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. 



11:36 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Delta Smelt Collapse Part Of Drought's Toll On California

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The latest survey of California's endangered Delta Smelt has turned up just one fish. While the population has been in decline for years, UC Davis biologist Peter Moyle says the drought has stressed the species to the brink of extinction. 

Moyle: "I've been tracking these fish for years including in my own surveys, and we've been seeing this long term decline, but still I was quite startled."

He blames a number of factors for the almost complete collapse, but says the drought is a big factor.

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9:44 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Fresno's Not Ferguson: Why Are Police Shootings and Complaints Down?

Police Chief Jerry Dyer (Center)

After years of community complaints about the Fresno Police Department, the numbers of complaints and officer-involved shootings are trending down. It has been roughly six months since there was an officer involved shooting in the city. Both police and community activists say a shift in the national mood about law enforcement is driving the change but question whether the change will last.

Fresno Police used to average one officer involved shooting every month and log dozens of complaints of excessive force and racial profiling among other concerns.

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6:04 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Gas Pipeline Blast In Fresno Injures Nearly A Dozen People

A natural gas pipeline explosion near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue in Fresno injured over a dozen people on Friday afternoon at a local shooting range.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has confirmed that two Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies were also injured, and has revised the injury total to 11 people.


A natural gas explosion at the peace officers gun range in Fresno has left 14 injured, three critically. FM89's Joe Moore reports. 

A gas pipeline at the range ignited at around 2:30 PM this afternoon, shooting a massive wall of flames into the sky and shutting down traffic on Highway 99 near Herndon Avenue. 

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Health Care
7:11 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Bill Moves Forward

file photo
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould /

The California Legislature has taken a key step toward extending health insurance to more than a million undocumented immigrants. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the bill passed its first committee vote Wednesday.

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Government & Politics
7:05 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. As Kitty Felde reports from Washington, Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home.

Drought relief legislation this year has gotten off to a slow start on Capitol Hill - unlike last year, when bills were floated in both the House and the Senate.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who spent the week meeting with members of Congress, says things are moving…underground. 

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9:26 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Fresno Leaders React To Keith Foster Report

Rick Rasmussen, police auditor

  Fresno’s Police auditor is recommending seven changes at the department to prevent criminal behavior among their officers. The changes are being made in the wake of the arrest of a Deputy Chief on drug trafficking charges.

Former Deputy Chief Keith Foster is one of seven people accused in a scheme to traffic heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana.

The auditor’s seven recommendations are intended to prevent any more incidents like it.

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9:45 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Working On The Railroad: High-Speed Rail Sparks New Career Interest

Pre-apprenticeship students working on electrical skills


With work on California’s High-Speed rail about to take off, interest in the trades that the rail will need appears to be increasing. That’s according to groups that run pre-apprenticeship programs that teach people the skills necessary to work on building the train. Talk of the project is driving interest in programs intended to train the men and women that will be needed to build it.

One of those programs is the five week high-speed rail pre-apprenticeship run by Chuck Riojas with the union Building Trades.

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1:26 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Drought Causing Increase In Bad Air In Valley

Credit Flickr-TPMartins

  California’s prolonged drought is causing a sharp rise in air pollution in the Central Valley. That’s according to an annual report on air quality in California.

While smog and Ozone continue to improve in the Valley, the four year long drought is pushing up dangerous particulate matter pollution rates.

The dry weather is causing loose soil which is kicked into the air says Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District.

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5:27 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Tensions Appear Amidst Dwindling Water Supply

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown says it’s time for California to pull together to get through the drought. It’s a message aimed at people with competing water needs. And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that’s created some tension.

There are more than 400 local water agencies In California. There are also agriculture, business and environmental interests. And as the drought continues they are all competing for a dwindling resource.

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Business & Economy
5:13 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno Grizzlies Hope Astros Affiliation Boosts Fan Interest

Grizzlies player Jon Singleton
Credit Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies will open their 2015 season tonight at Chuckchansi Park. But for the first time in 18 years, the AAA team won’t be stocked with players from Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. FM89’s Jason Scott reports that team owners hope the new affiliation with the Houston Astros will mark a reboot for the club and its fan base.

When the Fresno Grizzlies take the field tonight for the opening day fans will witness a team with a new look.

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Government & Politics
4:40 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno City Council Says 'No' To Farmland Preservation Project

Fresno City Hall - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has rejected a proposal to move forward with an effort to preserve area farmland from development.

The council voted down the proposed grant application today to start a farmland preservation program, which is key part of the city’s newly adopted general plan.

The program would require developers to offset the loss of farmland from urbanization by agreeing to preserve farmland elsewhere.

Council member Lee Brand says he wants more public input before committing to such a program.

