Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bako Bits: local gal Kimberly Keathley conquers the annual Climb to Kaiser bike race and two county workers prevent a fire from spreading along Highway 58

* ... KUDOS: Kudos to two county workers whose actions could have prevented a fire along Highway 58 from raging out of control. Jayne Hotchkiss was driving down the Bealeville Road near the Caliente exit last week when she saw a cloud of smoke. Two county workers had stopped their dump truck, grabbed a couple of shovels and battled a grass fire until fire crews arrived. "I stopped, talked to one of the men and called 911," she said. "After 15 minutes one of the men came up to my truck and said, 'I need some help!' Just then a Kern County Fire helicopter flew overhead and the fire crews arrived. Kudos for these country workers! I wish I had gotten their named. They deserve a huge pat on the back."

 * ... WENDY: The celebration of life for the late community activist Wendy Wayne will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Fox Theater. The outpouring of love for Wendy and her surviving husband Gene Tackett has been impressive, so expect standing room only for this tribute. I am told it will last about an hour and is being coordinated by the couple's sons, Larkin and Benji.

* ... HIGH ACHIEVER: Mackenzie Carter is the daughter of Doug Carter and granddaughter of the late Warren and Lenore Carter, who have passed on but meant so much to our community. Mackenzie just finished her freshman year at Cal Poly where she is a member of the women's volleyball program. Said her proud father: "She redshirted this last year due to shoulder surgery in September. She made the dean's list her fall and spring quarters.. and she was asked to be a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars." As if that's enough, she was also on the organizing committee for the Cal Poly Relay for Life event that was held in May. This summer she is interning with Assemblywoman Shannon Grove having just finished a week in Sacramento.

 * ... KEATHLEY: Speaking of achievements by young people, hats off to 23-year-old Kimberly Keathley who was the first woman finisher in one of the hardest bicycle races in the country. Kim conquered the annual "Climb to Kaiser," a punishing 155-mile ride with 14,000 feet of climbing. Not only was she the first woman at the top, but she also finished 26th overall out of some 400 riders. The ride goes through Shaver Lake, Big Creek, Huntington Lake and the Kaiser Pass at 9,200 feet. And, she did this on her birthday. The daughter of Duane and Corey Keathley, Kim is a graduate of both Stockdale High School and Point Loma Nazarene University. She currently is working as a aide at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute (SCOI). (Photos courtesy of Jim Quaschnick- 

* ... BOCK: Another Bock has been appointed a partner at the local tax and auditing firm of Daniells Phillips Vaughan and Bock, CPAs and Advisors. Joel Bock, 37-year-old son of managing partner Jim Bock,  joined the firm in 2004 as a tax supervisor after moving to Bakersfield from Fresno and quickly was promoted to manager and then senior manager.  Joel previously worked at the accounting firm of Noell Deetz Agnew and Morse in Fresno. He is a graduate of Fresno State and earned his master's in tax at Golden State University.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teachers attack Bakersfield Observed for focusing the spotlight on pension reform and a customer gives a shoutout to David Rous at Glinn and Giordano

* ... FEEDBACK: My recent post about a clash between the Idaho  state school superintendent the teacher's union drew this response from Mark Weir, who lead off by calling me an "arrogant ass." (Probably not the best icebreaker to start a dialogue between strangers). He continued: "Having read enough of your columns I'm over the fact you make it obvious that you are a Catholic and, no doubt, would argue that Garces is the only local place for anyone to receive a quality education. Your ill informed dribble on union busting in Idaho, comparing it to a recent union loss in Wisconsin, makes it appear you read only your left leaning newspaper. I won't even go into why I disagree." First, thanks for writing even if we disagree. But for the record, I'm not Catholic but the ones I know seem like swell people. Second, the story being played out in Idaho is a legitimate topic and has been well covered beyond the lines in this column. Lastly, I'm not certain what all this has to do with Garces Memorial High School but the folks over there seem like hard working people, and they did forgive me for sending my daughter to Stockdale High.

 * ... SALVAGGIO: A more measured response to the Idaho post came from former city councilman Mark Salvaggio, who never shies away from tugging my leash if he disagrees with me. Salvaggio is all for pension reform (making new hires pay more for their share of the costs for example) but warns against piling up on public employee unions. "What should not happen is to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to public pensions and public employees. Public employees are the lifeblood in delivering vital services to the taxpayer. Quality of life issues must not be forsaken here. You get what you pay for as the old adage goes."

