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For over 60 years, a mammoth cluster of radio towers and transmitters just west of Delano beamed the Voice of America network to shortwave listeners across the globe. 

Now according to the trade publication Radio World, the property could soon get a new use as housing for the homeless.

Built in 1944, the 500,000 watt station turned off its transmitters for the last time in 2007, a victim of government cutbacks and rapidly changing technology.

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California’s drought has communities up and down the valley looking conserve water. The City of Orange Cove has already banned outdoor watering this year, and later tonight the Lemoore City Council will hold a meeting to discuss ways the city can get residents to reduce their water use by as much as 25 percent.

www.usbr.gov

Last Friday, the State Water Project took the unprecedented step of cutting projected water allocations for its contractors to zero. And other water users, including those who get supplies from the federal Central Valley Project are expecting severe cuts of their own. 

The drought has prompted many farmers to fallow their fields, and growers of permanent crops like almonds, grapes and pistachios are scrambling to find backup supplies to keep their trees and vines alive this year. 

California Begins Sending Inmates to Private Prisons

Oct 28, 2013
The GEO Group, Inc.

California is beginning to transfer inmates out of its state prisons. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the transfers are part of a court-mandated plan to reduce overcrowding in state prisons

California is sending 2,100 inmates to three private prisons within the state. James Black is with the GEO group, which operates the facilities. He says GEO’s prisons must meet the same standards the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must meet.

Road Trip To Collect Dust Bowl Stories on 75th Anniversary of 'Grapes of Wrath'

Oct 2, 2013
Dorothea Lange / National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics

A group of artists is gearing up for a cross-country road trip that will end in California. It's part of a project to mark the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath." Steve Milne reports.

The trip starts Friday in Oklahoma, retracing the path the Joad family took along Route 66 in "The Grapes of Wrath" with stops in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

Brown Promises to Sign Minimum Wage, Fracking Bills

Sep 11, 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown has indicated that he will sign a bill that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which passed the Assembly today. The bill is generating fierce debate. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies pump pressurized water and chemicals into oil wells to maximize output. Democratic Assembly member Adam Gray says the measure gives much needed oversight to an under-regulated industry.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has fired two high profile department heads within 24 hour of each other. Both Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler and Animal Control Director Jen Woodard were dismissed over concerns about their performance. 

On Monday night, the board voted to fire Hensler after a lengthy meeting over concerns about financial mismanagement at the county run hospital.

Two big issues stood out – a budget deficit for the current fiscal year that tops $9 million, and the failure to develop a plan to repay the state for prior overpayment for services. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last week the conflict that’s been brewing for months between the City of Bakersfield and Kern County over the city owned animal control facility that the two have shared for years finally boiled over. On Wednesday, the city told the county it has 40 days to move out.

This comes after negotiations for a two year extension of the current arrangement fell apart. The dispute of course goes back to money, and just who was shouldering more of the bill for the region’s pet overpopulation problem at the city owned facility on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

Feds, State to Study Fracking in California

Aug 5, 2013

The federal government has announced a sweeping study of fracking and other oil and gas extraction techniques in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will lead the study.  BLM California State Director Jim Kenna says it’s in response to lawsuits attempting to block oil and gas development on public lands.

“Certainly, the intent would be to reduce legal challenges – hopefully because people trust the information and are more aware of what is going on.  But the bottom line is, the science will find out what it finds out,” says Kenna.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

Consumers nationwide love big ice cream names like Dreyer’s and Haagen-Dazs. But do they know that the milk in these ice creams flow from San Joaquin Valley cows? To answer this question, Valley Public Radio's Ezra Romero visits ice cream factories in Kern and Tulare counties to report on how Big Dairy in the San Joaquin Valley is contributing to the nation's ice cream supply.

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New Data Show A Decline In Reported Cases of Valley Fever

May 28, 2013
The Californian

California’s tally of valley fever cases dropped by more than 1,000 last year and some counties have also seen fewer cases in the early months of 2013.

But public health officials say it’s too early to identify long-term trends in the numbers.

Kern County Sheriff's Department

The attorney representing the family of the man who was fatally beaten by Kern County Sheriffs deputies May 8 is speaking out today. In an interview with Valley Public Radio, David Cohn said that the way the agencies are handling the case is appalling.

“Our biggest concern is that evidence, and primarily videos that were on cell phones was likely to altered, lost or destroyed and essentially our biggest fears have now become a reality.”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Efforts by Kern County to stop the City of Los Angeles from spreading treated sewage waste on valley farmland have hit another obstacle  today.

On Wednesday, the 5th District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier Superior Court decision granting a preliminary injunction that prevents Measure E from taking effect.

Kern County voters approved the measure back in 2006, which would have stopped the controversial practice, but the law has been stuck in a lengthy court fight ever since.

Sept. 29 marks the beginning of the American Library Association's annual "Banned Books Week," a commemoration of all the books that have ever been removed from library shelves and classrooms. Politics, religion, sex, witchcraft — people give a lot of reasons for wanting to ban books, says Judith Krug of the ALA, but most often the bannings are about fear.

"They're not afraid of the book; they're afraid of the ideas," says Krug. "The materials that are challenged and banned say something about the human condition."

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