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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Breaking
1:25 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Columbia Man Indicted For Starting Rim Fire

file photo
Credit US Forest Service

The hunter who is alleged to have started the massive Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park has been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

The four count indictment alleges that Keith Matthew Emerald, 32 of Columbia started a fire and let it grow out of control on August 17, 2013 in the Clavey River Canyon.

According to authorities, Emerald was on a solo bow-hunting trip in the area and was rescued by a helicopter approximately an hour after the fire was first reported. 

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Government & Politics
11:39 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Rising Gas Prices Could Be Bad News For Politicians

California’s Cap and Trade program could lead to an increase in gas prices next year. That’s causing some to call for a delay. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gas is already expensive in California. And upcoming changes to the state’s Cap and Trade program could increase prices at the pump even more. As Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr reports, that could be bad news for drivers and politicians.
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Katie Orr:  “I’m standing at a busy Arco station in Sacramento. And with regular gas going for $3.69 a gallon, filling up my 15 gallon tank is going to be pricey. And coming changes to California’s Cap and Trade program may make it even more expensive.”

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

California Governor Jerry Brown has broken his silence on water bond talks. He’s opposing the $11 billion measure currently on the November ballot and proposing a $6 billion bond instead.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
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Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

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Agriculture
5:09 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

'Fig Fest' Celebrates A Tasty Valley Tradition

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

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Environment
11:23 am
Tue August 5, 2014

One Year After The Rim Fire, Locals Share Frustration Over Prosecutor's Silence

Firefighters battle the blaze on September 5 during a hotshot burning operation.
Mike McMillan US Forest Service

Nearly one year ago, a small fire near the Tuolumne River just west of Yosemite National Park grew into the largest blaze ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. By the time the Rim Fire was contained in late October 2013, it had burned over 400 square miles, forever changing lives and the landscape. Today many residents and county officials are still frustrated by the investigation and are searching for answers.

Randy Hanvelt remembers the moment last year when a small wildfire in Tuolumne County a year ago became a raging inferno.

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Wildfire
7:40 am
Tue August 5, 2014

The Rim Fire, Revisited: A Timeline

It's been nearly one year since the Rim Fire destroyed a vast swath of the Central Sierra, including a portion of Yosemite National Park. Within days of the fire, authorities told the public they knew the cause of the fire, and who did it. But after months of waiting,  no charges have been filed, no suspects have been named, and residents are demanding answers.  In this Rim Fire timeline we look back at the fire that became the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. 

Water
7:38 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Clock Ticking on California Water Bond Deal

Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount for a revised water bond is still up for debate. (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, time is running out.
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Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown want to replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot with a smaller bond. Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount is still up for debate. Another big sticking point: which state agency will manage the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.  

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Wildfires
7:39 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

More Than 25 Percent Of California's Firefighting Budget Already Up In Smoke

The state of California is burning through its fire fighting budget – less than a month into the new fiscal year.
Credit Capital Public Radio

Less than a month into the new fiscal year, California has already used up more than a quarter of the money set aside in the state budget for fighting wildfires.

CalFire has spent $47 million since July 1st, out of 209 million for the fiscal year that ends next June.

But H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance says if the money runs out, the state will just turn to its budget reserve.

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Wildfire
7:37 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

Illegal Campfire To Blame For French Fire, Now Over 13,000 Acres

Authorities say this illegal campfire near the San Joaquin River is the cause of the French Fire.
Credit US Forest Service

UPDATE: Monday August 4, 2014:

The French Fire has now burned over 13,000 acres and is 30 percent contained. 134 structures are currently threatened by the fire.Officials released the following statement about firefighting progress Monday morning:

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Government & Politics
7:24 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Faced With Measure W, Fresno Council Revokes Water Rate Increase

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

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to repeal a city water plan they introduced in 2013, after a referendum petition known as Measure W threatened to put the repeal before voters.

Measure W began as a grassroots campaign and eventually collected 5500 signatures, enough to become a ballot measure. The water plan it helped repeal involved increasing Fresno residents' water bills to pay for a $410 million-upgrade to the city's water infrastructure. City Councilmember Steve Brandau:

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Government & Politics
3:32 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Kashkari Takes Poverty Message To Fresno, Spends Week Living On Streets

Neel Kashkari posed as a homeless person in Fresno looking for work as part of a new campaign video released this week.
Credit YouTube/ Kashkari for Governor

Update: 8/5/2014
Neel Kashkari spoke with Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore for the program Valley Edition about his Fresno video and his thoughts on poverty in the San Joaquin Valley. 

