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KGET: Local News

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Hundreds of kids in Bakersfield will be fully equipped for the first day of school. Saturday morning, children at the Bakersfield Homeless Center received a backpack with all the necessary school supplies.

    Every year, KGET  teams up with the homeless center to collect backpacks and school supplies for the less fortunate.

    Organizers said the giveaway was a huge success with nearly 500 backpacks donated.

    "These children are thrilled and they have been waiting. They know the back to school drive was happening, every day they would ask when was their chance to come in and grab their backpack so they have been anticipating it this morning, " said Cindy Lyday with the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

    "I feel happy because I haven't gotten so many backpacks before and if it weren't for here my mom would have had to buy that stuff," said Hallelujah Jones who lives at the shelter.

    Bakersfield homeless officials said more than 100 kids are currently living at the shelter.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The union and GET says they are both very pleased. And to give back to the customers they will be offering free rides until September first.
     
    Some 250 drivers and mechanics had been asking for a 4 percent raise for the next three years.

    The deal they took is a 3 percent raise the first year, a 2 and a half percent raise the second year and a 2 percent raise the third year.

    The union voted Sunday 158 to 29 to end the strike.

    The buses stopped running July 15.

    GET officials had long said they didn't have enough money to accomodate a large raise.

    GET says their budget is still uncertain and if they don't increase ridership there may be layoffs.  "What we will be doing is closely monitoring our financial picture through this year I am not going to say we may not have budget cuts as we get into the year, says Gina Hayden, GET spokesperson.

    A union spokesperson says Bakersfield city council members push to oust board members and eventually CEO Karen King made them more willing to strike a deal.

    The last GET strike was in 1980, it lasted a couple months.

    Salaries will be retroactive to April 1 for the drivers.



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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A woman is dead and a major intersection closed after a crash in southwest Bakersfield morning. It happened around 8:30 a.m. in the intersection of Ming Avenue and Old River Road.

    Police officials say it appears the driver of a black Dodge pick-up, probably ran a red light, hitting a white Chevy pick-up and then a minivan.

    The woman in the white truck was taken to the hospital, where she died. No word on any other injuries.

    The investigation is ongoing and the intersection is expected to be closed for several hours.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The sheriff's office is asking for the public's assistance in locating a manted wanted for murder.  Deputies say late Saturday night they responded to the 100 block of West 2nd St. in Buttonwillow for a victim of a shooting.

    Deputies located 18-year-old Jonathan Cota Romero suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Romero was airlifted to Kern Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

    During the course of the investigation detectives were able to identify Jose Cortes as a suspect in the case and developed probable cause to arrest him for Romero’s murder.

    If you have information on Cortes’s whereabouts, call the Sheriff’s Office at 661-861-3110 or Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.

    Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411). Just type the keyword “KCSO” prior to the message.



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    WOFFORD HEIGHTS, CA -  A fast-moving wildfire was threatening dozens of homes in Wofford Heights Monday, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

    The fire was only estimated about six to eight acres as of 3:30 p.m. Monday on the north side of Highway 155, officials said, but huge columns of smoke and flames are threatening nearby homes. One nearby resident told 17 News it's "moving fast and jumping ridge lines."

    Air tankers are on site and more were requested Monday afternoon, officials said.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Kern County Probation needs your help finding a registered sex offender who failed to report to his probation officer. 

    Probation officials say Mitchel Gilbert West, 50, is a registered sex offender on felony probation for failing to register. West has failed to report to his Probation Officer after being released from custody and several attempts to contact West have been made.

    West’s current whereabouts is unknown and a felony warrant was issued for West for absconding from supervision.

    West is described as a 50-year-old, man, approximately 5’10” tall, 165 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information regarding Mitchel West’s whereabouts should contact Probation Officer Anthony Mord at 661-336-6693 or immediately notify local law enforcement.




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  • 08/18/14--17:16: Update on the Way Fire
  • WOFFORD HEIGHTS, CA - The Way fire near Wofford Heights has grown to 700-800 acres, there's an unknown number of structures threatened. Fire officials say there's at least 3 structures that have burned.  There's no report of any injuries. 


    EVACUATIONS
    Kern Valley High School is the recommended evacuation center.  If you have large animals, officials recommend you take them with you, along with extra feed.

