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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.

Juan Solis Lives A Life In The Shadows, His Health Destroyed By Valley Fever

Feb 21, 2017
Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

When Juan Solis shuffles out of his dark bedroom, he’s careful not to get too close to the windows.

He makes sure he only walks his dogs at night.

If he must go out during the day, he lathers on sunscreen, makes sure his legs and arms are covered, even during the peak of summer in Bakersfield’s blistering heat. And he never forgets his sunhat.

US Army Corps of Engineers

When Isabella Dam was built back in the 1950’s northeast of Bakersfield it was hailed as a great engineering achievement. The structure held back the mighty Kern River to provide water for farmers and communities, and helped protect the Southern San Joaquin Valley from floods.

KMC / Kern County

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.

Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Caltrans

For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims were among the law enforcement officials who met with President Trump today as part of the Major County Sheriff’s Association conference. 

Mims: “He pledged his support for law enforcement saying that we’re going to work together to keep our communities and nation safe.”

Mims says Trump also repeated his calls to step up deportations of individuals suspected or convicted of crimes who are in the country illegally.

Magelene Hope Facebook page / Mercy & Memorial Hospitals Bakersfield

A new coffee shop in Bakersfield offers more than just lattes and blended drinks – it also seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking. In fact, many of the people who work at the Rescue Grounds Coffee Company at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital are victims of human trafficking themselves. It’s all part of a project from the Bakersfield non-profit Magdelene Hope. It’s founder Doug Bennett joined us on Valley Edition to talk about how the women the group is helping and the way the community has responded to the new coffee shop. 

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