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KGET: Local News

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    Bakersfield - Developers of a proposed $4 billion electrical plant on the western edge of Kern County will get another six months to see if they can make the project work, the state energy commission ruled Friday. The U.S. government has pledged up to $400 million to help build the plant, and $153 million in taxpayer money already has been spent.

    Several environmental groups asked the energy commission to pull plug on the proposal after one of its key partners withdrew from the project.

    Hydrogen Energy California – HECA – plans to burn coal to create electricity. A byproduct of the burning is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that must be captured and not released into the atmosphere for HECA to qualify as a clean energy project. The tentative plan was to ship the carbon dioxide to a facility operated by Occidental Petroleum. The gas would be used in a nearby field to help tease oil out of the ground.

    But Occidental Petroleum dissolved, and the plant’s developers have not been able to find someone to take the carbon dioxide.

    With that element of the plan stalled, the Sierra Club, HECA Neighbors and the Associated of Irritated Residents asked the energy commission to kill the HECA project.

    Instead, the commission gave the company at least another six months to try to solve the problem.

    The federal government pledged $408 million dollars to help build the plant west of Bakersfield near the town of Tupman. Close to $153 million has been spent, mostly from a stimulus program aimed at creating jobs with shovel-ready projects.

    The U.S. Department of Energy pledged roughly $408 million to help build the plant.

    Five years later after that pledge was made, the owner of the project, SCS Energy, spent about $153 million of that federal taxpayer money from the stimulus program aimed at creating jobs with shovel-ready projects after the recent recession, according to a 17 News investigation.

    But no shovel has hit the ground and only 27 jobs have been created. That's $5.5 million per job.

    The HECA plant also requires coal to burn, and too is embroiled in controversy. The City of Wasco approved the expansion of the Savage Coal facility in March to increase its annual shipments from 900,000 tons to 1.5 million tons to help facilitate the HECA plant's needs. But Tom Frantz of Associated of Irritated Residents and the Sierra Club have sued Wasco, saying a proper environmental review was never performed.

    SCS Energy is paying savage $35,000 a month for the option of using the coal and has paid close to $100,000 to help Savage Coal fight the suit.


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    GLENNVILLE, CA - Sparks from a trailer missing a wheel started multiple fires along Granite Road between Bakersfield and Glennville. Investigators are looking into why the trailer they say caused the fire was abandoned nearby.

    "You can see this huge plume of smoke coming up from this area and I thought oh my," said Lewis Lee, homeowner.  
    Lewis Lee headed home as soon as he got the call from his wife, saying there was a fire on their property.  "She thought it was going to engulf the house because it roared through here, really flaming."

    County fire officials say the fire started in four different locations, and quickly spread, burning a total of 215 acres.
    Crews fought the flames from the ground and in the air.

    Fire officials say maintaining clearance on the property saved the lees home. "The flames went all the way around their house, but because they were able to reduce those fuels around their home, their home was saved," said Captain Tyler Townsend, Kern County Fire.  

    County fire officials recommend clearing brush 100 feet around your home.

    "You appreciate all the effort that goes into clearing all the weeds when you see something like this happen," added Lee.  


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police in Delano are investigating a stabbing that left a man dead on Sunday.  Investigators say the man was found from a possible knife wound Sunday morning in the 900 block of Fremont Street.  

    Police say the man was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he later died from his injury.  The man's name has not been released.  

    Anyone who may have witnessed the incident are asked to call the Delano Police Department at (661)721-3377 or Detective R. Campos at (661)720-5519 ext.1219.



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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield firefighters say a firework is to blame for a roof fire in southwest Bakersfield that caused half a million dollars in damage, and left four people looking for a new place to stay.

    It happened just after ten on the Fourth of July in the 1500 block of Longway Street. The Bakersfield Fire Department sent a picture of an illegal firework discharged directly over the home just prior to the fire.

    When firefighters arrived, they found a fully involved roof and attic space with heavy smoke and flames. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire and prevent it from spreading. Arson investigators say the fire was caused by a firework that landed on the wood shake shingle roof.

    No one was home at the time, and no firefighters were injured. The fire caused $500,000 in damage.

