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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Community
9:28 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Fresno Zoo's Four Malayan Tiger Cubs Vital To Species

Fresno Chaffee Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fresnochaffeezoo

Fresno has four new celebrities - Berani, Cinta, Arya and Batari. They're four Malayan tigers, born in January at the zoo. Only 500 of these tigers are known to exist in the wild today, and their birth is an important part of the survival of this species. 

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo's Assistant Curator Lynn Myers joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the breeding program, and how the public can see the cubs at the zoo.We also talked about the death just days ago of the father of the cubs, a 17 year-old male named Paka.

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Development Watch
4:42 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

City of Fresno Envisions New Downtown Developments Near Chukchansi Park

A conceptual rendering from the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan shows a vision for a mixed use area with entertainment and housing along the Kern Mall gate to Chukchansi Park
City of Fresno

Downtown Fresno's Chukchansi Park could get some new mixed-use neighbors and a makeover, if a new development plan advanced by city officials moves forward.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by KVPR,  the City of Fresno and the city's redevelopment successor agency are asking developers to submit plans to purchase publicly owned land near the stadium and build housing and retail developments. The project, which would cover over 5 acres, could also include a portion of land within the city-owned Chukchansi Park along Inyo Street. 

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Artist Interviews
12:20 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Wu Man Brings The Pipa To New Audiences Beyond China

Pipa artist Wu Man
Valley Public Radio

This weekend the Fresno Philharmonic brings local audiences a truly unique concert – one that mixes sounds of "East and West," featuring pipa soloist Wu Man. The Chinese native will perform the Concerto for Pipa and Orchestra by Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun, who is best best known in the U.S. for his score for the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The orchestra will also perform two symphonies by Beethoven.

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Government & Politics
10:08 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Brown Praises Counties' Creativity In Implementing Realignment

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is praising counties and law enforcement agencies for their work implementing his landmark criminal justice system overhaul known as “realignment.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the law enforcement groups are lobbying the governor for a significant change to the program. Speaking to a law enforcement convention in Sacramento, the governor praised counties’ creativity under realignment in the two and a half years since it took effect.  Under the program, the state shifted responsibility for low-level offenders to counties. 

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Health Care
12:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Deadline Sparks Surge in Covered California Applications

Uninsured Californians apply for health insurance through the state's federal health care exchange at a union-sponsored "enroll-a-thon" in Sacramento Monday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s health insurance exchange says it’s received a surge of last-minute enrollments ahead of Monday’s midnight application deadline.  Enrollment events popped up across the state as the Covered California call center reported waits of more than an hour in the final days.  Ben Adler reports from one such event in Sacramento.

A room full of people waited up to 45 minutes at a Sacramento union hall to sign up for the Covered California health care exchange on the final day of open enrollment.  Union organizers called it a 17-hour “enroll-a-thon.”

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Agriculture
10:14 am
Mon March 31, 2014

California Bill Would Mandate Paid Rest Breaks for Farm Workers

file photo
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Paid rest breaks would become mandatory for farm workers and other outdoor workers under a bill now in the California legislature. The measure is an attempt to prevent heat related illnesses. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

People who work outdoors are susceptible to dizziness, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Nicole Marquez with the advocacy group Worksafe says farm workers are commonly paid based on how much they pick.

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Education
7:56 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

California Begins Testing New Student Assessments

Sacramento fourth grader Aanyah Jacobs practices California’s new student assessment.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California is preparing to implement Common Core education standards. As part of that change, the state is replacing standardized tests with new “assessments” meant to better judge students’ knowledge. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state must first test the test.

In the media lab of an elementary school in Sacramento, fourth grader Aanyah Jacobs answers questions that pop up on a computer screen one at a time. She’s one of the more than three million California public school students testing out the state’s new assessment.

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Government & Politics
7:48 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Senator Yee Withdraws from Secretary of State Race

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Democratic State Senator Leland Yee has dropped out of the race for California Secretary of State. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the announcement came a day after Yee was arrested and charged with wire fraud and gun trafficking.

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Health Care
7:45 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Faith Groups Help With Final Health Insurance Sign-Up Efforts

Faith groups are stepping up to help enroll people in health insurance in the final days of open enrollment this week. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Covered California says religious organizations have been good partners all along, but now they’re making a concerted push.

Dana Howard: “From the mega churches to the mega temples, we have really good response going on… in the Southern California area especially.”

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Water
7:01 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

PPIC Survey: Support For California Water Bond Increases

The San Luis Canal in Merced County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

According to a new survey, most Californians now support an $11 billion water bond measure on the November ballot. The support levels increase for water bond proposals at lesser amounts. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

A year ago, only 44 percent of California adults and 42 percent of likely voters supported the water bond measure. Now the percentages are 60 percent for adults and half of likely voters. Mark Baldasarre is with the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducted the poll.

