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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Health
10:46 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Prescription Overdose Deaths By Teens Up, Summit Seeks Solutions

More teenagers are abusing and dying from prescription drug use.  Members of law enforcement, counselors, and prevention specialists gathered in Sacramento for a statewide summit on Thursday to see what can be done to reverse the trend.   

Sherrie Rubin and her son, Aaron traveled to Sacramento from San Diego for the summit.  They were among the 140 participants.  Sherrie says Aaron started abusing pills in high school. 

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Government & Politics
3:39 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.

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Science
2:47 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Shuttle Endeavour Prepares For Final Flight Over California

Space shuttle Endeavour is seen atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Credit Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

UPDATE: NASA now says the shuttle will leave Edwards AFB at around 8:15 a.m. Friday, an hour later than originally planned.

Residents of eastern Kern County will get to see the space shuttle Endeavour take to the skies one last time on Friday, as the aging spacecraft makes its final journey to a museum in Los Angeles. 

The shuttle, carried on the back of a specially modified 747 jetliner landed this afternoon at Edwards Air Force Base, after taking off earlier in the day in Texas.

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High Speed Rail
9:20 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Federal Government Approves High Speed Rail Construction Plans

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal agency that oversees the nation's railroad system has officially approved plans for the first leg of California's controversial high speed rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration's approval on Wednesday was a necessary step to allow construction to begin early next year on the Fresno to Merced component of the system. 

The approval by the FRA will allow the California High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with purchasing right-of-way from landowners for the system. 

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Health
8:59 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Millions of Californians May Still Be Uninsured in 2019

Millions of Californians may still be living without health insurance five years after the full implementation of the federal health law. 

A UC Berkeley and UCLA study projects two to three million Californians will have new health coverage by 2019. But co-author Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center is looking at the other number.

“As many as 3 to 4 million Californians are predicted to remain uninsured.”

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Real Estate
5:58 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

RealtyTrac: California Leads Nation In Flipped Homes

Homes in Merced, one of areas of the country hid hardest by the foreclosure crisis
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Data out today show a big spike in the rate of California homes purchased and resold within six-months.

People in the real estate business call it “flipping.”

“Flipping is the process of buying a home or other property, usually at a discounted price, improving that property through rehab and repairs and then reselling that.”

Daren Blomquist is with RealtyTrac. The research firm has released new nationwide figures on flipped properties.

“Not surprisingly the state with the most flips in the first-half of 2012 was California with nearly 26,000.”

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Education
5:52 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

CSU Trustees Approve Tuition Changes; Anti-Tax Group Threatens Lawsuit

Fresno State, one of the CSU system's 23 campuses
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California State University trustees have set the stakes for the November election. If Governor Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax measure passes, the CSU will roll back a previously-approved nine percent tuition increase. If Proposition 30 fails, the university will leave it in place – and tack on an additional five percent increase.

Meanwhile, a draft letter to CSU applicants about Prop 30’s impact has Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association threatening a lawsuit.

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Community
3:36 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Fresno Ranks Last In New Study of Immigrant Integration Progress

Fresno County's efforts at integrating new immigrants into the overall population fall short when compared with the rest of the state.

That's the finding of a new report by the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. 

The study measures a variety of indicators including the economic impact of immigrants in the local economy, educational performance, the warmth of welcome by the community at large, and civic engagement.

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Community
12:58 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Bakersfield May Consider Backyard Chickens

Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user locomotion http://www.flickr.com/photos/locomotion/3556879530

Bakersfield may become the latest California city to consider loosening laws against raising chickens in residential backyards.

The Bakersfield Californian reports that the city's Legislative and Litigation Committee discussed the idea at a meeting on Tuesday. It's currently illegal to keep chickens in most residential areas in the city.

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Government & Politics
3:36 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Workers' Compensation Overhaul Bill

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

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that makes changes to the state’s worker’s compensation system. The changes were part of a compromise between labor unions and businesses.

The law is designed to increase benefits to injured workers while reducing workers’ compensation costs for employers. It passed the legislature on a bipartisan vote despite some lawmakers’ complaints that there was little time to discuss it.

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Local Books
1:45 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Photographer Joel Pickford Documents Hmong Refugees in 'Soul Calling'

Soul Calling: A Photographic Journey through the Hmong Diaspora, by photographer Joel Pickford
Credit Heyday Books

Local photographer Joel Pickford's new book "Soul Calling: A Photographic Journey Through The Hmong Diaspora" is an intimate look into the world of the Hmong people.

