TODAY

– January 28, 2015

Latest Local News

Written on 01/27/2015, 12:48 pm by Business Journal Staff
Don Warkentin has announced that he will retire from his position as president of West Hills College Lemoore in the fall. 
Written on 01/27/2015, 12:40 pm by Business Journal staff
The Central Valley economy waned a bit at the end of 2014, though there are indicators of improving growth for the first half of this year, according to a new report from Fresno State. The San Joaquin Business Conditions Index, a product of the Craig School of Business research associate Ernie Goss, fell to 55 after hitting a record high of 59.9 in November. An index of greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months. Employment was a bright spot in the index, which is produced through surveys of people making company purchasing decisions at firms in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. After slipping below growth neutral for October, the regional hiring gauge climbed to 51.3 in November and  54.5 in December. About 15 percent of businesses surveyed expect layoffs in the first half of 2015. Surveyed businesses also expect a 2.4 percent wage gain for 2015. The import and export order indicators were one area of particular concern. The export index hit 38.6 in December, while import orders fell to 46.3. A softening global economy and strong dollar are expected to restrain exports in the coming months.  
Written on 01/27/2015, 12:08 pm by Business Journal staff
MLB Network's Heidi Watney, a 1999 graduate of Clovis West High School, has been added to the Fresno Grizzlies' Hot Stove Gala guest list. Watney, who worked as a sports anchor and host for KMPH Channel 26 and KFIG AM radio in Fresno, joined the MLB Network in 2012 and serves as the main host of the program Quick Pitch. Before that she covered the LA Galaxy for Timer Warner Cable in Los Angeles and served as the Boston Red Sox field reporter for the New England Sports Network. Special guests now confirmed for the event include baseball commentator Harold Reynolds and Rex Hudler, radio broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals and a graduate of Bullard High School. Tickets for the Feb. 7 gala are currently on sale and can be purchased online or by contacting Whitney Campbell at (559) 320-2547 or through email at wcampbell@fresnogrizzlies.com.
Written on 01/27/2015, 11:58 am by Business Journal Staff
The Fresno County Department of Public Health announced today that two influenza deaths in the county have been confirmed by lab results. In a press release, the department said that both individuals had underlying medical conditions which put them at risk and had been hospitalized.  "It is with regret that I inform our community of these deaths from influenza infection," said Dr. Ken Bird, Fresno County health officer. "Although the majority of individuals who contract flu experience mild to moderate illness and recover, the untimely deaths of these two individuals remind us how serious this illness can be and that we must take steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones." The vaccination status for one of the individuals is not known and the other person had not had an influenza vaccination for the current flu season.  According to the health department, vaccination remains the best form of protection against influenza infection and helps prevent spread of the flu virus from person-to-person. The department recommends that everyone six months and older be vaccinated regardless of health status.  The Fresno County Department of Public Health provides flu vaccinations at 1221 Fulton Mall in Fresno on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1 - 4 p.m. Shots cost $6 but no one is refused service if unable to pay.  For more information about vaccination opportunities or the influenza virus visit www.flu.gov or www.fcdph.org/flu. 
Written on 01/27/2015, 10:17 am by Business Journal Staff
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recognized Fresno architect Arthur Dyson with two awards as part of the organization’s 2014 Best in American Living Awards (BALA), an annual event held January 21 during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. Dyson’s winning projects “demonstrate innovate design and give a preview of design trends home buyers will see over the next several years,” said 2014 BALA Chairman Stephen C. Moore, senior partner with BSB Design Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa. Dyson won the Silver Award for his design of the Charles & Lela Hilton residence in Panama City Beach, Florida, in the One-of-a-Kind Custom Home over 6,500 square feet category. He also won the Gold Award in Restoration, a special recognition by this year’s judging panel, for the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fawcett House in Los Banos. The Hilton residence is a 9,500-square-foot, curvilinear home located on the Gulf of Mexico. “The shapes were motivated by the clients’ affinity for curves and the desire to resist hurricane forces,” Dyson said. The Randal and Harriett Fawcett home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955 was carefully researched and detailed by Dyson to reflect the great architect’s original vision for the home. Dyson’s apprenticeship with Wright and his extensive knowledge of the architect played a major role in the restoration of this mid-century masterpiece in Los Banos, noted the panel of judges. “It is always gratifying to receive an award, but it is especially pleasing to see Central California residents receiving national and international recognition,” Dyson said. “The craftsmanship performed by BMY Construction and their sub-contractors, all from the Valley, was an essential factor in the restoration of the Fawcett house.” Now in its 31st year, BALA recognizes outstanding achievement by builders and design professionals in all sectors of the residential housing industry.
Written on 01/27/2015, 9:44 am by Business Journal staff
Communities First Financial Corp., the recently formed parent company of Fresno First Bank, announced net income of $2.12 million for 2014 — light years ahead of 2013's income of $26,000. “We are very pleased with our performance in 2014,” stated Rick Whitsell, president and CEOof Communities First. “We accomplished a lot during 2014. Breaking through $2 million in netincome for the first time, once again posting double digit growth in loans, deposits and assets,and the formation of our holding company are all things we are proud of as we continue ourwork to enhance shareholder value.” Fourth-quarter income rose to $538,000 compared to $509,000 last year. At the end of 2014, the bank had total assets of $253.7 million, up nearly 16 percent from 2013. Loans were up 19.7 percent last year to a total of $162.4 million outstanding, while deposits increased 15.7 percent to $227.8 million.
