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Updated: 8 years 3 weeks ago

Remembering D-Day

Fri, 06/06/2014 - 00:36

BAKERSFIELD, CA - June 6, 1944 marks 70 years since Allied troops stormed the shores of western Europe, known as D-Day. While we prepare to commemorate the pivotal date in U.S. and World History, World War II veterans who were there reflect back.

Boatswain's Mate Second Class, Willis Shepard was 24 years old.

"Sometimes I think that it was yesterday," laughed Shepard, "But, again, it has been a long time."

Shepard was on board the U.S.S. Texas off the coast of Normandy.

"We came in with our 14 inch guns and came in from the side and blew them open," said Shepard.

His job was to target roads and rails, blocking German access to supplies. But, he couldn't help but focus a mile in as Americans and Allies tried to charge the beach.

"The first wave that went ashore, they mutilated them. The Germans just shot up the landing craft and guys were in the water. It was pretty blood thirsty when the first wave went in," said Shepard. "I hope they remember it was the turning point of the war, turning point of humanity really. It was the biggest undertaking that probably ever will be taken."

In the air, Air Force pilot, Keith Bratton, was in a B-24.

"It was the longest and the most, hardest ordeal I've ever been through," said Bratton.

Bratton was ordered to fly the liberator, loaded with bombs, and head toward the beaches.

"Right after takeoff, my number one engine caught on fire. And, I had to feather, shut down the engine and feather, of course," said Bratton.

Unable to keep up with formation, Bratton was forced to turn back to home base.

"No, I was not happy at all because I lost a lot of friends who were in the infantry tank commanders storming the Omaha Beach," said Bratton. When asked if he wondered if his bombs could have protected them, Bratton, with emotion building, said, "Yes."

On the ground, Army Staff Sergeant Ernest Roberts faced the Germans on Omaha Beach.

"There was a ship come in right in front of me and not one soldier got off of it. Not one. Not one. Nothing but arms, legs, and equipment went just like that," said Roberts waving his arms around him.

Of the 72 soldiers on Robert's landing craft, only seven survived.

"I crawled around there and I got a rifle from a dead soldier was laying there, and I went in and got started," said Roberts. "Whew," he continued with tears in his eyes. "You can't ever get it out of your system. It's too much."

It is too much to ever forget and ever take for granted. What are stories now, were reality to these veterans who faced the unthinkable for our freedom.

"It bothers me when the National Anthem (is playing) and you see people turn their backs and walk or talk or skip or jump instead of standing at attention and listen to what it is saying. It means lots. It means everything," said Roberts.

On Friday, you can thank these three men as well as four other local veterans who survived Normandy, at a special ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day. It is at 10 a.m. at the Kern Veterans Memorial Plaza and is organized by Kern County Veterans Service and Honor Flight Kern County. The public is encouraged to attend.

Judge delays sentencing for man convicted for infant's death

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 23:40
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- A judge has delayed sentencing for a man convicted in the death of a 10-week-old baby.  In March, Kylor Smith-Sims pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and first-degree burglary for the death of 10-week-old Travion Smith-Sims in March 2012.

The father iniitally said he dropped his infant son.   But the coroner found the infant suffered 12 broken ribs, three skull fractures, and bleeding in the brain.

In exchange, first-degree murder and assault on a child causing great bodily injury charges were dropped.

Smith-Sims faces 12 years and four months in prison.  Sentencing is now set for July 8. 

Enriching inmates with art

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 22:18
SACRAMENTO, CA -- Kern Valley State Prison in Delano is among 14 prisons statewide receiving grant money for arts-in corrections programs. 

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation say the programs will offer an array of performing, literary and visual arts disciplines such as theater, music, dance, creative writing, poetry, storytelling, painting, drawing and sculpture.

“Structured arts programs have proven results,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “Not only are inmates channeling their energy into constructive, creative projects, they are also learning new skills and expressing themselves in positive ways.”

CDCR committed $1 million to the Arts-in-Corrections program for fiscal year 2013-2014 and has committed to provide $1.5 million next fiscal year.

“Arts engagement is a valuable rehabilitation method that can provide positive change for inmates and for communities across our state,” said Wylie Aitken, Chair of the California Arts Council. “The Arts Council is pleased to award contracts to these exceptional organizations, in partnership with CDCR. The arts are a powerful tool that can address many of the challenges facing the state of California.”





Volunteers teach people life-saving skill

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 20:08
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The theme at the Market Place Thursday was saving a life and the theme song, was "Staying Alive." San Joaquin Community Hospital and the Bakersfield Fire Department teamed up for Sidewalk CPR Day.

