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KGET: Local News

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Kern County Sheriff's Office has revealed that the investigation of a runaway 13-year-old girl, whose family says is with a 28-year-old man, is now a criminal case.
         
    KCSO is now circulating wanted posters and issued a felony search warrant in this case.

    Ashley Arellano's family members said they believe she is now in Twentynine Palms with 28-year-old Aaron Wierich.
         
    The girl's mother said she last saw her daughter Sunday night before bed.
         
    Jennifer Arellano said her daughter has never run away before.
         
    She said she believes Ashley is in a relationship with the family friend who Arellano said is manipulating her daughter.

    Officials say they haven't issued an Amber Alert because the teen was not abducted and they don't believe she's in imminent danger.
         
    The sheriff's office originally said the 13 year old is not at risk because she willingly ran away.

    Arellano is 5 feet, 95 pounds with dark brown hair and eyes and braces.

    Wierich was last seen driving a blue 2000 Chevy Venture minivan.
         
    The driver's side back window is broken.
         
    If you have any information on this case you are urged to call KCSO at 861-3110.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Kern County Water Agency has announced that Charles W. Wulff will be the new Director of Division 5. The division governs the central and southern portions of metropolitan Bakersfield.

    Wulff will replace longtime director Adrienne Mathews, who served Division 5 for 28 years.

    Wulff was sworn in at the Jan. 22 meeting. Wulff began his service as director on Jan. 5.

    "The Agency welcomes Bill Wulff and looks forward to working together to preserve and enhance California's water supplies and provide a more secure water supply for Kern County," said Ted Page, Agency Board President.

    Wulff has more than 40 years of experience. His recent ventures began in 2004 when Wulff started operating his own consulting business, CW Wulff Associates, where he has specialized in water training, education and office management. 

    "The water community is facing significant water supply challenges, and I am grateful for the opportunity to address these challenges and to serve the residents of Kern County," said Director Wulff.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Bakersfield teen accused in robbing a pot shop during a shooting that left two people dead has pleaded guilty to one count of murder.  

    Miracle Jackson, 17, entered the plea Thursday morning in a closed hearing in Kern County Juvenile Court before Judge Raymonda Marquez.  

    Jackson and Aaron Burris were charged with two counts of murder and robbery for the July 2013 shooting at First Reliable Cooperative on Chester Avenue.  In the shooting Deven Daniels and Tony Sherman were killed.  The rest of the charges against Jackson were dismissed under the plea agreement.  

    Deputy District Attorney Eric Smith declined to comment on Thursday's plea agreement.  Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced February 5.  The criminal trial for Aaron Burris is scheduled to begin March 23.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in his case if he's convicted.  







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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -  There's another coaching change going into the upcoming high school football season.  Independence varsity football coach Sean McKeown has resigned.

    He has accepted a teaching and assistant coaching position at Bakersfield High School. McKeown resigned as head coach in order to spend more time with his young son who has special needs.

    He says the responsibilities as a head coach from the months of January to June are too much at this time. McKeown was hired as Independence's head coach in 2007, before the school even opened.

    He led the falcons to five playoff appearances since the 2008 season. He was an offensive coach with the Drillers before that.

    McKeown says his decision does not reflect on the administration, this decision was based on the needs of his son.



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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police say an at-risk missing woman has been found safe.   Nancy Lynn Merrick, 78, was found Thursday afternoon at the base of the grapevine by Bakersfield CHP officers.  She is being transported back to Bakersfield.  

    She was last seen Wednesday morning near Stockdale Hwy. and Real Rd. driving her 2009 silver Subaru hatchback, CA Lic.#6HYA537. Merrick was following her boyfriend, who was in a separate vehicle, to Tehachapi when it appears she became disoriented and took a wrong turn, possibly southbound on Hwy. 99.

    Police say Merrick suffers from dementia and has very poor short term memory. She is able to drive and care for herself but she is not able to secure lodging without assistance.

    Police say Nancy Merrick was seen Wednesday night, at about midnight at the Subway restaurant at Calloway Dr. and Allen Rd. She was still driving the same vehicle.

    Her credit card was used in Wednesday afternoon at an Exxon-Mobile gas station.  If you have information, call Detective Nathan McCauley at (661) 326-3546 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.




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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -  Police have arrested a man who officers say entered several women's unlocked homes in southwest Bakersfield.

    The first call came in Tuesday afternoon in the 4600 block of Bloomquist Drive. Police received three additional calls from woman reporting the same incident in the 100 block of Bermuda Court, 2400 block of Pinion Springs Circle, and the 2500 hundred block of Olmo Court.

