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Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 03:04:44 +0000


Tulare County Orange Trees Could Be The Answer For Citrus Industry Problems

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:38:34 +0000

A research center near Visalia is in the process of breeding a citrus tree resistant to a disease that has the industry on edge. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports. There are three trees that grow inedible fruit at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center east of Visalia that scientists hope to turn into a game changer for the citrus industry. The trees are all bred with an orange variety thought to be resistant to huanglongbing . It’s a disease that’s cut citrus production in half in Florida says the center's director Beth Grafton-Cardwell . She says around 40 citrus trees in Southern California are infected with the disease. “So what they’ve got to do is cross this with some edible varieties and eventually create something that has the gene for resistance, but also the genes for good fruit," Grafton-Cardwell says. She says if the trials work it’ll mean the California citrus industry would avoid the devastating effects places like Florida have felt. “Right now 100 percent of orchards

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Even With All The Rain Crews Are Prepping For A Big Fire Season

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:49:11 +0000

California fire officials are already preparing for a hot fire season despite the ample rain and snow the regions received. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports. Jeremiah Wittwer with Fresno County Cal Fire says there’s a lot of extra grass and brush growing in the region because of the rain. He says come summer when the vegetation dries out there’ll be a major fire hazard. “In the lower foothills and even down on the valley floor grass is already is a foot to a foot and a half tall and we’re not even getting into the spring months yet," says Wittwer. "So the fuels are more readily available to burn.” Wittwer says he has 40 people working daily to remove dead trees along roads and highways, but there will still be tree and brush die off because of years of drought and the bark beetle. “Even though that we had the moisture that we had over the winter, above normal, it’s not going to bring that vegetation back to a healthy level around the county," says Wittwer. "There will be some increased

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Young Artist's Spotlight: University High Flute Choir

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:49:26 +0000

This week on FM89's Young Artist's Spotlight we feature the students of the University High School Flute Choir. UHS Instrumental Music Director Randall Cornelison writes the following about the ensemble, which is directed by former UHS student, and current Fresno Pacific University student Frank Velasco: "This is a very unique group as many of your listeners will never have heard a flute choir before. This is a very interesting group for the Valley as it was created by a University High student, Frank Velasco, that wanted to bring back the tradition of Flute Choir in the Valley, made popular by Janette Erickson a local flute teacher in Fresno for many years. The ties also continue to Russell Howland, he was a local Flute composer and arranger. He was a professor at the University of Michigan for years and then moved to Fresno sometime around 1950 and continued to compose for Flute choir until his death in the 1990's. The Flute Choir plays lots of his arrangements and compositions. This

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Outdoorsy 5: Playing In The Snow

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 02:15:37 +0000

Today, we’re taking advantage of the season and venturing out into the snow. We’ve gotten a lot of it this winter, so it’s the perfect opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Or at least snowball fights. A native New Englander, Kerry loves the winter—as long as she’s bundled up and warm. Ezra: not so much. But as far as winter activities go, snowshoeing is his jam. And who doesn’t love seeing their breath in the air and hearing ice crunching under their feet? In this episode, we’ll take you to a few places near the valley to play in the snow, we’ll help you get equipped, and then tantalize you with a sugary delicacy that’s wildly popular in Shaver Lake. Yosemite by Snowshoe So far this winter, we’ve taken two snowshoeing trips—each with varying success. The first was to what Kerry regards as the most magical place in wintertime: Yosemite National Park. We went with a few friends friends over Christmas weekend when a big storm rolled through the Valley. We drove in as the

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From Fresno With Love: Valley Chihuahuas Welcomed In Midwest

