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Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Wilderness areas are known for isolated beauty and the feeling of peace experienced there. There are no cars, few roads and only horseman, horses and hikers can enter them. But that could soon change if a bill that’s now in congress becomes law.

When Craig Bowden isn’t teaching eighth graders language arts he’s out riding his mountain bike. Today, he’s giving me a lesson on bike riding at Woodward Park in north Fresno.  

“When you’re taking a corner you typically want to have your outside foot down, so the pressures on the outside,” Bowden says as we ride down a hill.

Office of Congressman Jeff Denham

The expansion of Medi-Cal in the Central Valley under the Affordable Care Act has been key to slashing the area’s uninsured rate in half in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up, and in most valley counties, about half of the population is on Medi-Cal. But according to some, having more people on the program has compounded the problem of low reimbursement rates for physicians and the area’s long-running doctor shortage.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the third installment in our series Contaminated, in which we explore the 300 California communities that lack access to clean drinking water. When we began the series, we introduced you to the community of Lanare, which has arsenic-tainted water while a treatment plant in the center of town sits idle. 

Today, we return to Lanare to learn why infrastructure projects aren’t always enough, and how Sacramento is trying to ensure Lanare never happens again.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

When you call 9-1-1, you expect an ambulance to come and quickly. But in Fresno County, health officials say a relatively small number of people had been making that difficult, so-called ambulance "super users." These are people who call for an ambulance ride frequently, sometimes hundreds of times a year, in non-emergency situations. Now five years into a project to reduce the burden of "super users" on the system, the numbers show the effort is working.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Becoming an adult is a challenging transition for anyone—but it can be especially hard for those with severe chronic diseases that, until recently, had been fatal. This is the story of one young adult undergoing some major life changes, and the doctors trying to pave a smoother path for people like her.

Rachael Goldring is getting married in October. This bubbly 24-year-old health blogger already picked out the venue, the decorations, and the music—but what she’s really excited about is her dress.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Finding enough money to pay for child care is a struggle for many Central Valley families. But last year despite the region’s high poverty rate, Fresno County returned $10 million in unspent money to the state that was earmarked for child care for low-income families.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Last month President Donald Trump signed an executive order putting 20 plus national monuments across the country under review including Giant Sequoia National Monument in the mountains of Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties. Now 17 years after the monument's creation, its existence is in question.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In late April, we launched a series called “Contaminated” where our team explores communities in the region affected by water unsafe to drink. In our first story, we visited a Fresno County community that can’t afford to maintain the arsenic treatment plant the federal government funded 10 years ago. 

We continue today with a look at a Madera County mountain community where residents have been exposed to a different hazardous material in water for decades—but they could have clean water by the end of the year.

Kaiser Family Foundation

California’s Republican congressmen were crucial to getting the American Health Care Act passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last week. One change to that bill was key in getting the support of at least one of those congressman: additional money for something known as ‘high-risk pools’.

However, they are not a new idea in health care and in fact have been tried before right here in the Golden State. California’s experience could help inform how the policy might work if it becomes law, and the challenges it could face.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Religion and politics are once again mixing at Fresno City Hall. One councilmember has put forward a plan to add the words ‘In God We Trust’ to the council chamber wall. The result of that vote could be the latest sign that the connection between politics and the city’s religious faithful is still strong.

The Wilson Theater in downtown Fresno comes to life on Sundays when it transforms into the Christian Cornerstone Church, the home of Pastor Jim Franklin. The theme of the sermon this weekend is organizing your life to put Jesus first.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In 2012, California made history when it became the first U.S. state to declare that clean drinking water is a human right. But five years later, nearly 300 communities still can’t drink their water, according to new state data—many of which are in the San Joaquin Valley.

Today we debut a series about drinking water, in which we explore where these communities are and why it’s so difficult to get clean water. We begin in rural Fresno County north of Lemoore.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The city of Arvin, south of Bakersfield, is struggling to stay healthy. Nearly a quarter of its 20,000 residents fall below the poverty line, and surrounding Kern County has one of the highest diabetes burdens in the state. As part of an ongoing effort to get kids out of the house and active, an event last week connected Arvin middle-schoolers with free bicycles—but where the bicycles came from may surprise you.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Customers love the guacamole served tableside at El Torito in Downtown Fresno so much that about half of them order it. Daniel Avalos is the general manager there.

Avalos and I just ordered some guac. For $10 the appetizer is created on a platter in front of us.

“She cuts the avocados in half and then she’s getting the pulp out of the avocado and putting in the molcajete where we smash the avocado and mix it with veggies,” says Avalos.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Some of the same people who warned state leaders about the probability of Oroville Dam failing are now sounding the alarm at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.

It’s the first time since before the drought began that San Luis Reservoir in the hills west of Los Banos is nearly full at about 97 percent.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in March, Dennis Spear watches his 15-year-old son Matthew Spear pilot a tiny metal drone through a course at a park outside Fresno.

“[They’re] like a swarm of angry bees, ” Spear says.

Drones have exploded in popularity as the price of the tiny machines has fallen. More than 700-thousand drones were sold in the United States last year.

These drones aren’t what you may have seen in the neighborhood or heard about on the news. They are smaller than a Frisbee and are very light weight.

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