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
6:23 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

California Governor Jerry Brown is downplaying the state parks scandal in his first public statement on the issue.

Last week, the Brown administration revealed that the Parks department had failed to report 54 million dollars in two funds for the last 12 years. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result.

But the governor says it’s better to find money than to discover money missing.

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Health
12:50 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Health Leaders Call for "Culture of Coverage"

Key players in implementing the federal health overhaul in California say the public should be part of building a ‘culture of coverage.’

Kim Belshe is on the board of the California Health Benefit Exchange, an online marketplace where people will soon be able to buy coverage. She says in order for the federal health law to serve its purpose, schools, labor, faith and community organizations need to be on board.

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State Parks Crisis
9:00 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Future of Mariposa Museum Still In Doubt

Randy Bolt is one of three remaining employees at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. The museum may close later this year.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Randy Bolt has a passion for rocks. Well, not just rocks, but gems and minerals too. He's a historic guide at California's Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. 

He can tell you about the state's official gemstone, "which most people have never even heard of, which is actually one of the rarest  gems in the world, it's called Benitoite, named after San Benito Creek."

Or he can tell you about the history of the world-famous nugget from the California Gold Rush that is nearly the size of a basketball.

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Valley Public Radio News
3:07 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Children's Hospital Gets New CEO

The Children's Hospital Central California Board of Trustees have named Todd Suntrapak as the hospital's new President and CEO.

The Board of Trustees said they conducted a national search for the position, and decided on Suntrapak based on his contributions to the hospital's expansion as a regional referral center.

Suntrapak has worked as the hospital's Chief Operating Officer since 2005, during which time trustees say he provided leadership in clinal operations and business development.

Suntrapak will assume the position, effective immediately.

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Special Report: State Parks
2:31 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Community Rallies as State Park Faces Threat of Closure

Many of California’s state parks were saved from closing this year thanks to operating agreements with nonprofits and private organizations.  Others are on the rocks – or narrowly avoided closure, like Benicia State Recreation Area, which we heard about yesterday.  But one state park in Nevada County offers quite a different story. As Amy Quinton reports in the second of our two-part series, the entire community pulled together to save South Yuba River State Park.

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Government & Politics
11:55 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Governor Brown Signs High Speed Rail Funding Bill

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a bill-signing ceremony Wednesday at the future site of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.
Amy Quinton Capitol Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Wednesday that allows initial construction of a high speed train.

Governor Brown emphasized that California isn’t just funding a bullet train, but making an investment in the state’s economic future. The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter approved bonds.

He celebrated the signing in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both cities will serve as major hubs for the eventual 130 miles of track through the Central Valley. But the Governor chose not to sign it there.

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Environment
5:47 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

Researchers say the Central Valley has made environmental improvements, just not as much as they'd like. That's according to a new study released today by UC Merced and The Great Valley Center.

The results of the study indicate that watersheds are reaching normal levels, wetland habitat restoration is on the rise, urbanization is slowing, and key air quality indicators are improving. Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, Roger Bales, says these are important indicators in the quality of land, water, and air in the region.

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Valley Writers Read
3:57 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Bob Hudgens "Mulberries for Mohammed" & Jerry Fisher "Lilli and Her German Soldier"

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear two stories. First, Bob Hudgens tells us a story about how he author made a friendly connection with a person from a different culture in "Mulberries for Mohammed." Then in Jerry Fisher's "Lilli and Her German Soldier" we hear about a German soldier at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp falls in love and saves the life of a German Jewish girl.

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Special Report: State Parks
5:44 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Benicia State Recreation Area
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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Government & Politics
5:04 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Veterans Boulevard funding up for vote

A preliminary map of the Veterans Boulevard interchange at Highway 99 in north Fresno.
Courtesy City of Fresno / CalTrans

Fresno’s long planned Veterans Boulevard interchange on Highway 99 between Herndon and Shaw Avenues may be closer to becoming a reality.

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a plan to spend $5.4 million on design and engineering plans for the roadway, which will connect Herndon Avenue across Highway 99 with Grantland Avenue.

