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
10:49 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Fresno Adopts New 'Smart Growth' General Plan

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council approved a new general plan last night that for the first time attempts to but the brakes on suburban sprawl. 

Over the next two decades, the plan calls for about half of the city's future growth to take place within the existing city limits and the rest in new growth areas like west of Highway 99 and in Southeast Fresno. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin called the council's 5-2 vote historic, and a new direction for the city.

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Agriculture
4:44 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

2014 Was A Rough Year for California's Farmers and Ranchers

file photo
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California's farmers and ranchers have endured a challenging 2014. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg reports on how they're weathering the drought.

Paula Getzelman says recent rain brings a deep sigh of relief. She and her husband run Tre Gatti Vineyards in Monterey County. 

Getzelman: "We were extremely nervous in 2014. The harvest was a real nail biter."

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Drought
5:27 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons Of Water To End Drought

Water scientist Jay Famiglietti
Credit UC Irvine

California needs one and a half times the maximum volume of water in Lake Mead, the largest US reservoir, to end its drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, NASA scientists released the finding today.

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Community
1:12 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Fresno Woman Helps Fellow Homeless Veterans Reclaim Their Lives

Anita Pascual walks by the apartment complex where the women veterans live. Her office is located in one of the apartments.
Credit Anita Pascual / Homefront

Many veterans struggle as they return home after serving this country. Among that group are women who may have a hard time making that transition, sometimes ending up on the verge of being homeless. As part of our series “Common Threads: Veterans Still Fighting The War” FM89's Diana Aguilera reports on how a woman is determined to make a difference.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Storms And Muddy Delta Water Lead To Voluntary Pumping Cutback

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to transport water from the Delta to Central Valley Project customers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region

The recent storms that have hit northern and Central California have much brought needed rain and snow to the state. But they also created a new problem for the operators of the massive pumps in the Delta that supply users in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - too much water. 

Ara Azhderian is with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos. 

Azhderian: "With all that water comes a whole lot of mud and trash and debris as well, so a little too much of a good thing too fast."

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Immigration
9:57 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Scams Target Immigrants As New Benefits Roll Out

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued consumer alerts warning of potential scams for immigrants and their families. (file photo)
Credit The Aspen Institute / Creative Commons

Undocumented immigrants are becoming eligible for more services and benefits in California. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, these developments make them targets for scams.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued several consumer alerts warning of scams targeting immigrants and their families. Harris says scams could center on the President’s recent immigration executive action or on the state beginning to issue driver licenses to undocumented immigrants.

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Drought
3:30 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Strong Storms May Not Improve California Water Supply Much

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno on the Kings River (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Northern California storms are causing water levels to rise in the state’s reservoirs. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rain won’t do a lot to improve the state’s water supply.

California now has above average rainfall at the eight monitoring stations in the Northern Sierra. But the storm is not going to come close to ending the state’s drought. The Department of Water Resources says California would need five to ten more storms this season. Doug Carlson with DWR says storms have also been too warm.

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Environment
12:25 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Infill Is Key To Fresno's New General Plan, But It's Also Controversial

Credit Heather Heinks / City of Fresno General Plan Update

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to hear public comments on the city’s new 2035 general plan in meeting at the Convention Center this evening. The move is the last step before a vote next week on the document that will chart the city’s growth for decades to come.

City planning director Jennifer Clark says the new General Plan attempts to answer a question that has perplexed city leaders for decades:

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Drought
12:51 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Study Says California Drought Caused By Natural Climate Patterns

Folsom Lake as seen in 2011 (top) and 2014 (bottom)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says natural occurring climate patterns –not climate change- are the primary drivers of California’s drought. 

The NOAA study says a high-pressure atmospheric ridge off the West Coast blocked important winter storms from California for three winters. Ocean surface temperature patterns made the ridge much more likely. The decreased precipitation is almost the opposite of what climate change models project.

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Health Care
7:45 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Health In An Age Of Change: State Health Czar Diana Dooley Reflects On The ACA's Impact

Diana Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency
Credit CHHS Dept

Diana Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, oversees 13 departments and supervises the state’s rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act, including Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace, and the Medi-Cal program for the poor. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her in late 2010. A native of Hanford, she earlier served as president and CEO of the California Children’s Hospital Assn. She worked for Brown during his first administration.

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Health Care
7:33 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Health Reform In California: A State Of Accelerating Change

Gail Fulbeck unloads her van full of soda, water and snacks onto a dolly so she can re-stock some of the 23 vending machines she owns around downtown Sacramento. The 64-year-old saved a lot of money by switching to a Bronze health plan under Covered California.
Credit Lauren M. Whaley / CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Gail Fulbeck, 64, relies on her body for work. She hauls soda, energy drinks, snacks and water to the 23 vending machines she owns around downtown Sacramento.

