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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Environment
6:32 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Environmentalists Sue To Stop Bakersfield Oil-By-Rail Project

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County to block the expansion of a railyard at the Alon Refinery in Bakersfield.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County over its approval of a project that would expand oil-by-rail shipments at a Bakersfield refinery. 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the railyard expansion at the Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway in September. The project would allow the refinery to process crude oil from the Midwest, delivered to Bakersfield by train.

Kassie Siegel is with the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups in the lawsuit. 

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Government & Politics
2:27 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

California Hospitals Preparing For Potential Ebola

A microscopic image of the Ebola virus.
Credit US Centers For Disease Control

There have not been any diagnosed cases of Ebola in California. But hospitals are preparing, just in case. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Emergency rooms in California are now asking for travel histories from patients. The change follows the case of a man in Dallas who contracted the Ebola virus in Africa and then flew to the United States. 

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Election 2014
12:30 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Potential School District Reserve Cap Drives Debate Over Prop 2

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This November, California voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 2 – the constitutional amendment that would create a state budget reserve. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a little-known new law tied to Prop 2 has some school officials and parents upset.

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Election 2014
12:26 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Prop 45 Would Give Insurance Commissioner Final Say on Health Premiums

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A measure on the November ballot would give California’s elected insurance commissioner power to reject health insurance premium increases for people in individual and small group plans. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento explains, that policy change would be more complicated than it seems.

When the Affordable Care Act set up a state-run health insurance marketplace, it created a framework through which more than a million people signed up for health care within months. But it also created a new state agency that insurance companies must answer to. 

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Government & Politics
9:52 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Biden Stumps For Renteria, Padilla In Bakersfield

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at CSUB in a rally for Alex Padilla and Amanda Renteria.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Vall

It was a classic political stump speech at CSU Bakersfield Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden worked to lend some White House prestige to congressional hopeful Amanda Renteria and Secretary of State candidate Alex Padilla. 

Biden: "Ladies and gentleman, you're not going to get two better choices than the two people standing behind me, so don't let them down."

Speaking before a packed crowd at CSUB's Icardo Center the Vice President delivered a speech that hit on two major issues, immigration and the middle class. 

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Wildfire
6:09 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Cal Fire Air Tanker Crashes Near Yosemite While Battling Dog Rock Fire

A Grumman S2T air tanker like the one that crashed Tuesday fighting a fire near Yosemite. (file photo)
Credit Cal Fire

An air tanker that was battling a wildfire burning near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park crashed on Tuesday afternoon. 

Emergency crews reached the wreckage in steep and rugged terrain in the evening and found the solo pilot dead. The name of the pilot is being withheld pending notification of family.

The Grumman S2T was based out of the Hollister Air Attack base. It was operated by Cal Fire and was assisting federal crews in fighting the 130 acre Dog Rock Fire. 

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Election 2014
1:17 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Voters To Decide Fate of $7.5 Billion Water Bond

The site of the proposed new dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River, near the back of Millerton Lake.
Credit US Bureau of Reclamation

On November 4th, California voters will decide the fate of a $7.5 billion bond intended to improve the state’s water system. Proposition 1 is one of the most closely watched measures on the ballot. Proponents of the bond say it would provide safe and reliable water, opponents say it wrongly focuses on building more dams. And as Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, the bond has divided some environmental groups.

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Election 2014
11:47 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Prop 47 Seeks To Reduce California Prison Population

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Proposition 47 on the November ballot would reduce some drug possession and theft-related felonies to misdemeanors. Opponents say it would put dangerous criminals back on the streets or in local jails. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 47 would change felonies to misdemeanors for some nonviolent property and drug crimes: Grand theft, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, writing bad checks, check forgery and drug possession.

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Drought
5:22 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

New NASA Images Document Loss Of Water In Central Valley

This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites in June 2002 (left), June 2008 (center) and June 2014 (right). Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between June 2002 and June 2014.
Credit NASA GRACE

A new set of satellite images released by NASA shows the dramatic loss of water storage in the Central Valley due to California's long term drought. According to research by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Team, the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins together lost 12 million acre feet a year between 2011 and 2014, largely due to agricultural groundwater pumping.

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Government & Politics
6:01 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Swearengin Voices Support For Gay Marriage

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin speaking at Fresno City Hall for a recent campaign event.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has announced that she now supports gay marriage. Swearengin, a Republican who is running for state controller had been a supporter of Proposition 8. She announced her new position last week at a meeting of an LGBT conservative group in Southern California. 

Kevin Gilhooley is the president of the Orange County Log Cabin Republicans. Swearengin spoke to his group last week and took questions from the audience.

