A young woman is killed by an African lion at a big cat sanctuary in Dunlap, the city of Fresno is considering steep hikes in water rates, and an Amtrak plan identifies more than $560 million in improvements to the Valley's San Joaquin corridor.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: A 24-year-old woman's love for big cats led her to an internship at a Dunlap animal sanctuary. But Dianna Hanson's life was cut short when she was killed by an African lion at Project Survival's Cat Haven. The lion was then shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy.
What it means: The investigation into Hanson's death is still under way, but Fresno County Coroner David Hadden said that either a gate leading to the enclosure Hanson was cleaning was left open or was not firmly latched.
What readers said:
"Our condolences to the family. When my number is called to go, I just hope I'm as lucky as her as to be doing something I loved doing. May she now be at peace, playing with the all animals in heaven."
"Many people ask why they don't just tranquilize the animals in these situations, but it's not that simple. The drug used in tranquilizer darts is deadly for humans at those doses. Even if a small amount gets on your skin, you can die within minutes. When animals are tranquilized, even they are at risk of death if the amount is wrong."
-- Denise Gillen
Hiking water rates
What happened: Fresno City Hall says water rates must go up to cover the costs of widespread updates, including a new water treatment plant and replacing pipes. Residential water rates could double by 2016 to pay for water system projects that will cost more than $400 million. Rate hikes can't be approved until after a lengthy public hearing process.
What it means: On Thursday the City Council took no action. Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd said council members and city officials will meet individually behind closed doors, city officials probably will hold community meetings throughout the city and a water-rate hearing will be held later.
What readers said:
"Did Fresno wait too long to replace its outgrown facilities? Will new facilities accommodate future growth and demand? Will our City leaders boldly pursue our collective interests or run from their responsibilities? As public hearings commence, let's ask tough questions but remember that a water treatment facility is a key and essential public service."
"So is every other city in the central valley doubling their rates or are we the only 'lucky' ones? Will the rates go back down when they get their plant (I doubt it) Every time I pay government more I just feel I'm thowing money down a rat hole. I get about $.10 of value to the dollar."
What happened: While many are chattering about high-speed rail these days, state transportation leaders are quietly planning to drop more than $15 billion into California's existing Amtrak train service -- including a big chunk in the Valley. The plan identifies more than $560 million in improvements to tracks, signal systems and stations for Amtrak's San Joaquin corridor within the next five years, and more than $1.7 billion in the corridor over the next 20 or more years.
What it means: The improvements are intended to increase the frequency and speed of Amtrak trains, improve passenger safety, boost ridership, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, connect to other transit systems and build new facilities for expanded passenger rail service. Following the public comment period that ends March 11, a final version of the plan is expected in June.
What readers said:
"Yes, the report lists a ton of projects in the long range, and if you add them up, you get a big number. But you know what, a list in a plan doesnt actually mean a cent gets spent or an improvement ever built."
"I'm not convinced we'll need the San Joaquins after high-speed rail is in place. It seems to me it'd be better to spend the money building new, dedicated track along the Pacific Surfliner route from San Luis Obispo to San Jose. Then, transfer the rolling stock from the San Joaquins over to the Surfliner route. That way, the coastal cities can have better rail service from San Diego all the way to the Bay Area."
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.