Press Room

Signed State Budget Delivers Millions for the Valley

Friday, June 28, 2019

Funding included for Career Technical Education, Safe Drinking Water, and Valley Fever

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) issued the following statement regarding Governor Newsom’s signing of the 2019-2020 state budget:

“Governor Newsom’s first state budget reinforces California’s commitment to supporting working families, small businesses, students, seniors and veterans.  This budget builds record reserves for a rainy day and pays off debt while doing more to shore up working families and tackle challenges of affordability and quality of life,” said Assemblymember Salas.  “This budget invests in the Central Valley by addressing the healthcare workforce shortage, allocating $2 million to support valley fever research and providing millions to address safe and affordable drinking water.  The budget also includes funding to help train, grow, and support our workforce and students by expanding workforce development and youth leadership programs.”

State Budget Includes:

  • $2 million to the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center to support valley fever research
  • $12.5 million General Fund one-time for safe drinking water in the Central Valley, including $2.5 million to bring communities like Arvin into compliance with safe drinking water standards
  • $705,000 for three Independent Living Centers (ILC), including ILC of Kern County
  • $40,000 for the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation
  • $1.1 million for planning of Bakersfield College Delano Center: Learning Resource Center Multi-Purpose Building
  • $1.6 million for planning of West Hills College Lemoore Instructional Center Phase 1
  • $12 million over three years for the Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative

 

The main budget bill – AB 74 – can be found here.

Valley Fever Funding

“We are grateful to Assemblymember Rudy Salas for authoring this legislation and bringing critical funding to Kern County – where it is needed the most.  As Medical Director for the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, I am honored to lead our clinical team as we continue our mission to increase education and awareness for the public, patients and health care providers; provide the best patient care available and promote research that includes epidemiology, clinical drug development, prevention, immunology and immunizations.  The $2 million in funding will directly help the patients we care for every day at the Valley Fever Institute.” – Royce Johnson, M.D., Medical Director of the Kern Medical Valley Fever Institute and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Kern Medical

“Every day at the Valley Fever Institute we care for patients fighting Valley Fever.  The $2 million will benefit countless people in Kern County and beyond.  We are grateful to our dedicated legislators for supporting this critical funding and working with us to ensure the health of our community.” – Russell V. Judd, CEO, Kern Medical

 

Dolores Huerta and Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center’s Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative (YFCEI)

“We are grateful that the legislature and the Governor have made it possible to expand the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center’s Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative (YFCEI) to reach more underserved youth throughout California, with a focus on youth engagement, youth empowerment and leadership development utilizing the philosophies of non-violence advocates.  The leadership training that the youth receive will be magnified tenfold as the youth take the lessons learned to address and resolve the many issues that they are confronted with in their respective communities.” – Dolores Huerta

This funding supports the YFCEI’s efforts to serve young people in 12 counties throughout California over the next three years.

 

Independent Living Centers of Kern County

“We want to express our gratitude and dedication to Assemblymember Salas and his staff for the work they have done to maintain equal base rate funding of all Independent Living Centers in CA.  These continued funds come directly to Kern County and stay in Kern County to support the needs of all people with disabilities.” – Jimmie Soto, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of Kern County

 

California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation

“The California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation is excited about this unique investment to further business development in the Central Valley.  We greatly appreciate Assemblyman Salas championing this effort, and look forward to the development of new and expanding businesses as a result of this program.” – Lance Lippincott, CEO and President of Kings County Economic Development Corporation

We anticipate additional funding for the Central Valley as the Governor signs the remaining budget trailer bills.

https://a32.asmdc.org/press-releases/20190628-signed-state-budget-delivers-millions-valley

Fresno State again ranks 3rd in U.S. News for graduate-rate performance

Courtesy of Fresno State News; by BoNhia Lee

For the third consecutive year, Fresno State has placed among the top three best public universities for graduate-rate performance in U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 Best College rankings issued today.

Fresno State scored third-highest among public national universities and was No. 4 overall in the national universities category, improving from the No. 5 spot last year.

The graduation-rate performance category uses the University’s actual six-year graduation rate compared to predicted performance based on admissions data, school financial resources, the proportion of federal financial aid recipients who are first-generation, math and science orientations and the proportion of undergraduates receiving Pell grants.

The first-generation variable is new for this year’s rankings and gives schools more credit for their graduation rates when accomplished.

“At Fresno State, we believe that talent exists in every household,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “These rankings show that, through educating and empowering our students to obtain an academic degree, we are unleashing this talent to prepare a new generation of bold leaders for the Central Valley, the state and beyond.”