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Original post:

Neel Kashkari has taken his campaign to become California's next governor to the streets of downtown Fresno in a viral video attacking Governor Jerry Brown's message of a "California comeback."

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Agriculture
6:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Could An Olive Oil Boom Be In California's Future?

file photo
Credit Creative Commons / Flickr user wollombi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wollombi/49941220/

We all know Central California produces most of the state’s petroleum, but could another oil boom be on the horizon? Well, that’s what journalist Nathanael Johnson from the online environmental news website Grist argues in a new article that came out last week – but he’s not talking about fracking or the Monterey Shale – he’s talking about olive oil. 

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Government & Politics
6:16 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

In Kern County, Voting Rights Bill Meets Opposition

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last week, the Kern County Board of Supervisors went on record against AB 280.  It’s a California bill that would require counties with high minority populations to get approval from Sacramento before making major changes in election procedure. 

For instance, before moving a polling site location, Kern County would need to get the ok from the California Secretary of State to ensure that it’s not discriminating against minorities and low-income voters.

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez says that would be far too costly.

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Education
4:09 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Marshall Tuck On Charter Schools, Vergara & Common Core

Marshall Tuck, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction
Credit Marshall Tuck

While school has been out for many kids since mid-May, this summer has been a busy time in the world of education. Big issues like teacher tenure and the new common core curriculum have kept education in the headlines across California.

This week on Valley Edition we talked about those issues and more with one of the men seeking to become California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marshall Tuck. He will face off against incumbent Tom Torlakson on the November ballot.

Interview highlights:

On charters vs. traditional public schools:

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Government & Politics
1:13 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Vote To Oppose High Speed Rail

file photo
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors reversed course on Tuesday morning, voting to officially oppose California's controversial high speed rail project. 

The 3-2 vote comes just days after contractors working for the rail authority began demolishing buildings in Fresno to make way for the train. 

Since 2007, the county has officially held a position in support of the project, though in 2012 the supervisors sent a letter to the authority that was critical of the effort. 

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Wildfires
7:28 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

UPDATE: Madera County's 'French Fire' Grows To Over 8,000 Acres

The French Fire as seen on Monday July 28, 2014.
Credit US Forest Service

UPDATE: 6:41 PM 8/1/14
The French Fire has continued to grow and now is over 8,000 acres, and just 15 percent contained. On Friday afternoon authorities issued an expanded evacuation order for residents in the community of Arnold Meadow.

Twelve campground have been closed due to the fire, which continues to send smoke into mountain communities and the valley. 

From InciWeb:

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Veterans
6:49 am
Fri July 25, 2014

California Spending Millions To House Homeless Vets

The Fresno Veterans Home recently opened in Southwest Fresno. (file photo)

California has $600 million in bond funds to spend on homeless veterans. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, public workshops are being held around the state to gather ideas about how to spend that money.

Last June voters approved using the existing bond money to provide more affordable housing for California’s 15,000 homeless vets.

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Environment
12:54 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

New Poll: Support For Global Warming Laws Drop If Energy Prices Rise

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds a strong majority of Californians support the state’s laws to combat global warming. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that support drops amid concerns about rising gas and electricity prices.

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Government & Politics
11:40 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Brown Says California Will Do Its Part On Immigration Crisis

California Governor Jerry Brown says the surge of undocumented immigrant children crossing into the United States from Central America is a humanitarian problem rather than a political one. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is taking a trade trip to Mexico next week. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento Brown weighed in Wednesday on what Mexico and California can do to help with the current immigration crisis.

Brown says it’s primarily up to federal government to deal with the influx of immigrant children crossing into the United State from Central America. But he says strong relationships between places like Mexico and California can help ease the situation. Brown says the surge of immigrants is more than a political problem.  

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Health Care
11:21 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Fresno Among Worst California Counties For Whooping Cough Rates

Some California counties are showing substantially higher rates of whooping cough than the state average. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento was told, the epidemic this year could be one of the worst in fifty years.

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

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