Sunday, February 16, 2020

Is the golden era of the "rock star" priest over? An essay on what the Fresno County District Attorney's report may mean for Monsignor Craig Harrison, his accusers, his followers and the house divided that he left behind

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

An essay expressing my views ...

When the history of the Father Craig case is written, we may look back to a single press release from the Fresno County District Attorney's Office that would change everything.
 After a lengthy investigation, the DA's office had found "credible" reason that Monsignor Craig Harrison had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with a young man at a church in Firebaugh back in the 1990s.
 And yet, no charges would be filed because of the statute of limitations. But there it was, laid out for all the world to see: investigators say there's reason to believe some of the accusations against Father Craig.
 It was the journalistic equivalent of a bombshell, triggering an immediate, angry response from Harrison defense attorney Kyle Humphrey in which vowed to sue the Diocese of Fresno, cast doubt on the motives of the lead DA investigator, dismissed it all as a response to the "me too" movement and denounced some of the accusers as "drunks" and people who "chase women" and therefore cannot be believed.
 But at the end of the day, that single-page press release from Fresno may be credited with marking the end to the golden era of Craig Harrison as the popular, rock star priest from St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield, an incredible, almost surreal turn of events in a story that has gripped Harrison's hometown and led to deep divisions in the community.
 Never again will Harrison enjoy the lofty status of the beloved local priest who would turn heads by simply walking into Uricchio's or Luigi's, moving methodically down the aisles shaking hands,
engaging in small talk and basking in the love of so many. Never again will Father Craig preside over services at St. Francis where his wit, humor and keen sense of timing won him the adoration of a community.  Never again will Harrison wear the clerical collar and preside over lavish meals that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes, accomplishments that earned him a star on the walk of fame at the iconic Fox Theater and led a popular Basque restaurant to name a pasta dish after him.
 That era ended when Fresno County became the first investigative agency to concede that some of the men who have accused Harrison of sexual impropriety could be telling the truth, deflating or seriously setting back the aggressive and well funded Harrison defense strategy of slapping defamation lawsuits on critics,  denouncing the accusers as drunks and liars and shrewdly trying to convince the public that the Diocese had treated him unfairly. He's not to blame, the argument went, it's the Diocese that is guilty of treating our Father Craig like a criminal. How dare they listen to these men who are only out for money? How dare anyone cast aversions on "our Father Craig."
 Clearly, this case is far from over but the Fresno County decision may have marked the high water mark of Harrison's defense; never before had any police or law enforcement agency given credence to the accusations of now adult men who were just children when they alleged Father Craig had preyed on them, much less going so far to describe them as "credible" while explaining that it is common in cases of sexual abuse for alleged victims to wait years to come forward.
 So while there are miles to go in this case, it may boil down to this: Craig Harrison may never return to St. Francis, nor will he likely ever face criminal charges. That era, those halcyon days when Father Craig was arguably the most popular and trusted man in town, is over. The beginning of the end came last April when he was placed on suspension by the Diocese, and it was carved in stone when the Fresno County DA issued its report. In the course of less than a year, Craig Harrison, a beloved BHS Driller and UCLA graduate who rose to a status of adulation rarely seen for a religious leader, a man whose name had been held in such high esteem by so many for so long, had lost it all.

 WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Defense attorney Kyle Humphrey told KERO TV that he is preparing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Fresno and Diocese spokesperson Teresa Dominguez, a tacit admission that the quest to get Harrison returned to the pulpit is not realistic. Rather than returning him to his job, the defense now seems intent on simply trying to clear his name. After all, suing the Catholic Church hardly looks like a ploy to convince the Bishop to return Father Craig to his job. And as he has done before, Humphrey denounced the accusers, called one a "drunk," said the Diocese was reacting to the "me too" movement and alleged - with no evidence - that some of the accusers came forward because  they "see money." He further complained that the Fresno investigators had never interviewed Harrison and he described the investigation as "totally unprofessional." So the lawsuit against the church will go forward, and that will mean a lengthy, costly trial that could go on for years, testing the patience of even Father Craig's most loyal followers.

 WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP? Now that the Firebaugh investigation is over, it will be up to Bishop Joseph Brennan to decide Harrison's fate. That could come rather quickly, or it could take years. No one knows when Brennan will act, but it would be hard to see Brennan bringing Harrison back now that Harrison will be suing the Diocese and his attorneys have spared no expense in blaming the Diocese for his troubles. It is also unknown how a lawsuit against the Diocese may complicate - or delay - the Bishop's decision to remove Harrison.

 DEFROCKING: If Harrison is kicked out of the church, one of the harshest punishment's possible in canon law, he will have been subjected to a process called laicization, meaning the removal of a bishop, priest or decon from the status of being a member of the clergy. It is also called defrocking, where  a cleric is forbidden to wear clerical garb and is stripped of all duties as a priest. It is not a criminal proceeding and Harrison will be free to start a new life, perhaps as a counselor, a life coach, or another vocation of his choosing.

 THE COMMUNITY REACTION: Meanwhile, the community reaction to the Fresno County press release has been predictable: Harrison's die hard supporters were not moved by the Fresno County report, and they took their fury out on anyone who dared criticize the monsignor. They reserved special invective for the Diocese of Fresno, and well heeled Catholics continued to defend him while writing checks to his defense fund. At St. Francis it is particularly ugly: some parishioners have been withholding monetary support and some are refusing to attend the upcoming Kern Catholic Breakfast where Bishop Brennan will speak. "The place will be empty," a supporter told me. "No one is buying tables this year." More remarkable, a few members of the parish have left the church and the faith itself. One prominent couple, who became Catholics late in life because of their devotion to Harrison, have left to join an evangelical church. Others are simply staying at home.

 GOING FORWARD: There is no doubt that Father Craig did a world of good while serving at St. Francis. He has personally counseled thousands, provided grief counseling to so many in time of need and raised millions of dollars for the church and worthy causes. But that was before we learned there were men - first one, then two and now as many as five - who said they had a different experience with Father Craig, ugly dark episodes that no one felt possible. Those accusations are impossible to prove and there are those who still believe Harrison will be returned to the pulpit and life will resume as it left off before last April. It is either that, or the memory of Monsignor Craig Harrison as the "rock star" priest will fade from view, a historical footnote of a time in Bakersfield that no one thought would ever end.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Fresno County DA says charges against Father Craig Harrison appear credible, but statute of limitations prevents filing of charges

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 Citing the statute of limitations on charges that it otherwise found "credible," the Fresno County Attorney's Office will not file charges against Monsignor Craig Harrison in a sexual assault case
dating back to the 1990s.
 The revelation came in a press release that was revealing more for what it didn't say, that for what it did. The press release called the sexual assault allegations against Harrison "credible" and said it was "prevented from proceeding with criminal prosecutions when doing so is prohibited by the statute of limitations.
 "While there allegations made against Monsignor Harrison appear credible to investigators, they reportedly occurred in the 1990s. These allegations were not reported to law enforcement until April of 2019. Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases, but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders."
 It went on to say that while investigators found the allegations against Harrison credible, "we are prevented from proceeding with criminal prosecutions when doing so is prohibited by the statute of limitations."
 The end of the investigation by the Fresno DA's office into the allegations, made by a young man while Harrison served as a priest in Firebaugh, now clears the way for Bishop Joseph Brennan to determine if Harrison is kicked out of the church, returned to Bakersfield or transferred to another parish.
 The Diocese of Fresno suspended Harrison last April, and since then multiple men have come forward with similar allegations that Harrison manipulated them and subjected them to sexual harassment.
 The case has split the Bakersfield community, and some of the most prominent names in Bakersfield have withheld support from St. Francis Parish in protest of the Bishop Brennan's move to suspend Harrison. Some prominent Catholics have even left the church, choosing loyalty to Harrison over devotion to the church.
 Insiders have long expected Brennan's decision to come after the Firebaugh case has been concluded, and that clock is now ticking.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Longtime local journalist Bob Price is leaving The Californian, Supervisor David Couch serves a zinger in his debate with Emilio Huerta, Rep. Kevin McCarthy loses a dog but gains two puppies and a walk down memory lane in vintage Bakersfield

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... BOB PRICE: Bob Price is one of the most recognized - and respected - brands in local journalism, a gifted writer whose prose has graced the pages of The Bakersfield Californian for three decades. He has done almost every job at the paper - from executive editor to opinion editor to
features editor - and he has done it with grace, humility and wit. Now that the fortunes of print have declined, and the local paper sold last year, speculation has focused on Price's next step. Will it be television? Radio? Academia? One thing is for sure, Price is leaving The Californian as a full-time employee but he is saving details of his next step for The Richard Beene Show on Friday, when he will appear at 2:30 p.m. Tune to hear what this local journalistic icon says is his next move.

