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Last Build Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 13:59:17 +0000


Jazz Star Gregory Porter Reflects On His Bakersfield Roots

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 01:42:19 +0000

Gregory Porter is one of the brightest stars in the jazz world. Since he burst on the scene in 2010 with his critically acclaimed debut album Water , Porter has won two Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album, and is one of the most in-demand artists in the genre. His new record Nat King Cole and Me has earned him spots on NBC's Today Show and Late Night With Stephen Colbert, and soon a concert at Carnegie Hall. It's been a long and unusual path to fame for Porter, who grew up in Bakersfield and graduated from Highland High School in the late 1980's. He pursued a career in football at San Diego State before an injury sidelined his career. He then re-discovered his love of music, eventually moving to New York to hone his craft at jam sessions in Harlem and Brooklyn. But as Porter told us on Valley Edition, he never forgot his Bakersfield roots. The son of a storefront preacher in the Church of God In Christ, Porter says his mother's positive messages of faith and perseverance are

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Fresno Study Broadens Links Between Air Pollution, Health, DNA

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:42:00 +0000

Last week, we brought you a report about the San Joaquin Valley’s recent bout of smoggy air , which in Bakersfield was the longest consecutive episode of unhealthy PM2.5 levels in decades. We wanted to know: What are the consequences of air pollution on our health? Health centers across the Valley reported an uptick in cases related to asthma attacks and other respiratory flare-ups, but a new research paper published earlier this month explores the longer-term impacts of air pollution exposure--namely how it can affect our DNA and in turn our immune system function. It’s the latest study to come out of a huge research initiative called the Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study (CHAPS), which involves researchers at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, Stanford, UCSF Fresno and Fresno State. In the last few years, CHAPS researchers have enrolled hundreds of kids in Fresno in their study from birth into teenagehood, with the goal of tracking their health and environmental exposures over

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Valley Edition - January 16, 2018: Air Pollution & Health; Sierra On-Line; Westlands Photos

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:49:20 +0000

This week on Valley Edition we talk with one of the authors of a new study examining how exposure to air pollution can impact both our DNA and our immune system function. We also talk with the NYU professor who is exploring the history of computer gaming, and the role one local company played in pioneering the software industry. And we talk with a photographer who has a new book focused on valley agriculture.

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"Westlands: A Water Story" Takes An Artistic Look At Valley Agriculture

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:34:55 +0000

California's mammoth feats of water engineering in the 20th century turned the barren west side of the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive farmland in the world. But in the 21st century, as society's appreciation of the environmental costs of these water diversions, many have questioned whether west side farms will last into the next century. Combined with the threats of drought, climate change, and increasing salinity, the question is fertile ground for photojournalist Randi Lynn Beach. Her new collection of fine art photography is titled "Westlands: A Water Story. " The book and accompanying documentary capture images of the people and the place that is the largest agricultural water district in the state - Westlands. Inspired by the work of French realist painter Jean-Francois Millet and his works of peasant farmers, Beach captures images of a California that many urban residents have not seen. She joined us to on Valley Edition to talk about this latest project, which

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FDA To Kings County: Want To Quit Smoking? You Can Do It

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:32:26 +0000

The FDA is launching a new campaign to urge smokers to give up their habit--and the project is focusing some of its efforts on Kings County. The campaign is called “ Every Try Counts ” and it targets adult smokers who’ve tried to quit in the past but failed. It’s sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, says the campaign involves posters, signs and billboards near gas stations and convenience stores, where people tend to buy cigarettes. "They’ll be at the gas pump, they’ll be on the windows, they’ll be on the doors, they’ll be on the shelves, they’ll be on the floors," he says. Kings County is one of only three California counties to host the campaign, along with Butte and Stanislaus counties—all of which have some of the highest smoking rates in the state . Zeller says the campaign targets those who’ve already tried to quit because they may need an extra nudge to try again. "So many smokers have had so many

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Gaming Pioneer: Sierra On-Line's Legacy Remains Strong Nearly 40 Years After Founding

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:56:00 +0000

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams. In this segment of Valley Edition, we talk with NYU historian Laine Nooney, who has spent her career documenting the story of this pioneering computer game company.

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Valley Edition: January 9, 2018: Air Quality, Weather, High-Speed Rail, John McCutcheon

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:40:42 +0000

This week on Valley Edition, we learn why the valley endured some of the worst air quality in decades, and why more wasn't done to prevent it. We also talk about the weather with meteorologist Sean Boyd. Later in the show we hear about the pros and cons of the proposed new route for high-speed rail through Bakersfield, and we talk with Merced Sun Star reporter Monica Velez about the closure of a network of health clinics last year in the north valley. Finally, we talk with folk singer John McCutcheon ahead of a concert in Fresno Thursday night.

