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Writer Williams to talk at Town Hall

No one -- from family members to teachers -- expected Juan Williams would become a noted journalist, author, political commentator and radio host.

"I do a lot of TV and about 20 years ago, when I was in my mid-30s, a cousin saw me on TV and told me, 'I have known you your whole life, and I never knew you had anything to say,' " says Williams, 55.

He's had plenty to say through the Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic Monthly and a number of bestselling books, including "Eyes on the Prize."

He'll share his views as the guest speaker at the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St.

A town hall talk is nothing new for Williams. He has hosted NPR's national call-in show "Talk of the Nation," where he traveled across America for monthly radio town hall meetings.

Williams will discuss the census, which could have a massive impact on Fresno and the central San Joaquin Valley.

"There's a tremendous change in the demographics of much of the country," he says. "The 2010 census we are all participating in will confirm that this is not the America that your parents grew up in."

If Williams is right, Fresno could become a major battleground between those who believe a full census -- of both legal and illegal residents -- is vital to make sure of adequate funding and representation and those who believe counting illegal residents will create a false representation.

It's a topic Williams has already talked about in television programs and newspapers. He particularly likes the town hall format because it is always a place where all sides are represented by very vocal people.

In some ways, Williams says, he gets more out of the town hall format than the people who attend.

Tickets are $20 at the door. For more information, go to www.valleytownhall.com.

Other news

* Special tribute: Local radio stations KKBZ (FM 105.1) and KHIT (FM 107.1) staged a benefit concert Sunday for the families of Fresno County sheriff's deputy Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley police officer Javier Bejar.

The event raised more than $3,000.

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