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In-Depth

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.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Trust for Public Land just released their latest Park Score rankings of park systems in 100 cities throughout the nation. While Fresno has scored low in the past, some groups have tried to draw attention to the city’s parks. The rankings come during an effort to add an initiative to the November ballot that would raise money for parks.  

This year, the Trust For Public Land ranked Fresno at 94 out of 100 cities. The city was the lowest ranked from 2012 to 2015, but did make steady improvements in following years.  The city was ranked 90th last year.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

A lot of the news around Bitcoin has to do with its value rising and falling. Many have decided to invest with hopes its value goes up. While the total number of those with Bitcoin is just a fraction of the world’s population, some of them happen to live in Fresno. FM89’s Laura Tsutsui reports that some of these users aren’t necessarily hoping to strike it rich, but instead are trying to understand how cryptocurrency could be a part of our lives in years to come.

Anthony Yang is a researcher and content developer in Downtown Fresno.

Christina Lopez / Valley Public Radio

On June 5, Kern voters will put their voices where their ballots are and either decide to reelect incumbent Sheriff Donny Youngblood for a fourth term or award the duty to Justin Fleeman, a Senior Chief Deputy for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. FM 89’s Christina Lopez reports.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Think for a moment about neighborhoods in Fresno. Maybe you thought of the Tower District, or Fig Garden? Or perhaps it was Woodward Park or Sunnyside. What about the area west of Highway 99, between Clinton, Herndon and Grantland Avenues. Today it’s a checkerboard mix of subdivisions, rural homes, and farmland. And getting across Highway 99 to the rest of Fresno, and over the railroad, and Golden State Boulevard is a traffic nightmare. Now, the city is starting a new effort that aims to solve some big problems for area residents.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The trade conflict between the U.S. and China is heating up, and while tariffs on the steel and agriculture industries have taken center stage, the conflict has quietly moved into another less visible sector: It’s greatly disrupted the recycling industry. These new policies are already affecting businesses, but over time they could impact residents and city governments and even undermine state environmental policy.

James Gathany, via Wikimedia Commons

Debug Fresno is a pilot project aimed at developing a technique to control a nasty species of invasive mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. It involves releasing millions of mosquitoes infected with wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria, in three test areas in Fresno and Clovis. It may seem like a paradox, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the overall A. aegypti population, and techniques like this have succeeded in other parts of the world.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Summer is approaching in the San Joaquin Valley, and that means it’s not only the season for sunscreen and paletas, but also mosquitoes—something local authorities are working on. For the last two years, the Fresno area has been the site of an experimental mosquito control program. And it’s back again. Here we examine the project’s latest, scaled-up season, and why it appears to be working.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Over 5,000 people came to the Central Valley this weekend to watch the first World Surf League team competition, live. The event took place at Kelly Slater’s world-class wave pool in Lemoore, and some think this surf ranch is the next frontier for the sport.

Chris Estep loves to watch surfing. He says he and his wife watch the competitions whenever they can, but always from their home in Fresno, via livestream video.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley has improved dramatically over the last few decades, partly thanks to a set of sweeping clean air laws passed in the early 2000s. Over the last few years, however, one major polluting practice has risen steadily. And although it’s unclear if the increase has had an impact on air quality, advocates are concerned it will if the trend continues. We report from a family farm outside Fresno on what’s being done about open agricultural burning.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

California's June Primary is around a month away, and some local races are starting to heat up. One of them is in a congressional district that hasn’t seen a close race in years, and now the 22nd Congressional District is drawing renewed national and local attention.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

This past Sunday, April 22, was Earth Day. But did you know that the day before was the birthday of conservationist John Muir, or that the day after was the day widely believed to have been the birth and death of William Shakespeare? These may seem like unrelated occasions, but one special event brought all three together in Yosemite National Park.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Four of Fresno’s city council seats are up for re-election this year. While these are technically non-partisan races, many city issues are often decided along party lines. The stakes are even higher in one particular district that's currently held by a conservative, and is a district where voters in the last presidential election supported Hillary Clinton. Valley Public Radio’s Laura Tsutsui reports, the candidate who wins this seat could end up deciding the future of city politics.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno has long relied on groundwater to meet its needs, but a new surface water treatment plant is slated to begin operating this summer. While the city faced complications with their last treatment plant, they’re hoping the lessons learned help solve problems before they start.

Fresno’s new Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant is huge, and built to do one thing: Treat water from the Kings River, and send it out to Fresno residents.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley struggles with environmental pollution. Hundreds of thousands of residents are served with water that’s unsafe to drink, and all of us live under seasonal clouds ozone and particle pollution in the air. Water and air problems are regulated separately, but one contaminant bridges both domains. This story examines why nitrogen is such a persistent problem.

Kern Medical / Kern County

The San Joaquin Valley will soon have fewer training opportunities for doctors; one of Kern Medical’s residency programs is losing its accreditation.

Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd says he doesn’t yet know why the hospital’s residency program in surgery will need to shut down.

"We’re very disappointed by this," Judd says. "Of course once we receive the findings we will do what is necessary to rectify those findings and reopen the program."

Westlands Water District website

It wasn’t a "Miracle March" but last month's spring storms helped turn around what might have been a devastating year for California’s water supplies into one that is merely depressing. But was it too late for many valley farmers? We spoke with Johnny Amaral, deputy general manager for external affairs for Westlands Water District on Valley Edition. He joined us to talk about how this year is shaping up for valley growers, and also about some other issues in the news.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno passed a Parks Master Plan in January. The plan outlines the city’s goals to maintain and improve existing parks, and add more to the system. But over the years, the city’s parks budget has decreased. A new coalition hopes their efforts will put new life into parks, with a tax.

 

Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

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