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Military
11:09 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Lemoore Naval Air Station Selected As Home Base For F35c Jets

Lemoore Naval Air Station will be the next home base of the US Navy’s new F-35c joint strike fighter jet. Several squadrons totaling 100 aircraft with be based at Lemoore, replacing the aging FA-18 Hornet. Lemoore beat out El Centro Naval Air Facility in Imperial County in the bid to host the jets. 

In a written statement announcing the decision, Congressman David Valadao said the move will result in new jobs and a boost to the local economy."

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Community
10:56 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Teatro Azteca: Dreaming Up Spanish Language Theater In Fresno

Laura Barboza has dreamed of opening a theater since she was a child.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

The United States is dominated by box office hits played at megaplexes with sometimes as many as 21 plus screens, but no more than a few decades ago film venues looked very different especially for the Latino community. But today in Fresno, one young woman has taken on the task to reopen the region’s only Spanish language theater.

Thirty years ago, the main hall of Teatro Azteca in Fresno’s Chinatown was filled with the sounds of famous Spanish language actors, singers and comedians.

Think Cantinflas, the Mexican Charlie Chaplin. 

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Community
3:08 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Fresno Group Wants To Solve Blight Of Boarded Up Homes

Credit Faith in Community

If you drive through many older parts of Fresno or other cities throughout the valley, chances are you'll see a number of boarded up homes. In many cases, they're not just an unsightly issue but one tied to everything from public safety to property values. Now a faith-based group Faith in Community has launched a new effort to find a solution to this problem, with an event called Blight to Light. We recently spoke about the project with Janine Nkosi, a Fresno State professor whose students are working to document the city's many blighted properties.

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Health In the Central Valley
5:01 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Brown Signs Bill To Help Fresno County Continue Indigent Care

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sunday in an effort to help Fresno County continue to provide health care services for the indigent and undocumented population. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, comes several weeks after the county voted to eliminate a health safety net for undocumented immigrants.

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Health
4:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

In East Porterville "They Were Drinking Water That Looked Yellow And Red"

Andrea Zousino has lived in East Porterville all her life. She says this is the first time that the private well that supplies water to her home went dry.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

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Government & Politics
2:38 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Ten Years Later, Will Fresno County Voters Keep Zoo Tax?

Visitors fill up the underwater viewing area at the Sea Lion Cove exhibit.
Diana Aguilera Valley Public Radio

After struggling to keep its accreditation back in 2004, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo got a boost from voters with a special sales tax. Now a decade later the zoo is again asking voters for their help on the November ballot. But as FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, some say Fresno’s zoo is already being saved.

Nearly eleven years ago Angel Arrellano wrote a letter to her local newspaper.

“Dear Fresno Bee. My name is Angel and I am nine. I heard that the Chafee Zoo is having money problems.”

Along with her letter, Angel sent something extra.

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Drought
3:19 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Brown Orders More Action On Drought

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California's ongoing drought is prompting Governor Jerry Brown to take new executive action.

Friday, Brown ordered that money be made available to provide water for drinking and sanitation to households without running water.

He also extended the prohibition on price-gouging during emergencies to apply to the drought.

Finally, Brown is requiring state agencies to identify acute water shortages and work with counties and local agencies to address them.

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Environment
6:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Brown Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation

California now has its first laws regulating the use of groundwater. Governor Jerry Brown signed the package of legislation today.
Office of Governor Jerry Brown

It’s going to become more difficult to drill a well in California. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a package of groundwater legislation signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown.

The regulations will require local agencies to create and implement groundwater management plans within five years and meet groundwater sustainability levels within 20 years. Brown says the laws, combined with the Legislature's bi-partisan approval of a water bond slated for the November ballot, represent a giant step forward toward securing the state’s water supply.

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History
5:35 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Old Fresno County Courthouse Relic To Get New Home At Fairgrounds

Representatives of the Big Fresno Fair and the Fresno Historical Society gather to announce the restoration of the cupola and plans for the new museum.
Big Fresno Fair

The cupola that once sat on top of the dome of the old Fresno County Courthouse from 1895 to 1966 will soon have a new home. Representatives of the Big Fresno Fair and the Fresno Historical Society announced Tuesday that the relic will be restored and placed on top of a planned expansion of the Big Fresno Fair Museum at the fairgrounds. 

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver said the project will preserve an important part of Fresno County's historic and it's judicial system. 

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Environment
12:49 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Valley Farmers Worried About New Groundwater Regulations

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown made history Tuesday morning when he signed into law three bills that for the first time will regulate groundwater in the state. California had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate groundwater at the state level.

While many environmental groups praised the move, a number of valley agriculture interests opposed the new regulations. This week on Valley Edition, we talked to Joel Nelson of the Exeter-based group California Citrus Mutual about his concerns about the new laws. 

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