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In-Depth

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.”

Greg Ballmer

In a small section of Kern County, outside the city of Bakersfield, a dirt ridge rises above the farmland. It’s home to a couple of cell towers, an orchard, and a creature that we didn’t know was there up until the last 25 years. In fact, it's by chance that this animal is no longer flying under scientists’ radar.

The first scientist to identify it was Greg Ballmer, a retired entomologist.

In 1997, Ballmer was driving down Highway 99, just south of Bakersfield,

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One perception of homeless individuals might be that they’re alone, dealing with substance abuse or mental illness. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes a homeless person has family nearby, and just a strained relationship.  We reported on a Fresno County program that helps house parents and children, usually after they’ve been separated by the courts. This week, we meet one parent who used that emergency housing. Her name is Christina Montalvo, and she spent some time on the streets alone, while her kids lived with family.

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

Working 11 hours shifts in corn fields in Mendota is some of the hardest work to do. Add school and immigration court to the mix and you might start losing track of the days, like one teenager who recently moved to the Valley.  

“I would wake up at 11 at night to make food and leave at about 12:15,” he says in Spanish. “We go into work at 1 a.m. and get off at noon that day.”

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Here in North America, Switzerland may be known for snowy mountain tops, raclette cheese, and yodeling. But the landlocked, Central European country is also home to one of the biggest and most ambitious science endeavors ever undertaken. And though it’s nearly 6,000 miles away, the San Joaquin Valley is leaving its mark there. We spoke to some Valley locals at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN.

State Department of Water Resources

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new bill in congress is aimed at preventing the fungal disease valley fever that’s endemic to Central and Southern California. 

The so-called FORWARD Act, introduced by Bakersfield Congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, would establish a national valley fever working group and would award grants to entities researching the disease.

Christina Lopez / Vall

The Arvin City Council is scheduled to vote on a new oil and gas ordinance tonight finalizing the decision whether the city adopts new regulations making it more challenging for oil and gas companies to operate near the city’s schools, parks, and neighborhoods. Reporter Christina Lopez has more details on the future of the oil and gas industry in Arvin.

The city of Arvin is embraced by its residents as the “garden in the sun” -- but today that garden is surrounded by at least a dozen active oil and gas wells currently drilling near schools, parks, and homes.

Marc Benjamin

If you’ve been to Disneyland, Cambria, many parts of Los Angeles, then you most likely had a swig of highly treated recycled water. Recycled water meaning, yes, it was once in a sewage treatment plant.


For many years this recycled water has helped Orange County meet the needs of its growing population and reduce the toll on its declining aquifers. Soon, the same kind of water may be coming to Clovis and Fresno’s drinking water.
 

Monica Velez

Jose Robles scrapes up handfuls of dried chilies into a bag for one of his customers at the Cherry Avenue Auction in Fresno County. He’s been selling chilies and other vegetables at flea markets in the San Joaquin Valley for 19 years.

But business has gone down, he says, mostly because people are scared to leave their homes.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We’ve reported on homelessness, but what about families who are on the brink? For some of them, finding stable housing is a way to move their lives forward after drug rehabilitation, or court-mandated separation from their kids. With recent approval to relocate, one Fresno County program is trying to make it easier for those families to find housing.

Table Mountain Casino Environmental Evaluation

Gaming tribes in the San Joaquin Valley are working different angles to seek your betting dollar.

Several projects are on the drawing board between Kern and Madera counties. There are expansions and new casinos. The first new gaming facility that will likely open is Table Mountain’s proposed casino, hotel and resort near Friant.

But with other proposals pending, when will there be too much gaming? Or is the Valley approaching oversaturation already?

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When buying a house, everyone’s motivation is different—maybe it’s the desire to start a family, or to start a new job in a new city. Today, we report on a people who move out of the Valley for an entirely different reason—one that’s related to the Valley’s ozone concentrations, which have been creeping higher as the temperature has risen.

Judy Eymann-Taylor is packing. She picks up a gold picture frame leaning against a wall and gingerly cushions it in bubble wrap. “This is a photo that's almost 40 years old now,” she says.

Monica Velez

We’re standing in the middle of 350 acres of table grapes just outside of Selma. Soon they’ll be on tables everywhere. Water drips down on the roots of the vines to keep them hydrated in the sweltering heat.

The shade of the grapevine arches keep a person, we’ll call Bob, cool. He’s a grower and labor contractor. He agreed to talk to Valley Public Radio anonymously because he fears being vocal could spur a visit from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

About a quarter of the nation’s homeless population live in California with most of them concentrated in the state’s larger cities, including Fresno. Governor Brown has responded in his latest budget by including $500 million in grants for cities to address homelessness. Fresno Mayor Lee Brand went to Sacramento to lobby in support of this funding. Despite years of work on the problem, the city’s homeless population is still significant. Some have said in recent times that Fresno has spent too much time and efforts criminalizing homelessness, referencing the so-called camping ban.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

People in cities across the country marched and rallied over the weekend against separation of families at U.S. borders. On Saturday, nearly one thousand individuals participated in the Families Belong Together march and rally in Downtown Bakersfield.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week, the city of Tulare ousted its mayor after he got involved in a heated argument on Facebook. The argument centered around agriculture and its impacts on the environment and the economy—but the story is far bigger than a few punches thrown on social media.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last month, interior department secretary Ryan Zinke wrote in an op-ed that the U.S.’s national parks are being loved to death. He specifically lamented the National Park System’s $12 billion backlog in deferred maintenance. But another symptom of the overwhelming power of tourists is ecosystems that need to be rehabilitated.

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.

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