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Courtesy of John McCutcheon

Wisconsin-bred, Georgia-based musician John McCutcheon is folk music's Renaissance man — master multi-instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, storyteller, activist, and author.  

His latest album is a tribute to his long-time friend and mentor Pete Seeger. John McCutcheon will be performing at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno on Thursday, January 17, in a concert presented by the Fresno Folklore Society.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Fresno is home to a lot of Internal Revenue Service employees affected by the shutdown, so on January 10, members of the Fresno chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union held a rally to show their opposition. It was one of many held around the country. We spoke to workers who attended in Fresno, and most said they’re watching their savings dwindle and that they don’t have much of a financial back-up plan.

Listen to the interview above to hear more voices from the rally.

VICE News Tonight on HBO

As of this week, the partial government shutdown means many federal employees are going without a paycheck, some of whom are right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

National Historic Landmarks are typically associated with our country’s history—sites like the infamous island Alcatraz or Manzanar, one of the camps where Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II.

Monica Velez

Cars whiz by on Golden State Avenue near downtown Bakersfield as people shuffle in and out of a tan-colored building. It's surrounded by a high wall with fencing and barbed wire.

 

Three tall flagpoles loom above the perfectly cut grass -- there’s the U.S flag, the state flag, and one with the blue and green GEO Group logo. GEO is a private company that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate this building, the Mesa Verde Detention Facility.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: A plot of land in southwest Fresno that used to be a landfill is now not just a park, but a national landmark. A historian gives us the gritty details.

Plus: How are local federal employees dealing with the shutdown?  We’ll hear from Fresno IRS workers, who say they’re watching their savings dwindle.

Later we hear from renowned folk singer John McCutcheon, who’s performing in Fresno, and we catch up with arts blogger and critic Donald Munro about the shows he’s excited to watch this winter.

Self-Help Enterprises

Of all the ground Governor Gavin Newsom covered in his first week in office, he already appears to be showing a commitment to improving the state’s drinking water.

On Friday, Governor Newsom took a road trip to Monterey Park Tract, an unincorporated community in Stanislaus County. There, he and his entourage heard concerns from residents about their drinking water, which they pipe in from the nearby city of Ceres and is known to contain a carcinogen known as 1,2,3-TCP.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Law enforcement and health professionals in Fresno are reeling after three people overdosed last week on the opioid drug fentanyl. 

The men snorted what they thought was cocaine, said Fresno Deputy Police Chief Pat Farmer in a press conference on Monday. The three men, who took the drug together on January 7, felt something was wrong but fell unconscious and were discovered by a neighbor.

CLOVIS, CA - Valley Public Radio is recognizing the longtime leadership of Mariam Stepanian, the station’s late President and General Manager by naming FM89’s studio complex in her honor.

At a ceremony Saturday January 12, 2019, station board members alongside Stepanian’s family unveiled a monument sign outside Valley Public Radio’s Clovis Broadcast Center reading "Mariam Stepanian Studios."

Monica Velez

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, an undocumented high schooler in Delano received a text from her parents. It was a photo of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in their town. Her parents were on their way to work.

 

“And they turned back,” the 17-year-old says. “We stayed in the house, I didn’t go out, I didn’t go to school for a week. It’s just the constant living in fear and I don’t think anybody should have to go through that.”

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

While the state is experiencing a transition of power and new laws for the new year, lawmakers in D.C. still haven’t made progress on how to reopen the federal  government. That means some National Parks like Sequoia and Kings Canyon are currently closed, but the more popular park in our area - Yosemite - is still entertaining guests.

But there are caveats, including limited resources and staffing. No one is at the ranger station handing out maps, and outdoor bathrooms along the trails are closed.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Facebook

Two murders were allegedly committed by immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley last December, and some county sheriffs are blaming California's "sanctuary state" law for the crimes.

The day after Christmas in Stanislaus County, Newman City police officer Ronil Singh was shot and killed after pulling someone over who was suspected of drunken driving. The murder was followed by a manhunt to find the shooter. The suspect, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was later arrested in Kern County. Arriaga was in the country illegally, and had two previous DUIs.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

When we talk about healthcare in this country, one of the most common complaints is the price tag—monthly prescriptions that chip away at retirement savings and emergency procedures that can cause bankruptcy.

With a new law that just went into effect this month, the federal government is trying to tackle at least some of the problem by requiring hospitals to be more transparent about their prices. But will it really keep us better informed? Here to speak about this is Anthony Wright, Executive Director of the health consumer advocacy group Health Access California.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to monitoring air quality, we typically turn to air regulators, like the state and the local San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. But a recent state law is taking on a new strategy: Putting air quality in the hands of the community. And one person who’s excited about the opportunity is Southeast Fresno resident Lilia Becerril.

Becerril lives near the Fresno Fairgrounds and Vang Pao Elementary School. She likes it here, and she’s a kind of neighborhood career volunteer, working with local schools, and groups giving legal aid and tutoring services.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley is home to a number of renowned poets, past and present. Just yesterday, Juan Felipe Herrera, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, got a shoutout during Governor Gavin Newsom’s inauguration. Earlier this month, Fresno City College professor Lee Herrick came out with his own new book of poetry, "Scar and Flower." It's Herrick's first book since he finished his tenure as Fresno’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

On this week's Valley Edition: The San Joaquin Valley has some of the dirtiest air in the country. In Fresno and Kern Counties, a state law has introduced a new strategy to tackle the problem: putting air monitoring in the hands of the community.

Later, we look at how some undocumented high school students are navigating college applications and applying for driver licences. Some are choosing to opt out entirely.

Immigrants who are fleeing domestic or gang violence can seek asylum once again.

 

On Wednesday, a federal judge struck down a decision made by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June. Sessions’ decision disqualified domestic and gang violence claims for people applying for asylum.

 

The ACLU and the University of California’s Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies filed a class action lawsuit challenging that decision in August.

 

Jessica Felix / City of Bakersfield Solid Waste Division

Recycling the right materials isn’t just a local issue—it’s international. China has historically been one of the U.S.’s top buyers of recyclables, but for over a year, it’s been putting restrictions on which materials it will import.

Those changes led cities and recyclers to scramble to find markets for their recyclables. Some have launched outreach campaigns to change recycling habits, some are raising rates for waste management, and others are simply stockpiling their recyclables until they can find buyers.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In a loading dock in northeast Fresno, two men pull up to the warehouse at Saint Agnes Medical Center in a white moving van. They meet a contract coordinator with the hospital named Heather Ritter, who pulls out a clipboard and asks them to sign a form. “As is, no warranty, no service, you know the drill,” she says. “And no charge, how's that!”

Fresno Department of Public Utilities Instagram

Do you know what can and can’t be recycled? Which bin do you use for your Starbucks cups, your wrapping paper or your greasy pizza box? We wondered, where does everyone go to find these answers? So we sat down with the expert behind Fresno’s Public Utilities Instagram, Xitlaly Ocampo. Ocampo takes questions through the account about what can and can't be recycled, and reminds the public about things like where to recycle batteries, or whether a Christmas tree goes in the green bin.

 

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