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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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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Health
5:46 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Mosquitoes Have Fresno County Health Officials On High Alert

This invasive type of mosquito was first detected in California and Fresno County last summer.
Credit Fresno County Department of Public Health

Two different types of mosquitoes – one that carries West Nile Virus and another that can spread dengue and yellow fever have Fresno County health officials on high alert.

The county says a crow reported earlier this month tested positive for West Nile Virus. Officials have also detected the presence of another invasive mosquito species that can spread potentially serious tropical diseases. In severe cases, the more serious symptoms stemming from these diseases can lead to death.

David Luchini is the assistant director for the county’s Department of Public Health.

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Government & Politics
1:10 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Congressional Hopeful John Hernandez on Valley Edition

John Hernandez, a Fresno Democrat is seeking to represent California's 21st Congressional District in Congress
Credit John Hernandez

The race for California’s 21st congressional district is one of the most watched in the state and for that matter the nation. Three top candidates are vying for a shot to be among the top two finishers in the June primary, in order to move on to November.

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Water Conservation
12:24 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Campus-Wide Collaboration Ups Fresno State's Water Conservation

A new demonstration garden promotes water conservation on the Fresno State campus.
Credit Kerry Klein

One of Fresno State’s newest additions is a broad, brown, mulchy patch of land in front of the Science II building.  Gardening specialist Fortunato Garcia leads volunteers with shovels to a lumpy mound.

Garcia: All right, so we'll put one fertilizer tab here, one here, one here, one there...

Before long, this patch will be more than mulch—it’s the start of a waterwise demonstration garden.  Grounds supervisor Michael Frick points out the low-water bulbs and saplings that are being planted. 

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Environment
11:28 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Brown Proposing Additional $66 Million to Help Fight Wildfires

Governor Jerry Brown wants California to spend more money on firefighting resources. In his May budget revision, Brown is proposing an additional $66 million for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. - file photo
Credit Sierra National Forest

California’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has already responded to about 1,500 fires this year. That’s nearly twice what would be normal. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown wants Cal Fire to have more money to fight the extended wildfire season.

Under Brown’s May budget revision, Cal Fire would receive an additional $66 million. Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the money would allow the department to retain the seasonal firefighters it’s hired, including 300 last month. 

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Government & Politics
11:10 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Crowded Field in California's Secretary of State Race

A political scandal put the California Secretary of State race on the radar this year. But as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there are several other issues that make this a campaign to watch. (file photo)
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A political scandal put the California Secretary of State race on the radar this year. But as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there are several other issues that make this a campaign to watch.

With one arrest the California Secretary of State race exploded onto the public stage.

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Books
9:07 am
Tue May 20, 2014

New Book Chronicles 'Hidden History' Of The Sierra Nevada

Sierra Stories - Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues by Gary Noy
Credit Heyday Books

California’s isn’t just home to internationally renowned gems like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – it’s also a place that’s rich in its own human history. And while many stories, like the Gold Rush and Hetch Hetchy are well known, a new book seeks to document the “hidden history” of the Sierra. It’s called “Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots and Rogues” by author Gary Noy, a history professor at Rocklin College.

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Government & Politics
8:08 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Future Of California's GOP At Stake In June Primary

For an election expected to have very low turnout, the June 3rd primary could play an outsize role in shaping California’s political landscape.  That’s because of the stark ideological battle shaping up in the Republican Party between gubernatorial candidates Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari. Ben Adler reports from Sacramento in the second of our three-part series on the 2014 California governor’s race.

Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari couldn’t be more different: Donnelly’s an unapologetic tea party Assemblyman:

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