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Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:32:11 +0000


Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad Bounces Back After Railroad Fire

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:16:10 +0000

The fires burning in Northern California have now grown to over 200,000 acres and have killed more than 40 people. Closer to home the area off Highway 41 near Yosemite is recovering from the Railroad Fire that threatened communities, resorts and even a large grove of giant sequoias. But perhaps the most iconic feature at risk of being lost was the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Josh Trayor conducts train rides every couple hours along a four mile route in the Sierra National Forest. It’s all part of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. In late August the fleet of trains and historic buildings almost went up in smoke. “As you guys can probably tell we did have a little fire here a few weeks back,” Trayor says. On large portions of the ride both sides of the forest and a little bit of the railway are charred. The wildfire started not too far away from the railway. General Manager Shane Blackwell was on site that day, August 29. “We were preparing to board for our

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Fresno Protesters Call For More Staff at Veterans' Hospitals

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:13:54 +0000

If you drove down Clinton Avenue in east central Fresno this morning, you may have seen a rally outside of the Fresno Department of Veterans Affairs. A few dozen veterans and VA staff chanted "when U.S. veterans are under attack, what do you do? Stand up, fight back, " in protest over vacancies within the VA health system. Veterans’ hospitals across the country are short of as many as 49,000 staff, including doctors and nurses. That’s after a 2014 law that allowed veterans to see providers outside the VA system. Local president Jacob Dunn of the American Federation of Government Employees blames the so-called Veterans Choice Act for attracting providers to the private sector. He says the act was supposed to be only a temporary fix for long wait times in some hospitals. “The Choice Act was initiated, enacted; the patient could go out to the community to get seen while the VA gets staffed, gets built," he says. "So far we haven’t seen that. All we see is more money going to choice." Dunn

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Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:03:38 +0000

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most. Frank Ealand lives in an area near Coarsegold in the foothills of eastern Madera County that insurance companies call a fire prone zone. He says in the past three years his homes have gone without insurance after being dropped by companies three times. “They don’t look at the property, they look at their map and say no,” says Ealand. “On the other house they never canceled it, but they did raise the rates from $700 a year to over $2,000 a year.” In response, he’s fire-proofed the couple acres he lives on surrounded by dry grass and oak trees. He’s mowed it down to the stubs, put gravel around his home and used cement siding on his house instead of wood. He’s even gone further than most people. He has his own

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Across Valley, Concerns Arise Over Government Transparency

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:01:04 +0000

Earlier this year, we reported on a new immigration policy in Madera County : Whenever the county jail was releasing a foreign-born felon back into the community, it would coordinate that release with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which could potentially detain or deport that felon. But when a civil rights group looked into the policy, it uncovered a problem—one that could amount to a violation of an open meeting law. It’s something the city of Bakersfield may be facing as well—the latest in a series of open government concerns in the Valley. According to a press release written by the Madera County district attorney, the new policy was enacted during a meeting of the county board of supervisors in March. It caught the attention of Angelica Salceda, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. She wanted to know more, but when she combed through the minutes from that board of supervisors meeting, she found no record of the policy ever being discussed. What

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Cycling Road Rally Organized To Remember Fresno's Ed Lund

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:03:23 +0000

When he died in a tragic bicycle crash in 2015, Ed Lund left a void in both the city's art and cycling communities. Ed was a gifted artist, worked with students at Fresno State and was a passionate cyclist. He died while competing in a road rally in Sonoma organized by cycling great Levi Leipheimer, the GranFondo. Now Ed's friends and family are organizing a rally of their own in Ed's memory. Called "The Hammer Road Rally" in honor of Ed's nickname, the event will take place in Friant October 21st, and will feature riders including Leipheimer. The event also will feature a festival, including live music and more. It will benefit scholarships for Fresno State art students. We spoke with Ed's sister Lisa Lund Brown and Mark Kranjcec with the Edward O. Lund Foundation to learn more about Ed and about the rally.

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Valley Edition: October 17 - Wildfires And Insurance; Fulton Mall; Brown Act; Railroad Fire; Ed Lund

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:55:02 +0000

This week on Valley Edition our team reports on insurance premiums going up in fire zones and about two possible violations of the Brown Act in the region. We also hear from Craig Scharton, with the Downtown Fresno Partnership, about the reopening of Fresno's Fulton Mall as Fulton Street. Later FM89's Ezra David Romero takes a ride on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad that was almost lost in the Railroad Fire in September. Ending the program we hear about a rally in memory of Fresno artist, curator and cyclist Ed Lund.

