Friday, October 21, 2011

McCarthy: Valley needs reliable supply of water and jobs

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, gives us his weekly update. In his own words:

 "California has been the nation’s top agricultural producer and exporter for decades, and our region is a main reason why. Last year, we produced $4.7 billion worth of crops – grapes, almonds, pistachios, milk and citrus topped the list – that supported countless jobs and small businesses in our community. One of the single most important ways to ensure the continued success of our agricultural industry, and the jobs it supports, is a reliable water supply.

 "Today I spoke at Vision 2061, a water conference hosted by the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) to mark their 50th anniversary and to begin to find solutions to the state’s water challenges over the next fifty years. I don’t have to tell you those challenges are steep. We face a rapidly expanding population, government overregulation and over-litigation, not to mention the ever-present threat of drought. The good news is that we have some great minds on top of these pressing issues. After all, Jim Beck and the folks at the KCWA haven’t helped build one of the world’s leading water agencies by accident.
 "From cutting unnecessary red tape to building additional storage and conveyance systems and continuing to innovate for conservation, there are many ways to get water flowing more reliably through California. Right now, I am pushing three bills (H.R. 869, H.R. 1837 and H.R.1604) that would increase the amount of water flowing to our community, create jobs and reduce the layers of bureaucracy and paperwork for water projects. I know much more must be done, but this conference has demonstrated that we are on the right track. The ideas are there, the will is there, and I trust that our community and water experts will continue to do everything possible to ensure we have the water we need to thrive for the next fifty years and beyond.
  "Water is not the only thing that will ensure Bakersfield’s continued success; the young people our community produces continue to give me high hopes for the future. I have two young men from Bakersfield currently interning in our Washington D.C. office: Jack Pandol, who recently graduated from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia; and Jess Thomas, who studied at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Their hard work, dedication and eagerness to serve the constituents of our congressional district make me certain that they will accomplish great things and make Bakersfield proud.
 "For those still in high school, I’m hosting a U.S. Service Academy Forum this Saturday, which will allow students and parents to get detailed information on the application process, academy life and career opportunities in the military. I hope to see many of you there at 10 a.m. at the Kern County Board of Supervisors' Chambers. Also, in case you aren’t able to make it but still are interested, KGOV will air the forum live on its supported channels, and on its website at If you have any questions, please call my office at 661-327-3611.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Remembering the old Sandberg Summit Hotel on the Ridge Route and Ravi Patel gets a high honor from the American Cancer Society

  * ... SANDBERG'S: Last week readers weighed in on the old Lebec Hotel, the grand dame of the Ridge Route that connected Los Angeles with the San Joaquin Valley before Interstate 5 was built. Now another reader, Mary Fuller, submits this information about another hotel - albeit a bit smaller but equally charming - called Sandberg's Summit Hotel. Apparently it was located near the intersection of Pine Canyon Road and the old Ridge Route at an elevation of 4,170 feet. It was built by Harald Sandberg in 1914, originally as a one-story log structure, but later enlarged to three floors. During renovation in April 1961, sparks from a fireplace ignited the roof and the hotel burned to the ground. All that remains today are foundations and a rock wall on the west side of the old road, just before entering the Angeles National Forest. Anyone remember Sandberg's?

 * ... HOMECOMING: Bakersfield is known for its "brain drain" when the best and brightest of our children leave and never return. But there are plenty of examples of kids who do come back, and I recently learned of two more from Joseph "JJ" Gianquinto, commissioner of the Kern County Superior Court. He wrote to say that one of his sons, Dr. Jared Gianquinto, completed his residency in orthodontia at Temple University and has returned to Bakersfield to establish his practive. His elder son, Jason Gianquinto, also returned to Bakersfield with his wife and two daughters. They spent some time overseas working on international engineering projects and he now works for a major Central Valley water district. "I know that my sons are only two, but they have friends here who are of the same ilk. Some of them never left, and others have returned. They will all continue to make the community and their parents proud," he said. J.J. and his wife, Lani, have been married almost 39 years and he credits her with rearing two outstanding boys. Well spoken.

