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Latest News in Cantua Creek, CA
CA: New electric car ride-share program aims to connect rural communities in Fresno County
Laura S. Diazhttps://www.masstransitmag.com/alt-mobility/shared-mobility/news/21284091/ca-new-electric-car-rideshare-program-aims-to-connect-rural-communities-in-fresno-county
A new environmentally friendly ride-sharing program is looking to put a fresh spin on an old idea for thousands of people in Fresno County.Earlier this month, the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency launched a new electric vehicle ride-sharing program that aims to beef up transportation options in and around Fresno’s rural, unincorporated communities.Electric vehicle ride-sharing services aren’t a new idea in the central San Joaquin Valley. But Moses Stites, general manager of the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency, ...
A new environmentally friendly ride-sharing program is looking to put a fresh spin on an old idea for thousands of people in Fresno County.
Earlier this month, the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency launched a new electric vehicle ride-sharing program that aims to beef up transportation options in and around Fresno’s rural, unincorporated communities.
Electric vehicle ride-sharing services aren’t a new idea in the central San Joaquin Valley. But Moses Stites, general manager of the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency, said the initiative builds on previous attempts to improve transportation in the county’s rural areas by hiring drivers and subsidizing riders’ fares.
In doing so, he said, the new initiative should provide better and more consistent service in rural, unincorporated communities where many residents can’t drive due to their age, medical conditions or disabilities.
“We know a large percentage of them are transit-dependent,” Stites said of the county’s rural residents.
A new ride-sharing program in Fresno County
The county transit agency’s new program — unofficially called the Rural Electric Vehicle Utilization Program (REV-UP) — was soft-launched this month in Biola, an unincorporated community of about 1,400 people located west of Fresno. As the agency hires more drivers, the program is expected to reach other small cities and unincorporated communities across the county, Stites said.
So far, the program has acquired 18 Chevy Bolts using funding available through Measure C, a sales tax dedicated to funding new roads, freeways, sidewalks, trails and public transportation in Fresno County.
“Our goal is to have 50 to 80 cars at some point in time, depending on how the program goes,” Stites said.
Through the program, the county is hiring residents as part-time and full-time drivers through MV Transportation, a subcontractor that currently works with the transit agency. As MV Transportation employees, drivers will receive training and benefits, Stites said.
The challenge at this point, Stites said, is recruiting community members who want to be drivers. So far, two people have been hired and program administrators are recruiting from the immediate area with the help of the Biola Community Services District, he said.
The program also charges lower fees than private ride-sharing companies, making rides more accessible for rural residents, Stites said.
“A lot of the individuals out there don’t have the means to pay the rates that Uber or Lyft would charge,” he said.
Fares are subsidized through a $12,000 donation from the League of Women Voters of Fresno, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government. Those funds will help cover 50% of each rider’s fare.
Francine Farber, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Fresno, said the organization plans to keep subsidizing fares with future donations and contributions.
“We’ll continue to fund this as long as it’s feasible,” she said.
Electric car programs aim to improve transit in Fresno County
The REV-UP program follows other efforts to provide electric vehicle ride-sharing in Fresno County’s rural communities.
One, called Van y Vienen, began in 2017 and served Cantua Creek and El Porvenir. It ended in 2020.
Another electric vehicle ride-sharing pilot program — called the Zev Mobility Project — launched in the county in November 2019. The pilot was supposed to run through July 2021 but it ended early, in March 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project — a grant-funded collaboration between the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the California Air Resources Board and Green Commuter, a company that provides all-electric vanpooling, car sharing and fleet replacement services — focused on increasing electric vehicle use in the Valley.
It also aimed to provide car-sharing services and job opportunities in disadvantaged communities in Fresno, Merced, and Kern counties.
“For sanitation and safety reasons, we didn’t feel confident that we could ensure that folks were having a COVID-free ride,” said Jaime Holt, chief communications officer for the Valley Air District.
Another program, Green Raiteros in Huron, is ongoing.
