Central Valley magazine June 2017

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June 2017

Summertime to-do list

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Summer’s here. From whitewater rafting to staying cool with some Ampersand, we have ideas to make it great.

Just around the river bend Recreational options abound at the San Joaquin and Kings rivers. Grab some sunscreen and let’s go.

Things are looking up Hollywood gets all the press, but if you want to see real stars, just look up. Nature’s display won’t disappoint.

Did somebody say pizza? Most of us grew up with the classic pepperoni, but that’s child’s play when you look at the flavors available now.

Central Coast’s hidden gem Arroyo Grande isn’t beach side, but this charming Central Coast town doesn’t need waves to delight visitors.


40 6 Sneak peek 7 Believe it 8 Pastimes 11 Make it 12 Don’t Miss Calendar 14 Two Degrees of Separation 16 25 Things You Didn’t Know About ... 20 Valley Gems 24 People Profile 28 Timely Trends 40 Eat, Drink, Be Merry 44 Get Up & Go


48 Snapshots

4 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

If you’re looking for an adventure, we have you covered. From whitewater rafting to seeing a show at one of the area’s remaining drive-in movie theaters, we have your summertime bucket list. Read more on page 28. PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian

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At Home

Enjoy every minute of summer


hen summer temperatures reach past the triple digits into the ugly triple digits, it is easy to sit at home, glued in place by the glory of the AC. Or, if you’re lucky enough, you might also slip outside to your backyard pool and take a soak. Both options are tempting, but we here at Central Valley have other plans for you. We’ve thought of a whole bunch of other things you could be doing. Our summertime bucket list begins on page 28. Our list of just 50 of the best summertime activities isn’t judgmental. Some involve ice cream and some involve air conditioning. But, I do admit, most of them involve getting up from in front of the fan and going out and experiencing the Valley outside the comforts of your own home. (Don’t worry. Netflix and that fabulous AC will still be there when you return.) If, by some odd reason, you still find yourself looking for something to do this summer, writer Dani Villalobos takes us to the beautiful San Joaquin and Kings rivers.

Writer Cyndee Fontana-Ott takes us to the Central Coast’s hidden gem, Arroyo Grande. And Farin Montañez simply takes us to the stars. And if all that activity leaves you hungry, we also have a story that will solve the problem a hot summer always seems to present. When it is too hot to cook, might we suggest you order a pizza? Today’s local pizza menus feature a near-infinite variety of options that range far beyond the choice of cheese or pepperoni. Here in the Central Valley, our seasoned chefs serve traditional pies along with some creative options. How creative? Check out page 40 to find out, but I’ll give you a hint. spaghetti pizza anyone? Or is Raisin Chicken Ranch more your style? Sampling those flavors just might have to be on my bucket list for summer as well. Here’s to the season. Keep cool, friends.


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’Tis the season

June 2017/ Vol. 6, Issue 6 ......................... Central Valley magazine is produced by the Custom Publications staff of The Fresno Bee and published by The Fresno Bee. It is inserted into The Fresno Bee on the fourth Saturday of the month in the Fresno/Clovis area. It can also be found in waiting rooms throughout Fresno/Clovis. Cover price $3.95

President & Publisher Tom Cullinan Vice President, Sales & Strategic Marketing John Coakley Editor Carey Norton | 559-441-6755 Advertising Sales Director Bill Gutierrez | 559-441-6405 Production Coordinator Anna Ramseier | 559-441-6751 Central Valley Sales Leader Sonia White | 559-441-6156

Summer is here — and with it, one of Old Town Clovis’ most popular seasonal events: the Friday Night Farmers Market. Now in its 28th season, the weekly evening event is scheduled from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and draws crowds to Old Town Clovis’ streets with a variety of activities, including live concerts, tasty summer goodies provided by vendors, local farmers with their stock of fresh produce and even an opportunity to view some regional art. The Fresno Art Council’s well-known ArtHop series is expanding its reach for 21 evenings into downtown Clovis to coincide with the Friday Night Farmers Market — through Friday, Sept. 30. The ArtHop component takes place on Fourth Street to better highlight the night’s featured artists and their work, with the Business Organization of Old Town Clovis working to bring in special food offerings and entertainment to add to the experience for guests. The ArtHop program is designed to better connect the community with area artists, with many museums, galleries, artist studios and other venues opening their doors to the public for an evening of free food, music and fun each month. Details: www.oldtownclovis.org/arthop-revampcall-artists

Assistant Editor Monica Stevens | 559-441-6149 Custom Publications Staff Katie Fries | 559-441-6332 Farin Montañez | 559-441-6677 Janessa Tyler | 559-441-6764 Dani Villalobos | 559-441-6759 Contributing Writers Cyndee Fontana-Ott, Douglas Hoagland, Gail Marshall, Janice Stevens, Teryn Yancey Contributing Photographers Vivian Krug Cotton, Matthew Drake, Wayne Hutchison, Gary Kazanjian, Jessica Rogozinski, Teryn Yancey Design Erik Davison, Kristi Marinelly, Carey Norton, Monica Stevens, Juan Vega, Dani Villalobos, Lisa Vogt Contributing Artists Erik Davison, Pat Hunter, Chris Ware Reader inquiries Central Valley magazine 1626 E St., Fresno, CA 93786 559-441-6755 All content © The Fresno Bee To contribute, please contact Carey Norton at 559-441-6755 or cnorton@fresnobee.com

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6 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Show your pride Stop what you’re doing, forget your plans — the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival is inviting you to support and celebrate the courage, culture and diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on June 3. Presented by Community Link, the theme for 2017 is “One Step Starts a Movement.” The local nonprofit organization has been an advocate for the LGBT+ community for nearly 30 years. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade will draw more than 3,000 people to march through the Tower District. It runs along Olive Avenue, starting at Palm Avenue and ending at Maroa Avenue. The festival, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature a colorful array of vendors, live entertainment and information booths. Details: www.fresnorainbowpride.com

Take the scenic route Run in the shadows of 3,000-year-old giant sequoias in Nelder Grove at the annual Shadow of the Giants 50K trail race June 3. The event is a stone’s throw from Yosemite National Park, with on-site lodging at Green Meadows Outdoor School — just bring a sleeping bag and pillow. Runners are treated to a scenic, singletrack loop course through the forest with nearly 4,000 feet of climbing in the 50K. A 20K fun run option is also available for those who want to appreciate the beauty without the pain. Volunteers are always needed, so those who aren’t in shape to go the distance can keep runners’ aid stations stocked with water and snacks. Details: www.sanjoaquinrunning. com

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Make a splash

The big game and a drink The two seem to go hand-in-hand, right? But at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company in downtown Fresno, the local hotspot is all about one special game in particular: cornhole. Or corn toss. Or bean bag. Maybe even bean toss or soft horseshoes? Yeah, there are several iterations of the beloved activity, but the basics of how its played are generally universal. Cornhole requires the same tossing motion of horseshoes, but instead of metal on metal, players aim their corn bags at a hole in a wooden platform. Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the platform, earning players three points for a corn bag successfully making it in the hole and one point if it lands on the platform. The objective is to reach 21 points first. The scoring process moves quickly, with competitors often taking turns being in the lead throughout the game before a winner is claimed. Cornhole is typically played tournament-style, and is easy to perform just about anywhere — two points the brewery has taken advantage of quite nicely. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s beer garden has hosted a series of cornhole tournaments in its time, with winning teams walking away with prizes, a belly full of craft beer and a bit of

cornhole-street cred. But the place comes stocked with cornhole supplies year-round — perfect for any occasion with friends. Play a game and follow more cornhole-related news at the brewery’s Facebook page. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s beer garden is at 745 Fulton St., Fresno. Details: www.facebook.com/tiogasequoiabrewing

Honor your father With Father’s Day around the corner, we have a few activities to help you honor — and celebrate — your dad. Father’s Day is an annual civic celebration that honors fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence of fathers in society. Father’s Day was started in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in May. First, let’s start with a race for your mind, body and soul. The 2017 Father’s Day Run & Walk features three family-friendly choices: the 2-mile run, the 6-mile run or the 2-mile walk. Sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports, the annual event is set for 8 a.m., Sunday, June 18 at the Mountain View Shelter in Woodward Park. Proceeds benefit the track and field team of Fresno City College. If you’re looking for an evening of rhythm and blues, look no further than the Tower

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District Father’s Day Blues Festival. Sponsored by the Central Valley Blues Society and the Tower District Marketing Committee, the festival runs from 5 to 9 p.m., Sunday, June 18 on the lawn of St. Therese Catholic Church. Tickets can be purchased for $15 at the Tower Theatre Box Office. Details: www.fathersdayrunfresno.com, www.towerdistrict.org

It’s the age-old Fresno summer dilemma: You want to get the kids out of the house, but it’s too darn hot to get out of the house. Is heatstroke really worth it, you ask yourself? And, you’d prefer not to spend a lot of money because you just went to the movies yesterday. Good thing there are free and inexpensive pools and water play areas to hit up. Several area playgrounds feature free water play areas, sometimes called splash pads, spraygrounds or splash parks. They include interactive features such as water fountains, misters and water cascades. These special play areas can be found at: Dickey Park, Inspiration Park, Fig Garden Loop Park, Martin Ray Reilly Park and Todd Beamer Park. Rotary Playland in Roeding Park also operates Splash Junction, which has a $1 admission fee. If you’re in the mood for a deeper dive, head to the pool. The City of Fresno operates several public swimming pools, which are open for recreational swimming from mid-June through mid-August. The cost is $1 for children under age 18 and $2 for adults. Public pools operated by the City of Fresno include: Airways Pool, Frank H. Ball Pool, Mary Ella Brown Pool and Mosqueda. In addition to these standard pools, the City also has several “learner” pools, with shallower depths for swimmers ages 5 to 12. Find them at: Einstein Park, Fink White Park, Pinedale Community Center, Quigley Neighborhood Park and Romain Neighborhood Park. Some area high schools also open their swimming pools to the public during the summer months. Hours of availability may vary, since many host swim lessons and swim and water polo practices. The pools at Clovis and Clovis West high schools will be open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from June 19 to July 27. A nominal fee — $3 for adults and $2 for children — helps cover lifeguard fees. Fresno Unified School District is also expected to provide low-cost pool use for Fresno families. Then there’s the Central Unified Aquatics Complex. Located at Central East, the complex boasts a recreational swimming pool and waterslides. It’s open daily (except for Sunday) from June 10 to Aug. 5. Admission costs $6 per person; children age 2 and under are admitted at no charge.

