CITY BEAT New roof, Mill House award, skeeters -

CITY BEAT: New roof, Mill House award, skeeters

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By Theo Douglas/ The Californian

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Theo Douglas covers municipal government for The Californian. He writes in this spot every Friday. Contact him at at or on Twitter @TBCCityBeat.

Twice before, contractors have fixed the boxy little houses roof and ceiling — taking the mother-daughter duos savings from their fixed incomes.

Until recently, their substandard work let in both sun and rain.

In May, workers from Rebuilding Together Kern County secured a $5,000 grant from Chevron to patch the living room ceiling, fix their front door and remodel their bathroom.

But their application for a grant to replace the roof wasnt accepted, and so for months it went untouched.

Chevron gave us enough money to do the bathroom, but we didnt have enough money for the roof, said Greg Collins, RTKC chairman.

On Saturday, with a dumpster from Price Disposal and $3,000 from Ward 1 Councilman Willie Riveras campaign, they finally tore the roof off.

You could literally see daylight in places, said Rivera, who met the family last year.

He showed up shortly before 11:30 a.m. Saturday to help load ancient asphalt shingles in the dumpster.

The tiny house, which is about 900 square feet, according to real estate records, wouldnt get a replacement immediately because the roof beams also needed work and an inspection.

Work will either continue or conclude this weekend.

Lopez-Gonsouland, who like her 92-year-old mother has health issues, said she was impressed with the effort — and with Rivera for stepping up.

I give anybody a chance, and I told him Id give him a chance and see what hed do. And hes living up to par, said Lopez-Gonsouland, 52. Hes been good, and Id vote for him in November.

Rivera is up for re-election Nov. 4. Collins said hes happy the women will be dry this winter.

Were glad to be able to do it. Its frustrating to us because we cant do everything that needs to be done, but were glad to do something to make their lives more livable, Collins said.

MT. VERNON OFF-RAMP TALKS: Caltrans is scrutinizing traffic and accident counts for the eastbound Highway 178 off-ramp to Mount Vernon Avenue after a referral from Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell.

The off-ramp, which was last modified in 2005, widens to four lanes at the signal but is one lane where it exits the freeway. Maxwell said hes seen idling motorists lined up onto the freeway at peak times.

He thinks Bakersfield should consider paying to widen the off-ramp to two lanes if other sources cant be found.

Itd be nice if we could maybe solve that problem and if the city of Bakersfield has to pay for that Im OK with it, Maxwell said.

The off-ramp is actually in Ward 3, but the freeway is state-controlled, so Public Works Director Nick Fidler contacted Caltrans to suggest it evaluate the expansion.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Weir said he supports having Caltrans examine traffic at the intersection.

Id love to know that information, and if it dictates changes need to be made there Id fully support that, Weir said.

Caltrans District 6 Director Sharri Bender-Ehlert said statistics will take about a month to compile.

She said traffic has increased since the Home Depot and other stores have opened.

As soon as they built that stuff right there off of Mount Vernon, it started impacting that interchange, Bender-Ehlert said. I dont have specifics so I dont want to throw (the city) under the bus, but I know we have commented on development at that location in the past.

AWARD ROLLS IN TO MILL HOUSE: The American Society of Civil Engineers, a professional group of the engineers who build bridges, highways, parks, airports and other infrastructure, keeps on loving Mill Creek Linear Park.

The parks Mill House, its 1,001-square-foot reservation-only activity center, will receive the 2014 Small Project award for ASCEs Los Angeles section on Nov. 5 in Long Beach — after winning the ASCEs local chapter award last month.

Mill Creek Linear Park received statewide recognition from ASCE in 2012, and Mill House could too, but Richard Meyer of Meyer Civil Engineering, which created Mill House, said competition for statewide awards is typically stiffer.

Theres no giant cash award associated with winning Small Project, which recognizes projects that cost less than $1 million.

(Mill House, which opened in July 2013, was paid for with $667,000 in Capital Outlay Funds and $273,000 in Proposition 1C money.)

Meyer, who gets to accept the honor, said receiving a plaque from ones peers is recognition enough.

Mill House, he agreed, is very likely ASCEs only honoree this year to have a working 12-foot by 3-foot mill wheel that generates electrical power.

Pretty rare. I would say its probably the first one. Its an old technology applied to a new idea, Meyer said.

Mill House was designed to be reminiscent of a flour mill once nearby.

MOSQUITOS HAVE A NEW ENEMY: The Kern Mosquito and Vector Control District, which terminates mosquito-breeding areas with extreme prejudice, isnt as wildly popular as might be expected — but thats changing.

The district, which is comprised of representatives from all Kern County cities within its borders, has lacked a Bakersfield representative for 10 months, but an applicant has finally come forward and will be considered for appointment at the Nov. 5 meeting of the Bakersfield City Council.

For now, however, the position — finishing a two-year term that expires Dec. 31, 2015 — is still open. If youre interested, contact your council representative, visit the citys website at or call the City Clerks office at 326.3767.

The board meets once a month and members are paid $100 a month.

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