California

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio.

With fires raging in the region and no sign that the drought will ease up, farmers and even homeowners are on the hunt for water. The initial answer is to dig a new well. But wells are expensive. In this piece FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on a solution that many Valley homeowners rely on.

Eugene Keeney hooks his 2,500 gallon water truck to a fire hydrant on the northern edge of Clovis. 

California Economist: No Surprise Tesla Chose Nevada

Sep 4, 2014
Tesla Motors

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State.  Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind. 

California was one of five states vying for the plant that is estimated to build enough batteries to power a half-million vehicles by the year 2020.

Stephen Levy  with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy says he wasn’t surprised the electric car company chose Nevada over the Golden State.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

California’s cap and trade program could help clean up pollution in the Central Valley. FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains the early stages of the effort.

A few months ago the state came out with a report ranking the most polluted places in California. Many Fresno County neighborhoods ranked among the worst.  

Now the California Environmental Protection Agency is hoping to use that data to clean up these areas through the state’s cap and trade system.

For the first time in four years, whooping cough has reached an epidemic level. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports how this peak has local health officials worried.

California health officials have recently confirmed that cases of pertussis also known as whooping cough have reached epidemic proportions in the state.

The Department of Public Health reported more than 3,400 cases so far this year. That’s a thousand more cases than all of last year.

Incident Information System

  Update: As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the blaze is 90 percent contained and has charred 2,646 acres. All evacuations have been lifted.

A rapidly moving wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest has already engulfed 2,200 acres and is threatening 1,000 homes near the Kern County community of Lake Isabella. KVPR’s Diana Aguilera reports.

Pushed by strong winds, the Shirley Fire has already destroyed homes and is burning in steep, rugged terrain about 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Guests in interview above: Don Martin of Metro Galleries and KVPR Reporter and Producer Ezra David Romero. 

Over the past few months Valley Public Radio Reporter Ezra David Romero has covered California's historic drought.

He's written stories, snapped photos and launched an Instagram reporting collaborative with youth reporters, farmers and other social media users called "Voices of the Drought" using the hashtag #droughtvoices. 

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal is on hold for now.

Senate Bill 1005, known as the Health for All Act, was put on hold in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday giving advocates time come up with funding solutions.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced the bill in February.

Besides expanding services to the undocumented, Lara’s bill would create a health insurance marketplace. This would allow undocumented people who earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal the chance to buy private coverage with the help from the state.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The much talked about oil boom to come out of Central California is on hold, unless new technology finds a way to safely crack the Monterey Shale that could hold over 13 billion barrels of oil.

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Two different types of mosquitoes – one that carries West Nile Virus and another that can spread dengue and yellow fever have Fresno County health officials on high alert.

The county says a crow reported earlier this month tested positive for West Nile Virus. Officials have also detected the presence of another invasive mosquito species that can spread potentially serious tropical diseases. In severe cases, the more serious symptoms stemming from these diseases can lead to death.

David Luchini is the assistant director for the county’s Department of Public Health.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

With immigration reform efforts seemingly stalled in Washington D.C., the California legislature is continuing to take its own steps to address the undocumented immigrants who call the state home. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports on one new bill that would help a variety of undocumented professionals.

In order to practice medicine doctors have to provide a social security number to obtain a license from the state. This process automatically excludes undocumented immigrants from applying.

Harris Farms

It’s every horse owners' dreams. A fairy tale come true.

A modest and agile colt with four white feet and a giant white blaze on his chestnut face born in the San Joaquin Valley is now the favorite in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Just a month ago at the Santa Anita Derby, California Chrome dominated the field.

That win in Southern California is just the latest chapter in a remarkable story that has its roots in Fresno County. David McGlothlin, gave me a tour of where it all began, at the Harris Farms in western Fresno County.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Traditionally the April 1 snow survey marks the peak of the year’s snowpack, but with a string of early spring storms surveyors are rushing to measure the pack with just days to get their measurements in. Valley Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero helped in the effort as a snow surveyor on a recent trip.

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At 6,000 feet Christine Bohrman, our pilot and I hop out of a helicopter into a snow laden meadow below Courtright Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In this occasional series the Valley Public Radio news team explores the impacts of the drought through the voices and sounds of Central California. 

We invite listeners and viewers to engage in the series by leaving comments on stories and by sharing Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts using the hashtag #droughtvoices.

Posts and photos using the hashtag may appear on the Voices of the Drought Tumblr page alongside stories the news team produces.

http://openpv.nrel.gov/visualization/index.php

It’s no secret that solar energy is a trend, but did you know that the Fresno metropolitan area is ranked first in the top 10 metro areas for solar power in the US?

The organization One Block Off the Grid – the Priceline of solar installations – was on a mission to find out which parts of the US use the most solar energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory held their answer through their database the Open PV Project.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s a rather dry year here at the 47th annual World Ag Expo in Tulare. Water or the lack of it is on everyone’s mind.

Even though the official slogan of the expo is “Agriculture: Feeding Tomorrow’s World,” Charles Sarabian, an engineer with Preferred Pump and Equipment in Fresno, says the real theme of the show is how to conserve what little water is left.

“I think it’s what’s on everybody’s minds and it’s what makes agriculture grow without water there is no agriculture," Sarabian says. 

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