Diana Aguilera

Today state health officials arrived in Fresno for a four day meeting to tackle what local leaders are calling a chlamydia epidemic.

In a rare occasion, the state department of public health sent a team of experts to Fresno. They’re meeting with local health providers in hopes of reducing the alarming rates of chlamydia, especially in teens and young adults.

“Fresno County is a hot spot for chlamydia and for reproductive and sexual health in general,” says Heidi Bauer, a doctor with the Department of Public Health.

File Photo

The head of the Fresno Unified School District is coming under fire after claims that he instructed his staff use a cell phone app that sends messages without leaving any trace. That practice could raise ethical and legal problems for district superintendent Michael Hanson.

Journalist Mark Arax was the first to report that Hanson allegedly used the Cyber Dust app which claims it leaves no record of any of the messages sent or received.

Office of Kevin McCarthy

Fresno State political scientist Thomas Holyoke says the political future of Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy looks bright. McCarthy, Holyoke says, is the odds on favorite to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a powerful position that could mean big things for representative and the valley. Holyoke takes on some of the bigger questions facing McCarthy.

Why would McCarthy want this job if John Boehner doesn’t?

It’s not every day that the mayor of Fresno and city councilmember attend the opening of a grocery store, but that was the scene this morning at a new Smart and Final on Blackstone Avenue.

The location grocery store was the center of a heated political debate earlier this year between Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Councilmember Clint Olivier, who both chose to attend the opening.

The store is moving into a building left vacant when previous grocery store went out of business.

Cultiva La Salud

A local group is putting pressure on Fresno Unified School District to unlock school gates after hours and on weekends. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, they say every child no matter what zip code they live in should have a place to play.

The Fresno-based organization Cultiva La Salud, which means “cultivate health” is asking the district to keep school gates unlocked in south Fresno. They say in an area with high rates of obesity and lack of green spaces, kids need a place where they can play and be physically active after hours.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Just a few decades ago Fresno used to be the center of the American Fig Industry, with orchards stretching for thousands of acres. Now most of the trees planted by J.C. Forkner almost 100 years ago are gone and are replaced by homes and shopping centers.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California’s four year drought has taken its toll on many trees in the valley, and now some are concerned it could also kill iconic trees that line Fresno’s boulevards. But is the city doing anything to keep the trees from succumbing to the harsh conditions?

If you drive down some of Fresno’s historic boulevards, such as Van Ness and Huntington, you will be cruising in the shade of tall trees.

But you can also see the stress that the drought has put on them in their brown leaves and dead branches.


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.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition our staff reports on how the drought is harming bees in California, lawmaking around HIV, the future of Fresno's Blackstone Avenue and how the bark beetle is decimating conifers in the Sierra Nevada. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

It’s one of the most maligned stretches of road in Fresno, Blackstone Avenue. With a reputation for being dangerous, unwelcoming, and rundown. But city leaders say they have a plan to fix it, and it starts with a bus. However, not everyone is convinced the avenue can be improved.

It’s not hard to get a sense of what many people think of Blackstone Avenue.

Just ask one simple question of people in Fresno: Would you take a walk down Blackstone?

“No, because I don’t want to be considered as one of those little street walkers,”

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

A coalition including the ACLU and Equality California held a forum in Fresno Thursday evening to talk about certain state laws, they say criminalize people living with HIV. Including, the possibility of being charged with a felony for donating blood while HIV positive, for soliciting and for exposing others to the disease. And most often that means jail time.

Craig Pulsipher is with the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council could carve out an exemption from water conservation rules for backyard fruit and vegetable gardens. The goal is to encourage more urban farming.

The exemption, proposed by Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, would allow for daily drip irrigation of backyard gardens.

Soria says current watering rules are too restrictive, and could be deterring people from growing their own food especially in poor areas.

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.

As students head back for another year of school, one small district in the valley is on the cutting edge of education. The Lindsay School district has eliminated grades and grade levels. School leaders say the scheme has transformed education.

Its 7:30 a.m. on the first day of school and students at the Lindsay High School re-connect with friends and wait for the bell to ring.

The roughly 1,000 students are part of just a handful of districts in the country using a system called Performance Based Grading.

The falling price and exploding popularity of consumer drones are causing growing concern about the nation’s newest consumer craze. Rouge drone operators are becoming a nuisance, invading sensitive and private air space, and regulators are nearly powerless to stop them.

In a dusty field in central Fresno, wedding photographer and hobby drone enthusiast Chris Geiger fires up the electric motors on his small four propeller helicopter.

The two-foot wide white and black robot leaps into the air and hovers for a moment, perfectly steady.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

There’s been a lot of noise around El Niño in the news lately. We don’t know if it’ll cure California’s drought, but in places prone to flooding officials are already prepping for the worst.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on why officials hope to dig deep to prevent flooding and restore the aquifer.

At the moment the mood is hopeful at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Hanford.   

"National Weather Service, this is Jerald How may I help you," says Jerald Meadows, warning coordination meteorologist with the San Joaquin Valley Weather Forecast Office. 

Fresno’s Planned Parenthood clinics are the latest target in a series of controversial videos about the clinics and their practices. A former employee claims she was pressured to collect fetal body parts without the mother’s consent.

“It really wore me down. The environment is morbid. You can feel it,”

That’s Holly O’Donnell a phlebotomist who says she used to work at Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno.

The video is the sixth released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress.

Phil Welker, DRS Technologies

The aging air fleet the U.S. Forest Service uses to fight fires in California is posing a deadly danger to the pilots and the firefighters on the ground. Now, for the first time in decades, new planes are coming into service to help battle the blaze and make firefighting safer.

The planes are re-purposed Coast Guard planes turned into air tankers that spray fire retardant. That slows the speed and intensity of the fires. Jennifer Jones with the U.S. forest Service explains how the planes will help and why it took so long for get bring them into service.

Fresno County has a huge animal overpopulation problem. Very soon, the county could have a new animal control shelter and a new company running it. That group, The Animal Compassion Team, has been one of the biggest critics of the county’s animal kill rate.

Now, they says they have a plan to euthanize fewer animals.

At the Animal Compassion Team’s south Fresno shelter dogs bark and jump in a pen.

The group, which currently runs a no kill shelter, is likely to win the contract to take over animal control for the entire county later this year.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Toro Nagashi is an ancient Buddhist ceremony which dates to the 7th century and is traditionally associated with the Obon season in Japan. In Fresno, the community will celebrate the event with a special event in Woodward Park near the Shinzen Japanese Garden on Saturday August 8th. At dusk hundreds of lighted paper lanterns will be released onto the lake, representing the spirits of loved ones.