fresno county

It’s a typical Sunday in the town of Mendota, west of Fresno. Here, in the cantaloupe capital of the world, the majority of residents are farmworkers. As they unwind from working all day the Westside pool hall starts filling up. 

City councilmember Joseph Riofrio owns the pool hall. This place serves as a distraction and entertainment for many men farmworkers, who are often far away from family. But Riofrio says the isolation some people feel opens the door for another type of business.

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.

Ezra David Romero

Despite the ramifications of this four year drought Fresno County announced today/Monday that its farming value for 2014 increased over nine percent. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

The lack of rain and snow has made it a tough few years on farmers, but according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture 2014 Crop and Livestock Report the county’s gross value has increased from around $6.5 billion to just over $7 billion. Although, the increase doesn’t necessarily mean farmers are making more money.

Ryan Jacobsen is the Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO.

Courtesy of Steve Skibbie

Creative Fresno is on the hunt for murals. 

Murals outside of bars. Murals on random petroleum station walls. Murals in parks. 

Murals. Murals. Murals. 

The group recently began collecting data on murals throughout Fresno County in a project called the Digital Mural Map funded by the Fresno Regional Foundation. The project will feature photos of the murals and information about the artists on a mobile friendly website and later select murals will be featured in a photo book. The mural hunt will end in December and the website should be up and running in May, 2016.

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.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The future of the Fresno area's urban sprawl northward could soon take another step forward. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors has unveiled a draft of the long-awaited Friant Corridor Feasibility Study. It’s the first look at potential development just north of the City of Fresno.

However, environmental groups say the study is the camel’s nose under the tent toward more urbanization.

Among the high golden grasses, sparse trees and grazing deer, stands Clary Creager in the San Joaquin River bottom.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Immigrant advocates in Fresno say they’re fed up with a recent decision by the sheriff’s department to collaborate in new ways with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). As Valley Public Radio’s Diana Aguilera reports, activists are demanding a change. 

Just last week Sheriff Margaret Mims announced a new program that allows two ICE agents to be stationed inside the Fresno County Jail. Federal agents can now check if inmates are in the country legally and can look at their criminal history to determine whether they should be deported.

VINOTHCHANDAR VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

  African-American infants in Fresno County are three times more likely to die within their first year than white infants, largely because of premature birth, low birth weight or birth defects.

The alarming rates of African-American infants dying in their first year in the county are prompting public health officials to dig deeper.

“Over the last few years ever since 2008 Fresno has experienced a dramatic growth in infant mortality rates particularly for African-American women,” says Dr. John Capitman, executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute.

KNITTYMARIE VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Fresno County continues to be plagued with high teen pregnancy rates and even higher STD rates in some cases among the worst in the state. With that in mind  local health leaders are urging one Valley school district to bring back sex education to the classrooms. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports even former students are speaking up.

Antonio Jauregui, 18, says his freshman year at Fresno’s Duncan Polytechnical High School was all about growing up. It’s also when he had his first romantic relationship and that left him turning to the classroom for information about sex.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 A new bill in the California Senate could make sex education mandatory for middle and high school students. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

If the bill becomes law, students will be required to learn about abstinence, sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

Right now, public schools throughout the state aren’t required to offer sex ed classes, but they are required to teach HIV and AIDS prevention. In recent years, Fresno Unified dropped its sex ed program due to budget cuts.

Joe Moore, KVPR

With the implementation of Proposition 47 central valley law enforcement leaders warned about its potential to drive crime up. They argued that fewer people facing felonies gives people less chance to recover from addiction and change their life, while leaving them on the street to re-offend. But now even some in law enforcement are questioning if that is the case.

Valley Public Radio took a close look at the data from Fresno city and County to see if, six months into the experiment, the warnings are coming true.

Ikhlasul Amal via FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

In 2010 President Barack Obama announced a new vision for HIV and AIDS where one day new infections in the country would be considered rare.

“We believe that while HIV transmission rates in this country are not as high as they once were every new case is one case too many," he says. 

Flikr-Victor, Creative Commons

There are roughly 1,000 fewer people in Fresno County who are on Felony probation. The County Probation Chief says that is due to changes brought about by Proposition 47.

By turning some felonies, especially drug convictions, into misdemeanors there are now only about 8,000 people under county supervision compared to 9,000 a year ago according to Probation Chief Rick Chavez.

Chavez says it is not necessarily a bad thing that fewer people are on probation as long as people who are now convicted of misdemeanors access treatment for addiction.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Most undocumented immigrants throughout the country aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medi-Cal because of their immigration status. But in California there’s a little known provision that allows certain immigrants to obtain full-scope Medi-Cal benefits even if they aren’t here legally.

Until last December, if you were an undocumented resident in Fresno you could get health care through a county program known as MISP. That stopped when the county changed the rules and kicked at least 5,000 undocumented residents out of the program late last year.

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The drought’s been tough on farmers across the state, but the timing of the little rain the region received this past winter proved to be a plus for the sheep industry. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Ryan Indart moves his herd of sheep around Fresno County to graze where grass is green.

He says the weather pattern from late 2014 to today has eased the effects of the drought on his herd. Rain in December and a foggy January kept moisture in the ground.

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