Fresno

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has officially released an updated plan that makes big changes to first section of the bullet train.

The plan confirms that the Authority wants to change the first functional section of track to run from Bakersfield to San Jose. The original plan was for the first working segment of track to run from the Central Valley to Burbank outside LA.

The report leaked on Wednesday, but Thursday evening the Rail Authority released an official version of the document confirming the route change.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Affordable housing advocates have filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno, claiming it has failed to make enough land available for low cost housing.

Residents of southwest Fresno say the city has failed to re-zone some 700-acres of land it promised to set aside for multifamily homes and apartments.

Attorney Ashley Werner with the Leadership Council for Justice says Fresno is facing an affordable housing crisis.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Central Valley is often considered as the epicenter of poverty in California. But one Fresno-based nonprofit thinks they have found a way to lift more families off the bottom of the economic ladder. The name of the program is the Fresno Bridge Academy.

Beningo Garza, who goes by Bennie, knows exactly what he wants in life.

“Because I want my own home. I want a big home for my wife and kids. I want a boat. I want things,” Garza said.

But recently the 36-year old came to a realization.  

“And you can’t get that one welfare.”

Freedmen's Bureau Project

Black History Month can be a hands on experience this year, thanks to an effort called the Freedmen's Bureau Project. It's a campaign to digitize and archive millions of records generated 150 years ago by the government agency tasked with helping former slaves begin their lives as free citizens. The group is seeking the help of volunteers to help clear through a backlog of documents so they can reach a goal to complete the project by June 19th, historically known as Juneteenth Day.

Group Hopes To Change Fresno's Food Economy

Feb 16, 2016
Ali Budner

Hundreds of different food crops are raised in and around Fresno County. But many of those who live and work nearby have little access to the fruits of their own landscape. In fact, more people go hungry here in the Fresno metropolitan area than almost anywhere else in the entire nation. It’s this not-so-modest problem that Food Commons Fresno wants to solve — starting with their Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) brand, OOOOBY.

"OOOOBY! Get used to saying it. OOOOBY, Out Of Our Own Backyards…."

California’s prolonged drought has visible consequences such as depleted reservoirs and mandatory water conservation rules. But one of the more expensive effects could be buried deep in your electric bill.

The Pacific Institute updated its study on the hidden costs of drought and estimated that Californians have paid an additional $2-billion dollars in electrical bills over the last four years.

San Joaquin River
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

Despite promises that El Nino storms will not bring an end to California's drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will begin releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. The release is part of a program to restore the river's long-extinct salmon population on a 60-mile stretch of the channel that is typically dry.

The Fresno Police Department is bringing back the central police district.

Police chief Jerry Dyer made the announcement following an update on crime in Fresno Wednesday.

Citing a 33% increase in violent crime in the city in 2016, Dyer said he will re-institute the central police district starting in January of next year.

The change would mean the city is broken into five districts rather than the existing four.

The Pacific Institute

California’s four year drought has cost residents more than $2-billion dollars in increased electricity costs. That's the findings of an updated report from the Pacific Institute.

As reservoirs dried up over the drought, the amount of electricity produced by hydroelectric power plants has declined.

That means that in order to power the state, California had to produce electricity by more costly means like natural gas.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is making progress filling a backlog of vacant correctional officer positions at the county jail.

The office is expected to give a mid-year update to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday including their need to fill 39 open jobs. That's down from 66 openings just three months ago.

But Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti says that number is only going to grow over time.

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