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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Government & Politics
12:04 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

State Senator Alex Padilla On Valley Edition

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) is running for the office of Secretary of State
Credit Office of Alex Padilla

Californians may soon need to give up one staple of the trip to the grocery store - the single use plastic grocery bag. Governor Brown has indicated that he will most likely sign a new bill on his desk that will effectively outlaw the bags.

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Music
9:39 am
Tue September 16, 2014

New Documentary Highlights Contibutions Of Billy Mize To The Bakersfield Sound

"Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound" makes its Kern County debut on Thursday at the Crystal Palace
Credit William J Sanders

A new documentary film seeks to tell the story of one of the most influential figures in the development the Bakersfield Sound. But when the film makes its Bakersfield debut this Thursday night at the Crystal Palace, the star on the screen won’t be Buck Owens or Merle Haggard, it will be musician, songwriter and influential TV personality Billy Mize.

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Wildfire
7:37 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

UPDATE: Courtney Fire Near Bass Lake Destroys 33 Homes, Now 90 Percent Contained

The Courtney Fire burns to the shore of Bass Lake on Sunday September 14.
Don L. Weaver Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: 9/18/2014 - 9 A.M.

Cal Fire officials say the Courtney Fire is 90 percent contained.

UPDATE: 9/18/2014- 7:30 A.M. 

Containment of the Courtney Fire has now risen to 80 percent. As of Wednesday evening, all evacuations have been lifted.

UPDATE: 9/17/2014 - 6 P.M.

Cal Fire reports the Courtney Fire is now 70 percent contained. As of Wednesday evening all evacuations have been lifted. 

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Education
5:16 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Two Weeks into School Year, Fresno Pacific President Resigns

Just two weeks after the start of the semester, the President of Fresno Pacific University has resigned.

In a statement released from the university, outgoing president Pete Menjares said that he and his wife will be moving back to Southern California to be closer to their families and to explore new opportunities.

In the same statement, Board Chair John Thiesen said that Menjares modeled diversity and unity in his two and a half years as university president. Menjares’ wife, Virginia, was also very active in the community and often made appearances with her husband.

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Community
5:21 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Disabled Veterans Scale Yosemite Peaks in 9/11 Tribute

Cody Elliott, a disabled veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, climbs Ranger Rock in Yosemite Valley.
Credit NPS Photo

A group of disabled veterans is paying tribute to 9/11 today—not at the memorial in New York, but in Yosemite National Park.

Lasting injuries and prosthetic limbs won’t hold these thirteen veterans back.  They’re hiking and rock climbing to the tops of iconic peaks like El Capitan, Royal Arches, and Ranger Rock—and they’ll all reach the summit today. Some of the ascents, like El Capitan, are known to be extremely challenging even for climbers at their prime.

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Environment
5:44 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Interactive Website Aims to Tackle Water Issues

Credit cawaterchallenge.org

In California, water availability is becoming a serious problem—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative solutions.

Developers at a San Francisco non-profit have created the California Water Challenge, an interactive website that aims to teach players about the state’s water problems while prompting them to make difficult decisions about how to solve them.

Noel Perry is the founder of Next 10, the company that created the tool.

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Drought
6:00 am
Wed September 10, 2014

New Field Poll Shows Strong Support For Water Bond

Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A Field Poll released today  shows strong support for the water bond on California’s November ballot.

Fifty-two percent of likely voters say they’ll support the $7.5 billion bond in the fall election. 27 percent oppose it, while 21 percent remain undecided. But awareness of the measure remains low. The Field Poll found just 36 percent of likely voters had seen or heard anything about the bond. But support for the bond was even higher among voters with prior knowledge of the measure.

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Energy
6:17 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Kern County Gives Oil-By-Rail Project Go-Ahead

The Alon Refinery in Bakersfield will soon get a new railyard under a plan approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve plans by for a new oil-by-rail facility at a Bakersfield area refinery. 

The Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway would restart operations with shipments of crude oil from the Dakotas delivered to Bakersfield by train.

A number of environmental groups raised concerns about the potential for accidents, and the project's impact on CO2 emissions. They also questioned the thoroughness of the project's environmental study.

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Education
6:06 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Fresno Pacific Pulls Ahead of Fresno State in National College Rankings

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The results are in from the U.S. News and World Report’s latest college rankings: Fresno universities are both up and down from last year.

On a list of top regional universities in the west, Fresno State fell ten spots from 36th to 46th place.  When looking at just public regional universities in the west, Fresno State ranked 11th, down 3 spots from last year—behind such schools as Cal Poly and 4 others in the California State University system.

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Education
5:55 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Taft Students Cited for Alleged Hazing Incident

Taft Union High School
Credit Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Police in Taft are investigating alleged hazing incidents involving the high school varsity football team.

