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What will the Chief Hensley investigation cost?




The City of Tulare won’t say — so one Tulare man is now suing. page 11

Valley Voice

Volume XXXVIII No. 4 15 February, 2018

Tulare hospital sues to exit loan arrangement The Tulare Local Healthcare District claims HCCA sold its assets in a “sale and leaseback” agreement without its consent. It’s stuck paying $80,000 a month to keep some of its equipment.


council to reconsider its decision. Steve Bannister, president of the board of directors for Main Street Hanford, said that while the city council has called the building an eyesore, it actually is eligible to be put on the state and national register of historic buildings and can receive tax dollars for its renovation. He added that Hanford’s leadership just needed the vision to

The Tulare Local Healthcare District is looking to exit a leaseback arrangement it claims was set up by Dr. Benny Benzeevi, the head of the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), the district’s former management partner. The district claims that the leaseback agreement wasn’t authorized. While the sale and leaseback of the district’s assets was first revealed in a January lawsuit, the district has now filed another suit in the United States Bankruptcy Court -- this time against Celtic Leasing, the financial entity that provided the money. With the leaseback secured by the district’s assets, Celtic was instructed to wire a $3m loan to Tulare Asset Management, a company which was previously registered to Benzeevi’s home address, according to the lawsuit. The district claims Benzeevi and Alan Germany, HCCA’s CFO, misrepresented Tulare Asset Management’s address to be the hospital’s, instead of Benzeevi’s home address, to prevent

FIRE HOUSE continued on 5 »

HOSPITAL continued on 7 »

Diane Leoni, Sharon Bannister and friends have been painting the Old Firehouse every Tuesday and shared their artwork with the Hanford City Council Tuesday night. Catherine Doe/Valley Voice

Hanford residents plead with city council, in vain, to save old fire house


Hanford residents came out en masse to the February 6 Hanford City Council meeting to protest the council’s recent decision to tear down the old Fire House. The city council voted 3-2 to tear down the structure at its December 19, 2017 meeting, and had already erected a fence in preparation for demolition.

The art deco Firehouse on the corner of Lacy Boulevard and Kaweah Avenue was built in 1939 as part of a public works grant during the depression. City staff said that it would cost $2 million dollars to renovate the building. The Firehouse is to be demolished to make way for a parking lot for The Plunge. Public comment lasted more than an hour as resident after resident approached the podium and asked the

Porterville council Visalia City Council debates food Hanford installs considers seeking truck, microbrewery ordinances new council CATHERINE DOE sales tax hike member Feb. 6


It’s just the latest in Tulare County cities seeking a little more cash for their coffers, following sales tax increases in Lindsay, Woodlake and Farmersville last year, and Visalia in 2016. The Porterville City Council voted to move forward into the possibility of putting a sales tax increase measure this November. “There have been a number of conversations regarding a potential tax measure,” Porterville City Manager John Lollis said at the council’s February 6 meeting. Lollis cited the council’s desire to look into an indoor sports youth facility, to enhance public safety, to consider a new library facility, and to improve roads within city limits as examples of

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The Visalia City Council wants to seize on the food truck movement before it passes the city by. During its February 5 work session the council discussed two overlay districts for food trucks similar to the micro-brewery district approved in 2016. The two food truck overlay districts would be in the Industrial Park and in East downtown. The districts would reduce the restrictions currently placed on food trucks. Because there are very few eating establishments in the Visalia Industrial Park, the councilmembers accepted the staff report for that area with little feedback or changes. The council’s primary concern was the Main Street brick and mortar restaurants. Councilmember Steve Nelsen said that if a restaurant sells

a gourmet hamburger for one price, then half a block away a food truck sells the same hamburger for less, the restaurant will lose business. Food trucks have a much lower overhead than do restaurants, and would have an unfair advantage according to Nelsen. Currently, food trucks are considered a convenient source to grab lunch and they can only stay in one spot for 10 or 15 minutes. Gail Zurek, CEO of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, said that the in-and-out quick vend is over and that it takes specialized food trucks more than 20 minutes just to set up. Zurek emphasized that creating a overlay district would bring in a new dynamic to Visalia and give the residents the same sort of advantages as residents from big cities. After the presentation by Visalia

VISALIA continued on 10 »


After a contentious recall election, Diane Sharp was sworn in as Hanford’s newest councilmember on February 6, while Francisco Ramirez graciously stepped down from the dais. Ramirez was presented with a Diane Sharp. Catherine plaque and com- Doe/Valley Voice mended by Mayor David Ayers for serving the city with honor and distinction. Ramirez was elected to represent District D in 2014, and then served as vice-mayor in 2016. In Ramirez’ parting statement

HANFORD continued on 4 »

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice



The Alexander Oldenbourg Memorial Scholarship

Yesterday the Chief and I were in court yet again--this time to legally finalize our poisoned inheritance, the estate of our late son, Alex. Given the behavior of the Chief’s family, I can’t--at the time of writing this--predict with any confidence the outcome of the hearing. Over the past four years they have revealed themselves to be capable of nearly anything. What I can say with bleak and absolute certainty is that this proceeding is the last thing any parent would ever want to face. At least, most parents. I’m writing about this now not because of the timing of the estate hearing (Happy Valentine’s Day!) but because DACA--still unresolved--remains a thoracic thorn in the two-ring circus we collectively call Congress. Let me tell you what the Chief and I intend to do with our inheritance. Once the Kid is safely through college in her own right--and this should allow us the time to grow Alex’ estate to sufficient proportions--we’re going to found the Alexander Oldenbourg Memorial Scholarship. As it currently stands, the idea is to fund a year of tuition here at Fresno State for so many years as we’re able to. And, depending upon how well we do managing the money and encouraging outside support, we can consider adding candidates or expanding the scholarship to include living expenses. We’ll have a lot to figure out. Beginning with who the candidates should be. Right off the bat, the Chief said, “Dreamers.” Up yours, congressional Republicans. Alex would have loved it. Hypocrisy of any stripe pissed him off, he couldn’t be bribed--even by us, even when he was a kid--and he would have loved sticking a finger (you know which one) in the eye of those who don’t honor their promises. So, of course, yes--living with him was hell. We had colossal arguments because neither of us were close to perfect; I, though terrified, was trying to raise him, and he, terrified himself much of the time, was searching. I’d be lying if I failed to admit that I was frequently in his cross-hairs. Forget about walking on proverbial egg shells. It got to a point where I could tread a length of rice paper like Kwai Chang Caine without leaving any evidence I had ever done so. Living with a bi-polar alcoholic will teach you how to accomplish that. And, I assure you, I was there. Every step of the way. And in a way Alex was akin to the Dreamers in that he too was brought here, not of his own accord, and made to accustom himself to his surroundings. By here I mean Earth. He got so far, officially, as eighth grade. As did I, until Berkeley. But university wasn’t for him. He tried, following my footsteps at College of the Redwoods--a JC in Eureka--and found he did not like it. There were many things he did not like. Like work. He was a champion shirker. Handing him a broom once, I asked him to sweep the front porch steps. “How do I work this thing?” he asked. Genius. And I think he was--although he would accept no compliment from me, ever. We knew fairly early on in his high school years that he would never graduate. Still, we insisted he attend every day. I never saw him reading anything substantive--certainly never a newspaper--and he never watched any news with the Chief and me. How he knew so much, apparently effortlessly--very nearly inherently--continues to mystifies us. But that was Alex. A bit of a conundrum. He had so many of the advantages that a good life can bestow, yet he could not enjoy them. So we’ll find people with fewer advantages in life and use one of Alex’ to give them a leg up. I hope it helps. It will never help me. Joseph Oldenbourg

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Valley Voice  15 February, 2018


Let me get one thing straight. Assemblyman Devon Mathis doesn’t get to take thousands of dollars from Dr. Benny Benzeevi, ride around in his private plane, and now declare his support for Tulare’s now-closed hospital. That ain’t gonna fly. On January 31, Mr. Mathis posted pictures of himself and Trustees Kevin Northcraft and Michael Jamaica in Sacramento on Facebook with the caption: “Celebrating a victory with the Tulare Local Health Care District! The Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved the audit of the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates and the Tulare Regional Medical Center. Hopefully soon we will get the hospital back up and running.” He also posted a letter in support of the audit stating, “There has been a long history of questionable activities associated with the management of bond funds by the Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates,” said Mathis. “The recent shutdown of the hospital has greatly impacted the people of Tulare. It is time for the people of Tulare to get closure on this horrific mismanagement of funds.” Those posts sound an awful lot like Mr. Mathis is taking partial credit for the audit. But after everything Tulare has been through, the hospital community is not going to easily forget how Mr. Mathis sat on his hands for the last three years. Where was Mr. Mathis when hospital workers weren’t getting their pay checks? Where was Mr. Mathis during the

special election for Measure I? Where was he during Dr. Kumar’s recall? Former Trustee Linda Wilbourn, turned in the order to the county office for Mr. Kumar’s recall election on March 9, 2017. HCCA gave Mr. Mathis a $4,400 donation on March 17. Does anyone believe that is a coincidence? The following is a Facebook exchange between a member of Citizens for Accountability and Mr. Mathis. Deanne Martin-Soares wrote, “Could have happened last year or even sooner if Mathis would have listened to constituents including myself that called his office in a plea to take on the issue. I guess election time makes a difference. No thank you!” Mr. Mathis responds, “The hospital board is it’s own private entity. The state has no authority over the board. When the new board came to me asking for help, I reacted and helped to get this audit started. I’m not one to take local control away from elected boards.” Ms. Martin-Soares,   “It is actually a District, a public entity not a private entity. It serves many that can’t advocate for themselves. Think of the missing millions more because of your failure to act. We all know the reason why - campaign donations that ironically came from the revenue of a public entity. You can spin it anyway you want but the truth of the matter is you ignored it because it didn’t serve you well.” Mr. Mathis responds, “So I lost the millions of dollars? I’m a firm believer in the need to bring solutions to the table, not just finger pointing. Glad I can be a part of this solution. Thank you

3 a column by CATHERINE DOE — for your comments and have a wonderful evening.” If Mr. Mathis wants to be considered part of the Tulare Hospital community he needs to do a few things. First, Mr. Mathis has to hand over every donation from Dr. Benzeevi, Dr. Kumar, Medflow, and HCCA to the Tulare Hospital Foundation. Mr. Mathis then needs to write a sincere letter of apology to his constituents about not asking for the JLAC audit and personally deliver his letter to the board during a regular meeting Lastly, he needs to research every grant available to public hospitals and recruit all the state’s logistical help to get the hospital open. Or to put it more simply – Mr. Mathis needs to start doing his job. But will the hospital community ever be able to embrace Mr. Mathis? As someone close to Mr. Mathis said, “I don’t know that I had ever been more angry or disappointed at anyone in my life.” After our son passed away last year Dr. Benzeevi gave us a beautiful plant that seems to have the same mood swings as did our son, and took my husband out to lunch. They talked about books and the state of journalism and Dr. Benzeevi complimented our paper. He said our coverage was fair. There is a lot of anger directed at Dr. Benzeevi, but we saw that there is a human behind the CEO of HCCA. And there is a human behind the assemblyman who, though flawed, loves his kids, his wife, his country and who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Mr. Mathis won his first election in 2014 as an underdog and has been

resented ever since by the Republican establishment. And he has been fighting that establishment ever since he took office in January of 2015. Mr. Mathis declared, “I feel this is political, and if they were serious about getting the doors open, I wouldn’t turn anyone away from helping.” This isn’t political and it isn’t personal. This is a matter of trust. And Mr. Mathis has spent his.

Double Mint Twins Part II

In my first installment of the Double Mint Twins, I predicted that Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones would soon jump the Mathis ship. Many high profile Tulare County movers and shakers such as State Senator Andy Vidak, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, Tulare County Supervisors Kuyler Crocker, Mike Ennis and Steve Worthley, Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley in 2016 endorsed Assembly Member Devon Mathis. But for the 2018 election they have endorsed Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler for the 26 Assembly District, and I expected Mr. Jones to follow suit. But I underestimated their bond, so I stand corrected. Tarnishing their “double fresh double cool” persona, Mr. Jones has been posting incoherent and rambling comments on the Visalia Times-Delta’s Facebook. The Voice also pegged Jones for a string of lies regarding the paper’s coverage that he spun to KTIP hosts PK the Redhead and Kent Hopper.

POLITICAL FIX continued on 12 »

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


Democrats want ‘dishonest’ Nunes out DAVE ADALIAN

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) is catching heavy fire from both sides of the political aisle following the release of the so-called Nunes Memo earlier this month. Harsh words, as well as a call for his removal as chairman of the House Intel Committee by Democrats, aren’t the only things causing trouble for the local congressman. His website appears to have been hacked by Russians, and disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn--with whom Nunes and the Turkish foreign minister met while Nunes was a member of Donald Trump’s transition team-pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. The Flynn revelation comes as Nunes ramps up attacks against the FBI and the Department of Justice. Nunes also says he is now targeting the State Department under President Barack Obama.

Pelosi Wants Nunes Out

The newly announced intent to investigate the State Department comes as Nunes is apparently emboldened by

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he said he was proud of what he had accomplished during his time on the council and proud of Hanford. He said that unemployment and crime were at an all time low while job creation was at an all time high. He said the three things he worked towards, but did not have time to accomplish, were building a youth recreation center, acquire another ladder truck for the fire department, and hire more police officers. He said that the city council is like a canvass, the people are the paint and the staff are the brushes. “Keep painting the beautiful picture of Hanford,” said Ramirez. Sharp took her seat on the dais and gave a short speech saying that it had been a lifelong dream of hers to serve the residents of Hanford in this way. Sharp established her place on the council immediately as she asked detailed questions about Hanford’s future marijuana cultivation industry and presented a plan to save the old firehouse slated for demolition. Her plan for the firehouse, which

the the release of a four-page memorandum--written by Nunes--which he claims shows the FBI and Department of Justice were motivated by pressure from Democrats to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. The ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), however, says the memo released earlier this month is not the same as the document the Committee approved. “This evening the Committee Minority discovered that the classified memorandum shared by the Committee Majority with the White House is not, in fact, the same document that Members of the House of Representatives have been reviewing since January 18, 2018,” Schiff wrote, “and that the Committee Majority voted on Monday to release to the public, over objections from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The revelation prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to call on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to remove Nunes from leadership of the House Intel Committee. “Chairman Nunes’ deliberately dishonest actions make him unfit to serve as as Chairman, and he must be imme-

diately removed from his position,” Pelosi wrote.

has since been demolished, is mentioned in a separate article in this issue. Sharp’s pot questions, along with those of the other councilmembers, came after Rand Martin from Caliva, and consultant, Dave McPherson, gave their input on how Hanford should proceed with its tax ballot measure. Hanford has given three businesses a total of 24 permits to grow medical marijuana in the industrial park. Martin told the council that he hoped it would write a tax measure that is simple, easy to enforce and encourages growth in the industry. He added that the marijuana cultivation industry in San Jose has been stunted because their taxes are too high. McPherson said that it is estimated that California consumes 2.5 million pounds of pot annually, but 4.8 million pounds are being produced. When faced with more product than consumption, the tax question becomes more complicated. He reminded the council that the marijuana businesses will be paying the tax and not the constituent. Pot dispensaries, he said, have much more flexibility because they can pass any cost increase to the con-

sumer. Cultivators do not have this luxury because of the competition, meaning retailers will basically be able to dictate what they will pay per pound. In the black market pot costs about $2000 per pound. Since state licenses have started to be issued, a pound costs about $1000. That price is predicted to go down to $850 a pound by the end of the year. The recommendation from McPherson was to keep the local tax down to 2% - 6% so that the cultivation business can prosper and expand. The city can tax cultivators per square foot of production or make it a percent of gross receipts. Other cities facing the same decision have opted for the square footage method because it is easier to track. The council also needs to decide whether to make the ballot measure a general tax or special tax. A general tax only needs to pass by 50% plus one, and a special tax needs to pass by two thirds. The last three ballot measures in Hanford that needed a two thirds majority failed. Sharp wanted to know what would happen if the voters didn’t pass the tax measure. Community Develop-


FBI Condemns Memo

Regardless of which version of the memo was released, the FBI says the information it contains is both incomplete and false. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” an FBI press release stated. Nunes claims his memo establishes a conspiracy between Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Russian agents, and he says Democrats are now trying to hide that information. “The truth is that they (Democrats) are covering up that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians to get dirt on Trump to feed it to the FBI to open up an investigation into the other (Trump) campaign,” Nunes told Fox News. While the Clinton campaign did hire Fusion GPS to continue its work on the Steele Dossier, the work was originally funded by Paul Singer, CEO of the Elliot Management Company and publisher of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication. Nunes took $5,400 in donations

from Singer in 2015.

Second Ethics Probe

Nunes has been under intense national scrutiny since a late-night secret meeting at the White House in March of last year, when Nunes may have illegally shared classified information with the Trump administration regarding investigations into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential elections. Or the information may have flowed in the other direction. Following his interactions with the White House, Nunes then lied to the press about the nature of the meetings. It was ultimately revealed he was being fed information by White House staffers--which he then shared with Trump--and that behavior led to a House Ethics Committee investigation of Nunes. Now, Nunes is facing another ethics complaint, this one alleging Nunes or members of his staff leaked sensitive information about Fusion GPS, the company that prepared the Steele Dossier, as retaliation for its investigation of Trump’s Russian connections. The complaint was filed by the

NUNES continued on 8 » ment Director, Darlene Mata, said that Hanford has already made a commitment to the three companies and that they would proceed in cultivating pot whether taxed or not. The three pot businesses have also already invested a considerable amount of money to set up shop in Hanford. Sharp also wanted to know if the Federal Government could shut the pot industry down because it is still an illegal substance on the federal level. City Attorney Ty Mizote said that technically the Federal Government could, but that they did not have the money to pursue the pot industry in every state. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational pot is legal in eight states and Washington D.C. Ayers said that he prefers the middle of the road when deciding on the tax, while keeping it attractive to the industry. The city council needs to complete a resolution by March to ensure that the measure gets on the November ballot. Mata said staff would craft a resolution based on the council’s feedback and have it ready by the next meeting.


