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Appraiser Gary Crabtree

TBC

Bakersfield home prices held steady in December even as supply grew and demand fell, according to a new report.

Appraiser Gary Crabtree’s preliminary report for that month says the median price of an existing single-family home in the city was unchanged from November at $215,000. That price represented a 10.3 percent increase from December 2014, a year-to-year jump Crabtree wrote off as a statistical “outlier.”

Closed sales of existing Bakersfield homes dropped 17 percent to 409 in December, while the number of listings increased 7.2 percent to 1,509, the owner of Affiliated Appraisers reported.

“Overall, I interpret the market conditions as ’quite normal’ and as stable as we have seen for some time,” Crabtree said in a note accompanying the report.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is accepting applications through Feb. 29 for a scholarship program it says will award $1 million to California higher education students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Winners of PG&E’s Better Together STEM Scholarship program, formerly known as Bright Minds, will receive up to $20,000 per year for up to five years. Non-winner finalists will get $2,000 each.

Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program at an accredited college, university or vocational-technical school for the full 2016-17 academic year. Application information is available online at scholarshipamerica.org/pge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded research grants totaling $20.1 million to help in the fight against Huanglongbing, the so-far incurable, insect-borne disease threatening California’s citrus industry.

Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, the money was divided among seven universities across the country. The only school in the Golden State to receive a grant, the University of California, Riverside, got about $4 million to develop a new disease detection method and create new rootstocks immune to Huanglongbing.

In California, the disease has not spread beyond Los Angeles County. But the insect that carries it, the Asian citrus psyllid, has been found across the southern Central Valley.

Kern County farmers may qualify for financial incentives of up to $5,000 for every diesel-fueled pump engine they replace with one powered by propane.

The incentives apply to purchases of new, low-emission engines up to 21.9 liters in size. There are also incentives available for prime power generators and building heat systems.

The money is being given out, while it lasts, by the Propane Education & Research Council, established by Congress in 1996. Last year, the council distributed $495,000 in grants to agricultural producers in 19 states.

Information about how to apply for an incentive can be found online at propane.com/agriculture/programs-and-incentive.

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