Fresno

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Fresno is California’s largest city without a light rail system. With the city’s sprawling nature and ample parking lots, efforts to bring rapid transit to the area have never taken off. One other reason – light rail is really expensive. Now, Fresno officials hope to bring some of the elements of those commuter trains to the city’s bus system at a much more affordable price tag. It’s a concept that around the world is called bus rapid transit – or light rail on wheels. We looked at the latest addition to Fresno Area Express service by talking to the people who use it.

AARON SALCIDO / Zocalo Public Square

Could the San Joaquin River, long a dividing line in the heart of California, unite the state in pursuit a more metropolitan future for the Central Valley?

Whether that happens will be determined in Madera County, on the north side of the river from Fresno. There, a new city, consisting of multiple large planned communities, is finally under construction after decades of planning and litigation.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you an investigative story about a secretive building in downtown Fresno that’s being used to process individuals coming into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. There’s no sign on the building, its address is not listed on the agency’s website, and immigration attorneys are concerned about the detainees’ access to due process.

Brittany Greeson/GroundTruth

Critics across the globe are starting to pay attention to the music of one young valley artist – Omar Nare. The Sanger native was recently profiled on Public Radio International and the New York Times for his fresh take on mariachi traditions. He’s taking traditional songs and re-inventing them with hints of jazz, soul and funk.

CA High-Speed Rail Authority / Office of Asm. Jim Patterson

For the first time since 2012, the state legislature is giving the California High-Speed Rail Authority a thorough audit. This comes just weeks after the agency’s top consultant revealed that the project’s Central Valley section is now nearly $3 billion over budget due to delays and additional design expenses. The audit comes at the request of Assemblymember Jim Patterson. The Fresno Republican has been one of the rail authority’s staunchest critics for years. Now he's asking state leaders to consider a “Plan B” for the ambitious but troubled project.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

A few weeks ago we told you how new high-tech, low-cost air quality sensors are helping valley residents monitor air pollution right outside their homes. But the devices aren’t just being used by homeowners, they’re also being adopted by some of the world’s top scientists. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is testing the devices here in the valley, in preparation for investigating pollutants from space.  

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Update Tuesday 2/13:

Nunes for Congress

Tulare Republican Congressman Devin Nunes may be one of the most unlikely national political figures of the past year. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee was already in the news for his role in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Now with his controversial classified memo about alleged wrongdoing by FBI officials in a FISA warrant for Trump aide Carter Page, Nunes is back in the headlines. Is it a real scandal, as House Republicans have claimed?

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Back in September, President Trump announced that the Obama-era DACA program would end in six months. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gave many immigrants who came to the U.S. as children the opportunity to pursue higher education and work in America. Congress is struggling to agree on a replacement, and DACA recipients have little to fall back.

 

One such DACA recipient is Antonio Jauregui.

 

This week on Valley Edition we learn about new technology that is allowing valley residents to monitor the air quality right outside their homes. We also talk about the plans for new e-commerce centers in Fresno. Mayor Lee Brand says the plan to approve a major new industrial development could create hundreds of new jobs. But critics say the distribution warehouses would also generate more air pollution. 

CIty of Fresno

This Thursday the Fresno City Council will vote on a proposal for a major new industrial development in south Fresno. Covering 110 acres at Central and Cedar Avenues, the development would allow up to 2,000,000 square feet of new construction for heavy industry. However, developer Richard Caglia is likely to target a very specific type of tenant for the project – warehouse operations known as distribution or fulfillment centers.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

California High-Speed Rail Authority will soon have a new leader, just as cost estimates for the project’s Central Valley portion have risen by nearly $3 billion. The authority’s board announced Tuesday that Brian Kelly will take over the job starting next month. Kelly is currently the secretary of the California Transportation Agency, which oversees CalTrans, the Highway Patrol and other agencies. He’ll earn a salary of $384,000 a year.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline.

Flickr user Lens Scratcher (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The holidays are big here in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the most conspicuous examples is Christmas Tree Lane, two miles of lights and music that draw tens of thousands of visitors to central Fresno each year. Big as it is, though, it’s the little things that keep Christmas Tree lane running smoothly. In particular, this nightly ritual keeps the lights on.

http://www.garrybredefeld.com/

Last week the Fresno City Council approved a resolution kicking off the process of amending zoning laws to allow a variety of medical marijuana related businesses to operate in the city. The unanimous vote capped off a tense council meeting over the original proposal, which would have also allowed commercial marijuana businesses in the city, though stopping short of recreational use dispensaries. 

This week we learn what happens when you don't "check before you burn" by taking a trip to the Valley Air District's "fireplace school." We also talk to Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier about his plans to leaglize a number of businesses involved in the marijuana industry in Fresno, and about a proposal that would give members of the city council a raise. We also hear how students at Fresno State may have kicked off a rebellion over student fees that extends system-wide in the CSU. We also hear an interview with California Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate John Chiang. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you may have been required to attend traffic school. Likewise, cause a scene at work, you may have to take anger management classes. But what if you violate burning restrictions? The local air district runs a different kind of class intended to spark good behavior.

On damp, chilly nights Patrick Smith has a tradition: He builds a fire in his fireplace. Smith lives in northwest Fresno. A gas-powered furnace heats his home, but Smith still thinks of a fire as a gathering place for his family.

Clint Olivier

The Fresno City Council will vote Thursday on a proposal that would set the city on a path to legalizing a variety of marijuana-related businesses.  This comes just months after the council voted to ban commercial marijuana dispensaries and other businesses. If approved, the new policy would mark a significant reversal of course on an issue that has divided city leaders for most of the last year.

Today on Valley Edition we hear a report about changes looming in Fresno's historic Chinatown neighborhood. Many roads in the area are already closed with construction on high-speed rail, and that's causing some concern among business owners. Yet others are optimistic about a brighter future ahead, with new community improvements, millions in cap-and-trade funding, new housing, and the future rail station. We also hear a report about the role the U.S. military has played in researching valley fever, much of which has taken place at Lemoore Naval Air Station.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY TEXTLI GALLEGOS, 18, LAS FOTOS PROJECT / California Sunday Magazine

The San Joaquin Valley has a rich boxing tradition, dating back generations. Before he ran a popular bar in downtown Fresno, Young Corbett III was the world welterweight champion in the 1930’s. Today, Avenal’s Jose Ramirez is one of the sport’s rising stars. But at a gym in Southeast Fresno, local teen boxer Sandra Tovar is already at the top of her field, and has her sights set on an even bigger goal – the U.S. Olympic team, and the 2020 Tokyo summer games. 

Pages