Local news

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For the first time, San Bernardino County is using goats in their fire prevention measures. The animals are used to clear dry grasses in undeveloped areas that put hundreds of nearby residents at risk. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson went to see the animals in action in the city of San Bernardino.

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The Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California announced on Monday that it officially received the state funding needed to complete its downtown Riverside project. The funds were approved by Governor Gavin Newsom for the 2019-2020 budget.

With $3.5 million in state funding, construction can now begin on Mission Heritage Plaza—a mixed-use building and home to the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA)

How planets are formed is one of the great mysteries of astrophysics. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with a University of California Riverside(UCR) professor who contributed to an exciting discovery on the topic published in the journal Nature.

Scientists believe planets are born from disks of gas and dust orbiting new stars, but it has never been observed first hand. So, when data confirmed the existence of a planet caught in the act of forming in the debris around a young star, Dr. Stephen Kane was thrilled.

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Efforts to elevate the stories of undocumented seniors seeking treatment for chronic illness and preventative care failed to win an expansion of Medi-Cal in the approved California state budget on June 25. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke to an immigrant right’s advocate on what this means for the Inland Empire.

Not only are seniors at a higher risk for COVID-19, but immigrant communities have been disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic says Lyzzeth Mendoza, a policy manager for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

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Since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals(D.A.C.A.), resource officers at local community colleges are seeing both hope and fear in the community.  Please note: San Bernardino Community College District holds the license for this station. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more.

With D.A.C.A. upheld, Mt. San Jacinto College Dreamers and DACA Liaison, Leslie Salas, is continuing to take a holistic approach in her student outreach—focusing not only on legal challenges, but academic counseling, and mental health.

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The California Air Resources Board will be voting on a rule to electrify trucks and big rigs on Thursday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on how this could affect the Inland Empire.

Advocates say a yes vote on the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation would be a win for the Inland Empire. Especially neighborhoods impacted by the diesel pollution from the region’s thriving warehouse and logistics industry.

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The state of California is extending an important deadline for families with children who are eligible for food stamp assistance. 

Due to a high volume of applications, families in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties now have until July 15 to apply for the state’s pandemic food stamps program called P-EBT.

The program provides up to $365 per eligible child for food and groceries. Eligible children include those who received free or reduced priced meals at school.

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After the University of Redlands made a statement on June 9 committing to address systemic racism, a group of alumni is demanding an immediate fulfillment of that promise with a boycott.

Emma Wade, a class of 2017 alumna, says the statement made by University of Redland’s President Ralph Kuncl, outlining the college’s efforts to address racism fell short.

“It said Black Lives Matter, and now all we’re asking is that they implement the structure necessary to make such a claim,” said Wade.

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A Fontana truck and trailer dealership with be the location of Volvo’s first pilot all-electric truck in North America.

The zero-emissions vehicle will move parts between the T.E.C. Equipment dealerships in Fontana and La Mirada.

The program to develop an all-electric truck was done in partnership with multiple groups including the South Coast Air Quality Management District. It was made possible in part by a statewide initiative to use cap-and-trade money to fund the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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The legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(D.A.C.A.) program awaits a U.S. Supreme Court decision this month. If repealed, it could have a significant impact on the Inland Empire with a loss of workers and deportations.

Najayra, a 24-year-old D.A.C.A. recipient says, she is feeling both tired and frustrated about the upcoming Supreme Court decision.

“The decision is like always pending every week and being pushed back," said Najayra. For me it has reaffirmed the need to continue to stay resilient even in times of uncertainty.”

MEGAN JAMERSON/KVCR

The Riverside County District Attorney and police chiefs from Corona and Riverside held a press conference to announce an arrest in a serial cold case today/Wednesday. Please be advised the following audio story contains details of sexual assault. 

Corona Police Chief George Johnstone says DNA evidence and genetic genealogy led to an arrest for a series of rape cold cases more than 25 years old.

50-year-old Darin Edward Cooke, faces 16 counts including forceable rape and assault against six victims.

The Redlands City Council moved a step closer to putting a one cent sales tax increase on the November ballot Tuesday evening. 

During the council's first reading of the meausre, the public comments were mostly in opposition to the idea of a sales tax increase. But a presentation of an initial ballot test showed a two-thirds voter approval rating.

A one cent sales tax increase, could provide $10 million a year for police, fire, library and parks which all took funding cuts in the 2020-2021 budget.

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The loud booms and cracks of fireworks are on the rise as the July 4 holiday nears. In an effort to deter illegal use this year, the City of San Bernardino voted to increase fines in April.

“We don’t want you to hurt yourself or a neighbor or cause a fire by being unsafe so that’s the whole purpose that the measures are in place,” says Sergeant John Echevarria, spokesman for the San Bernardino Police Department Community Affairs Division.

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State Senator Connie Leyva made a statement Thursday amid growing concerns about systemic racism. 

Senator Connie Leyva of Chino, is urging the state of California to declare racism a public health emergency.

In a Thursday press release, Leyva says she was inspired by the recent decision by the County of San Bernardino to draft a similar resolution. She says this is the first step in addressing the systemic racism that has oppressed millions of Californians, particularly Black Americans, throughout state history.

San Bernardino County Department of Public Health

San Bernardino County is offering a free testing event for first responders and their families Friday June 12.

First responders and their families will have the opportunity to get tested at a free event in Rancho Cucamonga Friday, June 12.

