Laura Tsutsui

Reporter & Producer

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.

With the Valley Public Radio news team, Laura has won multiple Golden Mike Awards from the Radio Television News Association of Southern California, and been a California Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. In addition to reporting for KVPR, her work has been heard on KQED’s “The California Report” and WHYY’s health podcast, “The Pulse.” 

A Fresno native, Laura graduated from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College with a degree in Media, Communication and Journalism.

Fresno Madera Continuum Of Care Facebook Page

Street2Home was announced in 2018 as an initiative by the city and county of Fresno to coordinate homelessness mitigation across organizations. But in a report released Monday, the Fresno County Grand Jury found it doesn’t have a staff, or board yet. 

While voting has ended, the tabulation of ballots continues through the end of this month. County election clerks have until December 4 to send results to the Secretary of State, which means in some particularly close races, a winner may not be obvious for a few weeks. 

The Valley Public Radio team will continue to report on the latest, but you can also find this data on your own. 

Congressional Races 

You can check the results for congressional races in districts throughout the San Joaquin Valley in the tables below, courtesy of CalMatters. The tables are using data from the California Secretary of State's website. They will refresh every five minutes. 

Congressional District 4

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Latinx voters are among the largest and most diverse voting blocks in California. We’ll ask our panel, how are campaigns connecting and mobilizing these voters in the final days of the election season? 

Plus we take a deeper look at proposition 23. It requires dialysis clinics to have a doctor on site at all times, but will it really improve patient care? 

We’ll also hear another segment from StoryCorps San Joaquin. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

With the election coming up next Tuesday, we wanted to delve into what brings voters to the polls. What do they want changed? What do they want candidates to address in their neighborhoods? 

We decided to ask residents using a survey we called “Valley Votes 2020.” We collected over 150 responses. Residents explained with short answers what worried them about their neighborhoods, and ranked their most salient issues. 

The superintendent of Immanuel Schools said Wednesday he’s pleased to no longer be arguing the legality of keeping his K-12 private school in Reedley open. That’s due to a recent settlement among Immanuel, Fresno County, and the state attorney general’s office.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Community Chorus stopped singing in March just ahead of shelter-in-place orders and the county’s adoption of COVID-19 restrictions. Seven months later, the group reunited in person to sing, not in a concert hall but in a parking lot.

On Tuesday evening, dozens of cars drove into the Calvary Chapel parking lot in Central Fresno. They parked in neat rows close to the church buildings before a small stage and sound system. 

On this night, they’re singing via FM transmitter, like at a drive-in movie theater.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Election season is underway. As Valley voters cast their ballots, we discuss how a predicted high voter turnout could impact local congressional races. 

Plus, a community choir is figuring out a new way to sing together in the pandemic: in their cars with the help of an FM radio transmitter. 

We also speak with the Fresno poet who is a finalist for the National Book Award. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

With public schools still operating remotely, one subject particularly challenging to teach online is music. Despite the limitations, choir teachers in Fresno County are brainstorming new ways to instruct, even through a screen.

On one Thursday morning, halfway through the high school choir class that Jacob Bailey is teaching on Zoom, he leads the students through a warm up.

“Reach up nice and high to wake up that voice a little bit,” Bailey tells the students while stretching. “Wake up those ribs.”

 

 

This week on Valley Edition: More and more young candidates are running for office. We talk with three Valley youth vying for seats on local school boards.

 

Plus, teaching online is challenging enough. But getting kids to sing in a chorus over the internet? That’s really tricky. Choir teachers are coming up with new ways to make music.  

We also delve into more ballot propositions and update you on the pandemic. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Jordan Pulido lost his grandmother to the coronavirus, and says the pandemic has derailed most of his plans for his last year at Fresno State. 

The 22-year-old is studying music education, and this year, he was supposed to perform in the university’s rendition of “Carmina Burana,” travel to Italy, and participate in the Disney College Program in Florida during the fall semester. 

Instead, he’s been home, avoiding outings as much as possible to protect his family. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: COVID-19 cases are soaring at Avenal State Prison, and inmates there say postponed visitations, rule changes, and constant bed moves are taking a psychological toll. 

Plus, honey bees have already been hit hard by disease, drought and development. Now, the Creek Fire has killed millions more. 

We also continue our election coverage, and delve into more propositions. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Kern County farmers talk about how President Trump’s immigration policies affect the industry.

Plus, we hear from young community organizers in Fresno and Bakersfield who say they’re fed up with the current political system and are working to bring about change. 

Later, we speak to the president of California State University, Bakersfield as the school celebrates 50 years of education.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

A museum housed in a former Carnegie Library has closed its doors because it can no longer keep up with the terms of its lease. 

The Hanford Carnegie Museum Nonprofit leased the Carnegie building from the city of Hanford for 45 years. The nonprofit was required to maintain and insure the building, but that’s been costly to do for a century-old structure.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

On a weekday afternoon, Elvia Baies’ two teenage daughters finish up their school day while her younger children, a 4 and 5-year-old, play on tablets. 

Baies asks them to turn the tablets down and then points out the tight space where they’ve lived for nine months. 

“This is obviously the room that we're sleeping in, our two beds, we have a TV across from the beds,” Baies says. 

 

On the far end of the room, she opens a door. 

“Our bathroom, and our tub, our sink, along with our kitchen.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

This week, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office allowed some people whose homes were destroyed by the Creek Fire to see what’s left of their property in phases.

On Wednesday, those who live in the community of Alder Springs drove up to see the damage, including Dena and Jacob Villanueva. At the mandatory check-in at Foothill Elementary School, Red Cross Volunteers gave them a rake, shovel, sifter, and masks. 

Dena said she knew fire was always a possibility, but living in that community was irreplaceable.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The election is less than 40 days away and we want to make sure your vote gets counted. We checked in with registrars of voters throughout the San Joaquin Valley to ask what voters should do to make sure their ballot is cast properly.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We hear from one mom who’s helping her four kids with distance learning from their hotel room, all while dealing with the challenges of finding a real home. 

Plus, with elections around the corner, we take a look at some of the propositions before voters, the impact they could have on the state, and the consequences of voter turnout.

 

And we’ll hear from a Fresno Poet that won the American Book Award. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Courtesy of Albert Yurgal, James Sponsler

When James Sponsler and two close friends set out on a backpacking trip Friday night over Labor Day Weekend, they didn’t know the Creek Fire had started 30 miles away.

 

“Just about lunch time on Saturday was when we noticed the massive thunderhead,” says Sponsler. “Unbeknownst to us, this was the fire itself.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: Three hikers who were evacuated from the High Sierra by helicopter last week tell us what it was like to be stranded due to the Creek Fire. 

 

We also talk with wildfire experts about the importance of forest thinning and prescribed burning to prevent the massive outbreak of fires the West is now experiencing. 

 

Later, we’ll have our weekly COVID-19 update. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

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