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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Environment
1:06 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Brown Issues Mandatory Water Conservation Order For California

Gov. Jerry Brown announces mandatory water conservation requirements for California near Lake Tahoe Wednesday, at a site that on April 1st in a typical year averages five feet of snow.
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

For the first time in the state's history, a governor of California is imposing mandatory water restrictions.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday that mandates a 25 percent cut in urban, potable water use in cities and towns from now through next February.

He announced the action near Lake Tahoe, after watching the state Department of Water Resources conduct a survey that showed the Sierra snowpack at a record-low five percent of normal for April 1st.

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Drought
10:51 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Drought: California's 2015 Cotton Planting May Be As Small As The One In 1910

Stock Photo
Credit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

California was once the number one cotton growing state in the nation, but the drought has changed that. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on why the total cotton acreage in the state has dropped.

California cotton farmers are in the process of planting over 170,000 acres of the crop.

That sounds like a lot, but according to Roger Isom the number of acres expected to be planted in the state this year have plummeted to the point of plantings not seen since around 1910.

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Drought
4:25 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Drought: Fresno County Lettuce Crop Cut In Half

File Photo
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The drought has become so bad in Central California that it’s now affecting the ingredients in your salad bowl. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on a major drop in the lettuce harvest in the region. 

During the first few weeks of spring the Central Valley usually harvests almost the entire supply of the nation’s head lettuce, but this year the supply is meager.

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Crime
12:38 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Two Dead In Murder-Suicide At Fresno Doctor's Office

The Sang Pediatric office in downtown Fresno was the site of the shooting.

Update:

A mother of seven children and a man are dead in an apparent murder-suicide that shut down parts of downtown Fresno for several hours today. The shooting brought out dozens of cops and even the swat team.

Fresno Police initially believed the 43-year old man was an active shooter potentially with hostages inside a small medical office when they approached this office in mid-morning.

However, when swat officers finally made it inside Sang Pediatric Deputy Chief Pat Farmer says they found body of the man and that of the woman, dead from shotgun wounds.

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Business & Economy
5:42 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Almond Milk Sales Skyrocket, But How Healthy Is It?

Almond milk is no longer a health food niche product. Last year national sales were up 40% nationally, according to Nielson data. But, some dietitians question the nutritional value of it.
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Almond milk is no longer a health food niche product. Last year national sales were up 40%, according to Nielson data. Today's market is worth more than $700 million dollars a year. That's good news for California where virtually all the nation's almonds are grown. But, as Lesley McClurg in Sacramento reports some dietitians question the nutritional value of almond milk. 

Almond milk dates back to the Middle Ages when Catholics and Muslims drank it during religious periods when animal products were banned.

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

California's State Capitol, Like You've Never Seen It Before

The Capitol rotunda is contained within the taller Capitol dome.
Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio

Now, a tour of California’s state Capitol – but not just any tour. This one includes a little history … some surprising details that are easy to miss … and a rare trip to the top of the Capitol dome. Here’s Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler.

As a high school marching band tunes up outside the state Capitol, Ken Cooley shows a couple dozen people the building he’s poured his soul into for the last four decades. He’s a Democratic Assemblyman, a longtime staffer and a walking Capitol encyclopedia.

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Cuba
5:31 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Henry T. Perea And Valley Farmers Headed To Cuba For Trade Mission

Cuba
Credit Google Maps

A group of California lawmakers and farmers are headed to Cuba Monday on a trade mission. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the Valley could benefit.

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Agriculture
5:00 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

What Drought? California Table Grape Growers Have Record Crop

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the worst drought in recent memory, Central California's table grape growers enjoyed a record crop in 2014.

According to numbers released Friday by the California Table Grape Commission, last year's crop was worth $1.76 billion, an all time value record. In terms of volume, it was the second largest crop in history, at 110 million boxes.

In a press release, Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission said exports topped 44.5 million boxes.

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News
3:52 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Indicted Deputy Chief Foster Appears In Court

Left to Right: City Manager Bruce Rudd, Police Chief Jerry Dyer, and Mayor Ashley Swearengin

  Indicted Fresno deputy Police chief Keith Foster is being released on his own recognizance prior to his trial on drug-related charges.

Foster was one of six people who appeared in federal court today on accusation of distributing heroine, Oxycodone, and marijuana.

The cities top three leaders all say that they were unaware of Foster’s alleged illegal activity but that they are sure that it does not extend further into the department.

Ashley Swearengin is Mayor of Fresno.

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Government & Politics
7:11 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested For Dealing Drugs

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster (file photo)
Credit Fresno Police Department

One of Fresno's highest ranking law enforcement officers was arrested Thursday on drug charges. Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, marijuana and oxycodone.

Five other Fresno residents were also charged in the case, including two men the FBI believes are related to Foster. 

