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Last Build Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:34:07 +0000

 



Bootjack Residents Brace For Detwiler Fire Evacuations

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:38:23 +0000

As the Detwiler Fire continues to grow, residents in the surrounding area are growing increasingly nervous. Many residents are already making preparations to evacuate if necessary. One of those residents is Jack Wass. Wass is a lifelong resident of Bootjack which is just a few miles southeast of Mariposa on the edge of the evacuation zone on Highway 49. Wass and his friend are trying to jumpstart his truck to make sure it is ready to roll in case they get word they have to leave. Standing in the smoke filled air with ash falling around him, the 80-year old Wass says he hasn’t seen a fire this big in the area in decades. “Everybody is worried about it. It is a bad one. You have to be worried. I don’t think I will get evacuated but you never know,” Wass says. But outside of making sure the truck is ready to roll, Wass says he is simply going to wait for the word to get out. “I am just going to load my dog and go. That is what I am going to do.” Wass laughs. Wass’ daughter Shelly Claspill


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/bootjack.mp3




Mariposa Residents Flee, Wait In Awe Of Fire That Could Destroy Their Town

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:00:23 +0000

On Tuesday when the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa doubled in size residents were forced to evacuate. They were left questioning whether their homes and businesses would be engulfed in the flames approaching the town. Sharon Capps, her sister Janice Lindgren and I are watching a massive DC-10 plane drop load after load of retardant on a glowing hill above the old-gold mining town of Mariposa. “This is really bad, it’s the biggest fire I have seen here,” Capps says. “There’s a helicopter right there. It’s going way back like way towards Yosemite.” The sisters are camping on a plot of land one of them own not too far from here. They evacuated their homes just south of Mariposa early knowing a fire can rapidly move through the steep grassy terrain in this area. “It looks like the wind has calmed down now, but at 4 o’clock [Tuesday] the wind was whipping,” Capps says. “You don’t want to get stuck in a whole where you can’t get out.” Mariposa, the Gold Rush town just miles from their homes, was


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/edr_DETWILERSUPERSPOT2_7-19-17.mp3




Utility Companies Embrace Drones For Efficiency, Safety

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:10:06 +0000

On a hill overlooking Millerton Lake in Fresno County a group of workers are gathering around a cell tower. They’re watching a tiny white drone slowly circle the tower from the ground all the way to the top. Quasie Jones is with the drone imaging company Skycatch . “So what it’s doing is taking a picture every two seconds,” Jones says. “So by the end of it it’ll basically have probably like five or 600 photos. So then our technology renders that and creates a 3D model.” After the model of the tower is created the drone can then make decisions on its own on on whether there’s anything wrong. It does this by comparing previous photos and video of the tower with what’s recorded today. If there's anything off then it notifies AT&T. It’s a dangerous job that can take hours if done by a person . Art Pregler with AT&T’s Drone Program says his team’s fed thousands of photos and video into an algorithm to teach the drone what to look for. “A technician will just get a trouble-ticket


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/EDR-DronesUtility.mp3




Google-Backed Project Brings 20 Million Mosquitoes To Fresno

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:33:32 +0000

Last week it made national headlines: a company with ties to Google is releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno. It might sound like a bad idea, but it's actually part of an innovative plan called "Debug Fresno" that aims to stop the local spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can spread dengue fever and the zika virus. Verily Life Sciences, a division of Google's parent company Alphabet, Inc is working with Fresno's Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District on the project. It's the continuation of an effort launched on a much smaller scale last year, which Valley Public Radio previously reported. Steve Mulligan who runs the district joined us on Valley Edition today to explain that the 20,000,000 male mosquitoes won't bite, and are carrying the Wolbachia bacteria, which officials hope could help prevent them from reproducing. We also talked about how Google got involved with the project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVozrgEwi_Q


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-18-17_Mosquito_Segment.mp3




Arts And Crafts And Insulin: Summer Camp Offers Kids With Diabetes A Breath Of Fresh Air