    To report people with illegal fireworks if you live in the county, call 877-Fire-Tip or go to "you-light-it-we-write-it-dot-com."

    These contacts are for non-emergency reports of illegal fireworks.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police say a man is dead from a self-inflicted wound that occurred during a domestic dispute in southwest Bakersfield.

    The Bakersfield Police Department says they responded to the call in the 3800 block of Sorrano Avenue around 9:15 Sunday night. That's a neighborhood near Ming Avenue, west of Highway 99.

    They say the man, whose name has not yet been released, was involved in a domestic violence situation. BPD says the man punched through glass windows causing injury to himself. They say the man then traveled to the 2200 block of Faye Lane, where police took him into custody. That's a neighborhood east of Valley Plaza Mall. "He was subsequently taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The injury that he sustained was very severe, in regards to the laceration, which we believe was a result of him breaking the windows," said Sgt. Martin Heredia, Bakersfield Police.  

    The coroner's offices has not yet released an exact cause of death. Police say the victim suffered minor injuries. Police say children were present during the incident but were not harmed.

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    WASCO, CA- Three buildings burned to the ground in Wasco Monday morning.

    It happened around 12:30 a.m. on Wildwood Road west of Wasco.

    There was nothing left of the buildings when county crews got there.

    Both Pacific Gas and Electric company and Environmental Health officials were called to the scene.

    County fire officials have not yet said why Environmental Health was called.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The lights are finally in!

    After a couple of delays the Kern County Bridal Association has received its shipment of blue lights.

    Many people have been waiting to purchase a light so they can honor fallen Bakersfield Police Officer David Nelson.

    The Bridal Association will be selling the lights Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 531 H Street.

    The suggested donation is $6.

    The money will support the BPD and the Officer David Nelson Fund.

    According to the Facebook page "Lights on for Officer David Nelson," this Sunday, July 12, has officially been designated as the night to shine a blue light in honor of Nelson.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Here are the details from Bakersfield Police about the memorial Tuesday for fallen BPD Officer David Nelson.

    · It will be held at the Rabobank Theater 1001, Truxtun Av., doors open at 1:30 pm the service starts at 3:00 pm.
    · The service is anticipated to last for about an hour.

    · There are 3 speakers scheduled for the service. They are as follows:

            o Mayor Harvey L. Hall
            o Chief Greg Williamson - BPD
            o Sergeant Charles Sherman – BPD


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Dignity Health Employees held an informational picket this afternoon at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital over wages and healthcare.

    The picket was organized by the Service Employees International Union/ United Healthcare workers.

    Workers say negotiations have been at the table for a couple of months.

    They are asking for better wages and benefits provided by the hospital.

    "We're at the table. we're negotiating at the table.we're not coming to an agreement at the moment. so we are out here letting our workers know and our community that we're trying to get a fair contract," said Memorial employee Patricia Carrigan.

    Dignity Health released a statement.

    It says in part, quote: "The health care workers participating in the informational picket are valued and respected members of our health care team. We will continue to negotiate in good faith in the hopes of reaching a fair and equitable agreement with our union."

    Protests are expected to continue tomorrow at Mercy Southwest and Wednesday at Mercy in downtown Bakersfield.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The City of Bakersfield is improving on water conservation.

    Preliminary numbers are in for water conservation for the City of Bakersfield in June, and they're impressive.

    Last month, the 142,000 water customers served by the city, that's residential, commercial and industrial, used 34percent less water compared to June of 2013.

    Residential conservation produced a 36 percent savings up from a 25 percent reduction in usage in May.

    "This is the highest reduction we've seen since the drought started and it's good timing because in June we have to meet our target established by the state to reduce by 36% and the people of Bakersfield have really stepped up and conserved a lot of water in the month of June," said city water manager Art Chianello.

    Other water purveyors are still compiling their data.

    Their conservation reports for the month of June should be out later this week.

    Californians reduced their water use by a whopping 29% in May, by far the largest savings since Governor Jerry Brown called for voluntary 20% cutbacks last year.

