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KGET: Local News

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-Another hot topic for tonight's city council meeting: fireworks. The Bakersfield city council is expected to discuss whether or not all personal fireworks use should be banned. 

    The proposed ban is on tonight's agenda, but council member Harold Hanson is expected to bring up the ban for discussion during council comment tonight. That is when members will weigh in. 

    Professional shows would stay, but personal fireworks use would go if the city council decides to ban all personal use of fireworks. 

    Council member Harold Hanson is expected to bring up the topic today following 800 calls reporting illegal fireworks use to the Bakersfield Fire Department on the Fourth of July.

    And BFD says a firework is to blame for a roof fire in southwest Bakersfield that same holiday night that caused half a million dollars in damage and left four people looking for a new place to stay.  

    Councilmember Terry Maxwell agrees with councilmembers Willie Rivera and Jacquie Sullivan who say they are in favor of a ban and people who use legal fireworks safely should be able to do so. 

    Yet BFD says eliminating all personal fireworks use would keep the community safe.

    The city council meeting is tonight, 5:15 p.m., at City Hall on Truxtun Ave. Members encourage the public to attend and provide comment. 

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A man who shot an Arvin Police Officer will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

    Orlando Valdovinos was sentenced to 35 years to life, and 39 years to life.

    Police say in December 2014, Valdovinos was threatening his wife with a gun.

    When officer Jeffery Packebush got there, Valdovinos put the .40-caliber gun to the officers head.

    Packebush moved and pushed the gun out of the way when Valdovinos pulled the trigger.

    The officer was shot in the shoulder, and he was in the courtroom for today's sentencing- and shared what he remembers about that day.

    "I knew I had been shot but the new mission was not to get shot again. So, knowing that I was still capable of fighting I continued to do so. There was just a slight burning sensation in my shoulder. I didn't know exactly where I was hit I just knew I had been hit," Packebush said.

    Officer Packebush has returned to work and recently won the officer of the year award.

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    TAFT, CA- The Funeral arrangements for beloved Taft resident Pete Gianopulos have been set.

    The viewing will be held at the Erickson and Brown funeral home at 501 Lucard St. in Taft from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday July 24.

    The funeral will be held Saturday at 9 a.m.

    Turnout for the funeral is expected to be so big that the funeral will be held at Taft High School Auditorium.

    Gianopulos was a teacher in Taft.

    He had been in assisted living in Bakersfield after his health took a turn last year.

    After retiring from education, Gianopulos spent his time teaching others about the history of Taft.

    He also hosted a weekly television program in the city.

    Gianopulos was 90 years old.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals will host its annual TIP-a-CHiP dinner today at J’S Place Waffle House and Southern Style Cooking, located at 2681 Callaway Dr. from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and at Sol y Luna Mexican Cuisine, located at 900 Truxtun Ave. on Thursday, July 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    Officers of the California Highway Patrol will work as hosts and waiters with all proceeds from their tips benefitting the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Kern County.

    One hundred percent of funds raised locally stay right here in Kern County and help purchase state-of-the art pediatric medical equipment  for the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center, giving our local children access to pediatric medical services once only available 100 miles away.

    All funds raised through these two events will help purchase equipment for the soon-to-be-built Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Care which will be the newest addition to the Lauren Small Children’ s Medical Center at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

    For more information on the TIP-a-CHiP dinners, please contact Lourdes Nilon at 661-327-4647, ext. 4640 or email at

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A woman accused of abusing her elderly mother will not face a second degree murder charge.

    The coroner now says Carmen Freeman, 81, died from natural causes, that she had heart disease.

    Deputies originally said it appeared the woman died from severe neglect.

    They arrested the woman's daughter, Shelly Ann Freeman, after they searched her Rosamond house and found unsanitary conditions and signs of severe neglect inside.

    She was facing charges of second-degree murder and cruelty to a dependent adult contributing to great bodily injury or death.

    Now, since the autopsy, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Kohler says the charge of 2nd degree murder will likely be dismissed.

    However, Freeman will still be charged with elder abuse.

    Freeman is being held without bail and is due back in court Wednesday July 29.

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    SACRAMENTO, CA -- To help recover from recent storm damage, today Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation for Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

    Severe storms caused flash flooding, mudslides and fires ignited by lightning strikes, resulting in damage to roads, highways and other infrastructure and the evacuation of residents.

