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Sunday, Apr 21 2013 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: A new start for young people in transition

By The Bakersfield Californian

HIT: A six-year collaboration between Golden Empire Affordable Housing Inc. and other local groups including the Kern County Mental Health Department finally became a reality last week. The Residences at West Columbus, a 76-unit apartment complex designed to give families and transitional foster care youth a fresh start, has opened.

Among the apartments, 20 are furnished one-bedroom units designated for young adults, making the often scary and difficult transition from foster care to independence a little easier. The others are designated for families earning less than 50 percent of the area's median income. The transitional youth residents will receive on-site services from the Mental Health Department and Covenant Community Services. The $12 million project, located on West Columbus Street near Union Avenue, was spearheaded by Randy Coats, Golden Empire Affordable Housing's executive director. Everyone involved deserves our gratitude.

HIT: A different type of Rover

If you've always dreamed about going to Mars, your time might be close. A nonprofit company is hoping to send the first humans to the red planet by 2023 and will start taking applications this summer. Mars One, an organization from the Netherlands, hopes to begin colonization. And, of course, the group wants to make a television reality show out of it. Interested? This may give you pause: It's a one-way trip.

HIT: Part of the family now

She was there to watch her aunt compete in the Boston Marathon. She became one of the faces of the bombing tragedy, her image riveting the world as she lay on a bloody sidewalk, two men desperately trying to stem the bleeding from her right thigh. (The Californian, which published the photo on its front page last Tuesday, was one of many that used it.)

Her name is Sydney Corcoran, an 17-year-old high school senior. The men saved her life. According to reports, she was near death from a severed femoral artery when she arrived at the hospital, but the men stemmed enough of the bleeding to keep her alive. When she woke from surgery, she immediately asked for her saviors, including a man named Matt, the one in the plaid shirt who assured her she would be OK. On Thursday, Matt Smith showed up in Sydney's hospital room. "He is officially a part of our family now," wrote Sydney's cousin, Alyssa Carter. Sydney's mom, Celeste, was also seriously injured. Her legs were amputated, but she lives.

MISS: Fresh & Easy failure

Tesco's venture into the U.S. food market has failed, and its Fresh & Easy neighborhood markets, including several that operate in Bakersfield, may eventually depart with the British company. Or not.

The $2 billion venture has struggled since the get-go, losing more than $1 billion. The chain operates 200 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and employs 5,000 people. An indicator that Fresh & Easy was not faring well was readily evident to locals: A completed store near Coffee and Hageman roads has remained unopened for several years.

There may be some good news, however, for the 150 employees of the Kern County locations. A company spokesman says there are no immediate plans to close those locations, which may remain open if a buyer is found.

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