Bakersfield city limit signs may soon have an addition -- a notation that Bakersfield is a "Purple Heart City," if an idea proposed at Wednesday's city council meeting moves forward.
Mayor Harvey Hall recognized the city's military veterans who've earned Purple Hearts for casualties in combat, presenting a proclamation to about half a dozen veterans who had gathered for the meeting. Hall's proclamation marks Bakersfield as a Purple Heart City, "to pay homage to the Purple Heart ... and its recipients," Hall said.
One of the veterans, David Jackson, then presented Hall with a full-size prototype of a city limits sign as it looks now, but with an addition at the bottom stating Bakersfield is a Purple Heart City. He asked the city council to allow signs like these to be installed at the city's limits.
"This is also a very humbling experience for us that are Purple Heart recipients," Jackson said after the group received the mayor's proclamation. "By Bakersfield proclaiming itself a Purple Heart City, you're telling the nation, you're telling the state of California just how you feel about your veterans." Jackson is the commander of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Jackson said later there are about a dozen cities across the United States that have designated themselves as Purple Heart Cities, and Bakersfield is the largest. Arvin and McFarland have recently adopted the designation.
Hall also presented Patrick and Silver Farr with a proclamation dedicating Feb. 15, 2012 in memory of their son, Clay Patrick Farr, who was killed while serving as a U.S Army scout in Iraq in 2006. As the entire room stood and applauded, the Farrs were presented with a replica of the street signs that went up recently renaming Main Plaza Drive in northwest Bakersfield as Clay Patrick Farr Way.
"Clay would've enjoyed the recognition for his service and his sacrifice to this community," said Patrick Farr. "He did love Bakersfield and Kern County." Farr had planned to join the Kern County Sheriff's Department, his father said.
Also Wednesday night, the city council adopted an amended payment schedule for redevelopment agency debts.
The Bakersfield Redevelopment Agency and about 400 others across the state were dissolved on Feb. 1, and Bakersfield's council members named themselves and the city as the successor to the agency. Their responsibility now is to make payments on debts that were accrued by the redevelopment agency. Part of the process is to adopt a schedule of debt payments.
That schedule will be the basis for the city to request tax proceeds from the county to pay debts. Before it was dissolved, the redevelopment agency received those tax proceeds.
Finance Director Nelson Smith said the change to move up about $3.5 million in debt payments was needed for the city to meet its obligations under certain bond and debt requirements. Whatever tax proceeds the city doesn't get are split up between other jurisdictions like the county and school districts.
"We need to make sure that money is available to us and not dispersed to other agencies," Smith said.
Under the new schedule adopted Wednesday, the total payments due during this fiscal year, which ends June 30, are now $33.6 million, up from $30.1 million.
Council members also:
Extended for another year the city's agreement with the Bakersfield Homeless Center for waste sorting services at the city's Green Waste Facility. In an administrative report, Public Works Director said the program has been a success in providing the city with "excellent service" and in helping the homeless center launch an employment program. The compensation under the one-year extension is $159,744.