Clovis News

Local briefs: Tip leads to drug arrest

The Nebraska State Patrol says two unhappy former passengers tipped a trooper to cocaine being hauled by a man who left them at an Interstate 80 rest stop.

A patrol news release said the two reported Sunday morning that the drugs were in a green minivan headed east.

A little before noon, another trooper spotted the minivan as it exited I-80 at the Cozad interchange. The trooper followed the vehicle to a motel parking lot. The patrol says a search of the van revealed 10 pounds of cocaine in 31 packets hidden in the fenders.

Cesar Aguirre of Fresno was arrested on suspicion of possession for sale. A Dawson County jail spokesman said Monday that Aguirre remained in custody.

Politics

Whitman speaks in Clovis

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman gave a speech on pension reform in a campaign appearance Monday in Clovis.

Whitman, who is facing off against fellow Republican Steve Poizner for the GOP nomination, said costs surrounding California's public employee pensions are growing out of control. She said there has been a 2,000% increase in pension costs shouldered by Californians since the year 2000, as well as a $180 billion unfunded liability that faces the state's taxpayers.

Whitman wants to raise the retirement age for certain state employees and start any new state employees on a pension plan that will be styled more like a 401(k). She also wants employees to contribute more to their retirement.

In an interview with The Bee after the speech, Whitman addressed a debate challenge issued over the weekend by Jerry Brown. The presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee offered up a three-way debate between himself, Whitman and Poizner.

Whitman called Brown's challenge "a political stunt" but did say she would welcome "multiple debates" in the fall if she is the GOP nominee.

"He needs to win his primary and I'll win mine, and then I'm delighted to debate him," she said. "We'll have multiple debates in the fall, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense to do it before the Republican primary."

Also ...

20 Valley schools honored

Twenty Valley schools were named as California Distinguished Schools, among 484 schools selected statewide, the state Department of Education announced Monday.

The schools, which were selected because of their academic excellence and for narrowing achievement gaps between lower- and higher-performing students, include:

*Fresno County: Cedarwood, Mickey Cox, Maple Creek, Riverview and Reagan elementary schools in Clovis Unified; Centerville, Ronald Reagan and Wilson elementary schools and Sanger Academy Charter School in Sanger Unified; Saroyan Elementary School in Central Unified; Manchester GATE in Fresno Unified; Riverview Elementary in Kings Canyon Joint Unified; Washington Elementary in Mendota Unified; Monroe Elementary in Monroe Elementary School District; Terry Elementary in Selma Unified; and Auberry Elementary in Sierra Unified.

*Tulare County: Rockford Elementary in Rockford Elementary School District; William R. Buckley Elementary in Burton Elementary School District; and Hurley Elementary in Visalia Unified.

*Madera County: John J. Pershing Elementary in Madera Unified.

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