Thumbs up, thumbs down

April 4, 2014 

Thumbs down to Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the Fresno City Council for ignoring a basic need of the fire department -- serviceable equipment. The problem of fire rigs falling apart came to a head in March when the brakes on a ladder truck failed and all three reserve trucks were out of commission. City officials say new trucks are on the way, but they take a year to build. Budgeting is about setting priorities and public safety should be City Hall's first priority.

Thumbs up to Bob "Doc" Protzman for seeing a problem and doing something about it. When Protzman learned that the remains of U.S. veterans sometimes sit indefinitely in morgues and mortuaries -- or the veterans are buried without recognition of their service to our country -- he volunteered to help. Now he's the veterans remains officer for Madera County and county coordinator for the Missing in America Project. On March 28, with help from Protzman, full military honors ceremonies were held for U.S. Air Force veteran Carlton Neal Jr., who died in January, in Madera and at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella.

Thumbs up to teacher Valerie Zacharchuk's 5th grade class at Thomas Law Reed School for winning a statewide reading competition sponsored by Comcast. The school, which is in Reedley, received $1,000, Zacharchuk won $500 in school supplies and each student got a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card. The students tallied 5,782 minutes of reading in February. The contest's goal is to improve literacy among students.

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