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Last Build Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:25:27 +0000


As State Finalizes Prop 57 Rules, Fresno County Sheriff Still A Critic

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:06:03 +0000

Last November, 64 percent of California voters approved Proposition 57, which allows for the early release of so-called “non violent” offenders from state prison. Ahead of the vote, one of the biggest critics of the proposition was Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, who criticized the proposal for the lack of specificity in defining how the law would be implemented. At issue – what exactly would be considered a “nonviolent” offense and what wouldn’t be. Now, over nine months later, those details are again back in the news. The draft regulations were released this spring, and are set for final approval this fall. The Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert recently criticized the process in an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, saying the state isn’t giving prosecutors enough time to review cases. She also raised concerns similar to ones aired by Mims last year, saying the state's definition of what is and isn't a violent felony crime under the California Penal Code leaves

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Could Robots Replace Farmworkers In Valley Fields? Silicon Valley Hopes So

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:13:14 +0000

Let’s face it farmers are usually slow to change their practices for a couple reasons. Change usually comes with a high price tag – a new tractor can cost a half million dollars. And farmers want to minimize risk by only investing in things that have been successfully tested and in the end don’t reduce profits. But robots are slowly changing that perspective. “At the end of the day robots can go into really harsh environments where people really don’t want to work and in turn it will create new jobs like the people that are maintaining the robots, the people that are actually programming the robots,” says Jason Vazzano with Electric Motor Shop and Supply in Fresno. “It will bring a whole different facet of labor pool." He outfits basic robots with parts for farmers across the region. He’s opening a little box at their downtown Fresno office and warehouse. Inside is a small plastic square sensor that can be attached to a machine or robot. The sensor detects if something is in front of

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Valley Edition: August 15 - Ag Robots; Steve Brandau; Hospitals; Megafires

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:59:32 +0000

This week on Valley Edition our team reports on how farmers are using robots on the farm. We also here from Fresno City Council Member Steve Brandau about his proposal to ban camping in the city to discourage homelessness. We also hear from Michael Kodas with the The Center for Environmental Journalism about his book " Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame " coming out later this month.

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Author Interview: Climate Change, Forest Mismanagement Fuel 'Megafire' Epidemic

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:42:59 +0000

Wildfires have always been a part of the Central California landscape. But in recent years blazes like the Detwiler Fire (2017) and the Erskine Fire (2016) have been different. In each case, veteran firefighters who have been on wildland blazes for decades say they saw the fires demonstrating "extreme" behavior like they haven't seen before. They burned hotter, faster, and didn't die down at night as fires typically do. As Michael Kodas describes in his new book "Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame" this disturbing trend is the result of warmer temperatures brought about by climate change, and forests that have suffered after years of fire suppression policies. Kodas is the Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He joined us to talk about his book and why "megafires" are here to stay.

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Amid Homeless Concerns, Brandau Wants Fresno To Ban Camping

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 23:48:02 +0000

A Fresno City Councilmember has a new idea on dealing with the city’s homeless population – a law that would ban camping in the city. Councilmember Steve Brandau is set to take the proposed ordinance before the city council Thursday August 17th. If adopted, the law would ban camping on both public and private property in the city. Brandau says he’s been getting complaints for months from constituents about people camping in the cooking, bathing and even defecating in public. “I really believe it goes across the city. When I talk with my colleagues they’re getting the same type of phone calls I’m getting, complaints, and people in the community are getting very upset with what they perceiving happening in our community,” says Brandau. Called the Unhealthy and Hazardous Camping Act 2017, Brandau's law would also make it illegal to store so-called “camping paraphernalia” on public or private property. Brandau says he sees the proposed law as a tool law enforcement can use, as the homeless

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Studio Showcase: Eva Scow & Le Petit Strings

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:25:53 +0000

Jazz mandolin virtuoso Eva Scow and her band Le Petit Strings visited Valley Public Radio for a special performance Thursday as part of the station's Summer Fund Drive. FM89 Development Director Joe Garcia hosted the performance in the Barrman Chaney Performance Studio, which comes a day before their Friday August 11th concert at Bitwise in downtown Fresno.

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Is Algebra 2 Necessary? CSU Tweaks General Ed Math Requirements

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 19:29:41 +0000

For years, the California State University system has had a requirement that students be proficient in Algebra 2 as a pre-requisite for taking other general education math classes. That’s pushed many students into so-called remedial math classes, but it’s also led to criticism. Some say it’s a civil rights issue that blocks minority students from fields of study where Algebra 2 simply isn’t necessary. Others say it’s an important part of higher education. Last week, the CSU Chancellor’s office announced changes to the Algebra 2 rules, as well as the way the system will handle remedial education courses. To learn more, we spoke with reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn who has covered the story for Ed Source.