    If you would like to read the entire proclamation, it is attached to this story with details of specific spots that will receive help.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Drivers planning on driving on Rosedale Highway this weekend should probably plan to take an alternate route.

    A full round-the-clock weekend closure is planned for Rosedale Highway, according to officials from the Thomas Road Improvement Program.

    The closure will be on Rosedale between Mohawk Street and Landco Drive, beginning Friday, July 24 at 8 p.m. and continuing through 6 a.m. on Monday, July 27, 2015.

    The closure is needed to allow the San Joaquin Valley Railroad to replace the panels across the roadway and for road construction work along this section of Rosedale Highway.

    This work is being performed in conjunction with the Rosedale Highway Widening Project.

    During the closure, motorists will need to use Mohawk Street, Truxtun Avenue and Oak Street to detour around this construction work.

    Detour signs will be posted along the detour route (see attached map). Access to businesses in this area will be available, but there will be no access across the railroad right-of-way on Rosedale Highway.

    Motorists are advised to stay alert and obey construction signage, and to watch for construction personnel and equipment while driving in this area.

    The Thomas Roads Improvement Program apologizes for any inconvenience this work may cause the traveling public.

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    DELANO, CA- A former state inmate who was held at Kern Valley State Prison says he was diagnosed with Valley Fever in October 2012 while incarcerated there and is now suing the state for hate crime because of it.

    A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County ruled last week Glenn Towery can sue under the hate crime law.

    Towery's attorney, Asahish Desai, says this is the first use of the state's hate crime law, known as the Bane Act, with respect to prison contracted Valley Fever.

    Desai says the hate crime law applies because scientists have found African Americans are more susceptible to Valley Fever yet the CDCR continues to send African Americans to Central Valley prisons. 

    It is also believed that Filipinos are more susceptible to the disease.

    State prison officials confirm Glenn Towery was at North Kern State Prison in Delano from Late Summer, 1998 to Winter 1999. They say he was also at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano from Spring 2009 to Spring 2013.

    Towery was first incarcerated in 1998 after being convicted of Grand Theft and Second Degree Robbery, according to state prison records.

    Prison officials say he was paroled in 2013.

    KGET contacted the State Attorney General's Office who referred us to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. CDCR says it does not comment on pending litigation.

    Desai says he wants the state to cover Towery's extensive medical costs and to pay for his pain and suffering. He also hopes the suit will force the state to change its policy regarding the housing of susceptible populations at Central Valley prisons.

    Desai says the state could mitigate the problem by installing grass in places where there is dirt at the prison.

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  • 07/22/15--18:38: Mail theft caught on camera
  • BAKERSFIELD, Ca - The United States Postal Service is investigating multiple cases of mail theft in Bakersfield -- including at least one Tuesday that was caught on camera.

    Rob McDonald's home security cameras caught a man walk up to his northwest Bakersfield home and take a package off the front porch.

    "I was very surprised with all the cameras and the signs that are up, really surprised and it's violating," said McDonald.

    U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch says mail thefts in the Central Valley are a continued problem.

    Fitch said, "It's something we've been actively investigating and the key is reporting. That's what makes the difference."

    Stealing mail is a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. USPS offers a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of these type of crimes.

    You can report mail theft by calling USPS 877-876-2455.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A Redlands firefighter charged with murdering his lover's husband here in Kern County will not face the death penalty.

    That decision was announced at the suspect's preliminary hearing Thursday morning.

    At the end of the hearing a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with a first degree murder trial against Jonathan Hearn, 24.

    Hearn was a firefighter paramedic with the Redlands Fire Department.

    Detectives say Hearn shot and killed Robert Limon at a rail yard in Tehachapi.

    Investigators released this surveillance video of what they believe is Hearn walking the yard just before the killing.

    They say Hearn was having an affair with Limon's wife Sabrina and the two exchanged thousands of text messages.

    Detectives say the texts led to the conspiracy and murder of Sabrina's husband but she is not facing any charges.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police need your help finding a woman suspected of taking items from a locked car in the parking lot of Walmart earlier this month.  