The physical demands of her job, coupled with her husband’s history of migraines and bad knees, make health insurance essential.

Last year, Fulbeck and her husband paid a monthly insurance premium of $2,555.

Starting Jan. 1 of this year, the couple’s premium for a nearly identical plan totaled $165. It was, she said, almost unbelievable.

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Environment
3:47 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Californians Conserved Less Water In October

Credit Valley Public Radio

For the second straight month, California’s water conservation rate has declined. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the State Water Resources Control Board says the reason behind the drop isn’t clear.

You could call it “conservation fatigue.” But the reason behind California’s diminishing conservation rate is more complicated than that. The statewide rate dropped from 10.3 percent in September to six-point-seven percent in October. Eric Oppenheimer with the State Water Resources Control Board says one reason for the difference may be the season change.

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Health Care
3:09 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Covered California Attempting To Calm Immigrants' Fears

Covered California is trying to reassure immigrant communities their information will not be turned over to immigration authorities if they sign up for health insurance.

Only documented immigrants are eligible for California’s health insurance exchange. But Executive Director Peter Lee says the fear of deportation still prevents some from using the service.   

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Health
5:31 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors OK Juvenile Psychiatric Ward, Hold Firm On Pot

It's still illegal to grow marijuana in Fresno County. The Board of Supervisors entertained the possibility of lifting the outright ban on cultivation during their meeting today but instead decided to retain the county's zero tolerance policy.

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Immigration
12:13 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

California Preparing For Undocumented Driver Licenses

Fresno's DMV field office (file photo)
Credit CA Department of Motor Vehicles

Beginning January 2, undocumented Californians can apply for driver licenses in the state. One-point-four million people are expected to apply for “AB 60” licenses over the next few years. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on how preparations are going.

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Health
10:26 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Advocates Say More Immigrants Eligible For Medi-Cal

file photo
Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Immigrant advocates say more undocumented Californians could receive health care as a result of President Barack Obama’s recent executive action. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

California already allows some undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal if they’ve qualified for deportation relief. Anthony Wright is Executive Director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access California. He says the president's executive action will expand the pool of Medi-Cal eligible immigrants.

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Community
1:15 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Author Interview: Selma's Berry Family Goes "Beyond Luck" In Rags To Riches Story

Betsy Lumbye's new book "Beyond Luck" tells the story of the Berry family, from the fields of Selma to the Klondike Gold Rush to the oil fields of Kern County
Credit West of the West Books

The San Joaquin Valley is filled with remarkable stories about families, fortunes and fame. But while names like Boswell and Kearney grace the history books, the remarkable tale of the Berry family of Selma has largely been overlooked. 

Now the new book "Beyond Luck: The Improbable Rise of the Berry Fortune Across A Western Century" by author Betsy Lumbye tells their story.

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Arts & Culture
6:12 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Kuchar To Step Down As Conductor Of Fresno Philharmonic in 2016

Theodore Kuchar, conductor and music director of the Fresno Philharmonic. (file photo)
Credit Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic will soon be looking for a new conductor and musical director. Theodore Kuchar, who has led the orchestra for the past 13 seasons announced on Thursday that he plans to step down following the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. 

In a written statement Kuchar praised the orchestra's performances:

Kuchar: "I have no reservation in saying that the Fresno Philharmonic and I have often delivered performances that are not typical of a regional American orchestra but those of a standard to be expected in a major musical capitol."

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Health Care
11:39 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Covered California Gears Up For Open Enrollment

Covered California is trying to raise awareness about the start of open enrollment this Saturday, November 15th. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, the experience this year may be different for people buying their own insurance.

Covered California says its website this year will be able to accommodate more people who might be logging in at the same time. And Director Peter Lee says it will have 200 storefront locations and expanded service center hours.

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Community
3:45 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Fresno City College OAB Earns National Historic Preservation Honor

The historic Old Administration Building at Fresno City College was restored in 2011after sitting vacant for decades.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Long abandoned and once nearly demolished, Fresno City College's newly restored Old Administration Building (OAB) is now the recipient of a prestigious national award. The National Trust For Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it has awarded the project its Preservation Honor Award. It is one of 17 projects nationwide to receive the award, which is one of the nation's top historic preservation honors. 

Tim Mikulski with the National Trust says the OAB is significant both in Fresno's history, and in the development of school architecture nationally:

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