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Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

COS offering supervisory academy, workplace skills classes at no cost STAFF REPORTS The Tulare County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) has launched their UpSkill Tulare County initiative. “UpSkill Tulare County is a community wide initiative focused on increasing the skills of entry level workers to meet demands of middle skilled positions. This practice encourages employers to ‘grow their own’ staffing resources, while promoting upward mobility in the workplace” (4 Year Local Plan 2017, Tulare County WIB). As part of that initiative, the College of the Sequoias’ Training Resource Center is offering a Front Line Supervisory Academy designed for anyone in a supervisory role or aspiring to be in one. This training will be completely funded by the (WIB). The class will focus on soft skills

FIRE HOUSE continued from 1

get it done. During the December meeting Councilmembers Dave Ayers and Sue Sorenson voted against tearing down the fire station and to allow preservationists to come up with a plan to save the building. Gail Evans, one of the preservationists, thanked Ayers and City Manager Darrel Pyle for their help in her research to possibly move the fire station. She said she is looking into applying for a grant to pay for the building to be moved. Then the city could have its parking lot and save the fire house at the same time. Evans said that if she had known about the appeals process she would have appealed the decision back in December and asked the council to grant the residents a grace period to find a solution to saving the building. Michelle Brown, from Main Street Hanford, proposed another option to save the fire station. Main Street Hanford held a well attended meeting where Craig Scharton from Fresno gave a presentation on Direct Public Offerings (DPO). Private investors would be able to buy stock in the Hanford Community Corporation DPO, and that money could be used to fix not only the fire House but other historic buildings in Hanford. Several residents also pointed out the economic benefit to saving Hanford’s historic buildings. Randall McGee said that the city hired a very expensive consultant year ago and one of the firm’s findings was that


training in areas such as interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork, cultural & generational diversity, conflict resolution, coaching, motivation, organization, problem solving and delegation. Previous attendees have said the following about this training: • “There was real life work-related experience. All subjects were important. Conflict was important because we deal with it on a daily basis” • “I learned different techniques of handling personalities, coaching, conflict, problem solving, and change” The trainings will be held on Thursdays from March 1 – May 17 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Jo-Ann Distribution Center in the Visalia Industrial Park. This class is normally $499/person,

however the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board will be funding this cohort for eligible employers. Under this same initiative the Training Resource Center is also offering an Essential Workplace Skills training. This training will also be completely funded by the WIB and focuses on building essential skills in your production workforce. These skills include teambuilding, communication, internal customer service, employee attitude, conflict management, stress management and time management and values/ethics. Previous attendees have said the following about this training: • “Trainer was the best, made me see things differently. She made the course be fun and not just a boring class.” • “This course opened my eyes to

the world around me & how to response appropriately.” “This course provided me with the tools to break barriers & understand situations & people more than before.” This training is scheduled from April 3 – May 1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at the COS Tulare College Center. This class is normally $349/person, however the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board will be funding this training for eligible employers. To find out eligibility requirements and learn more about registering, please contact Andre Brasil at the WIB at (559) 713-5210 or You can also call or email the COS Training Resource Center to find out more about the trainings at 559-6883130 or

Hanford’s old buildings would attract more tourism to the town. Bannister added that other towns, such as Sacramento, had success in converting their historic buildings into micro breweries or restaurants. Nate Odom, a Hanford activists, found it interesting how the city could restore a historic light pole in front of the Fox Theater but two blocks away prepared to demolish the fire house. Another proposal was to incorporate the fire house into the planned youth recreation facility. Newly installed councilmember, Diane Sharp, left the dais and approached the podium to speak as a concerned citizen in support of preserving the fire station. She reminded the council that a recreational facility was “far from a done deal,” and that purchasing the old YMCA may be a better choice. Sharp said that the “Fire house is currently used as a warehouse, is structurally sound, with an adequate roof. Warehouse storage space goes for 35-50 cents per square foot in town.” She suggested making minor modifications to the Firehouse to maintain its current use such as: reinstall exterior lighting fixtures, install basic supplemental electrical panel to provide power, and “spruce up the current garden and install plantings including the original built-in planter that highlights the curve of the building on its SE corner.” She also suggested reinstalling the original lettering and address numerals to the building’s Lacey Blvd. frontage “Our historic buildings can be beautiful and are part of the glue that holds this community together. They

are our identity as a City”. Efforts to save the old Fire House echo the events surrounding the old Hanford library that was slated for demolition. In April 1971, Dan Humason and other concerned residents discovered that the city council was about to demolish the library to make a parking lot. Petitions were presented to the council to save the building and it is now a cultural hub and serves as the city’s historical museum. Dina Leoni, from the Plein Aire Painters, reminded the audience of the fate of Hanford Union High School, which she attended. The building was deemed an unsound structure, but when the wrecking ball came calling it practically bounced off. After sever-

al attempts the building was finally brought down in April of 1975. Mike Quinn reminded the council that Hanford needs to preserve its history for the kids and that “it’s hard to know what you have until its gone.” Sharp then recused herself from the dais as the rest of the council discussed delaying the demolition of the firehouse. Mayor David Ayers, Councilmembers Sue Sorenson, and Martin Devine decided to continue with the demolition as planned. Councilmember Justin Mendes left the meeting early. Demolition started Tuesday, January 13 at the back of the firehouse while the Plein Aire Painters set up one last time across the street to capture a vanishing piece of history.

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15 February, 2018   Valley Voice



“Farmers Inspired” convention visits McKellar Family Farms STAFF REPORTS Six large buses rolled up to McKellar Family Farms and Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch at noon on Friday, February 2, unloading approximately 310 agritourism farmers from all over the nation. Arriving from states with negative degree temperatures, these farmers were excited to experience the California sunshine and, of course, citrus. Each year, “Farmers Inspired” hosts a national convention, where hundreds of agritourism and direct marketing farmers visit other businesses to gather new ideas, network, and, most importantly, learn about the agritourism and agritainment industries. With this year’s convention taking place in California, a stop at Farmer Bob McKellar’s ranch was a must. “I’ve been attending this convention for more than ten years, and it is an extraordinary group of people,” said Bob Mckellar, Owner of McKellar Ranch Co. “Having them out here on our farm was something I have looked forward to for years. It was an honor to be a host and to see these friends pick oranges straight from my own trees. I’ll never forget it!” During the event, McKellar Family Farms and sister company Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch offered a number of attractions for each guest to

experience. From citrus tasting and sampling locally produced items to orange picking and wagon rides, each guests got a little taste of life in the San Joaquin Valley. The farmers—many of whom have known Bob for years—also got a chance to tour the Hummingbird Cottage, which was the house where Bob grew up. The local producers and vendors at the event included Farmers Fury Winery, Rosa Brother’s Milk Company, Citrus Tasting from the Lindcove Research and Extension Center, Naturally Nuts, Mache Farm-to-Table Catering, Bradshaw Honey Farms, The Visalia Farmers Market, Haas Olives, Critchley Family Farms, Juicy Fruit Dried Fruit, Enzo Olive Oil, and Top of the Hill Jams. While the farmers experienced a variety of attractions—including an impressive farm equipment exhibit—one of the main reasons they came to the ranch was to learn how Historic Seven Sycamores became a successful wedding venue. Kim Rico of Drops of Honey Designs set up The Garden Venue as a wedding education pavilion, where guests learned the ins and outs of running a wedding venue on a farm. Another highlight for many farmers was being able to purchase oranges to be shipped home to them.McKellar

Bradshaw Honey Farms displays their products at McKellar Family Farms and Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch.

Family Farms sold approximately 125 boxes of oranges, and all the proceeds went toward the farm’s non-profit ag-education program. “We are so grateful to all of the vendors, staff, and volunteers who made this event possible,” said Kelly Lapadula, McKellar Family Farms Tour Coordinator. “So many people donated their time, resources, and skills, and we have to give a very special shout out to the FFA students from Golden West who

volunteered their time and did an awesome job welcoming our guests. Overall, it was a wonderful event, and we’re so thrilled we could show these farmers what Tulare County is all about.” Farmers Inspired—also known as North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA)—was established in 1986 as a membership-based, non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the farm direct marketing and agritourism industry.

California Farm Bureau Federation board pursues policy in D.C. DAVE KRANZ, CFBF Focusing on immigration policy, water resources and the upcoming rewrite of federal farm legislation, members of the California Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors conducted a series of meetings with congressional leaders and administration officials in Washington, D.C., last week. The trip occurred during a time of intense discussions regarding immigration policy, prompted by introduction of a Republican-sponsored bill called the Securing America’s Future Act, which provides funding for a border wall and addresses internal immigration enforcement and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The package also includes an Agricultural Guestworker Act that seeks to improve the immigration system for farm employees but about which CFBF and other agricultural organizations have expressed concerns. “This was an important time to be on Capitol Hill, to make sure our representatives know what’s needed to create an immigration system that empowers both agricultural employees and employers,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “I think we succeeded in getting our points across.” In meetings with California congressional representatives and their staff members, CFBF officers and directors stressed the need to modify the AG Act to make it more useful for farm employers and employees alike. They cited three features of the current proposal as SALES, SERVICE, RENTAL AG EQUIPMENT & TRUCK REPAIR

problematic: that it caps the number of agricultural visas at 450,000; that it requires unauthorized employees to leave the U.S. in order to apply for a visa; and that the visas lack the flexibility needed in particular for people who grow and harvest fruit, vegetable and nut crops. In addition, the AG Act would tie creation of the new H-2C visa program to mandatory use of the E-Verify electronic eligibility system, which CFBF leaders said could affect a large proportion of the existing agricultural workforce. “We certainly respect the need to maintain and enhance border security,” Johansson said, “and we think that can be done while providing farmers, ranchers and their employees with a better immigration system.” CFBF leaders encouraged California congressional representatives to work for a system that allows agricultural employees to earn legal status without being required to leave their homes and families, and which features visas that provide sufficient flexibility to allow the new program to function like the current labor market. CFBF also recommended creation of a program to accommodate future agricultural employees from other countries. With California appearing to lapse back into drought after last winter’s heavy downpours refilled surface reservoirs, the CFBF delegation stressed the need for additional congressional action to address the state’s water system. Johansson noted that passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements

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for the Nation Act in 2016 provided additional flexibility to operate water projects in California while accounting for protected species. “We want to be sure the WIIN Act can be as effective in dry years as it was last winter, during heavy flows,” he said. CFBF representatives also stressed the need to include California water projects in the federal infrastructure package President Trump promoted in his State of the Union address. “For Californians, there’s no more important infrastructure right now than how we store and transport water in our state,” Johansson said. Congress is due to write new federal farm legislation this year, a prospect the CFBF delegation discussed with the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and with key members of the committee staff. Stabenow told the CFBF group that negotiations on specifics of a new farm bill have begun, with hopes for a completed bill by late spring. Both she and staff for the Republican majority on the committee warned of budget constraints that could affect the 2018 Farm Bill. CFBF representatives said the new farm bill should benefit all of agriculture through effective safety-net programs, improved working-lands initiatives and an emphasis on research. They expressed support for extending a pilot program for a crop insurance product called Whole Farm Revenue Protection,

which covers more than 250 commodities—many of which had never been insurable in the past. Johansson said CFBF also sought an improved dairy chapter in the farm bill, to address deficiencies in the existing Margin Protection Program. “MPP doesn’t work for California dairies, given the size of our herds,” he said. “It has left thousands of dairies struggling during trying times.” The CFBF delegation discussed trade policy during a meeting at U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters with Ted McKinney, USDA under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. McKinney expressed optimism about the ultimate outcome of negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, though he warned the talks would be neither fast nor easy. During a meeting with officials from the U.S. Forest Service, CFBF leaders expressed support for forest-management methods such as thinning and controlled burning to reduce wildfire threats. The CFBF delegation expressed continued support for legislation that reduces barriers to active forest management and provides a solution to fire funding for the Forest Service. USFS officials told the group that close to 60 percent of the agency’s budget has been redirected to firefighting needs. This article reprinted with the permission of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

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Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

PORTERVILLE continued from 1

projects needing funding. Some discussion was held regarding a possible general tax measure versus a specialized tax measure – the first of which would allow possible suggestions for the tax use to be given, but not enforced, according to the city’s attorney, Julia Lew. A specialized tax is just that – specific for its use and intent and therefore the income from that tax must be used for that designated purpose. There are only specific times in which a general tax measure may be

HOSPITAL continued from 1

any delays in receiving the money. According to forms submitted to the court, Benzeevi represented himself as the Chief Executive Officer of the district, and that Alan Germany, HCCA’s CFO, represented himself as the district’s Chief Financial Officer. Neither were granted those roles by the board, the district’s attorneys claim. At least one provision of the hospital’s contract with Healthcare Conglomerate Associates appears to show the company was given the authority to appoint a Chief Executive Officer, and that the appointed CEO’s authority “shall be at least as extensive as the authority the District delegated to the District’s former chief executive officer (as of the end of 2013), together with such additional authority as is provided in the District’s bylaws.” It does not, however, state that the appointed CEO would be given the title of CEO of the district. Marshall Grossman, an attorney representing Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, previously told the Voice that HCCA’s leaseback arrangement was “totally regular.” “There was a $3m loan, fully documented, and fully reported, and so far as everything I know is concerned, it was in the ordinary course of business, and totally regular in every way,” Grossman said. “It’s almost as if the district is looking for stuff to throw against the wall, and look if some of it sticks.” In the filing, the district claims that the leaseback arrangement – selling some hospital equipment to Celtic, then paying a monthly lease fee to use that equipment – was a preferential transfer of the district’s assets prior to its bankruptcy, and likely more than it would have been entitled to in bankruptcy proceedings.

Authority Given, Taken Away

HCCA was given authorization by the hospital district’s board in June 2017 to pursue a $22m loan. Former board members Linda Wilbourn, Parmod Kumar and Richard Torrez voted in favor of authorizing the company to do so, while board members Kevin Northcraft and Mike Jamaica voted against the move. “The resolution does not speculate a specific loan,” HCCA CFO Alan Germany said at the time. “So, we’re looking at a variety of different funding sources.” According to the district’s filing, Germany started negotiating with Celtic for a loan in July of 2017 for as much as $20m. “The critical factor for me is time,” Germany wrote to an official with Celtic, the district claims. “I would like to get this funded very quickly.


placed on the ballot – one of those times is coming up in November. A special tax has a few more options as to when it can be placed on a ballot, but is also more limiting in scope. “The great thing about a ballot measure is that the people get to make the decision,” said Councilman Cameron Hamilton. “All we’ve got to do is put it out there for them.” “The mayor’s brought up several things that need to be taken care of and we can’t do it with what we’ve got,” he said. Hamilton made a motion for staff to move forward with consideration of a measure to be placed on the November ballot, which was seconded

and passed. What moving forward entails is hiring a firm to perform community polling to determine whether a sales tax increase measure is even feasible, Lollis said in a Voice interview. “To find what is the general community sense,” he said. “Is it more supportive of a general measure?” The city plans to have that firm contract in place by the end of the month. During March, the outside firm will “conduct and analyze polling, assess measure feasibility; finalize timetable and outreach plan,” according to the city’s proposed timeline. The city then has April/May to decide whether to move forward.

If the city chooses to pursue the matter, decisions will need to be made regarding the amount, ¼ or ½-cent increase. By July the council will need to finalize the ballot question, develop its expenditure plan and develop voter handout materials, according to the timeline. Last November, Woodlake passed a 1% city sales tax and Farmersville a 1/2% increase. With a special ballot in June, 2017, Lindsay passed a 1% sales tax increase. And, in 2016, Visalians passed Measure N, a ½-cent increase to fund that city’s general services. If Porterville chooses not to move forward this November, it will have to wait until 2020 to revisit the possibility.

Thank you.” Time was of the essence, the district’s suit claims, because Dr. Parmod Kumar had been recalled, and Senovia Gutierrez was elected his replacement. Gutierrez campaigned as being against HCCA’s contract with the district. It was likely that she would vote to remove the company’s authority to take out loans in the district’s name; as a result, the district claims that the company worked to prevent Gutierrez from taking her seat as long as possible until it could execute a loan. At the district’s July 26, 2017 meeting, Wilbourn stated that there were “legal opinions that were not agreeing” regarding whether Gutierrez needed to legally be recognized by the board before she could take her seat. The published agenda for the day’s meeting didn’t allow for that to take place at the meeting, she said. Gutierrez, Northcraft and Jamaica took the view that it wasn’t required -- her certified election results were enough. They met on July 27 and revoked the company’s authority to seek loans, and held public meetings multiple times afterwards. All would be without Torrez and Wilbourn. HCCA and its attorney, Bruce Greene, claimed those meetings weren’t legal or valid because the former board hadn’t recognized Gutierrez as a board member yet. “All members of the board were advised of that by the District’s legal counsel. Unfortunately, we are continuing to see a calculated and deliberate effort to destroy our hospital. Those individuals, including the newly elected but not yet certified board member, would be much better served by spending their time educating themselves about actual hospital business instead of spending it on theatrics and meaningless antics,” a statement from Benzeevi read after the July 27 meeting. Gutierrez was eventually seated at a September 27, 2017 meeting. By that point, the company said loans would be a necessity -- Benzeevi claimed that HCCA had been footing the hospital’s bills to the tune of $7m, and it wouldn’t continue to do so in the “destructive political environment” of the time. “Without immediate approval for the District to obtain prompt funding, the only alternative will be for HCCA to move immediately to cease operations at the Hospital and to consider immediately a plan over the next several days to close the Hospital,” Benzeevi wrote in a September 28 letter to the district’s attorneys. The Tulare Local Healthcare District later filed bankruptcy, and voluntarily closed the hospital to prevent HCCA from doing so unilaterally. By that point in September, however, the district claims that Benzeevi and Germany had already received $3m in proceeds from a sale and leaseback of

the district’s assets nearly a month before -- on August 31.

Board that Senovia Gutierrez has assumed office as representative for District 3, despite there having been no publication of a Notice of any planned declaration by the Board, and despite the earlier filing of a timely request for recount with the Registrar of Voters of Tulare County,” the July letter stated. In an August 25 letter, Allan stated that representing Kumar in that action wasn’t a conflict -- and that Gutierrez wasn’t yet a board member. “The known facts suggest that compliance with statutory procedure required to commence Ms. Gutierrez term of office has not taken place, and she is not yet a director,” Allan’s August 25, 2017 letter states. “Further, if Ms. Gutierrez has failed to subscribe her oath and file it with TLHD within the time frames set forth in Government Code Section 1303, the office to which she was elected may be deemed to have fallen vacant.” The district alleges that Celtic relied on that letter, in part, to proceed with the leaseback.