 * ... BELMONT STREET: Did you catch the debate on KGET between Supervisor David Couch and his opponent, attorney Emilio Huerta? It wasn't much a debate as debates go, 30 minutes of Huerta dodging questions including a pivotal one regarding reports he doesn't even live in the district. And Couch served a zinger at the end, saying the one thing he and his opponent have in common is that neither lives on Belmont Street in Delane, the address given by Huerta as his home address. As reported earlier, he doesn't live there. Ouch.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My wife loves me so much. First she renewed my life insurance policy for a higher sum and then bought me a solo vacation package to China."

* ... PILOT TRAINING: Did you know that 20,000 pilots, or 13 percent of all the American pilots who flew in World War II, were trained at two air bases in Kern County? That would be Minter Field in Shafter and Gardner Field in Taft. Thanks to retired Maj. Gen. Jim Whitehead for that statistic.

 * ... CYNTHIA ZIMMER: District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer took a nasty fall at the Kern County Fairgrounds while leaving the State of the County dinner a few weeks ago, breaking a rib, her shoulder and her left wrist. Despite that, Zimmer has not missed a day of work. Now that is what you call dedication.

 * ... RIP ED: Friends of Edward Lee, the longtime mechanic at Action Sports who died last week, will gather for a bike ride in his honor this Saturday. Kerry Ryan, owner of the bike shop, said the ride will begin at the Park at River Walk at 10 a.m Saturday. Lee, just 53, died from complications of a stroke.

* ... TEDDY AND CASH: Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost his dog Mac recently, but it didn't take long before a couple of new pups were adopted by the family. Meet Teddy and Cash. You will see plenty of pictures of them in the future.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these pictures of Bakersfield in the 1920s courtesy of the Facebook page "Vintage Bakersfield."

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bishop Joseph Brennan to preside over the Kern Catholic Prayer breakfast as we await word on Father Craig Harrison, the BBC turns to Dr. Jeanine Kraybill for political commentary, and did you catch the "snow moon" this weekend?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CRIME: We should have known this was coming. Petty crime, including the "smash and grabs" that are so common now across Kern County, is exploding thanks to the California legislature
decriminalizing "non violent" offenses. In a bid to relieve prison crowding and reduce the number of minorities incarcerated, the state decriminalized the theft of anything that has a value of under $950, and the results have led to a spike in crime across the state. And now we hear that a group of 100 minors went from store to store at Valley Plaza Saturday randomly stealing merchandise and running out the door. Talk to any retailer and they will tell you the same: people simply walk out with their arms full of merchandise. And how can this be good for California?

 * ...SNOW MOON: Did you catch the full moon this weekend?  It's called the snow moon and it is the second full moon of the year. The February full moon is known most commonly as the snow moon for the abundance of snow in mid-winter. February 2020’s full moon is also considered a supermoon.

 * ... PRAYER BREAKFAST: Bishop Joseph Brennan from the Diocese of Fresno will be presiding over the 2020 Kern Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, March 12. Brennan's visit is coming as we all await word on the fate of Monsignor Craig Harrison, who was suspended last April because of allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with young men as far back at the late 1980s and 1990s. Brennan is expected to make a decision on Harrison after the Fresno County District Attorney's office wraps up its investigation into a case in Firebaugh involving Harrison and a then young man. I am told the Fresno DA may render its decision soon, and it will likely cite the statue of limitations in deciding not to charge Harrison. Does that mean Harrison is not guilty or simply that the statue of limitations has expired? Pick your side, but also pay attention to how the Fresno DA words its statement on Harrison. The devil is always in the details. Meanwhile, Brennan is expected to make the final call soon, and how ironic would it be if Brennan comes to St. Francis for the prayer breakfast and holds court in the Craig Harrison Youth Center?