 * ... PATEL KUDOS: Kudos to Drs. Ravi and Naina Patel for being recognized with a prestigious honor from the American Cancer Society for donating more than $850,000 to find a cure for cancer. The philanthropic award is given to an individual or family foundation that has given a minimum of $500,000 to strengthen the American Cancer Society's goal of saving lives and finding cures. The funding came from the Patel Foundation, which includes their family and the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.

 * ... PUMPKINS: Remember to run over to the Northwest Promenade for a special sale on pumpkins on Saturday, sponsored by Cub Scout Pack 177. The Scouts will be selling pumpkins from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

 * ... TOW SACK ANNIE: Marcie Brakebill wrote to recall the character known as Tow Sack Annie (I was reminded by a reader that it should read 'tow sack' and not 'tote sack' as I had it). "It was fun to read your blog about Tow Sack Annie in today's Californian. As soon as I saw the heading I knew I had heard that moniker before. As a child I had lived on Weedpatch Highway close to Edison Highway but I wasn't sure if I actually remembered her or had just heard about her so I called my dad, who now lives in Missouri, and ask him if the name meant anything to him. Of course it did! He told me the same story told to you by Marvin Pritchett but also says that I had a little dog that would run out and bark at her. She apparently would scold my dog and tell him "go back in the yard or you'll get ran over"! What a great blast from the past and a chance to ask my Dad about something long forgotten! Good job." Thanks Marcie.

 * ... SMALL WORLD: I'm used to running into folks I know at Starbucks or Trader Joe's, but Kern County Family Court? I spent the day in court recently and saw four people I know, all going through divorces. Must be something in the water around here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shelley Long shows up in Bako for a wedding and remembering Tote Sack Annie

* ... SPOTTED: Actress Shelley Long of the hit TV series "Cheers" was spotted at Uricchio's Trattoria Friday night. Apparently she was in town for the rehearsal dinner for her cousin's wedding. Stacey Williams, daughter of Shelley's first cousin Jon and wife Debbie, married her high school sweetheart, Clint, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Saturday. (If there is a more beautifully landscaped church in town, tell me about it) Five priests, including Father Heffernan, former pastor of St. Francis who officiated at the wedding of the bride's parents, were at the altar. All were friends of the bride's grandmother, Rena Fagot, who is responsible for the beauty inside and out of the church next to Garces. The priests joined pastor Monsignor Mike Braun, a downtown Rotarian member, to insure the marriage was well blessed.

* ... BAD FORM: Darlyn Baker shard this experience while driving down 24th Street: "While stopped at a traffic light I looked to my left and noticed identical mirror type objects for babies, I assume twins, attached to the back of each front seat of a gray Toyota. The infant seats were empty. Then I noticed the lady reaching into her blouse to apply roll on deodorant! That was a first. She then proceeded to put on blush and had her mascara in hand as the light changed. People sure make a routine drive interesting."

 * ... WAKE UP HARRY: It was a hilarious moment on the morning show at KBAK TV last week when anchor Leyla Santiago went to interview singer Harry Belafonte, who was hooked up via a remote location. When the camera cut to Belafonte, the famous singer appeared fast asleep, prompting the raspy voiced anchor to implore: "Wake up Harry. Harry! Wake up!" The singer continued to snooze while co-anchors John Dabkovich and Aaron Perlman shared the awkward moment. The video has now gone viral, attracting thousands of hits on the world wide web.

 * ... TOTE SACK ANNIE: Marvin Pritchett wrote to answer another reader's question about Tote Sack Annie. "During my high school days I worked in a service station on Edison Highway in the early 1950s and almost every afternoon a person who we believed to be a female would pass by east bound on Edison Highway with a tote sack over her shoulder walking at a fast pace. Everyone referred to her as Tote Sack Annie. If anyone said anything to her she would show her displeasure with some very colorful words. She saved her most colorful words for truck drivers who honked at her. We never figured out where she came from or exactly where she went."

