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KGET: Local News

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    The Bakersfield Police Department is investigating a stabbing near the Federal Courthouse in Central Park at Mill Creek. Officers say the stabbing happened just before 2 a.m. Wednesday.

    The victim was taken to Kern Medical Center for treatment and was listed in critical condition.

    Homicide detectives and crime scene specialists were called out around 5:30 a.m. because of the victim's health status.  They collected evidence and took photos of the scene.

    No other details have been released as of this morning.

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    BAKERFIELD--Sheriff's detectives are investigating an oil field fight Tuesday morning that left a worker severely injured.

    Bobby Fitts was airlifted to the hospital from the oil lease near Derby Acres yesterday, after authorities said he was struck over the head several times with a pipe wrench by a coworker.

    The other worker then fled, eyewitnesses said.

    The Taft Midway Driller identifies the coworker as Michael Atkison, 46, of Bakersfield.

    Atkinson was later arrested at the Buena Vista Golf Course Tuesday evening, the paper reported.

    Atkison was booked into the downtown jail in Bakersfield on a $50,000 bond on an assault with a deadly weapon charge. He is listed in the arrest log as a utility craftsman.

    KMC officials said they were unable to update Fitts' medical condition due to privacy laws. Fitts lists PCL as his employer on his Facebook page, but the company declined to confirm whether Fitts or Atkinson were employees.

    "We take this kind of thing very seriously," said PCL Construction spokesman Mike Long. "So we have investigators on scene and we are working to get all the details to understand what happened and take the appropriate response."

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    BAKERSFIELD - The massive Rim Fire is now 80 percent contained. Members of the Bakersfield Fire Department joined thousands of other crew members to help gain a lot of control since it started burning August 17th.

    All nine local firefighters deployed are safe and back home. The crews spent twelve days near Yosemite. When they got there, the fire was only two percent contained. Captain Jeff Heinle says they feel they helped save properties and gain control, but admitted, there were some dangerous moments.

    "We saw some very intense fire behavior," said Captain Heinle.

    Captain Heinle says he and the others in his team were on the front lines helping with fire operations and had a close call trying to save a campground.

    "We were literally overrun by ground fire. We were asked to retreat and we left with fire lapping on our tail boards," said Captain Heinle.

    The fire has now burned more than 237,000 acres. Captain Heinle remembers the intense smoke. He says they worked mainly 16-hour days. To escape the smoke, they'd sleep in tiny trailers.

    "They were like little coffins that we slept in, for a very short period of time. And we were so exhausted, you close your eyes and then it was time to get up," said Heinle.

    Heinle calls every fire a learning experience, but this one focused on safety and communications, constantly thinking about the 19 Hot Shots lost earlier this year in Arizona.

    "That was such a focus up there for all of us. No one took anything lightly and we were on guard every minute that we were there," said Captain Heinle. "The small, little piece that we were in, the big giant puzzle, had a direct impact on help mitigating that fire and help containing that fire. I got up there and it was two percent contained. I left it was 70 percent contained. And, I know the hard work the Bakersfield City Fire put into that played a part in that."

    Currently, 5,500 structures are still threatened. While there are reports an illegal marijuana grow might be the cause, it has not been confirmed. Full containment is expected September 20th.


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    BAKERSFIELD - A bill that would allow nursing home employees to perform lifesaving procedures in an emergency, regardless of their company's policy, is on Governor Jerry Brown's desk.

    It was inspired by the death of an elderly resident at the Glenwood Gardens retirement home in February.

    Lorraine Bayless, 87, collapsed at Glenwood Gardens and later died, despite desperate pleas from a 911 dispatcher for someone to perform CPR.

    The caller refused, citing company policy. It states no one, not even the staff nurse, residents or visitors, is allowed to give CPR in an emergency.

    That policy outraged Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who says no one should have to choose between saving a life and keeping their job..

    "AB 633 allows an individual who wants to do the right thing by saving someone's life, things like administering CPR, to go ahead and do that without the fear of being fired from their job," said Salas.

    Salas says he is hopeful Governor Brown will sign the bill. If he does, the changes will go into effect January 1st.

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    Bakersfield Police are asking for your help identifying four people who may have information related to a business burglary.
    On June 30, 2013, at approximately 8:02 p.m., a door to a business located in the 5500 block of Business Park South was pried open and loss removed.

    It is unknown if the individuals, are involved in the burglary; however, Bakersfield Police Department detectives are trying to
    identify and locate the individuals to determine whether or not they are involved in the
    incident.