* ... MEASURE D: It probably should come as no surprise that controversy follows local marijuana advocates, and this time the controversy came over a pro Measure D billboard at the corner of Pacheco and Stine roads. The billboard shows a couple dozen smiling detention deputies indicating that they support the medical marijuaa initiative known as Measure D, supported by David Abassi and other cannabis advocates. The problem: the Kern County Detention Officers Association says the billboard is misleading and it did not give permission to use the photo. “KCDOA has not and will not endorse this controversial measure,” said union President Dustin Alkire “It is exceptionally disgraceful that the Central Valley Cannabis Association would use a picture of our hard-working detentions deputies in this manner.” Measure D is being pushed by local marijuana advocates, and it is no surprise the initiative would allow former pot retailers to go back into business. A competing initiative, Measure E, is supported by the Board of Supervisors and is generally seen as more restrictive.

 * .... HEARTBREAK: We have a serious problem here with abused and abandoned dogs, and thank God for the many volunteer organizations that seek to find homes for abused animals. Check out this post: "Anyone out there with a big heart and a deep wallet?? BAILEY needs to be seen ASAP for a tooth abscess!! You can see her right eye is swollen and she’s in pain. Owner is struggling financially right now and a vet bill was the last thing she needed. When it rains, it pours. We all know that feeling. This dog is in a lot of pain, constantly drooling and can’t eat. We can’t let her suffer. Please donate! She’s going to be seen at Banfield on Oswell Street. You can donations send to PayPal or Venmo @bbbrescue2014 or you can call donations in to Banfield for “RILEY” to (661) 871-0053 once she has been admitted.Please help Bailey!!"

 * ... KRAYBILL: Congratulations to CSUB's Dr. Jeanine Kraybill who has been asked to serve as a U.S. political analyst during the presidential campaign for BBC Breakfast, the most watched morning news program in the United Kingdom. A professor of both political science and religious studies, Kraybill has served as a political analyst for The Richard Beene Show on KERN 96.1 FM for the past three years.

 * ... GEARHART: And congratulations to Dr. Richard Gearhart and his wife Diane Blackburn Gearhart on the birth of their second daughter, Reagan Leigh Gearhart. Reagan was born February 4 at 8:36 a.m. Gearhart is a graduate of Clemson University and is currently a professor of economics at CSUB.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: I spotted this picture on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Who remembers the 2003 sinkhole in front of Jim Burke Ford on Oak Street?

 * ... MEMORIES: Just take a look at his shot, compliments of my friend Art Moore, of Barbra Streisand and James Brolin at Woolgrower's take on July 7, 1998.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

It's Girl Scout cookie season again, RIP to Edward Lee of Action Sports, Providence Consulting opens a second office in Fresno a picture of the homeless that live among us

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... PROVIDENCE OPENS IN FRESNO: Big news for Providence Strategic Consulting, Inc., a local governmental affairs firm that has now opened a second office in Fresno. Under president and
CEO Tracy Leach, Providence has grown into one of the most influential local PR firms particularly in the area of energy and fossil fuels. The opening of the office drew attention from the Fresno Business Journal, which noted that Providence has run PR on eight successful ballot initiatives.
Providence has hired Hanford-born and longtime Fresno resident, Monica Sozinho, as government and public affairs manager for the new office.

 * ... GIRL SCOUTS: It's that season again, the annual Girl Scout cookie sale that sends tens of thousands of young girls across the country raising money for their local troops. Ever wonder what the favorite cookie is in your state? Perhaps no surprise, but the Thin Mint is the favorite in California as well as multiple other states including Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

 * ... RIP EDWARD LEE: Not everyone can live the life of a celebrity, or TV personality or political figure. Most of us just try to work and do the right thing, plodding along quietly while playing by the rules and leading good, productive lives. And that would describe Ed Lee, who touched thousands of lives with his quiet, unassuming manner and quick wit. Unless you were into exercise and fitness, or hung out at Kerry Ryan's Action Sports, you may not have known Edward Lee, an expert bike mechanic with a wicked sense of humor, warm smile and a master's mechanical touch. (He also worked at TA Cycles before Action Sports) Lee was just 53 but he died this week after suffering two strokes. Ed was beloved not only by his coworkers at Action Sports, but also the legions of cyclists, runners and snow borders who got to know him while hanging around Action Sports. He passed away quietly at Adventist Health Hospital. RIP, Ed.

