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California Fires Shine Light On Little-Known Private Firefighters

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were among celebrities who  reportedly had help defending their homes against California wildfires: private firefighters. Some blasted the celebrity couple for employing what they deemed concierge firefighters. But private wildfire defense has actually been around for years and is more accessible than it might seem. Weve responded to over 550 wildfires on behalf of the insurance industry, says  David Torgerson , president of  Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc. , a...

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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We’re going to hear from a few San Joaquin Valley residents about how they celebrate Thanksgiving. Like most families, it’s a time for them to gather, cook, and the menu usually includes the expected turkey and mashed potatoes. But they also incorporate other cultures into their gatherings.

 

You can hear the five stories by listening above. Below is a bit about each person's story.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

After tearing through nearly 250,000 acres in Northern and Southern California, the devastating Camp and Woolsey Fires are creeping toward full containment. But their destruction may not be over: They’ve so far killed 82 people, with hundreds still missing; and though they’ve destroyed over 14,000 homes, just as many are still being threatened.

Monica Velez

Naomi Hendrix prepares a kale caesar salad in her downtown Fresno restaurant. She says it’s one of the customer favorites. She throws some beans and avocado on top of the bed of kale, and adds some hummus and crackers on the side.

Hendrix is the owner and executive chef at Raw Fresno. The cuisine is all plant-based -- meaning no processed or animal products are used. This Thursday will be the second time Hendrix gets to serve Thanksgiving meals at her restaurant.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

While this week is very focused on Thanksgiving, let’s stop for a moment to talk about the day that follows: Black Friday. Many use the day to get a start on holiday shopping, but some stores have boycotted the event. REI, an outdoor equipment store, started the hashtag “Opt Outside” to encourage people to spend the day outdoors instead.

Courtesy of Don Simmons

Thanksgiving can make us think about how to give back -- maybe it’s serving food at a homeless shelter or donating canned goods. But what about the rest of the year? I spoke with Don Simmons, a longtime community organizer and professor in the Humanics program at Fresno State about the prevailing needs in the Central Valley and how to get involved.  

Listen to the interview above to hear Simmons talk about the Humanics program, and how to find ways to better serve your own community. In his words, it can be as simple as taking a walk and talking to people.

Alice Daniel / Valley Public Radio

Last week, at the Lanna Coffee Company in Downtown Fresno, entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to judges. It was all part of the Spark Tank Pitch Fest put on by Fresno Pacific’s Center for Community Transformation. Each business presented its idea to create social good, from an app to teach financial education, to a program that teaches marketing skills to youths. By the end of the competition, the judges awarded all five contestants from $1,500 to $4,000 to start or grow their social impact businesses.

On today’s show, we look at how the San Joaquin Valley’s cultural diversity has influenced Thanksgiving traditions--and food. We also speak with a humanics professor about how to incorporate more giving into our lives. And, as wildfires force tens of thousands of Californians to face Thanksgiving without their homes or loved ones, we learn about the risk of wildfire in our part of Central California. We also hear from local companies looking to invest in social good.

On this week’s Valley Edition, we explore the consequences of last week’s elections, including embattled Measure P, a sales tax that would have improved Fresno’s depleted park system but was voted down. We also look inside Tulare Regional Medical Center, which is open again after a year of licking its wounds and trying to move beyond its scandalous past. Later, we honor Veterans Day by hearing from residents of a veterans home in Fresno.  Listen to the audio above to hear that and more.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

If Measure P had passed, it would have created a 3/8 cent sales tax to fund parks and trail maintenance, and arts programming over the next thirty years. The “Yes on P” campaign was advocating for safe, clean parks.

But in one advertisement from a Measure P opposition group, called “Fresnans for a Safer Community, No on P,” Police Chief Jerry Dyer says this:

We’ve become more familiar with stories and reports about how widespread the opioid crisis has become, but what about the loved ones of those caught in addiction -- their family and friends? In her first book, Central Valley author Tina Hogan Grant writes about this from her own perspective. Her book is called, "Reckless Beginnings" and it’s based in part on her own life experience watching her sister suffer from a substance use disorder.

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Valley Public Radio Announces Joe Moore As New President & General Manager

CLOVIS, CA - The Board of Directors of White Ash Broadcasting has named Joe Moore as Valley Public Radio’s new President & General Manager. Moore has been serving as interim president since the spring, following the death of longtime President & GM Mariam Stepanian. In 2010, Moore was hired as Valley Public Radio’s Director of Program Content. In that role, he helped develop the station’s award-winning local news department, and accelerated the station’s adoption of new technologies...

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Valley Public Radio Announces Alice Daniel As News Director

Valley Public Radio has announced the hire of Alice Daniel as the station’s news director. A longtime correspondent for KQED’s The California Report, Daniel will supervise the station’s growing local news department. Valley Public Radio’s interim President Joe Moore said Daniel is the right fit to lead the station’s journalism efforts. “Alice is a talented reporter and educator, who always finds a way to bring out something special or unexpected in her stories,” said Moore. “Six years ago we...

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Valley Public Radio Mobile App

Whether you're an Apple or Android user, you can now take Valley Public Radio with you wherever you take your smartphone or tablet. The station has launched its first-ever mobile app - known as "KVPR" which is currently available for download in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play marketplace. The app features one-touch access to Valley Public Radio's live audio stream, making it even easier to listen to the station. Users will also find the latest news coverage from the station's...

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