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Local news reports and interviews from Valley Public Radio.

Local news reports and interviews from Valley Public Radio.


Fresno, CA


Local news reports and interviews from Valley Public Radio.






3437 W. Shaw Ave #101 Fresno, CA 93711 (559) 275-0764


New COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Delivers Big Boost To San Joaquin Valley

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that the San Joaquin Valley will get a major boost to its COVID-19 vaccine allocation. That’s due in part to the region’s food and ag workers, who now are also receiving some priority access to the vaccine. Valley counties will now be receiving thousands more doses each week, amounting to an average increase of 58%, thanks to a change in how the state is distributing vaccines. In earlier weeks, each county’s share was calculated based on its relative...


Amid Tower Theater Controversy And A Pandemic, This Iconic Fresno Business District Awaits Changes

Along Fern Avenue in the Tower District, businesses are boarded up, some lined with graffiti. There’s trash piled in the doorways. But on this sunny Saturday afternoon, volunteers move brooms along the sidewalk and sweep the debris into boxes. There’s an upbeat feeling about their work. One of the cleaning crew is Kacey Auston. She grew up in the Tower and is now leasing the former Bank of America building on this street. It’s still empty but she plans on opening a marijuana dispensary...


Severe Weather Delays 15,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses En Route To Valley

Shipments of more than 15,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine promised to the San Joaquin Valley have been delayed this week, thanks to severe weather that has snarled shipping and distribution networks in the central and eastern parts of the country. “All of our doses for last week were held up because of weather,” or about 6,000 doses, said Kern County Public Health Director Brynn Carrigan during a media call on Friday. Mariposa County is also waiting for a week’s supply, about 500 doses,...


COVID-19 Vaccines Not Yet Reaching All Communities Who Need Them – Virus Update For Feb. 19, 2021

Early on in the pandemic, the state of California put an emphasis on equity in its pandemic response, requiring specific levels of testing and outreach in disadvantaged census tracts in order for counties to advance through the state’s reopening blueprint. Now, obstacles to vaccine access have introduced the potential for new disparities, and newly published state data shows what many have feared: that the vaccine isn’t being distributed equitably among racial and ethnic groups. This week’s...


Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation's Push For Federal Recognition Amid The Pandemic

Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada foothills are home to the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, but the tribe has been enmeshed in a decades-long battle for recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. To learn more about the current status of that fight, and how it’s been shaped by COVID-19, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Clay Muwin River, managing director of the Miwumati Family Healing Center.


Black-Owned Businesses Find Strength Through Community During COVID

Restrictions on businesses designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been devastating for some entrepreneurs. But some Black-owned businesses say the power of community has helped them to adapt, and even thrive, in these uncertain times. To learn more, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke to Nick Hill, president and CEO of the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, Dee Slade, President of the African American Network of Kern County, Arthur Moye, CEO of Full Circle Brewery in Fresno,...


With No News On FEMA Clinic, Counties Await More Vaccine Supplies - COVID-19 Update For Feb. 12

When Governor Gavin Newsom stopped in Fresno earlier this week, he was widely anticipated to announce that Fresno would be the site of the state’s newest mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The clinic, which he had alluded to earlier in the week, is expected to be run in partnership between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it would bring in thousands of vaccine doses each day beyond what the county already receives from the state. But a big announcement still hasn’t...


Project Aims To Bring 100 Tiny Libraries To Porterville

Next week marks the one year anniversary of the fire in Porterville that destroyed the city’s public library and took the lives of firefighter Patrick Jones and Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa. It was a tragedy that shook the community and left its residents without the many resources a library provides. But a group of community members have launched a project to fill part of that void. Tim and Janet Baker, along with their neighbor Kristy Noble, have started the Porterville Little Library...


Remembering Cookseyville, A Black Settlement In Atwater

When Black Americans fled the oppression of Jim Crow as part of the Great Migration, some came to the Central Valley to establish settlements like Fairmead and Allensworth. Among the largest of those communities was Cookseyville. It was founded by Sid and Olevia Cooksey, who purchased several acres of farmland in Atwater and invited family members to help them establish their own, self-sufficient community. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Sid and Olevia’s granddaughter Jeanne...


Report: During 8 Months In 2020, Deaths Among Farm Workers Rose 40 Percent

Since the start of the pandemic, 43,000 Californians have officially died due to COVID-19 . But a new research paper by a team of epidemiologists at the University of California, San Francisco suggests that the true death toll due to the virus is likely much higher , after studying deaths in California over an 8-month period from March to October. What’s more, the research reveals that food and agricultural workers suffered more excess deaths than any other occupation, and death rates were...


