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. 

Fresno Chamber of Commerce

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand focused on job creation as he delivered his first state of the city speech today at the Fresno Convention Center. Brand says he wants to build upon this year’s announcements of new fulfillment centers for retail giants Amazon and Ulta Beauty, which are both now under construction.

The plan is to create 10,000 new jobs in the city in the next 10 years with similar operations, and another 10,000 spillover jobs in other sectors.  

BRAND: “The goal is to make Fresno the e-commerce capital of the west coast.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UC Merced isn’t the first place people think of when it comes to finding new ways to prevent the spread of HIV globally. But thanks to one professor the university is now working with scientists around the globe to find an alternative way to prevent the virus from infecting people.

A new non-profit group launched last week that has a goal to help guide the future of the Fresno Unified School District. Go Public Schools Fresno is the local branch of an Oakland-based education advocacy group. Led by Diego Arambula, the Fresno group says it hopes to build a constituency around making changes that will improve the quality of education in the district. So what does that mean, and what sorts of changes would that include? Arambula joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his background and vision.

ZDoggMD

At the intersection of popular culture and health care innovation is a man the internet knows as ZDoggMD. Thanks to his forward thinking ideas about what he calls Health 3.0, he’s been featured in The Atlantic, Forbes,

California Health Sciences University

For decades, San Joaquin Valley residents have been calling for a medical school. Plans at UC Merced have stalled, and a state bill that would have brought a public medical school to Fresno State died in the state assembly in March. And yet, the Fresno area could be home to not only one, but two private medical schools—in just two years.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

City of Fresno officials are calling it the crown jewel of a growing industrial park in south central Fresno. E-commerce giant Amazon officially began work on a new internet fulfillment center Monday to the delight of elected officials and business leaders who gathered at the site.

With a few short words, Amazon’s West Coast Operations Director Kelvin Downs opened the ground breaking ceremony of an 855,000 square foot internet fulfillment center.

“It’s official. Amazon is coming to Fresno,” Downs says.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new scientific study reveals what happens at the surface of the earth can influence earthquakes originating deep underground. 

Faces of Fracking / Flickr

A series of hearings began today in Kern County in a lawsuit over an ordinance that could allow up to 70,000 new oil and gas wells there over the next two decades.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Wilderness areas are known for isolated beauty and the feeling of peace experienced there. There are no cars, few roads and only horseman, horses and hikers can enter them. But that could soon change if a bill that’s now in congress becomes law.

When Craig Bowden isn’t teaching eighth graders language arts he’s out riding his mountain bike. Today, he’s giving me a lesson on bike riding at Woodward Park in north Fresno.  

“When you’re taking a corner you typically want to have your outside foot down, so the pressures on the outside,” Bowden says as we ride down a hill.

Office of Congressman Jeff Denham

The expansion of Medi-Cal in the Central Valley under the Affordable Care Act has been key to slashing the area’s uninsured rate in half in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up, and in most valley counties, about half of the population is on Medi-Cal. But according to some, having more people on the program has compounded the problem of low reimbursement rates for physicians and the area’s long-running doctor shortage.

Voice of Witness

A new book aims to document the stories of valley farmworkers through oral histories. It's the project of editor and independent journalist Gabriel Thompson, and features interviews with dozens of people who have spent their lives working in the fields of California. The book is called "Chasing The Harvest" and is published by the group Voice of Witness. Thompson joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his experiencing collecting the stories that make up the book.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he has a vision to create 10,000 new jobs in Fresno and drop the unemployment rate to 5%. That would be a significant accomplishment for a city where the unemployment number is routinely above the state average. One major piece of that vision fell into place last week with the announcement that Amazon will build a fulfillment center in Fresno. Valley Public Radio spoke with the mayor about how he plans to achieve his jobs goal and the first steps already taking place. This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.

Todd Rosenberg / Courtesy The Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic has announced that conductor Rei Hotoda will be the orchestra's next music director. Hotoda is the first woman and the first Asian-American to hold the position, and is just the eighth music director in the orchestra's history.

Hotoda is currently the Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and has held assistant conductor roles at orchestras in Dallas and Winnipeg. She says she is excited about the opportunity to lead the Philharmonic as its next conductor. 

After five years at Cal State Monterey Bay, CSU Summer Arts is back at Fresno State starting June 25. This month of lectures and performances draws people from around the country including the cinematographer who blew up the the Death Star in the original "Star Wars" movie. A Brooklyn-based group that uses dance to address social and political issues will also spend the month here. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the third installment in our series Contaminated, in which we explore the 300 California communities that lack access to clean drinking water. When we began the series, we introduced you to the community of Lanare, which has arsenic-tainted water while a treatment plant in the center of town sits idle. 

Today, we return to Lanare to learn why infrastructure projects aren’t always enough, and how Sacramento is trying to ensure Lanare never happens again.

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