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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Business & Economy
12:00 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Amazon "Tax" Begins Saturday

If you need to make a purchase on Amazon, now would be a good time to do it. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, starting Saturday, Californians will have to pay sales taxes on purchases.

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Government & Politics
5:42 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

California Governor Signs Pension Overhaul Legislation

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that he called the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the state’s history.

Governor Brown says the changes in the state’s pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. The legislation will increase the retirement age for new public employees and require them to pay at least half of their pension costs. It also caps the salary amount that can go toward pensions.

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The Bakersfield Sound
4:15 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Homer Joy, 'Streets of Bakersfield" Songwriter Dies

Homer Joy, composer of
Credit Courtesy homerjoy.com

Homer Joy, the songwriter behind the Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam hit “The Streets of Bakersfield” has died. Joy was a talented performer in his own right, and a leading figure in the so-called Bakersfield Sound movement of country music.  

Owens’ own recording of The Streets of Bakersfield in the 1970’s went largely unnoticed, but his 1988 remake with Yoakam hit number one on the Billboard music country charts.

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Environment
9:35 am
Wed September 12, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Timber Tax Bill

Credit Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK / http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/6195650749/

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that imposes a 1-percent tax on lumber products starting in January. The bill also protects the timber industry from excessive legal damages for wildfires.

The bill had strong backing from the California timber industry for several reasons. It eliminates regulatory fees companies currently pay when harvesting and shifts the costs to consumers through the tax. It also limits legal damages landowners pay for starting wildfires.

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Mental Health
10:36 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Prop 63 Program Provides Many Paths Towards Mental Wellness

Since it was enacted in 2004, California’s Proposition 63 has raised over $8 billion by taxing the wealthy. The money was intended to pay for mental health services and prevention programs. But lawmakers have called for an audit after questions were raised about how money from the “millionaires’ tax” is being spent.

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Education
3:16 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

New Report Guides California Teacher Recruitment, Evaluation

A new report calls for major improvements in the way California teachers are recruited, trained, and evaluated. It’s a result of the state’s 48-member Task Force on Educator Excellence.

Education officials say the 90-page report is the first comprehensive look in a generation at how to recruit the best teachers, develop their work and provide useful feedback.

Linda Darling-Hammond co-chaired the task force. She says despite both local and state budget cuts, there are changes that can be made now.

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Government & Politics
12:24 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown On CNN: Country In Slow Recovery

California Governor Jerry Brown - file photo
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown was on national TV over-the-weekend weighing-in on the presidential election.

He was among the guest line-ups for the Sunday TV news shows, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Brown said President Obama has laid a foundation for economic recovery and job creation.

And he argued against Mitt Romney’s “supply-side” economic plan of lowering taxes on corporations to help spur job growth.

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Just One Breath
6:03 am
Sun September 9, 2012

When Valley Fever Struck Celebrated Winemaker, Doctors Missed It

Todd and Tammy Schaefer walk through a neighbor’s vineyard with their Old English Mastiff, Daisy Ray. Todd was working in a vineyard when he contracted valley fever.
Laura Dickinson/ Vida en el Valle

Todd and Tammy Schaefer appear the picture of good fortune and good health.

Tall, fit and well dressed, the couple met in Malibu, where they established their wine business. In 2001, they moved to Paso Robles, in San Luis Obispo County, and focused on Pacific Coast Vineyards full-time.

That’s where their long nightmare with valley fever began. Early in October 2003, Todd Schaefer was running a bulldozer that kicked up a thick cloud of dust.

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Sun September 9, 2012

Changing climate may expand valley fever’s impact

Thomas Mace, senior scientific adviser to NASA, helps Cal State Bakersfield microbiologist Antje Lauer pour a soil sample into a test tube near Bear Valley Springs.
Shelby Mack / The Californian

Valley fever feeds on heat.

And as the average temperature ticks up with each passing decade, experts are concerned that the fungus’ footprint and impact are expanding, as evidenced by a rise in cases in areas far outside the hot spots of the Central Valley of California.

In the soil, the cocci fungus lives on dead organic matter. Less rainfall and higher temperatures reduce overall vegetation, diminishing soil competition for the hardy fungus, scientists say. Cocci spores survive—even thrive—when the environment is drier and hotter since other competitors die off.

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Just One Breath
6:01 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Just One Breath: Valley fever cases reach epidemic levels, but harm remains hidden

Dust storms like this one that blasted Fresno in June can carry millions of spores from the fungus that causes Valley Fever.
Craig Kohlruss The Fresno Bee

This special report is a project of the Reporting On Health Collaborative

Valley fever starts with the simple act of breathing. 

The fungal spores, lifted from the dry dirt by the wind, pass through your nostrils or down your throat, so tiny they don’t even trigger a cough. They lodge in your lungs. If you’re fortunate – and most people are – they go no further.  

