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Bakersfield

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.  

As Election Day draws closer, the race between incumbent Republican David Valadao and Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta in California's 21st Congressional District is heating up. FM89's Joe Moore reports both sides have turned recently to negative TV ads in an effort to gain an edge.

If you were watching the World Series in Fresno or Bakersfield, or most any other TV program you probably heard an ad that sounded a lot like this…

PRO VALADAO AD: “This is a story of corruption, of how Emilio Huerta got rich hurting the poor.”

Valley Public Radio

This week on our two hour Valley Edition we hear stories about reducing child abuse in Fresno County and making the city safer for pedestrians. We also hear from Fresno mayoral candidate Lee Brand and his vision for the city.  Later we are joined by Fresno State political science professor Jeff Cummins. He and VE host Joe Moore chat about local races ahead of the November election.

A California enters its sixth year of drought, journalist Charles Fishman says that residents aren't doing nearly enough to adapt to the "new normal" in a state that is becoming increasingly dry. Fishman, who is the author of the book "The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water" is speaking in Bakersfield on Thursday October 27th at the CSUB Icardo Center at 7:00 PM as part of the culminating event of the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern community read. 

Karen Goh for mayor

For the first time in over a decade, Bakersfield will soon have a new mayor. Kyle Carter and Karen Goh both are vying for the spot to lead Kern County's largest city. While it's largely a ceremonial job, as the office of mayor has little official power, Goh says she wants to use the position to improve Bakersfield's image. Goh joined us this week on Valley Edition to talk about her agenda, which includes boosting local business and creating a safer community.

Facebook page of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Bakersfield’s Kern Medical has selected to work with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control on a new clinical trial for valley fever. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the announcement Thursday at the hospital. The study aims to learn more about both diagnosing and treating the disease.

Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that grows in the soil throughout the southwest, including the Southern San Joaquin Valley. If inhaled it can cause serious health problems, those most people never know they have been infected.

Bakersfield Police Department

The family members of several people killed by Bakersfield Police Department officers are calling for a federal investigation into the force.

The news comes just days after the sentencing of former Bakersfield Police Detective Damacio Diaz to five years in prison on corruption charges, and a surprise retirement announcement from Police Chief Greg Williamson. Diaz has alleged that corruption and misconduct is systemic throughout the force. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at how a new land designation for protected frogs in the Sierra Nevada will affect businesses in the region. We also hear from KVPR Reporter Jeffrey Hess about how a disgraced Bakersfield Police Detective was sentenced to five years. Later we are joined by Greg Little with the Mariposa Gazette to chat about the resignation of the superintendent of Yosemite National Park. Ending the program we are joined by Stilian Kirov of the Bakersfield Symphony. 

Chuck Moses / BSO / Stilian Kirov

It’s fall and that means the Valley’s performing arts organizations are gearing up for their new seasons, including the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Conductor and musical director Stilian Kirov is set to begin his second full season leading the BSO. And what a season it is, with acclaimed guest artists like Eunice Kim and Tomoki Sakata and acclaimed pieces like the Brahms Violin Concerto, Stravisky’s The Firebird and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A disgraced former Bakersfield Police detective has been sentenced to five years in prison for bribery, drug dealing and other corruption charges.

Damacio Diaz is receiving a sentence much lighter than the state recommended.

Diaz admits to lying on reports, taking bribes from drug dealers and himself moving as much as forty pounds of methamphetamine, among other crimes, during his time as an undercover narcotics officer.

A former Bakersfield Police Detective is accusing the department of widespread and shocking misconduct in a multi-county drug enforcement unit. Detective Damacio Diaz is alleging a lengthy series of problems in a federal court filing released Thursday.

Diaz is one of two former detectives facing charges of bribery and corruption during their time on the force. He is facing 22 years in prison and is set to be sentenced Monday.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we hear how law enforcement agencies are helping their officers and deputies cope with the mental strain of the job. We also learn why activity tracking software is helping elephants at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and across the country attain better health and welfare. Later in the show we talk local political races in Fresno and Bakersfield with Nicole Parra and Jim Verros; plus learn about a new book on the history of Kerman from Paul Betancourt.

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