Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

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Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Fresno Police To Expand Body Camera Program

Fresno Police Headquarters (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Police Department is moving forward with a plan to purchase 300 new body cameras for officers. The city council approved the $2.5 million purchase today which also includes 400 TASER devices. The cameras are in addition to 100 purchased earlier this year after the city received an anonymous $500,000 donation. 

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Drought
2:52 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Poll Shows Wide Support For Water Conservation

California's drought has reservoirs's like Shaver Lake in Fresno County at low levels (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new Field Poll shows almost two-thirds of Californians surveyed support Governor Jerry Brown's urban water reduction plan.  Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Field Poll says nearly 89-percent of people surveyed believe the current water shortage in California is serious, with 66-percent saying the drought is ‘extremely serious.’

But 44-percent of homeowners said it would be difficult for them to cut household water use.

About 70 percent said it would be a serious problem for them if their local water district raised household water bills by 15 or 25 percent.

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Drought
12:28 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Water Board Considers Voluntary Water Cut From Delta Area Farmers

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

Some farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who hold the most senior water rights may agree to a 25-percent cut in their consumption. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the proposal comes as California water regulators consider mandatory curtailments.

Under the proposal, farmers who hold rights to divert water along a river or stream would either reduce irrigation use or leave fields fallow. In exchange, they want guarantees that regulators wouldn’t restrict remaining water. Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney for a group of farmers, says it’s a practical solution.

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News
7:12 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Fresno Improves Park Rating But Remains In Last Place

A new national ranking of American cities shows Fresno is making progress in providing access to public parks and green space.

However, the gains are limited. The city moved from last place in 2014 to tied for last this year.

Abby Martin with the Trust for Public land, which releases a yearly ranking of 75 US cities, says several new parks set to open this year helped Fresno’s score.

“Out of 100 points, this year Fresno scored 31. As opposed to last year where Fresno scored 26 points,” Martin said.

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News
3:10 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Water Tracking App Raises Enough Money For Development

A new cell phone app that could help Fresnans track their water consumption is headed toward development. The app is the brainchild of a group of five sixth graders.

Calling themselves the ‘fab five’, the boys came up with and pitched the idea of an app that taps into data collected by city water meters and supplies daily updates on a person’s water use.

Due in part to a 25-thousand dollar donation from AT&T, the team has now raised the nearly 60-thousand dollars needed to hire a local technology company to code the app.

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News
8:48 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Water Conservation Leads To Unexpected Outcomes

Calwater meets with residents of Selma

Cities across the valley are working to cut their water use under new regulations as the state struggles through its fourth year of drought. However, the reductions are having different effects in different towns, in some cases having unexpected repercussions.

Towns throughout the Valley are having to take a hard look at their water use in order to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s ambitious conservation order.

In some cases reducing use by as much as a third.

One of those is Selma.

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Agriculture
8:03 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Appeals Court Gives Win To Fresno Grower In Ag Labor Fight

Protestors gathered outside the 5th District Court of Appeals earlier this year to criticize the state's Ag Labor Relations Board
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

A state appeals court has delivered a legal victory to a Fresno-based fruit grower in a decades old fight with the state’s ag labor relations board and the UFW. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, it’s likely not the final ruling.

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Government & Politics
7:28 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Fresno City Council Kills Farmland Preservation, Again

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second time in two months the Fresno City Council has voted down a proposal to start a farmland preservation program. FM89’s Joe Moore reports. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration had wanted to apply for a $100,000 state grant to help start the effort, which is a key part of the city’s new general plan. 

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Drought
12:58 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

California Pool Construction Soars During Drought

The swimming pool under construction in Victoria Deal's back yard.
Ben Adler Capital Public Radio

Californians built more backyard swimming pools last year than in any year since the peak of the housing boom. And this year, the state is on pace to shatter last year’s mark. All this, during one of the worst droughts in California history. That’s prompting some very different reactions from local water agencies, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.

 Aaron Gurley watches his crew tap a leveling tool into wet concrete around the edge of a huge backyard hole-in-the-ground.

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Environment
12:42 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Drought May Mean The End For Some Native Fish

One of five Delta smelt found during the latest trawl by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

The drought in California is taking a heavy toll on native fish. Some experts fear if the drought lasts much longer, it may be a death knell for some species. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the Delta smelt is likely headed toward extinction.

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Agriculture
11:49 am
Thu May 14, 2015

California Veterans Find Refuge In Farming

Veteran Vonita Murray on her farm in Loomis, CA.
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

More and more military veterans are finding refuge in farming. They say digging in the dirt relieves psychological trauma, and it provides reliable work. Capital Public Radio’s Lesley McClurg visited two vets who say growing food for the nation is akin to protecting the country. 