    Recommended evacuations areas of:
    Bristlecone Drive, Sycamore Drive, Sierra Vista Drive, Loma Lane, Sargent Lane, Potter Road

    ROADS CLOSED:
    Hwy 155 at Sierra Vista Dr.
    Hwy 155 to Adams Rd.
    Hwy 155 to Mountain View Ln.
    Hwy 155 to Woodland Dr.
    Hwy 155 to Rockhaven Rd.

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    FORD CITY, CA - A Ford City man is under arrest after deputies say he dragged a woman out of her home and threatened to kill her. 

    Deputies say they responded early Sunday morning to Mercy Southwest Hospital to investigate a spousal battery that had occurred in the Ford City area of Taft. The suspect was identified as 23-year old WINBALDO VASQUEZ of Ford City.

    Deputies learned Vasquez had been drinking, became angry, and hit the victim after she tried to prevent him from leaving a residence in the Taft area. Deputies were not able to locate him at the time this report was made.

    Later that night, at approximately 11:45 pm Sunday, deputies responded to report of kidnapping that occurred in the Ford City area. When they arrived deputies learned that the victim from the earlier domestic violence incident had returned home to retrieve her personal items and clothing.

    While at the residence, Vasquez confronted the victim, dragged the victim out of the home, forced her into his vehicle, and drove away. Vasquez stopped his vehicle at one point, showed the victim a large machete, and threatened to kill the victim. The victim was able to escape from the vehicle and call for help.

    Deputies were able to locate Vasquez and arrested him for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and making criminal threats. Vasquez was transported and booked into the Taft City Jail.

    Additional charges of spousal battery will be sought against Vasquez for the incident that occurred earlier in the day.



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    BAKERSFIELD,CA- More than 250 golden empire transit bus drivers and mechanics are going back to work Tuesday after members of the teamsters union voted on a deal to end the 34 day long strike.

    The past month wasn't easy for some Golden Empire Transit riders who had to ride out the strike.

    "Had to walk. I mean miles," said Daniel Howe.

    "I had to struggle to find a ride or struggle to scrap together enough money to get a taxi and it just makes it hard. makes it really hard," said Shianne Howe.

    "I had to cancel doctors appointments until it was over so now I can reschedule my appointments," said Richard Delouth.

    On Sunday evening, members of the local teamsters union voted to approve an agreement negotiated on Friday.

    Union employees were fighting for a four percent increase for the next three years. But the deal they took was a 3 percent raise the first year, a 2.5 percent raise the second year and a 2 percent raise the third year.

    "What we said all along is that our finances aren't certain. Our funding is uncertain. What we will be doing is closely monitoring our financial picture through this year. I'm not going to say that we may not have to have some budget cuts as we get into the year. But, at this point we're going to move forward," said GET spokesperson Gina Hayden.

    The union voted Sunday 158 to 29 to end the strike. About 250 bus drivers and mechanics went on strike July 15 over pay and part time work.

    "We got some very important language in the contract that basically assured 70 full-time drivers which we haven't had before and that was something promotion to full-time by seniority," said union representative Chester Suniga.

    Buses began rolling 6 a.m. Tuesday.

    GET officials say in order to give back to their riders, they will be offering free bus rides to everyone until September 1.

    GET is exchanging all partially used 31 day passes and August summer youth passes.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- A washer and dryer, bed frame, and smoldering rubble, remnants of a structure that Monday stood tall on Mar Vista Drive.

    Capt. Derek Tisinger, Kern County Fire Department, "we never like to have any structures destroyed by fire we try our best to save as many as we can unfortunately sometimes we can't do enough."

    From our survived at least five structures in area that burned as the way fire engulfed Wofford Heights Monday afternoon.

    "Others had luck on their side as the flames burned feet from the home avoiding total devastation."

    Tisinger added.  "We gave it our best effort and we are proud at the structures that we saved."

    Crews say they're pleased the fire's leveled off overnight.

    Tisinger, says "It's good news it's slowed down significantly when you figure it took 3000 acres in the first 9 to 10 hours."

    But crews say getting through Tuesday afternoon will be the challenge.

    As flames still burn on three fronts, to the north east and west.

    As the fire comes over the ridge, threatening Kernville with the same fate as these homes on Mar Vista Drive.

    Tisinger adds. "At this point we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best."

    This fire is zero percent contained.

    Kern County Fire crews are asking those in the upper Wofford Heights and Kernville areas to be on standby for emergency evacuations.


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    TEHACHAPI, CA - Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of a suspect or suspects in the murder of railway employee Robert Limon.