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The Giffen home stands as a monument to church leadership elder and junior Giffen invested in vineyard properhereas once the mansion of prominent ty,” writes Kevin Enns-Rempel, director, Hebert early pioneers in the Central Valley, the Library, Fresno Pacific University, in Mennonite Giffen Home at 4824 E. Butler Ave. in Brethren Historical Society of the West Coast BulleFresno now houses the Administration Building of tin. “Wylie Giffen soon rose to prominence in the Fresno Pacific University. Founded in 1944 by the local grape and raisin industry. His land holdings Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren grew to immense proportions during the following Churches, FPU is an accredited Christian university years, and he eventually owned vineyards in seven through the Western Association of Schools and different California counties. Giffen was one of the Colleges. The university awards bachelors’ and founders in 1912 of the California Associated Raisin masters’ degrees. Company (CARC), today known as Sun-Maid RaiAfter a merger sins, and served as between Mennoits president from nite Brethren Bibli1913 to 1923.” cal Seminary and Other prominent Fresno Pacific early pioneers from University in 2010, the Central Valley “The U.S. Conferare listed in the ence of Mennonite charter membership Brethren churches of the California turned over operAssociated Raisin ations of the semiCompany. In the nary to Fresno book, “Fresno CounPacific on June 1, ty in the 20th Centuincluding property ry,” by Charles W. at Butler and ChestClough and 20 nut avenues and co-authors, Richard $2.25 million in D. Hall writes, “In This vignette illustrates the architectural design elements designated endow1911, [W.R.] Nutting of the Giffen home. ments. The semiproposed a raisin nary’s faculty and exchange. The exstaff members now are Fresno Pacific employees,” change helped to educate growers about cooperwrites Ron Orozco in a Fresno Bee article. atives and the next year, Nutting headed a commitSurrounding the historical Giffen home on close tee, which organized the California Associated to 50 acres, modern educational facilities contrast Raisin Company. Charter directors listed on the with the architectural design of the early 1900s articles of incorporation November 27, 1912, were: reflected in the home. The stately home dates back Nutting, James Madison, Wylie M. Giffen, Hector to Wylie M. Giffen, a native of Greenburg, PennBurness, A. G. Wishon, H.H. Welsh and H. Graff. By sylvania, who moved to Fresno County in 1888 September 1913, the company had shipped 100,561 when his father became the pastor of the First tons of raisins, and trade papers said the new coopPresbyterian Church in Fowler. erative controlled the California raisin crop.” “Shortly after their arrival in the area, both the Giffen’s success in the grape and raisin industry

BY: Janice Stevens | ILLUSTRATIONS: Pat Hunter

W Janice Stevens is the author of multiple books on California history: Fresno’s Architectural Past, Vol. I and II, William Saroyan: Places in Time; Remembering the California Missions; and An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 (North, Central and South), plus Breaking Bread with William Saroyan, collaborations with her business partner, watercolorist Pat Hunter, and two volumes of Stories of Service, compilations of Valley veterans’ military memoirs. Ask Janice a Fresno history question by emailing custom@ fresnobee.com or posting your question on the Central Valley magazine Facebook page, www.facebook. com/CentralValleyMag.

8 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

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was the catalyst to build his mansion. “In about 1916, Giffen began planning for a large country home, suitable to a man of his stature, at Butler and Chestnut avenues in Fresno. Giffen hired the architect Henry F. Starbuck to draw the plans and supervise the construction. Starbuck, who lived and worked in Fresno from 1910 to 1926, had already established himself as an important architect in San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland,” writes Enns-Rempel. Starbuck’s accomplishments include several churches in the Central Valley. “His designs for church buildings were particularly noteworthy. Among Starbuck’s more significant Fresno church designs were the 1912 First Congregational Church at San Pablo and Divisadero (today the King Solomon Lodge), the 1914 German Free Evangelical Lutheran Congregational Church, or the ‘Cross Church,’ at Los Angeles and E Streets, today the Fresno Temple Church of God in Christ, and the 1917 Bethel Lutheran Church at Broadway and Nevada. Given Starbuck’s renown as a designer of church buildings, it is fitting that the Giffen mansion would one day become the home of a church institution as well,” writes Enns-Rempel. In a productive cycle of church designs, Starbuck’s two-story home for Giffen includes features reminis-

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cent of the large sanctuary structures such as the Cross Church in downtown Fresno. “Wylie Giffen built the spacious home for his wife and three children and the family lived there and farmed the surrounding land until 1923, when the land was subdivided. The English Tudor Style is reflected in the high gabled tile roof with no eave, inside brick chimneys, and exterior stretcher bond brick on the lower level, with wood rimmed stucco on the upper level. The upstairs rooms open into a large central hall with a stained glass skylight, through which prisms of colored light reflect on the walls and floor,” notes an author in Heritage Fresno Homes and People by the American Association of University Women. Although the architectural style of the Giffen home has been described as Elizabethan as well as English Tudor Style, Enns-Rempel says, “The overhanging eaves and screen porch are much more typical of Arts & Crafts than Tudor. But the extensive remodeling of the house (probably in the 1930s), which removed those elements, really did change it to something more resembling Tudor Revival.” Although Giffen continued to expand his land hold-

The 1916-1917 Wylie Giffen home now houses the Fresno Pacific University Administration Building.

Please see next page

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The monochromatic artist’s rendering is from a Russel C. Fey photograph in “Heritage Fresno Homes and People” by the American Association of University Women.

continued ... ings and success in the muscat and raisin industries, his position was short-lived. By the early 1920s, due to a downturn in the raisin market, Giffen was forced to liquidate much of his acreage, and step down from his role as president of Fresno’s Fidelity Trust and Savings Bank. “One writer of the time noted that, ‘from shirtsleeves to millionaire and bank president, and back to shirt-sleeves usually requires three generations. It is said Mr. Giffen made the course in fourteen years.’ Amidst all the other losses, Giffen gave up the impressive home he had built less than a decade earlier,” writes Enns-Rempel. However, bouncing back from these financial setbacks, Giffen remained a key player in the agriculture industry. “He was one of the first farmers to discover that cotton grew more successfully than vines in the boron-laden water of the Valley’s west side, and eventually farmed as many as 12,000 acres of cotton and

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wheat there during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Neither did Giffen completely leave the raisin industry. He became chairman of the ‘Committee of Fifty’ a statewide committee spearheading a campaign to sign up California vineyard growers under the Federal Farm Board grape control plan. In 1930, a crowd estimated at 5,000 gathered in Fresno’s Roeding Park to celebrate Giffen’s role in the successful campaign and honor him for his work on behalf of the grape industry. Immediately on the heels of this celebration, Giffen was elected President of the California Raisin Pool, a post he held from 1930 to 1934,” writes Enns-Rempel. Giffen became ill in August 1936, and he died at the age of 64. His mansion passed through several owners in the decades that followed with portions of the land sold to Pacific Bible Institute, for educational buildings in the mid-1950s. The Mennonite World Review, dated Jan. 30, 2017, reports the selection of Joseph Jones as the next president of Fresno Pacific University. Bringing his administrative, fundraising and international expertise to the university to further the mission, the article notes, “FPU looks to Jones to nurture its Christian identity and commitment to distinctive education, expand fundraising and financial solidity, foster community and diversity, develop innovative academic programs and partnerships and expand facilities.” The Giffen home, in the midst of this expanding university, for more than a hundred years, remains as a beacon to the Central Valley’s heritage. However, “The Giffen mansion has always been more than bricks, timber and stucco. It was from its inception and remains today a monument,” writes Enns-Rempel. “Wylie Giffen built it as a monument to his worldly success, a success that proved fleeting. Today, the building still stands as a monument to a more enduring and important concern — the development of church leaders.” CV

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10 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

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Make your picnic festive BY: Teryn Yancey | PHOTOGRAPHY: Teryn Yancey


ummer means it’s picnic season. If you’re thinking about heading to your favorite spot in the Central Valley, this project will have you doing so in style. If you are attending a concert in the park or just having fun in the sun, we’ve got you covered with hand-painted drop cloths. This month’s picnic blanket project is adorable, washable, inexpensive and can be customized with any print.

Supplies 1 6x9 8-ounce canvas drop cloth found at any hardware store 3 1-inch foam brushes 4 tassels Yellow, green and pink fabric craft paint Plastic table cloth 2 stencils *Silhouette machine + stencil material if you want to create your own stencil. (You can create this project with any stencil, but I really did love making my own to fit my design vision.)

Procedure 1. Grab your stencils or design your own stencil with stencil material and machine.

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2. Put some paint on cardstock or a paper plate. 3. Firmly press down the sticky stencil on to the left corner of the drop cloth. 4. Sponge the paint on top of the stencil until it is fully filled in. 5. Do the same for the other stencils. Once filled in, pull the stencils up and place them on the next spot. Continue with a pattern until the entire thing is stenciled. I did rows 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, alternating stencils. Pro tip: Place a plastic tablecloth over your dining table before you begin painting with your stencil. The paint might soak in and bleed a little from the back. The tablecloth will protect your workspace. 6. Once it’s completely dry, add your yarn tassels to all four corners or all around, your choice. I did so with a button and placed the loop of the tassel around it so that I’m able to take them off to wash the blanket after some fun in the sun. — Teryn Yancey is the creative mind behind the Fresno-based Vintage Romance Style, a DIY+ women's lifestyle blog where health and happiness collide. Find DIY projects ranging from home decor to simple crafts, recipes, fitness and beauty at www.vintageromancestyle.com.






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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 11



June isn’t just a time for dads and grads to celebrate. School’s out and the days are long. It’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy our Central Valley summer.

summer. Pick up some fruit, veggies and pastries for Saturday’s breakfast, enjoy live entertainment and say hello to your favorite market merchants. Details: www.oldtownclovis.org/farmersmarket

12 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine



The Bard meets ballet in Valley Performing Arts Council’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The classic comedy features mismatched lovers, meddling fairies and a little bit of magic. Details: www.valleyperformingartscouncil.org/a-midsummer-nightsdream

Every summer, Bluegrass in the Park hosts free Friday night concerts at Clovis’ Veterans Memorial Park. Bring a picnic dinner — or pick something up from the nearby Old Town Clovis Farmers Market — and chairs or blankets. Details: www.facebook.com/Bluegrass-inthe-Park-359599060985


For more complete calendar listings, go to planitfresno.com

Summer Shakespeare

Friday night bluegrass

It’s a wild party Every year, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo celebrates its members and Adopt-an-Animal sponsors at Zoobilation, where they can participate in behindthe-scenes tours and special activities. Free dessert makes the evening extra sweet. Details: www.fresnochaffeezoo.org/event/ zoobilation

Farm fresh


The Saturday morning Old Town Clovis farmers market runs year-round, but don’t forget it also makes an appearance on Friday nights throughout the

Vino for Vets. The Central Valley Veterans spring fundraiser, held at Engelmann Cellars, includes wine tastings, appetizers, raffles and live entertainment. Details: www.centralvalleyveterans.org/events/vinofor-our-vets

To the top Street style


Everyone’s favorite “Sesame Street” friends will take the stage at “Sesame Street Live! In Elmo Makes Music,” the gang searches for their music teacher’s missing instruments — and learns a little something about making music together in the process. Details: www.savemartcenter.com/events/sesame-streetlive


Cyclists looking to challenge themselves won’t want to miss the 41st annual Climb to Kaiser. Ranked as one of the 10 toughest rides in America by Bicycling Magazine, the 155mile course boasts 15,000 feet of climbing. If that sounds like a little too much, the Tollhouse Century is only 95 miles. Details: www.climbtokaiser.com

Wine time


Raise a glass to the men and women who served our country at the third annual c e n t r a lva lle y.c o m

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Celebrating a new chapter S

ometimes, a lady deserves a celebration. That was the unanimous decision of Linda Leach’s friends when they came up with a bright idea. A speech pathologist at Valley Children’s Hospital, Linda has had a rough few years. She’s had some health challenges and also cares for her husband, Tim, who has Alzheimer’s disease. But then the news came. Something wonderful was about to happen to change Linda’s life forever. She would soon become a patty cake-playing, pacifierpacking grandmother. This called for a Grandma Shower.

