Local News

Wednesday, Apr 30 2014 07:09 AM

'First Look': First News for April 30

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Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:

LAYOFFS NEAR AT KMC; LOSSES REACH $3.4 MILLION MONTHLY: Kern Medical Center is preparing to lay off an undisclosed number of employees as it struggles to stanch a monthly $3 million wound in its budget. Kern County Supervisors were told Tuesday at their weekly meeting that KMC lost $3.4 million in February and is on its way to a staggering $30 million loss for the current fiscal year that ends in June. Supervisor Mike Maggard fumed at union contracts and civil service rules that tie his hands -- and those of KMC CEO Russell Judd -- when it comes to having "flexibility" in how to staff the hospital. Read the full story here.

WHY FIREFIGHTERS' BOOT-FILLING ISN'T PANHANDLING: Their events were mentioned in the same conversation as aggressive solicitation last month, but the Bakersfield Fire Department's annual Fill-The-Boot fundraiser Friday and its counterparts statewide were distinguished from panhandling in 2007 by the legislature. Aggressive panhandling is now illegal in Bakersfield, following a unanimous vote April 16 by the Bakersfield City Council. But dropping a couple bucks at a traffic light into a firefighter-held boot was deemed a legal method of charitable solicitation and approved by both houses of the state legislature and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in late 2007. Read the full story here.

SEALS TAKE CENTER STAGE IN ASSESSOR RACE: Retiring Kern County Assessor-Recorder Jim Fitch broke state law and county ordinance Monday when he used department letterhead and a county email account to announce his endorsement of Jon Lifquist's bid to replace him as Assessor. However, California Government Code prohibits using public resources to advocate for a particular political candidate. Using county letterhead and a county email account to send out an endorsement press release "would appear to be a violation." It was unclear Tuesday whether Fitch would face any penalty. Read the full story here.


In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com.

BOARD DELAYS DECISION ON DISSOLVING RICHLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT: School board members in the Richland School District delayed any decision on the divisive option to establish a unified school district Tuesday at a special board meeting held at Golden Oaks Elementary School. The board appointed a two-member subcommittee of board members Tony Aguirre and Tammy Criswell to advise consultants and determine whether unification is feasible in Shafter. But board members decided to push back the current timeline and not pursue a ballot measure in the November election. A decision to unify would dissolve the Richland School District that serves four elementary schools and instead establish a K-12 district that includes Shafter High School, which is currently in the Kern High School District. Read the full story here.

LOCAL COACHES WIN NATIONAL WRESTLING TITLE: USA Wrestling offers wrestlers who are past 30 years of age a chance to continue to compete in the Greco-Roman & Freestyle Veteran National Championships. This year's events was held on April 16th & 17th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Three local wrestling coaches earn the coveted USA Wrestling "Stop Sign" award this year and two of them were sponsored by a well known comedian. The following local high school wrestling coaches competed in the National event: Brett Clark (Mira Monte), Paul Garcia (Bakersfield Christian) and Ryan Meloche (Bakersfield Christian). Coach Meloche and Garcia competed as "TEAM FLUFFY". Read the full story here.

FOUNDATION RECOGNIZES LOCAL EDUCATORS, STUDENTS: The Jim Burke Education Foundation recognized a counselor in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District and a teacher in the Kern High School District as 2014 educators of the year Tuesday night at its 19th Annual Teacher of the Year Awards ceremony. The foundation, established to recognize exemplary efforts to educate students, named Janet Antongiovanni, a counselor at Warren Junior High, and Kathleen Bruce,an earth science teacher at Golden Valley High School as recipients of its highest award. Read the full story here.



WEARABLE PHONE AND GPS TRACKER FOR KIDS: Wearables continue to be an area of focus for device makers, large and small. Here's another would-be entrant to the space: Tinitell is a wearable phone and GPS tracker for kids, with electronics small enough for the whole device to be strapped to a toddler's wrist, according to a report by TechCrunch. As well as being small, Tinitell is designed for basic operation. This connected wearable doesn't have a screen on the device itself, with just a hardware button to activate the interface, and voice recognition to summon a particular contact. Prices for a Tinitell range from $99 up to $149, the report said.



BAKERSFIELD AIR QUALITY IMPROVES: Bakersfield air quality has improved by two key measures, but the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report says it's still some of the worst in the nation. Kern County saw its lowest-ever reported levels of short-term and year-round particulate pollution since the report started tracking them in 2000. Short-term particulates cause spikes in bad air that last a few hours or days, as opposed to long-term particulates, which hang around all year. There were an average of 33.8 unhealthy short-term particulate matter days in the three-year period from 2010 to 2012, compared with 46.5 in the previous three years. Read the full story here.



BLAZE BEAT PORTS: Juan Silva sliced a line drive just over the wall in left for a walkoff homer, and the Blaze won their fourth game in a row, with a 8-7 score. Read the full story here.




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