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Communities at Odds Over Haggard Honors

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) _ A dispute is brewing over which of two central California communities should be the first to honor country music legend Merle Haggard.

Bakersfield planning commissioners voted last week to turn a stretch of road into Merle Haggard Way. That didn't sit well with Oildale native Tom Clark, who appealed the decision Friday.

Clark said Haggard grew up in Oildale and that the small community north of the Kern River should be the first to honor the singer.

``This is a great problem to have,'' said Don Jaeger with the Bakersfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. ``We've got people fighting over honoring Merle.''

Bakersfield wants to honor Haggard as part of a driving tour of sites around the city important to the history of the Bakersfield sound. Jaeger said he's open to speaking with Clark, and community officials will speak before the Bakersfield City Council takes up Clark's appeal.

``Our goal is to get an honor for Merle, while he's alive,'' Jaeger said. ``If there is a better plan then we'd sure like to see it.''
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