* ... LOCAL CRIME: I spotted this post on the Bakersfield Thieves Facebook page. Be careful out there: "SCAM ALERT!! Last Friday 1/31 on Union and California there where people collecting money for a 6 year old girl named Dalia. Posters they had said she had Lymphoma. Jars they were carrying looked like 1 gallon water jugs covered in red duct tape. Today Tues 2/4 they have moved down to Union and Brudage and 'Dalia' is now a 9 year old and 'Suffers from Cerebral Palsy.' Same people, same collection jugs, different story. Sorry no pictures, I was driving."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My 2 year old daughter watched the Super Bowl halftime show. She's now a stripper and selling pictures of her feet online. She's supporting the entire family and we've never been more proud."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I just dislocated my knee trying to imitate Shakira's hip pop."

 * ... STREET LIFE: A couple of random shots of people living on the street, the first one compliments of Nick Ellis and the second by a friend. Both pictures were taken downtown this week.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old picture of the corner of Chester and 18th Street, now home to The 18 Hundred restaurant. The first is a colorized version of the original.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Calm down, no one is trying to raise your property taxes by repealing Prop 13, Donald Trump mistakes Kansas for Missouri, KBAK anchor Rachelle Murcia shares a personal health struggle and Edward Lee recovers from a stroke

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... PROP 13: Is the state of California trying to repeal Proposition 13 so it can raise your personal property taxes? If you believe everything you read on Facebook, you would think so. But the truth is far different. In fact, there is an effort to repeal parts of Prop 13, but it would not affect personal property taxes. Instead,  the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, also
known as the "split-roll" measure, would raise taxes on factories, stores and industrial real estate by requiring they pay property tax based on current market value rather than the value of the property when it was purchased. ​Politifact, a non-profit website devoted to truth in reporting, said Facebook in particular is full of misleading statements about Prop 13 and it cited a Bakersfield publication as one of many sources spreading untruths. Said Politifact: "A similar Facebook post by Bakersfield Tuff, a media company focused on racing and rodeo, was shared more than 2,200 times. Others have appeared on the platforms Next Door and We Chat, according to the campaign for the initiative." The initiative may be flawed in many ways - and many would argue this is just the first step toward repealing Prop 13 altogether - but in this case it would not raise property taxes on individuals.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Be honest, you thought the Kansas City Chiefs were from Kansas."

 * ... MISSOURI OR KANSAS?: And then there was this, tweeted by our president. Now, in his defense, this is a common mistake many people make, but it didn't stop folks from heaping scorn on him.

 * ... RACHELLE MURCIA: KBAK evening anchor Rachelle Murcia has come out publicly in her fight against breast cancer. The anchor submitted a Facebook post last week in which Murcia detailed her personal struggle. "My writing teacher always taught me never to bury the lead and get right to the point. I have breast cancer," she wrote. "I found a mass before Christmas...The doctors found two large masses on my left side. They are calling them late stage two, early stage three cancer." Murcia ended the message by saying she did not plan to talking about the cancer often. "The next time I plan on talking on the air about my cancer is when I can come to you and say, I beat the dang thing and I am cancer free. So, go out there, live, be kind to one another, and have a good evening.”

 * ... MAYORAL DEBATE: KGET television will host a debate featuring Mayor Karen Goh and the candidates seeking to unseat her. The debate will air at 7 p.m. tonight (Monday). The candidates are facing off in the March 3 primary and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in November.

* ... SICK BAY: Edward Lee, a longtime mechanic at Action Sports, is recovering from a serious stroke. Lee suffered a stroke several weeks ago, was able to leave the hospital and apparently suffered a second one that sent him back to the hospital. Friends say he is resting but the road to recovery is uncertain. Keep Ed Lee in your thoughts.

