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. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Electricity rates will be going up for some Californians. The California Public Utilities Commission approved a new rate structure Friday.

The commission unanimously voted to move from a from a four tier system to two tier system for electricity rates by 2019. That means low-use customers may start paying more, while customers in higher tiers may see a reduction in their bills. An additional surcharge for high-use customers will be introduced in 2017. 

Mike Dunleavy - Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevedunleavy/ / Creative Commons

A popular hiking and equestrian trail that stretches through the Central Sierra has started to see an increasing number of hikers. As FM89’s Jason Scott reports, Hollywood may be to thank for it.

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches 2,600 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada, along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. It’s always been a popular draw for outdoor enthusiasts, but lately it’s seen a surge in activity.

Flickr- Baron Valium

Officials with the Valley Air District are warning about Fourth of July fireworks worsening air quality and threatening residents' health.

Fireworks can cause damaging air pollution to spike to five times the level considered safe.

When fireworks are set off, they burn, explode and release large amounts of dangerous particulate matter into the atmosphere.

Heather Heinks with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District says the tiny particles of soot, ash and metal can bury themselves deep in the body causing short and long term problems.

Californians Conserve 29 Percent More Water In May

Jul 1, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Californians stepped up their water conservation in May. The state is the midst of its worst drought in history. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The State Water Resources Control Board says Californians achieved their best conservation yet, cutting water use 29 percent in May compared to two years ago. 

The board says rain in parts of the state likely drove the May water savings. But the rain did nothing to ease drought conditions.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in 2014 and things have gotten worse.   

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 A new bill in the California Senate could make sex education mandatory for middle and high school students. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

If the bill becomes law, students will be required to learn about abstinence, sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

Right now, public schools throughout the state aren’t required to offer sex ed classes, but they are required to teach HIV and AIDS prevention. In recent years, Fresno Unified dropped its sex ed program due to budget cuts.

California Bill Would Allow Tax On Water Wasters In Drought

Jun 30, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California Assembly committee will hear a bill Wednesday that would allow water districts to impose taxes on any business, industry or person who wastes water. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the measure would require voter approval.

The City of Fresno has officially rolled out its complaint reporting app called ‘Fresgo’. The smartphone app lets people take pictures and report issues like pot holes, downed stop lights, and other problems throughout the city.

The app, called Fresgo, is intended to replace the cumbersome and sometimes confusing process of filling out paper work or contacting the appropriate city department to report issues.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the app lets people take a picture, tag their location, and send it straight to the city to fix their complaint.

http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

In recent months, the valley's agriculture industry has been thrust into the national headlines, largely over the debate over how much water farmers use to grow crops. Critics say farmers use 80 percent of the water used by people in California. However farmers say that number is misleading, pointing out they actually use only 40 percent of the state's total water supply, where about 50 percent is set aside for environmental uses.

What do General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Greek god Zeus and Sir Lancelot all have in common? They've all lent their names to popular beers from local craft breweries. It turns out the San Joaquin Valley is in the midst of a craft beer boom, from Bakersfield to Turlock, making it one of the area’s hottest food and beverage trends. What's behind the explosive growth, and is there a definitive local style of beer?

Joe Moore, KVPR

With the implementation of Proposition 47 central valley law enforcement leaders warned about its potential to drive crime up. They argued that fewer people facing felonies gives people less chance to recover from addiction and change their life, while leaving them on the street to re-offend. But now even some in law enforcement are questioning if that is the case.

Valley Public Radio took a close look at the data from Fresno city and County to see if, six months into the experiment, the warnings are coming true.

New Data: Nearly One In Ten California Workers Is Undocumented

Jun 29, 2015
PPIC

It's difficult to tally a population that lives in the shadows, but new data estimates that 2.7 million immigrants are living illegally in California. That's more than any other state in the nation.

The majority of California's undocumented immigrants arrive from Latin America, and specifically Mexico. Laura Hill is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She expects that trend to continue. 

Most conventional and organic farmers rely on insecticides to kill pests. But, new research shows that a compound in fruit may be a good natural alternative to repel bugs. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has the story.

Anandasankar Ray is an entomology professor at UC Riverside.

He recently studied how butyl anthranilate keeps fruit flies away from blueberries.

The natural compound smells like grapes. It's found in low concentrations in several types of fruit. It’s commonly used as a flavor and fragrance additive.

Stormwater Capture: California's Untapped Water Supply

Jun 25, 2015
Curtis Jerome Haynes / Capital Public Radio

When it rains in California, millions of gallons of water runs down city streets, into storm drains and out to the Pacific Ocean. But with the state in its fourth year of drought, it can’t afford to waste it. Some cities are capturing that rain by soaking it up like a sponge. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento on what may be California’s next big “untapped” water supply.

It’s a busy morning in a San Fernando Valley neighborhood. On Elmer Avenue people are hopping in their cars and garbage trucks are making their rounds. Look to the northeast, you can see mountains.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The Smithsonian Institution is honoring California labor activist Dolores Huerta with a special exhibit opening next week. 

The National Portrait Gallery’s One Life series has honored 10 notable Americans everyone from Elvis Presley to Martin Luther King Jr. And now, Dolores Huerta.

The museum is honoring Huerta for her years of activism and her role in founding the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez. Huerta is the first Latina in the series.

Flickr user https://www.flickr.com/photos/djwaldow/4868263565/ / Creative Commons

A proposed new ballot measure in California would tax bottled water sales. If backers gather enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, voters would be asked to place a tax of 5 cents per ounce on bottled water sold in the state. The measure would also require bottled water to contain a label identifying the product as “not drought friendly.”

Google

For years, Google users have relied on the company's popular "Street View" technology to get a sidewalk level view of shops and restaurants. Now that concept is going vertical, with a unique 360-degree digital trek up Yosemite's El Capitan with some of the world's top climbers.

The top attorney at California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board has a new job. On Wednesday Governor Jerry Brown appointed  Sylvia Torres-Guillen to a new job as special counsel in his office.

Torres-Guillen had served as general counsel for the ALRB since 2011. In recent years the board has been at the center of controversy over a case involving Fresno’s Gerawan Farming and the United Farm Workers union, including a disputed 2013 decertification election.

Federal Agency Provides $150 Million For Drought Projects In California

Jun 24, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal agency is providing $150 million to help California deal with the on-going drought.

Most of the money, from the U.S. Agriculture Department, will be used for U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed restoration projects in the Sierra Nevada.

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird says those projects will benefit the 25 million Californians that rely on Sierra supply for drinking water. And also the irrigation needs of agricultural users downstream in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.

KVPR/Jeffrey Hess

A free public science education center is officially open in Northwest Fresno. The Highway City Science Center is moving into a community center that has been closed for 5 years since deep Recession era budget cuts.

The center is moving into one of the most underserved areas of Fresno off highway 99 in an area known as Highway City.

It will host science programing for children and adults, such as a fully assembled whale skeleton and electrical workshop.

Manuel Hernandez with the Fresno Parks Department says the center is a huge boost to the area.

Regulations Would Allow Quick Removal of Drought-Killed Trees

Jun 23, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought has killed so many trees that the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is adopting emergency regulations to remove them. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the board is concerned about the growing threat of wildfires.

Twelve and a half million trees are dead, most of them in southern California and the southern Sierra Nevada. That’s four times more than all of the tree die-off in 2014 and it doesn’t include many of the hardwood species that are also likely dying.

Pages