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KGET: Local News

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    MT. MESA, CA - Investigators are trying to figure out what started a fire to a mobile home in Mt. Mesa.  

    The fire broke out just after 5:15 Friday night to the residence on Deerbrush in Mt. Mesa.  A reinforced structure response was started. First arriving crews encountered a single-wide mobile home fully involved with fire.

    Fire crews deployed hose lines to extinguish the fire and to protect the adjacent structures. No residents were at
    home, but the remains of a pet dog were discovered after the flames had been extinguished. The fire was controlled in approximately 30 minutes.

    Two adults were displaced by the fire. Southern California Edison was requested to control the electrical power.  Fire officials say crews were hampered by arcing power lines, but quickly identified the hazard and kept personnel clear of the area.

    Kern County Animal Control assisted with the investigation.  Damage is estimated at $70,000.  

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Tehachapi mother, found guilty of willful cruelty to a child after leaving her toddler alone overnight in a field, was sentenced Monday.

    Stacey Leigh Nikkel was sentenced to 2 years, with credit for time served. Nikkel was arrested in June -- after her two-year-old daughter was discovered by two women in a Tehachapi field -- and Nikkel was nowhere to be found.

    Nikkel told investigators she was fighting with the child's father when he threatened her -- and said she left the girl in the field, to protect her.

    The father's family disputes that version of events.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Volunteers worked like elves to put together desks and chairs and delivered them, with a computer, to families of Williams Elementary School.

    Families will have access to the Internet by next week after a computer, desk and a chair were delivered to them Monday.

    The event dubbed "Tech the Halls" was put together by "Children First", a Bakersfield-based non-profit organization.

    The founder of "Children First", Andrae Gonzales said "it's so important in order to close the digital divide that we give access to technology to all children, and the Bakersfield City School District has done a wonderful job at giving access to technology, but when the school is closed it's important when the children go home they have access as well."

    The families that received computers must commit to giving $10 a month for one year to "Children First" so the non-profit organization can continue to grow and supply more families with computers and access to the Internet.

    Organizers say these families were chosen by "Children First" and Williams School from previous neighborhood clean-ups.

    Volunteers say it's important to give back to a community in need and to teach children the lesson of charity as well. When all is said and done the computer is installed in the family's home with a bow on top.

    Ian Orozco, the young computer recipient said, "thank you, and keep on doing what you're doing."

    Brighthouse Networks will be hooking up their Internet next week.

    If you would like more information on "Children First" you can find their site on the hot link page.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The worst whooping cough outbreak in seven decades has hit California, including Kern County.

    Health officials say this year, cases have dramatically peaked.

    The Kern County Pubic Health Department says more cases are being reported because fewer people are getting their vaccinations.

    Health officials say whooping cough cases tend to rise significantly every three to five years.

    Across the state parents are taking precautions after close to 10,000 whooping cough cases, also known as Pertussis, have been reported this year alone.

    Health officials say here in Kern County -- "We're seeing some adults but we're seeing a lot in that age range from I believe it's 11 to 19," said Claudia Jonah, Kern County Public Health Department.

    But an even more troublesome age range is babies under three months old.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2000 to 2012 -- 255 whooping cough deaths were reported in the U.S.

    Officials say of those, 221 were babies not even three months old.

    The health department says so far this year, 135 cases have been reported county-wide compared to 39 last year.

    In 2010, there were 376 cases reported.

    Health officials say symptoms of whooping cough include a runny or stuffed-up nose and sneezing, along with a mild cough that gets more severe after a week or two.

    "The cough is such that they kind of almost run out of air so there's a little whoop sound at the end," said Jonah.

    Officials also say whooping cough is extremely contagious and many adults don't know they have it.

    "If they expose a young child who hasn't completed the full vaccine series or doesn't have that protection, they pass that infection on to their child," said Jonah.

    "Those children may end up in the hospital if they are having so much coughing that they're not getting enough oxygen for normal body function."

    Health officials say teens need to get a booster shot to prevent Pertussis, and if adults haven't had one, doctors do recommend it.

    As for young children, officials say once their two months old, a D-Tap shot would work best for them.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Mail belonging to more than 42 victims of suspected mail theft has been found at a residence in Bear Valley Springs.  

