Saturday, October 9, 2010

McCarthy: Honoring a young Kern County soldier who gave his life for our freedom

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "We had a somber beginning to our week as we learned about the loss of Army Sgt. Brian J. Pedro of Rosamond.  Sgt. Pedro sacrificed his life defending our freedom while serving our country in Afghanistan with
the 2nd Engineer Battalion.  From a grateful community, words cannot adequately express the sadness that we feel and our condolences go out to his family during their time of grieving.

  "Friday, national unemployment numbers were released and unfortunately there was not much change.  For 14 months in a row, our nation’s unemployment rate has remained above 9.5% and for the last 17 months
it has remained above 9%.  This news was coupled with this week’s Congressional Budget Office report that found the federal government had increased spending by 9% in 2010.  Our top priorities right now
need to be:  job creation and reducing government spending.  These are the same priorities that are outlined in the Pledge to America.  First we need to create jobs and end economic uncertainty.

  Congress can
start this now by extending tax relief for all Americans, which is
currently set to expire on January 1, 2011.  If not, all taxpayers and
businesses will feel the effects of a $3.8 trillion tax hike.  Second,
cutting unsustainable government spending must be a priority too, as
Washington spends $7 million every minute of every hour of every day.
Our cumulative national debt is now over $13 trillion, equaling
$42,000 for every American.  Paying down our debt and putting the
government back on a path towards a balanced budget must be a priority
in this Congress and the next.

  On Tuesday, I filled in for Ralph Bailey on his radio show on KNZR. Tony Horton, developer of the P90X workout program that many of us in Congress use to try and keep in shape called in to share his work out
tips.   I also interviewed one of the most talented sculptors in the country who is also from Kern County.  Born in Taft and attended Foothill High School, Benjamin Victor updated us on his work
finalizing the last statue of three that will be a part of the Taft Oil Monument set to be unveiled next week during Oildorado Days in Taft.  We also spoke with Bob Leikam, the owner of Taft’s Domino’s
Pizza, who is working to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most medium pepperoni pizzas sold in 24 hours.  Finishing up the show, we talked with Laura Skinner, who is organizing the Schilhabel
Strong 5k Run & 1 mile Walk on October 16th to raise medical funds for Independence High School’s Tyler Schilhabel.  To be a part of this event, please visit:

Congratulations to local Pastor and Chaplain Gregory Horn on his promotion on Thursday at the Pentagon to Rear Admiral, Deputy Chief of Naval Chaplains (Reserve Matters).  Horn served as Pastor at
Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield.

  "And on Saturday, the tents at CSUB will be filled as we welcome back the Bakersfield Business Conference!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Remembering a local kid killed in Fresno and a bachelor auction raises $100,000 for homeless center

 * ... CANCER: It was nice to read an inspirational story in The Huntsville (Ala.) Times about former Bakersfield resident Laura Brezinski's battle with breast cancer. She left Bakersfield five years ago when her husband Randy's job at Frito-Lay transferred him to Alabama. A year ago, during a self-exam she fund a small lump and underwent a successful lumpectomy. She is now recovering, doing fine and finished a 5K race. During this Breast Cancer Awareness month, it's nice to be reminded of the need to support cancer research. The Brezinski's three boys - Cody, Jake and Tommy - all went to Stockdale High School.

 * ... GARCES DEATH: It was heart breaking to read about the death of Garces graduate Rod Fiorini, a 23-year-old Fresno Pacific University student who was shot and killed by Fresno police earlier this week. Whatever the circumstances, a death like this is always a blow to the extended and tight-knit Garces community, not to mention the young man's family. His mother, Pam Fiorini, is the energetic executive director of the Golden Empire Gleaners. Keep this family in your thoughts.

 * ... MORE DIAPERS: From Bryan Kelly, the reader and Trader Joe's employee who wrote in to tell about finding a used diaper in a shoe box at Wal-Mart: "One must appreciate customers with a sense of humor. Although I personally do not subscribe to the Californian, rest assured that many people do and read your column as well. When you mentioned the Pamper-in-the-shoe-box story ...  I lost count of  how many customers mentioned seeing my infamous name in print, but I have received four shoe boxes full of 'treats.' Chocolate chip cookies wrapped in a dish towel folded like a diaper and secured with safety pins...chocolate chip cookies nestled in cent-off coupons for disposable diapers...Tootsie Rolls with a small container of PediaSure...a prune danish wrapped in a long sales receipt from Wal-Mart."

