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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Two weeks ago, Fresno County published its suicide prevention strategic plan. The county has been developing this plan for almost two years. During that time, its rate of suicide matched the state’s at about 10 deaths for every 100,000 people, but it wants to bring that number below the state average. Lately, though Fresno isn’t the only county looking at how to reduce the risk of suicide.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Recent arrests of undocumented immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inside Central Valley courthouses from Fresno to Sacramento have sparked controversy. But as Valley Public Radio's Monica Velez reports, such arrests aren't new.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley is a melting pot. It’s home to diaspora from dozens of countries, and we celebrate that diversity with traditional festivals and performances throughout the year. One celebration that flies under the radar, however, is a summer camp in the Sierra foothills that teaches some traditional arts from West Africa. In this story, we take you to a music camp in Dunlap.

Some people escape into the Sierra Nevada for serenity and silence. But every August, a few hundred campers flock to the Fresno County foothills for the freedom to be loud.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

We’re at the start of another school year. And that means more than just a focus on basic academic skills. In Fresno County there’s a new push to address mental health and wellbeing. It’s part of a five year, $111 million dollar campaign that’s called “All 4 Youth” that’s bringing together the county’s office of education and the behavioral health department.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One perception of homeless individuals might be that they’re alone, dealing with substance abuse or mental illness. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes a homeless person has family nearby, and just a strained relationship.  We reported on a Fresno County program that helps house parents and children, usually after they’ve been separated by the courts. This week, we meet one parent who used that emergency housing. Her name is Christina Montalvo, and she spent some time on the streets alone, while her kids lived with family.

Flickr user Derek Dirks, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Working 11 hours shifts in corn fields in Mendota is some of the hardest work to do. Add school and immigration court to the mix and you might start losing track of the days, like one teenager who recently moved to the Valley.  

“I would wake up at 11 at night to make food and leave at about 12:15,” he says in Spanish. “We go into work at 1 a.m. and get off at noon that day.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We’ve reported on homelessness, but what about families who are on the brink? For some of them, finding stable housing is a way to move their lives forward after drug rehabilitation, or court-mandated separation from their kids. With recent approval to relocate, one Fresno County program is trying to make it easier for those families to find housing.

Marc Benjamin / Valley Public Radio

Clovis has a reputation for good schools, walking trails, parks and upscale neighborhoods. It’s also one of California’s faster growing cities. People want to live there. So as the city grows, pressure is growing for developers to add new houses, often converting farmland to subdivisions.  So how do rural residents there coexist with new development while keeping their country way of life? Reporter Marc Benjamin explains how one neighborhood is adapting to change.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Local law enforcement and elected officials met with President Donald Trump today in Washington D.C. They discussed California’s sanctuary state policies and how they’ve impacted communities. As Valley Public Radio’s Monica Velez reports, one county sheriff thought the meeting was productive.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said she wants to see Fresno County say “we don’t agree with SB-54,” which restricts when state law enforcement can interact with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities. She said they discussed strategies to have full disclosures with ICE.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Will House Republicans warm up to Kevin McCarthy as he seeks to become the next Speaker of the House? Or will members of the "Freedom Caucus" stage their own fight for the spot? Why is Democratic congressional candidate Andrew Janz focusing on Clovis in his messaging to unseat incumbent Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District? And what do recent legal battles over local redistricting and Latino voter rights mean for valley politics? We talk politics and seek answers to those questions and more with Fresno State Political Science Professor Thomas Holyoke on Valley Edition.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Last year California lawmakers passed legislation that limits communication between local law enforcement agencies and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials. Recently, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department made national headlines by attempting to bypass that law by publicly posting the release date of inmates online. It’s a practice that Fresno County has been using for years.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new bill in the assembly would grant the California State Parks Department authority over land along the San Joaquin River Parkway. The bill by Fresno Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula would expand the existing Millerton Lake State Recreation Area along the 22-mile stretch of public and private riverbottom land between Friant Dam and Highway 99. State management could help solve an operational and financial problem for public land along the river, such as the 500 acre River West open space area.

Google Earth

After a nearly seven hour-long meeting, the board of the San Joaquin River Conservancy has delayed making a decision on where the public will have vehicle access to the River West open space area.

Over 100 people packed Fresno City Hall Wednesday voicing their concerns on whether a street and parking lot should access the property through a commercial development at Palm and Nees, or from a residential neighborhood via city-owned Riverview Drive, which currently ends at the top of the bluff.

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.

 

Ryan Jacobsen / Fresno County Farm Bureau

Monday’s heavy rain and gusty winds in the valley hurt two of the region’s largest money-making crops.

 

Fresno County is the top grower of raisins in the country, but Monday’s storm came at the worst moment for farmers growing the crop. At this time of year grapes are laid on paper trays to sun dry. Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says the full damage to the crop won’t be known for months.

 

Klearchos Kapoutsis / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

The total value of agricultural goods sold last year in Fresno County dropped in value by around $482 million compared to 2015 according to the 2016 Annual Crop and Livestock Production Report released in mid-August by Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright.

 

Wright blames the lack of surface water supplies. Other farm goods like livestock fell by around 7 percent or $6 million dollars last year as well. Still the county produced over $6 billion in agricultural goods in 2016.

 

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Last November, 64 percent of California voters approved Proposition 57, which allows for the early release of so-called “non violent” offenders from state prison. Ahead of the vote, one of the biggest critics of the proposition was Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, who criticized the proposal for the lack of specificity in defining how the law would be implemented. At issue – what exactly would be considered a “nonviolent” offense and what wouldn’t be.

AT&T/Ezra David Romero

On a hill overlooking Millerton Lake in Fresno County a group of workers are gathering around a cell tower. They’re watching a tiny white drone slowly circle the tower from the ground all the way to the top. Quasie Jones is with the drone imaging company Skycatch.

“So what it’s doing is taking a picture every two seconds,” Jones says. “So by the end of it it’ll basically have probably like five or 600 photos. So then our technology renders that and creates a 3D model.”

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein used a visit to the Central Valley Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess caught up with the senator at a farm in western Fresno County.

Standing beside a freshly irrigated olive orchard, Feinstein warned that leaving the international climate change initiative could make the Central Valley un-farmable.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

When you call 9-1-1, you expect an ambulance to come and quickly. But in Fresno County, health officials say a relatively small number of people had been making that difficult, so-called ambulance "super users." These are people who call for an ambulance ride frequently, sometimes hundreds of times a year, in non-emergency situations. Now five years into a project to reduce the burden of "super users" on the system, the numbers show the effort is working.

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