Kumar’s Attorney Clarifies Gutierrez’ Status

HCCA was able to convince Celtic to execute the loan, the lawsuit states, by providing the company with a letter from Michael L. Allan, a Pasadena-based attorney. Allan had represented Kumar in July, sending a letter to the board stating that Gutierrez’ swearing-in ceremony was, in fact, a violation of the Brown Act, California’s open meetings law. Allan claimed that having three board members -- Wilbourn, Northcraft, and Jamaica -- present at the ceremony was a violation of the law. The Brown Act provides an exception for purely ceremonial events, and the Tulare County District Attorney’s office later stated that no action would be taken. “The action taken appears to demonstrate by consensus of the

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice



continued from 4 Campaign for Accountability, a nonpartisan watchdog group focused on exposing public misconduct and malfeasance. “Unfortunately, prior to the release of the full transcripts, it appears Committee Chairman Nunes and/or members of his staff selectively leaked information provided to the Committee in confidence, likely to retaliate against Fusion for its role in investigating President Trump’s and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and to deter the firm from any engaging in any continued investigation.”

‘Banana Republican’

With the Nunes Memo finally in public hands, angry responses to it are coming from all sides, including Nunes’ own party. GOP strategist Steve Schmidt has labeled Nunes a “banana Republican” who is serving “...the interests of the intelligence services of of the Russian Federation. ...” “What we’re seeing now, and I don’t know what Devin Nunes’ motivation is, I do believe he has a record of acting in bad faith,” Schmidt told MSNBC. Former CIA Director John Brennan echos Pelosi’s condemnation of Nunes and his partisan approach to the Trump-Russia investigations. Brennan says Nunes has not been completely honest in his disclosures, cherry-picking facts and omitting others. “It’s just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” Brennan told NBC. “He has abused the chairmanship of (the Intelligence Committee).” Perhaps the most cutting criticism

of Nunes odd behavior comes from Ed- mation was stored on Nunes’ site and ward Snowden, a former CIA employee whether hackers were able to access it. and intelligence contractor who re“Only Rep. Nunes’ office can say leased classified information from the how severe this security breach was,” NSA about surveillance of US citizens Ellason told Bleeping Computer. in 2013. Snowden says he used more “Because Rep. Nunes is chairman of discretion than Nunes has when he de- the House Intelligence committee, cided to blow the whistle. he would be considered a high-val“I required the ue target.” It’s just appalling and journalists who Adding insult broke the 2013 to injury on the Inclearly underscores domestic spying ternet front, while how partisan Mr. the Nunes memo stories--as a condition of access--to Nunes has been. He was playing large talk with (governnational headhas abused the chair- in ment officials) in lines, an unknown manship of [the Intel- prankster bought advance of publication as an exligence Committee.] the URL nunesmetraordinary then recaution to prevent John Brennan, the former CIA directed traffic to any risk of harm,” director, regarding Devin Nunes’ Nunes’ primary Snowden wrote disclosures. opponent in the last week. “Turns upcoming midout our standard of care was higher term election, Andrew Janz. than the actual Intel committee.” The Janz campaign says it had no involvement in the redirection.

Nunes Website Hacked

As if that weren’t embarrassment enough, it turns out that Nunes’ website was hacked by Russians in May of 2017, and the infected code remains on According to Eric JN Ellason, owner of web design firm SlickRockWeb, Nunes’ site was infected with code intended to boost the search engine returns for Russian websites. He alerted Nunes’ office to the hack, and he says Nunes office told him it removed the offending code. However, analysts for Bleeping Computer, a website focused on security that originally reported the breech, says the hacked code remains in place on Nunes site. They also point out it is unclear what, if any, sensitive infor-

Flynn Rolling Over

In what may eventually prove a more serious development for Nunes, former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into possible Trump-Russia connections. Flynn’s fall from grace, which came just weeks after Trump took office, resulted from his failure to disclose his work as a foreign agent. Specifically, Flynn worked to advance the interests of Turkey, and may have discussed a plot to kidnap a Turkish national living on US soil in exchange for a $15 million payment. Flynn and Nunes met with the

Turkish foreign minister at a meeting held at a Trump hotel on January 18, while Nunes was a member of the executive committee of the Trump transition team. Revelation of that meeting led to speculation in the press that Nunes may have seen his own name unmasked in intelligence reports. Nunes’ office has previously denied any wrongdoing on his part.

Obstruction Liability

Meanwhile, the Nunes memo could end up with obstruction of justice charges for the Tulare congressman, according to three experts on constitutional law. An op/ed piece published last week by the New York Times--coauthored by the president of the American Constitution Society, a Harvard Law School professor of constitutional law and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute--says Nunes has an “obstruction liability” if he or his staff worked with the White House on the text of the Nunes memo. When questioned by Rep. Mike Quiqley (D-Illinois), Nunes refused to say if his staff had worked with the White House to develop the Nunes memo. Nunes denied working with the White House directly. The trio of experts say the memo is an effort by Republicans to discredit Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who is overseeing Mueller’s investigatory work. Should the memo become the basis for firing Rosenstein, Nunes could be guilty of conspiracy to obstruct of the investigation, they said. When asked if the Nunes memo made it more likely he would fire Rosenstein, Trump responded: “You figure that one out.”

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

Typos lead local daily to allege Brown Act violations TONY MALDONADO

When you’re sending an email, make sure to check that the addresses you’re sending it to are valid. Especially if you’re sending a board meeting agenda for, say, the Tulare Local Healthcare District. The Visalia Times-Delta has alleged that the Tulare Local Healthcare District violated the Brown Act when it incorrectly typed out the email addresses of multiple newspapers, including the Visalia daily, The Fresno Bee, and one Valley Voice reporter. That email contained a “special board meeting” agenda for January 31 — such agendas are required to be sent out at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The text of the law requires a “written notice to each member of the legislative body and to each local newspaper of general circulation and radio or television station requesting notice in writing.” The Voice is not considered a “news-

paper of general circulation” because it is not printed inside Tulare County; it still receives notifications from the district, along with other local news outlets. A meeting agenda email sent out on January 30. At 3:59pm on January 30, that agenda was sent to multiple reporters whose email addresses were spelled correctly, including: • Jim Houck, a former Times-Delta reporter, • Joseph Oldenbourg, the Voice’s editor, • Christina Fan and Brian Johnson, ABC30 reporters, • P.K. Whitmire, a K-TIP radio reporter, Multiple reporters’ addresses were spelled incorrectly: • Lewis Griswold, a Fresno Bee reporter, spelled jgrisworld@, • Tony Maldonado, this Voice reporter, spelled tony@ourvalleyvoice.vcom, • Luis Hernandez, a Times-Delta reporter, spelled lfhernan@, This reporter later received a corrected email on January 30 at 8:12pm. At the hospital’s January 25 meeting, the district’s board of directors voted to bring its website and public relations inhouse; still, a staff member at the hospital sent out the agenda for the January 31 special meeting. Rick Elkins, the district’s public relations volunteer, was unavailable to send out the January 31 meeting agenda. “I sent staff the notice list I’ve been using since July 2017. If cut and pasted, [there] shouldn’t be any typos,” Kevin Northcraft, the district’s chairman, said in a text message. “We strive to exceed public notice and open meetings requirements, given former management didn’t follow the rules. To avoid any question, we will ratify the actions of 1/31 at the meeting today.” Larry Blitz, the hospital’s interim CEO, confirmed that Northcraft had provided his staff with a media list. “We talked to Kevin last week — we did notify all of the people that Kevin gave us; his list of people on public no-


tice,” Blitz said. “That we did, and we actually have documentation – we also called all the board directors or left a message with them.” Blitz said that any potential Brown Act violations were news to him when the Times-Delta‘s reporter called him. “I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about – he said, this person didn’t get this, and that person didn’t get that,” Blitz said. “As far as we’re concerned there were no Brown Act violations. It surely wasn’t intended,” he added. “If there was a mistake, we surely want to know about it and correct it.” Northcraft sent out an agenda for the district’s February 6 special meeting. Blitz anticipated that volunteers would continue to send out agendas until the hospital is able to hire administrative staff for board matters. Elkins the district’s public relations volunteer, sent out a second email after Northcraft’s to local media outlets. “Just want to be sure everyone received this,” it read, with an attached agenda.

Doctor to pursue whistleblower suit against Tulare hospital TONY MALDONADO

A Visalia doctor is attempting to pursue a lawsuit against the Tulare Local Healthcare District (TLHCD) after she claims she was retaliated against for speaking with investigators from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Dr. Rebecca Zulim claims that she was forced to take a “voluntary leave” from the district’s hospital, the Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) after she spoke with regulators about issues that would later result in a January, 2017 report taking the hospital to task for patient care and governance faults. While Zulim’s filings only mention the healthcare district, which legally owns TRMC, the actions were allegedly committed by representatives of the hospital’s former management group, Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA). The company’s attorneys deny Zulim’s allegations. “To our knowledge we see no truth to these allegations. Accordingly, they will be vigorously defended,” Marshall Grossman, an attorney for HCCA, said.

(In)Voluntary Leave

By all accounts, Zulim took a leave after the state regulator raised an “immediate jeopardy” issue at the hospital on November 9, 2016. An “immediate jeopardy” finding left uncorrected within a short timeframe would cause the hospital to lose its Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) accreditation. The vast majority of the hospital’s funding comes from patients enrolled in Medi-Cal — California’s Medicaid program. A report submitted to California regulators, submitted November 14, 2016, stated that Zulim, identified only as “the surgeon in question,” took a voluntary leave of absence for 10 days, and that her corrective action would be decided by the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee (MEC). But Zulim’s suit contends the leave wasn’t voluntary. In a letter to the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing, provided to the United States Bankruptcy Court, the surgeon claims that she

was told on November 9 that she must take a “voluntary leave” in order to “‘appease’ the investigators” from the regulator’s office. “[Dr. Ronald Ostrom] told me that he had some bad news for me as he had just gotten off of a conference call with TRMC’s CEO, CFO, CNO, and Ms. [Jennifer] Oros. Dr. Ostrum [sic] was instructed to tell me that I must go on a voluntary leave,” Zulim wrote. “Dr. Ostrum told me that there were state investigators at the hospital and that I would need to take a voluntary leave in order to ‘appease’ the investigators and to show them that Dr. Benzeevi (TRMC’s CEO) was ‘doing something’ even though Dr. Ostrum felt it was ‘not fair or right.’” Zulim rejected the administration’s request to take that leave, though. She sent a letter stating the same to the hospital’s Medical Staff Office — one that wasn’t received well, she claims. While officials with HCCA publicly disagreed with the January CDPH report’s findings publicly, Zulim alleges they expressed doubts privately while inspectors were at the hospital. “Dr. Benzeevi told me that I was ‘stirring up the State’ and that the hospital might be closed,” she wrote. “Dr. Benzeevi then asked me to stay away from TRMC so that they could ‘hide’ me from the State investigators. [He] then told me that ‘he and his family have a lot of money, power and influence and a lot of top notch Attorneys.’” She also claims that Benzeevi stated that he would “crush” her if she did not cooperate. She acquiesced and stated she would take a “vacation,” rather than a leave. The hospital would later call the January 2017 report “the latest episode of the vicious attempts by a few disgruntled doctors set to vilify and destroy Tulare’s hospital,” and derided the complaints at the time as “frivolous” when it was published by the Voice in June, 2017.

Just Kind of Panicked

After initial confusion over her status — Zulim stated she accepted a “vacation,” while she claims a letter from the Medical Executive Committee stated she was on voluntary leave, a nursing supervisor stating she was suspended, and her scheduler claiming she was suspended, as well — she claims some hospital offi-

cials at least offered apologies. Dr. Parmod Kumar, a former TLHCD board member and member of the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee, stated that officials “just kind of panicked because they thought that the State was going to close the hospital,” she claims. “…maybe we didn’t think this through too well. It was not our intent to be so onerous, and it is evident that we have caused a lot of emotional distress that we didn’t mean to,” she claims Benzeevi said. Zulim sought evaluations at the hospital’s request, and she claims that a doctor from UCLA Health Center concluded that she had “no contraindication from continuing her work as a surgeon at this time.”

Ongoing Concerns

Her “vacation” ended December 7, 2016, but she claims that a patient pre-registering at the hospital on December 20, 2016 was told their operation was cancelled. “I called Dr. Ostrum, TRMC’s Chief of Staff, and was told that Dr. Benzeevi had told him that I was not allowed to operate,” she states. Zulim was told she would be proctored for her next 25 surgeries, but that the surgeries must be completed within 120 days — she wasn’t able to meet that requirement because of her low number of surgeries operated at the hospital. Documents the hospital provided to the California Department of Public Health state that she — identified as “MD 6” — had to complete those surgeries within 180 days. Even if the hospital had already told the state what her outcome would be, Kumar and Benzeevi were willing to offer her a reprieve from the requirements, she claims. “Dr. Kumar also told me that Dr. Benzeevi had agreed to ‘lift the ban’ on my ability to schedule surgeries and also said that if I completed 10 surgeries without complications, Drs. Kumar and Ostrom would request that the MEC conclude,” she wrote, “that I had complied with the proctoring requirement and ask that the investigation be closed and that I would then receive written confirmation that my privileges were no longer being restricted.”

She made it to nine before complications arose in August 2017 — from another, temporary, physician she assisted at the hospital’s request, she said. “During surgery, I was able to stop the patient’s bleeding and their care was reverted back to the locum tenens physician. Unfortunately, the patient later passed away. Thereafter, I completed 4 more cases,” she wrote. What Kumar gave, he later took away, after the MEC met to discuss the August surgery. “I received a phone call from Dr. Kumar, who told me that the ‘deal was off’ and that I would need to complete 25 proctored surgeries because the State was now investigating the locum tenens physician’s patient on whom I performed surgery,” she writes. “However, [it] was impossible for me to fulfill this requirement as I was no longer receiving any referrals.”

“My practice has been destroyed”

After the January 2017 report was published in June of that year, the Voice and other local news publications identified Zulim as the surgeon involved in at least one death at the hospital. The January report also quotes David MacDonald, the hospital’s then-operating room director, who claims Zulim worked complex surgical cases that backed up emergency cases while on-call at the hospital. Only one on-call operating room team was available after-hours at the time, causing a strain on the hospital’s resources. Those reports, coupled with a “misinformation campaign” she claims has been waged by the hospital, have caused “irreparable” damage to her reputation and caused her to drain her savings in order to support her family, she claims. Zulim’s attorneys have requested that the US Bankruptcy Court grant her an exemption from the temporary stay on new and existing legal proceedings, stating that any liability will be borne by the district’s insurance carrier, and that Zulim would not “look to [the district’s] property or bankruptcy estate” for any damages. Zulim’s attorney did not return a request for comment.

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


Porterville College featured in student success report STAFF REPORTS A new study conducted by the research organization DVP-Praxis and supported by five major national foundations provides a clear look at institutions that are part of the Working Students Success Network (WSSN). Porterville College is one of the nineteen participating colleges in four states (AR, CA, WA, VA) working with the national college reform organization Achieving the Dream (ATD) to give tens of thousands of low-income students the best possible chance to succeed in college and beyond. WSSN offers a cohesive suite of services that help students address barriers to student success, and strengthen academic and job skills and opportunities leading to careers that pay a living wage and to the financial stability of students and their families. Specifically, WSSN provides students access to income supports by tapping into

available public benefits and other resources that address basic needs and financial insecurities. Students receive information, coaching, and training to make informed financial decisions about budgeting, financial aid, and debt and money management, as well as to learn about banking services such as checking and savings accounts, and credit cards. “The WSSN initiative has served as a catalyst for campuses to re-imagine how to organize and deliver services in a student-centered way, meeting their students where they are and creating an institutional culture in which the whole campus contributes,” says Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “If the United States is going to meet its future workforce needs, we need to improve the ability of our institutions to retain and graduate a greater percentage of students who enroll. Critical to that

mission will be to help community colleges work with students who have the greatest challenges to overcome as they pursue a college credential.” “The research provides some lessons on how colleges can advance the student success movement to address academic and financial security needs,” says Rosa Maria Casteneda, senior associate for family economic success at the Annie Casey Foundation, which funded the $12.5 million initiative along with the W.K. Kellogg, Kresge, Lumina and MetLife Foundations, with seed funding provided by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. ”The study points the way to more effective implementation that can be further institutionalized within these colleges and spread to other institutions that need to learn how to develop system-wide approaches to serve large numbers of students.” “Porterville College’s work with the WSSN initiative and ATD from Oc-

tober 2015 to June 2017 has aided in integrating services that address a broad spectrum of students’ needs. PC has developed synergies to assist students transcend barriers that might impede their success in college”, said Bill Henry, Interim Porterville College President. PC received the national honor of being designated as a Leader College in the ATD National Network resulting from the steady improvement in measured student success outcomes. The WSSN study also identified strategies that have helped institutions engage in the cultural change required to provide comprehensive supports in new ways. In the near future, funders will release a quantitative study identifying changes in student persistence and completion in the immediate term; however, the full impact on the students served may not be seen for several years.

Tulare County HHSA releases community health improvement plan STAFF REPORTS Improving health in Tulare County is the aim of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), released today by the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency’s Public Health Branch at The CHIP addresses, over a five-year period, three critical issues affecting the health of Tulare County residents. The CHIP resulted from the Community Health Assessment, a comprehensive assessment of the state of health of county residents, released in April 2017, which identified 16 issues


continued from 1 Senior Planner, Andy Chamberlain, council members had concerns over enforcement, hours of operation, the district’s boundaries, and the proximity to established restaurants. In terms of proximity, the consensus was to extend the staff suggested limit from 150 feet to at least 300 feet away from a brick and mortar establishment. Council member Phil Cox wasn’t in favor of any type of overlay district for food trucks. He said that many restaurants are still recovering from the 2008 recession, and that even 300 feet away would only extend one block. Cox preferred the Tulare County ordinance that is a simple time limit on food trucks versus a special district. Cox also said the current Visalia ordinance is difficult to enforce as he sees many possible violations at the Houston Market that go unchecked. Chamberlain said that enforcement would be complaint driven, as they do not have the staff to enforce the new or old ordinance. Nelsen suggested that the staff come back to the council with more a finished product for the downtown overlay district and to incorporate the council’s concerns. If the council agrees on a possible overlay district for food trucks the issue will then go through the public hearing process.

