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Fresno

Todd Rosenberg / Courtesy The Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic has announced that conductor Rei Hotoda will be the orchestra's next music director. Hotoda is the first woman and the first Asian-American to hold the position, and is just the eighth music director in the orchestra's history.

Hotoda is currently the Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and has held assistant conductor roles at orchestras in Dallas and Winnipeg. She says she is excited about the opportunity to lead the Philharmonic as its next conductor. 

Scripps National Spelling Bee Facebook

Fresno’s Ananya Vinay is the top speller in the nation. The 12 year-old student at Fugman Elementary won the Scripps National Spelling Bee last week in Maryland. She joined us on Valley Public Radio to tell us what it’s like to go from a sixth grade classroom into the national spotlight.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein used a visit to the Central Valley Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess caught up with the senator at a farm in western Fresno County.

Standing beside a freshly irrigated olive orchard, Feinstein warned that leaving the international climate change initiative could make the Central Valley un-farmable.

Ezra David Romero
Valley Public Radio

Understanding the information on a voting ballot can be tough even for English speakers. For many second language learners the voting process can be so intimidating that they don’t vote, in part because of the lack of materials in their own language.

Now a group of Punjabi people in Fresno want to change that experience.

Almost every afternoon older Indian-American men from the province of Punjab gather under the shade and play cards in Victoria West Community Park in West Fresno. Deep Singh says it’s a chance to get out of the house.

The Fresno Art Museum often features works by acclaimed modern artists from around the world. But with a set of new exhibits opening this week, the museum is turning its attention to local artists. The museum's director Michele Ellis Pracy joins us on Valley Edition to talk about the exhibits by Nancy Youdelman, Leslie Batty and Maurice Cohen. Youdelman has long been an important feminist artist in the valley, inspired by the legacy of Judy Chicago during her tenure at Fresno State.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Nearly 1,000 people in the Central Valley are now officially new U.S. citizens. And for many, they say the recent Presidential election played a big role.

975 people from 57 countries took the oath of citizenship at the Fresno Convention Center Tuesday, the final step in their process of moving from immigrant to citizen.

Among them was 35-year old Norma Minjares, who was brought to the country by his parents as an infant.  

She, like many in the crowd, say last fall’s election pushed her to finally seek citizenship.

Andrew Janz for Congress

The 2018 mid-term election is a year-and-a-half away, but Republican Congressman Devin Nunes has already drawn a challenger in the race for the 22nd Congressional District, Democrat Andrew Janz. The political newcomer and current Fresno County Deputy District Attorney faces a tough challenge. Republicans have a double-digit voter registration edge in the district, and Nunes has easily defeated Democratic opponents in each of the last three election cycles.

Kaiser Family Foundation

California’s Republican congressmen were crucial to getting the American Health Care Act passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last week. One change to that bill was key in getting the support of at least one of those congressman: additional money for something known as ‘high-risk pools’.

However, they are not a new idea in health care and in fact have been tried before right here in the Golden State. California’s experience could help inform how the policy might work if it becomes law, and the challenges it could face.

Office of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Local Republicans played a big role in today’s passage American Health Care Act in the U.S. House Representatives.

During a victory press conference in the White House Rose Garden, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said repealing the Affordable Care Act will be a positive for the American people.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Religion and politics are once again mixing at Fresno City Hall. One councilmember has put forward a plan to add the words ‘In God We Trust’ to the council chamber wall. The result of that vote could be the latest sign that the connection between politics and the city’s religious faithful is still strong.

The Wilson Theater in downtown Fresno comes to life on Sundays when it transforms into the Christian Cornerstone Church, the home of Pastor Jim Franklin. The theme of the sermon this weekend is organizing your life to put Jesus first.

Pace Press

Fresno’s Linden Publishing has been around for decades, producing books in the non-fiction world under the Quill Driver Books label. Now the company is making a big splash with two new novels by local authors on a new imprint dedicated to fiction works. We talk with Jaguar Bennett and Heather Parrish of Pace Press, as well as retired judge James Ardaiz, author of the upcoming novel Fractured Justice, which will be released later this year.

Kathy Bonilla / Fresno City College

Over the next decade the Fresno City College campus could undergo a big change, thanks to a major construction project. Around half of the $485 bond known as Measure C is dedicated for the campus. Voters approved the funding last year which will provide a new home for the school's math and science programs as well as badly needed parking space. College President Carole Goldsmith joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the plans, and how the school hopes to work with neighbors to make them a success, and efforts to tap into the city's goal of revitalizing Blackstone Avenue. 

Fresno County

The County of Fresno hopes to see more industrial park developments in its future. The Board of Supervisors voted today to ask county staff to explore possible sites for an industrial development of at least 1,000 acres that could be home to distribution centers, advanced manufacturing companies or other businesses. The county is considering sites in the vicinity of Highway 99 in the Fowler, Selma and Kingsburg area, as well as in the Malaga area southeast of the City of Fresno.

California High Speed Rail Authority

For a train that is supposed to be both fast and smooth, the quest to build high-speed rail in California has been anything but. Last week the project hit another issue – the surprise announcement from the rail authority’s CEO Jeff Morales that he is stepping down after five years on the job.

The Fresno Bee’s Tim Sheehan joined us on Valley Edition to talk about what his departure means for the project, as well as on-going efforts to select a site for the line’s heavy maintenance facility. 

Fresno State University

With President Donald Trump promising to revive the repeal of the Affordable Care Act this week, a new poll of Central Valley residents offers insight into the local reaction to proposed changes to the law, commonly known as Obamacare. Overall, according to new research by Fresno State’s Institute for Leadership and Public Policy, 47% of Central Valley residents oppose repealing the law. 29% say they support partial repeal, while 17% say they want full repeal.

Since 2013, the law has resulted in the uninsured rate being cut in half.

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