Gail Marshall is the associate editor for the Opinion pages of The Fresno Bee. She also is a freelance writer and editor who has her own company, Marshall Arts Communications Consultants. A co-author of “Kidnapped at Chowchilla: The School Bus Hijacking,” she is married and the mother of a son, Scott, who lives in heaven. Contact her at gailmailmarshall@gmail.com, on Facebook or @gailmarshall on Twitter.


14 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

At a time like this, it is great to have a friend like Flo Chartier of Madera and a posse of experienced grandmothers who know how momentous it is when a woman’s world takes on the sweet smell of baby powder. Grandma! comes with an exclamation mark for me. I was fortunate to have two angels who were true-to-life fairy grandmothers with magic powers. For as long as they both drew breath, they were always there, a safe place for me to land. No matter the predicaments I got myself into, my grandmothers used their bottomless wisdom, patience, empathy, hope and humor to make it all better. When I disappointed myself or others, they saw only the best in me. When life tossed me into the sea, they showed up in speedboats. Beneath their elegant clothes and perfect hairstyles, one grandma carried the scars of being burned in a boiling bath when she was a baby. Nana’s body was crisscrossed with scars: one was from a failed kidney and another from heart surgery, just to start. Those marks hurt me to see, but gave me strength to face much smaller adversities by comparison. As Maya Angelou wrote in her poem “Our Grandmothers”: “I go forth alone and stand as ten thousand.” Linda will have her own stories for the baby. Two weeks before the shower, she suffered a “mild” stroke — but don’t you worry, she wouldn’t have missed that party for anything. (Thankfully, she is expected to recover fully.) A grandma celebration for Linda? Absolutely! If you are new to this tradition, as I am, they generally work like a traditional baby shower except the gifts are things a grandmother needs. No breast pumps or in-

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virgin margaritas and cakes from Nothing Bundt Cajes. In addition to the books, in both English and Spanish, Flo and Linda’s daughter, Allison, teamed up to design and create a heritage quilt in a windmill pattern. So far, this grandma shower No matter the predicaments I has been all about the women. got myself into, my What about the grandfathers? In the quilt are scraps from the grandmothers used their baby’s grandfather, Tim, and great-grandfather, K.O. bottomless wisdom, patience, The partnership is an imempathy, hope and humor to pressive one, since Allison is a Hollywood costume designer make it all better. and Flo is an accomplished quiltmaker. Allison has created costumes for projects such as “Max Steel,” “Glee” and “Mad Men.” Her current project is “American Crime: The Versace Murder.” On the back of the quilt is a patch giving its history. It also carries wise words from the baby’s grandfather. When anyone would ask Tim if he was ready for this or that, he would say, “I was born ready” or “I stay ready.” Oh, by the way, it’s a girl! Welcome, Isabella! CV

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struction books required! When Deirdre Collodi-Bishel told me about this, I couldn’t wait to talk with Linda and Flo to find out all about it. If you want to try this, too, here’s the 411. The idea is to share the joy of becoming a new grandmother and give her some cool stuff. Every new Glamma, Gram, Nana, Nonna or Bubbe needs some stuff at her house when the baby comes to visit — a baby monitor, diapers, brag books, a journal, safety locks for the cabinets. The group settled on a fiesta theme for the party, completely appropriate since the expectant parents, Ryan and Lidia Ocasiones Leach, have a South American connection. Lidia is from Colombia. They chose the community room at Flo’s mobile home park for the location. As a theme for gifts, the group decided a to go in a little different direction: a library shower. Linda is passionate about literacy, well-known for advising parents to read to their children at least 15 minutes a day. What better way to start than with a legacy library for the new baby? Who doesn’t love passing on a favorite children’s book from her own childhood? A grandma needs a lot of them! For those taking notes, the fiesta menu was chicken enchilada casserole, rice and salad catered by Sal’s,

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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 15


People Profile

Fresno’s outgoing poet laureate

Lee Herrick BY: Doug Hoagland | PHOTOGRAPHY: Wayne Hutchison


Lee Herrick, an English teacher at Fresno City College, has served as Fresno’s poet laureate for the past two years.

16 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

ee Herrick has gone behind prison bars to read poetry to inmates. Unusual? Not for Herrick. He searched for opportunities to promote the power of language while serving as Fresno’s poet laureate during the past two years. Herrick believes that poetry can elevate the mundane as well as capture the memorable. He wrote his first poem in third grade. It was four lines of rhyme entitled “Football.” His teacher wrote “Good job” in green ink. “That was kind of cool,” Herrick says. Here are some things to know about him. Herrick, 46, teaches English at Fresno City College — a job he’s had for 20 years. He calls teaching a “privilege and joy” and says many of his students are searching for better lives with an unpretentiousness that’s part of Fresno’s character. Herrick wrote about Fresno in a 2015 poem called “Truths.” It reads, in part:


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“Mayors and mothers, farmers and fathers, laborers in blue collars and donors for the Red Wave, one city of multiple truths down the 99 dreaming about the perfect peach, the perfect pitch” one city in the shape of an immigrant’s beautiful accent Herrick loves stand-up comedy. “Laughter is so vital for so much — perspective, health and joy,” he says. Attending live performances is the best. “I enjoy the excellence and passion and fire and joy right in front of you,” he says. “I just love that electricity.” Herrick was born in South Korea and adopted by a California family when he was 10 months old. His parents, Newbold and Georgia Herrick, moved from the Bay Area to Modesto when Herrick was 9. His father’s full name is Newbold Herrick III. “There’s a running, friendly joke in my family that I’m lucky that I wasn’t Newbold IV,” Herrick says. His sister, Holly Gaylor, also was adopted. As a boy in Modesto, Herrick was on the go with his buddies. “Just packs of boys on dirt bikes. I loved it. We would play ‘Star Wars’ and invent all kinds of games. I was very outdoorsy,” he says. His boyhood hero was the Brazilian soccer star Pelé. “I was a big, big soccer player and fan. I would emulate him. I would read books about him. He had a magical style of play. It looked like liberation and joy,” Herrick says. “I also was drawn to his different culture, and it made me curious to learn about the world.” When Herrick became a teenager, he looked up to his father. He still does. “Very hardworking and supportive,” he says of his dad. People who knew Herrick at Davis High School in Modesto might have described him as social and preoccupied with soccer. He played on the high school team and also in college for four years. One of his first exposures to the power of language came in high school. An English teacher made each student stand and recite from memory a monologue from Shakespeare. “I remember the terror of it but also being mesmerized by the language even though I didn’t understand how Shakespeare was doing it,” Herrick says. His first car was a 1981 white Toyota pickup with a camper shell. It belonged to his family. “I loved it. Like many people with a car, it made me feel I could go places. I keep thinking of the word ‘liberation’ because that’s been on my mind a lot lately. It made me feel free,” Herrick says. He enjoyed the Toyota for another reason: He could play his music as loud as he wanted. As a teenager, he liked rap and its artists: RunD.M.C., the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and others. “When rap is good, it’s poetry. The lyrics

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are very inventive and the language can be charged.” The first serious poem Herrick wrote was entitled “Raison D’etre” — French for “Reason for Being.” Perseverance is one of its themes, and Herrick believes that music helps people persevere following trauma or in the face of uncertainty. The poem’s musical images include a touring rock band. The last stanza begins: “And this, this is the end. This is the guitarist smashing the amp, the last lip of the sun over the hills. Here we discover our reason for being, the black mascara on a widow’s cheek, and the solemn bow to the crowd.” The poem was published in the literary magazine at California State University, Stanislaus. Herrick earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSU Stanislaus. His master’s thesis was entitled: “Aristotelian Theory in Presidential Rhetoric.” He compared writings by the Greek philosopher Aristotle with President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address plus speeches in times of crisis. “Native Son” by Richard Wright influenced Herrick as a college student. The novel tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a poor 20-year-old African American living on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s. “I’m interested in social justice and racial justice. It completely opened my eyes to what writing and literature could be,” Herrick says. Herrick roots for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, though he says it’s becoming harder to watch football because of the link between repeated concussions and dementia among players. Seoul — the capital of South Korea — is his favorite city. He was born near there and visited Seoul in 2001 and 2008. “It has a lot of personal history, but it’s also a gorgeous, modern city with ancient elements,” Herrick says. In 2008, Herrick went to South Korea to see whether he could find his birth parents. He did not locate them. “It was extremely difficult and emotional, but it was one of the most important experiences of my life — difficult as it was.” he says. “Going back to where you’re from and exploring your history became fundamental to who I’ve become. It filled in a lot of color in my life. But it hasn’t driven me or become a preoccupation.”


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Herrick has written two books. Another is underway.

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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 17

continued ...

