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
2:20 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Fresno Leaders Expect Fulton Mall Work Soon, Despite Delay

Credit Valley Public Radio

Fresno City leaders say construction could start on the project to turn the Fulton Mall into a street as early as this summer. Opponents of the project say they are not giving up the fight.

The city had expected to break ground on the project this month.

City Manager Bruce Rudd says they won’t make that goal, but they will begin work soon.

“We are hoping to have this go out to bid within the next 60-to-90 days. It will probably be on the street for sixty days. And hopefully back before the council in August to award a contract,” Rudd said.

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Health
2:10 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

California Lawmakers Look At Unequal Access to Health Care

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers spent a large part of Wednesday hearing about ways to make health care equally accessible regardless of race, ability or sexual orientation. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento found, policymakers say solutions will start with better information.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Rob Bonta says eyes may glaze over when the conversation turns to data. But developing different methods of collecting data could reveal problems faced by specific groups of people.

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Government & Politics
9:22 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Dyer Hopes New Panel Will Build Trust With Local Youth

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer speaking at a press conference in Fresno on Wednesday.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local police department is hoping community outreach can help prevent distrust of law enforcement in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he wants to improve communication and trust between his officers and young people. That’s why he announced a plan Wednesday to create a new youth advisory panel for the department.

Dyer: “We never want to be viewed as an occupying force, we want to be viewed as a department that cares about the people we’re serving.”

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Drought
4:51 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Despite Drought, Some Experts Say It's Too Soon For Drastic Measures

Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought wears on, it might seem like more creative solutions are in order. But as Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr found out it might not yet be time for drastic measures. 

Here in California it can be frustrating to see the East Coast and Midwest buried in snow while the west remains bone dry. But the news can be hard to avoid. 

Snow piling up so high, cities are struggling to get rid of it, while the west remains stormless. Seems like a waste. Surly there’s a way some of that extra snow can be moved to where it’s needed.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

State Hearing On Oil Waste Injections Into Aquifers Asks 'What Went Wrong?'

An oil well in Kern County, near Taft (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two senate committees water and the environment held a joint hearing Tuesday in Sacramento focusing on the potential contamination of federally protected aquifers by oil producers. 

The state's Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources had allowed production companies to inject oil field waste water into some aquifers that the EPA says could be used for drinking water. The revelation has resulted in the shutdown of 23 wells, slowing production in Kern County. 

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Health
2:54 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

California Doctors, Lawmakers Renew Push for Medi-Cal Rate Increase

Doctors, insurers, a union and lawmakers are teaming up to push for an increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to providers. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento tells us, the groups are asking for compensation equal to the federal Medicare program.

Lawmakers say they don't just want to reverse the 10 percent reimbursement cut to doctors under Medi-Cal, they want to increase payments to as much as three times what the current rate is for a typical doctor visit. Dr. Luther Cobb is President of the California Medical Association.

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Drought
2:50 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Big Businesses Weighing In On California Drought

file photo
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought stretches into its fourth year, the business community wants to have a say in how water is managed. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new collaboration announced today.

Companies including Coca-Cola, General Mills and KB Home say they want a greater voice in how the state manages water. The group says it will monitor implementation of the recently passed water bond and ground water legislation. It will also encourage conservation and recycling at the local level.

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Drought
6:19 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

California Water Conservation Rate Drops As Does Water Content in Snow

file photo
Credit John Chacon / CA Dept of Water Resources

California’s water supply continues to diminish. The water content in the Sierra snowpack is the worst it’s been this time of year since 1991. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water conservation rates are equally dismal, dropping dramatically in January.

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Agriculture
6:10 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Major Valley Almond Grower Gets Into The Bee And Honey Business

Beehives are a common sight in almond orchards throughout the Central Valley this time of year. (file photo)
Credit Almond Board of California

California’s almond orchards are turning from white to green this week as millions of blossoms fall, marking the end of this year’s bloom. But for one valley almond grower, work with the bees that make it all possible has just begun. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

You probably know Paramount Farms from their brands like Wonderful Pistachios and POM Wonderful. Now the world’s largest grower of almonds and pistachios is adding a new product to that portfolio – something they call Wonderful Bees.

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Agriculture
3:40 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Valley Farmers Face Second Year With No Federal Water Allocation

The Friant Kern Canal was nearly empty for much of 2014 after a zero percent allocation to east valley farmers served by the CVP.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The US Bureau of Reclamation says most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will face a second year with no water from the Central Valley Project.