 * ... ROUS: Earlier this week I dropped the name of John Rous and his son David, who works as vice president at Glinn and Giordano Physical Therapy. That prompted this note from reader Barbara Fleming: "When I read your column in Monday's paper, I saw the name of a gentle giant. Dave Rous represents things to strive for:  kindness, integrity, calmness, humor and many more traits. When a client at Glinn and Giordano, I look forward to working with him."

 * ... SPOTTED: A friend tipped me off to an incident in the parking lot of a private school in the Southwest. "A car pulled up to a woman walking and either the driver or a passenger screamed 'throw your purse in the car!' After the woman obliges, the car drove out. It was a black sedan. What a country."

  * ... TREES: Mary Webb wrote to wonder who trimmed the sycamore trees on the east side of the Elephant Bar along Calloway Drive. "Who owns or leases the land and makes such idiotic decisions hacking these used-to-be trees? And in the 100 degree temperatures of summer! S-t-u-p-i-d-i-t-y. Seems an annual occurrence: same thing, same time last year."

 * .... DREAM CATCHERS: Want to feel good about our young people? Then consider the Dream Catchers club at Liberty High School, where a group of kids got together to grant last wishes to the elderly. It's all the idea of the Busacca triplets - Anthony, Sophia and Isabella - and some of their classmates to pay tribute to their elders. One of their first ideas is to remember the late Wendy Wayne on Monday, July 9, with an event at Jastro Park. There, folks will learn ways they can honor Wendy's life by doing something for other people in our community. The event runs from 10 a.m. until noon. Bruce and Molly Busacca are the parents of the triplets.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keep an eye on Idaho as unions clash with the state over reforms and Cal Radio welcomes Gene Tackett on Monday at 9 a.m.

 * ... UNIONS: Keep your eye on Idaho, the latest battleground where teacher unions are fighting an effort to limit their collective bargaining rights. Faced with dismal education ratings, state school superintendent Tom Luna launched a "Students First" initiative that, among other things, would restrict collective bargaining to salary and benefits. This rankles the unions, of course, who want to hold onto to archaic ideas like tenure that protects bad teachers from being fired. This is all reminiscent of the battle in Wisconsin, where the unions were dealt a setback when they unsuccessfully tried to recall Gov. Scott Walker.

 * ... CAL RADIO: It's been a big week in politics - Obamacare upheld, the simmering immigration debate, the House holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt - and Monday I'll address those issues with my guest, political consultant Gene Tackett. We'll also talk about the upcoming "celebration of life" for Wendy Wayne, Gene's late wife who died two weeks ago. Join us at 9 a.m. on Californian Radio KERN 1180. Phone (661) 842-5376 with your questions. (file photo of Wendy Wayne and Gene Tackett)

 * ... HITCHING POST: I wandered over to Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessen for lunch Friday (spinach salad with tuna, thank you) and owner Tonya Valpredo walked me outside to see the old hitching post buried in the concrete near the front entrance. The post disappeared a few years back when the city widened the street, but thanks to Tonya's efforts they located it in a scrap heap and re-cemented it in place. I'm only aware of a few of these hitching posts left in the city. Let me know if you know of others around town.

 * ... THREE GENERATIONS: If you've spent any time in our community you may know the Rous clan, beginning with family patriarch John Rous, father of the Thanksgiving Day "Pie Run" at Hart Park and a longtime cyclist and runner. Last week the family spent some time in Cayucos and three generations of the Rous family found themselves riding bikes together. "Son David, my grandson Parker, who will be 13 on August 21, and myself rode the tough, steep Old Creek Road. Of course David led Parker on the ride, and I finally made it to the top. Did not stop." David is vice president of Glinn and Giordano physical therapy and is an accomplished athlete and competitive cyclist. (file photos of John, David Rous)

 * ... OVERHEARD: Greg Gallion, CEO of Houchin Blood Bank, is heard telling a friend about being ticketed for a "California roll" in his Old Stockdale neighborhood. "It was the California Highway Patrol on Fairway Drive!"

* ... POKER: My earlier post about a couple of local card sharks headed to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas triggered this response from reader Mike Hutson. He noted the tournament's "Main Event" begins July 7 with a grand prize in the $8 million range. "Well, at least three Bakersfield residents have qualified for the Main Event, having won local tournaments to get there. Ryan Huston and Larry Hieb each won a seat by capturing the two top spots in a recent satellite tournament at Golden West Casino.  Both were given an additional $2,000 to help with the travel expenses.  The third player is local teacher and Centennial High baseball coach, Justin Roberts.  Certainly, congratulations are in order for these three with the hope that Lady Luck sits a little closer to Ryan!"