Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Real Estate: Walmart building neighborhood grocery store in Fresno

(Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Photo courtesy of Walmart.)

Walmart is known for its supercenter expansions, but the retail giant is going small with at least one of its projects in Fresno.

The company is building its first neighborhood grocery market at Willow and Herndon avenues in Fresno. The concept is similar to Fresh & Easy and the new Dollar General Markets that have popped up in town.

“We are very excited about the new Walmart Neighborhood Market,” said Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia. “Designed for convenient grocery shopping, customers will find a full line of fresh groceries, meat and dairy products, dry goods and staples, as well as household supplies, and pharmacy services.”

The 40,000-square-foot Fresno store is expected to create about 75 new jobs, Garcia said. It is scheduled to open in summer 2013.

The retailer is also building a market in Visalia on the corner of Demaree Street and Goshen Avenue, just north of Highway 198.

Soccer mom rounds up gear

Soccer Mom Debbie Winsett gazes at the boxes holding her son’s old but usable soccer gear.
“What do you do with perfectly good cleats that he outgrew?” Winsett asked.
And there’s tons of soccer gear gathering dust in garages up and down the Valley, she said.
Now Winsett is putting out collection barrels at AYSO soccer games in Visalia, Odyssey South soccer games in Visalia, the Pro Soccer store at Willow and Herndon in Fresno and a handful of schools in Visalia.
She’s sending home flyers with soccer players that explain how to participate in the program.
“I want this to go to the soccer families that need it,” Winsett said. “I don’t know anybody else who is doing this.”
She and fellow volunteers are collecting the gear and sorting it. In spring or summer of 2013, they’ll have a distribution day.
“Those who donate can pick for free,” Winsett said.
Donors must include their names and contact information to be notified when the distribution will take place. The date has yet to be determined.
“If you didn’t donate or didn’t register, we’ll sell if for $3 to $5,” she said.

ImagineU Children’s Museum to break ground in Spring 2013

In a sign that a longtime dream is close to reality, ImagineU Interactive Children’s Museum in Visalia announced Thursday that Monique Miron of CM Construction Services has been hired as project manager for construction.

Groundbreaking takes place in spring 2013 and the museum will open a year later, said Cheryl Christman, chair of the museum’s board of directors. ImagineU is the only children’s museum within a three-hour drive of Visalia, she said.

The 14,000-square-foot, single-story building will be built at the southeast corner of Tipton Street and Oak Avenue.  Russ Taylor of The Taylor Group is the architect.

Mill Creek runs next to the property, and Brian Kempf of the Urban Tree Foundation will design a trail along it, Christman said.  Eventually, a city park will be to the east.

Construction is being covered by a $5.4 million grant from the state using Proposition 84 money. Staff and programs must be covered by local fundraising.

Political Notebook: Obama has more Valley donors, but Romney has raked in far more cash

In city after city across the central San Joaquin Valley, President Barack Obama has attracted more donors for his reelection campaign than his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney.

But when it comes to the local cash haul, Romney rules.

Take Fresno, for instance. Obama had 2,214 donors with Fresno mailing addresses, while Romney had just 696. But those 696 donors gave Romney $438,050, while Obama’s more than 2,200 contributed $223,716.

The average per donor? It is $629.38 for Romney, and just $101 for Obama.
Across the region, it is similar story — Exeter, Visalia, Kingsburg, Hanford, Madera, Merced mailing addresses all show more Obama donors, but more total money for Romney.

It even holds true in a Republican stronghold like Clovis, where Obama had 455 donors to Romney’s 259, but Romney raised $135,107 to Obama’s $42,700.

Given Romney’s local high-dollar fundraisers, this is hardly surprising. The biggest of them all came in May, when Romney raked in more than $1 million at a fundraiser at the Sanger-area home of prominent west-side rancher John Harris and his wife, Carole.

Obama, by comparison, has never held a Valley fundraiser. All his campaign donations came from local people who took the initiative and sent in a check. The only exception would have been if a local wealthy Democrat attended one of Obama’s Los Angeles or Bay Area fundraisers.

Visalia lets residents dispose of needles for free

Getting rid of needles just got easier in Visalia. The city is accepting home-generated medical sharps at quarterly Dump On Us events for free.

The county had a program to take needles for free but state funding ran out. It’s illegal to put needles in the regular trash.

Dump on Us lets Visalia residents toss out old junk for free, and now there’s a separate line to accept needles and lancets, which must be in an approved container.

But the city program is temporary.

Kim Loeb, the city’s natural resources conservation director, said the city is preparing to ask the Visalia City Council to pass an ordinance requiring pharmacies and businesses that sell needles to accept used needles for free.

San Luis Obispo County has a similar ordinance.

It’s an issue everywhere.

Fresno County, including Fresno, has a free needle disposal program twice a year at its household hazardous waste disposal events. But Fresno County will not be pushing an ordinance, said Linda Kline, the county’s recycling coordinator.

Instead, there’s a list of options, including businesses that take needles for a small fee, at the recycling division’s household hazardous waste web page on the county’s website.

Visalia police upgrade radios to new standard

Visalia police are vaulting into the 21st century by buying new radio gear.

The buy is for 125 new handheld radios, 40 car radios and nine motorcycle radios from Motorola.

They each have 1,000 frequencies and can communicate with law enforcement agencies outside Visalia in case police get called to an emergency. That’s the new P25 national “interoperabilty” standard in law enforcement radios.

They are also digital for a clearer signal.

The city is spending about $300,000 on radio replacement. By trading in the old 1993 radios, the city gets a $58,000 discount.

Edison to erect 100 pole towers north of Visalia

Southern California Edison is getting ready to install steel towers for its San Joaquin Cross Valley Loop Project.

The general public will begin seeing major activity next week, region manager Bill DeLain said.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the project after a local uproar about the proposed route resulted in an alternate route through foothills north of Woodlake

The utility is connecting the Big Creek-Rector line that runs through Visalia to the Big Creek-Springville line east of Woodlake. The connection will bring more electricity to the South Valley.

In phase 1, about 100 tubular steel poles will be erected inside 11 miles of Edison corridor north of Visalia.

Additionally, wires will be installed on the cross arms of the 120- to 160-foot pole towers, and about 200 existing lattice towers will be removed. Phase 1 ends in April 2013.

Phase II starts in May. About 60 pole towers will go through 12 miles of east-west corridor that runs by Elderwood north of Woodlake.

Additionally, a second set of poles will go up next to the first set on the Big Creek-Rector line. Phase II ends about April 2014.

Visalia building bike trails

Construction starts this fall on new bicycle and walking trails in Visalia.

The trails will be paved with asphalt.

The Packwood Creek trail will be on Walnut Avenue from the old Santa Fe railroad tracks to Cedar Avenue, adding 0.8 miles to the trails network.

A trail along Mill Creek from Garden Park to McAuliff Avenue in east Visalia will be 0.4 miles, and the existing Mill Creek trail at Garden Park will get fixed.

And the St. John’s River trail will be extended to Cutler Park, a half-mile project. The St. John’s trail is currently 2.9 miles.

Local, state and federal money totaling $1.27 million will be used, including money from Measure R, the local half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

Packwood Creek and Mill Creek trails will be ready by year end. The St. John’s River trail will be ready in mid-March 2013.