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Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A coalition including the ACLU and Equality California held a forum in Fresno Thursday evening to talk about certain state laws, they say criminalize people living with HIV. Including, the possibility of being charged with a felony for donating blood while HIV positive, for soliciting and for exposing others to the disease. And most often that means jail time.

Craig Pulsipher is with the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council could carve out an exemption from water conservation rules for backyard fruit and vegetable gardens. The goal is to encourage more urban farming.

The exemption, proposed by Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, would allow for daily drip irrigation of backyard gardens.

Soria says current watering rules are too restrictive, and could be deterring people from growing their own food especially in poor areas.

Today marks the first day of class for Fresno State students. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports the university is now offering services specifically for undocumented students.

The Dream Outreach Center is a place where undocumented students, known as "dreamers", can go to get help in their journey to and through college. It’s the first time Fresno State is offering this type of help to incoming and currently enrolled students, whether it’s filling out applications or financial aid paperwork.

Raul Moreno is the coordinator.

Ezra David Romero

Despite the ramifications of this four year drought Fresno County announced today/Monday that its farming value for 2014 increased over nine percent. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

The lack of rain and snow has made it a tough few years on farmers, but according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture 2014 Crop and Livestock Report the county’s gross value has increased from around $6.5 billion to just over $7 billion. Although, the increase doesn’t necessarily mean farmers are making more money.

Ryan Jacobsen is the Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO.

As students head back for another year of school, one small district in the valley is on the cutting edge of education. The Lindsay School district has eliminated grades and grade levels. School leaders say the scheme has transformed education.

Its 7:30 a.m. on the first day of school and students at the Lindsay High School re-connect with friends and wait for the bell to ring.

The roughly 1,000 students are part of just a handful of districts in the country using a system called Performance Based Grading.

The Central Valley is home to diverse communities, some who’ve migrated from all over the world for decades. But for one group, it’s the beginning of the first generation of people born in the Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, with this comes the struggle of preserving a cultural identity while embracing growing up in the states.

At Danielle Uwaoma’s house in Clovis her living room is covered with traditional African drums and exotic masks.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we start off the program with a segment about the Rough Fire. Mike Pruitt, a spokesman on the Rough Fire, and KVPR's Ezra David Romero join Host Joe Moore to talk about the blaze. We also hear the story of how 25 hikers were smoked out of the backcountry because of the fire. 

Later we hear from KVPR Reporter Diana Aguilera. She brings a story on how Igbo Tribal members from Nigeria in the Fresno region are working to preserve their heritage. 

Courtesy of Steve German

The lightning ignited Rough Fire is still only three percent contained at 32,400 acres even though it started on the last day of July. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that the blaze isn’t only affecting the community of Hume Lake, but backpackers as well.

Twenty-five hikers finally made it out of the back country of the Sierra Nevada today after being trapped at roads end in Kings Canyon National Park for up two days.

The falling price and exploding popularity of consumer drones are causing growing concern about the nation’s newest consumer craze. Rouge drone operators are becoming a nuisance, invading sensitive and private air space, and regulators are nearly powerless to stop them.

In a dusty field in central Fresno, wedding photographer and hobby drone enthusiast Chris Geiger fires up the electric motors on his small four propeller helicopter.

The two-foot wide white and black robot leaps into the air and hovers for a moment, perfectly steady.

Courtesy US Forest Service / InciWeb

August 25

The lightning ignited Rough Fire is still only 17 percent contained, even though the burn area has grown to 51,794 acres. There are 1,984 firefighters using 138 engines and 10 helicopters to fight the blaze.  

In an interview Tuesday morning Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore spoke with Rough Fire Spokesman Mike Pruitt about the blaze. Reporter Ezra David Romero also shares about his experience at the fire and shares the story of 25 backpackers who had to hike out of the backcountry. Listen to the interview and story above. 

California Drought: NASA Says Land Sinking Faster In San Joaquin Valley

Aug 19, 2015
Credit www.usbr.gov

A new report from NASA shows the San Joaquin Valley is sinking much faster than ever before. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

With reduced surface water available because of the drought, more groundwater is pumped.

As the underground aquifers are tapped, land surfaces sink. 

While subsidence in California isn't new, the report from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the rate has accelerated.

Drought Causing $2.7 Billion Economic Hit To California

Aug 18, 2015
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A new UC Davis study projects the fourth year of drought in California will cost the overall economy two-point-seven billion dollars. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the study’s authors say agriculture remains remarkably resilient despite the drought.

The report finds the agricultural sector will be hit hardest by the drought, losing nearly two billion dollars and more than 10,000 jobs. Farmers will also take 500,000 acres out of production this year. But the report finds agriculture is still fairly robust. 

US Forest Service Facebook

The community of Hume Lake is under a mandatory evacuation order today after the southern flank of the Rough Fire crossed the Kings River. So far, the lightning sparked blaze has consumed over 23,600 acres. Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department says the biggest concern is the safety of area residents. His department ordered the evacuation late Tuesday afternoon.

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancejohnson/5703722259/

When UC Merced first opened its doors in 2005, campus enrollment was just 875 students. Now a decade later, over 6,000 students attend the newest University of California campus, and thousands more are being turned away. As the only UC campus in the San Joaquin Valley, campus leaders hope to expand the number of available slots to over 10,000 by the year 2020 to meet growing demand.  

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

There’s been a lot of noise around El Niño in the news lately. We don’t know if it’ll cure California’s drought, but in places prone to flooding officials are already prepping for the worst.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on why officials hope to dig deep to prevent flooding and restore the aquifer.

At the moment the mood is hopeful at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Hanford.   

"National Weather Service, this is Jerald How may I help you," says Jerald Meadows, warning coordination meteorologist with the San Joaquin Valley Weather Forecast Office. 

Courtesty of NOAA / http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/elnino.html

El Niño could bring much needed storms to Central California, but if storm drop too much rain or happen back-to-back then flooding could happen. To explain more Valley Edition Host Joe Moore was joined by Meteorologist and Fresno State Lecturer Sean Boyd this week to talk about the looming El Niño.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Ezra David Romero reports on how officials in the Fresno area prepping for possible flooding from a looming El Niño. Meteorologist and Fresno State Lecturer Sean Boyd explains what's conjuring up what could be an answer to California's drought.  

Susie Wyshack / Creative Commons

The effects of drought have altered the quantity and quality of vegetables grown in Central California, but that may change for table olives. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

The majority of olive trees are self-pollinating. If there’s a storm during bloom time the rain washes off pollen from the flowers resulting in fewer olives come harvest. That’s what happened in 2013 and 2014. But this year weather conditions were so ideal that California’s crop is predicted to double from 36,000 tons to 67,000 tons.

Fresno’s Planned Parenthood clinics are the latest target in a series of controversial videos about the clinics and their practices. A former employee claims she was pressured to collect fetal body parts without the mother’s consent.

“It really wore me down. The environment is morbid. You can feel it,”

That’s Holly O’Donnell a phlebotomist who says she used to work at Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno.

The video is the sixth released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress.

A two week man old hunt for a suspected murderer believed to be hiding in a mountainous area south east of Lake Isabella in eastern Kern County is still underway. And it is causing the shutdown of a famous hiking trail, the Pacific Crest Trail.

34-year old Benjamin Ashley is accused of murdering a retired dentist on July 30 at a Weldon-area cabin.

He is also kidnapping three men two days earlier in the Twin-Oaks area.

The search area is near the Pacific Crest Trail, which was featured in the recent movie ‘Wild’.

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