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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Drought
10:39 am
Tue June 10, 2014

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Credit California Department of Water Resources

California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline – and that must be reversed. In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground. A number of government agencies are generating a five-year plan to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater

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Health Care
12:23 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Three Year California Medical School Pilot Program Set to Begin

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Students in a pilot accelerated medical school program at UC Davis will begin classes this summer. A bill in the California legislature would allow them to obtain licenses in less than four years. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

The program was set up to address a growing problem in California.

Bonilla: “We have far more patients than we have doctors.”

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Community
12:20 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

On the Way to November Ballot, Fresno Chaffee Zoo Hits Funding Hurdle

Fresno's Chaffee Zoo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In 2004, an initiative called Measure Z saved Fresno's Chaffee Zoo.  The voter-­approved measure allowed for an increase in county sales tax by one tenth of one percent.  Those 10 cents from every $100 spent in Fresno County prevented the zoo from raising its entry fees, while allowing it to make crucial repairs and add new exhibits, like Sea Lion Cove and African Adventure.

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Government & Politics
12:47 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Chief Donis: Recent Downtown Fires Have Department Stretched Thin

Investigators comb through the burned out interior of the Procter's building on the Fulton Mall
Fresno Fire Department

With two major fires - one at a local recycling facility and another at a downtown jewelry store - the Fresno Fire Department found its resources stretched thin in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

While crews were battling what became a five alarm blaze at the Barrios Recycling on Orange Avenue, another fire caused severe damage at Protcer's Jewelers on the Fulton Mall at Fresno Street.

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Health
9:41 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Mendota Woman's Fight To Overcome Mental Illness Example For The Valley

Silvia says praying on a daily basis has helped her find the strength she needs to overcome major depression.
Credit Diana Aguilera

Many women across the Central Valley have dedicated their lives to their families.

They take on the daily task of being a housewife.

"My name is Silvia, simply Silvia."

Meet Silvia – a housewife from Mendota. Like many other women in rural communities, she's devoted her life to her two sons and husband always greeting them with a smile and home-cooked dinners when they arrive home.

But about a year ago, her smile started to fade.

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Environment
1:10 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Dry Conditions Spur Rapid Spread of Hunters Fire

Credit Cal Fire

In the late afternoon on Memorial Day, a wildfire touched off in rural Mariposa County.  Just two days later, the so-called Hunters Fire has engulfed 1300 acres and destroyed two homes.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says fires this time of year aren't unusual--but ones that travel so fast are.

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Government & Politics
4:33 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Neel Kashkari Says Water, Job Training To Fix Valley Economy

Neel Kashkari

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari joined us on Valley Edition Tuesday to talk about his vision for California and the Central Valley.  

A former U.S. Treasury Department official, Kashkari helped oversee the controversial $700 billion "Troubled Asset Relief Program" (aka TARP) under the Bush and Obama administrations. Kashkari says the valley would benefit from cancelling the high speed rail program and instead focusing on water infrastructure. He also talks about issues ranging from education to gun control. 

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Community
11:39 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Returning Home, Valley LGBT Veterans Fight Another War

John Coffee and his partner Brock Neely at the Rotary Veterans Park of Porterville, Calif.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

This report is the first in the Valley Public Radio series "Common Threads: Veterans Still Fighting The War.Support for this series comes from Cal Humanities, as part of the War Comes Home initiative. 

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Environment
4:11 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Fresno Area Homeowners Dig Deep When Wells Go Dry

Credit Valley Public Radio

Many people who live in the Fresno area say water isn’t flowing from their taps like it used to. Some households using private groundwater wells are finding the water table is falling below their pumps during the drought.  Pauline Bartolone visited the people in Fresno they call when the water runs out. 

Arthur and Orum drills new water wells for farmers and homeowners in the Fresno area. The company’s Kim Hammond says phones have been ringing off the hook.

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Health Care
6:30 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Pharmacy Bill Moves Forward In Legislature

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new bill that would allow Californians to opt-out of mail order pharmaceutical programs advanced Friday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 2418 would also allow patients and pharmacists to synchronize the pickup of multiple medications. 

The bill is a response to cost-savings efforts by many health insurance providers that have limited options for how patients receive their prescription drugs.

