one roof” at the resort. They include numerous water slides, wave pools, a lazy river, shopping, multiple dining options, bowling, arcades and even an interactive adventure game.

Great Wolf operates 17 resorts in North America, making it the largest indoor water park company on the continent. Besides its upcoming Manteca location, it has another set to open this fall near Phoenix, and one each planned for England and Mexico. The Midwest-founded and based company expects to see 8 million guests through its property next year.

But it was the Manteca project that was front and center Thursday night. The public presentation addressed some of the most pressing concerns about the project from area residents, including access to its lauded indoor water park. Shortly after the development was officially announced last August, some in the area complained the water park would only be open to hotel guests and leave locals high and dry.

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Family entertainment center under construction at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Manteca, Calif., Thursday, July 11, 2019. Andy Alfaro AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

Jacobsen reiterated the company’s reasons for its hotel guest-only policy for its water park — safety and overall park enjoyment — but also introduced a new day-pass pilot program the resort has rolled out recently. At other properties, the company is testing passes to allow non-hotel guests to use the water park based on occupancy levels.

“We don’t want you to stand in a Disney line at Great Wolf,” Jacobsen said.

The company is still evaluating the day-pass program, and prices are flexible based on dates and occupancy. Jacobsen wouldn’t give a price range for the passes, but a look at the July day-pass rate at the three closest Great Wolf resorts in Southern California, Washington and Colorado put the fee mid-week at $65-$80 per person and weekend rate at $90-$110 per person.

When compared to booking a hotel room, which has two days of water park access for all of the registered guests included in the rate plus free parking, Jacobsen told the crowd that for a family of four-plus, it typically pencils out better to rent a room instead of doing the day passes.

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Workers move a section of the water slide during construction at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Manteca, Calif., Thursday, July 11, 2019. Andy Alfaro AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

Jacobsen also couldn’t give a price range for the Manteca rooms, as they change depending on the day of the week, season and overall occupancy. But in Anaheim this month, rooms start at around $329.99 for a standard and $629 for a premium suite. The largest rooms in the resort will be able to sleep up to 12, and multiple different kinds of rooms and packages are available. Jacobsen also stressed that the Manteca site will not have minimum night stay requirements for hotel guests to use the park.

Still, for folks who don’t want to book a room, the lodge still has public areas that are accessible to non-hotel guests. Those include the restaurants and all of the family fun center, which will have an arcade, bowling alley, games and more.

And for those not looking to stay or play, the lodge could become their work as Jacobsen revealed the complex would hire between 500 to 600 full-time and part-time jobs. Positions will range from lifeguards to waitstaff, engineers to hotel clerks. Jacobsen said they are teaming with the City of Manteca to help publicize the positions.

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A rendering of the Great Wolf Lodge in Manteca which will include a 6-story, 500-room hotel, family entertainment center and 95,000 square-foot indoor waterpark. Gensler GREAT WOLF RESORT

There will be a job fair in the city about 30 to 45 days before its opening next summer. So job seekers should be on the lookout for information around April and May of next year. Jacobsen said the job fair would ensure that Manteca residents “got first crack” at employment.

The managerial positions should be hired 30 to 45 days before the site’s opening, and then the bulk of the remaining staff should come on board about two and a half weeks out. No other job descriptions, salary information or employment requirements have been released yet.

Jacobsen and city staff also addressed some logistical concerns from area residents, including traffic on Daniels Street. City Manager Tim Ogden assured attendees that the road, which currently stops at the Great Wolf construction site, would be extended to McKinley Avenue on the west side of the project. That work should be completed by next February, months before the opening.

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/biz-beat/article232523217.html

Fresno has some of the best farmers markets around. Here’s where to find them

 

One of the best things about Fresno? Its farmers markets.

Since we feed the nation with what we grow here, it’s no surprise we have some pretty awesome markets.

Sometimes walking through a Fresno farmers market is a sensual experience.

There’s so much to take in: Piles of glossy vegetables, new fruits you’ve never seen before and bundles of mint and basil so fragrant they deserve a vase in the middle of the dining room table.

Mid July is like Christmas when it comes fresh fruit. So many are in season: peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, figs, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe and more.

If you’re a baker, this is your chance to make something photo worthy.