Fresno State’s quality and affordable education also was reflected in other categories of the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

  • The University ranked No. 6 for having the least debt load at graduation among public national universities and No. 18 among all national universities. Forty-one percent of the students who graduated in 2019 will have an average debt of $15,772 compared to the national average student debt of $29,475.
  • Fresno State moved up to No. 101 in overall rankings for public universities compared to No. 112 last year. San Diego State University is the only other California State University campus ranked on the list at No. 68.
  • In the new social-mobility category measuring how well schools graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, meaning they come from low- and medium-income households, Fresno State ranked No. 27 ahead of San Diego State, which came in No. 66.

Fresno State’s reclassification as a Carnegie doctoral university in 2016 means it joined the top research universities in the nation in rankings produced by the magazine. Fresno State offers doctoral degrees in nursing, physical therapy and educational leadership.

U.S. News and World Report evaluates campuses on multiple factors for its overall national ranking. The magazine gives the most weight to graduation and retention rates followed by faculty resources, academic reputation, financial resources, student excellence and alumni giving.

This year, the number of ranked universities grew as a result of changes in the Carnegie classifications. A slew of regional universities joined the national rankings category increasing the field of competition.

In other rankings

The U.S. News and World Report rankings follows last month’s announcement of Fresno State as No. 24 in Washington Monthly’s annual nationwide college rankings. The Washington D.C.-based magazine calls attention to colleges that best serve the community ranking institutions on social mobility, research and service.

This is the fourth straight year Fresno State has ranked in Washington Monthly’s top 25. Fresno State was the only California State University campus selected alongside six Ivy League institutions, including top-ranked Stanford University; six University of California campuses; and MIT on the list.

The University also ranked No. 35 in MONEY Magazine’s 50 Best Public Colleges rankings for 2019. Fresno State was one of 12 California State University campuses included in the top 50.

Note: If you would like to share this story on your social media accounts, please link to the news story on FresnoStateNews.com.

New construction company reopens in Lemoore

  • Hinds Reopening
The Lemoore Chamber of Commerce, members from the Lemoore City Council and residents from the public attended Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

LEMOORE — Hinds Construction Services, Inc. celebrated its grand reopening during a ribbon cutting Thursday at its new location in Lemoore.

The construction company was contracted out of Visalia until the owners, Tanya and Robert Hinds, decided to move the business back to Kings County in July.

“When we first started in 2017, we worked out of our house,” Tanya Hinds said. “But then we didn’t renew our contract with Lowe’s (in Visalia) and decided to open up an office in Lemoore, where we have always lived.”

The company’s calendar has already started to fill up with kitchen and bathroom remodels, which is a popular project in the residential areas in Hanford and Lemoore, Tanya Hinds said.

Hinds Construction Services, Inc. is also working with Naval Air Station Lemoore and is maintaining the base housing.

“We are happy to be here and look forward to growing,” Tanya Hinds said. “We pride ourselves in our quality of work and are excited for the future.”

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

The Lemoore Chamber of Commerce hosted the ribbon cutting with Hinds Construction Services and a taco lunch was provided. Members of the Lemoore City Council were also present for the ceremony.

Hinds Construction Services, Inc. resides on 1500 Enterprise Dr., Suite 303, in Lemoore. They are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at (559) 924-2795.

CSUB geology department leading the pack


For students at the CSUB geology department, times have never been busier.

While they look at a wide variety of topics, much work is also being done studying things that have an impact on the everyday lives of people right here in the Central Valley.

Following the events in Ridgecrest, one of the obvious is earthquakes.

“How earthquakes have influenced the geomorphology of the valley, of particular areas. How those earthquakes initiate landslides. What’s happened in the past, and what can happen in the future,” Dr. Anthony Rathburn, the chair of department, said.

And the department’s hard work has certainly paid off.

Over the past few months, several geology students have won a series of prestigious scholarships and awards, and even been asked to speak at nationally acclaimed geological events.

For many of the students, it’s the teachers who make the difference.

“What I love is that they’re overly enthusiastic about geology. And that is what I want to learn about. And it just makes the students, and myself, excited,” Toni Ramirez, a graduate student, said.

But as far as Dr. Rathburn is concerned, it’s all just a part of the job.

“We have fantastic potential. And I view it as the department’s job, as my job to bring the potential out in those students to enable them to reach their goals.”

https://bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/csub-geology-department-leading-the-pack

Faraday hires former BMW exec as global CEO in restructuring

 

September 03, 2019 01:55 PM
ALEXA ST. JOHN  

Faraday Future has chosen industry veteran Carsten Breitfeld as its new global CEO to bolster the long cash-strapped startup in its efforts to secure funding and develop products.

