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Environment
12:42 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

California Drought Results In Rare January Forest Fire In The Sierra Nevada

A webcam image taken Tuesday at Bald Mountain shows smoke from the Soda Fire, which is burning in the remote Golden Trout Wilderness.
U.S. Forest Service Sequoia National Forest

Historically dry conditions in the Sierra Nevada have resulted in a rare January wildfire burning in a remote area of the Golden Trout Wilderness, about 20 miles east of Springville.

The Soda Fire was discovered on Tuesday by officials with the Sequoia National Forest. So far the fire has consumed around 130 acres, and is burning at a moderate rate. No structures are threatened. 

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Education
6:01 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

State Board of Education Will Decide How Billions Can Be Spent

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California State Board of Education will decide tomorrow how school districts can spend billions of dollars in state funding next year. From Sacramento, Katie Orr has details on what's at stake in the meeting.

The board will consider rules that dictate how school districts can spend money targeted toward low-income and non-English speaking students.

Several interest groups want the rules tightened up, to ensure the money isn’t squandered. Samantha Tran is with the advocacy group Children Now. She says some district wide spending could be good.

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Government & Politics
6:00 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Federal and Local Law Enforcement Break Central Valley Mail Theft Rings

Federal and local law enforcement agencies have announced the results of a months-long operation targeting mail theft rings in Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield.
Credit Capital Public Radio

Federal and local law enforcement officials have announced arrests and prosecutions in a flurry of mail theft cases.  As Max Pringle reports, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Fresno were the focus of months of investigations.

Last year, U.S. Postal Service inspectors from around the country came to the Central Valley to help local police investigate an upswing in mail theft. Greg Campbell with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says mail theft and drug abuse usually go hand-in-hand.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Steinberg Backs Preschool, Redevelopment Rebirth, Water Bond

Darrell Steinberg (file)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was our guest on this week's Valley Edition. The Sacramento Democrat told KVPR's Joe Moore that he supports the governor's call for fiscal restraint, but is pushing for expansion of certain programs, including a proposal for universal preschool for the state's 4-year-olds. Steinberg also called on his colleagues to resurrect a variant of the state's now-shuttered redevelopment system, and continued to advocate for the state's water bond.

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Valley Edition
12:14 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

On Valley Edition: BBQ & Air Quality; Darrel Steinberg: Politics With Bill McEwen; Les Miserables

The Fresno production of Les Miserables will run January 17-19, 2014.
Credit http://fresnograndopera.org/lesmiserables.html

This week on Valley Edition we talk about air quality, drought in California, a Fresno production of Les Miserables and more.

Starting the program, Valley Public Radio Reporter Ezra David Romero takes a look at barbecue restaurants – one of the biggest food trends in the region – and how the Valley Air District hopes to work with them while developing future regulations.

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Health
10:28 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Fresno County Plan to End Care For Undocumented Meets Resistance

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors say they can't afford to fund the indigent care contract with Community Regional Medical Center.
Community Hospitals/ UCSF Fresno

In Fresno County, implementation of the federal healthcare law has had some unintended consequences.

For one, the law expanded the insurance program for the poor, known here as Medi-Cal. That’s a huge benefit to uninsured people who could not previously afford health coverage. But it’s turned out to be a problem for the county. It’s now receiving less state funding for its medical safety-net program, based on the assumption that less people will need it. The county contracts out this care to Community Regional Medical Center.

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Environment
10:05 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Valley Air Cleanup Targets Restaurant Charbroilers

Matt Billingsley, the general manager of Dog House Grill, says the eatery cooks up 1,200 pounds of tri-tip daily.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

People in Central California love barbecue. From backyard grills to popular new restaurants featuring tri tip, ribs and brisket, it’s one of the biggest food trends in the valley. One Fresno destination is so popular, a line wraps around its building daily.

Fresno’s Dog House Grill is Valley famous for tri-tip, pulled pork and their family recipe barbecue sauce.

Connie Nicholson and her husband visit Dog House weekly.

“I like the Barbecue sauce, it’s really good and the tri-tip’s always just right,” Nicholson says. “I get the tri-tip sandwich every time.”

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Government & Politics
6:26 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

In Fresno Gov. Brown Talks Drought, High Speed Rail

Governor Jerry Brown paid a visit to Fresno to talk with farmers and local leaders about his budget plan.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown visited Fresno today to meet with valley farmers and local leaders Monday, less than a week after he unveiled his new budget proposal.

Brown says he heard loud and clear from those he met with that water is a big issue.

“They want a drought declaration, the want some flexibility in the use of water and they have some other interesting ideas that we are going to look at.”

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Government & Politics
5:09 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Steinberg Cool On Cap And Trade Money For High Speed Rail

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Office of Darrell Steinberg

The leader of California’s  Senate is issuing words of caution on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to use money from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for construction of high speed rail.  

Speaking with Valley Public Radio, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he’s concerned about the rail authority’s plan to finance construction of the next stage of the bullet train, which would go from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale in Southern California.

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Arts & Culture
6:10 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

'Buck 'Em!' Brings New Insights Into The Life And Music Of Buck Owens

The new posthumous autobiography of Buck Owens "Buck 'Em"
Backbeat Books

Buck Owens was one of the giants of country music, helping to define a rough and ready sound that will forever be linked with the city that Owens called home – Bakersfield. While Owens died in 2006, his legacy lives on. Now a new book titled “Buck 'Em: The Autobiography of Buck Owens” tells his story.