But even in the dead of winter, farmers markets here carry a surprising amount of produce, like hearty dinosaur kale and rainbow chard.

Our farmers markets often carry things you can’t always find at the supermarket: Unusual varieties of pluots (a cross between apricots and plums), heirloom tomatoes with streaks of green and red, yellow raspberries, curly garlic scapes, taro root, and lately, lemon cucumbers – little round cukes that taste like their name.

Part of the fun is not being afraid to ask a farmer what something is or how to prepare it. Then you can impress your friends and family with new and different flavors.

Whichever farmers market you choose, bring lots of small bills and plastic bags.

Our list of markets below covers Fresno and Clovis, though there are certainly many more in outlying cities. Some are seasonal and some are year round. Most markets accept the state’s Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card or the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

Kaiser Permanente Fresno Farmers Market

When:From 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, March through November, starting at 9 a.m. from December through February.

Where: Fresno Medical Center, 7300 N. Fresno St.

Contact: (559) 448-4128.

Details: With all kinds of vegetables and fruit for sale, there are also baked goods, handmade soaps, and flowers. Food trucks and other vendors are there, including Spoon & Fork’s Filipino food, Raw Fresno and Ohana Pantry selling its acai bowls.

Manchester Center Farmers Market

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, year round.

Where: In the parking lot at Manchester Center, at Blackstone and Shields avenues.

Contact: (559) 360-1377.

Details: With lots of fruit and vegetable vendors, you’ll also find puppet performances for the kids and the Fresno County Bookmobile is there the first Friday of every month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lots of Mexican food vendors serve burritos, tacos, Mexican seafood dishes, fruit cups and aguas frescas.

The Market On Kern

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, from May to October.

Where: Kern Street, between M and N streets, in downtown Fresno.

Contact: downtownfresno.org or 559-490-9966 ext. 221.

Details: This seasonal market has live music or a DJ each week. It has vegetables, fruit, fresh-squeezed juices, honey and prepared foods like Kettle Corn, Casa de Tamales and vegan friendly Rappit Up!

Old Town Clovis Farmers Market on Fridays

When: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m Fridays, from May through September.

Where: On Pollasky Avenue, between Third and Seventh streets.

Contact: oldtownclovis.org or (559) 298-5774.

Details: This huge farmers market is as much about entertainment as it is about food. There is live music and lots of vendors selling all kinds of vegetables and fruit. Plus there locally made goods like soaps and garden items like succulents. Plenty of food trucks show up and you’ll also find shaved ice, and vendors like the Butternut Baking Co., which sells cookies and other baked goods.

Old Town Farmers Market on Saturdays

When: 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays year round.

Where: Pollasky between Fifth Street & Bullard Avenue.

Contact: oldtownclovis.org or (559) 298-5774.

Details: This is a year-round market that’s smaller than its Friday-night counterpart. It features plenty of fruit and vegetables, including strawberries, along with herbs, fresh-squeezed juices and fresh flowers. Prepared food is also for sale including tamales, baked goods and other snacks.

River Park Farmers Market on Tuesdays

When: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays year round. Once a month, the market celebrates one food, with quadruple the number of mobile food vendors that day and expanded hours from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. those days. The next one is “peach palooza” on Tuesday, July 23.

Where: River Park between Yoshino’s and H&M.

Contact: www.riverparkfm.com or (559) 994-9292.

Details: This market has grown substantially in recent years. In addition to local farmers selling their fruit and vegetables, you’ll also find live music, free bounce houses and handmade items. Several food trucks and vendors participate, like cupcake truck the Cupcake Route, Quesadilla Gorilla and Tako Korean BBQ.

River Park Farmers Market on Saturdays

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year round, Saturdays.

Where: River Park between Yoshino’s and H&M.

Contact: www.riverparkfm.com or (559) 994-9292.

Details: Started last year, the market has vendors selling fruit and vegetables, including Asian veggies, and nuts, jams and jellies. Expect prepared foods like fruit cups and carne asada tacos and elote (corn with cheese and chile powder) from Sanchez Corn.

The Farmers Market at Saint Rest Plaza

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the second Saturday of the month through October.

Where: Saint Rest Plaza, Elm and Reverend Chester Riggins avenues in south Fresno.

