Thursday, April 15, 2021

Hart Park and the park at the Panorama Bluffs are set for improvements, the city is overrun with stray cats and dogs and Tina Marie's to open downtown in the old Chef's Noodle Bar

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 company or publication.

 * ... GREENBELT IMPROVEMENTS: Hart Park and the green belt along the Panorama Bluffs are in for major improvements over the next few months. That's the word from county Chief Administrative

Officer Ryan Alsop who said the Hart Park "master plan" called for new signage at both ends of the park, refurbishing an old adobe building for new use and improvements to the trail head parking area near the old Sheriff's pistol range. (historic photos courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page)

 * ... DOGS AND CATS: Do you remember a few years ago when there was a big stink about the enormous number of dogs and cats that were being euthanized at our local shelters? Well things are better, I am happy to report, not perfect, but certainly better. Julie Johnson, who wears two hats as director of both the local SPCA and city of Bakersfield Animal Care services, said it wasn't long ago that 80 percent of the dogs brought to local shelters were being euthanized. "Now we are saving 80 percent," she told me. The reason: more awareness about the benefits of spay and neutering and the emergence of the non-profit Critters Without Litters in 2013. Still, the situation here in Kern County is critical, she said, and there is a particular problem with pit bull and pit mixes, which currently comprise half of all dogs at the city shelter.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Had a dude smoking a cigarette next to his oxygen tank tell me I look stupid in my mask."

 * ... OLD HANGTOWN: The city of Placerville, known as "Old Hangtown" in remembrance of the number of hangings during the Gold Rush, has removed the image of a noose from its logo. The logo shows a miner washing gold in a stream. The noose hangs from a tree in the background. The noose was removed when some residents argued it gave the city a bad reputation.

 * ... ADIOS EMA: Ema Sasic, a features reporter at The Bakersfield Californian, is leaving the paper to join USA Today in Palm Springs. Sasic announced the move on Twitter saying this: "After almost three years at  @Bakersfieldcali,  I’m moving on to a new California adventure. I’ll be joining the 
@MyDesert @USATODAY. Network in Palm Springs as a health reporter! Apparently it’s not hot enough in Bakersfield for me so now I’m headed for the desert!"

 * ... TINA MARIE'S: The restaurant Tina Marie's, which suffered a devastating fire a few months ago, will be setting up shop in the location of Chef's Choice Noodle Bar which is moving to the Southwest. Tina Marie Brown said she was thrilled to remain downtown and reiterated that she plans to rebuild in the original location. 

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of a building along Chester that once housed the JC Penny's store. Look familiar? Thanks to the group Kern County History Fans for this gem.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Researchers suggest we may all need a "new" vaccine shot or a booster in the near future, Amazon buys the Wilson Road Walmart to get up a delivery facility and a sign from Chet's Club joins the museum

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 company or publication.

* ... COVID VACCINES: There seems to be a growing consensus that the array of coronavirus vaccines - Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson - are not long-term solutions to the ongoing threat of mutant

variant viruses. Researchers now say they vaccines will likely need booster shots, or new vaccines altogether, because they lose their effectiveness over time. That, of course, would mean that billions of people across the world may have to receive a booster shot just so society can maintain an upper hand against the Covid-19 viruses and its variants. Researchers are hoping they can find a way to give the vaccine in pill form, vastly reducing the hassle factor in receiving the dose.


 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Did they stop painting wings on brick walls or did girls just find other places to take pictures?"

 * ... SEXUAL ORIENTATION: This clip from a CNN discussion pretty much says sit all. What do you think?

 * ... AMAZON: Did you hear Amazon is expanding again in Bakersfield, this time taking over the old Kmart on Wilson Road as a new delivery station? The company said the building would under go an extensive renovation to evolve into a Last Mile delivery building creating some 200 jobs. The company hopes to open the new facility at the end of this year.

 * ... MUTANT VARIANT: Right when it looks like things are getting better with the pandemic we learn there is a new "double mutant variant" discovered in California. The new variant first emerged in India and a handful of cases have been detected in the Bay Area. The "double mutant" carries two mutations that helps it latch onto cells.

