This Saturday, at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools' maintenance yard, volunteers from the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women will distribute 20,000 new books to children from underserved Bakersfield communities.

Their motivation: Literacy rates have a direct correlation to further success in academia and in life.

The books will be donated to local schools, after-school programs and community programs serving students from low-income families and Title I schools. Pi Phi members from across the Bakersfield area will help lift, carry and sort books and facilitate interactive children’s activities.

The book distribution is taking place in honor of Pi Beta Phi’s Fraternity Day of Service, an annual event bringing Pi Phis together to serve their communities through literacy-related service. Bakersfield was chosen as one of the event locations because it is an area of great need. Pi Beta Phi will be donating a total of 105,000 brand-new books to children in communities across the country in early March.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to bring free books to children, families and deserving organizations focused on improving literacy,” said Kealy O’Brien and Christina Rajlal, co-chairs of the Bakersfield event. “We know from our research that one in four people who live in Kern County lives in extreme poverty. With this awareness, it’s not surprising that 69 percent of children do not meet grade level standards on state tests. By providing 20,000 free books, we hope to make an impact on improving basic literacy rates throughout the Bakersfield area.”

Pi Beta Phi, founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, has 205 collegiate chapters and nearly 300 alumnae clubs worldwide. 

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The American Heart Association will be hosting its annual Go Red For Women luncheon this Friday at The DoubleTree by Hilton in Bakersfield. The event will begin with a health conference and silent auction at 9 a.m., followed by the noon luncheon and a program that will include a Macy’s-sponsored fashion show. 

Jessica Grimes, who in 2016 was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, the same diagnosis that claimed her two sisters in 2010 and 2014, will be the featured speaker. In July 2017 she had surgery to put in an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to keep track of her heart rate and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heart beat if an abnormal rhythm is detected.

“I don’t think of myself as a survivor,"she writes." I have come to think of myself as someone blessed and lucky to have this opportunity to every day be my best self.”

The annual Go Red For Women campaign is intended to raise awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and encourages them to take preventive measures to reduce their risk. 

For more information, visit KERNGoRed.heart.org.

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The Bakersfield Heart Hospital Women's Heart Center will celebrate its five-year anniversary Tuesday. The center will host a reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 3001 Sillect Ave. Heart-ailment survivors will be on hand to tell their stories. Refreshments will be served.

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Highway repairs and improvements throughout the greater Bakersfield area are in full swing, and two projects in particular will inconvenience drivers over the course of the next few weeks. For the greater good, of course.

These updates are courtesy of the Bakersfield city manager's office:

• Northbound Highway 99 and Ming Avenue off-ramp closures

Nighttime closures for paving operations in the vicinity of the northbound Highway 99 at the Ming Avenue off-ramp will run through March 1 — a delay put in place because of low nighttime temperatures.

The two outside lanes on northbound 99, as well as the Ming Avenue off-ramp, are expected to be closed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. while work is underway. Electrical work along Highway 58 continues, requiring closures of the eastbound 58-Union Avenue on-ramp, the westbound 58-Union Avenue on-ramp, and the westbound 58-Chester Avenue off-ramp.

The two outside lanes of eastbound S58, between Highway 99 and H Street, will also be needed for placement of a new sign structure. This work is continue through Thursday night, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. At least one freeway lane will remain open to traffic while work is underway, but motorists will need to enter or exit the freeway from an adjacent interchange during the ramp closures.

• Full weekend closure northbound from Highway 99 to the eastbound Highway 58 connector ramp: March 2-5.

A full closure of the northbound Highway 99 to eastbound Highway 58 connector ramp has been scheduled for the weekend of March 2-5. The closure, which is expected to be in effect from 9 p.m. Friday, March 2 through 5 a.m. Monday, March 5, is needed to complete work prior to switching traffic onto the newly constructed connector bridge.

During the closure, northbound truck traffic should use Highway 223 to access eastbound Highway 58. Other vehicles can exit northbound 99 at the Stockdale Highway exit and enter eastbound 58 via the on-ramp at Real Road. 

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Two nonprofits are joining forces to provide 350 students in the Arvin, Lake Isabella, Lamont and Taft areas with free eye exams and glasses this week through Wednesday. Advanced Center for Eyecare, or ACE, and the national nonprofit OneSight will be teaming up for the seventh time.

Doctors and volunteers from the two organizations will be visiting several locations throughout Kern County to check the eyesight of elementary and middle school students.

The American Optometric Association estimates that a fourth of all school-aged children have vision issues bad enough to impact academic performance.

The children getting the exams have been pre-screened; walk-ins are not accepted.

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The first Firehouse Subs restaurant in Bakersfield opened Monday at 3700 California Ave. The restaurant, operated by local franchisees Mike Kamrani and Navid Sapir, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This is the second restaurant for Kamrani and Sapir; they plan to continue development in the Southern California market.

“We couldn’t ask for a better place to open than Bakersfield, or a more perfect brand to invest with and grow," said Kamrani, who has been in the restaurant business for 17 years.

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California's 2017-18 general spring turkey hunting season opens statewide on March 31 and extends through May 6, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday. The archery-only hunting season follows immediately afterward, running from May 7-20.

Young hunters will have additional opportunities to bag a spring tom turkey. Junior Hunting License holders may hunt the weekend before the general opener, March 24 and 25, and the two weeks after the general season closes, May 7-20, using shotguns or any other legal method of take.

Nonlead shot is required when taking wild turkeys with a shotgun anywhere in the state except when hunting on licensed game bird clubs.

CDFW is offering 89 separate special turkey hunting opportunities throughout the state. To apply for these hunts, visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales. For more details visit wildlife.ca.gov/turkey-hunts.