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: 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.  

 

The Latinx community continues to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. That’s why the Kern County Public Health Department recently created a first-of-its-kind task force to address this issue.  

As fires continue to ravage Northern California, farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley now have to protect themselves from poor air quality on top of COVID-19. One farm worker says it’s made working in the fields even harder.

 

Oralia Bautista is 34 years old. Six days a week she commutes with her husband from Fresno to pick tomatoes in Firebaugh. While working, she always wears a mask.

 

“It helps filter out the bad air we’re breathing, but it's also hard because well, it’s hard to breathe with the mask on to begin with,” she said.

 

On Monday, the Fresno Police Reform Commission announced a new community survey that will assist it in making informed recommendations to the city of Fresno and its police department.

The survey asks community members questions like how comfortable would they be calling the Fresno Police for help and whether the community should have a say in the department's funding. D'Aungillique Jackson, the chair of the community input subcommittee, says the goal is to include responses from underrepresented communities. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: A well known Hmong filmmaker who documented the lives of Hmong communities all over Asia died of COVID-19 in July. With his funeral this week in Fresno, his family recalls his legacy. 

Plus, a century after white women gained the right to vote, we explore the history of the 19th Amendment, and how it changed the U.S. forever. 

Almost half the people tested for COVID-19 last Wednesday at Mesa Verde had positive results. 

Thirty two out of 70 people tested positive. Asif Qazi, who’s been detained at Mesa Verde since February, says he’s not surprised.

“It’s not possible to social distance in a place where you have to use the same sinks, toilets and showers as other people,” Qazi said. “When you line up it’s not like your lining up six feet apart. It’s shoulder to shoulder.”  

Close to 300 people working in the medical field have signed a letter in solidarity with the Black Lives Movement in the San Joaquin Valley.

Dr. Susan Logan is a hepatobilitary surgeon in Fresno. She says making the letter public is meant to serve as a way to build trust with the Black community in the Valley.

 

Some essential workers in Fresno can now get childcare vouchers through the city in collaboration with the Central Valley Children’s Service Network. 

The program will support about 190 kids. It is funded by the CARES Act and provides temporary vouchers for essential workers through Dec 31. Ofelia Gonzalez, director of community education at the Central Valley Children’s Service Network, said families will be chosen based on an essential workers priority list. 

 

At least 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield as of Monday, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Advocates say the people detained are not getting proper medical attention.

Christian Orellana, 22, contracted the virus in late July. On Saturday, he fainted at Mesa Verde. His lawyer, Ambar Tovar with the Defense Project in Bakersfield, said officials sent him to his bed even though she asked that a doctor examine him. 

Farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley are facing higher risks of contracting COVID-19 compared to non-agricultural industries, according to a new farmworkers study. That’s on top of dealing with extreme heat and pesticide exposure. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We’ll hear firsthand accounts of how COVID-19 has impacted conditions for those working in the fields.

We also talk to a reporter who spent three weeks in Kern County’s corner of the Mojave Desert. Her new podcast investigates false promises of wealth in California City. 

And, we discuss what will happen to Valley renters out of work because of COVID-19 and potentially facing homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

 

The City of Fresno’s response rate to the 2020 census is lower than the state average of 63.5%. Right now, 62.3% of households have responded, but the rate falls below 50% in certain Fresno zip codes.

This week on Valley Edition: We learn more about an organization in Fresno that’s buying crops from small farmers to help offset the huge losses growers are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Plus, a man currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison describes the toll that COVID-19 has taken on life behind bars, including months without seeing loved ones. 

 

And documentary filmmakers tell us what it’s like inside the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield.

 

Pages