REV-UP riders must make a reservation 24 hours in advance by calling 1-855-612-5184. The service is currently available in Biola six days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., subject to driver availability. Sundays could be added to the schedule depending on the public’s response, Stites said.
REV-UP travels to any location and fares are $10 per round trip for the general public and $5 for seniors, disabled individuals, veterans and children. The program charges an additional $1.50 for extra stops and Americans with Disabilities Act caregivers ride for free.
©2022 The Fresno Bee. Visit fresnobee.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Fresno County almond farmers ask Sen. Padilla for a ‘solution to our water crisis’
KVPR Valley Public Radiohttps://www.kvpr.org/local-news/2022-08-18/fresno-county-almond-farmers-ask-sen-padilla-for-a-solution-to-our-water-crisis
Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) toured the Superior Almond Hulling facility in Cantua Creek this week to highlight California’s strong agricultural sector following President Joe Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.“We wanted to bring him here during harvest so that he could see some of the successes we've had as a result of our partnership and our work together, but also some of the things we need to continue to work on,” says Aubrey Bettencort, president and CEO of the Almond Alliance of Califo...
Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) toured the Superior Almond Hulling facility in Cantua Creek this week to highlight California’s strong agricultural sector following President Joe Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
“We wanted to bring him here during harvest so that he could see some of the successes we've had as a result of our partnership and our work together, but also some of the things we need to continue to work on,” says Aubrey Bettencort, president and CEO of the Almond Alliance of California.
California grows over a third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, and produces about 80% of the world’s almonds. In the last 14 seasons, over a billion pounds of almonds have been hulled in this particular facility.
“We're very proud of that number,” says Richard Esparza, the plant manager at Superior Almond Hulling. “There aren't too many plants that exist today that have accomplished that kind of a feat.”
But climate change may greatly affect the way California feeds the nation.
“Without water, we don't have farms,” says Esparza. “All the crops that are grown out here on the west side of the valley, all of them depend on water. We need a solution to our water crisis.”
Along with lowering health care costs, ensuring corporations pay federal taxes and building a clean energy economy, the monumental Inflation Reduction Act dedicates $4 billion toward strengthening California’s water system in the midst of the state’s worst megadrought in over a thousand years. Farmers are hoping to see even more funding for infrastructure.
“The law, in many ways, needs to update itself,” says Bettencourt. “We [need to] operate our system to have the flexibility to take advantage of the major shifts we see in our climate so that we can create certainty in water supply for agriculture, urban and environmental.”
In a press release, Padilla says he’s working to make sure the federal government is prioritizing the state’s agricultural needs.
This story is part of the Central Valley News Collaborative, which is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.
Opinion: Newsom’s water deal — years in the making — balances needs of public, farmers and greens
San Diego Union-Tribunehttps://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/story/2022-03-31/newsom-water-deal-sacramento-san-joaquin-river-delta-rice-salmon
The editorial board operates independently from the U-T newsroo...
The editorial board operates independently from the U-T newsroom but holds itself to similar ethical standards. We base our editorials and endorsements on reporting, interviews and rigorous debate, and strive for accuracy, fairness and civility in our section. Disagree? Let us know.
When it comes to water, balancing the competing interests of California farmers, environmentalists and residents is an extremely difficult challenge.
That’s why it was a pleasant surprise to hear Tuesday that after six years of negotiations involving state and federal agencies, the farm industry and large water districts, Gov. Gavin Newsom had won agreement on a $2.9 billion plan to boost the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It’s the hub of the Golden State’s ecosystem, providing fresh water to two-thirds of the state’s population and to millions of acres of farmland.
With the deal, the state and federal governments and water agencies reached an unprecedented agreement to pay rice farmers to not use about 35,000 acres of rice fields — 6 percent of total normal cultivation. That means up to 824,000 additional acre feet of water will flow through the delta each year, limiting the effects of the drought and improving conditions for the Chinook salmon and dozens of other fish species found there.