 * ... MEMORIES: Last week I submitted a picture of the old Germania Beer Hall and asked for your help where it was. Well, Art Moore solved the puzzle for me, sending me this "now and then" photo of the intersection of 19th and L streets. Enjoy.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And yet another walk down memory road thanks to Art Moore.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Supervisor Leticia Perez's amazing comeback, Frank DeMarco of Rosemary's Creamery dies, Anna Lavin named to head the Kern County homeless collaborative and Chevron gives Taft College $156,000

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... LETICIA PEREZ: Not long ago many had written Leticia Perez off, dismissed as irrelevant in today's political climate and certain she could not recover from the legal problems involving her husband's role in promoting marijuana. But like the mythical phoenix she not only rose from the ashes but came roaring back, and here she was Wednesday night speaking at the State of the County dinner as chair of the Kern County Board of Supervisors. And not only that, but she did so as the defender of the oil and natural
gas industry, speaking passionately about how work in the oil fields has allowed so many families to rise out of poverty. Who would have thought that a lifelong Democrat, once fighting for her political life and subjected to relentless criticism by local right wing radio, would be a pivotal player in the fight to save the fossil fuel industry? "No one ever doubted her intelligence," one political insider told me, "but the way she has positioned herself is nothing short of brilliant. " And make no mistake but conservative Kern County needs allies in the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who seems hellbent on putting the oil industry out of business. "If she has the governor's ear and it helps Kern County," the insider continued, "well that is important." (photo by Sam Morgan)

 * ... RIP FRANK: Frank DeMarco, one of the original owners of Rosemary's Creamery, has passed away at the age of 89. DeMarco and his wife, Rosemary, started Rosemary's in November 1984 and over the years the F Street store became a favorite place for people to recognize birthdays and special anniversaries. Family members said DeMarco had been suffering from heart and kidney issues and had been under hospice care. Frank and Rosemary were high school sweethearts and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in December. Their daughters, Roseanne and Katie, run the family business with DeMarco's grandson Patrick. Services are set for next Wednesday at St. Francis of Assisi. A rosary service is set for 10:30 a.m. followed by an 11 a.m. mass.

 * ... SMART KIDS: So you think you were a smart kid? Have you met Ishaan Brar, a junior at Stockdale High School? The local student was named to the prestigious Global Team Leaders, a group of 35 young people from 18 countries who have achieved the ability to creating innovative technologies that encourage healthy communities. He is the son of rheumatologist Dr. Sumeet Bhinder and nephrologist Dr. Harjeet Brar.

 * ... GRIMMWAY: Hats off to Grimmway Farms for donating $5 million to CSUB to establish the Grimm Center for Agricultural Business, the largest single gift ever bestowed on our local university. The money will come over three years and comes from an endowment created by Barbara Grimm-Marshall and Kari Grimm Anderson. The gift coincides with Grimmway's 50th anniversary in business.

 * ... TAFT COLLEGE: And also a big hats off to Chevron which gave the Taft College Foundation $156,000 to help fund the development of the allied health and sciences lab, specifically by providing medical equipment for expansion of the TC anatomy and physiology curriculum. This donation will strengthen Taft College’s collaboration with Kern County schools by expanding classes for STEM careers, said Sheri Horn-Bunk, executive director of the TC Foundation.

 * ... ANNA LAVIN: Bakersfield College administrator Anna Gavin has been named the new head of the homeless collaborative. Gavin has worked at BC for three years and is now the first executive director of the organization, which seeks to coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies to fight homelessness in our community.

 * ... THUGS: I spotted this on Facebook. Beware of folks who walk our streets. The caption read: "The Bakersfield Police Department is requesting the community’s assistance in identifying suspects responsible for an assault. The incident occurred on November 2, 2019, in the 2500 block of Wible Road. The victim was walking to a convenience store in the area when he was assaulted by the suspects... Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Eric Celedon at (661) 326-3964 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

 * ... KERN SCHOOLS: One of the most familiar brands in town - Kern Schools Federal Credit Union- is going away. The company has announced it's changing its name as part of plans of expand in the region and is opting for Valley Strong Credit Union. Kern Schools was founded in 1938 to serve local teachers before eventually expanding to general Kern County residents, according to its website.

 * ... MYSTERY PHOTO: I spotted this old photo on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. It was taken somewhere in Bakersfield. Do you know where?