    Anyone with information regarding the identity of these individuals is encouraged to contact Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111 or Detective Eric Schimon at (661) 326-3953.

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    BAKERSFIELD - Todd Chance, the Bakersfield man found dead in a field last month, was laid to rest Wednesday but family members says his wife, Leslie Chance did not attend.

    Sheriff's deputies released her from jail Tuesday but say they still consider her the prime suspect in Todd Chance's murder.

    Kyle Humphrey, Leslie Chance's attorney, said he advised his client not to attend the funeral.

    Todd Chance was laid to rest Wednesday morning in his hometown of Shafter. Although our cameras were not allowed inside the service, pallbearers including some of Todd's brothers, could be seen carrying his casket out of Peter's Funeral Home.

    Todd's two daughters and stepdaughter could be seen hugging and kissing those in attendance. Some who attended the service say Todd's stepdaughter spoke at the funeral.

    Todd's mother and father were also at the service. A crowd of about 150 then proceeded to Shafter Memorial Park where family and friends unloaded Todd Chance's casket and laid the father of three to rest.

    Deputies say the 45-year-old was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in an almond orchard August 25th. His death was ruled a homicide, and detectives say his wife, Leslie Chance, is the only suspect.

    Family members told us they were asked not to speak to the media on camera, but want the public to know Todd Chance was a kind person.

    Leslie Chance is the principal of Fairview Elementary School in Bakersfield. The Greenfield Union School District said she's on paid administrative leave for now.

    The District Attorney's office won't say when or if Leslie Chance will be charged.


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    BAKERSFIELD - After months of pressing for a face-to-face meeting, immigration reform activists finally got their invitation from Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

    Activist Gonzalo Santos said there was "a frank exchange of ideas" Wednesday regarding how the House of Representatives is handling the immigration debate.

    Santos issued a veiled warning that activists, who are seeking a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, are growing restless over the lack of progress on the issue.

    "We sure told him that the overall movement for justice for immigrants is now reaching a fork in the road as to how we're going to act in the next phase of our quest for immigration reform," said Santos after the meeting.

    "I listened more than most. I take information from all different views. I do believe the immigration system is broken, and I believe we have to start with the border before we move anywhere else," said McCarthy.

    The meeting comes on the heels of a massive turnout Monday for an interfaith town hall meeting on immigration reform in Bakersfield and a historic pilgrimage for a dozen undocumented immigrants, from Sacramento to Kern County, to focus public awareness on the immigration reform debate.

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    BAKERSFIELD - New details emerged Wednesday about an 83-year-old man charged with carrying a concealed gun into the Basham Funeral Care Center on Niles Street and holding staff members at bay.

    Staff says Kenneth West, a cancer survivor and military veteran, was not being violent.

    They say he was despondent about a series of health setbacks and wanted to end his life.

    A week before West walked into the funeral home on Tuesday, he prepaid for his funeral.

    "He had his hand in his briefcase and sat down and he looked very sad, very distraught and he was ready to end things," said funeral director Kent Smith.

    West said he paid off his debts, sold his van, and cleaned up his east Bakersfield home.

    "He showed me the butt of a pistol he had in his briefcase. He never pulled it out or pointed it at me. I never felt that was his intention, that I was in danger," added Smith.

    A Basham employee called 911 while Smith sat with West in this conference room and tried to talk West down.

    "And, we discussed his military career, and we talked about his life and how upset he was about the system failing," said Smith.

    But, what really made the ailing Navy veteran sad was his failing health. West's daughter told 17 News by phone her father recently suffered a stroke and survived skin cancer.

    But, what set him over the edge was a growth in his eye that robbed West of his eyesight and thus his driver's license and independence.

    "I asked him, I said, "Well Ken, well let's go outside." He said, "Okay, it's time."

    When West came out the front doors, he saw a series of deputies with their guns trained on him, so he went back inside. As West fumbled with the gun, the magazine dropped out.

    "It was one of those now or never things. I quickly forced the gun out of his hand and threw it to the ground," said Smith.

    West's daughter said he was being sent to the Mary K. Shell Center for a mental health evaluation.

    He is scheduled for a court hearing Thursday on a gun and false imprisonment charge.

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    DELANO - The city of Delano is in hot water, in a dispute over water.

    On Wednesday, the city was sued by the Delano Guardians Committee over soaring utility rate hikes.

    The latest spike was two months ago.

    Residents say with this lawsuit, they hope the city will listen.

