Taft will be losing its Kmart store this year, the only big retail store of its kind in town.

Sears Holdings Inc., which owns both Kmart and Sears, has announced it is closing 103 stores by April, including the Kmart in Taft located at Gardner Field Road.

The move comes after the troubled company closed nearly 400 stores last year due to declining sales, largely because of online shopping and competition from companies such as Walmart and Target. 

Once the Kmart is closed, Taft will still have a couple of smaller chain stores in town, including Albertsons, Rite Aid and Dollar Tree. Taft also has a Sears Hometown store, but that has not currently been scheduled to be closed. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Thursday a slate of new Farm Service Agency state committee appointees, and a local resident is one of them.

Greg Wegis has been selected as the committee chair for California, representing the Bakersfield/Buttonwillow area. State committees are responsible for carrying out the FSA’s farm programs.

“The state committees will help to ensure USDA is providing our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers with the best customer service,” Perdue said.

“They serve as a liaison between USDA and the producers in each state across the nation by keeping them informed and hearing their appeals and complaints," he said. "The committees are made up mostly of active farmers and ranchers, representing their peers and ensuring USDA’s programs are supporting the American harvest.”

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County is kicking off another year of service to children who've been caught up in the court system with a party on Jan. 25.

The party will be held from 6-8 p.m. at The Gardens at Monji, located at 9401 Shellabarger Road. Tickets are $50, with money raised from the event going to support the organization, which matches foster children with trained advocates who speak for them in court.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 631-2272 or going online to kerncasa.org.