Central Valley

The smoke from the Rough Fire near Hume Lake has now spread throughout communities in the San Joaquin Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, this is causing the Valley’s air pollution to spike to potentially dangerous levels.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health alert for the rest of the week for several counties including Fresno, Madera and the valley portion of Kern County. They’re recommending people to limit their outdoor activities.


California health officials are noticing a big jump in babies born with congenital syphilis and the Central Valley is at the top of the list. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, state and county health leaders met in Fresno Wednesday to discuss the alarming trend.

Cases of congenital syphilis in California jumped from 30 in 2012 to 100 in 2014. Babies who contract the disease from their mothers during pregnancy can face lifelong health problems and even death.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The lack of rain and snow over the past four years has affected the agriculture industry statewide. That impact includes one of the smallest farmed creatures: the honeybee. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that with a lack of flowers to pollinate because of weather conditions bees are struggling and some beekeepers are even leaving the state.

As Gene Brandi and I approach a colony of honeybees near a field of blooming alfalfa east of Los Banos he uses the smoke from a canister of burning burlap to calm the bees, which in turn quiets my nerves.

Today marks the first day of class for Fresno State students. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports the university is now offering services specifically for undocumented students.

The Dream Outreach Center is a place where undocumented students, known as "dreamers", can go to get help in their journey to and through college. It’s the first time Fresno State is offering this type of help to incoming and currently enrolled students, whether it’s filling out applications or financial aid paperwork.

Raul Moreno is the coordinator.

The Central Valley is home to diverse communities, some who’ve migrated from all over the world for decades. But for one group, it’s the beginning of the first generation of people born in the Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, with this comes the struggle of preserving a cultural identity while embracing growing up in the states.

At Danielle Uwaoma’s house in Clovis her living room is covered with traditional African drums and exotic masks.


A new study suggests that the Central Valley’s extreme heat is linked with increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

A group of scientists say that in recent decades, heat waves in the Central Valley are more severe due to higher humidity and warmer night temperatures.

Roberto Mera with the Union of Concerned Scientists led the study.


For the first time ever, the Smithsonian Institution is honoring a Latina in their “One Life Series.” The museum is featuring civil rights leader and farmworker activist Dolores Huerta with a special exhibit opening this week in Washington D.C. The “One Life: Dolores Huerta” will follow 13 years of her activism and focus on her role in the farmworker movement of the 1960s and 70s.

In this interview Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera chats with Huerta about this recent acknowledgment, her life and her years of activism.

Same-sex marriage supporters in the Central Valley are celebrating today after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide.

Gay and lesbians already have the right to marry in 36 states, including California, and the District of Columbia. But the court’s 5-4 ruling strikes down bans on same sex marriage in 14 states in the south and Midwest.

Jason Scott with Gay Fresno has been advocating in the Central Valley for this ruling for more than 10 years.


In 2010 President Barack Obama announced a new vision for HIV and AIDS where one day new infections in the country would be considered rare.

“We believe that while HIV transmission rates in this country are not as high as they once were every new case is one case too many," he says. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Hmong farmers from all over the country met in Fresno today to discuss current challenges, seek services and share farming tips. Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera reports how the group is now reaching other minority communities hoping to transcend cultural boundaries.

Hmong American farmers have held this type of conference for the last five years. It’s a place where small farmers can find the support and services they’re looking for. But now, it’s reaching farmers beyond the Hmong community. They’re joining forces with Latinos.

Chukou Thao spearheaded the movement.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

  Advocates say moving people to the new facility in Bakersfield is raising serious concerns about the risk of exposing immigrants to valley fever. This disease is caused by a fungus that thrives throughout the Central Valley and parts of the Southwest, sending out spores. 

Julia Mass is with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California.


  California’s prolonged drought is causing a sharp rise in air pollution in the Central Valley. That’s according to an annual report on air quality in California.

While smog and Ozone continue to improve in the Valley, the four year long drought is pushing up dangerous particulate matter pollution rates.

The dry weather is causing loose soil which is kicked into the air says Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Health advocates are celebrating today as Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a temporary health care program for undocumented residents.

The board voted 3-2 to implement a short-term program to provide limited specialty care for unauthorized immigrants.  

Activist Sandra Celedon-Castro is with Building Healthy Communities.

Google Map

The Central Valley is now home to a new detention center for immigrants facing deportation. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.  

Federal officials have already moved around 60 people into the new center in Bakersfield since its doors opened two weeks ago.

Virginia Kice, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says the Mesa Verde Detention Facility will house up to 400 people.

FM89's series My Valley, My Story features first person stories from people throughout the San Joaquin Valley. This week KVPR's Diana Aguilera visits London, an unincorporated town in rural  Tulare County with a population of nearly 2,000 people, to find out what it’s like to get sick when the nearest hospital is about 30 minutes away. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

It’s been over three months since undocumented residents in Fresno County lost access to a program that provided specialty health care. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, local health advocates rallied Tuesday to support its return.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote on an agreement with a local company that would have restored at least some access to specialty care for undocumented residents. Instead the board postponed the discussion.

University of California, Merced

UC Merced is running out of space to keep up with growing enrollment.  Now, the university is asking the UC Board of Regents to expand campus offices to downtown Merced. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

The regents will vote Wednesday whether to approve $1.3 million dollars for construction of a campus administrative center in downtown Merced. 

Daniel Feitelberg, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Merced, says bringing offices to the downtown area is vital not only for the university but also for the city.

Zara Arboledo / Valley Children's Hospital

Valley Children’s Hospital has opened an outpatient clinic in Bakersfield in an effort to help ease the growing demand for pediatric specialists in Kern County.

The clinic on 34th street opened its doors Monday. 

“We’re able to start seeing patients that would of normally had to travel to Madera a little bit closer to home in Bakersfield,” says Kari Boscacci, the director of Ambulatory Operations.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

As the world’s largest agricultural trade show comes to an end today in Tulare County, FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the farm show boosts the local economy.  

The World Ag Expo in Tulare isn’t only about the latest in farm technology. It’s also about bringing outside dollars into the Valley.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Next week applications will start rolling in from the first wave of immigrants seeking temporary deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s executive order. Despite strong opposition from Republicans in Congress, Obama’s immigration plan aims to shield up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation out of the estimated 11 million living in the United States.  

As soon as Feb. 18, newly eligible immigrants will begin applying for relief under the extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.