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 22:45:26 +0000

School’s out and the weather’s hot, so this week, we decided to escape the heat of the valley and go to camp in the mountains. Bearskin Meadow Camp is a not-so-typical summer camp near Hume Lake, where campers do more than play outside and share campfire stories. Lexie Watkins wants to be on Broadway when she gets older. So today, while other kids are out hiking, playing ultimate Frisbee and learning outdoor cooking, Watkins is on a small amphitheater stage surrounded by sequoias and aspens doing improv sketches. She’s in the driver’s seat of a chaotic imaginary taxi, trying to guess that her riders are Rapunzel, a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson impersonator, and a petulant smartphone-obsessed child. “I really can't see myself anywhere else besides the stage,” says the high school junior from Bakersfield and a regular at Bearskin Meadow. “It's my safe spot; it's my comfort zone.” When the bell rings for lunch, high schoolers rush out of cabins and athletic fields, walking along dirt


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/kkdiabetescamp.mp3




Valley Communities Worry USDA Changes Could Hurt Rural Infrastructure

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 22:40:42 +0000

When new presidential administrations come into office, they often make changes to agencies and appoint people who share their political outlook. The same is true under the leadership of President Donald Trump. However, one seemingly obscure reorganization involving leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program is sending shockwaves throughout Central California and beyond. One of those concerned is Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer. Thanks to the USDA, Boyer has plans to replace the town’s 60-year-old wastewater treatment plant which today creates an intense smell in the middle of the California summer. “As you can see the aerator out there in middle churning the water around aerating it. It also brings some of the air and the waste water up and we are down wind right now. It is not real bad but you wouldn’t want to come out here and eat your lunch,” Boyer says. The open air pits contain anything and everything flushed down the drain from human waste to


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/usda_trump.mp3




Outdoorsy 8: Stargazing And Night Skies

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:37:18 +0000

Okay, you know it, we know it: Summer in Central California is hot. Really hot. So hot, we know that even if we had an awesome activity to talk about, most of you probably wouldn’t do it. At least, not during the day. Instead, we’ve got an idea for something cool to do after the sun has retreated below the horizon: stargazing. In this episode we talk all about gazing into the heavens. We’ll go to a star party at Millerton Lake and learn how some people are trying to protect the night sky for future generations. We’ll also hear about an upcoming festival dedicated to dark skies in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Guests: Brian Bellis , Star Party Coordinator with Central Valley Astronomers Peter Strasser , Technical Director of the International Dark-Sky Association Nancy Emerson , Chairperson of the Santa Barbara County Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association Savannah Boiano , Education Director for the Sequoia Parks Conservancy Dark Sky Festival - Sequoia and Kings


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/edr_kk_OutdoorsyStars_7-17-17.mp3




Valley Edition: July 18 - Drones; USDA; Mosquitoes; Summer Camp For Kids With Diabetes; Outdoorsy

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:11:03 +0000

On this week's program our team reports on drones, a summer camp for diabetic youth and how potential cuts to the USDA could hurt some in the region. We also hear from Steve Mulligian with the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District about a project funded by Google where 20 million mosquitoes will be released this summer throughout the Fresno area. Ending the show we hear the latest installment of our podcast Outdoorsy. This time it's all about the stars.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-18-17_R1CompleteShow.mp3




Where's The Fish? Is It The End Of Bakersfield's Historic "Trout's" Nightclub?

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 22:58:26 +0000

For decades Trout's Nightclub has been a fixture in the Oildale neighborhood of Bakersfield. It was the musical home of people like the late Red Simpson and others who helped make the "Bakersfield Sound" incredibly popular among country music fans in the decades following World War II. The venue was also considered one of the city's last original honky-tonk clubs. But earlier this spring the bar closed, and doesn't show any signs of reopening soon. There's also an additional loss to fans of country music history - the famous "Trout's" sign has disappeared, and the new owners of the building claim it was stolen. Journalist Steven Mayer of the Bakersfield Californian has been following the story and the search for the sign, which has now gone nationwide, even attracting attention in Nashville. Mayer joined us on Valley Edition to talk about what the loss of the venue means for the community.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-11-17_Trout_Segment.mp3




How A Small Group Of Fresnans Got The State To Change Course And Send $70 Million Their Way

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 22:23:58 +0000

It’s not usually easy to get the state of California to quickly adjust how it spends money in places like the Central Valley, especially after the Governor Jerry Brown himself comes to town for a major bill signing. But that’s exactly what a group of activists in Southwest Fresno were able to do, convincing the state to make their part of town eligible for $70 million in cap-and-trade funding. Activist Chris Finley was part of the effort to pressure the state to shift a pot of money from the cap-and-trade program from downtown to Southwest Fresno and Southeast Fresno, among other areas. Near an empty field he reflects on the decades of what he considers to be broken promises of investment. “The field looks exactly how it has since I was little. And also a lot of the other fields around here. The ones on Elm have been there. Also the other parts of the city, they haven’t been developed,” Finley says. For Finley, this field and others like it represent the missing potential of the