Delays, Confusion And Frustration Undermine Vaccine Rollout – COVID-19 Update For Feb. 5

So far, San Joaquin Valley residents have received nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine —a sum that may sound high, but falls far short of the average per capita rate reported elsewhere in California. Plus, for the second week in a row, a low vaccine supply has kept many of the Valley’s mass vaccination clinics either open far below capacity, or closed entirely to people seeking to receive their first dose. Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration has ostensibly opened up the vaccine...


Free Speech And The Rise Of Misinformation And Conspiracy Theories

Free speech, as enshrined in the First Amendment, is central to what many consider to be the American experience. But the debate over the limits of free speech has been ignited by how the use of social media contributed to the January 6 riot and violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. To better understand this issue and the rise of misinformation and conspiracy theories, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Magdalena Wojcieszak, Professor of Communication at UC Davis and Nella Van...


Chief Forensic Pathologist Named Fresno County Sherriff's Office Employee Of The Year

Dr. Venu Gopal served as the sole forensic pathologist for the Fresno County Sheriff's Office in 2020. During that year he performed roughly 350 autopsies and 500 external exams, all while managing the pressure of working through a pandemic. In acknowledgment of his service to the community, Dr. Gopal was named the 2020 Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Employee of the Year. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke to Dr. Gopal about what it was like to shoulder that responsibility.


Valley’s First Farmworkers Get Vaccinated – COVID-19 Update For Jan. 29

In a surprise move this week, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted shelter-in-place orders for our part of the state, even as San Joaquin Valley residents continue to die of COVID-19 by the hundreds each week. The decision came as a surprise to health officials in at least Fresno County, who said they appreciate that case numbers are finally trending in the right direction but warned against reckless behavior that could drive them back up again. In another milesto ne this week, Fresno County began...


The Drastic Impact On Communities When Local Newspapers Close

When a local newspaper is forced to reduce its reporting staff or shut down altogether, research shows there’s a huge impact on the community it serves. Often, voter participation goes down, while government borrowing goes up. To find out more about the connection between local newspapers and the democratic process, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Paul Myers, editor of the Sun-Gazette newspaper in Tulare County, Dympna Ugwu-Oju, editor of the Fresnoland Lab at the Fresno Bee,...


With Nearly 4,000 Cases, Fresno County Jail's COVID-19 Tally Tops Nation's Correctional Facilities

So many people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Fresno County Jail that the total number of cases now exceeds the entire incarcerated population. According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, nearly 4,000 inmates and staff members have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic started, a total that the New York Times ranks as the largest of any single correctional facility in the country . However, sheriff’s office spokesperson Tony Botti says the high caseload in the jail...


Sequoia-Kings Canyon Archives Safe From Wildfires At UC Merced Library

When wildfires burn in our national parks, we naturally worry about the forest. But what about the photographs, maps and documents that tell the stories of our parks? How do we keep those important archives safe? FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with Emily Lin, librarian and head of digital curation at the University of California Merced about moving records from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to the university during last September's intense wildfires.


The Future Of Valley Politics In A Post-Trump Era

The transfer of U.S. presidential power from Trump to Biden, and the confirmation of Kamala Harris as vice president, has had political ripple effects stretching to California and the San Joaquin Valley. To discuss what has changed in our political landscape, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke to Dezie Woods-Jones, California state president of Black Women Organized for Political Action and former vice mayor of Oakland, Ben Christopher, political reporter for Calmatters, and Lisa...


Fresno State Poetry Slam Celebrates Spoken Word In The African American Community

The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State is celebrating the tradition of spoken word poetry in the African American community with the “ Lift Every Voice ” virtual poetry slam Thursday, January 28 at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by former Fresno Poet Laureate Bryan Medina. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke to Medina about the event and the power of poetry to help us mark seminal moments in our history.


COVID-19 Is Wreaking Havoc In State Hospitals, Too – Virus Update For Jan. 15

In the months since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll on hospitals, where bedspace is at a minimum and staff are overworked , and prisons, where tight living quarters and mixed enforcement of safety precautions have left incarcerated people vulnerable to soaring infections . But the virus is also wreaking havoc in facilities that fall somewhere in between, known as state hospitals . In California’s six state hospitals, where convicted felons serve additional time after...