Contact: (559) 420-0760.

Details: The youngest farmers market around, this one at the newly constructed Saint Rest PlazaOoooby sells its organic produce and fruit, along with a farm called Peach on Earth selling stone fruit. A group of kids called the Sweet Potato Club is also selling its sweet potato goods, including milkshakes.

One or two food trucks are usually there and the market is looking for new vendors.

Tower Farmers Market

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, May through September.

Where: In the parking lot of Detention Billiards, 750 E. Olive Ave.

Contact: (559) 633-9895.

Details: Fruit and veggies are for sale, with other vendors selling their goods.

Valley Fresh Farmers Market at Valley’s Children’s Healthcare

When: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, year round.

Where: Valley Children’s Hospital, 9300 Valley Children’s Pl, Madera. Take the Children’s Blvd. exit from Highway 41.

Contact: www.facebook.com/ValleyFreshFM/ or (559) 994-9292.

Details: This market has veggies and fruit, but focuses more on prepared items, like honey, fresh-cut flowers, and food trucks. Expect to find vendors like Rita’s Italian IceThe Quirky Cafe and Roma’s Italian Street Cuisine.

The Vineyard Farmers Market

When: From 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays

Where: At 100 W. Shaw Ave., its on the northwest corner of Blackstone and Shaw avenues, tucked behind Eyeglass World.

Contact: https://vineyardfarmersmarket.com.

Details: One of the bigger markets around, this market has almost everything grown here sold by the farmers who grew it. That includes stone fruit-like peaches, plums and nectarines, all kinds of berries, artichokes, herbs, flowers, fresh-squeezed juices and greens. You’ll also find honey, jam, bread from La Boulangerie, knife sharpening and coffee available by the cup or the pound. Various food vendors attend the market too, including Casa de Tamales.

On The Road: Agritourism — discover the history of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

By Tim Viall, Special to The Record
Posted May 13, 2019

Residents of San Joaquin County live in, arguably, the most productive agricultural region in the world. But, as cities expand, farming and food production is pushed further each year into the countryside; many residents seldom think where that food on the table comes from, much less how it is harvested and produced.

To understand the agricultural underpinnings of our county, make your first stop the San Joaquin Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park south of Lodi. The museum story begins with an expanded Native Peoples Gallery, offering insight into the Native Americans who have been living in what is now San Joaquin County for more than 13,000 years.

The museum traces the Miwok- and Yokuts-speaking people, all with rich cultures and lifestyles. Native peoples here put up the greatest resistance to the Spanish-Mexican missions and fought battles with the largest army formed in Spanish-Mexican California. Videos bring to life the intricacies of traditional basket making, acorn preparation, deer hunting and native life.

An interactive circular display allows visitors to listen to recorded messages. In one recording, Glen Villa Jr. (Northern Miwok/Plains Miwok) tells about the First People and a traditional creation narrative. Another recording shares a traditional Yokuts story, told by Sylvia Ross (Chukchansi Yokuts), a third of the Indian freedom fighters led by Estanislao, for whom the Stanislaus River and county were named.

These exhibits work well with the other exhibits in the Erickson Building, and visitors can go in chronological order from the Native peoples who first inhabited the area, to an exhibit on the early trappers and the founding of French Camp, the first non-Indian community. Continue on to an exhibition on the early American settlers, then on to exhibits on the Gold Rush, a hands-on children’s gallery, and the adjacent Weber Gallery.

The Innovators of Agriculture exhibit features the development of intensive, irrigated agriculture in the county beginning around 1900. Six crops are the focus: dry beans, asparagus, cherries, walnuts, canning tomatoes and truck farming (growing of fruits and veggies, trucked to local markets). If you want insight into why our county is so ag-centric, start at this museum wonder! The museum is kid-friendly, with lots of “hands-on” options, and scores of huge tractors, harvesters and vintage farming equipment to wow even young visitors.

Expand your agri-history tour with a visit to the California Agricultural Museum in Woodland, north of Sacramento and just off Interstate 5. Gene Muhlenkamp, a docent since 1996, took two hours to show my friends and I through much of the museum. Its collection stems from that of the Heidrick Brothers, farmers who built a substantial farming empire west of Woodland beginning in the 1930s. Inventive, they often concocted their own machinery to solve farming challenges and began an extensive collection of vintage and noteworthy agri-machinery.