Volunteers taught people the basic life-saving skill of hands-only CPR, to the tune of the Bee-Gee's song "Staying Alive." "Anyone can learn it. It only takes 5 minutes. And what it does, in the past you think of CPR, you think of people doing mouth to mouth, and the compressions and stuff. And most people don't want to get involved with a situation like that because they're afraid to do mouth to mouth. But with the latest research and stuff just by doing compressions only, they're realizing that's as effective as what they thought was better years ago," said Cpt. Mike Lencioni with the Bakersfield Fire Department.

Learning hands-only CPR does not mean you are certified in CPR, but officials say knowing the technique could save a life.

If you missed the training but would like to learn hands-only CPR, you can call the public education department with the Bakersfield Fire Department. The number is 661-326-3696.

Big bump in prices and homes

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 19:45
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The latest real estate report from appraiser Gary Crabtree shows a big bump in prices and homes sales here in Kern County.

Crabtree says homebuying is entering its prime season with more homes listed for sale and an increase in homes sold. The median price bumped up nearly 6 percent in May from April to a little more than $209,000.

Crabtree says that's a more manageable increase compared to last year's 30-percent hike in prices.  Still, he says only one half of the median income families can afford a median priced home in the Bakersfield market.

While more homes are receiving multiple offers more buyers are asking for help with closing costs.

Red light cameras in Bakersfield here to stay

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 18:57
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Red light cameras are here to stay.  The council approved a one-year extension on its contract with Redflex Traffic systems to operate red light cameras at twelve intersections in Bakersfield.

The vote was 6 to 1, with Russell Johnson in opposition.

Supporters said the cameras increase roadway safety.

Kern County Board of Supervisors suing California’s High-Speed Rail Authority

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 18:19
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in closed session Tuesday to authorize county counsel to file a lawsuit against California’s High-Speed Rail Authority.

It claims the authority violated California’s Environmental Quality Act by certifying its Environmental Impact Report last month for the first line of the track between Fresno and Bakersfield. Chairman Leticia Perez was the only no vote.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed by Friday, June 6.

Detentions deputy sentenced for holding wife against her will

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 17:59
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- A Kern County Sheriff's detention deputy convicted for assault with a firearm on a person was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday morning.

A jury convicted 30-year-old James Tackitt in May for holding his wife against her will in their closet in January and pointing a gun at her head.


More restaurants coming to Tejon Ranch

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 17:43
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- You'll want to bring your appetite when you shop the outlets at Tejon. On Wednesday, developers announced, more restaurants are signing on to the project.

They include Don Perico's, Wing Stop, Tony's pizza, Juicy Burger and Dewar's. Construction of the outlets at tejon is still underway.

The mall is selling tickets to its grand opening party on August sixth, to raise money for local charities; those without a ticket can shop beginning August 7.

Investigation launched into death of Tehachapi inmate

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 15:45
An investigation was launched Thursday into the death of an inmate at the California Correctional Institution in Tehacapi.

Oscar Rendon, 41, was found unresponsive in his cell around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken to prison medical clinic where he was later prounced dead, according to a news release from the Kern Sheriff's Office.

An autopsy was set to be performed to determine a cause of Rendon's death.

Prison officials say the alleged suspect in the case is identified as inmate Billy Guzman, 53, who is serving a 94-years-to-life sentence from Santa Clara County for assault with a deadly weapon. Guzman was received into CDCR on September 6, 1986.

Buena Vista Museum hosting science summer camps

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 21:51
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History in Bakersfield is offering several science sessions for first through sixth graders.  The camps start in the first week of July.  Space is limited to 25 students per session. 

July 7th - 10th – DINOSAUR WEEK: Everything you always wanted to know about Dinosaurs, but were afraid to ask! A fun exploration of the massive creatures that lived more than 65 million year ago.

July 14th – 17th – Having Fun with Science! Explore the WEIRD, the WILD, and WACKY World Science! July 21st -24th

SPACE WEEK! Astronomy: Exploring the vast world of outer space! The Moon, Sun, Stars, Planets and much more!

July 28- 31st – SHARK WEEK: The Big, the Bad, and the Ugly Sharks! Everything you want to know about Sharks!

Sessions run Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon. Cost - $85.00 (Members of the Museum $75.00) per student/per session. Mid-morning snack, Camp T-shirt and materials included. Sign-up and pay for 2 sessions to receive a $5 discount. *

BUENA VISTA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: *Discount is per child sign-up. (2 children in the same session do not qualify for a multi-session discount, and students will receive only one Camp T-shirt for the 2014 Camp).

CANCELLATIONS MUST BE MADE AT LEAST 72 HOURS PRIOR TO START OF SESSION TO RECEIVE FULL REFUND


Mohawk Extension North set to open

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 14:30
BAKERSFIELD,CA -  Mohawk Extension North is set to officially open to motorists Tuesday morning.