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As Valley Recovers From One Of Smoggiest Periods In Decades, Disagreement Continues Over Prevention

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:22:32 +0000

If you spent time in the San Joaquin Valley over the holidays, the recent rain probably has you breathing a sigh of relief—not just because it’s bringing much needed rain and snow, but also because it’s the first time in weeks you can safely breathe. This story looks back at one of the most severe periods of smoggy air in decades. When James Collins isn’t studying social work at Fresno State, he drives for the rideshare company Lyft. He sees a lot of open sky and bright sun. Starting in late December, though, he says the sky looked different. “Sometimes the sun would pop through in the evenings,” he says. “Some days, though, it wouldn’t. It’d just stay hazy and foggy or smoggy.” Beginning December 21, concentrations of particulate matter, or microscopic particles in the air, began to climb. Collins noticed his body responding. He started wheezing. Then, “throughout the day I would have a lot of small headaches,” he says. “That had me concerned, that kind of raised eyebrows for me.”

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Will The Wet Weather Continue In 2018? Sean Boyd On Air Quality, Rain and Drought

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:13:55 +0000

The recent rains mark the first big storm to hit Central California this rainy season. But are they enough to hold off the dreaded "d-word" of drought? We ask Fresno-based meteorologist Sean Boyd about the short and long-term outlook, and about the recent two week stretch that left valley residents breathing some of the worst air in twenty years.

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Amid Questions, High-Speed Rail Examines New Bakersfield Route, Station Site

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 18:38:35 +0000

If the leaders of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority are to be believed, by 2029 Bakersfield residents will be able to hop on a bullet train bound for LA’s Union Station or San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal. That’s if all goes according to plan, for a project that still doesn’t have enough funding to finish the job. But regardless of the pace of construction, there’s still a lot of decisions the state needs to make in the next 11 years in order to prepare – things like what route the train will take and where stations should be located. In Bakersfield, both of those are still unresolved issues. In 2014 the rail authority selected a route following the BNSF railroad into the city, with a station site downtown at Truxton and Union Avenues, near the current Amtrak station. That drew opposition from Mercy Hospital, and the City of Bakersfield, which sued over impacts to the city's corporation yard, the convention center and the Mill Creek Linear Park. As a result of the lawsuit, the

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“Don’t Suspend Me!” Fresno State Couple’s Book Becomes Amazon Best Seller

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 02:15:16 +0000

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline. Simultaneously, some San Joaquin Valley educators were writing about alternative disciplinary practices in a new book that’s been an Amazon best seller in the School Safety category off and on since it was published in 2016. Listen to the audio above for an interview with the husband-wife duo who wrote the book: Jessica Hannigan, a professor of educational leadership at Fresno State; and John Hannigan, a school principal in Sanger Unified School district. The Hannigans will publish two more books about restorative justice later this spring.

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With Air Pollution Through The Roof, Why Was Some Burning Still Allowed?

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 01:46:00 +0000

Now that the storm front earlier this week cleaned up the air for much of the San Joaquin Valley, many residents may be looking forward to lighting up their wood-burning fireplaces. However, you might be surprised to learn that some burning was allowed even as air pollution reached dangerously unhealthy levels. The San Joaquin Valley air district regulates Valley emissions, and their winter wood-burning restrictions come in two flavors: No burning at all, or burning allowed only on registered devices--which burn more cleanly than conventional fireplaces but not as cleanly as not burning at all. And this middle ground is what was allowed in many Valley counties in much of the last two weeks. That’s because wood burning restrictions follow a hard-and-fast rule. As district representative Jaime Holt explains, when particle pollution falls under a certain level, burning on registered devices is allowed, even if the air smells bad and is visibly smoggy. "So it is not an arbitrary decision,"

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Valley Edition - January 2, 2018 - Author Interviews

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 17:00:00 +0000

This week on Valley Edition we revisit three interviews from 2017. We talk with Michael Kodas author of the new book "Megafire" and learn why wildfire behavior is changing. We also look at local history in two different interviews. Stephen Provost joins us to talk about his new book " Highway 99 : The History of California's Main Street" and Heather David is on the program to talk about her new book "Motel California."

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Valley Edition - December 27, 2017: Faraday Future, Sanctuary State, Bakersfield Budget Woes

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 01:50:03 +0000

This week on Valley Edition, we talk to Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims about her thoughts as the county begins to implement SB 54, California's "Sanctuary State" bill. Mims was one of the bill's biggest critics when it made its way through the legislature, and she was worked closely with federal immigration officials in the past. We also talk with Bakersfield City Councilmember Bob Smith about the city's budget gap and about the idea of putting a tax increase in front of voters. And we speak with tech reporter Sean O'Kane from The Verge to learn the latest about Faraday Future, the company that plans to build an advanced electric car at the old Pirelli factory in Hanford.

