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Valley Edition
2:26 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Cirque Du Soleil Tours Fresno And Bakersfield This Week And Next

Credit https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/varekai/default.aspx

This week Fresno’s Save Mart Center will come alive in a very unique way.

The floor where Fresno State basketball players usually shoot jump shots will transform into an enchanted forest, complete with a volcano and fantastical creatures performing dazzling feats.

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Drought
2:07 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Drought: Rafting Season Cancelled For Many In Kern County

http://kernrafting.com/
Credit http://kernrafting.com/

The Kern River isn’t especially deep or wide  to quote Merle Haggard – but it is one of the wildest rivers in the state. It’s also a mecca for whitewater enthusiasts in search of thrilling adventures down the canyon every spring and summer. 

But with California mired in a historic drought, and snowpack only around 10 percent of normal for this time of year average, this year may be different. Among those feeling the pain are the many companies that specialize in whitewater tours on the Kern River, both below and above Lake Isabella.

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Government & Politics
6:55 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Fulton Mall Project To Become Reality?

Craig Scharton, owner of Peeves

After years of delays, and ongoing lawsuits, officials with the city of Fresno say they are finally going to turn the Fulton mall back into a street. The question of what to do with the aging pedestrian walking area in the center of downtown Fresno has been a sore spot in the city for years. City and business leaders say all signs point to the project breaking ground as soon as this fall.

A piano player picks out a tune on the piano in the corner of the popular downtown bar Peeve’s.

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Government & Politics
10:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses new emergency drought legislation at a Capitol news conference Thursday, joined by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

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Environment
5:03 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Peter Gleick: California Reservoirs at the "Bottom Of The Barrel"

Credit John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

Earlier this month an op-ed ran in the LA Times with a headline eluding that California will run out of water in a year.  Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports while the record setting drought is bad, we’re not there yet.

The California drought is serious.

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Young Artists Spotlight
5:03 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Pianist Kelsey Jian on Young Artists Spotlight 2015

Bakersfield pianist Kelsey Jian
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

This week on Young Artists Spotlight we hear a performance by Bakersfield pianist Kelsey Jian. Kelsey Kelsey Jian was born in Lawrence Kansas. She moved to California with her family when she was eleven years old. She has two sisters. Her older sister Stephanie, who is currently studying Optometry at Berkeley, is a phenomenal pianist. Her younger sister Anna is also a talented pianist. Kelsey started taking piano lessons at the age of five and was told that she had perfect pitch.

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Valley Writers Read
4:37 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

"Memories of Growing Up with Friends" by James Varner on Valley Writers Read

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear a story by local author James Varner, "Memories of Growing Up with Friends." The story is all about the life-long friends the author made in the Bakersfield neighborhood where he grew up.  He tells us about the schools he went to and the profession he chose, and an event that brought back many memories, years later. 

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News
3:24 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Kern County Considering Privatizing More Services

Kern County is now considering turning to private companies to run county services as one way to help cover a big decline in tax revenue.

While many cheer low oil prices for declining gas, it is costing Kern County in a major way. The lower cost of oil means the county is bringing in less in property taxes; As much as 60-million dollars less next year.

County Supervisor Mick Gleason says the county board voted this week to prioritize forming partnerships with private companies to run county services, potentially saving money.

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Government & Politics
11:00 am
Wed March 18, 2015

New Scrutiny For Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal As Labor Talks Begin

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed overhaul of state worker retiree health care benefits – just as labor negotiations are getting under way. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento. California faces more than $70 billion in unfunded retiree health care for state workers – and the governor says it’s time to act. Here’s Brown in January on NPR. 

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Environment
10:43 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Study: Drought Reduces Hydropower, Increases Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California

Friant Dam near Fresno (file photo)
Credit San Joaquin River Restoration Program

A new study says the drought in California has forced an increased use of natural gas to produce electricity, as dwindling river flows have reduced hydropower generation. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Pacific Institute says less hydroelectricity means more expensive electricity.

Peter Gleick: "We get a lot of electricity normally from hydropower, which is relatively inexpensive and relatively clean. And during a drought we don't have the water and we don't get the power."

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Education
5:43 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

UC Regents To Vote On UC Merced Downtown Expansion

UC Merced has created the 2020 project in an effort to respond to the demand of its current and future students.
Credit University of California, Merced

UC Merced is running out of space to keep up with growing enrollment.  Now, the university is asking the UC Board of Regents to expand campus offices to downtown Merced. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

The regents will vote Wednesday whether to approve $1.3 million dollars for construction of a campus administrative center in downtown Merced. 

