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News Roundup: New Tower Likely In Downtown Visalia

Kaweah Delta Not Optimistic On Seismic Waiver Request

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.17.42 AMKaweah Delta hospital’s lobbying effort with the state to retain the Mineral King wing for acute care past the 2030 seismic deadline suffered a setback recently. A contingent of hospital and Visalia city leaders met in Sacramento April 16 with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), but their arguments were rebuffed says CEO Lindsay Mann.

“They told us the law SB1953 provides no exceptions” says Mann. The group had pointed out that Visalia is a much less earthquake prone area than much of the rest of the state including the seismically active Bay Area and LA Basin.

“If they can’t get a favorable ruling in the next year and a half “we need to start work on what could be a half billion dollar replacement complex” Mann said a few months ago.

Friday,May 30 Mann sent out memo to all staff at the healthcare district talking about the issue.

“Our position has been that the seismic risks of the Visalia area are very low in comparison to other areas of California and that the Mineral King Wing would remain in full operation after an earthquake of any probable magnitude. Sustaining this position would require special legislation to exempt Kaweah Delta from SB1953.

Through our study of this matter we have come to three important conclusions:
1. The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, with whom we have worked closely, has now confirmed that a full structural retrofitting or replacement of the Mineral King Wing will be necessary by 2030. They have no policies that will support legislation recognizing the lower seismic risks of the Visalia area or for granting relief from the requirements of this earthquake safety law.
2. A structurally retrofitted Mineral King Wing would not meet our physicians’, nurses’, and most importantly, our patients’ expectations for a modern state-of-the-art hospital. We could spend many millions of dollars in a structural retrofitting process, yet the results would be entirely unsatisfactory in meeting our goal of providing the best possible facilities and care for our patients.
3. To best achieve the goal of providing our patients with the best care possible and to invest our funds wisely, we have come to the conclusion that replacement of the Mineral King Wing is clearly our only responsible option “

Mann says they have a consultant group looking at the issue before a final decision is made in the next few months. Mann adds that the Mineral King wing built in 1969 would still be used for non-acute care but planning should start for a new tower that would be built west of the current Aqequia wing. “The community needs to know that the new facility would be needed just to keep the number of beds we already have” says board member Jody Graves

McDonalds Coming To Earlimart

Earlimart’s White River Plaza, off Hwy 99, will be getting a McDonalds restaurant in coming months says Tulare County Economic Development manager Mike Washam. The new shopping center on the north end of town already has an AutoZone and Dollar General and is expected to land a new 35,000sf market by the end of the year. McDonalds approved the location for an eatery earlier this month.

Mortgage Rates Fall Below 4 Percent

Zillow Mortgage Marketplace reported Friday that the California thirty-year fixed mortgage rates stood at 3.96%, down some 8 basis points from last week. Nationwide Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for a fifth straight week. helping to provide a boost to the Spring buying season.They quote rates of 4.12 percent, down from 4.14 percent last week.

Tulare’s Sundale Vineyards Adds Solar / Moves To Settle Dispute With Neighbor Harvest Power

Tulare table grape grower Sundale Vineyards has just added a 1.13MW solar arrary at their headquarters in Lovers Lane near Tulare. Owner Todd Kinosian says the ground mounted units are expected to supply 80 to 90% of their power needs. Kinosian says the big energy users at  are both the pre-cooling operation and cold storage. The solar farm has more than 3800 panels suppled by Cenergy. Cenergy has estimated the units could save Sundale $5.7 million in electricity costs during the next 25 years. A 30% federal tax credit is a good incentive to go green.

Speaking of going green,in other news – Kinosian confirms that a year long dispute that turned into a lawsuit with neighbor Harvest Power is about over. ”This settlement is the best for both parties” he adds.The dispute was over a plan by Harvest Power to build a biomethane digester and expand its composting operation. Harvest Power has been unable to move forward on the green energy project  despite a state award of over $5 million from the  California Energy Commission to build the digester and operate a CNG fueling station that uses biomethane. The enclosed digester will take food waste,green waste and manure. Neither party would offer any detail of a settlement but  it appears the project will finally move forward. A similar dispute near Pixley held up plans to build a digester at an ethanol plant with concerns by neighbor California Dairies, were overcome and construction is now underway.

JG Boswell Foundation To Give $8 Mil To Cal Poly

San Joaquin Valley farmer James G Boswell’s foundation will give Cal Poly $8 million to establish the “J.G. Boswell Agricultural Research Center” at the San Luis Obispo campus the college announced in the past week. Plans for the new research center include facilities such as laboratories to support sensory, food safety, plant pathology, enology and genomics.

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