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:47:14 +0000

Animal shelters in the San Joaquin Valley are inundated every year with thousands of rescued dogs, cats and even pigs. But what happens to the animals that no one seems to want? While some shelters may euthanize, others go to great lengths to keep them alive. One group of animal rescuers has found a creative solution to a supply and demand problem. It’s almost 11 p.m. in an industrial zone of south Fresno. A small back lot near Highway 99 is dark except for the headlights of a van with tinted windows. Hooded figures load up the van with plastic crates . One opens the door to survey the cargo. “Hello everybody,” she shouts, as dozens of tiny tails wag against their crates and excited barking fills the air. “The condo is ready!” Brenda Mitchell is co-founder of Animal Compassion Team in Fresno, and she’s here with a troop of other animal shelter workers. Their cargo? Chihuahuas. They’re rescues, strays and fosters being sent off to a new life. “We have Lisa, Flower, Princess Leia, Luke

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Valley Edition: February 21 - Valley Fever; Lake Isabella; Chihuahuas; Outdoorsy

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:50:40 +0000

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Jeffrey Hess reports from the World Ag Expo about what farmers think about President Trump. We also hear about what all this rain means for Lake Isabella. Later we hear from Reporter Kerry Klein about a group that takes the region's excess chihuahuas and send them to Minnesota. We also hear from Bakersfield California Reporter Harold Pierce on his latest piece on Valley Fever. And we end the show with a our latest installment of the stations podcast Outdoorsy.

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Juan Solis Lives A Life In The Shadows, His Health Destroyed By Valley Fever

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:06:42 +0000

When Juan Solis shuffles out of his dark bedroom, he’s careful not to get too close to the windows. He makes sure he only walks his dogs at night. If he must go out during the day, he lathers on sunscreen, makes sure his legs and arms are covered, even during the peak of summer in Bakersfield’s blistering heat. And he never forgets his sunhat. Juan has extreme light sensitivity, caused by valley fever. He contracted the respiratory disease in 2008, but he was misdiagnosed for so long that he developed complications. The coccidioidal fungus that causes valley fever spread to his bloodstream, causing cocci meningitis, a lethal illness. If left untreated, it kills about 95 percent of patients in the first two years. The only drug that worked to help control his symptoms was Voriconazole, or VFend, an antifungal drug. There are two problems, though. The drug can cost more than $900 a month. And it has severe side effects, including an outbreak of cancerous lesions on Juan’s skin. “We can’t

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Vatican-Sponsored Event Draws World Faith Leaders To Modesto

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 02:11:55 +0000

Faith leaders from all over the world have traveled to Modesto this week for a meeting dedicated to social justice. FM89’s Kerry Klein says it’s the first event of its kind in the U.S. It’s called the World Meeting of Popular Movements, and it’s convened by The Vatican--though Pope Francis won’t be making an appearance. The meeting is a chance for faith leaders and advocates to discuss migration, workers’ rights and housing, and the environment. "We believe that by bringing people of faith and grassroots leaders together in dialogue, we will be able to take steps forward for racial, economic and social justice," says Thomas Weiler, lead organizer for Faith In Fresno. The three previous world meetings were held in Rome and Bolivia. Weiler says this year’s San Joaquin Valley location was intentional. "We are the epicenter of so many forces of exclusion--in terms of the impact of the economy, that leaves so many people behind, and the impact of immigration issues on families, now more

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With Heightened Focus On Dam Safety, Lake Isabella Plans Move Forward

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 02:28:38 +0000

When Isabella Dam was built back in the 1950’s northeast of Bakersfield it was hailed as a great engineering achievement. The structure held back the mighty Kern River to provide water for farmers and communities, and helped protect the Southern San Joaquin Valley from floods. But a little over 10 years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers learned that the dam had three problems. Geologists discovered an active fault runs under the dam. Hydrologists learned that there was a risk the earthen dam could be overtopped during an extreme flood event, and engineers discovered the structure had seepage issues at the base. According to Kern County officials, in a worst case scenario with the reservoir full and a failure of the main dam, some parts of Bakersfield could be under 20 feet of water or more. That possibility led the Corps, which runs Lake Isabella and the dam, to change the way they operate the dam lowering by water levels to reduce the risk, and to begin designing a solution. So

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At The World Ag Expo Farmers Remain Optimistic About Trump, But Wary