Foster has been placed on administrative leave by the department. The arrests are part of an on-going, year-long investigation by the FBI and ATF.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the arrest is totally unexpected...

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Government & Politics
6:58 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno City Council Votes To Loosen Tough Marijuana Law

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council is moving forward with a plan to modify the city's medical marijuana law. But as FM89's Joe Moore reports, the change could be short lived. 

The new law would amend another passed last year by the council that banned all marijuana cultivation in the city. If the new proposal becomes law, residents would be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants indoors, for their personal medicinal use.

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Government & Politics
12:27 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno City Council Hears Call For "ShotSpotter" System, Says Yes

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

The Fresno City Council has approved a request by Police  Chief Jerry Dyer for funding to install gunshot detecting microphones in a three square mile section of the city.

The system, called ShotSpotter, uses the microphones to triangulate the location of gunshots so police can respond. 

Company CEO  Ralph Clark says the system greatly improves a department’s ability to respond to gunshots.

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Health
11:48 am
Thu March 26, 2015

'Right-To-Die' Proposal Sparks Tears, Impassioned Testimony at California Capitol

The committee heard video testimony from Brittany Maynard, recorded before her death.

People lined up inside the California Capitol Wednesday to testify during an emotional hearing about the End-of-Life Option Act. As Capital Public Radio's Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone explains, the bill cleared its first committee test.

Terminally-ill Californians would be able to receive prescription medication to hasten their death under the proposal. 

Deborah Ziegler  is Brittany Maynard's mother. Maynard moved to Oregon to obtain a life-ending prescription when she was dying of brain cancer.

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Drought
11:26 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Poll: Californians Say Their Neighbors Need To Do More In Drought

Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A new poll shows deep concern among Californians over the state’s drought and future water supply. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The Public Policy Institute of California survey shows two-thirds of adults believe the water supply in their region is a big problem. The same percentage also say people where they live aren’t doing enough to respond to the drought. And Californians are just as likely to name the drought as the state’s most urgent issue as they are to cite the economy.

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Valley Edition
1:35 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

On Valley Edition: New Fresno Art Museum Director Michele Ellis Pracy

Fresno Art Museum (file photo)
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Art Museum is one of the valley's cultural gems, with exhibits and educational programs at its facility in Fresno's Radio Park. For the past year however, the museum was without an executive director. The museum also has faced hard times in recent years with a declining economy and an aging facility. 

Now the museum has a new executive director, Michele Ellis Pracy, who joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her background in museums, and her vision for one of Fresno's most vital cultural institutions. 

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Health Care
12:49 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Protestant Group Supports Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

California lawmakers will hear a bill Wednesday that would allow physicians to prescribe medications that would speed the dying process for terminally-ill patients. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, a group of over a million California Protestants says it now supports the bill.

We all face death, some of us more often than others.

Pastor Holmes: Donna how you feeling? Good!

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My Valley, My Story
10:27 am
Wed March 25, 2015

My Valley, My Story: What It's Like To Get Sick In London, California

FM89's series My Valley, My Story features first person stories from people throughout the San Joaquin Valley. This week KVPR's Diana Aguilera visits London, an unincorporated town in rural  Tulare County with a population of nearly 2,000 people, to find out what it’s like to get sick when the nearest hospital is about 30 minutes away. 

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Water
10:26 am
Wed March 25, 2015

New State Office Could Help Poor Valley Communities Get Clean Drinking Water

Credit Valley Public Radio

The emergency drought relief bill that California lawmakers will begin voting on Wednesday would create a new state office. That might sound fairly mundane. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, supporters say it could help disadvantaged communities.

Clean water advocates will tell you that it can sometimes take decades for small or poor communities to get clean drinking water. Laurel Firestone is with the Community Water Center.

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Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Visalia On The Way To District Elections For City Council

Visalia City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 he city of Visalia is getting closer to altering how they elect their city council. As FM 89's Jeffrey Hess reports, it's a move that some hope will increase diversity in city government.

The city is planning a series of public hearings, beginning in early April, to finalize the five new districts that will each elect one council representative. 

Visalia spokeswomen Nancy Loliva says the city is drawing districts for the first time to settle a voting rights lawsuit over the current system where all council members are elected at-large.

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Government & Politics
6:55 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Fulton Mall Project To Become Reality?

Craig Scharton, owner of Peeves

After years of delays, and ongoing lawsuits, officials with the city of Fresno say they are finally going to turn the Fulton mall back into a street. The question of what to do with the aging pedestrian walking area in the center of downtown Fresno has been a sore spot in the city for years. City and business leaders say all signs point to the project breaking ground as soon as this fall.

A piano player picks out a tune on the piano in the corner of the popular downtown bar Peeve’s.

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