Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Interview

Sarah Sharpe / CHAPS

Last week, we brought you a report about the San Joaquin Valley’s recent bout of smoggy air, which in Bakersfield was the longest consecutive episode of unhealthy PM2.5 levels in decades.

Randi Lynn Beach / used with permission

California's mammoth feats of water engineering in the 20th century turned the barren west side of the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive farmland in the world. But in the 21st century, as society's appreciation of the environmental costs of these water diversions, many have questioned whether west side farms will last into the next century. Combined with the threats of drought, climate change, and increasing salinity, the question is fertile ground for photojournalist Randi Lynn Beach.

National Weather Service

The recent rains mark the first big storm to hit Central California this rainy season. But are they enough to hold off the dreaded "d-word" of drought? We ask Fresno-based meteorologist Sean Boyd about the short and long-term outlook, and about the recent two week stretch that left valley residents breathing some of the worst air in twenty years. 

John McCutcheon

Veteran singer, songwriter and instrumentalist John McCutcheon has earned the right to be considered a titan in the field of folk music. But as he prepares to release his 39th album Ghost Light, and embarks on a west coast tour that includes a stop Thursday at Fresno's Unitarian Universalist Church, he still speaks reverently of those who came before him, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. And much like those artists, his new songs speak of both American traditions and contemporary politics.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline.

nickchapman / Flickr - Creative Commons

While the stock market is up, many cities in the valley are still struggling. Bakersfield perhaps faces the biggest cash crunch, as rising costs tied to health care and retirement expenses have coincided with a countywide economy that is struggling due to a decline in activity in the oil industry. One city projection indicates the city could face a $5 million deficit next year, growing to around $15 million in five years. Now the city council is considering what to do about the shortfall, and that could include a tax increase.

Fresno State

Earlier this year Fresno State students rejected a proposal that would have raised student fees $400 a year in order to build a new student union. While a scaled-back proposal is due to go back before students in early 2018, this year's vote has sent ripples across the CSU system. As EdSource senior correspondent Larry Gordon reports, students across the system are growing increasingly concerned with student fees.

Clint Olivier

The Fresno City Council will vote Thursday on a proposal that would set the city on a path to legalizing a variety of marijuana-related businesses.  This comes just months after the council voted to ban commercial marijuana dispensaries and other businesses. If approved, the new policy would mark a significant reversal of course on an issue that has divided city leaders for most of the last year.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY TEXTLI GALLEGOS, 18, LAS FOTOS PROJECT / California Sunday Magazine

The San Joaquin Valley has a rich boxing tradition, dating back generations. Before he ran a popular bar in downtown Fresno, Young Corbett III was the world welterweight champion in the 1930’s. Today, Avenal’s Jose Ramirez is one of the sport’s rising stars. But at a gym in Southeast Fresno, local teen boxer Sandra Tovar is already at the top of her field, and has her sights set on an even bigger goal – the U.S. Olympic team, and the 2020 Tokyo summer games. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to the health care safety net, there’s been a lot of uncertainty in the last few months. Republican lawmakers spent the better part of the year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and funding has been on shaky ground for community health centers that treat low-income and uninsured patients. Now in the spotlight is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures 2 million low-income kids in California--and is set to run out of federal funding within the next month.

PPIC

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California says the state's pathway from high school to college is broken. Only 30 percent of 9th grade students will go on to earn a bachelors degree, despite years of work to boost that number. Even students that are on a pathway to college readiness in high school often fail to complete the "a-g" course requirements.

Kern County Public Library Facebook

The former Masonic Lodge on East Green Street in downtown Tehachapi is soon to become the new home of the city's branch of the Kern County Library. The move to the new, larger, more modern space has been long awaited by the residents of the mountain community.

Kern County Department of Public Health

New data from the California Department of Public Health show that cases of valley fever are on the rise across the state. The airborne fungal disease is also the subject of a new public awareness campaign in Kern County, featuring sheriff Donny Youngblood.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

California’s historic drought may be over, but scientists are still hard at work assessing its impact on the ecosystem. Perhaps nowhere is that work more interesting, or important, than with the Sierra’s Giant Sequoias. These ancient trees have weathered drought, fires and floods for millennia. But how did they fare in this most recent dry spell, and what can their health tell us about other problems in the forest?

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The Board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to vote on an awarding a contract, likely to a European company, to be the line's early train operator. The contract is a small fraction of the total cost of the rail line but represents a significant step toward making the bullet train a reality. Valley Public's Radio's Joe Moore and Jeffrey Hess discuss what the High-Speed Rail Authority is looking for and who has the inside track.

Why does Deutsche Bahn seem to be the company with the best shot?

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