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Health
7:00 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Central Valley Counties Score Poorly In New Health Ranking

A new ranking of health outcomes in California counties has grim news for San Joaquin Valley residents. Out of California's 60 counties, all six San Joaquin Valley counties  in the bottom third of the state. Fresno County ranked 46th, Tulare 49th and Kern 54th. 

Counties in the Bay Area led the survey, with Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara occupying three of the top five spots.

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Government & Politics
10:20 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Senate Dems Call For Disgraced Yee To Resign

State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was arrested Wednesday on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to traffic firearms

Another California State Senator is facing criminal allegations. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on accusations that surfaced Wednesday against Senator Leland Yee.

In what the Senate President says sounds like a bad movie, a federal complaint alleges Yee, a Bay Area Democrat, committed wire fraud and gun trafficking. Undercover FBI agents say Yee set up meetings for them on topics ranging from legislation to arms dealing. In return, the agents made contributions to Yee’s Secretary of State campaign.

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Books
7:13 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

New Biography Paints Complex Picture Of Cesar Chavez

Miriam Pawel's new book "The Crusades of Cesar Chavez"

Charismatic,  controversial, courageous and complicated. Those are just a few words that could sum up the life of the late civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. Now over 20 years after his death, a new biography seeks to provide fresh insight into a man who is an inspiration for millions. The book is called “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” by Miriam Pawel, who joined us on Valley Edition to talk about Chavez the man and Chavez the myth. 

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Energy
10:00 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Political Fight Over Fracking Takes Center Stage In California

Environmental activists rallied at the state Capitol to protest "fracking"
Credit Center For Race, Poverty and the Environment - Twitter / https://twitter.com/CRPE_EJ

California is instituting what some are calling the toughest regulations in the nation for the controversial oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  But some environmentalists say the regulations don’t go far enough to protect air and water quality.

Several local governments have enacted moratoriums; others are calling for an outright ban on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the politics are beginning to take center stage.

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Government & Politics
9:40 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Here And Gone: Fight Over Fresno's Cesar Chavez Boulevard Remains Fresh, 20 Years Later

Cesar Chavez
Credit Cesar Chavez Foundation

In October of 1993, the Fresno City Council voted to rename three city streets - Kings Canyon, Ventura and California - in honor of the late farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. The move was part of a campaign by local Latino groups who sought to honor the UFW founder, who had died earlier that year. 

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Environment
6:45 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Mendota Mayor Prepares For The Worst

This is Robert Silva's second stint as the Mayor of Mendota.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 California is in the midst of one of the driest years on record and with over a third of the Central Valley’s jobs tied to agriculture and hundreds of thousands of acres going fallow leaders in the region are expecting ag jobs to be few and far between. FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero reports from one west side Valley town that is already feeling the pinch.

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Health Care
2:35 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

At Fresno State, Dolores Huerta Urges Young Latinos To 'Get Covered'

Dolores Huerta spoke to a class of Fresno State students about signing up for the Affordable Care Act
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

With just 10 days left before the Covered California enrollment deadline, farm labor activist Dolores Huerta took her message to students at Fresno State today. As FM89's Joe Moore reports, it's part of a last minute push to boost enrollment figures among Latinos and young people. 

Speaking to a class of students at Fresno State today, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta invoked memories of the civil rights movement to help spur young Latinos to sign up for health insurance.

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Transportation
7:24 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Fresno Council Vote Gives BRT New Life

The new proposal for Fresno's BRT line will feature conventional buses, not articulated models as shown in this illustration (file photo)
Credit Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

  The Fresno City Council has approved a revised version of a controversial plan for express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit. The council voted 6-1 Thursday to spend $1.5 million to fund design and engineering work for the $38 million project.

Much like the earlier proposal for Bus Rapid Transit, the new line will feature express bus service on Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues.

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Education
8:25 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

California Students Rally At Capitol For Agricultural Education Funding

Students gather at the Capitol Wednesday for Ag Day in this photo from the Twitter account of Assemblymember Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton.
Credit Twitter / Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman / https://twitter.com/AsmSusanEggman/

As part of the annual “Ag Day” celebration at the state Capitol, Future Farmers of America students from around California rallied Wednesday in support of agricultural education programs. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

With the state suffering through its worst ever drought, Jim Aschwanden with the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, says only well trained Ag workers will be able to meet the industry’s future challenges.

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Drought
7:08 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Congressional Hearing On California Water Visits Fresno

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on California's drought in Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The House Natural Resources Committee took up the issue of water for San Joaquin Valley farmers today before a packed gallery at Fresno City Hall. 

The Republican-led committee heard testimony from local growers and water managers on both short and long-term responses to California's drought and cuts to agricultural water deliveries south of the Delta. 

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