North Bay business briefs from Luther Burbank Center, Sonoma Clean Power, Touro University and more

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Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa has completed its $11.4 million “Bridge to the Future” renovation project.

Major physical upgrades to the 44-year-old facility include enlivenment of the interior and exterior of the center; upgrades to the lobby and first-floor restrooms; significant improvements to front-of-house, back-of-house, stage, and technical capabilities in the 1,600-seat Ruth Finley Person Theater; installation of elevators; creation of a new 18,000-square-foot, fenced-in grand plaza; addition of a balcony concession area and built-in salon (formerly the Fireside Room); creation and development of the outdoor sculpture garden; and installation of new screens on the roof and around the site.

The renovations also included painting the entire building, installing sprinkler systems throughout, and expanding the Americans With Disabilities Act upgrades.

The multiphase project began in 2010 and was led by Berkeley-based ELS Architecture and Design.

Sonoma Clean Power, a public electricity provider for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, is currently recruiting participants for a study on energy-saving technology in which homes and businesses will receive free energy-efficient equipment.

The study is part of the agency’s Lead Locally program, funded through a grant from the California Energy Commission, along with additional support from the power provider. The program aims to develop strategies to double energy efficiency in existing buildings and measure the results of the prospective technologies, prior to launching future customer programs.

The agency is looking for about 35 homes and 18 businesses to receive upgrades. All the equipment studied under the Lead Locally program will be provided to the participants for free, along with any permit fees, leaving only the installation costs to be covered by the homeowner or business owner.

For residential customers, home upgrades include cooling and ventilation, air draft sealing, induction cooktops, and water heating. For businesses, upgrades include daylighting and insulation materials, as well as commercial-scale induction cooktops and dish washing machines.

Participation requests can be submitted by visiting the Lead Locally program page on the agency website. Applications will be used to screen for a building’s eligibility and will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants must be willing to complete quarterly satisfaction surveys and allow energy-usage monitoring for 12 to 18 months.

Touro University California researchers have announced research suggesting that the commonly held view that eating more white meat than red will have more positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. Rather, both diets plans result in high readings, and the only diet that does result in lower levels was plant-based.

The National Institutes of Health funded study was done by Nathalie Bergeron, Touro University of California chairwoman of biological and pharmaceutical sciences; university research scientist Sally Chiu; and Ronald Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

”The study found that a plant-based protein diet, focused on legumes, nuts, grains and soy, was the healthiest diet for blood cholesterol showing significant benefits when compared with diets that included even lean red or white meat,” the university stated.

Touro, with about 1,400 students, offers professional programs in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant studies, public health, nursing, and education.

In other news, Touro’s physician assistant program was ranked No. 26 in the nation and No. 3 in the state by U.S. News & World Report’s Graduate School Rankings.

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The program combines a Master of Science in physician assistant studies with a Master of Public Health through a 33-month-long program. The program consists of four semesters of didactic instruction and 54 weeks of clinical instruction, including a six-week public health field study.

Upon program completion, graduates are eligible for licensure to practice as PAs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. They have knowledge of the principles of public health, including disease prevention, health promotion, epidemiology, biostatistics, health care administration and research study and design, the university stated.

The publication surveyed 170 programs across the country by distributing peer assessment surveys to deans, other administrators and/or faculty at accredited degree programs or schools in each discipline. Survey respondents rated the academic quality of these programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Touro earned a peer assessment score of 3.3.

A popular U.S. drive-in fast-food restaurant plans to open in south Santa Rosa in 2020.

Sonic, a drive-in fast-food restaurant chain based in Oklahoma City, plans to refurbish a site at 2245 Santa Rosa Ave., previously a Carl’s Jr. location. The city zoning administration has approved Sonic’s application.

Johnny Jones, Sonic’s vice president of real estate and development, confirmed the company’s plans to open the Santa Rosa restaurant sometime next year but provided scant other information.

There are no Sonic sites in Sonoma, Marin or Mendocino counties, according to Sonic’s website. The company operates two North Bay drive-ins, with locations in American Canyon and Vacaville, per the website.

Three Fat Guys Wines, owned by Tony Moll, Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, opened a small tasting room on Broadway in Sonoma, and they expect to be open for business starting July 15 at 20816 Broadway in the Roadside Shops. The small house is the former site of the Rhone Room tasting venue. Sharing space with Three Fat Guys is Garret Sathre of West Wine Tours.

Jackson Family Wines will be honored as Vintner of the Year at Mendocino Coast’s annual Winesong festival, set for Saturday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg. The event will feature wineries from Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa counties and beyond, as well as live music and regional bites from local gourmet food purveyors.

General admission tickets cost $150 and include a commemorative glass and plate, full access to the tasting and silent auction, and festival seating around the live auction tent. Auction reserve tickets are $250 and include all of the above plus reserve seating, reserved parking and a commemorative tote bag, with wine and lunch in the live auction tent.

The event raises money for the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation.

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