Clovis News

Local briefs: Clovis store owner robbed, shot

Two armed men shot and injured a TV store owner Wednesday night in Clovis when they robbed him, authorities said.

The men shot the owner in the leg about 8:30 p.m. at his store on the 100 block of Bullard Avenue near Minnewawa Avenue, Clovis Police Department spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee said. The men confronted the man in the store parking lot, then forced him to go inside and empty his safe.

The suspects became agitated when the man did not move fast enough or provide enough cash, so they opened fire, Stoll-Lee said. The men fled the store with an undisclosed amount of cash and an additional gun.

The store owner, who is in his mid-30s, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and is expected to survive his injuries.

Stoll-Lee said police did not receive a call reporting the robbery until about 15 minutes after it occurred. Officers cordoned off the area and tried to find the bandits with the help of a Fresno police officer and his dog. However, the suspects had fled.

The only descriptions of the suspects were that they were black and wore masks.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

2 men get prison for sexual assault

Tulare County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalashian on Tuesday sentenced two gang members from Farmersville to state prison for sexually assaulting two girls who ventured into their gang hangout.

Antonio Ortega, 18, was sentenced to 10 years, and Rogelio Ramos, 18, was sentenced to six years. Ortega pled guilty to forcible rape and a lewd act with a minor under 14, while Ramos pled no contest to a lewd act with a minor under 14.

On Aug. 1, 2009, the two girls, ages 13 and 15, went to a local gang hangout where they were assaulted. The youngest escaped by floating down a canal and running down the street toward her house wearing only a wet T-shirt, and the 15-year-old was picked up by a passer-by and driven to her family's apartment, the Tulare County District Attorney's Office said.

DNA evidence was used to identify Ortega and Ramos, who must serve 85% of their sentences and register as sex offenders for life.

Fire law violations send man to prison

A Tulare County jury on Wednesday found Camarillo resident Danny Williams, 47, owner of American Fire Protection, guilty of 26 felony counts of maintaining impaired fire protection systems, grand theft, diversion of construction funds and conspiracy.

He was also found guilty of 26 misdemeanor counts of violating state fire marshal regulations.

Williams was paid $82,000 by Svenhard's Swedish Bakery in Exeter to repair its sprinkler system, but did only 40% of the work and left the system impaired, the Tulare County District Attorney's Office said. Twenty-five other Tulare County businesses also were victims.

He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Mendota schools to receive state funds

Mendota Unified School District is getting $2.8 million for new school construction, one of 18 projects to get funds from the State Allocation Board.

The board announced Wednesday that it had allocated $40.6 million in state matching funds for "shovel-ready" school construction projects. The money will help pay to add classrooms and modernize existing facilities in 13 school districts.

Williamson services planned Friday

Memorial services for Sandra Williamson, who was shot to death by her estranged husband in Bass Lake, will be held Friday in Oakhurst.

Williamson, 65, worked as a labor and delivery coach for 15 years.

She was killed Feb. 16 at Ducey's on the Lake after having lunch with her divorce lawyer, Judith Soley, during a recess from her divorce case at the Bass Lake courthouse. Her estranged husband, James Williamson, also shot and killed Soley and later killed himself.

The services will begin at 11 a.m. at Mountain Christian Center.

Math, science event held for students

About 600 students from 22 central San Joaquin Valley schools will participate Saturday in the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program Academy at California State University, Fresno.

The academy will be from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., university officials said. Students from sixth to 12th grade will participate in hands-on projects involving robotics, earthquake engineering and hydraulics.

UC Merced launches stem cell facility

UC Merced officials say its new cutting-edge stem cell research facility will improve its faculty's research capabilities in the field.

The new center could also lead to biotechnology job creation in the Central Valley and will help attract future faculty to the institution, officials said.

The university unveiled its Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry on Wednesday. The 3,905-square-foot facility, which includes two ultra-clean rooms that prevent various particles from interfering with research, was supported with a $4.36 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The total cost for the facility was about $7 million; the other $3 million came from the university, according to Steve Rabedeaux, technical and space allocation manager.

Ed and Jeanne Kashian of Fresno donated $100,000, and a microscopy room in the facility will be named after them.

IRS offers federal tax preparation free

The Internal Revenue Service is offering free federal tax-preparation programs for taxpayers, officials said.

Free File is an online service available to all taxpayers for free, regardless of income.

People who make $49,000 or less can receive free assistance through the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Volunteers can help taxpayers in several languages, including Spanish, Mandarin and American Sign Language. To locate a VITA site, call (800) 906-9887.

Senior citizen taxpayers can receive help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program or through the American Association of Retired People. To locate a TCE site, call (800) 829-1040; to locate an AARP site, call (888) 227-7669.