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Kern County: A decade in review

A historic look back at the past 10 years here in Kern County
Posted at 6:01 PM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-31 21:01:39-05

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — The decade started with new life in Downtown Bakersfield.

The historic Padre hotel, originally opened in 1928, underwent a transformation to become a four star boutique hotel with restaurants, nightlife and venues.

In 2012 Barack Obama, president at the time, paid a visit to Kern County to dedicate Nuestra Señora Reina De La Paz near Keene, the home of late United Farm Workers Union co-founder Cesar Chavez, as a national monument.

2013 started off in panic when Kern County experienced its first school shooting on January 10.

16-year-old Bryan Oliver entered a Taft Union High classroom armed with a gun and shot classmate Bowe Cleveland in the chest, causing serious injuries.

In August, the parkway opened connecting the westside of town. The first freeway in almost 40 years in Kern County.

In 2014 we shared a video that gained national attention. A family cat Tara saved 4-year-old Jeremy from being attacked by a dog. The surveillance video went viral all over the world

2014 also brought tragedy when Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight out of eastern Kern, killing one pilot and injuring another.

In 2015, Bakersfield celebrated as our Condors became part of the American Hockey League. The milestone came with a makeover to what was then known as Rabobank Arena.

Over the next couple of years we lost a couple of Kern County legends.

On August 9, 2015 NFL Hall of Famer, NFL announcer and Bakersfield High Driller alumni Frank Gifford died at 84-years-old.

Then April 6, 2016 brought the loss of one of the founding members of the Bakersfield Sound. Country legend Merle Haggard died at the age of 79 on his birthday.

The summer brought destruction, the Erskine Fire, Kern County's most destructive wildfire in history. Erskine killed two people, destroyed nearly 300 structures and burned 50 thousand acres in the Lake Isabella area.

In 2017 the largest mass shooting in modern history, the Route 91 shooting, had unfortunate ties to Kern County. Of the 58 killed, five victims had ties to our community: Kelsey Meadows, Jack Beaton, Bailey Schweitzer, Melissa Ramirez and Victor Link.

On November 12, 2017, it was here in Bakersfield at Mercy Downtown Hospital that mass murderer and former cult leader Charles Manson died at the age of 83.

In 2018 the City of Bakersfield mourned former Mayor Harvey Hall. He passed away on May 19, from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Thousands turned out for his memorial services that included a procession of his hall ambulances and emergency personnel in Downtown Bakersfield.

And this year, nobody could escape the jolting on 4th of July.

As we awaited the holiday fireworks, instead, the ground shook.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Searles Valley just outside of Ridgecrest, shook Kern County and beyond.

But that was just the beginning. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake followed the next day.

A state of emergency was declared and for days thousands were without power. water or displaced from their homes altogether. The damage has been estimated in the billions.