The extension includes a new roadway from Rosedale Highway to Siena Lane and an arched culvert crossing at the Calloway canal.

"We go over to Mohawk a lot off of Rosedale so this will help as far as that because Fruitvale backs up and traffic gets bad," said Mitch O'Connor.

It's a project two years in the making.

"Those residents living in the project vicinity that live adjacent to there, north of Hageman, south of Hageman. We're thinking all the way out to Calloway, people are going to see the benefits of this Mohawk Street," said civil engineer Daniel Padilla.

Officials say the $3.1 million project, funded by the California Transportation Commission and the City of Bakersfield, will ease traffic in northwest Bakersfield.

"We're thinking it will help even a little bit on 99 as some people would take Golden State to downtown. I think this will be another option to get downtown," said Padilla.

But area residents also have concerns about more traffic near San Lauren Park.

"The frisbee golf that everybody plays and the kids and the traffic is going to back up probably at that three way stop," said O'Connor.

The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.  It's scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Calloway Canal Culvert Crossing.

Woman hit by suspected drunk driver released from hospital

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 00:54
BAKERSFIELD, CA - It has been six weeks since a suspected drunk driver crashed into a Shell gas station in north Bakersfield, critically injuring a 20-year-old woman.

Leann Harris is now a paraplegic and has been at Kern Medical Center since that crash, but she was released from the hospital Monday.

Harris' parents say they haven't thought about Kristoffer Carter, the former Bakersfield police officer accused of putting Leann in the hospital. They say they've been completely focused on Leann as she takes steps toward recovery.

It's the moment the Harris family has been waiting for, for 42 days.

"Last time I was in this thing they thought that I was dying," Leann Harris said from her gurney.

Harris was in good spirits as she was wheeled out of Kern Medical Center, surrounded by loved ones.

"This is a big step forward for us today. I'm happy that she's recovered really fast," said Leann's father, Jeff Harris.

According to the CHP, on April 21st, Harris was pumping gas at a Shell station off Merle Haggard Drive when former Bakersfield Police officer Kristofer Carter was driving drunk and speeding and plowed into Harris.

"That's the past now and we just gotta go further forward and keep her strong. She's a very strong-willed girl," Jeff said.

Leann was critically injured, fell into a medically induced coma, and is now a paraplegic.

"It's not going to be no easy task, but she's doing good though," Harris said.

Harris is optimistic that she can overcome this, but her road to recovery is just beginning.

After undergoing several procedures at KMC, Leann is now headed to Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center in Downey, one of the leading spinal rehab facilities in the country.

"It's been a real short but long haul it seems like, but we still got a long ways to go."

Leann's parents say her goal is to be out of rehab by October 25th, which is her 21st birthday, so she can go to Las Vegas to celebrate and attend a national drag racing event.

Meantime, Carter is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Thursday. He faces three charges of felony DUI with bodily harm.

KMC announces layoffs, department closures

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 00:14
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Kern Medical Center is making moves to stop the bleeding at the county-run hospital. Some details of the first proposed layoffs were announced Monday as hospital officials say they will also close two departments. KMC CEO Russell Judd could not say how many people will lose their jobs because of the closures. But, they will be closing home health care and outpatient physical therapy. 
KMC announced the closures at a news conference Monday afternoon. Judd said home health provides ongoing nursing treatments to patients after care, and outpatient physical therapy rehabilitates patients not staying in the hospital. 
Last year both served about 250 patients that will now be transferred to other facilities. Judd said closing these departments will save the hospital about $1.7 million each year. But compared to the hospital's $30 million annual losses, that's just a drop in the bucket, which is why Judd said hospital-wide layoffs are coming. 
"What we're announcing today is the public notification about the closures," said Judd. "The additional layoffs across the organization answer the bigger question." 
The actual number of layoffs will be announced June 12th. Judd said the positions will vary from administration to medical staff. But, Judd said there are no other closures on the horizon. 
These changes still have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, but it's expected the board will concur and have both departments shut down by August. 

Police looking for 3 high risk sex offenders

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 23:52
BAKERSFIELD, CA --Police say 34-year-old Christopher Pettenger was released from custody last Tuesday and has not reported to his parole officer.  Latrace Grayer, 46, was released from custody last wednesday and he too hasn't reported to his parole officer.

And police say 33-year-old Adan Barrios has taken off his ankle monitoring device and violated the terms of his parole.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of these three men should call Bakersfield police at 327-7111.

Protect your best friend at licensing, vaccination clinic

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 22:39
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The city of Bakersfield's animal control division is hosting a low cost vaccination, licensing and microchip clinic Saturday at Jastro Park. 

