Word on the Street: Laptop shop links FUSD to discounts

A computer seller and Fresno Unified School District are experimenting with a new concept: a store selling HP laptop computers open only to district students and staff.

The Mini-Blue store ( opened late last year, selling mostly to faculty and administrators, but is just beginning to market to students.

The store is run by the Fresno office of Western Blue, an HP dealer providing computers and support to Fresno Unified. It's at 2225 W. Shaw Ave. in the back of the Piccadilly Square shopping center.

The store sells netbook computers geared specifically for Fresno Unified students and faculty, using the district's discount.

The computer purchased most often by students, a Mini-Note 1101 with a 10.1-inch screen, weighs 3 pounds and sells for $299, cheaper than a similar model at a regular retailer, said program manager Brian Allen. The computers have extended battery power and are business versions.

Buyers must present a student or employee ID number.

The store is using interns who are marketing majors from Fresno State's Craig School of Business to handle its marketing.

New firm in Selma

Two professionals with roots outside the United States have partnered to open an engineering and surveying office in downtown Selma.

Central Valley Engineering and Surveying ( is co-owned by Peter Moua, 40, a licensed engineer and surveyor who was born in Laos, and Narinder "Nick" Sahota, a 35-year-old native of India who is a licensed surveyor.

The two have been in business together for about five years, working out of their respective homes, but recently decided to open a commercial office in Sahota's adopted hometown.

Moua, an ethnic Hmong, and his family -- including eight siblings -- were refugees fleeing the Communist regime in Laos after the United States pulled out of the Vietnam War. He has worked in engineering design, construction management and surveying for 17 years.

Sahota was 13 when his Sikh family settled in the Selma area.

Both men are graduates of California State University, Fresno.

The firm held a ribbon cutting Friday, which was attended by Gen. Vang Pao, who led the Hmong who helped American forces during the Vietnam War.

Going green

Inventor Steve Berglund has created a solution for consumers looking for an eco-friendly way to carry their dry cleaning. Berglund, owner of Mastercraft Solvent Free Dry Cleaning in Fresno, has developed the Handy Hamper Green Bag. The bag is used to carry clothes to and from the dry cleaner, eliminating the need for plastic bags.

Berglund borrows the concept of reusable bags that are being used in most major grocery stores.

"It really eliminates a lot of waste," Berglund said. "And the bags are biodegradable."

The Handy Hamper Green Bag retails for $19.95 and will be available at his Fig Garden Village store in about two months.