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Kern Pioneer Village

It might be the most famous boxcar in Kern County, if not the entire state of California. The childhood home of the late country music star Merle Haggard is no longer in Oildale, where it sat for decades – it’s now at the Kern Pioneer Village near the end of a two year-long restoration. The  museum is throwing a party to celebrate the completion of the project April 9th called the Haggard Boxcar Festival.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Today, Bakersfield College kicks off a new event to address health problems in the San Joaquin Valley--its first-ever public health “hackathon.”

Over 100 people from across Central California have signed up for the hackathon, which aims to use technology to address public health challenges like chronic disease, food insecurity and environmental health. Nurse and public health student Elizabeth Patterson says her project idea involves helping young adults mentor each other about sexually transmitted diseases.

Kern County Public Health Services

Health officials and advocates gathered in Bakersfield today for a summit on public health in Kern County, where one specific community was touted as a public health role model.

 

In the last five years or so, the city of McFarland has dramatically upgraded its infrastructure. The city has more sidewalks, parks and streetlights than ever before, and it recently created its first bicycle master plan. Flor del Hoyo from Kern County Public Health Services says McFarland is a success story for community engagement and cooperation.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two new reports out this week examine California’s oil fields and how the high-emitting oil extracted from many of them poses a threat to the environment and human health. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that one of them is in Kern County.

 

ESY Kern

There are a lot of efforts to bring health foods into school and the elementary school curriculum. One of the most interesting examples can be found in Bakersfield at Buena Vista Elementary School, home to something called an "edible schoolyard." A joint project of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District and the Grimm Family Foundation, the Edible Schoolyard Kern program also has expanded to sites in Arvin and Shafter.

Assemblyman Seeks Valley Fever Funding, Overhaul Of Reporting Guidelines

Feb 21, 2017
Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Responding to a surge in cases and inconsistent reporting practices, Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced legislation Tuesday that would allocate millions of dollars to valley fever vaccine research and streamline information sharing.

Assembly Bill 1279 would bring $2 million to an already-established state fund for valley fever vaccine research and create guidelines for how local, state and federal agencies report cases.

Juan Solis Lives A Life In The Shadows, His Health Destroyed By Valley Fever

Feb 21, 2017
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

When Juan Solis shuffles out of his dark bedroom, he’s careful not to get too close to the windows.

He makes sure he only walks his dogs at night.

If he must go out during the day, he lathers on sunscreen, makes sure his legs and arms are covered, even during the peak of summer in Bakersfield’s blistering heat. And he never forgets his sunhat.

US Army Corps of Engineers

When Isabella Dam was built back in the 1950’s northeast of Bakersfield it was hailed as a great engineering achievement. The structure held back the mighty Kern River to provide water for farmers and communities, and helped protect the Southern San Joaquin Valley from floods.

KMC / Kern County

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.

Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Caltrans

For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims were among the law enforcement officials who met with President Trump today as part of the Major County Sheriff’s Association conference. 

Mims: “He pledged his support for law enforcement saying that we’re going to work together to keep our communities and nation safe.”

Mims says Trump also repeated his calls to step up deportations of individuals suspected or convicted of crimes who are in the country illegally.

Magelene Hope Facebook page / Mercy & Memorial Hospitals Bakersfield

A new coffee shop in Bakersfield offers more than just lattes and blended drinks – it also seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking. In fact, many of the people who work at the Rescue Grounds Coffee Company at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital are victims of human trafficking themselves. It’s all part of a project from the Bakersfield non-profit Magdelene Hope. It’s founder Doug Bennett joined us on Valley Edition to talk about how the women the group is helping and the way the community has responded to the new coffee shop. 

Valley Children's Hospital / Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Two of the valley's largest hospitals are expanding their partnership to provide pediatric care in Tulare County. Valley Children's Hospital and its associated physicians group will now provide medical staffing for Kaweah Delta's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatrics Unit. The move is the latest step in a partnership that goes back decades. It's also led to some controversy among physicians of the Sequoia Pediatrics Group in Visalia, who will no longer have access to the NICU.

California Endowment

New data from an on-going study about mortality rates in Central California reveals that alcohol, drugs and suicide are fueling significant increases in the mortality rate among white residents. The data are staggering: deaths from accidental drug poisoning in Fresno County are up over 200 percent since 1990, while suicides by hanging and strangulation are up over 120 percent in the region.

coveredca.com

The debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a hot topic in Washington. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Central Valley residents have found insurance under the law. With the Republican replacement plan still very much a mystery, Valley Public Radio decided to take a look back at the raw data to see what has changed in the Central Valley.

Before the law’s insurance coverage expansion provisions took effect in the fall of 2013, all five of the Central Valley counties from Merced to Kern had uninsured rates of around 25%.

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