By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
DUST BLANKETS BAKERSFIELD AS TEMPERATURE REACHES RECORD HIGH: Simply put, the dust was bad in Bakersfield on Thursday. The National Weather Service in Hanford issued a blowing dust advisory for Kern County at about 10:05 a.m. after winds whipped through the Kern River Canyon, topping 40 miles per hour. Along with the dust, the temperature was unseasonably warm. Bakersfield on Thursday set a temperature record for the date. The high reached 79 degrees at Meadows Field Airport by 4 p.m., breaking the previous record high for Jan. 23 of 77 degrees set in 1970. It's forecast to be cloudy in Bakersfield for the next seven days, with no precipitation predicted. Read the full story here.
LARGE TREE FALLS AT BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE, STRIKING STUDENT: A large tree was uprooted at Bakersfield College's Panorama Drive campus Thursday, striking a student and sending her to a hospital. Bakersfield College spokeswoman Amber Chiang said the student, who was not identified by name or age, was OK. The tree came down in the afternoon windstorm. The Bakersfield Fire Department responded sometime after 3:30 p.m. Firefighters had to cut several branches near the upper part of the tree before removing the victim. The student had been sitting when the tree came down. Read the full story here.
STOLEN BEES RECOVERED FROM LOCAL 'CHOP SHOP': Stolen honeybees valued at about $40,000 have been recovered in what one of the victims called a "chop shop" operation in southwest Bakersfield. Some of the bees had been brought to town from North Dakota for next month's almond pollination, the biggest honeybee event in the country. While bee theft is a fairly common occurrence in Kern County, Saturday's recovery of 256 hives -- each containing a few thousand bees -- stands apart. Bakersfield resident 32-year-old Gabino Jordan Pena was arrested Saturday and charged with possession of stolen property, destruction of evidence and possession of stolen property with altered identification marks. On Sunday he posted $15,000 bail and was released. Read the full story here.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com.
CONDORS PART OF OILERS SCHEME TO REBUILD FOR FUTURE: Four years into a rebuilding process, things aren't going all that well for the Edmonton Oilers, who are on their way to missing the NHL playoffs for the eighth straight season. Owner Daryl Katz admitted as much in an open letter to fans on Monday when he reiterated a commitment to rebuilding the organization from top to bottom by supporting player development in AHL Oklahoma City and ECHL Bakersfield. On Thursday, the Oilers became owners of the Condors, completing a vertical chain of player development all the way from juniors to the NHL. Read the full story here.
MOTHER OF FIRST BABY OF THE YEAR SENTENCED TO JAIL: The mother of Bakersfield's first baby of 2014 will have to finish a stint in jail before she can reunite with her child. Robin Faye Howard, 31, pleaded no contest Thursday to drug possession for sales and was sentenced to a year in jail. She'll serve far less time than that due to time already served and overcrowding. Prosecutors had charged Howard with possession of methamphetamine, possession of meth for sales and possession of drug paraphernalia. Read the full story here.
ALMOND HULL FILE CAUSES $2.5 MILLION DAMAGE: A Thursday afternoon blaze of almond hulls at a Sunny Gem facility in Buttonwillow, exacerbated by high winds, caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages. The fire engulfed eight rows of almond hulls approximately 500 yards long and 60 feet high at the 24923 Lerdo Hwy. location. Almond hulls, a byproduct of the almond processing industry, are used as a cost-effective feed for livestock during drought situations. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
GOVERNMENT REQUESTS: Verizon released its first report on government requests for customer information Jan. 22, drawing praise for its thoroughness. Federal, state and local authorities issued more than 320,000 requests for customer data in 2013, in the form of subpoenas, warrants, national security letters and court orders. By comparison, Google received nearly 11,000 requests in the first half of 2013, the most recent period for which it has released figures. In the same six months, Facebook received between 11,000 and 12,000 requests, and Twitter received about 900.
THE HEALTH REPORT
CARAMEL COLORING IN SODA: The Food and Drug Administration says there's no reason to believe that the coloring added to sodas is unsafe. But the agency is taking another look just to make sure. The agency's announcement comes in response to a study by Consumer Reports that shows 12 brands of soda have varying levels of 4-methylimidazole -- an impurity found in some caramel coloring. The FDA says it has studied the use of caramel as a flavor and color additive for decades but will review new data. There are no federal limits on the amount of 4-methylimidazole in food and drink. The substance is formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process. The FDA says it also can occur in trace amounts when coffee beans are roasted or some meats are grilled.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CONDORS DEAL COMPLETED: The Condors were not for sale, but when the Edmonton Oilers came knocking at their door they were invited in to talk. Seven months after that initial conversation, a deal was consummated. What had been widely reported for more than a week became a reality Thursday when it was announced during a news conference at Rabobank Arena that the NHL team had purchased Condors from investor Jonathan Fleisig. Read the full story here.
CSUB VOLLEYBALL COACH LEAVING FOR SJ STATE: Jolene Shepardson, who took over a winless volleyball program at Cal State Bakersfield three seasons ago and led the Roadrunners to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament finals this season, has accepted the head volleyball coaching job at San Jose State. CSUB athletic director Jeff Konya said he was told about 5 p.m. Thursday that Shepardson had accepted the Spartans' position. Read the full story here.
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