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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Business & Economy
2:19 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Organizers Say Fresno Software Competition So Successful, It's No Longer Necessary

Downtown Fresno is just 163 miles from Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley and the home of tech giant Google, but in many ways it's a world away. But while the San Joaquin Valley may be known more for its produce than its programmers a local competition has been working for the past five years to change that.

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Government & Politics
11:59 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Political Junkie Ken Rudin On Kevin McCarthy, Jerry Brown

"Political Junkie" Ken Rudin
Credit NPR

Last week Central California took center stage in the nation's capital as House Republicans selected Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy as the next majority leader.  It caps a remarkable rise to power for the Kern County congressman, who was elected to his first time in 2006. 

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Environment
10:57 am
Tue June 24, 2014

CNN Journalist Aims To Kayak San Joaquin River From Fresno To San Francisco

CNN's John D. Sutter is on a quest to kayak the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam near Fresno to San Francisco Bay.
Credit John D. Sutter / Twitter http://twitter.com/jdsutter

Journalist John D. Sutter is on a quest to do something that many valley residents do, kayak on the San Joaquin River. But instead of going for a short trip from Lost Lake Park to Highway 41, he has a much longer journey in mind - Friant Dam all the way to San Francisco Bay. 

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Environment
8:33 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Drought Speeds Up Race To Tap Valley's Groundwater

Victor Bruno’s 300-foot well is running dry in Madera County.
Marnette Federis Capital Public Radio

Vic Bruno’s home isn’t connected to a public water system. Like most rural homeowners in Madera County, his water comes from a deep hole in the ground.  

Bruno: “It’s a three-quarter inch pipe that goes all the way down three-hundred feet.”

Bruno has lived here for 25 years. His ranch is also home to a whole gang of farm animals. So when his well started pumping up sand, he thought of them.

Bruno: "I’ve got horses, sheep, pigs. These guys need water."

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Water
7:48 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Senate Rejects Alternate Water Bond; Brown To Weigh In?

Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) asks her colleagues to support her water bond proposal in Monday's Senate floor debate.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California water bond negotiations are entering a critical stretch. Time is growing short to replace the current $11 billion measure on the November ballot. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, one proposal failed a key test vote Monday.

Typically, water politics break down along regional lines. But this vote fell on party lines. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk argued that her proposal stands the best chance of passing the legislature this summer – and winning voter approval this fall.

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Immigration
8:12 am
Sat June 21, 2014

Concern Over Proposed Regulations For Undocumented Licenses

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is developing regulations for undocumented immigrant driver licenses. But some groups are concerned about what they’ve seen so far. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

A coalition of immigrant rights groups says California needs to keep working on the regulations for undocumented driver licenses. Refugio Mata with Presente.org says there are concerns about the kinds of documents needed to get a license and how undocumented drivers will be treated by law enforcement. 

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Government & Politics
7:13 am
Sat June 21, 2014

Audit Finds That California Prisoners Were Illegally Sterilized

A new audit finds that prisoners at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.
Credit CDCR

A California State Audit has found that dozens of women in state prisons were sterilized illegally. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone says prison medical officials are faulted for not following consent laws.  

Lawmakers called for the audit after coverage from the Center for Investigative Reporting last year. The Center found more than 100 incarcerated women had tubal ligations without proper approvals since 2006.

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Health
12:28 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Air District Questions Asthma-Air Pollution Link

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New research this week questions the connection between air pollution and asthma.

In 2011, a study by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District established a link between asthma-related ER visits and levels of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter in valley air.  But after a follow-up to that study, the Air District now reports that for a number of years, asthma-related ER visits increased even as PM2.5 levels dropped.

David Lighthall, health science advisor to the Air District, says the findings should not be interpreted as black and white.

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Government & Politics
11:43 am
Mon June 16, 2014

California Legislature Approves $156 Billion Budget

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

California’s new budget includes money for education, debt repayment and controversial projects like high speed rail. Katie Orr has details from Sacramento on last night’s budget vote.

California lawmakers spent father’s day debating the 156 billion spending plan. 108 billion of that makes up the state’s general fund. Democratic Senator Mark Leno says Money will go towards paying off debt, and building up a rainy day reserve and supporting California's children.

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Environment
6:35 am
Mon June 16, 2014

The 'Deepest Straw Wins' In Central Valley Scramble For Groundwater

Ruth Griffin says she spent her life savings building her dream home in Kingsburg, California. But she can't move in because her private well is dry.
Marnette Federis Capital Public Radio

  The California drought is becoming a source of tension between homeowners and farmers in the Southern Central Valley. Farmers are seeing unprecedented reductions in their allotments to surface water. Homeowners are watching their private wells run dry. Pauline Bartolone has more about how people in the Fresno area are tapping into underground water.  