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Downtown Fresno Property Owners Await Fulton Street Reopening

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:59:22 +0000

For 53 years downtown Fresno's main street was a car-free zone. But after a year and a half of construction, the six-block long Fulton Mall has been removed, and replaced by Fulton Street. Backers hope the project will kick off a wave of investment and revitalization in the area. But critics abound, with some saying it won't work, and others saying it will displace existing businesses and residents, and will set off a wave of gentrification. Others still say despite the new streetscape, nothing really will change. To learn more about the re-opening festivities taking place Saturday October 21st, we spoke with Craig Scharton, CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

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"Van Y Vienen" Brings Electric Vehicle Ride Sharing To Two Rural Fresno Communities

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:51:24 +0000

A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options. The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around. Now, says Erica Fernandez with the Leadership Counsel for Social Justice and Accountability, residents will be able to call and reserve rides in an all-electric 7-seat Tesla van. "It’s very special in the sense that it's empowering communities that have usually been neglected," she says. "Because they are unincorporated, they've been struggling to make sure they fulfill their basic needs." Amanda Monaco, also of the Leadership Counsel, says these communities developed the program themselves, with

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Fresno Councilmember Bredefeld Apologizes For Comments About The NFL, Confederate Monuments

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 20:45:01 +0000

A Fresno City Councilmember is apologizing for remarks he made two weeks ago that some community members have interpreted as racially insensitive. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld found himself in hot water after wading into the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Bredefeld delivered a speech from the dais last month supporting President Trump and blasting the protests from football players for what he considered to be disrespect of the flag and anthem. He went on to defend Confederate monuments and appeared to blame African-Americans for a host of social problems. The speech hit home emotionally for supporters of the protest, who say the players are only trying to highlight systemic injustice against people of color. Councilmember Oliver Baines led off the criticism today saying Bredefeld had gone too far. “You know, Garry, people of color want the very same thing white people do. We don’t want different things. We want the same things. So to insinuate that

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UC Merced Researcher Continues Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 19:49:05 +0000

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistant bacteria cause around 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Researchers across the globe are working to combat this growing problem, and a team at UC Merced recently published a study contributing some much-needed data to the field. Listen to the audio for the full interview with senior author Miriam Barlow, an evolutionary biologist at UC Merced who’s studied many facets of antibiotic resistant bacteria—from safe antibiotic treatment strategies to bacterial evolution to processes that may actually help reverse antibiotic resistance.

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Interview: Fresno Philharmonic's Rei Hotoda Ready For First Performance

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 22:20:16 +0000

It's a new era for the Fresno Philharmonic as Rei Hotoda, the new music director and conductor of the orchestra, is set to lead the orchestra in her first concert with that title Sunday October 15 at the Saroyan Theatre. Valley Edition host Joe Moore caught up with about what to expect. To listen to the interview click play above. Hotoda was the Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and has held assistant conductor roles at orchestras in Dallas and Winnipeg. She says she is excited to lead the Philharmonic as its next conductor. "I feel so strongly about this orchestra and about this community that we can grow together and we can have big goals in life, and that's only because I was inspired by this orchestra and this organization that this is possible," says Hotoda.

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Short-Term Rental Boom Causes Housing Headache For Yosemite Workers

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:23:32 +0000

Over the past month we’ve brought you stories about how online short-term rental sites are changing the communities near Yosemite National Park. The booming vacation rental market is creating a shortage of places for locals to rent for the long-term and in some cases contributing to the area's homeless problem. And now the growing lack of long-term rentals is causing a hiring issue in Yosemite. It takes an army of people to keep Yosemite National Park’s facilities tidy from the constant barrage of tourists – 4 million people are expected to visit this year, with the majority in the summer months. This spring Ron Borne, with the maintenance division of the park, was on track to hire a full custodial staff. “Of 30 seasonal custodial workers that we had positions, with funds, we were only able to fill 17 of those positions,” say Borne. He couldn't fill 10 percent of his workforce of about 300 people – custodians, trail crews, maintenance crews – when they chose to not work in the park

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Valley Edition: October 10- Vacation Rentals; UC Merced Study; Motel California; Fresno Philharmonic

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:59:19 +0000

On this week's Valley Edition our team reports stories on how short-term rentals like Airbnb are making it tough for Yosemite National Park officials to fill much needed jobs in the park. We also hear from a group of California fire fighters helping out with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico. Later we hear from a UC Merced researcher about her latest study on antibiotic resistance and from an author with a new book all about California's once booming motel industry. Ending the program we hear from the Fresno Philharmonic's new conductor Rei Hotoda.

