California

Labor
1:14 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Farmworkers In Limbo As California Ag Labor Battle Heats Up

Farm workers take swings at a box that represents the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, using it as a pinata outside the Fifth District Court of Appeal on April 14, 2015 in Fresno.
Diana Aguilera Valley Public Radio

Every summer and fall, PRIMA brand peaches and grapes from Fresno-based Gerawan Farming can be found in supermarkets across the country. But the workers who pick that fruit are currently at the center of one of California’s biggest labor conflicts. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports that the stakes for both the company and the United Farm Workers are high.

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Valley Edition
10:57 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Valley Edition: April 13 - Fairmead; Nine Armenians; Daniel Ellsberg; High Speed Rail

Valley Edition April 13, 2015
Credit 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.

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Drought
3:44 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Taps Run Dry in Fairmead, “Watch, I Get Nothing”

Thelma Williams home has been without running water for seven years.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Reporters flocked to the Valley town of East Porterville last year where over 600 private wells went dry. This year many other towns are facing a similar plight, including the community of Fairmead. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero visits the community and finds an aging population with people whose basic needs are on the brink.

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Drought
12:59 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Valley Edition: Why Are Almonds At The Heart Of California's Water Wars?

File Photo
Credit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

California's drought and last week's mandatory water cutbacks announced by Governor Jerry Brown have ignited a national controversy over valley agriculture. Brown called for a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use by residents in cities, but his order left out agriculture. 

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Drought
4:22 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

California Farmers React To The 25 Percent Mandatory Statewide Water Reduction

A field in Hanford. Submitted to the Valley Public Radio series Voices of the Drought by Brant Oliviera who runs Oliviera Hay in Hanford.

Governor Jerry Brown announced Wednesday the first mandatory water restrictions in the Golden State’s history. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on how farmers in the Central Valley are reacting to the plan.

With the lowest snow pack in history Governor Jerry Brown says the drought demands unprecedented action. He’s mandating new conservation methods including new agricultural water use reporting guidelines.

Cannon Michael farms 10,000 acres of tomatoes and corn in Central California. He says the impacts on agriculture from the edict are limited.

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Drought
10:51 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Drought: California's 2015 Cotton Planting May Be As Small As The One In 1910

Stock Photo
Credit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

California was once the number one cotton growing state in the nation, but the drought has changed that. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on why the total cotton acreage in the state has dropped.

California cotton farmers are in the process of planting over 170,000 acres of the crop.

That sounds like a lot, but according to Roger Isom the number of acres expected to be planted in the state this year have plummeted to the point of plantings not seen since around 1910.

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Wine
5:21 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Arsenic Found In California Wine, Industry Speaks Out

Stock Photo
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/jing-a-ling/6457591837

Valley grape growers and winemakers are responding to a new lawsuit that claims many lower priced California wines contain too much arsenic. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Popular California wines like the so-called “Two-Buck Chuck” sold at Trader Joes are the subject of the suit. It alleges commercial lab tests found arsenic levels exceeding the levels allowed in drinking water in over two dozen California wines. The plaintiffs claim the wines could pose a health risk.

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Drought
11:19 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Hot Droughts: Stanford Study Links Drought And Global Warming

Millerton Lake, May 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California is now in the fourth year of its on-going drought, and this winter’s meager snowpack has water experts worried, thanks to remarkably warm temperatures. But scientists at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment say that in just a few decades, this severe condition could be the new norm, thanks to climate change.

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Business & Economy
12:04 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Quay Valley: Creating A High Tech Town Out Of Dust

Credit https://www.facebook.com/124138571000858/photos/a.124146077666774.31490.124138571000858/700246926723350/?type=1&theater

Last week, an ambitious planned development that seemingly died during the recession reemerged in rural Kings County.

The developers behind the proposed community of Quay Valley say this new city of 75,000 people would be located on a barren stretch of Interstate 5 south of Kettleman City.

While things like water, infrastructure and jobs all remain big questions, the developers have announced one other detail – a planned 5 mile test track for entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed Hyper Loop.

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Politics
12:09 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

On Valley Edition: Jeff Cummins On His New Book And State Politics

Jeff Cummins
Credit http://www.fresnostate.edu/socialsciences/polysci/fac-staff/full-time/cummins.html

California was once a national model for good governance. But after a decade of near constant budget battles and staggering deficits, in recent years the state has been more of a model of political dysfunction.

A new book by Fresno State political science professor Jeff Cummins examines California’s budget problems. It’s called “Boom and Bust: The Politics of the California Budget.”

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Community
6:12 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

46,200 Immigrants Apply For Driver Licenses In First Three Days Of New Law

The DMV predicts about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants to apply for driver licenses under AB 60.
Credit CA Department of Motor Vehicles

Thousands of California immigrants are taking advantage of the state’s new driver license law. According to new numbers released today, 46,200 undocumented immigrants have applied for driver licenses during the first three days since the law took effect on Friday.

