Fresno

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The historic Hotel Fresno, a landmark on the city's skyline since 1912, could soon be reborn as the latest residential development in the downtown district.

The Fresno City Council is set to vote Thursday on a plan that would allow potential new owners APEC International, LLC to move forward with the $21 million restoration project. Their vision would transform the vacant hotel into a 70 unit apartment building.

Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic will soon be looking for a new conductor and musical director. Theodore Kuchar, who has led the orchestra for the past 13 seasons announced on Thursday that he plans to step down following the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. 

In a written statement Kuchar praised the orchestra's performances:

Kuchar: "I have no reservation in saying that the Fresno Philharmonic and I have often delivered performances that are not typical of a regional American orchestra but those of a standard to be expected in a major musical capitol."

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Long abandoned and once nearly demolished, Fresno City College's newly restored Old Administration Building (OAB) is now the recipient of a prestigious national award. The National Trust For Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it has awarded the project its Preservation Honor Award. It is one of 17 projects nationwide to receive the award, which is one of the nation's top historic preservation honors. 

Tim Mikulski with the National Trust says the OAB is significant both in Fresno's history, and in the development of school architecture nationally:

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This report is the second piece in the Valley Public Radio series "Common Threads: Veterans Still Fighting The War.Support for this series comes from Cal Humanities, as part of the War Comes Home initiative. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Revised vote totals are in for some of the valley’s tightest political races. New numbers released Friday evening from Merced County for California’s 16th Congressional District have Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra now leading Democratic incumbent Jim Costa by 741 votes.

Costa increased his lead in Fresno County by around 1700 votes on Friday, but that was more than offset with gains by Tacherra in Madera and Merced counties.  Tacherra ended the day increase his overall lead by five votes.

California State University

The LA County Museum of Art has announced an estimated $500 million gift from Fresno native Jerry Perenchio. Born in Fresno in 1931, Perenchio is the former owner of the Spanish-language broadcast network Univision. Among the works in Perenchio's bequest are pieces by Degas, Monet, and Picasso.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In most years, the race for state controller is largely overshadowed by contests for other statewide offices. But this year, the contest between Betty Yee and Ashley Swearengin has attracted wide interest, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.

Yee, a Democrat and a member of the Board of Equalization narrowly edged out John Perez for second place in the June primary. And with Democrats splitting their vote between two candidates, Swearengin, who is in her second term as Fresno’s mayor, finished in first.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has announced that she now supports gay marriage. Swearengin, a Republican who is running for state controller had been a supporter of Proposition 8. She announced her new position last week at a meeting of an LGBT conservative group in Southern California. 

Kevin Gilhooley is the president of the Orange County Log Cabin Republicans. Swearengin spoke to his group last week and took questions from the audience.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The United States is dominated by box office hits played at megaplexes with sometimes as many as 21 plus screens, but no more than a few decades ago film venues looked very different especially for the Latino community. But today in Fresno, one young woman has taken on the task to reopen the region’s only Spanish language theater.

Thirty years ago, the main hall of Teatro Azteca in Fresno’s Chinatown was filled with the sounds of famous Spanish language actors, singers and comedians.

Think Cantinflas, the Mexican Charlie Chaplin. 

http://www.fresnophil.org/

The Fresno Philharmonic begins its 61st season this weekend. This year the orchestra will feature a diverse  mix of concerts, with programs dedicated to Armenian contributions to classical music, and a complete cycle of Beethoven’s five piano concertos.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

After struggling to keep its accreditation back in 2004, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo got a boost from voters with a special sales tax. Now a decade later the zoo is again asking voters for their help on the November ballot. But as FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, some say Fresno’s zoo is already being saved.

Nearly eleven years ago Angel Arrellano wrote a letter to her local newspaper.

“Dear Fresno Bee. My name is Angel and I am nine. I heard that the Chafee Zoo is having money problems.”

Along with her letter, Angel sent something extra.

Big Fresno Fair

The cupola that once sat on top of the dome of the old Fresno County Courthouse from 1895 to 1966 will soon have a new home. Representatives of the Big Fresno Fair and the Fresno Historical Society announced Tuesday that the relic will be restored and placed on top of a planned expansion of the Big Fresno Fair Museum at the fairgrounds. 

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver said the project will preserve an important part of Fresno County's historic and it's judicial system. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we explore Fresno's Fulton Mall fifty years after its opening. FM89's Joe Moore takes a look at how the once innovative and bustling outdoor mall transformed over the years. The documentary style piece is filled with the memories of those who shopped there, the minds behind the mall and those who still visit the mall today. 

Fifty years ago this month, Fresno captured national headlines by closing its main street to the automobile and opening the Fulton Mall. This six-block long pedestrian only plaza was supposed to be the centerpiece of an ambitious plan for urban renewal, and the growth of the entire region. It was supposed to save Fresno from the evils of urban decay, suburban sprawl, and air pollution. Yet the result was exactly the opposite. How and why did that happen?

Mike McMillan / US Forest Service

The hunter accused of starting the massive Rim Fire last year in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park surrendered to federal authorities today.

Wearing a white t-shirt and jeans with his wrists and ankles cuffed, Keith Matthew Emerald pleaded not guilty on a four count indictment today in federal court in Fresno.

He turned himself over to U.S. Marshals Service this morning prior to his afternoon arraignment on charges that his illegal campfire grew beyond his control and sparked the largest wildfire recorded in the Sierra Nevada.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look into our vault to three of what we consider the best segments on the program over the last year or so.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to repeal a city water plan they introduced in 2013, after a referendum petition known as Measure W threatened to put the repeal before voters.

Measure W began as a grassroots campaign and eventually collected 5500 signatures, enough to become a ballot measure. The water plan it helped repeal involved increasing Fresno residents' water bills to pay for a $410 million-upgrade to the city's water infrastructure. City Councilmember Steve Brandau:

YouTube/ Kashkari for Governor

Update: 8/5/2014
Neel Kashkari spoke with Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore for the program Valley Edition about his Fresno video and his thoughts on poverty in the San Joaquin Valley. 

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Original post:

Neel Kashkari has taken his campaign to become California's next governor to the streets of downtown Fresno in a viral video attacking Governor Jerry Brown's message of a "California comeback."

Creative Commons / Flickr user wollombi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wollombi/49941220/

We all know Central California produces most of the state’s petroleum, but could another oil boom be on the horizon? Well, that’s what journalist Nathanael Johnson from the online environmental news website Grist argues in a new article that came out last week – but he’s not talking about fracking or the Monterey Shale – he’s talking about olive oil. 

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