The museum offers a unique collection of tractors, artifacts and interactive exhibits telling the history of California agriculture. Implements date back to the Gold Rush era and follow California’s evolution from horse-drawn ag machinery to steam-driven and then on to fuel-powered machines. Wander the collection of wheeled and track-type harvesters, tractors, combines, trucks and photo galleries. You’ll even find a Ford Model T roadster converted to a farm tractor.

Museum items with a Stockton connection include an old Samson Sieve-Grip tractor, built in Stockton in the early 1900s, several huge Holt tracked-vehicles, built for the U.S. military in World War I to haul artillery pieces and take the place of horses, killed all too often in action. The huge Holt tractor, armored for wartime, has a number of dents in its armor from bullet strikes.

A monster-sized Best steamer seems almost too large to be true, dwarfing my friends who joined for the tour. A giant Holt harvester (made in Stockton), all of wood and timber with iron fittings, was once hauled through fields with a team of two dozen horses and mules, before steam power would replace the horses.

A display of vintage John Deere tractors, meticulously renovated, lines one long wall; down the center of the museum march a line of a dozen Caterpillar tractors, used both on the farm and in the construction industry. A midsized Fordson tractor, nicknamed the “Snow Devil,” is equipped with spiral-ribbed pontoons, used to navigate deep snows of Donner Pass to haul five tons of mail during winter’s harsh storms.

Museumgoers with kids will find a special play area designed to hearken back to simpler times when child’s play required imagination. Kids can play corn hole, and enjoy the carousel and pedal tractors. A team of docents will tour you through the 45,000-square-foot museum gallery, noting that each tractor, wagon or harvester all have their unique stories.

For more information: The California Agriculture Museum, 1958 Hays Lane, Woodland, (530) 666-9700, http://Californiaagmuseum.org, open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum, in Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi, http://sanjoaquinhistory.org, (209) 953-3460, open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Two new restaurants are offering Fresno favorites tri-tip and Armenian food in downtown

Two new restaurants fill Kern Street vacancies

BoxCar Cafe serving sandwiches and tri-tip for lunch and breakfast, opened in the spot vacated by CHARburger on the corner of Kern and L, while GG’s Food Factory will serve Mediterranean and Armenian food, next door at 2139 Kern St.

First came the tri-tip sandwiches. Soon, you’ll be able to get an Armenian favorite: a bread boat filled with a warm cheese and egg mixture.

These items are on the menu at two new restaurants opening on the same corner in downtown Fresno. Both are at the northwest corner of Kern and L streets, part of the Hotel Virginia building.

The first, BoxCar Cafe, opened about a month ago, shortly after its predecessor, CHARburger closed in late March. Keep reading for more about BoxCar.

MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

The newbie restaurant next door is GG’s Food Factory. It opens at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 9 at 2139 Kern St. It’s in the space that Tree of Life left behind when it moved north to 6640 N. Blackstone Ave.

The food here is Mediterranean, with some Armenian favorites and options for people who just want a hamburger or pizza.

That eggy, cheesy concoction? It’s called adjaruli khachapuri, though you can just say egg boat if that’s easier. It’s technically from Georgia (the country next door to Armenia), but is a common dish in Armenia, said Tigran Hovhannisyan, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Ripsime Oganyan.

He recommends tearing off a bit of that dough and dipping it in the warm gooey mixture.

Also on the menu: Plates of barbecued meat like pork ribs, cubes of lamb and chicken lula kabob served with rice pilaf. You can also get a hamburger and a lamb burger, salads and pizza.

A few other dishes on GG’s menu that you won’t find at many other Fresno restaurants? Lahmajoon (an Armenian flatbread smothered in ground beef) and potato pie (technically called piroshki). It looks like a roll, but it’s stuffed with herbed mashed potatoes and then deep fried for a crunchy bite.

If the name GG’s Food Factory sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the big red food truck of the same name around town. The same couple runs it and many of the dishes sold on the truck will be available at the restaurant.

They’re putting aside the truck for a while to focus on running the restaurant.

“That’s my dream,” Hovhannisyan said. “I’ve been cooking for a long time.”

