Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Laura Tsutsui

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: The emmy award winning filmmaker Ken Burns is coming to Fresno and Bakersfield next week. He tells us about his newest project Country Music, including his take on one of Oildale’s finest, Merle Haggard.

Also on the heels of the Ridgecrest earthquakes, a producer from KPCC takes us inside their podcast about quakes called ‘The Big One.’

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The Raisin City School Board is meeting today to discuss the consequences of a surprise active shooter drill that terrified students and involved a staff member going around campus with a mask and fake gun. The board is considering whether to discipline or remove the school’s superintendent. 

Julie Leopo / EdSource

Skipping school, cutting class, senior ditch day - some consider truancy a part of adolescence. But looking at the data, one reporter found that students in rural regions have a much higher risk of being chronically absent from school, and the reasons aren’t so simple. David Washburn reported on this issue in a two-part series for the online publication, EdSource.

On the next Valley Edition: Fresno ranks low in terms of park access and acreage. But a grassroots movement is hoping to change that with citizens building their own parks. 

We also look at rural Tulare County as environmental justice groups showcase their efforts to improve water and air quality. And, we go on the road with some people whose California Dream is living in a van.

Later, we talk about student absence. It’s worse in rural areas, so what are some districts doing? 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence came to the Central Valley Wednesday to discuss the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. The event was part campaign rally, part policy talk. 

The speech was held at the Doug and Julie Freitas & Sons Farms in Lemoore, 40 minutes south of Fresno. It was presented by America First Policies, a right-wing non-profit group. Pence was the keynote speaker to a crowd of at least 400. 

Faith in the Valley

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand Brand vetoed just over a million dollars in spending this year to balance the city’s more-than-a-billion-dollars budget. Some of the vetoed items were those most hotly contested by the city council.

Alice Daniel / Valley Public Radio

This week, a Japanese-American from Baton Rouge, Louisiana visited Fresno for the first time in 78 years. In 1942, Walter Imahara and his family were ordered to leave their home in Sacramento and come to the Fresno Assembly Center per President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The family was then sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We recently told you about Boyden Cavern, which reopened for tours three years after damage from the Rough Fire made it inaccessible. But just who makes these tours possible? For that answer, we’ll go behind the stalactites to meet them. 

The cave itself is a multi-sensory experience: there’s a drop in temperature, and the sound of a creek. If you hang out long enough in the gift shop, you may also catch the sound of baby: 7-month-old Calvin.
 

On this week’s Valley Edition: He hadn’t been to Fresno in 78 years, but this week Walter Imahara visited the site of the Fresno Assembly Center. It’s where he and his family were sent first before going to an internment camp in Arkansas. 

Later, what if you’re a low income, first generation college student? Where do you turn to get the mentoring and support you need? We meet students who are finding assistance with a program at Fresno City College. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

A Japanese-American man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana visited Fresno for the first time in 78 years Tuesday to see where he and his parents had to report in 1942 after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066.

Walter Imahara was 4-years-old at the time. What is now the Fresno Fairgrounds was the Fresno Assembly Center. It’s where Japanese Americans from around the state arrived before being transported to internment camps. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Now, it’s time for the Weekend. We’re going to introduce you to an annual festival, the Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee, that’s equal parts a harvest celebration and a nod to the farmers who tend the trees. It takes place tomorrow, June 29, at the Mokichi Okada Association's Oasis Garden in Clovis.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Today on our show, stories about identity: how do you be yourself when others assume you’re something else? We talk to a transgender person about what it’s like to work while transitioning. And we hear from athletes who play competitive soccer in wheelchairs. And what’s behind gang violence in Fresno? Can it be curbed with an innovative program?

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The female, Latinx co-founder of Bitwise Industries says the company’s recent $27 million funding milestone means it can train more people in underserved communities, and expand south. But amidst the optimism in Bakersfield, there’s also some ambivalence.

 

Fresno County Department of Social Services

 

Earlier this year, Fresno County stopped taking new applications for foster parents, citing a lack of resources to process them. While the county resumed taking applications this month, there’s still a backlog.

The state established new rules for all caretakers of foster kids in 2015 to eliminate the separate processes it had for foster parents, relatives and adoptive parents.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s time for the Weekend, and we’re taking you straight up Highway 180 to the Giant Sequoia National Monument. There’s the Kings River, and the beautiful trees that give the monument its namesake. But there are also caves up here, lots of them. While most aren’t easily accessible, one cave just reopened to the public - Boyden Cavern.

 

People have been touring it for over a hundred years now, ever since J. Putnam Boyden found it in 1906.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition:  Why is it so difficult to find childcare in the Valley? One university looks to high school students as part of the solution.

Sometimes it’s hard to find good healthcare too, especially if you’re living in a rural area. We look at one local hospital’s efforts to increase rural access to doctors. We also talk about what it means that Fresno State’s nursing master’s program just lost its accreditation. And we catch up with three Valley teenagers lobbying their representatives in Washington, D.C. for climate change reform.

  Fresno Police announced Monday that they arrested the man who threatened a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Fresno.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jose Lechuga from Selma was arrested and booked by Fresno Police last Thursday. Chief Jerry Dyer said Lechuga used a fake Facebook account under the name, “Maga Shooter” to threaten that the FAB nightclub in Fresno’s Tower District would share the same fate as Pulse, an LGBTQ club in Florida where a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 in 2016.

Kings Lions Club

It’s time for the Weekend, where we find out what people in the San Joaquin Valley do for fun when they have a little time off. This Saturday evening, the Kings Lions Club is hosting the Kings Brewfest. The annual 21-and-over event brings together commercial and craft breweries in Lemoore to raise money for organizations benefiting Kings County.

This week on Valley Edition: Rates of domestic violence appear to be climbing in the Central Valley. How pervasive is it, and what’s behind the increase? We bring you the story of one survivor whose abuser was a Clovis cop.

We also hear from mental health educators who work with high schoolers and other youth. Kids are learning the signs of mental illness, and if a career in mental health is for them.

Later, we talk about a festival brewing in Lemoore, and it’s all about lagers, IPAs, and ales to name a few.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to access to mental health care at public schools, California ranks at or near the bottom according to a Columbia University report. But one Merced high school is going against that tide with an entire course dedicated to mental health. Kids are responding so positively, they’re becoming advocates themselves.

Among those students is 18-year-old Jonathan Swart.

Pages