Kern County's home-price appreciation rate ranked eighth in the nation last month on a year-over-year basis, according to

Four California areas topped Kern's 20.08 percent annual appreciation, including first-place Stockton-Lodi (38.88 percent) and seventh-place Fresno County (21.16 percent), the website reported. Los Angeles could came in ninth (20 percent). noted that Kern's home price median -- the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less -- was $179,999 in February.

The Bakersfield Blaze is inviting people to apply for more than 100 seasonal positions at a job fair from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Among the day-of-game positions the baseball team says it is looking to fill: bat boy, stadium usher, concessions staff, food servers, merchandise store salesperson, kids' zone staff and ticket booth representative.

Applicants are asked to bring a resume and wear professional attire to the event at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. Additionally, job applications can be downloaded at the team's website,

Minorities are the focus of a Bakersfield symposium on oil and natural gas job opportunities set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The free event at the Kern County Administration Building, 1115 Truxtun Ave., is part of an eight-city tour. It is being hosted by the nonprofits Hispanics in Energy and the American Association of Blacks in Energy.

Les Schwab Tire Centers has opened two new stores in Bakersfield.

The locations -- 2512 Oswell St. and 4901 Ming Ave. -- are open most days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., though they close at 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has awarded $40,000 to local schools as part of the $255,000 it gave out under its Bright Idea Grants program.

The San Francisco-based gas and electric utility announced $10,000 grants to Independence High, Millie Munsey Elementary, Ridgeview High and Kern County Superintendent of Schools.

The grants are intended to support understanding of renewable energy through things like field trips and science projects.

The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce has joined a national network that keeps members up to date on federal and state-level legislation affecting small business.

The Small Business Majority's strategic partnership program links the chamber with more than 400,000 enterprises across the country. It allows chamber members to participate in events such as a briefings with government officials and policy experts.

Telecommunications companies continue to make substantial investments in Kern County, according to recent announcements from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Verizon said it recently added a new cell site in the Frazier Park area that will improve voice and 4G LTE service near Pine Mountain Club. Another site in the Wasco area is expected to improve those same offerings along McCombs Road, Kimberlina Road, Juniper Avenue and Gun Club Road.

For its part, AT&T said it has spent more than $110 million improving its wireless and wired networks in the Bakersfield area between 2011 and 2013. It said last year alone it made 73 network upgrades, including new cell sites.