Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Just a few decades ago Fresno used to be the center of the American Fig Industry, with orchards stretching for thousands of acres. Now most of the trees planted by J.C. Forkner almost 100 years ago are gone and are replaced by homes and shopping centers.

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson

When UC Merced first opened its doors in 2005, campus enrollment was just 875 students. Now a decade later, over 6,000 students attend the newest University of California campus, and thousands more are being turned away. As the only UC campus in the San Joaquin Valley, campus leaders hope to expand the number of available slots to over 10,000 by the year 2020 to meet growing demand.  

Thousands of residents in the valley are working through the process of having their previous felony convictions dropped to misdemeanors. It’s an element of Proposition 47 intended to help provide people with a clean slate and re-integrate more easily back into society. Advocates and the public defender in Merced are working hard to get the word out.

For years, Jesse Oralas lived the life of a drug addict, being homeless and piling up felony drug convictions which made him, in his words, ‘unemployable’.


A popular route into Yosemite Valley is about to get a makeover. FM89's Joe Moore reports on the effort t fix damage that happened nearly 10 years ago.

In May 2006, a rockslide in the Merced River Canyon severely damaged Highway 140 between Briceburg and El Portal. Caltrans eventually reopened the road later that year with a temporary detour around the unstable mountain of rock, but that temporary detour is now almost a decade old. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 he city of Visalia is getting closer to altering how they elect their city council. As FM 89's Jeffrey Hess reports, it's a move that some hope will increase diversity in city government.

The city is planning a series of public hearings, beginning in early April, to finalize the five new districts that will each elect one council representative. 

Visalia spokeswomen Nancy Loliva says the city is drawing districts for the first time to settle a voting rights lawsuit over the current system where all council members are elected at-large.

University of California, Merced

UC Merced is running out of space to keep up with growing enrollment.  Now, the university is asking the UC Board of Regents to expand campus offices to downtown Merced. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

The regents will vote Wednesday whether to approve $1.3 million dollars for construction of a campus administrative center in downtown Merced. 

Daniel Feitelberg, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Merced, says bringing offices to the downtown area is vital not only for the university but also for the city.

Merced Police Department

A Golden Valley Health Centers pediatrician was taken into custody for allegedly placing a camera inside a patient restroom at the health centers’ clinic in Merced.

Officers arrested Dr. Carlos Teran Tuesday morning at the 847 Childs Avenue clinic. The investigation was sparked after a woman found a camera inside a flower pot in the unisex bathroom Friday afternoon, Lt. Tom Trinidad says. After collecting statements from staff, Teran was taken into custody.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Reintegrating into society after war for many veterans is an isolating experience.

Ezra David Romero

This is the first story in a two-part series reported in partnership with Harvest Public Media. The second story explores why a Chino family moved to Nebraska a few years back: "Midwest Recruiting California Dairies To Pump Up Rural Economy."


Marissa Chavez / Merced's LGBT Community Center

Workers at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Merced say they had to take down a rainbow flag from a flagpole earlier this week after the owner of the building asked them to do so.

The LGBT center had flown the rainbow flag since it opened on August 31.  But staff members say they recently received a letter from the building’s owner, and took down the flag.

Chris Jervis is the president of Gay Central Valley, which operates the Merced LGBT center.