News

Kern County Fire Department

(Editorial Note: This is an evolving story likely to have updates)

The Erskine wildfire near Bakersfield exploded in size late Friday to more than 30,000 acres and, at last update, was 5% contained.

The fire has already consumed about 80 homes and could threaten another 1,500 structures.

Fueled by drought-parched vegetation and pushed by high winds, the fire near Lake Isabella northeast of Bakersfield grew quickly overnight.

It has been one year since the Fresno Sheriff’s Office began allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents into the county jail to check for undocumented immigrants. Now, immigration advocates are calling for an end to the practice.

Rallying outside the county courthouse, a small group of advocates held signs reading “ICE out of Fresno”.

Luis Ojeda, who himself is living in the country without documentation, says the practice sows fear in the Hispanic community that leads to fewer people reporting crimes.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Valley Air District is asking the federal government to do more to help clean up the air in Central California. 

The district has submitted a petition to the U.S. EPA asking the agency to adopt more stringent national standards for cleaner trucks and trains.

The district’s executive director Seyed Sadredin says despite on-going local efforts to reduce ozone and particulate pollution, meeting the newest federal health standards would require reducing fossil fuel emissions by another 90 percent. And that he says isn’t something the district can’t do alone.

Ezra Romero/KVPR

Residents in a valley community with one of the highest concentrations of dry wells will soon be getting some relief.  For years, residents in East Porterville have watched their wells dry up in the drought forcing them to rely on water delivery and tanks.

Now, the state of California is offering to pay to hook up the tiny unincorporated community to the much larger city of Porterville.

Eric Lamoureux with the Office of Emergency Services says the state will make an initial $10 million dollar investment to begin hooking up the roughly 1,800 homes in East Porterville.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Shipping containers have been used for everything from community gardens to pools and even homes. In rural Madera County one farmer is using these containers to help him save water on his sheep farm. He says a shipping container could actually be a solution to drought.

At Golden Valley Farm, about 10 miles northwest of Madera, Mario Daccarett’s employees are milking 500 sheep in rounds of 12. 

Valley Public Radio

  This week on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess recounts the First Family's trip to Yosemite National Park. We also hear reporting from KVPR'S Ezra David Romero on how a sheep farmer is growing feed indoors to save water. Later in the program Capital Public Radio's Amy Quinton reports on groundwater issues in Paso Robles. FM89's Jeffrey Hess also reports on Laura's Law, the California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment. Ending the program we hear from Agustín Lira And Patricia Wells about their new album 'Songs Of Hope And Struggle."

Courtesy of artist

It’s not every day that two Fresno musicians release a new CD on the prestigious Smithsonian Folkways record label. But Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells aren’t your typical Fresno musicians.

Following a mass shooting in the U.S., like last week’s attack on a nightclub in Orlando, there are often calls to improve mental health services. Two of the valley’s most populous counties are taking very different approaches on one key California law that advocates say could help more people receive treatment they otherwise wouldn’t seek.

Kern and Fresno Counties are at odds over something known as Laura’s Law.

Laura’s Law is named after Laura Wilcox who was killed by a mentally ill man in 2001.

President Barack Obama and the first family visited Yosemite national park over the weekend to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The Obamas took in the sights of the popular park as part of a two-day stay, including hiking to Glacier Point.

Obama himself gave a short speech in front of the Yosemite Falls saying preserving the national parks for future generations is a huge task.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New salary numbers are out today for top City of Fresno administrators. Last year the city’s highest paid employee was retiring pension fund manager Stanley McDivitt, who was paid  $345,000, including a $150,000 leave payout, nearly equal to his entire annual salary. Former Chief Information Officer Carolyn Hogg earned $279,000, including a $100,000 severance package.

The disclosures were released this week by city officials as required by Fresno's Transparency Act.

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