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Bakersfield

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.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Over the last few weeks, Valley Public Radio has aired a series of reports looking at how life in violent communities can affect the health of area residents, and how the lack of health care can contribute to some of that violence at times. But there’s another side of this story – the one of the police who patrol those streets.

It's less than two months from election day and many of the local races that will be before voters in November are heating up. From city council and mayoral contests in Fresno and Bakersfield to a couple of contested congressional races, it's providing plenty of fodder for local political observers. We spoke with former State Assemblywoman and current CSUB political science professor Nicole Parra, and Clovis-based Republican political strategist Jim Verros about what's really happening in some of the most closely watched contests. 

Steven Mayer / The Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield Police have their hands full, as do most law enforcement agencies in the valley. But one neighborhood in the center of town is an especially troubling place. A 2 square-mile stretch of the city, bordered by California Avenue, Chester Ave, Brundage and Washington is home to 36 percent of the city’s gun homicides, 30 percent of the city’s shooting victims and one-quarter of all weapon firings.

Bakersfield Blaze Facebook

Minor League Baseball has been a tradition in Bakersfield for over 75 years. But it looks like it’s a tradition that will soon come to an end.

The California League announced Monday that the Bakersfield Blaze will be contracted – eliminated from the league at the end of the season. The move caps three decades of speculation and rumors about the fate of the team and its beleaguered home Sam Lynn Ballpark. But is minor league baseball gone for good?

Zach Ewing, sportswriter with the Bakersfield Californian, joined Valley Edition to tell us more on the topic. 

Kern High School District

It’s back to school season, and that means there’s a lot of news right now about local school districts. None more so than the Kern High School District, which serves more than 35,000 students in Kern County. Harold Pierce of the Bakersfield Californian joined us on Valley Edition to give us a recap of the latest news around KHSD.

Courtesy of Alison Sheehey

Bakersfield is known for agriculture, country music and oil. But what if I told you people are flocking to Kern County to birdwatch? Well it’s the truth and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports they’re looking for a bird nonnative to the region that calls the city’s tall palm trees home.

Earlier this summer I was doing some internet sleuthing about how to take better care of my pet parakeets. As I scrolled through search results a line jumped off the screen. There’s a wild population of parakeets living Bakersfield.

CSPAN

Bakersfield’s Dolores Huerta delivered a speech this afternoon before delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Huerta urged Latinos to vote for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

Huerta: “And with Donald Trump on the ballot, we cannot be quiet. He insults Latinos like we were second-class citizens, like we were newcomers to this county. Hey, I have news for Donald Trump because we have been here all along.”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the first time in nearly a decade, Fresno is not one of the top ten cities in the nation for auto theft. 

The study released this month from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows that at least when compared with other cities, Fresno is faring better when it comes to vehicle theft. As recently as 2011, Fresno led the nation in stolen cars. Last year it dropped to number nine, and this year all the way to 13.

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