Fresno

Monica Velez

Aaron Foster stands outside Wayne's Liquor store on East California Avenue. There’s a park across the street buzzing with people, a taqueria around the corner, and a library a few blocks away.

 

“This is the heart of Southwest Fresno,” he says. “There’s rival gang members that come by but they know this is a safe zone.”

 

Kerry Klein

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand has pulled a proposed spending plan that would have funded road repairs in the city, after criticism that it would have perpetuated inequality.

Brand’s plan would have distributed $12 million from the SB1 gas tax roughly equally among the city’s seven council districts, but the plan didn't sit well with most of the councilmembers who say they want equity first.

No, Gavin Newsom Didn't Just Kill California's High-Speed Rail Project

Feb 15, 2019
CA High Speed Rail Authority

Governor Gavin Newsom’s remarks on California’s embattled high-speed rail project in his State of the State address Tuesday seemed to confuse just about everyone. Supporters and opponents alike questioned whether he’s scaling back the project, or even abandoning it. Turns out … he really isn’t changing all that much. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler explains.

These words made heads spin across the nation:

George Self / CC BY-NC 4.0

A man from El Salvador, who’s married to a U.S. citizen, was supposed to have an important immigration hearing in early January. He was set to get his green card. He and his wife were thrilled.

 

“And it didn’t happen because the government shut down or at least partially shut down,” says Camille Cook, the man's Fresno-based immigration attorney.

 

The government has been partially shut down since December 22. Immigration courts have been closed and thousands of cases have been cancelled.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

National Historic Landmarks are typically associated with our country’s history—sites like the infamous island Alcatraz or Manzanar, one of the camps where Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley is home to a number of renowned poets, past and present. Just yesterday, Juan Felipe Herrera, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, got a shoutout during Governor Gavin Newsom’s inauguration. Earlier this month, Fresno City College professor Lee Herrick came out with his own new book of poetry, "Scar and Flower." It's Herrick's first book since he finished his tenure as Fresno’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

On this week's Valley Edition: The San Joaquin Valley has some of the dirtiest air in the country. In Fresno and Kern Counties, a state law has introduced a new strategy to tackle the problem: putting air monitoring in the hands of the community.

Later, we look at how some undocumented high school students are navigating college applications and applying for driver licences. Some are choosing to opt out entirely.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In a loading dock in northeast Fresno, two men pull up to the warehouse at Saint Agnes Medical Center in a white moving van. They meet a contract coordinator with the hospital named Heather Ritter, who pulls out a clipboard and asks them to sign a form. “As is, no warranty, no service, you know the drill,” she says. “And no charge, how's that!”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Last week, for the first time, downtown Fresno’s Saroyan Theater transformed into the Pridelands, complete with larger than life giraffes, and an iconic warthog-meerkat duo. Actors Martina Sykes and Gerald Ramsey, who play Shenzi and Mufasa, came to the station to talk about the show and how they take a well-known animated film and translate its music and themes to the stage.

You can hear listen to the interview above to hear more.

This Sunday, the Tower Theater will be playing about twenty sweded films on the big screen. If you haven’t heard of a “sweded” film before, it’s like a short home-remake of a real film, but as low budget as you can get: Think sheets for backgrounds, and cardboard cutouts for props.

Listen to the interview above to hear the Swede Fest organizers, Bryan Harley and Roque Rodriguez, talk about what films they anticipate playing, and what the sweded film they're making is based on.

Alice Daniel / Valley Public Radio

Last week, at the Lanna Coffee Company in Downtown Fresno, entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to judges. It was all part of the Spark Tank Pitch Fest put on by Fresno Pacific’s Center for Community Transformation. Each business presented its idea to create social good, from an app to teach financial education, to a program that teaches marketing skills to youths. By the end of the competition, the judges awarded all five contestants from $1,500 to $4,000 to start or grow their social impact businesses.

Brianna Calix / The Fresno Bee

There’s a divide in Fresno. The north part of the city – the area above Shaw Avenue -- has more parks, better schools. And the meat rendering plant? It’s in Southwest Fresno. The project has been in partnership with Arizona State University’s News Co/Lab to improve transparency in journalism, and Spaceship Media, a San Francisco Bay Area journalism organization that aims to build trust between media and communities.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall

With the onset of fall comes announcements for music and entertainment. This week, we talk with and organizer from one of the Valley’s oldest public lecture series on the upcoming season for the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall. Joining us in the studio is Vice Presidents of Programming, Joyce Kierejczyk. We talk about the season’s opening event, happening next week, and highlights from this year’s lineup. Tickets for the season can be found on their website.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

People are calling 2018, “the year of the woman.” More women have filed to run for office than ever before, and are advancing to the election in November. Even in the Central Valley, about half of the races for state legislature include female candidates. But despite the enthusiasm, many say it will take more than one election to bring gender equality to government.

 

Monica Velez

The soft chatter in the waiting room at the Yarra Law Group offices in Fresno are muffled by a Food Network show playing on TV. Receptionist tap their keyboards and answer phone calls. 

A 23-year-old woman from El Salvador, who we’ll call Ana, is among the dozen people in the room. A receptionist calls her name and she goes in to see her immigration attorney, Jeremy Clason. He’s preparing documents he’ll eventually file with the immigration court in San Francisco. She speaks to him softly as she begins to tell her story.

Monica Velez

Mark Arax, who’s a journalist and author, says he remembers when William Saroyan would come over to his grandfather’s house in Fresno for dinner. And when he finally got a driver’s license, he recalls picking Saroyan up at his home on Griffith Way for those dinners.

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is perhaps best known in Central California, and across the country as a poet whose art has been fused in a time of war. Author of the acclaimed collection Here, Bullet, Turner is one of the many literary giants to come from the San Joaquin Valley. Yet with his new project, he has turned his focus in two different directions: first in pursuing his musical visions, and second to showcasing the poetry of his late wife Ilyse Kusnetz.

Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic has launched its new season of concerts, the second under music director Rei Hotoda. Now Hotoda is also receiving another honor - an award from the Fresno League of Women Voters for her work leading the orchestra into a new era. She joined us to talk about the new season and the award on Valley Edition. 

Jocelyn Dettloff

On April 13th 1997, Jocelyn Dettloff’s life changed forever. On a camping trip in Sub-Saharan Africa, an accident left her paralyzed. It also put her life on a new path, inspiring others, as she describes in her book “It Rained in the Desert: One Woman's Story of Spirit and Resilience”

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.

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