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12:08 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Injured Fresno Firefighter Inspires International Support

In this screen capture from a Facebook video, the Rocklin, CA fire department turns their "lights on" in honor of Pete Dern.
Credit Rocklin Fire Department - Lights On for Pete Dern Facebook

Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern who was seriously injured last month when he fell through the roof of a burning building has helped inspire an international movement on social media.

The campaign called “Lights On For Pete Dern” has dozens of departments from across the nation posting videos to Facebook and Twitter of their engines fully illuminated in his honor.

Kerri Donis is the Fresno Fire Chief:

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11:58 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Drought: Fresno County Sheep Farmers In Better Spot This Year Than 2014

Stock Photo

The drought’s been tough on farmers across the state, but the timing of the little rain the region received this past winter proved to be a plus for the sheep industry. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Ryan Indart moves his herd of sheep around Fresno County to graze where grass is green.

He says the weather pattern from late 2014 to today has eased the effects of the drought on his herd. Rain in December and a foggy January kept moisture in the ground.

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Government & Politics
5:39 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Fresno Fire Department Wants Reimbursement Guarantee When Fighting Forest Fires

Fresno Fire Department (file photo)
Credit Fresno Fire Department Annual Report / Fresno Fire Department

The Fresno Fire Department is concerned that requests for aid from state and federal agencies during wildfires could wind up hurting the department's finances.  FM89's Joe Moore reports.

California's drought has resulted in more forest fires in recent years. That's put a strain not only on state and federal fire crews, but also on firefighters in cities like Fresno, that often assist through mutual aid agreements. 

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1:35 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Victim's Family Calls On Governor Brown To Block Killer's Parole

Mike Morganti's sister Vikki Van Duyne
Credit Alisha Gallon, Office of Jim Patterson

The family of a Clovis murder victim, Fresno law enforcement and politicians are in Sacramento today calling on Governor Jerry Brown to stop the parole of a convicted murderer.

David Weidert is up for parole for the 1980 murder of 20-year old Mike Morganti who was beaten with a baseball bat and buried alive for allegedly planning to testify against Weidert in another case.

Prosecutors say Weidert forced Morganti to dig is own grave.

Opponents of his release say the crime is too extreme to allow him to be paroled.

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4:48 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Fresno Looking To Cut Chukchansi Park Rent In Half

Chukchansi Park sign
Credit Photo Flikr: Frank Bonilla

The Fresno City Council could be poised to cut the rent on its minor league baseball stadium in half in an effort to attract a new buyer for the team.

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3:18 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Almond Rush Raises Tough Questions During Dry Times

Almond Orchard near Newman, California
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Conveyer belts carry millions of kernels through sorting machines in a giant processing plant in the western San Joaquin Valley near Newman, California.      

Jim Jasper: “So the almonds go in there.”

Jim Jasper is the president of Stewart and Jasper Orchards.

Jim Jasper: “We can speed this up… we can slow it down…”

Last year the facility hulled and shelled more than 40 million pounds of almonds -- most of which were headed overseas.

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6:28 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Central Valley Residents Say High-Speed Rail Is Running Them Over

Daryl and Shawna Archer

Some home and land owners in the pathway of California’s high-speed rail project are claiming the rail authority is treating them with disrespect and presenting low-ball offers in an attempt to for the project through. Those are claims the head of the rail authority strongly denies.

  A couple hundred feet behind the Kings County home of Daryl and Shawna archer are freight train.

“These are refrigerated cheese cars. They come twice a day. Once empty, once full going back,”

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12:18 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Drought-Tolerant Plans Growing In Popularity

Drought tolerant landscaping is a booming business in California (file photo)
Credit City of Fresno

As we enter a fourth year of drought, California nurseries and gardening centers say interest in drought-resistant plants is on the rise. Capital Public Radio's Steve Milne reports.

Greg Gayton is a horticulturist at the Green Acres nursery on Jackson Road in Sacramento. He's helping a customer shopping for tomato plants.

Gayton: "How you doing today? You finding everything okay?"

Gayton says the nursery has posted new signage promoting plants that require little water.  

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4:28 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

California, Is It Time To Wave Goodbye To Your Front Lawn?

Photo submitted by Hannah_75 to the Valley Public Radio series Voices of the Drought.

While agriculture is California’s largest consumer of water, Governor Jerry Brown wants to increase the focus on commercial and resident users. Jeffrey Hess with Valley Public Radio reports they are a big focus of Brown’s new mandatory water restrictions.

Golf course, cemeteries and other large plots of land will soon be required to reduce their usage under the new rules.

Governor Brown also wants to remove 50-million square feet of lawn around the state and replace it with drought resistant landscaping.

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