Matt Smiley feels at home when he’s engaged in physical work. The veins on his arms swell as he digs up a green irrigation hose.

The former combat vet says farming is good for his body and his mind.

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Government & Politics
8:10 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Brown's New Budget Proposal Includes Tax Credit For Poor

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

California Gov. Jerry Brown will include a state earned income tax credit in the revised budget proposal he'll release Thursday morning, according to information provided by the Brown administration to Capital Public Radio.

The proposed tax credit would benefit an estimated two million Californians in deep poverty while reducing state budget revenues by $380 million a year. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

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Education
5:22 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Judge Rules Clovis Unified's Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Violated State Law

The American Civil Liberties Union took part in the suit against the Clovis Unified School District filed in 2012.
Credit ACLU

In a recent court decision that some are calling historic, a Fresno County judge ruled that Clovis Unified School District’s abstinence-only sex education classes violated the state law.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black found that the district’s abstinence- only curriculum failed to provide students with information that’s complete, medically accurate and free of bias.

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News
1:07 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Olivier: No Reason Manchester 'Can't Be Prosperous'

A Fresno City Council member says he sees no reason why the struggling Manchester Mall cannot be successful. A new ownership group is planning a renovation of the nearly dead shopping center.

The company, Omninet, thinks an overhaul can revive the Manchester Mall which sits at the corner of Blackstone and Shields in central Fresno.

It’s in the district of City Council member Clint Olivier who says he sees no reason the property can’t be successful, despite multiple previous attempts failing.

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News
2:33 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Company To Renovate Fresno's Manchester Mall

Artists drawing of mall renovations from thenewmanchester.com
Credit Omninet Properties

A new company is preparing to renovate Fresno’s nearly dead Manchester Mall. Omninet is asking the city for a small section of land to increase the appeal of the struggling shopping center.

The company has plans to renovate and refresh the mall which sits at the corner of Blackstone and Shield in central Fresno.

The mall’s management declined to comment on the plan, but a company website is up touting the project, including a video targeted at attracting new tenants.

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Immigration
1:26 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Thousands Of Young Immigrants In Limbo, Losing Work Permits

Brenda Ordaz is one of thousands of young immigrants whose work permit expired, despite having applied on time.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Thousands of undocumented people gained work permits in 2012 as part of an Obama administration effort to shield young people from deportation. Now, as it comes time to renew their paperwork some of these same immigrants- known as “dreamers”- are losing the chance to work legally in the states. Fm89’s Diana Aguilera reports how some people in the Central Valley are left in limbo.

Brenda Ordaz, 22, describes herself as a country girl. She enjoys taking care of her roosters and living in the rural community of Madera. It’s the place she calls home.

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Agriculture
1:13 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Raw Almonds Might Not Be As "Raw" As You Think

  When you’re talking about raw almonds the product may not be quite what you think. All California almonds, which would be virtually all the nuts in the country, are either heat-pasteurized, or sprayed with a fumigant. The processes are intended to prevent food-borne illness. But, some almond aficionados say the treatments change the flavor, and mislead consumers. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has the story.

In a warehouse near Newman, California millions of almonds are heated in huge metal containers.  

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News
2:32 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Fresno Parks High On City Leader's Budget Priorities

Fresno City leaders are vowing to use growing revenue to restore neglected city parks. Many parks fell into disrepair as a result of budget cuts during the recession.

With the city’s tax base recovering, the Mayor and City council members say now is the time to fix and expand the city’s public parks.

Standing in a park in East Fresno, Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the city should spend nearly 6-million dollars on repairs and renovations across the city.

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News
1:46 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Kern County Hit Hard By Low Oil Prices

Most drivers in California have cheer the long run of low oil prices and the effect it has in driving down the price at the pump. But for Kern County the low prices are bad news for the county and the industry that thrives there. The low price has created what some call a ‘fiscal emergency’.

Kern County is routinely one of the top oil producing counties in the country with an industry more than 100 years old.

But that production has made the county massively dependent on the industry and the global price of oil.

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Drought
1:16 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Brown Defends Delta Tunnels Project, Agriculture Industry

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Association of California Water Agencies conference Wednesday in Sacramento.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown says opponents of his Delta water tunnel proposal should just “shut up.” He spoke to the Association of California Water Agencies in Sacramento Wednesday.

One day after the State Water Resources Control Board set mandatory reduction requirements for every local water agency, Brown thanked the agencies for helping California through the drought.

And then, he turned to what many in the room believe is their future water source: two tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move water south.

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