 * ... BACHELOR AUCTION: Nice to hear of some successful non-profit fund raisers during these tough economic times. Jan Bans, external relations manager at ATT, told me more than 400 folks attended the recent 10th Annual Boots and Bachelor Auction that benefited the Bakersfield Homeless Center.  The event raised $99,563, a slight increase over last year. As Jan said: "Just goes to show if you give folks the chance to let loose, let off some steam they will open their pockets! We auctioned off 15 bachelors." The event was held at the Crystal Palace. 

* ... THE MEEKS: Ran into Kay and Harold Meek at the 24th Street Cafe the other day. Kay was her usual gregarious self and brought me up to date on their retirement and her continued activity in the community. Harold was the long-time general manager of Three-Way Chevrolet who retired a couple years ago. Kay has been active in the community for years, serving on the board of the Kern County Fair, the Friends of Mercy Foundation, the Lori Brock Museum and the Kern Community College District, just to name a few. Her father was former Kern County Fire Chief Bob Williams, who died recently.
* ... RALPH UPDATE: Turns out that it is valley fever that is ailing Ralph Bailey, the popular host of "The Ralph Bailey Show" on 1560 news talk radio. Ralph has been in Mercy Hospital for three weeks now and it looks like he has a few more days ahead of him before he is released.  If you are new to town and are not familiar with valley fever, better consult your physician.

 * ... SPOTTED. A video crew from the Food Network's syndicated cable show "Cupcake Wars" was seen earlier this week filming at the small boutique Frosting Ink over off 18th Street near the downtown Post Office.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Frank Williams: You know you're from Bakersfield if "you remember when Woolgrower's was located on Sumner Street and you could eat lunch for $1.50 including all the wine you could drink."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Jack's returns to the breakfast business and radio personality Ralph Bailey battles pneumonia

* ... HAPPY JACK'S: Had breakfast the other day with Jack McGee, a skeet shooting pal and owner of Bakersfield Optical over on 19th Street. We ended up at Happy Jack's Pie 'n Burger on 20th Street downtown, a small homey place that has been in business for 35 years and this week returned to serving breakfast. Thanks to owners Frances and Ruben Rosales, this is one of those Bakersfield treasures where the food is consistently outstanding and you are always welcomed with a warm smile. Frances and Ruben raised four high achieving children and over the years each has worked at Happy Jack's to help work their way through college. Happy Jack's is among a long list of locally owned eateries (Sequoia Sandwich Co., Uricchio's Trattoria, Casa Munoz and Cafe Med are on my short list) that embrace their customers and always leave them smiling.

 * ... SICK BAY: Swapped a few emails with an ailing Ralph Bailey, the loquacious and rapier witted host of the daily "The Ralph Bailey Show" on KNZR 1560 talk radio. Ralph has been at Mercy Hospital since Sunday suffering from pneumonia, which he says is actually good news since he first feared he might be suffering from a heart attack. Ralph told me his doctors are checking to see if Valley Fever is involved. The good news: he's feeling better but is expected to be holed up in the hospital all week. Get well, Ralph.

 * ... MISS TEEN CAL: Nice to hear that Liberty High School senior Mackenzie Carter has been crowned Miss Teen California International 2011. She won the honor last month at the Downey Civic Theatre and it certainly seems well deserving. She's an All Area volleyball player, Ford Dimension Dream Builder and an accomplished pianist. It seems appropriate that Mackenzie's focus will be working with the American Cancer Society during her year as Miss Teen California International. Her grandmother, Lenore Carter, lost her battle with cancer in November 2009. Lenore was the wife of Warren Carter of Watson Realty and the mother of Ken Carter, Watson's president. Mackenzie's parents are Doug (Ken's brother) and Dena Carter. Mackenzie will be playing Divison 1 volleyball at the University of Delaware next year. Hats off to this high achieving kid.

