Bakersfield City Councilman Ken Weir has combined his accounting firm with another in town, Hardaway Axume CPAs LLP.

The new firm, dubbed Hardaway Axume Weir CPAs LLP, will be owned by Donald R. Hardaway Jr., Oscar I. Axume and Weir. All three are certified public accountants.

The firm’s specialties range from management services and financial planning to business development and income taxes. Its address is 5001 California Ave., Suite 121.

Closing out a record year of earnings, Valley Republic Bank posted a 25 percent jump in quarterly net income, to $983,000, during the three months ended Dec. 31.

The Bakersfield-based financial institution’s income for the year came to $3.54 million, 30.3 percent more than it reported in 2014.

Valley Republic said its net loans ended 2015 at $316.3 million, 29.4 percent more than a year earlier. Its total assets as of Dec. 31 came to $490.5 million, 16.4 percent greater than 2014’s tally.

“Our accomplishments since the inception of the bank on Feb. 2, 2009 are impressive,” President and CEO Bruce Jay said in a news release.

“Valley Republic Bank is close to $500 million assets, with consistent year over year growth in both assets and earnings,” he continued. “This is especially significant when compared (with) challenging economic conditions over the past seven years.”

Kern County hospitals together generate $7.9 million in annual spending and 55,235 jobs, according to a new study by Cal State Bakersfield economist Abbas Grammy on 10 health centers’ direct and indirect local economic impacts.

Hospital construction alone provides 112 direct and indirect jobs, while overall spending by health centers produces $1.1 billion per year in tax revenue, with 30 percent of that money going to state and local governments.

Based largely on 2013 data from the State of California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, Grammy’s study was commissioned by the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California.

“The 2015 Economic Impact Analysis of Hospitals in Kern County illustrates why the region’s hospitals are important to our communities and the region as a whole, and why it is necessary to invest in and protect our regional health-care safety net,” the council said in a note accompanying Grammy’s report.

San Joaquin Community Hospital has won a top national honor for the second consecutive year.

Healthgrades, an online provider of information about physicians and hospitals, awarded SJCH the 2016 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence.

The award puts the hospital among the top 5 percent of more than 4,500 U.S. hospitals, as ranked by clinical performance.

A new business has opened in Bakersfield providing various services to help senior citizens continue living independently.

Jax & Lady owner Sandy Buchanan, herself a baby-boomer, says the business caters to people with a range of health and mobility issues.

“Having a helping hand available improves quality of life and reduces fear of losing independence,” she wrote in an email.

The company’s phone number is 426-5359. Buchanan’s email address is

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