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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
CITY GETS EARLY RELEASE OF $180 MILLION TO BUY CENTENNIAL CORRIDOR, 24TH STREET PROPERTY: Bakersfield has secured the early release of more than $180 million in federal funding allowing it to buy property in the path of Centennial Corridor and fund right-of-way and design on widening 24th Street. City officials asked for the early release of the money 16 months ago, and learned Friday they had been approved. The money will come from the $630 million in federal earmarks brought home to Bakersfield by former Congressman Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield. Read the full story here.
THREE-ALARM BLAZE DESTROYS LARGE BUILDING IN EAST BAKERSFIELD: Forty-five city and county firefighters responded to a three-alarm blaze in east Bakersfield Tuesday afternoon, that left an apparently unoccupied industrial building in ruins. The calls started coming in at 3:15 p.m. of the fire on Washington Street, north of East California Avenue. By the time the first units arrived, the 3,000-square-foot wood structure was fully engulfed. The building was apparently an unoccupied storage unit. Since it was constructed of wood it burned quickly. But Kern County and Bakersfield city firefighters working side by side quickly beat down the flames. Read the full story here.
CITY ANIMAL SHELTER OPENS NEW ADMIN BUILDING: The city animal shelter's new administration building opened to the public Tuesday not with a bang but to barks, yips, wagging tails -- and maybe just a whimper or two. In contrast to previously cramped quarters elsewhere -- where adoptions and surrenders occurred in one combined area -- the new building divides the two functions, giving each much needed space. The Californian's Theo Douglas reports it's part of an ongoing remodel of the old South Mount Vernon Avenue county shelter that could cost the city as much as $879,000. 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.
BODFISH MAN SHOT, KILLED: A Bodfish man shot Tuesday morning at a Lake Isabella residence died later at Kern Medical Center. Kern County Sheriff's deputies said 49-year-old Michael Leonard Tarman was shot at 9:20 a.m. at 2101 Angler Ave. Two other adults at the residence were detained. The investigation is ongoing. Read the full story here.
REPORTS: DETENTIONS DEPUTY RECEIVED BEER AND WOMEN IN RETURN FOR SMUGGLING CONTRABAND INTO JAIL: Leroy Martin Romero was regarded by some inmates in Lerdo Jail as a "gangster with a badge." The Kern County sheriff's detentions deputy became so close to some of inmates he agreed to conduct business with them by smuggling contraband inside the jail. Romero was arrested Nov. 21 after investigators found latex fingers that had been cut off a glove, filled with tobacco and tied off at the end. Romero would smuggle the contraband inside Lerdo in return for beer and sexual favors from women. Romero, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and transporting a controlled substance. His next court date is April 22. Read the full story here.
CALIFORNIA 'LIFERS' LEAVING PRISON AT RECORD PACE: Nearly 1,400 lifers in California's prisons have been released over the past three years in a sharp turnaround in a state where murderers and others sentenced to life with the possibility of parole almost never got out. Since taking office three years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown has affirmed 82 percent of parole board decisions, resulting in a record number of inmates with life sentences going free. This dramatic shift in releases under Brown comes as the state grapples with court orders to ease a decades-long prison crowding crisis that has seen triple bunking, prison gyms turned into dormitories and inmates shipped out of state. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
TECHNOLOGY AND THE DROUGHT: Can technology help with the California's record drought? Officials at the California Department of Water Resources said Tuesday they sure hope so. The Associated Press said the state has partnered with NASA scientists to deploy satellites and other technology to monitor conditions and better manage the drought. They want to do a better job of measuring the snowpack, groundwater levels and predicting storms. The AP says NASA will also use satellite images to do a better job of measuring the fields farmers aren't planting.
THE HEALTH REPORT
SJCH GETS SPECIAL HEART DESIGNATION: The American Heart Association has certified San Joaquin Community Hospital as a STEMI heart attack receiving center, the first hospital in Kern County with that accreditation. The Californian's Courtenay Edelhart writes that to apply for that distinction, the hospital had to first be recognized by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care as an accredited chest pain center. It also had to demonstrate consistency in performance measures for heart attack patient care. STEMI is an acronym for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, a very serious type of heart attack in which the coronary artery is completely blocked off by a blood clot, which causes significant portions of the heart muscle to die. Read the full story here.
THE SPORTS REPORT
DRILLERS ROUT CENTENNIAL: The Drillers won their third straight over Centennial taking a 78-58 victory Tuesday after jumping to a 25-7 lead in the first round of the Central Section Division I playoffs. Now the Drillers travel to top seed Fresno-Central in Thursday night's quarterfinals. Read the full story here.
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