Saturday, November 12, 2011

McCarthy: time to salute our veterans and honor their sacrifices

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and House  Majority  Whip, gives us his weekly update from Capitol Hill.

 "Throughout our nation’s history, America has been a shining city on a hill to the rest of the world – a representation of what freedom and a democratic system of government can produce. And we have the men and women of our Armed Forces to thank for it. Many of those brave patriots come from our communities. On Thursday, I toured Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, where I was again impressed by the great work being done there to ensure our nation’s security. I was also impressed by the support the Bakersfield community showed on Veterans Day. The turnout for the 92nd Annual Veterans Day Parade and the Veterans Day Military Vehicle Show at the Kern County Museum was great. I was honored to participate in these events and interact with some of the courageous veterans who answered the call to serve our nation.

"There are more than 22 million veterans in America, about 2 million reside in California. Our Congressional District is home to one of the highest concentrations of veterans in our state – nearly 55,000. Just a few examples of the courageous individuals from our community who have answered the call to defend America include: highly decorated Korean War veteran Larry Ybanez, who continues to give his time assisting fellow veterans; Iraq War veterans Jeremy Staat and Wesley Barrientos, who are gearing up to ride across the country from the Wall of Valor Memorial to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. to unify the nation’s vets; and Ashleigh Martel, a veteran of the Iraq War who now works at the Kern County Veteran Services Department.

"The men and women who have served our country deserve our unending gratitude for the sacrifices they and their families have made to ensure we can wake every morning to a nation full of endless possibility. One way we can demonstrate our gratitude is to make certain our veterans receive the benefits they earned. This past August, legislation I voted for was signed into law to ensure that veterans receiving tuition aid under the GI bill receive the funding they are entitled to. I was also pleased to vote for improving job training programs and employment opportunities for veterans. In addition, I recently led a group of my colleagues in requesting an independent audit into the Veterans Administration to get to the bottom of the continued backlog and delays our local veterans have been experiencing with getting the health care they need in our region.

"As we take a moment to remember those who have answered the call of duty, let us renew our commitment to honor them when they return home. We are a grateful nation, and I thank the residents in our community for always showing our veterans our heartfelt appreciation for their service. I encourage everyone to take a moment to thank a veteran for their service this Veterans Day and to reflect upon the opportunities afforded us because of their sacrifice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Readers take a walk down memory lane and KERO TV loses its weather forecaster

 * ... FAREWELL MELISSA: Melissa Dignan, the popular weather forecaster at KERO TV who was told her contract was not being renewed, has left the station and will not return. The station originally told her they wanted her to work to the end of the year, but Melissa said she has moved on. Melissa has thrown herself into our community, and would like to remain here. Here's hoping other opportunities arise.

* ... SPOTTED: Slovenly middle aged man in the Phoenix airport waiting on his flight to Bakersfield, gorging on  French fries while playing - loudly - the Pink Panther theme song on his smart phone, annoying everyone around him.

 * ... CAMP KEEP: Regular contributor Don Kurtz weighs in on how times have changed. His grandson will be attending Camp KEEP and was told not to bring knives and matches. "In 1956 I was a Boy Scout with Troop 318. We met in the cafeteria of Longfellow school before each camp out. Our leaders would inspect our gear and laid out before you were knives - a hunting knife and a folding knife - an axe and matches!"

 * ... RILEY'S JOURNEY: Riley Parker is the fraud specialist and investigator who got a wake-up call from his doctor a few months ago. He had a choice: become a diabetic and spend the rest of his life on drugs, or lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle. He started at 226 pounds and is now down to 207 with a goal of 200 pounds by the end of the year. And, he is off all medication except for aspirin. "I can't believe the changes that I feel....emotionally more positive, more energy and all of my medical numbers are now into the normal range." He celebrated with a 26-mile bike ride and enjoyed "an absolutely stunning sunset, probably made more so by having taken responsibility for my own health."

* ... BROCK'S: Jenna Sabedra is a marketing specialist at KGET TV and wrote that her grandmother, Bessie Spoor, worked at Brock's department store for 50 years operating the elevator. "It was so good to reminisce about the old days of shopping at Brock's where my grandmother would take us on elevator rides and when they were really busy during the holidays she would help in wrapping gifts. For 50 years she was a dedicated employee and all who worked there and shopped there knew her and loved her."

 * ... HARDWARE: Phyllis Smith is 81 years old and remembers the old Bakersfield Hardware Co. on Chester Avenue. "I would like to respond to Sue Wasson's comments. I worked with her mother, Mary, at the Bakersfield Hardware Co. I was there from 1944 until it closed in 1955. My father Marvin Hicks worked there for over 40 years. It was a super hardware store but it is seldom mentioned in Bakersfield history stories. Sue's memory brought back some good memories to me also. Her mother, Mary, was a lovely lady."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Milt Younger sets the record straight on the union picketing and more on the Lebec Hotel

 * ... UNION: Longtime plaintiff's attorney Milt Younger gave me a call to set the record straight about why the Carpenter's Union was picketing the downtown Bank of America building, which Milt owns. The irony, of course, is that Milt is a lifelong Democrat and big labor supporter, and he also represents the Carpenter's Union on  legal issues. He told me he was not aware a non-union contractor was being used in an office renovation and was "embarrassed" by the whole episode. That contractor has now been let go in favor of a company using union labor.

