Saturday Shorts: We’re glad Foster Farms is back online

January 24, 2014 

PG Foster Farms

Trucks pull into the Foster Farms plant in Livingston on Tuesday morning, while the poultry processor continues its voluntary closure.

PATTY GUERRA — pguerra@modbee.com Buy Photo

It’s good to see Foster Farms up and running again.

The largest poultry-processing facility on the West Coast was closed for 10 days while staff and others tried to make absolutely certain that the Livingston plant was free of any bugs that could come in contact with things that come into contact with chicken. Some might conclude that it took the company all that time to remedy the situation.

We see it differently. Remember, there were only five cockroach sightings over a four-month period. Spending days on this task sounds like a company trying to be absolutely certain that it will never see the nasty little bugs again. We certainly hope so.

Foster Farms’ reputation for cleanliness and attention to detail has given consumers confidence in the company’s products for decades. While it will take time to restore that reputation, we are confident the company is on the right path. The one point we’ll reiterate from our previous comments on this unfortunate situation is that the company must enlist the help and dedication of its most valuable assets – its 3,500 employees. And those employees, many of whom were forced to take a 10-day hiatus, hopefully will do their utmost to help the company regain the trust of consumers. It’s in everyone’s best interest.

We doubt that Walt Hanline will be getting any farewell gifts from the teachers in the Denair Unified School District. His seven months in Denair were contentious and acrimonious. But at the end, the former Ceres superintendent left the district in better shape than he found it. Hanline was brought in nearly a year ago to help right a district on the verge of being taken over by the state. Like virtually every other district in the state, Denair faced declining income from the state and declining enrollment, precipitating a crisis Its finances were in a shambles. There’s still a legal case pending over teacher layoffs. And until just recently, there was serious talk of a teachers’ strike. Hopefully, with the arrival of new superintendent Aaron Rosander, all that can be dealt with quickly. No matter how much it might pain them, as Denair’s teachers and staff say goodbye to Hanline they might also toss in another word: Thanks.

Speaking of saying thanks, we are delighted to shout out the word to all those who offered service to others and the community Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There’s really no other “holiday” like it. We feast on Thanksgiving, give gifts to each other on Christmas and shoot off fireworks on the Fourth of July. But on no other day do we band together with friends and strangers to make something better. It’s unique and we hope the tradition is growing and getting stronger. King remains an inspiration to anyone who examines his life and what he stood for – allowing all of America’s citizens to have an equal footing and opportunity in society. Honoring him through service is a fitting tribute.

We hope the young people across the state who don’t get into UC Merced aren’t too disappointed. Unfortunately, there will be more of them this year. And that’s not altogether bad. The newest UC campus broke another record, receiving 17,469 applications for enrollment – including 15,264 from incoming freshmen. Unfortunately, not everyone will get in. Chancellor Dorothy Leland wants to take a slight breather in enrollment until the campus catches up to its numbers. Last year, it admitted 1,653 students, but this year only 1,440 new students will enroll. It’s not that classes are crowded at UC Merced, but to keep them from getting that way the school has to schedule them at some oddball times – such as 9 p.m. biology labs.

Speaking of late-night classes, the school should keep an eye on that class. There are probably a lot of 19-year-olds who prefer going to class at that time. At least most of them would be awake – which is not necessarily true at 9 a.m.

The Maddy Report will have another good topic this weekend – fracking. Guests will be professors of geology from Fresno State and CSU Bakersfield and spokesmen for the Western State Petroleum Association. Fracking makes a lot of people nervous, including farmers. The process involves huge volumes of water being mixed with chemicals then injected into the shale formations. During the driest year in the history of record-keeping, we wonder how that can be justified. To listen, tune into KMJ (580 AM) at 10 a.m. Sunday or go to www.calchannel.com or visit www.maddyinstitute.org to find the podcast.

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