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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. 

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Thousands of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep once called the Sierra Nevada home.  Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on the latest efforts in restoring the species to their natural habitat.

It’s a good day for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which was thought to be extinct 100 years ago in Yosemite National Park. Two herds were relocated to Yosemite and Sequoia national parks this week from other parts of the Sierra.

Dana Dierkes is the spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

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

Mar 30, 2015
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.

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.

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.

  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.

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested For Dealing Drugs

Mar 26, 2015
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...

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.

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.

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

Mar 26, 2015

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.

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

Mar 26, 2015
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.

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. 

Protestant Group Supports Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

Mar 25, 2015

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!

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. 

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

Mar 25, 2015
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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The 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.

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.

More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Mar 20, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

Kern County is now considering turning to private companies to run county services as one way to help cover a big decline in tax revenue.

While many cheer low oil prices for declining gas, it is costing Kern County in a major way. The lower cost of oil means the county is bringing in less in property taxes; As much as 60-million dollars less next year.

County Supervisor Mick Gleason says the county board voted this week to prioritize forming partnerships with private companies to run county services, potentially saving money.

New Scrutiny For Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal As Labor Talks Begin

Mar 18, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed overhaul of state worker retiree health care benefits – just as labor negotiations are getting under way. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento. California faces more than $70 billion in unfunded retiree health care for state workers – and the governor says it’s time to act. Here’s Brown in January on NPR. 

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

A new study says the drought in California has forced an increased use of natural gas to produce electricity, as dwindling river flows have reduced hydropower generation. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Pacific Institute says less hydroelectricity means more expensive electricity.

Peter Gleick: "We get a lot of electricity normally from hydropower, which is relatively inexpensive and relatively clean. And during a drought we don't have the water and we don't get the power."

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