The Department of Motor Vehicles revealed the following statistics:

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Government & Politics
11:39 am
Tue December 23, 2014

With New Driver License Law, Indigenous Groups May Be Left Behind

The Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities offers driver's education workshops specifically for those who speak Mixtec.
Credit BCDOIC

Starting in 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles expects about 1.5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver license. For many, this will be their first time legally driving in the state.

Immigration advocates applaud this change but also say there's a big concern. Some are worried they will fail the behind the wheel test since it won't be offered in the native languages many immigrants speak.

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Valley Edition
11:29 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Valley Edition: Dec. 16 - Dairies Leaving California; Valley Children's Hospital; Crescent Concert

Valley Edition Dec. 16, 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we a take a look at why some dairies are leaving California for what they say are greener pastures in the Midwest. Also on the program you'll hear the story of a once homeless female veteran who now helps homeless veterans in Fresno.

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Agriculture
10:45 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Midwest Recruiting California Dairies To Pump Up Rural Economy

Many California diaries are struggling through drought and feeling crowded by urbanization. Midwestern states are hoping to capitalize by offering abundant water, feed, and open spaces.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

This is the second story in a two-part series reported in partnership with Harvest Public Media. The first story explores why a Merced family is on the move to South Dakota: California Dairies Look To Midwest’s Greener Pastures.

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Drought
3:45 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

When Will The Taps Run Dry? Groundwater Discussion On Valley Edition

Changes in total water storage in California from NASA GRACE.
Credit http://jayfamiglietti.com/writing/

Parts of Central California have been hit especially hard by the drought, and specifically the dropping water table beneath the ground. But as California farms and cities lean more and more on their aquifers, many are concerned that more and more wells will go dry.

This is not a new story. Huge portions of the San Joaquin Valley have actually dropped due to massive pumping of water from the ground dating back to the 1920’s. The question is – when will the taps run dry.

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Drought
1:47 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Drought-Stricken Valley Town Gets Hot Showers

Gilberto Sandoval, 81, lives across the street from the church where the showers are installed.
Credit Ezra David Romro / Valley Public Radio

Drought conditions in parts of Central California have become so harsh that it’s normal to turn on the tap have no coming out.  A few months ago we brought you the story of East Porterville where more than 600 homes are without water because their household wells have dried up. Now, some of the town’s residents will have access to something they haven’t had in months. 

The last time Gilberto Sandoval took a warm shower was over a month ago.

“I’ve  been without running water for the last three months,” Sandoval says. “ No water whatsoever.”

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Health
12:51 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Covered California Hopes To Enroll More Latinos, But There's A Problem

Covered California executive director Peter Lee urges Fresno residents to sign up during the second open enrollment period, which started Saturday and runs through February 15.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

With the second open enrollment period of Covered California in full swing, state officials are boosting their efforts to reach out to Latinos. Yet, there are many people in the Central Valley who are living in the shadows when it comes to enrolling for health care.

Covered California officials say they're proud to have signed up 1.2 million people for health insurance during the first year. But Executive Director Peter Lee says there’s still some things they want to improve.

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Government & Politics
3:03 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Madera Community Split On Proposition 48, Casino Plan

The site of the proposed casino along Highway 99 in Madera County.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

In just a few weeks Proposition 48 will ask California voters to approve or reject a plan to build a new Indian casino on Highway 99 north of Madera. Members of the North Fork Rancheria say it’s a vital importance to the future of their tribe while critics, largely backed by other casinos, say it would set a dangerous precedent for what they call "reservation shopping." FM 89’s Diana Aguilera explains what this proposal means for the county and the city of Madera.

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Wildfire
4:56 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Suspects Identified In Courtney Fire, Arson Fires

The Courtney Fire burns to the shore of Bass Lake on Sunday September 14.
Credit Don L. Weaver / Valley Public Radio

Cal Fire officials say they have identified suspects responsible for starting the Courtney Fire, and a series of arson fires in Oakhurst.

Investigators say a juvenile is suspected of intentionally starting 13 fires in Madera County. Officials say the fires were all sparked in the Oakhurst area over the past few months, but do not include the Courtney or the Junction fires.

Officials also say they now know who’s believed to be responsible for starting the Courtney Fire that burned more than 300 acres near Bass Lake.

Bernie Quinn is a battalion chief for Cal Fire.

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Wildfire
6:42 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Bass Lake Residents On Edge After Courtney Fire

A burned SUV sits on a driveway of a destroyed home on Monday afternoon near Road 426 and Cedar Drive in Oakhurst.
Diana Aguilera Valley Public Radio

Cal Fire officials appear to be gaining the upper hand on the Courtney Fire that destroyed over 30 homes near Bass Lake in the mountains of Madera County. The blaze has burned over 300 acres and is now 90 percent contained. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

Hundreds of people remain in evacuation after the Courtney Fire tore through houses and buildings.

As fire crews continue to make progress, some residents are returning to their homes. But there are others who never left.

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