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
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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Fresno State
9:10 pm
Sun September 2, 2012

Fresno State Student Dead, Frat Suspended After Party, Drinking

Fresno State's Theta Chi fraternity has been suspended following the death of an 18 year old student who spent a night drinking at a fraternity party. 

The university says that freshman fraternity pledge Philip Dhanens of Bakersfield died at an area hospital on Sunday. He had accepted an invitation to join the fraternity earlier in the week.

The university says it learned of the incident Saturday morning. The Fresno Police Department is investigating the death. The official cause of death is not yet know. 

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Business & Economy
12:36 pm
Sat September 1, 2012

AAA: Labor Day Holiday Travel Up

Freeway traffic on Interstate 10 in Southern California (file photo)
Credit Michael R Perry / Licensed via Creative Commons via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelrperry/6868181303/

The latest AAA forecast says a higher number of Californians will be traveling over this Labor Day holiday weekend.

According to the auto club, 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more.

“This is a modest increase of 3.4 percent over last year," said Cynthia Harris, who is with AAA Northern California. She says “modest” increases in travel numbers have been the norm over the past four years.

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Health Care
6:00 am
Sat September 1, 2012

State Sets Minimum Benefits for Health Plans

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

CHCF Center for Health Reporting

SACRAMENTO – Californians now have a clearer picture of what health insurance will look like when major provisions of the federal health care law debut in 2014.

Acupuncture to treat pain and nausea will be covered, for example, as will tobacco cessation and vision screening.

But the jury’s still out on chiropractic care.

State lawmakers this week sent two bills to the governor that identify the services health insurance plans must cover starting in 2014 for individuals and small businesses.

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Health
3:12 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

CDC: As Many as 10,000 Yosemite Visitors At Risk of Hantavirus

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park that has sickened six and killed two could grow much larger, according to the Centers For Disease Control. On Friday the CDC  issued a health advisory, warning that as many as 10,000 people who stayed at tent cabins in Yosemite National Park between June 10 and August 24th may be at risk for the disease. 

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Environment
11:29 am
Fri August 31, 2012

California Tests Cap and Trade System

California officials are ramping up for the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade market this November, where companies will be required to pay for their pollution. The state held a trial auction to test the new system for selling carbon credits on Thursday.

The main goal of the test run is to make sure the software works smoothly and prevents attempts to game the bidding system, according to, Stanley Young who is with the California Air Resources Board.

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Sacramento
11:14 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Speaker Pérez Previews Calif. Legislature's Final Day

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

If there’s any last-minute wheeling or dealing on this final day of the California legislative session, Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez will surely be involved. The speaker’s top priority is a pair of bills he calls the “Middle Class Scholarship.” They would raise a billion dollars by ending a tax break for out-of-state businesses and put that money towards helping some families pay for college. Pérez spent a few minutes Thursday discussing that and more with Capitol reporter Ben Adler.

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Hantavirus Outbreak
8:58 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Yosemite Hantavirus Cases Grow, Now Six Infected

Yosemite National Park (file photo)
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The outbreak of hantavirus among people who visited Yosemite National Park continues to grow, as two additional people have been diagnosed with the disease, according to the California Department of Public Health. That brings the total number of Yosemite related cases this year to six. Most of the individuals who became infected stayed at tent cabins in Curry Village earlier this summer. 

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Health
2:41 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Fresno's Saint Agnes Medical Center Fined After Towel Left In Patient

Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Officials with the California State Department of Public Health today issued fines against 14 hospitals for not complying with various licensing requirements that according to the state, resulted in serious injuries or deaths.

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Housing
11:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Foreclosures Drop, But Still Remain High

Merced has been among the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Foreclosure-related home sales fell 10 percent in California during the second-quarter compared to last year. But repossessions still accounted for a big percentage of homes sold. Listing service RealtyTrac says four out of every 10 California homes sold between April and June were foreclosures.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s Vice-President said that number, "is extremely high. We’d expect to see less than 5 percent of all sales be foreclosure-related in a normal, healthy market."

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State Parks
10:32 am
Thu August 30, 2012

California Lawmakers Pass Bill Designed to Prevent Another Parks Scandal

Many state parks were threatened with closure, while $54 million in funds sat unused in a
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers have approved a bill designed to improve the state’s accounting practices in hopes of avoiding the kind of scandal that happened with the parks department.

In July, an unreported surplus of $54 million was discovered in two special funds accounts in the parks department. A later audit found accounting discrepancies in other state special funds.

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Labor
5:13 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

New Study Says California Temp Workers More Likely To Be Poor

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

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Government & Politics
3:42 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Lawmakers Pass Open Carry Ban on Rifles, Shotguns

California lawmakers have sent a ban on openly carrying unloaded shotguns or rifles in public to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. The measure follows a similar ban approved last year on openly carrying unloaded handguns in public.

Republicans strongly opposed the bill. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly argued many Californians are simply expressing their fundamental right. “They’re not criminals! Do not criminalize more Americans because they believe in the 2nd amendment!

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Government & Politics
1:38 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Kern County to Pursue New Jail With $100 Million Grant

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to accept a $100 million state grant that would help fund construction of a new jail at the existing Lerdo pre-trial facility. As a condition of the grant, the county also committed over $22 million in matching funds to support construction of the facility, which will house around 800 mostly medium security inmates.

The county had previously been awarded a similar grant in 2008, but had to reject the funding because it was unable to allocate the matching funds required the state. 

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Environment
11:21 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Effort to Approve Mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain Falls Short

Jesse Morrow Mountain
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial aggregate mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger have stalled after the Fresno County Board of Supervisors failed to approve the project after a marathon meeting Tuesday night. The supervisors were being asked to reverse a decision by the Fresno County Planning Commission, which rejected the project in May. 

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