Q: Both the National Guard and the U.S. Army sponsor race cars in the Indy Car Series and NASCAR. I was wondering how much this is costing, where this money is coming from and who gives the approval for this?

-- Frank A Boyance

We talked to the Army and Guard.

Here's what Rose M. Richeson, spokeswoman for the Guard, told us:

The Army National Guard motorsports marketing programs are paid for with appropriated funds, using the budget that Congress approves for National Guard recruiting and member retention activities.

Unlike countries that depend on a draft or compulsory service to enlist military members, the National Guard relies on marketing and advertising to showcase the features and benefits of joining this all-volunteer organization. As part of the National Guard's overall multimedia marketing mix, Guard motorsports programs serve as both an awareness builder that positively conditions members of key target audiences to be more receptive to other Guard marketing/outreach and a means to support both current member retention and recruiting of new Guard members.

In 2011, the Army National Guard will spend $16,954,024 on Indy Race League and $27,363,750 on NASCAR.

George Wright, a spokesman for the Army working out of the Pentagon, said the Active Army's cost of sponsoring NASCAR is $11.5 million annually. He said the funding comes from the Army's recruiting marketing budget and the ultimate approval authority is the commander of Army Accessions Command.

Q: Are there still plans to rebuild/replace the old water mill structure out at Hart Park?

-- Dean Schultz

A: There are no plans to restore the old waterwheel as it was deemed unrepairable after inspection by a county engineer in the 1980s, said Kern County Parks and Recreation Director Bob Lerude. He said replacement depends on funding, which his office hasn't been able to secure.

Q: Why doesn't Bakersfield have any pet events? You could have one named "Bark at the Park" at one of our local parks and then have many pet-friendly activities and booths and (proceeds) could all go to a good cause like animal shelters. I would really like to take my dog to one but there's none in Bakersfield.

-- Full name not given

A: We passed the suggestion on to Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department Director Dianne Hoover and she gave us this heads-up:

Actually, on Oct. 29 the SPCA is sponsoring its annual Mutt Strut at Yokuts Park from noon to 8 p.m. It is a huge event for dog owners, and future dog owners with many events throughout the day.

Other pet-related organizations sponsor events in the city's parks throughout the year. Check the newspaper under "events" each week, and they should be listed there.

Typically, for special events such as mentioned here, the city will provide the park for an event sponsored by the organization; the organization pays a reservation fee, then handles all aspects of the event from advertising, planning, managing volunteers, producing the event and cleaning up after the event ends.

Thanks for passing it on.

Q: Recently I was out of town in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. While getting gas I noticed that gas stations there don't charge you more for using your credit card at the pump.

It might just be built into the price, but are gasoline merchants required by some Kern County law to do this or are they just too cheap and charge extra for using a credit card? I know they call it a discount for using cash, but we all know the real reason is credit card fees.

-- Stewart M. Cockrell

A: We've addressed this issue a couple of times in this column and our research has shown the price differences are not unique to Kern County.

Officials with the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards have explained that retailers can't impose a surcharge on someone who uses a credit card in lieu of cash but can offer a discount to people who pay by cash, check or other non-credit card means.

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield. com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.