    "It's too much, it's too hard for families. So, the increases just need to stop," said Valerie Gorospe, community organizer for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment.

    Gorospe says Delano is being hit hard by increased utility rates, including water, sewer and street sweeping.

    She says the rate increases started in 2009.

    "It's hurting senior citizens. It's hurting farmworker families. It's hurting families that are living below the poverty line," said Gorospe.

    On Wednesday, a group known as the Delano Guardians Committee filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming city officials violated Proposition 218.

    Prop 218 requires two-thirds of voters to approve all property-related fees.

    Residents say they had enough signatures that would have prevented the rate hike.

    "We definitely had more than enough signatures than what was required under Prop 218 and the city rejected a lot of petitions that should not have been rejected," said Gorospe.

    According to the lawsuit, the increase will raise the average cost of utilities by $65 over the next five years.

    "We knew it was coming, but again we didn't know it was going to be this fast," said Delano resident Aida Ramirez.

    City leaders said earlier this year they need the money to start paying off some $53 million in loans taken out for water and utility infrastructure improvements.

    But, for city residents the fees aren't adding up.

    "Are they going to pay their medicine? Are they going to pay their water bill? There is a lot of fear and nervousness of how things are going to get paid," said Gorospe. 

    The lawsuit seeks an independent recount of the petitions.

    Our calls to city officials in Delano were not returned as of news time Wednesday.


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    A pair of separate crashes involving big rigs were tying up traffic on Highway 58 and Interstate 5.

    A big rig overturned on southbound Interstate 5 near Gorman School Rd. around 6:40 a.m. Thursday, causing a backup for Kern commuters headed to Los Angeles.

    The two-lane portion of the construction zone was blocked. Only the bypass lane was open.

    The CHP was calling for a long-term closure.

    Separately, a big rig overturned on westbound Highway 58 near Keene at the over-crossing just after 5 a.m.

    Traffic was being diverted off at Keene and brought back onto the highway, but delays were expected, CHP Officer Robert Rodriguez said.  The highway was set to reopen around 9:45 a.m., he added.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Parents will notice some changes in the way their students are learning this school year -- as teachers start implementing common core standards.

    The State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards for English, language arts and math in 2010. Kern County schools recently began enacting the new teaching methods in local classrooms.

    Kern County Superintendent of Schools Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability Kathy Hill said, "English language arts, instead of just reading literature, they'll be reading a lot of informational text. So, non-fiction pieces. They'll be learning to answer questions in a slightly different way. In mathematics kids will be learning not just what the right answer is, but being able to explain and justify their answers."

    Hill says the Common Core standards are designed to enhance students' critical thinking skills.

    "We're raising kids who are going to be able to be able to think their way through problems," said Hill.

    The Bakersfield City School District began integrating the teaching techniques in classrooms at the beginning of the school year.

    District Director of Curriculum and Standards Nancy Olcott said, "Students are going to see that they're asked to be more collaborative when they work together. They're going to maybe be given a little bit more freedom. They're going to see a lot more writing."

    District Director of Curriculum Nancy Olcott says 1,200 teachers went through extensive Common Core training this summer to prepare for the change.

    Teachers are combining the new standards with current curriculum, something Hill says is a challenge.

    Hill said, "There's anxiety as to, is this going to work how are we going to make all of these pieces come together."

    The standards will be fully implemented next school year -- including new standardized tests, which will replace STAR testing.

    "They will be doing computer enhanced and computer adaptive tests. They will be doing a lot of writing and critical thinking and only about half of the test will be multiple choice," said Hill.

    This week, the state department of education gave California schools $622 million dollars to transition to the new standards. It's the first half of $1.25 billion set aside for schools.

    Kern County schools received more than $35 million to enact the standards, which breaks down to about $200 per student. Districts will decide independently how the money is used. School officials say there will be a plan set out for funding within a few months. The money can be used for professional development, instructional materials or technology.

    Hill said, "The new common core standards require a lot of technology, both for instruction as well as for assessment so there's lots of things going on there with schools upgrading their technology and getting new pieces in place."

    The second part of state funding will be released in October.

    California is one of 45 states to adopt Common Core standards.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The annual Village Fest at the Kern County Museum is expected to draw thousands of people this weekend.

    While preparations are underway, organizers say they expect to raise $160,000 for charity.

    Saturday, the Kern County Museum will be transformed into a festival filled with music and drinking.

    Organizers say this year's Village Fest is one to look out for.

