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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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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Health
2:39 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Valley Fever Sickens Many, But Still Lacks Attention

Here in California's San Joaquin Valley, the disease known as valley fever can strike anyone at almost anyone at almost anytime. Just ask Dr. James McCarthy.

"It's pretty difficult to prevent something that you can acquire just by breathing in the air," says McCarthy. 

Just breathing in the air. Air that contains the spores of a soil fungus found throughout much of the Southwest, but especially in the southern portions of the San Joaquin Valley. 

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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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