Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another life claimed by drunk driving; this time it is a county firefighter behind the wheel

 Another tragic drunk driving case claims yet another life in Bakersfield, and this time it was a county firefighter who allegedly was behind the wheel. If you haven't read Steve Swenson's compelling and tragic story in the Californian, you need to do so. (read the full account here) It will break your heart. Michelle Marie Maxwell, 42, was killed and her 15-year-old daughter, Michaela Maxwell, was injured when their car was hit by a truck driven by county firefighter Mitchell Green, according to police. (photo of Mitchell Green is from his Facebook page)

Padre Hotel officially opens for business; downtown Bakersfield gets a boost

 The historic Padre Hotel in downtown Bakersfield officially opened today (Thursday) to the public. Brett Miller, one of the co-owners, said the final permits were issued at 11 a.m., ready for a brisk lunch crowd and in time for the "First Friday" celebrations in downtown Bakersfield. The landmark hotel underwent an $18 million facelift.

Local banker Ray Dezember is honored and Tejon Ranch is featured in a Super Bowl advertisement

* ... TEJON SUPER BOWL: Barry Zoeller, vice president of corporate communications out at Tejon Ranch, tells me the ranch will serve as a backdrop in a Super Bowl commercial this Sunday. The spot will feature an elephant, a black panther, a laughing hyena and a great backdrop of Tejon Ranch, likely doubling for the plains of Africa. Said Barry: "This is the second time Tejon Ranch has been featured in a Super Bowl commercial. In fact the 2000 'Herding Cats' commercial for EDS routinely makes the list as one of the top 10 Super Bowl commercials in the history of the big game." So be looking for a bit of the ranch during the game. (photos below are of the 2000 EDS commercial)



 * ... A TRIBUTE TO RAY: Local planning consultant Dave Dmohowski tipped me to yet another tribute bestowed on Ray Dezember, the longtime retired local banker turned philanthropist affectionately known by his friends as "Mr. Bakersfield." Ray and his wife Joan have been involved with or supported about every civic and non-profit effort in town, but I've always known he had a special place in his heart for his beloved Whittier College. It should come as no surprise that Ray has been a huge supporter of the school, and recently was among five individuals who were cited as "remarkable trustees." Both Ray and Joan graduated from Whittier, where Ray served as student body president and captain of the Whittier Poets football team. He has served on its Board of Trustees since 1970, chaired a $70 million capital campaign and was awarded a distinguished service medal from the school faculty. Just another example of the generosity of this amazing couple.

 * ... FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY: Sherry Kelley, vice president  of the Friends of the Kern County Library, reminded me that the organization's annual used book sale will be held March 10-13 at the Beale Library. All funds go to the Kern County library branches for programs and circulating material. The group is always looking for books and audio video material for its sales. It will be spring soon, so it's time to throw out those hard covers and donate to this worthy cause.

 * ... BAKO OR BAKERSWEED: Jamie Butow, a work colleague who recently moved here from Visalia, had this to say about Bakersfield's many nicknames. "My cousin is flying out here today and texted me with a question while 'roasting' in Phoenix. She referred to Bakersfield as Bako. She lives and owns a hair salon in a very small Colorado town so I asked her where she heard the term. She said my brother (who lives in  L.A.) calls it that, and a client of hers who used to live here calls it Bako or Bakersweed. Sounds like we're known as Bako all over!"

 * ... THE BUZZ: If you want to see water in our river, don't forget to clip out, sign and mail the coupon in The Californian urging the State Water Resources Control Board to rule in favor of the city's bid to run unappropriated water down the historic Kern River. There are few things that would make a more positive impact on our community, and it could be done without harming farmers. So if you have not already done so, find the coupon, sign it and mail it in. It has to be received by next Tuesday, so do it today, or drop it off at the Californian Monday morning and we will handle it from there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another First Friday weekend in Bakersfield and Barry Goldner is recognized as a 'Super Lawyer'

* ... FIRST FRIDAY: It's time for another First Friday celebration downtown. There are a number of events worth checking out, not to mention just stopping by the new Padre Hotel to check out its $18 million facelift. Here's a sample itinerary: You might want to start at the Surface Gallery at 1703 20th Street to view a remarkable collection of photographs of the Padre Hotel through the years taken by Felix Adamo, local Californian photographer. After that head to Dagny's Coffee Company on 18th Street to see paintings by Cindy Stiles, wife of Dave Stiles of the Chain, Cohn and Stiles law firm. And don't forget to drop by Don Martin's Metro Galleries  at 1604 19th Street for "California Contemporary," a show with a number of artists including Art Sherwyn, Keith Wicks, John Brosio, Tina Bluefield, Lily Stockman and Mary-Austin Klein. Then choose from Uricchio's Trattoria, Mexicali, Mama Roomba, the Padre or La Costa Mariscos for a bite to eat downtown, or drive over to Cafe Med on Stockdale Highway. You can't lose either way. The stunning painting below is by Marty -Austin Klein and will be on display at Metro Galleries. The photo below that is of Vikki Cruz of Surface Galleries, showing large protest signs that once hung in the old Padre Hotel.