Micro-Brewery Ordinance Discussed

In September of 2016 the Visalia City Council voted to create a mi-

that were analyzed and reduced to three main issues by members of the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Steering Committee. Subcommittees that include public health staff and community partners have been formed with corresponding goals, objectives, activities, and measurements to address the selected issues over the next five years: • Improving access to health care • Preventing and managing diabetes • Increasing health literacy To improve access to healthcare,

the goals are: to increase the number of clinic staff and providers who are competent in working with special populations; to ensure the public knows how and when to access care; and to establish and expand services in remote areas. Goals to help prevent and manage diabetes in Tulare County are: to improve identification and management of pre-diabetes and diabetes; to increase opportunities for physical activity; and to increase consumption of healthy food and beverages. Health literacy is incorporated in the two issues. It addresses improved education with the public as to when and where

to access care; providing assistance in managing diabetes; increasing consumption of healthy food and beverages; and creating opportunities for physical activity. The Tulare County Public Health Branch conducted intensive community outreach to collect health data and gather the concerns of community members and organizations across the county. Anyone interested in participating in the ongoing activities of the Tulare County CHIP is welcome to join the Access to Care Coalition and/or the Diabetes Coalition by contacting Tulare County Public Health at (559) 624-8480.

cro-brewery overlay district in East downtown Visalia. The goal was to lure business to the district by reducing the red tape and restrictions and to capture some of the tourism dollars going to the Sequoias. The special district allowed micro-breweries and micro-wineries to start a business without having to obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) as do traditional bars. These businesses would also be welcoming to minors and be exempt from the customer age limit. Since the adoption of the Brewery Overlay District, Barrelhouse Brewing Company has set up at 521 E Main Street and has become a popular family-friendly establishment. But concerns have now been raised about the brewing company’s Type 23 License. The license allows minors on the property even though there is alcohol served. Normally establishments that predominantly serve alcohol cannot allow anyone under 21 years old on the premise. The Barrelhouse is the first and only business to have a Type 23 license in Visalia, and the police said they have no experience in dealing with it. Nevertheless, the police officer giving the presentation to the council said that 57 fights were reported next to drinking establishments and that this type of atmosphere is not appropriate for minors. The officer added that it would be very easy for minors to get alcohol at the Barrelhouse and that they would be socializing with intoxicated customers. The officer said that establishments similar to the Barrelhouse have a Type 48 license such as the Green Olive and the Pump House and do

not allow anyone under 21 years old. The Visalia Police Department recommended a type 48 license for the brewery overlay district also. Councilmember Greg Collins agreed saying that if the only reason to go to a micro-brewery is to drink craft beer then no one under 21 should be there. Mayor Warren Gubler didn’t understand why a parent would take their kids into such an establishment in the first place. Gubler said he was inclined to do what was is in the best interest of the child even if it hurt the business. Jason Carvalho, owner of the Barrelhouses in Paso Robles and Visalia, attempted to educate the council on micro-breweries. He said that the Barrelhouse is a family-oriented business that has never had any problems with minors drinking. They provide sodas, food and a game room for minors. To avoid any trouble with intoxicated adults they close their businesses at 10:00. He said in Paso Robles there have been more problems at Star Bucks than at their brewery. In addition, the Barrelhouse is a music venue and many musicians who come through their establishment are not 21. The brewery wanted to be a venue where young adults could play music and be supported by their family and siblings, which would not be possible without the micro-brewery overlay district. Zurek said that the main reason for creating the micro-brewery overlay district in the first place was to increase tourism and attract businesses to East Main Street such as the Barrelhouse. Adding restrictions defeats the

entire purpose of the district she said. Zurek said that professionals, locals, and visitors, want a place where they can sit and drink a craft beer while their kids pay shuffle board outside. She also reminded the council that many establishments serve beer where children are present such as Chucky Cheese, the Adventure Park, Roller Town, Rawhide, Galaxy Theaters, and the bowling alley. Joel Moore, a native Visalian, wanted to give a young person’s perspective and told the council that minors are not going to go drink at a family-friendly establishment. Rather, they are going to pay the homeless person outside of 7-11 to get them a six pack. Vice Mayor Bob Link said that he got “really tired of the government telling him what he can and can’t do” when he owned his business downtown. He said it creates an unhealthy business environment. He believes that parents aren’t going to take their kids to a bar, and as long as it’s a family-friendly emphasis, the city should not impose any restrictions on the overlay district. Link said the council should wait until there is an issue before considering changing the ordinance. Cox said that after listening to both sides he “had changed his mind a little bit” and was happy to hear that the Barrelhouse is providing a venue where young bands can play their music. Cox was in favor of the micro-brewery overlay district keeping the Type 23 license but wanted each business to obtain a CUP with the requirement that the breweries serve food and sodas. The motion was put to a vote and passed 4-1 with Link voting no.

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

Tulare’s public records responses earn city a lawsuit


The City of Tulare’s attorneys aren’t releasing any information about the investigation into Tulare PD Chief Wes Hensley — even costs. So one Tulare man is suing to get answers would interfere with any agency’s some answers. ability to conduct an effective investi“And the final thing I’d like to see, gation. This risk is greatly amplified is if we could have, in closed session, Many Tulareans are interested in the situation a briefing on the in the investigation of their police at hand by the status of the chief That’s enough with chief, Wes Hensley, and command involvement of of police’s leave,” that. That’s enough. officers Cpt. Fred Ynclan, and Lt. Jethe media in this he said during rod Boatman. It’s not going to matter, and by council memAll three remain on paid adminthe possibility of ber comments. closed session. You’re istrative leave, Hensley since Sepany prematurely know that the crossing into a whole ”I tember 27, 2017; Ynclan and Boatman released informacity attorney has since November 7, 2017. bunch of Bill of Rights told us, we as a tion impacting Ben Brubaker, a Tulare resident, potential witnesscouncil are not issues that I would submitted a Public Records Act rees and impacting allowed to legalsuggest you meet quest for information regarding the the investigator’s ly be involved investigation; a representative of the with legal counsel to in that process, ability to conduct city attorney’s office replied that the the investigation. look into before we go which I respect. city would not comply with the reThe public does But, I do believe any further. I’m going quest. As a result, Brubaker is taking possess an interas a council, we the city to court. to move on. est in transparcan be briefed on In a suit filed with the Tulare ency and in eval- Carlton Jones, Tulare mayor, the cost of the inCounty Superior Court on January 31, uating the City’s ending councilman Jose Sigala’s vestigation and Brubaker, through his attorney, Miperformance of comments on the Wes Hensley the timeline. So, I chael Lampe, requests the following its duties, such as investigation would like to see judgements: conducting a perif we could have • A declaration that the City has sonnel investigation. However, learn- that in closed session. not complied with the Januing information such as the name of “I’m not asking about the particary 16, 2018, Public Records the investigator before the investi- ulars of why the chief is on leave, but I Act request, and that the regation is completed does not serve do think that we, as a council, do have quested documents should the public interest in determining to deal with city funding and get an be produced forthwith. whether the City has properly per- opportunity as to what the timeline • That Brubaker be awarded formed its duties, as its duties have is. I read about it in the paper, but reasonable attorneys’ fees in not yet been completed.” I’d like to get a briefing from the city this action under the proviClearly, Brubaker is not satisfied manager and the city attorney on sions of Government Code with that response. the cost of the investigation and the 6259(d) and Code of Civil Pro“As a citizen, I have rights to timeline.” cedure section 1021.5. know how our city is run,” he said A discussion ensued between • That Brubaker be awarded in an interview with the Voice. “It’s Sigala and Councilman Greg Nunhis costs of suit incurred our business. ley, in which Nunley said, “Let’s just herein; and “They are refusing it [the pub- talk about it right now – if there’s • That Brubaker be awarded lic information investigations such other relief as the court request], so I am I am not satisfied as to happening, how may consider proper. challenging it.” will it cost? the lack of response much A case management conference Brubaker Council, can we has been set for Tuesday, June 12. regarding the cash know any more isn’t the only City officials have told reporters one receiving and timeline from the than this?” that an investigator has been hired that response. Vice Mayor city attorney. to look into matters regarding the The Valley Maritsa Castelpolice personnel – but that’s about all Voice’s Catherine Jose Sigala, Tulare City Councillanoz stated she they’ll say. Doe placed a very man, regarding the Wes Hensley felt that without similar request – investigation. it being properly Attorney’s response she got the same agendized, counanswer as Brubaker. cil could not discuss the issue. to public information While the California Public ReSigala responded, “So, what requests cords Act requires an agency to offer would be an appropriate avenue as A response letter to Brubaker, any “reasonably segregable portion a council member, as duly elected by signed by Sarah Tobais — an attorney of a record” for copying or viewing, the public who I have sworn an oath with Goyette and Associates, Inc., the Tulare officials stated that revealto protect, and do what I can to procity’s contracted law firm — states: “Making information and re- ing the name of the investigator tect the treasury of the city. Maybe they don’t want to know. But I would cords public about an on-going, was an issue. So, the Voice made a subselike to know what the cost is and the confidential personnel investigation quent request for a copy of the contimeline. So, if the closed session is would interfere tract with the not the appropriate avenue, would with any agency’s As a citizen, I have name redacted. the city attorney to be willing to say ability to conduct rights to know how The same rewhat is the appropriate avenue to an effective inour city is run. It’s our sponse was giv- find out, as a council member? vestigation. This en, without any Tobias did not respond. risk is greatly ambusiness. reference to the Nunley did, “I would like the pubplified in the situBen Brubaker, Tulare resident i n v e s t i g a t o r ’ s lic to know, everyone in this room ation at hand by filing a public records lawsuit name being an and everyone who reads the newspathe involvement impediment. per, I’d like the public to know that of the media in Apparently the name of the in- we can only know certain things and this matter, and by the possibility of any prematurely released informa- vestigator is not the only issue the we can only get an update on certion impacting potential witnesses city attorneys do not want to reveal. tain things.” After a brief discussion on anothand impacting the investigator’s Brubaker and the Voice are not the only ones looking for answers. er topic, Sigala brought the conversaability to conduct the investigation. tion back to the investigation. The public does possess an interest in “And then the final thing would Council member wants transparency and in evaluating the be just a briefing, whether it’s closed City’s performance of its duties, such answers, too session or not, on the cost and the as conducting a personnel investiAt the January 16 Tulare city coungation. Making information and cil meeting, following some public timeline of the investigation,” he said. Mayor Carlton Jones responded , records public about an on-going, comments on the situation, Coun“I’ll say this and let me say it to everyconfidential personnel investigation cilman Jose Sigala tried to fish out


one here – when you talk about your duties as a council member, that’s also one of your duties as a council member, is your involvement in personnel matters. So, don’t forget that one.” “I’m not being involved in personnel matters, it is very specific of the cost,” Sigala said . Jones responded, “That’s a personnel matter.” “Well, that’s why I need a city attorney to tell me,” Sigala said. Again, Tobias did not respond, the mayor did. “The best thing to do, as council members – you leave that process alone,” he said. Further discussion continued and Sigala said, “I don’t want to know what the chief did. I don’t want to know this and that, all I want to know – is it going to cost the city a specific amount of money and how much longer this is going to take. It’s very specific, so if we’re not going to support this, I would like to hear from you or from the city attorney, something in writing, telling me – focusing on case law, or focusing on personnel law, or whatever, saying you are prohibiting councilmen from knowing this information.” Shortly after, Sigala was silenced. “This is just your 30 minute closing, and we don’t want to have another meeting here,” the mayor said. “That’s enough with that. That’s enough. It’s not going to close session. You’re crossing into a whole bunch of Bill of Rights issues that I would suggest you meet with legal counsel to look into before we go any further. I’m going to move on.” “Well, it’s not fair that you are the only one who gets briefed on this,” Sigala rebuked. “That’s my point.” “I don’t get briefed,” Jones responded. “According to your radio interview, you do know what’s going on and I don’t think it’s fair that you are the only one who knows what’s going on,” Sigala said referring to Jones’ K-TIP weekly radio appearances. In a February 3 interview, Sigala said he is still waiting to hear from the city attorneys with regard to citing case or personnel law in that the city council, and the public, does not have a right to know the cost and timeframe of the investigation. “I’m just as curious as the public as to what is going on,” he said. “I do feel there are some questions that we, as council members, have the right to know. But, as of yet, I have not heard back. “I am not satisfied as to the lack of response regarding the cash and timeline from the city attorney.” It is not clear, at this point, just what it will take for council or Tulareans to learn how much time the investigation into three top law enforcement officers will take, or how much money Tulare will spend on that investigation. Perhaps the Brubaker court case, some four months away, will be able to shed some light onto it. Meanwhile, Hensley, Ynclan and Boatman remain on paid administrative leave.


POLITICAL FIX continued from 3

On both platforms he gushes about his comrade, posting on Facebook “Assemblyman Devon Mathis is doing a great job for us in Sacramento.” To which Mr. Mathis was his only “like.” During radio interviews Mr. Jones repeats, “Our amazing assembly member Devon Mathis.” Their relationship started during the 2014 Assembly race when Mr. Jones endorsed Mr. Mathis after he came in a surprise second during the June primary. (In true Carlton Jones form, he called the other winner of the Assembly District race, Rudy Mendoza, and endorsed him also.) A Mathis campaign staffer said that even though Mr. Jones was still in the race for assembly during the primary, “Jones bought Mathis his first 5 campaign signs. It might have actually been what put Devon over the top and into the general.” The staffer added that Mr. Jones knew that he, as a Democrat, had no chance of making it through the primary and was quietly hedging his bets. Both Mr. Mathis and Mr. Jones struggled over the next four years, with voting issues, accusations of infidelity, personal and campaign financial issues, and legal problems. Nevertheless, Mr. Mathis went on to win two elections on a very questionable record in Sacramento, and Mr. Jones overcame the political fallout of an arrest for spousal abuse to win two more city council elections and is now mayor of Tulare. What bonds them now is their mission to completely change the narrative surrounding the hospital, to obfuscate their support for Drs. Parmod Kumar and Benzeevi, and pretend they always only acted in the best interest of Tulare’s hospital.

15 February, 2018 So shhh, don’t tell anyone -- because they are counting on your not remembering. Or as Mr. Jones says, “Don’t be a hater.” “Hater” or not, now that Drs. Benzeevi and Kumar are out of the picture, Mr. Jones has changed his tune from: “We have our own responsibilities here, as a council. If I wanted to run the hospital, I would have ran for the hospital board.” To: “It’s going to take a united city to save the hospital. I can’t just say ‘good luck.’ I have to be willing to help,” and, “This council has a great relationship with our elected officials. It’s going to take that type of team work to save our hospital.” Mr. Jones queried in a Facebook post, “If your [sic] not part of the solution, what is your purpose?” Mr. Mathis and Mr. Jones say they are part of the solution. The Tulare hospital community says they are hypocrites. Everyone knows who is right, it’s just a matter of which side is going to win the public relations war. Tulare County residents -- or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb?

Don’t Pass Go, Don’t Collect $200

As all the news junkies know, the California State Legislature released on February 2 documents on sexual harassment cases covering more than 10 years. The investigations involved 18 elected officials or high-level capitol employees, such as district coordinators or chiefs of staff. The complaints ranged from inappropriate touching to watching pornography on government computers. The disciplinary actions were mostly verbal warnings and requiring legislators and staff to attend sexual harassment training. But some were suspen-

sions without pay and four staffers were immediately fired. While news of a sexual harassment complaint against Candidate for Governor, Assembly Member Travis Allen, sent shock waves thought Sacramento, one person listed in the documents flew under the media’s radar, Assembly Member Devon Mathis’ Chief of Staff Sean Doherty. When news broke last May that Mr. Doherty was fired as chief of staff there was no shortage of hypotheses why, but sexual harassment was at the bottom of the list. Well it should have been at the top. According to the documents, Mr. Doherty was fired by the Assembly Rules Committee on May 10 for sexually explicit comments and verbal abuse. Ninety percent of the document was blacked out but the few lines provided give you a good idea the work environment in Mr. Mathis’ office The investigation recounts, “He asked her if she was sexually active with her boyfriend. He said if you weren’t such a f*cking whore you might be able to have a real boyfriend. Then he said he was kidding.” Later in the investigation it says, “He told her you would rather f*ck your boyfriend than come to work.” It makes one wonder what was redacted. The Assembly Rules Committee wrote Mr. Doherty at the end of its investigation, “This letter serves as notification that your at-will employment with the California State Assembly will be terminated effective May 10, 2017. You are not permitted to return to the office after today.” Ouch. Mr. Doherty was hired as Mr. Mathis’ Chief of Staff in April of 2015 under a cloud of suspicion as to why Cole Azare had been thrown off the island. Mr. Azare ran Mr. Mathis’ successful underdog campaign and had served as Chief of

Valley Voice Staff for four months. Mr. Azare was also a fellow Veteran and best man at Mr. Mathis’ wedding. Before Sacramento’s document dump, it was hypothesized that Mr. Doherty was fired for lobbying while chief of staff, campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime, instructing Mr. Mathis to only listen to constituents who donate to his campaign, or all of the above. Before taking on the position of chief of staff, Doherty was a lobbyist and had owned Wildhorse Consulting and Willow Grace Productions. To sidestep Assembly Rules, he de-registered as a lobbyist and gave up his ownership interest in his Consulting firms to his wife, Thanne Doherty. Since then the Doherty family practically made a living off of Mr. Mathis’ campaign donations, but that came to an abrupt end last year. So, to get the timeline straight, Mr. Doherty was fired May 10, 2017 for sexual harassment by the Assembly Rules Committee--and it is suspected that Mathis was the person to initiate the investigation. Then the Mathis campaign continued to pay Wildhorse Consulting for its services, even after Mr. Doherty was fired, to the tune of $50,000. But payments abruptly stopped on October 5, 2017. Then, Mr. Mathis is accused on October 19, 2017 of sexual assault of a young female staffer -- an assault that allegedly that happened in April of 2016. It is suspected that Mr. Doherty gave the story to blogger Joseph Turner of American Children First. As I said in my last Political Fix, one constant theme that weaves through all the gossip was that Mr. Mathis and Mr. Doherty have so much dirt on each other it’s doubtful the truth will ever come out. One thing is certain. Mr. Mathis needs to do some serious house cleaning.