Breitfeld assumes leadership of the California mobility company as it begins production of the ultraluxury FF 91 electric vehicle and will manage the final development of the FF 81 mass-market EV.

The announcement Tuesday comes just days after news of Faraday’s restructuring plan, which the company said began late last year.

Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting has stepped down as CEO to assume the role of chief product & user officer. Yueting founded Faraday Future in May 2014.

Breitfeld holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Hannover in Germany.

He spent 20 years at BMW, where he led the i8 vehicle program as group vice president. He also led engineering divisions for BMW within chassis development, powertrain development and corporate strategy.

Before joining Faraday Future, Breitfeld co-founded and was chairman and CEO of Chinese EV maker Byton. He also had a brief stint as CEO of Iconiq Motors this year.

“YT and I have known each other for a number of years and have discussed me joining the company in the past,” Breitfeld said in a statement. “I have been extremely impressed with the steady progress the company has made on the flagship FF 91.”

Faraday Future, which has ambitions to compete against Tesla Inc., said in a statement Tuesday that Breitfeld “will lead FF in developing industry-leading, forward-looking technology and products, enhancing organizational efficiencies and competencies, as well as accelerating ongoing fund-raising activities.”

Yueting will oversee artificial intelligence, product definition, user experience and the overall implementation of the Internet ecosystem model, according to the company. Yueting is establishing a debt repayment trust to repay his remaining guarantor debts to Faraday Future, according to the company.

“We are hopeful that our current and future employees will see the many benefits of our change of governance structure,” the company said in a statement last week regarding the restructuring.

The startup’s growth has been at a standstill amid changes in leadership and financial struggles.

Faraday Future was involved in a legal dispute over funding with its main investor, Evergrande Health Industry Group, the health care subsidiary of China’s second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group. The dispute was settled in 2018, but it stalled Faraday Future’s efforts to produce the FF 91.

The company was originally set to begin deliveries in the first half of 2019. Faraday aims to start production of the 1,050-hp FF 91 in Hanford, Calif., next year and follow that with its mass-market offering, the FF 81, in 2021, Bloomberg reported.

The resignations of Nick Sampson, one of the startup’s three co-founders, and Peter Savagian, senior vice president of technology and product development, came last year amid reports of financial woes that Sampson said were making the company “effectively insolvent.”

The startup has been working to secure funding as of this year. The9, a Shanghai online game developer and operator, and Faraday Future signed a deal in which The9 Ltd. agreed to invest up to $600 million in a partnership that will produce EVs to sell in China, Faraday Future said.

With the agreement, the startup will make contributions including its usage rights on a piece of land in China for electric car manufacturing. The startup said it also is seeking a global chairman.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

CSUB named 6th Best Bang for the Buck by Washington Monthly

Back to School
Students make their way across the Cal State Bakersfield campus during the first day of school Monday.

Cal State Bakersfield is a top choice among students looking for a quality education without spending a fortune on tuition — so much so that the university has been recognized as being among the West’s top 10 Best Bangs for the Buck.

CSUB ranked No. 6 in the category for the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings. The university also ranked No. 17 out of 200 for its graduate school.

“The Washington Monthly ranking is one that we’re particularly proud of because it’s for universities like ours that are mission-driven, that are working typically with students from the region that are coming to us for a hope for their future,” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said. “We’re happy we are able to really show off the great work that our faculty and staff are doing to support students who are largely first in their family to go to college.”

In order to keep the rankings in the future, Zelezny said her goal is to keep tuition and student fees down.

Washington Monthly said it focused on showing which colleges “do a good job promoting social mobility” and helping low-income and first-generation students with its Best Bang for the Buck ranking.

According to statistics provided by Washington Monthly, the net price of attendance for families below $75,000 income at CSUB is $5,119. Additionally, 77 percent of full-time undergraduates received need-based scholarship or grant aid during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Twelve other Cal State universities appear in the top 30 of the West rankings.

Getting into the top 20 for both cost and master’s degree categories could help CSUBboost enrollment and bring in a diverse group of students from all around California and the country.

“You’ll find we have a welcoming environment, personal touch, dedicated faculty and staff that will make sure you’re successful,” Zelezny said. “We’re proud of our programs, academics and athletics, we’re rising together and this is a university that’s on the map.”