    Bear Valley Springs police say after conducting a surveillance operation with the assistance of BVPD volunteers, they contacted a juvenile at his residence in the 26000 block of Ironwood Court. 

    Police say mail at the juvenile’s house were addressed to homes located throughout Bear Valley Springs – including the upper mountain areas of Deertrail, Skyline, Jacaranda, and lower valley addresses to name a few.

    During the search of the residence officers recovered stolen items ranging from letters, bills, credit cards, medical prescriptions, DVDs, golf balls, collector coins, American Flag, a baby monitor, books, cash gift cards, etc.

    Also found were illegal weapons including high capacity .223 magazines, blades such as, machetes and swords, homemade Billy clubs and batons, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for various firearms along with numerous firearms parts. Illegal narcotics, marijuana and a crack pipe were also discovered.

    The juvenile was booked at Bear Valley PD for numerous felony and misdemeanor charges. He was then transported to Juvenile Hall in Bakersfield.

    Realizing the victims of this crime are anxious to recover their stolen property, BVPD will be contacting those involved as soon as possible. For questions regarding this, contact Bear Valley Police Dept. at 661-821-3239.  

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - There will be a new head football coach on the sidelines at Garces High School next season.  A.J. Gass has been appointed Head Varsity Football Coach for the Rams, beginning immediately.

    According to a news release, for the past two seasons, Gass has served as the Head Varsity Football Coach at Servite High School of Anaheim, a member of the highly regarded Trinity League of the PAC 5, where in 2013 he led them to a CIF Division 1 Quarterfinal play-off berth. He previously served as a Defensive Assistant Coach for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and as an Assistant Varsity Coach, Special Teams Coordinator, and Defensive Line Coach at Servite.

    Gass attended Servite and was the defensive MVP of the Sunset League, All CIF Southern Section and All State defensive back in 1992. After graduation from Servite in 1993, Gass went on to attend Fresno State University and was an all-conference first-team linebacker in 1996 and 1997, leading the conference in tackles in 1996. He went on to play for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, where he helped guide the team to two Grey Cup Championships, in 2003 and 2005. He was awarded the CFL’s Tom Pate Award for outstanding community service twice in his career.

    In 2008, Gass announced his retirement as a player and was hired as a defensive assistant on the Edmonton coaching staff. In the summer of 2010 Gass accepted a job and assistant coaching position at Servite High School. In 2012, he was inducted into the Servite High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

    A.J. is married to Stacey, and they have two young children. He will serve as a member of the Garces Memorial High School instructional staff.

    “I would like to announce that I am extremely honored and blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the Garces Memorial family. The support from the Administration, Alumni and Community has made this decision an easy one for my family. I cannot wait to build a program that Garces Alumni and students can be proud of for many years to come,” Coach Gass shared.

    “While we had a number of very impressive applicants and candidates, A.J. possesses everything we are looking for to direct our student-athletes and our Football program. We are blessed to have him and his family become a part of our Garces Memorial staff and ‘family’ and are excited for all of the fine qualities he brings to his position as an instructor and as a coach,” John Fanucchi, President of Garces Memorial said.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Charges were filed Monday against a Bakersfield California Highway Patrol officer, accused of embezzling money from the Highway Patrolman's Club of Kern County.

    Board members told detectives earlier this year that Officer Michael Kochanski was treasurer of the Bakersfield 420 Club and made unauthorized purchases on the club's bank account between 2010 and 2013, according to court documents.

    Kochanski was charged Monday with one misdemeanor count of embezzling private property over $950. Court documents said he made purchases that included auto parts, NASCAR tickets, tow straps, and cycling shorts. Club members told detectives Kochanski was given a laptop to track the club's finances, but the laptop was returned with a data erasing program installed.

    Kochanski's attorney, H.A. Sala, previously told 17 News his client's personal Paypal account got mixed up with the club's Paypal account. We tried contacting Sala, but our phone calls were not returned Tuesday.

    According to the Bakersfield 420 Club's website, the club has well over 100 members consisting of active and retired law enforcement officers, and they support many local charitable organizations and was incorporated as a non-profit corporation back in 1955.

    A Kern County judge set Kochanski's bail at $5,000. He is not currently in custody.