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Central Valley 'Hot Shots' On The Ground In Puerto Rico

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 21:35:32 +0000

A crew of Central Valley ‘Hot Shots’, the highly trained California firefighters who take on the most dangerous tasks, are in Puerto Rico to help that island nation recover from Hurricane Maria. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between a California wildfire and the massive hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico. Fire destroys a vast swash of land in flame and hurricanes do their damage with wind and water. But look a little closer at the aftermath and the hot shots say the two disasters have more in common than one might suspect. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess spoke with the ‘hot shot’ Kurt Wadenius about what they expect to encounter and how they think they can help. What are the similarities between a fire and a hurricane? “From what I understand, we are going to clear vegetation out of roads. Which is a fire situation is kind of our expertise. Which is clearing the vegetation and fuels. So, I believe we are going to clear the vegetation out of the road in

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New Book Highlights Mid-Century "Motel California" Era

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 18:26:23 +0000

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers While the most of the state’s roadside inns have since checked out for good, a new coffee table book celebrates their glory days in the 1950's and 1960's. It’s called Motel California, from Bay Area historian Heather David. She joins us on Valley Edition to talk about how the motel itself has its origins in Central California, and why Fresno plays a big role in the book, including a vintage photo of the Fresno

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CalViva-Kaiser Split Highlights Health Care Complexities, Patient Confusion

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:17:56 +0000

Earlier this summer, a contract between CalViva health and Kaiser Permanente left 9,000 Medi-Cal patients in the San Joaquin Valley to find all new doctors. We were curious how that transition happened, so we set out to find out how significant this change was in the healthcare world and how doctors and patients experienced it. Carlo DeCicco has been on hold for about seven minutes, the bland hold music ringing out from his cell phone on the table in front of him. He’s trying to reach a case manager with his daughter’s health insurance network. When a representative answers, he picks the phone up so quickly he nearly drops it. “I'm trying to call to see where or how or what I can do with my daughter, where I can take her to see a psychiatrist,” he says. DeCicco’s teenaged daughter suffers from chronic depression. She’s been a Kaiser Permanente patient for around 10 years, seeing a child psychiatrist who knows her needs and can adjust her medication. So it was a shock when a letter

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Interview: Tom Steyer Talks Healthcare, President Trump, Political Ambitions

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:48:01 +0000

Tom Steyer may be one of the most influential Californians you’ve never heard of. But that may change. Speculation about a potential run for Governor, the U.S. Senate or even the Presidency has thrust his name into the headlines. But the Democrat and environmental activist is not a stranger to politics. He’s been the driving force behind a number of California ballot measures, including most recently the one that raised the state’s tobacco tax. He’s also founded the group NextGen Climate, which is a non-profit focused on climate change, which has since rebranded itself NextGen America . He joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his group’s involvement in support clean water legislation for local communities, and about his thoughts on President Trump, universal health care, and his rumored political ambitions.

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Can Tulare Save Its Hospital? TRMC Board Seeks Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:42:04 +0000

The future of the troubled Tulare Regional Medical Center is in doubt, as the elected board of the public hospital voted last weekend to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. It's the latest chapter is a years-long fight for control of the hospital, which is run by a private company under contract with the district, Health Care Conglomerate Associates. A recall election earlier this year gave HCCA critics a boost on the board, displacing a longtime supporter of the company. Then following the resignation of another HCCA ally from the board in September, the situation deteriorated further. Last week some nurses went unpaid, and patients were transferred to other hospitals, leaving the hospital in limbo. Now following the move to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, what's next for TRMC? We spoke with Tulare Local Healthcare District board member Kevin Northcraft on Valley Edition about the hospital's finances, its current operations, and its future.

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Valley Edition: October 3 - Las Vegas; Doctor Shortage; Tulare Regional Medical Center; Tom Steyer

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:15:19 +0000

On this week's Valley Edition our team reports on Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas and the shortage of doctors in the region. Later we hear from Tulare hospital board President Kevin Northcraft about troubles at Tulare Regional Medical Center. Ending the program we hear from business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

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Valley Resident Provides First-Hand Account Of Las Vegas Shooting

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 19:49:54 +0000

Law enforcement in Las Vegas, Nevada are putting together the pieces of what lead to the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history. But already, the impacts are being felt here in the Central Valley. A number of other Central Valley residents also attended the concert, which is an annual event. Janine Evans went to the festival for the first time with her sister and her friends, who go every year. She says for the first few nights the group stood at the front of the stage. But Sunday night they decided to hang at the back of the crowd where there was more room. When the gunshots started, Evans says they knew they were coming roughly from the direction of the Mandalay Bay Hotel but sure exactly where. “It was constant firing. It was loud. It seemed like it was getting louder and louder like it was closer and closer. So we finally got up and decided to make a run for it. It was chaos,” Evans says. Begin toward the back means Evans was able to avoid the crushing stampede that

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