On Quality of Life: Small Cities Face Tough Times; Volunteers

Mar 22, 2011

California's cities have been hit hard in recent years. The housing bust, the economic downturn, and perennial state budget crises are just a few of the factors that have helped batter the balance sheets of municipalities up and down the Golden state. Valley cities are no exception, especially given the region’s perennially high levels of unemployment, even in so called "good" times. Many large cities, like Fresno have been forced to make drastic cuts to city services, and have been forced to lay off hundreds of employees. But what about the Valley's smaller cities, those in rural areas, that have less diversified economies, and already rely on doing more with less? FM89's Tracey Scharmann reports on how a financial crisis has rocked the small Madera county community of Chowchilla. We also look at how other small cities are faring in these difficult times, and how volunteers are helping in areas like public safety and emergency response.

Segment 1:

In this segment, we talk about the challenges facing the Valley's small cities with Jose Antonio Ramirez, City Manager of Firebaugh; and Danny Brown, Economic Development Director, City of Wasco; and Mike Dozier of the Rural Development Center at Fresno State. Is the future for small, rural Valley cities a bright one?

Segment 2:

One way many cities are dealing with the budget crunch is by assigning community volunteers with tasks that used to be performed by paid staff. The Fresno Police Department was recently featured in the New York Times and on the BBC for its Citizens on Patrol program which finds volunteers doing everything from collecting evidence to crime scene preservation. In this segment we talk with Sergeant Brenda Trobaugh of the Fresno Police Department and learn more about this program and its implications for the future.

Segment 3:

Valley residents are finding a number of ways to come to the aid of their fellow citizens, not just through programs like Citizens on Patrol. In this segment we talk with Yolanda Akers, Executive Director and Crisis Team Manager of the Foothill Mountain Chapter of the Trauma Intervention Program; and Barbara Swanson, Medical Reserve Corps Project Coordinator, from the Kern County Dept of Public Health.