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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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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Jobs
6:29 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

California Tied With Rhode Island For Highest Unemployment in Nation

Credit Valley Public Radio

California now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the latest figures from the California Employment Development Department show no improvement in the state’s jobless rate for January.

California’s unemployment rate remained at 9.8 percent in January. That ties the state with Rhode Island for the highest unemployment rate in the country. 

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Business & Economy
4:59 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Report: California Women Faring Worse than Men During Economic Recovery

A new study finds women in California aren’t faring as well as men during the economic recovery.  The analysis was done by The California Budget Project and the Women’s Foundation of California.  

It finds employment among the state’s women declined by a little less than one percent over the past two years – while it was increased nearly two percent among men.

Chris Hoene with the Budget Project says cuts to programs such as CalWorks, the state’s welfare to work program, and cuts to state subsidized child care have largely affected women:

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Tue March 19, 2013

City of Fresno, SPCA Look For Another Animal Control Extension, Long Term Fix

Beth Caffrey, director of community relations for the Central California SPCA
Credit CCSPCA

It’s a Saturday morning and they are serving up pancakes at the Central California SPCA in Fresno.

It’s a fundraiser to help support one of the organizations new programs called “Snip N’ Chip.” It’s a low cost spay and neuter service for low-income pet owners.  Central California SPCA Executive Director Linda Van Kirk is happy with the turnout.

“Well, look at the crowd out there. It’s going absolutely fantastic. We are expecting a crowd of 500 to 600 this year versus the 300 we had last year, so we are ecstatic,” says Van Kirk.

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Just One Breath
10:29 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Valley Fever Advocates See Hope For New Funding, New Laws

Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, is interested in supporting valley fever research at UC Merced.
Sean Work The Californian

For Central California families impacted by valley fever, it seemed like the long-ignored disease was finally gaining attention.

"Good afternoon everyone," said former State Senator Michael Rubio, as he welcomed people to a town hall meeting on valley fever, held last fall in Bakersfield. "I want to thank you for participating and joining us."

"My goal is to listen today and then capture a handful of action items, so that we can go back to Sacramento and introduce some legislation to move the ball forward on this very important subject."

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Education
7:13 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

California Teacher Pink Slips Far Fewer than Last Year

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Friday is the deadline for California school districts to issue teachers layoff notices for the academic year that starts in the fall.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, there’s a huge drop-off in the number of pink slips this year.

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Education
11:31 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Bill Would Create Online Courses at UC, CSU, Community Colleges

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) discusses his online college course legislation with reporters at a Capitol news conference Wednesday. The event was streamed as a video conference via Google hangout.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The leader of the California Senate is proposing legislation that would provide online courses for credit at the state’s colleges and universities.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure is both a work in progress – and a balancing act.

With California’s higher education system at capacity, the most popular courses fill up fast – especially courses students need to graduate.  Richard Copenhagen is a College of Alameda student and president of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

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Health Care Reform
10:54 am
Thu March 14, 2013

California Lawmaker Seeks to Expand the Roles of Non-Physicians

State Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina)
Credit Office of state Senator Ed Hernandez

A California lawmaker proposes to allow some healthcare workers to expand their range of services in order to meet the new demand for health care under the Affordable Care Act. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

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