Bakersfield

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Spurred on by a request by local oil industry leaders, Kern County is currently exploring a plan that would dramatically revamp the way the county permits oil and gas wells. Under an environmental study that's currently in the works, getting a new well permit could become as easy as getting a county building permit.

Five Years Later, Bakersfield's Roy Ashburn Reflects On His Journey

Aug 4, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A former Republican lawmaker who came out as gay months before leaving the California Legislature says he was wrong to oppose gay rights measures – including bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

Roy Ashburn termed out after representing Bakersfield for 14 years in the Assembly and Senate. He was arrested for drunken driving five years ago after leaving a gay night club in Sacramento. He came out days later.

Valley Fever Cases Down Since Drought Began

Jul 14, 2015
Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

California health experts are surprised that the incidence of Valley Fever has gone down during the drought. The fungal infection is commonly spread in arid, dusty conditions. But, even though the state is drier, the number of cases continues to drop. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg has the story.

Valley Fever peaked in 2011 with more than 5,000 cases in California. Last year there were fewer than half that. Dr. James Watt is the Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases for the California Department of Public Health.

Report Shows Potential Fracking Problems

Jul 10, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report out  Thursday says regulations for the process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" need to be tightened to prevent environmental problems.  And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, new legislation could emerge to do just that.

The peer-reviewed study from the California Council on Science and Technology was required as part of fracking legislation the state passed in 2013. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A proposed power plant that would convert coal into hydrogen and fertilizer near the community of Tupman in Kern County has been granted a six month reprieve from the California Energy Commission. 

What do General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Greek god Zeus and Sir Lancelot all have in common? They've all lent their names to popular beers from local craft breweries. It turns out the San Joaquin Valley is in the midst of a craft beer boom, from Bakersfield to Turlock, making it one of the area’s hottest food and beverage trends. What's behind the explosive growth, and is there a definitive local style of beer?

_99RISE_ VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

For the first time ever, the Smithsonian Institution is honoring a Latina in their “One Life Series.” The museum is featuring civil rights leader and farmworker activist Dolores Huerta with a special exhibit opening this week in Washington D.C. The “One Life: Dolores Huerta” will follow 13 years of her activism and focus on her role in the farmworker movement of the 1960s and 70s.

In this interview Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera chats with Huerta about this recent acknowledgment, her life and her years of activism.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed a new person to head the regulatory agency in charge of oil and gas extraction in California. David Bunn will head the Department of Conservation, replacing former director Mark Nechodom who resigned earlier this month.

The department has been at the center of intense scrutiny over its regulatory oversight on everything from fracking to the illegal injection of oilfield wastewater water into federally protected aquifers.

17th Place Townhomes

Downtown Bakersfield is about to get another new housing development. Officials including Mayor Harvey Hall are celebrating the groundbreaking of the 17th Place Townhomes. 

Project manager Austin Smith says the 3 story,  44-unit complex is the first market rate luxury housing development in downtown Bakersfield in years. 

Commentary: Weigh Free Speech Against Other Moral Concerns

Jun 9, 2015

  The horrific killings in January at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine inspired commentators to defend speech and press freedoms as absolutes. But in this edition of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, CSU Bakersfield  philosophy professor Christopher Meyers says free speech needs to be balanced against other moral concerns. 

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Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

School districts across the valley are trying to figure out what to do with new money intended to help their most vulnerable students. But a letter from the State Department of Education raises questions about whether some of their spending on things like teacher raises is allowed. The interpretations of the new funding formula vary, based on who you ask.

The special funding, known as supplemental and concentration funds, is a big funding boost for schools to help the neediest kids, such as poor students, non-English speakers, and foster kids.

Google Maps

California’s drought is about to hit Kern County in a big way. FM89’s Joe Moore reports on why officials are concerned Lake Ming could dry up next month.

Officials call the situation unprecedented. With the Kern River projected for its lowest level since records began in 1894, the City of Bakersfield has announced that it won’t get any new water from the river this year. The city is currently drawing down what little water it has stored in Lake Isabella, and that’s likely to be exhausted by mid-July.

Lofts on 18th

A plan for a new apartment building in downtown Bakersfield has sparked a controversy among area neighbors, and debate over the future of infill development in the area.

Tonight, the Bakersfield City Council will hear an appeal from a group that hopes to stop the project, which was approved by the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment earlier this year. The group says the project is too big, doesn't have enough parking, and will clash with the other buildings in the area, some of which date to the early 1900's. 

Kern County Homeless Collaborative Faces of Homelessness Facebook Page

On Wednesday, crews from the City of Bakersfield closed down a homeless encampment on South Union Avenue that many residents had called home for years. In recent months the area had become a growing concern for officials responsible for enforcing city codes. Homeless advocates estimate that at the close, around 24 people lived in the encampment. Officials estimate that all but five found some sort of housing, either through shelters, programs or with family members.  

Kern County Fire Department Facebook page

California’s drought has caused many lakes and rivers to drop to low levels; but officials say it hasn’t eliminated the risk of drowning. FM-89’s Jason Scott reports on why one local river is of particular concern.

The Kern River is one of many popular spots travelers will flock to to this Memorial Day weekend. But officials warn that despite the drought, the river can still be deadly, especially if people ignore safety precautions.

Al Watson is a ranger with the Sequoia National Forest.  He says the river can still pose a drowning hazard despite its low levels.  

Gallup

A new national survey indicates three Central Valley communities are among the worst in the nation when it comes to resident’s perception of safety.

A Gallup poll recently released shows that Fresno residents say they are the least likely to feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods. The Stockton-Lodi region and Bakersfield ranked second and third.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about drought, elections and more. First KVPR Reporter Jeffrey Hess reports from Visalia where the city is looking to increase Hispanic representation with council districts. Also, KVPR's Ezra David Romero visits Tulare County where 60 percent of the state's dry residential wells are located

Kegley Institute of Ethics

Daniel Ellsberg has been called a traitor and the  "most dangerous man in America." He's also been called a hero and a patriot. Over four decades ago he illegally released a set of documents known as the Pentagon Papers, top secret government reports that detailed the U.S. government's role in Vietnam dating back to the late 1940's. Those documents, eventually published in the New York Times, helped further turn public sentiment against the war, eventually bringing the conflict to an end. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

On this week's program Reporter Ezra David Romero visits the Central Valley community of Fairmead where dozens of private wells have gone dry.

Also on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess looks at a program helping people find jobs along the future high speed rail corridor.

Samuel Lang on Young Artsits Spotlight 2015

Apr 8, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This week on Young Artists Spotlight we hear a performance by Bakersfield violinist Samuel Lang. 

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