* ... GOOD IMPRESSION: Always encouraging to hear how much newcomers enjoy our community, which is why I enjoyed the email from Jeff Pickering, the new head of the Kern Community Foundation. Jeff, his wife Stephanie and their two children moved to Haggin Oaks from Florida earlier this year. This was their first year stopping by Dustin's Diner, the Haggin Oaks hot cocoa stand that yearly raises more than $10,000 for the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter. "As newcomers, this tradition is one of the many reasons we have come to love our new hometown of Bakersfield," he said. "Thanks to your efforts to shine a light on some of the 'bright spots' in our community." Their children are Colin, 6, and Olivia, 5.
* ... NEW GIG: For you fans of Rachel Legan and her brother Dustin, longtime morning anchors on 101.5 KGFM, they have now moved over to Hot Hits 93.1, a sister station of American General Media. The "Rachel and Dustin in the Morning" show has become a community staple, featuring such hilarious takes as "Missed Connections," a laugh-out-loud gig where the hosts pull the most outlandish romantic missed connections off Craigslist and read them on the air. AGM says Tony Manes will take over mornings on KGFM.
* ... WHERE'S MIGS? Reader Joe Boone dropped me a note wondering if anyone remembered a former East High teacher named Migs Apsit. "He would take a bus load of students, on summer vacation, around the U.S. The Californian would print photos of the group at well know sites, such as on the Capitol steps, Yellowstone etc. Perhaps there might be a reader who was lucky enough to participate? I almost made the trip in 1959 but at the last minute a family health issue made me and a buddy back out."
* ... MERCY GRANTS: The Friends of Mercy Foundation has given out $20,000 to local charities, another boost in the arm to so many deserving non-profits during this economic downturn. The grants came from the endowment in honor of Sister Phyllis Hughes, who was hospital president from 1982 to 1987. Among those receiving grants were BARC, Community Action Partnership of Kern, food bank; Kern Comprehensive Cancer Awareness Partnership, the Special Olympics and St. John's Missionary Baptist Church.
* ... MORE GRANTS: Speaking of grants, the Catholic Healthcare West Community Grants Program also announced a total of $217,767 in awards. This money comes from both Memorial and Mercy hospitals. Among those non profits who were awarded grants were Alliance Against Family Violence, Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County, Bakersfield Police Activities League, California Veterans Assistance Foundation, CASA of Kern County, Golden Empire Gleaners, Henrietta Weill Child Guidance Clinic, MARE, the MS Society and the West Side Community Resource Center.
* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Reader Dennis Horack says you know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the big slide at Valley Plaza, owned by my good friend Don Carter, a former Bakersfield Californian newspaper distributor. Also, if you remember the Dove Restaurant in east Bakersfield and the House of Don restaurant on Union Avenue. Thanks for the good old days."