15 February, 2018


The sky’s the limit for Strathmore High FFA Plants thrive without weather fluctuations or pests, while conserving The Strathmore FFA Farm is tak- water. According to the company, ing shape with 12 acres of ag land Williamson Greenhouses, a CropBox added to the school’s farm last year. A uses “90% less water than convenpart of the Porterville Unified School tional and greenhouse cultivation.” District, Strathmore has seen huge Currently one-half of the Cropdevelopments in its FFA program Box is planted with lettuce, said FFA with two new greenhouses, its CropSenior Tanner Nuckols. The CropBox is maintained at 75 degrees, 24-hours a day, he said, and the crop should be ready within 30 days of planting, faster than it would take in traditional ground growth. This will be the first crop raised in the new CropBox. Much of the newly added acreage of the farm has needed electrical lines and plumbing pipe laid to various locations including the CropBox. The students, including Nuckols, have been responsible for laying those lines, said FFA Advisor John Akin. The greenhouses, too, needed the lines with one now fully operational. The school’s ornamental horticulture classes are often Strathmore High FFA students Vivian Youngblood, held in the greenhouse, Teresa Meraz and Tanner Nuckols join the school’s vice where students learn principal, Doug Ihmels, in front of the school’s new farm store. The store will be open some days during the how to germinate seeds and transplant plants spring and for a farmer’s market with more regular hours coming next fall. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice into large containers, said Vivian Youngblood, Box operational, a new farm store, a senior. The hot pads help germiand new livestock pens being built. nate seeds faster with newly plantOne of the new 40x60-foot green- ed eggplant seeds germinating in houses is to be an aquaponics unit. three days. Not up and running yet, the aquaBut, the school continues to grow ponics house will utilize the part- vegetables under more traditional nership between growing plants methods in various plots of its large without soil and raising fish in the garden area. Here, too, experimental environment. The other is a more plots are designed to help students traditional greenhouse, although learn variables in crop growth with better equipped to handle extreme differing amounts of water, or fertemperatures with a retractable roof tilizer and other soil amendments, and heating pads for new plantings. Akin said. The Ag department’s CropBox is In the new farm store, students a portable facility providing a main- will offer much from the farm, as well tained environment for crop growth. STRATHMORE continued on C7 »


VTEC FFA Chapter President Anders Vargas practices showing his pig, Miss Piggy, in training for various upcoming Jackpot shows. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

For students at VTEC, it’s all about agriculture NANCY VIGRAN

One South Valley high school is all about FFA. Visalia Technical Early College (VTEC) is located on 35-acres of former College of the Sequoias’ (COS) agricultural land. With its first freshmen class starting nearly four years ago, students are given the opportunity to follow one of three pathways – Animal and Veterinary Science, Ag Systems Technology, or Ag Business & Food Science. Students may attend college classes while fulfilling their high school requirements, giving them a jumpstart on their further education. All students must also join FFA, said Jennifer Potter, one of the school’s FFA advisors. “VTEC is unique in its modified block schedule,” Potter said of the public charter school. The schedule aligns with COS scheduling and students may take English, math or Ag Science classes receiving college credits prior to actually graduating high school. Not

every student is expected to go on to college, Potter said. But, they “gain a lifelong learning attitude.” Any student within the Visalia Unified District is eligible for VTEC – it has open enrollment until it reaches its cap, and it then goes to a lottery system, Potter explained. Currently the school is just under its 300-max mark. Classroom sizes are smaller than many other public schools. Anders Vargas, now a senior, started with the VTEC when it opened. While attending high school, this year he is also taking two college classes at the COS Tulare campus – Intro to Animal Science and Small Ruminant Science. Following the Animal and Veterinary Science pathway, he has worked with many animals at VTEC, his favorite being swine. “I love pigs,” he said, referencing their intelligence and personalities. Vargas also seems to love his school. “It’s really hands on. You’re outside a lot, to see if the lessons you’ve

VTEC continued on C6 »

The life FFA inspired for one student turned teacher, adviser JONATHAN SPRENG, CORCORAN FFA With the upcoming celebration that is FFA Week, it is an opportunity for present and past generations of FFA members to reflect on what impact FFA has marked upon their life. It’s times like these that nostalgia sets in, as we fondly remember friends, teams, teachers and contests that shaped our FFA experience. Yet, as I am now an agricultural

education teacher and FFA advisor myself, I find that I look deeper at my experience. I compare my experience to that of my students. Though we are separated by nearly 15 years, many aspects remain the same. Students still recite the creed and motto, while engaging in the meaningful authentic learning that characterizes agricultural education and FFA. But, what strikes me the most is that two things still ring true to

me. First the relationships forged in this organization are some of the strongest I have ever encountered. One may call them life shaping. Second, all of the great learning, accomplishments and experiences our members and students encounter can be traced back to two simple words, “I believe.” When I am asked about my experience in FFA I always respond with the same opening line, “every good thing in my life has happened

because of FFA.” This is a strong statement, especially since I wasn’t a troubled kid searching for a place to belong. I wasn’t a leader looking for a group to lead. Moreover, I never even planned to be an agricultural education teacher. Still, FFA has impacted me beyond compare. So, I have to ask myself, “Why?” What was the meaningful impact? The simple answer is relationships. FFA has fostered more ADVISER continued on C5 »

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


Corcoran FFA mechanics partner with Kings County Farm Bureau for 100th anniversary project JONATHAN SPRENG, FFA ADVISER Kings County is exceptional for both its agricultural production and its exceptional agricultural education programs. We are home to both unique agricultural industries and some of the largest and most dynamic agriculture programs in the nation. In December, agricultural mechanics programs across the county were contacted by the Kings County Farm Bureau seeking to merge the concept of agricultural production and 100 years of service from the Farm Bureau on behalf of farmers and agriculturists. The request was a statue commemorating the dedication on behalf of the Farm Bureau and their relationship with Kings County Agriculture. Two programs emerged as finalists after submitting their proposals. Both Corcoran and Hanford worked diligently to submit quality designs representing the proposal and their programs. After a rigorous selection process, Corcoran Agricultural Education is pleased to announce our partnership with KCFB in this project. When considering a design for this project, we elected to engage our Farm Enterprise class for the design. This was due to the unique aspect of the class that brings together students from both agricultural science classes and agricultural mechanics. Moreover, these students are unique in being from both production agriculture backgrounds and non-traditional students. The resulting project is a testament to their diversity and ingenuity. The proj-

Representatives from the Corcoran FFA Farm Enterprise class give a presentation to KCFB members on the 100th Anniversary project. From Left to right is Veronica Torres, Jason Weatherford, Oscar Miranda, and Travis Daniel. Courtesy/Corcoran FFA

ect was handled as a class, where they designed the project, crafted a proposal, and culminated the experience with a presentation to the Farm Bureau board. Throughout the process students engaged in authentic learning, while delving into the heritage of their community and county’s agricultural background. The initial proposal centers around seven barrels positioned on podiums,

with six barrels representing key crops in Kings County. The seventh shows a cutout of the county, with the KCFB’s mission inscribed in the center. Placement and final design considerations are still being discussed, but we are excited to keep the community engaged as the project continues. Corcoran Agricultural Education and the Farm Enterprise class are hum-

bled by this opportunity to partner with KCFB. Moreover, we are appreciative of the consideration given to our students. We would also like to thank Hanford High and their instructor Brian Combes. Their design was excellent and certainly would have represented the intent of the project equally as well. We look forward to sharing more soon, until then we will continue to keep you in suspense.

We’re in this together Farm Credit West supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. 800.909.5050

Committed. Experienced. Trusted.

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

Public invited to participate in Monache’s Annual Farm Day



Monache FFA Officer Team- Austin Thompson, Maile Sorg,Camren Ryan, Jada Rodriquez, Matthew Culwell, Anitizia Rodriguez and Garrett Keller. Courtesy/Monache FFA

Monache FFA students, Flor Lepe, Anitizia Rodriguez and Matthew Culwell pick winter crops from the school garden and offer fresh produce for sale, as well as freshly laid eggs during the annual Farm Day event. The 2018 Farm Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 31.

Our Monache FFA Officer team invites you to our 3rd Annual Farm Day and 5K on Saturday, March 31 from 8am - 3pm. We are proud to showcase our school farm to members of the local community and look forward to sharing our farm fresh winter vegetables and citrus with the public. Besides the farmer’s market and plant sale, there will be student led tours of our facility, along with the 5K run that morning, with registration for the run between 7-7:45. Interested participants are invited to register on T-shirts will be handed out to all runners. Proceeds from the event go toward helping fund our agriculture program, which includes member participation in judging teams, community service events, livestock shows, leadership conferences, and conventions. Monache FFA is proud of its many accomplishments, with two State Champion judging teams in Citrus and Fruit Tree to its credit. In fact, just recently the Monache FFA Chapter was ranked as one of the Top 20 Chapters in the state of California, and received the Top 2-3 Person Department for the San Joaquin Region. So, come join us on March 31, as we showcase our award winning agriculture program in Porterville!! For more information contact our department at (559) 793-3872.

Photos courtesy Monache FFA

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


CVC boasts big plans for FFA Week AMY DAGGS, FFA REPORTER FFA Week 2018 is coming up fast and here at Central Valley Christian FFA we are excited for the festivities to begin. We will be starting out the week with two of our officers doing morning announcements at our school each day, where they will be announcing facts about agriculture/FFA and promoting our program. Tuesday we will be having an Ag Career dress up day, where the members will get to dress up as their future career in the Ag industry. During lunch that day there will be a kiddy tractor race around the school. Wednesday is Hillbilly DressUp Day, with a food eating contest at lunch. Thursday’s theme is dress like your Ag teacher day, where the members will be able to dress like Ms. Calac or Mr. Orique for the day. The best look alike will win a prize at the lunch competition. Finally, Friday is Blue and Gold day, so we will be dressed up in our FFA gear, with a chance for extra fun by wearing your FFA uniform to school. In addition to wearing blue and gold, the Chapter is providing lunch

CVC FFA 2018 officers include, from left to right: Willem DeBoer, Chris Sousa, William VanBeek, Morgan Spiro, Garrin Schaap, Amy Daggs, Taylor Neese, Emma Lemstra, Simon te Velde. Courtesy/CVC FFA

to its members to help celebrate FFA week and the fun. At the end of the week each class period will be judged and scored

on their involvement and creativity, followed by picking a winning class where they will receive a class party with their choice of activity for the day.

We have many exciting and fun things planned for FFA week and we are super excited to see all of our members getting involved in the fun!

Farm bureau scholarship applications due March 1 TULARE COUNTY FARM BUREAU The Tulare County Farm Bureau Scholarship deadline is Thursday, March 1, and we have thousands of dollars for students to win! New this year is $2,500 for Ag Water Technology, and related fields of study. This award will be available to an undergraduate student majoring in agricultural studies. The Tulare County Farm Bureau Scholarship program was created for the purpose of providing annual scholarships to the youth of Tulare County based on academic achievement, leadership skills and financial need. Scholarships are available in a variety of categories, some are directed to qualified applicants according to the wishes of the fund providers; others go to individuals seeking careers in agriculture; one is given to a student whose parent is a farm employee; others are based on merit. Selected students will be recognized for their achievements at TCFB’s Annual Meeting at the International Agri-Center in Tulare on Tuesday, May 1. To apply, students must: complete

and return the application; submit two letters of recommendation; submit school transcripts; and attend school currently or have graduated from a school in Tulare County, to be eligible. Students must also be available to attend an in-person interview with the selection committee. Applications can be found by visiting and following the application forms link. Applications must be postmarked by Thursday, March 1. For more information about TCFB scholarships email, or call 732-8301. Available Scholarships: • $1,000 - TCFB Scholarship: for a student pursuing a career in an Ag-related field at a 4-year university. • $1,000 - TCFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Scholarship:  for a student pursuing a career in an Ag related field at a 4-year university.  • $1,000 - Fred & Marilyn Collison Memorial Scholarship: for a student pursuing a career in an Ag related field at California

State University, Fresno. $1,000 - Mary Rankin Memorial Scholarship: for a student pursuing a career in an Ag related field at a 2-year college or 4-year university. $1,000 - Frank Ribeiro Memorial Scholarship: for a student pursuing a career in an Ag related field at a 4-year university. $2,500 - Ken and Cindy Williams Scholarship: Scholarship will be available to an u n dergraduate student majoring in agricultural studies. Student must be attending an accredited two-year or four-year institution and interested in a career related to agriculture water technology. Preference will be given to those studying agricultural engineering, hydrology, or pumping technologies. Other vocational fields of study may be considered including agriculture construction, mechanics, welding, irrigation

technology, etc. $1,000 - RRS Endowment Scholarship: available for student majoring in agricultural field attending COS. Emphasis given to those pursuing Agri-Business and Dairy majors. $500 – Two-Year College Scholarship: available for student majoring in agricultural field attending any community college or trade school.  $500 - Scott Shannon Memorial Scholarship: may be renewed for three years if criteria are met giving the scholarship a $2000 value.  Must be pursuing an agricultural m a jor and enrolled in the Visalia Unified School District. $500 - Student of Farm Employee: for a student who has a parent employed on a farm and/or dairy  and will be attending a 2- or 4-year university. The children of the farm owner/operator of farm are not eligible.

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Valley Voice  15 February, 2018


Continued from C1 meaningful relationships in my life than any other organization or experience I have encountered. These relationships are forged through learning, hard work, and a passion for the agricultural industry. My friends from FFA, who were fellow officers, judging team members, and partners in crime, remain close to this day. They have supported me emotionally; they have encouraged me professionally, and will even stand next to me when I get married next year. These are truly lifelong friendships, however they are not limited to just high school friends. I still count my high school FFA advisor as one of my closest friends. I have a deep respect for him forged from the years working with him to start and grow a program. This cooperation and respect only deepened while teaching with him in Colorado. Once again, FFA fostered a lifelong relationship that has helped me achieve professionally, and supported me emotionally when needed. Moreover, these relationships put learning in context. Being a teacher, I have to wear that hat from time to time. The most memorable lesson learned through FFA are the ones I experienced with my friends, judging teams, or other officers. I now strive to incorporate these elements of relationships in my own teaching. As a result, my students refer to each other as a family. They work harder to support each other, just as I did for my fellow members when I was in FFA. My students also devote themselves to the chapter and an idea of something greater than themselves. This is evident in the hard work they have exhibited farming our school farm, building flight pens for our pheasant project, or just putting in extra effort at the farm to support the teachers or fellow students. This element is something unique to FFA. The other great experience of my time in FFA can be summed up by the words “I believe.” The belief in oneself that FFA instills is monu-


mental. I have persevered through personal tragedies and hard times because of this belief instilled through FFA. It has given me the confidence to pursue opportunities, and seek something more. FFA opened up an opportunity for me to attend college in Texas on a judging scholarship. Without the confidence and belief fostered from FFA, I may not have pursued this chance. Fast forward to 2014, the same belief brought me to California and eventually the Corcoran FFA Chapter. I am excited to see where the next opportunity and belief in myself takes me. I can see this same belief being instilled in my FFA members. I have witnessed quiet students rise to leadership roles. I have seen students become great advocates for themselves and others. I have experienced our students become champions of agriculture, our heritage in the program, and for the traditions of the FFA. In a community like Corcoran that is easily characterized as a community with limited opportunities, I am heartened to see students gain skills that will take them beyond their situations and circumstances. Moreover, the belief in something greater than oneself is also critical. There is no coincidence that each paragraph of the creed begins with “I believe.” This belief in something bigger, whether it is “the future of agriculture…” or “leadership from ourselves and respect from others…” creates a sense of grit and perseverance in my students. It’s a trait I recognize in myself from my time in FFA, and one I am pleased to pass on to those who look up to me. This organization has shaped my life and not in a clichéd aspect, but rather in the very fiber of my being. It has shaped me the way that a farmer shapes a field, seeding a belief and moral fiber within me; a seed that was nurtured and watered through experiences and relationships, something that way harvested years after I left its membership. FFA has profoundly impacted me. It has been the greatest experience of my life opening the same opportunity to others.

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Corcoran FFA Advisor Jonathan Spreng shares some tricks of showing hogs with students during the 2017 Tulare County Fair. Photo courtesy of Corcoran FFA


Watch for Student Life Western Classic Dairy Show in the next issue of the Voice!


15 February, 2018   Valley Voice

Fair Heritage Association awards scholarships STAFF REPORTS Each year the Porterville Fair Heritage Association offers one Heritage Animal and Scholarship to a high school senior, enrolled in FFA or 4-H, from the Porterville, Strathmore and Lindsay area. Five years ago, the scholarship originated at $500; it now is offered for $1,000. Students wishing to apply must fill out the application paperwork, submit a minimum of two letters of recommendation, be available for in-person interviews with the committee, and be able to exhibit their personal selection of livestock of a lamb, hog or goat at the Fair, said Cindy Brown, FFA livestock liaison secretary. “Extra curriculum and community service are important,” she said.

