Thumbs up to Hoover High School sophomore Isaac Blanco, 15, for winning a 2016 Toyota Corolla in a Big Fresno Fair contest collaboration designed to reward 9th-12th grade students with grade-point averages of 4.0 or above. OK, he’s too young to drive alone, but we have a feeling he’s smart enough to pass that test very soon. The car was just one of many prizes handed out to these outstanding students: some got gift cards, iPads, laptops and $81,000 in college scholarships.
Isaac owes a ride to his guidance counselor, Sheng Her. The counselor told The Bee’s Troy Pope that he had to make some calls to get Isaac and his twin brother to the fair in time because one of the stipulations was that the winner had to be present. “The boys were having a hard time getting here, and it’s a miracle that they won,” Her said. “We called (their) dad and Dad was able to get off work and bring them here.” Isaac plans to study engineering in college.
Coordinated with the Fresno County Office of Education, the prizes and scholarships came from dozens of contributors. Nearly 8,000 eligible students from 25 school districts and 13 private and charter schools were invited to attend this year’s 4.0 & Above Program. The top 22 teachers also were honored.
Thumbs down to Tulare County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalashian for ordering a Visalia Times-Delta Reporter, Sheyanne Romero, to leave proceedings of the murder trial of Christopher Cheary and told her she could not report on the evidence rulings. He gave no reason. Your honor, we join our colleagues in saying, “We object!” It’s disturbing that a California judge serving at this level would not be familiar with the First Amendment.
Cheary is charged in the murder and sexual assault of 3-year-old Sophia Acosta. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Romero’s editor, Eric Woomer, contacted the court administration for an explanation and about two hours later, Presiding Judge Gary Paden wisely indicated it should not have happened. “In hindsight, Paden wrote, “it was not appropriate to exclude the media from the courtroom and they will not be excluded from any open forum.”
Thumbs up to Marlene Raffety for receiving the VFW’s National Outstanding Hospital Volunteer Award in Sacramento recently. Raffety is a retired Fresno Unified School District health aide who volunteers two days a week at the Veterans Administration hospital in Fresno. She has donated her services for 12 years, the longest of any volunteer and at age 85, she also is the eldest. A native of Germany, she came to the Boston to study nursing after World War II. “The minute I came here, I loved the Americans,” she said. “They were so friendly.” The veterans in the hospital certainly return the sentiment.
Thumbs up to Mid Valley Disposal for partnering with The Big Fresno Fair to create a recycling program that diverts over 70 percent of the fair waste. This program takes away anything from paper towels in the bathrooms to food and animal waste for compost. It’s not glamorous, but we all want the fair to be clean and green. The company says its efforts will keep over 154 tons of waste out of our landfills.
Thumbs up to Fresno State agriculture major Araceli Agustin Gomez for getting a $5,000 scholarship for her winning essay in Cafe Bustelo’s El Cafe de Futuro scholarship essay contest. Gomez, was one of nine winners out of the 550 national entries received from U.S. Latino students, Cafe Bustalo said. Entrants were asked to write an 800-word essay in English or Spanish describing how their heritage has impacted their desire to obtain higher education. Bueno!
Thumbs up to Del Rey farmer Nikiko Masumoto for appearing on a White House panel this week speaking about the future of food. The panel is part of the South By South Lawn festival that brings together experts from across the country to explore ideas involving food, technology and the environment. She was in good company, with and activist Leonardo DiCaprio and President Barack Obama attending.
Masumoto discussed how to sustainably feed a growing world population in a panel. Masumoto, along with her father, David “Mas” Masumoto, operate an 80-acre organic farm.