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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Immigration
12:07 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Revamped "TRUST Act" Back This Year at California Capitol

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

A California lawmaker is taking another run at a bill that would limit federal immigration holds on people in local custody.  Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the so-called “TRUST Act” last year because he said it prevented law enforcement from holding certain violent criminals.  But as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, a new version of the bill cleared its first committee Tuesday.

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Education
5:32 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Lawmakers Look To Restore Cal Grant Funding

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Restoring money to California’s college financial aid program is proving to be popular with both Democrats and Republicans in the State Assembly. But even if they agree on the issue, Governor Jerry Brown may not. Katie Orr reports from the State Capitol. 

Supporters of restoring funding levels to the state’s college financial aid program say it’s a financially savvy move. “Cal Grants” are awarded to low-income students attending public and private universities in California. The program’s budget has been slashed in recent years. 

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Fracking
5:29 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Bill To Regulate 'Fracking' Clears State Senate Committee

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Some lawmakers say California is not doing enough to regulate hydraulic fracturing or fracking for oil and gas. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a bill designed to tighten regulations passed its first legislative test today.

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Transportation
9:14 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Fresno's Shaw Avenue to Get 'Intelligent' Synchronized Traffic Lights

Traffic on Shaw Avenue may soon become less congested, thanks to a new "intelligent" synchronization system.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Earlier this month, an article in the New York Times  showcased Los Angeles for being the first major city  in the world to synchronize every one of its 4,500 traffic signals. But closer to home, a similar project is already underway in Fresno, which could make commutes on Shaw Avenue quicker by the end of April. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports.

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Health Care
10:18 am
Mon April 8, 2013

State Loan Repayment Help Not Enough to Solve Doctor Shortage

Dr. Glen Villanueva sees a patient at a clinic in Ceres, California.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 

California’s health care system is expected to face an influx of millions more patients as new insurance requirements start next year. But experts are worried that a limited number of doctors in the state will mean health care consumers will have an insurance card but no doctor to see them. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Dr. Glen Villanueva has known he wanted to be a doctor since he was five years old.

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Government & Politics
4:50 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Brown's Bid to Regain Control of Mental Health Care in California Prisons Rejected

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A federal judge has rejected California’s push to retake control of prison inmates’ mental health care.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it’s a major setback for Governor Jerry Brown.

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Education
11:41 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Fresno Charter School Students Go 'Farm Grown' with Fresno Grizzlies Garden Project

ACEL students pose with the Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker at the ceremony announcing the launch of the garden program last fall.
Credit http://twitter.com/acelfresno

In an effort to increase education about agriculture and sustainability, the Fresno Grizzlies have partnered with a local charter high school to build a garden at Chuckchansi Park. FM89’s Ezra Romero visited the stadium; spoke with the teenagers planting the garden and has this report.

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For the past week and a half a group of seniors from ACEL Charter High School in Fresno have been huffing and puffing at Chuckchansi Park.  But they aren’t running bases or hitting pop flies – they’re building and planting a garden.

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Agriculture
9:55 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Reedley Farmer Goes 'Farm to School' With Strawberries

Pao Saephan is the first small farmer to sell his produce directly to Fresno Unified School District.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Pao Saephan crouches down in his sun-drenched field. He cups a red jewel in his hand.

In a few more days, his strawberries will be fully ripe. He’ll pick them once they are garnet-colored from stem to tip.

“We want all the strawberries, to be full ripe, full flavor, with 100 percent sugar in them,” says Saephan.

In the past, he would sell the fresh berries at his roadside stand - called Sam’s Strawberry Patch. It’s located at the intersection of Manning Avenue and I Street in Reedley.

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Environment
5:22 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

For California Lawmakers, Plastic Bag Ban Debate is Back

One of the most controversial issues in the California legislature in recent years is back.  Lawmakers are proposing several bills that would either ban the use of plastic bags, charge fees for single-use bags or both.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This idea has stalled in the legislature year after year, amid strong opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.  But Democratic Assemblyman Mark Levine says this time will be different.

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Health
5:20 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Study Links Access to Parks to Teenage Exercise Habits

Centennial Park in Bakersfield
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  A new study from the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research shows that teenagers who live near parks and open space areas are more physically active than those who don't. 

The study also shows that low income teens use parks less, citing safety concerns. Low income teens were also less likely to be active for at least one hour a day. 

