Thumbs down to Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian for her inconsistent stands on subsidizing residential growth. You might recall that on Dec. 9 Poochigian voted to repeal Fresno County’s Public Impact Fees, which are assessed to developers to pay for things such as jails, libraries, sheriff’s substations and parks. Repealing the fees, which will require an affirming second vote by the board, is tantamount to a developer subsidy that could total well over $50 million in the next few years. However, this week, Poochigian voted against supporting the city of Fresno’s proposed water infrastructure upgrade and water rates increase. Sounding like she was relying on talking points supplied by upgrade opponent Doug Vagim, Poochigian expressed concern that the city’s proposal would result in water ratepayers subsidizing developers and contributing to sprawl. Supervisor, are you for developer subsidies or not?
Thumbs up to Chris Herren, a former basketball star at Fresno State in 1996-1999, for coming back to Fresno to motivate young people to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Herren’s bright future in sports came crashing down when his life devolved into addiction, near-death overdoses and arrests. Now he has been clean and sober for more than six year and speaks to hundreds nationally in hopes of inspiring others to learn from his mistakes. He speaks at Buchanan high on Monday at 1 p.m. and then again in a sold-out public session.
Thumbs up to Mr., Ms, Rev. or Dr. Anonymous for donating $1 million so Fresno State can ramp up resources for families with deaf or hard-of-hearing children who have other special needs, like autism or blindness. The gift from an anonymous donor will bring national experts to Fresno State to provide free training and services to parents and professionals. The funds will be used through the university’s existing Silent Garden program, which was established by deaf studies professor emeritus Paul Ogden in 2008 as a way to make connections and build awareness among Fresno’s deaf community. Once established, the new program, called Scarlett’s Park, will be the first of its kind in California.
Thumbs up to Erica Robinson of Fresno for winning a trip to Phoenix on Sunday to watch the Seattle Seahawks, her favorite team, take on the New England Patriots. Picking up the tab for the funfest will be “The Rachael Ray Show.” Robinson, a teacher at Clovis North Educational Center. won the second annual Fantasy Foodball cooking competition on Ray’s talk show, which airs at 3 p.m. weekdays on KGPE (Channel 47.1). Robinson cooked fried Buffalo shrimp with homemade blue cheese dressing. Close behind Robinson in the battle was another Fresnan, Cynthia Saavedra, who made “Wicked Good” lobster sliders. As Ray would say, “Yum-o!”
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Thumbs up to Valerie Plaster of Fresno for donating a gingerbread playhouse to the Lacey Dunkin family. Central Valley Children’s Services raffled off the gingerbread house late last year. Plaster told CVCS she bought a ticket hoping to win the playhouse for the family of six adopted girls she read about in a Thanksgiving Day feature in The Bee.
Thumbs up to Delaine Zody, a twice-weekly volunteer at Columbia Elementary School, for her campaign to get 6- and 7-year-olds to eat more healthfully. And sometimes that means tweeting about school lunches she calls “god-awful terrible.” Zody works as a chaplain with the Fresno Police Department and is a retired Fresno High School teacher. She started commenting on the food when she noticed children throwing away perfectly good vegetables without even trying them. She tried the food herself and posted remarks and photos on social media. The children took notice and began showing her how they cleaned their plates. Her lunches cost $2 and the children eat free.