... LINKS FOR LIFE: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pretty soon our town will be wrapped in pink. Last Friday, on October 1, teams from businesses across town walked in the midday heat to the Liberty Bell to honor those who have suffered from cancer. This is one effort worth recognizing. There are so few of us who haven't been touched by cancer in some way.

 * ... CELL PHONE: An alert reader was driving on Allen Road, southbound at Stockdale Highway, last week when he found himself behind a government owned (exempt plate) black Buick Enclave that was being driven by a female who was talking busily on her cell phone.  "I thought how special she must be, driving a car that we (taxpayers) provide, ignoring the law with apparent impunity.  The California Exempt plate is 1351476. She was still on the phone two minutes later when she passed Ming Avenue, still headed south on Allen Road. By the way…is that Armor-All on those tires? Nice!"

 * ... MEA CULPA: Local businessman Brian Kiser's name was misspelled in this column on Monday (spelled Miser instead of Kiser), thanks to a Google Android phone spell check function that didn't recognize Kiser as a legitimate word. I should have caught it in an email to my editor. My bad, BK. 

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader John Strand: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember "driving from Enos Lane to Pierce Road  (now Buck Owens Boulevard) on Rosedale Highway without encountering a single stop sign."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Luigi's celebrates 100 years in business and more stories of dirty diapers found in the oddest places

* ... LUIGI'S: One of the great things about living in Bakersfield is the abundance of quality, family-owned restaurants in town. On Saturday, I dined at Woolgrower's to help celebrate the 40th birthday of friend Brian Kiser, husband of Tracy Walker Kiser, owner of H. Walker's Men's Clothing. And on Sunday, I was among some 4,000 to 5,000 people who showed up at Luigi's Delicatessen on 19th Street to celebrate its 100th anniversary. There were bands, terrific food and more people watching than one could hope for. And I also got to see the new patio bar and restrooms that Luigi's built to serve its thriving business.

 * ... PADRE: The restored Padre Hotel held its grand opening Thursday night, a "must attend" event that attracted a large array of locals. Owner Brett Miller greeted folks on a red carpet and once inside, drinks and all food were free. It was an impressive evening for this grand dame of downtown historic buildings. Among those spotted in the crowd were Pat and Steve Loyd of Loyd's Aviation, Dr. Javier Bustamante and wife Laurie, Greg and Sheryl Gallion of Houchin Blood Bank, accountant Christine Thornburgh, attorney Matt Clark and wife Molly, attorney Karen Gaul, businessman Rick Kreiser and Lori Tovar-Stites,  KGET's Jim Scott and Robin Mangarin, KBAK's Diego Wilkinson, Don Martin of the Metro Galleries,  City Councilwoman Sue Benham and husband Herb, Memorial Hospital president Jon Van Boening and wife Phillis, Sheryl and Lou Barbich, commercial real estate broker Duane Keathley and wife Corey, Dr. Chris Hamilton and wife Susan, and CSUB marketing manager Karen Langston.

 * ...OVERHEARD: A young woman at the Luigi's 100th anniversary party on Sunday: "I've been sitting here for just a few minutes and have already spotted two guys I know who are here and not wearing their wedding bands Alone!"

 * ... DIAPER ALERT:  Chris Lowe, manager of the WestAmerica bank branch on Truxtun Avenue downtown, reports finding three soiled diapers in the walk-up ATM trash container. Apparently the small trash receptacle, made for discarding deposit slips, had been broken so someone would depose of their diapers. At least someone is trying.

 * ... TAFT COLLEGE: There seems to be a lot of new energy out at Taft College these days. If you want to plug into what's happening out there, you might consider the "First Annual Cougar Rib-Eye Cookout" sponsored by the Taft College Foundation. It's set for Thursday, October 14, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the college quad. There will be live music and a "special salute to our veterans. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students). Call 661-763-7700 for more information.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Al Gutierrez: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you used the huge Dutch oven at Mother's Bakery on Baker Street to heat your lamb on Greek holidays."