The San Bernardino County sponsored event will be at the Rancho Cucamonga Sports Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event is only open to these families and is by appointment only. No symptoms or insurance is required.

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Lists of Inland Empire Black owned businesses began circulating social media last week in response to protests over institutional racism and the in-custody death of George Floyd.

From Google spreadsheets to graphics on Instagram, lists of Black owned businesses are being touted as a way for consumers to show solidarity with the black community.

“They’ve always been here," says Tammy Martin-Ryles. "They’ve always been part of the community and you know this is not something new."

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Riverside County was selected by the state as one of four counties to participate in a new program to aid vulnerable homeless senior populations.

Riverside County announced a 100-Day Challenge to end senior homelessness on Tuesday. The program will move one hundred and forty seniors 65 and older from emergency hotel and motel programs into permanent housing by September 3.

The county will use existing programs to locate housing, including Project RoomKey, a state program to protect high risk individuals and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted on resolutions related to the in-custody death of George Floyd and local policing policies on Tuesday. 

Two resolutions introduced by Supervisor Chair Manuel Perez were debated at length Tuesday morning.

The first passing with three votes, condemns the in custody death of George Floyd. A symbolic move leaders have made across the nation.

“It demonstrates to Minneapolis and the world that we care and we will not tolerate it moving forward," says Perez.

University of Redlands football coach Mike Maynard has been placed on administrative leave after a tweet drew backlash on social media. Now, an investigation is underway and some alumni and students are calling for the coach to be fired.

Maynard, the University of Redlands’ longtime football coach, tweeted in response to a video of an explosive device detonating inside a car during protests for racial justice in Riverside last week, “What kind of bomb? I want one of those.”

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Local civil rights and faith leaders led a peaceful gathering in downtown Riverside on Thursday afternoon. The intention was to honor victims of racial violence and inspire a positive way forward.

In the minutes before the candlelight vigil was set to begin on in Riverside, a diverse crowd of hundreds politely shuffled forward to pick-up battery-operated candles. They gathered outside city hall near the Martin Luther King Jr. statue to honor not only George Floyd but all those who have died from racial violence. 

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Thousands gathered in downtown Riverside Monday night to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. While it was mostly peaceful, volunteers showed up Tuesday morning to help clean up. 

Tuesday morning, volunteers were out cleaning up downtown Riverside. It was the day after hundreds gathered there to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd. By 8:30 a.m. there was little sign of the previous night’s event except graffiti and boarded up windows.

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Ontario International Airport officials are beginning to see optimistic signs that the worst of the travel declines may be behind us.

With the release of upcoming commercial flight schedules, officials at Ontario International Airport said in a press release they are feeling measured optimism that the worst of the travel declines from the coronavirus pandemic have passed.

MEGAN JAMERSON/KVCR

Graduation in the uncertain era of COVID-19 means postponed ceremonies and virtual congratulations. But one Inland Empire college managed to put together a drive through event to celebrate the class of 2020.

Across Riverside and San Bernardino County nearly two dozen two year and four year colleges are adapting their graduation celebrations during the coronavirus crisis.

“We may be apart for now, but we want to celebrate your many accomplishments as a Cal Poly Pomona Bronco,” said Dr. Soraya Coley.

Longtime Inland Empire journalist and KVCR contributor Cassie MacDuff and KVCR's Benjamin Purper review some of the big Inland Empire news stories from the past week, including:

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The Redlands Police Department is holding a safety enforcement event on May 27. They will be watching for driver, pedestrian and bicyclist violations.

When heading out for essential errands or daily exercise on May 27, be mindful to obey the traffic rules. The Redlands Police Department will be patrolling to enforce driving, bicycle and pedestrian safety during a day-long event.

Police will be looking for violations like drivers failing to yield to pedestrians, pedestrians who cross streets illegally, and bikers not following stop signs and signals.

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Some foods are still in short supply due to the coronavirus crisis so the California Department of Health program for Women, Infants and Children, most often referred to as WIC, has temporarily expanded food benefits. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on how this will affect local participants.

Inland Empire recipients of WIC food benefits will be receiving a new California WIC card in the mail. It will allow participants to buy from an expanded food list due to some items being difficult to find during the coronavirus crisis.

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As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close for Muslims this Sunday, a Riverside mosque continues to adapt to keep the community safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for Muslims, is usually a time of large gatherings and shared meals. Instead, like all other religious groups, the Islamic Center of Riverside had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions.

"It feels really strange and awkward. Nobody imagined this sort of thing could happen.”

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Community organizations making phone calls to remind historically undercounted Inland Empire residents to take the census have adjusted their scripts to include a coronavirus welfare check. 

Italia Garcia, knows it must be strange to get a phone call from someone you don’t know asking you how you are.

“Sometimes you know, people are not very receptive to that, but for the most part people have been very very receptive to our calls," says Garcia.

Monday through Thursday at lunchtime, Empire KVCR News has your daily news rundown. Stories highlighted today include:

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A bill proposed by State Assemblymember James Ramos, that would reduce rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, moved one step closer to state law Tuesday. 

The bill, introduced to the state assembly in February by Highland’s Assemblymember James Ramos, unanimously passed the Public Safety Committee on May 19.

In a press release, Ramos, the former chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, says the murder rates of Native American women can be ten times the national average on some reservations.

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