– May 29, 2015

Latest Local News

Written on 05/28/2015, 11:59 am by Business Journal staff
The board of Fresno-based Central California Legal Services is on the search for a new executive director as current director of 21 years Chris A....
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:47 am by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board announced it has been awarded a  $193,300 grant to train people for solid waste management, wastewater treatment and integrated pest management jobs. The award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will go toward training 70 unemployed and under-employed individuals in those sectors as part of the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program (EWDJT). The EWDJT is a joint effort with Fresno Metro Ministries, Fresno Economic Opportunity Commission, Fresno Building Healthy Communities, Reading and Beyond, Central Labor Council, State Center Community College District, West Hills College and the University of California Cooperative Extension. “The Fresno WIB’s latest 2014 Employment Study Report indicates that the training provided through the EWDJT is aligned with the needs of Fresno County employers who forecast an increase in positions within the Integrated Pest Management and Solid Waste Management and Cleanup sectors,” said Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, in a statement.
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:00 am by Business Journal staff
Medeiros and Son Dairy in Hanford has begun installation on a new 1.1-megawatt solar power system expected to save the milk operation $320,000 annually on utility bills. Visalia-based CalCom Solar is installing the system, expected to be completed this summer. The system is expected to deliver more than $8 million in utility savings over the next 25 years. The system will deploy NEXTracker technology that uses horizontal tracking technology to allow the photovoltaic panels to follow the sun. Medeiros and Son Dairy milks 2,450 cows and farms 1,400 acres in Kings County. CalCom Solar plans to break ground on 12 news photovoltaic projects on farms in the next two months, according to a news release.
Written on 05/28/2015, 10:00 am by Business Journal staff
Clovis-based brewer 559 Local announced it will host a grand opening of its first tasting room in Old Town Clovis Friday at 4 p.m. In 2012, 559 Local — founded by Rhett, Randy and Cheryl Williams — began brewing ales using unique, locally sourced ingredients including peaches and raisins. “We can’t put our beer into a category,” said Rhett Williams in a statement, “because we don’t make our beers to fit into one, we make them to celebrate our foundation and our story. We are located in the Central Valley. We feed the world; why not show that through our beers?” The tasting room features decor made up largely from reclaimed wood, antique Sun-Maid raisin tray and other found items at the Williams family's Caruthers ranch. In March the City of Clovis amended its ordinances to allow beer and wine tasting rooms in the Old Town district. “Until now, the only way for a tasting room to operate legally was to be part of a restaurant or to be licensed as a bar,” said Clovis Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck. “This makes it easier for the small guys to bring their creations to market.” The 559 Local Tasting Room is located at 608 Fourth St., between Clovis and Pollasky avenues. For more information, visit
Written on 05/28/2015, 8:50 am by Business Journal staff
Central Valley schools received more than $20 million in grants from the California Department of Education’s Career Pathways Trust. The money was awarded to several local school districts and community colleges to help support the blend of academic and career technical programs.  West Hills Community College District (WHCCD) was awarded a $10 million grant for its partnership with Reedley College. The schools will work with industry partners including Cal-Organics, Olam International and Grimmway Farms to teach science and math in relation to the business of agriculture.  A similar program debuted at the West Hills College Coalinga campus last year. The Paramount Ag Academy summer program brought students from local schools to the college campus for classes showcasing careers in agriculture.  “Many of the students were from small, rural farming communities such as Avenal, and the students were mostly the children of farm workers,” said Carole Goldsmith, president of West Hills College Coalinga. “Their view of farm work was often limited to harvesting crops in the fields. But our Ag Academy taught them about the opportunities in the agriculture business for workers with technical training and knowledge of math, science and computerized equipment, jobs with bright futures and high pay.” Clovis Unified School District was also selected for the grant program. The district received $2.5 million for its plan to implement a teaching program in partnership with Fresno State, Madera, Clovis and Reedley community colleges and Madera and Sanger Unified school districts. The program is for grades 9-16 and aims to produce single-subject teaching candidates from local colleges and universities.  Fresno Unified School District was awarded $6 million for its plans to refurbish pre-existing career tech programs in high schools.  Visalia Unified School District received $4.7 million for the career prep programs at local high schools. The district received $14.7 million for the creation of its work-based learning courses during the last round of grant funding. The California Legislature passed the Career Pathways Trust Funds project in 2014 to establish regional collaborative relationships with business entities, community organizations and local institutions of postsecondary education. The grants are highly competitive and part of a national trend focusing on career technology preparation. 
Written on 05/28/2015, 8:50 am by Business Journal staff
Following the theft of dozens of plants from Leadership Fresno Class 31’s xeriscape demonstration garden in Woodward Park, Comcast has announced it will make a donation to replace the stolen plants and maintain the site in the future. Leadership Fresno Class 31 held a planting day on May 23 at the project site in front of the Group Activities Center in the park. Several days later, the project was vandalized twice and a variety of foliage was ripped out of the ground. The sustainable xeriscape demonstration garden was designed by Leadership Fresno class members to highlight the beauty and benefits of water wise landscaping while also educating visitors. A plaque in the garden honors the memory of Jack Hall, former chairman of the board for the Fresno Chamber, who served as director of government affairs for Comcast from January 2010 until his passing last year. After hearing about the damage to the garden, Comcast volunteered to contribute $1,000 this year to help replace items stolen. In addition, the company has pledged an annual contribution of $1,000 each year over the next five years for the garden’s maintenance. For additional information on Comcast’s donation or the xeriscape garden, please contact Nick Grim at (559) 260-2861.
Written on 05/27/2015, 2:13 pm by George Lurie
