News

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. 

GUESTS:

Commentary: Does Fresno's Parks Problem Make Inequality Worse?

Jul 7, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Every year, The Trust for Public Land analyzes the 75 largest U.S. cities and gives them a score based on how well they are meeting the need for parks. This year, the city of Fresno, California, tied for last place.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Agriculture consumes a lot of water in California, but so do homes and businesses. In the fourth year of drought water consumed by both are issues and both sectors have faced cutbacks. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports the Central California town of Reedley is on the move to build an eco-friendly community that some say could use less groundwater for development and living.

In the Valley town of Reedley there’s a plot of ground that once grew 40 acres of green leafy peach and plum trees.   

U.S. Forest Service Says Conditions Ideal For Megafires in California

Jul 6, 2015
US Forest Service - Rim Fire 2013

Drought, dead and dying trees, and a lack of snow in California have left national forests in a perfect condition for large and severe wildfires. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the new mix has the U.S. Forest Service re-examining how it manages fire.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A proposed power plant that would convert coal into hydrogen and fertilizer near the community of Tupman in Kern County has been granted a six month reprieve from the California Energy Commission. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Electricity rates will be going up for some Californians. The California Public Utilities Commission approved a new rate structure Friday.

The commission unanimously voted to move from a from a four tier system to two tier system for electricity rates by 2019. That means low-use customers may start paying more, while customers in higher tiers may see a reduction in their bills. An additional surcharge for high-use customers will be introduced in 2017. 

Mike Dunleavy - Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevedunleavy/ / Creative Commons

A popular hiking and equestrian trail that stretches through the Central Sierra has started to see an increasing number of hikers. As FM89’s Jason Scott reports, Hollywood may be to thank for it.

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches 2,600 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada, along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. It’s always been a popular draw for outdoor enthusiasts, but lately it’s seen a surge in activity.

Flickr- Baron Valium

Officials with the Valley Air District are warning about Fourth of July fireworks worsening air quality and threatening residents' health.

Fireworks can cause damaging air pollution to spike to five times the level considered safe.

When fireworks are set off, they burn, explode and release large amounts of dangerous particulate matter into the atmosphere.

Heather Heinks with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District says the tiny particles of soot, ash and metal can bury themselves deep in the body causing short and long term problems.

Californians Conserve 29 Percent More Water In May

Jul 1, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Californians stepped up their water conservation in May. The state is the midst of its worst drought in history. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The State Water Resources Control Board says Californians achieved their best conservation yet, cutting water use 29 percent in May compared to two years ago. 

The board says rain in parts of the state likely drove the May water savings. But the rain did nothing to ease drought conditions.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in 2014 and things have gotten worse.   

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 A new bill in the California Senate could make sex education mandatory for middle and high school students. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

If the bill becomes law, students will be required to learn about abstinence, sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

Right now, public schools throughout the state aren’t required to offer sex ed classes, but they are required to teach HIV and AIDS prevention. In recent years, Fresno Unified dropped its sex ed program due to budget cuts.

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear a story about how, during the Vietnam War, a Hmong family was lucky enough to get out of their homeland. The story describes how, for years, this Hmong family fled from soldiers, hid in jungles, crossed the Mekong River to Thailand, and finally emigrated to America. The story is by Joel Pickford and is read by Lor Lee.

California Bill Would Allow Tax On Water Wasters In Drought

Jun 30, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California Assembly committee will hear a bill Wednesday that would allow water districts to impose taxes on any business, industry or person who wastes water. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the measure would require voter approval.

The City of Fresno has officially rolled out its complaint reporting app called ‘Fresgo’. The smartphone app lets people take pictures and report issues like pot holes, downed stop lights, and other problems throughout the city.

The app, called Fresgo, is intended to replace the cumbersome and sometimes confusing process of filling out paper work or contacting the appropriate city department to report issues.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the app lets people take a picture, tag their location, and send it straight to the city to fix their complaint.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we look at the topics of food, drought, farming, policing and beer. First, Lesley McClurg reports on animal welfare conditions in the state.  Later, KVPR's Jeffrey Hess reports on whether six months after Prop 47 crime has gone up.

http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

In recent months, the valley's agriculture industry has been thrust into the national headlines, largely over the debate over how much water farmers use to grow crops. Critics say farmers use 80 percent of the water used by people in California. However farmers say that number is misleading, pointing out they actually use only 40 percent of the state's total water supply, where about 50 percent is set aside for environmental uses.

What do General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Greek god Zeus and Sir Lancelot all have in common? They've all lent their names to popular beers from local craft breweries. It turns out the San Joaquin Valley is in the midst of a craft beer boom, from Bakersfield to Turlock, making it one of the area’s hottest food and beverage trends. What's behind the explosive growth, and is there a definitive local style of beer?

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