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One of his favorite places in Fresno is Don Pepe Taqueria. “Just for a burrito or taco. We go there a lot,” he says. Woodward Park also is a favorite place because he likes walking on the trails there. October to December is Herrick’s favorite time of the year. His wife’s birthday is in October, and he looks forward to Thanksgiving. It’s his favorite holiday. Combined with the Christmas season, “it’s a time for family and gratitude, and with the year winding down, it’s a time to reflect,” he says. Herrick met his wife, Lisa, through her sister. He shows the first drafts of many of his poems to her. Lisa Herrick is a voracious reader and has great instincts for revising his work, he says. The couple has an 11-year-old daughter, Suzhen. “She’s very creative herself,” Herrick says. As a family, they recently went to Hawaii and climbed a volcano. Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler” is a favorite book. Says Herrick: “I love the lyric invention, the magic, the surprise and the fire in it — it has a

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swirling passion of velocity.” He calls Herrera a “master of dynamic language.” Herrera, a former Fresno State professor who was born in Fowler, currently is the nation’s poet laureate. Herrick has had two books of poetry published — “This Many Miles from Desire” (2007) and “Gardening Secrets of the Dead” (2012). Anthologies with the works of Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Maya Angelou and Walt Whitman include some of Herrick’s poems. He writes in his recliner at home or at a coffee shop with headphones listening to music. Herrick likes writing in public because it reminds him of plazas and parks where he’s written in places such as Seoul or Lima, Peru. “I don’t consider myself a poetry pusher,” he says. “However, there are poems out there — just like there are films and music and books — that might completely stun you in a way that you would never have thought possible.” Also, people sometimes look to poems at life’s most memorable times — a wedding, a birth, a death, he says: “Poetry can make sense of the human experience. It’s for everyone.” Mundane tasks can lead to poetry. One day, Herrick was taking out the garbage and a half-deflated purple balloon floated

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down and landed next to him on the can. That inspired a poem called “Gravity.” Another time, he came upon a group of children while swimming in the Caribbean Sea. Herrick worked that experience into “Gardening Secrets of the Dead,” the title poem of his second book. Herrick wrote this in the poem about the children in the Caribbean: “Once, I swam off the coast of Belize and pulled seven local kids along in the shallow Caribbean, their brown bodies in the blue water behind me, the first one holding my left hand like a root the last one dangling his arm under the water like a lavender twig or a flag in light wind.” A poet collects experiences, Herrick says: “It would be like a chef at a farmers market finding the rarest mushroom and thinking — I don’t know what I’m going to use this for — but it’s going into some dish.” “An incredible honor” — that’s how Herrick describes serving as Fresno’s poet laureate. His term ended in April. As poet laureate, he has spoken to numerous groups and organized public poetry readings. After 49 people died in a June 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando,



Florida, he brought together about 20 local poets. “We read in honor of the dead,” he says. In 2016 and again this year, Herrick organized an all-day literary festival in the Tower District called Lit Hop. Herrick has finished a third book of poems and is working on a fourth. “Life is poem, and vice versa,” he says. “I walk in gratitude. I want to live fully. I want to notice and savor the infinite beauty and blessings that surround us.” CV


Lee Herrick writes from home, in his recliner or in coffee shops while wearing headphones and listening to music. He likes music that features good guitar, creative lyrics and passion. Some of his favorite groups are Fugazi, Built to Spill, Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Who will be named 2017

Five Star Home Professionals?

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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 19



Mike and Bill Betts pose at the Betts Company warehouse. Inset: Betts Company manufactures springs that are used in transportation, as well as other industries.

Improving the way things move The Betts Company has three divisions: Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD and Betts Truck Parts & Service.

20 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

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Left, below and bottom: Rene Lozada works on a hot coil in the warehouse at Betts Company. Betts’ springs are part of the suspension systems of cars, trucks, school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles, which allow for smooth and stable rides. BY: Doug Hoagland | PHOTOGRAPHY: Wayne Hutchison


he Betts Company is 149 years old. By any measure, that’s quite an accomplishment in our unstable world. Consider this: The Civil War had been over for only three years when William Michael Betts founded the company. It would grow, adapt, innovate and eventually establish its headquarters in Fresno. The company’s motto is “Improving the Way Things Move Since 1868.” Betts manufactures springs that are used in transportation, as well as other industries. For example, the springs are part of the suspension systems of cars, trucks, school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles, which allow for smooth and stable rides. Betts also sells other vehicle parts and provides service for commercial vehicles. The company is led by Mike Betts and his son, Bill. Mike — the great-great-grandson of the founder — is the chairman and chief executive officer. Bill is the company’s president and chief operating officer. While proud of their history, the father and son are not stuck in the past. They have brought a 21st-century sensibility to running the business. Mike and Bill value and promote concepts such as wellness, work/life balance, respect, managers and employees working as a team and bosses listening to employees’ ideas. Work culture is “everything,” Mike says. “If you have a thriving culture, and people who really do care for one another and the business, you can be highly successful. That’s what we work at every day.” Success first came to William Michael Betts in 19thcentury England. He made springs for carriages and

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some were used on the royal conveyance of Queen Victoria. But as a forward-looking man, Betts saw America as a new frontier full of opportunity. So he immigrated, settling in St. Louis in 1865, and then joining the growing migration west to California. Please see next page

Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 21

The Betts Company opened a manufacturing plant in Fresno about 20 years ago and later constructed a second building at its South Maple Avenue site. In 2009, Fresno became the company’s headquarters.

continued ... Betts sailed with his equipment around South America’s Cape Horn and landed in San Francisco. He then founded a business that today is the oldest spring manufacturer in the United States with original family ownership. Through the decades, the company grew in San Francisco, eventually relocating to nearby San Leandro. About 20 years ago, the Betts Company opened a manufacturing plant in Fresno and later constructed a second building at its South Maple Avenue site. In 2009, Fresno became the company’s headquarters. Company leaders picked Fresno because the city offered economic incentives and because Fresno’s central location is good for distribution. A favorable labor market — influenced by the agricultural industry — was also a plus. “People in ag tend to be mechanically inclined and are good with their

hands,” Mike says. “We love Fresno. The commutes are easy and people here are down-home and honest.” In 2013, the company rebranded itself — changing its name from the Betts Spring Company to the Betts Company with three business units: Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD and Betts Truck Parts & Service. The change better showcases the company’s products and services. Here is a closer look at each unit: Betts Spring Manufacturing operates under the motto “Building Well, Serving Better since 1868.” The Fresno plant produces about a million pounds of springs every month, and they have many applications beyond vehicle suspension systems. Shoe manufacturers use them in footwear designed for workers who are on their feet for long periods. The springs go in heels for cushioning. Springs also are used in making valves that control the industrial flow of chemicals, water and other liquids. Truck builders use them on engine hoods. Furthermore, children’s rocking horses in parks, amusement rides and bumper car frames use springs. Betts’ springs are sold to other manufacturers. So consumers don’t buy a Betts spring. They buy products with Betts springs in them. BettsHD uses “Parts for the Long Haul” as its motto. HD stands for “Heavy Duty” and represents that BettsHD makes mud flap hangers and fenders for big rigs. The hangers position mud flaps behind the drive axles of 18-wheelers so rocks and other debris don’t fly into the windshields of cars on roadways. William Michael Betts III, Mike’s late father, patented the first mud flap hanger in 1954. The flaps have been required on trucks for more than 50 years. The Fresno plant manufactures the hangers, while the company’s other plant in Ohio makes plastic, stainless-steel, corrugated and aluminum truck fenders in quarter, half and full sizes.

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Betts’ industrial customers recognize the company’s craftsmanship. Daimler Trucks North America has awarded the company a Master of Quality Award eight times in the last 15 years, according to Mike. Betts Truck Parts & Service is branded with the motto “Earning Your Trust, Mile After Mile.” This division — started in 1982 — now has retail stores and service centers in eight locations: Fresno, Fontana, Manteca, Sacramento, San Leandro, Santa Fe Springs, Phoenix, Arizona, and Portland, Oregon. Customers can buy parts in the stores or order online. The service centers handle all makes of commercial vehicles and do all types of work except engine overhauls. The centers don’t work on passenger cars. The Betts Company’s three units employ about 290 people. Mike and Bill are proud of their products and service, and the reputation their company has built over the years. “It doesn’t mean we haven’t made mistakes along the way. We’re not perfect,” Bill says. “But we recognize how important it is to be humble, to be grateful and to try not to have those just be words.” Part of that philosophy embodies good corporate citizenship. The Betts Company, for example, adheres to a series of international environmental management standards. Furthermore, all materials used at the Fresno plant are recyclable and reusable. Environmental awareness is only one part of the corporate philosophy, as spelled out in a document called “The Betts Way.” “We want to foster an environment of openness, honesty, trust, collaboration — the things that need to exist for a business to be able to continue to reinvent, evolve and be relevant for decades on end,” Bill says. Bill and Mike are committed to a bottom-up style of management, which draws ideas and opinions from employees at all levels of the company. It begins with listening thoughtfully, asking clarifying questions and

respecting other people’s opinions and points of view, Mike says. Bill adds: “I don’t want a culture where everyone abdicates the decision making to the owners of the business.” Empowering employees also means caring about them as people. So Bill started a voluntary wellness program that includes medical professionals screening workers for blood pressure, heart rate and other key health indicators. The Fresno plant has a gym, where weekly exercise sessions are held. Tips on nutrition and diabetes prevention also are part of employee safety meetings. Beyond the walls of the Betts Company, Mike serves as chairman of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, which has 500 members from Bakersfield to Sacramento. The alliance advocates for laws and regulations that will allow manufacturers to thrive and serve the public’s interest. “Manufacturing is the No. 1 thing that will lift a community out of poverty,” Mike says. “We want to see manufacturing grow, not decline.” Mike, 61, also serves on the external advisory board of the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State and on the board of the Fresno Business Council. Bill, 35, is on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County and is a member of the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization, a business group. Busy as they are, Mike and Bill try to never forget their overarching mission. “We wake up every single day to improve the way things move,” Bill says. “That’s why we exist. To do that, we believe in lifelong learning, getting a little better each day and improving ourselves as well as improving the team.” CV

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Former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is finding less chaos in her new role at the head of the Central Valley Community Foundation. The plus? It is just as rewarding helping the community she loves.

BY: Doug Hoagland | PHOTOGRAPHY: Wayne Hutchison

24 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

A firm foundation

Former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin finds joy in life after city hall


ormer Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin left city hall in January to embrace a new role: making the Valley a better place through the generosity of donors big and small. Swearengin now serves as the president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Central Valley Community Foundation.

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The foundation seeks philanthropic donations from the Valley, state and nation. It manages and invests those monies to build up endowments and gives grants to charities and projects in six counties: Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare. “It’s a new chapter for me, and I’m finding excitement, joy, mission and purpose in the work that I’m doing now,” Swearengin says. Still recognized in public after eight years in the spotlight, Swearengin finds life more peaceful now. “There’s not so much of the chaotic busyness that comes with city hall at times, and I’m able to be focused and get a lot of things done,” she says. Her focus is expanding the reach of the Central Valley Community Foundation, which had assets of $72 million and awarded grants of $11 million in 2016. From 2006 to 2016, the foundation’s grants totaled more than $100 million. The foundation (formerly known as the Fresno Regional Foundation) was established in 1966. Swearengin describes it as an “incredible organization doing amazing things, sometimes under the public radar, for the last 51 years.” For decades, the foundation has changed lives and strengthened communities, and Swearengin wants to continue that work with donors of all incomes. “Giving is a principle. It’s a value. It’s not a dollar amount,” she says. “I’m just as excited about the small donor who made the sacrifice to give as I am about the person who has tremendous resources and chooses to give back to the Valley. We value both of those donors.” Donors to the foundation can designate that their money go to specific projects or to a general area of interest (dance, the environment, health, etc.). In the latter case, foundation officials choose projects that match interests. Projects that benefit economic development — career technical education, work force development, skills training, small business support and more — hold a special interest for Swearengin. Over time, she hopes more donors will support those projects. “It’s about helping to create more economic opportunities for people and making sure they have the skills to match those job opportunities,” she says. “When that happens, families are stabilized, they get access to health care and their children do better in school. It’s a cascading positive effect.” Swearengin tells a personal story about why this matters. When she was growing up, her father lost jobs, and she remembers how “terrifying and destabilizing” that felt as a child. Her family made it through that scary period. But, Swearengin says, thousands of Valley families have known nothing but that kind of economic uncertainty for generations.

