Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crabfest 2010: St. Francis fund raiser at Harvest Hall

 St. Francis school held its tenth annual Crabfest fund raiser at Harvest Hall at the Kern County Fairgrounds. This is the Catholic school's biggest event of the year, annually raising some $160,000 for the year. Some pictures from the event.





Friday, January 22, 2010

Mount Adelaide after the storms ... picture perfect

 Thought I would share these beautiful pictures of the communications towers on Breckenridge Road at Mount Adelaide. My thanks to the folks at American General Media for passing them along.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Local plastic surgeon Dr. John Lang dies and the Museum of Art looks for art donations

* ... MARRIAGE LAWSUIT: It turns out that Kristin Perry, one of the lead plaintiffs in the marriage lawsuit being played out in federal court, is the state director of First 5 California. If you remember, Perry and her partner are among those trying to overturn Proposition 8, which affirmed that  marriage in California is defined as a union between a man and a woman. (read one account of her testimony here) The local angle is that Perry grew up in Bakersfield and testified on growing up gay in the conservative Central Valley. She now lives with her partner, Sandra Stier, in Berkeley. First 5 was a voter initiative to improve the lives of young children in California via funding from a tax on tobacco.

 * ... LOCAL SURGEON DIES: I was saddened to hear that Dr. John Lang, a well-known plastic surgeon, died of a heart attack in Hawaii a few days ago. I didn't know Dr. Lang but friends tell me he was a skilled surgeon and a wonderful person. Debbie Hanson, his longtime office manager, said Dr. Lang and his wife Dione were in Hawaii for a niece's wedding and enjoyed "just a super, fabulous week" with family and friends. He died last Monday, January 18th,  the day the couple was to return home. They have one daughter, Kristyn, who is 30. Dr. Lang was 64. A mutual friend told me Dr. Lang  was originally from Pittsburgh and was an enthusiastic Steelers fan. According to his website biography, he earned his undergraduate degree from Iona College and a medical degree from Georgetown University. He later did his residency in plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. His office was on 21st Street in Westchester. Keep his family in your thoughts and I will share details of his services when they are made public.

* ... ONE VOTE FOR B-TOWN: Edna Clark Hunton wrote me that she was born and raised in Wasco but routinely refers to Bakersfield as 'B-town.' "On the weekends when someone would ask what you were doing, the normal answer would be 'going to B-town.' Even now when I am in Bakersfield and filling out a form and they ask where you live (city) I always put B-town and then my zip. It is a lot quicker and everyone knows what B-town stands for. Love your column." Thanks for the feedback and the nice note, Edna.

 * ... BAKO OR BAKERSFIELD: One of my colleagues here at The Californian is Steve Swenson, a longtime court reporter who is well known for sharing his opinions with anyone who cares to listen. Swenson has lived in Bakersfield for years and he simply hates the idea of using the term "Bako" as shorthand for Bakersfield. He told me it's "disrespectful, smacks of outsiders trying to nickname Bakersfield and is the equivalent of calling San Francisco 'Frisco,' which residents of San Francisco universally hate." What do you really think Steve?

 * ... ART A GO-GO: You have to admire the folks over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Not only do they know how to bring quality art shows here, but they also are shrewd marketers. Their latest pitch is something called Art a Go-Go in which they are asking people to donate "no longer wanted" art pieces for a sale in March. Beth Pandol, museum marketing director, said it can be "anything from really nice paintings, sculpture to prints and posters. Just no junk." I suppose that rules out all those velvet Elvis and dogs playing poker pictures in my garage. The art is strictly a donation - no consignment. But the donors do get a tax deduction. The general public sale will be on March 20 and a pre-sale gala cocktail party will be held March 18 at $50 a person or $60 at the door. Knowing the small but influential art community in this town,  my guess is this will a big success.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The promise and threat of the Padre Hotel and a Bakersfield company lands a big stimulus contract

* ... THE PADRE: I meandered into the Padre Hotel the other night and happened to meet Brett Miller, one of the partner owners. Miller was busy with last minute details preparing for the opening but was kind enough to show me around. The main lobby interior, with its long oak bar with multiple flat screen TVs overhead, will leave you breathless. These guys have done a remarkable job with the old place. There are four different restaurants and they all should be open sometime next month. Now with that said, as much as everyone is cheering the continued revival of downtown, the Padre reopening is making some people nervous. They might not say it on the record, but other local downtown restaurants are worrying that the Padre's eateries could hurt their own businesses, which thrive off the emerging arts scene. The question is whether a successful Padre will serve as a tide that lifts all boats, or a tsunami that will sink others. All that depends, of course, on the Padre restaurants following through with good food, service and pricing, and none of that is a given. Just ask anyone in the food business.

