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.

For Fresno natives of a certain age, Al Radka, the Fulton Mall, Lesterburger and parties in "the figs" all are cultural touchstones that bring back memories of a simpler time. They're also the subject of a new book by journalist Steven H. Provost titled "Fresno Growing Up: A City Comes of Age: 1945-1985." From historic photos of long lost Fresno landmarks to stories about life in the 50's and 60's, the new book seeks to capture the essence of an era when so many baby boomers grew up.

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.

U.S. Forest Service InciWeb

Forest service officials say a juvenile is suspected of starting the Willow Fire near Bass Lake which has now burned more than 2,000 acres and is 30% contained. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports the fire may prompt more evacuations.

Residents in the Cascadel Woods community are already under a pre evacuation advisory but fire officials announced today that if the fire spreads they will issue a mandatory evacuation within 12 to 24 hours.

Cody Norris is a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest.

U.S. National Forest Service

The Willow Fire near Bass Lake in Madera County has grown to 1700 acres and is just 5% contained as of Tuesday afternoon. The fire has not brought activity at the lake to a stop, but it does have businesses and vacationers concerned.

Gordon Barker and his wife drove from Fresno to see the fire.

He pointed out the dead trees on the hillside killed by prolonged drought and beetle infestation turning the area into a tinder box.

Thousands of residents in the valley are working through the process of having their previous felony convictions dropped to misdemeanors. It’s an element of Proposition 47 intended to help provide people with a clean slate and re-integrate more easily back into society. Advocates and the public defender in Merced are working hard to get the word out.

For years, Jesse Oralas lived the life of a drug addict, being homeless and piling up felony drug convictions which made him, in his words, ‘unemployable’.

What’s the difference between a smiling mascot and a stern warning? More than 2. 5 million gallons of water a month in Fresno. That’s according to a social experiment the city ran to encourage greater water conservation.

Fresno used data from the city’s water meters to target people watering on non-approved days and sent each home one of two different fliers.

One is black and white and appears very serious. The other is in color and features a playful mascot.

proterra company website

By this time next year, two brand new all electric buses will be rolling down the streets of Porterville. The move away from diesel and hybrid buses is part of efforts to clean up the valley’s air.

For the cost of just under 1-million dollars, Porterville is replacing two of their existing buses with a new generation of clean, emission free all-electric vehicles.

Richard Tree, Porterville’s Transportation Manager, says the decision to go all electric was an easy one.

Flickr- eyeliam

The Fresno City Council has voted to ban the display or sale of the confederate flag on city property. The vote sparked debate about where to draw the line when banning historical objects.

While the city is not currently displaying or selling the flag, the ordinance approved by the council today makes it clear that it cannot.

Council president Oliver Baines wrote the ordinance and says in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, it’s time to make a statement against what many consider to be a sign of racist hate.

Flickr- eyeliam

The Fresno City Council could vote Thursday to ban the city from displaying the confederate flag on all city owned property.

The ordinance, proposed by council president Oliver Baines, would prohibit the city from displaying or selling of the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, often known as the confederate flag.

It would also ban the sale of items that bear the flag unless it is in a book or city museum that serves an educational or historical purpose.

The ordinance says the flag now represents a symbol of racism and hatred to many people.