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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
REPORT: SLIPPING HOME PRICES WON'T LAST: Despite recent softening, Bakersfield's single-family home market will likely see price increases in the 12 percent to 15 percent range this year as previously foreclosed homeowners look to buy houses again. Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree made the forecast in a monthly housing update stating that median home sale prices in the city fell 6.1 percent in January to $195,250. That median -- defined as the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less -- was still 18.9 percent greater than the local market saw in January 2012. Read the full story here.
COUNTY FINANCIAL CHALLENGES LEAVE DEPARTMENTS IN TOUGH SPOT: Kern County's department heads will be asked to slash spending for the coming fiscal year by as much as 5 percent, supervisors said Tuesday, in part to cover future losses from the ongoing financial crisis at Kern Medical Center. While KMC's losses during the next five months are expected to reach $13 million, looming future cost increases to operate new jail space, build freeways and maintain pensions also are factors in the county's conservative budget plan. Supervisors also learned that $6.5 million of the $100 million KMC owes the county's core operational pool of money is "unspendable," or unlikely to come in before the end of the fiscal year. That means county reserves will be used to plug that financial gap. Read the full story here.
RESIDENTS CRITIQUE HAGEMAN FLYOVER: A Caltrans study released in January urged construction of the Hageman Flyover to relieve congestion in northwest Bakersfield, but residents at a community meeting Tuesday night worried the highway's connection to Airport Drive could be just another bottleneck. The flyover would connect Golden State Highway/Highway 204 to the east end of Hageman Road by crossing -- or "flying over" -- Highway 99. Caltrans plans to have the project ready to construct by June 1, 2016, but while city officials envision using state or federal funds to build it, they don't have the money yet. Caltrans officials estimate its total cost at $60.5 million. Read the full story here.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending on bakersfield.com.
MAN STOLE ITEMS WHEN STORE EMPLOYEES WERE DISTRACTED: Police are looking for a man who entered the back storage area of a Bakersfield business and stole items when store employees were distracted. Police said the burglary occurred between 6:50 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the 5000 block of Gosford Road. Read the full story here.
MOTORIST KILLED IN HEAD-ON COLLISION AFTER DRIVING WRONG WAY: A motorist who drove the wrong way on Highway 58 was killed Monday evening after crashing head-on into a tow truck. The motorist was identified by the coroner's office as 63-year-old Albert Jerone Grays. California Highway Patrol officers said Grays was driving west in the eastbound lanes of Highway 58 east of Beale Road at a high rate of speed when he crashed into the tow truck. He died at the scene. Read the full story here.
SUSPECTS STEAL REFRIGERATOR FROM SOUTH BAKERSFIELD HOME: Bakersfield police are asking for the public's help identifying two suspects who stole a refrigerator from a house in south Bakersfield. Police said the burglary occurred between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. in the 7600 block of Granite Hills Street. One suspect acted as a lookout while a second suspect entered the residence and took the refrigerator. The suspect who entered the residence was described as Hispanic, thin build, possible goatee, wearing a white T-shirt, dark jacket and dark pants. There was no description for the second suspect. Police said they left in a white 1990s extended-cab GMC Z-71 pickup. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
GOOGLE MAPS FOR iPHONE: Google Maps for the iPhone is getting smarter thanks to a new feature that will recommend quicker routes to users as they drive. As iPhone users drive, Google Maps will account for traffic and road conditions. If the app finds a quicker way to users' destinations, it will let users know how much time the new route could save them. Users can hit "Reroute" or continue on their way by tapping "No thanks."
THE HEALTH REPORT
LABORATORY REPORTS: Calling your doctor to get lab results might be a thing of the past as a new federal rule will allow patients to have direct access to their completed laboratory reports. The regulation was announced Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. It amends privacy rules that required patients to get their lab results from their physician, according to the announcement. The final rule notes that some commenters expressed concern that patients might receive and act on results that appear to be abnormal but may be normal for that particular patient. But H-H-S said the rule helps ensure patients have full access to their health information and can be proactive in their choices for care.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CONDORS SNAP LOSING STREAK, BEAT RIVAL THUNDER 4-1: Laurent Brossoit stopped 33 shots and three Condors scored as Bakersfield got back on the right track with a 4-1 win over Stockton on Tuesday night at Rabobank Arena. The saves matched his season high, but Brossoit (11-4-1) deflected any individual praise as easily as he did pucks. "The guys did a tremendous job keeping Thunder players) to the perimeter," he said. "I didn't have to consistently make big saves, so 34 shots looks a lot better than it was." Read the full story here.
GARCES BOYS HOOPS BEAT TEHACHAPI IN SEYL SHOWDOWN: Matt Layton hit four of Garces' six 3-pointers, including two back-to-back during a 19-5 run that the Rams (15-7, 5-0 SEYL) used to blow the game open in the third quarter, beating Tehachapi in Southeast Yosemite League play, 72-61. Layton led the Rams with 21 points, and the rest of Garces' star-studded backcourt also performed well. Rashad Jackson had 18 points, 15 rebounds and four assists, and Sheldon Croney had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Read the full story here.