 * ... SCRIVNER FUND RAISER: The first event at the new Padre was a fund raiser for Zack Scrivner, the Republican city councilman who is running for county supervisor. I'm told the Padre was a huge hit as the supporters gathered on the main lobby floor, munched hors d'ouerves and gazed at the tiled lobby and new trimmings. One of those attending was Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries, who was particularly  impressed with the Padre lighting. "Lights embedded in floors shine up on the columns that have been restored," he said. "All the furniture is custom made for the hotel, along with the art and wallpaper." All the local Republican big-wigs (and others) were there, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy and former Congressman Bill Thomas, as well as Assemblywoman Jean Fuller. Also attending were Karen Dewalt, Jan Bans, Jacquie Sullivan and David Couch among others. (photo courtesy of Don Martin)

 * ... STIMULUS MONEY: A Bakersfield-based company has landed a $1.6 million contract to fund emergency drought relief  for affected agricultural areas of California. That's the word from the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of Interior) who said Western Oilfields Supply Co. of Bakersfield would supply pumps, valves, flow meters and piping to "increase the flexibility of limited water supplies for helping maintain production of trees and vines." The contract comes from the American recovery and Reinvestment Act, part of President Obama's overall stimulus package.

 * ... GO BLUE: Another Wolverine from the University of Michigan wrote to pledge his allegiance to Ann Arbor. George Granger said he grew up in Michigan, graduated from the university in 1953 and from the university law school in 1957. He came to Kern County in 1960 and has practiced law here - and in Delano - for 50 years. Well done, George.

 * ... B-TOWN NOT BAKO: Karene R. Williams sent me an email saying she lived in Bakersfield from 1955 to 1973 and was in the first graduating class from South High School. She now lives in Lake Isabella. Her family has always referred to Bakersfield as "B-town," not Bako.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mark your calendars: Padre Hotel art to be shown in February

 Thought I would share a sneak peek of what you can expect at the next First Friday downtown celebration, set for February 5. At the Surface Gallery, local photographer Felix Adamo will show off some of his pictures of the Padre Hotel over the years. Here are two. Great stuff.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mike Olague lands at Bank of the Sierra, Pat Collins buys HP Sears and Memorial thanks its donors


 * ... A BIT OF HISTORY: I received a nice note from John Pryor, an insurance and risk management consultant who also serves as historian for Stockdale Country Club, which will celebrate its 85 birthday next month. I had written earlier about Lloyd Tevis and the club's origins (see that post here) and John added some context. Consider:

 - Lloyd Tevis was the first CEO of Wells Fargo Bank (in San Francisco) in 1872.
 - Stockdale is named after a friend of the Tevis family, Sir Edmund Stockdale, who became Lord Mayor of London.
 - Mrs. William Tevis, the former Mabella Pacheco (called Mabel) was the daughter of California's first Hispanic governor, Romualdo Pacheco.
 - Many local streets are named after those in Stockdale's history, including Tevis Drive (and school), Carr Avenue, Pacheco Street, Hesketh Street, Haggin Oaks and of course Stockdale Highway.
 - Mrs. Tevis purchased exotic trees during her world travels, most of which are still viable and visible at the clubhouse and on the golf course. Notable are two Italian cypress trees at the entry to the clubhouse and the Monkey Puzzle tree next to the 18th green.
 My thanks to John for sharing some of this rich history.

 * ... BAKO OR BAKERSFIELD: Mike Griffith, a longtime sports writer at The Californian, shared with me the story of how Bakersfield came to be known as "Bako" among some local hockey players. According to Mike, it was around 1994 when he was covering the old Bakersfield Fog hockey team (forerunner to the Condors) and some Canadian players took to using "Bako" to refer to their new hometown. "Seems to fit," Mike told me. "After all hockey is all about nicknames for just about everybody and every city."

 * ... MEMORIAL GIVES THANKS: Memorial Hospital rolled out the red carpet to showcase the completion of donor signage and to honor those donors to its Capital Campaign. Nancy Carr, director of the Capital Campaign and widow of the late Larry Carr, chief development officer Sue Benham and hospital CEO Jon Van Boening had special words of thanks to all those who supported the hospital's expansion. Among those attending were David and Catherine Gay with daughter Emily, Joey and Christy Porter, Don and Sherrie McMurtrey, Pete and Mona Pankey, Hal Aaron, Dr. Hans Einstein and daughter Evie, BMH Foundation chair Pat Osborn, Tom Alexander, Cynthia Lake, Tom Smith, Bob and Mary Beck, Bart and Napier Hill, Dr. Bruce and Rosemary Swinyer, Dr. Madhu and Dr. Rabinder Bhogal, Dr. Kamalnuth and Lilly Iyer, Harvey and Lavonne Hall,  and Dr. Robert and Shirley Marshall.


* ... THE BUZZ: Michael Olague, formerly head of the regional Rabobank office, has landed at the Bank of the Sierra as a senior vice president and area manager of the Bakersfield area. Olague is a longtime and well respected local banker who previously worked with Bank of America and the now defunct San Joaquin Bank. He is one of several local bankers who found themselves out of work in the tumultuous banking crisis of 2009. He is a graduate of Cal State Bakersfield and the University of Virginia graduate banking school and currently serves on the board of Mid State Development and the Kern Community Foundation, as well as the advisory board for the CSUB Business School. Always good to see people like Olague landing on their feet. Lastly, I heard from former Kern Economic Development Corporation head Patrick Collins that he is now the owner of H. P. Sears credit company. Collins was brought in to run the family owned company. founded in 1928, and has now become its owner.