Local News

Sunday, Oct 14 2012 04:00 PM

Ask The Californian: How much local money raised for the cancer society stays local?

By The Bakersfield Californian

Q: Millions of dollars are raised in Kern County for the American Cancer Society, primarily through the thriving Bakersfield Relay for Life. But questions have brewed in recent weeks about exactly how much of that money comes back to the local community.

Citing a desire to help more local people, a couple large local supporters of the American Cancer Society announced they are planning to redirect some of their giving and fundraising efforts to the emerging Kern County Cancer Fund instead, though they said they'll still support the national organization.

The Californian wondered: just how many American Cancer Society dollars raised in Kern County end up in Kern County?

A: Kern County generated roughly $3 million for the American Cancer Society during the 2011-2012 fundraising season, according to Christie Ray, team development mentor for Bakersfield Relay for Life and past chair of the event, and Bronwyn Hogan, the American Cancer Society's strategic director of corporate communications for California.

During that same timeframe, the American Cancer Society spent about $120,000 in Kern County on specific services, such as gas cards, the women said. The organization also spent $500,000 on staff who provide community support and education, which accounts for the full salaries of six local staff positions and a percentage of the pay for 13 regional staff who dedicate some time to Kern County, American Cancer Society staff said.

The organization has also funneled millions of dollars into cancer research in California, according to Ray.

"Any money that is spent on cancer research is going to benefit any cancer patient no matter where they live," she said.

Hogan and Ray said they haven't heard any recent negative feedback from Kern County about how the American Cancer Society divides its funding. Ray said she'd be surprised if people who participated in Relay for Life didn't understand how the money was distributed.

She added that the new local cancer fund doesn't pose a threat to Relay's local fundraising.

"It's not a competition. We're not after exclusivity here," Ray said. "Anyone involved in the fight (against cancer), we welcome that."

Q: What is the history of Weill Park in Bakersfield? Weill is a park that many of us drive by, but few ever stop at. Bounded by Q Street, the railroad and the Highway 178 offramp, the park has mature landscaping but no amenities other than lighting and trash cans. Is there a master plan for this facility, or is it supposed to remain as it is?

-- Dan Cronquist

A: Weill Park is a green belt at Q and James streets "developed prior to parks being a priority," according to the city parks website. It mostly just offers the neighborhood a shady, grassy area in which to relax.

Recreation and Parks Director Dianne Hoover filled us in on the rest:

There are no plans in the foreseeable future to add amenities to Weill Park. Over the years, the park area was decreased due to the expansion of the freeway and the adjacent recycling facility.

As the area decreased in size and vandalism increased, some amenities were removed. The city will continue to maintain the park for public use as open space.

Q: How do the manned Hall ambulances decide where to park while on duty? I often have wondered if it is in an area from where, statistically, calls are most often generated. I see them frequently parked on the north side of the Mount Vernon Avenue Albertsons parking lot.

-- Darlyn Baker

A: Scott Allen of Hall Ambulance explained:

Your reader is correct. Our ambulances in the Bakersfield area are deployed using a dynamic posting plan.

Based on historical data, which tells us where our calls are most likely to come from, our resources are moved as needed to give us the quickest response time to requests for assistance.

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.

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