Fresno

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. 

Fresno Police Department

Community violence and a visit to the doctor might seem like two totally unrelated topics. But for people living in violent communities, and the police who patrol them, it might be more closely related than you think. In the first report in a multi-part series on the links between health care and violence in the San Joaquin Valley, we learn what happened when one man’s health care interventions became law enforcement interventions. 

Roger and Freddy Centeno were brothers and part of a big family living in Southeast Fresno. In all, there were nine kids, six girls and three boys.

The problem with the water in some homes in northeast Fresno might seem isolated but it could actually be the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ of problems to come for the rest of the valley or perhaps the entire state.

That’s the assessment of experts and state officials who are trying to get a handle on the discolored or lead contaminated water. 

Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards came to national fame as one of the lead investigators who uncovered the extreme lead contamination in Flint, Michigan.

Now, he is on the case in Fresno.

Linguistics professors and students at Fresno State are hard at work on a mammoth task - saving the language of the Chukchansi tribe of Mono Indians. One thing makes their task especially difficult - there are only 12 speakers of the Chukchansi language left. We talked with professors Brian Agbayani and Niken Adisasmito-Smith about their work, and the challenges of not only documenting the language for posterity but also keeping alive and in active use. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The city of Fresno now says complaints about discolored water in Northeast Fresno were being diverted for years to the private email account of the former surface water treatment plant manager. That is one of the findings of an investigation into why the problems went untreated for more than a decade.

The first reports of rust colored water began rolling in shortly after the treatment plant opened 2004.

But the issue did not gain steam until residents began connecting on social media earlier this year.

Fresno Police Department

The Fresno Sheriff’s Department has released the autopsy results of a 19-year old Clovis man who was shot and killed by Fresno Police. The autopsy shows Dylan Noble was under the influence of alcohol and potentially drugs.

According to the autopsy, Noble had a blood alcohol content of .12. That’s above the legal driving limit, but since Noble was 19, far above the legal level for a person under 21.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Relations between communities in the Central Valley and police departments seem to be at a boiling point. Protests and counter protests have taken place several times this summer. The Fresno Police Department has an independent auditor who is supposed to keep an objective set of eyes on the department and help build community trust. Still, some are questioning if that position is getting the job done.

For about the last six years, Fresno’s Independent Police Auditor has been reviewing police-involved shootings and other excessive use of force complaints.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Central Valley native Juan Felipe Herrera was recently  appointed for a second term as the U.S. Poet Laureate. In his first year he traveled the states with a focus on diversity through his online project "La Casa De Colores." 

Herrera grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and was influenced by both beat poets and the Chicano movement of the 1960’s. Last year he joined the late Philip Levine as the only Fresno residents to hold the national honor.  

The City of Fresno is getting the first round of results from expanded testing of discolored water in the northeastern part of the city. Dozens of homes have tested positive for high levels of lead.

Early test results of nearly 300 homes found 41 had fixtures that tested positive for levels of lead above the level considered safe set by the EPA. 

Another 71 homes also had levels of lead, but they were below the EPA threshold. 

Taser

The phrase ‘seeing is believing’ takes on a whole new meaning in a world full of cellphone videos and police body cameras. Every officer in the Fresno Police Department now wears a camera that records the majority of their work. However, what footage is or isn’t released to the public is a murky subject.

Police body camera video captured the fatal shooting of 19-year old Dylan Noble in graphic detail. It was eventually released to the public to answer questions about why the unarmed man was shot.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new report from the Fresno Police Department appears to show a pattern of African-American residents being over-represented in interactions with police. African-Americans were disproportionately more likely to be interviewed than Hispanic or white residents in all areas of the city.

While they only make up about 6% of the city’s population, black residents made up between 20-to-25% of all field interviews according to police logs from the Office of Independent Review.

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