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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
MERCY SOUTHWEST TO BUILD 120-BED TOWER: Dignity Health plans to build a four-story, 120-bed addition on the eastern end of its 150,000-square-foot Mercy Southwest campus at Stockdale Highway and Old River Road. The new $150 million tower would allow the hospital to expand existing services such as women's health and neurology, as well as add new ones, such as cardiology, potentially creating up to 600 permanent jobs. The 20-year-old campus has 78 beds now, and would have 198 beds after the project is finished. Read the full story here.
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE VISITS SHAFTER: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari toured a drilling technology company here Wednesday and promised to rebuild the state's economy in part by improving the business climate for oil and gas. In the last three years that Jerry Brown has been governor, California has increased its crude oil production 3 percent to 199 million barrels, he said. Read the full story here.
KERN'S ECONOMY EXPECTED TO GROW THIS YEAR, NEXT: Kern County's economy will continue growing and adding jobs in a variety of industries for at least the next two years, an economist predicted at an annual meeting Wednesday in Bakersfield. Economist Mark Schniepp forecast local non-farm employment growth averaging 2.6 percent per year in 2014 and 2015, beating last year's 2 percent. He pointed to particular strengths in services, tourism, health care, education, construction, wholesale trade and retail. 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.
THREE ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF KICKING IN A DOOR TO BURGLARIZE HOME: Bakersfield police arrested two men and a juvenile Wednesday suspected of kicking down a residence's door and entering the home on the 6200 block of Martinique Court. According to police, a woman was at home with her infant child when she heard a knock on the door just before 10 a.m. She did not answer the door because she thought it was solicitors, and when she looked through the peephole she saw three males. After the door was kicked in, she hid upstairs with her child, and called her husband and police. When the husband arrived to his home, he slashed the passenger side tires on the suspects' vehicle, but they drove it anyway. The three suspects were arrested a short time later. Read the full story here.
SMOKE DETECTOR GIVEAWAY SATURDAY IN EDISON: The Kern County Fire Department will install free residential fire detectors Saturday in the Edison area east of Bakersfield. The detectors, donated by the American Red Cross, will be installed between 10 a.m. and noon by firefighters who will be joined by county Supervisor Leticia Perez. They will go door-to-door on Shaeffer, Jacober and Walter avenues, Atlantic Street and Edison Highway from Shaeffer to Atlantic. Read the full story here.
CANDIDATES REPORT EARLY FUNDRAISING TOTALS: Campaign finance reports released by candidates for state and local office show a lopsided cash contest in all but a couple of races. Thanks to a $200,000 cash dump from the California State Democratic Central Committee, Democrat Luis Chavez is running a tight money race against state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford for the 14th Senate District spot. After $60,895 in debt is subtracted from Chavez's total cash, he is reporting $179,819 in the bank as of March 17. Vidak is reporting $200,839 in the bank after his $5,969 in debt is subtracted. Read the full story here.
THE HEALTH REPORT
COVERED CALIFORNIAN DEADLINE: Californians who start an application for health insurance under Covered California by 11:59 p.m. Monday can have until April 15 to finish filling it out. The Associated Press reported that Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, offered the extra time on Wednesday. States and President Obama are urging people to sign up by the March 31 deadline.
THE SPORTS REPORT
RIDGEVIEW ROLLS: The only thing that can stop Ridgeview's softball offense, it would appear, is a really big field. Still, the Wolf Pack pounded out five doubles and three triples en route to a 7-2 victory at Mira Monte on Wednesday, marking the 10th time this season Ridgeview has scored at least seven runs. Read the full story here.
CSUB BEATS OREGON IN SAND VOLLEYBALL HOME OPENER: Molly O'Hagan and Debora Araujo won a 3-game thriller to lift the Cal State Bakersfield sand volleyball team to a 3-2 victory over Oregon in the 'Runners' first match on their new home sand courts. With the match tied 2-2, O'Hagan and Araujo took the first game 21-11, before Oregon's Liz Brenner and Tatum Norton evened things with a 21-19 win. O'Hagan and Araujo won the finale 15-12. Read the full story here.