And, the students’ Ag instructors must the Heritage Association pays for the sign off on the paperwork approving animal, within reasonable market the student for application. range, all feed and expenses. The scholarship recipient acts as The student must care for the an ambassador for the Porterville Fair animal and exhibit it at the fair – not Heritage Association. against other livestock, but His/her duties include rather in a class of its own representing the Porterville to display the animal to the Fair Heritage Association at best of the student’s ability, the pre-fair Chamber of ComBrown said. The scholarship merce Mixer, and showcasing animal is to be shown only at the Heritage animal at the the Porterville Fair. Heritage VIP Lounge social. That animal will then The student must also Tanner Nuckols be auctioned off at noon, exhibit a second project at during the Jr. Livestock aucthe Fair, either livestock or an indoor tion, most often bringing a price project, and, if livestock, may sell that around $20,000 or more, Brown said. animal at the Jr. Livestock auction. Last year’s hog, shown by scholThrough the scholarship, the arship winner Amanda Farquharson, recipient is allowed to choose, with brought in $28,000, she added. guidance, an animal of their choice – This year’s the scholarship was

awarded to Strathmore senior Tanner Nuckols who also intends to purchase a hog as his project. He plans on showing two other hogs at the fair, as well. The scholarship program was begun as a fundraiser for the Fair and the Heritage Association. During the past five years, the program has brought in $100,000 or more total with minimal outlay for the animal and its care, Brown said. The recipient can utilize the scholarship toward any two or four-year college, university or technology school, but must show proof of registration or transcripts before receiving the monetary reward. Nuckols plans on attending College of the Sequoias with a major in agriculture in the fall of 2018.


siast, sophomore her schooling, er there are new babies or an animal Kimberly Holshe said, “At other is ill, as well as for regular vet checks guin, were there high schools, they in the livestock. When she comes Continued from C1 for delivery of teach, but you out, students are able to watch her the piglets. don’t get the expe- work. And, they often learn how to do learned really work outside.” There were rience [a student things, such as giving vaccinations. Through one of his classes, he and seven live pigreceives at VTEC].” Dempsey can often be found at his classmates have learned to ear lets and two stillHolguin was the same Jackpot shows as Vargas notch, cut tails and clip teeth of pigborn, which is accepted as a and Holguin, but with her lambs and lets born at the school. not unusual for freshman and sheep. She keeps several sheep at the The school owns a few sows and a first-time sow, plans to attend school. Students are allowed to keep the piglets born at the school are ofHolguin said. VTEC through their animals there, as long as they fered to VTEC students to purchase as Holguin, too, graduation. feed and care for them. project show animals. For Brittney They are even allowed to board Additional FFA and 4-H students chose a piglet from the litter, Dempsey, a junior their horses there, with large pastures from within the Visalia Unified School and FFA chapter available. districts have a chance to purchase named Pumbaa, sentinel, it is more The school also keeps three horses those animals not chosen by VTEC stu- after the warthog about sheep. of its own which are utilized in an elecdents. Other livestock are offered to character in The Lion King. She, Her family tive PE Equine class offered on Fridays. others from outside districts, as well. has a background Besides horses, sheep, swine and Vargas chose his piglet, Miss Pig- also, has fallen in in sheep, which chickens there are a couple of cows at gy, at a young age for showmanship love with pigs, but also pretty much her aunt and un- VTEC, one dairy project and one beef and market purposes. Junior Brittney Dempsey bottle-fed with all the camcle raise. She is project of students. He and the other students are reIzzy, a Speckle-face sheep, because she pus livestock. She involved in breedThe school also has a large vegetasponsible for care of all of the hogs on purchased him from a breeder whose fills in for Jimmie ing projects and ble garden and plants alfalfa on some campus including feeding, watering, ewe had triplets. It is difficult for a ewe Shepherd, a VTEC s h o w m a n s h i p of its acreage. to care for three, so when they have cleaning up after, general care and junior, in taking triplets, often one is pulled and handfed. and has her own The VTEC Farm Store opened in preparing them for the show ring. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice care of the school’s personal animals, October, 2017. It is open weekday afMiss Piggy “stood out more,” Var140 laying hens. as well as FFA projternoons during the school year, gas said. “She’s eye appealing, has a It was a much smaller flock until ect animals. and offers freshly grown vegetagood ham and a nice straight back.” the school added 95 pullets in JanuShe works with White-face, Blackbles and eggs. Miss Piggy is a Chester White. Besides crops and animals, there Her dam, Pickles, is a purebred, reg- ary. At four months of age, they aren’t face and Speckled-face sheep. laying eggs yet, but in a few months “They’re gentler [than is a large enrollment in the Ag Sysistered campus pig and the sire is a will definitely add to the egg propigs],” she said. tems Technology pathway with stuChester White boar from an outside Dempsey enjoys the hands-on ex- dents learning welding, plumbing source. Vargas and fellow, hog enthu- duction, just one of the home-grown items available in perience of VTEC, especially working and how to operate and repair tracthe school’s farm alongside the school’s veterinarian, tors and other farm equipment. store. It is up to Dr. Lindsey Eby. For more information on VTEC, Shepherd or HolThe veterinarian is called whenev- call (559) 622-3212. guin to feed and water the hens, clean their large pen, and to collect and wash the eggs for market. But, Holguin’s heart belongs to pigs. She became partial to them, she said, when she was able to help midwife a litter. After she’s finished with school, she wants to specialize in hogs and is willing to move, if necessary, to find a position she would want. But, maybe, she said, there will be something available in California with “Some little gem VTEC senior Nat Kadin cleans up a dry saw during an Ag maKimberly Holguin, a sophomore, tends to VTEC’s 140 laying hens when the regular of a company.” chinery class. Ag Systems Technology is one of three pathways student of the project is unavailable. Holguin’s main focus is on hogs, but she fills in Regarding available to VTEC students. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice with any of the animals, whenever needed. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018

Strathmore Continued from C1

as the rest of the school. Plans are to decorate the walls with old orange crates, Youngblood said, a reminder of the area’s agricultural history. “Students can decide what they want to market,” said Vice Principal Doug Ihmels. The store will be run through Ag business classes and senior FFA members. Offerings at the store will include freshly-grown produce including vegetables and citrus from the farm trees, herb plants and houseplants, and farm-fresh eggs. Floral designs and other projects will be available from the horticulture classes. And, the store may also offer some art projects developed through the school’s art classes. New livestock pens are being built by students to hold project animals including beef steers, goats, lambs, pigs and chickens. The new hen coop, built by students over the summer, holds the school’s laying

hens along with two roosters, kept to encourage the hens to lay eggs, Nuckols said. Strathmore FFA has also purchased some show chickens – Frizzles, Polish and Silkies – available for students to purchase as fair projects to exhibit at the Porterville Fair in May. Each pair of project chickens is housed in their own pens, built by students. Those involved the projects are responsible for the care of their chickens, which will be show at the fair and offered for sale during the Jr. Livestock auction. The school has now developed a vet clinic for hands-on training with vaccinating and suturing performed on dummy animals, said FFA senior Teresa Meraz. They also learn how to handle animals including the clinic cat, Violet, who purrs her way through various examinations. The clinic is equipped with an x-ray view box and old x-rays donated by area veterinarians. There is also a reception area, for training on handling phones and incoming clients. Any student from Porterville Unified or Lindsay may join the pathway and participate in the Strathmore ex-

C7 perience, Akin said. “We want to evolve with agriculture,” he said. “We want to be a resource for the community with Ag education and reaching out to the community.” FFA students offer farm tours to elementary students throughout the school year. The restructuring of the Strathmore department is a reflection as to “how important technology is now,” Akin said. “It’s not just plants in the field – there’s a lot more to it.” The farm store will be open occasionally this spring, when there is produce to sell. Starting next fall, the plan is to open one day a week and for special occasions. The school is looking to have up to three large sales each year - a Christmas sale and maybe one for Mother’s Day, Akin said. Students will be involved this summer planting a pumpkin patch to open prior to Halloween. Akin credits the district’s superintendent, Dr. Ken Gibbs, for Strathmore High’s developments in agriculture. “He’s been very progressive with kids learning,” Akin said, “and very

generous.” Much of the development has been available due to the district’s seeking and securing various financial grants. Strathmore High has almost 300 students enrolled in FFA with 120 freshman. That’s a 30-35% upgrade from last year’s freshman, Akin said. As for the FFA seniors, they are glad to be a part of it. “Leaving the Ag farm will suck, but we can always come back and see how much it has grown,” Youngblood said. Youngblood and Nuckols will not have to travel too far, for the next two years they will attend College of the Sequoias. Youngblood will major in plant science; Nuckols in animal science and he plans on advancing to a fouryear school. Meraz is enlisting in the army, where she hopes to put some of her high school education to good use. “This [the Strathmore Ag Farm] should have legs for kids for a long time,” Ihmels said. “It should offer decades of student projects and student learning.”

Left - The CropBox is kept at 75 degrees, F 24-hours per day. Senior Tanner Nuckols checks on some of the plantings. Lettuce seeds are planted two weeks prior planted in a special substrate. Right - FFA student, Teresa Meraz, spends a lot of time in the school’s vet tech room along with Violet, the clinic cat.

Photos by Nancy Vigran/ Valley Voice

Above left - Students built the chicken houses for FFA student show stock. Top right - The newly planted eggplant seedlings sprouted within three days due to special underlying heating trays. The rosemary and lavender in front are one week old. Bottom right - Vivian Youngblood, explains about the new 30x60-foot Strathmore High greenhouses with retractable roofs, where students learn to plant and replant a variety of spices, vegetables and houseplants. Strathmore High’s FFA Farm continues to grow with new horticultural greenhouses, the CropBox placed, animal pens and room for much more.

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


FFA, yesterday and today The following information has been compiled from the National Future Farmers of America website. FFA is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. It is one of the three components of agricultural education. FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet those challenges by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of agricultural career pathways. So today, we are still the Future Farmers of America. But, we are the Future Biologists, Future Chemists, Future Veterinarians, Future Engineers and Future Entrepreneurs of America, too. FFA programs are funded through sponsorships and individual donations at the local, state and national levels. National dues for each member are $7 per year.

It’s a time to share with local, state and national audiences what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day. National Wear Blue Day is Friday, Feb. 23. Wear blue to show your FFA pride!

Grants & Scholarships

Grants are available from the National FFA Organization to help support FFA chapters, FFA alumni affiliates and students’ supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs). The National FFA Organization embraces the idea of building stronger communities. The last line of the FFA motto, “Living to Serve,” signifies the vital role service plays in our organization. The Living to Serve platform empowers every student in every classroom to make a positive impact in their community. FFA provides quality programs, resources, recognition and opportunities for our members to put their leadership into action through service engagement. FFA members who wish to initiate or improve their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) can apply for an SAE grant. Grant recipients will be



In 1928, 33 students from 18 states gathered in Kansas City, Mo., to form the Future Farmers of America. The roots of FFA originate from a time when boys were losing interest and leaving the farm. Walter S. Newman, who in September 1925 became the Virginia State Supervisor of Agricultural Education, along with others, sought a solution to the problem. Newman proposed forming an organization that offered farm boys “a greater opportunity for self-expression and for the development of leadership. In this way they will develop confidence in their own ability and pride in the fact that they are farm boys.” Girls were restricted from the earliest forms of FFA membership by delegate vote at the 1930 national convention. The decision to deny female members for many years denied recognition of the key role women have played on farms and in agriculture since the days of the American pioneers. It wasn’t until 1969 that females gained full FFA membership privileges by vote of the national convention delegates, despite many state associations permitting female members long before. New York’s Anita Decker and New Jersey’s Patricia Krowicki became the first two female delegates to the national convention in 1970. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They taught us that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art. Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. FFA membership today is comprised of 653,359 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 8,568 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each year, FFA chapters around the country celebrate National FFA Week.

selected by the SAE Grants committee. Grants in the SAE category are awarded based primarily on financial need. The advisor’s statement is crucially important in establishing the financial need and eligibility of the applicant. SAE Grant Requirements: • Applicants must be in grades 7 – 11 • Applicants must be current FFA members • Applicants must demonstrate financial need Scholarship program: • In 2017, the National FFA Organization awarded $2.7 million in scholarships designed to fit the diversity of our applicants. • Scholarships are sponsored by businesses and individuals through the National FFA Foundation and are given for a wide variety of experiences, career goals and higher education plans. • The selection process takes into account the whole student FFA involvement, work experience, supervised agricultural experience (SAE), community service, leadership skills and academics.


What is a SAE?

The Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) is a required component of a total agricultural education program and intended for every student. Through their involvement in the SAE program, students are able to consider multiple careers and occupations, learn expected workplace behavior, develop specific skills within an industry, and are given opportunities to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace or a simulated workplace environment. The National FFA Organization offers students scholarships to members who plan to further their education after high school. Scholarships are sponsored by businesses and individuals through the National FFA Foundation. Scholarships are available to match a wide variety of skills, experiences, career goals and higher-education plans. Approximately $2 million in scholarship money is available each year. For more information on FFA and its grants and scholarships, visit



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VALLEYSCENE 15 February, 2018


page B6

UPHS theater performing Light Up the Sky on February 22-24 STAFF REPORTS

TCOE celebrates building anniversary with medallion TULARE COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION In celebration of the first anniversary of operations in TCOE’s new Administration Building and Conference Center on Mooney Boulevard, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak held a dedication ceremony on January 11. The dedicated item was a beautiful 43” bronze medallion created by Visalia sculptor and former planetarium director Sam Peña. The medallion now sits adjacent to the sidewalk near the main entrance to the building. “On January 4 of last year, we began our first full week of operations in this beautiful building,” said Mr. Vidak, who shared some statistics and history-making events hosted in the new conference center. “We’ve hosted Academic Decathlon, History Day, CyberQuest, an awards dinner for the California Department of Education and numerous other events. In fact,

our conference center was so busy that in just one year, we’ve hosted nearly 1,100 meetings and special events with set-ups for over 43,000 people!” Continuing, Mr. Vidak described the medallion that was commissioned for the building. “As we planned this building, we envisioned a special place for a piece of Sam’s work – a work that depicts the history of Tulare County schools and the service this office has provided for over 160 years.” Mr. Vidak invited Sam Peña to the podium to share his experiences in creating the work of art. Sam shared that he didn’t set out to become a sculptor, but that he was given the opportunity in the 1980s by former Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Dean Hall. A talented illustrator, Sam had drawn a sketch of Mahlon Levis, a SCICON benefactor and former member of the

This month, the University Preparatory High School Theater Program will offer five performances of “Light Up the Sky,” a classic Broadway comedy that premiered in 1948. The story of “Light Up the Sky” centers on the characters who are opening a new play in an out-of-town tryout production. The comedy features a truck-driver-turned-playwright, a grandly temperamental leading lady, her sarcastic mother, a flamboyant director and a lowbrow producer. The opening night seems to go awry and the producer, writer and cast turn against each other. When the reviews are favorable, we see how easily show business people can go

from friends to enemies to friends once more. Performances of “Light Up the Sky” will be held at the Enchanted Playhouse at 307 E. Main St. in downtown Visalia. Evening performances will begin at 7pm on February 22, 23 and 24. A 1:30pm matinee will be performed on February 23 and 24. Tickets are $10 per person. University Preparatory High School students with IDs are admitted for $5. For ticket information, call University Preparatory High School at (559) 730-2529, or visit University Preparatory High School (UPHS) is an early college high school chartered by the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) in partnership with the College of the Sequoias (COS).

TCOE continued on B6 »

United Way announces guest speaker for “Power of the Purse” Tech lessons help kids gain foothold in science, coding

Kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias’ Farmersville location have been given the opportunity to learn about computers — and coding. Courtesy/Boys & Girls Club


United Way of Tulare County (UWTC) has announced inspiring educator and author, Stacey Bess, as the guest speaker at the June 8th Power of the Purse event at the Visalia Convention Center. Bess is a leading national advocate for the educational rights of impoverished children, and is the recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award, an esteemed national honor for public service. The educator draws on her personal story—11 years of teaching homeless children—offering powerful insights and lessons for those yearning to make a difference in their community. Nationally recognized for her unusual success with “hopeless” children, Bess penned her memoir, “Nobody Don’t Love Nobody,” which was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Hosted by UWTC’s Women United affinity group, the Power of the Purse encourages attendees to make a difference in their lives, their workplace, and their communities. Each year, the event features a nationally acclaimed speaker, allowing attendees the oppor-

tunity to connect, revive, and thrive while supporting UWTC’s literacy project. Funds are raised during the event by a raffle for dozens of new designer purses. “We feel Stacey Bess is perfect for Power of the Purse since the event benefits our literacy efforts throughout Tulare County,” explained Rosemary Caso, UWTC Executive Director. “The funding reaches K-3 classrooms to ensure teachers have the books they need to promote and encourage reading.” According to Caso, many of the teachers who apply for funding have children in their classrooms who have no access to books and do not have books in their homes. “Our Women United group understands the importance of children reading proficiently by third grade, and knows providing children access to books is imperative,” Caso added. Sponsorships, tables, and a limited number of individual tickets are available for Power of the Purse, with an exclusive reception with Stacey Bess being offered to sponsors. Visit for more information.


Drop by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias Farmersville unit on any weekday afternoon and you might find kids shooting hoops in the fullsize gymnasium, doing homework in one of two learning centers, or learning to write code during a computer science lesson. The club shares space in the Community Center across from J.E. Hester Elementary School and is adjacent to the Farmersville branch of the Tulare County Library system. It’s a bustling corner alive with learning, physical activity and community interaction, an environment that nurtures kids through education, sports and citizenship. It provides kids with learning opportunities – including those coding sessions. While many adults of a certain age can’t easily articulate what “coding” is, kids at the Farmersville Club are learning how to do it, and seeing how it could possibly lead to a career. In a program series called Hour of Code,

kids are introduced to the world of computer science. Program Specialist, Lourdes Campos, spends her time teaching kids as young as nine how to write code, which is the set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. “Almost all jobs now require you to know something about technology and this is a good way to show kids a way they can develop a skill in something they already enjoy and are comfortable with,” she said. The Hour of Code is paid for with a $5,000 grant from electronics giant Best Buy and can serve about 50 kids in Farmersville in the 2017-18 school year. It is the second grant the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias has been given from Best Buy for technology learning. The first grant, for the 2016-17 school year, paid for Collaborate Remix that taught kids how to write stories together, using technology. “There’s this huge interest in technology, and kids are interested in designing apps and learning to code,” said Carri Chambers, Director

CODING continued on B3 »

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


Book Notes

Quest for Water: Tulare Irrigation District NEWELL BRINGHURST

Richard Zack’s enlightening, recently-published Quest for Water: Tulare Irrigation District: Its History, People, and Progression chronicles the growth and development of the Tulare Irrigation District over the past century. Tulare Irrigation District, with its complex system of developed waterways, was created in 1889 under the provisions of the Wright Act by forward-thinking community leaders anxious to assure an uninterrupted flow of water for local agriculture. Initially encompassing some 32,500 acres the district has more than doubled in size to 70,000 acres over the past 130 years. In addition to delivering water to 230 local farms the district administers groundwater recharge efforts which serves not just agricultural interests, but also local cities through the recovery and recycling of their excess ground water. Further expanding its services, the district worked with the Kaweah River Power Authority in the construction of a twenty-one-megawatt hydroelectric plant at Terminus Dam on Lake Kaweah, completed in 1982. As Zack astutely notes, much of the district’s growth and develop-

ment occurred amidst conflict and controversy, thus validating humorist Mark Twain’s oft-quoted assertion that in California: “Whisky is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.” The district’s legitimacy was questioned from the moment of its creation. “It took almost ten years of court battles,” ultimately reaching the US Supreme Court, to validate “the Tulare Irrigation District’s right to the water it delivered to the farmers of the district.” (43) Even more protracted was the so-called “Great Lawsuit” pitting the Tulare Irrigation District against neighboring Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District over alleged encroachment of water rights. The case initially filed in 1916 was tied up in the state court system for over twenty years until resolved in a “quiet” out-of-court settlement in 1937. (202) The volume examines other aspects of Tulare Irrigation District’s history. Among these is the all-important Central Valley Project which provided the district an essential “secondary source of water.” (262) Also discussed is the district’s handling of persistent Kaweah River floods that ravished the region throughout the first half of the twentieth century, thus prompting construction of the Terminus Dam,

Coming to the Hanford Fox Theater $5 Movies Saturday Night Fever Saturday Feb. 24 @ 7 pm

The Lion King Saturday, March 3 @ 2 pm The Big Lebowski Saturday Mar. 24 @ 7 pm

Saturday AM Cartoons Saturday, April 7 @ 10 am

Silent Comedies W/Dean Mora on the Mighty Wurlitzer Saturday, March 10 @ 7:30 pm Tickets: $10 (559) 584-7823

which when completed in 1962 mitigated the damaging effects of subsequent floods. Zack in relating the development of the Tulare Irrigation District places his history within the larger context of related events in the region, state, and larger nation. The author, moreover, brings to the volume his expertise as a registered civil engineer and fourth generation Tularean. He, moreover, adds a personal element in describing the role of his late father, David L. Zack, who served as Tulare Irrigation District’s first Engineer-Manager from 1948 to 1988. He in fact dedicates the volume to the elder Zack. The book is profusely illustrated, containing a rich assortment of photographs, maps, letters and drawings strategically placed throughout the 480 pages of carefully-written text. Richard Zack’s Quest for Water is

a seminal work, given its thorough coverage of this most important aspect of Tulare County history. Newell G. Bringhurst, a retired COS Professor of History and Political Science welcomes responses and comments at

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018


Visalia Chamber Travel Program to host travel slide show STAFF REPORTS

Join the Chamber for a Slide Show Presentation - February 28, 2018 at 12pm at the City of Visalia Administration Building located at 220 N. Santa Fe. The Chamber invites you to learn about an opportunity to participate in a centuries old tradition, the “Oberammergau Passion Play”. The tour will leave May 14, 2020 and return May 23, 2020. The Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 trip is a 10-day tour including 11 meals, round trip airfare from Fresno, roundtrip transportation to the Fresno Airport and hotel accommodations. The cost of the tour is $3,359 per

person (double occupancy). Join the Visalia Chamber in 2020 for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Explore the wonder of old world castles and three of Europe’s most spellbinding cities. A seat at this decade’s only performance of the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany is truly a highlight. The experience begins in Munich, Germany, with a city tour including historic sites and landmark buildings. After two days in Munich the tour will travel to Oberammergau where travelers will have seats at the Passion Play. In 1633, the villagers of the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau, suffered devastating losses

to the Bubonic Plague. Those survivors appealed for Divine Intervention for their families, vowing to God they would perform the Passion Play every ten years if they were spared. Still today, the residents host thousands of travelers as they depict the life and death of Jesus, once a decade. The next stop of the tour is Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which sits on the shores of Swan Lake. After the castle visit travelers will go down the hill and continue onto Salzburg for three nights. In Salzburg travelers will see sights from The Sound of Music and enjoy a walking tour of the birthplace

of Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart. After leaving Salzburg travelers will explore the sites and cities of the Danube Valley including, Melk Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a boat ride between Krems and Durnstein. The last stop on the tour is Vienna. Travelers will begin their stay in Vienna with a panoramic orientation of the city including the impressive Opera House, Parliament and famous concert halls. They will visit Schonbrunn Palace and then enjoy leisure time to explore the city. For more information about the Chamber travel program go to www.

