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Change Of Destination Expected For High Speed Rail

Feb 18, 2016
California High Speed Rail Authority

A big change appears to be in the works for California’s high speed rail project. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess has more.

The original plan was to connect cities in the Central Valley to Burbank in Southern California with the first functional stretch of track. Now according to multiple media reports, the High-Speed Rail Authority appears ready to run the first trains from Bakersfield to San Jose.

The rail authority is expected to release a report tomorrow detailing the need for the change.

Kern Medical / Kern County

Kern Medical Center has a new name. But that's actually the smallest change the venerable public hospital is set to undertake in the next year. After being run by Kern County for over a century, the hospital - now branded simply as "Kern Medical" - will be spun off later this year to a newly created, independent hospital authority. 

Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd says the new name reflects a new era for the nearly 150 year-old institution. 

Study Links Oil And Gas Activity in San Joaquin Valley To Earthquakes

Feb 4, 2016
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Scientists have linked wastewater disposal from oil and gas activity to earthquakes in California for the first time. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the new study looked at earthquake activity in the southern Central Valley.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Bakersfield is searching for ways to tighten its fiscal belt thanks in part to lower oil prices. Over the past twelve months, city sales tax revenue has been nearly 5 percent below budget expectations. That’s left the city council considering mid-year budget adjustments, seeking to trim $1.4 million  from this year’s books.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  As 2015 comes to a close, Valley Edition asked two local journalists to help us take a look back at the top stories of the year. Evan Onstot of KSEE 24 and Robert Price of the Bakersfield Californian joined us to talk about the biggest news events of the past twelve months, with an eye towards stories to watch for 2016. Among the stories that stood out to our panelists:

KGOV / KGOV

California lawmakers gathered in Bakersfield today for a State Senate hearing on how to prevent pipeline “dig-in”accidents like the one in Kern County that killed an Earlimart man last month. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

http://www.bakersfield.com/thebakersfieldsound

Kern County is known around the globe for the way it revolutionized American music.  In Robert E. Price's new book "The Bakersfield Sound," he recounts how a generation of displaced Okies altered musical history. The book remembers household names like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard as well as lesser known names that influenced American music.

The Guardian

A new report from the British newspaper The Guardian says Kern County leads the nation when it comes to use of deadly force by law enforcement.

According to numbers published by the paper, 13 people have died this year in connection with the use of force by law enforcement in the county. That’s higher than the total for New York City, which has ten times the population.

LinkedIn

A Bakersfield police detective is under arrest today after he allegedly took bribes from a drug dealer. 

The FBI and US Department of Justice allege that detective Damacio Diaz accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from a drug dealer. In exchange, the FBI alleges Diaz tipped the dealer off to law enforcement activities and the confidential names of informants.

In a 16-count indictment, Diaz is also charged with retaining seized narcotics with the intent to distribute, disclosing the contents of a wiretap investigation and filing false tax returns. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has approved new rules that supporters say will streamline oil and gas production.

The unanimous vote by the board Monday endorses a new environmental report that will make most surface production activities go through a process similar to the one to get a building permit.

The state will still regulate subsurface operations.

High Speed Rail Authority

Will California’s high-speed rail system be German enough?

That question is not a joke, as I learned last month while riding Germany’s popular high-speed rail. In fact, it’s a more important question than the ones Californians have been myopically asking for years about the costs, funding, and construction deadlines of the state’s controversial project.

Flickr-Marufish

Bakersfield has become the first city in the nation to call for the extension of a federal solar panel tax credit.

The Bakersfield City Council voted 5-1 Wednesday night in favor of a resolution supporting extending the tax credit past its 2016 expiration date. The credit is officially called the Solar Investment Tax Credit and was established in 2005 to help jump start the solar panel industry.

City Council member Willie Rivera says the solar sector is still growing in Bakersfield, and ending the tax credit could take away an economic driver.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Bakersfield’s Wild West Shopping Center is getting a new owner. FM89’s Joe Moore reports on why the city council voted last night to buy the property.

The nearly 5 acre parcel sits where westbound Highway 58 dead-ends into Highway 99. For years extending freeway access on 58 to the west side has been a top city priority - a plan now known as the Centennial Corridor freeway.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition the program begins with Political Junkie Ken Rudin speaking with VE Host Joe Moore about Kevin McCarthy and how he could become the next House Speaker. 

Office of Kevin McCarthy

Fresno State political scientist Thomas Holyoke says the political future of Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy looks bright. McCarthy, Holyoke says, is the odds on favorite to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a powerful position that could mean big things for representative and the valley. Holyoke takes on some of the bigger questions facing McCarthy.

Why would McCarthy want this job if John Boehner doesn’t?

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Spurred on by a request by local oil industry leaders, Kern County is currently exploring a plan that would dramatically revamp the way the county permits oil and gas wells. Under an environmental study that's currently in the works, getting a new well permit could become as easy as getting a county building permit.

Five Years Later, Bakersfield's Roy Ashburn Reflects On His Journey

Aug 4, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A former Republican lawmaker who came out as gay months before leaving the California Legislature says he was wrong to oppose gay rights measures – including bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

Roy Ashburn termed out after representing Bakersfield for 14 years in the Assembly and Senate. He was arrested for drunken driving five years ago after leaving a gay night club in Sacramento. He came out days later.

Valley Fever Cases Down Since Drought Began

Jul 14, 2015
Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

California health experts are surprised that the incidence of Valley Fever has gone down during the drought. The fungal infection is commonly spread in arid, dusty conditions. But, even though the state is drier, the number of cases continues to drop. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg has the story.

Valley Fever peaked in 2011 with more than 5,000 cases in California. Last year there were fewer than half that. Dr. James Watt is the Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases for the California Department of Public Health.

Report Shows Potential Fracking Problems

Jul 10, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report out  Thursday says regulations for the process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" need to be tightened to prevent environmental problems.  And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, new legislation could emerge to do just that.

The peer-reviewed study from the California Council on Science and Technology was required as part of fracking legislation the state passed in 2013. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A proposed power plant that would convert coal into hydrogen and fertilizer near the community of Tupman in Kern County has been granted a six month reprieve from the California Energy Commission. 

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