    Limon, 38, was found dead in a BNSF Railray company building. Sheriff's officials say there was trauma to the upper body.
    The murder occurred between 5 and 6:46 p.m. on Aug. 17 at 1528 Goodrick Drive in Tehachapi.

    The last reported sighting of Limon before his death was at approximately 5 p.m., when coworkers say he was heading back into the shop after working the field.

    KCSO asks that anyone with information about this case contact the Secret Witness line at 661-322-4040. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411), after sending “KCSO” prior to sending the information.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Bakersfield police need your help identifying and locating a man accused of robbing a Rite Aid store earlier this month. 

    Police say on the afternoon of August 5, the man entered the Rite Aid at 1601 23rd St., concealed alcohol and fled the business without paying.

    When confronted by store employees he swung the backpack he was carrying at the employees and fled.  Police describe the man as Hispanic, 20’s, 5’8”, 180 lbs., short black hair, wispy mustache, wearing a black t-shirt, gray oversized gym shorts carrying a backpack.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Chris Bagby at (661) 326-3519 or Bakersfield police at (661) 327-7111.



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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Police need your help finding three women they say robbed Family Dollar General on Mt. Vernon Avenue earlier this month.  

    Police say on the night of August 6, the women entered the Family Dollar General store at 2667 Mt. Vernon Av., selected multiple items which they concealed in a basket and handbag.

    The women then left the store without paying for the items. When they were confronted by store employees, one of the women tried to punch the employee. All three women fled from the store with the merchandise. Surveillance pictures of the women are attached to this story. 

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Paul Yoon at (661) 326-3511 or Bakersfield police at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The start of the Way Fire prompted the Emergency Services of Kern County to get some help from the National Weather Service. For the first time, they used the federal Emergency Alert System to let everyone know about evacuations. But, the warning caused some confusion Monday.

    The warning notified Kern County of an evacuation over our 5:00 PM broadcast Monday night. The message was vague for many causing panic.

    "I did hear that the 911 dispatching services were overwhelmed after the EAS message was released. And that is unfortunate. That certainly not is the intention," said Georgianna Armstrong, Emergency Services Manager for the County of Kern.

    Armstrong said they had to move as fast as the Way Fire and get evacuation notices out to those living near it quickly. That meant activating the Ready Kern Program that automatically calls people in the area effected.
    For those who hadn't registered with Ready Kern, they called the National Weather Service to send out a hard coded EAS message on T.V. and radio.

    "The information usually will say only the county affected. And so you can have part of the county affected 50 or more miles away from where the actual listener or viewer may be," said National Weather Service Meteorologist, Steve Mendenhall.

    "The scroll at the top we can not control. We cannot modify. All we can provide to give context is the audio portion of that," said Armstrong.

    Those listening to the warning could hear the county provided details of the Way Fire evacuations to determine if they were at risk. But, those not paying attention, with the volume low, or anyone hard of hearing would miss the message since it is also not available in closed caption.

    "We are missing an entire segment of our population. I'm hearing through meeting at the state that the gap is being addressed," said Armstrong.

    While Armstrong admits the system isn't perfect, she says it provides the information to the people in the county who need it.

    "At a point where you're looking at do I get this information out quickly that is potentially life threatening to people or do I look for a more perfect mechanism You work with what you have," said Armstrong.

    Armstrong says if you have questions, don't call 911. Call 211 for information, look online, or the best way, sign up for the Ready Kern program. You will only be notified if you are affected. To sign up, visit www.ReadyKern.com.

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    WOFFORD HEIGHTS, CA -- The U.S. Forest Service says all evacuations and road closures have been lifted for the Way Fire as of Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

    On Wednesday night at 6:00 at Faith Community Church, on 20 West Panorama, Wofford Heights 93285. Fire Officials and other agency representatives will be present to discuss the fire status, current road closures, and evacuation status.

    Live streaming of the meeting will take place and can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfsv8sTdZ3k.
    Meeting is archived on YouTube and can be accessed at later date.

    Meanwhile, Kern County Fire officials say utility company staff, vehicles, and equipment are currently in the area working to restore power. Returning residents should exercise appropriate caution around them.

    Returning residents are also advised that although there is currently not active fire in the area that was evacuated, there is still a possibility that fire could rekindle due to windy conditions. Residents should be alert recognizing that a large portion of the fire is still uncontained and remain aware of their surroundings.

    Please make sure your neighbors are alerted. Please stay tuned to your local television and radio stations for more information as it becomes available. If you need additional information, please contact Kern County Information and Referral Services at 2-1-1. Thank you.





