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. 

Virginia Commonwealth University, The California Endowment

Last year, U.S. life expectancy fell for the first time in over 20 years. At the same time, new data from four valley counties show that the death rate has increased particularly among whites. 

Over the last 20 years, the death rates among communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley have fallen. But at the same time, white death rates have notably increased, particularly for adults aged 40-64. Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University says opioid use is only partially to blame.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California has a reputation for progressive climate policies, and a new study shows it’s having an economic impact the San Joaquin Valley.

 

Over $13 billion: That’s how much the state's climate policies have delivered to the San Joaquin Valley, according to a study out of UC Berkeley and the non-profit group Next 10. The group’s founder, Noel Perry, says those benefits included tax revenues, direct investment in local businesses, and nearly 40,000 jobs.

KMC / Kern County

The California State Senate’s health committee held a rare hearing in Bakersfield this afternoon discussing the local impact of President Elect Trump’s quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez testified that while Kern Medical has seen its financial health improve in recent years, that could change quickly if the law is rolled back.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A company with the goal of turning Fresno into the next Silicon Valley is announcing a big expansion. Bitwise, which bills itself as the entrepreneurial future of Fresno, is adding three new buildings to what they are calling a ‘technology campus’ downtown.

The additional three spaces, all within close proximity to each other in downtown Fresno, would take the space Bitwise provides from 50,000 to 300,000 square feet.Bitwise provides from 50,000 to 300,000 square feet.

Following recent high-profile suicides in Bakersfield and Fresno, many in the community are asking questions about how the community and the media should deal with the issue. In Bakersfield local community LGBT activist and CSUB student Jai Bornstein took her own life, as did newly-elected city councilmember Jeff Tcak. In Fresno County, three Clovis West High School students have taken their own lives in the last six months.

Carmen Vargas

Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it.

Three Clovis West High School students, a newly elected Bakersfield City Councilmember, and a Bakersfield LGBT activist all have taken their own lives in the last six months.

Governor Brown’s latest budget proposal has some new language related to clean drinking water.

 

The proposal acknowledges that many of California’s disadvantaged communities rely on contaminated groundwater and lack the resources to operate and maintain safe drinking water systems, but it stops short of any additional funding to fix the problem.

Jonathan Nelson with the advocacy group Community Water Center says this acknowledgement may seem modest now, but it could lead to bigger things.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

It’s a new year, and that means a new chapter in the ongoing saga that is California’s high-speed rail project. While construction in the Fresno area is becoming more and more visible with every month, efforts to stop the project are also picking up steam in the courtroom. The center of the fight against the rail line is in Kings County, where a number of landowners and county supervisors have challenged the rail project in court, saying it violates the voter-approved Proposition 1A.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Lost Lake Park just below Friant Dam in Fresno County was closed to the public on Monday due to flooding. But federal scientists say the flooding was controlled and not historical—and it provided an opportunity for scientific study.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey on Monday visited Lost Lake Park, where water has risen seven feet since last week. They’re here to measure the water’s flow rate, which will help calibrate the automatic sensors and gauges that monitor the river here 24 hours a day. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

This weekend’s string of heavy rain has put a lot of pressure on families and local officials to respond to the threat of flooding, especially in mountains. Residents in some communities have even been forced to evacuate to escape the rising tide.

Many a normally small, peaceful mountain creek has now been transformed is now a broad fast moving river.

The days of heavy rains have caused the Madera County Sheriff to order mandatory evacuations in some of the low-lying areas of the town of North Fork south of Bass Lake.

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