 * .... YMCA: Good news for the Kern County YMCA, which has been struggling to make a comeback after a few years in obscurity. Board member Dave Wilkerson told me they now have more than 700 kids in Y soccer programs in Delano and Arvin, all funded by some generous local companies. "Saturday we start our soccer program in Delano, almost 500 kids fourth and fifth graders only," he said. "Along with our Arvin program that started one week ago we have almost 700 kids between the two. The Delano program is a partnership between S.C. Anderson, Inc., Delano Elementary School District and the City of Delano. Arvin is 100 percent sponsored by Grimmway farms."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don Martin being courted to run for City Council while Seven Oaks gets hit with burglaries

 * ... WARD TWO:  It looks like longtime downtown arts activist Don Martin is being courted to run for the City Council to replace Sue Benham, who is stepping down after 12 years on the council. I've heard that Candi Easter, head of the local Democratic Party, has met with Martin to urge him to run in the November 2012 election. Apparently Martin is among a number of potential candidates being approached to run, and he told me he has yet to make a decision. The Ward 2 post covers most of downtown, where Martin lives and runs his art gallery, The Metro Galleries on 19th Street. He has been instrumental in the evolution of the downtown arts district and is well known in the community. Another potential candidate is Terry Maxwell, himself an owner of a downtown restaurant, who ran unsuccessfully for the post over a decade ago.

 * ... SEVEN OAKS: The Grand Island area of Seven Oaks has been hit with a number of burglaries recently, putting residents of this gated community on edge. I am told most of the break-ins are happening in mid morning, and that the favored entry point seems to be windows leading to the master bedroom. In some cases, alarms are not triggered because the introduders simply break the glass and crawl inside without ever opening the window. Alarm companies can wire houses with devices that are triggered by the sound of broken glass, and this may be an option.

* ... MORE BURGLARIES: Kevin Ormande is the manager at the Kern Security Systems and knows something about the rash of burglaries and car thefts sweeping our community. "Please tell your readers to use their home alarm systems even when leaving for just 'a few minutes' to run to the store or pick up children from school. If all possible park in your garage. In 18 years in the security business I have yet to heare of a vehicle being broken into inside a garage."

* ... GARCES POOL: Heads up if you live downtown or on the east side of our community: the new pool at Garces Memorial High School is now open to the public for early morning workouts. Swimmers can sign up for a daily, monthly or yearly pass to use the heated pool from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Lockers are available. The new pool is beautiful and provides a great morning workout. Call Billy Potter at Garces at (661) 327-2578 if you are interested.

* ... FUND RAISER: I had the chance to stop by a fund raiser for the local Ronald McDonald house over at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. It was held at Imbibe Wine and Spirits and chaired by Jeffrey Mestmaker, a local wealth advisor. I am always impressed by how many people in our community rally behind good causes. Mestmaker took the microphone to thank many donors, including HPS Mechanical, The Golden Empire McDonalds operators, Chevron Valley Credit Union, Alon USA, Peggy Darling in the memory of Curtis Darlin, Bakersfield Active 20/30 Club, Bon and Pat Engel in memory of Ryan Dobbs, Diane Lake Family in memory of Catherine Ann Lake, and Sandy Moffett in memory of Marshall Helm.

  * .... COAT DRIVE: Kudos to West Rotary’s New Member Committee for collecting over 500 coats, jackets and sweatshirts at the Antique Peddlers Fair last weekend. Headed by new club member Mark Bianchi along with Chip Casteen, PK Zander, John Shaw and senior members Brad Henderson and Jim Darling, the group's goal was 200 coats for Castle Elementary School. Because of the large response the group added Standard School and West Rotary’s sponsored elementary school in Ensanada Mexico.

 * ... BAD FORM: Speaking of Rotary, service clubs are rarely the venue for bad behavior but that was exactly the case at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, also known as the downtown club. Turns out one of its members hijacked the invocation to launch a personal attack on the speaker, with whom he had a falling out over a business deal. He later apologized.

 * ... SPOTTED: A young mother with a toddler pulls up to a tobacco shop at Ming and Ashe, music blaring loudly, windows rolled down. She gets out of the car but leaves the loud music playing and the toddler in the back seat while she runs in to get some smokes. Class act.