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Westlands Water District website

It wasn’t a "Miracle March" but last month's spring storms helped turn around what might have been a devastating year for California’s water supplies into one that is merely depressing. But was it too late for many valley farmers? We spoke with Johnny Amaral, deputy general manager for external affairs for Westlands Water District on Valley Edition. He joined us to talk about how this year is shaping up for valley growers, and also about some other issues in the news.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno passed a Parks Master Plan in January. The plan outlines the city’s goals to maintain and improve existing parks, and add more to the system. But over the years, the city’s parks budget has decreased. A new coalition hopes their efforts will put new life into parks, with a tax.

 

Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

Courtesy Kaweah Delta Health Care District.

A new study from the UCSF Healthforce Center has ominous news for the valley’s health care system. According to the authors, demand for registered nurses in the San Joaquin Valley is projected to grow by 35 percent over the next 12 years. But at the same time, the region’s total number of RNs is expected to actually decline, creating a serious shortfall. Some estimates put the regional RN shortage as high as 10,000 by 2030. So what’s behind the decline?

Flickr user San Diego PersonalInjuryAttorney, CC BY-SA 2.0

Every time you want to see a doctor, decisions are made about who’s in your network, what’s approved, and how much it’ll cost. Although your health plan manages everything, each of those decisions could be outsourced to a separate company—and those behind-closed-doors actions can have big impacts. Allegations of misconduct within two of these intermediary companies are already having real impacts on patients in the Valley.

Last fall, Dr. Sanjay Srivatsa received a letter.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Today on FM89's Young Artists Spotlight we feature the music of the Lindsay Guitars from Lindsay High School. This group is a favorite of FM89 audiences and has been performing on the program for many years thanks to the leadership of director Nancy Wills. This year we hear two ensembles and a guitar duo:

LHS Honor Group:

Castle on a Cloud, from Les Miserables

Wild Mountain Thyme - Scottish Folk Song

Miguel Moreno and Nancy Wills:

Romance - Anonymous

LHS Advanced Guitar Ensemble:

Oye Mi Ritmo, Based on a South American Theme

Community Water Center

More than 300 California communities lack access to clean drinking water. A disproportionately high number of those communities lie in the San Joaquin Valley, as we reported in our 2017 series Contaminated. Last fall, a bill with a proposed solution passed the state senate but has since remained in limbo, receiving both broad support and opposition—even in the San Joaquin Valley.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

California has some of the highest-reaching goals in the nation when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Our state is also where some of the most innovative clean technology is developed and manufactured. One electric bus company is setting up shop in California, and it’s already changing transit in one Central Valley town.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Ten years ago, the city of Merced was ground zero for the housing crisis in California. Just a few years before that, the University of California’s brand new Merced campus opened outside the city, which arguably drove the overdevelopment that set up the city to fall so hard during the recession. Now, a decade later, the university has invested in the city with a new downtown building—but that’s not the only new development happening at UC Merced.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Despite California’s status as a sanctuary state, it appears to be the focus of increased immigration activity—especially after a sweep in Northern California earlier this week that drove Oakland’s Mayor to issue a warning to her residents and ultimately resulted in more than 150 arrests. Closer to home, a San Joaquin Valley resident who was recently ordered to leave the country, despite years of being allowed to stay and an appeal from a top lawmaker.

Foldit screenshot

It wasn’t long after the invention of the internet that scientists discovered the potential for using computing power as a citizen science tool. One of the earliest examples was a computer program developed in the 1990s that allowed users to search for life on other planets. Now a new collaboration takes aim at something a little closer to home: An intersection between citizen science, health, and agriculture, with implications right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Fresno is California’s largest city without a light rail system. With the city’s sprawling nature and ample parking lots, efforts to bring rapid transit to the area have never taken off. One other reason – light rail is really expensive. Now, Fresno officials hope to bring some of the elements of those commuter trains to the city’s bus system at a much more affordable price tag. It’s a concept that around the world is called bus rapid transit – or light rail on wheels. We looked at the latest addition to Fresno Area Express service by talking to the people who use it.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

Tuesday marks six days since a 19-year-old man walked onto a South Florida high school campus, opened fire, and murdered 17 people. Many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spoken out for stricter gun laws. Now students in Kern County are doing the same. On Monday afternoon, students from Bakersfield High School organized a rally in southwest Bakersfield in support of gun safety on high school campuses. FM 89’s Christina Lopez brings us this story.

Emma Newburger/NPR

Before Tamara Keith was a household name among NPR listeners, she was a household name among Valley Public Radio listeners. For several years Keith worked as the Central Valley correspondent for KQED’s The California Report, based at the KVPR studios in Fresno. Before that she was a public radio listener herself – growing up in Hanford and listening to this station. Now she’s NPR’s White House correspondent and host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She’s also coming back to the valley for a special event hosted by Valley Public Radio February 24th at Clovis Community College.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you an investigative story about a secretive building in downtown Fresno that’s being used to process individuals coming into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. There’s no sign on the building, its address is not listed on the agency’s website, and immigration attorneys are concerned about the detainees’ access to due process.

Brittany Greeson/GroundTruth

Critics across the globe are starting to pay attention to the music of one young valley artist – Omar Nare. The Sanger native was recently profiled on Public Radio International and the New York Times for his fresh take on mariachi traditions. He’s taking traditional songs and re-inventing them with hints of jazz, soul and funk.

Valley Public Radio

This winter has been an especially bad one for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  With long stretches of high particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), staying informed with accurate info about air quality forecasts and current conditions is important for your health. We took a look at some popular apps for both iOS and Android devices that provide air quality information.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

A few weeks ago we told you how new high-tech, low-cost air quality sensors are helping valley residents monitor air pollution right outside their homes. But the devices aren’t just being used by homeowners, they’re also being adopted by some of the world’s top scientists. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is testing the devices here in the valley, in preparation for investigating pollutants from space.  

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Update Tuesday 2/13:

By some measures, Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in California. His empire of almonds, pomegranates, pistachios and citrus covers over 120,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley. Known today as The Wonderful Company, Resnick and his wife Lynda have grown their multi-billion dollar fortune on products like POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Wonderful Halos mandarin oranges. And despite California’s drought, in recent years they’ve kept growing, thanks to shrewd management of their most precious resource - water.

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