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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
DEPUTY REJECTS PLEA DEAL, SCHEDULED FOR TRIAL IN CASE WHERE TWO PEDESTRIANS KILLED: A Kern County sheriff's deputy accused of driving 35 mph over the speed limit when he struck and killed two pedestrians rejected a plea deal Thursday and is scheduled to go trial next month. Prosecutors offered Deputy John Swearengin a two-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading no contest to the two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence he's charged with. Swearengin faces a maximum of seven years in prison if found guilty. A California Highway Patrol report says 36-year-old Swearengin was driving 80.2 mph in a posted speed limit area of 45 mph. Read the full story here.
SNOWPACK REMAINS PALTRY; WEATHER ADVISORIES ISSUED: California's Department of Water Resources says its latest survey shows the Sierra Nevada snowpack is still well below normal -- bad news for the drought-stricken state. The department says manual and electronic readings show the snowpack's statewide water content at 24 percent of average for the date. The northern and central Sierra snowpack provides about a third of California's water supply. Read the full story here.
RATINGS AGENCY FITCH DOWNGRADES KERN COUNTY PENSION BONDS: A global financial ratings agency has downgraded the $213 million in pension obligation bonds Kern County issued in 2003 to prop up its employees' retirement system. Such a rating shift can make it more difficult for the county to borrow short-term debt to cover its operational costs. The Californian's James Burger reports that in recent weeks, the Kern County Board of Supervisors has received troubling updates about $3 million in ongoing monthly losses at KMC and learned about the $27 million annual impact of funding a new inmate housing wing at Lerdo Jail. 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.
ROSAMOND BABY DIES OF UNKNOWN CAUSES: A 28-day-old baby found unresponsive around midnight Wednesday in Rosamond died an hour later at Antelope Valley Hospital. Responders found Cerezza Garcia, of Rosamond, at a home on the 3400 block of Camden Street. She was pronounced dead just before 1 a.m. The cause of the baby's death remains under investigation. Read the full story here.
MAN SOUGHT IN REMOVAL OF BUSINESS' SECURITY CAMERAS: Bakersfield police are seeking a man in connection with the theft of a business' surveillance cameras. Police said the theft occurred Jan. 12 at 2:50 a.m. from a business in the 2100 block of 19th St. The suspect is described as a white male with a mustache and goatee. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the BPD at 327-7111. Read the full story here.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BECOME SCIENCE TEACHERS FOR A DAY: About 60 teenagers in Independent High School's Energy & Utilities Academy were science teachers for the day Thursday at Lakeside School, a K-8 school in southwest Bakersfield. Academy students take three years of specialized classes designed to expose them to energy sector careers and increase their understanding of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. They brought science kits with them for hands-on experiments which included "drilling" through different colored layers of cupcakes. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
NEW SOFTWARE: Bakersfield-based Braun Electric has developed software that allows its field engineers and linemen to complete job safety analyses on a mobile computer instead of carrying around binders full of paperwork. The program, built by Braun staff on Apple Inc.'s DIY FileMaker Platform, lets employees track permits and review site details in the field. Braun hopes to expand the software's features to automate dozens of other business processes.
THE HEALTH SPORT
SENATOR WANTS REVIEW OF PARALYSIS CASES: About 20 children in California have experienced polio-like paralysis in the last 18 months. Now Senator Barbara Boxer wants to know why. Is the illness linked to a virus, or environmental factors? The Associated Press says she sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday saying "we need answers." Her letter said that "these questions must be answered because it is deeply disturbing to read reports of otherwise healthy children experiencing sudden paralysis." So far, the AP reports that CDC officials don't think the illness "is a cause for public concern."
THE SPORTS REPORT
SCORE ROUNDUP: Liberty advances to the CIF-Central Section Division I boys basketball semifinals after beating Clovis West 58-41 Thursday night. Rashad Jackson led Garces with 26 points in a 77-60 win against Lemoore in the D2 playoffs. Independence got by Tehachapi 62-51 in the D3 playoffs. And Bakersfield Christian defeated Fresno Christian in the D4 playoffs, 51-38. Finally, Cal State Bakersfield lost 63-61 against visiting University of Texas Pan American at Rabobank Arena. The Roadrunners are now 12-16 overall and 5-9 in the Western Athletic Conference. Read the full story here.
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