Thumbs up to the partnership of a visionary founder, the state green-lighting funds, and the kid-loving community of Visalia for creating the dynamic Imagine U Children’s Interactive Museum, which opened recently. Angela Huerta of Visalia had a vision for this educational play space 13 years ago, and started out in a donated auto showroom on East Main Street. Now what may be the Valley’s most elaborate museum is delighting children every day. “It was countless people who made it happen,” Huerta told The Bee’s Lewis Griswold. The 15,000-square-foot building was paid for by a $5.4 million Proposition 84 grant. Russ Taylor and the Taylor Group in Fresno were the architects, and details include an outdoor column that looks like a giant crayon. Exhibits are aimed at children ages 1 through 13 or 14. The museum gets 90 percent of its operating revenues from general admission, field trips, events and birthday parties. Sounds like a great place to gather friends of all ages for a good time.
Thumbs down to the people who called 911 when Comcast services were halted due to a fire this week. All right, so some people are mentally ill or paranoid. You’re excused. A few folks are alone and elderly, confused about what to do. OK. But for the vast majority, let’s go over this again: 911 is for emergencies – fire, heart attack, stroke, impending birth outside a hospital. Got it? An interruption in your TV, Internet or phone is not that. Clogging the phone lines so people with true emergencies cannot get through to call for help deserves a fat fine.
Thumbs up to Jesse Ramirez of Sanger for winning a $450,000 dream home in the annual St. Jude drawing. The home has 2,924 square feet and is located at Temperance and Sierra avenues in Clovis. De Young Properties set a record for its 12-year series this year, raising $1,083,000 for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Other companies, including 84 Lumber, Granite Mountain Stone Design, Ferguson Enterprises of Fresno and General Electric Appliances, donated labor and resources for the home. With no house payments to worry about, we expect the Ramirez family to throw one very big housewarming party. The only happier families about this are the ones whose care at St. Jude’s just got a big boost.
Thumbs down to the Downtown Fresno Partnership and City Hall for flaking out on the popular downtown ice skating rink. How disappointing to lose this proven people-magnet. OK, so there were some people dreaming that the entire six-block Fulton Mall would be under construction all winter. So what about seeking alternate downtown locations? Chukchansi Park, Eaton Plaza, an underused business parking lot, a vacant lot? A public plea for a donated location? If that is just overwhelming, then why not offer the opportunity to another organization when there was still time to work? Innovation started it. Where is that spirit to keep it going? Forget the coffee cups, this is a Fresno Christmas fail.
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Thumbs up to the 5,000 Veterans Day parade participants, who have made a name for Fresno by creating the biggest parade of its kind west of the Mississippi. The procession stretched for more than an hour on Nov. 11 and covered 1.15 miles of downtown streets. It was such a success that next year’s event will be even bigger. A ball, open to everyone, will be held the day before next year’s parade and Lt. Col. Oliver North, a former Marine turned author and TV contributor, will serve as its grand marshal. Every city should be known for something good, and being famous for celebrating veterans is a fine title.
Thumbs up to the yarn bomber pranksters who knitted up a sweater for the dinosaur statue on the Sinclair gas station at Bullard and Palm avenues. The customers asked permission of station owner Ali Saleh before dressing the dino. The green guy will stay warm through the holidays. We are not big fans of practical jokes because they so often go sideways, but yarn bombers add a welcome warmth and playfulness to the city’s personality. Plus, we like that they ask permission before attacking. Knitters are like that.
Thumbs up to Fansler Foundation for awarding $83,630 to Break the Barriers, a local organization famous for enhancing the talents of athletes of all abilities. BTB activities go far beyond the physical, and this funding will support an advanced literacy program and lessons in sign language, music and dance. The foundation supports Valley nonprofit organizations that improve the lives of children with intellectual disabilities and underserved children. If the latest “Hunger Games” film makes you want to learn archery or martial arts, just give BTB a call.