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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." 

Valley PBS

You’ve likely seen the green California sticker with the words “My Job Depends on Ag” on cars, trucks and tractors around the Valley. Behind that slogan is a Facebook community of farmers and agricultural-enthusiasts. The movement has since inspired a television show.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

This year, the Tower Theatre in Fresno turns 80 years old. The theatre’s iconic marquee and tower have flashed fluorescent pink and purple since it opened in 1939. 

“The Memorial Auditorium was built then, and so the Tower Theatre was really the very last of those big, glorious, neon-lit theaters,” says Elizabeth Laval, President of the Fresno Historical Society. 

She says one of the theatre’s developers was A. Emory Wishon, who worked for the utility company San Joaquin Light and Power.

On this week’s Valley Edition: The dairy industry has been called upon to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - and thanks to a technology called methane digesters, it’s looking like it will get there. 

We also visit one company that’s keeping the tradition of neon alive in the Valley, one fluorescent tube at a time.

Plus: We look into Kern County’s rising fees to access court documents, and we speak with a handful of the Valley’s youngest politicians about why they chose to run for office in their early twenties.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Local leaders gathered in Southwest Fresno Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the city’s newest community garden and first project funded by the Transformative Climate Communities grant

The Yosemite Village Permaculture Urban Farm and Community Garden is right next to the Yosemite Village Apartments, but locals have a shorthand: Yo’Ville.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

Presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will no longer be coming through the Central Valley this week. His campaign reported this morning that he experienced chest discomfort during a campaign event in Nevada and has had heart stents inserted to address an artery blockage.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

Update: On Wednesday, October 2, Bernie Sanders' campaign cancelled his visits to the Central Valley due to health concerns.

On this week’s Valley Edition: What does a 16th century Albanian village in Italy have to do with one of the longest running religious celebrations in the Valley? We find out at the annual St. Elia celebration in West Fresno.

 

We also hear how a scientific study on emotional support helped Valley women get through breast cancer - and may help reduce health disparities among ethnic groups.

Later, we explore the politics of homelessness, and why Sacramento hasn’t been tougher on vaping. 

Courtesy of Darnell Abraham

Actor Darnell Abraham’s new role as George Washington in the San Francisco run of Hamilton - described as “America then told by America now" - makes it a little harder for him to go unnoticed.

 

“One of the adjustments for me has been going out in public,” said Abraham after a performance Sunday at the Orpheum Theater. “Folks will come up and ask, ‘Are you Washington in Hamilton?’”

 

He stepped into the new role last month and Abraham said he’s continually learning about the nation’s first president. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The award winning musical Hamilton! In San Francisco, the iconic role of George Washington is now being played by a Central Valley native. We talk to actor Darnell Abraham about his journey to the stage.

And why does Bakersfield have such great modern architecture? It's a two-pronged answer that includes an innovative high school teacher and the 1952 earthquake. We learn more about Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1960s.

Lindsay Fox, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A Tulare County resident is the second person to die in California from a vaping-related illness. Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County’s Public Health Official, says the man who died Saturday had been in the  hospital with respiratory problems. He had a history of vaping and smoking.

“The CDC has suggested that people not vape because of these risks, they’re unknown, it’s too dangerous, and I would say the same thing,” Haught told Valley Public Radio.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A prominent Fresno family has filed a lawsuit against the Wonderful Company for breaching a contract of payment. The complaint, filed last week in the Fresno County Superior Court, alleges that the Wonderful Company, which also markets other Central Valley agricultural products, retroactively reduced the price it promised the Assemi family for pistachios delivered in 2018. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

If you’re a news junkie, you may have noticed a new online media outlet called the San Joaquin Valley Sun. The editor in chief is Alex Tavlian. He used to be a reporter for the Fresno Bee and then he became an attorney and political consultant. Now, on top of publishing The Sun, he’s also doing some campaign work for Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, who is running for mayor. We spoke with Tavlian and other journalists about the ethics of covering politics while also being involved in the political process.

On this week’s Valley Edition: September is National Suicide Prevention Month. We bring you the story of one Kern County woman who says helping someone in need could be as simple as asking questions. 

 

We also tell you about the 30th annual Reel Pride Film Festival coming up next week. It’s the sixth-longest-running LGBTQ film festival in the country.

 

And we meet a man whose street photography helps him cope with cancer.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

On this week’s Valley Edition: caring for a child with acute mental illness can be really difficult especially when resources to keep the child safe are limited. We get feedback from parents and profressionals.

We also dig into why the Selma City Council wants to get rid of at-large voting and map out districts. And the Friant-Kern Canal delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley but excess groundwater pumping is causing it to sink in some areas. We hear about one possible, but expensive, fix.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built libraries all over the U.S. with at least 14 of them in the Central Valley. Today, only a handful of those original buildings remain. One of them is in Hanford. There’s now a museum inside, but its future may be at risk.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We return to 1619, the first year enslaved Africans were brought to the shores of Virginia. Four hundred years later, what are the repercussions of this brutal institution? 

Also the National Science Foundation has picked up RadioBio, a podcast produced by students at UC Merced. Scientists at the top of their fields explain everything from flying lizards to T-cells.

And will Hanford’s historic Carnegie Museum remain open? We visit the Kings County city to learn more.

National Transporation Safety Board

Medevac helicopters transport patients to hospitals that can provide them with the best care. So when a helicopter meant to save lives crashes, it can feel doubly wrong. Four years ago, a medevac helicopter crash near McFarland sent shock waves through the first responder community and made headlines all over the Valley. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

After months of community meetings and a nationwide search, city officials said today that the next man to lead Fresno's police department already works there. Protesters outside the press conference said the city’s efforts to include citizen input seem disingenuous.

Inside the City Hall Annex, Jerry Dyer’s successor as police chief was announced as Deputy Chief Andy Hall. He’s a veteran officer with more than 40 years in the department.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

For the Weekend, we’re bringing you poetry from writer, poet, and Fresno State professor Brynn Saito.

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