Thumbs up to Grace Bernhardt, a 15-year-old University High School student who saw a need and met it. Over two years, she raised nearly $200,000 from community donors for a playground at the child care center that serves 125 women and children living at the Hacienda Campus and others who visit. It will be named Grace’s Place. The Mental Health Services Regional Office is at 2550 W. Clinton in Fresno. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors named Thursday as Grace’s Place Day, the day of the ribbon-cutting.
Thumbs up to the Global Winter Wonderland Show in Tulare, for adding one more grand tradition to the Valley’s holiday opportunities for fun. Wonderland is billed as the world’s largest light sculpture display, with 51 colorful sculptures of global landmarks. There are food vendors, stage shows, a carnival and rides. It’s open Dec. 18-Jan. 3 at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, 620 S. K St. in Tulare. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for children/seniors; children under 3 are free. Unlimited ride wristband is $25. Tickets, season passes and carnival wristbands are available at www.globalwonderland.com.
Thumbs down to two men joining Fresno’s list of not-very-bright guys. They were playing music so loudly in their car that police checked it out. After looking in the car, officers busted Lue Vang, 29, an Asian Crip gang member, and Steve Yang, 29, an associate of the gang, when they found in the car 7 pounds of marijuana and a Glock handgun. Sgt. Paul Cervantes of the MAGEC anti-gang unit said Vang was on post-release supervision and was wanted on a firearms charge, and Yang was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs. Here is the deal, guys. When you are breaking the law, you hide; you don’t hold a concert in your car.
Thumbs up to Tulare County sheriff’s Detectives Richard Ramirez and Victor Bonilla for receiving the department’s Medal of Valor. The men saved lives when a gang member and parolee opened fire inside his home. Bullets crashed through walls for 27 minutes, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. He said the two risked their lives to protect several family members in the house, despite the man telling his mother he was going to kill everyone there. Twelve hours later, persuaded by tear gas, the parolee surrendered. Not a single round was fired by any member of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department during this highly stressful incident, the sheriff said. Ramirez and Bonilla are 17-year veterans who started together working in the jail.
Thumbs up to the wearers of the ugly T-shirts, proudly sported because they donated to the Central California Blood Center’s annual holiday drive, which runs through Saturday. The center recruits donors to build up blood supplies before holiday travel weekends. Every donor gets an ugly holiday T-shirt. For locations, go to www.donateblood.org.
Thumbs up to donors helping the women and children served by Marjaree Mason Center, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. Donors can answer Christmas gift wishes from the Tree of Hope at the Fashion Fair Mall north entrance or the Sierra Vista Mall east entrance, volunteer for holiday festivities, or fully adopt a family, providing a tree with decorations, gifts for the family and a holiday meal. To help out, call Laura at 487-1360 or Amanda at 437-1317.
Thumbs up to Starbucks and Aspiranet for posting gift wishes from foster children and at-risk youths at 37 Starbucks stores through Dec. 21. Aspiranet is a human services agency. Customers can select a gift wish of a child or teen, then return with an unwrapped gift to the store location with the original gift tag attached.
Thumbs up to Porterville teacher Robert Otto for being selected the California League of Middle Schools Region 7 educator of the year. He is an eighth-grade English language arts teacher at Pioneer Middle School and also teaches at Porterville City College. The award is given to 11 educators who have contributed to educational reform. He will represent the Central Valley’s seven counties at the league’s annual state conference in Sacramento.
Thumbs up to the Central Valley Community Foundation for awarding $800,000 to fund new programs to support families and help children up to 8 years old improve their educational experience by third grade. The foundation’s strategy was to pursue a Valleywide outreach to identify communities that support the education of children living in poverty. The recipients include Reading and Beyond, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tulare and Fresno counties, and the California School-Based Health Alliance.