    The CHP office at Fort Tejon said Kochanski is still employed by the Highway Patrol and could not say whether he was on paid administrative leave.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police need help identifying a man wanted for shoplifting from TJ Maxx on Ming Avenue.  Police say on November 15, 2014, the suspect entered the store, removed two cologne gift sets and fled without paying for the merchandise.

    He is described as a: white man, 25-30, 5’10”, 170 lbs., slim build, short brown hair, wearing black Adidas hat, grey/white striped hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and black running shoes.

    Anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Rick Dossey at (661) 326-3504 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Mission at Kern County is opening its kitchen Wednesday and volunteers are opening up their hearts as they serve a hot Christmas Eve meal for those in need.

    Over 100 volunteers at the Mission prepared a delicious holiday meal Wednesday morning and will serve up to 600 people. On the menu is ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, rolls and of course a slice of pie, plus some hot cocoa to wash it all down as well.

    Each plate of food will go mostly to residents and guests staying at the Mission, but anyone in need of a Christmas meal is welcome to join.

    The Mission at Kern County is located at 816 East 21st Street. Lunch will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. under a large tent. Christmas carolers will perform at the lunch and gifts will be given to children.

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    UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol have confirmed a man killed last night on Highway 99, was tagging above the freeway, right before falling down and being struck by a vehicle. 

    CHP are reporting that the individual was 19 years old. 

    His name has not been released.

    BAKERSFIELD, CA. - A pedestrian, who was reportedly walking on the highway last night, was killed after being struck by a vehicle.

    According to the California Highway Patrol, the incident happened around 8 p.m. on Dec. 23, on southbound Highway 99, north of White Lane.
    The CHP said the pedestrian was in the slow lane for unknown reasons when he was hit by a pickup truck whose driver was unable to stop in time.
    Paramedics responded but the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the CHP report.
    The CHP said the driver was not under the influence, but the pedestrian may have been drinking.
    The pedestrian's name has not been released.
    By our count, 25 pedestrians have died on Kern County roads so far this year, compared to 37 in all of last year.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA. - Cal State Bakersfield's new $41 million student housing facility opens next week.

    Students are expected to move in on Jan. 2.

    The three-building housing complex is nearly 151,000 square feet and has 113 suites with 500 beds.
    It's located on the northeast side of campus, and was designed with many energy-saving features.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA. - In an effort to reduce the number of persons injured or killed as a result of a DUI-related collision, a driver's license checkpoint will be conducted in the Bakersfield area, starting Saturday, Dec. 27     

    The Bakersfield Police Department will be conducting the checkpoint in an undisclosed location.

    The BPD is reminding the community of the dangers of impaired driving, and urge awareness, as well as designating a sober driver.

    The checkpoint is a joint effort with the Kern Avoid DUI Task Force, with funding provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    If you suspect an impaired driver, the BPD urges you to call 911 immediately.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA. - The California Highway Patrol's maximum enforcement period against drunk drivers begins tonight.

    Starting at 6 p.m., the CHP reports all available officers will be out in force -- conducting enhanced enforcement efforts and assisting motorists wherever needed.
    The CHP said after last year's maximum enforcement period, five people were killed in traffic collisions, two of whom were pedestrians.
    During that same period, 221 DUI arrests were made by the CHP.
    Maximum enforcement continues until next Monday at 11-59 p-m.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the appointment of Marcos R. Camacho and David R. Zulfa to judgeships in the Kern County Superior Court.

    According to a news release, Camacho, 55, of Bakersfield, has been an attorney in private practice at the Law Office of Marcos Camacho since 1990. He was general counsel for the United Farm Workers of America from 1990 to 2009 and an attorney at Lyons, Macri-Ortiz, Schneider, Dunphy and Camacho from 1987 to 1989. Camacho earned his legal education through the California State Bar Law Office Study Program while participating in the United Farm Workers of America Legal Apprenticeship Program. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jerold L. Turner. Camacho is a Democrat.

    Zulfa, 47, of Bakersfield, has served as a deputy district attorney at the Kern County District Attorney’s Office since 2002. He was an associate at Clifford and Brown from 2000 to 2002. Zulfa earned a Juris Doctor degree from the California Pacific School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Bakersfield. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Louis P. Etcheverry. Zulfa is a Republican.

