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Friday, May 30 2014 04:54 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 LAURA LIERA, Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

FRAZIER PARK: Lake of the Woods water levels continue to drop by six inches a day. The Lake of the Woods directors sent a letter to residents thanking them for conserving water, but noted that the issue is getting worse, The Mountain Enterprise reported.

According to the letter, Lake of the Woods has three working wells producing a combined 70 gallons of water per minute, where three years ago it was producing 225 gpm.

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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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The newspaper said Lake of the Woods has exhausted its funds in search of new wells. The district received a state grant of $240,000 and a USDA grant for $500,000 to help in their search for larger water wells.

Last summer, Lake of the Woods had to haul water from other water agencies and this summer isn't looking any different.

The letter reminded residents of prohibited activities, which include no outside water use, no car washing, no lawn irrigation, no swimming pools and nothing else that involves use of water outside.

Residents who don't follow the rules could be fined, the letter said.

Take a tour this weekend of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy and spot California condors. Chuck Noble, of Lebec, saw 12 or 13 condors in one area, The Mountain Enterprise reported. Most of the condors are young birds that were released and found the area of Tejon Ranch on their own.

Condors, which can live to 75 years old, can be seen soaring overhead to the cliffs of Tejon Ranch high country. You might also catch lots of deer roaming the ground, the newspaper said.

TAFT

Taco Bell's chalupas, tacos and burritos are making their way back to Taft. On Thursday, city officials announced plans for a new Taco Bell to be built next to the building where Taco Bell once served its fast-food favorites.

The Jhaj family -- one of the biggest names in fast-food franchising in the area -- will bring Taco Bell back to Taft. The family hopes to have it up and running by the end of the year, the Taft Midway Driller reported.

Taft residents have been tacoless, in this context, since the chain closed a local restaurant in late 2012.

The Jhaj family is working on the planning and permitting process with city officials.

Mayor Paul Linder said people miss Taco Bell and frequently ask him about it. "No one wants to know about streets or potholes or anything else. It's all about Taco Bell," he said. The new Taco Bell will create 30 jobs.

Taft Primary School's third-graders read nearly 11 million words this year. Thanks to technology, students were able to keep track of how many words they read, according to the Taft Midway Driller.

Kayleigh Pence did something no other Taft third-grader had ever done: she passed 278 of 281 reading practice quizzes and earned 49 Super Reader certificates this year under the district's Accelerated Reader program.

A study validated Taft College's Transition to Independent Living program's success rate. The Association on Higher Education and Disability published an article about TIL in the winter 2013 special edition of the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, the Taft Midway Driller reported.

TIL has shown 95 percent of graduates live independently, 89 percent hold jobs, and 83 percent are self-sufficient, living without help from their families.

The Journal study concluded that TIL's program successfully prepares individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities "to become productive members of society who will live independently and participate in civic, social, and communal activities."

Motorists traveling Taft Heights streets will travel more comfortably this summer. The office of Kern County 4th District Supervisor David Couch said blade seals will be laid down on the entire lengths of D, E, F and Philippine streets, as well as B Street from 10th to Arroyo Street, the Taft Midway Driller reported.

Part two of the Elk Hills Road resurfacing project will also be completed this summer. That is a 4.1-mile road project costing about $3.2 million.

RIDGECREST

Financial woes will close the Boys & Girls Club in Ridgecrest. After more than 10 years, the club will close its doors for the summer and maybe longer, the Daily Independent reported.

The organization is more than $60,000 in debt. It could not afford to conduct an audit and so has lost its charter with the national program. The audit alone would cost $25,000. Board Director Dennis Young said the local chapter was not alone. It was one of more than 30 other clubs to have their charters pulled because of money problems.

The club offered after-school programs and a place for kids to do homework and interact with other kids. But the organization's payroll, factored alongside utility and insurance costs, was too much.

Donations are still being accepted to help the club make final payroll and try to pay off some debt. Call 619-370-3206 for more information.

The Ridgecrest Learning Center will close its doors after 18 years due to declining enrollment. The learning center, an alternative education facility run by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, closed its doors Friday. The enrollment was down to three students and KCSOS determined that it's no longer fiscally possible to keep the campus open, the Daily Independent reported.

The site's sole teacher, John Sadnt, said enrollment has fluctuated over the years, but this year was the lowest enrollment he's seen in his 17 years at the site. The site, which opened in September 1996, was initially run by a teacher from Bakersfield.

The three students who were enrolled at the center will be moved to Burroughs High School, according to the newspaper.

For the past 18 years, the center provided a quality alternative education program to students who were expelled or at serious risk of dropping out of their home school.

There is no word from the KCSOS as to what will happen to students in the coming years who are in need of such a center.

Teachers with Sierra Sands Unified District have received a raise, their first in years. According to the Daily Independent, the labor agreement will give teachers a 4 percent raise for the 2014-15 school year and a 1 percent raise retroactive from July 1.

There will be an additional 0.5 percent increase after July 1.

Faculty members had been vocal about pay raises at local meetings. Many said Sierra Sands district teachers make, on average, $10,000 a year less than other teachers in the state.

Teri Cleveland, an English teacher at Murray Middle School, said starting off the 2014-15 year with the support of the administration would help improve the attitudes of faculty as they take on the new Common Core State Standards.

MOJAVE

Rosamond High School is offering vocational training programs for its students. The school is becoming involved with the community to help students learn about careers in industries that include green energy, welding and auto mechanics, the Mojave Desert News reported. Rosamond teacher Bob Jones said the school is offering internships that can lead to jobs. Students also take field trips and listen to in-class lecture.

Besides offering the classes themselves, the school is also doing certification classes for welders, the newspaper reported.

Some of the welding students have put their skils to work by repairing the batting cages and picnic tables at school.

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