News

Courtesy of Ana Cornejo

In two separate incidents this weekend, cars intentionally drove into pedestrians at rallies protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man murdered by Minneapolis police. 

In Bakersfield Friday night, around 300 people gathered in front of the city’s police department, holding signs and rallying peacefully. Ana Cornejo, a grade school teacher, was among them when a gray SUV sped through the street.

Madi Bolanos

 

More than 3,000 people gathered in downtown Fresno Sunday to protest the murder of George Floyd and other black lives lost to police violence. 

The Fresno State NAACP and other black organizations in Fresno organized the peaceful protest which started in front of City Hall and lasted for about three hours. Student activist Aislyn Brown said she's tired and ready to see a change in the country’s justice system. 

Teenagers are grappling with a lot these days, from having new caretaking roles to figuring out ways to fill the time. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel spoke with Deshae Lee and Faith Vega. Both are high school seniors in Fresno and interns at a youth organization called Californians for Justice. In the interview, Deshae starts by describing what it’s like to be at home all day with younger siblings. 

Youtube Screen Capture

Last August, we introduced you to a Delano teen who had just released her own mariachi album and was preparing to attend Harvard University with her older sister. In mid-March, sisters Anaí and Xóchitl Morales returned home to Delano to finish their semester at Harvard online, due to COVID-19. Since being home, they’ve joined their father, Juan Morales, in moving music instruction for The Mariachi Studio online. 

 

Valley Writers Respond

Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito founded the Yonsei Memory Project to honor the stories of Japanese-Americans. And when the pandemic hit, they created a new program to give voice to valley writers called Valley Writers Respond. With funding from the California Wellness Foundation, they asked three writers - Will Freeney, Samina Najmi and Steven Church - to share their wisdom about the times we’re living in. Each writer was given a prompt. Here are excerpts from their essays. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do health care professionals cope with the death of one of their own to COVID-19? We talk to a Fresno nurse about treating and grieving a beloved colleague who died earlier this week. 

We also speak to two recently graduated teenagers. Since shelter-in-place, they’re taking on new roles: from watching younger siblings while their parents do essential work, to checking in on their elders. 

Plus, San Joaquin Valley authors share essays on living through a pandemic.  

Maurice O. Ndole

This week the staff at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center said goodbye to Sandra "Sandy" Oldfield, a registered nurse at the hospital who died of COVID-19 after treating an infected patient. On Wednesday evening, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor her memory. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with ICU nurse Amy Arlund, one of the organizers of the observance.

UC Merced

The UC Board of Regents announced last week that Juan Sánchez Muñoz will become UC Merced's fourth chancellor. As a UC alum and first-generation student, he has a lot in common with the university's student body. He currently serves as president of the University of Houston-Downtown, and was still in Texas when Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with him about assuming leadership during a pandemic. 

Courtesy Brynn Saito

This week on The Time of Our Life, Fresno writer Brynn Saito reads William Saroyan’s The Journey to Hanford and a Saroyan essay on writing. Brynn Saito is a poet and professor in the English Department at Fresno State, and the author of two books of poetry. Together with Nikiko Masumoto, she’s the co-founder of Yonsei Memory Project, which creates inter-generational spaces for ‘memory keeping’ within the Japanese American community and in alliance with other communities and movements for justice and healing.

Cornerstone Church Facebook

A downtown Fresno Church said Wednesday it intends to defy Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders to limit attendance to 100 people or 25 percent capacity, depending on which is smaller.

Pastor Jim Franklin said Cornerstone Church will accommodate up to 350 people this Sunday, which is a quarter of what the church can hold, but far more than what the state allows. Franklin said the governor’s rules unfairly limit churches.

The Avenal State Prison now has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases among the state’s correctional facilities. The prison reported 198 cases as of Tuesday.  

No visitors have been allowed at the prison for months, said Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon. He said he thinks a staff member had the virus.

 

“Mother’s Day weekend, everybody went home to their mom’s house, had barbecues or whatever. Seven days later we got a spike in the prisons ‘cause someone brought it into the prison,” said Verboon.      

Lilian Marquez

Karla Lopez, 32, currently lives in Stockton with her friend Lilian Marquez. The two met at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield nine months ago and have been friends since then. But Lopez’ journey to get here started way back in November of 2018. 

That’s when a caravan of thousands of migrants made national news walking from Central America to the United States. Lopez decided to join the second wave of people heading to this country.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Tulare County has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in California due in part to outbreaks in nursing homes - and the county just voted to reopen businesses before meeting health benchmarks set by the state.  FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with Dr. Harjoth Malli, medical director of Critical Care at Kaweah Delta in Visalia about the patients he’s seeing, what it’s like to work in the ICU, and what advice he has for the public.    

 

New Wrinkles Website

 

 

Normally, a group of singing, dancing senior citizens would be taking the stage at Fresno City College starting this month. But the group dubbed “New Wrinkles” has postponed its 2020 season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the group is staying connected and performing solo on Youtube, in a series called, “New Wrinkles Unplugged.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is it like to run a family farm during a pandemic? We talk to local growers about the challenges. 

And Tulare County voted to open up businesses this week despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the state. A Visalia intensive care unit doctor tells us the recipe for staying safe is pretty straightforward.

Plus: The cast of a long-running Fresno variety show that features senior citizens takes its talent to YouTube. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

 

African American Farmers of California

Small farms are at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s rich agricultural industry, but the challenges facing these operations are numerous. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock checked-in with three Fresno County farmers about the most recent obstacle they are facing: COVID-19. She spoke with grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza, Chue Lee of Lee's One Fortune Farm and Will Scott Jr. who in addition to running Scott Family Farms is also the president of the African American Farmers of California.

UC Merced

The San Joaquin Valley is accustomed to dealing with drought, but when those conditions last for decades, scientists call it a megadrought. According to a study recently published in the journal Science, the Southwest is currently experiencing a nearly two-decade megadrought that is fueled in part by global warming and is among the worst in human history. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with John Abatzoglou, a co-author of the study and climatologist who will join the faculty at UC Merced this summer.

 

Courtesy Aris Janigian

This week on The Time of Our Life, Fresno writer Aris Janigian reads William Saroyan's Five Ripe Pears and The Armenian and The Armenian.  With host Mark Arax, Aris discusses Saroyan’s influence on his own work. The author of five novels, Aris Janigian is a writer, academic, and a wine grape packer and shipper. His latest novel is Waiting for Sophia at Shutters on the Beach.

City of Fresno Facebook

With state approval, dine-in restaurants can now reopen in Fresno County, as long as measures like social distancing and employee face coverings are used. This comes just after the city of Fresno announced an end to its shelter-in-place order, starting Tuesday.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said the decision to end the order was not made half-heartedly.

Fresno County Department of Public Health Website

Fresno County’s Public Health Department announced a county-wide mask recommendation this week that takes effect Friday. Officials say it’s one more layer of protection as the county starts to reopen.

At a media update Wednesday afternoon, Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra compared wearing masks to using speed bumps, helmets, and seatbelts. 

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