Jon Roth is the CEO of the California Pharmacists Association:

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Environment
6:00 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

U.S. Senate Passes Emergency Drought Relief Act

Water levels in the Friant-Kern Canal in early May 2014.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The U.S. senate unanimously passed the Emergency Drought Relief Act Thursday evening. The bill provides federal and state water agencies with additional flexibility to deliver water to the most needy communities affected by California’s historic drought.  

Senator Feinstein released this statement saying:

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Environment
5:55 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Innovation Needed To Crack Central California's Monterey Shale

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The much talked about oil boom to come out of Central California is on hold, unless new technology finds a way to safely crack the Monterey Shale that could hold over 13 billion barrels of oil.

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Education
3:47 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Central Valley Students Win Big at International Science and Engineering Fair

Ashima Thusu and Japmeet Sandhu of Clovis North High School won a special award from the American Statistical Association.
Credit Jennifer Weibert

Last week, 1700 high school students from over 70 countries met in Los Angeles for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, including 5 students from Fresno and Clovis.

Beatrice Choi, a sophomore from Fresno’s University High School, brought home third place in Chemistry.

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Drought
6:22 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

California Water Managers May Limit River Water Diversion For Crops

California water officials are considering new rules this week that may prohibit some California farmers from diverting river water to irrigate their crops. (file photo of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

Some California farmers may not be allowed to divert river water to irrigate their crops this summer. The restriction is part of new rules being considered this week by state water managers.

Some members of the Water Resources Control board say suspending water rights is an unavoidable temporary emergency measure caused by the drought.

Felicia Marcus Chairs the Board, and says any limits on water rights should be clearly explained, and narrow in scope.

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Health
6:11 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

State Approves Expansion of Kettleman Hills Toxic Waste Facility

Kettleman City is home to one of the largest toxic waste landfills in California.
Credit California Department of Public Health

 

After 6 years, the state of California has approved the expansion of a toxic waste landfill near Kettleman City. The decision will allow the landfill to expand by 50%, or 5 million cubic yards, which owners at Waste Management Incorporated estimate will last about 8 years.

Jim Marxen is a spokesperson for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

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Fracking
6:04 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Report Casts Doubt On Potential Of Monterey Shale Oil Production

An anticipated oil boom in California may be delayed a bit, if it happens at all. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on some new estimates published today that could dampen the state’s fracking future.

Fracking is an oil extraction process that involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into rock. It had been estimated California may be able to recover more than 13 billion barrels of Monterey Shale oil.

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Government & Politics
11:43 am
Wed May 21, 2014

As Jerry Brown Seeks Re-Election, California Progressives Voice Frustration

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his updated "May Revise" budget proposal at the state Capitol Tuesday.
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown may be a near-lock to win a record fourth term this fall, but that doesn’t mean he’s universally popular with his fellow Democrats.  There’s growing frustration among progressives over what they see as the governor’s fiscal conservatism and business-friendly views.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento in the final report in our three-part series on California’s June gubernatorial primary.

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Education
7:26 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Bilingual Education A Hot Topic In California, 16 Years After Prop 227

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Back in the late 1990's, California voters passed Proposition 227, which imposed strict restrictions on bilingual education in California's public school classrooms.

Supporters of the effort said English immersion was the best way for English learners to succeed and assimilate into society. Critics said by teaching core subjects only in English, non-English speakers were at a disadvantage in the classroom.

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Government & Politics
6:51 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Announces New City Budget

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

At a press conference this morning, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced her proposed 2015 budget for the City of Fresno.

In a departure from the major shortfalls the city has faced since 2009, the proposal emphasizes paying off debt, bolstering city services, and increasing the operating reserve to help prepare for unforeseen costs.

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Business & Economy
6:28 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Report: Drought Won't Hurt California Economy

Farm laborers work in a citrus grove near Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought may have a lot of negative consequences, but a new report out today says the state’s economy won’t be one of them. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The report from Moody’s Investors Service finds, short term, California’s economy won’t suffer as a result of the drought. It finds the state’s reliance on income taxes and sales taxes will largely provide a buffer. H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance, agrees the state’s economy has weathered the drought so far. 

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