 * ... MCCARTHY GIVES THANKS: I was touring the Padre Hotel Monday night when I spotted Rep. Kevin McCarthy and aide Vince Fong setting up for a reception to recognize the congressman's supporters and friends. McCarthy says he does this simply to "say thanks" to the many local folks who have helped in over the years. Among those at the reception were Ray and Lisa Karpe and Tim Terrio of Terrio Therapy-Fitness, Dan Hay of Jim Burke Ford, Rob and Judi McCarthy of Lightspeed Systems (she's also head of the Kern Community Foundation), retired oil executive Gene Voiland, Greg and Mary Bynum., Memorial Hospital President Jon Van Boening, and city council member and Memorial development director Sue Benham.
 * ... GOLDNER NAMED SUPER LAWYER: It was nice to hear that Barry Goldner, a principal in the law firm of Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb and Kimball, was named by Southern California Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Southern California. Goldner was specifically recognized for his work in business litigation. He is married to Theresa Goldner, county counsel, and they have one daughter, Rachel, a high achieving junior at Garces Memorial High School.

* ... BRAIN ARMOR:  Local chiropractor Dr. Courtland Keith is recovering after a nasty crash on his mountain bike last Saturday. An accomplished cyclist, Keith was flying down a hill near Keyesville when he hit a rut and was sent airborne, smack into a pine tree. He spent several days at Mercy Hospital with a broken collar bone, three cracked ribs and a collapsed lung. He is lucky on two counts: his wife Heather is an emergency room nurse and he was wearing a helmet. Helmets save lives. Wear them.

 * ... THE BUZZ: It is time to put to rest the rumors that Trader Joe's is moving out of the Southwest for roomier quarters on Rosedale Highway. Kevin Deighan, who works for Trader Joe's in the corporate office and is in charge of real estate, told me flatly there is no truth to the reports. Not only that, but Deighan also said there are no current plans for a second Trader Joe's in Bakersfield.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Padre Hotel reopens on an $18 million bet on downtown Bakersfield

 * ... WELCOME BACK PADRE: The historic Padre Hotel reopens today (Monday) after an $18 million bet that downtown Bakersfield can support a first class hotel and restaurant. I had a chance over the weekend to spend a few hours with the two principal owners, Brett Miller and Graham Downes, both entrepreneurs who have put their own capital at risk here. (their photo is below, Miller on the right) Downes is an architect from Durban, South Africa, who made it to the United States via professional rugby. Miller is originally from Visalia, graduated  from San Diego State (Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity) and has a long history in the hotel and restaurant business. Both live in San Diego and collaborated on Tower23, a sleek boutique hotel on Pacific Beach. (view its website here) Miller is also owner of Moondoggies (view its website here) and Gringo's restaurants in San Diego. This is their largest investment together and it has been a huge undertaking, and the results are stunning. I think our community is ready for the Padre, but Miller and Downes must be careful about the tone their multiple bars set and try to avoid the rougher late night crowd that has brought bad publicity to other downtown eateries. A couple of ugly incidents could scare off the demographic they need to succeed and cause irreparable harm. If they can do that - while providing good service and food - they will be a hit.

 * ... ANCHORS AWEIGH: Reader Wayland Louie wrote to correct me in my reference to the Navy fight song  "Anchors Aweigh" at the funeral for Claude Fiddler, the retired Chevron geologist and Navy veteran. "Your updates on Mr. Fiddler's services were helpful. I must mention though ... you said one of his granddaughters sang 'Anchors Away' at his service. I believe you meant to say she sang 'Anchors Aweigh." Naval personnel and boaters 'weigh' anchor... If you look at the song lyrics for each title, you will see that one definitely is not a naval song." I stand corrected.

* ... MAIN DRAIN ROAD: Local farmer Dick Porter sent me a humorous email noting that only in Kern County would we have roads with names like Brown Material Road and Main Drain Road, "and they don't even intersect!"

 * ... PARKING WOES? Reader Janice Holder wrote regarding the rumor that Trader Joe's may be thinking of moving to a larger facility on Rosedale Highway (a report the company says is not true.) Holder said she has "a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's. Love the store, hate the parking.  The parking spaces must be the absolute minimum size.  Love to park at Sam's Club, Kohls etc. on South Gosford.  Large, roomy parking spaces.  If you haven't been there, you should check it out.  Many vehicles are so large that minimum sized parking spots are no longer practical.  And while we're at it, how hard can it be to take your shopping cart to the designated storage areas?  I've seen perfectly "fit" people just push the cart up in between the cars and drive off leaving it to be some one else's problem.
 "On another note, I often affectionately refer to Bakersfield as "Bakerspatch."  We have Weedpatch and Pumpkin Center.  Why not  Bakerspatch?   Can't be all that bad, I'm a transplant from the mid west and have stayed here for some 55 plus years.  I have many great memories here."  Thanks for the note, Janice.