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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. 

Sierra On-Line

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams.

Salas Introduces 'Most Robust' Valley Fever Legislation In State's History

Jan 9, 2018
Office of Asm. Rudy Salas

Apparently undaunted by California Gov. Jerry Brown's October veto of legislation that would've brought new disease reporting guidelines and funding to the little-known respiratory disease known as valley fever, Assemblyman Rudy Salas has introduced an even more robust legislative package aimed at tackling the disease as cases rise to record highs in California.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

If you spent time in the San Joaquin Valley over the holidays, the recent rain probably has you breathing a sigh of relief—not just because it’s bringing much needed rain and snow, but also because it’s the first time in weeks you can safely breathe. This story looks back at one of the most severe periods of smoggy air in decades.

When James Collins isn’t studying social work at Fresno State, he drives for the rideshare company Lyft. He sees a lot of open sky and bright sun.

John McCutcheon

Veteran singer, songwriter and instrumentalist John McCutcheon has earned the right to be considered a titan in the field of folk music. But as he prepares to release his 39th album Ghost Light, and embarks on a west coast tour that includes a stop Thursday at Fresno's Unitarian Universalist Church, he still speaks reverently of those who came before him, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. And much like those artists, his new songs speak of both American traditions and contemporary politics.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

On Monday, the Trump Administration announced that natives of El Salvador will soon lose their temporary protected status in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security says that in September of 2019, 200,000 Salvadorans in the U.S. will lose protection from deportation. That status was originally designated in 2001, under President George W. Bush. At the time, many Salvadorans had already fled to the U.S to escape earthquakes in their home country.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

If the leaders of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority are to be believed, by 2029 Bakersfield residents will be able to hop on a bullet train bound for LA’s Union Station or San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal. That’s if all goes according to plan, for a project that still doesn’t have enough funding to finish the job.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the storm front earlier this week cleaned up the air for much of the San Joaquin Valley, many residents may be looking forward to lighting up their wood-burning fireplaces. However, you might be surprised to learn that some burning was allowed even as air pollution reached dangerously unhealthy levels.

nickchapman / Flickr - Creative Commons

While the stock market is up, many cities in the valley are still struggling. Bakersfield perhaps faces the biggest cash crunch, as rising costs tied to health care and retirement expenses have coincided with a countywide economy that is struggling due to a decline in activity in the oil industry. One city projection indicates the city could face a $5 million deficit next year, growing to around $15 million in five years. Now the city council is considering what to do about the shortfall, and that could include a tax increase.

Faraday Future

After a turbulent 2017 electric automaker Faraday Future could get a much needed infusion of around $1 billion, according to a new report from The Verge. The company's top investor, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting is also now reportedly taking over as CEO of the firm.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Scientific research has demonstrated that, in general, the richer a person is, the healthier he or she is likely to be. Likewise, those with private insurance tend to be healthier than those on Medi-Cal. A new study, however, suggests neighborhood-level poverty may be even more important.

If you’re a child on Medi-Cal, you’re worse off living in a poor community than an affluent one. That is one of the findings in a new study out this week in the research publication Journal of Asthma.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

 

High school seniors from across the country are checking their email inboxes this month, eagerly awaiting acceptance letters from colleges and universities. It can be an exciting and stressful time for anyone. But here in the valley, one group of students is ready. FM89’s Christina Lopez reports on one local program that is celebrating 25 years of helping make college dreams a reality.

Flickr user Lens Scratcher (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The holidays are big here in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the most conspicuous examples is Christmas Tree Lane, two miles of lights and music that draw tens of thousands of visitors to central Fresno each year. Big as it is, though, it’s the little things that keep Christmas Tree lane running smoothly. In particular, this nightly ritual keeps the lights on.

http://www.garrybredefeld.com/

Last week the Fresno City Council approved a resolution kicking off the process of amending zoning laws to allow a variety of medical marijuana related businesses to operate in the city. The unanimous vote capped off a tense council meeting over the original proposal, which would have also allowed commercial marijuana businesses in the city, though stopping short of recreational use dispensaries. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you may have been required to attend traffic school. Likewise, cause a scene at work, you may have to take anger management classes. But what if you violate burning restrictions? The local air district runs a different kind of class intended to spark good behavior.

On damp, chilly nights Patrick Smith has a tradition: He builds a fire in his fireplace. Smith lives in northwest Fresno. A gas-powered furnace heats his home, but Smith still thinks of a fire as a gathering place for his family.

Fresno State

Earlier this year Fresno State students rejected a proposal that would have raised student fees $400 a year in order to build a new student union. While a scaled-back proposal is due to go back before students in early 2018, this year's vote has sent ripples across the CSU system. As EdSource senior correspondent Larry Gordon reports, students across the system are growing increasingly concerned with student fees.

Clint Olivier

The Fresno City Council will vote Thursday on a proposal that would set the city on a path to legalizing a variety of marijuana-related businesses.  This comes just months after the council voted to ban commercial marijuana dispensaries and other businesses. If approved, the new policy would mark a significant reversal of course on an issue that has divided city leaders for most of the last year.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Chinatown is one of Fresno’s oldest neighborhoods. From the city’s earliest days as a stop on the Central Pacific Railroad, to the 21st century, Chinatown has been a diverse community made up of immigrants who, in many cases, weren’t welcomed in other parts of Fresno. Locked in by railroad tracks on the east and Highway 99 to the west, the neighborhood is also the subject of renewed attention this year. Two of the state’s highest profile projects, high-speed rail and cap-and-trade, call it ground zero.

Ventura County Fire Department

The fire that flared up overnight in Ventura County has scorched 50,000 acres so far and burned at least 150 structures. Among those destroyed were buildings at a psychiatric hospital, which is now sending some of its patients to the San Joaquin Valley.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY TEXTLI GALLEGOS, 18, LAS FOTOS PROJECT / California Sunday Magazine

The San Joaquin Valley has a rich boxing tradition, dating back generations. Before he ran a popular bar in downtown Fresno, Young Corbett III was the world welterweight champion in the 1930’s. Today, Avenal’s Jose Ramirez is one of the sport’s rising stars. But at a gym in Southeast Fresno, local teen boxer Sandra Tovar is already at the top of her field, and has her sights set on an even bigger goal – the U.S. Olympic team, and the 2020 Tokyo summer games. 

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