Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Fresno

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

While the City of Fresno tries to figure out what to do about discolored water at some homes in Northeast Fresno, some residents there are already taking drastic steps, including repiping their homes.

On a normal day, the first thing you notice when you enter the home of Faith and Buzz Nitschke is the dozens of antique clocks quietly ticking away.

But that is not the case on this day.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A disgraced former Bakersfield Police detective has been sentenced to five years in prison for bribery, drug dealing and other corruption charges.

Damacio Diaz is receiving a sentence much lighter than the state recommended.

Diaz admits to lying on reports, taking bribes from drug dealers and himself moving as much as forty pounds of methamphetamine, among other crimes, during his time as an undercover narcotics officer.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The news that the City of Fresno is set to receive up to $70 million from the state in the form of cap-and-trade funding is the latest issue in the Fresno mayor’s race.

Mayoral candidates Lee Brand and Henry Perea offered opposing visions of how to spend the money during a debate last night that focused on issue of downtown revitalization.

A former Bakersfield Police Detective is accusing the department of widespread and shocking misconduct in a multi-county drug enforcement unit. Detective Damacio Diaz is alleging a lengthy series of problems in a federal court filing released Thursday.

Diaz is one of two former detectives facing charges of bribery and corruption during their time on the force. He is facing 22 years in prison and is set to be sentenced Monday.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The State of California is promising to spend an unprecedented amount of new money investing in Fresno. The state is planning tens of millions of dollars from its cap and trade funds.

Governor Jerry Brown is recommending spending $70 million of cap and trade money in Fresno.

The funds come from pollution credits and are set aside to aid the most heavily polluted and poor areas.

The City of Fresno expects to get half of all the climate change money that the state has designated for those communities.

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.

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