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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.

Tulare County

Currently, four out of the five Board of Supervisor districts in Tulare County have a majority Latino population. On the surface, it looks like Latinos should be well represented. But dig a little deeper and the story changes.   

“What you have in Tulare and in many other communities in the Central Valley are small farmworker communities where many of the residents are not U.S citizens and if they are U.S citizens they’re not necessarily registered to vote,” says Jesus Garcia, a local demographic consultant.

Sonia Nazario

It's hard to go through a news day without hearing something about, say, border control or that term, fake news. Well, next week, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario will address both topics at a Bakersfield College forum.  Nazario recently spoke with FM 89’s Monica Velez and talks about how she went from being an investigative reporter to more of an advocate for immigrants.

The event “Immigration and Journalism: A Conversation with Sonia Nazario” will be at Bakersfield College on October 9. To register and for more information go to bakersfieldcollege.edu. 

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.

Monica Velez

The Alomari family arrived in the San Joaquin Valley from Yemen in June. They settled into a small apartment in Visalia and have been adjusting to their new lives. 

Now that they’re thousands of miles away from the Yemeni civil war, things are a lot better than they used to be. Nageeb Alomari, a U.S citizen, went to Yemen to bring his wife and three daughters to the U.S because their living conditions were getting dangerous, especially for one of his daughters, Shaema. 

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

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.

 

Martín Navarez

On Wednesday, the annual Reel pride Film Festival kicks off five days of films from around the world that explore LGBTQ people and issues. One of the films premiering in the festival is about a drag queen known in Fresno drag scene. She’ll share a part of herself not everyone sees on stage. Leilani Price will be featured in the documentary “The Life of Lei: The Man Behind the Makeup.” We spoke with the director, Matthew Broughton, and the queen herself, Leilani, about the film. 

For the record, Valley Public Radio is a community sponsor of the Reel Pride Film Festival. 

Kern County Sheriff's Office

More details have emerged in a Bakersfield shooting spree on Wednesday that left six people dead, including the alleged killer. 

The Kern County Sheriff’s office has released the names of the suspect and victims in Wednesday’s shooting. Sheriff Donny Youngblood says there’s reason to believe the suspect, 54-year-old Javier Casarez, had a connection to many, if not all of the victims.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at how those who work in health care are at increased risk of workplace violence. In the next installment of our series, Part of the Job, we see that although hospitals in the Valley have preventive measures in place, some are finding that it’s not until an incident happens that a facility knows what more to improve.  

 

Monica Velez

The soft chatter in the waiting room at the Yarra Law Group offices in Fresno are muffled by a Food Network show playing on TV. Receptionist tap their keyboards and answer phone calls. 

A 23-year-old woman from El Salvador, who we’ll call Ana, is among the dozen people in the room. A receptionist calls her name and she goes in to see her immigration attorney, Jeremy Clason. He’s preparing documents he’ll eventually file with the immigration court in San Francisco. She speaks to him softly as she begins to tell her story.

Monica Velez

Mark Arax, who’s a journalist and author, says he remembers when William Saroyan would come over to his grandfather’s house in Fresno for dinner. And when he finally got a driver’s license, he recalls picking Saroyan up at his home on Griffith Way for those dinners.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  It’s probably obvious that hospitals can be high stress environments, and it’s not just patients who can get agitated and upset. Sometimes it’s also co-workers. Last week, we heard about how some see tolerating violence in health care as part of the job. In the latest installment in our series Part Of The Job, we look at how health care educators have been trying to change that culture of harassment and violence before their students reach the workforce.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Over the course of three months in 2017, over two thousand incidents of workplace violence in health care were reported in California. That comes out to about an incident happening at every facility every other week, or over twenty incidents across the state a day. Some experts would say that number is probably low, because they suspect the issue is underreported, for a variety of reasons.

Monica Velez

About eight years ago Mirsa Urias was working at a restaurant in Bakersfield. She was the only person working up front and says it was business as usual until one man entered.

“He pointed a gun at me and said I had to give him money," the 30-year-old says in Spanish. "I gave him money and he went running out of the store and threatened me before that. He said if I didn’t give him the money he would shoot me.”

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley is a melting pot. It’s home to diaspora from dozens of countries, and we celebrate that diversity with traditional festivals and performances throughout the year. One celebration that flies under the radar, however, is a summer camp in the Sierra foothills that teaches some traditional arts from West Africa. In this story, we take you to a music camp in Dunlap.

Some people escape into the Sierra Nevada for serenity and silence. But every August, a few hundred campers flock to the Fresno County foothills for the freedom to be loud.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In our 2017 series Contaminated, we told the stories of communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley struggling to access safe drinking water. Since then, the state has begun regulating a new drinking water contaminant. And though that regulation represents increased accountability, it brings financial challenges to some communities—and many are turning to the courts to help pay for water treatment. We begin this story in Del Rey, an unincorporated community in central Fresno County.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Summers for college students usually mean part time jobs or summer school. But this year, one group of students have dedicated their time to civic engagement. While some of them are new voters themselves, they’re hoping to get other young adults to make voting a priority.

For Valley Fever Survivors, A Growing Need: Wigs

Aug 8, 2018
Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In a small boutique in downtown Bakersfield, Brenda Blanton donned a styling gown and settled into a salon chair facing a mirror. Shop owner Kelly Giblin approached, not carrying scissors or a curling iron, but a small hairpiece resembling a dirty blonde bob with dark roots. “This is an amazing hairpiece,” Giblin said excitedly, clipping it onto Blanton’s thinning, shoulder-length hair. “We can put it on, trim it in, and it will blend with your hair and no one will ever now.”

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