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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Wildfire
5:24 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Bridge Fire Burns In Mariposa County Near Highway 49

An early photo of the Bridge Fire burning in Mariposa County as seen from the Madera/Mariposa County line.
Credit Madera County Sheriff Dept Facebook

Firefighters are battling a wildfire in Mariposa County on Highway 49 today. The Bridge Fire began on Friday afternoon near the William Sell Bridge between Oakhurst and Mariposa and has burned around 100 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place for residents in the Ponderosa Basin area near the east fork of the Chowchilla River. A number of structures are threatened by the fire. Highway 49 is closed between Worman Road and Chowchilla Mountain Road.

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Government & Politics
10:00 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Brown, Kashkari Clash In Lone Gubernatorial Debate

The two candidates for governor of California have met for what appears to be their one-and-only debate of the fall campaign.
Credit Cal Channel

Republican Neel Kashkari got what may be his only debate against Democratic Governor Jerry Brown Thursday. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, neither candidate shied away from attacking the other.

The debate came two months before Election Day, during the National Football League season opener, in a cramped TV studio across the street from the state Capitol. Kashkari came out firing.

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Health
6:12 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Seville Residents Get Green Light to Drink Tap Water

Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

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Business & Economy
5:41 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

California Economist: No Surprise Tesla Chose Nevada

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State. Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind.
Credit Tesla Motors

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State.  Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind. 

California was one of five states vying for the plant that is estimated to build enough batteries to power a half-million vehicles by the year 2020.

Stephen Levy  with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy says he wasn’t surprised the electric car company chose Nevada over the Golden State.

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Drought
5:15 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Forecasters Say Chances Are El Niño Won't End California's Drought

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center analysis shows a 60-to-65 percent chance of the warm ocean condition known as El Niño developing this fall and winter. The report also indicates a strong El Niño is not expected and a weak event is likely.

Michelle Mead is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

She says a weak El Niño won't end the California drought. 

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Government & Politics
4:42 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Governor's Debate: Kashkari Gets His One Shot At Brown

Jerry Brown (l) and Neel Kashkari debate Thursday night on Valley Public Radio
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The only debate in California’s 2014 governor’s race is just hours away, as Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown gets set to face his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it could be Kashkari’s best chance to narrow Brown’s lead in polls.

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Chowchilla Places City Manager on Leave

Chowchilla City Hall.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The city of Chowchilla has announced it is placing City Manager Mark Lewis on leave and replacing him with Police Chief Jay Varney.

In a press release, the City said it could not comment on the situation because it involves personnel issues. Before he came to Chowchilla, Lewis was fired from his position as City Manager of Stockton in 2006.

As for police chief Jay Varney, this won’t be his first time leading the city administration: he acted as City Manager for two years before Lewis was hired in 2011. Varney is also currently running for Madera County Sheriff.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

After Years Of Effort, Plastic Bag Ban Heads To Governor

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill banning single-use plastic grocery bags passed in the California legislature. It's up to Governor Brown to decide if it will become law. 

The effort to pass legislation banning single-use plastic bags lasted for years. Environmental groups have pushed bills to ban the bags in previous sessions.

But this year, after some tweaks to the bill during the session, lawmakers approved it. Dan Jacobson with Environment California says the key this year was cooperation.

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Science
4:53 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Early Warning System For California Earthquakes Moving Forward

The Napa Courthouse on the morning after last month's 6.0 earthquake
Credit Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

 It detected last month’s Napa Quake a few seconds before the ground shook – but California’s earthquake early warning system wasn’t equipped to alert the general public in time. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a conference today at UC Berkeley is looking at how to broaden the system’s reach.

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High Speed Rail
6:03 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

State Wins Another High Speed Rail Court Battle

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

California may be one step away from selling bonds for its High Speed Rail project.

A California Court of Appeals has refused to grant a rehearing in a case challenging the use of bond funding to build High Speed Rail. The decision is a win for the state which is counting on selling bonds to help fund the project.

