The Almond Board of California has chosen five Bakersfield-area residents to participate in a year-long program designed to improve their leadership and communication skills for the benefit of their industry, careers and communities.

Dominique Camou, April Nuckles, Jerrett Thomason, Kristina Qualls and Chandler Wilson will join 14 others from around the state to attend monthly seminars on topics ranging from marketing to scientific research and food safety. Each participant will be expected to produce a self-directed project helping advance industry knowledge.

Camou is a grower relations representative for Famoso Nut. Nuckles serves as director of grower relations at HarvestPort. Thomason is a relationship manager at Wells Fargo Food and Agribusiness who also consults for his family's almond operation. Qualls oversees food safety, quality control, pest control and sanitation for South Valley Almond Co. LLC. Wilson works as a sales representative for NutriAg USA Ltd.

Former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star and breast cancer survivor Shannen Doherty will be the keynote speaker at the Bakersfield Women's Business Conference in April.  

"We had discussed the idea of finding someone who was a breast cancer survivor because the chair for last year's conference passed away from (breast cancer) in the past year," said Irma Cervantes, chair of marketing for the conference.

Diane Williams, who owned Diane Williams Insurance, was last year's chair.

Cervantes said this year's organizers wanted to find a speaker who could express the importance of women taking care of themselves and living a healthy life. She said Doherty was sought by organizers before the recent death of her "Beverly Hills, 90210" co-star Luke Perry.

Known for her roles in a variety of popular television series, including "Little House on the Prairie," "Our House," "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Charmed," Doherty also has performed on the big screen with roles in such films as "Heathers," "Mall Rats" and "Christmas Caper."

Born in Memphis, Doherty's family moved to Los Angeles when she was 7. By the age of 10, she had made her professional television debut on "Father Murphy," which led to her role on "Little House."

Doherty is also a host of "Scare Tactics," director of "Charmed" and author of "Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude." In addition, Doherty co-hosts the Great American Country series "Off the Map With Shannen and Holly."

In 2015, Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been open throughout the process of her treatment, which has sparked a conversation in the media that she hopes inspires others fighting cancer.

The conference's opening speaker will be local businesswoman Raji Brar. The closing speaker will be Jay Shetty, a so-called "urban monk," British social media star and motivational speaker.

The conference takes place Thursday, April 25.

Bakersfield ranked 20th in the nation for homeownership affordability in March, according to an analysis by real estate data website RealtyHop.

The area's median household income of $60,058, combined with a median for-sale home list price of $262,450, mean 26.1 percent of a Bakersfield family's income must go toward mortgage payments, according to RealtyHop.

By that gauge, Bakersfield beats more than three-quarters of the nation's 100 largest cities. The least-affordable market listed by RealtyHop is in Los Angeles, where 89 percent of a family's income is required to buy an average home. The most affordable market was in Detroit, where buying a home takes up 12.4 percent of the average family's income.

Recent data show rental housing prices in Bakersfield nudged up just one-tenth of 1 percent in February, and during the previous 12 months rose a single percentage point.

As reported by online rental marketplace Apartment List, the median rental price of a two-bedroom apartment in the city was $940 in February. That was 20 percent below the national average.

Wells Fargo reported donating $2.7 million to Central Valley communities through 159 grants to nonprofits, schools and community organizations in 2018.

The San Francisco-based bank said it contributed in the areas of affordable housing, small business growth, economic equity, access to education and minimizing the effects of climate change.

Wells listed Self-Help Enterprises, Habitat for Humanity and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as among the recipients of its donations last year.

The owner of Screenmobile of Bakersfield, Jason Frazier, has been honored by the company for staying in business for five years.

The Thousand Palms-based franchise said that since 2014, Frazier has arrived in uniform to measure, make, install, repair and test window, door and patio screens. Screenmobile has licensed more than 100 franchisees in 26 states.

The Kern County Wool Growers Auxiliary is soliciting applications for a $1,000 scholarship it hopes to award to a qualified Kern County high-school or college student.

Applicants will compete based on their grades, membership in organizations such as 4-H, farming experience, extra-curricular activities, community service and a three-page essay.

The theme of the essay this year is: "Consumer awareness of 'where food comes from' and 'food safety' is at an all-time high. How does agriculture continue to keep the public at ease in delivering a safe, healthy product?"

The deadline for applications is April 17. For information, call President Janet Barreneche at 661-589-2926, or email her at

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