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On this Valley Edition, we look at the big problems facing the small Kern County city of Maricopa, we examine the controversial issue of racial profiling, and find out about an upcoming soul food festival at Fresno's African American Historical and Cultural Museum.

Valley Educators Teach Healthy Eating

Aug 23, 2011
Lauren Whaley / California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

Last month, new data came out ranking California as the 12th skinniest state in the union. But, you wouldn’t know it living in the San Joaquin Valley, where one in three people is obese and therefore at risk for a slew of diseases, including diabetes, heart attack and early death.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the obesity epidemic that plauges so many in the Central Valley. We also learn about a new program designed to prevent obesity, called Healthy Eating Active Living, and talk about the issue of women's equality.

Doctor Shortage Hits Rural California

Aug 16, 2011
Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

Children and parents crowd the waiting room in the United Health Centers clinic for low-income patients in Parlier. It's a busy morning, and Dr. Rogelio Fernandez is seeing patients one right after the other. At this moment, he's treating 35 year old Yesenia Campuzano of Reedley. The birth control implant in her arm caused acne, so Dr. Fernandez is surgically removing the tiny, tube-like device. She's feeling the incision, so she needs more of the local anesthetic.

Last week the Library of Congress named Fresno poet Philip Levine the nation’s 18th Poet Laureate. A native of Detroit, Levine moved to Fresno in the 1950’s to teach English at Fresno State, where he founded the university’s creative writing program, and helped foster the San Joaquin Valley’s rich poetry community. In 1991 his collection "What Work Is" won the National Book Award, and in 1995, his book "The Simple Truth" was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the shortage of physicians in the rural communities of the Central Valley. We also look at how charter schools are working to provide innovation in education in the valley. We also have an in-depth interview with the newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, Fresno's Philip Levine.

Segment 1: Valley Economy
As world markets continue to try to make sense out of the US debt downgrade, and nationwide poor job creation numbers, what does it mean for Valley residents and the local economy. Host Juanita Stevenson talks with Fresno State business professor Dr. Bill Rice, and Cal State Bakersfield business professor Dr. John Emery about what the latest developments mean for local residents.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For some, the closing of Borders bookstores seemed to signal another nail in the coffin for book lovers. Another reminder of the fragile state of an industry being taken over by technology, e-readers and Amazon.com. But in Fresno and other San Joaquin Valley towns, some independent bookstores are not only doing okay, some are actually thriving. Valley Public Radio's Juanita Stevenson reports.

Segment 1: Foster Kids
FM89’s Tracey Scharmann reports on how a program at a local college is helping former foster youth gain not only an education, but also a solid foundation in life as independent adults. Host Juanita Stevenson also talks with guests Colleen McGauley, Executive Director, of CASA of Kern County; Cathi Huerta recently retired director of the Fresno County Department of Social Services, Margaret Jackson, Director of the Cultural Broker Family Advocate Program, and Deshunna Ricks, former foster youth.

Farmers, Government Seek to Prevent Heat Illness

Jul 26, 2011

It's mid-morning under a sunny and nearly cloudless sky at Paul Betancourt's farm, about 20 miles southwest of Kerman. Two workers are getting ready to disk the wheat field with the tractor and irrigate the cotton. Betancourt has been monitoring the temperature.

"It was 86 when you drove up and the forecast for Fresno is 99," he says. "It's usually a little cooler out here. We've kinda done the heavy lifting for the day already."

One of his employees, Ruben Elenes, has been a farmworker for 15 years. He knows how to protect himself from the sun.

Area Foster Youth Go On to Collegiate Success

Jul 26, 2011

There are 58,000 children in foster care in California and for many of them turning eighteen and aging out of care is overwhelming. Counties provide independent living programs to assist foster youth with this transition, but a different type of support is needed for those entering college. When former foster youth Kizzy Lopez was asked to help create a program at Fresno State to provide support for this incoming population, she made it happen.

CA Citizens Redistricting Commission Redraws the Lines

Jul 22, 2011

While it doesn't get nearly as much attention as the state's on-going budget debate, behind the scenes, work is underway on a set of maps that could dramatically alter California politics for a decade to come. The State's 14 member Citizens Redistricting Commission is currently at work on redrawing the lines of the state's assembly, state senate and congressional districts. And in a state where major decisions such as the budget and big social issues often are decided by just one or two votes, the stakes for all those involved are high.

Last month, when California lawmakers passed a new state budget, they also passed a bill prohibiting local school districts from laying off teachers. Backers, including the California Teachers Association, say that the law protects students from class size increases and will save teacher jobs. School districts say it ties their hands, especially with the prospect of a midyear $1.5 billion funding cut if revenues fall short of projections.

Lawsuits Pit Businesses Against Disabled Customers

Jul 19, 2011

In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination against the disabled. It requires the removal of physical barriers in public spaces so the disabled can have full and equal enjoyment of community facilities.

But in recent years, Clovis businesses have faced a surge of lawsuits for buildings that aren't up to ADA construction requirements. This has led to a heated debate within the community over the rights of the disabled and the survival of small businesses in the recession.

Segment 1: Disability access lawsuits hit local businesses
Over 20 years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, compliance with the law's requirement of equal access remains controversial. Recently, it's pitted business customers with business owners, resulting in dozens of lawsuits. Reporter Shellie Branco brings us this report on both sides of the access issue.

Among the groups hit the hardest in the economic downturn are business professionals. From April 2010 to April 2011 the business and professional sectors in Fresno County lost 1,800 jobs. Host Juanita Stevenson reports on how some Valley professionals are looking to re-enter the workforce and having success finding work. 

Segment 1: Valley Professionals Struggle to Find Work - Among the groups hit the hardest in the economic downturn are business professionals. From April 2010 to April 2011 the business and professional sectors in Fresno County lost 1,800 jobs. Host Juanita Stevenson reports on how some Valley professionals are looking to re-enter the workforce and having success finding work. Guests include Ginny Burdick, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Community Hospitals of Central California; Cathy Frost, President, Bennett Frost Personnel Services and Dr.

Fresno Teen Find Hopes In Diagnosis

Jul 5, 2011
Lauren Whaley / California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

We hear the term “obesity epidemic” often in the news these days.

Last month, the L.A. Unified School District voted to removed flavored milk from school lunch menus, a move proponents argue will help stem childhood obesity.

In April, the state assembly shelved a proposal to tax sugar-filled drinks. The money would have gone to obesity prevention programs.

Part 1: Obesity - We hear the term "obesity epidemic" often in the news these days. It's an issue that hits close to home. About 40 percent of Fresno County kids ages five to 19 are overweight or obese. And so are their parents. 57 percent of Fresno adults are overweight. On this edition of Quality of Life, reporter Lauren Whaley brings us the story of one Fresno teenager who suffers from obesity, and how getting sick changed his life - for the better.

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