Other California schools that made the top 10 for Best Bang for the Buck include Stanford University (No. 2), Cal State Stanislaus (No. 3), Cal State Los Angeles (No. 5), Cal State Northridge (No. 8) and Cal State Long Beach (No. 10). For other rankings, visit https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019college-guide.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/csub-named-th-best-bang-for-the-buck-by-washington/article_ad7b6336-c915-11e9-820b-e7ba301a43aa.html

Kern quickly rises to become California’s top hemp-producing county

As of Friday afternoon, the county’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office had registered 33 different entities planning to grow hemp on 76 sites comprising 6,864 acres, a county-wide total the agency said eclipses every other in the state.

With interest skyrocketing among local and out-of-town investors, there is some concern the boom in hemp cultivation could lead to a glut of material to produce the trendy cure-all cannabidiol, or CBD. But the plant itself is versatile enough that market participants are hopeful the crop is here to stay.

“I’d like to see this become a crop on your top-10 list in Kern County,” said Arvin-area hemp grower Kent Stenderup. The diversified farmer said he gets phone calls every week from people interested in contracting his company to grow the plant or show them how to do it themselves.

So many people have contacted county ag officials about their intentions of growing hemp locally that such inquiries now take about 80 percent of their time, said Cerise Montanio, deputy director of Kern’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

WIDE INTEREST

State records show Kern hemp registrations have been issued to companies with mailing addresses as far away as Encino. Companies with names like CA Hempire and Freedom Farms LLC have gotten approval to grow on various parcels concentrated in the Lamont and Arvin area.

Questions remain as to how well-rooted the plant is locally. Montanio said harvesting techniques remain experimental and that it’s still unclear how many of the hemp fields being grown now will meet the requirement that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, accounts for no more than about one-third of 1 percent of the plant’s chemistry.

“It’s a tricky little game,” she said, adding that any plant testing greater than that THC threshold must be destroyed.

HANDS-OFF APPROACH

One reason Kern has attracted so much interest, she said, is the county’s accommodating regulations. Other counties have caps on how much acreage may be used to produce hemp, while others ban cultivation of the plant altogether, she said. But not Kern.

“We don’t have a moratorium. We don’t have ordinances,” she said.  “We are allowing it.”

She and Stenderup expressed worries the surge of interest in CBD oil may quickly lead to over-planting. Stenderup said he hopes the situation doesn’t soon create a market “bubble.”

Even if the CBD market doesn’t need as much hemp as is being grown, though, Montanio said the plant’s strong fiber could prove useful for things like textiles, straws and even automobile parts.

ADDED BENEFITS

On the other hand, Kern’s openness to the crop may allow it to capitalize on another aspect of the CBD trend: oil processing.

The director of the county’s Planning and Natural Resources Department, Lorelei Oviatt, noted that hemp plants may be turned into oil within the county’s borders, but that this activity can only take place legally on land zoned for agricultural use. Once that’s done, however, the oil can be processed into creams or lotions on non-ag real estate.

She was optimistic hemp’s relatively low consumption of water would help Kern farmers weather upcoming restrictions on groundwater pumping. Plus, the need to extract oil from the crop is already bringing underused ag processing plants in the Arvin area back to life.

Here’s where Fresno State ranks on a list for colleges that best serve the country

 

Fresno State has once again been ranked in the top 25 universities in the country by Washington Monthly magazine.

The school has met that bar for four straight years, landing this year at No. 24 out of 395 institutions of higher education, according to the magazine.

Also on that list are six Ivy League schools, six University of California campuses, MIT and top-ranked Stanford University.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro said the school is proud to be recognized as a leading public university for expanding opportunities to diverse students and conducting beneficial research, according to a news release.

“Just as importantly, these rankings place a premium on public service, which transforms our surrounding communities, where more than 80% of our alumni choose to stay and work,” Castro said.

Washington Monthly uses criteria for what it calls “a different kind of college ranking,” focusing on colleges that best serve the country. Some of the highlights included:

▪ An increasing number of undergraduates have opportunities to work with faculty on research at Fresno State, according to the news release. A record $45 million in research grants and contracts were awarded to the university last year.

▪ Thousands of students, faculty and staff provided more than 1 million hours of volunteer service to the community every year for the past decade.

▪ Nearly 6,000 students, about 63% of whom are the first in their families to go to college, graduated from Fresno State in May. That’s the largest class in the school’s history.

Some of the schools on the list are wealthy and can provide low-income students financial aid and support, but that model is hard to replicate for many universities, the release said.

“Real improvement will mean following the example of institutions like (Fresno State), our 24th-ranked national university, which enrolls an unusually large number of low-income and first-generation students and helps them graduate into good-paying jobs,” the magazine said.