    Police say it happened July 11, at the Walmart store at 8400 Rosedale Hwy. The suspect fled in the suspect vehicle described as a: 2003-07, black, Chevrolet, Silverado HD, four-door pick-up with chrome billet grill, black steps, black tool box, fender flares, stock wheels, rear tinted windows, with stickers in the rear window.

    Police describe the suspect as white, 20-30, 5’8”, 160 lbs., blonde medium length hair, tattoo on outer right calf, wearing a pink sleeveless top, shorts and sunglasses.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Andrew Burich at (661) 326-3568 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA is putting pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown to pull his support of the state's dairy industry.

    PETA has placed a billboard on Highway 99 near Norris Road that states it takes 55 gallons of water to make two slices of cheese and Gov. Brown should pull his support of the California dairy industry because of the drought.

    KGET checked PETA's number with the Kern County Farm Bureau and they say that number is inflated.

    They say the real number is closer to 44 gallons of water to make two slices of cheese.

    PETA also claims the production of a single pound of beef requires more than 1,500 gallons of water.

    The Farm Bureau says that number is fairly accurate.

    PETA says their motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to eat" and they encourage anyone who's concerned about the environment to go vegan.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police need your help finding a woman they say tried to pass a forged check at a Bakersfield credit union.  

    Police say on June 20, the suspect entered the Kern Schools Federal Credit Union at 3901 Mt. Vernon Av. and attempted to pass a forged check. The suspect is described as Hispanic, 20-30, heavy build, brown hair in a bun, wearing a black sweatshirt, pink shirt and black pants.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Detective Timothy Diaz at (661) 326-3541 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Ever wonder who uses the most water in Bakersfield? We did too. And now we have the numbers on the top 100 water users in the city.

    And it will probably come as no surprise to you, the City of Bakersfield tops the list. In 2014, the City of Bakersfield-it's government offices and parks and street landscapes-used just over 674-million gallons of water.

    Number two on the top-ten list is Cal State University Bakersfield at 220-million gallons, followed by the Kern High School District, the Nestle ice cream plant, Panama Buena Vista Union School District, Castle and Cooke, San Joaquin Refining, Cruz Thru Car Wash, Pine Brook Apartments and The Springs apartments.

    The top ten users consumed roughly 1.7 billion gallons of water. We thought you might be interested. City councilman Harold Hanson was interested and asked for the same list.

    "Well, it's just interesting to see who the top dogs were and at that point I think we need to contact these folks and make sure they're following the rules. And we're in the process of doing that right now. If not, Mr. Brown is going to be very excited and he's likely going to come down with a hatchet so, we gotta get there," Hanson said.

    Councilman Hanson referring to Governor Jerry Brown and the standing threat of hefty fines for any water retailer that doesn't meet the state mandate of reducing water consumption by 30-percent every month until the drought relents.
    Worth noting again that last month, the city says its water customers reduced consumption by 34 percent.

    Cal Water Service Company says it has notified the state that its customers reduced water use by 32.2 percent.

    The state is currently reviewing statewide water conservation numbers for the month of June.

    To see the full list click on the document link just below the photo at the top of this article.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The Chief of Police for the Kern High School District resigned suddenly Thursday.

    A district spokesman confirmed the resignation and said former chief Mike Collier will return to being an officer for the district.

    Collier was appointed chief in 2011 to replace long-time Chief Steve Alvidrez who was killed by a hit and run driver.

    Collier has more than a dozen years with the KHSD police force.

    The district would not provide details about why Collier resigned saying it's a personnel matter.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Commissioners with the California Public Utilities Commission approved a $5.5 million settlement with PG&E over the death of a worker in 2012 at the now dismantled Kern Power Plant.

    The CPUC opened a case last August to consider penalties against the utility.

    The settlement resolves all issues regarding the June 2012 death of Cleveland Wrecking Company employee, Luis Roberto Minjarez, 52.

    Minjarez died in a bucket lift after a large metal tank he was dismantling collapsed.

    Under the proposal, PG&E accepts that it failed to adequately evaluate safety oversight of the demolition project and will pay fines and cost allowances.

    PG&E has also agreed on a corrective action plan that will change the way the company manages contractor safety at its job sites.