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Valley Fever cases missed because of lack of awareness

A correctional officer watches from a guard tower seen through the razor wire near Kern Valley State Prison in Delano. The extent of valley fever’s under-diagnosis becomes clear when reviewing cases reported by prisons located in the Central Valley.
Casey Christie The Californian

The soaring nationwide figures for valley fever don’t tell the whole story.

Problems with screening for the disease and tracking it over time mean that thousands of cases go undetected and untreated every year, leading experts to believe the second epidemic is likely worse than documented.

Valley fever often goes unrecognized, especially in places where the disease is not widespread. Doctors aren’t familiar with its wide variety of symptoms. Often, the early symptoms of valley fever are similar to those of pneumonia.

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Disease sidetracks girl with dreams of dancing

Emily Gorospe, showing off her dance wardrobe, was forced to leave dance lessons after she was diagnosed with valley fever.
Daniel Casarez/Vida en el Valle

Very little can stop 7-year-old Emily Gorospe from dancing.

Early this summer, she twirled in her bedroom, holding to her chest her colorful, ruffled dance costumes as if they were her dancing partners.

But last spring, Emily did not have enough energy to dance – let alone walk down the hallway of her family’s home.

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Valley Fever basics

What is valley fever?

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is a disease caused by a fungus called coccidioides immitis found in the soil primarily in certain parts of the Southwestern United States, Mexico and Central and South America. A person can become infected by inhaling the spores of the fungus. The infection starts in the lungs, but can spread to other organs in the body and the bones.

What are the symptoms?

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Government & Politics
4:20 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bills

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

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a package of bills into law today. The Governor signed 59 bills in all.

One will prevent landlords from requiring online-only rental payments. Another will require sports facilities to post written notices with the text and phone numbers of security so fans can report violence. That law stems from a Los Angeles Dodgers fan beating up and causing brain damage to a San Francisco Giants fan on opening day last year.

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Health
6:46 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Third Yosemite Hantavirus Death Reported

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A West Virginia resident is the third person to die of hantavirus in the last month after visiting Yosemite National Park. The outbreak of the rare disease, which is contracted through contact with the urine or feces of infected deer mice has prompted a worldwide health advisory for individuals who visited the park earlier this summer. A total of eight cases have been reported so far. All of the cases but one involve people who stayed at the "Signature Tent Cabins" at Yosemite's Curry Village. The other case involves a person who visited camps in the High Sierra.

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Food Supply
4:21 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Milk From Kerman Dairy Recalled Over Bacteria Concerns

A Central Valley dairy is once again facing a recall of its milk products, just months after a similar incident resulted in products being pulled off store shelves.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the recall of raw milk, raw skim milk and raw cream from Kerman based Organic Pastures Dairy today after a routine test discovered campylobacter in a sample of cream. The recalled products all bear the date code of September 13.

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Environment
7:03 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Dry Lightning Sparks Increased Fire Danger

The weather forecast for Northern and Central California over the next few days has state fire fighters on high alert.
 
CalFIRE’s Daniel Berlant says thunderstorms and strong winds could lead to dry lightning.
 
"When we get lightning-sparked fires, there can be dozens – even sometimes hundreds – of fires spread out through a large area.  That always is a challenge for us, because that means additional resources are needed.” 
 

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Energy
6:52 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Solar Sets Records for Power Production in California

The operator of California’s power grid says a single-day record amount of energy was harvested from the sun not once, but twice in the past month.  

The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO)  reports solar production exceeded the one-gigawatt plateau twice in August.  Stephanie McCorkle with Cal ISO says higher production coincides with decreasing costs.

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Environment
11:43 am
Wed September 5, 2012

State Works to Balance Renewable Energy Projects and Protecting Endangered Species

Eletricity generating windmills dot the landscape near Tehachapi, CA.
Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user moominsean http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjrohde/7389804696/

California is working on a plan to balance goals of developing renewable energy projects on desert lands and protect the endangered species that live there. Californians can weigh in at a public meeting on Wednesday

Remote desert areas may seem like the perfect place for wind and solar energy projects. But some projects have already stalled because they threaten endangered species such as the desert tortoise or bighorn sheep.

The state and the federal government are working on a plan to balance those two goals.

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Mon September 3, 2012

Brown's Prop 30 is Focus as Campaign Season Kicks Off

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a rally for Proposition 30, August 16, 2012
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

It’s often said that Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff to campaign season.  And as California voters begin to turn their attention now to the 11 statewide ballot measures this fall, one initiative is by far drawing the most attention.

Proposition 30 is Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to raise the sales and income taxes to help close the state’s festering budget deficit. The governor has a big fundraising advantage – and he’s managed to keep some powerful opponents on the sidelines. Mark DiCamillo runs the non-partisan Field Poll, and he says Prop 30 holds a steady lead.

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