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Alice Daniel / KVPR

Mohamed Ahmed has worked behind the register of the Food King in Fresno’s Tower District for more than a decade. He’s the owner, and he says many of his customers are regulars coming in every week for basic staples or beer. He expects to see them, but the pandemic changed routines and put added stress on his business. As part of our occasional series on how people are processing the magnitude of the pandemic, FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with him and produced this audio postcard.   

Fresno County Department of Health Facebook page

As the Delta variant has made its way to the most prevalent COVID-19 variant in the state, other indicators of the pandemic have been rising as well. Statewide, case rates and positivity rates are four to five times higher than they were a month ago, and hospitals are slowly seeing a rise in COVID-positive patients as well.

 

Now that most pandemic restrictions on houses of worship have been lifted, the Sikh Institute of Fresno looks much like it did pre-COVID. On a recent Sunday at this 3-story, salmon-colored temple known as a gurdwara, people stream in and out of the main worship hall, some wearing traditional saris and kurtas, others in t-shirts and jeans. While they circle the altar, a trio of men playing harmoniums and tabla drums sing hymns known as kirtan in the Northern Indian language of Punjabi.

 

Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images

Last week, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is unconstitutional. For now that means new DACA applications will not be approved, but DACA renewals will still be processed. It was the latest blow to the program, which allows more than 600,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to receive work permits and protection against deportation.

Laura Tsutsui

The city of Hanford in Kings County is celebrating its 130th birthday, and residents have filled the weekend with activities and events commemorating the milestone. To hear more about the celebration and how the city was founded, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Brad Albert, Hanford’s parks and community services director. 

Yosemite National Park Facebook

 

Last week, an unidentified Yosemite park ranger shared on Facebook the heartbreaking account of a mother bear mourning the loss of her cub after it was hit by a speeding vehicle. The post went viral, and drew national headlines, calling attention to the danger posed to wildlife by speeding motorists. To get a better sense of the magnitude of the issue, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Yosemite National Park ranger Jamie Richards.

 

 

On the next Valley Edition: Now that pandemic restrictions on places of worship have lifted, some temples serving Punjabi Sikhs have partnered with COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Plus, what happened after a brush fire tore through four immigrant-owned businesses in a Tulare County community. 

And the danger reckless driving poses to wildlife in Yosemite. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

 

Nadia Lopez / Fresno Bee

Ezize Hassan walks through the remains of his trailer home and the minimart that his family has owned for more than 50 years in the Tulare County community of Poplar. As he surveys the destruction, he recalls that on July 9, a power line running through a tree in between his property and his neighbors’ sparked.

 

“It caught fire on this tree, the first tree,” he says pointing to the pine trees that towered over the ashy remains. “It flamed up from up top; starting going down. Once it hit the floor, the CVA, their garage caught on fire.” 

The City of Fresno began inspecting a series of blighted, vacant commercial buildings on Monday as part of an ordinance the city council passed in June. 

The first is the former Gottschalks building on Fulton Street in downtown Fresno. On the outside, most windows are smashed out and boarded up. 

City councilmember Miguel Arias heads inside with inspectors. They’re all using cell phones as flashlights. 

“This is the kind of stuff we gotta look at, the gas line is off completely,” Arias says, pointing toward the ceiling.

Kern County Museum

A project is underway throughout July to remember when the now dry Kern River flowed through the city of Bakersfield. The organization Bring Back the Kern is collecting photos, videos and stories of the once moving river for an upcoming exhibit. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke with the project’s organizer Miguel Rodriguez about what the river once meant to the community and why he wants to bring it back.

 

On the next Valley Edition: With the recent excessive heat wave and the drought, small farmers worry about the survival of their crops. 

Plus, the legislative effort to overturn a state law that allows some workers with disabilities to earn less than the minimum wage.   

And Fresno’s Cambodian community launches a weekly night market. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 


 

Amy Wu

A new book from journalist and author Amy Wu explores how a growing number of women are blending agriculture with technology to find new solutions to feed the world. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke to Wu about her book, “From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators Revolutionizing How Our Food is Grown,” and how women are bringing a diversity of perspective to the agricultural industry.

Tarjan Center at UCLA website, Barc website, John Bolle and Vivian Haun LinkedIn

Since 1938, employers in California have been able to apply for a certificate that allows them to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage - in some cases as little as $2 an hour. Some say the program, called 14(c), creates opportunities for people who otherwise could not find employment. Others say it is exploitative, and a state bill has been introduced to end the practice.

Data from EPA and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

California’s 2020 wildfire season was indisputably historic: Fires burned a record-high 4.3 million acres in the state, and five of the blazes went down among the 10 largest in our recorded history. Many were touched off by widespread lightning sieges, which hadn’t occurred at such a high rate since 2008.

 

The crowd is slowly filling in on this Friday, as triple digit temperatures blaze the grounds of Fresno’s largest Cambodian temple at Clinton and Valentine.

Guests are taking refuge in corners with shade, watching singers perform on the main stage. 

Other visitors braving the sun are lined up at vendor booths, set up in rows along the main courtyard. The smell of cooked meats fills the air. Danny Kim says this is all familiar to him.

“I travel to Cambodia a lot and night market is the most popular thing in Cambodia.” 

Alice Daniel / KVPR

Pete Oliver likes to say that his small green Army jeep is older than he is, and he’s 76. But it still runs well after a few starts, and he uses it to drive around his small farm west of downtown Fresno. On this day, he takes the jeep out to where his watermelons are fading in the heat. 

“See that little light area in the middle of the melons there,” he says pointing to white spots on the leaves that have been baked by the sun.

 

Gladys Dick McKinney has just made a quick stop for strawberry jello at the Dollar General on Highway 180.

She’s making a cake for her brother’s birthday but before she heads out, she takes a minute to talk to me about the proposed name change and even asks me to sit in her air conditioned car. 

 

She says she’s lived here all of her life and doesn’t mind the name.

 

“As far as Squaw Valley offending me, that name does not offend me. And I'm a Indian woman, a mother,” Dick McKinney says.

 

On the next Valley Edition: Rural communities throughout California lack vital healthcare infrastructure: how some local counties are grappling with vaccine deserts. 

Plus, the political fight to bring safe drinking water to San Joaquin Valley communities.

And how to prepare for yet another summer of dirty air. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

 

USFS INCIWEB

 

 In 2020, the Creek Fire and other blazes throughout California billowed so much smoke into the San Joaquin Valley that, at times, the sky turned brown and ashes accumulated on cars and sidewalks like snowflakes. 

Office of Senator Melissa Hurtado

When the one working well serving the unincorporated community of Teviston in Tulare County stopped working last month, the roughly 1,000 people who live there were left without running water in the middle of a drought. As the community waits for bureaucracy to clear the way for the well to be repaired, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has been pushing for a legislative fix to the Valley’s water infrastructure. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with her about the status of the bill she authored, and what’s next for the people who call Teviston home.  

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