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Interview: Questions Remain About Possible Groundwater Contamination From Oil Production

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 19:02:21 +0000

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water. The problem has been in the news for several years, but as KQED's Lauren Sommer reports, we still know surprisingly little about the scope of the problem. She joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her report and what it means for local residents, farmers and oil producers.

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Electric Automaker Faraday Future Selects Hanford For Manufacturing Facility

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 18:41:28 +0000

Hanford's former Pirelli tire factory is mostly vacant today, but in a few years it could be producing some of the world's most advanced electric vehicles. That's the vision of automaker Faraday Future, which announced this past weekend that it has selected the Kings County facility as the site of its planned manufacturing plant. The company had hoped to build a $1 billion factory in the Nevada desert, but shelved those plans earlier this year amid financial problems. Reporter Sean O'Kane of The Verge joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the company, their products, and the challenges Faraday faces attempting to being their car to market.

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Valley Edition: Aug. 8 - Fresno Water Tower; Oil And Water; Car Of The Future Built In Hanford?

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 17:57:43 +0000

This week on the program we hear all about what the future may hold for the Old Fresno Water Tower. We also hear from Mikhail Zinshteyn with Ed Source on his latest piece about changes to the CSU system. Later in the program we are joined by KQED Reporter Lauren Sommer about her recent piece on oil waste water in California. Sean O'Kane with the online publication The Verge also joins the program to chat about his recent story on a company looking at building the car of the future in Hanford, Calif. Also on the program we hear from Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims about why she would like to see parole implemented for nonviolent felons under Prop 57.

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The Old Fresno Water Tower At Risk Of Closing

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 17:34:42 +0000

On the first Thursday night of every month, the Old Fresno Water Tower is typically full of people checking out local art that lines the walls and shelves of the historic building. But while dozens of Art Hop patrons visit the gift shop, gallery and visitors center in one of Fresno’s most recognizable buildings, the future of the downtown landmark is uncertain. The Fresno Arts Council, which runs the gallery space in the city-owned building, says it is short on cash, and may have to shut the space down within months. The possibility that tower could close doesn’t sit well with a young girl named Sandra who visited the gallery and store during Art Hop with a sponsor from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. “I have never been in this building but I think it is pretty sad that a place like this would actually get closed because I think a ton of people from an early age should come in here and learn about their town and where they are from. It is their history of where they were,” Sandra

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Push To Regulate Next Generation Wireless Tech Hits Fresno, Sacramento

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:52:47 +0000

Most smartphone users are used to an immediate internet connection in their pocket, thanks to improved phones and carrier coverage. But increasing use of data and unlimited data plans mean wireless carriers are struggling to meet the demand for a faster, better connection. To address this issue, the next generation of wireless technology has state and local lawmakers at odds. Ask any millennial how much they use their phone and the answer is “constantly.” Zac Jones, a 20 year old student and avid Red Sox fan, relies on the data in his phone to keep him connected. “I watch baseball games on my phone, I keep up with all my sports highlights,” Jones says. “I don’t use Wi-Fi at all. 24 hours a day, I’m always on data.” Despite being constantly connected, Jones is still familiar with the patience required as videos and apps buffer because the connection is slow. “We are all in the age where you want things immediately,” says Jones. “You just want something that’s quicker and everyone wants

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In California, Quest For Clean Drinking Water Often Delayed By Paperwork

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:32:49 +0000

Drive through the pomegranate and pistachio orchards between highways 41 and 99 and you may stumble upon Valley Teen Ranch , a cluster of residential homes where juvenile offenders come to be rehabilitated. Today, a few men are in their living room playing a basketball video game and making small talk with Connie Clendenan, the ranch’s CEO. “I'm for the Warriors, don't we have them?” asks Clendenan. “I'm from Oakland, so yeah,” one of the men laughs. In an ideal world, Clendenan would spend most of her time working directly with the 30 or so men who live here. “They need a lot of kindness, patience, grace, and a healthy relationship,” Clendenan says, "in order to be able to make some changes in their life.” But instead, she spends a lot of time worrying about water. Since 2008, Valley Teen Ranch’s water system has been out of compliance with state code because of arsenic contamination. She and a staff member show me 14 huge water bottles stacked up against the wall—the kind you place

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The New Frontier: Satellites Inform Fire Personnel About How Blazes Spread

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:03:26 +0000

While crews fought to keep the Detwiler Fire in California’s Central Valley from reaching the historic gold rush town of Mariposa, a separate fire crew was watching the blaze from an entirely different angle - space. “We can see the darker reds here,” says Kris Mattarochia says science and operations officer at the National Weather Service Hanford office. “This is the fire temperature hot spot. We can see pretty much this is the current location of the Detwiler Fire.” During the Detweiler Fire, Mattarochia says his team was able to detect exactly how the fire was moving in almost real-time using images from a brand new satellite. There was a moment when one of his members saw a massive flare up of heat on the screens and contacted crews on the fire. “And he said hey, it looks it looks like this fire is getting hotter,” Mattarochia says. “Do you see the same thing on the ground? Basically the meteorologist on the ground said the fire did jump the line briefly.” This technology is called

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Valley Edition: August 1 - Detwiler Fire From Space; Kern River Deaths; Contaminated; David Taub

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 20:18:56 +0000

On this week's program our team reports on fire crews using satellite data to help fight fires, about contaminated water in Madera County, as well as cell phone technology and concealed weapons in Fresno. We also hear from Lois Henry with the Bakersfield Californian about why so many people are dying on the Kern River this year. Later in the program we hear from GV Wire's David Taub about his recent trip to Washington D.C.

