Clovis News

Local briefs: Man guilty in slaying

MERCED -- A second man accused of kidnapping and burning a California woman to death over a pound of marijuana has been convicted of murder.

A Merced County jury found 32-year-old Alvaro Montanez Reyes guilty Monday of first-degree murder with special circumstances for kidnapping. Reyes faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on May 12.

Prosecutors say in October 2007 Reyes and three other men bound, gagged and set Rosa Avina ablaze in an abandoned boat over $750 worth of drugs in rural Merced County. Avina walked nearly a mile before collapsing. She later died in a burn unit in San Jose.

Last year, a jury convicted 27-year-old Luis Alberto Valencia of first-degree murder with special circumstances for torture, kidnapping and mayhem in Avina's death. Two other defendants await trial.

Health

Diabetes quiz

Want to know whether you're at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes?

Community Diabetes Care Center is encouraging people to take a Diabetes Risk Factor Quiz on Diabetes Alert Day Tuesday at the Community Regional Medical Center cafeteria. The quiz will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The care center will have a table display with the quiz as well as diabetes education and diabetes prevention information. Free glucose meters also will be given away.

Education

Strathmore team rockets to finals

A Strathmore high school's rocketry team will compete in the national finals of the world's largest rocket contest after beating out 507 other teams from across the nation.

Eight Harmony Magnet Academy students had to design and build a rocket that would fly at least 750 feet for 40 to 45 seconds with a 15-inch parachute that would return an egg inside back to earth unbroken in order to qualify to be one of 100 teams that would move on to the next round.

Students compete for $60,000 in prizes and scholarships at the Team America Rocketry Challenge finals, which will be held May 14 in The Plains, Va. The winning team will have a chance to attend the International Paris Air Show in Paris and compete against teams from the United Kingdom and France.

Harmony Magnet Academy rocketry team members include Mark Bagasol, Christian Boudreaux, Pheng Cha, Adam Huth, Daniel Reif, Shelby Simonich, Sharanya Thiagarajan, and Samuel Zelaya.

Only three teams from the state of California are competing in the national finals, and Harmony Magnet Academy is the only team from the Central Valley.

Sequoia students win NASA contest

A team of Sequoia Middle School students has won first place in NASA's international Space Settlement Contest.

The team and their project, titled "Big Bang," competed against 355 teams from 15 countries. As first place winners, they will travel to the 30th Annual National Space Society Conference May 18-22 to receive an award, present their project and listen to special guest speakers such as Buzz Aldrin.

Also ...

Anti-prescription drug campaign starts

A campaign to combat increasing rates of prescription drug abuse by children in Fresno County will launch at 2 p.m. April 28 at the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

Speakers will include Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno, Clovis Mayor Pro Tem Lynne Ashbeck and Fresno parents whose family members were victims of prescription drug abuse.

White mailboxes will be placed in the lobbies of law-enforcement agencies where expired and unwanted prescription drugs can be dropped off to be collected daily for safe disposal.

Rail money sought

Local transportation and economic development advocates will gather at 10:30 a.m. today to make the case for California to receive the bulk of federal high-speed rail money being redirected from Florida.

Among the news conference participants at the downtown Fresno Amtrak station will be representatives of the California Public Interest Research Group, the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Economic Development Council and Tom Richards, a Fresno developer who is a member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board.

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