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Faces of Fracking / Flickr

A series of hearings began today in Kern County in a lawsuit over an ordinance that could allow up to 70,000 new oil and gas wells there over the next two decades.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

While many valley counties have seen their budgets improve in recent years, that hasn't been the case in Kern County. That's because as California's leading oil producing region, the county budget follows a boom and bust cycle that mirrors that of the energy industry. When oil prices are high, property tax revenue booms, as the valuation of land is based on the value of oil that remains in the ground. But when oil prices are low, the county's budget takes a big hit.

Courtesy Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Kern High School District launched nine internal investigations in 2016 for inappropriate use of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.

whitehouse.gov

It's hard to imagine two Republican leaders with more dramatically different political styles than Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump. While McCarthy rose to his position as House Majority Leader thanks to a warm and affable public personality, Trump's style has been anything but. Yet the two have a remarkably close working relationship.

https://sonyachristianblog.com/2017/04/29/strengthening-kern-county-one-degree-at-a-time/

A new collaboration between the Kern High School District, Bakersfield College and CSUB aims to get students on a speedy pathway from high school to community college, and eventually a four-year college degree. It's called the "Kern Promise" but Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian calls it the key to revitalizing the community.

State Farm To "Exit" Bakersfield Facility By 2021

May 4, 2017
bakersfieldvision2020.com

Insurance company State Farm has announced that it plans to close eleven facilities nationwide over the next four years, including one in Bakersfield that employs about 740 people.

The company says the plan to “exit” the facilities will help it run more efficiently. The changes will affect over 4,000 employees nationwide.

However, Justin Tomczak with State Farm says that these jobs will not be lost entirely.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The city of Arvin, south of Bakersfield, is struggling to stay healthy. Nearly a quarter of its 20,000 residents fall below the poverty line, and surrounding Kern County has one of the highest diabetes burdens in the state. As part of an ongoing effort to get kids out of the house and active, an event last week connected Arvin middle-schoolers with free bicycles—but where the bicycles came from may surprise you.

Sean Work / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A local politician is in hot water with his own party leaders after opposing the state’s new transportation funding plan. Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas has been stripped of his chairmanship of the State Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee by Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The Kern County Democrat was the only member of his party to vote against the transportation deal that would raise gas taxes and vehicle fees. Salas was removed from the committee entirely. In a tweet he said he was removed from the committee for keeping his commitment to voters.  

Clinica Sierra Vista

The Affordable Care Act may be staying in place for now, but the long-term future of health care is still far from certain. And that uncertainty is already taking its toll on some health care programs--with ripple effects felt throughout the Valley.

If you peruse the Airbnb listings outside Bakersfield, you may stumble upon Broken Shadow Hermitage—a 3-bedroom getaway in the Tehachapi Mountains. The owner, Rick Hobbs, says it’s a great place to meditate and commune with nature.

Kern Pioneer Village

It might be the most famous boxcar in Kern County, if not the entire state of California. The childhood home of the late country music star Merle Haggard is no longer in Oildale, where it sat for decades – it’s now at the Kern Pioneer Village near the end of a two year-long restoration. The  museum is throwing a party to celebrate the completion of the project April 9th called the Haggard Boxcar Festival.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Today, Bakersfield College kicks off a new event to address health problems in the San Joaquin Valley--its first-ever public health “hackathon.”

Over 100 people from across Central California have signed up for the hackathon, which aims to use technology to address public health challenges like chronic disease, food insecurity and environmental health. Nurse and public health student Elizabeth Patterson says her project idea involves helping young adults mentor each other about sexually transmitted diseases.

Kern County Public Health Services

Health officials and advocates gathered in Bakersfield today for a summit on public health in Kern County, where one specific community was touted as a public health role model.

 

In the last five years or so, the city of McFarland has dramatically upgraded its infrastructure. The city has more sidewalks, parks and streetlights than ever before, and it recently created its first bicycle master plan. Flor del Hoyo from Kern County Public Health Services says McFarland is a success story for community engagement and cooperation.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two new reports out this week examine California’s oil fields and how the high-emitting oil extracted from many of them poses a threat to the environment and human health. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that one of them is in Kern County.

 

ESY Kern

There are a lot of efforts to bring health foods into school and the elementary school curriculum. One of the most interesting examples can be found in Bakersfield at Buena Vista Elementary School, home to something called an "edible schoolyard." A joint project of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District and the Grimm Family Foundation, the Edible Schoolyard Kern program also has expanded to sites in Arvin and Shafter.

Assemblyman Seeks Valley Fever Funding, Overhaul Of Reporting Guidelines

Feb 21, 2017
Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Responding to a surge in cases and inconsistent reporting practices, Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced legislation Tuesday that would allocate millions of dollars to valley fever vaccine research and streamline information sharing.

Assembly Bill 1279 would bring $2 million to an already-established state fund for valley fever vaccine research and create guidelines for how local, state and federal agencies report cases.

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