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Environment
6:20 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Brown's Budget Proposal Spends Cap and Trade Money

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes some major investments in the environment. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it lays out how he wants to spend $850 million in revenue from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program known as cap-and-trade.

As expected, Governor Brown wants to invest a large portion of money raised from carbon auctions on High Speed Rail. The proposal includes $300 million for construction and integration of the rail system that he’s pitched as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cars.

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Government & Politics
6:07 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Brown Uses Budget to Push for More Time on Prisons

North Kern State Prison near Delano (file photo)
Credit CDCR

California remains under a court order to reduce its prison population. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown is trying to use his budget to get the state some more time.

A federal three judge panel has given California until the middle of April to reduce is prison population to about 137 percent of capacity.  But Brown is basing several items in his budget on the assumption California will get a two-year extension of that deadline. Brown has long maintained the state has done enough to reduce prison overcrowding.

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Environment
5:52 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

California Budget Proposal Would Move Clean Drinking Water Program

Credit Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal would make a significant change to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program.  Last year, the Department of Public Health came under fire for failing to spend almost a half billion dollars to provide drinking water to communities that need it.

Under Brown’s budget proposal, the State Water Resources Control Board would run the program in the future. Jennifer Clary, with Clean Water Action, says she’s glad the program will be taken from the Department of Public Health.

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Government & Politics
5:44 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Brown Pushes Fiscal Restraint As He Releases His Budget Proposal

California Governor Jerry Brown is calling for another year of fiscal prudence, despite the state’s $4.6 billion budget surplus. That’s drawing mixed reactions from legislative Democrats and cautious praise from minority Republicans.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is calling for another year of fiscal prudence, despite the state’s four-and-a-half billion dollar budget surplus.  That’s drawing mixed reactions from legislative Democrats and cautious praise from minority Republicans.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

There was little suspense over the contents of the budget itself after it leaked out two days early.  But that didn’t stop the governor from making his case for restraint.

He pointed to a chart of red and black bars showing the deficits and surpluses from the last decade.

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Community
4:50 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Renters' Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against Prominent Fresno Landlord

Malaquias Esteves, right, and his children live in a home owned by JD Homes. He is a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A statewide renters’ rights organization has filed a class action suit against JD Homes Rentals for operating what it calls ‘slum’ rental housing in Fresno. FM89’s Rebecca Plevin reports:

Jesucita Esteves grew up in one of JD Homes’ rental homes.

ESTEVES: “We were living in ugly conditions. Our rooms were full of mold. Our carpet wasn’t even carpet anymore, it was like dirt. It was nasty.” 

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Water
5:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Patterson Calls For Halt To San Joaquin River Restoration Releases

Water is released from Friant Dam near Fresno into the San Joaquin River as part of the river restoration program (file photo)
Credit San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Citing a historically dry 2013, Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is calling for the federal government to stop water releases from Friant Dam for the San Joaquin River Restoration program.

Since 2009 the restoration program has released water into the river on an interim basis in an effort to bring back salmon populations to a stretch of the channel that has been dry for decades. The restoration agreement calls for those flows to become permanent in 2014.

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Education
5:58 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Democrats Propose Universal Pre-K Programs

Students in a transitional kindergarten class at H.W. Harkness Elementary School in Sacramento.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Providing transitional kindergarten for all the four-year-olds in California would cost about a $1 billion, but supporters say it would be worth it. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a new proposal introduced today.

In an elementary school near Sacramento, students in a transitional kindergarten class practice saying the date.

These kids are among several thousand California four-year olds enrolled in pre-K programs. Now state Senate Democrats want to make transitional kindergarten available to all four-year-olds.

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Health
5:44 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

New Study Links PM 2.5 Pollution, Immune System Damage

Researchers at the California National Primate Research Center & UC Davis examined the health effects of exposure to PM2.5 on primates, in a study funded by the California Air Resources Board
Credit K. West / California National Primate Research Center

A new study suggests that exposure to wildfire smoke can result in reduced immune system function. The study, funded by the California Air Resources board, looked at primates which were exposed to unusually high levels of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 for 10 days in 2008, during a number of wildfires.

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Water
4:32 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

California Water Officials Say Drought Proclamation Likely

DWR Director Mark Cowin and DWR’s Drought Preparedness Manager Bill Croyle highlight the importance of water transfers and drought preparedness during the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Board Meeting in Sacramento on January 7.
Credit Paul Hames / Department of Water Resources

The Director of the California Department of Water Resources says he believes Governor Jerry Brown will likely declare a drought. Mark Cowin  made the comments to the state Board of Food and Agriculture today.

Water managers painted a bleak picture for the board of the dry conditions and low reservoir levels around the state. Cowin says all signs point to a drought.

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Valley Edition
11:27 am
Tue January 7, 2014

On Valley Edition: Drought; High Speed Rail; Buck Owens Book

Credit Backbeat Books

This week on Valley Edition we delve into the topics of drought in California, transgender law, high speed rail and more.

Starting off the program Valley Edition Host Joe Moore speaks with meteorologist Steve Johnson about 2013 marking California’s driest year on record. The two talk weather conditions, water and what 2014 may hold for the San Joaquin Valley.  Johnson is the owner of Steve Johnson and Associates and is with Atmospheric Group International.

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