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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. 

Marshall W. Johnson / Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Seventy five years ago this month, the streets of Los Angeles turned violent in an event that came to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The cause is still unclear, but we know this: for 10 days in 1943, white service members attacked young Latino men on the streets of Southern California, while police turned the other way. The attacks are the subject of a new young adult novel by acclaimed children’s author Margarita Engle. In 2009, the Clovis author’s book "The Surrender Tree" won the prestigious Newberry Medal, the first book by a Latina to receive the honor.

Recent state data that had raised the alarm on opioid overdose deaths turns out to have been inaccurate. 

In late May, new data from the California Department of Public Health had pointed to an alarming trend: The number of Californians who died of overdoses due to the street drug fentanyl had tripled between 2016 and 2017. We reported on the problem here, as did other news outlets.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

As summer tourism heats up at Yosemite National Park, officials there are reopening one of the park’s most popular destinations. On Thursday, the park unveiled the newly restored Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

The ceremony on Thursday marked the reopening of the stand of over 500 giant sequoias. The grove of 300-foot-tall trees had been closed to the public for three years while the park carried out its biggest ever restoration project. The goal: Reduce the human impacts on the trees while still keeping them accessible to visitors.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council voted 5-1 today to put a tax on marijuana dispensaries and related business before voters this November.

The tax proposal comes at the same time that the city is studying a change to zoning laws to allow a limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he’d like to use some of the money from the tax to step up the city’s enforcement of illegal marijuana dispensaries, other drug dealers and human traffickers.

Marc Benjamin / Valley Public Radio

Clovis has a reputation for good schools, walking trails, parks and upscale neighborhoods. It’s also one of California’s faster growing cities. People want to live there. So as the city grows, pressure is growing for developers to add new houses, often converting farmland to subdivisions.  So how do rural residents there coexist with new development while keeping their country way of life? Reporter Marc Benjamin explains how one neighborhood is adapting to change.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

California is the fourth largest oil producer in the country. As we speak, almost 81,000 wells across the state are churning out oil and gas or being used to inject wastewater back into the ground. For every three of those wells, however, there’s another one well that’s not doing any of those things—and yet they, too, can deteriorate and contaminate the air and water over time. Now, a new state law aims to prevent those hazards.

Fresno State News

Amid talk of fake news and alternative facts, Fresno State has launched a new Institute for Media and Public Trust. Led by former Fresno Bee executive editor Jim Boren, the institute aims to bring together media professionals, academics and the public to bridge understanding about the way journalists work. Boren joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the work of the new project, and how the public's relationship with the news media has changed over the years. 

Steve Yarbrough

The Central Valley has a rich literary tradition spanning generations. From Saroyan to Levine to Arax – journalists, poets, novelists and essayists have all found great inspiration in the valley’s soil, its people and the elements - good and bad - that make the region unique. The connection often extends even after a writer leaves the valley – as is the case with acclaimed novelist Steve Yarbrough.

Garry Knight / Creative Commons Flickr

California’s population is projected to age rapidly in the coming decades. By the year 2030, adults over 65 will outnumber children under 18, according to data from the state’s department of finance. Today, seniors over 65 make up 14 percent of the population, but that number will increase to 23 percent over the next 11 years. And as the population ages, issues like elder abuse are becoming more common.

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

Voters in Fresno could have the opportunity in November to vote on taxing medical marijuana businesses. But first, the Fresno City Council would have to approve the measure to go on the ballot next week. 

On Thursday the Fresno City Council is expected to decide if people can vote on November 6 to add a tax to medical cannabis businesses.

The legislation is sponsored by three council members and needs at least five votes to pass. Clint Olivier representing District 7 is a sponsor of the measure and is confident the vote will pass.

Today on Valley Edition, we learn how residents in the Kern County community of Lamont are excited about something many of us take for granted: sidewalks. We also learn about a new Buszzfeed investigation into a hit man with roots - and many victims - in the San Joaquin Valley. Plus we explore the problems of the recycling industry, and talk with Fresno author Tim Z. Hernandez about his new book "All They Will Call You."

Kerry Klein / Julia Lyu Mears

The United States' recycling industry is facing a growing crisis. China earlier this year announced policy changes that restrict its imports of the U.S.’s recyclables—changes with tremendous implications, since a third of the U.S.’s recycling exports have historically gone to China. We explored those policy changes in May, speaking with recycling companies and policy experts about what’s changed, and how to find new markets for all that plastic and paper we can no longer ship overseas.

University of Arizona Press

Five years ago, Valley Public Radio brought you the story of one man’s search for names that it seemed had been lost to history. Fresno author Tim Z. Hernandez was searching for the families of the 28 passengers who died in a plane crash in western Fresno County in 1948. The passengers on the U.S. Immigration Service flight were Mexican nationals en route from Oakland to El Centro.

Christina Lopez / Valley Public Radio

On the outskirts of Kern County lies the community of Lamont. It is an unincorporated area 10 miles southeast of Bakersfield home to over 15,000 people. This corner of the county is made up of migrant farm workers, small business owners, and immigrant families, majority Hispanic. 

Monica Velez

While the governor’s race heats up one top candidate made another visit to the San Joaquin Valley, where he met with locals and received endorsements from law enforcement officials.  

USGS photo

The recent images from Hawaii of the eruption of the Kilauea volcano have been captivating.  But closer to home, a much larger eruption once took place not that far from Fresno. Some 765,000 years ago - the blink of an eye in geologic time - a volcanic eruption created the Long Valley Caldera near present day Mammoth Lakes and forever transformed the eastern Sierra landscape. It's just 76 miles from Fresno, and it created a caldera 20 miles long and ten miles wide. While no eruptions are anticipated in the area anytime soon, Mammoth is still a hotbed for geologic activity.

Joshua Dudley Greer for The California Sunday Magazine

The tragic shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival last October in Las Vegas has largely faded from the headlines and Twitter timelines in recent months. But the story of the worst mass shooting in modern American history – a tragedy which left 58 dead – didn’t end when the sun rose on October 2nd last year. In fact, it was just the beginning of the story, as journalist Amanda Fortini writes in a new piece for the California Sunday Magazine, examining the aftermath in the Las Vegas community.

Flickr user Derek Dirks, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

After it was first reported in March, the recent E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce appears to be drawing to a close. But that’s only after it sickened 172 people in 32 states and resulted in one death in California. Why did it take so long to get under control? One reason is that produce can be difficult to trace from farm to fork, through the sometimes dozens of suppliers, distributors and wholesalers that make up the produce supply chain—but two recent initiatives are attempting to change that.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

We’re standing in a fridge that’s the size of a two bedroom apartment at Food Link Tulare County. The ice box is stacked with produce and dairy products that will soon be in the fridges of Tulare families. Development director for the food bank, Nicole Celaya, says some families who need food won’t get food.

Tanya Nichols

A new novel from Fresno-based author Tanya Nichols tells the story of an attorney, her young client, and how they both must deal with tragedies in their lives. The Circle Game is Nichols' second novel, and is set here in the San Joaquin Valley. She recently joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the process of writing the book, teaching creative writing at Fresno State, and about the inspiration for the novel.

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