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Friday, May 16 2014 05:09 PM

BEYOND BAKERSFIELD: News from around Kern County

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Laura Liera is The Californian's digital news assistant. Reach her at lliera@bakersfield.com with news from beyond Bakersfield.

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    By Jared Isaac/ Special to The Californian

    A worker feeds dairy cows in Buttonwillow.

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By LAURA LIERA, Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

MOJAVE: Live grenades and illegal weapons were found in the home of a California City municipal employee last week.

California City Police said they found rocket propelled grenades and launchers at the home of Anthony "Tony" Lagin on April 30.

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ABOUT YOUR REPORTER

Laura Liera is The Californian's digital news assistant. She compiles this report every Saturday. Reach her at lliera@bakersfield.com or on Twitter @Laura_Liera_2.

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Lagin is California City's utilities manager and pump operator, and has been a city employee for the past 30 years.

The Kern County Sheriff's Department and CCPD were looking for Lagin's brother-in-law, parolee Harlan Buchanan, who lived at the residence, the Mojave Desert News reported.

Lagin was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of dangerous weapons and explosives, an assault weapon and a silencer, according to court documents.

Police and Edwards Air Force Base personnel detonated the grenades.

Mike Bevins, Lagin's boss, told the newspaper he was surprised at the news. Bevins said Lagin, 52, had started out as a garbage collector when the city had its own sanitation department.

Police have not said whether they believe the weapons were the property of Lagin or his brother-in-law.

TAFT

A Taft employee allegedly struck his employer with a shovel after an argument over pay.

Kern County Sheriff's deputies went to the area of South Tenth and Wood streets at 12:45 p.m. this week and found a 49-year-old Taft resident suffering from head and hand injuries, the Taft Midway Driller reported.

The suspect, later identified as Vicente Martinez, 46, allegedly attacked the victim with a shovel and took a weed cutter. Deputies learned Martinez had demanded his pay immediately, refusing to wait until the end of the day.

After attacking his boss and seizing various items, deputies said, Martinez told his boss he would return everything when he got paid.

Deputies located Martinez in the 100 block of Lierly Avenue. During the search, deputies said they found methamphetamine in his hat.

He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft from a person and possession of a controlled substance.

Taft is hosting an educational event next week to celebrate the local oil industry.

The City of Taft, Taft Chamber of Commerce, Independent Oil Producers Agency and other supporters are putting together the free movie showing and a meet-and-greet with petroleum leaders.

According to The Taft Midway Driller, the event is intended not only to support the oil industry, but also to protest a legislative bill that would impose a 9.5 percent tax on oil in the state.

Free showings of the film "Fracknation" will be featured at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 29 at the Taft Fox Theatre.

In between the two screenings, people can meet with petroleum industry leaders at the Historic Fort. There will also be elected officials from the state, federal and local levels.

FRAZIER PARK

Bears and snakes are roaming backyards, so take caution when relaxing outside.

A resident of Pine Mountain sent a photo to The Mountain Enterprise of a large bear getting snuggly with a carved wooden bear the resident has near her front door. When the homeowner yelled at the bear from inside her home, it strolled away but gave the camera a dirty look.

In a different animal encounter, a Gorman School teacher was taking care of the school garden when she turned on the water hose and found something 3-feet long: a rattle snake. She accidently splashed it, the newspaper said, and the snake slithered off into a bush.

A natural gas leak forced the evacuation of the Denny's at the Pilot-Flying J facility in Lebec for three days.

Staff and customers smelled the gas throughout the facility May 2. Denny's General Manager Osvaldo Lopez said the joints around the pipe fittings in the kitchen were loose, The Mountain Enterprise reported.

Firefighters from Kern and Los Angeles counties responded to the leak and Southern Californian Edison confirmed the source of the leak. The businesses were open as usual on May 5.

TEHACHAPI

A new program for businesses in Tehachapi aims to reduce crime.

Business Watch, a joint program between the Tehachapi Police Department, Kern County Sheriff's Office and the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, aims to encourage businesses to watch out for one another, provide various crime prevention topics, and foster communication, the Tehachapi News reported.

The program debuted May 8 at an informational meeting with local business owners and law enforcement.

The program is modeled after Neighborhood Watch, only this program will focus on businesses collaborating and communicating with each other on any number of issues, using crime alerts via email, security surveys, burglary prevention education, tips on lost prevention, and ways to burglar-proof a business.

But in order for the program to work, local law enforcement says, business owners must get involved and interact with one another.

Chamber membership is not required to participate in the Business Watch program, according to the newspaper.

The new headquarters for the Tehachapi Police Department is nearing completion.

The station -- the former Spencer California Clothing -- will be ready for an open house June 27, the Tehachapi News reported.

The city purchased the former factory in 2012 and paid $400,000 for the building and land.

The 10,000-square-foot structure is located at 220 W. C St. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at 11 a.m. June 27.

RIDGECREST

The Ridgecrest City Council approved retail expansion with Kosmont Companies.

Council agreed at its May 7 meeting to work with Kosmont, which will assist the city in implementing a retail section action plan.

Specific sites for revitalization include the former Mervyns building, the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter project and the proposed Ridgecrest Business Park Project, The Daily Independent reported.

Vice Mayor Chip Holloway said the revitalization will create an economic boom in the city. More jobs will be created when Marshalls, Jo-Ann and Famous Footwear take over in the old Mervyns building, he said.

The Sierra Sands Unified School District is taking on tobacco and a search- and-seizure policy change.

The district is updating its Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to comply with current laws, but that doesn't mean the district will implement the updates.

Under the search and seizure policy, if a school official finds the need to search a student, he may do so if the search is likely to uncover evidence that the student is violating the law, The Daily Independent reported.

The school board is also condisdering the use of a walk-through metal detector.

Students are also banned from smoking e-cigarettes on campus or on school grounds, according to the newspaper.

The updates are a reflection of current law, not a reaction to an increase in activity, the district said.

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