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Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:59:12 +0000


Report: Climate Policies Boost The San Joaquin Valley

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 01:48:53 +0000

California has a reputation for progressive climate policies, and a new study shows it’s having an economic impact the San Joaquin Valley. Over $13 billion: That’s how much the state's climate policies have delivered to the San Joaquin Valley, according to a study out of UC Berkeley and the non-profit group Next 10. The group’s founder, Noel Perry, says those benefits included tax revenues, direct investment in local businesses, and nearly 40,000 jobs. "I think it’s interesting to see the San Joaquin Valley as a bellwether for climate policy," Perry says--"that if climate policies can work in the Valley, it seems like they have a good chance of working other places." These benefits are derived from energy efficiency projects, renewable portfolio standards, and the state’s cap and trade program that may be discontinued in 2020. The study recommends continuing these climate and energy initiatives, as well as creating programs to help workers transition out of the Valley’s most greenhouse

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Fresno Philharmonic Interviews: Conductor Candidate Alexander Mickelthwate

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:07:55 +0000

Alexander Mickelthwate is one of the six candidates hoping to become the next music director of the Fresno Philharmonic. He’s in town this week to lead the orchestra in a concert on Sunday at the Saroyan Theatre, featuring Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique; Mason Bates’ Mothership and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5. A native of Germany, Mickelthwate is currently the music director of the Winnepeg Symphony Orchestra . He’s also served as associate conductor of the LA Philharmonic, and assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He’s also appeared as a guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, and Dallas to name a few. He joined us on Valley Public Radio to talk about his career and his vision for orchestras in the 21st century.

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State To Require Water Systems To Test School Water For Lead

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:13:57 +0000

The state water board is now requiring public water systems to offer free lead testing to schools. Even if a water supply is clean at the source, lead can still appear in buildings like schools. Public water systems are already required to test their water where they distribute it, but that’s not the only place to test for lead. Asha Kreiling with the advocacy group the Community Water Center says lead can be introduced by pipes and schools may not always test what comes out of them. "That’s why this permit amendment is focusing on lead," says Kreiling, "because the information we don’t have is the water quality after it’s passed through the distribution system and may have been contaminated by the pipes." Kreiling says these test results will help determination how big a problem lead contamination is. "When we understand which schools are at risk, we can better understand the problem and identify solutions and figure out how much funding we need statewide to address this problem," she

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Outdoorsy 4: Exploring The Underground World Of Caves

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 23:29:02 +0000

In this episode, we’re venturing to a different kind of destination. It’s not exactly outdoors…but there’s no heating or air conditioning. It’s musty, damp and that’s what some people love about it. Often the only light source is the light you bring. We’re going underground. In this episode we’re exploring the world of spelunking. But people who do this don’t actually call it that. They refer to the activity as caving. We’ll meander through a threatened cave system in the region, find out all about the gear you need for underfoot activities and learn about subterranean spots in Sequoia National Park. Did you know there are more than 300 caves there? Millerton Caves In December we went underground to a place called Millerton Caves along the San Joaquin River Gorge with a local caver. The caves are about a 20-minute drive from Fresno, plus a 30-minute hike once you arrive. They’re in an area where the river cuts through a steep canyon. A 13-mile one-way trail runs along the river. We

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Fresno Activist Reflects On Working With Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 23:05:47 +0000

The song “Burn, Baby Burn” was originally written about the Watts Riots – a series of deadly protests against police brutality in 1965 – but it later became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 assassination. The songwriter, Jimmy Collier, now lives in Fresno. But in the 1960s, he worked alongside Dr. King, using his music to organize civil rights activists. He wrote about the experience in a book published last year on the Chicago Freedom Movement. Here, he speaks with reporter Kerry Klein about the book and what it was like to work with Dr. King. Music always came easily to Jimmy Collier, but he decided early on to use it as a means to an end rather than as the end itself. And that end was fighting for civil rights. “I played music all the time, even from a young age, but I really saw myself as an activist," he says. "Voting rights, housing, Title IX issues, issues about war and the climate. When I got involved in demonstrations, the

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Advocates Call For More Openness In Wake Of High-Profile Valley Suicides

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:24:37 +0000

Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it. Three Clovis West High School students, a newly elected Bakersfield City Councilmember, and a Bakersfield LGBT activist all have taken their own lives in the last six months. The issue strikes close to home for Carmen Vargas whose father, “committed suicide in a church in a rural area around here,” and brother, “committed suicide when I think I was 26,” Vargas says. Vargas herself even attempted suicide. “I tried to take some pills. I made sure I had enough of them in my system. I went on the internet and was like ‘what is a lethal dose of’,” Vargas recalls. A last minute change of heart

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Interview: Fresno Bee Education Reporter Mackenzie Mays On Fresno Unified

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:38:34 +0000

On this week's Valley Edition we are joined by the Fresno Bee's Education Reporter Mackenzie Mays . She covers Fresno Unified extensively and brings us an update on happenings in the district. To listen to the interview between VE Host Joe Moore and Mays click play above.

