Press Room

You can get a job at Caltrans in two days. It still has 1,100 openings.

 

 

By Adam Ashton

September 12, 2018 05:15 AM

 

Forget the stereotypes of California state government’s painfully slow process for hiring new workers.

This summer, it was possible to walk into a Caltrans hiring fair and leave with a job offer.

Motivated by a wave of retirements and an urgency to fill new positions created by the state’s gas tax increase, Caltrans devised a bureaucracy-defying human resources program that let it bring on hundreds of new employees at a time during hiring events. Almost 600 people have joined the department through those two-day job fairs.

“It was a very quick turnaround,” said Andy Chou, 29, a new Caltrans structural engineer who went to a hiring fair at Sacramento State in May had a job offer within days. He started work last month. “I was definitely surprised by” the speed of the department’s hiring.

There’s more good news if you know someone looking for a job – Caltrans still has another 1,100 vacancies.

The rush to hire comes mainly from Senate Bill 1, the 10-year gas tax and vehicle fee increases the Legislature adopted in 2017 to fund a decade’s worth of transportation projects.

Voters in November will see a bid to repeal the tax on the ballot which would jeopardize funding. So far, unions, contractors and local governments working to defend SB 1 have raised more than $26 million to defeat the repeal. Groups that want to repeal the tax have raised about $2.5 million.

Caltrans is moving forward as if the repeal initiative would fail, and is filling jobs at a fast clip. The state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June sets Caltrans on track to add 1,150 new positions over the next 11 months, up from 19,109 last year.

“We are making a dent,” said Michelle Tucker, the department’s human resources director. “I’m really pleased with the innovative hiring techniques we’ve done this summer.”

California’s web site for applying for state jobs – jobs.ca.gov – has been redesigned to guide applicants through the hiring process.

It’s racing to add staff in a hot economy in which other engineering firms and local governments also are bulking up.

“They need design staff to deliver state highway projects,” said Ted Toppin, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government. “That’s what Californians expect. Right now they’re competing with other state and local departments and the private sector for engineers, so the need to on-board them is real or they’re going to lose them.”

Caltrans had a long-approaching retirement wave, especially among its engineering ranks. In 2016, the average age of the state’s civil engineers was 51, and 52 among electrical engineers.

Meanwhile, the Brown administration shrank the headcount at Caltrans over much of the past decade. The department had 10,143 employees in the division that plans road projects in 2013. That number shrank to about 7,000 two years ago. It’s expected to grow again to 8,700 by next year.

“The department did not hire engineers and related staff for over 10 years,” Toppin said. “From 2007 to 2017 they sort of shed 3,500 positions,” he said. “Year after year, it was no replacement of folks who retired, so they’re an older workforce.”

PECG’s three-year contract that expired in July also did not give engineers a reason to stay. Brown did not commit to a raise this year when his administration negotiated the contract with the union in 2015.

Between July 2017 and July 2018, 922 Caltrans employees retired.

PECG’s new contract includes some incentives that would keep longtime engineers in the workforce developing projects funded by the gas tax increase, including an immediate 4.5 percent raise and an escalating seniority differential that rises to an extra 5.5 percent for engineers with 23 years of experience at Caltrans by 2021.

Caltrans crafted four rapid-hiring events it held this year with the state human resources department. They allowed people to apply for jobs in person, be interviewed by panels of managers, have their qualifications reviewed and references checked within two days. If they passed, they’d walk out with a conditional job offer.

“We’re able to do hundreds of interviews in a day,” Tucker said.

Usually, landing a state job takes much longer. The only other state departments that regularly use rapid-hiring events are the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Prison Industry Authority, Cal HR spokesman Andrew LaMar said.

Jeff Wiley, Caltrans’ assistant division chief for project management, said the department has been attracting engineers with a range of experience, from new graduates to veterans from other states.

The department and PECG negotiated a compromise to get more experienced engineers working on projects as soon as possible. The agreement lets Caltrans slightly increase the amount of work it sends to private contractors, although the department has not yet exceeded its traditional outsourcing cap.

“We’ve got some plans out for making those goals,” Wiley said.

Toppin said the agreement was reasonable considering the department’s “sudden increase in revenue” and shortage of experienced engineering staff.

