Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

A new app is making it easier for people in California to receive STD testing within the comfort of their own home. FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains how it works.

Android and iPhone users can now download the app called Planned Parenthood Direct. For a cost of $149, users will receive a kit in the mail that tests for both chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Linda Williams with Planned Parenthood says this app makes it easier for people to get tested without feeling judged.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Construction is moving forward at a brisk pace at the site of Valley Public Radio's new home at the Research and Technology Park in Clovis at Temperance & Alluvial Avenues. Over the past two weeks crews have been busy installing plumbing and electrical lines beneath the surface and excavating for the footings for our building's foundation. 

What’s the difference between a smiling mascot and a stern warning? More than 2. 5 million gallons of water a month in Fresno. That’s according to a social experiment the city ran to encourage greater water conservation.

Fresno used data from the city’s water meters to target people watering on non-approved days and sent each home one of two different fliers.

One is black and white and appears very serious. The other is in color and features a playful mascot.

A new report from Fresno State's Central Valley Health Policy Institute highlights the high incidence of infant mortality in the African-American Community. According to study data, African-American babies in Fresno are three times more likely to die when compared with white infants. Recently on Valley Edition we spoke with Lauren N. Lessard, PhD MPH, a research scientist at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute about the study, and why the numbers have grown in recent years. 

Office of Alex Padilla

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to increase the number of voters in the Golden State. That's why he is backing several new measures that would overhaul the state's election system. They include a new bill that would expand the state's "motor voter" provisions and another that would expand vote-by-mail and early voting opportunities. Padilla joined us to talk about those efforts and an overhaul of the state's voter database after he spoke at an naturalization ceremony in Fresno on Tuesday morning. 

Office of Rep. David Valadao

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act, which promises to bring more water to valley farmers. Written by Hanford Republican David Valadao, and co-sponsored by Fresno Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, the bill would change the way the government manages water in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and threatened species. It would also make major changes to the plan to restore the San Joaquin River. 

Scott Bauer / Bioscience

Marijuana is big business in California. By some estimates pot is actually the state's top cash crop. But with the boom in marijuana cultivation, there is also a significant environmental toll. Mountain tops are being leveled, and streams are being illegally diverted threatening species already stressed by the drought. With the possibility of marijuana legalization looming in 2016, the issue of how to clean up the environmental damage caused by pot production is a big concern. 

By now most people know that almonds use a lot of water, about one gallon per nut. Most growers are relying on groundwater even more this year because their surface water has been cut off because of the drought. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that brings a different problem all together, one that an “Almond Doctor” is trying to solve.

Eric & Yvonne Pennestri

Valley Public Radio listeners Eric & Yvonne Pennestri of Porterville sent us their own pictures of construction on Valley Public Radio's new building. Longtime listeners and station members the Pennestris are also capital campaign donors. Here's their view of the project as it begins to take shape out of the earth.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take at a look at how a high concentration of salt in groundwater is harming almond trees. We also learn about how African-American babies have a higher infant mortality rate in the region compared to babies of other races. Research Scientist Lauren Lessard with the Central California Health Policy Institute joins us. 

Bill Would Allow Fire Fighters To Jam Interfering Drones

Jul 21, 2015 / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant /

First responders are growing increasingly frustrated with owners of hobbyist drones who fly them over wildfires. That’s prompting new proposals from California state lawmakers, as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

As the North Fire swept towards Interstate 15 in Southern California this past weekend, fire fighting aircraft rushed to slow its progress. But there were five drones hovering overhead – so the airplanes had to wait until the drones moved on. The fire leapt the freeway and burned dozens of cars.

Regulators Propose Large Penalty For Illegal Water Diversion

Jul 21, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California water regulators are taking steps to stop illegal water diversions by irrigation districts with some of the oldest water rights. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the latest action proposes the largest penalty against a district since the drought began.

proterra company website

By this time next year, two brand new all electric buses will be rolling down the streets of Porterville. The move away from diesel and hybrid buses is part of efforts to clean up the valley’s air.

For the cost of just under 1-million dollars, Porterville is replacing two of their existing buses with a new generation of clean, emission free all-electric vehicles.

Richard Tree, Porterville’s Transportation Manager, says the decision to go all electric was an easy one.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that aims to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farms has passed the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

The Western Water and American Food Security Act would change the way the government manages both water in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and threatened species. Supporters say it would allow more water to be captured from early season storms, while still protecting the environment.

Valley Republican David Valadao authored the bill. He says existing regulations not only hurt farmers, they also aren't helping fish.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Immigrant advocates in Fresno say they’re fed up with a recent decision by the sheriff’s department to collaborate in new ways with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). As Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera reports, activists are demanding a change. 

Just last week Sheriff Margaret Mims announced a new program that allows two ICE agents to be stationed inside the Fresno County Jail. Federal agents can now check if inmates are in the country legally and can look at their criminal history to determine whether they should be deported.

Apps Help Farmers With Efficiency During The Drought

Jul 16, 2015

More and more California growers are using smartphone apps to streamline their farming operations. Capital Public Radio’s Lesley McClurg has more.  

Anne Burkholder is a soil scientist. She's standing in an alfalfa field in Davis that has an unusual large dead patch in the middle of it.

Burkholder: “Basically the alfalfa is maybe five inches tall, and it's really yellow right here where we’re walking, it’s crunchy and yellow, you can kind of even hear it.”

Flickr- eyeliam

The Fresno City Council has voted to ban the display or sale of the confederate flag on city property. The vote sparked debate about where to draw the line when banning historical objects.

While the city is not currently displaying or selling the flag, the ordinance approved by the council today makes it clear that it cannot.

Council president Oliver Baines wrote the ordinance and says in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, it’s time to make a statement against what many consider to be a sign of racist hate.

California Moves To Limit New Lawns

Jul 16, 2015
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

New California homes and businesses may have less grass in the future. The state Water Commission passed a model ordinance Wednesday restricting the amount of turf that can be used in new developments with at least 500 square feet of landscaping. Grass can only make up 25 percent of residential yards. It will essentially be prohibited at non-residential buildings.

There have been previous versions of the model ordinance. But Commissioner Paula Daniels says this version better reflects California’s needs in the drought.

Creative Commons

Fresno County is cracking down on roadside vendors selling fruit and vegetables illegally. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

We’ve all seen them, roadside vendors under umbrellas on country lanes selling strawberries, flowers and even mangoes. The problem is that many times these products are stolen, says Fred Rinder the Fresno County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner.

RINDER: “Businesses abide by the law and these folks don’t. It has an impact on the local businesses that are trying to make a living the legal and right way.”

Flickr- eyeliam

The Fresno City Council could vote Thursday to ban the city from displaying the confederate flag on all city owned property.

The ordinance, proposed by council president Oliver Baines, would prohibit the city from displaying or selling of the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, often known as the confederate flag.

It would also ban the sale of items that bear the flag unless it is in a book or city museum that serves an educational or historical purpose.

The ordinance says the flag now represents a symbol of racism and hatred to many people.