    PG&E Spokesperson Katie Allen released a statement on behalf of the utility: "There is nothing more important to PG&E than public and employee safety. We want to ensure the accident that occurred at the Kern Power Plant in 2012 does not happen again. The CPUC has issued a decision on the proceeding concerning the contractor fatality approving a settlement agreement that PG&E reached with the Commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division. In addition to upholding the terms of the settlement, we have also implemented new programs to significantly improve contractor safety and improved methods for investigating serious safety incidents. We are committed to ensuring contractors and subcontractors uphold the same strong commitment to safety as we do for our employees. We want our customers and the communities we have the privilege to serve to know there is nothing more important to us than their safety."

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    KERNVILLE, CA- A young girl is safe after some scary moments in the Kern River in Kernville today.

    The 4-year-old girl was with her parents and a family friend when they became stuck in the middle of the river.

    The group clung to a large boulder to keep from being swept down stream.

    Firefighters from the Kern County Fire Department in Kernville responded as well as the US Forest Service Scorpions Hand Crew.

    Fire personnel were sent down stream in case the people were swept away before being rescued. Other personnel was sent up stream to warn rafters about the situation.

    Fire crews formed a human chain to the rock where the people were stranded.

    The girl was wearing a life vest and was rescued first. The other three adults were then rescued.

    The group was not injured in the incident just fatigued, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - There are nearly 250 active licenses for daycare facilities in Kern County. In the past five years, 68 facilities have had Type-A citations -- the type the state requires be fixed immediately. At some facilities, those details can be shocking -- local kids getting into rat poison, being injured by staff, or wandering off the property.

    In May, we created a daycare database, posting inspection records on our website from local licensed daycare facilities with violations. The state is now making similar information available on its website.

    Department of Social Services spokesman Michael Weston said, "All the new reports that we're generating, we're putting up there."

    The site lists the number of inspections, citations and complaints, but until recently, you couldn't see details.

    Weston said, "The latest addition to our website has been the posting of licensing inspection reports, which detail the findings of a comprehensive inspection of a childcare facility."

    While information from those visits is available on the state website -- details of investigations and citations resulting from complaints are not posted.

    "The long term goal is to get as much information as we can regarding inspections and complaint investigations regarding licensed facilities," said Weston.

    You can see violation information for citations issued between 2010 and May 2015 on our website. DSS information is available on the state website.

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    WASCO, CA - A child who was rescued from a hot car in Wasco, is being treated at the hospital for mild hyperthermia.

    The sheriff's department got a call just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday of a child locked in a car at a Kmart on Highway 46 in Wasco.

    Kern County sheriff's deputies say they made one arrest, but did not reveal who was arrested or that person's relationship to the child.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Kern County Superior Court judge Chales Brehmer ruled Friday there is enough evidence for Jonathan Hearn to stand trial, accused of first-degree murder in the death of Robert Limon who was fatally shot in a BNSF industrial complex in Tehachapi in August 2014.

    The charges also include enhancements for lying in wait and for discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury or death

    Prosecutors allege Limon's wife Sabrina was having an affair with Hearn, but announced before the preliminary hearing began Thursday they will not pursue the death penalty against the 24-year-old former Redlands firefighter.

    38-year-old Robert Limon was found fatally shot August 17, 2014.

    Prosecutors say pictures shown in court Thursday from a surveillance system across from the BNSF industrial complex Limon was found dead in showed a motorcycle matching one later found at Hearn's house arriving at the yard 40 minutes before Limon.

    Sheriff's investigators also testified Thursday the motorcycle left minutes after Limon returned to work at the complex.

    Prosecutors also say video from the pilot travel center in Boron shown in court Thursday shows the same motorcycle with a rider matching Hearn's description.

    Detectives say Sabrina Limon initially lied about whether she thought Hearn was involved, or if she gave him any information.

    After she was arrested, detectives testified Sabrina Limon changed her story and said Hearn would quote: "do anything for her".

    Detectives also say Sabrina Limon admitted to giving Hearn her husband's work location and exact times he was working.

    Defense attorneys say ballistics tests on both guns recovered from Hearn's residence and vehicle do not match bullets recovered at the crime scene.

    The defense also says the employee who discovered Robert Limon's body, who was the only other person there when deputies arrived, was never tested for gunshot residue and his vehicle was never searched for weapons, and says the murder weapon is still missing.

    Jonathan Hearn is scheduled to appear August 5 for an arraignment to set a trial date. in Tehachapi in August 2014.

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