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First Lady Jill Biden spent time in Delano Wednesday to honor civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. She was there to take part in a Day of Action, alongside the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the United Farm Workers and the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force. 

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. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do health care professionals cope with the death of one of their own to COVID-19? We talk to a Fresno nurse about treating and grieving a beloved colleague who died earlier this week. 

We also speak to two recently graduated teenagers. Since shelter-in-place, they’re taking on new roles: from watching younger siblings while their parents do essential work, to checking in on their elders. 

Plus, San Joaquin Valley authors share essays on living through a pandemic.  

Courtesy of Bob Fitch Photography Archive, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries

The United Farm Workers movement immediately brings to mind Cesar Chavez and Mexican laborers. And if you know your history really well, then you might also think of Larry Itliong and Filipino farm workers. But there’s another community in the Central Valley that was deeply engaged in the movement. Writer Neama Alamri has been researching the history of Yemeni farm workers as part of her doctoral dissertation at UC Merced.

Anaí Adina Morales

On a sweltering mid-August day in Delano, Anaí Adina Morales sat at her dining room table in the home where she grew up. She quieted down her two small dogs and then played the beginning of the music to Nuestro Gran Amor on her phone to make sure she was in the right key. 

“Como el sol le hace falta a la luna,” she sang in acapella. The song is number 12 on her recently released mariachi debut album, Espérame En El Cielo. It’s a mix of mostly love songs, some accompanied only by a guitar and others with a full 30-piece mariachi band. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The National Transportation Safety Board has released its findings on the 2015 medevac helicopter crash that killed four people in the Valley. 

We also hear from both sides of the Senate Bill 1 debate -- that’s the state bill that aims to safeguard California from rollbacks in federal laws like the Endangered Species Act.

Later, we’ll introduce you to a young Mariachi singer from Delano. She’s just recorded her first album, and now she’s on her way to Harvard. 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The Delano City Council passed a resolution Monday night to become a sanctuary city. It's the second city in the San Joaquin Valley to do so following Livingston. 

 

The resolution says the city will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and any other immigration authority, which is consistent with the California Values Act, or SB-54, the state law that prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE.

 

Valerie Gorospe

On a recent Wednesday at about noon, Aldo’s Mexican Restaurant in Delano was empty. There wasn’t any chatter or the sounds of sizzling carne asada on the stove, just the song Mejor Recuerda by Julión Álvarez playing in the background.  

 

“During the lunch hour, we used to always be busy, running back and forth, back and forth,” said waitress Araceli Mendez in Spanish. “That’s why you now can see the difference. It’s been empty for almost a month.”

 

Courtesy of Bridge + Delta Publishing

When you think of civil rights leaders from the Central Valley, names like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta probably come to mind, but another fundamental figure in the farm-labor movement was Larry Itliong. The Filipino activist co-founded the United Farm Workers of America and was pivotal in the Delano Grape Strike. His life was recently memorialized in a children’s book, “Journey For Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong," co-written by historian Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon and Gayle Romasanta. The book was illustrated by Andre Sibayan.

Monica Velez

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, an undocumented high schooler in Delano received a text from her parents. It was a photo of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in their town. Her parents were on their way to work.

 

“And they turned back,” the 17-year-old says. “We stayed in the house, I didn’t go out, I didn’t go to school for a week. It’s just the constant living in fear and I don’t think anybody should have to go through that.”

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Summers for college students usually mean part time jobs or summer school. But this year, one group of students have dedicated their time to civic engagement. While some of them are new voters themselves, they’re hoping to get other young adults to make voting a priority.

Digital Delano

Many communities across the valley have rich histories. The challenge in many cases is preserving those stories, memories, photos and artifacts for future generations. In one Kern County community, a new effort is underway to do just that. We recently spoke with history professor Oliver Rosales about the Digital Delano project. The effort to collect and record oral histories and more is holding a special event May 1 at the Bakersfield College Delano Campus, and we learn about local residents can help participate. 

Parks Fee Hike
The National Park Service has backed off its plan to raise entrance fees at popular parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon to $70. Under a revised plan announced Thursday, the new entrance fee would be $35.00 starting June 1.  The park service says the majority of the increased revenue will stay in the parks to help on a backlog of maintenance. Overall, across all parks, entrance fees rise $5 under the new plan.
 

Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a lawsuit against Kern County over voting rights. The ruling found county supervisorial districts that were created in 2011 violated the Voting Rights Act because they intentionally divided Latino communities between two districts.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

When we consider medical providers, what comes to mind may be doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. But what about pharmacists? A new law has allowed them to greatly expand their role to become providers—which could be good news for patients struggling to access doctors. But one major obstacle still stands in the way of pharmacists taking on patients. This latest installment of our series Struggling For Care begins with the story of a community pharmacist in Kern County looking toward the future.

Charismatic,  controversial, courageous and complicated. Those are just a few words that could sum up the life of the late civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. Now over 20 years after his death, a new biography seeks to provide fresh insight into a man who is an inspiration for millions. The book is called “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” by Miriam Pawel, who joined us on Valley Edition to talk about Chavez the man and Chavez the myth. 

Lionsgate / Pantelion Films

Later this month, the story of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez hits the silver screen with a biopic by acclaimed director Diego Luna. It’s the first time a major motion picture has been made about the life of the founder of the United Farm Workers Union. It features a cast of Hollywood stars including America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich, with Michael Pena cast as the late civil rights hero. Tomorrow night President Obama will host a screening of the movie at the White House.

GSA.gov

For over 60 years, a mammoth cluster of radio towers and transmitters just west of Delano beamed the Voice of America network to shortwave listeners across the globe. 

Now according to the trade publication Radio World, the property could soon get a new use as housing for the homeless.

Built in 1944, the 500,000 watt station turned off its transmitters for the last time in 2007, a victim of government cutbacks and rapidly changing technology.

When she was just 6, Emily Gorospe became very tired and sick. The spunky girl, now 8, developed a fever that wouldn't go away, and red blotches appeared across her body.

"She's got so much energy usually," says Emily's mother, Valerie Gorospe. "Just walking from one part of the house ... she was drained." The little girl was also very pale. "She just didn't look like herself," Valerie recalls.

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