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Frustration And Tears As Paradise Turns Out To Protest The PG&E Fire Victim Trust

May 25, 2021
Lily Jamali / KQED

PARADISE, Calif.  -- Teri Lindsay said she had no intention of speaking at a fire survivors’ rally that drew about a hundred people to the Skyway in Paradise Saturday. But as her daughter, Erika, stood by her side — tears streaming down the young girl’s face — Lindsay voiced her frustration at her family’s living conditions 2.5 years after the 2018 Camp Fire. 

At the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, an animation video previews the upcoming Kingdoms of Asia attraction. It’s playing on a big screen TV near where the entrance of the exhibit will be.

“Guests are transported to a lush jungle landscape, teeming with sights and sounds,” an announcer says, as the video pans over to show trees and wildlife exhibits.

 

A new beautification project in the Tower District will affect traffic on Olive Avenue through July. The Olive Avenue Streetscape will force street closures along the main Olive corridor. 

Council members Esmeralda Soria and Miguel Arias who both represent the Tower neighborhood in District 1 and 3, spoke about the upcoming construction Monday. Arias acknowledged that it could compound the impact on local businesses. 

 

 

It’s been 40 years since Dr. Ghia Xiong lived and farmed in Laos, but he says this seven acre community garden in Sanger always reminds him of his childhood.

“Going to the farm with my parents and seeing how beautiful it is and then being able to come to this garden just takes me back home like that,” he says.

Xiong says being here out in the open provides a sense of peace. 

“The plants, the corn, the lemongrass here tells you where the wind flows,” he says.

 

Medical care at California State Prison, Corcoran received a poor rating in a recently published state watchdog review. Now, prison advocates worry that doesn’t bode well for the quality of care during the pandemic.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

For a decade, the Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC) has aimed to reduce the burden of asthma in the San Joaquin Valley, which sits in one of the country’s most polluted air basins and reports some of the highest rates of asthma and asthma-related medical encounters in the state.

 

A recent ruling on a lawsuit filed in 2019 says the city of Clovis must begin the process of building more high-density, affordable housing and has been violating a state law by not doing so.

Attorney Patience Milrod, executive director of Central California Legal Services, says Clovis has traditionally zoned for single family homes, pricing out low-income residents.

 

On the second story of Fresno Police Headquarters, there’s a darkened room lit up with screens that show 21 camera views. Each screen displays a different part of downtown. This monitoring system is called the Real Time Crime Center. 

 

The center was first opened in 2015, but had to shut down in 2019 due to budget and staffing issues. Since taking office in January, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says he noticed the center was going unused.

 

 

The Fresno Center unveiled a new mobile health unit Monday, the first of its kind in Fresno County designed to provide remote mental health services. 

Pao Yang, president and CEO of the Fresno Center, said it’s been a huge challenge to reach the people who are most in need of mental health services, especially during the pandemic. 

That’s why the center teamed up with Anthem Blue Cross to provide a mobile clinic. Anthem donated money for the van. The Fresno Center will use it to reach underserved and rural communities. 

 

A coalition of San Joaquin Valley leaders, legislators and farmers came together Friday to declare a regional drought emergency for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. They spoke at Harlan Ranch in Clovis. Behind the speakers, fallowed trees were heaped in piles of dried wood. 

Sen. Andreas Borgeas led the coalition in urging the governor to take immediate action. 

“There is no question, California is in a drought. Even the U.S. Ag Secretary has declared 50 California counties to be natural disaster zones because of drought,” he said.

At Sew N So Alterations in north Fresno, the steady thrum of mechanized needles is a good sign. It means business is finally starting to pick back up again. 

Owner Patrick Tran points out several machines that are used to make alterations. 

 

“Those three are overlap machines where after you cut it, you overlap so it doesn’t fray,” he says gesturing to a row of machines on the back counter.

 

 

It’s estimated that from 2019 to 2020, Fresno’s homeless population increased by almost 70%. City Manager Tommy Esqueda is certain that number has continued to grow this year.

“We don't have enough housing capacity available to get folks out of the shelters we’ve invested in, and so we have more people on the street,” he said. 

 

During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Esqueda presented a $25 million housing development plan for the next fiscal year.

 

 

Community members gathered outside Fresno City Hall Tuesday night, just hours after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts: second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.  

A painted portrait of George Floyd was placed at the center of the gathering, organized by the Fresno State NAACP chapter. 

Pieces of paper attached to the portrait fluttered in the wind. They listed the names of those killed in the U.S. by police violence.  

 

 

Community activists in Fresno took center stage at a community gathering Tuesday night to mark the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Speakers reflected on a hard-fought year of protests leading up to the guilty verdict. They acknowledged the event as a way to connect and heal with others who have felt a mix of emotions after the verdict was read. 

An encampment at Broadway and San Benito in downtown Fresno is dotted with rows of tents. Many are the newly built and more sturdy tent sheds.

Camp manager Dez Martinez unzips a tent belonging to one of the newest residents, Norma Chapa, who has been here for three weeks.

“I have some books for coloring using colored pens, and I have my stuffed animals and this is how I made my room,” Norma, 52, says, showing off what’s inside.

Mee Vue stands in the middle of tidy dirt rows, looking down as she points out the watering line running the length of her garden. The drip system feeds her newly planted corn crop and cabbages, all flowering in various stages.   

She’s busy moving her garden hoe, getting rid of weeds that have sprouted since her last visit to the community garden at Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, or FIRM.

Vue lives right across the street and often spends time in the garden. A translator speaks for her. 

More Fresno County businesses opened this week as the county moved into the second-most restrictive tier Wednesday. It must remain there for three weeks before it can advance to a less restrictive tier.

 

David Luchini, assistant director of the Fresno County health department, said two key indicators -- the county’s overall positivity rate and its health equity positivity rate -- are both below 5%. That could allow the county to reach the next tier even sooner, he said.

First Lady Jill Biden spent time in Delano Wednesday to honor civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. She was there to take part in a Day of Action, alongside the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the United Farm Workers and the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

 

The cab of Sunny Grewal’s 18-wheeler is neat and tidy. He’s got bunk beds with red checkered sheets and gray interior cabinets that hide a fridge, microwave, paper plates and spices for long days on the road. One plastic container holds bite-sized sweets from his native India. “We call it gur, G-U-R,” Grewal says. “You can put it in tea, or you can have a small piece after food.”

 

Timothy Jackson is hammering together pallets at the site of his new home, an encampment near a Highway 99 overpass in downtown Fresno.

“Just like a few pallets and you can make anything into a deck,” he says, bending over a wooden structure.

The former tile and granite worker is building a railing to help with mobility for the camp’s elderly members.

“It’s not going to go very far, but they can at least get to the bathroom when they need to,” he says. 

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