Valley Public Radio News

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Government & Politics
4:43 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Woman Arrested For Starting Blaze That Injured Fresno Fire Captain

Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis announced the arrest at the press conference at Fire Department Headquarters on Thursday.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Authorities have arrested a woman in connection with the structure fire that seriously injured Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern last month. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports. 

Julia Harper is facing charges of unlawfully causing a fire which causes great bodily injury. Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis announced the arrest at a press conference Thursday.

Donis: “During the investigation, Harper admitted to her responsibility for starting this fire.”

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Environment
3:28 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Finally, Drought Relief For One Tulare County Community

Rick Overby says he's relieved his home will finally have access to water.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Last July US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the rural Tulare County community of Cameron Creek to announce drought aid. Now months later, Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports the community just got their taps turned on.

After nine months without water many of the residents of Cameron Creek are finally able to turn on their taps and have water flow out of the faucet.

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Drought
3:24 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Not Ready To Give Up Your Lawn? Landscapers Offer Drought Tips

file photo
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

If you're watering your lawn at all, there's a good chance you're watering it too much. That's the take-away at a drought workshop near Sacramento for landscaping professionals. Lesley McClurg attended the class sponsored by the Department of Water Resources.

Tom Noonan is water management specialist. He says calibrating sprinklers can be a complicated science. 

But, the bottom line is...

Noonan: "Get rid of run-off and get rid of over spray." 

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Government & Politics
3:11 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Latino Leaders Call For District Based Elections

file photo
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Latinos make up 40 percent of California’s population, but just about 15 percent of the state’s mayors and city council members. A bill backed by the state’s legislative Latino caucus is seeking to make city governments more representative. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The bill would require some cities with populations of more than 100,000 to hold district-based municipal elections, instead of at-large elections. 

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News
2:45 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

High Speed Rail To Use Local Product To Control Dust Pollution

 On this Earth Day, California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is demonstrating steps it is taking to minimize environmental damage from the construction of the rail.

Rail construction workers will spray a biodegradable solution made of processed wood chips that holds down dust pollution. 

Elizabeth Jonnason with the High-Speed Rail Authority says the spray helps them meet California’s environmental standards.

“To control the ground, and make sure whatever is in the ground does not end up in our air or in our water,” Jonnason said.

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Community
1:17 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Fresno Armenian Community To Mark Genocide Centennial

An artist's rendering the Fresno State Armenian Genocide Monument

One hundred years ago this week, authorities of the Ottoman Empire rounded up hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and political leaders in Constantinople and executed them. One and a half million would eventually die in what we today know as the Armenian Genocide.

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Labor
1:14 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Farmworkers In Limbo As California Ag Labor Battle Heats Up

Farm workers take swings at a box that represents the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, using it as a pinata outside the Fifth District Court of Appeal on April 14, 2015 in Fresno.
Diana Aguilera Valley Public Radio

Every summer and fall, PRIMA brand peaches and grapes from Fresno-based Gerawan Farming can be found in supermarkets across the country. But the workers who pick that fruit are currently at the center of one of California’s biggest labor conflicts. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports that the stakes for both the company and the United Farm Workers are high.

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Environment
11:36 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Delta Smelt Collapse Part Of Drought's Toll On California

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The latest survey of California's endangered Delta Smelt has turned up just one fish. While the population has been in decline for years, UC Davis biologist Peter Moyle says the drought has stressed the species to the brink of extinction. 

Moyle: "I've been tracking these fish for years including in my own surveys, and we've been seeing this long term decline, but still I was quite startled."

He blames a number of factors for the almost complete collapse, but says the drought is a big factor.

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News
9:44 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Fresno's Not Ferguson: Why Are Police Shootings and Complaints Down?

Police Chief Jerry Dyer (Center)

After years of community complaints about the Fresno Police Department, the numbers of complaints and officer-involved shootings are trending down. It has been roughly six months since there was an officer involved shooting in the city. Both police and community activists say a shift in the national mood about law enforcement is driving the change but question whether the change will last.

Fresno Police used to average one officer involved shooting every month and log dozens of complaints of excessive force and racial profiling among other concerns.

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Community
6:04 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Gas Pipeline Blast In Fresno Injures Nearly A Dozen People

A natural gas pipeline explosion near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue in Fresno injured over a dozen people on Friday afternoon at a local shooting range.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has confirmed that two Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies were also injured, and has revised the injury total to 11 people.

