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In-Depth

Amanda Monaco / Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

 

A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options.

The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around.

 

http://www.garrybredefeld.com/

A Fresno City Councilmember is apologizing for remarks he made two weeks ago that some community members have interpreted as racially insensitive. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld found himself in hot water after wading into the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Isolino Ferreira/Flickr / License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Over the past month we’ve brought you stories about how online short-term rental sites are changing the communities near Yosemite National Park. The booming vacation rental market is creating a shortage of places for locals to rent for the long-term and in some cases contributing to the area's homeless problem. And now the growing lack of long-term rentals is causing a hiring issue in Yosemite.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Earlier this summer, a contract between CalViva health and Kaiser Permanente left 9,000 Medi-Cal patients in the San Joaquin Valley to find all new doctors. We were curious how that transition happened, so we set out to find out how significant this change was in the healthcare world and how doctors and patients experienced it.

As part of our series Struggling For Care, we invited listeners to call in with their experiences trying to find doctors in the San Joaquin Valley. Some audio clips below are directly taken (with permission) from voicemails left on our tip line, others from more in-depth conversations. All highlight the frustration, helplessness and occasionally high stakes of a region with too few medical providers.

Jeanine Evans

Law enforcement in Las Vegas, Nevada are putting together the pieces of what lead to the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history. But already, the impacts are being felt here in the Central Valley.

A number of other Central Valley residents also attended the concert, which is an annual event.

Janine Evans went to the festival for the first time with her sister and her friends, who go every year.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thursday’s massive rockfall in Yosemite National Park has rock climbers on alert. It’s the second major fall within 48 hours on El Capitan – one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, standing over 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

The formation is popular among climbers, like Alec Wright from Eugene, Oregon. He was one of the first people on the scene after the rocks fell.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Thirty years ago, a bird native to California was on the brink of extinction. Known for its impressive size, the California condor has been the target of recovery efforts ever since. Now, as biologists prepare to release more birds into the wild in Kern County, the recovery program is gaining new momentum.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level.

“I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says Pourreza.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, the Fresno Police Department busted a sex trafficking ring among the Bulldog Gang—unfortunately, only the latest of many sex trafficking cases uncovered recently in the Valley. This kind of crime is likely what comes to mind when you think of human trafficking—but another kind of trafficking also occurs in the Valley, sometimes in plain sight, and law enforcement officials worry it’s more common than anyone knows.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

For about the past year, two San Joaquin valley school districts have allowed some parents and staff members to carry a concealed firearm on campus if they have a concealed carry weapons permit and seek the permission of the district superintendent.

However, under a new bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, that authority could soon be revoked.

The California Legislature has approved Assembly Bill 424, which would strip that authority from superintendents in all but a few narrow circumstances.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

When people think of homelessness, they often think of big cities like Fresno or Bakersfield. But in the mountains of Madera County it's a lingering problem. And as the short-term rental market grows, some fear the housing shortage in the communities just outside Yosemite will only get worse. 

Serenity Village is a seven-unit affordable apartment complex in Oakhurst targeted at helping homeless people get back on their feet.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

As the San Joaquin Valley struggles with a shortage of primary care physicians, one group in particular is stepping in to fill in the gaps: doctors born or trained in foreign countries. And while the planned repeal of the DACA program is President Trump’s most recent immigration policy change, he’s hinted at others that could influence the flow of foreign physicians into the Valley. This installment of our series Struggling For Care explores the valley’s complicated relationship with international doctors.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A major scandal rocked the auto industry two years ago when it was discovered that the car company Volkswagen had been systematically cheating on diesel emissions tests. That scandal might soon turn into a big boon for electric cars in the Central Valley.

It's an unusually bad wild fire season in the West, and for weeks people across the region have been breathing air thick with smoke.

"There's smoke from Canada, smoke from Idaho, smoke from California and Montana. There's smoke everywhere," says Greg Svelund, a spokesman for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Most people in the mountain area around Oakhurst know Katie Miller as the Mountain Madam. That’s her brand. The London Properties' realtor and I are driving to an area north of Oakhurst where she recently sold a home that’s now listed on the online rental site Airbnb.

“So that’s the Airbnb right here,” says Miller. “There’s a spiral staircase inside, all wood floors. They figured out how to maximize the space and put beds everywhere.”

UCSF

As we reported earlier this summer, the Fresno area could soon be home to two medical schools. While that may seem like a great opportunity for creating home-grown doctors, research suggests local residencies and fellowships could be more important for keeping doctors here. But the Valley lags behind the state in those training opportunities, too.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Downtown Fresno’s 116-year old ‘Helm Home’ has been a landmark for generations because of its distinctive shape. The mission revival-style home, sometimes called the Alamo House was once at risk of being condemned, but today it’s been impeccably restored to its former glory with high ceilings and flawless wooden floors.

From Keith Pickett’s front yard just east of Bakersfield you can see the trees of where the official city begins. He’s on the board of a tiny water system with less than 30 homes. It’s called the East Wilson Road Water Company and the water he’s washing his dishes with is polluted with nitrates.

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