Bakersfield

Carmen Vargas

Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it.

Three Clovis West High School students, a newly elected Bakersfield City Councilmember, and a Bakersfield LGBT activist all have taken their own lives in the last six months.

Serna family

A group of residents in Kern County is calling for an external investigation of the most recent deadly police-involved shooting in Bakersfield.

Just before 1 am Monday, Bakersfield police responded to reports of a man with a gun hassling people.

They found 73-year old Francisco Serna walking near his home. According to police, an officer shot Serna because he was approaching them with his hands in his pockets and did not follow commands.

Federal Funding Fuels New Valley Fever Research

Dec 11, 2016

For seven years, Dr. George Thompson at the University of California, Davis, collected DNA samples from patients for research into valley fever.

He sought funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of primary biomedical research in the U.S., but could not secure any money to pursue his inquiry: Do genes protect some people from getting sick after inhaling the fungus that causes valley fever?

Kern High School District / http://home.kernhigh.org/careers-in-the-court-day/

Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy has selected the city's next police chief, Lyle Martin. The Bakersfield native has served as the city's assistant police chief since 2008, and has been with the department for 28 years. 

Martin will take the department's top spot later this month, filling a seat left vacant with the retirement of current chief Greg Williamson. 

In a statement released by Tandy, the city manager praised Martin's experience and knowledge of the community. 

Accurate Valley Fever Counts Elude Health Officials

Nov 28, 2016
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

Estimates of the number of valley fever cases recorded by local, state and federal agencies vary so widely that they call into question the accuracy of the figures released to the public, a Center for Health Journalism Collaborative investigation has found.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

We talk politics in a special post-election Valley Edition this week. Should the media and political establishment put so much emphasis on predictive polling? What does a Trump administration mean for the Central Valley, and for local GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes? And what do local races and voter turnout tell us about future campaigns?

Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Valley fever has long been a major health concern for people who live in the San Joaquin Valley. A fungus that grows in the soil can become airborne. If inhaled it can cause serious health issues, even death in some cases, though most people who contract the disease have a mild case, and they don’t even know they’ve had it. Now cases of the disease are up significantly in Kern County and some say it is connected to California's weather patterns.

Asleep at the Wheel

Ray Benson is one of the greatest living practitioners of western swing - a mix of country, jazz and boogie-woogie that has delighted audience worldwide since the days of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. This weekend Benson brings his band to the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, a town that was home to two of his other musical heroes - Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Benson talked with us on Valley Edition about the legacy of Bob Wills and the lasting appeal of western swing. 

Forecasting An Epidemic: Does Weather Hold The Key To Predicting Valley Fever Outbreaks?

Nov 13, 2016
Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

When a punishing drought besieged California in the late 1980s, relief came with 30 days of rain in 1991 — dubbed the March Miracle because of how it revived the state’s agricultural economy.

Those significant swings in the weather may have had another consequence, though. The next year, Kern County health officials counted more cases of valley fever than ever before, with roughly 3,342 diagnoses and 25 deaths. By contrast, a decade earlier in 1982, fewer than 200 people were diagnosed with the disease and seven died.

Image used courtesy of the Tejon Ranch

Twenty-five years ago this fall, the hills of Kern County became the focus of the international art community, with the temporary installation of over a thousand giant yellow umbrellas along the Grapevine. Now, two decades later, while the umbrellas are long gone, the event remains fresh in the minds of many. FM89’s Joe Moore brings us this report, which first aired on FM89 in 2011.  

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