Thumbs up to rookie Fresno firefighter Rene Gonzales for receiving a Medal of Bravery from Fresno Fire officials Wednesday. The Bee’s Jim Guy reports that after just two months on the job Oct. 21 and while off duty, he spotted a burning car. He and a good Samaritan stopped to help a woman trapped behind the steering wheel.
Gonzales freed Brooklynn Banta, of Madera, whose legs were trapped under the steering wheel. Then Gonzales and the other rescuer, (who was never identified or found, despite department efforts), carried Banta to the freeway median. Banta was so seriously injured she spent months in rehabilitation after the crash learning basic skills again. She was feeling well enough to dress up and give Gonzales a huge thanks, at last. This has all the makings of a Hallmark movie plot, so Valley screenwriters, take note.
Thumbs down to news of the demise of some great traditions this week like Clovis Kiwanis’ Freedom Fest fireworks display, the annual Future Farmers of America Convention and Uncle Harry’s at Fig Garden Village. The annual fireworks display in Clovis is discontinuing due to lack of funding. Organizers are willing to try again next year. July 4 patriots and fund-raising geniuses, where are you?
The annual FFA Convention is a victim of our city’s success. Folks had such a great time here that it stayed for 23 years and grew from 1,500 to 7,000 registrants. That stressed our hotel availability, so they are moving on to bigger facilities in Anaheim. Attention convention planners: You want to grow your event? Come to Fresno!
Uncle Harry’s, a super neighborhood hangout in Fig Garden is getting bounced in favor of a chain store by the landlords, Rouse Properties.
Bad move by the landlords. They are robbing Fig Garden Village of a local bagel shop that attracted lots of foot traffic. Moreover, they are turning a blind eye to the “buy local” movement that invests more dollars in the Fresno economy. A couple more dumb decisions like this one, and the shopping center at Palm and Shaw avenues will be just another shopping center. So, don’t even think about touching La Boulangerie. You’ve seen “Les Miserables,” right?
Thumbs up to CalViva Health for agreeing to help Valley Health Team, a federally qualified health center, launch a Teaching Health Center residency program to train family doctors in Fresno. CalViva is putting up $2.2 million. Residency programs are especially critical in Fresno because there is a physician shortage. Physicians tend to remain in the regions where they are trained.
Thumbs up to Fresno FAX for joining the party! Bus users in need of a ride at night can grab a cheap ride beginning Monday, when service on the city’s most highly traveled routes will be extended until 1 a.m. That’s great news for night-shift workers and restaurant proprietors on the bus routes as well.
In addition, more frequent, 30-minute service will be offered on five of the most popular routes seven days a week. The kickoff will be celebrated with free rides after 6 p.m. Monday to Friday next week and free weekend service May 6 and 7. Details: fresno.gov.
Thumbs up to the five winners of the Fresno County schools’ Young Authors’ Faire, who will be honored Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at the Fresno Fairground Commerce Building. The winners, their schools and titles are:
• Non-Fiction: Cheryl Horn’s second-grade class, Sun Empire Elementary School, Kerman, for “Peahens on Our Campus.”
• Fiction: Chloe Hamett, third-grade student at Manchester GATE Elementary School, for “Saturn’s Vacation.”
• Illustrator: Kary Garcia’s fourth-grade class, Sun Empire, for “A Single Difference.”
• Middle School Poem or Narrative: Soren Jacobsen, Liddell Elementary School, for “My Story of Defeating Cancer.”
• Honor Book: Elizabeth Boucher’s Special Day Class, West Fresno Elementary School, for “What Makes Us Different Makes Us Beautiful.”
Thumbs up to the Central California Women’s Conference Board of Directors for awarding 65 Valley nonprofits $100,000 in grants. The recipients, which serve women and children, will meet for a reception May 17. The winners cover a wide range of services from A (Abundant Life Ranch) to V (Visalia Emergency Aid.) This is its 30th year, and its total in nonprofit grants is more than $900,000. This year’s event is Sept. 19 and tickets will go on sale in June.
The winning nonprofits are:
Abundant Life Ranch
Alpha Pregnancy Help Center - Mobile Unit
Angels of Grace Foster Family Agency
The Art of Life Cancer Foundation
Assistance League of Fresno
Assistance League of Visalia
Bach Children's Choir
Barbara Saville Shelter (Kings Community Action Organization)
Break the Barriers
CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties
CASA of Tulare County
Central California Asian Pacific Women
Central California Family Crisis Center
Central California Legal Services
Central Valley Veterans
City Without Orphans
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center, Inc.
Doors of Hope Pregnancy Care Center
Down Syndrome Association of Central California
Dress For Success Fresno
Elder Abuse Services, Inc.
Exceptional Parents Unlimited, Inc.
Family Services of Tulare County
Feed Our Future
Food Security Project - Fresno State
Fresno Barrios Unidos
Fresno Police Chaplaincy
Fresno Rescue Mission
Friends of Camp El-O-Win
Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties
Hannah's House (Champions Recovery Alternative Programs, Inc.)
Happy Trails Riding Academy
Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation
The Light-House Recovery Program
The Maddy Institute
Madera County Child Abuse Prevention Council
Madera County Food Bank
Madera Rescue Mission
Make a Difference Outdoors
Mollie's House (Fresh Start Youth Center, Inc.)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
New Life for Girls
PAIN - Parents & Addicts in Need
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
Porterville Area Coordinating Council (PACC)
Poverello - Naomi's House
Promesa Behavioral Health
Rape Counseling Services of Fresno
Relate for Life
Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Valley
Sisterhood of Survivors
Soroptimist International of Los Banos
Soroptimist International of Madera
Soroptimist International of Visalia
St. Francis Homeless Project
Stone Soup Fresno
The Salvation Army - Gabelcrest
Valley Center for the Blind
Visalia Emergency Aid Council