 * ... CHET'S CLUB: Yet another iconic neon sign has joined the Kern County Museum, this one from Chet's Club, an old card club  and diner on Edison Highway. Chet's Club was housed next to the Lucky Spot honky tonk and was known for its coffee, chili and occasional rough crowd. The sign is now at the Kern County Museum.

 * ... MEMORIES: A nice old picture of the Penny's building that is now a local museum. Thanks to the Kern County History Fans and Art Moore for sharing this.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And this one, again from the Kern County History Fans, of that famous place the Bakersfield Inn.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

American sees church membership plummet during this Holy Week, another utility pledges to destroy 11,000 palm trees in California, and pandemic eating proves a boon for DoorDash

<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 company or publication.

 * ... CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: No, God is not dead in America but organized religion is starting to look that way. U.S. church membership was sitting at an impressive 73 percent back in 1937 and it stayed that way for the next six decades. But since the turn of the century in the year 2000, it has been on a steady

decline and today the number of Americans belong to a church is down to just 49 percent. Experts say the decline it due to the growing number of Americans who express no religious preference, and that number has jumped three-fold to 21 percent today. Not surprisingly, the decline in church membership is generational, with older Americans more likely to belong to a church than their children or grand children.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My spirit animal really could use a shower."
* ... PANDEMIC ORDERED: DoorDash and other delivery services did a gangbuster's business during the pandemic, and you might be surprised what we turned to for in-home dining. DoorDash said one it saw a huge increase in breakfast items ordered: iced coffee, sausage, egg and cheese, breakfast burritos, pancakes and French toast were among the items ordered. In addition, vegan and vegetarian foods were wildly popular, with black bean tacos seeing a 456 percent increase. Plant based burgers shot up 196 percent. The top cuisines ordered: Mexican, Chinese and Mex-Tex.

 * ... PALMS: Utility companies seem hell-bent to rid California of our majestic palm trees. First there was the stink out at Rosedale Ranch where Pacific Gas and Electric is taking down stately palms, and now Southern California Edison has announced he will remove some 11,000 palm trees over the next two years to mitigate the risk of wildfires. The palms in question are in Santa Clarita, La Canada Flintridge, Malibu, Simi Valley, Santa Ana and Lake Elsinor. The work will begin next month. (photo courtesy of 23ABC News)

 * ... TREASURE HUNT: Have you ever returned to Costco after a long absence and gotten lost, wondering where all the familiar items were? Well, there is a reason for that and insiders call it Costco's "treasure hunt" for customers. Every few months, the company changes the aisles to force customers to "relearn" the store layout and in the process force customers to stroll every aisle of the store. It's another reason you won't find aisles marked with signs indicating what items are located on that aisle; they want us to wander through the store like it was your first time.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Kern County of Old website comes this pictures of a couple of men playing cards on the boardwalk next to the Chinese Joss House on L Street between 20th and 21 Street around 1900.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

CSUB opening huge vaccination hub, criminals target catalytic converters and pickup truck tailgates, and Labradors and French bulldogs top the list of favorite dog breeds

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 company or publication.

 * ... CSUB VACCINES: Cal State University Bakersfield is about to open a mass vaccination on campus that will be able to inoculate 5,400 people a day. Hoping to stay open until all Kern County residents are vaccinated, the health hub is part of a consortium with Adventist Health, Dignity Health Hospitals, the

California Medical Association, the California Primary Care Association and Futuro Health. The American Red Cross is providing its expertise on mass site planning. Though the site can administer 5,400 doses a day, how many it will actually offer is dependent on vaccine availability. 


 * ... CRIME: We all know that crime is spiking and  car break-ins are at a near epidemic level. Two of the favorite targets of local thieves: tailgates for pickup trucks and catalytic converters on virtually all cars and trucks. The catalytic converters can be stolen in a matter of minutes, and if you loose one, your local mechanic or dealership could charge you anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 to replace them. Pickup truck drivers are advised to use the lock on their tailgates to prevent theft.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE FOUNDATION: The Bakersfield College Foundation has added three new members: Ariana Joven, Paul Pavletich and Lauren Skidmore. Joven works for The Wonderful Co. in public affairs, Skidmore is a legislative aide to Assemblyman Vince Fong and Pavletich runs Premier Lighting, a family business. All three have deep ties into our community and all three have served on any number of boards and held positions at companies about town.