The university two weeks ago ranked No. 35 in Money Magazine’s top 50 “Best Public Colleges”list, which measures the affordability of nationally competitive institutions.

Fresno State enrolled about 23,622 students this fall and about 89% are from the Central Valley, according to numbers from the university. The school looks to open up admissions to about 1,000 more upper-division transfer students this spring.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article234392387.html

Merced points to thriving industrial base

 

Central Valley Business Times

August 23, 2019

  • Cites five firms expanding in Merced
  • “An expansion that is bringing jobs and revenue to the community”

The city of Merced is touting its industrial base, saying it is thriving.

“Our retail and commercial sector is doing well, along with our housing market, and so is our industrial side,” says City Manager Steve Carrigan. “The industrial side of Merced is undergoing an expansion that is bringing jobs and revenue to the community. We are getting construction jobs, and then permanent jobs for Merced.”

Merced officials point to the expansion of existing businesses and the addition of new industrial buildings, with the growth spread across a variety of markets.

“That’s a good indicator of the city’s economic vitality,” says Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz.

The companies are located throughout the city’s industrial zones. “We are seeing these expansions in several of our industrial parks across the southern section of the city,” says Ms. Dietz. “It’s not just concentrated in one area.”

In the case of Titan Metal Products, the expansion is doubling the size of its facilities. Titan Doors, 1891 Wardrobe Ave., makes stock and custom doors, door frames and assemblies. Some of the firm’s doors are fire and ballistic rated. Titan’s products were recently used in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

The existing Titan plant spreads over 18,725 square feet, and the company is adding another 19,000 square feet of space to the door and assembly area. Centurion Boats, 2047 Grogan Ave., has been a maker of high performance towboats since 1976, specializing in wake-surfing towboats. A division of Correct Craft, Centurion is headquartered in Merced and offers sevenmodels, along with the ability to custom build a boat.

The company is undergoing a 24,234 square foot shop and office expansion, putting in a 3,600 square foot development and engineering facility, along with a test tank. All of the growth of the facility increases theresearch and development capacity to the facility.

O’Keeffe Safti-First, 220 S. R St., has specialized in architectural glass and metal products for 75 years. Some of O’Keeffe’s custom skylights, ladders and aluminum building products are in the Stanford Medical Center, the Intel Campus and the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.

Safti-First is known for its fire-rated glass and framing systems, some of which are at the UC Davis campus, the U.S. Military Academy, West Point and Folsom Prison. The firm is adding a 30,651 square foot manufacturing facility plus a 7,764 square foot cold room to accommodate growing market demands.

Pacific Gas and Electric has expansion work going on at its service center and corporation yard located on the corner of Childs Avenue and Kibby Road. The utility is locating its regional management office at that site in a 15,400 square foot building, and installing a 9,100 square foot operations building. PG&E is also putting in a 23,500 square foot combination garage/warehouse at the site.

In addition to the existing plant expansions, developers are seeing a demand for more buildings that are ready for industrial tenants to move in, the city says. Lawler Excavation is constructing two new industrial buildings on Cessna Way in the city’s industrial park. The buildings, one 8,400 square feet and the other 7,500  square feet, could be used as warehouses or for other light industrial uses.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/801ee0ec-f1f1-4db3-a4ba-a329c2b00017.pdf

This community college in Stockton has been named one of the best in the country

 

SAN JOAQUIN DELTA COLLEGE

San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton was recently named the fourth best community college in the United States.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, analyzed 710 community colleges across the country on a variety of merits and found that the nearby school was the best in California.

Local colleges in the Los Rios Community College District made the list as well, with Folsom Lake College placing 118th overall and 18th in California, American River College placing 148th overall and 22nd in California, Sacramento City College placing 186th overall and 28th in California, Sierra College placing 253rd overall and 40th in California, and Cosumnes River College placing 397th overall and 60th in California.

WalletHub’s ranking is based on tuition costs – San Joaquin Delta College received praise for its affordability – educational outcomes and career outcomes.

The Stockton community college tied for third lowest in-state tuition along with American River College, Sacramento City College and Folsom Lake College.

San Joaquin Delta College’s enrollment fees for California residents are just $46 per unit, which adds up to $552 for a full academic load of 12 units.

The community college was beat out by State Technical College of Missouri in first place overall, Arkansas State University, Mountain Home in second place and Southern Arkansas University Tech in third.

These three colleges received higher marks from WalletHub in terms of educational outcomes, though still were given lower scores for cost, and the top two were given higher marks for career outcomes. San Joaquin Delta College was given a significantly better score for career outcomes than Southern Arkansas University Tech.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/california/article234221017.html