From the daily archives: Tuesday, March 15, 2011

El Centro NAF Air Show





















In its ongoing strategy to upgrade technology for the benefit of patients and staff, Pioneer Memorial Hospital & Health Services (PMH&HS) in Viborg, recently invested more than $100,000 in its Radiology Department.

According to Georgia Pokorney, CEO at PMH&HS, “Our original radiographic unit and equipment, purchased over 30 years ago, was starting to require more frequent maintenance, and we were unable to purchase new parts for the repairs needed. The rapid advancements in medical equipment and technology, and our aging equipment made it necessary to invest in updates to the Radiology Department to improve our service quality outcomes.”

Matt Berry, B.S., RT, (CT), commented, “The new system’s advanced digital X-Ray equipment provides a clear, quality image with minimal exposure to radiation. The system is completely filmless, meaning images are stored in a digital format and our physicians and radiologists can view results within seconds. The image quality is remarkable.”

Margo McCue, RT (R), added, “The convenience of the new table and equipment is very popular with our patients. It allows easy access for the patient, such as being able to stand for certain types of X-rays like knee, abdomen, etc., and is also accessible for patients in wheelchairs.

Both Margo and Matt agree the new equipment allows for greater efficiencies and improved outcomes. Matt explains, “Not only are the diagnostic images available for viewing almost instantaneously, but their quality means x-rays rarely have to be retaken. At the same time, the new technology has multiple features that reduce unnecessary x-ray exposure while maintaining image quality.”


For the first time since the Grim Sleeper case, forensic investigators with the California Attorney General’s office have identified a suspect in a major violent crime by using familial DNA.

Elvis Garcia, 21, is being held in Santa Cruz County Jail on charges of sexual assault, robbery, and false imprisonment in connection with the March 19, 2008, attack on a 23-year-old barista at The Kind Grind coffee shop in Santa Cruz. Bail was set at $1 million at a hearing this morning. Arraignment was postponed until March 29 at 8:15 a.m.

Garcia was taken into custody Friday after state forensic scientists were able to establish his identity through familial DNA, a process in which crime scene DNA is compared to the DNA of convicted offenders to see if there’s a close match that could indicate a relationship of father-son or brothers. In this case, Garcia’s father was ultimately identified, and from there, investigators narrowed their search to focus on Garcia as a possible suspect.

Earlier this year, state forensic scientists tested items recovered from Garcia’s trash and found DNA matches between a hairnet and a Gatorade bottle found there and DNA samples found at the scene of the March 2008 assault. After Garcia was arrested Friday, a DNA sample taken from the inside of his cheek confirmed the match to crime scene DNA.

“This arrest would not have taken place except for the admirable collaboration between several different state and local agencies,” Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said. “Santa Cruz police and prosecutors contributed their exceptional and dogged investigative skills, and the Attorney General’s forensic scientists contributed their state-of-the-art expertise in tracking down suspects using familial DNA.”

Familial DNA is a powerful and important tool, but it needs to be carefully employed. That’s why it is used only in rare instances where a major violent crime is involved, public safety is jeopardized, and all other investigative leads have been exhausted. In addition, strong safeguards are in place every step of the way to ensure the technique is not misused.

The Santa Cruz case marks only the 13th time that California has used familial DNA since its testing was authorized here in 2008, and only the second time the technique has succeeded in nabbing a suspect. In July, the technique was successfully employed to identify and arrest Lonnie David Franklin, the suspect in the string of “Grim Sleeper” murders in Los Angeles. Investigators had tried and failed for years to catch the “Grim Sleeper,” who perpetrated his crimes over three decades.

Garcia would still be at-large except for familial DNA.

After the assailant in the early-morning attack trapped the victim in the coffee shop’s kitchen, held a knife to her throat and sexually assaulted her, he forced her into an unused refrigerator and barricaded the door. After he fled, she was able to escape and called the Santa Cruz police.

Despite the use of K-9 dogs, circulation of a composite sketch, and the pursuit of many credible leads, the investigation turned up no suspect. So, Santa Cruz police asked the Attorney General’s lab to conduct a familial DNA search.

After lab work, surveillance and other investigative work to confirm the findings, Santa Cruz police and agents with the AG’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence arrested Garcia at work at a Santa Cruz nutritional supply company.

California was the first state to adopt a familial DNA search program in October 2008. These searches are performed under rigorous guidelines, and decisions about turning over familial DNA evidence to local authorities are reviewed by a special panel of scientists, law enforcement officers and lawyers.

“The goal of the familial search policy,” said Jill Spriggs, chief of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Forensic Services, “is to strike an effective balance between privacy concerns and the need to provide information that may solve a violent crime or series of crimes. To meet this goal, the Attorney General has established rigorous scientific protocols and review procedures.”

The Attorney General’s Jan Bashinski Laboratory in Richmond houses the fourth largest DNA database in the world with more than 1.7 million DNA profiles taken from convicted offenders and adults arrested for serious offenses. Each month, the lab processes as many as 30,000 new DNA samples.

Samples in the database are run to see if there are matches to DNA samples from crime scenes submitted by authorities in California and across the nation. The program has helped to solve many violent crimes, including murders and rapes, since the database was established in 1990. More than 400 “hits” are made each month between crime scene DNA and DNA profiles stored in the database.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris spoke at a press conference held in Santa Cruz today along with Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel and District Attorney Bob Lee, and two members of the Attorney General’s staff: Randy Bryant, acting chief of the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence, and Jill Spriggs.

