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Kerry Klein / KVPR

We Still Don’t Know Why So Many Fresno Babies Are Born Premature—But Researchers Aim To Find Out

A few weeks ago, we reported that the premature birth rate in the San Joaquin Valley is rising, and that it’s especially high in Fresno County. The numbers are concerning because premature babies are born with a higher risk of health complications like breathing difficulties, heart problems and chronic disease. Decades of work have proven preterm births are tough to prevent, but a new research initiative appears to be up for the challenge. This story begins, though, in a Fresno living room,...

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Covered California Insurance Plans Could Be More Affordable This Year. Here's Why:

For years, one of the most powerful and consistent Republican criticism of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is that the monthly premiums are going up so fast that they are quickly becoming unaffordable and that the whole law was on the verge of collapse. President Donald Trump, in part, rode a wave of anti-Obamacare sentiment all the way to the White House. While Republican plans for full legislative repeal have stalled, that has not stopped the President from taking...

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Google / Aclima

New Project From Google Tracks San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Using Street View Cars

An online tool from tech giant Google is giving California residents a new look at ground level air pollution in their neighborhoods. The company announced this week new air pollution data collected by its fleet of Google Street View cars. The mapping took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Joaquin Valley. The company has several produced data visualizations based on Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution levels. Together with technology partner Aclima, Google says it plans to offer...

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Are The Planning Stars Finally Aligned For Southwest Fresno?

A new chapter in the history of a long-neglected Fresno neighborhood could be just around the corner. Some residents in southwest Fresno say they are seeing a critical mass of plans falling into place to unlock the neighborhood's long trapped potential. The approval of the Southwest Fresno Specific Plan, moving the Darling meat rendering plant, and the expected influx of tens of millions of dollars in state development funds have all been approved this year. And some believe this confluence...

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Kerry Klein / KVPR

Fresno To Update Bus System Routes—But Will Everyone Benefit?

Just as Fresno’s downtown and southwest areas are preparing for makeovers, so is its transportation system. The city announced last month that it plans to restructure its bus system for the first time in decades—with public input. But there are bound to be limitations—and some community members are concerned. Dave Alcanzar lives in central Fresno. He’s in his 70s and in a wheelchair, and he relies on Fresno Area Express, or FAX, to get everywhere. Today, to go grocery shopping, he’s at...

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Fears Of A Black Market After Calif. Bans Some Commercial Breeding

California is now the first state to ban pet stores from selling animals from commercial breeders, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October. Animal advocates say it will reduce what they claim is the needless suffering of animals like puppies, kittens, and rabbits bred for sale. But critics say it will hurt pet store owners and force consumers to go underground. The law goes effect in January 2019. Pet industry and commercial breeders oppose the measure, as does the American...

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Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers Search For Answers As California Mulls New Restrictions Over Chlorpyrifos

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos , first put in place by the Obama administration. Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers. David Doll is testing soil for a project on cover crops, which could help limit the use of some pesticides by...

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Tulare County Sheriff's Office

Tulare County Law Enforcement Double Down On Domestic Violence

Today marks the final day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Across the United States, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, law enforcement agencies receive 15-20,000 reports of domestic violence each year. In an effort to reduce these crimes in Tulare County, the sheriff’s office earlier this month announced a new strategy for fighting domestic violence—one they hope will aid not just in...

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Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

As Possible Strike Looms, Fresno Unified And Teachers' Union Still At Odds

Earlier this month the Fresno Teachers Association voted to authorize a strike. They have been bargaining with the Fresno Unified School district for over a year. Today both groups met for a marathon bargaining session. Laura Tsutsui reports on what the groups are hoping for, and how some parents feel about the potential for a strike. The district and FTA have been bargaining about issues including teacher compensation, school safety and class size. The FTA has put eighteen articles on the...

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Joe Moore / KVPR

Now That Fulton Street Is Open, What's Next?

Thousands gathered this weekend for a festival to mark the reopening of six blocks of Fulton Street that once made up the pedestrian-only Fulton Mall. The multi-million dollar reconstruction project was one of the most controversial in recent local memory, with critics on all sides. Some claim the new street won’t help revitalize the area, at the same time as others say it will cause gentrification, driving away existing businesses that cater to the largely Latino shoppers who never left...

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Center for Health Journalism Collaborative

Valley Fever Advocates And Legislators Vow To ‘Press Harder' After Governor Rejects Critical Bill

Even as valley fever cases are sharply increasing in Central California, Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have created programs to inform the public about the little-known respiratory disease. AB 1279, authored by Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, initially promised $2 million in funding for valley fever awareness. It also would have addressed deficiencies in disease reporting guidelines uncovered by the Center for Health Journalism Collaborative, a consortium of media outlets...

