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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One of the most controversial and influential leaders of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees has announced he won’t be running for reelection.

 

Fresno Unified Board trustee Brooke Ashjian made the announcement outside of the district’s headquarters.

 

Madera County

Madera County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with a plan for a new cultural and performing arts center in downtown Madera. The project would create a joint powers authority to build the facility, which includes the City of Madera, the Madera Unified School District and the Madera County Arts Council. The center would be built where probation and the district attorney’s offices are now, and would include renovation of the historic county library. It’s unknown how much the project would cost.

David Aus

Today on Young Artists Spotlight we hear performances from talented trombone, oboe, French horn and piano soloists from Bakersfield. We hear from Daniel Ramos, oboe; Nicole Bonna, trombone; Abby Higgins, French horn and Andrew Ramirez, piano.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In 2011, dozens of California’s State Parks were set to close due to sharp budget cuts in Sacramento. Seven years later, the budget crisis is over and most parks have recovered—though only after undergoing a quiet but significant reformation.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new public opinion poll from Fresno State indicates that a majority of valley voters would support new anti-air pollution regulations. The survey from the university's Institute for Leadership and Public Policy found that 53 percent of registered voters said they would support more restrictions on residents and businesses to improve air quality in the region. Forty percent of respondents indicated that they would not support more restrictions.

This week on Valley Edition we learn about a new proposal to fix the City of Fresno’s poorly maintained parks system with a new sales tax. But will voters buy into the plan to fund parks, arts and trails? FM89’s Laura Tsutsui reports. We also learn how California’s state parks system has been transformed nearly a decade after a budget crisis threatened many parks with closure.

Westlands Water District website

It wasn’t a "Miracle March" but last month's spring storms helped turn around what might have been a devastating year for California’s water supplies into one that is merely depressing. But was it too late for many valley farmers? We spoke with Johnny Amaral, deputy general manager for external affairs for Westlands Water District on Valley Edition. He joined us to talk about how this year is shaping up for valley growers, and also about some other issues in the news.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno passed a Parks Master Plan in January. The plan outlines the city’s goals to maintain and improve existing parks, and add more to the system. But over the years, the city’s parks budget has decreased. A new coalition hopes their efforts will put new life into parks, with a tax.

 

Google Earth

The Fresno City Council has approved a tax incentive deal with retailer Gap Inc. that would move the company’s e-commerce fulfilment center to Fresno.  City officials say the deal could result in as many as 500 new jobs.

The thirty year deal rebates the company $15,000 for every full-time job it creates, once it hits the 500 job threshold. The money would come from sales tax collected on items purchased from the facility, which would be housed in Gap’s existing warehouses near Fresno Yosemite international. It could be worth as much as $10 million.

Finishing Line Press

Fresno has long been a hotbed of poetry, from Philip Levine to Larry Levis to Juan Felipe Herrera. Now a new generation of poets is taking up the tradition of chronicling the region's land and its people. Ronald Dzerigian is one of those poets, and his new book "Rough Fire" captures a unique slice of the local landscape. Dzerigian is a Fresno State MFA grad, and the new collection is his first book, due for release on July 20th 2018 by Finishing Line Press.

State lawmakers announced legislation Tuesday that they say will change the legal standard allowing officers to use deadly force on the job, but one valley sheriff is concerned this will make it harder for officers to do their job safely.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  A group is proposing a sales tax to raise money for Fresno parks. The coalition gathered Wednesday to announce their proposal.

The group, Fresno for Parks, is calling for a 3/8 cent sales tax, which would appear on the November ballot. The measure would generate money for parks, as well as arts and trails. Nikiko Masumoto is a local farmer and artist who helped announce the initiative.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This week on Young Artists Spotlight we hear a performance from a string quartet featuring students from Bakersfield instructor Becky Brooks: 

Kelsey Jian (violin) Claire Park (violin) John Son (viola)  Shannon Lee (cell0)

Community Medical Centers

Fresno area hospitals are about to get bigger with an expansion planned for Clovis Community Medical Center.

Next month, the hospital will begin construction on 190,000 square feet of new space. It’ll almost double the hospital’s inpatient capacity with 144 new beds—all in private rooms—and it’ll expand the emergency room, pharmacy and labs.

Community Medical Centers CEO Tim Joslin says it’s all in response to the area’s growing medical needs.

On this week’s Valley Edition, we learn about the looming changes to local government in Kern County following the adoption of new supervisorial district lines after a voting rights act lawsuit. We also talk to the co-author of a new report about the San Joaquin Valley’s looming nursing shortage, and with a leader of one local hospital that’s already dealing with the problem. Plus, a look at why democracy may not be working when it comes to local water districts. We learn about a new report shows that 87 percent of publicly elected seats on those boards went uncontested in recent years.

Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

California Citrus Mutual

In response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese steel, the Chinese government over the weekend announced tariffs on many American products.

The list of 128 items with new tariffs includes almonds, oranges, grapes and dozens of other crops, which could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars in annual exports out of the San Joaquin Valley. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report from the Visalia-based Community Water Center indicates that nearly 500 local water board seats have gone uncontested in recent elections. In the southern San Joaquin Valley, the report finds that 87 percent of seats on public water boards went uncontested. When only one candidate is seeking a seat, the election for that seat is not held.

U.S. Census Bureau

It was announced Monday that the 2020 Census would include a question about immigration status, and this has raised concerns with local advocacy groups.

Sam Molina is the California State Director of Mi Familia Vota. Molina says this question would dissuade the immigrant community from participating in the census. He also says the state will lose resources that are allocated by population if that happens.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Clinica Sierra Vista introduced their new CEO and opened a new clinic in north Fresno Wednesday. The Bakersfield-based clinics have historically served rural and low income communities. CEO Brian Harris says that serving those communities remains their goal.

 

“If you look at who's going to the medical emergency rooms in our community, it is the poor and underserved,” says Harris. “They're using that as their primary care home. So we need to open up clinics near the hospitals.”
 

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