Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Fresno

Courtesy Evo Bluestein

Central California has a rich folk music tradition, which is being documented in a new book by Evo Bluestein. "The Road to Sweet’s Mill  -- Folk Music in the West during the 1960s and ’70s" comes out later this year and tells the story of the people and places behind the region's folk music sound, which flourished at Sierra music camp that gives the book its name, as well as other venues. Bluestein is also presenting a special concert to celebrate the new book taking place this Saturday at Fresno State's Whalberg Recital Hall.

Reports of high levels of lead in children in two zip codes in Southeast Fresno have raised new concerns about the health of young residents.

A report by the news agency Reuters found that in one zip code, the percentage of children with high lead exposure is three times that of Flint, Michigan.

Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess spoke with county Public Health Director David Pomaville about why rates are so high and what is being done about it.

In part, Pomaville says they are doing more outreach but are also looking to the federal government for help.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in March, Dennis Spear watches his 15-year-old son Matthew Spear pilot a tiny metal drone through a course at a park outside Fresno.

“[They’re] like a swarm of angry bees, ” Spear says.

Drones have exploded in popularity as the price of the tiny machines has fallen. More than 700-thousand drones were sold in the United States last year.

These drones aren’t what you may have seen in the neighborhood or heard about on the news. They are smaller than a Frisbee and are very light weight.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Valley congressman Devin Nunes is at the center of a political storm in Washington D.C. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have asked him to step aside from the investigation into potential connections between President Donald Trump and Russia. Some are worried that Nunes is too close to the president. But will the scandal will harm Nunes’ popularity?

For most of his seven terms in office, a public appearance by Congressman Devin Nunes would not be big news.

That is not the case anymore.

Fresno Arts Council

For the fourth year the Fresno Arts Council is marrying art and agriculture into a show. The 2017 Arts Alive in Agriculture Showcase will be made up of local artists.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Valley congressman Devin Nunes is in the middle of a political firestorm regarding the investigation into ties between President Donald Trump and Russia. Friday, he made his first public appearance in the valley since the controversy over his handling of the investigation erupted. His stop drew hundreds of protestors.

Nunes was set to speak Friday at the annual Ag Lenders Society of California Conference in Fresno about the state of water in California.

It was a private event and Valley Public Radio was not permitted to attend the speech.

Gaelynn Lea

Gaelynn Lea of Duluth, Minnesota rose to national attention last year as winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. Listeners from across the country submitted their recordings to NPR Music with hopes of winning a spot on the national broadcast. Despite thousands of other entries, Lea was the unanimous choice of the judges, with a unique style combining traditional fiddle music with contemporary electronic loops, as well as an inspiring story.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump has introduced what many in Washington D.C. call his ‘skinny budget’. It’s the new president’s first public step laying out where he thinks federal spending should, and shouldn’t go. The budget is also a reflection of the administration’s policy goals and priorities, and includes big cuts to non-military discretionary spending. Valley Edition host Joe Moore spoke with reporter Jeffrey Hess about how cities in the Valley might be impacted by potential cuts to everything from block grants to anti-homelessness measures. 

A key rating agency has given the City of Fresno a big boost. A positive report from Standard and Poor’s could mean big savings for the city.

S&P has upgraded the city’s bond rating from BBB- to an A+. That is a five-level increase.

Officials say that means the city can borrow money at a much better interest rate, saving an estimated $35 million over the next two decades.

Mayor Lee Brand says the ratings improvement means the city will be better able to respond to years of austere budgets and cuts.

Clint Olivier

Fresno is one of the largest communities in the San Joaquin Valley that doesn’t have a dedicated senior center. That’s something that current city councilmember and state assembly candidate Clint Olivier wants to change. Olivier, who also sits on the board of the Fresno Madera Area Agency on Aging says he wants to see the city begin planning for a senior center by partnering with other local organizations to bring a facility into reality before he leaves office.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Ulta Beauty may be the biggest beauty product supplier in the country, but the announcement the company will build a distribution and fulfillment center in Fresno could be about much more than eyeliner and lipstick. Some experts think the Central Valley could develop into the hub that supplies on demand products for the entire west coast. But why is the area so enticing for internet retailers, and do these centers provide good jobs?

In the bathroom of her central Fresno home, Roe Borunda looks through tote after tote filled with all manner of makeup.

Twice as many stores in the Central Valley sell flavored cigarettes and alcohol than sell fresh fruits and vegetables. That's the finding of a new state health survey. 

The Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community survey, released Wednesday, found that it’s far easier to find tobacco or alcohol than it is to find fresh food, especially in low-income neighborhoods. 

Fresno-based pediatrician Dr. Razia Sheik says in Fresno County, for example, just 39% of stores carried fresh fruits and vegetables.

City of Fresno

Former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin surprised many political observers last year when she decided to forgo a run for California Governor and instead take a job as CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. The non-profit manages over $50 million in assets for donors from across the region. So how does working in philanthropy differ from running the city's business? And what changes can we expect at the foundation? Swearengin joined us to answer these and other questions on Valley Edition. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California is in the middle of reversing decades of ‘tough on crime’ policies. Realignment and propositions 47 and 57 have been instituted to lighten the load in county jails and state prisons.

Now lawmakers are examining a system that sometimes keeps people in jail before they have even been convicted. Criminal justice reformers say California’s use of cash bail has created an income-based justice system.

So here is how this works.

Let’s say you are arrested and charged with a crime and find yourself in the Fresno County Jail.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Unified Trustees are putting forward a resolution to declare the school district ‘safe place’ for undocumented students. The move is in response to student concerns about the Trump administration’s deportation policies.

Two-thirds of Fresno Unified School district students are Hispanic and district trustees say the heightened talk of more immigration enforcement has rattled the student body.

Pages