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2017 Top Stories of Antelope Valley

OW Staff Writer | 12/29/2017, midnight
A Palmdale elementary school teacher testified this week that she called a...

Kuehl expressed doubts.” Kuehl told her colleagues. “Everybody’s saying no.”

Meanwhile, the county is trying to figure out just how to deal with challenges posed by marijuana businesses.

The fact that marijuana sales are conducted using cash makes dispensaries targets for potentially violent robberies, but also raises odder issues.

Tax collectors worry about handling “suitcases full of cash,” said Joe Nicchitta of the CEO’s Office of Marijuana Management.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas both raised concerns about concentrations of dispensaries in their districts.

“The constituents that I represent are not exactly eager to have these businesses and manufacturing sites next to their homes and schools and parks,” Ridley-Thomas said, telling his colleagues that he wanted to ensure that low-income communities were “not left alone to shoulder the burdens of marijuana legalization.” Solis called for the enforcement effort.

“The First District has more than 40 of these dispensaries,” Solis said. “While there’s a ban, they’re there.”

The vote in favor of enforcement while the ban is in place was unanimous, but Kuehl was more optimistic that legalization would ultimately shut down a black market in cannabis.

“Normalizing it and strictly regulating it is more in our interest,”

Kuehl said, envisioning a day when marijuana edibles are widely on offer in restaurants. “It’ll be a list, like the wine list.”

The county has the option under state law to permanently ban cannabis, but the board consensus seemed to be that thoughtful regulation would be best.

Seat belts protected children in local school bus crash

By Merdies Hayes

OW Staff Writer

Some special needs students and others aboard a school bus that collided with a Cadillac in Lancaster were spared serious injuries and likely have seat belts to thank for it, according to law enforcement.

The injuries of those aboard the bus ranged from moderate to minor in the crash reported about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday at 20th Street East and

East Lancaster Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol, who added that all of the students appeared to be wearing seat belts.

But 55-year-old Robert McLafferty of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., who drove the Cadillac, suffered critical injuries, the CHP said. Lafferty was driving his 2001 Cadillac north on 20th Street East at an unknown speed, when he entered the intersection of East Lancaster Boulevard and collided with the school bus driven by 60-year-old Rosario Torres of Lancaster, who was driving at 40-45 miles per hour, the CHP added.

The front of the school bus struck the left side of the Cadillac, causing the bus to spin out of control and roll onto its side and strike a wooden telephone pole, the CHP said. The pole was severed at the base.

Both drivers, two aides and five of the eight students on the bus were taken to hospitals for their injuries.

The cause of the collision was under investigation.

The accident brings up a long-standing dilemma: Why don’t more school buses have seatbelts? Primarily, cost is the determining factor based on a study conducted a few years ago by the Alabama State Department of Education that found it could cost more than $30 million to outfit all of the state’s school buses with seatbelts. The bus in the Lancaster crash was a smaller vehicle—weighing less than 10,000 pounds—and those busses are mandated by the federal government to have seatbelts. Larger buses—like the standard long yellow school bus that make up about 80 percent of the nation’s fleet—are much heavier and their passengers sit much higher and closer together, reportedly making them safer in collisions.