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As Bakersfield Faces Budget Shortfall, City Council Looks At Possible Tax Increase

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:01:33 +0000

While the stock market is up, many cities in the valley are still struggling. Bakersfield perhaps faces the biggest cash crunch, as rising costs tied to health care and retirement expenses have coincided with a countywide economy that is struggling due to a decline in activity in the oil industry. One city projection indicates the city could face a $5 million deficit next year, growing to around $15 million in five years. Now the city council is considering what to do about the shortfall, and that could include a tax increase. The council recently approved a survey of local residents to judge their support for a potential tax. Councilmember and vice mayor Bob Smith joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the causes to the current financial shortfall, and possible solutions.

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New Investment Could Boost Troubled Electric Automaker Faraday Future, Hanford Factory

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:00:43 +0000

After a turbulent 2017 electric automaker Faraday Future could get a much needed infusion of around $1 billion, according to a new report from The Verge. The company's top investor, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting is also now reportedly taking over as CEO of the firm. The company has faced turmoil over the last four months after it announced plans to build the FF91 sedan at a former tire factory in Hanford. In addition to the departure of top executives, Faraday had faced a cash crisis that according to some reports only left enough money to continue operations through the end of 2017. Reporter Sean O'Kane of The Verge joins us on Valley Edition to talk about the latest investment in the company, the leadership of the company's top investor and Jia Yueting, and what it means for the plan to start building the FF91 in Hanford next year.

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Study: When It Comes To Health, Your Neighborhood’s Poverty May Matter More Than Your Own

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 01:53:58 +0000

Scientific research has demonstrated that, in general, the richer a person is, the healthier he or she is likely to be. Likewise, those with private insurance tend to be healthier than those on Medi-Cal. A new study, however, suggests neighborhood-level poverty may be even more important. If you’re a child on Medi-Cal, you’re worse off living in a poor community than an affluent one. That is one of the findings in a new study out this week in the research publication Journal of Asthma. Neighborhood-level factors are already known to impact individual health, but this study attempts to determine how much. Emanuel Alcala, lead author and a researcher at both Fresno State and UC Merced, says health disparities between rich and poor, or between Medi-Cal and privately insured patients, are more pronounced when the neighborhood itself is poor. "We still find that the level of poverty at your community has independent effects of asthma morbidity beyond those individual characteristics and

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A Rainy 2017 Benefited The San Joaquin River's Salmon, But Full Restoration Is Yet To Come

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 22:38:12 +0000

The San Joaquin River is the second largest in California. Last year, it was listed by an environmental group as the second most endangered river in America. Recent years of drought haven’t taken their toll, but an exceptionally wet 2017 spelled optimism for many involved in the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. While significant obstacles to bring back the river’s salmon remain, there’s also progress swimming right below the surface. Nearly 40 years ago, back when Peter Moyle was a professor at Fresno State, the San Joaquin River was different. “My early memories of the river, when I first started working on it, was of a place that you wanted to avoid,” recounts Moyle. Today he’s a professor emeritus of fish biology at UC Davis, but back in 1972, Moyle co-wrote a paper about a common pollutant in the water. “There were so many beer cans lying in the river, scattered across the floor of the river, that it was habitat for some kinds of fish.” Since then, he has seen the river

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Local Group Makes Ivy League University Dreams A Reality For Valley Students

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 19:37:11 +0000

High school seniors from across the country are checking their email inboxes this month, eagerly awaiting acceptance letters from colleges and universities. It can be an exciting and stressful time for anyone. But here in the valley, one group of students is ready. FM89’s Christina Lopez reports on one local program that is celebrating 25 years of helping make college dreams a reality. On this chilly December Saturday members of the local Ivy League Project, a group of 20 students from across the Central Valley ranging from fourth graders to high school seniors, form a circle inside the Annadale Baptist Church in Sanger, California. The mission is to leave their nerves at the door and introduce their partner to others within the circle. “This is my new friend, Auturo Murillo, um, his favorite color is red. He likes to play soccer,” said one student. “Eye contact. Excellent. Next,” said Martin Mares, CEO and Founder of the Ivy League Project. The voice in the center of the circle

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Valley Edition - December 19, 2017: San Joaquin River, Ivy League Project, Garry Bredefeld

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 23:59:36 +0000

This week on Valley Edition we learn about new progress on the effort to bring Chinook salmon back to the San Joaquin River. We also hear about a valley program that for 25 year has been helping kids from communities like Parlier go to Ivy League schools. And we get an inside look at what it takes to put on a Fresno holiday tradition - Christmas Tree Lane. Plus Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld joins us to talk about his stance on medical marijuana, and an investigation into comments he made about race and the NFL that city clerk Yvonne Spence claimed resulted in a hostile work environment.

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