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
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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Education
4:37 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Drought May Hurt School Attendance in Central Valley

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Declining school attendance may be the latest side-effect of California’s punishing drought. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction will visit the Central Valley Wednesday to talk about the problem.

School attendance may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the impact of the drought on California. But it is affected. Less water means fewer crops, which means fewer farm jobs. And when the jobs disappear, families of migrant workers move on, taking their school age children with them.

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History
11:43 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Memories Of Bakersfield's Underground "Tunnels" Remain Vivid

Tegler Hotel building in downtown Bakersfield is one of the sites old-timers recall as being part of a network of connected basements or "tunnels"
Credit Joe Moore / Va

Deep beneath the oldest part of Bakersfield lies a hidden world, unknown to most, and forgotten by many. Yet some still have vivid memories of these underground passages or "tunnels" as some people describe them. 

These connected basements, and the activities that took place "underground" - gambling, brothels, blue movies, are not just the stuff of legend, they're still very real in the minds of many older Kern County residents.

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Movies
9:53 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Director Diego Luna Brings The Story Of Cesar Chavez To The Silver Screen

Diego Luna's film "Cesar Chavez" opens in theatres nationwide on March 28
Lionsgate / Pantelion Films

Later this month, the story of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez hits the silver screen with a biopic by acclaimed director Diego Luna. It’s the first time a major motion picture has been made about the life of the founder of the United Farm Workers Union. It features a cast of Hollywood stars including America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich, with Michael Pena cast as the late civil rights hero. Tomorrow night President Obama will host a screening of the movie at the White House.

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Drought
9:05 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Along The Pacific Flyway, California's Drought Raises Concerns For Wildlife

Ric Ortega is the General Manager of the Grasslands Water District in Los Banos
Joe Moore

The area around Los Banos isn't just a stopover for valley travelers along Highway 152 who are headed for the Central Coast. It's also a vital rest stop for millions of birds from across North America on the Pacific Flyway.

Ric Ortega: "If you come out here, you really don't see it all off of any of the major highways. But here we have something that definitely at least from an ecological perspective is equivalent to Yosemite Valley."

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Education
9:04 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Is Bakersfield Really America's "Least Literate" City? Local Author Raises Questions

Downtown Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cities like Merced Fresno and Bakersfield all share one common thread, other than being major stops on Highway 99.

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Water
11:02 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Report: California's Water System Needs Better Funding

San Luis Reservoir (file photo)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new report says California would need an additional two to three billion dollars every year to fill gaps where funding is needed for managing the state’s water. From Sacramento, Amy Quinton has more on the latest Public Policy Institute of California report.

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Drought
4:47 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

New Report: California Groundwater Crisis Looming

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

Groundwater supplies are at an all-time low in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, management of that dwindling supply was the focus of debate at the state Capitol.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office told lawmakers that without comprehensive statewide regulation of groundwater, management of the state’s water supply will be increasingly difficult. The LAO suggests the state require local water districts to phase in groundwater permitting and keep track of how much water is extracted from all groundwater wells.

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Arts & Culture
1:08 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Firebaugh Filmmaker Takes Water "Fight" To Silver Screen

Filmmaker Juan Carlos Oseguera

California's water wars are nothing new. But Firebaugh-based filmaker Juan Carlos Oseguera says the current struggle over water cutbacks to westside growers is truly a "fight." His new feature-length documentary film, titled "A Fight For Water" seeks to tell the story of the communities in the San Joaquin Valley who were hit hard by water cutbacks in 2009 due to environmental restrictions on delta pumping. 

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Education
12:49 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Lawmakers Seek to Address California's "Truancy Crisis"

Tom Torlakson, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction speaks at a news conference announcing the truancy legislation on Monday
Credit Tom Torlakson's Office / https://www.facebook.com/torlakson

California lawmakers say the state is facing a truancy crisis among elementary school students. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a package of legislation introduced on Monday that’s meant to combat the problem.

Skipping school can mean a lot more for students than just failing a test. California Attorney General Kamala Harris says it can cause kids to fall behind and ultimately drop out of high school.

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Arts & Culture
10:59 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Three Valley Bands Hope To Make It Big At SXSW 2014

Light Thieves
Courtesy Light Thieves

South By Southwest (SXSW) may be the biggest gathering of music, entertainment and technology leaders on the planet. The annual festival in Austin is not just a place where Google unveils its latest products, and where Edward Snowden makes his first public address since becoming a whistleblower on NSA spying. It’s also where many up and coming bands and DJs go to make a name for themselves on a national stage, including some from the San Joaquin Valley.

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Drought
7:40 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bees Feel The Effects of California Drought

Orin Johnson and business partner Jey Rolon work on hives in an orchard
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

The California drought has left honey bees without their normal supply of wildflowers to feed on. Beekeepers have supplemented the bees’ diet, but supplementation lacks the nutrition needed to keep hives healthy. Millions of colonies of bees are now pollinating almond orchards, giving the bees some relief. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it’s likely to be only temporary.

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Business & Economy
11:38 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Could Delano's Former VOA Radio Station Become A Homeless Shelter?

A photo of some of the radio towers at the 800 acre site west of Delano at 11015 Melcher Road.
GSA.gov

For over 60 years, a mammoth cluster of radio towers and transmitters just west of Delano beamed the Voice of America network to shortwave listeners across the globe. 

Now according to the trade publication Radio World, the property could soon get a new use as housing for the homeless.

Built in 1944, the 500,000 watt station turned off its transmitters for the last time in 2007, a victim of government cutbacks and rapidly changing technology.

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Business & Economy
5:47 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Four Reasons Why Google Loves The San Joaquin Valley

file photo
Credit Google.com / YouTube

It's around 150 miles from Silicon Valley to Fresno, but over the last few years, Mountain View-based Google has quietly been increasing its presence in the San Joaquin Valley. In fact, the region that's known for its raisins and almonds is now home to some of Google's top research and development projects. 

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Government & Politics
12:36 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Announces State Controller Run

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has announced plans to run for the office of state controller. (file)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATED 3/5/14 - 6:46 PM

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced today that she has filed papers to run for the office of State Controller. Swearengin told Valley Public Radio she expects to make a final decision on her run by Friday.  

The two-term Fresno  mayor would be the only prominent Republican in the field. Two Democrats are also vying for the seat, current Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. Current State Controller John Chiang is termed out of office this year. 

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