 

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article218170925.html#storylink=cpy

Faraday Future announces mass hiring

 

JULISSA ZAVALA

Sep 12, 2018

HANFORD — Faraday Future officials welcomed newly hired employees Tuesday at its Hanford factory and have announced even more hiring efforts.

The announcement comes just in time, as the first pre-production FF 91 luxury electronic vehicle was recently built at the Hanford facility, which is located in Hanford’s Industrial Park.

Vince Nguyen, director of human resources and recruiting – product and technology at Faraday Future, said the company has hired around 100 employees to work in the Hanford facility and ultimately hopes to employ around 1,000 people by mid-2019.

 

Currently, Nguyen said a majority of the new hires have original equipment manufacturer (OEM) backgrounds and the company is looking for talented individuals who have experience in that area, especially locals.

“There really are a lot of genuine listings for Hanford on the corporate [website], so it’s not just a small part, there’s significant hiring going on right now,” said Matt Davis, senior manager, product communications.

Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle attended the announcement and spoke with the employees. When he asked the group of about 50 people how many of them had grown up in the Valley, a majority of them raised their hands.

Pyle told them he never would have expected a company like Faraday Future to locate in the Central Valley.

 

“We’ve got some big businesses here in the Valley, but I can tell you none of them generate the interest in Hanford that you have,” Pyle said. “You have not put Hanford on the map, you have put us on the globe.”

Pyle said the most exciting aspect is that this is only the first wave of employees to step into this new venture and he can’t wait for more people to jump at the opportunity.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/faraday-future-announces-mass-hiring/article_4314db09-7e81-5a85-8ceb-37d08404c14a.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

Stronger job market seen for California, Central Valley to Lead

Central Valley Business Times

Sept. 11, 2018

•  Central Valley’s major markets expected to see some job growth

•  Stockton, Sacramento to outpace national growth rate

California employers expect to hire at a solid pace during the fourth quarter, according to surveys by the staffing firm ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN).

Among the state’s employers surveyed, 25 percent plan to hire more workers from October through December. This number is offset by the 4 percent that plan to reduce payrolls, while 70 percent of employers expect to maintain current staff levels and 1 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans. This yields a net employment outlook of 21 percent.

“Employers in the California anticipate a stronger hiring pace compared to Q3 2018 when the net employment outlook was 18 percent,” says ManpowerGroup spokesman Frank Armendariz. “At this time last year, employers expected remain stable hiring activity when the outlook was 20 percent.”

Manpower’s net employment outlook is derived by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers expecting a decrease in hiring activity.

Here are Manpower’s outlooks for the Central Valley’s four largest markets, from south to north:

•  Bakersfield Bakersfield employers expect to hire at a “respectable” pace during Q4, says ManpowerGroup.

Among employers surveyed, 21 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December. This number is

offset by the 5 percent that plan to reduce payrolls, while 72 percent of employers expect to maintain current staff levels and 2 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans. This yields a net employment outlook of 16 percent.

“Employers in the Bakersfield MSA anticipate a stonger hiring pace compared to Q3 2018 when the net employment outlook was 13 percent,” says Mr. Armendariz. “At this time last year, employers expected less hiring activity when the outlook was 20 percent.”

•  Fresno Fresno area employers expect to hire at a positive pace during the Fourth Quarter, says Manpower.

Among employers surveyed, 17 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December. This number is offset by the 3 percent that plan to reduce payrolls, while 80 percent of employers expect to maintain current staff levels and 0 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans. This

yields a net Employment Outlook of 14 percent.

“Employers in the Fresno MSA anticipate a steady hiring pace compared to Q3 2018 when the net employment outlook was 15 percent,” says Mr. Armendariz. “At this time last year, employers expected similar hiring activity when the outlook was 15 percent.”

•  Stockton Stockton-Lodi MSA employers expect to hire at an active pace during Quarter 4 2018, according to ManpowerGroup.

Among employers surveyed, 26 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December. This number is offset by the 2 percent that plan to reduce payrolls, while 71 percent of employers expect to maintain current staff levels and 1 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans. This yields a net employment outlook of 24 percent.

“Employers in the Stockton-Lodi MSA anticipate a stronger

hiring pace compared to Q3 2018 when the net employment outlook was 19 percent,” says ManpowerGroup spokeswoman Danielle Switalski. “At this time last year, employers expected similar hiring activity when the Outlook was 26 percent.”

