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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Big 6:
IN-CUSTODY DEATH: The suspect who died in the custody of Kern County Sheriff's deputies apparently swallowed his own stash. Deputies were in the area of J and Mint streets Monday night around 9:40 searching for a man with a felony warrant when they came across 25-year-old Wilfredo Ramos acting suspiciously. Ramos reportedly took off running and was throwing things out of his pockets. Deputies caught him, and as they were questioning him inside the patrol car, they noticed he was having some medical problems. Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt says paramedics found something inside Ramos's throat -- baggies that appeared to have drugs. Ramos was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital at about 11:40 p.m. Read the full story here.
FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS: Local firefighters continue to battle two wild blazes up north. Eighty-four members of the Kern County Fire Department are among more than 2,200 from around the state fighting the Carstens Fire the started Monday in Mariposa County. Spokesman Corey Wilford says it's unclear how long the local crews will be deployed. The Rolling Fire has burned nearly 500 acres in Madera County. The Carstens Fire had scorched more than 1,600 acres and caused one injury. Officials are saying the fire was caused by a campfire that wasn't fully extinguished.
RURAL CRIME: Two arrests are made in thefts of farm equipment around Kern County. Deputies from the Rural Crime Unit arrested Manuel Pantoja after $10,000 worth of irrigation pipes and valves were stolen from land near Rancho and Valpredo roads. Pantoja was found in possession of the goods and was booked on grand theft charges. Authorities say he also caused about $500 in property damage. Meanwhile, surveillance in the Delano area led to last week's arrest of Michelle Blaylock for possession of stolen farm equipment along with suspected methamphetamine. Read the stories here and here.
SEX OFFENDER: Another sex offender on the loose in Bakersfield. Thirty-three-year old Christopher Pettenger is wanted by the Kern County Probation Department for not reporting to his Probation Officer. Pettenger is a registered sex offender and is known to frequent the 4000 block of California Avenue, under the freeway overpass at California Avenue and Highway 99, or the downtown bus terminal. Pettenger is white, about 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, blue eyes, with brown hair. Anyone with information regarding Pettenger's whereabouts should contact the Kern County Probation Department. Read the full story here.
WESTSIDE PARKWAY: The opening of a key Bakersfield thoroughfare connecting with the Thomas Roads Improvement Program is just around the bend. The Westside Parkway has an unspecified opening date in August. Commuters will initially have about six miles of new pavement under their wheels between Truxtun Extension east of Highway 99 to Allen Road in the west, which is expected to ease traffic congestion on Truxtun, California Avenue, and Stockdale and Rosedale highways. Crews are applying the finishing touches -- installing lights, striping, signs and modest aesthetic details along the way. Construction began in 2009. Read the full story here.
HISTORY DAY: Eight Kern County students win awards during National History Day. Cassidy Porter of Fruitvale Jr. High won tenth place in the Junior Individual category. Fruitvale also took fifth in Junior Group Exhibit, with the work of two Caitlyns, Richter and Moss. And the team from Chipman earned sixth place in Junior Group Performance for the efforts of Miguel Vargas, Sadie Armijo, Dylan Pearson, Stevie McNabb and Jake Beardsley. The competition took place last week in Washington, D.C.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com
FREEWAY OPENING JUST AROUND THE CORNER: At long last, Bakersfield officials see light at the end of the freeway. The opening of the Westside Parkway, a key thoroughfare connecting with the Thomas Roads Improvement Program, is just around the bend -- an unspecified date in August. Construction began in 2009. Commuters will initially have about six miles of new pavement under their wheels between Truxtun Extension east of Highway 99 to Allen Road in the west, which is expected to ease traffic congestion on Truxtun, California Avenue, and Stockdale and Rosedale highways. Crews are applying the finishing touches -- installing lights, striping, signs and modest aesthetic details along the way. John Sturgeon, an employee of Security Paving Inc., the parkway's prime contractor, walked across the concrete of the eastbound lanes Tuesday afternoon in a light mood. "It's going to be nice," he said. "Now we just have to make it look pretty." Read the full story here.
SHERIFF'S OFFICE: MAN WHO DIED IN CUSTODY HAD DRUGS IN THROAT: A 25-year-old man who died in Kern County sheriff's custody Monday night had two plastic baggies with illegal drugs stuffed in his throat, the department reported. Deputies noticed Wilfredo Ramos was having trouble breathing after he'd been put in the back of a patrol car at about 9:40 p.m. in the 1900 block of South J Street, sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said on Tuesday. The death is the second in just over a month in which a suspect has died while in sheriff's custody. In the previous case, David Sal Silva struggled with deputies and California Highway Patrol officers May 7 outside Kern Medical Center. After the use of batons and a dog, deputies took Silva into custody, but he experienced trouble breathing and died soon after. His family has filed federal civil rights claims alleging excessive police force killed him. Read the full story here.
WOMAN ARRESTED ON DRUG, STEALING CHARGES: The Kern County Sheriff's Office Rural Crime Investigation Unit arrested a woman in connection with stolen farmland equipment in Delano. Last Friday, deputies stopped a vehicle driven by Michelle Terese Blaylock, the sheriff's department said in a news release. It said she was found with farm equipment that was determined to be stolen. A further search of the vehicle revealed Blaylock also had 0.5 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, officials said. Read the full story here.