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Killer Kern: Should The County Do More To Prevent River Drownings?

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 19:08:45 +0000

Country legend Merle Haggard's famous song about the Kern River isn't just a musical gem, it's also a warning: It's not deep nor wide, But it's a mean piece of water my friend. I may cross on the highway, But I'll never swim Kern River again. Now after a winter season of near record rain and snowfall in the Southern Sierra, the Kern River is rushing, and reminding people why it earned the nickname the "Killer Kern." So far this summer 11 people have lost their lives in the river, and several more are missing and presumed dead. Many others have been rescued from the rushing waters. That's led some people to ask whether Kern County is doing enough to warn the public of the risk. Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian joined us on Valley Edition to talk about what a local health clinic and other groups are doing to warn the public.

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Should Fresno City Employees Be Allowed To Carry Guns At Work?

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 22:08:20 +0000

The next time you go to Fresno City Hall or see a city employee looking for people watering their yards on banned watering days, that employee might be carrying a concealed fire arm. That's if the Fresno City Council approves a new proposal from council member Garry Bredefeld. There are more than 1,500 people in the city of Fresno who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Among that group, some almost certainly are city employees working everywhere from behind a desk to doing code enforcement on abandoned properties. City council member Garry Bredefeld says those city workers should be allowed to carry their weapon on the job the same as they do off the clock. “If there are people, employees, throughout Fresno working, if they would feel safer being able to carry their weapon because they have a legal right to do so, we want to allow them to do that,” Bredefeld says. Bredefeld has submitted a resolution to the city council to make it clear that if a city worker has obtained a

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BPD Launches Investigation Into Mistaken Identity Arrest Of Teen

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 21:10:00 +0000

Late last year the California Department of Justice launched a "patterns and practices" investigation into the Bakersfield Police Department, after a series of incidents and officer involved shootings that drew national attention. New police chief Lyle Martin has been on the job for about as long, and now he has another issue to deal with: an encounter a few weeks ago between his officers and 19-year-old Tatyana Hargrove. It left the African-American woman with injuries from punches and a police K-9. There’s also a twist in this case, one of mistaken identity. Instead of the five foot two, 115 pound woman, the suspect police were looking for was actually a five foot ten, 170 pound bald man. The story went viral on social media and has made national headlines. Martin has since launched an internal investigation into the incident. To learn more we spoke with reporter Harold Pierce of the Bakersfield Californian who has been following the story and reports residents are asking the DA to

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Valley Edition Special: Mariposa County Residents Return Home After Detwiler Fire

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 21:04:17 +0000

Residents around Mariposa are picking up the pieces left behind in the wake of the Detwiler Fire. For many, that means returning to homes damaged or completely destroyed by the fast moving blaze. This week Valley Public Radio spoke with a wide range of people who were affected in some way by the fire to find out how they are feeling and what their plans are going forward. 92-year old Liotta Brewer has lived in and around Mariposa for her entire life. Her home was saved but the fire burned other parts of her land destroying barns, a workshop, and several vehicles. The fire came so close it burned her porch and melted plastic items, like an outdoor thermometer. “It’s terrible. I’m just sick. Heart sick. To see all your things go down the drain. It’s very hard. I have never (seen anything like this). I guess I have been lucky to not have any fires. It is actually just devastating to see the damage. But we will make it,” says Brewer. Chris Allen was not so lucky. His home is nearby and was

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Cap-and-Trade Companion Bill May Fall Short Of Closing Air Pollution Loophole

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 20:34:49 +0000

Lost in the coverage of the extension of California's cap-and-trade system is another bill that aims to reduce local air pollution in communities like the San Joaquin Valley. AB-617 aims to increase oversight of major stationary sources of pollution that are also regulated by cap-and-trade. Under the law, the state will now make public more data on pollution sources, and local air districts will be required to develop plans to bring these facilities into compliance with the latest available emission control technology. However, the final bill fails to close a loophole that allows polluters to avoid making those upgrades by purchasing emission reduction credits. To explain more we spoke with Julie Cart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with Cal Matters, who reports even the bill's author calls it a "downpayment" to environmental justice.

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