News

A key rating agency has given the City of Fresno a big boost. A positive report from Standard and Poor’s could mean big savings for the city.

S&P has upgraded the city’s bond rating from BBB- to an A+. That is a five-level increase.

Officials say that means the city can borrow money at a much better interest rate, saving an estimated $35 million over the next two decades.

Mayor Lee Brand says the ratings improvement means the city will be better able to respond to years of austere budgets and cuts.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Today, Bakersfield College kicks off a new event to address health problems in the San Joaquin Valley--its first-ever public health “hackathon.”

Over 100 people from across Central California have signed up for the hackathon, which aims to use technology to address public health challenges like chronic disease, food insecurity and environmental health. Nurse and public health student Elizabeth Patterson says her project idea involves helping young adults mentor each other about sexually transmitted diseases.

Kern County Public Health Services

Health officials and advocates gathered in Bakersfield today for a summit on public health in Kern County, where one specific community was touted as a public health role model.

 

In the last five years or so, the city of McFarland has dramatically upgraded its infrastructure. The city has more sidewalks, parks and streetlights than ever before, and it recently created its first bicycle master plan. Flor del Hoyo from Kern County Public Health Services says McFarland is a success story for community engagement and cooperation.

 

Public Policy Institute of California

A new analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California maps child poverty across California, and estimates Valley children would be much worse off without social safety net programs.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two new reports out this week examine California’s oil fields and how the high-emitting oil extracted from many of them poses a threat to the environment and human health. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that one of them is in Kern County.

 

This week on Young Artists Spotlight we feature five violin soloists who are who are studying with instructor Limor Toren-Immerman. All are also members of Youth Orchestras of Fresno (YOOF) and they represent all three of YOOF's orchestras, the Youth Chamber Orchestra (YCO), the Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) and the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (YPO).

Courtesy Rei Hotoda

The Fresno Philharmonic welcomes its fifth candidate for the vacant position of music director and conductor to the community this week with Rei Hotoda, who leads the orchestra in a concert Sunday at the Saroyan Theatre featuring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and a contemporary piece by Pulitzer-prize winning Chinese-American composer Zhou Long. Rei Hotoda is currently the Associate Conductor Utah Symphony. She has a doctorate in piano performance from USC and also studied at both Peabody and Eastman.

NASA/Friant Water Authority

A new way to measure the snowpack from the sky is getting some positive results. FM89's Ezra David Romero reports officials hope new technology can reduce the risk of downstream flooding.

 

At the start of the year NASA crews began flying over the San Joaquin River watershed to measure the snowpack using laser pulses. This creates a way more accurate estimate of how much snow is the mountains than traditional snow surveying does.

 

National Geographic

The new documentary "Water & Power: A California Heist" takes a look at past and current water wars in California. It's told through the eyes of Valley voices like journalist Mark Arax and Bakersfield Californian Columnist Lois Henry. 

"This is a very serious issue," says the films director Marina Zenovich. "We show people in the film with wells going dry. One of our characters says watch out. You could be next."

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition our reporters tell stories about gold prospecting and new warehouse distribution centers in the region. We also hear from Anthony Wright with Health Access California about what repealing the Affordable Care Act could mean for Californians. Later we hear from Assemblyman Rudy Salas about legislation he's forming around Valley Fever. Plus we speak with Fresno City Council member Clint Olivier about how Fresno needs to do more for seniors.

Clint Olivier

Fresno is one of the largest communities in the San Joaquin Valley that doesn’t have a dedicated senior center. That’s something that current city councilmember and state assembly candidate Clint Olivier wants to change. Olivier, who also sits on the board of the Fresno Madera Area Agency on Aging says he wants to see the city begin planning for a senior center by partnering with other local organizations to bring a facility into reality before he leaves office.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Ulta Beauty may be the biggest beauty product supplier in the country, but the announcement the company will build a distribution and fulfillment center in Fresno could be about much more than eyeliner and lipstick. Some experts think the Central Valley could develop into the hub that supplies on demand products for the entire west coast. But why is the area so enticing for internet retailers, and do these centers provide good jobs?

In the bathroom of her central Fresno home, Roe Borunda looks through tote after tote filled with all manner of makeup.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

All of the recent rain and snow in California is good news for farms and cities. The runoff flowing from the Sierra Nevada is so strong this year that’s it's moving huge boulders and tons of earth down rivers. That means gold is on the move as well and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that has gold prospectors on alert.

 

Larry Riggs and his friends are hunting on a piece of private property near Oakhurst. There are no guns or fishing poles present. Just shovels, plastic bowls and buckets.

They’re panning for gold.

Sean Work / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says California needs to do more to track valley fever cases, and fund research into the disease. Last month he introduced legislation that in Sacramento that would provide $2 million in funding for the disease, which is especially prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley. Salas spoke to Valley Public Radio this week about the bill and it's path forward at the capitol. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The GOP-backed health care law that’s currently in the U.S. House of Representatives is one of the biggest topics of national debate. But what would the American Health Care Act mean for people here in the San Joaquin Valley? Over the next few weeks on our program we will hear a variety of perspectives on the proposed law, from both supporters and opponents.

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