Two Fresno attorneys have filed a civil complaint on behalf of an African American man who claims his former employer, Mercedes Benz of Fresno (MBOF), “unlawfully terminated” him. The suit alleges Ernest Michael Schexnayder was fired after being forced to endure “an unrelenting hostile work environment that included demotions, racial slurs, disparate treatment, work without compensation, breach of contract and his ultimate dismissal in retaliation for his complaining about his unlawful treatment.” MBOF owner Scott Biehl is named as the defendant in the lawsuit. Local attorneys Kevin G. Little and Virna L. Santos filed the suit Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court. “This is an important story and needs to get out there,” Santos said. Reached at his dealership Wednesday afternoon, Biehl said that he was not aware of the lawsuit. After requesting that The Business Journal contact his lawyer, Biehl added: “I would never comment on any ongoing litigation.” According to the lawsuit, Schexnayder went to work as a salesperson at the MBOF dealership, located at 7055 N. Palm Avenue, in October 2011, reportedly earning an average of $5,500 a month. The suit alleges that beginning around March 2012 and continuing until his termination in February 2015, MBOF management frequently “berated, insulted and humiliated” Schexnayder in front of customers and other staff. When Schexnayder complained directly to Biehl, the suit claims Biehl “ignored” his employee’s concerns. Schexnayder said he was demoted to shuttle driver in June 2012 and his hourly wage decreased to $9 per hour. “Beginning at that time, Mr. Schexnayder became Biehl’s de facto personal driver,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Schexnayder was expected to drive Biehl, Biehl’s wife and friends after normal work hours ... without compensation for two years, until approximately June 2014.” “During that time,” the suit alleges, “MBOF staff referred to Mr. Schexnayder as Biehl’s personal driver,” with at least one manager describing Mr. Schexnayder using a racial slur. The suit goes on to state that after enduring continued verbal abuse and being the target of racial epithets from other MBOF employees, Schexnayder was terminated on March 3 of this year “under the pretext that he failed to inform of an intended absence.” “On March 4, 2015, Mr. Schexnayder received a telephone call from a MBOF manager who advised that neither Mr. Schexnayder nor his mother were welcome at MBOF,” the suit concludes. The complaint alleges ten causes of action and seeks lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
Written on 05/27/2015, 12:53 pm by Business Journal staff
Foreclosure rates in Fresno decreased for the month of March over the same period last year, according to newly released data from CoreLogic. The rate of Fresno area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.71 percent during March 2015, a decrease of 0.20 percentage points compared to March 2014. Foreclosure activity in Fresno was lower than the national foreclosure rate, which was 1.39 percent for March 2015. Also in Fresno, the mortgage delinquency rate decreased in March, when 2.53 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 3.32 percent for the same period last year. Foreclosure rates in Kings County also decreased for the month of March over the same period last year. The rate of Hanford-Corcoran area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.97 percent for the month of March 2015, a decrease of 0.09 percentage points compared to March 2014. Kings County’s mortgage delinquency rate also decreased. According to CoreLogic data for March 2015, 3.24 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 3.88 percent for the same period last year. A similar trend was evident in Tulare County, where foreclosure rates among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.80 percent during March 2015, a decrease of 0.17 percentage points compared to March 2014. The mortgage delinquency rate also decreased in the Visalia-Porterville area in March, when 2.68 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 3.60 percent for the same period last year. And in Madera, foreclosure rates also declined during March over the same period last year. The CoreLogic data reveals that the rate of Madera area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans in March 2015 was 0.91 percent, a decrease of 0.14 percentage points compared to March 2014. Also in Madera, the mortgage delinquency rate decreased in March when 2.88 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 3.74 percent for the same period last year.
Written on 05/27/2015, 10:30 am by Business Journal staff
Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center will only operate its water slides on weekends this summer in an effort to help conserve water during the drought.  The slides have traditionally been open every day of the summer season. The decision is estimated to save thousands of gallons of water.  “I am sure that everyone in our industry is aware of the drought conditions in California. We are stepping up and doing our part to conserve water and I hope others are doing so too,” said Greg Florer, owner of Blackbeard’s.  The slides opened for the first time this season over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and are expected to remain open each weekend throughout the rest of the summer.  Visitors will still be able to enjoy the park’s bumper boats and other non-water related attractions including laser tag, air-conditioned arcade, batting cages, miniature golf, ropes course and race cars. Blackbeard’s also recently unveiled its newest attraction, the Captain Nessy roller coaster.  The park plans to host a number of summer events including “Food Truck Tuesdays” to help boost attendance. 
Written on 05/27/2015, 10:12 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former Fresno resident has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and identity theft in connection to a scam where he collected $1.25 million from government contractors and the federal government. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday that 57-year-old Abel Carreon is scheduled to be sentenced August 17. Prosecutors say Carreon's company, Tripartite Escrow Corporation, used fake collateral to secure bonds for private firms seeking contract work with the government. He was accused of pledging stock that didn't exist as collateral. Prosecutors say Carreon ran the scam from April 2005 to May 2011.

Latest State News

Written on 05/28/2015, 12:39 pm by MICHELE KAYAL, Associated Press
At noon on a recent Wednesday in May,...
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:23 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Google's next version of its...
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:19 am by 
LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
(AP) — Apple must cooperate with a...
Written on 05/28/2015, 8:35 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Two federal agencies issued an...

Latest National News

Written on 05/28/2015, 1:14 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stocks are ending modestly...
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:34 am by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Another first quarter of the...
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:31 am by TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer
(AP) — Automakers and governments are...
Written on 05/28/2015, 11:24 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Uber and Lyft are pushing back...