* ... TOP DOGS: The annual list of the most popular dogs in America has some old standbys, but some of the new popular breeds may surprise you. Topping the list is one of our all-time favorites, the Labrador retriever, and climbing the ladder into a solid second place is the French bull dog. This breed has become so popular that a man walking Lady Gaga's two French bulldogs was mugged and the dogs stolen recently. Rounding the list of top breeds were the German shepherds, Golden retrievers, Bulldogs, Poodles, Rottweilers, Pointers and Dachshunds.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to local attorneys (and married couple) Connie Perez-Andreesen and Joel Andreesen recently for donating a combined gift of $150,000 to support the Center for Social Justice and the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund at California State University, Bakersfield, to be distributed over five years. This gift, together with their previous giving to the university, brings the Andreesens' total lifetime giving to more than $250,000.

* ... MEMORIES: I spotted this picture of how the building that now houses our Woolworth looked before it burned in 1889. Thanks to the folks at Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Medical experts discuss the cause of "brain fog" from the coronavirus, the Panorama Vista Preserve is a jewel in our crown and Dr. Steve Ratty recovers from his own bout with the virus

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 company or publication.

 * ... GREEN SPACE: One of our community's hidden treasures is the Panorama Vista Preserve, a

wildlife area of more than 900 acres below the Panorama Bluffs that is undergoing a restoration. The Preserve is operated by the Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding and provides a vast network of dirt trails for hikers, cyclist and horses. Thanks to a pair of grants volunteers have been busy planting native shrubs, grasses and cacti to return the area to its original state. Next time you are looking for a place to hike or run to enjoy nature, take in this is little piece of heaven.

 * ... COVID ILLNESS: One of the going mysteries of having contracted the coronavirus is the question of developing long-term residual effects that could compromise your heath. We hear a lot about "brain fog," how long it may last and the prognosis for recovery. Last week Dr. Brij Bhambi and Dr. Bill Baker discussed these issues on The Richard Beene Show, and some of what they said may surprise you. Dr. Baker for example said some cases of "brain fog" actually show the victim may have suffered a series of small strokes, which to me was a surprise. Young patients, some under the age of 10, have developed "brain fog" after suffering from Covid-19 and researchers are just beginning to understand how it works. Check out my discussion with Drs. Baker and Bhambi on KERNRADIO.COM.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know what has zero calories and zero carbs? A nap."

 * ... STEVE RATTY: Speaking of Covid-19 it was good to see that Dr. Steve Ratty, the local optometrist, has recovered from a long bout with the coronavirus. Ratty and his wife Mary came down with Covid-19 in March 2020 and while she recovered, he remained hospitalized with a severe case. Ratty told KGET he is still battling the effects of the virus. “I am in still in stage four kidney failure…the bottom of my feet are always numb," he said.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of terrific shows from back in the day of the old Post Office in Bodfish, compliments of Kern County History Fans.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The District Attorney says Brookdale's skilled nursing facility is putting patients at risk, the Mission of Kern County administers Covid vaccines to the homeless and will Measure N money be diverted to rebuild neighborhoods?

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 company or publication.

 * ... SENIOR LIVING LAWSUIT: The biggest story of the week came out of the Kern County District Attorney's office where DA Cynthia Zimmer announced a civil lawsuit against the owners of the

Brookdale Senior Living facility on Calloway Drive. The lawsuit target's Brookdale's skilled nursing facility which is alleged to have put profits over patient safety by prematurely discharging patients without notifying relatives and discharging people without proper medical protocol all while putting patients at great risk. "Brookdale took advantage of our most vulnerable population," she said, "and the families that were trying their best to take care of them, in order to increase their profits." The Tennessee-based corporate parent of Brookdale strongly denied the charges. The lawsuit is joined by three other counties, the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, alleging the company put patients at risk at 10 different facilities, including the Bakersfield facility on Calloway Drive.

