Madi Bolanos

Reporter

Madi Bolanos is the immigration and underserved communities reporter at Valley Public Radio. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border. Originally from Fresno, she is happy to be back reporting on important issues in the San Joaquin Valley. 

On this week's Valley Edition: Fresno leaders respond to a rise in anti-Asian racism. Why some crimes go unreported, and details of a proposal to hire a diverse outreach team.

Plus, award-winning NPR talk show host Diane Rehm discusses her new PBS documentary about medical aid in dying. 

 

And community organizers are providing support to street vendors after a deadly attack on one this year. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

 

Courtesy of the Governor's Office

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday half a billion dollars in emergency funds for the 2021 wildfire season. 

 

At a press conference in the mountain town of Shaver Lake above Fresno, Newsom said he will sign the plan to improve the state’s wildfire response as early as Tuesday. Many of the communities nearby were ravaged by the historic Creek Fire last September. 

 

JOHN WALKER JWALKER@FRESNOBEE.COM

Angelita Rodriguez used to sell clothes and blankets on the sidewalk outside her apartment complex on South Maple Street.

“But it’s been awhile since I’ve done it,” she says in Spanish. “I haven’t gone out since they robbed me.”

The man who robbed her pretended to be an interested customer, Rodriguez says. He asked her which blankets were her most expensive. She says when she turned to grab some of the blankets hanging on the fence behind her, he took off with as many blankets as he could.

“I was scared,” she says. “More than anything it left me shocked.”

On this week's Valley Edition:  They're essential, but Punjabi truckers say that without COVID-19 information translated into their native language, they're left without some critical details that could protect them on the job.

 Plus, how donations are helping one Fresno homeless encampment survive.

 And local Asian American women share their experiences of discrimination.  Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

 

California’s Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander caucuses are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to investigate the Fresno County Health Department. The move comes after the Fresno Bee reported that officials gave confidential information to Foster Farms executives by warning them in advance about Cal/OSHA COVID-19 inspections. 

 

Madi Bolanos

 

People experiencing homelessness in Kern County are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine under the state’s guidelines. Now, a street medicine team is the first in Kern County to take mobile vaccine clinics to remote homeless encampments.  

 

On Thursday, the Clinica Sierra Vista Street Medicine Team administered 25 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to unhoused people living behind the Rosedale Inn in Bakersfield. Dr. Mathew Beare said it took a lot of time and trust building to get people to agree to take the vaccine. 

 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

It’s a Tuesday morning in March and Madeline Harris with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability is knocking on doors in Fairmead, a small community in Madera County, to let residents know about a mobile vaccine clinic coming to the town that weekend.  

 

“We’re just passing out flyers about a mobile vaccine clinic that we’re going to do on Sunday,” Harris says to resident Mary Ann Moor. Harris says residents can register at the clinic but they must prove they work in the food and agriculture industry.  

 

On this week's Valley Edition:  We check in with community organizations to see if the statewide effort to fix vaccination disparities is reflected in rural farm towns. 

Plus, we discuss our collective trauma as a result of living through a deadly pandemic. How might it shape our mental health in the future? 

    

And we look back; it’s been one year since COVID-19 upended our lives. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

Courtesy of the United Farm Worker Foundation

Over 1,000 farm workers in Kern County received their first round of vaccines last weekend in Delano. The United Farm Workers  and partnering organizations have plans to vaccinate thousands more in the coming weeks. 

The UFW , in partnership with the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force, is vaccinating farm workers every weekend for the next three weeks as part of the county’s initiative to get more farm workers vaccinated. For the first weekend, UFW President Teresa Romero said 500 people were registered for each day. 

 

 

On this week's Valley Edition:  Due to federal funding, the pandemic has created an unlikely opportunity for new homeless housing in Fresno. We look at some of the programs in place.

 

Plus, we tell you about a Microsoft pilot program that KVPR is a part of to preserve and expand local news around the country.

    

And arts critic Donald Munro gives us an update on the Tower Theater sale. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

 


 

 

The Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force launched a new hotline, Project Abuelita, to help older non-English speaking people schedule COVID-19 appointments. It’s already received over 800 callers. 

 

Project Abuelita is an extension of the task force’s mental health hotline that was created to help people cope with the pandemic. 

 

“It’s a place to have callers that may not have the internet or may not have a computer,” says Hotline Manager Bianca Torres. 

 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a controversial ordinance Monday evening allowing the addition of more than 40,000 oil and gas wells over the next 15 years. The vote took place after supervisors heard 8 hours of public comments. 

 

The majority of those comments were against the ordinance. Small farmers, environmental groups and residents in the county were among those opposing the ordinance. 

 

Resident Daniel Ress said he’d read dozens of studies about the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling on people living nearby.

 

A federal judge ordered the Fresno Police Department to release edited body camera footage Friday related to the 2017 death of an unarmed Fresno resident, Joseph Perez. The family is suing for wrongful death and excessive force in federal court. 

 

In 2017, Fresno County Sheriff’s received a “check the welfare” call regarding the 41-year-old dad of two. The 9-1-1 caller describes Perez as a “Hispanic gentleman kind of running sideways and backwards and kind of throwing his arms up in the air.” 

 

On this week's Valley Edition: Thousands of migrant workers come to California each year to do temporary labor in the Valley and send money back to their families. What has the pandemic been like for them? We go to Delano to talk to some workers from Mexico who have been living in a hotel for the past four months. 

 And, we speak with four registered nurses who work in ICUs throughout the San Joaquin Valley about the toll of treating COVID-19 patients over the last year. 

 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

Small groups of men sit outside a Motel 6 just off Highway 99 in Delano. For more than half a year, this is their home. They sit on the stairs or on the grass. One group leans against a fence, surrounding an empty pool. They’re chatting or taking in the sun; some with phones to their ears talking to loved ones back home in Mexico. 

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

Lawyers sent a letter last week to the Kern County Board of Supervisors complaining that information presented at a recent planning commission meeting about a controversial proposed ordinance on gas and oil drilling was inconsistent with the timeline of the actual county document.  

 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Armando Celestino walks between rows of grapevines in a Madera County vineyard. He’s handing out small zip lock bags to farm workers filled with hand sanitizer, masks and information on the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Celestino works with Centro Binancional, a community organization that assists those who speak, indigenous languages like Mixtec and Zapotec.

 

On this week's Valley Edition: Farm workers across the San Joaquin Valley are showing high levels of interest in getting the COVID-19 vaccine but they say information about where to go is scarce. 

 

But there is plenty of medical mistrust within communities of color and the reasons are complex. We talk about why.

 

 

On this week's Valley Edition: How the business community in Fresno’s Tower District has adjusted to the pandemic, and the incoming tenants that could change the face of the neighborhood. 

Plus, Black business owners are finding strength through community as they work to adapt their operating models to the pandemic.

 

We also hear about the Fresno State Art Song Festival, where poetry, musical composition and singing converge. 

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

After hearing more than 100 public comments, the Kern County Planning Commission voted Friday to pass the recommendation for a proposed oil and gas ordinance that would allow the permitting of up to 40,000 new oil and gas wells over the next 20 years.

 

Representatives from the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance citing jobs for Latinx community members as a top reason. 

 

But the majority of the comments voiced concern over the new ordinance. 

 

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