REPORT SAYS CSUB DOES NOT ADEQUATELY PREPARE TEACHERS: A new report says Cal State Bakersfield's School of Social Science and Education is among 34 teacher training programs across the state that don't sufficiently prepare future teachers for the classroom. The majority of teacher preparation programs in the United States are not providing adequate training to aspiring teachers, and a disproportionate number of them are in California, according to a new study by U.S. News & World Report and the National Council on Teacher Quality. The council looked at 1,130 colleges and universities that train elementary and secondary teachers and published its findings in the magazine's first ever Teacher Prep Review. Of the 71 elementary programs evaluated in California, 64 percent -- including CSUB -- earned the lowest rating possible. CSUB received zero stars on a scale of no stars to four, four being best. Read the full story here.
ADMINISTRATOR LOOKING FORWARD TO NEW CHALLENGES AT PARAMOUNT ACADEMY: Saul Gonzalez enjoys a good reputation in education circles. Until recently, he was the assistant superintendent of the Delano Joint Union High School District, which is known for high state test scores even though most of its students are low-income Hispanics, who often don't score well on standardized exams. Forty-eight-year-old Gonzalez has been offered several superintendent positions over the years, but declined them in order to continue serving his hometown. He grew up the son of farmworker parents in Delano and McFarland. When charter school Paramount Academy's Joanna Kendrick-Miranda left to take a Bay Area principal job, however, Gonzalez was finally tempted. He took over as executive director this week. Read the full story here.
THE ENERGY REPORT
ACID FOR WELL FLOWS: California's senators are trying to determine how the oil industry uses acid to increase well flows around the state. Reuters reported Tuesday that the use of acid is far more common in the state than the more controversial hydraulic fracking. The news service said the state's oil companies use hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acid to clean out well bores and to fracture solid rock. The scrutiny comes as oil companies begin their efforts to extract oil from the Monterey Shale, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil. Acid could be used in the extraction and Occidental Petroleum Corp said it was mainly using acid jobs. State senators are trying to determine regulations for new technologies used in extracting oil. However, the use of acid has been used in the state for decades. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
SONY XPERIA Z: The Sony Xperia Z is coming soon to U-S market as a T-Mobile exclusive. There is no pricing information available yet for the Android phone, but it will be offered on the Simple Choice Plan with no contract. The Sony Xperia Z has a 5-inch H-D Reality Display, a 13-megapixel camera, and a water-resistant design.
CANDY CRUSH IPO: Investors that can buy into Candy Crush could be in for a sweet return. But financial advisors offer that all sugar highs must come to an end. King, the maker of that popular mobile game, has just hired bankers to help pursue an initial public offering in the U.S. Like Zynga, King specializes in so-called casual games. Users download the games for free and a small minority buys tokens to speed up play. But unlike Zynga, King has found great success on mobile devices with Candy Crush Saga. While no specific revenue figures are available, research firm App Annie estimates that the game generates more than any other mobile app in the U.S. A column in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal notes that investors should be wary. Zynga, too, had a number of popular games at one point. Its stock has fallen 82 percent from its peak.
THE HEALTH REPORT
SMOKING: Fewer U.S. adults are lighting up, according to a new government report. Last year, about 18 percent of adults participating in a national health survey described themselves as current smokers. The nation's smoking rate generally has been falling for decades, but had seemed to stall at around 20 to 21 percent for about seven years. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.
ORGAN DONATION: Over a single day, a new Facebook feature prompted more than 13 thousand people to sign up as organ donors -- more than 21 times the daily average, according to a study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. Facebook adjusted its profile settings so members could announce their status as an organ donor, or sign up if they weren't already registered. The day the initiative launched last May, more than 15 thousand updated their profiles to include their status as an organ donor, while another 13 thousand clicked the link provided by Facebook to register. Researchers called the response incredible and unprecedented. Polls show more than 95 percent of the American population supports organ donation, yet only 40 percent are signed up.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CAL STATE PLAYERS SIGN BASEBALL CONTRACTS: It's pro baseball careers for all five Cal State Bakersfield players selected in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft earlier this month. Senior pitchers Scott Brattvet, Jeff McKenzie and Chuck Buchanan and juniors Cael Brockmeyer, a catcher, and shortstop Tyler Shryock will all be signed to contracts by the end of the week. Shryock and McKenzie, both selected by the Chicago White Sox, had physicals on Tuesday and are expected to sign contracts today. Brattvet, a right-hander, said Tuesday he signed his contract on Sunday. An eighth-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds, the highest selection ever for a CSUB baseball player, Brattvet accepted a $15,000 signing bonus. Brockmeyer, taken in the 16th round by the Chicago Cubs, has signed and has been assigned to the Boise (Idaho) Hawks of the Class A short-season Northwest League. Buchanan, a left-hander taken in the 18th round by the Atlanta Braves, said he will sign his contract on Friday. Read the full story here.
RIDGEVIEW STAR PICKS CAL: Ridgeview graduate Ivan Gonzalez, the state champion in the 800 meters at this month's CIF State Track and Field Championships, will run collegiately at Cal. Ridgeview coach Adam Setser confirmed that Tuesday, saying the Golden Bears came through with a grant and scholarship combination that will pay Gonzalez's expenses in full. Read the full story here.
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