•  Sacramento Employers in the metropolitan Sacramento area expect to hire at a solid pace during Quarter 4 2018, according to Manpower.

Among employers surveyed, 29 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December. This number is offset by the 6 percent that plan to reduce payrolls, while 64 percent of employers expect to maintain current staff levels and 1 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans. This yields a net employment outlook of 23 percent.

“Employers in the Sacramento MSA anticipate a steady hiring pace compared to Q3 2018 when the net employment outlook was 24 percent,” says Mr. Armendariz. “At this time last year, employers expected more hiring activity when the Outlook was

19 percent.”

Statewide, for the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in the following job categories: construction; durable goods manufacturing; nondurable goods manufacturing; transportation & utilities; wholesale & retail trade; information; financial activities; professional & business services; education & health services; leisure & hospitality; other services and government.

Of the more than 11,500 employers surveyed in the United States, 22 percent expect to add to their workforces and 5 percent expect a decline in their payrolls during Quarter 4 2018. Seventy- one percent of employers anticipate making no change to staff levels and the remaining 2 percent of employers are undecided about their hiring plans.

When seasonal variations are removed from the data, the net employment outlook is +19 percent which is relatively stable compared to the Quarter 3 2018 Outlook, +18 percent.

About the surveys The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforces during the next quarter. The United States results are based on interviews with 11,500+ employers located in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which includes the largest 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas based on the number of business establishments. The mix of industries within the survey follows the North American Industry Classification System Supersectors and is structured to be representative of the U.S. economy.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/24b45bff-da33-42c3-8406-d3d2d7ee50ea.pdf

Could autonomous car testing be the rebirth of Castle Airport in Atwater?

September 03, 2018 12:22 PM

Component Coffee Lab brings big city flair, community values to Downtown Visalia

University researchers say coffee can help people achieve better scores on math tests, if they do this with it. Buzz60

Jonathon Anderson and Greg Amend had one mission opening Component Coffee Lab in Downtown Visalia: “To pour the best cup of coffee in town.”

The jury is still out on whether the business partners have succeeded, but if their consistently full parking lot and seating area — a behemoth 1,500 square foot industrial space on 513 E. Center St. (just off of Santa Fe Street) — is any indication, the Visalia natives are doing something right. (Component also has an entrance from Main Street through its patio.)

Amend and Anderson bring over a decade of combined coffee experience to Visalia. Anderson spent years as a Starbucks barista, while Amend won accolades as one of Fresno’s leading coffee luminaries with his Slow Train roasting operation.

They’re joined by fellow co-owners Miguel and Mikayla Reyes, who started Quesadilla Gorilla, another fixture of downtown dining.

Together, the four are serving specialty coffee and eats the likes of which Visalia has not yet seen, with an inviting atmosphere to match.

The shop’s signature drink, for instance, is an espresso tonic: Topo Chico topped with a lightly roasted Peruvian espresso shot. It’s a bold but simple concoction that’s particularly refreshing on a sweltering summer day.

Component have all the traditional bases covered, too, with Americanos, sweet lattes, fresh drip coffee, and an assortment of teas.

“We source high quality beans from sustainably operated farms, who are paying their workers above-average wages, throughout Central and South America,” Amend said.

This concept applies to all of Component’s ingredients. Their eggs and fruit come from the farmers market, for example, and their milk is delivered fresh from Tulare’s Top O’ The Morn Farms.

Amend’s roasting expertise is matched by the establishment’s cutting edge espresso machine, the Slayer 17. This Seattle-built beauty allows Component baristas unprecedented control over critical brewing variables such as extraction, pressure, time, and weight.

Geekery aside, the result is a smooth cup of joe that even those who don’t identify as coffee snobs will appreciate, for prices comparable to big chains like Starbucks.

Prior to Component’s late-June grand opening at the Center Street location, Anderson and Amend could be seen carting their fancy Slayer 17 espresso machine around the Downtown Visalia Farmers Market, serving drinks to curious shoppers.

“We wanted to build hype and give people in the community a chance to see what we were all about,” Anderson said .

The gambit paid off.