Written on 01/27/2015, 9:24 am by Business Journal Staff
Dutch Bros. Coffee's newest Fresno location celebrated its grand opening last week by raising nearly $5,000 for Valley Children's Hospital.  "We looked forward to this day for a while, and it was such a success," said Brent Wilson, Dutch Bros. Fresno owner.  The new location at 1831 E. McKinley Ave. opened on Jan. 23 and donated $4,996 of its opening day proceeds to Valley Children's Hospital. The new spot is the third Dutch Bros. Coffee in Fresno, all of which are owned and operated by Brent and Genesis Wilson.  Since opening the first Fresno location eight years ago, Wilson said the chain has helped to support numerous local causes and employs more than 70 "Broistas."  "We love getting the opportunity to contribute," he said.  Based in Grant Pass, Oregon, Dutch Bros. Coffee was founded in 1992 by dairy farmer brothers of Dutch descent. The chain includes more than 230 drive-through locations and has more than 2,500 employees in seven states. 
Written on 01/26/2015, 12:32 pm by Business Journal staff
The Friant Water Authority is searching for a new chief executive as part of reorganization designed to manage increased workload due to the drought. The Friant Water Authority board has approved splitting the general manager's job into two positions — a chief executive to focus on strategic and policy issues and be the face of the authority and a general manager to engage with the authority's key initiatives. The chief executive will report to the board, while the general manager will report to the chief executive. Current General Manager Ron Jacobsma will maintain this role, while a search is being launched to hire a chief executive. The board also formed three new board-level committees to develop recommendations for the Friant Water Authority's reorganization, an interim water supply committee to focus on water supply issues until the reorganization is complete and a search committee to find the new chief executive officer.
Written on 01/26/2015, 12:16 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Kaiser Permanente nurses in California have approved a new contract that boosts pay and improves patient care along with health and safety protections for nurses, a union official said. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work at 21 hospitals and 65 clinics across Northern and Central California voted last week to approve the new three-year deal, the California Nurses Association said Monday. About 18,000 Kaiser nurses in the state went on a two-day strike in November, and another walkout was planned for last week but an agreement was reached. The California Nurses Association represents the Kaiser nurses. Those workers are part of the National Nurses United organization. Under the new contract, roughly 540 registered nurse positions will be added, which nurses say should substantially improve the quality of care for hospitalized patients. It also signals a "renewed commitment" to training and employment opportunities for new graduates at a time when many hospitals have frozen hiring, the union said. The new contract includes a 14 percent pay raise over three years, the union said. Under the contract, a new committee of nurses will work with management to address concerns nurses have about care standards at Kaiser facilities. The contract also includes paid time for 25 registered nurses annually to participate in the union's disaster-relief program, which has dispatched hundreds of nurses to help with medical services following disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The union appreciates the commitment Kaiser's leadership made to address concerns, Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. A Kaiser representative did not have an immediate comment Monday. The union said it is now committed to helping mental health workers finalize a contract. About 2,600 psychologists, counselors and therapists held a two-day strike earlier this month to bring attention to what they say are inadequate staffing and long wait times for appointments.
Written on 01/26/2015, 11:29 am by Hannah Esqueda
Centerpoint Athletic Club was recently acquired by local fitness chain Sierra Sports Clubs.  The central Fresno gym is one of five sports clubs now owned by the group. Robert and Juli Mitchell purchased the gym from Mark Geis earlier this month and club members have already been notified.  "It worked out great for [Robert Mitchell] and it worked out great for me," Geis said. "The sale just makes sense for both of us." Tina Naffziger will serve as the club's new manager once Geis, who purchased the club in 2003, transitions to his new role as director of corporate wellness and sales with Sierra Sports Clubs. In the new position, he will work with local businesses and corporations to develop health and fitness incentive programs for employees and help companies meet new requirements under the Affordable Healthcare Act. In addition to Centerpoint, Sierra Sports Clubs owns four other fitness locations throughout Fresno: Sunnyside Fitness and Tennis in southeast Fresno, Shapemakers in northeast Fresno, Sierra Athletic Club on Blackstone Avenue near Shaw Avenue and Sierra Sport and Racquet Club in northwest Fresno. Geis said he estimates total membership to be around 10,000 between all five locations.  For now, Centerpoint is expected to keep its name and current club members will have the option of upgrading their plans to allow for usage of all five facilities.  "The idea is that once they're in the Sierra Sports Club family, they can go anywhere," he said. Having access to the other four facilities will be a plus for current members as they will now have access to more in-house trainers, exercise classes, handball and racket sport courts, pools and banquet and catering services, Geis said.  "They're pretty well located all over Fresno so now our club members will have a choice to go to five different athletic clubs," he said. 

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