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-11-17_WESTfRESNO_Segment.mp3




Two Years After Rough Fire, Boyden Cavern Still Sits Shuttered

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 21:37:55 +0000

In 2015 the Rough Fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the mountains east of Fresno. The blaze burned hot and fast threatening Hume Lake Christian Camps in Sequoia National Forest. But while most of the area is starting to recover Boyden Cavern has yet to reopen. But that could soon change. Usually the parking lot and picnic area at Boyden Cavern along Highway 180 in the Giant Sequoia National Monument is packed full of people. But traffic cones and caution tape have blocked the entrance for two years. The only life around is the rushing Kings River and passersby like Doug Borba that remember how low the river was last year. “It was running then,” says Borba. “You could probably walk across it then. Not now. It’s too dangerous.” Borba is from Tulare and he’s visiting the area with his girlfriend and her family from Texas. He says he would have liked to take them Boyden Cavern. He’s toured the marble cave system four times. “It was interesting,” says Borba. “When you go up in and they


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-11-17_BoydCavern_Segment.mp3




Private Domestic Well Owners Left Behind In California's Water Quality Push

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 21:37:07 +0000

The recent drought underscored the struggles of private well owners as wells across Tulare County went dry. But an underlying issue has existed all along: even those who have drinking water don’t necessarily know if it’s safe. “The problem is that those people that live outside of the city and have their own well are usually the ones that have no idea what’s in their drinking water,” says Abigail Solis , a community development specialist with the Visalia non-profit Self-Help Enterprises . Solis says many residents simply don’t test their water. “They are under the misconception that because they live out in the country that their water is clean or somehow better than the water in the city,” says Solis. But it’s not. Wells in this area commonly contain unsafe levels of nitrates, which are byproducts of the fertilizer used throughout Tulare County. Drinking them is particularly harmful to infants. It restricts the flow of oxygen to the body and can lead to so-called “blue baby syndrome”


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-11-17_WICCONT_Segment.mp3




Big Decisions Loom On "Twin Tunnels" Delta Water Project

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 19:10:13 +0000

It could be California’s biggest water infrastructure project in two generations – a plan to build two massive, 35 mile-long tunnels deep beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Dubbed California WaterFix, it would send water from Northern California to farms and cities in the south, bypassing the fragile delta ecosystem. After years of study and fierce debate, the plan could be headed for a turning point in the coming months. Two federal agencies recently issued a biological opinion that allows the project to move ahead, and decision on whether a group of water districts is willing to pay for the $17 billion project is expected within 90 days. To learn more about the latest developments we spoke with Alex Breitler, who covers water issues for the Stockton Record.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/phpJp7z5J




Valley Edition: July 11 - Contaminated; Boyden Cavern; Steven Mayer; Delta Tunnels; Homelessness

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 17:47:27 +0000

This week on Valley Edition or team reports on stories about private well owners, Boyden Cavern, homelessness and cap and trade. We also hear from The Stockton Record's Alex Breitler about the Delta tunnel plans. Later we hear from the Bakersfield Californian's Stephen Mayer about the case of a missing sign in Kern County that means a lot to the South Valley.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_7-11-17_CompleteShow.mp3




My Valley, My Story: Surviving With Spina Bifida

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:26:39 +0000

The birth defect spina bifida is not easy to live with. It impairs the development of the spine and can lead to lifelong disability. Spina bifida is rare, but data suggest that Tulare County has the disease’s highest rate of incidence in the San Joaquin Valley. As part of our first-person series My Valley My Story, we travel to a spina bifida fundraiser in Tulare where volunteer Maria Muñoz shares how the disease has affected her life. "In my childhood, I went to a school where there was a lot of people with spina bifida, but since we moved to the valley, not really. We just decided one day that we liked Visalia. "It's affected me in so many ways, because it's not just having the disability—it comes with health issues. That's what affects me more. "I have what is called Chiari malformation, which is a compress on the brain, which caused me to have a stroke. They told me that I was born with Chiari malformation, and because of the language barrier I don't think they explained it well to


