On this edition of Valley Writers Read, Larry Warkentin reads his story, Are We There Yet?, a fictionalized tale about a group of Mennonites and their journey across the Atlantic to the New World.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the plans to dramatically remake the US Postal service by cutting post offices, mail sorting facilities, and even weekend delivery. We'll also talk about the eminent demise of the state's redevelopment agencies, and the importance of hospice care in the Valley.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

At the start of 2012 California had over 5,000 local governments, from counties and cities to school and fire districts. But this February, over 400 of those governments are slated to disappear, almost overnight, as the state officially closes the book on local redevelopment agencies.

It’s the latest move in the effort by Sacramento lawmakers to find a new way to balance the state’s budget, and shift $1.7 billion from community redevelopment agencies (or RDAs as they’re often known) to the state’s general fund.

This week on Valley Edition we'll hear tips for health and wellness for the New Year, as well as lifelong learning options for Valley residents in Fresno and Bakersfield. We'll also find out what the buzz about Pecha Kucha is all about and why it's taking Fresno by storm.

This week on Valley Edition, we look at the dangers of crime this holiday season, talk about how holiday shopping is boosting the sales of local Valley merchants, and profile the ImagineU Children's Museum in Visalia. 

Valley Edition for December 20, 2011:

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the challenges of balancing academics and athletics at NCAA Division I schools, and hear from Fresno State President John Welty and CSUB President Horace Mitchell. We also talk about efforts to help those in need this holiday season.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about why many Fresno roadways are getting smaller, thanks to something called "road diets" and the move towards "complete streets." We'll also learn about how a recent court case is good news for Fresno's First 5 program, and talk about stories of service from Valley veterans. 

This week on Valley Edition we talk about solutions to the truancy problems that plague local school districts, as well as efforts to boost shoppers at locally owned businesses, as well as the annual "holiday lights" show at the California Living Museum in Bakersfield. 

This week on Valley Edition we talk with the organizers of Occupy Fresno and Occupy Bakersfield and learn more about their protests. We also talk about the controversial plan to consolidate academic programs at Fresno State and other CSU campuses. We also talk about the effort to stop litter with Keep Bakersfield Beautiful.

This week on Valley Edition, we hear an in-depth report on Fresno County's decision to become the only county in the state not to pursue federal funding for a new low-income health program. We'll also hear about a new theater program that takes on the issue of obesity in the Valley's Latino community.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Community Regional Medical Center, located in downtown Fresno, is where the poorest of Fresno County residents go for medical care.

“The county was providing the services at the old Valley Medical Center and Community Medical Centers took it over in 1996 for about $18 million a year and providing basically Medi-Cal level services,” says Kevin Hamilton, an administrator with Clinica Sierra Vista.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It's Thursday night, and inside a small classroom at a church in Clovis, a handful of actors have gathered to put the finishing touches on a new original production. 

“Let’s go to the piece where this builds up before you take off into this speech,” shouts the director.

It's a theatre production of a four vignettes plus an original song, all focused an issue that's having a big impact on many Valley residents - obesity.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the state's new prison "realignment" plan and also efforts to amend California's 3 Strikes law. We also learn more about the on-going saga of sewage sludge from Southern California that is being trucked to Kern County and spread on area farmland. 

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the recent resurgence of an old idea, splitting up the Golden State, with the authors of a new book called "California Crackup." We'll also talk about the continuing effort to revitalize downtown Fresno.

In October 1991, Vikki Cruz was just 11 years old, but the current curator of the Bakersfield Museum of Art remembers one trip up Interstate 5 that year very well.

The recession isn't just hurting families financially. It's also creating more stress for parents who already feel overwhelmed by the demands of raising children. Child safety advocates are concerned about the link between the economy and rising reports of abusive head injuries in infants. That condition is better known as shaken baby syndrome. FM89's Shellie Branco has this report.

Special funding for this program comes from the California HealthCare Foundation

It was like a coming out party for the newest group of writers to join the literary world. Amid the bright lights of Fresno’s Tower Theatre, an event billed as the official launch of the book “How Do I Begin” was held.

Fresno writer Mas Masumoto called the publishing of the anthology of poetry and stories written Hmong-Americans in the Central Valley a historic moment. “I think tonight is historic because it’s a community capturing their voices, and the voices are allowed to be passed down through story, especially in a book form.”

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the state's new law, the "California Dream Act" which would allow students who came to the country as children illegally access to financial aid at state colleges and universities. We also hear about the link between the recession and an increase in cases of child abuse. And we close our program with a story on the Hmong American Writers Circle, and a new literary anthology called "How Do I Begin."

This week on Valley Edition we talk about how political gridlock in Washington D.C. has created an unprecedented backlog at the Federal Courthouse in Fresno. Recently retired justice Oliver Wanger joins us for this special report. We also look at a new study that links spikes in air pollution with stays at local hospitals.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Even before the recent retirement of Justice Oliver Wanger, the Fresno division of the US District Court’s Eastern District of California faced big case backlogs. The district is home to over 6.7 million residents, and 19 of California’s 33 state and federal prisons, but the Fresno division is home to just two judges, and the nation’s heaviest caseloads.