Thumbs up to Fresno State for giving cost-of-attendance stipends to student athletes on scholarships starting this fall. Fresno State is among seven schools in the Mountain West Conference that have pledged to offer full cost-of-attendance stipends to all student athletes during the 2015-16 academic year. Fresno State is paying for the $1.2 million cost increase through donations rather than using university funds. These are all good decisions. Fresno State plans to add $3,500 to each scholarship, which is a little below the conference average of $3,813; Boise State is reportedly the highest at $5,100, and Colorado State is the lowest at $2,400 for in-state students. Students who are contributing so much to the university, financially and emotionally, should not have to worry about going hungry at the end of the month.
Thumbs up to Eligio Ramos, a 91-year-old U.S. army veteran who lives in Madera County for getting back a wallet he lost 70 years ago in Austria, ABC30 is reporting. Dr. Josef Ruckhofer, whose late grandfather owned the farmhouse in Salzburg where the soldiers stayed, discovered the wallet while removing old wooden planks. The doctor then searched online for Ramos based on his army ID card. He wrote to Ramos and shipped the wallet, which was filled with family photos. Ramos and fellow soldiers were helping to rescue starving prisoners from concentration camps, his family told reporter Sara Sandrik. “I would like to thank the man,” Ramos said.
Thumbs down to the burglars who preyed on homeowners running for their lives from the Willow fire. Thieves broke into five homes in Cascadel Woods while the residents were under mandatory evacuation. Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney believes the thieves were on foot. On Friday, the sheriff’s office announced the arrest of 19-year-old Alexander James. We cannot wait until these folks stand before a jury of their peers.
Thumbs up to the Fresno Veterans Affairs hospital for reversing its shamefully long wait times for specialists. Last year the hospital was criticized for having the longest wait times of all the VA’s state hospitals to see specialists. It forced veterans to travel long distances for treatment, which was a hardship. After getting $20.5 million from the VA, it is beefing up its staff of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other staff members by about 130 people. The average wait time for specialty appointments drops from 61.4 days to eight.
Thumbs up to Kenneth Tatum, 78, Fresno’s newest millionaire. A self-employed handyman, he bought the $1 million winning ticket at a Valero gas station at 1105 W. Shields Ave. He plans to help out his family and put the money in savings. It’s been a lucky couple of weeks for Valley residents. Catalina Deniston, 41, of Clovis won $1 million on a lottery scratcher from Gong’s Market in Sanger. Congratulations! And we hope that some of that cash will be carefully invested into charities in our community.
Thumbs up to Jeff Burdick, an English instructor for Clovis Community College, for being appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. The more Valley voices on state boards, the better.