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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. 

Last week it made national headlines: a company with ties to Google is releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno. It might sound like a bad idea, but it's actually part of an innovative plan called "Debug Fresno" that aims to stop the local spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can spread dengue fever and the zika virus.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

On Tuesday morning, construction crews slowly lifted the old Fulton Mall clock tower into the clear Fresno sky and moved the delicate structure to a new home, just a few feet away. Moving the iconic structure, which has stood in downtown since the mall was built in 1964, signals the home stretch of turning the pedestrian mall back into a street.

The city also used the occasion to announce the official grand opening of the completed project is set for October 21st, 2017.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

School’s out and the weather’s hot, so this week, we decided to escape the heat of the valley and go to camp in the mountains. Bearskin Meadow Camp is a not-so-typical summer camp near Hume Lake, where campers do more than play outside and share campfire stories.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

When new presidential administrations come into office, they often make changes to agencies and appoint people who share their political outlook. The same is true under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

However, one seemingly obscure reorganization involving leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program is sending shockwaves throughout Central California and beyond. One of those concerned is Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer.

Google

For decades Trout's Nightclub has been a fixture in the Oildale neighborhood of Bakersfield. It was the musical home of people like the late Red Simpson and others who helped make the "Bakersfield Sound" incredibly popular among country music fans in the decades following World War II.  The venue was also considered one of the city's last original honky-tonk clubs. But earlier this spring the bar closed, and doesn't show any signs of reopening soon.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

It’s not usually easy to get the state of California to quickly adjust how it spends money in places like the Central Valley, especially after the Governor Jerry Brown himself comes to town for a major bill signing.

But that’s exactly what a group of activists in Southwest Fresno were able to do, convincing the state to make their part of town eligible for $70 million in cap-and-trade funding.

Alicia Embrey / Sequoia National Forest

In 2015 the Rough Fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the mountains east of Fresno. The blaze burned hot and fast threatening Hume Lake Christian Camps in Sequoia National Forest. But while most of the area is starting to recover Boyden Cavern has yet to reopen. But that could soon change.

Sonia Sanchez / Self-Help Enterprises

The recent drought underscored the struggles of private well owners as wells across Tulare County went dry. But an underlying issue has existed all along: even those who have drinking water don’t necessarily know if it’s safe.

California WaterFix

It could be California’s biggest water infrastructure project in two generations – a plan to build two massive, 35 mile-long tunnels deep beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Dubbed California WaterFix, it would send water from Northern California to farms and cities in the south, bypassing the fragile delta ecosystem.

Joe Moore/KVPR

The Fresno Police Department says their gunshot detection system, known as ShotSpotter, recorded thousands of incidents of illegal fireworks being set off on the Fourth of July.

Mark Hudson with the FPD says shot spotter microphones, which are placed mainly in central Fresno, record all explosions but are able to distinguish between what is a firework and what is a gunshot.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California’s newest US Senator Kamala Harris swung through the valley Wednesday taking time to hear from farmers about what they want out of Washington D.C.

Access to water and the need for comprehensive immigration reform topped the worries of the growers and local elected officials who met with Senator Harris at a packing house south of Fresno.

Meeting in what is largely seen as a stronghold of support for President Donald Trump, the Democratic Senator extended a bipartisan olive branch saying she is interested in working with Republicans to get things done.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The birth defect spina bifida is not easy to live with. It impairs the development of the spine and can lead to lifelong disability. Spina bifida is rare, but data suggest that Tulare County has the disease’s highest rate of incidence in the San Joaquin Valley. As part of our first-person series My Valley My Story, we travel to a spina bifida fundraiser in Tulare where volunteer Maria Muñoz shares how the disease has affected her life.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The fungal disease valley fever is most common in dry, desert areas of California and Arizona, and diagnoses tend to spike after dust storms and dry, windy weather. What’s less common is more than one case of the disease in the same family. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to a valley fever fundraiser in Bakersfield, where father-daughter pair Warren and Jessica Boone describe how they both contracted the disease while working for an oil company in Bakersfield.

Inciweb / US Forest Service

A little over a year ago, a worn out power line touched off the Erskine Fire, which razed nearly 50,000 acres near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield. The fire devastated an area already in need of mental health care. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we hear the concerns of Heather Berry, a licensed clinical social worker who serves the entire Kern River Valley.

"Per capita, we have more mental illness, more people who suffer with emotional and mental health issues, because of the rural isolation. We also have a huge amount of substance abuse.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed an effort to cut the size of Giant Sequoia National Monument by over 70 percent. The proposal to shrink the monument came from Supervisor Steve Worthley, who used to work in the timber industry. He says the Forest Service isn’t doing a good job managing the monument, increasing the risk of wildfire.

“Leaving it as a national monument will only make it that much more difficult to engage in active management which is what is necessary,” said Worthley.

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