Ten nonprofits will start off the new year with some big checks from the Dignity Health Community Grants Program.

Members of the grant review committee handed out the checks Wednesday, according to a Dignity Health news release. The program has given out more than $2.7 million to 53 groups in Kern County since its inception in 1990.

The following nonprofits were picked for grants from Mercy and Memorial Hospitals:

* Advanced Center for Eyecare, $30,000

* Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County, $29,000

* California Veterans Assistance Foundation Inc., $25,000

* Golden Empire Gleaners, $25,000

* MARE Therapeutic Riding Center, $25,000

* MOVE International, $10,000

* St. Vincent De Paul Stores and Center, $39,600

* The Hope Center, $10,884

* Valley Achievement Center, $20,000

* West Side Community Resource Center, $20,000

-- The Californian

A little more than a week remains for you to nominate businesses, people and organizations that boost the quality of life in Bakersfield for recognition through the 2013 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards.

Nominations are being accepted in 14 categories for contributions and achievements in 2012.

The deadline is Jan. 18. Winners will be announced at the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards Banquet and during a live television broadcast June 1, according to a news release from the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.

Download a nomination form from www.bakersfieldchamber.org or call the chamber at 327-4421 for information.

-- The Californian

The public can now purchase Kern County annual "all lakes" and "Lake Isabella only" boat permits online at kerncountyparks.org, according to a news release from the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department.

Permits can also be ordered by phone from the department at 868-7000 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

-- The Californian

The American Institute of Architects Golden Empire Chapter recognized Yvonne Martinez as its 2012 winter recipient of the Robert F. Stuhr Scholarship award.

Martinez graduated from Bakersfield High School, attended Bakersfield College, and is an architecture student at The New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego, according to a news release from organizers.

AIAGE Board President Bill Melby and Board Director Tom Preston presented a $1,000 check to Martinez Dec. 21. This year's award is the first given as a combination of $500 from AIAGE Robert F. Stuhr Scholarship fund with a $500 match from the National AIA Component Scholarship Program. High school and college students pursuing a career in architecture are considered, according to the news release.

-- The Californian

The Independent Living Center of Kern County recently received a $6,500 grant from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to fund Empowered to Go, a disaster preparedness program. It aims to teach people with disabilities, their families and people who serve them about the needs of people with disabilities in the event of and in preparation for a disaster.

According to a news release from the center, the effort will include:

* Six workshops in English, Spanish and American Sign Language focused on individuals and facilitated by the Red Cross. Bus passes will be provided for those with lower incomes.

* One workshop addressing the corporate community that employs or has a clientele that includes the disabled. Bus passes will be included for those with lower incomes.

* Memory sticks for 200 people to store crucial personal, identifying and financial documents.

Also, the center will become a safe place for up to 20 people, including a three-day emergency supply, should disaster strike, according to the news release.

-- The Californian