Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Arvin "Bucket Brigade"
The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation, thanks to geography and numerous pollution sources. But now some citizens are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air by monitoring pollution themselves. On Sunday they gathered outside a local composting plant to protest what they call a major community polluter.  But their “do it yourself” efforts at monitoring pollution are not without controversy. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore has this report:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Segment 1: Police & Sheriff Consolidation in Fresno
Should the Fresno Police Department and Fresno County Sheriff's Department consider consolidating or merging their operations? That's the question a new study commissioned by the Fresno City Council seeks to answer.

Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user locomotion /

Bakersfield may become the latest California city to consider loosening laws against raising chickens in residential backyards.

The Bakersfield Californian reports that the city's Legislative and Litigation Committee discussed the idea at a meeting on Tuesday. It's currently illegal to keep chickens in most residential areas in the city.


Homer Joy, the songwriter behind the Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam hit “The Streets of Bakersfield” has died. Joy was a talented performer in his own right, and a leading figure in the so-called Bakersfield Sound movement of country music.  

Owens’ own recording of The Streets of Bakersfield in the 1970’s went largely unnoticed, but his 1988 remake with Yoakam hit number one on the Billboard music country charts.

Koral Hancharick / Buena Vista Museum of Natural History

Bakersfield's Shark Tooth Hill is known by paleontologists worldwide for its impressive collection of fossilized remains from around 13 million years ago. Earlier this year, one particular fossil, a tooth from a pre-historic shark known as the Megalodon, captured the attention of the producers of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

Koral Hancharick of Bakersfield's Buena Vista Museum of Natural History says that the ancient creature would make today's great white shark look quite small in comparison. 

Bakersfield native Jake Varner walked away from the London Olympics with a gold medal, after he defeated Ukraine's Valerii Andriitsev in the 96 kilogram freestyle wrestling division on Sunday. He's not the first San Joaquin Valley wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics. In 2004, Fresno's Steven Abas won silver at the Athens games in freestyle wrestling.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Airports in Fresno and Bakersfield could be forced to close if lawmakers in Washington D.C. can't reach a deal on deficit reduction in the coming months, according to a new analysis released today by a Washington D.C. think tank. 

California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

This week on Valley Edition, we look at how budget cuts are threatening patients who rely on California's Adult Day Health Care centers, how global warming may cause the San Joaquin Valley's air to become even worse, and how the Fossil Discovery Center in Madera County is bringing paleontology to residents of the Valley.

Valley Edition: Tuesday July 17, 2012:

When you look up the origins of word “pension” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it comes from the Latin verb, pendo, which means to pay or value, and to weigh or hang. It’s actually the same root that gives us nouns like pendant. And back here in the 21st century, the costs of providing a defined benefit retirement programs are increasingly weighing down budget across the state.

According to some estimates, California's three largest statewide pension systems, CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Retirement System could have a combined shortfall of as much as $500 billion.

This week on Valley Edition we talk with the mother of Seth Walsh, the Tehachapi teen who took his life after being bullied at school about his sexual orientation. We'll learn more about a new state law that aims to prevent such tragedies, and a new film about bullying. We'll also learn more about the City of Fresno's ongoing operation to install water meters at every home in the city, and about a new exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum that celebrates the legacy of one of Fresno's greatest artists, sculptor Clement Renzi.

Valley Edition for May 29, 2012:

The Kern County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal next Tuesday to allow a foreign medical school from the Caribbean to cycle 100 students a year through the clinical rotation program at Kern Medical Center.

The Ross University School of Medicine would pay Kern County $3.5 million a year for 10 years for the program, if it’s approved by the board. KMC currently has students from UCLA and several other Caribbean medical schools in its program.

The United Farm Workers of America celebrated its 50th anniversary in Bakersfield this weekend. The two-day convention attracted hundreds of workers from the around the valley, and even the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. Solis made the trip from Washington D.C. to speak with the supporters and honor one of the co-founders of the union, Dolores Huerta, with a special coin commemorating her activism for the community.

The conference ended with a video speech from President Obama, who praised the union for their hard work for fair pay for farm workers.

This week on Valley Edition, we look at the changing demographics of California, which is now a net exporter of people to other states. How did the California dream turn out to be a nightmare for so many? We talk to some residents who've left, and also to experts who are using the newly revised population estimates to plan the state's future. We also talk about the role of kids on family farms, and learn about the California Reads program taking place in Kern County.

Valley Edition for May 1, 2012:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Southern California based Berry Petroleum has been given the go ahead by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to move forward with plans to use steam to extract oil at the Midway-Sunset oilfield near Taft in Kern County. The move comes after the company made some changes to its system to monitor conditions at the site, according to Division head Tim Kustic.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the plans to dramatically remake the US Postal service by cutting post offices, mail sorting facilities, and even weekend delivery. We'll also talk about the eminent demise of the state's redevelopment agencies, and the importance of hospice care in the Valley.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

At the start of 2012 California had over 5,000 local governments, from counties and cities to school and fire districts. But this February, over 400 of those governments are slated to disappear, almost overnight, as the state officially closes the book on local redevelopment agencies.

It’s the latest move in the effort by Sacramento lawmakers to find a new way to balance the state’s budget, and shift $1.7 billion from community redevelopment agencies (or RDAs as they’re often known) to the state’s general fund.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about solutions to the truancy problems that plague local school districts, as well as efforts to boost shoppers at locally owned businesses, as well as the annual "holiday lights" show at the California Living Museum in Bakersfield. 

In October 1991, Vikki Cruz was just 11 years old, but the current curator of the Bakersfield Museum of Art remembers one trip up Interstate 5 that year very well.

Sept. 29 marks the beginning of the American Library Association's annual "Banned Books Week," a commemoration of all the books that have ever been removed from library shelves and classrooms. Politics, religion, sex, witchcraft — people give a lot of reasons for wanting to ban books, says Judith Krug of the ALA, but most often the bannings are about fear.

"They're not afraid of the book; they're afraid of the ideas," says Krug. "The materials that are challenged and banned say something about the human condition."