He owned a restaurant in Armenia before coming to Fresno in 2000. After starting the food truck, customers started asking for something more.

“They keep asking about a restaurant, because they want a sit-down restaurant,” he said.

For the next month or so, GG’s will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For downtown diners looking for dinnertime options, don’t fret yet. The couple hopes to get there eventually and be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and for lunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.

But they’re also expecting a baby in about a month and between that and opening a new restaurant, they decided to start small and ramp up.

QUICK LUNCH

The BoxCar Cafe at 901 L St. is a quick place to grab lunch. It opened about a month ago.

Its lunch menu has just six options: A cheeseburger, veggie burger, tri-tip sandwich, grilled chicken club, a “ham stack” sandwich and a sourdough Joe made with bacon, Swiss and American cheese with grilled onions on sourdough bread.

It also serves breakfast quesadillas and breakfast sandwiches, though people are still discovering that it’s open for breakfast, said owner Donna Willis.

The restaurant doesn’t have a prominent sign yet, but look for the restaurant that’s right on the corner of Kern and L streets. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with breakfast items served until 10:30 a.m.

If the restaurant name BoxCar sounds familiar, it’s probably because you remember the little cafe painted to look like a boxcar on Hamilton Avenue. Most recently it was called Keith’s BoxCar Cafe & Barbecue, though it closed years ago.

Willis opened the first BoxCar on Hamilton before it went through a succession of owners.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article230092179.html

Change is happening in Fresno schools and the workplace


(Photo: JISC/Flickr)

Developing a strong workforce is critical to the success of our communities and the employment of everyone who wants to work. Figuring out how is crucial.

There is no better place to begin than within our school system. Students that go to schools where they are assigned project-based lessons learn far more than academics and technical skills. They learn to work as a team, how to hold people accountable, why diversity matters, and they develop vital social skills. These students go above and beyond because they don’t want to let their team down. As many of the projects involve real-world business or social problems, they learn what it feels like to make a difference.

Project-based learning is proving to be an effective path to developing a strong workforce and confident life-ready citizens. The good news is that this approach is taking root and spreading.

However, many educators are not prepared to teach this way. Classrooms are designed for students to learn sitting in rows with the “sage on the stage.” Learning to coach, working alongside practitioners from various workplaces, teaching on a team all require a change in mindset and new practices. What we hear from those teachers who have embraced these new practices is remarkable. Working on a team to achieve a meaningful purpose brings out the best in most people. It’s what makes companies, communities and classrooms the places we want to be.

This shift is not limited to the classroom. It is happening in workplaces too. Top-down leadership parallels the sage on the sage model. It is no longer effective. Change is too rapid. Facts don’t stay facts for long and data are overwhelming. Self-governing enterprises are the wave of the future.

Earlier this year, representatives of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance had a meeting with students and teachers at Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, an innovative high school in the Fresno Unified School District. They found the culture remarkable. It was clear that the students AND the teachers want to be there.

As part of the visit, students from Edison High School and Patino presented their projects.

Students from Patino were concerned about the health and well-being of their friends. They decided to put together a package of items to support them. They formed a company and named it Reborn, apt for their goals. Their excitement in forming their own business and filling a need were inspiring. An entrepreneurial mindset is contagious.

The students from Edison are proud “geeks.” Having the opportunity to focus on STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Math—they wanted to make sure younger students understood the opportunities. They started a nonprofit with this mission: “Students are told to push themselves, to better themselves in a global economy where success is no guarantee. We students must do this dogma justice: we study, learn, act, work and play with this maxim as we strive to become our best selves.” On our journey of self-improvement, however, many of us forget to bring up our community along the way.” Check out their website here. Clearly they already understand the importance of civic stewardship.

The Democracy Schools projects, facilitated by the Civic Learning Center, are chosen by students in grades 5, 8 and 11. For the past several years their choices were sobering—mental health, teen suicide, date rape, and other difficult topics. This year many of the topics are focused on preventing and de-escalating violence. Their solutions and commitment to executing them are a beacon of hope. Peers impact peers. Team-based projects can change the trajectory of our community both in the classroom and the workplace.

Our country was founded on the principle that we could govern ourselves if we were informed, enlightened and engaged. Our schools are starting to create the environment for this to happen.