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 02:17:01 +0000

The 50th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare has now officially come to a close. The massive fair draws farmers and agricultural professionals from all over the world to check out the newest in farm equipment and technology as well as cut deals and make professional contacts. This year, the buzz around the show wasn't just about machinery, it was also about politics. Despite losing California badly in November's election, President Donald Trump drew broad support from the state's agriculture industry. Among the farmers Valley Public Radio interviewed at the show this week, there was broad general hope about the future of the agriculture industry under President Trump. A particularly strong advocate was Robert Franklin, a Trump voter, who splits his time between growing apples in eastern Utah and raisins in Brazil. He is hopeful Trump will remove what he sees as government interference, like overtime rules and environmental regulation, which he thinks makes agriculture work harder. “Just

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State Data Show Nearly 300 Water Systems Out Of Compliance

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 01:34:51 +0000

The state has released new data on California’s drinking water--and they reveal almost 300 public water systems are out of compliance with state standards. The data and an interactive map are part of the state water board’s new Human Right to Water Portal . They reveal 292 non-compliant water systems across the state. Violations include unsafe levels of arsenic, nitrates, and other contaminants, as well as non-compliant treatment techniques. "When you think about safe and affordable drinking water, you might think about Flint, for example, but what most Californians are not aware of is that right here in our own state, over a million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year," says Jonathan Nelson, policy director of the non-profit Community Water Center. The San Joaquin Valley contains dozens of non-compliant water systems, which stretch from Humboldt County to the Mexican border. Nelson says determining the extent of the problem is the first step of many. "We can

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Young Artists Spotlight: Bakersfield High School Chamber Singers

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 00:26:02 +0000

This week on FM89's Young Artists Spotlight we feature a performance by the Bakersfield High School Chamber Singers. Director Christopher Borges leads the group in performances of material ranging from the medieval choral music to contemporary pop songs. Selections: Dixit Maria, by Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612) A un giro sol, by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) Sweet Day, by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Estrela e lua nova (arr. Heitor Villa-Lobos) White Winter Hymnal (pop song) Just the Way You Are (girls’ group Valentine gram) Support for Young Artists Spotlight comes from the Bonner Family Foundation; Dr. Alice Martinson and Carole Sturgis.

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Valley Edition February 14: Oroville Dam; ACA Budget Impact; FUSD; Bakersfield Freeways

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:07:06 +0000

This week on Valley Edition we get an update on the situation at Oroville Dam, a progress report on plans for a new freeway in Bakersfield, and take a look at how county budgets could take a hit with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Here's this week's show: Segment 1: Oroville Dam Update - Guest: Capital Public Radio reporter Steve Milne Segment 2: FUSD Superintendent Search - Guest: FUSD School Board President Brooke Ashjian Segment 3: Affordable Care Act Repeal Could Hit County Budgets - Report by FM89's Jeffrey Hess Segment 4: Construction nears On Bakersfield Freeway - Guest: Bakersfield City Councilmember Andrae Gonzales, Ward 2 Segment 5: Japanese-Americans Mark 75th Anniversary of Internment Order - Guest: Fresno County Superior Court Judge Dale Ikeda

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Health Law Repeal Could Hit County Budgets Hard

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 20:17:59 +0000

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried. Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Much of the reporting focus has been on what will happen to the thousands of valley residents who have found new insurance coverage either through Covered California or, more importantly, Medicaid expansion. However, behind the scenes a big transformation has been underway at local hospitals and county governments as they have adjusted to a new health insurance reality that has saved millions of dollars on the local level. With the potential for that to change local leaders are taking a closer look at the fiscal impact

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Brooke Ashjian: Morale Is High In FUSD Following Hanson Departure

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 20:01:19 +0000

For the first time in a decade, the Fresno Unified School District is searching for a new superintendent. School board president Brooke Ashjian told Valley Public Radio in an interview on Valley Edition that he believes morale in the district is the "highest I've ever seen it" following the departure of longtime superintendent Michael Hanson on February 1st. Ashjian, who was one of Hanson's strongest critics reiterated his claims that the FBI investigation into district school construction practices is still active, contrary to statements made by the former superintendent. He also said the district needs to stiffen school discipline procedures, after recent events including the assault of a teacher by a McLane High School student.