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    BAKERSFIELD,CA- Fifty-five-year-old Loren Johnson met his wife Andrea at a Food 4 Less grocery store.

    "We went on a date and and played pool. We went to Sharky's when that was existed then," said Johnson.

    Johnson says they were together for two years.

    "We kind of knew we were meant for each other."

    And married June 7, 1997 Johnson says like any couple they had their arguments.

    "Most of it's correctable and forgivable and you know, and say the wrong thing and we never got physical," said Johnson.

    Until Saturday morning.

    "She came in blazing like I'm done with you. I've had it with you. I don't want any more of this and I'm done with your alcohol and all this and and then yelling and then getting, pushing me into a corner," said Johnson.

    Johnson says that's when he reached for his gun.

    "Wanted her to stop. I just wanted her to stop," said Johnson.

    Johnson says he at shot her a couple of times.

    "The other three shots was I paused. I saw that she was in pain and then that I did it. But then she was still alive and I freaked out and I didn't know what to do," said Johnson.

    Johnson says his wife asked for help.

    "I called 911 and I said get an ambulance here as soon as you can. I shot my wife," said Johnson.

    Authorities arrived before 6:30 Saturday morning to a home on Catalina Drive.

    When officers arrived, they arrested Johnson and found his wife in an upstairs bedroom. Police say her injuries are non-life threatening.

    "I'm born and raised in Bakersfield. I don't want all my friends and my family to know that this was a hate crime. And somebody that gets shot five times you think that it's you know they hated that person. I don't hate my wife. I love my wife. She doesn't hate me. I hope, I pray to God that she still loves me and will forgive me," said Johnson.

    Johnson faces several charges including attempted murder. He's due back in court next week.

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    WOFFORD HEIGHTS, CA-  Fire officials said they are making significant progress on the Way Fire in Wofford Heights, this as evacuations and road closures were lifted Wednesday afternoon.

    The Way Fire has grown to more than 3800 acres since Monday afternoon. The fire is now 48% contained.

    Fire officials confirm that 8 homes have been destroyed and ten outbuildings were damaged. However, some 1,500 homes are still considered threatened in both Wofford Heights and Kernville.

    Nearly 900 firefighters are on the front lines of the fire.

    At a meeting Wednesday night in Wofford Heights, county and state fire officials updated residents on the fire.

    "People are going to be able to go back to their homes and evaluate what's going on. There's going to be a lot of of sad things going on because we did have some homes that were burned. So we are here to help them and seeing what they could do next," said Anthony Romero with the Kern County Fire Department.

    The Red Cross was also on hand to help displaced residents determine the next steps in their recovery process.

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    MADERA, CA – The California Highway Patrol will be conducting a DUI/Driver License checkpoint on Aug. 23 from to in an unspecified location in unincorporated MaderaCounty.

    Officers will evaluate drivers suspected of drug-impaired driving.  Those caught driving under the influence will be subject to possible jail-time, license suspension, insurance increases, fees, DUI classes, and expenses exceeding $10,000.


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    CORRECTION: KGET originally reported that the Way Fire had cost $3 million in damages.  That figure is in fact the total cost of combating the fire, including personnel and supplies.

    WOFFORD HEIGHTS
    , CA
    – The Way Fire has now burned 4,031 acres of land, as nearly 900 firefighters have spent approximately $3 million battling the flames, according to government officials.

    The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Kern County Fire Department, and US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management released more information at on Aug. 21.

    The priority for work crews is now holding and reinforcing current containment lines on southern and eastern edges of the fire, while suppression repair begins.

    The agencies reported that work crews made progress yesterday on improving areas near structures designed to be used for public safety, and has committed to providing daily updates on the Way Fire at

    Officials did not state whether more buildings had been destroyed, but last reports said that 18 buildings had been destroyed, eight of them homes.  Previous reports stated that approximately 1,500 homes are currently considered under threat.

    The fire remains at 48 percent containment.


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    A TehachapiUnifiedSchool District employee arrested for animal cruelty on March 31 was released with no charges after a months-long investigation concluded that there was no “admissible evidence,” according to the District Attorney’s office.

    Robert Hutton was accused of trapping and killing the cats with carbon dioxide at MonroeHigh School.

     “The law requires independent corroboration of a suspect’s statement,” said the DA’s office in an Aug. 21 statement.  “In this case, despite a thorough investigation by Kern County Animal Control, no evidence was found.”


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