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In-Depth

Teresa Douglass / Tulare County Sheriff's Office

Technology like Facetime and Skype has made talking face-to-face over long distances as easy as opening an app. Now even jails are offering video calls to connect inmates and their families. But some civil liberties groups say the new technology shouldn’t replace in-person visits.  

Before this year, if you wanted to visit an inmate in the Tulare County Jail, you would go to the facility, sit on opposite sides of a glass partition, and speak through a phone.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new map released by NASA earlier this year shows that large portions of California are sinking. The worst of it is in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the main reasons is the over pumping of groundwater, especially in the last five years of drought.

All that sinking and all the snow melting in the Sierra has Central Valley water managers like Dustin Fuller worried.

Clinica Sierra Vista

The Affordable Care Act may be staying in place for now, but the long-term future of health care is still far from certain. And that uncertainty is already taking its toll on some health care programs--with ripple effects felt throughout the Valley.

If you peruse the Airbnb listings outside Bakersfield, you may stumble upon Broken Shadow Hermitage—a 3-bedroom getaway in the Tehachapi Mountains. The owner, Rick Hobbs, says it’s a great place to meditate and commune with nature.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

People love seeing black bears when they visit places like Yosemite National Park. They’re powerful creatures that can be docile or ferocious depending on the encounter. In such a highly visited place incidents with bears are bound to happen, and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the park has come up with a new plan to keep bears and people safe.

It’s Fresno State student Quiang Chang’s fifth time to Yosemite National Park. He and his friends are walking along the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail. He still hasn’t seen a bear yet, but if he does he says he has a plan.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Ulta Beauty may be the biggest beauty product supplier in the country, but the announcement the company will build a distribution and fulfillment center in Fresno could be about much more than eyeliner and lipstick. Some experts think the Central Valley could develop into the hub that supplies on demand products for the entire west coast. But why is the area so enticing for internet retailers, and do these centers provide good jobs?

In the bathroom of her central Fresno home, Roe Borunda looks through tote after tote filled with all manner of makeup.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

All of the recent rain and snow in California is good news for farms and cities. The runoff flowing from the Sierra Nevada is so strong this year that’s it's moving huge boulders and tons of earth down rivers. That means gold is on the move as well and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that has gold prospectors on alert.

 

Larry Riggs and his friends are hunting on a piece of private property near Oakhurst. There are no guns or fishing poles present. Just shovels, plastic bowls and buckets.

They’re panning for gold.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California is in the middle of reversing decades of ‘tough on crime’ policies. Realignment and propositions 47 and 57 have been instituted to lighten the load in county jails and state prisons.

Now lawmakers are examining a system that sometimes keeps people in jail before they have even been convicted. Criminal justice reformers say California’s use of cash bail has created an income-based justice system.

So here is how this works.

Let’s say you are arrested and charged with a crime and find yourself in the Fresno County Jail.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

It’s springtime in the valley, which, for many of us, means it’s time to clear the weeds out of our backyards. The same goes for growers, but the landscape of industrial weedkillers is changing. A California judge recently ruled that the main ingredient of the popular herbicide RoundUp must be labeled as a carcinogen. Now, another popular herbicide is facing some scrutiny over its health impacts as well.

Weeds kill crops. Kurt Hembree says that’s because they’re pernicious moochers.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

After five years of drought there’s so much snow in the Sierra Nevada that state water officials are preparing for a massive runoff year. But the traditional way of calculating the snowpack has a huge margin of error and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports a new way to measure it could greatly decrease that inconsistency.  

Every winter and spring a network of snow surveyors manually tally how much snow is in the Sierra Nevada. They do this by measuring snow depth in the same spots every year.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Animal shelters in the San Joaquin Valley are inundated every year with thousands of rescued dogs, cats and even pigs. But what happens to the animals that no one seems to want? While some shelters may euthanize, others go to great lengths to keep them alive. One group of animal rescuers has found a creative solution to a supply and demand problem.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Host intro: Last week, we brought you a story about the San Joaquin Valley’s opioid epidemic, which manifests in inordinately high rates of painkiller prescriptions and hundreds of overdose deaths every year. This week, we explore three strategies that health officials and advocates are using to take aim at the problem. FM89’s Kerry Klein begins at a safe space for drug users.

For over 20 years, meth and heroin users from around Fresno County have relied on the Fresno needle exchange for free medical care and all the clean syringes they need.

Ezra David Romero

An explosion of building is ramping up just north of Fresno in Madera County. This area of rolling hills on the way to Yosemite could become a city the size of Clovis. All this development could be good for the county's finances, but as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports people who already live there say it could change their way of life.

Kimberly Gomes is a realtor who grew up in the Madera Ranchos. It’s an unincorporated community of less 10,000 people just minutes from Fresno.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

The early days of President Donald Trump’s administration have left all manner of people scrambling to keep up and understand the local impacts of a series of executive orders. One major change is the threat to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities”, that is cities that claim to not work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to find undocumented immigrants. But what even is a sanctuary city and is Fresno in the crosshairs?

When he explained his executive order targeting ‘sanctuary cities’ last week, President Trump described the order this way.

Flickr User Sharyn Morrow

Recently, you may have heard a startling statistic: drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents. For some years, the same holds true here in the San Joaquin Valley. The lion’s share of those overdoses are from opioids—street drugs and heavy-duty painkillers either derived from opium or made in a lab. Now, health officials are trying to prevent the problem from becoming worse.

Carmen Vargas

Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it.

Three Clovis West High School students, a newly elected Bakersfield City Councilmember, and a Bakersfield LGBT activist all have taken their own lives in the last six months.

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