News

Valley Fever Cases Down Since Drought Began

Jul 14, 2015
Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

California health experts are surprised that the incidence of Valley Fever has gone down during the drought. The fungal infection is commonly spread in arid, dusty conditions. But, even though the state is drier, the number of cases continues to drop. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg has the story.

Valley Fever peaked in 2011 with more than 5,000 cases in California. Last year there were fewer than half that. Dr. James Watt is the Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases for the California Department of Public Health.

Raman Bath / Fresno County Library

World renowned author William Saroyan is being honored as a great native son of the Central Valley with a an en exhibit by the The Fresno County Public Library.

The William Saroyan Gallery at the Central Library in Downtown Fresno opens Saturday, July 18th, at 2:30 PM for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Featured at the gallery are manuscripts, drawings, books and other memorabilia documenting Saroyan’s career as an author. 

Sanctuary Cities Draw Scrutiny In California

Jul 14, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

The alleged murder of a San Francisco woman by an undocumented immigrant with a criminal history has revived a debate in the state Capitol over "sanctuary cities." Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.    

San Francisco is one of several California sanctuary cities which generally have a policy of not informing federal authorities about undocumented immigrants in their areas. The suspect had been in San Francisco custody in April, but was released.

'Wild' Draws Huge Crowds To The Pacific Crest Trail

Jul 14, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

The Pacific Crest Trail runs two-thousand-six-hundred-fifty miles from Mexico to Canada. Usually a few hundred hardy souls make the trek every year. But, this year about ten times that number are attempting the arduous journey. Lesley McClurg hiked a section of the trail to find out what’s driving its popularity.

The Tuolumne Meadows post office in Yosemite National Park is packed. Ragged hikers wait in a long twisting line outside. 

The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno website

Local religious, education and law enforcement leaders recently gathered in Fresno for a talk about ISIS and Islam. Hosted by the Islamic Cultural Center, the event sought to dispel myths about the local Muslim community. Two guests from the panel joined us on Valley Edition to talk about concerns over homegrown extremist groups, efforts to work with law enforcement, and interfaith relations.

Guests:

Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini, Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno

Fire Officials: Hobby Drones Hamper Firefighting In California

Jul 14, 2015
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Federal and state fire officials are urging drone hobbyists to keep their unmanned aerial vehicles out of the sky during firefighting operations. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

Hobby drones caused the suspension of aerial operations recently as crews were fighting wildfires in three national forests in California. Shawna Legarza is the Fire and Aviation Director for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition KVPR Reporter Diana Aguilera interviews a Fresno teenager about the lack of sex education in Fresno Unified schools. Later in the program Valley Edition Host Joe Moore speaks with Shana Alex Charles with the UCLA Center For Healthy Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation about gaps in care for Valley Medi-Cal recipients

Whitehouse.gov

President Obama has named a new national monument in Northern California. The 330,000 acre Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is on federal land around Lake Berryessa north of the San Francisco Bay Area. The monument is known for its unique geology and wildlife.

The U.S. Forest Service says the area gives unique insights into plate tectonics:

For the first time since his dramatic fall through the roof of a burning garage, a Fresno firefighter is speaking publicly. Fire captain Pete Dern walked out of the hospital Friday to speak to a crowd of press and supporters.

“Hi. I’m am Pete Dern,”

That’s the voice of the Fresno Fire Department captain who in March was caught on cell phone video falling through a garage roof into a blazing inferno below. It took crews nearly two minutes to rescue him.

Dern’s head and hands are still heavily bandaged. Burn scars and skin grafts are clearly visible on his arms.

California HealthCare Foundation

Medi-Cal recipients in California continue to face big challenges when it comes to actually accessing care, especially in the Central Valley. That's the conclusion of a new report by researchers at the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation. 

The study looked at survey data from across the state for both Medi-Cal enrollees and those with private insurance provided through their employers. 

Shana Alex Charles is one of the study's authors.

Report Shows Potential Fracking Problems

Jul 10, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report out  Thursday says regulations for the process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" need to be tightened to prevent environmental problems.  And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, new legislation could emerge to do just that.

The peer-reviewed study from the California Council on Science and Technology was required as part of fracking legislation the state passed in 2013. 

Fresno Unified Website

The superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District says their use of a procedure known as lease-leaseback to build new schools is legal.

The district has come under fire for selecting a local construction firm, Harris Construction, to build the $37 million Gaston Middle School without going through a competitive bidding process.

Harris was chosen through a process known as Lease-leaseback where the district can hand pick a company who agrees to front the construction cost and then be paid back over time.

Fresno Food Expo

The fifth annual Fresno Food Expo is just weeks away and companies Valley wide are excited to showcase new products. Exhibitors from across the region revealed new items Wednesday evening for a taste, tally and tweet event at the Saroyan Theater in Downtown Fresno.

Valley Public Radio's Ezra David Romero went to the event and found three products that he says would be a shame to miss at the Fresno Food Expo July 22 and 23 in Downtown Fresno. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

With immigration reform efforts seemingly stalled in Washington D.C., the California legislature is taking its own steps to address the undocumented immigrants who call the state home. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports on one new bill that would give state work permits to agricultural workers.

The bill introduced by assembly member Luis Alejo hopes to give undocumented workers the chance to work legally in California’s agricultural industry. According to Alejo, as much as 75 percent of the industry’s workforce is undocumented.

Water Regulators Look At Rate Increases To Maximize Conservation

Jul 8, 2015
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

Increasing the price of water encourages conservation. But As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, California water regulators are seeking the best way to do that without running into legal problems.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Over the past two weeks workers have hauled tons of fill dirt to the site to raise the grade several inches, in preparation for pouring the foundation's concrete slab. Workers today also began using a trenching machine to dig trenches for plumbing and utilities that will serve the new broadcast center. 

Creative Commons

A major overhaul of electricity rates is coming to California. The state Public Utilities Commission voted last Friday to switch from a four tier billing system to two tier system. As a result some low-use customers may see their bills increase, while high-use customers may see reductions. The tiers must be in place by 2019.

http://www.watkinsphotoarchive.com/photoindex.html

Some artists are truly prolific. Composer Franz Joseph Haydn wrote over 100 symphonies. Science Fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote over 450 books.

Our guest is nowhere near as famous as those two men, but he is just as prolific. He has taken over 300,000 photographs of life in Fresno since 1973. He is retired Fresno attorney Howard Watkins, and some of his best work is part of a new exhibit at Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library Elipse Gallery. It’s his first solo show, and it’s on display now through August 14th.

Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush / Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm

  In the tiny community of Del Rey sits one of the nation's most acclaimed organic farms. The Masumoto family has been farming the land there for generations, and their heirloom peaches are sought after by the country's top chefs. But the Masumoto farm is also in transition, a transition of generations, as David "Mas" Masumoto's daughter Nikiko has returned home to work with her father and keep the farm alive for another generation. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about how bad fire season could be in California, drought-friendly homes, and changing electricity rates. We also talk photography in Fresno with a local photographer with a show at Fresno State and talk about a documentary about the Masumoto Family Farm in Del Rey. 

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