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Valley Edition: Jan. 17 - Chill Hours; Suicide Prevention; Fresno Unified; Outdoorsy

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:28:36 +0000

This week on Valley Edition we start the show with a report from Ezra David Romero about how warming temperatures are making it hard for trees to get enough sleep. We also hear from KVPR's Jeffrey Hess about suicide prevention in the region. Bakersfield Californian Reporter Lois Henry also chimes in on the topic. Later in the program we are joined by Fresno Bee Reporter Mackenzie Mays for a conversation about Fresno Unified. We end the program with our latest installment of our podcast Outdoorsy. This time we go go underground.

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Too Warm To Grow Tree Crops? Farmers Work To Temper Climate Change Effects

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:21:27 +0000

The valley’s fruit and nut trees need cold temperatures in the winter in order to go to sleep and wake up healthy in the spring. New research suggests that in as little as 30 years, it may be too warm in the valley to grow these trees due to climate change. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that the agriculture industry is taking the issue very seriously. Tom Coleman is busy pruning branches off pistachio trees that aren’t budding at an orchard just north of Fresno in Madera County. He farms and manages more than 8,000 acres of pistachios across the state. “Here’s an example of some hanging down nuts from last year that just wouldn’t come off because of the position on the tree so we want to remove that,” says Coleman. Coleman’s worried these trees won’t get enough sleep this winter. Crops like pistachios, peaches and almonds need a certain amount of cold weather every year. This is what the agricultural industry refers to as chill hours . Frigid temperatures between 32

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Low-Income Communities Hit Hardest By Drought, Says Report

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:56:38 +0000

A report released this week argues the consequences of the drought have been more pronounced in some communities than others. The analysis from the Pacific Institute and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water says water shortages, hikes in water rates and fishery declines have been concentrated in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Additionally, Laura Feinstein with the Pacific Institute says those effects extend beyond the central valley, even to typically wet areas on the North Coast and Central Coast. "So even though we know the valley was maybe the epicenter of the drought’s impacts, it was around the state that people were feeling it," Feinstein says. She says now is the time to be preparing for the next drought. "We could be doing some work to start to predict what areas are going to run dry in future droughts," she says. "We could also be putting in some more drought resiliency plans now." The report also argues for the protection of commercially fished salmon

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Clean Drinking Water Acknowledged In State Budget Proposal

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:43:51 +0000

Governor Brown’s latest budget proposal has some new language related to clean drinking water. The proposal acknowledges that many of California’s disadvantaged communities rely on contaminated groundwater and lack the resources to operate and maintain safe drinking water systems, but it stops short of any additional funding to fix the problem. Jonathan Nelson with the advocacy group Community Water Center says this acknowledgement may seem modest now, but it could lead to bigger things. "Language in the budget at this stage is about sending signals about what is important and what needs to be worked on as we now start and move into the budget process," Nelson says. The next step, he says, is to determine how much funding is needed and how to make it sustainable. He says he and other advocates hope to have some specific dollar amounts ready for later budget proposals.

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Kings County Renews Legal Fight Against High-Speed Rail

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:27:08 +0000

It’s a new year, and that means a new chapter in the ongoing saga that is California’s high-speed rail project. While construction in the Fresno area is becoming more and more visible with every month, efforts to stop the project are also picking up steam in the courtroom. The center of the fight against the rail line is in Kings County, where a number of landowners and county supervisors have challenged the rail project in court, saying it violates the voter-approved Proposition 1A. Last March, a judge gave the rail authority a victory in the case, but it may only be temporary. Now that the rail authority has moved to tap the bond funds voters approved for the project in 2008, opponents say their legal challenge is back and is headed for a Sacramento courtroom later this year. To learn more about the on-going legal fight and other Kings County news, we spoke with reporter Seth Nidever with the Hanford Sentinel on FM89's Valley Edition.

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As California's Organic Farming Pioneers Age, A Younger Generation Steps In

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:18:49 +0000

As the generation that pioneered organic farming begins to retire, they’re searching for different ways to continue their agricultural legacy. Some growers are passing on their farms to their kids, but as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports not all organic growers are as lucky to have a second generation that wants to take over the family farm. When longtime organic farmers Tom and Denesse Willey decided over the last few years that it was time to retire they turned to their kids to see if they wanted to take over the farm. Their answer was no. “They’re all pursuing other professions and interests in life,” Willey says. “We considered a number of different alternatives over the last five years of how to hand off the farm.” The Madera County vegetable farmers began working the soil in the 80s. They’re local organic pioneers and letting that legacy of organic farming fade away wasn’t an option. “A lot of us started 30 to 40 years ago and it's time to hand the baton to somebody else,” Willey

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Interview: National Weather Service On Recent And Coming Weather Events

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:16:19 +0000

California has been hit hard by storms over the last week. There's been flooding, rain at high elevations and national park closures. To tell us more about what to expect in the coming days we were joined by National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Rowe on our program Valley Edition. To listen to the interview click play above.

