The City of Taft in western Kern County owes its existence to the oil industry. While the local economy has diversified, the energy industry is the still the primary economic engine of this small town, and every five years, locals throw a party to celebrate. This year, the Oildorado Days festival includes everything from an airshow and hot air balloon festival to the Oilstock music festival. On Valley Edition we spoke with one of the event's organizers, Shannon Jones about this year's activities and Taft's rich history.

Valley Public Radio

On this week's program FM89's Ezra David Romero reports on a new raisin variety that could severely decrease the labor needed to grow and harvest the crop. Also KVPR's Diana Aguilera reports on how farmworkers are impacted by STDs in the Central California town of Mendota.

Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Police in Taft are investigating alleged hazing incidents involving the high school varsity football team.

According to a statement released by the Taft Union High School, in 2 incidents earlier this month, students were subjected to “unacceptable and embarrassing treatment by other players.”

According to the Bakersfield Californian, eight juvenile students have been cited for battery, sexual battery, and false imprisonment, in incidents in and around the locker room.  This comes five years after another hazing episode involving the school’s volleyball team.

Author Gerald Haslam is something of a literary renaissance man. A historian, novelist, essayist and biographer, he is one of California’s most respected writers, and has devoted much of his career to telling stories about life in the Central Valley. His writing is much like the region he comes from: direct, unpretentious, and often filled with surprising depth and color.

Kevin Krejci / Flickr / Creative Commons

Less than a month after the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Kern County community of Taft was rocked by a school shooting of its own.

This morning, a 16-year-old student at Taft Union High School walked into his first period classroom and shot another student with a 12 gauge shotgun. The victim is in critical but stable condition, according to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

“The student that is in critical condition we believe was an intended target, one intended target, of this suspect,”  Youngblood said.