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Yosemite

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most. Frank Ealand lives in an area near Coarsegold in the foothills of eastern Madera County that insurance companies call a fire prone zone. He says in the past three years his homes have gone without insurance after...

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Isolino Ferreira/Flickr / License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Short-Term Rental Boom Causes Housing Headache For Yosemite Workers

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Across Valley, Concerns Arise Over Government Transparency

Earlier this year, we reported on a new immigration policy in Madera County : Whenever the county jail was releasing a foreign-born felon back into the community, it would coordinate that release with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which could potentially detain or deport that felon. But when a civil rights group looked into the policy, it uncovered a problem—one that could amount to a violation of an open meeting law. It’s something the city of Bakersfield may be facing as...

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Jeanine Evans

Valley Resident Provides First-Hand Account Of Las Vegas Shooting

Law enforcement in Las Vegas, Nevada are putting together the pieces of what lead to the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history. But already, the impacts are being felt here in the Central Valley. A number of other Central Valley residents also attended the concert, which is an annual event. Janine Evans went to the festival for the first time with her sister and her friends, who go every year. She says for the first few nights the group stood at the front of the stage. But...

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Mountain Communities

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Near Yosemite "It's Neighbor Warring Against Neighbor” Over Short-Term Rentals

Most people in the mountain area around Oakhurst know Katie Miller as the Mountain Madam . That’s her brand. The London Properties' realtor and I are driving to an area north of Oakhurst where she recently sold a home that’s now listed on the online rental site Airbnb . “So that’s the Airbnb right here,” says Miller. “There’s a spiral staircase inside, all wood floors. They figured out how to maximize the space and put beds everywhere.” Miller says the short-term rental market in the area has...

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Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Toy Lending Library Aims To Reach Fresno's Youngest Learners

Downtown Fresno’s 116-year old ‘Helm Home’ has been a landmark for generations because of its distinctive shape. The mission revival-style home, sometimes called the Alamo House was once at risk of being condemned, but today it’s been impeccably restored to its former glory with high ceilings and flawless wooden floors. But it is the library that is getting attention because of what it lends out: toys. It’s a project of the Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno Housing Authority which...

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Kerry Klein / KVPR

Changing Immigration Policies Could Spell Bad News For Valley's Doctor Pipeline

As the San Joaquin Valley struggles with a shortage of primary care physicians, one group in particular is stepping in to fill in the gaps: doctors born or trained in foreign countries. And while the planned repeal of the DACA program is President Trump’s most recent immigration policy change, he’s hinted at others that could influence the flow of foreign physicians into the Valley. This installment of our series Struggling For Care explores the valley’s complicated relationship with...

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Struggling For Care: The Valley's Doctor Shortage

Kerry Klein / KVPR

When It Comes To Doctor Access, The San Joaquin Valley Is Being Left Behind

For much of 2017, healthcare has dominated the headlines. But while access to insurance coverage remains a national debate, here in the San Joaquin Valley, getting to see a doctor isn’t always easy, even for people who have coverage. It’s not a new problem, and it’s not unique to the valley, but this area is especially hard hit by a lack of physicians. This story kicks off Struggling For Care , a new series about doctor shortages produced as part of a project with the USC Annenberg School of...

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Agriculture

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

3D Orchards: UC Researcher Turns Farms Into Virtual Reality

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level. “I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says...

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Author Interviews

Heather David / Cal Mod Books

New Book Highlights Mid-Century "Motel California" Era

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age...

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Contaminated: Dirty Water In the San Joaquin Valley

In Bakersfield, Complex Web Of Water Systems Makes Pollution Cleanup Difficult

From Keith Pickett’s front yard just east of Bakersfield you can see the trees of where the official city begins. He’s on the board of a tiny water system with less than 30 homes. It’s called the East Wilson Road Water Company and the water he’s washing his dishes with is polluted with nitrates. “It doesn’t taste funny, but because it’s high in nitrates we do not cook with it, we don’t drink it,” says Pickett as he loads his dishwasher with a mug. “But we shower and use it for everything else...

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Now Playing

Valley Public Radio Launches New Mobile App

Whether you're an Apple or Android user, you can now take Valley Public Radio with you wherever you take your smartphone or tablet. The station has launched its first-ever mobile app - known as "KVPR" which is currently available for download in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play marketplace. The app features one-touch access to Valley Public Radio's live audio stream, making it even easier to listen to the station. Users will also find the latest news coverage from the station's...

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Valley Edition - November 14, 2017: Pre-Term Births, Covered CA, Downtown Bakersfield

This week on Valley Edition, we get reports on the surprising reason insurance premiums for many Covered California customers are dropping, and what local health care leaders are doing to address a rise in pre-term births in Fresno County. We also explore the following issues in interviews: Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales on the city's crackdown on pot dispensaries, and plans in the works for downtown Fresno Bee reporter Mackenzie Mays on her series our sex education KVPR...