Porterville Parks and Leisure Visalia Rawhide announce fishing derby wristbands on sale 2018 coaching staff STAFF REPORTS Parks and Leisure Services is hosting their annual Fishing Derby on March 10 at the Murry Park Pond from 9:00- 11:00 am. Young anglers, ages 2-15 years old, are invited to enter the competition to showcase their skills and enjoy some outdoor fun. Trophies will be awarded to the top three children in the two age divisions and special recognition will go to the angler with the biggest fish of the day. Participants must be able to reel


Continued from B1 of Operations for the organization. “We thought this would be a fun way to spark their interest because it deals with strategy and logic, just like so many of the video games they play.” Years ago, kids in Farmersville didn’t have a neighborhood club to go to, or any opportunities to take specialized classes, said Farmersville Unit Director Christian Cervantes. He should know – he was one of those kids. “I used to have to go to the Exeter Boys & Girls Club when I was a kid,” Cervantes said. “In the last two years we’ve built a routine that’s positive for them so that after school they can come here, sign in, do their homework and build good habits. We fight for

in their own fish and provide their own rod and bait. Wristbands can be purchased in advance for $3 at the Heritage Center, 256 E. Orange Ave. There will be no event day wristband sales! Community sponsors include Carroll’s Tire Warehouse and the Success Bass Club. For more information, call the Heritage Center at 791-7695, visit the City of Porterville website or check out Parks and Leisure Services on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest updates.

them to have better opportunities.” Cervantes, who still lives in Farmersville, is proud of what the Boys & Girls Clubs can do for kids. He said that part of his job is to expose them to opportunities – like these computer science lessons – that they might not have anywhere else, so they can see a brighter future for themselves. “I’ve been on both sides – having a club for these kids and not having it when I was a kid – and it definitely makes a difference,” he said.


Want to join the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias? Membership is $15 annually and includes a T-shirt that can be worn during community events. Go online at or call 559-592-4074 to learn more.

Our 44th Year in Downtown Visalia

316 W. Main Street Visalia, CA 93291

STAFF REPORTS A mixture of new and familiar faces will take over the Coaching Staff of the Rawhide in 2018, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced. Joe Mather will take the reigns as Field Manager for the Rawhide. Mather is serving in his second managerial role with the D-backs and is in his fourth year as a coach in Arizona’s farm system. Mather began his managerial career with a bang in 2015, when led the Rookie-Advanced Missoula Osprey to a 42-33 record, a Pioneer League North Division Title, and ultimately a Pioneer League Championship. He returned to manage Missoula in 2016 and served as the Coach for Class Dou-

ble-A Jackson last year. Mather, 35, was a third-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2001 draft and enjoyed a four-year Major League Career, playing stints with St. Louis, the Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago Cubs. He spent 12 years in the Minor Leagues, where he appeared in 922 games. Reigning California League Coach of the Year Jeff Bajenaru will serve as the Pitching Coach for the third straight season. Under Bajenaru’s tutelage, the Rawhide led the Cal League in ERA (3.79) and strikeouts (1,346) while holding opposing hitters to a leaguebest .247 average against and posting nine shutouts. This will be Bajenaru’s

RAWHIDE continued on B6 »

Saturday, February 17 @ 8pm Tickets $23


Thursday, March 1 @ 7:30pm Tickets $66 - $100





Now through March 31: TCOE Student Art Exhibition The annual Student Art Exhibition is on display in the lobby of the TCOE Administration Building at 6200 South Mooney Blvd. in Visalia. Now through February 23, visitors will be treated to artwork from schools in Tulare County districts A-P. In March, pieces selected as “Best of Show” from the November-December and January-February exhibitions will be displayed. A public open house honoring the “Best of Show” student artists will be held 5-7pm on March 1 in the lobby.

February 15 - 17: Legally Blonde 7pm on Thursday, Friday & Saturday; 2pm matinee on Saturday - Mt. Whitney High presents the play Legally Blonde, The Musical - book by Heather Hach, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, and based on the novel by Amanda Brown, at the LJ Williams Theatre, 1001 W. Main St. in Visalia. Tickets $12. Tickets available at Beatwear, White’s Music, Mt. Whitney High and at the door. February 16: Tulare County Audubon Meeting 7pm - Have you visited all six of the Sequoia Riverlands Trust preserves? If not you can explore them with Treasure’s project member and photographer John Greening at the next Tulare County Audubon Society meeting. Held at the County Supervisors Building, 2800 W. Burrell, in Visalia, the meeting is free and will feature many of the smaller species on these preserves, and when & how you can experience these Valley treasures. February 16-18: Jam Jar Sonnets at the Barn Theater February 16 & 17 @ 7:30pm; February 18 @ 2:30pm - Though Charles has outgrown his panic attacks and inability to speak after his father’s death, he is still haunted by the memory of Amanda, the childhood friend who helped him conquer his insecurities. As children, the two formed an intimate bond through poetry, and Charles still regrets losing touch when Amanda was moved away. When Charles, now a revered professor in psychology, finds one of Amanda’s poems on the back of a jam jar label (hence the title Jam Jar Sonnets), he is determined to overcome his personal barriers in an effort to find the girl who understood him when no one else could. Tickets $15/adults; $10/students. The Barn Theater is located at 42 S. Plano St. in Porterville. February 16 & 17: Charlotte’s Web at the Enchanted Playhouse Theater Feb. 16, 7pm; Feb. 17, 4pm - Join Wilbur, the irresistible young pig who desperately wants to avoid the butcher; Fern, a girl who understands what animals say to each other; Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed; and, most of all, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte,

who proves to be “a true friend and a good writer.” It’s the beginning of a victorious campaign which ultimately ends with the now-safe Wilbur doing what is most important to Charlotte. Tickets $7 in advance; $8 at the door. The Enchanted Playhouse Theater is located at 307 E. Main St. in Visalia. For more information, visit or call (559) 739-4600. February 16: Liberally Speaking, an Evening with Stephen Natoli 6:30-8pm — Mr. Natoli will be reading excerpts from his book, “Liberally Speaking,” and signing copies for those who wish to purchase the book. A donation of $15/person is requested. At the Lamp Liter Inn, 3300 W. Mineral King, Visalia. For more information, email kdodson@ or tomtcdcc@ February 17: Chinese New Year Celebration 12-4pm - Celebrate Visalia Annual Chinese New Year Fair 2018, Year of the Dog! Sponsored by Center for Integrated Medicine and the Asian Cultural Society on Saturday, February 17, 2:00 - 4pm at 816 W. Oak Avenue in Visalia. Bring your friends and family to this educational and cultural--and free--program. February 17: A Night of Wine, Cheese & Chocolate! 6:30-9:30pm - Tickets are now available for THM’s popular, A Night of... Wine, Cheese, & Chocolate! Back for its sixth year, this elegant evening of wine, cheese, and chocolate tasting takes place under the backdrop of THM’s beautiful Historical and Art Galleries, 444 W. Tulare Ave. in Tulare. Tickets are $35 per person, and can be purchased by calling the Museum, (559) 686-2074, online at www., or by speaking with any of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. Tickets are limited, so purchase yours today. All proceeds benefit the Tulare Historical Museum and its mission of preserving the important heritage of our great city. February 17: Metalachi 8pm - On a hot summer night in Veracruz Mexico circa 1982, Consuela Espinoza stumbled out of her dilapidated shanty and into Rock N Roll history. What began as an innocent night of snorting horse tranquilizers in a hotel room with seven members of the village jai alai team went on to produce the greatest metal band to ever live. Tickets $23. At the Visalia Fox Theatre. February 18: Wine & Dine in Support of Habitat for Humanity 5pm - Karl Merten, chef and owner of Café 225, is hosting a fundraising dinner to support Habitat for Humanity. Claudio Basei, winemaker for Cacciatore Fine Wine, will also join this event. Guests will learn about the winemaking process and

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice taste the results with wine provided by Cacciatore Fine Wines. Join Habitat for Humanity at Café 225, 225 W. Main St. Visalia, for a wonderful evening of great food, great wine and a great cause! Proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/ Kings Counties. Tickets: $85 each and available for purchase on line at www.hfhtkc. org; for more information, contact Deanna at (559) 734-4040 ext 106, or email February 20: 9th Annual Empty Bowls 6-7:30pm - Empty Bowls is an international project to fight hunger, personalized on a community level. The goal behind Empty Bowls is to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and food security. Local sponsors provide hand-crafted bowls and serve a simple meal. Guests choose a bowl for their meal and keep it as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. Handmade bowls crafted by local artisans; Meal catered by The Vintage Press; Silent auction and onsite bowl throwing; Raffle prizes; A great community event with a family friendly atmosphere. 100% of all proceeds will be given directly to Visalia Rescue Mission. Held at the VRM Community Center, 741 N. Santa Fe in Visalia. February 21 & 28: Arts Visalia Watercolor Classes 6:30-8:30pm - During these classes, you will be taught the skill of using water-based paints and the the expression they place on the surface of the paper whether controlled or uncontrolled, as well as the history behind watercolor and its application. Instructor: Lynn Ramires. Tuition: $75. For more information: visit or call (559) 739-0905. February 22: Internet Marketing Workshop 9:30-10:30am - Learn how to get more leads from the internet, how to rank on first page of Google, and use the power of Adwords and BingAds. Seating is limited so register early. Held at Brandman University, 649 S. Country Dr. in Visalia. For registration, contact Presented by Chavez Web Design. February 22-24: Light Up the Sky 7pm & 1:30pm on Saturday & Sunday - The University Preparatory High School Theater Program will offer five performances of Light Up the Sky, a classic Broadway comedy that premiered in 1948. The story of Light Up the Sky centers on the characters who are opening a new play in an out-of-town tryout production. Performances of Light Up the Sky will be held at the Enchanted Playhouse at 307 E. Main St. in Visalia. Tickets are $10 per person. University Preparatory High School students with IDs are admitted for $5. For ticket information, call University Preparatory High School at (559) 730-2529, or visit February 23-24: 14th Annual Valley Adult Day Services Rock-AThon 6pm - Noon - The Rock-a-thon is a

fundraising event to support the people in our community who have Alzheimer’s disease or other related forms of dementia, and the families that take care of them. Each Team’s Challenge is to be this year’s “Most Money Raised,” team winner. For more information, call (559) 783-9815 and speak with Kayla or Valerie. February 24: “Beautiful Communication” 2pm — “Beautiful Communication” will be presented by Betty Luceigh, author of “Is It Beautiful? A Journey from Separation toward Unification,” at 2 p.m on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Center for Spiritual Living, 117 S. Locust, Visalia. The free talk will help those attending identify their own biases and learn to move toward unification in our current times. 559 625-2441 or February 24: Black History Celebration 6-9pm - Doors open at 5:30pm at the Hanford Civic Auditorium. Keynote speaker Jerome Avery. $30 per person or $210 for a table. Hosted by the Kings County Black History Committee, and Women with Visions Unlimited. Sponsorship opportunities are still available - for more information, or tickets, contact the Kings County Black History Committee at 559-5836139. February 24: West Hills College Coalinga Rodeo Dinner 6pm - West Hills College Coalinga Rodeo Boosters are now selling tickets for their annual dinner fundraiser. The prime rib dinner is at the Coalinga Elks Lodge. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50, with all proceeds benefiting the WHCC rodeo team and scholarships for rodeo team members. There will also be live and silent auctions and a prize drawing. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact Justin Hampton at (559) 908-6406 or justin.hampton@ February 28: Slide Show Presentation for: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 12pm - Join the Visalia Chamber for a Slide Show Presentation at the City of Visalia Administration Building located at 220 N. Santa Fe. The Chamber invites you to learn about an opportunity to participate in a centuries old tradition, the “Oberammergau Passion Play”. The tour will leave May 14, 2020 and return May 23, 2020. The Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 trip is a ten-day tour including 11 meals, round trip airfare from Fresno, roundtrip transportation to the Fresno Airport and hotel accommodations. The cost of the tour is $3,359 per person (double occupancy). March 2: “Poetry of Color” 5-8pm — “Poetry of Color” is an art and poetry show by Betty Berk that will open during the First Friday Art Walk from 5-8 p.m. on March 2 at the Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, 117 S.

Valley Voice  15 February, 2018 Locust, Visalia. Berk, who is inspired to paint by classical music, will read some of her poems, and several pianists—including Berk—will be playing classical music during the show. 559 625-2441 or March 3: Spring Blossom Vendor Fair 10am - 4pm - Over 40 vendors at the Visalia Veterans Memorial Building, 609 W Center St. in Visalia March 3: Rawhide Annual Job Fair 9-11am - The Visalia Rawhide will holds its annual job fair at Rawhide Park, 300 N. Giddings in Visalia. Positions will be available in a variety of areas, including concessions, food preparation, retail, and ushering. For a head start in applying, job seekers are encouraged to pre-register at To

pre-register, complete the application on the homepage and return to the ticket office on Giddings St. Applicants may also scan and email applications to Job seekers are encouraged to come to the job fair prepared with a copy of the completed application and their resume. March 3: Denim & Diamonds Shine up yer fancy boots, bring on the bling ‘n get ready for another great party. The VTECH Scholarship Foundation invites you to promote your business or organization by decorating a table! Leave a comment below if you are interested in supporting this worthwhile event!! (We provide the tablecloth, black napkins, dishes and glassware - you provide the centerpiece, promotional items and “bling”!) Event takes place at the International Agri Center. Tickets $40/person. Must be 21 to attend. Tickets on sale now at

B5 the VTECH school office or by calling, (559) 280-9375. March 3 & 4: 27th Annual The Civil War, a Living History 1 & 3:30pm on Saturday; 12pm on Sunday - Presented by the Civil Re-enactment Society in Mooney Grove Park. For more information, email Roger Alexander @ joea@ or Charles Henry @ March 7, 14, 21 & 28: Arts Visalia Class Still-Life Painting for Beginners 6:30-8:30pm - Instructor: Brianna Lee. Tuition: $85. www.artsvisalia. org or (559) 739-0905. March 8-10: Assistance League Visalia Rummage Sale 7am - Help Make a difference in the lives of Tulare County Children, when you donate​​items for sale or make a purchase. Sale at​​700 E. Mineral King Ave. in Visalia (just west

Senior Calendar The Visalia Senior Center is located at 310 N Locust, Visalia, and available by telephone at 559-713-4381. Lunch is served daily at 12pm; reservations are required by 11am the day before by dialing (559) 713-4481. The Tulare Senior Center is located at 201 N F St, Tulare, and available by telephone at 559-685-2330. Lunch is served daily at 11:30am; reservations MUST be made by 12:30 PM the business day before by calling (559) 685-2330. $3 donation is requested. Visalia Senior Center, Mondays: February 26, 2018 11am — Corn Hole 1 - 4pm — Pinochle 1 - 4pm — Tables Tennis Closed for holiday on 19th! Tulare Senior Center, Mondays: February 19 & 26, 2018 8-11 AM — Abuse in Later Life Victim Advocate For an appointment, ask for Alberto Robles, Victim Advocate, 559-7327371. The free services are offered every Monday, 8-11 am at Tulare Senior Center. 9-11:30am — Open Paint Enjoy a very well-lit classroom with heating or air conditioning. The classroom is set up with tables and chairs. Participants must bring own painting supplies. $2 per person. 10-11:30am — Live Music Provided by the City of Tulare Senior Recreation Volunteer Program. FREE! Enjoy listening to or dancing to great live County Western Music by Ken Bridges, Senior Volunteer. 12:30 – 3:30pm — Community Bingo Provided by Tulare Senior Services Volunteers at Tulare Senior Community Center. Must be 18 years and older to play. Cost: 1st Half of Bingo is $1.25 per card, 2nd Half of Bingo is $1 per card. This program

is led by a senior volunteers.