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Government & Politics
5:49 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Kern County Judge Censured for Relationship with Clerk

Kern County Superior Court in Bakersfield.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A state watchdog has censured Kern County Superior Court judge Cory Woodward for having a sexual relationship with a clerk.  The decision also states that Woodward attempted to mislead the court about the relationship.

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Community
12:50 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Fulton Mall At 50: When Things Don't Go According To Plan

Fresno's Fulton Mall was once a national model for urban revitalization. But the dream for a new Fresno unraveled quickly.

Fifty years ago this month, Fresno captured national headlines by closing its main street to the automobile and opening the Fulton Mall. This six-block long pedestrian only plaza was supposed to be the centerpiece of an ambitious plan for urban renewal, and the growth of the entire region. It was supposed to save Fresno from the evils of urban decay, suburban sprawl, and air pollution. Yet the result was exactly the opposite. How and why did that happen?

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Government & Politics
10:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

It's "Gut-And-Amend" Time At The Capitol

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It happens every year in the waning days of the California Legislature: A bill is amended to address a completely different subject, then brought up for a vote without going through the full legislative process. It's known as “gut-and-amend.” And although the practice draws scorn from many, lawmakers insist there are good reasons to use it. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Drought
9:48 am
Thu August 28, 2014

California Senate Passes Groundwater Management Plan

The California Senate has approved a bill that would establish a groundwater management plan for the state.
Credit California Department of Water Resources

With days to go before the end of the legislative session, the California Senate passed a groundwater management plan Wednesday. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Forty percent of California’s water comes from groundwater, yet the state has never had a plan to manage it. That could soon change if a measure approved in the Senate makes it through the rest of the legislative process.

The bill would require local governments to set up groundwater management agencies. The agencies would have five years to implement a management plan.

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Government & Politics
6:35 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Perea Says Cap And Trade Plan Will Hurt San Joaquin Valley

Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) file photo
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

California's landmark anti-global warming law will reach a new milestone in January 2015. That's when the state's cap and trade regulations begin to apply to transportation fuels like gas and diesel.

It's part of an effort to reduce the state's CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. But industry groups and the state's non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office say the regulations could also drive up prices at the pump. 

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History
10:52 am
Tue August 26, 2014

New Book Tells Story Of Early California Stagecoach Days

The Stagecoach In Northern California: Rough Rides, Gold Camps and Daring Drivers by Cheryl Ann Stapp
Credit The History Press

Imagine for a moment a trip from the valley through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. You'll likely picture a windy road that meanders through dry golden hills marked by large oaks, granite outcroppings and the occasional settlement.

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Government & Politics
6:14 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

California Bill Would Tackle Laborers' Working Conditions

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

Many California agricultural workers aren’t employed directly by farmers, but by labor contractors. Now a new bill in the California legislature would bring about more protections for those workers, but as FM89’s Kerry Klein reports, it’s also the source of controversy.

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Environment
4:55 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

The Smoke is Clearing for Junction, Way Fires

View of the Way Fire from Old State Road, Wofford Heights
Credit InciWeb

Firefighters are making progress containing two wildfires that sparked in the San Joaquin Valley on Monday.

The Junction Fire, which led to evacuations of thousands of homes in and around Oakhurst, is now estimated to be 612 acres in size and is currently 40% contained. Nine structures have been destroyed and 2 injuries reported.

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Health Care
10:31 am
Wed August 20, 2014

400,000 Medi-Cal Applicants Still Waiting for Coverage

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The state of California says about 400,000 applicants to the Medi-Cal program are still waiting for their coverage. Administrators say they’ve made a lot of progress on the backlog in recent weeks. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, consumer advocates say the state could be doing more to get people coverage faster.  

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Environment
4:59 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Junction Fire: Residents Recall Flight From Blaze

Oakhurst resident Rhonda Schmitz and her dog Penny wait for the night to pass so they can head home.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Wednesday August 20th 9:00 AM - Fire crews made good progress on the Junction Fire Tuesday and the blaze is now 40 percent contained. The mandatory evacuation orders for areas west of Highway 41 have been lifted except for Road 620. Areas east of Highway 41 remain closed. Highway 41 to Yosemite is now open.

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