    The compensation for each of these positions is $184,610.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA. - Volunteers at the Mission at Kern County are opening up their hearts this Christmas Eve to those in need. 
    Kitchen staff and volunteers arrived early to preapare not only their typical daily meals, but a special Christmas eve feast.
    The feast with all the fixings is open to anyone in need of a hot meal.
    The menu for the Christmas dinner includes ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, rolls and of course a slice of pie. 
    Food will be served to mission residents but anyone in need of a Christmas meal is welcome to come.
    The Mission at Kern County is located at 816 east 21st street.
    Lunch is being served until 1 p.m. 

    Sveral other groups are working hard to make sure no one goes hungry this holiday season, too.
    The Bakersfield Burrito Project will be at Mill Creek Park on Christmas day, handing out clothes, prepackaged foods, and of course -- a burrito.

    And the folks at the Blessing Corner on Union Avenue will be blessing those in need with a hot meal and plenty of cheer on Christmas day.

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  • 12/24/14--13:53: Where to track Santa Claus
  • BAKERSFIELD, CA -  'Twas the night before Christmas, and the NORAD Santa tracker is ready.

    The North American Aerospace Defense Command has eyes in the sky, ready to share every stop on his magical journey.
    "Norad Santa dot org" is up and running.

    Until Santa and his gang head for the skies, you can play games, watch videos, listen to some of St. Nick's favorite tunes, and and learn about his history.

    The site also has a mobile version.

    Log on to

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The folks at the Blessing Corner on Union Avenue will be blessing folks in need with a hot meal and plenty of cheer on Christmas Day.  The ministries is at 101 Union Avenue, and the meal will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    The Blessing Corner is seeking 20 - 30 more volunteers for the meal on Christmas Day.  If you're interested, call Bonnie Turner at 661-477-6028.  Volunteers will be needed between 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.  That includes set up and cleanup duties.  

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    If you're looking to recycle your Christmas tree, there are some local resources available, as well as many drop off locations throughout Kern County.

    Residents are urged to recycle their Christmas trees in one of the following options: 

    1. In the metro-Bakersfield area, residents can place Christmas trees into their green waste container as long as the tree is cut into small pieces and the container lid is completely closed. Whole trees are not accepted. The garbage hauler will take it to the Mount Vernon Green Waste Recycling Facility. It's that simple. 

    2. Contact one of the non-profit organizations in Kern County that pick up Christmas trees for a small donation. Go to

    3. Residents can self-haul whole Christmas trees to one of 22 drop-off locations throughout Kern County Dec. 26 to Jan.11, 2015. 

    If you prefer to take your Christmas trees to one of the drop-off locations, please tarp and secure your load properly. Don't forget to remove all ornaments, lights, and the tree stand prior to recycling the Christmas tree. 

    Approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year. After Christmas, thousands of Christmas trees will be sliced, minced and diced into a rich mulch to be used by city parks, schoolyards and roadways. Christmas trees are chipped and shredded into mulch which is used for water conservation and weed control in parks, as ground padding in playgrounds, as erosion/dust control on hiking trails and bridle paths, as additives in composting for landscaping and fertilizers and as alternative fuel in "biomass" co-generation facilities. "Kern County has been recycling Christmas trees for over 22 years and now it's easier than ever to participate in the program" says Douglas E. Landon, Director of the Kern County Waste Management Department. 
    Recycle your Christmas tree! It's easy: use your Green Waste Container, call a local organization to pick it up, or bring it to one of the recycling drop-off locations. REMEMBER…..SAVE YOUR CASH & TARP YOUR TRASH! 

    The following is a list of Kern County Christmas Tree Recycling Drop-Off Locations & Pick up organizations.

    Please Remove Tree Stands, Nails, and Decorations - NO BAGS PLEASE! 