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Japanese-Americans To Mark 75th Anniversary Of Internment Order

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 19:25:04 +0000

On February 19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Oorder 9066 which led to the forced removal of Japanese-American citizens from their homes and farms on the west coast, placing them in internment camps. Many of the families that were rounded up and sent to the camps came from the San Joaquin Valley. Many stayed there for years, and some lost their homes and farms. Now the local Japanese-American community is marking the 75 th anniversary of the order with ceremonies and a new exhibit at Fresno State's Henry Madden Library. We invited Fresno County Superior Court Judge Dale Ikeda, of the Japanese American Citizens League to join us to talk about the exhibit, and how this dark chapter of American history remains relevant today.

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Construction On Bakersfield's Centennial Corridor Freeway Nears

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:06:00 +0000

For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months. But there are challenges. The neighborhood of West Park lies in the way, with dozens of homes either in the path of the future freeway or adjacent to the planned structure. Those homes are in Ward 2, which is represented by new Bakersfield City Council Member Andrae Gonzales, who joined us to talk about the latest progress on the project on Valley Edition.

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Young Artists Spotlight: Central Unified Guitars 2017

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:49:40 +0000

Today on Young Artists Spotlight we hear a performance from two classical guitar ensembles from Central Unified School District in Fresno, led by instructor Brian Garcia. He writes this about his students and the guitar program: Our students have the chance to train in 6 year cohorts beginning in the 7th grade and continuing through the 12 grade. The idea is to provide a curriculum and environment that helps each student reach their potential as a musician and performer. We train with classical and flamenco guitar methodologies. None of our kids take private lessons because they cannot afford the cost. Our program is designed to offset this disadvantage. Music is also a vehicle to teach students about the learning process. Students are guided on a "music walk" which is a similar technique used for concepts in print via language arts. They learn to look for difficult passages, key signature, time signatures, and design a schedule and practice plan that is realistic in conjunction with

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Sheriffs Mims And Youngblood Meet With President Trump

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:38:34 +0000

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims were among the law enforcement officials who met with President Trump today as part of the Major County Sheriff’s Association conference. Mims: “He pledged his support for law enforcement saying that we’re going to work together to keep our communities and nation safe.” Mims says Trump also repeated his calls to step up deportations of individuals suspected or convicted of crimes who are in the country illegally. Mims: “What the President said about that in general is 'let’s get the bad ones out,' and I think that reflects on what we’re doing in Fresno County. No local law enforcement in the field asks questions about a person’s legal status. That occurs when someone is booked into the jail, ICE does their job and determines if they are going to take them into custody or not.” On Tuesday Mims also met with Senator Dianne Feinstein to talk about the possibility of Congress passing immigration reform, as part of

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Treat, Educate And Revive: The Valley’s Three-Pronged Approach To Opioid Overdose Prevention

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 22:18:19 +0000

Host intro: Last week, we brought you a story about the San Joaquin Valley’s opioid epidemic, which manifests in inordinately high rates of painkiller prescriptions and hundreds of overdose deaths every year. This week, we explore three strategies that health officials and advocates are using to take aim at the problem. FM89’s Kerry Klein begins at a safe space for drug users. For over 20 years, meth and heroin users from around Fresno County have relied on the Fresno needle exchange for free medical care and all the clean syringes they need. Now, users can also get something else here: a nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose. Three months ago, volunteers began handing out Narcan prescriptions as users walk up to the exchange. Like an Epi-Pen to an allergic reaction, Narcan can stop an opioid overdose in its tracks. Doug, a heroin user, has seen the antidote in action. “I had a friend, he had overdosed. He was dead, heart stopped, turned blue,” he says—then a neighbor ran in

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