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At the foundation, part of her strategy is to tell the stories of both people who give their money and people who benefit from that philanthropy. “People love stories, and the more we can get them out there, the more people will be motivated to participate in philanthropy,” Swearengin says. She also plans to reach out to large national foundations that have millions to invest in regions around the country. “We need help from other parts of the state and the nation,” she says. “There is a lot of work to do here, but we have incredible civic resilience, our people are entrepreneurial and we’re making great strides in addressing our challenges.” Foundation officials are enthusiastic about Swearengin. “Ashley is an inspirational leader who is uniquely prepared to advance CVCF’s ambitious plans to expand and strengthen philanthropic services in the Central Valley,” says board chairman Alan Pierrot. “We could not be more pleased.” On a more personal note, Swearengin laughs and says she no longer gets comments about potholes while in the milk section at the grocery store. But, she quickly adds, people were almost always pleasant when they encountered her family during the mayoral years. “I’m really grateful to Fresno for giving me the space to be a mom when I wasn’t at city hall,” Swearengin says. She and her husband Paul, a former sports broadcaster and now senior pastor of The River, a Fresno congregation, have two children: a 17-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. Her departure from city hall has provided her kids with a “feeling of relief,” Swearengin says. But, she adds, she and her husband have always worked to make their home about family and not their jobs. “I like to think — though my kids may tell me differently when they’re in their 20s — that we did a good job of protecting home and making that space about them,” she says. Whether Swearengin will ever return to elective politics is a question she’s come to expect. Only 44, she clearly has time to consider another bid for political office. She ran for state controller in 2014 but lost to Democrat Betty Yee. “I’m too young to say ‘never,’ but very certainly, it’s a ‘not now,’ ” Swearengin says. She adds that returning to elective office would only make sense if she could accomplish something she cared about in a faster or more efficient way. But for now, her passion is increasing philanthropy, and her platform is the Central Valley Community Foundation. “Our mission is broad and powerful and compelling,” Swearengin says. “I’m enjoying it very much.” CV

Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 25

Your voyage to drug-free

headache relief.

Are you tired of treading water in a sea of headache and migraine pain? Do headache medicines bring you close to the shore of relief only to have you pulled out again in the riptide of pain? For many, headache pain is a debilitating fact of life.

Dr. Thomas E. Bramanti has discovered remarkable insights that eliminate headache suffering. He successfully navigates sufferers out the deep waters of headache onto a tranquil shore of relief. Most people with headaches and migraine are suffering from undiagnosed TMD/TMJ problems which are at the root of their pain. It is essential that sufferers seek a dental diagnosis to eliminate bite conflicts which aggravate teeth, joints, nerves and overworked jaw muscles, which lead to persistent headache.

Dr. Bramanti has established a drug-free path to lasting headache relief.

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Your migraine remedy. Through research and over 30 years experience healing thousands of patients, Dr. Bramanti has determined that jaw muscle contraction and overexertion caused by bite conflicts are significant contributing factors in the development of headaches, especially migraine.

TMD and bite therapy bring an end to headache suffering. Balancing the bite produces jaw muscle coordination and stops the pain. A stable bite and healthy muscles alleviate nerve aggravation responsible for headache and migraine.

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Dr. Thomas E. Bramanti is devoted to bringing complete health, and creating a lifetime of wellness for his patients. That’s why physicians throughout California choose Dr. Bramanti to bring lasting headache relief to their patients. When the bite complex is in balance, a lifetime of comfort and wellness can be achieved. Dr. Bramanti is a specialist committed to providing drug-free treatment and permanent relief to headache sufferers. Dr. Thomas E. Bramanti combines distinguished academic experience with breakthrough clinical innovation to provide patients with an extraordinary approach to oral health. He is the director of the TMD clinic at the Fresno Oral Surgery Program. Patients say the university-level knowledge and clinical excellence he brings to patient care is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. Wisdom and experience allow Dr. Bramanti to diagnose and treat the causes of headache and also anticipate health challenges patients may face later in life. His expertise guides patients to choices that lead to lifelong health.

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bucket list 50fun things to do this summer

BY: Custom Publications staff | PHOTOGRAPHY: Tomas Ovalle, Gary Kazanjian, Lyn Kosewski, Janessa Tyler, Silvia Flores, Peter Lang, Gary Norton, Getty Images, Custom Publications archive


ondering what to do this summer? We’ve come up with 50 fun things to do, either with friends, for a date night or with the kids. How many can you check off the list before the weather turns cool?


Knock back a local brew at House of Pendragon.

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1. Pack a picnic, and enjoy an afternoon at Woodward Park — or any local park — and the best part: Fido can come, too 2. Dine with the animals at Kopje Lodge in Fresno Chaffee Zoo 3. Order a glass of the Coco Crusader or the Excalibur at House of Pendragon 4. Fill your cup to the brim with frozen yogurt and toppings at Yogurtland 5. Buy a pint of Fresno State Ice Cream at the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market 6. Sip on a glass of award-winning wine, the 2015 Viognier or the 2015 Petit Verdot, at Sumner Peck Ranch Winery 7. Drink a cold one: Lanna Coffee’s cold brew 8. Take afternoon tea at Teazer World Tea Market 9. Dine on the patio at Patio Cafe, Limón or Starving Artist Bistro 10. Take an air-conditioned Amtrak ride down to Hanford and grab a scoop (or three) at Superior Dairy 11. Play a game of cornhole and grab a pint of Cucumbier at TiogaSequoia Brewing Co. 12. Give your oven a rest and order a pepperoni and pineapple pizza from Me-n-Ed’s Pizzeria 13. Taste test a multitude of tacos at Taco Truck Throwdown in

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Joel and Alina Alonzo chow down on tacos at the Taco Throwdown 5 before the Fresno Grizzlies game against the Sacramento River Cats at Chukchansi Park.

August 14. Try a flight of local handmade, smallbatch ice cream at Ampersand Ice Cream 15. Visit one of the many local farmers markets to buy ingredients for dinner

Amusements 16. Play a round of mini golf at Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center 17. Beat your high score at Dave and Buster’s 18. Play a pickup game of beach volleyball at Sandals at the Beach in Friant 19. Cheer on your local minor league baseball team, the Fresno Grizzlies 20. Perfect your golf swing at Riverside Golf Course 21. Dance like nobody’s watching at River Park’s summer series, Salsa in the Park 22. Go to a concert at Strummers

Zoey Lovgren and Emily Neer enjoy ice cream at Superior Dairy in Hanford. Hop aboard the Amtrak and you can be there in an hour.

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The Central Valley is full of farmers markets. Grab veggies for dinner and indulge in fresh seasonal fruit for dessert.

Summer nights are filled with music during the Nights in the Plaza concert series at Arte Américas.

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Tour the subterranean rooms at Forestiere Underground Gardens.

23. Attend Arte Américas’ summer concert series, Nights in the Plaza 24. Enjoy live music while wine tasting at ApCal in Madera 25. Experience the Kaleidoslide at Wild Water Adventure Park 26. Wanna go fast? Reach top speeds at the MB2 Raceway in Clovis

See some really cool cars at Rods on the Bluff at the Park Place Shopping Center on Palm and Nees avenues.

27. Look at hot rods at Rods on the Bluff in northeast Fresno 28. Solve puzzles with your friends to get out of a local escape room 29. Get nostalgic! Take the family to a double feature at the Madera Drive-In Theatre 30. Watch professionals soar over a bar at the Pole Vault Championships in Old Town Clovis

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31. Cool off in the subterranean rooms at Forestiere Underground Gardens 32. Float along the endless lazy river at Island Water Park 33. Shop for old and new treasures at shops in Old Town Clovis 34. Take a tour of Simonian Farms (don’t forget to buy a bag of dried fruit or nuts) 35. Buy a new book at Petunia’s Place Bookstore or A Book Barn 36. Celebrate independence at the Freedom Run on July 4 … and end the day at a local fireworks show

Get outside 37. Nurture your green thumb at the community garden, Garden of the Sun 38. Go on an adventure with Kings River Expeditions 39. Learn how to plant your own water-wise garden at Clovis Botanical Garden 40. Hop aboard a Logger Steam Train ride on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad 41. Take a break and enjoy River Parkway Trust’s Respite by the River 42. Hike, bike or run the San Joaquin River Trail 43. Take a hike and check out the waterfalls in Yosemite 44. Ride your bike along the Clovis Old Town Trail

Self-improvement Learn how to plant a water-wise garden at Clovis Botanical Garden.

45. Take in some culture at one of Fresno Art Museum’s latest exhibitions 46. Brush up on your knowledge of the Bard at the Woodward Shakespeare Festival 47. Take a class at Clovis Adult School

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Take a ride aboard a Logger Steam Train on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

48. Volunteer at a local nonprofit organization like Community Food Bank, Poverello House or Valley Animal Center 49. Heal your body (and cool off) in the cryochamber at Valley CryoSport 50. Brush up on your culinary skills in the learning kitchens at Clovis Institute of Technology and Young Chef’s Academy CV

Visit Yosemite National Park and see water where it hasn’t been in years.

Great lawyers close tohome. A top California legal team is right in your own backyard.


Whether you are operating a business or need personal legal counseling, you can rely on local attorneys who have an unrivaled track record, depth of knowledge and experience unique to the San Joaquin Valley. From business litigation, transactions and counseling, to bankruptcy, intellectual property, estate planning and employment law issues, KDG works with you to meet your legal needs and achieve successful, cost-effective results.


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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 33



River Camp is one of the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust and Conservation Inc.’s most popular summer programs, with 2017’s first session starting on June 12.

Record rainfall makes this the year to experience the beauty of nearby rivers BY: Dani Villalobos | PHOTOGRAPHY: Annie Butchert, David Hunter, Gary Kazanjian, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Inc.


t’s just before 10 a.m. on a late April morning, and Sarah Parkes is handily listing off facts about Sycamore Island Ranch’s diverse natural habitat — pointing to a nearby trout pond that a fisherman is preparing to wade through as he boards his small boat. “This is one of the primary spots for anglers,” says the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust director of annual giving, suddenly struck by the sight in front of her. “Wow, this is amazing. The last time I was out here in January, the water was not covering those signs. It’s quite a bit higher.”