    Arvin  § DiGiorgio Park, Corner of Meyer St. & Haven Dr.  § Bena Landfill, 2951 Neumarkel Rd. 17 miles East of Bakersfield, off Hwy 58 at Tower Line Rd   

    Bakersfield  § Bena Landfill, 2951 Neumarkel Rd. 17 miles East of Bakersfield, off Hwy 58 at Tower Line Rd  § Shafter-Wasco Landfill -17621 Scofield Road, 8 miles west of Shafter  § City of Bakersfield Green Waste Facility, 2601 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., 2 miles South of Hwy 58   

    Boron  § Boron Landfill, 11400 Boron Avenue, ½ mile south of Boron   

    Buttonwillow  § Shafter-Wasco Landfill -17621 Scofield Road, 8 miles west of Shafter  § Taft Landfill - 13351 Elk Hills Road, 4 miles north of Taft & 1 mile north of Hwy 119   

    California City  § Boron Landfill, 11400 Boron Avenue, ½ mile south of Boron  § Vacant Lot, Between the Fire Station & Rite Aid  § Mojave-Rosamond Landfill, 400 Silver Queen Rd., 5 miles south of Mojave   

    Delano  § McFarland-Delano Transfer Station, 11249 Stradley Ave., 1 mile south of Delano  § City of Delano Corporation Yard, 725 So. Lexington Street   

    Frazier Park  § Lebec Transfer Station, 300 Landfill Rd., off Lebec Rd., I-5 to Lebec Exit   

    Kern Valley  § Kern Valley Transfer Station, 6092 Wulstein Way, 4 miles south of Kernville off of Sierra Hwy   

    Lamont  § Bena Landfill, 2951 Neumarkel Rd. 17 miles East of Bakersfield, off Hwy 58 at Tower Line Rd  § City of Bakersfield Green Waste Facility, 2601 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., 2 miles South of Hwy 58   

    Lebec  § Lebec Transfer Station, 300 Landfill Road, off of Lebec Road. I-5 to Lebec Exit   

    Maricopa  § Taft Landfill, 13351 Elk Hills Road, 4 miles north of Taft & 1 mile north of Hwy 119   

    McFarland  § McFarland-Delano Transfer Station, 11249 Stradley Ave., 1 mile south of Delano   

    Mojave  § Mojave-Rosamond Landfill, 400 Silver Queen Rd., 5 miles south of Mojave   

    Ridgecrest  § Ridgecrest Landfill, 3301 W. Bowman Rd., 5 miles SW of Ridgecrest   

    Rosamond  § Rosamond Disposal, 1731 Sierra Hwy  § Mojave-Rosamond Landfill, 400 Silver Queen Rd., 5 miles south of Mojave   

    Shafter  § Shafter-Wasco Landfill, 17621 Scofield Ave., 8 miles west of Shafter  § City of Shafter Corporation Yard, 550 N. Shafter Ave., corner of E. Tulare & N. Shafter Ave   

    Taft  § Taft Landfill, 13351 Elk Hills Road, 4 miles north of Taft & 1 mile north of Hwy 119  § City of Taft Collection Site, at Westside Waste, 274 E. Cedar Street  § Alley collection for Taft City residents   

    Tehachapi  § Tehachapi Landfill, 12001 E. Tehachapi Boulevard  § Bear Valley Springs, behind Bear Valley Springs CSD Office  § Golden Hills, Meadowbrook Park   

    Wasco  § Shafter-Wasco Landfill, 17621 Scofield Ave., 8 miles west of Shafter  § Vacant Lot, NE corner of 8th & "G" Street  § Wasco Green Waste Site, 5201 7th St., 2 miles west of Wasco   

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    WASCO, CA. -  An early morning fire on Christmas day has displaced three adults, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

    The fire happened on the 700 block of Rosewood Ave. just after 6:15 a.m.

    KCFD said they arrived after receiving a call about a heater that caught on fire inside the residence.

    The individuals had alreadyevacuated the home before firefighters arived. The American Red Cross is assisting with temporary housing for the displaced residents, according to KCFD.

    KCFD reports the home did not have a smoke alarm. They are urging all residents to make sure they have a working smoke alarm. They also recommend to change the batteries twice a year.

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  • 12/25/14--10:31: Free Christmas meals today
  • Some local volunteers are putting together a free Christmas meal for members of the community today and there's still time to make it out.

    The Bakersfield Burrito Project will be out from Noon-3 p.m.
    at Mill Creek Park between 21st & 19th Streets, near the Bakersfield Museum of Art on R street.
    They will be handing out clothes, pre-packaged foods and a burrito.

    You can also visit Blessing Corner Ministries for their Christmas Celebration.
    They will be serving a Christmas meal for the community at 11:30am-2:30pm at 101 Union Ave.

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