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On Valley Edition: Fresno SPCA Controversy; Rural Poverty; World Book Night

This week on Valley Edition, we hear from the Central California SPCA and hear why they are walking away from a decades old contract to provide animal control services to the City and County of Fresno. We'll also talk about how some residents of rural Valley communities live in "third-world" conditions and what some people are trying to do to change that situation. And we close the program with a discussion of world book night, a new event that is coming to Fresno. 

Segment 1: CCSPCA
For over four decades, the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has provided animal control and shelter services for the City and County of Fresno. Last month, after intense criticism from animal rescue groups, the organization announced it stop providing those services as of October 1, walking away from a $2.3 million contract with the city. That has left both local governments struggling to find a new service provider, but it's also left the SPCA in time of transition as well. What does the future hold for Host Juanita Stevenson talks with CCSPCA spokesperson Beth Caffrey about what the future holds for the organization at it seeks to go back to its roots in investigating animal abuse.

Segment 2: Rural poverty
Across the Valley, many residents of small, densely populated un-incorporated areas deal with conditions one would expect to find only in so-called "third world" nations: water that isn't safe to drink and sewage that backs up into homes from overflowing septic tanks. And to make matters worse, in many cases these areas are adjacent to incorporated cities with functioning infrastructure. Bernice Yueng, an investigative reporter with California Watch recently published a series of articles in newspapers across the state detailing the conditions that plague these communities and what advocates are doing to try to solve these problems. Yueng joins us on this segment of Valley Edition to talk about what she found during her reporting on communities like the Matheny Tract near Tulare and Lanare in Fresno County. Veronica Garibay of California Rural Legal Assistance also joins the discussion to tell us how her group is working to help residents.

Segment 3: World Book Night
World Book Night aims to distribute 500,000 free books to readers comes to the United States, and Fresno is one the communities taking part in the event. The event began last year in the UK and Ireland, and takes place on April 23rd. On this segment of Valley Edition, Jean Fennacy, from the children's bookstore Petunia's Place, joins us to talk about this event, which encourages readers of all ages to share the joys of reading by distributing the free, specially printed books to friends and family.

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.