Building a strong workforce is our common cause. Success means a whole community call-to-action to support our students by getting involved as advisors and mentors and offering them internships and externships.

An earlier version of this commentary ran in the Fresno Business Journal.

Deborah Nankivell is CEO of the Fresno Business Council.

http://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/change-is-happening-in-fresno-schools-and-the-workplace

Merced College receives $5 million gift. It’s the largest donation in school history

 

New Visalia museum planned for downtown historic district

Visalia was founded 167 years ago and is the oldest community in the San Joaquin Valley.

It’s surprising to some that the city doesn’t have a museum dedicated to its rich history. There is, of course, a museum at Mooney Grove Park but the focus at the museum is the Tulare County history and farm labor.

Visalia Heritage Inc. may have an answer.

Property owners Ernie and Liss Crotty may convert an 1883-built home in the historic district of the city into a public museum for Visalia.

President of Visalia Heritage and local architect Michael Kreps says the home the Crotty’s own at 617 N. Encina Ave., a Queen Anne-style Victorian, has been well preserved and “is in very good shape.”

This week, after several months of meetings, Ernie Crotty says they will meet with city planning staff for the first time to gauge what hurdles they may expect if the idea moves forward.

Since then, Crotty has made it his life’s work to restore the home.

Now over 70, Ernie says he wonders about the home’s future and has talked to friends about the idea of doing something like what preservationists have accomplished with the old Fox Theater through community effort.

“I did not want to think about someone coming along buying it and turning it into an Airbnb or something,” he said.

Crotty says he would love to simply donate the home for a museum but say he wants to move nearby and that will cost money.

“My general idea I have talked about is to donate about half the value and the furnishings and hope with a group effort, we can raise the funds and come up with enough interest to move forward,” he said.

He wants to open the home to the public and offer tours.

“It was originally the Stevens house (A Visalia merchant before the turn of the century) and it is one of the oldest in Visalia,” Kreps said.

The house had the town’s first gas generator to light up the place before there was electricity.

Visalia Heritage and the Crottys already have a collection of items that could be put on display and with word spreading about such a museum dedicated to Visalia history, there would be plenty more.

Well-known Visalia historian Terry Ommen is on board with the project as well.

The museum would be located in the heart of the 50 home historic district just north of Downtown Visalia, a few blocks north of Fox Theater. The Visalia Chamber of Commerce offers a self-guided walking tour of the district with descriptions of 29 homes in the area.

The district was established in 1979.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2019/03/12/new-visalia-museum-planned-downtown-historic-district/3139887002/?utm_source=visaliatimesdelta-Daily%20Briefing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_briefing&utm_term=list_article_thumb

Valley Children’s Hospital to open new Modesto medical center

• Official opening comes Friday
• A 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical center

Valley Children’s Hospital officially opens its new Modesto medical center on Pelandale Road on Friday. The Specialty Care Center, a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-theart medical center, is expected to bring more pediatric specialists closer to families who need care. Valley Children’s will continue to provide expert care in several service lines, including pediatric cardiology, pediatric neurology, pediatric gastroenterology and pediatric orthopaedics.

Pelandale Specialty Care Center will help Valley Children’s meet the needs of families in Stanislaus County and nearby communities, and keep them closer to home and to their own primary care physicians.

Last year, providers at Valley Children’s former outpatient center saw more than 12,000 visits. That number is expected to grow
to more than 27,500 within the next decade.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/6149bd34-6f27-464e-8a22-0c1f1f9b73f1.pdfhttps://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/6149bd34-6f27-464e-8a22-0c1f1f9b73f1.pdf

Visalia has the most affordable homes in the state, says study

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 04:51PM

Visalia has the most affordable homes in the state, according to a new study.

HomeArea.com looked at 142 California cities with a population of 60,000 or more, calculating what’s called the “median multiple” for each one.

The median multiple is the ratio of the median house price by the median gross household income.

Visalia’s median multiple is a 3.6, putting it at the top of the list for most affordable homes in the state.

Other Valley cities in the top 10 include Clovis and Bakersfield.

At the very bottom? The City of Newport Beach, whose median multiple is nearly three times higher than Visalia’s.