    Police say at one address, 53-year-old Calvin Cartwright entered the home and kissed a 15-year-old girl who was sitting on the couch. Officers arrested Cartwright Wednesday morning.

    He's been booked into the downtown jail on several charges including burglary, trespassing and annoying a child
    He's due in court Friday.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police and the sheriff's department say a man may be connected to an attempted kidnapping near Munsey Elementary School.

    The sheriff's department says the man, tried to get a young student into a white, four door car Wednesday afternoon.
    Deputies say when the student refused to get in, the man chased him into the school's office, then took off.

    If you have any information on this case, call the sheriff's office at 861-3110.




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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a fire that destroyed a mobile home in eastern Kern County.  

    Officials say just after two Thursday afternoon, county fire received a call for heavy smoke and flames from a residence behind the Johannesburg Community Center.

    A reinforced alarm was started by dispatchers. Firefighters from Randsburg were the first on scene and reported more than 50 percent fire involvement in a double-wide mobile home in the 27700 block of Goler Road.

    The fire crew from Randsburg deployed a hose line and protected exposures, including a nearby shed and home. Crews from Ridgecrest and Inyokern arrived on scene to establish a water supply and assist with fire attack. The fire was controlled in approximately 45 minutes.

    The residence where the fire began is a near total loss. There was approximately $1,500 in damage to the shed and no damage to the nearby home. One woman was transported to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation burns. It is believed she reentered the home prior to firefighter arrival to retrieve her dogs. Two dogs are believed to have perished. One man was displaced by the fire. He declined support from the Red Cross.




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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The frantic search for a missing orthodontic retainer is over thanks to some human kindness.

    It's not uncommon for kids who have retainers to straighten their teeth to accidentally throw them away. That's because you have to take them out when you eat. But what is uncommon is authorities getting involved in the search. That is exactly what happened in Stallion Springs.

    It was 7:30 at night and 11-year-old Faith Napier realized she had forgotten to put in her bright yellow retainer with pink polka-dots.

    "She went to get her retainer. It wasn't there. She realized she wrapped it in the napkin, the number one thing your dentist tells you not to do," said Michelle Napier, Faith's mother.

    It has been tossed out with the trash. The tiny piece of plastic and wires, worth hundreds of dollars, was mangled in a whole mess of muck thrown away by an entire neighborhood.

    "If I'm going to be honest, I told my daughter I was going to make her go in the dumpster and go look for it," said Michelle Napier, laughing about the night.

    "I was praying and I was really scared that we weren't going to be able to find it," said Faith.

    But that night, they weren't alone at the dumpster. California Highway Patrol officer, Sean Galloway, was there, off-duty, but ready to serve and search with Michelle and Faith.

    "First, I thought maybe we can lower the daughter in there, but she might sink in the trash bins. So, I just jumped in," said Galloway.

    "And this off duty CHP officer just jumps in the dumpster after I tell him my daughter threw away her retainer. He went through other people's trash and I didn't even know him," said Michelle.

    "But there were fish guts and tree limbs in there, people's trash," said Sean.

    "He didn't even use gloves and, as a mom, I'm like, oh my gosh," said Michelle.

    After a half an hour, it seemed the search was a dark, dirty, dental, disaster. They were down to one last bag.

    "The last bag, we find the retainer, wrapped in the napkin," said Michelle.

    "What happened was the bag was behind me the whole time. I think I was standing on it because it was literally the last bag we checked," said Sean.

    The retrieved retainer is now back with Faith thanks to one off-duty officer who went all in to help out.

    "You know, it was a stinky mess, but eventually we found it, found her retainer and all is well," said Sean.

    "People just don't get that notice anymore for a random act of kindness. Like he didn't have to jump in that dumpster," said Michelle.

    "I'm not going to wrap my retainer up in a napkin ever again," said Faith.

    That's not all Faith learned. She also learned kindness should be thanked.

    Faith took $40 of her birthday money and bought Sean and the community supervisor who also helped them search, each $20 gift cards to show her appreciation.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - An investigation is underway into what caused a fire this morning at a rehabilitation center in northeast Bakersfield. 

    City fire officials said the fire started in a closet inside Kern Rehabilitation and Sub-Acute center on Height Street. 
         
    Fire officials said a sprinkler system helped contain the fire until crews arrived. 
      
    The building was evacuated and no one was injured.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The 13-year-old girl who ran away from her Oildale home has been found in northern California and the man who Sheriff's officials say helped her run away is in custody.

    Sheriff's officials say Ashley Arellano was seen Monday afternoon in Twenty Nine Palms with 28-year-old Aaron Weirich.