It’s still possible the deal will fall apart. The Associated Press reported that the Natural Resources Defense Council is considering litigation after quickly denouncing the plan as an assault on fish and wildlife. But Newsom realizes how much the Central Valley relies on agriculture to avoid becoming a depressed dust bowl — and how much the world relies on the Central Valley for fruits and vegetables. Newsom is striking a responsible balance.
A turkey testicle festival and water projects; how Fresno County plans to spend COVID money
The Fresno Beehttps://www.fresnobee.com/fresnoland/article262745677.html
From water infrastructure projects to a turkey testicle festival organizer, several Fresno County projects will receive federal stimulus funds to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.With a 5-0 vote on Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors agreed to fund a list of 22 sub-recipients projects that will receive nearly $14 million in funding as part of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act spending plan.Top awards included money for water infrastructure, youth programs, and insurance. The board approved over $...
From water infrastructure projects to a turkey testicle festival organizer, several Fresno County projects will receive federal stimulus funds to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a 5-0 vote on Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors agreed to fund a list of 22 sub-recipients projects that will receive nearly $14 million in funding as part of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act spending plan.
Top awards included money for water infrastructure, youth programs, and insurance. The board approved over $2.5 million for a water storage tank in the unincorporated community of Malaga, as well as nearly $2.5 million for the city of Mendota to build a water tank and booster pump station, and over $650,000 each for sewer and storm drain projects in the towns of Tranquility and Biola. The county also approved $2.4 million for the San Joaquin Valley Insurance Authority to reimburse the costs of coronavirus medical expenses.
Smaller ARPA awards included funding for programs that address negative economic impacts on local businesses, tourism, travel, or hospitality sectors.
Among the awarded projects was $20,000 for the Dunlap Community Club nonprofit to offset the loss of income from the annual Turkey Testicle Festival, an annual festival which, before the pandemic, had been held for over 40 years in the Sierra foothills community of Dunlap. The festival features music, dancing, a turkey testicle cook-off, and more.
According to a Facebook post from the organization, the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the poor air quality from surrounding wildfire smoke. Festival organizers couldn’t be immediately reached to see if the festival would be held in 2022.
Other Fresno County groups that received ARPA funds to offset revenue loss due to COVID-19 include the Big Fresno Fair and Clovis Rodeo Association, which will receive $205,000 and $200,000, respectively.
Supervisors approved several other sub-recipient projects, including after-school and youth programs, small business emergency grant programs, and more.
Fresno County received over $194 million in federal pandemic stimulus funding. The county has agreed to spend $112.5 million on public health, and economic impacts, $15.4 million on premium pay for essential workers, $10 million on lost revenue, $18.7 million on water, sewer, and broadband projects, and $37.3 million for sub-recipient ideas and projects.
Some of the top project recipients that received awards on Tuesday include:
The ad hoc committee is also considering 25 other sub-recipient projects, including a mix of public health, water infrastructure, digital literacy, and business innovation programs. A potential second round of sub-recipient project funding is contingent upon the availability of funds, according to George Uc Fresno County ARPA Analyst.
Uc expects an update on funding available for these projects in December.
Not all community members agree with the funding County’s ARPA decisions.
Last month, residents of the rural West Fresno communities of Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, as well as community advocated Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, asked the board of supervisors to use ARPA funds to pay off the communities’ water debt.
According to a May 17 email to The Bee from Amina Flores Becker, Fresno County Resources Division Manager, a May 2022 projection estimates that El Porvenir will owe $370,000, while Cantua Creek will owe $40,000 by the end of the current fiscal year.
At the time, Board Chair Brian Pacheco said it would be “difficult” to use ARPA money for the water debt because “this debt occurred prior to COVID-19.”
On Tuesday, a handful of residents and advocates returned to the Board of Supervisors to double down on their request for help.
