We're Number 1!

The San Joaquin Valley, that is, specifically the town of Arvin. This story, forwarded to me by my colleague Sean Boyd, isn't exactly news to those of us who live here.

When I came to Fresno County in 1980, you could see the mountains along its eastern perimeter virtually every day that was bright and sunny. Nowadays, that only happens in the 24 hours immediately following significant amounts of rain. Our air quality is abysmal, and unlikely to improve for decades. In fact, in Arvin's case, it's the nation's smoggiest, and we're too close for comfort.

Anyway, to provide some context for y'all who choose to read this story, I've made the graphic you see here. The green box is a blow-up of that region of Kern County and the red square in the center of the map is the approximate location of

Two personal anecdotes bear repeating here:

1) Sean Boyd, who worked in our region for over 25 years as a radio and TV weatherman, has the unusual distinction of being fired for (no lie) refusing to cook his weather forecasts to suit the political agenda of his bosses, which you can read about here;

2) My mother and I once spent a miserable day in retrieving my car (which had broken down on the main highway) only for hers to break down as well, with both vehicles on the side of the road. (Again, the map provides context) The Highway Patrol summoned the guy who owned the only towing business within an hour's drive, and he drove about 20 minutes to meet us and our two broken-down vehicles. He towed us to Arvin, where the cars were worked on by an ingenious (but almost certainly undocumented) Hispanic who did not speak English on a property owned by the tow truck guy---who was also the town's mayor and school superintendent. Let's just say they had us where they wanted us, and made us an offer to fix the cars that my mother couldn't refuse. Poor Mom. First, she got me for a son, and then this.

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