Ron Milligan is Operations Manager for the CVP. He says low reservoir storage is only part of the reason for the “zero allocation”.

Milligan:  “We’ve accumulated probably less than average snow for the month of February so we anticipate unfortunately the March 1 snow surveys are going to be probably even less fruitful then they were in February.”

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Salas Bill Would Help Homeowners Rip Out Lawns

A drought-resistant garden in the Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - http://ucanr.edu/sites/cvlandscape/ / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

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Agriculture
5:39 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Citrus Growers Say Port Dispute Could Be Worse Than Freeze

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The labor conflict that has clogged west coast ports in recent weeks has the Valley’s citrus industry on edge. FM 89’s Jason Scott reports.

Agricultural products from the Valley that should be making their way to countries like China, Japan, and Australia are sitting on the docks of west coast ports due to a labor dispute. While the ports reopened Tuesday, their shutdown over the weekend has caused a slowdown that has growers worried.

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Environment
11:03 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Efforts To Restore Spring-Run Salmon On San Joaquin River Move Ahead

Friant Dam (file photo)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

State and federal fish and wildlife agencies will take a significant step today in restoring what was once the largest salmon run in California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, thousands of hatchery-raised spring-run Chinook salmon will be released into the San Joaquin River.

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Poetry
12:26 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Philip Levine Remembered As Tough Teacher, Champion Of Everyday Workers

2011 U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine died Saturday at age 87.
Credit Fresno State News

U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine died on Saturday at his home in Fresno. He was age 87. The former Fresno State professor was known as the poet of the working class, and drew inspiration from his time working in the auto industry in his native Detroit and from the San Joaquin Valley, which he called home for nearly 60 years.

Levine took pride in bringing stories of physical labor in America to the world of poetry. Poet Peter Everwine was a close friend and colleague.

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Agriculture
10:04 am
Tue February 17, 2015

California Ranchers Are Bouncing Back, But Still Feel Effects of Drought

Jim Gates with Nevada County Free Range Beef in Grass Valley
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

California ranchers are bouncing back after the drought forced many of them to sell their livestock last winter. The lack of rain stopped the grass from growing, and buying enough feed became too costly.  

This year, Capital Public Radio's Amy Quinton returned to the ranches she visited in 2014 to see how they’re doing and filed this report.

Jim Gates owns Nevada County Free Range Beef and was hit hard by the drought last year. 

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Health
10:41 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Covered California Expects Hundreds of Enrollment Fairs Through The Weekend

Sunday is the deadline to sign up for a new health insurance plan if you’re buying your own. Covered California says there will be hundreds of enrollment events around the state to give people in-person help. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone dropped in on one this week in Sacramento.

At Highlands High School in North Sacramento, 32 families have trickled in during the first couple of hours of this enrollment event.

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Government & Politics
10:52 am
Thu February 12, 2015

New Push To Regulate Medical Marijuana In California

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s a new push to regulate medical marijuana in California after similar legislation failed at the state Capitol last year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the debate centers on how much control cities and counties should have over local marijuana businesses.

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Health
10:46 am
Thu February 12, 2015

California Lawmakers Revisit Proposal To Put Health Advisory on Sodas

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will be taking another look at a proposal that would require warning labels on sugary drinks. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento explains, the bill is similar to one that failed last year.

The proposal would mandate health advisories on sodas, sweet teas and energy drinks with 75 calories or more per 12 ounces.

Democratic Senator Bill Monning says the evidence of the link between sugar, obesity and diabetes is "rock solid."

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Sports
6:00 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Former Fresno State Star Chris Herren Shares Memories Of Jerry Tarkanian

Former Fresno State basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian died on Wednesday at age 84.
Credit Fresno State Athletic Department

On Wednesday former Fresno State men’s basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian died at age 84. The man affectionately known as “Tark the Shark” was one of the winningest coaches in the history of college hoops and won the 1990 national championship while at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. But he was also a source of near constant controversy, thanks to frequent run-ins with the NCAA during three coaching stints at Long Beach State, UNLV and at finally at Fresno State, his alma mater.

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Agriculture
5:32 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

2015 World Ag Expo Kicks Off In Tulare

The World Ag Expo began its three day run in Tulare on Tuesday. FM89's Ezra David Romero says this year's show has a focus on drones, robotic technology and apps for the farm. 

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