Daniel Feitelberg, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Merced, says bringing offices to the downtown area is vital not only for the university but also for the city.

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Valley Edition
3:44 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Valley Edition: March 17 - Chukchansi; James Fallows; Drought; Carmen Bradford

Valley Edition March 17, 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

On today’s show, Atlantic columnist James Fallows joins us to talk about his new American Futures project, which has him reporting on issues in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley.  We’ll also dig into the roots of the conflict within the Chukchansi

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Health Care
2:58 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

California 'Safety-Net' Hospitals at Risk Amidst Health System Changes

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Throughout California, many hospitals that serve mostly low-income patients face financial strains. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento found, changes in the health care system are making the problems even worse.

Safety-net hospitals serve a higher percentage of the uninsured, and low-income patients who have Medi-Cal. Jan Emerson-Shea with the California Hospital Association says these hospitals often don't have enough patients with higher-paying commercial insurance to offset losses.

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Technology
12:33 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Valley Edition: James Fallows On Why He Thinks Fresno Could Be The Next Tech Hub

Could Fresno be the next tech hub? James Fallows thinks so. For the last five years a competition called #59DaysOfCode has been held in Fresno.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

When you think of California’s major technology centers, you probably think of Silicon Valley, or maybe even San Diego, but Fresno probably isn’t at the top of your list.  

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Indian Gaming
12:09 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Money, Greed and Power Keep Chukchansi Casino Closed, Tribe Still Divided

Tex McDonald leads the faction that attempted an ambush of the casino in October, 2014.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The future of the Chukchansi tribe in Central California is in jeopardy. The federal government shut down the tribe's casino six months ago after a conflict over control of the tribe escalated to violence. Now many tribal members are without basic services, and the multi-million dollar resort sits vacant, threatening the tribe's finances. As Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports, the Chukchansi people are just one example of what happens when big money, greed and power intersect in a struggle for cultural identity. 

Chris Ballew is as Chukchansi as you can get.

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Government & Politics
11:25 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Kern County Could Explore Privatizing Public Libraries

The Beale Memorial Library in downtown Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Kern County Public Library

In Kern County, the state’s leader when it comes to oil production, the industry not only drives the local economy, it also helps drive the county’s general fund.

That’s because the county’s assessor puts a value on all of the oil that remains deep underground, and uses that figure when it comes time to collect property taxes. When the price of oil goes up, county revenues soar. But when the price of oil goes down, officials are left scrambling to cover the shortfall.

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Environment
8:42 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Endangered Delta Smelt May Be Extinct

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A small endangered fish that plays a pivotal role in California’s water wars may well be on its way out. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, populations of the Delta smelt have plummeted to their lowest levels ever.

Prepare for the extinction of the Delta smelt in the wild. That’s what UC Davis fish biologist Peter Moyle told a group of scientists with the Delta Stewardship Council. He says the latest state trawl survey found very few fish in areas of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta where smelt normally gather.

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News
1:47 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

California Water Board To Continue Emergency Rules

Credit flickr- Justin Chiaratti

  California’s Water Resource Control Board could vote tomorrow and expand and continue the state’s emergency conservation regulations. The board is looking to tighten lawn watering.

Many of the conservation rules remain the same, but two big changes focus on lawn watering.

Instituting a two day a week limit in communities that are currently without a plan and prohibiting watering within 48 hours of rain.

Senior environmental scientist Max Gomberg says the restrictions have saved nearly 2-million gallons of water since last June.

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Drought
4:45 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

In Mariposa County, 3,200 People May Soon Run Out Of Water

Low water levels in Lake McClure have area residents concerned.
Mike Jenson Merced Irrigation District

A California community that sits between two large reservoirs is running out of water. About 3,200 people in the Sierra Nevada foothill enclave of Lake Don Pedro rely on water from nearby Lake McClure. But the lake level is dangerously low. That’s forcing the community to find another supply. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, so far it’s come up dry.

The Lake Don Pedro community is operating in emergency mode.  For the last several weeks, work crews have drilled well after well, hoping to find groundwater.

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Artist Interviews
3:55 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Antonio Pompa-Baldi Takes On Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle

Pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi
Credit Antonio Pompa-Baldi

Pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi is in Fresno this weekend on an unusual mission: performing the complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos over three concerts with the Fresno Philharmonic. The concerts will take the listener through Beethoven's musical evolution from his early works to the famous Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor." 

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