Valley news of the week -- Oct. 30-Nov. 5

November 5, 2011 

It was a week of protests in downtown Fresno, as Occupy Fresno demonstrators dared sheriff's deputies to arrest them at Courthouse Park once their permit ran out, and homeless advocates objected to the city's cleanup of homeless encampments.

A new business plan for high-speed rail doubled the price tag, triggering sticker shock for many readers. Meanwhile, some dedicated students of chess in west Fresno County have brought home a national championship.

Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.

Occupy showdown

What happened: Occupy Fresno protesters decided not to seek a new county permit to assemble at Courthouse Park and were served an eviction notice by sheriff's deputies and security officers Wednesday.

What it means: Protesters vowed to remain at the park and risk arrest. And Sheriff Margaret Mims declined to say what her department would do if protesters don't leave.

What readers said:

"They've proved their point, so what's the value in hanging around being a nuisance? I don't see anything coming from all these protests but costing cities bundles of money. ... I'm part of the 99%, but these loose cannons don't represent me!"

-- crashboat

"I have sympathies for the whole OWS movement but Fresno seems to have been very cooperative. If they no longer want to carry on with a permit then they are subject to the law."

-- Doug209

"GO OCCUPIERS! YOU ARE ALL TRUE PATRIOTS! DON'T LISTEN TO THESE SMALL MINDED FresNOids! THEY ARE ALL SMALL-MINDED TROLLS, who insist on keeping Fresno a small 'bottom of the pile' town."

-- here2help

Rail costs rise

What happened: The California High-Speed Rail Authority released a new business plan that more than doubled the projected cost of construction, to $98.5 billion.

What it means: The rail authority, which has come under heavy criticism in the Legislature, cast the new cost estimate as a measure of its credibility. The resulting cost estimate is so high, officials hope, that critics no longer will accuse the authority of issuing rosy estimates.

What readers said:

"Billions that could have been spent on Education, Scientific and Medical Research, Community Enrichment, and Debt Reduction simply wasted on a fools dream of a train."

-- jay1900

"Build it now! Cheaper than runway expansions or oil used to crowd highways. Heck, I might even visit Fresno if it's in place."

-- John C. Baker

Homeless camps

What happened: The city of Fresno continued tearing away at downtown homeless camps, despite protesters and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has complained that the city isn't living up to its court-ordered agreement on how to properly disband encampments.

What it means: The cleanups are driven by the city's commitment to end homelessness, but two of the camps must be cleared for construction projects.

What readers said:

"The homeless contribute absolutely nothing to this country or this city; in fact they are a burden to it. They abuse the 911 system, and they turn their little section of the city into a disgusting trash heap full of hazardous materials ... if tent city was next to your business, or close to your home, you wouldn't want it there."

-- haphhhazard

"Soooooo perhaps the ACLU would like to pony up the money to cover the cost of storage for the belongings left behind. ... I cannot think of anyone (on the right or the left) who would not like to see a humane and long term solution for our homeless problem. "

-- thelight

Chess champs

What happened: Students from Mendota High School and the Coalinga Chess Club were co-national champions in the 16-to-18-year-old category at the National Scholastic Chess Championship last weekend in Santa Clara. Mendota won the first-place trophy on tie-breakers, and Coalinga was second.

What it means: The achievements are quite a tribute to the students, their coaches and schools -- and a source of pride for the region's chess community, said Bob Rasmussen, president of the Fresno Chess Club. "The best of the best in chess in the nation are from two schools in farming communities in west Fresno County," Rasmussen said. "Now that's pretty powerful."

What readers said:

"we're used to the media always focusing in on how poverty-stricken we are; this is a nice change of pace. great job guys."

-- Fernando Maravilla

"I'm an avid chess player living in Clovis and I know you have to love this game to be good at it. This truly is a great achievement for ... these youngsters. Good job guys."

-- azniaz

Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.

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