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/06/phpdC9knn




My Valley, My Story: A Father And Daughter Face Valley Fever Together

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:26:14 +0000

The fungal disease valley fever is most common in dry, desert areas of California and Arizona, and diagnoses tend to spike after dust storms and dry, windy weather. What’s less common is more than one case of the disease in the same family. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to a valley fever fundraiser in Bakersfield, where father-daughter pair Warren and Jessica Boone describe how they both contracted the disease while working for an oil company in Bakersfield. “We both worked in an oilfield yard, and having to walk back and forth through the yard, we'd cough up dirt, and we just started coughing incessantly,” says Jessica Boone. “They found the nodules in my left lung. I can't breathe, I have a lot of complications, I have chronic migraines, chronic fatigue, and I have anemia because of it. And it sucked because I had to stop [all my medications] when I was pregnant, and so the fear was passing it on to my daughter—which is a possibility, and now she's


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/06/phpEL0XVp




My Valley, My Story: Mental Health Needs Following The Erskine Fire

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:25:47 +0000

A little over a year ago, a worn out power line touched off the Erskine Fire, which razed nearly 50,000 acres near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield. The fire devastated an area already in need of mental health care. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we hear the concerns of Heather Berry, a licensed clinical social worker who serves the entire Kern River Valley. "Per capita, we have more mental illness, more people who suffer with emotional and mental health issues, because of the rural isolation. We also have a huge amount of substance abuse. "In terms of mental health providers, we’re incredibly limited. I’m the only one in private practice, therefore taking private insurances. Truthfully, it feels incredibly overwhelming because I can’t keep up. I have a constant backlog of people that I’m needing to help find services outside of this area, which is an hour’s drive away through a very challenging canyon. "It’s doubly overwhelming because this community was


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/06/phprJE1Do




Tulare Supervisors Ask Trump Administration To Shrink Giant Sequoia National Monument

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:12:02 +0000

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed an effort to cut the size of Giant Sequoia National Monument by over 70 percent. The proposal to shrink the monument came from Supervisor Steve Worthley, who used to work in the timber industry. He says the Forest Service isn’t doing a good job managing the monument, increasing the risk of wildfire. “Leaving it as a national monument will only make it that much more difficult to engage in active management which is what is necessary,” said Worthley. The monument was created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton and covers over 300,000 acres in the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. Worthley made the motion to send a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking him to cut the monument-protected area to just 90,000 acres. He said it would still provide protections to the Giant Sequoias, while opening the rest of the area to other activities under conventional National Forest guidelines. “Forests were designed to be working


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/06/GSNMTulare.mp3




Memorial For Abandoned Babies Heals The Living, Too

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:08:35 +0000

Last month, you may have heard about Miranda Eve, a mysterious baby who was uncovered in San Francisco and identified more than a century after she died. The organization that kickstarted that investigation was the Garden of Innocence , a non-profit that provides burial services to unclaimed children across the state. Over the weekend, the Fresno chapter held a service for babies abandoned in Fresno County—but the garden serves more than children. Ryan Murry was 31 when his wife gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. Adriana would have their first child. “You think this is going to be the only opportunity to become a father,” he says. “That's the kind of statement that went on my mind. Like, this was it. What comes after this? No one prepared me. Murry retreated into himself, lost interest in his job, and disappeared from his marriage. There was “a lot of inward self-destructive behavior at the time,” he says. “I was drinking alcohol—that was my pacifier.” That was six years ago. Now,


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/07/VE_6-27-17_GardenKK_Segment.mp3




Masumoto Family Farm Wants Americans To Value Petite Peaches

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 20:19:26 +0000

Before Nikiko Masumoto picks a peach she lightly squeezes it. “We want it to have some give and not be hard like a baseball, but we want it to be firm enough that it will travel to wherever it needs to go,” says Masumoto. The fruit she’s picking now is large, sweet and will be sold in the Bay Area. But a few weeks ago they were picking another variety, a tiny peach called Gold Dust. “We’re standing right now in the Flavorcrest orchard and as you can see these fruit have much more red in them,” says Masumoto. “The Gold Dust when it’s ripe is very glowing, yellow, amber, gold color.” The family planted three acres of the variety 10 years ago on their 80 acre farm in Del Rey. They knew the fruit was going to be smaller than normal, but they planted the crop anyway because the flavor is so rich and sweet. They even helped create a program with Bay Area companies and grocers to promote the fruit and were hoping that would be enough. It worked when sold directly, but a different story played


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/kvpr/audio/2017/06/VE_6-27-17_PeachesEDR_Segment.mp3