    Officials say Arellano ran away early monday morning with the help of Weirich. 
         
    A warrant was issued for Weirich for felony child concealment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
         
    He is under arrest for both of those counts.
         
    As of now, sheriff's detectives are en route to interview Weirich, who has not been extradited.
         
    Officials say Arellano is safe and that both were found in a vehicle by law enforcement.
         
    We'll have more information as soon as it is available.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - The county administrative office is proposing that the board of supervisors declare a fiscal emergency to help manage ongoing budget deficits for the general fund. 

    The office cites escalating pension costs, lower projected property tax revenue from oil properties and the impending cost of a new jail.
         
    Declaring a fiscal emergency would allow the county to access reserve funding to offset a possible deficit.
         
    County administrative officer John Nilon said they'll also request authorization from the board of supervisors to reduce county budgets by one percent.     

    "Clearly the belts will be tightened. Clearly we'll be as efficient as we possibly can, but at the end of the day we may have less services. We won't know that until each of the operating departments provide us with their plans to adjust to those new levels," said John Nilon, Kern County Administrative Officer.

    The issue is expected to be brought up at the board of supervisors meeting next Tuesday.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Local unemployment numbers are out today, showing improvement from a year ago. However, the numbers are up slightly from November.
         
    Kern County's unemployment rate for December 2014 is 9.9 percent. That's down one percentage point from December 2013. 
         
    Kern County is still above the state unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police have arrested a man who they said entered several women's unlocked homes in southwest Bakersfield.

    The first call came in Tuesday, Jan 20, in the 4600 block of Bloomquist Drive.
         
    Police received three additionall calls from woman reporting the same incident in the 100 block of Bermuda Court, 2400 block of Pinion Springs Circle, and the 2500 block of Olmo Court.
         
    According to BPD, at one address, 53-year-old Calvin Cartwright entered the home and kissed a 15-year-old girl who was sitting on the couch.
         
    Cartwright has been booked into the downtown jail on charges including kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, burglary, trespassing and annoying a child. Additional charges are expected to be submitted to the District Attorney's office for review.
         
    Meanwhile, sheriff's officials said Cartwright is also suspected in an attempted kidnapping near Munsey School.
         
    The sheriff's office said Cartwright tried to get a young student into this white, four door car on Wednesday afternoon..
         
    Deputies said when the student refused to get in, Cartwright chased him into the school's office, then took off.
         
    If you have any informaiton on this case, call the sheriff's office at 861-3110.

    Cartwright is expected in court on Friday, Jan ,23

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Clinica Sierra Vista is hosting an enrollment event to assist the public with enrolling in Covered California and Medi-Cal.

    The open enrollment period ends on Feb. 15, so residents are urged to take advantage of events where professionals are on site to assist in the process.

    Most uninsured individuals will face a tax penalty if they are not enriolled in a qualified health plan.

    There is no deadline to enroll for Medi-Cal.

    The penalty is $365 or 2 percent of adjusted gross income, whichever is greater.

    The event happens tomorrow, Jan. 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southwest Wic, located at 4621 American Ave. and will be held in the parking lot area.

    Four enrollment professionals will be on site. No appointment is necessary.

    For more information, you can call 661-862-5422.

    Those attending should bring the following documents: 

    · Proof of Income: tax returns from 2013 or 2014, recent pay stub or proof of unemployment benefits, SSI/Disability Benefits, retirement benefits, or W-2

    · Date of Birth and Social Security numbers for each family member applying for coverage

    · Photo ID or Driver License for person applying

    · Residency Card or Certificate of Naturalization for each family member not born in the United States

    - Utility Bill for proof of current address

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Kern County Animal Services is hosting a low-cost vaccination, licensing, and microchipping event for residents on Saturday, Jan. 24.

    The event is happening from 9 a.m. to noon at North Beardsley Park, located at 901 Airport Drive.

    "Responsible pet ownership is a community goal and we want to help all unincorporated pet owners utilize these services to protect their pets and keep them safe," stated Nick Cullen, Shelter Supervisor for Kern County Animal Services.  "Our clinics help pet owners take advantage of these much needed services easily at one location."

    The clinic also offers dog and cat owners DHPP vaccinations (canine vaccine), and FVRCP (feline vaccine), Rabies vaccinations.

    Organizers advise to keep all dogs on a leash, and cats in a carrier.

    All services are for residents living in unincorporated areas. Microchips are free.  DHPP and FVRCP vaccinations are just $3 each; Rabies vaccination is just $5 with the purchase of a Kern County dog license at the time of vaccination.  Kern County Animal Services' staff will also have spay and neuter vouchers available for qualifying residents.  

