Kern County’s unemployment rate jumped significantly in December, according to new data from the Employment Development Department.

The county’s rate rose from 7.4 percent in November to 8.6 percent in December. Bakersfield’s rates also rose from 6.6 percent to 7.7 percent. Out of the major county cities, California City had the highest rate at 17.9 percent, an increase from 15.6 percent in November.

Taft had the lowest rate of the cities at 5.6 percent.

The Bakersfield Women's March will be held on Saturday. 

The event will be held at Central Park at Mill Creek, located on 21st Street, and will start at 10:30 a.m. with a pre-march rally that will include speakers, booths and other activities. The march itself will start at noon.

The march will wind its way westward on 21st Street before turning south onto Q Street, turning east onto 17th Street, then going north along Mill Creek before returning to the park.

After the march, there will be more speakers, entertainment, food and other activities.

Local group Ridgecrest United will hold its Women’s March event on Sunday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Petroglyph Park.  

Local high school students will participate in a mock trial competition on Saturday.

The competition will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kern County Superior Court, located at 1415 Truxtun Ave. An awards ceremony naming the top five performing teams will be at 4:30 p.m. at East High School, located at 2200 Quincy St.

The winning school will represent the county at the statewide mock trial.

The California Department of Transportation will be closing several ramps and lanes of southbound Highway 99 on Saturday.

The department said it will close the on-ramps from Ming Avenue and White Lane, as well as an offramp to White Lane. The far right lane of the freeway between the two streets will also be closed. The closures will happen between 5:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The on-ramp from Olive Drive will be closed on Sunday as well as the right lane of Highway 99 between the Highway 204 connector and the Airport Drive overcrossing. Those closures will also take place between 5:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes if possible.

Dignity Health Bakersfield is partnering with several schools for a Great Kindness Challenge next week.

From Monday through Friday next week, students from four elementary schools and one high school are tasked with completing 50 acts of kindness. They will also participate in several schoolwide activities.

Some of the activities include writing and delivering get-well cards for hospital patients, writing letters to military personnel as well as participating in a lunch that aims to build relationships between typical high school students and those with special needs.

The participating schools are: Hart Elementary, Hort Elementary, Bimat Elementary, McKinley Elementary and Centennial High School. 

The activities are part of the worldwide Great Kindness Challenge program, developed by nonprofit Kids for Peace, that aims to create a culture of kindness in schools.

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