First 5 Fresno County's plan to build a new headquarters downtown draws criticism from county supervisors, a paralyzed Marine veteran turns his life around through exercise, and Fresno State's football team gets the Boise State monkey off its back.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
Debate stalls First 5 headquarters
What happened: Just days before a key vote by First 5 Fresno County on constructing a new headquarters, two Fresno County supervisors bombarded the organization's executive director with pointed questions about the $15 million project. Supervisors Debbie Poochigian and Phil Larson on Tuesday were unrelenting — and at times sharply critical — in their line of questioning about the proposed downtown Fresno building, which they feel is being funded at the expense of the children First 5 is set up to serve. Executive Director Kendra Rogers, a possible political rival to Poochigian, said she felt ambushed after the item was an 11th-hour addition to the agenda. Rogers denied the new building — which will include a child care center, classroom space and a community conference room in addition to First 5's administrative offices — would hurt any of the organization's projects.
What it means: First 5 Fresno County commissioners on Friday rejected all bids after they came in far above estimates. The organization decided to form an ad hoc committee to work on scaling down the proposed building to get it within the original cost estimate — and then rebid it.
What readers said:
"I am SURE that there are options for office space for this non-profit. Seems like the previous commenters suggestion of the vacant market across the street is valid. I'm sure that the property (or almost any property) could be made to accommodate the legal requirements for the type of business. Of course, the executives, who are paid high salaries, wouldn't have plush new offices built with taxpayer money that is really intended to go towards helping the children. I mean, how are they going to possibly work in a place where there isn't a balcony and a private restroom for the director? It all seems very fishy, self-serving, and downright pretentious."
— Todd Patrick Byers
"The Commission takes its role of being stewards of Fresno's Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars very seriously and has analyzed every option available to ensure the best use of funds for our children over the past seven years since this project began. As to the question about the programming, the building will accommodate full-day, high-quality licensed child care for 84 children, a community learning center for families, and will serve as a hub for trainings, referrals, and services for children, families and professionals."
— Fabiola Gonzalez
"After reading this report I'm even more opposed to this project than I was last week. Downtown Fresno does NOT need another government owned building that reduces available parking. And I seriously question the ability of the Commissioners to properly manage the money they have when their original plan called for $160,000 fountain. This does not indicate a proper mentality as stewards of taxpayer funds. The fact is all their money comes from tobacco taxes and California is making considerable progress toward becoming a smoke free environment (except for forest fires)."
— David Paul Davenport
Cycling for a cause
What happened: A paralyzed war veteran who lives in Clovis is hoping to inspire people to live a healthier life while honoring the memory of a loved one. Sam Keeney planned to ride his hand cycle in the American Heart Association's 2013 Heart & Stroke Walk on Saturday. Keeney gives his fiancée, Sherri LaRue, credit for sending him on a path to better health.
What it means: Keeney lost 145 pounds. He no longer is hypertensive. His diabetes is in remission. He is off pain medication. He has become a Paralympic athlete and now works as an adaptive sports assistant at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fresno. The saddest thing, he says, is LaRue died on May 18 of a rare heart disease that went undetected. She was 45.
What readers said:
"God bless you Sam! thank you for your volunteer work at VA and your devotion to your fellow vets!"
— Mary Golden
"Go Gunny! Man I miss you. I wish we could live closer together, so we could get out and do more. It's hard when my best friends all live hours away! I am very proud of you Gunny and I know your heart is in it and there is NO stopping ya!"
— Jonathan Moore
"Thank you for your service."
— Dana Bobbitt
Big win for Bulldogs
What happened: Fresno State's Bulldogs thrilled a full stadium with a 41-40 win over Boise State on Friday night, marking the team's first gridiron win over the Broncos since 2005.
What it means: With the win, Fresno State — which cracked the top 25 rankings last week, even though its game in Colorado had to be canceled because of flooding — potentially gained the inside track for homefield advantage in the Mountain West Conference championship game, while also keeping its big dream of earning a Bowl Championship Series berth alive.
What readers said:
"I would have preferred a fifty point blowout, or even a public beheading at halftime, but I suppose I'll be satisfied with this. Thank you to this Bulldog team and coaching staff for shaking off a decade's worth of bitter disappointment!"
— Bill Bird
"I am wondering why a team that allowed 40 points is celebrating. This is just a continuation of Fresno's total lack of defense for the last several years. The only thing that saves this team is the offense. Come on coach where is your defense on vacation?"
— Robert Watts
— Gonzalo Aranda-Sandoval
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.