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Courtesy of Brett Lebin

Dozens of California cities and counties, including many in the Central Valley, are moving quickly to pass bans on medical marijuana growth and sale.

The bans are often modeled on existing rules in Fresno and Kern Counties that prohibit either the cultivation or sale of medical marijuana.

Brenda Linder, a lawyer who works with medical marijuana clients, says the reason for the rush is new state regulation that sets a March  deadline to adopt local rules or otherwise they will default to what the state dictates.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary investigation into last week’s deadly helicopter crash that killed four.

The SkyLife helicopter crashed last Thursday east of McFarland while transporting a patient from Porterville to Bakersfield.

The NTSB report does not add any new insight into why the helicopter went down but does confirm that it hit the ground in open, hilly terrain and that all major components were in the debris field.

Roger's Helicopters

The names of three of the four people killed when a life flight helicopter crashed in Kern County are now known. However, the cause of the crash remains a mystery.

Pilot Thomas Hampl, Nurse Marco Lopez and Paramedic Kyle Juarez as well as the patient all died when the helicopter went down east of McFarland in Kern County Thursday night.

The SkyLife Helicopter was transporting a female patient from Porterville to San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield.

American Ambulance CEO Todd Valeri says only about two dozen people work in the life flight division.

http://www.bakersfield.com/thebakersfieldsound

Kern County is known around the globe for the way it revolutionized American music.  In Robert E. Price's new book "The Bakersfield Sound," he recounts how a generation of displaced Okies altered musical history. The book remembers household names like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard as well as lesser known names that influenced American music.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/01/the-county-kern-county-deadliest-police-killings

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, more people have died at the hands of law enforcement this year in Kern County than in New York City, which has 10 times the population. In fact the 13 deaths so far in Kern County in 2015 make it the highest per capita rate of deaths due to deadly force by police and sheriffs in the.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition Host Joe Moore speaks with The Guardian's Jon Swaine about the paper's series "The County" looking at police violence in Kern County. Also on the program KVPR's Diana Aguilera reports on the history of housing in Fresno County and how some people groups weren't allowed to buy in certain areas of Fresno. 

The Guardian

A new report from the British newspaper The Guardian says Kern County leads the nation when it comes to use of deadly force by law enforcement.

According to numbers published by the paper, 13 people have died this year in connection with the use of force by law enforcement in the county. That’s higher than the total for New York City, which has ten times the population.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has approved new rules that supporters say will streamline oil and gas production.

The unanimous vote by the board Monday endorses a new environmental report that will make most surface production activities go through a process similar to the one to get a building permit.

The state will still regulate subsurface operations.

Kern County Public Library

A new poll shows that a majority of Kern County residents are opposed to the privatization of the county’s public library system. 

The Board of Supervisors commissioned the poll by Price Research of 600 county residents to gauge overall support for the library system. Earlier this year a budget crunch led county leaders to explore a number of possibilities for the system, including handing operations over to a private company.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two Central Valley Counties are among the first in the state to take an aggressive evidence based approach to California’s prison re-alignment. This is the first time the so-called Results First initiative has been used in California.

Kern and Fresno Counties are two of the four California counties to apply the Results First Initiative in their jails.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Governor Jerry Brown signed a pipeline safety bill today authored by Bakersfield Assemblymember Rudy Salas.

Assembly Bill 1420 will now require operators of pipelines near homes and schools to submit maps of those pipelines to the Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources known as DOGGR. The bill also requires DOGGR to determine appropriate methods of testing pipelines.

Rudy Salas says the bill was inspired by a gas leak in Arvin in 2014. Eight families were forced out of their homes for the majority of the year after an underground pipeline leaked.

The City of Taft in western Kern County owes its existence to the oil industry. While the local economy has diversified, the energy industry is the still the primary economic engine of this small town, and every five years, locals throw a party to celebrate. This year, the Oildorado Days festival includes everything from an airshow and hot air balloon festival to the Oilstock music festival. On Valley Edition we spoke with one of the event's organizers, Shannon Jones about this year's activities and Taft's rich history.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition the program begins with Political Junkie Ken Rudin speaking with VE Host Joe Moore about Kevin McCarthy and how he could become the next House Speaker. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Spurred on by a request by local oil industry leaders, Kern County is currently exploring a plan that would dramatically revamp the way the county permits oil and gas wells. Under an environmental study that's currently in the works, getting a new well permit could become as easy as getting a county building permit.

Five Years Later, Bakersfield's Roy Ashburn Reflects On His Journey

Aug 4, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A former Republican lawmaker who came out as gay months before leaving the California Legislature says he was wrong to oppose gay rights measures – including bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

Roy Ashburn termed out after representing Bakersfield for 14 years in the Assembly and Senate. He was arrested for drunken driving five years ago after leaving a gay night club in Sacramento. He came out days later.

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