Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Kerry Klein

Reporter

Kerry Klein is a radio and print reporter who’s covered issues ranging from air and water quality to renewable energy and space exploration. After stints at KQED, the San Jose Mercury News, and NASA, she freelanced for outlets like The Atlantic, Science and Stanford Magazine. In 2015, she was awarded a grant from the Public Radio Exchange to report a national story on the health effects of noise pollution.

After growing up near Boston, Kerry graduated from McGill University with a B.S. in geology. When she began working as an exploration geologist and geothermal energy analyst, radio reporting was a distant and unlikely future. But she found meaning in media while hosting a talk show at a Montreal public radio station and later while producing a podcast for Science Magazine. She subsequently studied science journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is excited to be exploring community health and the rich diversity of the San Joaquin Valley here at KVPR.

When she’s not in front of a computer or microphone, Kerry can be found biking to the rock climbing gym, practicing her violin, or sewing a retro cocktail dress.

Ways to Connect

Many valley residents struggle to access drinking water—some don’t have enough, while others face contamination. Now, a new law allows the state to step in and help those in need. In its first success story, the law didn't just bring water to a community; it helped end a standoff with a neighboring city.

Infographic courtesy of UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Chronic Disease Program

A new study out of UCLA estimates that 46 percent of adults in California have prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes marked by high blood sugar. The study suggests the risk is even higher in the San Joaquin Valley. In Fresno County, the rate could be as high as 49 percent.  "It's a major issue of health equity," says Harold Goldstein, executive director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research and author of the study.

Courtesy Fresno Police Department

Dr. William Dominic was riding his bicycle home from work in late February when a car struck him and drove off. Dominic was severely injured and as of Wednesday was still being treated in the hospital.

Amber Kinetics

The Fresno City Council has approved a land lease that will make Fresno the site of an innovative new energy project. Kerry Klein reports from downtown.

California has one of the most aggressive renewable energy policies in the country: by 2030, renewables like solar and wind must produce half of all our energy. But, to meet that goal, we’ll have to get a whole lot better at energy storage.

Kerry Klein

It’s Sunday morning in downtown Fresno, and a classroom full of 10-year olds is about to meet an important visitor: a 2-foot-tall, red and white robot.

“Hello, my name is NAO,” says the robot, standing up on a table.

He looks like a mix between a Transformer and a Power Ranger: big head, square shoulders, and what looks like thick gloves and boots. He can wave his arms, walk, dance, and blink his eyes—just like a tiny human.

“I can recognize your face, answer questions, and even play soccer like a pro,” he continues.

Just two weeks after the start of the semester, the President of Fresno Pacific University has resigned.

In a statement released from the university, outgoing president Pete Menjares said that he and his wife will be moving back to Southern California to be closer to their families and to explore new opportunities.

In the same statement, Board Chair John Thiesen said that Menjares modeled diversity and unity in his two and a half years as university president. Menjares’ wife, Virginia, was also very active in the community and often made appearances with her husband.

NPS Photo

A group of disabled veterans is paying tribute to 9/11 today—not at the memorial in New York, but in Yosemite National Park.

Lasting injuries and prosthetic limbs won’t hold these thirteen veterans back.  They’re hiking and rock climbing to the tops of iconic peaks like El Capitan, Royal Arches, and Ranger Rock—and they’ll all reach the summit today. Some of the ascents, like El Capitan, are known to be extremely challenging even for climbers at their prime.

cawaterchallenge.org

In California, water availability is becoming a serious problem—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative solutions.

Developers at a San Francisco non-profit have created the California Water Challenge, an interactive website that aims to teach players about the state’s water problems while prompting them to make difficult decisions about how to solve them.

Noel Perry is the founder of Next 10, the company that created the tool.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The results are in from the U.S. News and World Report’s latest college rankings: Fresno universities are both up and down from last year.

On a list of top regional universities in the west, Fresno State fell ten spots from 36th to 46th place.  When looking at just public regional universities in the west, Fresno State ranked 11th, down 3 spots from last year—behind such schools as Cal Poly and 4 others in the California State University system.

Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Police in Taft are investigating alleged hazing incidents involving the high school varsity football team.

According to a statement released by the Taft Union High School, in 2 incidents earlier this month, students were subjected to “unacceptable and embarrassing treatment by other players.”

According to the Bakersfield Californian, eight juvenile students have been cited for battery, sexual battery, and false imprisonment, in incidents in and around the locker room.  This comes five years after another hazing episode involving the school’s volleyball team.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The city of Chowchilla has announced it is placing City Manager Mark Lewis on leave and replacing him with Police Chief Jay Varney.

In a press release, the City said it could not comment on the situation because it involves personnel issues. Before he came to Chowchilla, Lewis was fired from his position as City Manager of Stockton in 2006.

As for police chief Jay Varney, this won’t be his first time leading the city administration: he acted as City Manager for two years before Lewis was hired in 2011. Varney is also currently running for Madera County Sheriff.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A state watchdog has censured Kern County Superior Court judge Cory Woodward for having a sexual relationship with a clerk.  The decision also states that Woodward attempted to mislead the court about the relationship.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Many California agricultural workers aren’t employed directly by farmers, but by labor contractors. Now a new bill in the California legislature would bring about more protections for those workers, but as FM89’s Kerry Klein reports, it’s also the source of controversy.

-----

InciWeb

Firefighters are making progress containing two wildfires that sparked in the San Joaquin Valley on Monday.

The Junction Fire, which led to evacuations of thousands of homes in and around Oakhurst, is now estimated to be 612 acres in size and is currently 40% contained. Nine structures have been destroyed and 2 injuries reported.

Kern County Fire Department

  The Junction Fire isn’t the only wildfire burning through the San Joaquin Valley today.

On Monday afternoon the so-called Way Fire ignited in a drainage near the Kern County towns of Wofford Heights and Kernville. As of Tuesday morning, the fire had rapidly spread to nearly 3200 acres and was threatening hundreds of homes. In a press statement, Kern County Fire stated that multiple structures have been destroyed. Areas in and around the two towns are being evacuated to a high school in Lake Isabella.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Nine months after the Rim Fire tore through the nearby forest, Kevin Reynolds and Randi Jones decided to live out a dream.

Reynolds: "We kind of wanted to rise from the ashes just to let people know there are still opportunities out there."

The two of them opened an old-fashioned meat market they had envisioned before the fire hit. Instead of being scared by the fire the couple says they were inspired.

Reynolds: The fire really didn’t affect our decision to open a meat market.  We knew that there may be some issues but people still need to eat.  

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Fresno County is warning residents that mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise.

At a press conference earlier this week, Joe Prado of the Department of Public Health reported that so far this year, Fresno County has already seen three times as many cases of West Nile Virus as in all of 2013.

Prado: “We are now up to 23 cases to date. If this trend continues we will exceed our highest year, which was back in 2005, where we had 68 cases.”

It's been nearly one year since the Rim Fire destroyed a vast swath of the Central Sierra, including a portion of Yosemite National Park. Within days of the fire, authorities told the public they knew the cause of the fire, and who did it. But after months of waiting,  no charges have been filed, no suspects have been named, and residents are demanding answers.  In this Rim Fire timeline we look back at the fire that became the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. 

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to repeal a city water plan they introduced in 2013, after a referendum petition known as Measure W threatened to put the repeal before voters.

Measure W began as a grassroots campaign and eventually collected 5500 signatures, enough to become a ballot measure. The water plan it helped repeal involved increasing Fresno residents' water bills to pay for a $410 million-upgrade to the city's water infrastructure. City Councilmember Steve Brandau:

Pages