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Environment
6:09 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Snow Survey Shows Dramatically Dry Conditions for California

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The next to the last snow survey of the season shows extremely dry conditions for California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to call the security of the state’s water supply “threatened.”

 The bad news: the water content in California’s snowpack is only 52 percent of normal. What’s worse, the spring melt is underway. While the season started with water content above 130 percent of normal in January, it’s been unusually dry ever since. 

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Just One Breath
12:48 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

CDC Study: Valley Fever Cases Increasing Dramatically

Dust storms can carry millions of spores from the fungus that causes valley fever.
Credit Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

Cases of valley fever are climbing at stunning rates nationwide, and especially in California and Arizona, according to a new study released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency launched its analysis following the publication of the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s ‘Just One Breath’ series on valley fever. Valley Public Radio is a member of the partnership.

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Government & Politics
10:30 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Judge Criticizes State's Potential "Ethical Violations" in Prison Case

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian

A federal judge says California may have committed ethical violations in a lawsuit over prison mental healthcare.  KPCC’s Julie Small reports the judge’s stern rebuke could de-rail Governor Jerry Brown’s push to free the state from over a decade of federal oversight.

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Environment
6:10 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Details Efforts to Protect Endangered Fish

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration released new details today of its plan to protect fish and wildlife in the Sacramento-San-Joaquin Delta. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan revolves around new tunnels to carry more water to the Central Valley and southern California. 

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Environment
6:04 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Community Recycling Asks For New Permit, Environmental Study

Community Recycling in Lamont wants permission to operate under a new Conditional Use Permit
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Residents in the Kern County community of Lamont are meeting this evening to discuss the future of a controversial recycling and compost facility. 

Community Recycling wants the county to modify its existing Conditional Use Permit to authorize processing food and green waste, byproducts from composting, and drywall.

The facility has a history of code and land use violations, and environmental groups have called it a major source of pollution.

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Transportation
10:04 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Centennial Corridor Freeway Project Divides Bakersfield, Neighborhood

Amy Richardson, co-chair of the Westpark Home Owners Association, points to a homemade map of the area that will be taken by the freeway project.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

The future of a well-established neighborhood in Bakersfield is on the rocks. The reason: a three decade old freeway project with intentions to connect Bakersfield with the rest of the state. Valley Public Radio's Ezra Romero visits the community, speaks with community leaders and reports on the future of what some call a better connected Bakersfield and California.

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Government & Politics
5:53 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

California Cities Watch Closely as Stockton Bankruptcy Trial Begins

Stockton, CA (file photo)
Credit Marianne Russ / Capital Public Radio

The city of Stockton has begun a four-day trial in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  At stake: whether the city should be eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

The case has other local governments watching closely – particularly those that still face large budget deficits.  Chris McKenzie with the League of California Cities says he believes cities will “move heaven and earth” to avoid future bankruptcies.

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Government & Politics
6:40 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Rewritten Water Bond to Include Less Money for Storage

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Office of Darrell Steinberg

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says lawmakers plan to rewrite the $11 billion water bond for the November 2014 ballot – and the new version will likely have less money for storage projects such as dams.

“There will continue to be a chapter for storage.  I don’t think there will be nearly the same amount of money in that chapter as there was in the original bond.  And I think there will be de-emphasis, frankly – or at least, on the same surface storage projects,” says Steinberg. 

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Government & Politics
6:32 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

State to Delay Sending Residents Fire Protection Bills

Credit Cal Fire

The state of California is putting a temporary halt to sending out new bills to some rural homeowners in the enforcement of a controversial fire prevention fee.

The delay comes as CAL Fire is sorting through a backlog of thousands of appeals from mostly foothill and mountain residents. The state was planning to send out another round of bills in April.

Some 87,000 residents have already appealed the fee. It's unclear when the state will clear the backlog in appeals and send out new bills. 

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Government & Politics
2:02 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Lawmakers Examine Options for Closing CalSTRS Shortfall

When state lawmakers were beating their chests last year about the need to reduce pension liabilities, they didn’t actually do anything about the largest liability of all. 

The California State Teachers Retirement System – known as CalSTRS – is facing a projected $70 billion shortfall.   KPCC’s Julie Small attended a sobering hearing Wednesday on the state’s options for closing the gap.

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