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A free electronics recycling event will be held on Saturday, Jan 24.

    The event is happening on 90001 Stockdale Highway, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    All of the proceeds will go to benefit California State University Bakersfield.

    Please notice the types of items accepted and not accepted.

    Items Recycled: 

    TV sets, flat screens, computers, monitors, VCRS and DVDs, cable boxes, laptops, cell phones, Nintendo/Sony/Xbox, camera equipment, car batteries, rechargeable batteries, household appliances, medical equipment, desktop printers, industrial copiers. 

    Not accepted: 

    light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, alkaline batteries.

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - A moratorium on new grocery stores to applying  for authorization in the WIC program (Women, Infants, and Children) is set to be lifted on Feb. 1.

    “This positive step will improve availability and access for the approximately 1.4 million women, infants and children who participate in the California WIC program,” said Dr. Ron Chapman,  California Department of Public Health (CDPH) director and state health officer.

    The moratorium was put in place originally to address rising food costs in the California WIC program.

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2012 continued a moratorium so that CDPH and USDA could develop and implement strategies to contain costs and ensure program integrity. 

    USDA notified CDPH by letter that the moratorium can now be fully lifted.

    The moratorium was partially lifted in June, 2014, to include stores that already had a contract with the WIC program in place. Since that time, 217 stores have been added to th program.

    Officials anticipate an additional 200 stores statewide will be added once the moratorium is lifted. California currently has approximately 4,300 authorized stores that participate in the WIC program.

    “USDA and CDPH continue to work together to ensure the strategies now in place are effective in containing food costs and comply with federal regulations and mandates,” said Dr. Chapman.

    The WIC program provides access to healthy supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and community services for the infants, children and pregnant or post-partum women it serves.

    Officials report WIC spends $83 million each month to provide food for the program.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -  Mistakes in jury instructions require a new trial for a Bakersfield doctor who sued the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Police Department after officers refused to permit medical care after the doctor suffered a stroke.

    It was undisputed in a 2012 trial that Dr. Mohamad Harb, now 65, had worked a full day as a neonatal specialist at Kern Medical Center before he crashed his car Nov. 24, 2007 on 24th Street near Oak Street.

    The doctor said police officers delayed his medical treatment because they thought he crashed because he was under the influence of alcohol.

    What happened next was the focus of the trial.

    Witnesses said he staggered from his Mercedes after the accident, dazed and disoriented, and vomited and urinated.

    The first police officers on the scene thought he was drunk, according to reports. Officer Claudia Payne was in charge of the scene and quickly handcuffed the doctor, still dressed in hospital scrubs.

    A Hall Ambulance arrived, but left, according to testimony. Witnesses said Officer Payne sent the ambulance away because she planned to take Harb to jail.

    He sat on the curb, unattended, for nearly an hour, according to testimony, until a nurse he worked with at the hospital happened by, and convinced police to call another ambulance.

    Harb’s attorney, Steve W. Nichols of Bakersfield, said his brain damage was caused by the delay. His family said he will never walk or practice medicine again.

    The suit named the City of Bakersfield, Officer Payne and Hall Ambulance. All were cleared of responsibility at the trial

    Defense attorneys Michael Marderosian and Jim Braze, who won the verdict, presented witnesses who said there was evidence Harb had suffered an earlier stroke and hadn’t been taking the medicine prescribed to him, and that may have contributed to the second stroke.

    In a civil suit, a verdict can be reached when only nine jurors agree. But in this case, all 12 jurors, nine women and three men, agreed.

    That verdict was overturned Friday by the 5th District Court of appeal in Fresno.

    Justices said jurors shouldn’t have been told about how Harb managed his medical conditions before the accident because the primary issue at trial was the delay in treatment after the accident.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Some local physicians went back to school today -- to learn more about the Valley Fever fungus that has affected so many in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Organizers say many doctors often see patients who have Valley Fever, but aren't adequately trained to diagnose the illness.
         
    According to health officials, more than 75 percent of Valley Fever cases are here in the San Joaquin Valley.
        
    Officials also discussed how the fungus that causes Valley Fever is more widespread than originally thought.

    "This is not merely a Kern County or Bakersfield problem. There are other areas throughout the state and the country where this fungus lives. And if there is not adequate knowledge on identifying it and diagnosing early, outcomes can be devastating for those persons who end up with severe illness," said Dr. Claudia Jonah, Kern County Public Health Officer.

    Health officers from multiple California counties put on the symposium.
         
    Congressman Kevin McCarthy was also instrumental in making the program a reality.

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