kern county

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.

It's less than two months from election day and many of the local races that will be before voters in November are heating up. From city council and mayoral contests in Fresno and Bakersfield to a couple of contested congressional races, it's providing plenty of fodder for local political observers. We spoke with former State Assemblywoman and current CSUB political science professor Nicole Parra, and Clovis-based Republican political strategist Jim Verros about what's really happening in some of the most closely watched contests. 

Kern High School District

It’s back to school season, and that means there’s a lot of news right now about local school districts. None more so than the Kern High School District, which serves more than 35,000 students in Kern County. Harold Pierce of the Bakersfield Californian joined us on Valley Edition to give us a recap of the latest news around KHSD.

401kcalculator.org/ flickr

Throughout the Central Valley, communities are grappling with how to keep their towns safe with enough cops and firefighters on the beat. Many have found that traditional revenue sources simply aren’t enough, and are turning to special taxes. But how they are doing so diverges down several different paths. Community reaction to tax increases seems to plays a big role in how local political leaders decide to act.

Inciweb / US Forest Service

In late June the Erskine Fire devastated communities around Lake Isabella in Kern County. Nearly 300 homes were destroyed in the fast moving blaze in communities like South Lake. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. In late July, FEMA rejected the state's request for a major disaster declaration, and the federal help that accompanies it. That left many locals shocked and dismayed.

CSPAN

Bakersfield’s Dolores Huerta delivered a speech this afternoon before delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Huerta urged Latinos to vote for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

Huerta: “And with Donald Trump on the ballot, we cannot be quiet. He insults Latinos like we were second-class citizens, like we were newcomers to this county. Hey, I have news for Donald Trump because we have been here all along.”

Kerry Klein/KVPR

In the Sierra Nevada, it’s estimated that tens of millions of trees have died as a result of drought, many of which succumbed to infestations from bark beetles. As a result, we’ve been told our risk of wildfire is far higher than normal, but FM89’s Kerry Klein says the science doesn’t necessarily agree.

Kern County Fire Department

(Editorial Note: This is an evolving story likely to have updates.)

(update 6/27 5:38 p.m.)

Fire crews are making progress today on what is being called the most destructive wildfire in Kern County history, and some residents are beginning to return home.

The Erskine Fire has burned more than 45,000 acres and has destroyed 200 homes near Lake Isabella. It also killed two people.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the first time in nearly a decade, Fresno is not one of the top ten cities in the nation for auto theft. 

The study released this month from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows that at least when compared with other cities, Fresno is faring better when it comes to vehicle theft. As recently as 2011, Fresno led the nation in stolen cars. Last year it dropped to number nine, and this year all the way to 13.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Residents of Bakersfield breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation, thanks to a confluence of vehicle exhaust, industrial operations, and stagnant valley air. In an effort to combat pollution, air quality advocates are now targeting a potential source of emissions that, at the moment, is not even operating.

Ride your bike along the Kern River just west of downtown Bakersfield, and you pass joggers and people walking dogs. To one side of the trail, families play Frisbee golf in the grass. To the other side, a symbol of Kern County’s economy looms silently.

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