Amend and Anderson were unprepared for the success Component’s physical location saw right out of the gate. They attribute their success to their “focus on executing one idea very well.”

This single-minded devotion applies to the kitchen, as well. Miguel and Mikayla translate their monomania from quesadillas to donuts with predictably delicious results.

“We had a layover in Portland last year, so we chanced a visit to Voodoo Donuts, and they were amazing,” Miguel said. “We realized Visalia had no place like it.”

In February, the couple returned to Portland for what sounds like a dream vacation: A donut tour of the city. Upon returning, however, they went to work in the kitchen to perfect a variety of eclectic and classic flavors.

Miguel can arrive as early as 4 a.m. on busier days to prepare an assortment of donuts, including current favorites strawberry and raspberry mint.

Beginning in September, Component will offer a seasonal donut menu that changes with each month. Patrons can look forward to a PB&J donut with house-made plum jam — just in time for the back-to-school crowd.

Component also offers a weekend brunch menu from 8 a.m.to 11 a.m. featuring staples  with a unique twist.

The Reyes’ take on a breakfast burrito, for example, features sunny-side up eggs instead of scrambled and a chipotle sour cream. Their Nashville-inflected fried chicken and waffles, meanwhile, comes served in a waffle cone with maple whiskey syrup drizzled on top.

The four co-owners met through attending Radiant Church just next door to Component. Though they barely knew each other at the time, Anderson had attended the Reyes’ wedding five years ago. The party favors? Amend’s coffee beans.

This week, the Reyeses celebrate both the birth of a new child and a successful second Downtown Visalia venture.

“It’s all come full circle,” Miguel said. “We couldn’t be happier.”

Anderson hopes Component can be a hub for the community, similar to the role the church has played in his own life. He envisions people of all faiths — or none — united around a great cup of coffee.

It’s a vision that seems fully realized only two months out from Component’s launch: snuggling couples and frazzled students share tables with Kaweah Hospital employees and retired schoolteachers; oil paintings from staff and community members line the interior walls; music from a personal record collection fills the room.

“I don’t just come for the coffee,” said Danny Sciacqua, a recently retired Porterville College professor and Component regular.”I’m here for the atmosphere, the ambiance and the staff, who are all polite and fun to talk with”

“But the delicious donut holes and pour over don’t hurt, either.”

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/life/food/2018/08/29/component-coffee-lab-brings-big-city-flare-downtown-visalia/1114176002/

Now that Amazon and Ulta are open, what jobs will be coming to the Valley?

August 31, 2018 08:49 AM

Burger boom hits Visalia, Tulare

In America, the hamburger is king.

In Tulare County, that has never been more true.

New burger joints have been popping up across Visalia and Tulare — and these aren’t just your run-of-the-mill burgers either.

Restaurants have been turning the burger on its side and residents are up for the change.

Here are some new places to grab a quick burger around town.

Burgerim

New spot Burgerim, located in the Kohl’s shopping center, has 11 different patty options and dozens of ways to customize your burger.

The menu includes several types of beef, turkey, salmon, chicken and lamb patties. For those who don’t eat meat, the restaurant also offers veggie and falafel burgers.

Rose Oganesyan, who owns the Visalia location, said she fell in love with the restaurant when she first tried it in Los Angeles.

Her favorite? The garlic aioli fries.

The made-to-order, 3-ounce burgers are bigger than a slider but smaller than what American tastebuds are used to.

Perfect for those concerned with portion control, Oganesyan said.

The store also offers family and party boxes for larger families or events and beer and wine.

Don’t want to wait in line? Soon, the Visalia restaurant will also offer Uber Eats delivery services.

Other than burgers, customer favorites include the milkshakes and chicken wings, Oganesyan said.

“Customers say they like the atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone says they like it because it’s something different in Visalia.”

The store is one of only 40 open in the United States. The chain restaurant was started in Israel about seven years ago and made its way to America in 2015, Oganesyan said.

More than 270 locations are in the works across the country, including just a few miles down the road in Tulare.

Oganesyan is currently working to open a Burgerim next to Bravo Farms at the Tulare Outlets.

For those who are overwhelmed with the menu, Oganesyan said to just ask for help.

“The first time may be a challenge, but we will try to help you and offer suggestions,” she added. “We’re new to town, just give us a chance.”