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That’s right, Fresnans. After nearly five years of severe drought conditions plaguing California and the San Joaquin Valley, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is massive thanks to twice the historical average of rain in the northern Sierra. And, well, those melting layers of dense snow have to go somewhere. Let the river fun commence. It’s been 29 years since the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Inc. was established, and 15 years since the nonprofit opened its River Center on Old Friant Road in north Fresno. But nearly every day, Parkes and her colleagues are on the receiving end of one common query: There’s a river here? Stretching a whopping 33 miles in the Fresno-Madera region, the preservation and restoration of the San Joaquin River has become the sole mission of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Inc. —

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Sycamore Island has about 350 acres of natural habitat to explore.

working to form 22 miles of trails, recreation areas and wildlife habitat along the river between Friant Dam and Highway 99. Sycamore Island Ranch is one of those properties, covering about 350 acres of natural habitat in Madera County — just outside of Fresno — for the public to explore between the months of February and November. “We are anticipating the water to stay up like this at least until June,” Parkes explains. “It’s great for providing more access because you don’t have to go down steep banks to get to the water. And the amount of wildlife we’re seeing out here is just fantastic — the water resource is bringing them.”

not in the city,” Parkes says. “It has a variety of habitats. Over here, there’s more open ponds and open space where on that side of the property, there are more trees so you’ll see different wildlife and types of ponds.” As you enter Sycamore Island Ranch, all visitors are Jordan Poytress heads for a fishing excursion to enjoy the day at Sycamore Island.

Play This will mark the fifth season the River Parkway Trust has been operating Sycamore Island Ranch through its partnership with the San Joaquin River Conservancy, and people have gradually begun to take notice as visitorship grew from 3,000 guests in its first year to almost 10,000 annually. “We want people to know that this is here because it’s really not far from home, but you do feel like you’re

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required to make a pit stop at the site’s bait shop. There, keen anglers can pick up some additional bait, read up on the property’s fishing regulations and pay a $9 entrance fee for each vehicle. That small fee helps the River Parkway Trust maintain the site, explains Parkes. Please see next page

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continued ... But that’s where the formalities end — guests are encouraged to come and do as they please. Swimming, fishing, hiking and floating are just a few of the activities locals flock to the property for. There are no official lifeguards on duty, so guests are strongly advised to wear flotation devices while out on the river. Sycamore Island Ranch is a known spot to anglers — both of the novice and experienced variety — because it’s stocked each season with hatchery trout and different warm-water fish species, such as crappie, catfish and bass. Don’t know a lot about the art of fishing? The property’s staff and resident fishing legend, Bill, are happy to offer a few pointers. “He’s a catch-and-release fisherman and caught over

wildlife education at the River Center. Costs for River Camp are $230 or $210 for River Parkway Trust members, and $100 or $90 for the Young Explorers Camp. “So many kids in our community don’t have a lot of resources and don’t get to take trips to the beach or to the mountains. Being able to come to a place like this, which is very wild for them, is incredible,” Parkes says. “The more we can do that, and the more that families know there are places like this where they can come with their kids, is really the goal.” Tours through the River Parkway Trust’s guided kayak and canoe trips on the San Joaquin River is a summer tradition for paddling enthusiasts, and a nice way to unwind after a tiring workweek. Offered Friday evenings and Saturday mornings from April through September, the half-day tour provides adventurers with a mix of exciting riffles and calm, steady flows along the flat-water ponds. Prices range from $30 to $45 per person. Those who prefer to utilize their land legs can find retreat in the ground’s expansive nature trails, as well as the nonprofit’s summertime nature hike program. The evening-based activity will be guided, says Parkes, and highlights different, nature-themed topics. The schedule is available on the River Parkway Trust’s website. “Today, we’re all very digital people and technologically savvy,” she says. “So what we try to do is say, ‘OK, let’s put that aside and let’s reconnect with the natural world.’ ”


Respite by the River is one of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Inc.’s most relaxing events of the summer season, and is held at the River Center.

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600 bass last year,” Parkes says. “When he’s here, people can ask him questions and he likes to share his knowledge.” Still, when summer hits, some look forward to a bit of organized programming — a challenge the organization readily takes on with its fresh slate of seasonal opportunities. River Camp 2017 at the Fresno County Office of Education-owned property, Scout Island, kicks off June 12 to 16 and continues with seven additional weeklong camp dates. The popular summer program is designed for first- through eighth-graders, helping youngsters experience their natural surroundings through song, hikes, swimming, exploration and arts and crafts during each five-day session. Children ages 31⁄2 to kindergarten can participate in the Young Explorers Camp, which focuses on the investigation of wildlife clues and plant and

Embracing the quiet can be interpreted a lot less laboriously — and that’s OK, too. Many of the River Parkway Trust’s public properties come equipped with picnic facilities for people to enjoy a carefree meal or simply hang out, though barbecues are not allowed on-site. There are also spotting scopes positioned on different sides of Sycamore Island Ranch, allowing wildlife watchers to catch rare sightings of bobcats, coyotes, deer and different bird species living in the area’s diverse natural habitat. But probably one of the most laid-back opportunities to relax by the San Joaquin River is through the River Parkway Trust’s Respite by the River program. Starting in early spring, the 2017 schedule runs through Oct. 3, and encourages locals to bring a blanket, lawn chair and packed picnic dinner to the River Center for an evening of live music and readings by acclaimed authors. “It’s always nice to be out at the River Center on a summer evening because we get a lovely breeze off the river. ... The authors are fantastic, the musicians are fantastic. It’s just a very low-key summer event — and it’s free.”

Find adventure Adrenaline junkies seeking more of a thrill on the

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Kings River Expeditions’ one- and two-day trips offer adventurers a 10-mile thrill traveling down the Class 3 river.

raging waters need look no further than an hour and a half east of Fresno: Kings River Expeditions awaits. The family-owned, premier whitewater rafting company has carved a niche for itself out on the Class 3 river, building on a foundation of decades in the industry to keep Kings River Expeditions afloat for 45 years now. “There’s an international scale of rating rivers — Class 1 is the easiest, Class 6 is unrunnable,” explains owner Justin Butchert. “We’re right in the middle, so it’s good for beginners and intermediates. This year, we’re getting a huge flow so we’ll have some scary moments, but we know how to control it.” In fact, this year will mark Butchert’s 40th year working on the Kings, starting off his career as a Fresno State freshman river guide to eventually buying the company in 1981. Butchert later met and married his wife, Julie, after she was hired as a guide with Kings River Expeditions, raised his kids out on the water and even officiated some of his employees’ own nuptials to one another. Put simply: The Kings River has become a way of life for the Butcherts. And they’ve learned to roll with its highs and lows. While several smaller companies have folded or retained somewhat of a presence out on the Kings, Kings River Expeditions has become one of the industry’s biggest players with 6,000 people booking one- and two-day trips last season. “It’s strange because there has been an evolution in the equipment and marketing — I can run this whole business right here,” Butchert says, nodding to his smart phone. “But in 1978, people came up there because they engaged with people, they ate good food, they got a great adventure out of it. And in 2017, they’re coming for the same reason.”

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Kings River Expeditions has taken advantage of today’s self-bailing boats, helping to make the company’s team of river guides more efficient and precise while traveling down the raging, 12- to 15-mph watercourse. Still, that didn’t make this year’s guide school training any less intense for its new crop of green, personable candidates. “The river, especially this year, is an unstoppable force,” Butchert says. “It turns, goes up and over rocks, around corners and you put all these people on it in these little rubber rafts. We have to train them for every little thing.” The two offered trips — one-day and two-day experiences — all start at Twin Pines Camp, and include a safety orientation, provided or self-brought meals and a place to crash under the stars, depending on the package and level of services purchased. But all trips are bussed 10 miles above camp to travel the same course back down — challenging guides and guests to work together to navigate the waters. Butchert says this summer is shaping up to be one of its longer seasons, with the Kings River’s best conditions hitting in July and early August. Its regular weekend special of $99 for a one-day trip is one of the company’s most popular deals, allowing people to get that one-of-a-kind experience for an economy rate. “The self-bailing boats are light, and with a crew with any kind of skill at all, you can maneuver those boats. It’s remarkable,” he explains. “It would also surprise people what it’s like to just get reconnected with the natural environment. ... It’s all low-tech and down-to-Earth, and I think that’s the best part of it.” Details: www.riverparkway.org, www.kingsriver.com CV

River Tours on the San Joaquin River are scheduled from April through September, and take place on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings for $30 to 45 per person.

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Things are looking up Make stargazing this summer’s go-to nighttime activity BY: Farin Montañez | PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian/ Bee Archive


e all know Valley summers are hot. Like sit-in-front-of-the-fan-all-day hot. Curseyour-car’s-leather-seats hot. Don’t-go-outside-unless-you’re-jumping-straight-into-the-pool hot. But when the sun goes down, it’s not so bad — and it’s actually the perfect time to indulge in a quiet hobby: stargazing. Whether you do it solo, with your significant other or with your family, pointing out constellations and looking for shooting stars can be a peaceful way to appreciate the vastness of the universe. In the Valley, there are more than a few ways to awaken your inner Galileo and observe the celestial wonders that surround our planet.

Go to a star party Whether you’re looking for advice on what stargazing equipment to buy or you just want someone to point out the planets and constellations to you in the night sky, the Central Valley Astronomers are eager to help. The amateur astronomy group hosts public Star Parties each month on the Saturday closest to the first quarter moon in River Park Shopping Center (June 3 and July 1 are coming up). When the sun goes down, head out to the community plaza area between Yoshino’s and Teazers and you’ll find a cluster of impressive telescopes and astronomers who are happy to share their love of space. “It’s all our own equipment,” says Star Party coordinator Brian Bellis, “and some of it is very expensive. At a star party, it’s always polite to ask to use the telescopes, but we have it there so that people can enjoy. At River Park, it’s everybody, from tiny little kids up to the elderly and everything in between.” The astronomers usually focus on the moon and planets, which “are easy to spot from River Park,” Bellis says. But if you’re wanting to see more deep sky objects, like globular clusters, open clusters, nebulae and galaxies beyond our Milky Way, Bellis recommends showing up at a Dark Sky Event. The public gatherings are held in the boat ramp parking lot on the east side of Eastman Lake in Madera County on Saturdays closest to the new moon (June 24 and July 22 are approaching).

38 JUNE 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

During the summer months, Central Valley Astronomers also meets at the boat ramp on the Madera side of Millerton Lake for Dark Sky Events. Check it out on June 17 and July 15. Bellis has been planning for an upcoming total solar eclipse — when the sun is obscured by the moon — for the last two decades. While he’ll scope out a prime viewing spot in Oregon, other members of CVA will host a viewing party somewhere near Fresno around mid-morning Aug. 21. Follow the group on Facebook or visit cvafresno.org for details.

