Jeffrey Hess

Reporter

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio. 

Jeffrey has been in public radio for four and a half years and believes in the power of radio as a medium for great story telling. He sees the vital role that public radio can play in people's lives especially through increased community engagement with the internet and social media.

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Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Professional soccer is coming to Fresno. The creation of the Fresno Football Club was officially announced at Chukchansi Park Wednesday 

The Fresno Fire Squad fan club was on hand today to celebrate the creation of a new professional team playing in the United Soccer League.

Team owner and luxury car dealer Ray Beshoff says Fresno has demonstrated that there is a market for soccer through its support for the amateur teams, the Fuego and the Freeze.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Residents around Mariposa are picking up the pieces left behind in the wake of the Detwiler Fire. For many, that means returning to homes damaged or completely destroyed by the fast moving blaze.

This week Valley Public Radio spoke with a wide range of people who were affected in some way by the fire to find out how they are feeling and what their plans are going forward.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

UPDATE: Evacuation orders remain in place for residents on Greeley Hill Road and Dogtown Road near Coulterville.

Original post:
Residents of Mariposa County are beginning to return home as the Detwiler Fire slowly dies down. Cal Fire is getting control of the blaze but not before it burned more than 76,000 acres.

Monday is the first day some are learning if their homes survived the blaze.

Linda Scoggin’s home is the only one left standing on a remote road in Mt. Bullion north of Mariposa but that doesn’t mean everything survived.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Residents of the town of Mariposa are free to return to their homes. Cal Fire has lifted the evacuation order caused by the Detwiler Fire that sent the town’s roughly 2,000 residents scrambling. As of Friday morning, the fire has burned 58 single family homes.

Cal Fire officials say that while the fire continues to burn it is no longer a threat to enter the city.

Andy Isolano with Cal Fire says cooperation from the weather and an influx of firefighters helped to protect the historic mining town.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Detwiler Fire  has now burned over 70,000 acres and is 10 percent contained, but officials say they are making progress in the firefight, and say Mariposa residents may soon be able to return to their homes.

Ken Pimlott is the Director of Cal Fire. He says cooler temperatures have helped the effort. 

“Our goal is to the use the next several days while the weather has somewhat moderated to really try to get containment lines in, but we’re really not out of the woods,” says Pimlott.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

As the Detwiler Fire continues to grow, residents in the surrounding area are growing increasingly nervous. Many residents are already making preparations to evacuate if necessary.

One of those residents is Jack Wass. Wass is a lifelong resident of Bootjack which is just a few miles southeast of Mariposa on the edge of the evacuation zone on Highway 49.

Wass and his friend are trying to jumpstart his truck to make sure it is ready to roll in case they get word they have to leave.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

On Tuesday morning, construction crews slowly lifted the old Fulton Mall clock tower into the clear Fresno sky and moved the delicate structure to a new home, just a few feet away. Moving the iconic structure, which has stood in downtown since the mall was built in 1964, signals the home stretch of turning the pedestrian mall back into a street.

The city also used the occasion to announce the official grand opening of the completed project is set for October 21st, 2017.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

When new presidential administrations come into office, they often make changes to agencies and appoint people who share their political outlook. The same is true under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

However, one seemingly obscure reorganization involving leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program is sending shockwaves throughout Central California and beyond. One of those concerned is Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

It’s not usually easy to get the state of California to quickly adjust how it spends money in places like the Central Valley, especially after the Governor Jerry Brown himself comes to town for a major bill signing.

But that’s exactly what a group of activists in Southwest Fresno were able to do, convincing the state to make their part of town eligible for $70 million in cap-and-trade funding.

Joe Moore/KVPR

The Fresno Police Department says their gunshot detection system, known as ShotSpotter, recorded thousands of incidents of illegal fireworks being set off on the Fourth of July.

Mark Hudson with the FPD says shot spotter microphones, which are placed mainly in central Fresno, record all explosions but are able to distinguish between what is a firework and what is a gunshot.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California’s newest US Senator Kamala Harris swung through the valley Wednesday taking time to hear from farmers about what they want out of Washington D.C.

Access to water and the need for comprehensive immigration reform topped the worries of the growers and local elected officials who met with Senator Harris at a packing house south of Fresno.

Meeting in what is largely seen as a stronghold of support for President Donald Trump, the Democratic Senator extended a bipartisan olive branch saying she is interested in working with Republicans to get things done.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

On January 17th, 1994 before the sun even rose, the peace of a Los Angeles morning was broken when the ground began to quake. The 6.6 magnitude quake would soon become known as the Northridge Earthquake.

When the dust settled, 57 people were dead and tens of billions of dollars in damage occurred. Among the most important buildings crippled were 11 hospitals that were either damaged or rendered inoperable because of the quake.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Thanks to the rapidly melting snowpack, Pine Flat Reservoir on the Kings River east of Fresno is now expected to exceed 100% of its capacity. But water managers aren’t too worried.

Due in part to the extreme heat, estimates of the snowmelt flowing into the Pine Flat Lake were off by about 200,000 acre feet. As of Friday afternoon, the reservoir is just a few inches away from being completely full.

But with more water coming in from the High Sierra, dam engineers have a backup plan.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

City of Fresno officials are calling it the crown jewel of a growing industrial park in south central Fresno. E-commerce giant Amazon officially began work on a new internet fulfillment center Monday to the delight of elected officials and business leaders who gathered at the site.

With a few short words, Amazon’s West Coast Operations Director Kelvin Downs opened the ground breaking ceremony of an 855,000 square foot internet fulfillment center.

“It’s official. Amazon is coming to Fresno,” Downs says.

Office of Congressman Jeff Denham

The expansion of Medi-Cal in the Central Valley under the Affordable Care Act has been key to slashing the area’s uninsured rate in half in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up, and in most valley counties, about half of the population is on Medi-Cal. But according to some, having more people on the program has compounded the problem of low reimbursement rates for physicians and the area’s long-running doctor shortage.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he has a vision to create 10,000 new jobs in Fresno and drop the unemployment rate to 5%. That would be a significant accomplishment for a city where the unemployment number is routinely above the state average. One major piece of that vision fell into place last week with the announcement that Amazon will build a fulfillment center in Fresno. Valley Public Radio spoke with the mayor about how he plans to achieve his jobs goal and the first steps already taking place. This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein used a visit to the Central Valley Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess caught up with the senator at a farm in western Fresno County.

Standing beside a freshly irrigated olive orchard, Feinstein warned that leaving the international climate change initiative could make the Central Valley un-farmable.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

When you call 9-1-1, you expect an ambulance to come and quickly. But in Fresno County, health officials say a relatively small number of people had been making that difficult, so-called ambulance "super users." These are people who call for an ambulance ride frequently, sometimes hundreds of times a year, in non-emergency situations. Now five years into a project to reduce the burden of "super users" on the system, the numbers show the effort is working.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Finding enough money to pay for child care is a struggle for many Central Valley families. But last year despite the region’s high poverty rate, Fresno County returned $10 million in unspent money to the state that was earmarked for child care for low-income families.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Nearly 1,000 people in the Central Valley are now officially new U.S. citizens. And for many, they say the recent Presidential election played a big role.

975 people from 57 countries took the oath of citizenship at the Fresno Convention Center Tuesday, the final step in their process of moving from immigrant to citizen.

Among them was 35-year old Norma Minjares, who was brought to the country by his parents as an infant.  

She, like many in the crowd, say last fall’s election pushed her to finally seek citizenship.

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