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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Chronic absence plagues most school districts in the San Joaquin Valley. We know that students who can’t make it to school miss out on learning, and research shows that missing even three days a month over time can put students a year or more behind their peers. Thursday, the Fresno County Office of Education hosted a conference looking at ways to reduce chronic absenteeism. 

This week on Valley Edition: January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We talk to people on the front lines tackling this complex problem. 

Plus, elections are changing in Fresno County as it adopts the Voters Choice Model. Madera County is also using that model, so ahead of this year’s primary, we ask the county clerks what local voters need to know.

And later, we hear from one of the nation’s leading researchers on chronic absence in schools.  

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Kern County Fire Department Twitter

The Kern County Sheriff's Office recommended evacuation Wednesday afternoon for those within a 6-mile radius of Taft Manufacturing Co. at 19705 South Lake Road in Taft after reports of a chemical leak. Members of the Kern County Fire Department were able to stop the leak early in the afternoon, a spokesman said, but they still have to neutralize and clean up the spilled substance which leaked for at least two hours.

 

Lisa Lee Herrick

Lisa Lee Herrick reads from her recent essay Eating Thirty In Fresno: Finding Home At Hmong New Year  in the online publication Boom California and talks with FM89’s news director Alice Daniel about why so many Hmong refugees came to Fresno after the CIA’s secret war in Laos under the guidance of their leader General Vang Pao and why decades later, the city’s Hmong New Year is still a global draw.

On this week's Valley Edition: Doctors find an unconventional way to treat severe valley fever - it's the extraordinary story of a 4-year-old boy and a medical mystery. 

And writer Lisa Lee Herrick tells us how the Hmong New Year has evolved from a traditional harvest celebration to something much bigger - and why Fresno’s festivities continue to draw huge international crowds. We also hear from Fresno mayoral candidate Andrew Janz.

  

Alice Daniel

Fresno mayoral candidate Andrew Janz came to the studio to discuss his campaign strategy and vision for the city ahead of California’s March 3 primary. Janz is facing former Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

 

Researchers have been trying to understand valley fever for decades, but the playing field remained small until recently. 

“When I started in valley fever research just six or seven years ago, the field was largely full of professors and senior clinicians and really didn’t have many of the junior faculty and students as part of the group,” said Katrina Hoyer, an assistant professor at the University of California, Merced. “I think they really wanted people, there just wasn’t much funding.”

UCLA

 

Hundreds of children and their families cycle in and out of UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital each week, and yet Dr. Manish Butte still remembers the day almost two years ago when he met a young boy who could barely walk or talk and needed a feeding tube to eat. 

“We saw these very large lumps on his forehead, and the lumps were full of fungal infection and they were burrowing through the bones of his skull,” Butte said.

Rei Hotoda, music director of the Fresno Philharmonic joined Valley Public Radio's David Aus this week to discuss the orchestra's upcoming concert Beethoven@250: The Revolutionary. The Sunday January 19th concert will find the orchestra performing the Fidelio Overture, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" and his Triple Concerto, featuring Rei Hotoda, piano; Concertmaster Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, violin; and cellist Julie Albers.

Kathleen Schock / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom stopped in Fresno on Wednesday to promote his proposed $1.4 billion plan to tackle homelessness, which includes $11.5 million in emergency grants for Fresno County. 

Speaking at a mental health crisis facility in Southeast Fresno, Newsom said the grants, to be disbursed within the next few weeks, are intended to go toward financial assistance for housing as well as emergency trailers and tents.

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed 2020-2021 budget on Friday, a $222 billion package encompassing homelessness, affordable health care and criminal justice reform.

StoryCorps trailer
Ryan Dorgan

Valley Public Radio is proud to partner with the groundbreaking personal history project StoryCorps, which will visit California’s San Joaquin Valley in 2020. The StoryCorps MobileBooth – an Airstream trailer converted into a mobile recording studio will be in Fresno from February 12, 2020 through March 20, 2020, located the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) in downtown Fresno.

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. The Fresno League of Women Voters is kicking off its celebration with a month-long First Ladies portrait exhibit at city hall showcasing a rare collection of oil paintings. But just how active in the suffrage movement were some of the First Ladies? Here to talk with FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel is Fresno State Communication Professor Diane Blair. She studies the communications strategies, also known as rhetoric, of First Ladies. 

Flickr User Michael Patrick, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Farmers across the country have had a tough few years, between drought and climate change, evolving regulations, and of course, tariffs due to the Trump administration’s escalating trade war abroad. In one big way, however, 2019 was a good year for agriculture: Farmers received their largest subsidies in over a decade.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In January 2018, the Tulare County City of Woodlake became home to the San Joaquin Valley’s first-ever recreational marijuana dispensary. Two other businesses, a large-scale cultivator and extract manufacturer, opened in 2019.

As of early 2020, the city’s tax revenue generated by the industry topped $800,000—far more than the $20,000 per month originally projected. In this interview, FM89’s Kerry Klein sat down with Woodlake Community Development Director Jason Waters to learn about what the windfall has meant for the city and what’s in store for Woodlake cannabis in 2020.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Fresno’s gangs have been in the news as details emerge about the mistaken retaliation by a Fresno street gang called Mongolian Boys Society in November that left four dead and six injured. Court documents related to arrests in the case include details about how the gang is organized and makes its money. That led us to wonder about the current state of gang activity in Fresno and how it’s being addressed. To find out more, Kathleen Schock spoke with Fresno County Lt.

We know the San Joaquin Valley is home to diverse communities and cultures, and this year we’re bringing you audio postcards from some of the families who settled here a little more recently. Today we’re going to hear from Amanprit Singh Dhatt at his home in Kerman. The city is home to a large population of Punjabi speakers, including Amanprit. He came to California in 2005, after marrying his wife, Rupinder Kaur in India. Rupinder sponsored Amanprit to come to the U.S., and they've raised their daughter to embrace both Indian and American culture.

 

 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We visit the Tulare County City of Woodlake where business is booming - specifically the recreational cannabis business. In just two years, the city has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue.

We also introduce our new show host, Kathleen Schock, who you’ve already heard moderating insightful discussions on this show over the last year. 

Valley Public Radio is pleased to announce that Kathleen Schock has joined the FM89 team as the new host of the station's news magazine program Valley Edition. The program airs Friday mornings at 9:00 AM with a rebroadcast at 7:00 PM, and is also available as a podcast.

A Fresno native, Kathleen has a bachelor’s in international relations from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fresno State.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Fresno County has settled with a family of pistachio growers over unpermitted building on what the family contends will be the largest pistachio plant in the world. 

The County issued permits back in September to Ventana South, LLC and Touchstone PIstachio, LLC for the construction of 49 siloes in Cantua Creek. Both companies are owned by the Assemi family of Fresno. 

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