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Around Tulare County: Council Backs Kaweah Delta Bond / Brouhaha Over West 198 / More

Visalia City Council Backs Measure H – Fears Loss of 273 Hospital Beds

Visalians have a stark choice before them as they decide how to vote on Measure H to authorize bonds for a new hospital in April. So says the Visalia City Council in a resolution passed this week in support of the measure offered by Kaweah Delta Hospital.
“Seismic regulations mandated by the State of California will require the main acute care wing, the Mineral King Wing, to be taken out of service by 2030. The hospital has no option; 273 acute care beds must be eliminated from our current Hospital in the coming years.”
Mayor Steve Nelsen adds that the hospital” provides a great benefit to Visalia and it is a major economic engine to our city.”
The resolution continues “These beds are critical in the delivery of high quality health care to our growing community. Further, acute care beds are a key component of the Hospital’s medical residency program which has grown to about 100 new physicians; this program is a necessity for Kaweah Delta to continue to grow our local inventory of family practitioners and medical specialists.”
In conclusion “the Visalia City Council urges all Visalians to support Kaweah Delta Hospital in their efforts. We cannot risk losing these beds that are so critical to the delivery of quality health care to our growing community.”

Plant Trees Or Homes On City-Owned Land On West 198

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.58.02 AMThe long running debate over what the future of Visalia’s 198 ‘scenic corridor’ should look like continues this month. By a 3 to 2 vote the council rejected a budget item to spend $105,000 to plant walnut trees on 17 acres the city owns on the north side of 198 just east of Shirk. Council member Warren Gubler led the revolt against the expenditure arguing instead the city should sell most of the property to develop for new homes.
“With a tight budget, the city’s general fund could really use the million dollars or so that could come from the sale (along with saving the $105,000 tree planting fee).  Anyway we don’t need to be in the walnut business in this case.”
Gubler points out that the property ” isn’t just east of Shirk (as the staff report suggests).  In reality, it is just west of the Visalia Medical Clinic and is surrounded by existing homes.” The city is in a bit of a pickle since they have a contract already to buy the trees as the vote against the spending plan this week came as a surprise.
Council member Greg Collins says he expects the council will revisit the budget item.Collins backs the walnut planting idea saying it provides a clear separation between ag uses and residential and offers a long term income stream. He adds the city would “have to pay to maintain the 200 feet landscape setback” on 198 for urban uses that is now part of the general plan and “planting walnuts on the whole acreage makes more sense.” Advocates like Collins have long favored the continuation of farm-related uses on the city’s western entrance. Council member Amy Shuklian appears to be the swing vote.

More Biofuel Makers Adopt Visalia Company’s Cellulosic Technology

Visalia-based Edeniq, Inc., a biorefining and cellulosic technology company, and Aemetis, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMTX), an advanced renewable fuels and renewable chemicals company, this week announced they have entered into a License Agreement under which Aemetis will deploy Edeniq’s Pathway technology at its 60 million gallon per year ethanol production facility located in Keyes, California.
Edeniq’s Pathway Technology integrates Edeniq’s CellunatorTM equipment with cellulase enzymes to convert corn kernel fiber to cellulosic ethanol. The Pathway Technology utilizes existing fermentation and distillation equipment to produce up to 2.5% cellulosic ethanol and a 7% increase in overall ethanol yield.
“We selected Edeniq’s technology because we believe it is the fastest and most cost-efficient route to cellulosic ethanol,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aemetis.
“Aemetis joins a growing list of customers that trust Edeniq to provide best-in-class technology solutions and services,” said Brian Thome, President and CEO of Edeniq. Those include California-based Pacific Ethanol who recently made its first batch of cellulosic ethanol.

Feinstein Asks Obama To Allow More Pumping

With several northern California reservoirs on flood release US Senator Feinstein pleaded with President Obama to allow more water pumping south of the delta this week.
“Water flows in the Sacramento River are the highest they have been in four years. Just last week, flows in the Sacramento were as high as 76,000 cubic feet per second. We’ve only seen flows that high twice in the past ten years, and not once during this drought. Yet the Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service are now considering reducing pumping due to concerns about larval smelt.
Despite these high flows, rather than pumping as much water as possible without undue harm to the smelt, pumping levels remained constant for the past month. Coupled with the fact that only three individual smelt were caught at the pumps this year, and that the most recent trawls revealed no Delta smelt in the south Delta” the agencies  could “ exercise at least some flexibility to pump above” current levels.

More Ag Firms Installing Solar: More Tulare County agricultural operations are installing large solar system on their land according to the latest permits. Local dairy operations include Curti Terra Inc, Riverbend Dairy and Vanderham Dairy with each installing million dollar plus projects. Also Treehouse California Almonds is putting in a big project.

California almond exports are down 6% as of February.

Tulare County existing homes
sales are up 7.9% in February year-over-year.

More Visitors In Sequoia: Visitation to Sequoia Park was up 17% in February year-over-year.

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