    "We try to add a little bit of flavor for everything, but beer and wine is the hot ticket," said Jim Luff, Care Foundation President.

    Organizers say you can expect good food and live entertainment.

    With over 60 types of beer and more than 20 wineries on site, organizers say the event will have everything.

    "We want to cover all the basis. We even have a little gift shop where if the girl wears the wrong pair of shoes for the night, we got flip flops on sale," said Luff.

    But, the purpose behind the bright lights and array of entertainment is a program called The Children's Advocates Resource Endowment, also known as CARE.

    Village Fest helps the non-profit raise money to provide grants to local charities that specialize in serving children.

    "Our own organization, we don't have a single paid employee. We're all volunteers that work really hard 10 months out of the year to put this party together so we hope people come out and have a great time for a great cause," Luff continued.

    There will also be more than 30 local restaurants on site providing food samples.

    Organizers say tickets are still available but they are going fast.

    You can purchase your tickets for $65 at Lengthwise Brewery or Frugatti's Italian restaurant.

    You can also go to www.valitix.com.

    The event begins at 6:00 p.m. Saturday.


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    Bakersfield- Bakersfield Police are investigating a shooting at Patriots Park that sent three people to the hospital.

    Police say it happened just before 7 p.m. at the park located near Ming Avenue and New Stine Road.

    Officers initially located two victims suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. One victim appeared to be in serious condition. Both victims were transported to a local hospital.

    Officers later learned a third person who had been shot was driven by car to a hospital.

    The investigation is ongoing.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the BPD at 327-7111

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    BAKERSFIELD - We have a heartwarming follow-up to the story of a severely abused dog that had his tongue cut out.

    Zach Skow, Executive Director of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, rescued three-year-old Hooch from the Kern County Animal Shelter about three weeks ago.

    In addition to missing his tongue, the French Mastiff had his ears cut off.

    Hooch had a feeding tube put in, but now he is learning to eat on his own with the help of a Bailey Chair, which helps him sit upright and get food down.

    "The progress with the Bailey Chair and manual feeding has been a huge step in the right direction because anyone can do it. It's like giving a dog a treat, but you do it over a period of ten minutes and at the end of it he has four cups of food in him," said Skow.

    Zach Skow says Hooch is adjusting well to his new life.

    A fundraiser for Marley's Mutts will be held Friday at the Padre Hotel in downtown Bakersfield from 6-9 p.m. Hooch will be there.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - For most families pregnancy is a joyful time, but for couples who have trouble conceiving, the thought of getting there can cause great emotional stress.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 10% of women in the U.S. have issues becoming or staying pregnant.

    Dr. Brian Acacio has hundreds of local patients in various stages of infertility treatments. He says there are couple of causes of infertility he sees more frequently in Bakersfield than other areas he treats.

    "I do see more obstruction of fallopian tubes. I do think there is slightly a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, Chlamydia probably being the most common that would obstruct fallopian tubes."

    Kern County has the highest rate of Chlamydia infections in the state, a ranking it has held since 2008.

    Acasio says another common diagnosis is infertility in men.

    "I definitely see men that work in the oil field industry and in the agriculture industry here in the central valley probably do have a higher incidence of male factor infertility," he said.

    While both causes are common reasons for infertility, Acacio says exposure to the environment and air pollution in the area over time can cause higher risk for men's infertility.

    Nationally, statistics show men and women play equal parts in infertility. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 1/3 of infertility cases are caused by problems in women, another 1/2 by problems in men. The remaining third are a combination of male and female issues or unknown causes.

    While infertility can be present in either partner, Acacio says age also plays a part.

    Acacio said, "Age of eggs is probably the single biggest and most important factor that we see."

    According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month. by age 40, her chance drops to 5%.

    Infertility treatments can increase that chance.

    "If a woman is young, even reasonably so, up to 43-45 years of age, yes she may require the more aggressive treatments, we do have successes of course in these people as well, even women that are older."

    There are several types of treatments that can cost anywhere from the price of a prescription up to thousands of dollars.

    Acacio recommends a couple seek medical help after trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for one year.

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  • 09/06/13--07:43: August housing report
  • Bakersfield - A new housing report shows subtle changes in the Bakersfield real estate market in August. Home prices have shown a dramatic improvement over a year ago, but the rate of increase is starting to cool.

    The Crabtree report for August shows 838 listings of homes for sale. That's up 33% since August of 2012. The unsold inventory increased slightly in August from July. It would now take about 1.7 months to sell all of the homes on the market at the current rate.

