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. 

USGS

California’s prolonged drought is once again causing the valley in sink. Groundwater pumping to keep water flowing and plants growing is resulting in the valley floor to settling and sinking in what is known as subsidence. As the water is pulled out the ground underneath fills the space and settles. In some places, the land is subsiding as much as a foot a year.

  Hydrologist Jim Borcher says the Valley has experienced sinking before, but now it is back.

Work is officially underway tearing down bridges and moving roads to clear the way for High Speed Rail. Leaders with the city of Fresno and the High Speed Rail Authority met in downtown Wednesday to officially celebrate the beginning of construction.

Workers are beginning the careful process of removing the bridge while keeping the existing rail line running.

The bridge needs to be torn down to make way for a new taller span.

It is the first major urban construction project connected to the bullet train in the Fresno area.

Kerry Klein

It’s Sunday morning in downtown Fresno, and a classroom full of 10-year olds is about to meet an important visitor: a 2-foot-tall, red and white robot.

“Hello, my name is NAO,” says the robot, standing up on a table.

He looks like a mix between a Transformer and a Power Ranger: big head, square shoulders, and what looks like thick gloves and boots. He can wave his arms, walk, dance, and blink his eyes—just like a tiny human.

“I can recognize your face, answer questions, and even play soccer like a pro,” he continues.

Fresno Police Department

There is now a $10,000 reward for tips related to the New Year's Day murder of a Fresno convenience store clerk.

On Wednesday police released security camera video of the crime. It depicts the suspect, who they say is probably in his late teens, lurking outside the central Fresno store waiting for customers to leave.

When the store was empty the man lured Gurchuran Singh Gill toward him and stabbed him. The man tried to break into the cash register but failed and left with a few stolen items. 

Rockfall Closes Highway 140 In Yosemite

Jan 7, 2016
National Park Service

A rockfall early this morning below the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park has closed Highway 140. Massive boulders are currently blocking the roadway, which is near the site of the 2014 Dog Rock Fire. The road is currently closed from the park entrance to the junction of Highways 120 and 140. 

It's unknown when the roadway will re-open. Services in El Portal are still open. The rockfall happened at about 5:45 A.M. Thursday morning, following several wet El Nino storms. 

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Governor Jerry Brown has set the dates for the special election to fill the vacant seat for 31st Assembly District. A special primary will be held in three months on April 5th. The top two candidates from that contest will advance to a special election on June 7th. That of course is also the date of regular June primary for all other races. 

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

Dozens of California cities and counties, including many in the Central Valley, are moving quickly to pass bans on medical marijuana growth and sale.

The bans are often modeled on existing rules in Fresno and Kern Counties that prohibit either the cultivation or sale of medical marijuana.

Brenda Linder, a lawyer who works with medical marijuana clients, says the reason for the rush is new state regulation that sets a March  deadline to adopt local rules or otherwise they will default to what the state dictates.

Biomass Power Could Help California's Dying Forests

Jan 5, 2016
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Millions of dead trees in California create a huge risk of wildfire. It’s led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency that will require utilities, power plants and state agencies to work together. Biomass power plants can create energy from those dead trees. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, biomass plants alone won’t solve the crisis.

High Speed Rail Authority

Ready or not here it comes. Wrecking balls will start swinging early next year on projects connected to High Speed rail, and it could impact how you get around.

Even if you never set foot on a high speed train its power could ripple into your life.

Visible construction is set to begin in downtown Fresno at the start of next year.

KGOV / KGOV

California lawmakers gathered in Bakersfield today for a State Senate hearing on how to prevent pipeline “dig-in”accidents like the one in Kern County that killed an Earlimart man last month. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

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