 * ... MEASURE N MONEY: The Kern Taxpayer's Association is asking the City Council to allocate part of the $10 million a year in Measure N revenue to help revitalize depressed neighborhoods around town. Kevin Burton, head of the KTA board, spoke to the issue in an opinion piece in The Bakersfield Californian: "For years, Union Avenue has become one of the city's most dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists. Bakersfield should work with Caltrans to decommission Union Avenue and turn it into a local road so that the city can make investments in streetscapes, bus-rapid transit and active transportation. As we look east of Union Avenue, the city will face more complex projects. How will the city mitigate challenges presented by high-speed rail to Old Town Kern? How will the city address the formidable challenges facing the Martin Luther King and Cottonwood Road communities?" While all of that is beyond dispute, I disagree with KTA and Burton's stand on this. Measure N was narrowly approved by the voters who had been promised its primary role was to provide money to fight crime and hire more police officers while also supporting programs to reduce homelessness. At least where I live, those two issues - crime and homelessness - are still major problems. Let's address those two things before we divert money into other programs.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "They say we can have gatherings of eight people without issues. I don't know eight people without issues."

 * ... LAST MAN STANDING: The county-run vaccination program at the Kern County Fairgrounds will remain in operation "until the end," or until almost all eligible residents receive their inoculations. That's according to Kern County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ryan Alsop who said the Fairgrounds operation is now administering 1,900 vaccines a day and that could go up if the supplies increase. Alsop said the county has avoided dipping into its emergency fund thanks to federal funding under both the Trump and Biden administrations.

 * ... MISSION VACCINES: And speaking of vaccines, the Mission of Kern County vaccinated 97 homeless clients with the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Mission director Carlos Baldovinos said the J&J vaccine was used so the homeless recipients would not have to return for a followup shot in three or four weeks. If more vaccine can be ordered, Baldovinos said the Mission would conduct a second round of vaccinations.

 * ... MEMORIES: The Facebook group Kern County History Fans offered these old pictures, the first of Bodfish back in the day and the second of the old Western Hotel. Check out the guys on the donkey, one seated backwards.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The newly vaccinated wake up and head out to dine after a year of hunkering down, a coalition vaccinates farmworkers in Delano and Greyhound wants to move to the Amtrak station

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 company or publication.

 * ... OUT AND ABOUT: Were you among those who go out this weekend, perhaps taking in dinner at a local restaurant, after a year of hunkering down? It was the thing to do: gather up friends who have been vaccinated and hit the town, or at the very least head to an intimate dinner party. One thing is for sure: our local 

eateries are on fire: big crowds were spotted at Mexicali and the Starlite Lounge and other popular local restaurants throughout the city. To be sure Covid is not behind us, but the level of confidence has grown where newly vaccinated couples are braving the elements to dine out. 

 * ... WHAT WE WILL MISS: For sure there will be things we will miss about hunkering down at home: endless days working in T-shirts and pajamas, family time that found a new rhythm during the lockdown, home cooking and a reluctant relaxation that came with the knowledge that you had no where to go but home. In his Sunday piece in The Bakersfield Californian, columnist Bob Price put it this way: "Some things we'll hang on to," he noted. "Home gyms, hiking, garage ping pong, cooking, board games. Appreciation for local small businesses. The willingness to sacrifice."

 * ... GOOD NEWS: The Greyhound bus station downtown has always been an eyesore: dirty, neglected and a gathering spot for newly released prisoners. But now, after years of effort, it looks like Greyhound is finally packing up its bags and leaving for greener pastures. This week, the City Council at its Wednesday  will consider a deal that would allow Greyhound to lease space at the Amtrak Station. "Due to an evolving business climate, Greyhound staff determined they no longer have a need for a facility of that size. City staff determined the relocation of Greyhound bus services to the existing city-owned Amtrak Station site achieves various major objectives of the City Council," according to a city memo. The property, located at G and 18th streets, is ideal for a multi purpose facility to compliment the Padre Hotel and the Bitwise building.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I keep changing the wifi password to make sure that my wife always needs me."