    The 506 closed home sales during August showed a median price of $200,000. That's a $5,000 dollar increase over July. Since August 2012 prices are up about 29%.

    Appraiser Gary Crabtree, who compiles the numbers, says he doesn't see real estate prices decreasing immediately, but he says the bubble-like rate of increase we've seen recently is unsustainable.


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Charges will not be filed against an elderly man arrested for false imprisonment and carrying a gun into a funeral home.

    Supervising Deputy District Attorney Melissa Allen said, "He did not directly threaten any of the employees at the funeral home, didn't point the gun at anybody there. It was very clear he was there to kill himself and did not intend to harm anyone else."

    Employees say 83-year-old Kenneth West pulled a handgun out of his briefcase Tuesday at Basham Funeral Care Center on Niles Street. Staffers say West, a military veteran and skin cancer survivor, was not violent. Funeral director Kent Smith intervened and wrestled the gun away from him.

    Employees say West prepaid for his funeral just a week before the incident.

    West's daughter tells us he was released from jail last night and is back home with family this morning.


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    Bakersfield - The Bakersfield man injured by shrapnel in August's PG&E implosion has left Kaiser Hospital in Fresno.

    Jerry Wood's attorney Dennis Thelen says Wood left the hospital Tuesday and was sent back to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Wood developed an infection, which doctors say is now under control.

    Wood suffered severe leg injuries August 3rd when the old PG&E power plant's planned implosion on Rosedale Highway shot metal shrapnel across Coffee Road, striking him in the legs.

    It's not clear when Wood will be back in Bakersfield.

    His attorney says doctors are waiting on muscle transfer procedures to heal before more bone grafting is done.

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    Oildale - Update to Breaking News at North High School: Kern High School District Police say one student is under arrest and facing at least one felony count after a bomb threat this morning. Students have been sent back to class. Officers found a long, plastic tube in a locker, filled with powder, similar to what you see with fireworks. Get the latest details in a live report, ahead on 17 News at Noon.

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    BAKERSFIELD - Homeowners in a southwest Bakersfield neighborhood are still waiting to hear what Pacific Gas and Electric is going to do about a recent power surge. Last week, we reported the electrical problems the neighbors said they had after the August 19th jolt. Many appliances stopped working, fuses were fried, and they say more issues keep popping up.

    PG&E told one customer lightning caused the surge. But, when 17 News asked them about it last week, they said they were still looking into the cause, and Friday they said it was not lightning-related.

    Now, some neighbors say even though PG&E hasn't admitted it, they know the cause and the surge was the utility's mistake.

    Clarissa Wilstead told 17 News her washer and dryer recently stopped working and a hired repairman told her they burnt up in last month's power surge.

    "And he, the circuit boards are fried and it was actually a fire hazard. The washer, he doesn't even want to touch," said Wilstead.

    Last week, Wilstead showed us a letter from PG&E she received following the surge and after filing a claim. It blamed a lighting strike at a substation, releasing it of responsibility for $5,000 in damages to Wilstead's electronics, plus other claims filed by neighbors. PG&E recanted and now says lightning isn't to blame, but won't confirm what is. But, Wilstead says she's spoken with a PG&E employee and she does know the cause.

    "He said he was working on the problem and he lives in this neighborhood. And, he said there was no lightning. A transmission line hit the distribution line. It was 100 percent PG&E's fault," said Wilstead.

    "I've heard that, but I don't know for sure if that's what happened. I know that, that is something that they are looking into. It would explain, I think, some of the damage that we've seen," said Denny Boyles, PG&E spokesperson.

    Boyles said even if it is the cause, the claims department would determine if it was the utility's error.

    "Going into the second week of the school year, we were still having sporadic issues. But, at its worst we had half of our school impacted," said Steve Duke, Principal of Quailwood Elementary School.

    Duke says the district has also been in contact with PG&E after the surge. Random classrooms lost power and maintenance crews scrambled to fix fuses and power packs.

    "For a day or so, things would be fine and then someone would tip over the domino and then we would be back to where we were before," said Duke.

    Duke says damages total about a grand, plus extra maintenance work. But now, this neighborhood waits to see what's next to fizzle out because of the surge and what PG&E will do about it, hoping their next expense isn't an attorney.

    "And, I don't want to go that route. But, I feel like my hands are being tied and if something doesn't happen, I feel like we are going to have to go that route," said Wilstead.

    Wilstead says PG&E did call her Thursday evening and asked for her patience and three to four more business days to get back to her.


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