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. 

Fresno State / Fresno State Official Facebook

David Celaya is one of about 30 staff members who learned last Thursday that his position was being eliminated due to budget cuts brought on by COVID-19. He’s worked for the university as a graphic designer for almost 5 years and he said he’s still in disbelief.  

“I’m kind of in denial a little bit and especially because I’m still working on projects,” Celaya said. “What I’m doing today on this random Tuesday is not any different than what I was doing a couple weeks ago.”

 

 

 

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.

 

Courtesy of Jaspreet Nagra, Blake Zante and David Paredes

 

David Paredes, 24, is running for the Area 5 seat on the Fresno Unified School Board. Since his campaign started in August, he’s made about a hundred phone calls a day.

“I’m also a direct product of the school system so I feel like I know what has worked and what hasn’t worked and where our priorities need to be,” Paredes said in a call to an FUSD Area 5 resident. “Like increasing access to mental health services for our youth and addressing climate change.”    

    

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

The Maxie L. Parks Community Center in West Fresno has been closed since Sept. 3 due to contaminants found in the building. Fresno Councilmember Miguel Arias announced Monday the city will secure funding to clean up the site. 

 

Before the community center was built in 2007, there was a laundromat on the site, Arias said at a press conference at City Hall. He said the city will spend half a million dollars to address two contaminants in the building associated with the dry cleaning industry. 

 

 

The Ninth Circuit Court heard oral arguments for the expansion of immigration detention centers in McFarland on Friday and immigrant rights advocates are hopeful the court will rule against the case.

 

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.

Tania Bernal

 

Activists across California rallied Tuesday to bring attention to the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks and related deaths at 30 different prisons, jails and detention centers including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield. 

 

For four minutes, activists across the state live streamed their demonstrations in unison to show solidarity. Six activists put a banner on Mesa Verde’s fence that said “Newsom’s Death Camp” according to organizer Tania Bernal with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.

 

Ezra David Romero / KVPR

 

Kern County is known for Big Agriculture and traditionally leans to the right.  Many of the farmers there support Donald Trump. But when it comes to immigration—one of the President's signature themes—not all the farmers there line up behind him.  

Tom Frantz is a fourth-generation almond farmer in Shafter, California.  It’s a small town of 16,000 people— just up the road from Bakersfield. Fields in the area grow almonds, pistachios, cotton, grapes and alfalfa.  

 

Frantz relies on a local contractor to provide the workers he needs to tend his farm. 

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.

A Fresno police officer used excessive force on a black 17-year-old male during a January 2019 incident caught on camera, according to an independent auditor’s review released on Thursday.  

 

The audit says Officer Christopher Martinez continued to punch London Wallace after he was no longer resisting arrest or posed any threat to the officer. 

 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

The Bakersfield Police Department is asking anyone who was a victim of an attack during Friday night's demonstration for Breonna Taylor to report it to the department for investigation. 

 

The protest was organized by the local activist group Black Lives Matter Kern. It started at 5 p.m. in front of the Bakersfield Police Department on Truxtun Avenue.

 

KVPR / Madi Bolanos

For over 35 years, the United States has partnered with Mexico to share resources during peak fire activity. And right now, 100 Mexican firefighters are in Tulare County helping to battle the SQF Complex Fire.

The crew from Guadalajara arrived Friday at the Kern County High School in Lake Isabella, where they were greeted by California fire officials. It’s not the first visit for Ramon Silva, deputy chief of the National Forestry Commission of Mexico. He helped fight the Camp Fire in 2018 so he’s seen the devastation wildfires have wreaked on the state and it concerns him.  

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.

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Multiple fires continue to ravage forests in the Sequoia. However, one area in the Sequoia National Forest escaped major destruction because of prescribed fires done over a year ago.

Balch Park is a Tulare County park known for its grove of Giant Sequoias. Karine Hunt, a forestry assistant 2 with Cal Fire, said a collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service saved the area from being devastated by the SFQ Complex Fire. 

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.

Alex Hall / KQED

The Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris met with service personnel for an assessment of the wildfires on a visit to Fresno Tuesday.  

 

Through smoked-filled skies, Harris arrived at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport at 11 a.m. Her first stop: Pine Ridge School in the eastern Fresno County foothills town of Auberry.

 

Madi Bolanos

Fresno County officials announced Thursday that the Clovis Rodeo grounds are at capacity and the rodeo is no longer taking in evacuated livestock. The Fresno Fairgrounds, however, is gearing up to receive more cattle and horses in the next few days.  

Stacy Rianda is the deputy manager at the Big Fresno Fair, but right now she’s in charge of feed donations and overseeing the barn set up. She said the facility is at 5% capacity, meaning they still have plenty of open stalls.

 

Liz Weaver, 31, lives in lower Prather with her husband, sister and daughter. Their home is in an evacuation warning area, but that didn’t stop her from organizing a team of almost 50 people to assist with mandatory evacuations.   

“I started putting together a post and asking people who need help,” Weaver said. “And I just started compiling a list of everyone who was able to do what and who had room for what.” 

 

Courtesy of Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff's Office / Fresno County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE 12:23 p.m. 9/29/20

 

Containment is at 44% with 305,240 acres burned. 

 

The Following Evacuation Orders are Lifted in Fresno County:

Zone F1O: The south boundary extends to the end of properties located south of  Peterson Road. The west boundary begins at 37887 Peterson Road. The north and  east boundaries are the intersection of Peterson Road and James Mountain Road. 

 

 

As of Sept. 1, some small businesses hit hard by the pandemic can receive financial relief through new grants from Fresno County. Fresno County approved $250,000 in grants for minority and women-owned businesses. The money comes from the CARES Act.

Dora Westerlund is president of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. She's spearheading the initiative and said some businesses have already reached out for help.  

 

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