Valley Public Radio FM89 - Live Audio

Laura Tsutsui

Reporter & Producer

Laura Tsutsui is a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She first joined the station as a news intern, and now covers local issues for KVPR and produces the weekly program Valley Edition. 

A Fresno native, Laura graduated in the spring of 2017 from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. She studied journalism, with a focus in multimedia. While attending Fresno State, Tsutsui was an intern for California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon through the Maddy Institute and an intern for Congressman Sam Farr in Washington, D.C. through the Panetta Institute. In 2015 Laura won an Associated Press Television and Radio Association award for her audio documentary, "Netflix and Chill." 

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.

  

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. 

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. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

A seventh suspect was arrested in relation to the mass shooting at a Southeast Fresno house party in November that left four dead and six wounded. 

 

Ger Lee of Fresno is being held in Minnesota pending an extradition hearing. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Police announced today that they have arrested six suspects related to the November 17 mass shooting at a house party in Southeast Fresno that left four men dead. Although police confirmed the shooting was gang related, none of the victims themselves were gang members. 

Milken Family Foundation

Teachers often give their time and money in ways that are hard to quantify. But this year, one Fresno teacher has been recognized by the Milken Family Foundation for her work with the Sunnyside High School Video Production Academy. Katie McQuone is one of 40 teachers nationwide to receive this annual award. 

Listen to the interview above to hear McQuone talk about how she engages the at-risk students she teaches.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

This year is the 80th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s book, “The Grapes of Wrath.” In his novel, Steinbeck profiles the Joad family as they travel from Oklahoma to California, escaping the Dust Bowl, in search of work. Many families made this journey during the Depression era. In some communities, these Dust Bowl refugees were met with threats. But in others, like Weedpatch just south of Bakersfield, they were welcome.

On this week’s Valley Edition: A show about giving. A woman who grew up in a Weedpatch migrant camp during the Dust Bowl era is now welcoming a new set of people who feel displaced. 

Also, community advocates who work tirelessly to improve the lives of so many in our Valley share advice on how we as citizens can help out.

And later, who gives more than teachers? We talk to one whose video production classes give kids a voice.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

At the Fresno Fairgrounds inside the Industrial Education building, a large photo of Xy Lee holding a guitar hung above a stage. Beneath it, family and friends gathered around an open casket. There were floral arrangements in the shape of a guitar and a huge heart. 

“Right now, they are going to start playing the ritual, the Hmong ritual, to send the spirit back to its original place,” said Yeng Lee, Xy Lee’s uncle. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: It’s hard enough being a kid in the foster system. But imagine making it through college without family support. One university program is helping students beat the odds and graduate

Plus: We live in the food basket of the world, but community-supported agriculture programs tend to have a short shelf life here in the Valley. In the wake of a popular Fresno CSA shutting down, we find out why they're so hard to run.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Two former governors were in Clovis today to celebrate renewable energy milestones. At Clovis Unified’s Buchanan High School, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown were presented with the one-millionth solar panel to go on a roof in California. 

The panel in question was about the height of a door, and double the width. It took two people to carry it out on stage. 

Flanked by high school students and solar workers, the former governors touted the state’s energy policies, and took a jab at the federal government.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s state law that residences need heating and electricity, and the building has to be in good condition to be habitable. While this sounds straightforward, those who rent their homes sometimes struggle with landlords who are unresponsive and don’t make the proper repairs.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

For many families that celebrate Christmas, picking out a tree is tradition. This year, families in the San Joaquin Valley can head into the Sierra Nevada mountains to pick the perfect pine, spruce or fir. For our Weekend Segment, we spoke to Denise Alonzo about how to get a permit to cut your own tree. She’s the public affairs officer in Springville with the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument.

This week on Valley Edition: Frustration and hopelessness surround upcoming groundwater laws. Some growers feel so disillusioned, they’re selling their land and getting out of agriculture.

In Fresno, we speak with one retired Bulldog gang member who’s found a calling trying to reduce gun violence.

 

Plus: What happens when your home is so unsafe, it’s considered unlivable? A Tulare County woman describes being given only 72 hours to find somewhere new for herself and her four children.

 

This week on Valley Edition: Our Thanksgiving show! We serve up some of our favorite stories from the past year including a profile of a young mariachi singer from Delano, who at the age of 18 released her first album. She's at Harvard now.

Bakersfield Police Department Facebook

Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer has appointed Lyle Martin to be her Chief Investigator. Martin has been the Chief of Bakersfield Police since 2016, and has worked for the department for more than 30 years.

Martin announced his retirement as police chief on the department’s Facebook page in a video posted this morning. Assistant Police Chief Greg Terry will serve as interim police chief when Martin’s retirement takes effect December 28.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We talk with the Fresno Police Department about the mass shooting last Sunday that left four dead and six wounded at a party in Southeast Fresno. We also visit a Hmong mini-mall and bring you a postcard of remembrances from people who knew the victims.

And we talk to kids about a father who was apprehended by Immigrant and Customs Enforcement while driving his two teenagers to school. He was then sent to a detention facility.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Madera City Council passed an ordinance last night to support residents who were about to be evicted before the holidays, and before state law Assembly Bill 1482 goes into effect, enforcing stronger renter protections. Residents were overjoyed by the unanimous decision. 

Courtesy of Adrianne Hillman / Salt + Light Works

In most cities, people who live on the streets can find some relief staying for a night or two at a shelter. But in 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that Tulare and Kings counties have the highest rate of unsheltered, chronically homeless individuals for counties of their kind in the nation. 

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