HIT: We now have a date for the opening of Westside Parkway. The long-awaited new freeway connecting Truxtun Extension east of Highway 99 to Allen Road in the west will open in August. This new parkway is projected to ease traffic on some of the city's most congested roads: Truxtun and California avenues and Stockdale and Rosedale highways. Soon, traveling from downtown Bakersfield to northwest Bakersfield (or vice versa) won't take quite as long. And with landscaping and other minor aesthetic additions set to be installed, the view won't be so bad either.

HIT: Do-gooders got it done

They might have headed to the beach or an amusement park, but 47 high school kids from Nebraska, whose plans to help a farm ministry were dashed at the last moment, rolled up their sleeves and performed some volunteer work instead. Teens from Messiah Lutheran in Lincoln, Neb., warned to stay away from their intended destination due to a flu outbreak, seized the unexpected opportunity to help out by spending almost a week working at the soon-to-open community garden on Joshua Street near Pacheco Road in Bakersfield. The community expressed its appreciation by lending the group a bus for a week and buying treats to keep them cool and energized during their hours under the sun.

Starting Tuesday two of the biggest names in fast food will take a step in the direction of health. Starbucks will post calorie information for drink items at all stores and add calorie "tags" to their bakery items. And Taco Bell will unveil its new Power Protein Menu in Dayton, Ohio -- a menu that includes meals under 450 calories with more than 20 grams of protein and two new zero-calorie beverages: SoBe Life Water Yumberry Pomegranate and Brisk No Calorie Peach Iced Green Tea. Every little bit helps.

MISS: Autism and pollution

Researchers have made two discoveries on autism: s a link between the baffling disorder and chemicals in air pollution, and a disconnect in brain writing may be to blame for associated language difficulties. While the initial discovery about air pollution and autism was made back in 2006, newer studies have substantiated the findings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 50 U.S. children are diagnosed with autism or a similar disorder, and that number seems to increase each year. It's a meaningful link for us to note in this, one of the nation's most polluted regions.

HIT: Job numbers just keep improving

Is it safe now to wave goodbye to the Great Recession? Each day's news seems to give us another reason to think it might be appropriate. Numbers out last Friday show that Kern County's unemployment rate is now the lowest it's been in more than five years.

According to Sheila Urdesich of the Labor Market Information Division of California's Employment Development Department. Kern's unemployment rate stood at 10.9 percent this May. In January 2008, the unemployment rate in Kern was 9.8. The unemployment rate also improved from the revised 12.1 percent in April. It's also a big improvement from a year ago, when the rate stood at 13.2 percent.