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. 

Farmers, Government Seek to Prevent Heat Illness

Jul 26, 2011

It's mid-morning under a sunny and nearly cloudless sky at Paul Betancourt's farm, about 20 miles southwest of Kerman. Two workers are getting ready to disk the wheat field with the tractor and irrigate the cotton. Betancourt has been monitoring the temperature.

"It was 86 when you drove up and the forecast for Fresno is 99," he says. "It's usually a little cooler out here. We've kinda done the heavy lifting for the day already."

One of his employees, Ruben Elenes, has been a farmworker for 15 years. He knows how to protect himself from the sun.

Area Foster Youth Go On to Collegiate Success

Jul 26, 2011

There are 58,000 children in foster care in California and for many of them turning eighteen and aging out of care is overwhelming. Counties provide independent living programs to assist foster youth with this transition, but a different type of support is needed for those entering college. When former foster youth Kizzy Lopez was asked to help create a program at Fresno State to provide support for this incoming population, she made it happen.

CA Citizens Redistricting Commission Redraws the Lines

Jul 22, 2011

While it doesn't get nearly as much attention as the state's on-going budget debate, behind the scenes, work is underway on a set of maps that could dramatically alter California politics for a decade to come. The State's 14 member Citizens Redistricting Commission is currently at work on redrawing the lines of the state's assembly, state senate and congressional districts. And in a state where major decisions such as the budget and big social issues often are decided by just one or two votes, the stakes for all those involved are high.

Last month, when California lawmakers passed a new state budget, they also passed a bill prohibiting local school districts from laying off teachers. Backers, including the California Teachers Association, say that the law protects students from class size increases and will save teacher jobs. School districts say it ties their hands, especially with the prospect of a midyear $1.5 billion funding cut if revenues fall short of projections.

Lawsuits Pit Businesses Against Disabled Customers

Jul 19, 2011

In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination against the disabled. It requires the removal of physical barriers in public spaces so the disabled can have full and equal enjoyment of community facilities.

But in recent years, Clovis businesses have faced a surge of lawsuits for buildings that aren't up to ADA construction requirements. This has led to a heated debate within the community over the rights of the disabled and the survival of small businesses in the recession.

Among the groups hit the hardest in the economic downturn are business professionals. From April 2010 to April 2011 the business and professional sectors in Fresno County lost 1,800 jobs. Host Juanita Stevenson reports on how some Valley professionals are looking to re-enter the workforce and having success finding work. 

Fresno Teen Find Hopes In Diagnosis

Jul 5, 2011
Lauren Whaley / California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

We hear the term “obesity epidemic” often in the news these days.

Last month, the L.A. Unified School District voted to removed flavored milk from school lunch menus, a move proponents argue will help stem childhood obesity.

In April, the state assembly shelved a proposal to tax sugar-filled drinks. The money would have gone to obesity prevention programs.

Diabetes Patients Turn to Grey Market Sources

May 26, 2011

Californians spend $24 billion each year on diabetes care, and the Valley's diabetes rates are some of the highest in the state, around 10 percent. For people struggling with the disease, the financial and emotional burdens of diabetes make for a difficult combination. When the costs of diabetes testing supplies add up, some bypass the pharmacy and turn to the street to get what they need. Valley Public Radio's Shellie Branco reports on how some Valley residents are dealing with their disease.

School Nurse Programs Suffer With Budget Cuts

Apr 19, 2011

When we hear about budget problems in California schools, we usually think of teachers losing their jobs. But school nurses are also worried about job security and cuts to student health services. In this report, FM89 health correspondent Shellie Branco talks with school nurses and one Visalia family who relies on them. 

Chowchilla Faces Financial Crisis

Mar 22, 2011

California's cities have been hit hard in recent years. The housing bust, the economic downturn, and perennial state budget crises are just a few of the factors that have helped batter the balance sheets of municipalities up and down the Golden state. Valley cities are no exception, especially given the region’s perennially high levels of unemployment, even in so called "good" times. Many large cities, like Fresno have been forced to make drastic cuts to city services, and have been forced to lay off hundreds of employees.

Prop 13 casts a long shadow on state, local government

Mar 1, 2011

Thirty three years ago, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13 into law, ushering in a new era of California politics and forever changing state and local government. Not only did the constitutional amendment cut property taxes nearly in half, its implementation also ushered in a major change in the way government services are provided, in the Golden State, centralizing more power in Sacramento. It also helped spark a wave of so called "ballot box budgeting" with citizens taking control of the power of the purse, in both setting tax rates and spending priorities.

Budget Cuts Hit County Mental Health Program

Feb 10, 2011

As California’s counties face increasing budget pressures, programs that aid those with mental illness have been reduced or eliminated. In Fresno County, patients who used to be treated in the county’s Crisis Intervention Service program are now being sent to area hospital emergency rooms, with serious consequences for patients and the public. Correspondent Shellie Branco reports on the state of mental health services in the Valley.

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