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Reporting Projects Tackle Big San Joaquin Valley Issues

Two new reporting projects launched this year by Valley Public Radio's news team are helping to highlight pressing issues facing residents across the San Joaquin Valley, including water pollution and the regional shortage of doctors. "We think it's important to take the time to do real in-depth reporting on some of these issues. And while a lot of our coverage is focused on illustrating problems where they exist, we're also looking to focus on possible solutions too," says Valley Public Radio...

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Left, Right and Center Expands To 1-Hour Broadcast

In response to an unprecedented political news cycle, and a seemingly-insatiable appetite for more reliable news analysis, we are excited to announce that KCRW’s "Left, Right and Center" will become a one-hour program starting in July. Listeners can now hear the program from 6:00 – 7:00 PM on Saturdays, following Weekend All Things Considered. The program will continue to be hosted by Center Josh Barro. Rich Lowry will continue to be our Right, with Katrina vanden Heuvel and others on the...

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Todd Rosenberg / Courtesy The Fresno Philharmonic

Valley Public Radio To Broadcast Fresno Philharmonic "Masterworks" Concerts

Valley Public Radio is pleased to announce that the station will broadcast recorded performances of the Fresno Philharmonic's 2017-2018 Masterworks Concert Series. This season is the first under new Music Director Rei Hotoda, and includes performances from soloists including Awadagin Pratt, Orion Weiss and Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio. The concerts will air on FM89 on the second Tuesday at 8:00 PM following the concert performance. This broadcast schedule is subject to change. “New Era Begins”

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New Hosts Join Philosophy Talk Team

Philosophy Talk has added two new voices to its broadcast team, with co-hosts Debra Satz and Joshua Landy. Both Stanford professors, Satz and Landy will join host Ken Taylor on alternating weeks. John Perry will become host emeritus. The program producers write: We've heard you asking, "Where's John?" Our beloved co-host has been working hard to meet looming publisher deadlines and other academic commitments. The fact is that hosting a weekly radio show is extremely time consuming, requiring...

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Laura Tsutsui Joins FM89 News, On-Air Team

All Things Considered Sunday listeners may noticed a new voice on the FM89 airwaves. Laura Tsutsui is a reporter, on-air announcer and production assistant for Valley Public Radio, and is now heard every Sunday as local host on All Things Considered. She first joined the station as a news intern, and now contributes to both the news and production teams. A Fresno native, Laura graduated in the spring of 2017 from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors...

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CONTAMINATED

Kerry Klein / KVPR

In California, Quest For Clean Drinking Water Often Delayed By Paperwork

Drive through the pomegranate and pistachio orchards between Highways 41 and 99 and you may stumble upon Valley Teen Ranch , a cluster of residential homes where juvenile offenders come to be rehabilitated. Today, a few men are in their living room playing a basketball video game and making small talk with Connie Clendenan, the ranch’s CEO. “I'm for the Warriors, don't we have them?” asks Clendenan. “I'm from Oakland, so yeah,” one of the men laughs. In an ideal world, Clendenan would spend...

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Technology

Faraday Future

Electric Automaker Faraday Future Selects Hanford For Manufacturing Facility

Hanford's former Pirelli tire factory is mostly vacant today, but in a few years it could be producing some of the world's most advanced electric vehicles. That's the vision of automaker Faraday Future, which announced this past weekend that it has selected the Kings County facility as the site of its planned manufacturing plant. The company had hoped to build a $1 billion factory in the Nevada desert, but shelved those plans earlier this year amid financial problems. Reporter Sean O'Kane of...

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Entertainment

Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra

Stilian Kirov Looks Ahead To New Season With Bakersfield Symphony

The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra begins its new season this weekend, and it marks the third season under the leadership of music director and conductor Stilian Kirov. He joined us this week on Valley Edition to talk about Friday night's opening concert, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a stage play by Tom Stoppard with music by Andre Previn. We also talked about upcoming concerts featuring a centennial tribute to Leonard Bernstein, and Romantic-era composers like Dvorak, Brahms and Strauss.

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Outdoorsy

Kern River Outfitters

Outdoorsy 9: Whitewater Rafting The Kern, Kayaking The San Joaquin

This summer we've been on the river a lot. Floating, some kayaking and well a lot of sunbathing. R ivers in Central California have been amazing this summer. They’ve been really high the past few months because of the record snowfall in the Sierra this winter. That’s generally a good thing, but it has made for some dangerous conditions. Earlier in the season, local authorities closed rivers like the Kings River to swimmers and boaters. A number of people in the Valley drowned because fast...

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