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Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When Jennine Ochoa became pregnant at the end of 2017, she didn’t know what to expect. At 42, she’d waited longer than most women to start a family. But she said her first five months were easy. “I had no morning sickness, nothing,” she said. “It was completely uneventful until May.”

That’s when a dust storm rolled over her home in rural Tulare County in California’s arid San Joaquin Valley. “A week later I started coughing really bad,” she said. “The hardest I've ever coughed in my life, to the point where I was vomiting.” In just one week she said she lost 10 pounds.

California Health Care Foundation

When it comes to addictive substances, opioids like heroin and fentanyl have in recent years been dominating headlines around the country. And rightly so: Nationally, the number of opioid overdose deaths more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2016. But as concerning and dangerous as opioids are, we shouldn’t forget about another addictive substance that’s long been known to disrupt lives: Alcohol.

Matt Black/Magnum Photos / Courtesy of The California Sunday Magazine

We’ve brought you stories about undocumented immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley before, and many of them are struggling with changing policies under the Trump administration.

John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

In June of this year, the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications published a research article linking over-pumping of the San Joaquin Valley’s groundwater to rising concentrations of arsenic. The research caught the attention of water leaders from across the state, and on Thursday, October 11, many will be gathering at Fresno State for a symposium to discuss the problem of arsenic in groundwater and workshop solutions to it.

Author and Fresno State professor Steven Church has written several books, many of them as compilations of essays. His latest is called “I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part: On Work, Fear, and Fatherhood."

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

September is over, and that used to signal the end of wildfire season. But as 2017’s massive Thomas Fire showed us, wildfires in California can rage on well into December. Meanwhile firefighting has gotten a lot more complicated; there’s drought to contend with, and housing development in fire-prone areas. Six California firefighters have been killed on the job so far this year. And it’s a number that isn’t falling, unlike in other parts of the country.

Valley Public Radio

In January of this year, a state law went into effect that requires public schools throughout California to test their drinking water for lead by July of 2019. Lawmakers enacted the regulation in an effort to improve water quality at schools. And while thousands of water districts have now tested their water for lead, a special report out of the education news website EdSource found many ways in which the law is lacking.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall

With the onset of fall comes announcements for music and entertainment. This week, we talk with and organizer from one of the Valley’s oldest public lecture series on the upcoming season for the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall. Joining us in the studio is Vice Presidents of Programming, Joyce Kierejczyk. We talk about the season’s opening event, happening next week, and highlights from this year’s lineup. Tickets for the season can be found on their website.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A few weeks ago, you might have heard our interview with Vice News reporter Alexandra Jaffe about the ongoing contention between Tulare County Congressman Devin Nunes and The Fresno Bee. After The Bee published a handful of stories about Nunes’s investments and public image, he responded by calling the paper a “left wing rag.” He also aired a 2-minute television and radio ad claiming the Bee is on a “crusade” against him.

Bradley Hart / Thomas Dunne Books

Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how the Trump Administration has threatened to pull away from trade agreements, close borders, and champion an “America First” agenda. But this isn’t the first time that phrase has gone around. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, many in the U.S. actually favored a similar isolationist policy, with hopes to keep the U.S. military out of World War II. And it wasn’t just isolationists touting this idea. Among their ranks were Nazi sympathizers.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Two weeks ago, Fresno County published its suicide prevention strategic plan. The county has been developing this plan for almost two years. During that time, its rate of suicide matched the state’s at about 10 deaths for every 100,000 people, but it wants to bring that number below the state average. Lately, though Fresno isn’t the only county looking at how to reduce the risk of suicide.

 

Kern County

Lidia Gonzalez still lives in the same part of Delano she did a year ago. But even though she’s in the same place, she says one big thing is different- the district she lives in and the Kern County supervisor who represents her. 

She says it’s not just the districts that changed, but how the people in them are responding to the changes.

Since President Donald Trump took office there’s been a lot of attention on immigration policies and undocumented people. But, these talks have actually been taking place well before Trump’s candidacy. Here speaking with us is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who also happens to be undocumented, Jose Antonio Vargas. He just released his memoir “Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" that chronicles his life being undocumented and the emotional toll that takes on him.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

Since coming into office in 2017, President Donald Trump and his administration have instituted a multitude of executive orders and other changes to federal policy that have disrupted the lives of both documented and undocumented immigrants. Closer to home, however, fraud and deceit here in the San Joaquin Valley are also hindering immigrants, many of whom are already legal or are pursuing legal paths to citizenship.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

As the fifth largest economy on the globe, California is looked to in many ways as a world leader—not just in terms of agricultural production and climate change mitigation goals, but also in the field of health, where we’ve been a testing ground for new ideas in health care policy and delivery. For instance, California was an early adopter of the Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act, and health officials have launched initiatives to target specific health outcomes and risks like heart attacks, maternal deaths and vaccine exemptions.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

High-risk childbirths for celebrity mothers like tennis star Serena Williams and performer Beyonce are shining a light on a health story that’s historically flown under the radar: Childbirth is risky for women, particularly women of color. Williams, Beyonce and their babies all survived, but the U.S. does have the one of highest rates of mothers dying in childbirth of any developed country. Alarmingly, that rate rose 65 percent from 2006-2013.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

As summer winds down, and school picks back up, local theater groups are starting to plan their next seasons with which to entertain the Valley. The Selma Arts Center just announced its upcoming season, while celebrating its fifth year in action. We spoke with Nicolette C. Anderson, the Coordinator for the Center, and Juan Guzman who will be directing one of the shows, to hear what they have in store for their 2019 season.

PICO California

Ever since President Trump came into office, we at Valley Public Radio have been reporting on his administration’s changes to federal immigration policy—like its so-called “zero tolerance policy” of prosecuting asylum applicants as well as rollbacks on temporary protected status from certain countries—and their consequences on San Joaquin Valley residents and businesses.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

People are calling 2018, “the year of the woman.” More women have filed to run for office than ever before, and are advancing to the election in November. Even in the Central Valley, about half of the races for state legislature include female candidates. But despite the enthusiasm, many say it will take more than one election to bring gender equality to government.

 

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