The case agent for the Attorney General was Special Agent Charles Vela. Also working on the case were Special Agent Supervisor Alex Nocon and Criminal Intelligence Specialist Teresa Carnero.


California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) Acting Secretary Rocky J. Chavez will sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with local Southern California homeless veteran service providers giving “graduates” from their programs priority for consideration of admittance to the Veterans Homes of California. More than a dozen representatives from local non-profits and government agencies will attend an open house where CalVet staff will provide them with an inside view of the services offered at the State veterans homes and discuss housing collaboration opportunities among the area’s homeless veteran service providers and CalVet.

EVENT: CalVet will be hosting local organization leaders and government representatives for the signing of MOUs. These leaders will be given an in depth look at CalVet’s West Los Angeles Veterans Home.

DATE: Thursday March 17, 2011

TIME: 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

PLACE: Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles

11500 Nimitz Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90049-4704

WHO: CalVet Acting Secretary Rocky Chavez and West Los Angeles Veterans Home Administrator Lou Koff, representatives from local homeless veterans service providers.

BACKGROUND: Acting Secretary Chavez has traveled the state touring over a dozen homeless veterans programs. As a result, CalVet has found that there is an immediate need for housing collaboration in our homeless veterans community. This open house will provide information about CalVet’s veterans homes across the state. Acting Secretary Chavez will be on hand to sign an agreement with homeless veterans service providers that will provide “graduates” from homeless community programs expedited access to the State’s veterans homes.


8minutenergy Renewables – a leading utility-scale solar PV developer focused on California – today announced it is the ‘Premier Generator’ sponsor of the Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit & Expo (IVEDC), taking place March 15-17 in Winterhaven, California. Focused on developing the Imperial Valley’s renewable energy industry, the annual event brings together an average of 500-600 attendees from the renewable energy industry with local and state government and business leaders.

8minutenergy is sponsoring IVEDC to underscore its commitment to helping the Imperial Valley develop its renewable energy industry. 8minutenergy’s portfolio spans 12 current projects in the Imperial Valley totaling more than 1,300 Mega Watts (MW) of solar PV power. It is the third largest solar PV developer in California, and the biggest developer in the Imperial Valley. 8minutenergy is also the largest solar developer in the current Imperial Irrigation District (IID) cluster study.

The first of 8minutenergy’s projects is Chocolate Mountains Solar Farm, a 50 Mega Watt (MW) utility-scale solar PV farm that will generate enough clean, safe, reliable electricity to power over 25,000 households. This state-of-the-art solar PV power plant is located on 320 acres in the foothills of the Chocolate Mountains, near the Salton Sea. It is the first utility-scale PV project in Imperial County with land use entitlement and the utility study process completed. It is targeted to be operational in 2012.

8minutenergy’s other 11 utility-scale solar PV power plants, ranging between 50MW and 200MW, are also located in the Imperial Valley. Five of the projects, representing 355 MW of power, have already completed the utility study process. They are expected to create more than 1,000 construction and 55 permanent jobs in Imperial County, and begin transmitting power between 2012 and 2015. 8minutenergy and its partners’ solar PV projects will deliver ongoing economic benefits to the Imperial Valley by creating jobs and increasing tax revenues. All of 8minutenergy’s projects are considered in-state resources and are located on disturbed, low-productivity and irrigated farmland.

“The Imperial Valley is an extremely attractive region for 8minutenergy to develop solar PV in because it possesses all the elements essential to success – from suitable land and abundant sunshine to supportive agencies,” said Martin Hermann, CEO of 8minutenergy. “IVEDC represents a unique opportunity to interact with all of the key players in the industry and the Valley. We are pleased to support the mission of IVEDC, as well as the collective vision of the parties dedicated to developing a green, reliable, renewable energy industry in the Imperial Valley. Working together, we can set the standard for selling power generated in the Imperial Valley to the West Coast.”

8minutenergy’s partners have billion-dollar investment funds available to finance the construction and operation of its projects. The company leverages the experience of its partners, such as Gestamp Solar. A top five global solar developer, Gestamp has designed, financed and installed over 300 MW of solar power systems. 8minutenergy’s partnership with Gestamp enables it to implement solar projects reliably and on schedule.

8minutenergy’s development process minimizes potential obstacles by communicating with benefitting parties and other stakeholders from the very beginning. It applies a unique, proprietary process to select and integrate the most suitable land sites and technologies for utility-scale solar PV projects. Power grid analysis and detailed land assessments are employed to choose optimal sites that are then validated for economic viability and permitting.

8minutenergy Renewables, LLC

8minutenergy is a California-based company that is passionate about helping California develop its renewable energy industry. The sun produces more energy in a single day than the world uses in an entire year. It takes only eight minutes for sunlight to reach the earth. 8minutenergy uses this abundant energy source to produce both greenhouse gas emission-free electric power and jobs. The 8minutenergy team has over 200 years of collective experience in the preconstruction development of renewable energy generators. In concert with our partners, 8minutenergy delivers complete solar power plant solutions, including all aspects of development, financing, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance. 8minutenergy’s proprietary land and economic analysis process helps select optimal power plant sites for accelerated permitting with counties and utilities. This process includes dynamic modeling to locate properties that can feed the grid at desired capacity without compromising grid reliability. 8minutenergy has offices in Folsom, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Our headquarters are located at 111 Woodmere Road, Suite 190, Folsom, California, 95630. For more information, please call (916) 608-9060, send email to or visit

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