Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bako bits: The explosion of homeless in Bako and all the hoopla over a new Target opening


* ... THE STREETS OF BAKERSFIELD: I have no statistics to prove it but sure seems like the number of homeless has skyrocketed on our local streets. If you don't work downtown you may not notice it, but a casual mid morning run over to Starbucks on 24th Street or the Rite Aid on H Street can be an eye opening experience. Of course downtown has both the Greyhound bus station and the GET bus depot, as well as the huge Goodwill store on Chester, but it's hard to deny the sharp increase of street people lugging their possessions around the downtown area and meandering on virtually every street corner. The homeless shelters are filled to the brim and if you factor in adults not looking for work or those who have given up on the job search, Kern County's unemployment rate spikes north of 20 percent. All of this adds to more people on the streets, more folks in needs of help and fewer dollars available to provide it.

 * ... A TARGET OPENS AND THE CROWD GOES WILD: What is it about our community that every time a new retailer or restaurant opens we react like we've just won the lottery? Witness the crowds at the new Target over at RiverWalk on Stockdale Highway, which opened earlier this month. It's a nice place no doubt, but you'd think they were giving away Krugerrands the way our community has responded. And it's not like we don't already have three other Targets in town. Of course the same is true for every new restaurant that opens locally: hour-long waits the first three months and a year later they're closed or begging for business. Meanwhile developer Castle and Cooke says it has a signed contract for Panera Bread to move into the building in front of the Target. Panera is a class act but the folks over at locally owned Sequoia Sandwich Shop are not sitting still. Co-owner Jeff Simpson has been testing a new line of panini sandwiches that he may add to his already well diversified and popular menu. Stay tuned.

 * ... ORANGE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL? Gilroy has the Garlic Festival and Pamplona has the Running of the Bulls, so why shouldn't Bakersfield have its own signature event? How about an Orange Blossom Festival? That's the vision of Ben Taft over at the California Fruit Depot who is leading an effort to create something truly unique for Bakersfield. Ben has the energy and drive to do it, but it will all depend on how many sponsors and supporters sign up for the event, which he wants to launch the weekend of March 20, 2010. In his words:

 "Music, concerts, artisans, children's activities, demonstrations, citrus cooking contests, runs, fun walks, bialthlon, half marathon and a 40-mile challenge bike race, BMX events and much more and possibly a lttle less. This will be a comprehensive family/adult friendly event which will be something we can be proud of as a community." 

 If you are interested in participating, either as a sponsor or just to help, call Ben Taft at 661-978-9044 or email him at ben@calfruitdepot.com

  * ... IN MEMORY OF RON FONTAINE: If you're looking for a good cause to support this weekend you might consider the 9th Annual Ron Fontaine Memorial Run being held out at the California Living Museum (CALM) Saturday morning. Ron was a South High teacher and administrator over at the Kern Superintendent of Schools who died in June of 2001. He was an avid runner and longtime member of South Rotary. Pete Elieff, former South Rotary president, says Ron originally conceived of the idea of a run to raise money for local scholarships and more than $100,000 has been generated so far for  local kids. This is a terrific event held out by the Kern River and Lake Ming during a beautiful time of year in our community. If you are interested in registering call Pete at 661-805-8500 or John Lindsay at 661-636-4625. Last year, Pete said $13,800 in scholarship money was awarded to students from South, Ridgeview and Stockdale high schools.


Anonymous said...

I believe some of the influx of homeless folks are actualy mentaly ill people who have been cut looose from the County and or State becuase of lack of funding. I personally know a mentaly ill person (in San Bernardino County) who was just let out in the population becuase of reduced finding. This person cannot survive out by himself and subsequently is getting arrested on a regular basis for disturbing the peace, assault etc....It's truly a sad situation.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if everyone losing their homes are filling up the shelters and pushing out the mentally ill? I don't work downtown but there are more street people where I work in the southwest. I also see them on the bike trail running with my friend in the morning.

Anonymous said...

The corner of Stockdale and California near the CVS and Chipolte on the weekends have been where several homeless (young) men have been asking for money. Coming up to the car. Typically they carry a backpack...I can help but think that times are only going to get more difficult before they get better. I have been buying MacDonalds gift cards for $5 and I will give them out...several a week. I figure they can buy a pretty good meal from the dollar menu.


Orange Blossom? How about Almond Blossom in February?

As for the homeless situation --- How's that change working out for you?

Unknown said...

City of Lindsay just north of Porterville already has the "Orange Blossom Festival"

Been having this festival for 100 years!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh! Can't everyone be sophisticated (like me) and realize that Target is just another store? I mean, if it were a Nordstrom or Lord and Taylor or something, maybe there would be a reason I'd rush over there, too! But Target???? What's the matter with all these hicks in the crappy little town in which I'm forced by my employer and livelihood to reside????

Anonymous said...

Find something that's more Bakersfield . . . As for oranges, they mostly come from Tulare and Ventura Counties. Bakersfield is a V-E-R-Y small producer. Lindsay has an OBF and it began in the times of the great depression. Don't know what's unique about Bakersfield, but think of something that's more to your town (whatever that might be).

Anonymous said...

carrot festival?