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    The Bakersfield community was set to gather Tuesday afternoon to pay final respects to a Bakersfield Police officer killed in a pursuit June 26.

    17 News planned to stream the memorial service online here. The link will be in this space, beginning at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. A recording of the service will be posted by 7 p.m.

    David Nelson, 26, succumbed to injuries received in a crash at Panorama Drive and Mt Vernon Street near Bakersfield College.

    He was the first officer in the department to die in the line of duty in roughly 32 years.

    The memorial service in Bakersfield Tuesday was set for the Rabobank Theater on Truxtun Avenue. Doors were set to open at 1:30 p.m, with the ceremony to be held at 3 p.m.

    The ceremony was to include words from Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall and BPD Chief Greg Williamson.

    Williamson said on 17 News at Sunrise Tuesday he hoped the fallen officer's legacy would do something to change recent public scrutiny of law enforcement.

    "Larry Nelson (David Nelson's father) and I had this very conversation and he was saying maybe something positive will come our way. And I think it will," Williamson said. "We have always had a great community support of law enforcement. You know David sacrificed his life for our community I am hoping people can come out today and memorialize him."

    Nelson was laid to rest in Glendale Wednesday.

    The Kern County Bridal Association planned to sell blue light bulbs for people to display in light fixtures at their homes in honor of the fallen officer.

    But early Tuesday morning, officials announced the association already had sold out of the 241 bulbs.
    The association was encouraging the community to shine the blue lights in outdoor fixtures on Sunday in a community-wide show of support.

    The man charged in the high-speed chase that killed Nelson admitted to the crime both in a written note and during an interview, court documents indicate.

    An anonymous tip led officers to Julian Carlos Hernandez, of Bakersfield, who provided detectives with a handwritten note stating that he was the driver in the pursuit, according to a document filed in Kern Superior Court.

    "Julian Hernandez was transported to the Bakersfield Police Department where he was interviewed by detectives," BPD Det. Don Cegielski writes in the report. "Hernandez provided detectives with information that only the suspect would know."

    A loaded shotgun was discovered near the crash scene and detectives said it appeared the weapon had been thrown from the vehicle Officer Nelson had been chasing.

    "He said that he had a loaded shotgun in the vehicle behind the driver's seat and was going to do whatever it took to avoid capture by the police," Cegielski writes. "Hernandez said he placed the loaded shotgun into the vehicle after loading it and was going to drop it off to an unknown subject."

    Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts, including evading an officer causing death, being a felon carrying a loaded firearm and vehicular manslaughter. Hernandez is due in court Friday for a hearing.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A local group calling itself Police Lives Matter 661 is saying on Facebook that they will have a banner outside Tuesdays memorial for fallen Bakersfield Police Officer David Nelson.

    The group is inviting the public to sign the banner in support of Nelson's family. 

    They say they will then present the banner to the family after the memorial service.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The Kern County Bridal Association has sold out of all of their blue light bulbs already.

    In a silent memorial for Officer Nelson, people have been lighting blue light bulbs in their outdoor lighting.

    Stores can't keep them in stock.

    This morning, even before the light bulbs were set to go on sale, The Kern Bridal Association sold all of its 240 light bulbs.

    You can still place an order today at 531 H Street.

    The suggested donation is $6, with the money going to support the BPD and the Officer David Nelson fund.

    According to the Facebook page "Lights on for Officer David Nelson," this Sunday, July 12, is officially designated as the night to shine a blue light in honor of Officer Nelson.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The Kern County Coroner has identified the man involved in a deadly crash in southeast Bakersfield on the Fourth of July.

    Jorge Hernandez, 28, of Lamont died at Kern Medical Center.

    The CHP suspects alcohol may have been a factor in the head-on crash Saturday afternoon on east Panama near South Fairfax Road.

    The CHP says the green Saturn crossed the center line and hit a minivan.

    Officials say they found beer cans in the Saturn, but its not yet known if Hernandez was intoxicated.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Bakersfield Police say an officer involved shooting that happened in May has been ruled justified.

    It happened in a church parking lot on the 600 block of Planz Road.

    Officers found Gilbert Fajardo, 20, of Bakersfield slumped over the steering wheel of a car.

