Clovis News

Word on the Street: SparkPoint offers free help

A center offering free financial help on everything from mortgages to tax help celebrated its grand opening last week.

SparkPoint Fresno inside the United Way of Fresno County on Kings Canyon Road is open 25 hours a week. It is geared toward helping low- and moderate-income people with financial services, including credit counseling, housing assistance, tax help, government benefits and general financial education.

SparkPoint is patterned after the SparkPoint centers in Oakland. Several agencies collaborated to make SparkPoint happen, including the United Way, Bank on Fresno, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and the Financial Stability Impact Council.

Fresno-based Spencer Enterprises donated its time transforming the empty 3,000-square-foot space into an area with four cubicles and a training room.

"We want clients to be able to use their money in the best way possible, and we want them to become self-sufficient," said Sevag Tateosian, United Way's financial stability services manager. "It's a tough task, but our partners are willing to go there."

SparkPoint is at 4949 E. Kings Canyon Road. Potential clients are asked to call Fresno County's information hotline by dialing 211 for appointments.

Selma Antique and Art Fair

An antique collector and artist has started an antique and art fair in Selma.

The Selma Antique and Art Fair debuted in Lincoln Park on McCall Avenue last month. The monthly event will continue on the first Sunday of each month, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The next one happens May 1, said creator Andy Gonzales.

Although the Valley has plenty of swap meets, Gonzales said he wanted to create an antique fair similar those that are popular in the Bay Area and Southern California.

"It's not like a yard sale," he said. "It has to be vintage -- at least 20 years or older."

He envisions sales of old signs, furniture and oil paintings.

Gonzales is an antique collector, former antique dealer and an artist. He pays to rent the park and for the insurance. Sellers at the event pay $25 a space.

He also wanted an outlet for artists to show and sell their work. Artists pay $10 a space.

Gonzales said the event has started small, but he hopes it will grow soon. "I'd like to see this thing grow and eventually incorporate within it a little farmers market," he said.

Room to grow

Gb3 at Herndon and Fowler avenues in Clovis is expanding. The fitness club is adding 5,100 square feet that will include an aerobics center, 30% more cardio equipment and boxing.

The Clovis club already has a heated indoor pool, child-care center, a full climbing maze, and the latest in exercise equipment.

"I feel very fortunate we've been passed over by the bad economy," said club owner George Brown. "The clubs are kind of an escape for people. When you're inside working out, you don't know if the person next to you is going through good times or bad."

Brown operates four clubs in the Fresno and Clovis area. A fifth is in the works on West Herndon Avenue.