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Lauren J. Young / Science Friday

For their episode on April 24, 2020, producers of the WNYC Studios show Science Friday turned their focus to the fungal disease valley fever - its origins and effects on the body, as well as burgeoning research and hope for new treatments.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Preliminary state data suggest nearly 8,700 Californians were diagnosed with valley fever in 2019, which would be a record high. The state’s highest case rate is consistently reported in Kern County where, this past weekend, one rural town held its first race to raise disease awareness.

Kern County Fire Department Twitter

The Kern County Sheriff's Office recommended evacuation Wednesday afternoon for those within a 6-mile radius of Taft Manufacturing Co. at 19705 South Lake Road in Taft after reports of a chemical leak. Members of the Kern County Fire Department were able to stop the leak early in the afternoon, a spokesman said, but they still have to neutralize and clean up the spilled substance which leaked for at least two hours.

 

Kerry Klein / KVPR

As communities across the southwest struggle to prevent valley fever, a sometimes-debilitating fungal disease, one community appears to have made progress: California state prisons, where inmates are at a significantly lower risk of valley fever than they used to be. Here, we explore why—starting with one man who wasn’t so lucky.

Richard Nuwintore was barely three weeks into his sentence at Taft Correctional Institution when he began to cough and experience chest pain. Within a few days, it was obvious something was wrong.

The City of Taft in western Kern County owes its existence to the oil industry. While the local economy has diversified, the energy industry is the still the primary economic engine of this small town, and every five years, locals throw a party to celebrate. This year, the Oildorado Days festival includes everything from an airshow and hot air balloon festival to the Oilstock music festival. On Valley Edition we spoke with one of the event's organizers, Shannon Jones about this year's activities and Taft's rich history.

Valley Public Radio

On this week's program FM89's Ezra David Romero reports on a new raisin variety that could severely decrease the labor needed to grow and harvest the crop. Also KVPR's Diana Aguilera reports on how farmworkers are impacted by STDs in the Central California town of Mendota.

Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Police in Taft are investigating alleged hazing incidents involving the high school varsity football team.

According to a statement released by the Taft Union High School, in 2 incidents earlier this month, students were subjected to “unacceptable and embarrassing treatment by other players.”

According to the Bakersfield Californian, eight juvenile students have been cited for battery, sexual battery, and false imprisonment, in incidents in and around the locker room.  This comes five years after another hazing episode involving the school’s volleyball team.

Author Gerald Haslam is something of a literary renaissance man. A historian, novelist, essayist and biographer, he is one of California’s most respected writers, and has devoted much of his career to telling stories about life in the Central Valley. His writing is much like the region he comes from: direct, unpretentious, and often filled with surprising depth and color.

Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Less than a month after the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Kern County community of Taft was rocked by a school shooting of its own.

This morning, a 16-year-old student at Taft Union High School walked into his first period classroom and shot another student with a 12 gauge shotgun. The victim is in critical but stable condition, according to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

“The student that is in critical condition we believe was an intended target, one intended target, of this suspect,”  Youngblood said.