Visit a planetarium Want to delve a little deeper into astronomy and even spacecraft? Fresno State’s Downing Planetarium boasts a 74-seat theater that shows space-related films one weekend each month, on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. “We have all kinds of programs,” says planetarium director and longtime Fresno State professor Dr. Steven White. “Some talk about asteroids and the dinosaurs, and right now we’re showing ‘Fantastic Fractals’ about repeating patterns found in nature.” Movies are appropriate for all ages and last about an hour, White says. For a list of current shows and prices, visit downing-planetarium.org. Following the films, Fresno State students use the dome screen and a star projector that shows 3,000 stars and the Milky Way to educate kids and adults about the constellations, bright stars and planets. After the program, attendees can head outside and use a telescope to view the moon, planets and other things of interest, White says. “You can always see the moon and planets, even with your naked eye. Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn can be seen without a telescope,” he says. “And all of the brighter stars like Betelgeuse and Rigel and Sirius.”

Discover the StarLAB Thousands of elementary school children over the last three decades have experienced the StarLAB, an inflatable planetarium owned by The Discovery Center of Fresno. “For a lot of kids, it’s their first experience with astronomy. That’s really exciting,” says exhibit manager Ian Goudelock.

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There are actually two StarLABs — one that can fit inside of a classroom and hold 30 children, and a larger one that holds 60 children and must be inflated inside of a large building like a school cafeteria. Perhaps your grandchildren, children — or even you — remember sitting inside the dark dome, gazing up at the projection of stars and constellations. “We’ve had them since the late ’90s … they’re very durable,” Goudelock says. “We’ve taken them all over Fresno County, Madera, north to Atwater and south to Bakersfield.” The Discovery Center’s educators follow current curriculum to teach students about the differences between solid structure planets and gas planets, what makes a star a star and how different cultures view constellations, Goudelock says. “You see monsters and big larger-than-life constellations in Greek culture, but with Native American constellations, it’s animals that you see every day. ... It’s also about connecting the dots with your imagination. It opens eyes up about different parts of the world and how they view things.” The StarLABs typically travel to schools, but occasionally The Discovery Center will set one up at its newly remodeled museum at 1944 N. Winery Ave. Visit thediscoverycenter.net or the center’s Facebook page for details.

Get outside “Stargazing is a fun activity for families,” says White, noting you need nothing more than a flashlight, a good book and a little perseverance to learn the constellations and other space objects on your own. “Get some red cellophane and cover your flashlight — that way you can see your maps and then look up at the night stars,” he says. “If you get just 10 miles away from Fresno, it’s dark enough outside of town you can see all the faint stars and the Milky Way and all sorts of remarkable things.” The Big Dipper is visible all year long, so many amateur astronomers use that as a starting point, White says. “From that, you can find the North Star and then you can see the Little Dipper,” he says. “Then you can find all the other constellations around it. The dragon is between the dippers and Cassiopeia is beyond the North Star.” His students use “The Stars” by H.A. Rey, which includes detailed maps and information about the wonders in the night sky. In his 23 years teaching astronomy at Fresno State, White says some of the most rewarding moments include when former students tell him they’ve taught their children the constellations using their old textbook. For more tech-oriented folks, White recommends

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the Star Walk app for your smartphone. “All you have to do is hold your phone up to the sky and it will tell you what you’re looking at,” he says. “It’s good for identifying the planets and constellations.” For those wanting to spot stars through a telescope, Bellis and other Central Valley Astronomers can point them in the right direction as far as buying the right equipment. “Every telescope you can imagine, someone in the club has owned it at one time or another,” he says. Be prepared to fork out a lot of cash for a worthwhile telescope, Bellis says. “I especially hate it when some loving, caring individual buys a cheap telescope for a child interested in astronomy,” he warns. “There’s nothing that kills enthusiasm more than to get a telescope that they can’t see anything out of.” If your budget is $200 to $300, Bellis says, “you’re better off getting a good pair of binoculars. Binoculars are wonderful instruments for getting to know the night sky.” But Bellis agrees that no equipment is necessary to enjoy this family-friendly hobby — especially if you’re looking for shooting stars. There’s usually a meteor shower every month, Bellis says. The Lyrids meteor shower will be at its maximum — about eight falling stars per hour — on June 15. The Delta Aquariid shower will be in view just before dawn on July 28, with about 15 to 20 meteors per hour. One of the brightest meteor showers, the Persieds, can be seen from late night until dawn on Aug. 12. The shooting stars are quick, but typically leave persistent trains. Wake up the family, grab a picnic blanket or lawn chairs from which to gaze up at the night sky and count the falling stars!

Visitors wait for a Downing Planetarium show to begin.

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Love Triangle Pizza, with its endless variety and sass, speaks a universal love language

BY: Cyndee Fontana-Ott | PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian


izza sounds deceptively simple. After all, it’s just a crust followed by sauce, cheese and toppings — right? Turns out it’s more nuanced than that. Today’s local pizza menus feature a near-infinite variety of options that range far beyond the choice of cheese or pepperoni. There are thick crusts and thin crusts, red and white sauces, cheese or no cheese and an ever-growing number of familiar and unique toppings. Here in the Central Valley, our seasoned chefs continue to serve up the traditional pies along with some creative options (spaghetti pizza anyone?) to satisfy just about any palate. You’ve got countless alternatives — perennial People’s Choice winner Me-N-Ed’s Pizzeria has dozens of locations — and surely at least one pizza parlor is just around your corner. Since we can’t sample everything, we’ll cover some established and newer spots. So let’s get started. After 55 years in the business, you might say the family behind Mike’s Pizzeria (on

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West Avenue near Shields Avenue) knows more than a little something about pizza. This iconic Fresno restaurant was started in 1962 by Mike and Angelina Di Nuzzo, and now the second and third generations are at the helm. Son Peter Di Nuzzo runs the restaurant (with an assist from his son Andrew) known as much for its Italian dinners as the New York-style pizza. But that pizza … Here, the world is your pizza — you can load on the toppings (ranging from sausage to jalapeños) to create your own signature pie. After decades in the business, Peter says the most popular pizza remains the pepperoni. “It’s something you’ve had all your life,” he says. But you’ve got many choices beyond that if you wish — Mike’s has featured pizzas with pesto sauce and others with pineapple and jalapeños. The pizza game is always evolving. Earlier this year, Peter attended a trade show where an exhibitor offered up a teriyaki-style meat topping — an attempt to broaden the appeal of pizza. That’s not on Mike’s menu, but there’s plenty to choose from at the restaurant where virtually everything is homemade. And any homemade sauce for pasta is available for your pizza. “There are really endless combinations,” he says. Another branch of the Di Nuzzo family is front and center at Mama Mia Pizzera in Fresno (on Bullard Avenue near Palm Avenue). Owner Mike Di Nuzzo (son of the original Mike) bought the place about 30 years ago and kept the catchy name. His son, Michael Anthony Di Nuzzo, helps run the business and will be the face of its second location opening as early as May in the Tower District. Mama Mia is known for its traditional and specialty pizzas —

some of which call for a leap of faith. For example, the Raisin Chicken Ranch pizza isn’t something you’ll find on many menus. It features homemade ranch sauce, chicken, bacon, garlic, mozzarella and golden raisins (Hey, this is Fresno, right?). Michael Anthony Di Nuzzo says some customers hesitate to order that pizza, “but it’s really good” partly due to the mix of salty and sweet. Beyond that option, one of the most popular specialty pizzas is the BBQ Chicken that features chicken, barbecue sauce, onions, mozzarella and a cilantro topping. In addition, he says Mama Mia makes a delish Chicago-style pizza and the most popular pizza order is the combination. He says the sauces and dough are homemade and at least one family member is usually overseeing things at the restaurant.

Mike's Pizzeria has a unique Blue Hawaiian pizza with blue cheese, olive oil, pineapple and jalapenos.

Michael Anthony Di Nuzzo of Mama Mia Pizzeria shows there’s more to pizza than pepperoni, including the Golden Raisin Chicken Ranch pizza and a combination. Vicki Spata-Rix, co-owner with her sister Nanda Wilson, tosses what will become a spaghetti-topped pizza with cheese and pepperoni at Spata's Pizza in Clovis.

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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 41

You like spaghetti. You like pizza. Try them together at Spata's Pizza in Clovis.

An interesting take on an old favorite is the BBQ pizza with chicken, onion, barbecue sauce and mozzarella topped with cilantro at Mama Mia Pizzeria.

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continued ... “We’re one of the last mom-and-pop” pizza places, he says. Another family-owned pizza place is Spata’s Pizza in Clovis (on Ashlan Avenue near Fowler Avenue). Here, sisters Nanda Wilson and Vicki Spata-Rix have been serving up a broad range of favorites for about two years. Wilson says a pizza place seemed like a good fit since both sisters have a background in the food industry and their grandparents are from Italy. She says everything is fresh and homemade (they grate cheese from 50-pound blocks); their signature is an Old World meat sauce cooked from their grandmother’s recipe. Spata’s most popular pizza is probably the ultimate with roughly 10 different toppings. Wilson says some

people have ordered every topping — that’s about 20 unique items — which makes that pizza a real heavyweight. (Spata’s is known for its unlimited toppings.) One of the more unusual pizzas is the Olio (olive oil, garlic, salt pork, black pepper and salt) that the sisters’ father used to make for his mother just about every Sunday. Another is the spaghetti pizza, which comes just like it sounds — a crust layered with spaghetti, cheese and pepperoni (add meatballs if you like). “It comes out really thick,” says Wilson, who credits her sister with that recipe. In Old Town Clovis (on Woodworth Avenue), Michelangelo’s Pizzeria brings an artistic flair to restaurant world. Just about every pizza on the menu is named for a famous artist (Picasso, Monet, DaVinci — you get the picture). This family-run place opened in 1999 with Jose Rosales at the oven, now assisted by his wife and six children (three are full time). Rosales says he’s been making pizzas for decades (including a stint with Me-N-Ed’s). “God gave us six kids, so I’ve got the labor and I’ve got the know-how,” he says. His big passion is dough, so Rosales spent about a month in the kitchen perfecting his recipe. Michelangelo’s offers all the classics — Monet is a meat-lovers combination, DaVinci is a vegetarian combo — along with some non-traditional choices. Rosales says he is always making new pizzas to add to the menu. One of the most unusual is the Rivera, a combination consisting of no sauce, garlic, chorizo, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños and nopales (cactus). “They told me that I was crazy — who’s going to buy that?” he says. Turns out the customers liked the Rivera and it’s a staple on the menu. Finally, pizza is no longer a mainstay of only casual dining. More upscale restaurants like the Italian-inspired Annex Kitchen have integrated pizza on the menu — often with a bit of a twist. The Annex Kitchen (Van Ness Boulevard and Shaw Avenue in Fresno) features some classics — like the Margherita — along with combinations more traditionally served as pasta, like the Carbonara or Puttanesca. According to Jimmy Pardini, head chef at the familyowned restaurant, one of the more popular pizzas on the menu is the Smoked Prosciutto. This white pizza is topped with mozzarella, goat cheese, fontina, caramelized onions and smoked prosciutto; it’s finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese after leaving the oven. One of the more unique pizzas is Pesto, Bacon and Burrata, Pardini says. “It’s a nice change of pace as the creamy burrata mozzarella is placed on the pizza after it comes out of the oven, giving the pizza an interesting contrast in texture and temperature,” he says. CV

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The TheAnnex AnnexKitchen Kitchenis isan anupscale upscale restaurant restaurantwith withunique uniqueofferings, offerings, such suchas asaahouse housesausage, sausage,broccolini, broccolini, mozzarella, mozzarella,fontina, fontina,chiles chilesand andfennel fennel pollen pizza. pollen pizza.

