John Stinson, assistant city manager for the city of Bakersfield, will retire this summer after 25 years with the office.

Stinson, 56, has most recently been watching over the Water Resources Department after the former director retired.

What's he going to do after his final day?

"Whatever I want," Stinson said.

That will include golfing and playing drums.

It turns out Stinson was a professional musician before he joined the city manager's office way back when.

He still has the vintage maple Slingerland set he bought in the 1970s, though since broke down and bought an electronic kit for midnight practice sessions. He also plays acoustic guitar and enough bass to lay down tracks on his home recordings.

His departure date hasn't yet firmed up, but sometime in August sounds about right.

Stinson said "a lot of different reasons" contributed to his decision.

"Twenty-five years is a long time in the city manager's office," he said. He's enjoyed working for the city, but said he's "ready to retire."

Residents who get domestic water from the City of Bakersfield Water Systemwill likely see rates go up in October.

The proposed increase of 3 cents per hundred cubic feet would total about 84 more cents a month for the typical residential customer, city officials say, to an average $35.03. The city counts more than 39,000 metered connections.

Customers will soon get notices in their bills announcing the proposed change. A public hearing will be held June 9.

Construction of a four-lane detour on Calloway Drive, north of the Kern River between Marby Grange Way and Gleneagles Drive, is under way. Two inside lanes of Calloway are also closed there this week from 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. for median removal. One southbound lane will be closed in coming weeks for work on the detour tie-in.

The detour and closures are part of the Westside Parkway construction. The new east-west freeway will create several north-south detours, some long-term, on the west side of town starting this spring and summer. You can find more information at

Completion date for the city's new Mesa Marin Sports Complex has been pushed back to late October due to rain, city parks officials say. The grading phase was 90 percent finished as of last week.

The northeast park on Highway 178 will feature four lighted softball fields, a parking lot, restrooms and a concession stand.

Equestrian enthusiasts will again have access over the Cross Valley Canal near Stockdale Highway thanks to an agreement approved by the Bakersfield City Council with the Kern County Water Agency last week. The $1 licensing agreement re-establishes equestrian access between the Kern River Channel and a staging area at Aera Park. The city will provide fencing and maintain the easement.

The city will build a liquefied natural gas/compressed natural gas fueling station at South Mount Vernon Avenue and East Planz Road to gas up alternative-fuel vehicles in its trash collection fleet. Most of the roughly $2.2 million project is being paid by federal funds, with a $550,000 local match being paid from the city’s Refuse Fund. Wyoming North Star Inc., a Wyoming firm, submitted the winning bid.

Barbara Lomas was appointed to the city’s Board of Building Appeals last week by the Bakersfield City Council. The seven-member board meets as needed to look into building and construction code issues. Lomas previously served as a city planning commissioner from 2003-2007.

— Staff writer Gretchen Wenner

Woodcutting permits for the Sequoia National Forest and the Giant Sequoia National Monument are now available at Forest Service offices in Dunlap, Porterville, Springville, Lake Isabella and Kernville. 

Customers can purchase an eight-month wood permit that can be used from April 1-Nov. 30, 2010.

Woodcutting activities throughout the Sequoia will continue to be based on road, weather and fire danger conditions.  Please check with your local Forest Service office before heading out to cut firewood for current updates on conditions.

Wood permits are $10 per cord with a minimum purchase of two cords per person ($20), maximum purchase of 10 cords per household.  At the time of purchase, a forest map and instructions about the woodcutting areas and forest policies will be provided and discussed. The cost of the permits is non-refundable.

— U.S. Forest Service press release

The Bakersfield City School District, County Complete Census Count Committee and other local partners invite the public to a Community Services and Census Fair 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the South Chester Partnership Building, 800 Ming Ave. in Bakersfield.

This free, fun and informative event is for people of all ages. Nearly 20 agencies will offer information on how to participate in the census survey, file an income tax return, prepare for preschool and obtain discount groceries. Fairgoers can also learn how to apply for Medi-Cal, food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, migrant education and CalWORKs assistance.

Health screenings, immunizations and healthy-living information will be available for adults and children. In addition, there will be free raffles and prizes such as crayons, coloring books, children’s books, caps and tote bags.

The South Chester Partnership Building is south of the Kern County Fairgrounds on Ming Avenue near P Street. Additional parking will be available across the street at Wayside School. For more information call 631-5945.

— County of Kern press release