“I’m not implying that we should compare and choose between which disadvantaged communities get ARPA funding,” Mariana Alvarenga, policy advocate for Leadership Counsel, said during public comment. “However, I do want to ask the board to continue to see communities like El Porvenir (and) Cantua Creek...when allocating these funds.”
On Tuesday, Pacheco thanked the residents and Leadership Counsel for their input but said, “there simply isn’t enough funding to go around.”
Plus, Pacheco said, “while they didn’t get this funding, they have been considered in other funding sources,” such as the estimated $12 million in state funding for a new well and water treatment projects in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, as well as allocation for a new park in El Porvenir.
This story was originally published June 22, 2022 5:00 AM.
Fresno State student shares his experience of growing up without safe water at home
Emmanuel Agraz Torreshttps://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article263433908.html
Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.Growing up in Dinuba, my family and I worried about whether the water coming out of our tap was safe to drink. We knew that our groundwater was likely contaminated by nitrates and other toxic chemicals from agriculture. Like many other immigrant families, we would fill up three 5-gallon containers of water at a vending machine station on a weekly basis. To this day, we still don&rsquo...
Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.
Growing up in Dinuba, my family and I worried about whether the water coming out of our tap was safe to drink. We knew that our groundwater was likely contaminated by nitrates and other toxic chemicals from agriculture. Like many other immigrant families, we would fill up three 5-gallon containers of water at a vending machine station on a weekly basis. To this day, we still don’t trust that the water in our home is safe to drink.
My experience of growing up without clean, safe drinking water is not, unfortunately, a unique one. In California, over 1 million people are without access to clean drinking water. In the Central Valley, about 100,000 people have a contaminated water supply in their homes. As a student at Fresno State and as an ambassador with California Environmental Voters Education Fund. I’ve made it my mission to raise awareness about inequitable access to clean, safe drinking water in our region and to encourage and organize our community to take action on this issue.
Americans rely on the Central Valley to produce 25% of the nation’s food supply. But our residents — particularly our agricultural workers and their families — have drinking water at home that is unsafe and a danger to their health. Heavy use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture, along with excessive groundwater pumping, have contributed to a contaminated water supply and depleted water sources. In addition to nitrate levels in water that exceed the EPA standard, residents in Tulare County also face a crisis of drying wells that has only been exacerbated by the ongoing drought and the climate crisis. Local and state officials do little to regulate our groundwater and hold polluters accountable.
Through my work with EnviroVoters Education Fund, I’ve been talking to community members about what issues they want to see their elected officials address. Consistently, I’m hearing that the drought, water scarcity, and the need for clean drinking water are on people’s minds. This matches with recent research that EnviroVoters Education Fund conducted to understand the top environmental concerns for residents in the Fresno region. A poll conducted this spring found that 62% of voters are extremely concerned about water protection and drought. And 89% of voters say that they support investing in technologies to conserve water and strengthening laws to protect access to safe drinking water.
So, what can we all do about this? First, if you care about access to clean and safe drinking water, make sure you’re registered to vote and participate in the civic process. Sixteen and 17-year-olds can even pre-register to vote in California; they will be able to vote once they turn 18. We need to make our voices heard and demand clean and safe drinking water.
To our leaders who work on water issues, listen to the communities you represent and their urgent need for clean drinking water. It’s time to prioritize the people who live in this region, not just the interests of the agriculture industry. We need to invest in new surface and groundwater conservation technologies to conserve water and strengthen laws that protect access to safe drinking water for all Californians.
I also hope to see our elected leaders work to make information about water policy more accessible. The Central Valley is diverse and I’ve seen how language barriers can keep people from engaging in the civic process. Water codes, policies, and information pertaining to drinking water should be accessible to residents in multiple languages besides English. There should be more opportunities for residents to voice their concerns to the agencies and water boards making decisions about the future of our drinking water.
I believe that clean water is a human right. No person should have to worry about whether the drinking water in their home is safe for their family. I know that this problem can feel insurmountable, but I have faith in our ability to organize, mobilize and make change happen from the grassroots up. Together, we make our voices heard.