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On Valley Edition: Truancy Solutions; Shop Local; Holiday Lights

This week on Valley Edition we talk about solutions to the truancy problems that plague local school districts, as well as efforts to boost shoppers at locally owned businesses, as well as the annual "holiday lights" show at the California Living Museum in Bakersfield. 

Segment 1: Truancy Solutions
While some Central Valley schools districts are struggling to address the issue of chronically truant students, others offer potential solutions, including one in the South Valley. Daryl Thiesen, the chairperson of the Kern County Truancy Reduction Program with the Kern County Office of Education, joins us to talk about the program. It began in 1990 and has been called a statewide model, with a broad coalition of schools, law enforcement, the District Attorney's office and community organizations. Hedy Chang, founder of the group Attendance Works also joins the conversation on strategies to keep kids in school.

Segment 2: Shop Locally Owned Businesses
Many communities are adopting economic development strategies that stress the importance of shoppers patronizing their locally owned businesses, versus chain stores. Does shopping at a locally owned “mom and pop” store create more jobs than at a big box store? Amy Huerta from the City of Fresno joins us to talk about a new organization called the Fresno Regional Independent Business Alliance, as well as Joanna Vitucci-Lopez owner of DiCiccio’s in Fresno, and Laurie Price, co-owner of Snead’s for Men in Bakersfield.

Segment 3: Holiday Lights at CALM
Bakersfield’s California Living Museum (CALM) is known throughout the Valley not only for its collection of animals, plants and fossils native to California, but also for its annual Holiday Lights display. Lana Fain, Zoo Manager for CALM joins us to talk about this year’s display, which runs from December 2nd thru January 1st and other activities at the zoo.

Juanita Stevenson has lived and worked in Fresno for the past 24 years. She is perhaps best known to Valley residents as a longtime reporter and news anchor with local television station ABC30, and has also worked at stations KJWL, KYNO and ValleyPBS. She is the recipient of the 2001 Associated Press Award for Best Reporting, and the 1997 Radio & Television News Directors Association Regional Edward R. Murrow award for Best Reporting.