City officials say the rabies vaccinations from 9:00 a.m. until noon will be offered to all dogs 3 months of age and older. The vaccine cost is reduced however; the licensing fees are regular price. The rabies vaccine cannot be administered without the purchase of a license at the clinics.

The electronic microchip effort is a program focused on reducing the number of impounded animals entering the shelter system and is becoming the “preferred” form of animal and owner identification.

The city is offering the DAPP vaccine at the monthly clinics. Whether it’s a 1st puppy shot or your dog needs its annual booster, they're able to offer disease protection for your dog. Puppies should be 8 weeks of age and in good health to receive a vaccination.

For more information, please contact the City of Bakersfield Animal Control Division at (661)-326-3436. Information regarding clinic services and fees can also be obtained by visiting the city website at:
http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/police/Operations/Animal_Control/index.html

Police looking for man in suspected hit and run

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 21:46
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Police need your help to identify a man they say collided with a car on Gosford Road last month and took off. 

Police say the man, struck the victim's vehicle with his truck, in the 5000 block of Gosford Road on May 6.  Police describe the truck as a: black 2000 or older, lifted, Chevrolet 3500, crew cab. 

Police describe the man as Hispanic, 40-50’s, thick mustache, wearing a black hat, grey work shirt and blue jeans.

If you have information regarding this case, call Senior Officer Chance Koerner at (661) 326-3960 or Bakersfield police at (661) 327-7111.

KMC announcing layoffs, department closures

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 19:56
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Administrators at Kern Medical Center are recommending closing departments and laying off staff to help solve the hospital's financial crisis. Hospital leaders will officially recommend to the Kern County Board of Supervisors at its June 17 meeting, that the hospital's home health and outpatient physical therapy departments be shut down. Hospital administrators announced the recommendations publicly today to comply with part of the regulatory processes that must be followed by a county-owned public hospital.

Kern Medical Center administrators will publish details of proposed layoffs June 12, the day the Board of Supervisors publishes its upcoming meeting agenda. Administrators say no other details about proposed layoffs will be revealed until that agenda is published. If approved, the expected department closures and layoffs will occur in August. Kern Medical Center CEO Russell Judd says they're difficult decisions to make, but says administrators have to focus on the overall mission and viability of the hospital.

Summer workshops at Bakersfield Museum of Art

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 19:28
BAKERSFIELD, CA --  If you're looking to brush up on your art skills, check this out.  Officials at the Bakersfield Museum of Art say adults are welcome to participate in a number of workshops and classes offered.

No experience necessary – all classes are open to beginners in an non-intimidating, non-judgmental environment. Start enriching your life with these summer workshops for teens and adults!

-Beginning Digital Photography with Andrew Hawley (Tuesdays & Thursdays, June 3 - 12, 2:00-3:30PM)
-Drawing Workshop with Art Sherwyn (Saturday, June 7, 9:00AM - 3:30PM)
-Art for the Non-Artist (Tuesdays, June 24-July 15, 2:00PM-4:00PM)
-Beginning Clay with Yvonne Cavanagh (June 16-20, 1:00PM-4:00PM)
-Creative Clay with Yvonne Cavanagh (July 21-25, 1:00PM-4:00PM)
-Printmaking Workshop for Teenagers (July 7-11, 2:00PM-4:00PM) *Scholarships available for those unable to afford this opportunity.
-Stop Motion Animation Workshop for Teenagers (July 14-18, 2:00PM-4:00PM) *Scholarships available for those unable to afford this opportunity.


There's also art in the classroom.  Organizers say this new workshop series addresses the commonly asked question “How do I teach art to my students?” For teachers who have little or no access to art specialists, each workshop will introduce a project that you can teach in your elementary school classroom. Art specialist Darla Kendrick will show you how to connect your arts activities to the Common Core and how to utilize the supplies already in your classroom.

Participants may sign up for all or select a number of classes.
-Teaching Art in Elementary Schools (Wednesdays, June 25 - July 16, 2:00-4:00PM)
Direct online link for all workshops: http://bmoa.org/adult/

Police: Man tries to steal merchandise from Sports Chalet

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 19:02
BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Bakersfield police need your help identifying a man they say tried to steal merchandise from Sports Chalet last month. 

Police say the incident took place on May 7 and when confronted by an employee the man tried to punch the employee. That employee did not suffer any injuries and the suspect fled on foot.

The merchandise was recovered at the scene.  Police describe the suspect as white, 30’s, with brown short hair, wearing a dark tank top and dark pants and a cross pendant on a chain.

If you have any information regarding this case, call Detective Todd Dickson at (661) 326-3501 or Bakersfield police at (661) 327-7111.