Hit — This one really could have been a "miss."
Reports of an active shooter at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Tuesday afternoon proved to be a hoax, but not before the hospital called a "Code Black," placing the entire facility under a lockdown, and fraying nerves for blocks around.
Afterward, Chief Operating Officer Ken Keller praised hospital staff for working to secure patients, visitors and themselves.
Tuesday's incident represented the second report of an active shooter at a local hospital in the past four months — the first being at Mercy Hospital Southwest in August. A 46-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of making false reports. Mario Thompson, asked about the Memorial incident, told a local television station he wasn't responsible for "this one."
Such incidents do not come without a domino effect of some sort. The false alert led to lockdowns at two nearby schools, closed roadways in the area and it stressed the entire neighborhood, much of it made up of medical facilities. Additionally, given the number of law enforcement officers at the scene, people experiencing true emergencies elsewhere might have had slower response times.
Still, considering the alternative, this outcome — a hoax — is the better scenario.
Now comes the lesson. Did the system work well enough during the Code Black lockdown, or can improvements be made? And is there a way to root out hoaxes more efficiently? Hospital and law enforcement officials need to find out.
Miss — The “Best Tasting Water in California” has gone sour.
A Kern County Grand Jury has given Rand Communities Water District, which oversees water services for the eastern Kern desert communities of Randsburg, Johannesburg and Red Mountain 120 days to correct severe inadequacies in its business practices or it will be placed in receivership through the State Water Resources Control Board.
The grand jury's report cited levels of arsenic in the water that occasionally rose above state requirements. Additionally, leaks due to poor maintenance and infrastructure aging resulted in a 43 percent water loss equaling $24,224 in lost revenue, the report found.
Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer and skin lesions, according to the World Health Organization.
Before residents suffer, the Rand Communities Water District needs to clean up its act. The Kern County Grand Jury deserves credit for rooting this one out.
Hit — The city's proposed sales tax increase got a late bushel of votes and, after trailing for two weeks, passed after all. The benefits of the one-cent tax hike will outweigh the costs.
In a 97-vote decision, Measure N finished with 45,835 yes votes to 45,738 no votes, according to the Kern County Elections Office.
Starting April 1, the city sales tax goes from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent, generating an estimated $50 million per year.
One of the most important benefits of the measure's passage is city's newfound ability to hire 100 new police officers, a move that would allow the Bakersfield Police Department to respond to a more complaints in person. That'll be a welcome improvement for frustrated victims of lesser crimes.
Improvements and upgrades throughout downtown Bakersfield are also expected.
City residents might be paying a little more, but they'll get a whole lot in return.
Hit — Here's to the preservation of local history.
Amestoy’s proprietor Mike Miller announced in a Californian interview last month he would close the landmark bar next summer, and he offered to donate the bar's neon sign to the Kern County Museum. After the museum's CEO declined the offer due to the costs associated with repairs and restoration, community members offered a lending hand.
The Harry and Ethel West Foundation is providing up to $1,200 for any costs associated with pulling down, stabilizing and transporting the sign. Another anonymous donor will cover the restoration of the sign and expenses associated with mounting it at the museum.
This is the kind of community teamwork that makes Bakersfield shine bright.