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Health
10:51 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Chocolate Milk Gets Remixed At Fresno Schools

Credit Licensed using Creative Commons from Maria Pontikis / http://www.flickr.com/photos/anthimeria/3813431974/

The saying goes “milk does a body good.” But despite that, too few of us really drink the white stuff, and that includes adults and kids.

In an effort to get more kids to benefit from the nutrients milk offers many school districts including Fresno Unified served up flavored milk, both chocolate and strawberry.  So along with their daily intake of vitamin A, calcium and potassium, students were also getting sugar a lot of sugar, about four additional teaspoons in an 8 ounce serving of chocolate milk.

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Education
2:34 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

FUSD's Vang Resigns From Board of Trustees

Dr. Tony Vang (file photo)

Dr. Tony Vang announced his resignation today from his seat on the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees. The resignation, which Vang termed a "retirement" is effective today.

Vang cited family and workload related issues with his job at Fresno State for prompting his resignation.

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Just One Breath
6:01 am
Sat September 15, 2012

The Voices of Valley Fever

‘Not being able to breathe was the worst.’

MERCED — The walk from Tom Price’s living room to his kitchen was only a few feet. But it felt like miles.

The 33-year-old from Merced was hit with valley fever in 2006. He had trouble breathing, and he was so fatigued for a month that the simplest tasks felt arduous.

“It was scary,” he said. “It was the first time I had ever been very sick. Not being able to breathe was the worst.”

Price remembers developing a high fever and sweats. He went to his regular doctor, who thought he had the flu.

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Government & Politics
5:55 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Registering To Vote Will Soon Be Paperless for Californians

Californians can soon register to vote completely online. Paperless registration will be available to anyone who has a California driver’s license or ID.

Since 2009 Californians have been able to go online and fill out a form as part of the voter registration process. But signatures had to be mailed or delivered to county elections officials. Secretary of State Debra Bowen will soon roll out the next step, which would allow Californians who have a driver’s license or ID to hit “send” at the end of their online form.

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Health
5:49 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Federal Stimulus Dollars Boost California Electronic Health Systems

Dr. Gilbert Simon demostrates electronic health software at a Sacramento Family Medical Center.
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

Hospitals and doctors offices around California are getting an infusion of federal dollars to ramp up electronic recordkeeping.

California officials say health providers have received nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in federal stimulus money to modernize their record systems.

Dr. Gilbert Simon runs the Sacramento Family Medical Clinics. He says he already has plans for this fall.

“We will be calling in all of our patients with lung diseases to get their flu shots.”

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Environment
5:09 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

New Study Examines How Delta Ecosystem Once Worked

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A new study released this week by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the California Department of Fish and Game aims to turn back the clock and learn how the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta used to work - over 150 years ago.

It's part of an effort to allow scientists to better understand how to restore the Delta, by examining how the massive freshwater estuary functioned, before the gold rush and agriculture transformed the region with levees, shipping channels and dredging. 

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Agriculture
4:00 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Judge Rejects Challenges to California's Law on Farm Animal Cages

A federal judge in Los Angeles has upheld California's law that bans the use of tightly confined cages for some farm animals.

An egg producer challenged 2008's proposition 2, saying it was too vague for farmers because it didn't specify cage size.

But US District Judge John F. Walter said in his ruling it wouldn't require QUOTE "the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute."

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Agriculture
3:16 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Fresno County Company Recalls Cantaloupe Over Salmonella Concerns

An image supplied by the FDA of the DFI cantaloupes involved in today's voluntary recall.
Credit Food and Drug Administration

DFI Marketing of Fresno has announced a recall of 28,000 cartons of cantaloupe after a sample tested positive for Salmonella bacteria. Dresick Farms Inc grows produce on a farm in Huron, in western Fresno County.  

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Government & Politics
2:46 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Bill Would Give Retirement Plan To Private Sector Workers

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

A bill sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk could provide a retirement savings plan for private sector employees who don’t have one.

It passed on a party line vote the last day of the legislative session, after the Governor requested changes.

The bill establishes a board to make sure it doesn’t cost taxpayers money. And last minute changes to the bill give the legislature final authorization.

Democratic Senator Kevin DeLeon (Day-lee-OWN) authored the bill. He says more than seven million private sector employees don’t have access to a retirement plan.

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