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." 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

 

The City of Fresno once again remains near the bottom in terms of park access, according to the latest ranking of the nation’s largest cities.

This year, the Trust for Public Land ranked Fresno 92 out of 97 cities for its parks -- that’s up two notches from last year’s score of 94, but hardly worth celebrating, says Elliott Balch with the Central Valley Community Foundation.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s nearly summertime, which means a whole new season of theater, music and art to enjoy, and possibly distract us from the Valley’s soon-to-be oppressive heat. Back in the studio is Donald Munro, a longtime Fresno arts reporter and creator of The Munro Review.

On this week's Valley Edition: we return to the story of Ethan Morse, the son of the former district attorney in Merced County who was gunned down in March. Some say the murder was tied to Morse’s arrest six years ago.

And how do you use science to recreate a mysterious 30-year-old invention shrouded in secrecy? Students at UC Merced throw their hats in the ring, together with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Plus child abuse is a huge problem in the Valley - we learn about the scope and take a look at some solutions.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A state senate committee is set to vote on a bill today that would address safe and affordable drinking water throughout California, a goal Governor Gavin Newsom has also prioritized in his proposed budget. Still to be decided is how to fund it.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s clear that some non-profits, also called community benefit organizations, can really change a place through advocacy and education. However, keeping those organizations going is often dependent on gifts, grants, and fundraising.

Fresno State’s Humanics Program teaches students about philanthropy, leadership and how to run a CBO. Yesterday was the annual Students4Giving presentation -- students awarded three $5,000 grants to CBOs in the Central Valley.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Police have a suspect in the murder of a former Valley District Attorney’s son -- video surveillance shows the suspect dressed in opposing gang colors.

And California’s drinking water landscape can be tough for anyone to navigate - especially in small communities already facing other challenges. We learn about a program in Visalia that's fostering water leadership.

Plus Fresno writer Mark Arax has a new book about valley water politics, and a Visalia teenager gets a nod from a national podcasting competition.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We’ve looked at how redlining has influenced the development of certain regions in the city of Fresno, but what about the history of a particular neighborhood? One tract of homes in the Tower District is turning 100 this year. Those homes, in the so-called “Wilson Island”, have been recognized for their architectural significance and the social influence of their early inhabitants.

Jeannine Raymond lives in the Tower District today, and just published a book about those homes called “Fresno's Wilson Island, and Rosanna Cooper Wilson, the Woman Behind It.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

On May 2, hours before the M Street Art Complex opened for ArtHop, Marina Santos gave her students stage directions. Santos is an English teacher at McLane High School. She’s been working with her senior class all year to understand one issue.

“What they're doing tonight is bringing alive the voices of the voiceless,” Santos says. “They're kind of illuminating all sides of those that are human trafficked and those who do the human trafficking.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

On Thursday, Fresno State alumna Marisol Baca was named Fresno’s fourth poet laureate. She is the first woman to hold the title. Baca is an English instructor at Fresno City College, and the co-founder of the Women Writers of Color-Central Valley collective. Her debut book, “Tremor,” published last year, won the Three Mile Harbor Press First Book Prize.

 

Listen to the interview above to hear about Baca's plan to expand connections between Fresno's elementary school students and local poets during her two-year term.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula’s criminal trial continued Tuesday with a second daughter testifying. Arambula is accused of alleged child abuse after his 7-year-old daughter, who testified Friday and Monday, told school officials back in December that he slapped her, causing a bruise on her face.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Allegations of sexual abuse against a popular valley priest have led to a vocal outpouring of support for him that some argue prevents victims from speaking out. Later, we learn about a student art project that tells the stories of survivors of sex trafficking.

And we talk to the creators of a new graphic comic book that gives readers a picture of Fresno’s redlining history and how that plays out today. We also meet Fresno’s new Poet Laureate Marisol Baca.  

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

John Walker / The Fresno Bee

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula’s criminal trial continued Friday in Fresno County Superior Court with opening statements and testimony from one of his children.

With her grandfather next to her, Arambula’s seven-year-old daughter answered the prosecutor’s questions before a packed courtroom. She is the alleged victim in a misdemeanor child abuse charge against Arambula.  

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

In most places in California, there’s a liquor store for about every 2,500 people.  But in the city of Fresno? There's one liquor store for every thousand residents. Nearly half of the liquor stores selling alcohol are in violation of city or state laws, according to a recent investigation from the city. While residents have complained about the high concentration of liquor stores for years, some council members are finally taking a stand.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We take you on a ride-along with the Bakersfield Police Department’s gang unit as part of our ongoing series on opioids.  We watch arrests take place for drug possession, and learn why narcotics officers sometimes wear hazmat suits.

In Fresno, the city is debating liquor licenses. Why are there so many more in underprivileged neighborhoods? We also look inside a Propublica-Sacramento Bee investigation of the Fresno County jail.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Step inside the Fresno City Council Chambers and you’ll likely find residents making public comments, rallying around issues of housing and health. In some cases, these residents are persuading council members to change their minds about projects and policies. One possible reason for the boost in civic engagement? Social justice groups.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

This weekend, Fresno State’s Valley Public History Initiative is debuting “Roots and Routes: Fresno’s Global Soccer History,” a project that traces the sport in the Central Valley through oral histories, photos, and other documents, with a focus on immigrants who have made soccer in Fresno what it is today. A series of talks and presentations will take place Friday afternoon at Tioga Sequoia, before the Fresno Foxes game, and Saturday morning at Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Oildale has a reputation as an epicenter for drugs like heroin and meth. And yet, fatal opioid overdoses appear to be dropping. We hear from health professionals and community leaders about why—and whether the change can last.

We also talk to a Fresno Bee reporter about how social justice groups have been making their mark on city politics, and a historian on how Fresno’s soccer history is intricately tied to the experiences of migrants.

Plus: How a community garden in Madera County is helping some disenfranchised women grow, too.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

One popular stop in Fresno’s Chinatown is Kogetsu-Do, a Japanese shop with a long history over on F Street.

Lynn Ikeda-Yada owns the shop, whose name means "lake moon," and she’s the third generation to do so. Her grandparents migrated to Chinatown from Hiroshima, Japan.

There’s even a blown-up photo on the wall of her grandparents and uncle in the same space Ikeda-Yada’s shop occupies today.

“My grandparents started it in 1915,” says Ikeda-Yada. “That picture was taken in 1920 and they had two sons: Roy, who’s the little boy there, and my dad, Mas.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to fulfilling the needs of a neighborhood, the neighborhood grocery store fills a big role. In Fresno’s Chinatown, that store has been Central Fish. It’s been in the community since 1950, carrying the usual kitchen staples one might expect. But the place also has some unexpected treasures.

 

Listen above for an audio postcard about this grocery store that has outlasted a few of its Chinatown neighbors.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We take you to Fresno’s Chinatown where we meet the new owners of a century old Buddhist temple.

Plus, high-speed rail construction has closed off three roads leading into this historic neighborhood. Local business owners tell us what that means for them, today and into the coming decades.

And what does $70 million in cap and trade funding mean for Chinatown? We also tell you about Japanese pastries, shrimp and grits, sukiyaki and a longing for chile rellenos.

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