 * ... KATIE BARTON: Katie Barton has been named general manager for American General Media's group of radio stations after serving as director of sales and marketing. The appointment of Barton was part of AGM's move to shuffle leadership responsibilities for its stations in California and New Mexico. In addition Rich Watson, currently general manager of AGM's properties in the Santa Maria area, has been appointed regional manager of AGM California, overseeing the station groups in Bakersfield, San Louis Obispo and Santa Maria.


 * ... COVID VACCINATIONS: Hats off to local defense attorney David Torres and other volunteers who spent their Saturday coordinating Covid vaccines for farmworkers. In all, five groups came together to organize a mass vaccination site in Delano: the United Farm Workers, the UFW Foundation, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the Latino COVID Task Force and the County of Kern. Torres was among the volunteers who spent their day making sure vaccinations reached those who work in the fields.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this shot of the coffee shop of the old Royal Palms Motel around 1965. Compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: The Kern County of Old page also served up this nugget, date uncertain, of police officers parading with their canines.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Bakersfield high on the list of cities with the most pedestrian deaths, Jolie Brouttier nominated for Teacher of the Year and are we finally nearing the end of the pandemic?

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 company or publication.

 * ... PEDESTRIAN DEATHS: Were you surprised by the recent survey that shows Bakersfield ranking second in the nation for pedestrian deaths? The study cited wide streets that encourage speeding (true) and crosswalks that are spaced far apart (also true.) And the study when on to report (in a story carried in The Bakersfield Californian) that people of color, older adults and walkers in low income neighborhoods

suffered higher fatality rates. While that may be true, it also comes as no surprise. Why? Because across the country people in low income neighborhoods suffered higher fatality rate for all the obvious reasons, including lack of street lighting, the presence of more pedestrians, drug use and homelessness. What the study should have noted is that Kern County and Bakersfield are home to all the factors that lead to pedestrian deaths: a huge underclass of often illiterate people living in run-down neighborhoods, rampant drug use and addiction that leads people to make bad decisions, homelessness that is virtually out of control and wide, flat roads that lead to speeding. Until our demographics improve, you can expect to find Bakersfield on this list for years.

 * ... MUSIC TO MY EARS: On the one-year anniversary of the pandemic that has taken more than 500,000 American lives, it was encouraging to read the opinion piece in Thursday's Bakersfield Californian by Centric Health owner Dr. Brij Bhambi. "Science saved us," wrote Bhambi. "There is decency and divinity is saving human life. The vaccinated are less likely to spread the virus to the vulnerable and more likely to protect by literally being a human shield between the virus and the vulnerable... Now is not the time to sit on the fence and allow the virus to morph. The vaccinated are protected and protect. Vaccine hesitancy is counter to civic responsibility."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: When is Oprah going to interview people who lost their pipeline jobs?

 * ... TEACHER OF THE YEAR: A big congratulations to Jolie Brouttier, who has been nominated as Kern County Teacher of the Year representing the Bakersfield City School District. The award will be given out later this year. Brouttier taught for seven years at McKinley Elementary and is now at the Downtown School. During the pandemic, Brouttier "visited" her students at their homes, leaving yard sign greetings while spending her other spare tine raising money for backpacks and other supplies for the neediest of students.

 * ... PROSECUTORS: And speaking of high achieving women, Gina Pearl has been named Prosecutor of the Year by District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. Others in the District Attorney's office being honored were Andrea Kohler and Arthur Norris who won the Justice Award and Amy French was honored with the Support Staff Person of the Year honors.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this classic shot of cars on the old Ridge Route encountering Dead Man's Curve, a slice of the road that took many lives, and shots of the curve today. Photos courtesy of Kern County of Old Facebook page.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And can you stand one more picture of the old Wayne's Dairies? Not sure of the date but the employees pose here in their crisp white shirts before the dairy entrance.