Wimpy’s to land in Visalia

Wimpy’s Hamburger, one of Tulare’s most beloved eateries, has set its eyes on downtown Visalia.

The burger joint will take over the former Gumbo Express on Court Street.

The restaurant’s owners plan to refurbish the location and expect to serve Visalians their tasty fries and burgers by next year, co-owner Willy Espinoza said.

Opening the location in Visalia will bring an additional choice for those who frequent the vibrant downtown scene and will fill the void Checkers left when it closed, Espinoza said.

“We have always liked downtown Visalia,” he said. “It’s a place where there are a lot of people walking around. There’s nothing like this in the area.”

With the downtown Visalia location, Wimpy’s Hamburger will have three locations. A location in Dinuba opened in December.

More meat in downtown

Well-known developer JR Shannon is leasing a former antique store at 531 E. Main to a local burger maker. Kingsburg’s Stacked Bar and Grill will be offering their “humungous” burgers here this summer after the 5,500 square-foot building is remodeled.

The restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner and late night snacks.

More: Rumor has it Visalia is booming with new restaurants

Todd Asajian and Noah Murguia, the owners of Stacked just celebrated their 1 year anniversary at their downtown Kingsburg location. Asajian also owns and operates multiple Deli Delicious stores in Visalia and Kingsburg.

Like its neighbor, BarrelHouse Brewing, Stacked will feature a backyard patio.

“This is the third new venture I am doing along East Main since the new brewery district was formed” said Shannon.

Burger of options in Tulare

Tulare burger connoisseurs will have plenty of options to grub on in the next few months.

Two new burger joints will be opening their doors to Tulare residents: The Habit Burger and Wayback Burger

Construction is well underway for The Habit Burger located on Prosperity Avenue.

The burger restaurant, which also has a location in Visalia, took over the spot that long-housed fast food restaurant Long John Silvers.

Not too far from The Habit Burger, construction crews are also hard at work to open Wayback Burger along Tulare Avenue near Tulare Union High School.

City officials foresee the burger joint being a hot spot for students.

“I think it’s a lot better to have a hamburger restaurant so close to the high school,” said Jeff Killion, Tulare planning commission chairman. “I am glad to see that change.”

Tulare Associate Planner Steven Sopp said Wayback Burger will only take about half of the current 5,300 square-foot empty building.

Also, Wayback Burger can be a place millennials consider their third spot, what’s described in marketing as the place to go after home and work.

“Kids have money to spend. If they want to patronize the downtown businesses, it’s good for business,” he said. “This is going to be an upscale meeting place. It is going to be a different type of atmosphere.”

According to its website, Wayback Burger was founded in 1991 in Newark, DE. Currently, the hamburger chain has 142 locations in 28 states, including restaurants in Firebaugh and Tracy in the Central Valley.

Wayback Burger also has locations in Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

Hometown favorites

While trying new things is great, sometimes a good old-fashioned burger from your favorite hometown hangout is all you need.

Here are some of Tulare County’s best burger places, according to readers.

  • Woodlake Drive Inn, Woodlake
  • In-N-Out, Visalia
  • Mama K’s Diner, Visalia
  • Buns and Torts, Visalia
  • Rainbow Drive-In, Farmersville
  • Docs Drive-In, Visalia
  • Buzz’s Drive Inn, Goshen
  • Juicy Burger, Porterville
  • Sno-White Drive-In, Tulare
  • Pita Kabob, Visalia
  • Good Times Cafe, Visalia
  • Martha’s Mexican Food, Orosi.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/entertainment/dining/2018/08/30/burger-boom-hits-visalia-tulare/882303002/

Where can you find self-driving cars?

Car fuel from trees? Cutting-edge plant coming to Riverbank

BY GARTH STAPLEY

June 23, 2018 03:42 PM

Sometime next year, a first-of-its-kind biofuel plant three miles north of Modesto will begin turning old almond and walnut trees into transportation fuel.

The intriguing process should keep growers from burning millions of tons of orchard waste, spewing unhealthy smoke into Valley air. That wood instead would be transformed into cellulosic ethanol, a superclean liquid that’s mixed with gasoline and goes into our vehicle gas tanks.

Is it safe? And will there be new jobs?