A completely unique offering from Michelangelo’s owner Jose Rosales is a no sauce, garlic, chorizo, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños and nopales (cactus) pizza.

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Arroyo Grande’s beachside charm gives this inland community ...

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The Village of Arroyo Grande is home to many quaint shops and restaurants, making it delightful for strolling. BY: Cyndee Fontana-Ott | PHOTOGRAPHY: Vivian Krug Cotton, Visit SLO CAL


One of Arroyo Grande’s signature roosters struts his stuff in the Village.

hen you hear the crow of roosters and the cackle of hens on the Central Coast, you’re probably somewhere in Arroyo Grande. This gem of a town has a fondness and tolerance for the assorted free-range fowl that are among its most distinctive residents. That and the city’s village charm, coastal location and historic nature have helped put Arroyo Grande on the map for Central Valley and other visitors. “There is a small-town feel,” says Judith Bean, president/CEO of the Arroyo Grande & Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce. In addition, she says, the average temperature is about 72 degrees and “there are no traffic jams.” That’s unless you happen to be waiting for the occasional chicken or rooster to cross the road. It happens. Born in 1862 and incorporated in 1911, Arroyo Grande sits just inland off Highway 101 and halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The city covers close to 6 square miles and has a population of about 17,700 people; its municipal neighbors include Grover Beach, Oceano, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach. The region is known for agriculture and, particularly, vineyards; the American Viticultural Areas of the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley are located here. In Arroyo Grande, those deep ag roots are reinforced by events such as the weekly farmers market and the

The historic swinging bridge in the Village of Arroyo Grande was built in 1875 so the Short family could access both sides of the creek.

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Central Valley Magazine | JUNE 2017 45

Strawberries are often found at the weekly farmers’ market in Arroyo Grande.

Summer concerts at the bandstand in Heritage Square Park are a popular way to spend lazy Sunday afternoons in the Village of Arroyo Grande.

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Flower pots decorate the walkway on the Bridge Street bridge in Arroyo Grande.

Yummy strawberry dishes are served up at the annual Strawberry Festival.

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annual Memorial Day weekend Strawberry Festival (May 27 and 28). The city also has carved out a unique identity in its well-tended downtown village that features an assortment of browse- and binge-worthy shops and businesses ranging from antiques to specialty to fine dining. Many buildings date back to the late 1800s. One local icon is the singularly named Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, located on the main village drag of Branch Street (named for town pioneer Francis Ziba Branch). Here, you can sample signature creations such as Motor Oil (dark chocolate with Kahlua and fudge swirls) and Merlot Raspberry Truffle (featuring local wine) that are among the top-selling flavors. The lab has been open for 14 years but has a 40-year pedigree. Owner Greg Steinberger, a self-described “corporate refugee” from the Bay Area, says the business began with the considerable technical assistance from Chuck Burns, who formerly owned the hometown favorite Burnardo’z ice cream shop. (Doc Burnstein’s is a mashup of the two names.) According to Steinberger, Burns was coaxed out of retirement to help launch the new shop. Now there are

two other Burnstein’s locations on the Central Coast. Steinberger, who is originally from Wisconsin, says he was looking for a place to open a business when he stumbled upon Arroyo Grande and saw the Fourth of July celebration. The city’s unique sense of community and “Midwest values with California weather” sold Steinberger on the location. Now, he’s formed deep roots in the community and celebrates the town’s individuality — including those roosters and chickens. (Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Doc Burnstein’s, he jokes.) Apparently, the birds originally lived years ago on the onetime ranch side of the creek. Eventually, they figured out how to get across the water and began popping up in town (and later in books and videos). And, yes, sometimes, they do stop traffic, although Bean says they are mainly heard rather than seen. Most townsfolk adopted a tolerant attitude (check out the “Chicken Dance” video on YouTube). However, there was a movement more than a decade ago to shoo the cluckers out of town. Despite relocation efforts — and something Steinberger dubs the “Rooster Rebellion” — the birds returned. Steinberger suspects that some friends of the fowl even added to the original flock; they mainly live near the creek.

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“We do embrace the roosters,” says Vivian Krug, a photographer and member of the South County Historical Society board of directors. The town also is proud of the history displayed in its many landmarks and museums. Arroyo Grande features one of — if not the only — swinging bridge still in use today in California. The pedestrian bridge was built around 1875 (the sides were added after the turn of the century) so that the Short family could access property holdings on both sides of the Arroyo Grande Creek. Now, the city owns and maintains the iconic bridge that occasionally has needed some TLC due to age and weather-related damage. In the 1990s, a tree nearly destroyed the footbridge but the community rallied and helped raise funds for repairs. The “swinging” bridge, spanning 171 feet in length, is a draw for visitors — it also comes honestly by that nickname. Krug says pedestrians can feel it move when someone jumps up and down on the bridge suspended roughly 40 feet above the creek. Other historic offerings in town include the Heritage House Garden and Museum, a circa-1800s Victorian cottage depicting a century

of culture, clothing, photographs and more; the 1901 Santa Manuela School House, a one-room school restored to its original state (including recent repairs addressing damage by woodpeckers); and the 1889 Paulding History House, home to the town’s first medical doctor (Edward Paulding). More information about the museums is available at the South County Historical Society website, www.southcountyhistory.org. Krug, who moved to Arroyo Grande from Southern California about 15 years ago, suggests in part that visitors include the downtown village, the museums and the swinging bridge on their itineraries. The town is also close to Lopez Lake and other recreational amenities along with wineries and farms such as Talley Vineyards, located about 5 miles east of Arroyo Grande. Brian Talley, president of Talley Vineyards and Talley Farms, is a third-generation farmer and second-generation winegrower who was born and raised in Arroyo Grande. Talley Vineyards (www.talleyvineyards.com) is known for its estate-bottled chardonnay and pinot noir produced from vines on the property; a tasting room is at the winery in the heart of the family farm. “Arroyo Grande is a charming California town that has managed to maintain its small-town feel even as much of the rest of the Central Coast has grown,” he says. “It is now recognized to have one of the better food scenes in San Luis Obispo County with restaurants like Ember and Mason Kitchen leading the way.” Finally, visitors to the city have a range of lodging options — including The Casitas of Arroyo Grande (www.casitasag.com) not far from Talley Vineyards. The gracious bed and breakfast formerly was the home of a triathlete, according to Pat Goetz, who owns the Casitas with her husband, Tony. Naturally, the estate features a pool and several comfortable “casitas,” or small houses, with fireplaces, patios and more. Pat Goetz says the property also “probably has the only infinity bocce court on the Central Coast.” The 7-acre estate is a popular wedding venue; room prices start at about $230 on weeknights. The Goetzs, who relocated from Southern California, have run the Casitas for about nine years. “We love it here,” says Pat Goetz, who praises Arroyo Grande’s sense of community and philanthropic spirit. “We didn’t know anyone when we moved here but we’ve made a lot of friends.” CV




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8 Parties for the Parkway Kickoff Party The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Inc. held its Parties for the Parkway Kickoff Party on March 9. Guests at the annual event had the first opportunity to preview and purchase tickets for the nonprofit’s Parties for the Parkway, a series of events that raise funds to benefit programs such as River Camp, the River Center, the River Stewards Program and guided canoe trips and nature walks along the San Joaquin River.


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1 Karen Dorian and David Montano 2 Dustin Llanes and Madison Padama 3 Jeff and Amelia Bennett 4 Ellen Hemink and Ellen and Josh Meyer 5 Juliana Quick and Molly Schnur-Salimbene 6 Kati Hill and Ryan Dion 7 Bach Children’s Choir 8 Doug Halloran and Joaquin and Alida Espinoza 9 Melanie Ram and Tom Holyoke 10 Sarah Hedrick and Dan Page PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Drake

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Marjaree’s Mardi Gras The Marjaree Mason Center celebrated the life and legacy of its late founder, Marjaree Mason, with a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party on March 18. The party featured a sit-down dinner, live entertainment and live and silent auctions. The Marjaree Mason Center provides shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence in Fresno County.

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1 Dyhane Hawkins, Ometha Mason Moore, Heather Reese and Kathryn Pennal 2 Michelle Denbeste and Robin Cischo 3 Julie and Jim Wood 4 Adam and Brittany Christopherson and Autumn Goodridge 5 Stefanie Moshier and Cheryl Sutton 6 Charles Lawson and Lia McGinnis 7 Erik Elst, Tinneke Van Camp and Chadley James 8 Mary Gomez and Pamela and Bobby Lee 9 Taylor White, Eleni Minas, Nichole Roberts and Allyson O’Brian 10 Al and Khaneal Mason 11 Carole Blomgren and Peggie Harper 12 Carlos and Gladys Laurean, Abby and Kevin Messa PHOTOGRAPHY: Jessica Rogozinski

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38 9 More Than Robots Fresno Ideaworks hosted More Than Robots, a fundraiser to support Central Valley Robotics and local FIRST robotics teams, on March 31. FIRST programs help kids ages 6 to 18 learn science, technology, engineering and math skills through robotics competitions and projects.


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1 Josh Olson and Andrew Nabors 2 Daniel Daccarett, Angela Cardona and Dale Herzog 3 Anne and Paul Lake and Scott Kramer 4 Janelle Pinnecker, Jennifer Dauer and Joann Lucas 5 Wendy Gonzales, Nell Papavasiliou and Sheryl Peters 6 Thomas Bayhi, Lisa Case and Andrew Case and Josh Houser 7 Alicia Page, Jacque Fourchy and Denice and Russel Lane 8 Shane and Stacy Compton 9 Alicia Page and Mark Ochinero 10 Dulce Giannoni and Kelly Baker 11 Colin Warnes and Mary Allen PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Drake

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Summer Recreation in Your Backyard

LAKESIDE CABIN ON BASS LAKE Rent a boat, canoue or paddle board and enjoy endless summer fun at beautiful Bass Lake.

YOSEMITE MOUNTAIN SUGAR PINE RAILROAD Embark on a historic steam-train ride through the Sierra National Forest. Ask about the Moonlight Special.

SIERRA VISTA SCENIC BYWAY Camp, hike and ďŹ sh along nearly 100 miles of country roads featuring breathtaking views of the high sierra.

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After a day of fun on Bass Lake, dine out or BBQ in with family and friends in your own lakeside cabin.

MADERA WINE TRAIL Sip wine and meet the winemakers at the family-owned wineries along the trail.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK Take a guided tour for the best Yosemite experience during the summer season.



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