Fresno

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno City Council President Oliver Baines says a new city-sponsored planning effort could finally give Southwest Fresno residents the community they desire. Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Baines say the new Southwest Fresno Specific Plan will improve zoning conflicts between residential and industrial uses, and encourage new mixed income developments in the area, thanks to an expedited environmental review process. 

Ezra David Romero

With the possibility of a strong El Nino bringing heavy rains to California, the Fresno City Council is positioning itself to take any extra water that can’t be held in Millerton Lake.

The Fresno City Council vote 7-0 on a resolution to tell the federal government that it will be prepared to accept excess water should there not be enough space in the reservoir.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Kearney Palms Shopping Center on Fresno Street just west of Highway 99 is often held up as the shining example of the potential future of Southwest Fresno. The grocery store and surround retailers thrive. But the historical legacy of institutional racism has held much of the rest of the neighborhood back. The neighborhood suffers from some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the state, and heavy pollution from industrial developments.

According to Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier, the city faces an existential threat from "vagrants" who have overrun parks, stores and neighborhoods. In an op-ed column in the Fresno Bee, Olivier calls for a new push from city hall on the issue. 

Peggy Lemaux, Biologist UC Berkeley

Two research sites in Central Valley have earned a $12.3-million dollar grant to study how the drought is triggering genetic changes in plants. The goal is to see how plants respond genetically to drought conditions and if more hardy plants can reveal the secrets of how they survive.

The scientists will work at the UC Kearney Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Parlier and the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points. The focus of the research is on Sorghum which, according to researcher Jeff Dahlberg, is particularly drought resistant.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

New data from researchers at UC Davis and Fresno State present a disturbing picture about disconnected youth in Central California. As many as 17 percent of valley teens are either not in school and don't have a job. That's more than double the statewide average of 8.2 percent. Left unaddressed, the disconnect could worsen the valley's poverty problem and contribute to other social ailments from crime to health issues. 

Rescue mission website

The Fresno Rescue Mission is zeroing in on a new location as high speed rail construction is set to demolish their existing building. The goal now, according to the mission’s head, is to keep operating during the move.

Mission CEO Reverend Larry Arce says there is actually an upside.

Because streets are being realigned Arce says space is opening up in the same area for them to construct a new building better suited to their needs.

Joe Moore/ Valley Public Radio

The Club One Casino in downtown Fresno has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy but the casino’s owner says this is not a sign of trouble.

In a Bankruptcy filing, the Club One Casino detailed more than $9-million in debt it owes to its top 20 creditors.

Chapter 11 allows a business to reorganize that debt.

Casino owner Kyle Kirkland says they have no intention of closing.

“We have been open 7300 days in a row. We are not going to close,” Kirkland said.

Flickr-Marufish

Bakersfield has become the first city in the nation to call for the extension of a federal solar panel tax credit.

The Bakersfield City Council voted 5-1 Wednesday night in favor of a resolution supporting extending the tax credit past its 2016 expiration date. The credit is officially called the Solar Investment Tax Credit and was established in 2005 to help jump start the solar panel industry.

City Council member Willie Rivera says the solar sector is still growing in Bakersfield, and ending the tax credit could take away an economic driver.

cyberdust.com

The recent Cyber Dust secret text messaging scandal at the Fresno Unified School District is exposing gaps in California’s public records law. The app allows users to send confidential text messages that are deleted as soon as they are read. Superintendent Michael Hanson has admitted he asked senior members of his staff to use the app for district business for a short time in 2014. Now open government advocates are asking a big question: Are we entering a new age of government officials using technology to hide from public scrutiny?

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