According to a statement released by the Taft Union High School, in 2 incidents earlier this month, students were subjected to “unacceptable and embarrassing treatment by other players.”

According to the Bakersfield Californian, eight juvenile students have been cited for battery, sexual battery, and false imprisonment, in incidents in and around the locker room.  This comes five years after another hazing episode involving the school’s volleyball team.

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Community
2:55 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Clovis Has An MRAP. Is That OK With You?

Clovis PD received their MRAP last September and have used it sparingly, says Captain Mike Casida.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

The August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, a black unarmed teenager, by a white Ferguson police officer resulted in multiple violent protests in Middle America. The way police handled the situation with equipment like armored vehicles has left communities questioning the use of military grade weapons by local law enforcement. FM89’s Ezra David Romero climbs into one of these machines in an unsuspected Valley city. 

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Government & Politics
12:10 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Analysis: Election Season Heats Up In The San Joaquin Valley

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that Labor Day has passed, election season is in full swing across California and the San Joaquin Valley is no exception. Fresno Bee political reporter John Ellis joined us this week on Valley Edition to talk about some of the region's hottest races and what we can expect as the candidates race to the finish on November 4th - election day. Among the topics we covered:

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Environment
11:27 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Oil-By-Rail Project For Bakersfield Refinery Sparks Debate

If approved, the new project at Bakerfield's Alon Refinery, would result in two additional mile-long trains running through the city every day.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Kern County is on the verge of an oil boom. Not in local production, but in oil from North Dakota, transported to California by rail. The Golden State is already a major destination for trains filled with crude oil from the Midwest. But a new project that goes before the Kern County Board of Supervisors later today would expand that significantly for one local refinery.

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Wildfire
11:17 am
Mon September 8, 2014

UPDATE: Yosemite Fire Now Over 4,900 Acres, 23 Percent Contained

A photo taken Sunday afternoon from Glacier Point shows the plume of smoke from the Meadow Fire behind Half Dome
National Parks Service

UPDATE: 9/11/14 - 12:10 PM
The Meadow Fire has now consumed 4,906 acres and is 23 percent contained. Officials say that they expect spot fires to flare outside the existing perimeter today due to warmer temperatures and low humidity. The fire is burning on both side of the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley between Mount Starr King and Half Dome.  Park officials also say that fire conditions have improved enough to reopen the Half Dome cables and the associated trail on Saturday for day-use only.

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Government & Politics
5:28 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Fresno, FPOA Reach Agreement On Early Contract Extension

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno has reached an early contract agreement with the union representing Fresno police officers. If ratified by the members of the Fresno Police Officers Association, the deal would extend the current contract to 2017.

It would also include a two percent salary increase in 2015 and another in 2016. The city would pay 75 percent of employee health care costs, with any future increases shared equally between the city and the union. It would also increase the amount current employees pay for retiree pensions by two percent. 

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Wildfire
5:24 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Bridge Fire Burns In Mariposa County Near Highway 49

An early photo of the Bridge Fire burning in Mariposa County as seen from the Madera/Mariposa County line.
Credit Madera County Sheriff Dept Facebook

Firefighters are battling a wildfire in Mariposa County on Highway 49 today. The Bridge Fire began on Friday afternoon near the William Sell Bridge between Oakhurst and Mariposa and has burned around 100 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place for residents in the Ponderosa Basin area near the east fork of the Chowchilla River. A number of structures are threatened by the fire. Highway 49 is closed between Worman Road and Chowchilla Mountain Road.

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Government & Politics
10:00 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Brown, Kashkari Clash In Lone Gubernatorial Debate

The two candidates for governor of California have met for what appears to be their one-and-only debate of the fall campaign.
Credit Cal Channel

Republican Neel Kashkari got what may be his only debate against Democratic Governor Jerry Brown Thursday. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, neither candidate shied away from attacking the other.

The debate came two months before Election Day, during the National Football League season opener, in a cramped TV studio across the street from the state Capitol. Kashkari came out firing.

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Health
6:12 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Seville Residents Get Green Light to Drink Tap Water

Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

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Business & Economy
5:41 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

California Economist: No Surprise Tesla Chose Nevada

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State. Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind.
Credit Tesla Motors

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State.  Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind. 

California was one of five states vying for the plant that is estimated to build enough batteries to power a half-million vehicles by the year 2020.

Stephen Levy  with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy says he wasn’t surprised the electric car company chose Nevada over the Golden State.

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Drought
5:15 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Forecasters Say Chances Are El Niño Won't End California's Drought

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center analysis shows a 60-to-65 percent chance of the warm ocean condition known as El Niño developing this fall and winter. The report also indicates a strong El Niño is not expected and a weak event is likely.

Michelle Mead is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

She says a weak El Niño won't end the California drought. 

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