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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
CHANGES TO RATE SYSTEM COULD ZAP LOCAL ENERGY CUSTOMERS: Worries that Bakersfield households could be socked with sharply higher energy bills are factoring prominently into deliberations on how to overhaul the way Californians pay for electric power. A Bay Area consumer advocacy group has cited potentially heavy impacts to Bakersfield residents as a big reason not to automatically enroll utility customers in a program that in four years would charge people higher or lower rates depending on when they use energy. While the California Public Utilities Commission is not expected to render a decision on the matter until much later this year, agency staff favor signing up all ratepayers for the new program, then allowing customers to opt out if they so choose. Read the full story here.
RESIDENTS SAY CITY PROMISED A PARKWAY SOUNDWALL: It's still under construction, but the Westside Parkway's next segment from Allen to Heath roads is already being condemned by neighbors who say the project won't provide sufficient soundwalls to guard adequately against noise, pollution and accidents. More than a dozen residents who live immediately southwest of Allen Road and the Westside Parkway say this part of that freeway should be built below ground level, like much of the rest of the project. Read the full story here.
DROUGHT? WHAT DROUGHT? MANY IN BAKERSFIELD USING MORE WATER, NOT LESS: A snapshot of three large water suppliers in Bakersfield suggests recent progress has been made in water conservation -- followed by some serious backsliding. In January 2012, Cal Water's 40,278 metered customers recorded a total use of 724.1 million gallons. That calculates to an average of 17,978 gallons per metered connection that month. Californian reporter Steve Mayer writes that while the vast majority of those connections are single-family homes, the totals may include businesses, industry and other non-residential users. 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.
A THOUSAND GATHER TO PRAY FOR RAIN AND GUIDANCE: More than 1,000 hopeful souls filled Harvey Auditorium at Bakersfield High School Sunday to pray for rain. Jim Crews, pastor of Valley Bible Fellowship said too many people believe prayer is "a cosmic Santa Claus list." Instead, he said, people need to look into their hearts. The 90-minute service brought together more than 30 churches and was the first of several planned community prayer efforts. But even before the Pray For Rain gathering gathered, rain was in the forecast. Bakersfield is expected to get a few hundredths of an inch of rain Wednesday, and then up to a half-inch of rain Friday and Saturday. Read the full story here.
NO INJURIES AFTER SHOTS FIRED IN AIR AT SAM LYNN: There were no injuries but Bakersfield police closed Chester Avenue in both directions for about 30 minutes Saturday evening to investigate, after receiving a report of shots fired in the air near Sam Lynn Ballpark. The call of shots fired at a post-Black American History Parade event came in at 4:55 p.m. The suspect, described as an African-American male, fled. The incident rattled nerves among residents who live on east-west streets east of the ball park. One man described hearing a series of five shots. Read the full story here.
TWO ARRESTS AT DUI CHECKPOINT: Bakersfield police officers arrested two people on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and one person on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, at a checkpoint Friday night. The traffic screening event, held in the 1900 block of Ming Avenue started at 6 p.m. and examined 867 vehicles. Officers also cited 42 motorists for driving without a license, or on a suspended license. They also impounded 23 vehicles. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
COMPUTERIZED WRISTWATCHES: Samsung unveiled two new computerized wristwatches on Sunday. The Associated Press reports the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels. The AP says the low-resolution, 2-megapixel camera on the Gear 2 is being moved to the main body instead of being on the strap. The Gear 2 Neo does not have a camera and is slightly larger, but lighter.
THE HEALTH REPORT
COVERED CALIFORNIA GLITCH: People scrambling to get signed up for health insurance ahead of a March 31 open enrollment deadline have been frustrated by a software glitch that interrupted service at the Covered California web portal. It was still down as of Sunday afternoon. Californian reporter Courtenay Edelhart writes that late last week, some users who tried to enroll in the state's online marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act found the site froze up on them as they were completing or submitting applications. Covered California's enrollment function was taken offline Wednesday afternoon to address the software malfunction. During the system outage, consumers could visit the website's information pages and use its shop and compare tool, but they could not enroll in health plans. Read the full story here.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CSUB CAN'T FINISH SWEEP IN BASEBALL: The top of the ninth inning Sunday was an inopportune time for Cal State Bakersfield's only error of the weekend. A wild pickoff throw by pitcher Sergio Luna with the bases loaded, two outs and two strikes on the batter allowed Towson (Md.) to score the go-ahead run and lift the Tigers to a 3-2 win. Read the full story here.
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