The project is expected to solve a number of traffic problems in the fast growing area west of Highway 99. Last year, the City Council also approved the first phase of a planned El Paseo regional shopping center near the boulevard.

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Government & Politics
4:56 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

High speed rail releases revised environmental study

Artists rendering of a station for the state's planned high speed rail system.
California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

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Health
9:04 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Adult day health care patients face change

Adult day health care in California is feeling the pinch of the state’s budget crisis. The state has been working to scale back the publicly-funded program that helps elderly and fragile adults. Meanwhile, centers are struggling to keep their services going. Pauline Bartolone visited one center in Sacramento that serves as a community space for Eastern European immigrants.

Every weekday at Altamedix adult day health center in North Sacramento, over a hundred Russian speaking immigrants follow a tight schedule of health education and exercise.

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Education
8:13 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

CSU Trigger Cut Options: Reduce Enrollment or Increase Tuition

California State University Fresno
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Reduced enrollment or a mid-year tuition increase. That’s the choice the California State University could face if voters reject Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax measure.

You’ve heard of trigger cuts. Now, there’s a "trigger on a trigger" – a $150 per semester tuition increase to meet a potential 250 million dollar cut. That’s one proposal CSU Trustees are looking at. The other would reduce enrollment by three percent, or about 6-thousand students. Robert Turnage is with the CSU Chancellor’s office:

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Valley Public Radio News
7:05 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Court closures expected to hurt rural communities

Fresno County Courthouse
Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

California’s budget problems have put a strain on all state departments - including local county courts. Valley Public Radio's Gabriela Ornelas tells us how Fresno County residents may find getting to a courtroom much more difficult in the coming weeks.

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Health
11:36 am
Tue July 3, 2012

California reacts to health care reform decision

Even before the decision by the US Supreme Court to uphold most of President Obama's health care reform law, California was leading the way in implementing portions of the law. Now that most provisions of the Affordable Care Act are moving forward, what do California lawmakers and health care leaders have to say?

Special funding for this program comes from the California HealthCare Foundation
http://www.chcf.org/

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Government & Politics
10:02 am
Thu June 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Budget

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a roughly $90 billion spending plan into law for the fiscal year that starts on Sunday. It’s designed to close the state’s $16 billion deficit. The Governor’s signature came just hours before a midnight deadline to sign the main budget bill Democratic lawmakers sent him earlier this month.

It came with little fanfare, and his office did not release any details about his line-item vetoes. The spending plan includes cuts to welfare, social services and more. It also assumes voters will approve Brown’s tax hike on the November ballot.

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Valley Edition
1:37 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Backyard citrus harvest helps feed those in need

Sarah Ramirez displays the fruits of her harvest at a backyard in Visalia
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Across the southern San Joaquin Valley, the commercial citrus harvest is virtually over. But over the past two months, a volunteer group has been working in backyards across Tulare county to collect fruit that would otherwise go to waste, and donate it to those in need. FM89's Joe Moore has this report.

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Immigration
4:02 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Fresno Immigration Activist Welcomes New Obama Policy

President Obama's announcement today on immigration reform is receiving a warm welcome from local immigrant rights advocates.

Pedro Ramirez, the former student body president of Fresno State who gained national notoriety in 2010 because of his status as an undocumented immigrant, says this is a step in the right direction that will make a profound difference for hispanic students in the valley.

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Education
6:54 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

FUSD Graduation Task Force Hears From Community

Fresno Unified School District offices in Downtown Fresno
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Earlier this Spring, the Fresno Unified School District established a community task force to provide the district with recommendations to help solve the district's dropout problems. FM89's Juanita Stevenson reports on how residents offered their input to the task force at a recent meeting.

Business & Economy
6:51 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Summer Jobs Hard to Find for Valley Youth

It used to be a rite of passage for teens, getting a summer job at a fast food restaurant or the mall. But with an economy that continues to struggle, the state's teen unemployment rate is around 36 percent. But there are several new programs that aim to help teens get a taste of life in the workforce, and local companies that are working with non-profits and the government on this issue. Juanita Stevenson reports on how a summer job changed one teen's life.

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