    Fajardo reportedly refused to come out and started the vehicle.

    Officer Lindy Degeare reportedly thought her partner Officer Juan Orozco was being run over so she shot Fajardo.

    Officer Degeare has now been placed back on full duty.

    Fajardo has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

    He is due in court Thursday

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    (WTHR) Federal and state agents raided the Zionsville, Indiana home of Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday as part of a child pornography investigation.

    Subway released the following statement shortly after noon:

    "We are shocked about the news and believe it is related to a prior investigation of a former Jared Foundation employee. We are very concerned and will be monitoring the situation closely. We don't have any more details at this point."

    An attorney for Fogle says his client is cooperating with authorities.

    Attorney Ron Elberger released a statement several hours after the raid that says Fogle "has been cooperating, and continues to cooperate, with law enforcement in their investigation of unspecified charges, and looks forward to its conclusion."

    The raid follows the April arrest of the Jared Foundation's former executive director, Russell Taylor, for child pornography.

    The Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children task force is the lead agency on the investigation. They removed electronics from the home, which were being analyzed inside a mobile forensics van in the home's driveway.

    Read more: http://bit.ly/1eDzO9P


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A Bakersfield teen has been convicted of shooting his grandma in the face.

    A jury returned the guilty verdict late Tuesday.

    Dylan McNabb was charged with first degree murder but the jury found him guilty of the lesser included offense of second degree murder.

    Prosecutors say McNabb shot his 78-year-old Grandma in the face inside her home near Jewetta Avenue and Hageman Road in 2013.

    In a previous jailhouse interview with 17 News, McNabb admitted killing his grandmother with a rifle.

    He described a hallucination where he said his grandmother was a demon and the ghost of his uncle spoke to him.

    McNabb said then he was a former meth user and smoked marijuana before the shooting.

    His sentencing is scheduled for Aug 4th. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A man accused of taking a Wofford Heights teen now faces more than a dozen felony counts including 13 sex related charges.

    Max Kozak, 47, was found near Amarillo, Texas with the 17-year-old victim.

    The girl was reported missing on June 11th but was found last Tuesday.

    A deputy with the Potter County Texas Sheriff's Office pulled over Kozak, after a check on his license plate indicated he was wanted for kidnapping.

    Authorities say the teen was with him.

    The Kern County Sheriff's Office says the teenager has been picked up by her family.

    Kozak remains in custody in Texas, pending an extradition hearing.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Bakersfield Police confirm that at least one of their officers has been involved in a shooting in south Bakersfield. 

    No details are known at this time if anyone was hit or their condition.

    17News has multiple crews on the way to the scene and we will have updates as we get them.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Marshall Dietrich, an educator at Grimmway Academy, got a little too close to the business end of one bull. He ended up in the hospital Tuesday morning with stitches.

    We want to warn you, some of the images in this story may be disturbing.

    It's the first bull run of the San Fermin Festival and 27-year-old Marshall Dietrich of Bakersfield will have quite the story to tell his grandkids. He spoke to 17 news by telephone. "I looked back and was like oh man my side hurts. And I looked back. And I am wearing all white and I looked up, and I was like oh s***, I got hit by a bull."

    Hooked on a bullhorn in the streets of Pamplona, Spain and lived to tell about it. "I didn't know if somebody pushed me down or whatever. But once i saw the blood, I knew. It was a bull."

    He was lucky ending up with 5 stitches to close that wound. Another American, and 10 others also were injured, some critically. Deitrich called his mom in the middle of the night. "She didn't pick up the first time, I felt voicemail, and then I called again. And she called right back. She was laughing, happy to know I was ok.  I was telling her, yeah I got corked, but I am ok!

    The nine-day festival draws tourists from across the globe as 8 bulls charge down a course surging with people. The trip ends in the town's bull ring where the animals are killed by professional matadors. "You know, it's for the adventure, it's for the feeling of being alive, you know I never have had to run for my life before and this was my opportunity."

    Fifteen people have died in the last 100 years in the running of the bulls. It's a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. "If I had to do it all over again, I would," added Deitrich.  


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