12:30pm — Card Games Various card games are played. Everyone is welcome! FREE! Tables and chairs are provided in classroom or dining room. Visalia Senior Center, Tuesdays: February 20 & 27, 2018 11am — Darts 1 - 4pm — Penny Bingo 10am - 1pm – Health Insurance & Counseling Advocacy Program (only on 20th) Tulare Senior Center, Tuesdays: February 20 & 27, 2018 9-11:30am; 12:30-4pm — Open Paint Enjoy a very well-lit classroom with heating or air conditioning. The classroom is set up with tables and chairs. Participants must bring own painting supplies. $2 per person. 1:30 - 4pm — Mah Jong Tiles Participants must bring own Tiles. Mah Jong is a tile-based game that originated in China. It is commonly played by four players. Mah Jong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a degree of chance. Visalia Senior Center, Wednesdays: February 21, & 28, 2018 12 - 3pm — Poker 12:45pm - 4pm — Contract Bridge Tulare Senior Center, Wednesdays: February 21, & 28, 2018 9:30-10:30 AM - Bible Study P9:30 - 10:30am — Bible Study Everyone is welcome! This is a FREE recreational activity. Enjoy studying in a very well-lit classroom with heating or air conditioning. The classroom is set up with tables and chairs. This class is led by a senior volunteer. 9:30 - 10:30am — Crocheting The crochet is donated by the hospital and others. The crochet group makes infant and adult sized hats. They are donated to the hospital/

clinics for cancer patients. This class is led by a senior volunteer. 10-11am — Blood Pressure Screening FREE Blood Pressure Screening! Sponsored by Tulare Adult School and Tulare Nursing & Rehabilitation. Everyone is welcome! 10:30 - 11:15am — Ex-Chair-Cise Everyone is welcome! This recreation activity is FREE. Enjoy exercising in a very well-lit classroom with heating or air conditioning. The classroom is set up with tables and chairs and exercise supplies is provided. 12:30pm — Card Games Various card games are played. Everyone is welcome! FREE! Tables and chairs are provided in classroom or dining room. 12:30 – 3:30pm — Community Bingo Provided by Tulare Senior Services Volunteers at Tulare Senior Community Center. Must be 18 years and older to play. Cost: 1st Half of Bingo is $1.25 per card, 2nd Half of Bingo is $1 per card. This programs is led by a senior volunteers. 1 - 4pm — HICAP – Health Insurance & Counseling Advocacy Program Only by Appointment, MUST call 559-623-0199. HICAP provides FREE, confidential counseling and community education for California Medicare beneficiaries, their representatives, and people who will soon be eligible for Medicare. Visalia Senior Center, Thursdays: February 15 & 22, 2018 10am - 12pm — Chess Club 11am — Darts 11am — Brain Teasers 1 - 4pm — Penny Bingo

of the corner of Burke and Mineral King). To donate items for sale call 559-737-1907 or email a ​​if you need items to be picked up. You may also drop off donations at the above location Feb 28 - Mar 2. Each year Assistance League provides new clothes to more than 500 students for school. With each donation and purchase at our Rummage Sale, we can help more students. Assistance League Visalia is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization. All donations are​ tax deductible. For more information about the organization visit March 8: Mensa Meeting 5:30pm - Members of the local Mensa society will meet at Panera Bread, 4103 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia, for coffee, bagels, sandwiches and conversation. Prospective members encouraged to attend. For more information, call (559) 280-9774.

stories about them. You’ll be leaving a written legacy for your loved ones to cherish for many generations to come. $5 per month per student. 1 - 2pm — Tai Chi – for Health & Wellness This special 6-week course offered by Tulare Senior Recreation will be held on Thursdays, next session is January 11-February 15, 2018. $25 for 6 week course. 2-3:30pm — Caregiver Support Group Session Group sessions are led by a Valley Caregiver Resource counselor. This activity is FREE. Visalia Senior Center, Fridays: February 16, & 23, 2018 10:30 - 11:15am — Fun Fitness (only on 2nd and 16th) 1pm — Friday Movie 1 - 4pm — Table Tennis 1pm — Scrabble Club 1:30pm — Garden Club Tulare Senior Center, Fridays: February 2, 9, 16, & 23, 2018 8:30 - 11am — Table Tennis Come with a partner and have a fun game of Table Tennis in a welllit and spacious area. This is a FREE Tulare Senior Recreation activity! 9:30 – 11am — Wii Bowling Join this Friday Fun Tulare Senior Recreation activity enjoyed by many. It is FREE to participate! Experience is NOT REQUIRED! 10:30 - 11:15am — Ex-Chair-Cise Everyone is welcome! This recreation activity is FREE. Enjoy exercising in a very well-lit classroom with heating or air conditioning. The classroom is set up with tables and chairs and exercise supplies is provided.

Tulare Senior Center, Thursdays: February 15 & 22, 2018

12:30pm — Card Games Various card games are played. Everyone is welcome! FREE! Tables and chairs are provided in classroom or dining room.

10am - 12pm — Down Memory Lane (Writing Class) This class offered by Tulare Senior Recreation will help you organize your memories and write down

7-10pm — Senior Dance Anyone 18 years and older. Fee: $8 per person - Dance to Live Country Western music. Bring Potluck style foods to share.

15 February, 2018   Valley Voice


Adventist Health facilitates inaugural World Vision Connection in Central Valley STAFF REPORTS

When Darcy Pickens and her team from Champions in Hanford arrived at the Adventist Health warehouse on Friday, Feb. 02, 2018, to pick up some donated items for their recovery homes and clients, she was unprepared for what she saw. It was the first delivery of goods from World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization. A new collaboration with Adventist Health connects surplus, first-quality goods with those in need. Champions was the first partner Adventist Health selected to receive their pick of the donated goods. Inside the warehouse was furniture, including air beds, sofas and chairs, dining sets and bookcases; children’s toys and bicycles; household items like heaters, solar shades and barbecue grills; cleaning products and kitchen tools; non-perishables like cereal, granola, nuts and spices; and even Christmas decorations. Altogether there were 24 pallets of goods valued at more than $50,000. “I’m a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume,” Pickens said after taking a deep breath to compose herself. “I’m just thinking about how happy our clients and program managers are going to be when they see what we’ve been given.” She wiped a tear from her cheek and smiled brightly. “We can’t provide them with fancy shampoos or a barbecue grill, so this will make where they live feel more like a home, which is our goal – to treat the whole person and give them a sense of community.” Champions operates six group homes in Lemoore and Hanford and provides substance abuse and mental health treatment in separate men’s and women’s facilities. The items will be used in the homes by the clients while undergoing recovery. “We try to teach them that they have a responsibility to give back to their community, so for them to see the generosity of the community that

Rawhide Continued from B1

eighth year in the Diamondbacks organization. He previously worked as the Pitching Coach in Missoula for two seasons, where he helped guide the Osprey to a Pioneer League championship in 2015. A native of Pomona, California, Bajenaru was a 36th round selection by the Chicago White Sox in the 1999 draft. He made Major League appearances with the White Sox in 2004 and 2005, and also came up briefly with the D-backs in 2006. Another new face on the Rawhide coaching staff will be World Series Champion Franklin Stubbs, who will


Continued from B1 Tulare County Board of Education, for a plaque to be installed at TCOE’s outdoor education school. Upon seeing the portrait of Mr. Levis, artisans at the

gives to them, this encourages them,” Pickens said. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that helps children, families and their communities overcome poverty and injustice. They work with retail and wholesale businesses to connect surplus items with nonprofits in communities who can distribute them directly to the families in need. “World Vision’s mission is to focus on the most vulnerable children, and the work that Adventist Health does to holistically transform communities was a natural fit for this partnership,” said Reed Slattery, National Gifts-InKind Director for World Vision. Central Valley Health Foundation President Ed Ammon said Adventist Health expects to receive a new shipment of goods every month. World Vision staff will provide training and ongoing support to Adventist Health staff on proper storage, distribution

and accounting of all surplus items. “This project has been in the works for about two years,” Ammon said as he watched the items being loaded. “I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to bless the people in the communities Adventist Health serves. He said that each shipment will contain different items, but Adventist Health will be notified ahead of time so that they can connect them with the people who can best use them. Of all the items that the Champions staff selected to use at their group homes, Administrative Assistant Sylvia Garcia said the new sofa set was the most surprising to receive. “They actually recline and rock, that was like really cool,” Garcia said as she watched them being loaded onto their van. “I’m just so glad that there are people out there who can donate to us. It’s going to be even more exciting when we get home and start setting everything up.”

Adventist Health services in the Central Valley are part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 75 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii. The system’s compassionate and talented team of 33,300 includes more than 24,600 employees; 5,000 medical staff physicians; and 3,700 volunteers working together in pursuit of one mission: living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides care in 19 hospitals, more than 280 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 13 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. Together, Adventist Health’s team is inspired to transform the health experience of its communities, with our unique focus on physical, mental, spiritual and social healing.

serve as Visalia’s new Hitting Coach. Stubbs is in his third season as a coach with the D-backs and his 22nd in a coaching capacity. Last year he was the Hitting Coach for Class Short-Season A Hillsboro, and has been a hitting coach in every season since 2005. Stubbs played a 10-year Major League Career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he won a World Series championship in 1988, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, and Detroit Tigers. In 945 career games, Stubbs slugged 109 doubles, 104 homers, and drove in 248 runs. Travis Denker joins the Rawhide staff as the Coach in his coaching debut. Denker played a 12-year Minor League career across six organizations,

with a 24-game taste of the Major Leagues with San Francisco in 2008, and finished his playing career last year with the D-Backs and Double-A Jackson. Over 1,133 career Minor League Games, Denker accrued a .274 average as well as 136 home runs and 577 runs batted in. He previously made five appearances in the California League as a player with Inland Empire, San Jose, and Rancho Cucamonga between 2007 and 2011. Chris Schepel and Derek Sommerville will round out the Rawhide Coaching Staff in 2018 as the Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach respectively. Both will be in their second year with Visalia. The Rawhide will seek to return to the California League playoffs in 2018

after missing the postseason for the first time in five years in 2017. “We look forward to welcoming Joe as the Manager of the Rawhide and to continuing the recent success we’ve seen on the field,” said Rawhide General Manager Jennifer (Pendergraft) Reynolds. “We’re excited for the rest of great staff that has been put together as well. We’re proud to be celebrating our 12th season with the Diamondbacks, who have been a great partner to both the Rawhide and to the Visalia Community. 2018 marks the 72nd year of professional baseball in Visalia at Rawhide Ballpark. The Rawhide will open their season on at home April 5th against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

Fresno foundry that was contracted to cast the bronze plaque suggested that Sam turn the drawing into a bas relief (low relief) sculpture. The commission from TCOE was the beginning of his career as a sculptor. Since he retired from the planetarium in 2006, Sam Peña has been a

sought-after artist and sculptor, both locally and nationally. He recently completed bronze bas relief pieces for The Visalia Rawhide Hall of Fame inductees and a statue of Hugh Mooney that stands at the entrance of Mooney Grove Park. Nationally, Mr. Peña has created 35 medallions that have been installed on

the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The medallions are part of the Points of Light Monument, which honors Americans who created great service and social change movements. For more information on the Americans depicted on the Points of Light Monument, visit

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Valley Voice  15 February, 2018



Kaweah Delta launches 24 hour neurosurgery program STAFF REPORTS

Patients with severe head injuries and neurosurgical conditions can now get care at Kaweah Delta Medical Center thanks to an around-the-clock neurosurgery program. The program, which provides comprehensive neurosurgery care, allows people to be treated at Kaweah Delta rather than being transported nearly an hour away or more away to another neurosurgery facility. The program specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the nervous system – primarily the brain, spinal cord, spinal column and nerves throughout the body – through surgical procedures, preventative care and rehabilitation. “Care for traumatic head injuries is what is most important for the families and community members in this region,” said Joseph Chen, M.D.,

Medical Director of the new program. “When someone has a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma, they can die quickly or be left with devastating consequences. Being able to be seen here will cut down dramatically on the time it takes for these patients to receive care.” To support patients before and after surgery, Kaweah Delta has opened its Neurosciences Center in Visalia. The general public is invited to learn more about the center during an open house from 5-7pm on Monday, March 5, at 202 W. Willow, Suite 107. To make an appointment for planned neurosurgeries, call 559-624-6570. The 24-hour neurosurgery program will treat a variety of neurosurgical conditions including traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, brain hemorrhages and spinal abnormalities such as degenerative disc disease, spi-

nal tumors, spine trauma. Additionally, patients can undergo planned surgeries such as brain tumor surgery or spinal surgery at the medical center. Kaweah Delta has partnered with the neurosurgeons of Center Neurorestoration Associates – Joseph Chen, M.D., Charles Liu, M.D., Jonathan Russin, M.D., Bryan Oh, M.D., and Brian Lee, M.D. – to provide these services to Kaweah Delta patients. The partnership allows neurosurgeons at Kaweah Delta to use state-ofthe-art equipment to help improve clinical outcomes by providing neurosurgeons with real-time images during surgery. The stealth imaging system provides neurosurgeons with real-time intra-operative imaging of a patient’s anatomy with high quality images and a large two and three dimension field-

of-view, said Benton Duckett, Director of Surgical Services at Kaweah Delta. “This will allow for the best surgical outcomes possible. This new technology allows surgeons to get as close as possible to the area needing repair and provide the best surgical outcomes,” Duckett said. Kaweah Delta is a publicly-owned community healthcare organization that provides comprehensive health services to the greater Visalia region and Tulare County. With over 5,000 dedicated medical professionals and employees, Kaweah Delta is committed to meeting the community’s health needs through state-of-the-art medicine, high-quality preventive services and specialized health centers and clinics. For more information, visit www.

Family medicine physician joins Tulare Cardiology Center STAFF REPORTS

Family medicine physician Roy K. Chan, MD, is now seeing patients at the Tulare Cardiology Center, an affiliate of the Kaweah Delta Medical Foundation. Dr. Chan has been with the Tulare VA Community-Based Outreach Center since 2012, providing primary care for veterans. Previously he provided care at Mountain View Medical Clinic in Dinuba. He is Board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. “I have practiced in the area for almost seven years, and I really wanted to stay here to continue care for our

community and veterans,” Dr. Chan noted. “The VA is going through a lot of changes, and it’s moving to partner with community medical resources. This clinic will allow us to continue and expand our care to the Tulare community, in addition to providing access to the resources available at Visalia Medical Clinic and Kaweah Delta Health Care District.” Dr. Chan served his family medicine residency at The Ohio State University Medical Center and earned his doctor of medicine degree at University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He earned an undergraduate degree in molecular, cellular and developmen-

tal biology with an emphasis on neurobiology at Yale University. His personal experiences battling

non-Hodgkins lymphoma while in medical school helped him develop a “unique perspective” on the patient experience. “I have learned that quality care is much more effective when it is delivered with compassion,” he added. “Prevention of disease is also central to my practice. Good primary care can prevent disease, and the art of medicine is reaching the patients with this information.” The Tulare Cardiology Center, an affiliate of the Kaweah Delta Medical Foundation, is located at 938 N. Cherry, Tulare. To make an appointment, or for further information, call 686-3481.

Kaweah Delta opens second tent during flu season STAFF REPORTS

Kaweah Delta Medical Center has received approval from the California Department of Public Health to begin using a second tent outside of its Emergency Department (ED) to help care for the surge in patients seen this flu season. “We are pulling out all of the stops and doing everything under the sun to take care of patients during this very challenging flu season,” said Gary Herbst, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Delta Health Care District. “We’ve actually never had two tents up at the same time.” The tent, which is located east of

the ED, serves as a staging area for patients who come to the Hospital by ambulance, but do not have life-threatening conditions. It will immediately allow doctors and nurses at Kaweah Delta to take over care of the patient from ambulance Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). This allows them to get back out and serve the community. Without the tent, EMTs bring their patients into the ED on gurneys and care for them until an examination room opens, crowding hallways. “While this will allow us to immediately take over the patient’s care, more importantly, it allows these ambulances to get back out into the community and help people,” Herbst said.

Due to flu season and the recent closure of a nearby hospital’s emergency department and health clinics in Tulare, Kaweah Delta Medical Center put up a tent outside of its ED on November 22, 2017 to expand the size of its waiting area to accommodate patient demands. On average, Kaweah Delta has seen 500 positive flu cases each week. During periods of peak demand, the tent has been open, as needed, to provide a larger waiting room area for ED patients. The tent is a fully operable “room” which includes electricity, HVAC, and various supplies. It is also well-lit and rain-proof. Patients inside the tent are

monitored by staff. “Our ED is one of the busiest in the state seeing 90,000 patients each year, but the demand for our medical services has increased to the point that we have to take further steps to best care for each person seeking medical care,” Herbst said. During this time, Kaweah Delta is also urging the public to seek care from their personal physicians for conditions that are not life-threatening or will not require hospitalization. When that is not possible or the condition is urgent, but not life-threatening, people are urged to visit an urgent care facility or a walk-in clinic instead of the ED.


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Valley Voice

15 February, 2018

Arte Américas exhibition “KINDRED” features 9 California artists STAFF REPORTS Arte Américas, the largest Latino cultural center in Central California has opened a new exhibition, titled “KINDRED,” to critical acclaim featuring the works of nine artists who create evocative, narrative-dense works. Each of the nine have previously participated in past group shows in the galleries of the cultural center, submitting works that stood out and incited frequent inquiry from visitors. “In a group exhibition, we feature anywhere from twenty to forty different artists,” said Arte Américas Executive Director and Cheif Curator Frank Delgado. “This is a group of mini-showcases featuring artists whose creations evoked deep emotional connections in our gallery space between the viewer and the artwork itself,” he said What connects the nine “KINDRED” artists is that they each serve as artistic ambassadors within their own circles, and are known for inspiring and uplifting other artists. “In a highly competitive, dog-eatdog art world it can be rare to encounter artists who promote anyone other than themselves,” said Delgado. “What sets these artists apart is that they create works that are deserving of solo shows, but generously insist on inviting other artists to share the gallery space with them,” he added. The exhibition will also include several opportunities to interface with the participating artists. On Sunday February 18, artist and Cherokee elder Judy DeRosa will host a Native Storytelling gathering in the gallery where

she will talk about her works and give deep context to the mythology that inspires the art. On Saturday March 24, photographer Rebecca Caraveo will host a twohour workshop on “taking beautiful pictures with your phone through apps and photography techniques.” Both events are offered at a cost of $5 with proceeds going to the artists for their time and fuel costs. A free artist reception will be hosted on Saturday March 3 from 1pm until 4pm that will include an introduction to the artists as well as opportunites to directly listen to them talk about their artwork. The event is family-friendly and open to the public. “Even if you can’t make it to any of the receptions or workshops, you still

have plenty of chances to see this exhibition free of charge,” said Arte Américas Chief of Staff Alma Chaires. “We’re open Thursday through Sunday and there’s no charge for parking or admission, so there’s no reason that people shouldn’t be bringing their children

to experience our gallery spaces,” Chaires said. The KINDRED exhibition will be on view through March 11, 2018. Additional information can be found on the Arte Américas website at

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Valley Voice Issue 111 (15 February, 2018)  
Valley Voice Issue 111 (15 February, 2018)