Yes and yes, says Aemetis Inc., the Cupertino-based company willing to take a chance on Riverbank, and on new technology.

The future plant will need about 40 workers when it joins 38 other businesses at the former army ammo plant southeast of town, now known as the Riverbank Industrial Complex. About 1,000 other people will get indirect jobs trucking orchard waste to the Aemetis plant, trucking away low-carbon cellulosic ethanol, maintaining trucking fleets, and related services.

“It is a significant, meaningful impact on the community,” said Andy Foster, president of the firm’s renewable fuels division.

Aemetis has a track record in this area, having operated a biofuel plant 14 miles down the road in Keyes since 2011. The Keyes plant uses corn to make conventional ethanol, while the Riverbank plant will consume nut shells and almond, walnut and pistachio trees, saving them from landfills or from being burned in fields.

“Cellulosic ethanol is thought to be better for the environment than corn ethanol, as they make (cellulosic) ethanol from woody waste rather than growing corn just to make into ethanol,” said Jaime Holt, spokeswoman for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Experts calculate benefits with complex formulas taking into account everything needed to grow and harvest whatever is used to make transportation fuel. The so-called carbon intensity score for gasoline, 95, drops to 70 for corn ethanol. But the score for wood ethanol is less than zero; that’s how beneficial it is to reuse a product that otherwise would belch smoke when burned in the open.

Aemetis already has a 20-year deal with a tree waste broker who will capitalize on the almond explosion in these parts, with trees covering 1.5 million acres in recent years. The average life of an almond tree is 20 to 25 years, and the Valley produces about 1.6 million tons of tree waste each year.

Aemetis also has a 55-year lease on land at the former ammo plant, at Claus and Claribel roads. The company will renovate some old buildings and erect others for the new wood ethanol plant, which could produce 12 million gallons per year.

Byproducts include fish meal to be sold to big salmon farms, and others will be announced in time, Foster said. Together, wood ethanol and byproducts could bring annual revenue of $70 million, according to a BioFuels Digest report.

Neighbors need not worry, Foster said, because wood ethanol — although flammable — doesn’t explode like propane or petroleum, and Aemetis will install state-of-the-art firefighting equipment that will be second to none, like they did at the Keyes plant, he said.

The process does include “advanced arc furnace technology,” or burning; wood is superheated at 3,000 degrees, about the same needed to melt glass, turning wood into a gas before it’s cleaned and fed to microbes in a fermentation chamber. A resulting broth is distilled into cellulosic ethanol, or wood ethanol.

“We treat it with respect and care and take all the precautions,” Foster said. “The community shouldn’t be worrying about a big explosion.”

Well, this is somewhat uncharted territory. Although scientists figured out how to turn plants into fuel back in the 1800s, companies have had a hard time making a profit since with feedstock other than corn, despite best efforts of heavy hitters like DuPont and Abengoa. Those persevering reached a production high-point exceeding 10 million gallons last year, but that’s a fraction of the federal goal set in 2007, of blending 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply by 2010.

“The bottom line is that cellulosic ethanol has fallen far short of the hype and the expectations,” wrote Robert Rapier in February for Forbes magazine.

Some view government subsidies, giving a leg up to emerging renewable fuels technology, as a negative. Aemetis will rely on a $125 million USDA loan for the Riverbank plant; loan requirements included the company successfully operating a demonstration plant in Washington state for 120 days, which Aemetis achieved in a March announcement.

The company hopes to produce 12 million gallons per year of wood ethanol in Riverbank, with plans to someday expand to 40 million gallons. The Keyes plant puts out 60 million gallons per year of corn ethanol.

Aside from Riverbank, Aemetis hopes eventually to announce additional wood ethanol plants in this area, Foster said. All would employ mechanics, engineers and other manufacturing workers at decent wages, he said.

Aemetis apparently is sold enough on Riverbank to compete for the job of taking over the entire 105-acre Riverbank Industrial Complex.

Started in 1943, the ammo plant produced shell, grenade and mortar cartridges as a major area employer until 2009. After nearly 30 years of cleaning contaminants from the land and water underneath, the U.S. Army last year conveyed some of the property to an entity overseen by Riverbank City Hall, and is expected to give the rest this summer.

