Fresno

City of Fresno

For the last seven-and-a-half years, Lee Brand has been the Fresno City Council's resident policy expert. He's helped write and pass laws about city debt and finance that many say helped the city recover from a deep financial crisis. Now he wants to lead the city from the office of mayor, squaring off against current Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea in the November election.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The last time the city of Fresno re-examined its public parks master plan, Ronald Reagan was president. According to some people, it shows. One recent analysis Fresno ranks 97th of out 100 cities in terms of access to public parks. Now, after much community complaint, work is underway to bring city parks into the 21st century. Last week, residents gathered at Fresno High School to share their vision in crafting a new plan for the city’s parks.

The Fresno Unified School District is laying out what it plans to do if voters next month approve Measure X, a $225-million dollar measure.

The biggest single chunk, $90-million dollars, would go to constructing more classroom space and a new elementary school in Southeast Fresno. It’s part of an effort to reduce the roughly 1,000 portable classrooms still in use.

$25 million would be used to expand the district’s career and technical education, and another $50 million would go towards arts and athletic facilities like music rooms and gyms.

City of Fresno

A number of affordable housing projects in Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties are getting a financial boost from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state’s Strategic Growth Council announced Wednesday that the four developments will receive around $50 million from the program, which aims to reduce residents’ reliance on cars, through supporting "transit-oriented" development. 

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno City Council could act this week to bolster the city's push to be chosen as the home for the heavy maintenance facility for California’s high-speed rail project. 

On Thursday, the council is set to vote on a proposal that would set aside $250,000 to secure the rights to property at the proposed site in Southwest Fresno. That money would be used to put non-refundable deposits on the land which is currently owned by several private parties. 

The city has identified the lack of control over the land as a major hurdle in their push to attract the project.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

While the City of Fresno tries to figure out what to do about discolored water at some homes in Northeast Fresno, some residents there are already taking drastic steps, including repiping their homes.

On a normal day, the first thing you notice when you enter the home of Faith and Buzz Nitschke is the dozens of antique clocks quietly ticking away.

But that is not the case on this day.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A disgraced former Bakersfield Police detective has been sentenced to five years in prison for bribery, drug dealing and other corruption charges.

Damacio Diaz is receiving a sentence much lighter than the state recommended.

Diaz admits to lying on reports, taking bribes from drug dealers and himself moving as much as forty pounds of methamphetamine, among other crimes, during his time as an undercover narcotics officer.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The news that the City of Fresno is set to receive up to $70 million from the state in the form of cap-and-trade funding is the latest issue in the Fresno mayor’s race.

Mayoral candidates Lee Brand and Henry Perea offered opposing visions of how to spend the money during a debate last night that focused on issue of downtown revitalization.

A former Bakersfield Police Detective is accusing the department of widespread and shocking misconduct in a multi-county drug enforcement unit. Detective Damacio Diaz is alleging a lengthy series of problems in a federal court filing released Thursday.

Diaz is one of two former detectives facing charges of bribery and corruption during their time on the force. He is facing 22 years in prison and is set to be sentenced Monday.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The State of California is promising to spend an unprecedented amount of new money investing in Fresno. The state is planning tens of millions of dollars from its cap and trade funds.

Governor Jerry Brown is recommending spending $70 million of cap and trade money in Fresno.

The funds come from pollution credits and are set aside to aid the most heavily polluted and poor areas.

The City of Fresno expects to get half of all the climate change money that the state has designated for those communities.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we hear how law enforcement agencies are helping their officers and deputies cope with the mental strain of the job. We also learn why activity tracking software is helping elephants at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and across the country attain better health and welfare. Later in the show we talk local political races in Fresno and Bakersfield with Nicole Parra and Jim Verros; plus learn about a new book on the history of Kerman from Paul Betancourt.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Over the last few weeks, Valley Public Radio has aired a series of reports looking at how life in violent communities can affect the health of area residents, and how the lack of health care can contribute to some of that violence at times. But there’s another side of this story – the one of the police who patrol those streets.

An LA-based company has formally announced plans for the first phase of renovations at the Manchester Center Mall in central Fresno. The company is beginning a multi-year renovation of the struggling mall.

Manchester’s owner Omninet Capital held a ceremonial ground-breaking in the parking lot of the mall today complete with local elected officials and retail advocates.

  Ben Nazarian, Omninet Managing Partner, says the first step is bringing in a Chipotle and Habit Burger into a new building in the mall’s west parking lot.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Governor Jerry Brown has used Fresno as the site to sign four bills Wednesday to direct hundreds of millions of dollars to help clean up the air in places like the Valley. The Central Valley could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the funds from the anti-global warming effort.  

The bills would send $900 million of cap and trade money to places with the dirtiest air and poorest communities in the state.

The San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series has been bringing thought-provoking speakers to Central California since the 1930s. Now with the launch of their 2016-2017 season, the group has another excellent lineup, that features Dr. Michio Kaku, Leon Panetta, Wes Moore, Adam Steltzner, Marc Lapadula, Dave Barry and Lisa Genova. We talked with two Town Hall board members, Paul Smith and Lisa Cooper about the new season. 

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