Fresno

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno appears to have cleared a major legal hurdle in its effort to turn the Fulton Mall back into Fulton Street. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled in favor of the city in a federal lawsuit brought by Fulton Mall supporters who want want stop the project. Muller also denied the Downtown Fresno Coalition’s request for an injunction on the project, which could clear the way for construction as soon as next month. 

USGS

California’s prolonged drought is once again causing the valley in sink. Groundwater pumping to keep water flowing and plants growing is resulting in the valley floor to settling and sinking in what is known as subsidence. As the water is pulled out the ground underneath fills the space and settles. In some places, the land is subsiding as much as a foot a year.

  Hydrologist Jim Borcher says the Valley has experienced sinking before, but now it is back.

Work is officially underway tearing down bridges and moving roads to clear the way for High Speed Rail. Leaders with the city of Fresno and the High Speed Rail Authority met in downtown Wednesday to officially celebrate the beginning of construction.

Workers are beginning the careful process of removing the bridge while keeping the existing rail line running.

The bridge needs to be torn down to make way for a new taller span.

It is the first major urban construction project connected to the bullet train in the Fresno area.

Kerry Klein

It’s Sunday morning in downtown Fresno, and a classroom full of 10-year olds is about to meet an important visitor: a 2-foot-tall, red and white robot.

“Hello, my name is NAO,” says the robot, standing up on a table.

He looks like a mix between a Transformer and a Power Ranger: big head, square shoulders, and what looks like thick gloves and boots. He can wave his arms, walk, dance, and blink his eyes—just like a tiny human.

“I can recognize your face, answer questions, and even play soccer like a pro,” he continues.

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

Dozens of California cities and counties, including many in the Central Valley, are moving quickly to pass bans on medical marijuana growth and sale.

The bans are often modeled on existing rules in Fresno and Kern Counties that prohibit either the cultivation or sale of medical marijuana.

Brenda Linder, a lawyer who works with medical marijuana clients, says the reason for the rush is new state regulation that sets a March  deadline to adopt local rules or otherwise they will default to what the state dictates.

Jakara Movement

The first homicide of 2016 in Fresno was of a Punjabi man at a liquor store. A week earlier an elderly Sikh man was deliberately hit by a truck and then beat up by two men. Police consider the attack a hate crime and are offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two men suspected.

This week on Valley Edition we discuss the reasoning behind the hate crimes against the Sikh community and why criminals are confusing Sikhs and Muslims in their hate acts.  Listen to the discussion above. 

GUESTS:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  As 2015 comes to a close, Valley Edition asked two local journalists to help us take a look back at the top stories of the year. Evan Onstot of KSEE 24 and Robert Price of the Bakersfield Californian joined us to talk about the biggest news events of the past twelve months, with an eye towards stories to watch for 2016. Among the stories that stood out to our panelists:

High Speed Rail Authority

Ready or not here it comes. Wrecking balls will start swinging early next year on projects connected to High Speed rail, and it could impact how you get around.

Even if you never set foot on a high speed train its power could ripple into your life.

Visible construction is set to begin in downtown Fresno at the start of next year.

Teachers in the Fresno Unified School District say they’re growing increasingly concerned about their safety in the classroom. FM89’s Jason Scott reports they held a press conference Wednesday to ask the district to do more to improve classroom discipline.  

Several teachers at Bullard High School have signed a petition that asks Fresno Unified leaders to implement a new student discipline policy that better defines consequences for offenses.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE 12/17/15:
The Fresno City Council has approved an enhanced tax incentive plan to lure Nordstrom's fulfillment center to the city. The new plan includes up to $12 million in sales tax rebates to the company, based on the number of jobs created by the center. Fresno is competing with Visalia as possible sites for the 1 million square foot building.

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