ORIGINAL POST:

A natural gas explosion at the peace officers gun range in Fresno has left 14 injured, three critically. FM89's Joe Moore reports. 

A gas pipeline at the range ignited at around 2:30 PM this afternoon, shooting a massive wall of flames into the sky and shutting down traffic on Highway 99 near Herndon Avenue. 

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Health Care
7:11 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Bill Moves Forward

file photo
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

The California Legislature has taken a key step toward extending health insurance to more than a million undocumented immigrants. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the bill passed its first committee vote Wednesday.

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Government & Politics
7:05 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. As Kitty Felde reports from Washington, Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home.

Drought relief legislation this year has gotten off to a slow start on Capitol Hill - unlike last year, when bills were floated in both the House and the Senate.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who spent the week meeting with members of Congress, says things are moving…underground. 

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News
9:26 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Fresno Leaders React To Keith Foster Report

Rick Rasmussen, police auditor

  Fresno’s Police auditor is recommending seven changes at the department to prevent criminal behavior among their officers. The changes are being made in the wake of the arrest of a Deputy Chief on drug trafficking charges.

Former Deputy Chief Keith Foster is one of seven people accused in a scheme to traffic heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana.

The auditor’s seven recommendations are intended to prevent any more incidents like it.

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News
9:45 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Working On The Railroad: High-Speed Rail Sparks New Career Interest

Pre-apprenticeship students working on electrical skills

    

With work on California’s High-Speed rail about to take off, interest in the trades that the rail will need appears to be increasing. That’s according to groups that run pre-apprenticeship programs that teach people the skills necessary to work on building the train. Talk of the project is driving interest in programs intended to train the men and women that will be needed to build it.

One of those programs is the five week high-speed rail pre-apprenticeship run by Chuck Riojas with the union Building Trades.

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News
1:26 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Drought Causing Increase In Bad Air In Valley

Credit Flickr-TPMartins

  California’s prolonged drought is causing a sharp rise in air pollution in the Central Valley. That’s according to an annual report on air quality in California.

While smog and Ozone continue to improve in the Valley, the four year long drought is pushing up dangerous particulate matter pollution rates.

The dry weather is causing loose soil which is kicked into the air says Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Tensions Appear Amidst Dwindling Water Supply

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown says it’s time for California to pull together to get through the drought. It’s a message aimed at people with competing water needs. And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that’s created some tension.

There are more than 400 local water agencies In California. There are also agriculture, business and environmental interests. And as the drought continues they are all competing for a dwindling resource.

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Business & Economy
5:13 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno Grizzlies Hope Astros Affiliation Boosts Fan Interest

Grizzlies player Jon Singleton
Credit Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies will open their 2015 season tonight at Chuckchansi Park. But for the first time in 18 years, the AAA team won’t be stocked with players from Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. FM89’s Jason Scott reports that team owners hope the new affiliation with the Houston Astros will mark a reboot for the club and its fan base.

When the Fresno Grizzlies take the field tonight for the opening day fans will witness a team with a new look.

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Government & Politics
4:40 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno City Council Says 'No' To Farmland Preservation Project

Fresno City Hall - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has rejected a proposal to move forward with an effort to preserve area farmland from development.

The council voted down the proposed grant application today to start a farmland preservation program, which is key part of the city’s newly adopted general plan.

The program would require developers to offset the loss of farmland from urbanization by agreeing to preserve farmland elsewhere.

Council member Lee Brand says he wants more public input before committing to such a program.

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Community
12:08 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Injured Fresno Firefighter Inspires International Support

In this screen capture from a Facebook video, the Rocklin, CA fire department turns their "lights on" in honor of Pete Dern.
Credit Rocklin Fire Department - Lights On for Pete Dern Facebook

Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern who was seriously injured last month when he fell through the roof of a burning building has helped inspire an international movement on social media.

The campaign called “Lights On For Pete Dern” has dozens of departments from across the nation posting videos to Facebook and Twitter of their engines fully illuminated in his honor.

Kerri Donis is the Fresno Fire Chief:

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Drought
11:58 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Drought: Fresno County Sheep Farmers In Better Spot This Year Than 2014

Stock Photo
Credit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

The drought’s been tough on farmers across the state, but the timing of the little rain the region received this past winter proved to be a plus for the sheep industry. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Ryan Indart moves his herd of sheep around Fresno County to graze where grass is green.

He says the weather pattern from late 2014 to today has eased the effects of the drought on his herd. Rain in December and a foggy January kept moisture in the ground.

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