“The city is not interested in continuing to be an industrial developer out there forever,” said City Manager Sean Scully. So city leaders in October asked for proposals from prospective master developers, and now are negotiating with Aemetis for the job. Rules set by the city require an employment boost, with priority for people living within 50 miles, and prevent new housing.

“This is our opportunity to create something where people can get jobs so they can work and live here,” Scully said. “We are blessed to have that opportunity.”

https://www.modbee.com/news/local/article213221279.html

FRESNO STATE RANKED AMONG NATION’S TOP 25 UNIVERSITIES FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR

The newest national ranking of the top universities in the United States shows Fresno State is delivering on its mission to boldly educate and empower students for success. For the third consecutive year, Fresno State is among the nation’s best at combining academic excellence with economic opportunity.

Washington Monthly, a D.C.-based magazine known for its annual rankings of American colleges and universities, announced Aug. 27 that Fresno State placed No. 24 on its list of the top national universities.

Fresno State was selected alongside seven Ivy League institutions, including top-ranked Harvard University; six University of California campuses; and MIT on the list. Fresno State ranks 12th among the 17 public institutions included in the rankings.

“Fresno State is proud to once again represent the California State University system in the top 30,” University President Joseph I. Castro said. Among more than 400 American Association of State Colleges and Universities members, Fresno State is the only to make Washington Monthly’s top 30. Fresno State and Utah State University (No. 12) are the only Mountain West Conference schools to make the list.

Washington Monthly has been ranking colleges and universities for 13 years with what it calls “a different kind of college ranking” focusing on three equally-weighted criteria: social mobility, research and public service. The rankings are “not based on what colleges do for themselves, but on what they do for their country,” recognizing universities that “push the boundaries of scientific discovery and provide paths to opportunity for the next generation of low-income students.”

Fresno State was also the No. 2 school in the national university category in commitment to spending federal work-study funds on public service. At Fresno State, almost 70 percent of work-study funds go to service. The University was ranked No. 4 nationally in the net price of attending after subtracting grants and scholarships.

Fresno State, as a University that enrolls many first-generation college students and helps them graduate, was cited last year by Washington Monthly for its “stellar graduation rate relative to other colleges with a similar admissions profile.” The magazine also said Fresno State’s “net price of attendance (what students pay after scholarships are deducted from tuition) is among the very lowest nationwide.”

Castro said Fresno State’s continued presence in the rankings alongside such prestigious universities nationwide demonstrates the potential and value of the University when students, faculty and staff are all working together toward improving graduation rates and making an impact in the Central Valley and beyond. About 80 percent of Fresno State graduates stay and work in the Valley.

“These types of national distinctions are possible when we choose to be bold in all that we do at Fresno State,” Castro said. “Every day on campus and in the community, we encounter students and alumni who are using the opportunities provided at Fresno State as a launching point to advance in their lives and achieve their goals. That happens with thousands of graduates each year and the result is a more prosperous region.”

In May, Fresno State celebrated its largest graduating class ever with more than 6,000 students earning degrees. Enrollment at Fresno State this fall is at an all-time high of more than 25,200 students, and more than 80 percent of those students are from the Central Valley.

Fresno State was reclassified as a Carnegie doctoral university in 2016, meaning it was reviewed the past three years with the nation’s top doctoral granting institutions rather than the top master’s universities. Fresno State offers doctoral degrees in nursing, physical therapy and educational leadership.

Last year, Fresno State ranked No. 17 on Washington Monthly’s list, and it was No. 25 in 2016.

Washington Monthly 2018 Top 30 National Universities:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Princeton University
  5. Yale University
  6. Duke University
  7. University of California, San Diego*
  8. Georgetown University
  9. University of California, Los Angeles*
  10. University of California, Davis*
  11. Texas A&M University, College Station*
  12. Utah State University*
  13. University of Pennsylvania
  14. Columbia University in the City of NY
  15. University of Washington*
  16. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill*
  17. University of Florida*
  18. University of California, Berkeley*
  19. Brown University
  20. University of California, Irvine*
  21. Brigham Young University
  22. University of Wisconsin, Madison*
  23. Dartmouth College
  24. California State University, Fresno*
  25. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor*
  26. University of Illinois at Chicago*
  27. University of Notre Dame
  28. University of California, Riverside*
  29. University of Utah*
  30. Augusta University*