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Fresno State Creative Writing Department Sets New Record, Eight Authors Publish First Books

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:12:47 +0000

The Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing has set a new record. Eight alumni authors from the program published their first books in 2016. Four more are set to publish books this year. “The extraordinary string of book publications this year by our alumni is validation for our current students that we must be doing something right," says Program Coordinator Dr. Tim Keen in a press release from December. “The success is inspiration for us all, including future students thinking about coming to Fresno to write.” One of those authors, Steven Sanchez , joined Valley Edition Host Joe Moore Tuesday to talk about the authors and share some of his poetry. Sanchez also shares a poem from his book. The previous record was for four first-time book authors in 2014. Here are the authors: J.J. Anselmi (class of 2014) — “Heavy: A Memoir of Wyoming, BMX, Drugs and Heavy F------ Music,” a nonfiction book published by Rare Bird Books . Stacey Balkun (2014) — “Jackalope-Girl Learns

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Valley Edition: Jan. 10 - Weather; Organic Farming; High Speed Rail; Fresno State Books

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:09:19 +0000

This week on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess brings us a story about flooding that took place in the Bass Lake area from the most recent storm to come through the region. To tell us more about what to expect from future weather patterns we're joined by National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Rowe based in Hanford. Later in the program we hear about how organic farming is changing in California. We also chat about high speed rail with Hanford Sentinel Reporter Seth Nidever. And ending the program we're joined by Fresno Poet Steven Sanchez about how eight Fresno State creative writing alumni published books in 2016.

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At Lost Lake, Flooding Provides Research Opportunity

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 01:22:01 +0000

Lost Lake Park just below Friant Dam in Fresno County was closed to the public on Monday due to flooding. But federal scientists say the flooding was controlled and not historical—and it provided an opportunity for scientific study. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey on Monday visited Lost Lake Park, where water has risen seven feet since last week. They’re here to measure the water’s flow rate, which will help calibrate the automatic sensors and gauges that monitor the river here 24 hours a day. Hydrologist Al Caldwell says flood events like this can be good for the river and nearby fish hatchery. "This is good—it’s flushing a lot out of the channel that hasn’t been flushed out in years," says Caldwell. He says the river’s flow rate is nowhere near as high as it was in 1997, and it’s lower even than in other parts of California. "For instance, Yuba River at Marysville today is estimated to peak at around 80,000 cubic feet per second," he says. "This is seven. So you can see

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North Fork Residents Evacuate Ahead Of Mountain Floods

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 00:13:39 +0000

This weekend’s string of heavy rain has put a lot of pressure on families and local officials to respond to the threat of flooding, especially in mountains. Residents in some communities have even been forced to evacuate to escape the rising tide. Many a normally small, peaceful mountain creek has now been transformed is now a broad fast moving river. The days of heavy rains have caused the Madera County Sheriff to order mandatory evacuations in some of the low-lying areas of the town of North Fork south of Bass Lake. Selma Metgzer lives in a mandatory evacuation zone. She stands by what used to be a creek and looks out at her home, which is just inches above the water sitting on pylons but still completely surrounded by the flood. “Well, I was really bad yesterday but today I think I am going to be OK. As soon as it goes past, if it stops raining, it will be OK I think,” says Metzger. Metzger is currently living up the hill in a trailer with relatives until the flood recedes. This is

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Friant Kern Canal Will Have To Wait To Accept Flood Flows

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 00:19:47 +0000

While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal. The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction. Part of the work involves removing an invasive weed species that is clogging portions of the waterway. The City of Fresno is also working inside the canal to connect its new pipeline. Alexandra Biering is with the Friant Water Authority. Biering: “They were originally intending to be out in the canal until the 15th of January but they’ve really fast tracked and pushed forward a lot their maintenance work so they’re going to be done on Monday. We’re expecting to have people out of the canal mid-day Monday.” Biering says once that’s completed the canal will

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Big Storm Could Boost Water Storage, San Luis Reservoir

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:52:33 +0000

This weekend’s storm could be good news for valley farmers, who hope they’ll be able to store some of the anticipated runoff. Ara Azhderian is the water policy administrator for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which represents 29 water contractors that use the San Luis Reservoir. He says the outlook for 2017 is already good. Azhderian: “For Northern California the storage is great, the drought is essentially over, the question is now not really about water supply but how much water can we move in the context of environmental regulation.” And by moving water he means pumping it south from the Delta to San Luis, where it’s stored and sent to farmers in the valley and urban users in the Bay Area and Southern California. Azhderian: “In the coming days there will be so much water in the system that even with the environmental regulations in place we’re going to be able to pump at maximum capacity, the duration of that is perhaps a week or so.” He says the state and federal

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