Fresno

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.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

This weekend’s string of heavy rain has put a lot of pressure on families and local officials to respond to the threat of flooding, especially in mountains. Residents in some communities have even been forced to evacuate to escape the rising tide.

Many a normally small, peaceful mountain creek has now been transformed is now a broad fast moving river.

The days of heavy rains have caused the Madera County Sheriff to order mandatory evacuations in some of the low-lying areas of the town of North Fork south of Bass Lake.

Friant Water Authority

While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal.

The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction. 

Fresno County Sheriff

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation into the deadly shooting of a sheriff’s deputy late last year. The Sheriff still believes the shooting was an accident.

Sergeant Rod Lucas was shot and killed at a department satellite office near the Fresno airport in early November.

www.whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama is taking big steps in his final days in office, like banning oil drilling in the Atlantic. Now both friends and critics alike are asking if he might use his executive authority for another controversial issue – a potential pardon of undocumented immigrants. But how might that work?

Valley Public Radio spoke with USC law professor Niels Frenzen about the constitutionality of such a decision and how it might play out in the real world.

Is it within President Obama’s power to issue a mass pardon of undocumented immigrants?

Most counties and cities in California have seen their budgets recover from depths of the Great Recession. That’s not the case in Kern County though, which relies heavily on taxes from oil. That tension has put a popular public asset in the middle of a years-long fight over its future. In the end, 2017 could be a year a big change for the Kern County’s public libraries.

The list of issues facing libraries in Kern County is lengthy.

A lot has happened in Fresno in the last eight years under the leadership of mayor Ashley Swearengin, who leaves office next month. The city weathered a major economic storm, adopted a new general plan that attempts to rein in sprawl, removed the Fulton Mall, and started building major new water infrastructure. The city also added a police auditor, started construction on a bus rapid transit line and adopted a new development code.

Lucasfilm

There's a new Star Wars film out in theaters this month, Rogue One. While George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney for billions several years ago, the California native will forever be associated with the Star Wars brand.

Serna family

A group of residents in Kern County is calling for an external investigation of the most recent deadly police-involved shooting in Bakersfield.

Just before 1 am Monday, Bakersfield police responded to reports of a man with a gun hassling people.

They found 73-year old Francisco Serna walking near his home. According to police, an officer shot Serna because he was approaching them with his hands in his pockets and did not follow commands.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson is explaining in more detail why he has decided to end his tenure next year. A defiant Hanson says he is not caving to public pressure for his ouster.

Hanson has been superintendent for 12 years and during that time has helped solidify the district’s budget and improved educational results.

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