The home where Ruth Griffin planned to retire looks like it’s an island in a sea of almond orchards.

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Education
6:00 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Fresno State Breaks Ground On New Research Center

The $24 million The Jordan Research Center will be dedicated to agriculture and engineering research.
Credit Fresno State

Fresno State officials broke ground today on a $24 million agricultural and engineering research center.

The 30,000 square-foot facility will host labs and foster collaboration among students and faculty in the university’s agricultural, engineering and science and math colleges.

The Jordan Research Center aimed at solving agricultural challenges will be located on the corner of Barstow and Woodrow avenues.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Lawsuit Filed Over Proposal For Delta Water Transfers

Delta smelt, one of the endangered species at home in the Delta.
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

 

A coalition of environmental groups announced Wednesday that it is suing the Bureau of Reclamation over its proposal to send water from northern California to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

The water transfers would involve pumping over 175,000 acre-feet of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, home to the endangered delta smelt and other fragile aquatic species.

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Government & Politics
6:37 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Activists Call on Counties to Enforce TRUST Act

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s TRUST Act has been in place since the beginning of the year. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, immigrant rights activists say the law is working, but there are still gaps in compliance.

Martin Del Agua, a married father of two, was arrested earlier this year in Sacramento after a neighbor complained he was playing his music too loud. Del Agua was detained on an immigration hold by the Sheriff’s Department and was facing deportation.

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Community
5:30 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Fresno Fire Department Looking Into Serial Arson in Fresno's Downtown Fires

Firefighters contain a fire at an abandoned warehouse in downtown Fresno on May 17, 2014.
Credit Kerry Klein

 

The Fresno Fire Department believes it is battling a serial arsonist.  At a budget hearing on Tuesday, Fresno Fire Department Chief Kerri Donis said the fire and police departments are investigating 21 fires that have occurred in the city since May.

Most of the fires occurred in vacant buildings in downtown Fresno.  In one building, a severed gas line appears to have been left in the “on” position.  Fire Department spokesman Koby Johns has confirmed that geographical and chronological factors appear to connect at least 4 of the fires.

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Analysis
2:11 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Cantor's Defeat Presents Opportunity, Challenge For Bakersfield's McCarthy

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Tuesday's surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary is having a ripple effect throughout the GOP. The "political earthquake" is extending all the way to the San Joaquin Valley, which is home to Cantor's chief deputy, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

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Government & Politics
12:10 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Families Concerned By Possible IHSS Changes

Judy Lee smiles at her son Justin.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s In-Home Supportive Services program allows the disabled to remain in their homes by paying for their caregivers. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a proposal to modify the program is creating tension in the state budget process.

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Drought
10:47 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Lawmakers Get Pressured To Act On Water Bond

Pine Flat dam near Fresno on the Kings River (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are debating whether to put a scaled-down water bond on the November ballot. And as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a rally at the Capitol Monday demonstrated the increasing pressure on the legislature as it wades through a number of bond proposals.

Business, agriculture and environmental leaders gathered under the blazing sun, in front the brown Capitol lawn to express the dire need for a water bond. Bryce Lundberg is a rice farmer and a member of the North State Water Alliance. His group has some criteria they’d like to see included in a bond.

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Drought
10:39 am
Tue June 10, 2014

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Credit California Department of Water Resources

California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline – and that must be reversed. In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground. A number of government agencies are generating a five-year plan to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater

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Health Care
12:23 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Three Year California Medical School Pilot Program Set to Begin

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Students in a pilot accelerated medical school program at UC Davis will begin classes this summer. A bill in the California legislature would allow them to obtain licenses in less than four years. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

The program was set up to address a growing problem in California.

Bonilla: “We have far more patients than we have doctors.”

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Community
12:20 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

On the Way to November Ballot, Fresno Chaffee Zoo Hits Funding Hurdle

Fresno's Chaffee Zoo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In 2004, an initiative called Measure Z saved Fresno's Chaffee Zoo.  The voter-­approved measure allowed for an increase in county sales tax by one tenth of one percent.  Those 10 cents from every $100 spent in Fresno County prevented the zoo from raising its entry fees, while allowing it to make crucial repairs and add new exhibits, like Sea Lion Cove and African Adventure.

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