* ... SPOTTED: In the lobby of a downtown hotel, a female fan of the Bakersfield Condors is seen screaming obscenities at another fan who had quietly criticized the team's play. The woman's tirade went on so long that a bartender had to intervene, but not before the woman and several Condors players made the man feel so uncomfortable he had to leave.

 * ... LEBEC: More on the old Lebec Hotel from Robert Wert. "Forty years ago when I was in the Merchant Marine the ship's cook said, 'You're from Bakersfield? Did you know that O'Brien potatoes were invented at the Lebec Hotel?' As a side note my grand parents would stop at the Lebec Hotel overnight on their way from Los Angeles to see us in San Jose. About 1939 or 1940 my grand father had a heart attack and passed away" at the hotel.

* ... MEMORY: Vickie Nunlee remembers growing up near Alta Vista when her father, a mechanic at Morrison's Automotive, would "borrow" whatever car he was working on take Vickie and her three siblings to lunch, usually bologna sandwiches and Kool-Aid.

* ... BROCK'S: Reader Patricia Davis Kelley wrote to recall Zeke Cantini, a employee at the old Brock's department store who ran the Campus Deb Club for teens. "We did fashion shows for Brock's and she taught us a lot," she said. "I was doing a fashion show at the Fox Theater and there was a Hollywood movie star there by the name of Richard Egan. We discovered we were shirt tail relatives and that the governor of the Territory of Alaska was also an Egan and a relative, distant but related."

* ... KOHL'S: Hats off to Kohl's which donated $60,009 to the Mercy and Memorial Hospital Community Wellness Program. Kohl's has now donated some $300,000 to the programs, which help combat childhood obesity.

 * ... FEDWAY: Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Clark weighed in on the old Fedway Department store downtown. "I do remember the opening and that it had the first escalator in town. I had seen one or two department store escalators on rare trips to Los Angeles, but it was still a source of amazement to me. I felt Bakersfield had finally arrived into the 'big time.'"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Longtime union sympathizer Milt Younger is the target of pickets at his downtown building

 * ... IRONY: The corner of Truxtun and Chester Avenue was dripping with irony last Friday when the carpenter's union mounted a noisy picket line at the downtown Bank of America building, allegedly because contractors inside were using non-union labor. Why the irony? The building is owned by longtime plaintiff's attorney Milt Younger, the longtime Democratic kingmaker who represents unions across town. (file photo of Milt Younger)

 * ... THE BUZZ: There is a lot of chatter about the retirement of Kern County Fire Chief Nick Dunn, who had been investigated for using county property for personal gain. Dunn is expected to receive a lifetime pension of about $175,000, leading one reader to remark: "If he lives to 75 he'll amass $3.5 million! Not a bad deal."

 * ... SPOTTED: Middle aged woman driving a fleet vehicle from ATT.Com puffing away on a cigarette and filling the inside with thick smoke. How would you like to be the next person to drive this car?

 * ... DANCE STUDIO: Another La Cresta memory from Linda Larma, who recalled the Rosalie Stubbs Dance Studio that was located on Alta Vista between Columbus and Bernard streets. Rosalie Stubbs taught thousands, including Linda who now owns Linda Larma and Daughters Academe of Dance and The Gaslight Melodrama.

* ... YOGA: The Kern County YMCA is expanding once again, this time offering yoga classes at its facility off District Boulevard in the Southwest. The classes will run from noon until 1 p.m. and the cost is $50 for ten weeks of classes. Interested? Call (661) 837-9622.

 * ... MEMORY: Sue Wasson wrote with her memories of shopping at Fedway at 21st Street and Chester Avenue. "This was the store of many 'firsts' in big-girl shopping - my first bra was purchased there (who can forget being fitted by the white frocked sales matron with the measuring tape around her nick.), our first TV in 1955... As an aside my mom worked at both Bakersfield Hardware on Chester and Ford Hardware. My mom said she could tell a good crop year for the local farmers when their wives came in and bought new china."

 * ... DREAM ACT: The controversial Dream Act, which allows children of illegal immigrants access to state financial aid in California, will be the topic of Californian Radio on KERN 1180 Monday morning. Tune in at 9 a.m. when I will discuss the Dream Act with Jim Young, former chancellor of the Kern Community College District.

* ...  BAKERSFIELDISM: Kathy Christy writes that you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember going to Meadows Field and "walking right up to the fence and almost touching the planes. My grandfather used to take me and then we would go to Thrifty for ice cream and go watch the planes land and take off."