Friday, October 5, 2012

Report: California State University Bakersfield will join the Western Athletic Conference

 It looks like a big announcement may be coming over at Cal State Bakersfield where officials are expected to announce that the Roadrunners are joining the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
 The Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, is reporting today that both CSUB and Utah Valley University will be joining the WAC in the 2013-14 season. The newspaper said the official announcement will come next week.
 CSUB Athletic Director Jeff Konya has been courting the WAC for months, trying to find a home for the men's basketball team. Konya could not be reached for comment.
 This is important because as a Division 1 Independent, Cal State cannot qualify for post season play. But as a member of the WAC, they could potentially go to the NCAA Tournament. The WAC has been undergoing its own turmoil in recent years with schools leaving.
 The newspaper reported: "The new WAC will now be a six-team conference that will include Idaho, New Mexico State, Denver, Seattle, UVU and CSUB. The NCAA requires a conference to have at least seven teams for basketball but in this case the WAC has been granted a two-year exemption to reach seven-team minimum."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bako Bits: time for another First Friday in the downtown arts district, Bernie Herman leaving the museum and remembering the old Homemaker Park

 * ... ICE HOUSE: The Sizzler restaurant at the iconic Ice House has closed, leaving the community with just two Sizzlers, one on Mount Vernon and the other on Real Road. Lynne Woodward of Taft was told by the manager that the Mt. Vernon location is now part of a "new generation" of Sizzlers. But the move leaves the red bricked Ice House with a big vacancy. "What a shame for a true historic Bakersfield building (not to mention the jobs probably lost)," Lynne said. "Let's hope a wonderful new restaurant will jump at the chance to open in the picturesque location!"

 * ... OVERHEARD: A middle aged man is lamenting to a friend about the number of people locally who run red lights. "It seems I see it every day around here, it's dangerous and someone is going to get killed. If I had a death ray, I'd use it on these people blowing through lights."

 * ... OLD BAKERSFIELD: Donald Kurtz grew up on the east side of our town and remembers when the area around 30th and Q streets was called Homemaker Park. "How did the city allow this area to become a drug infested domain for gangs and looks like it has been razed or bombed out? It was built during World War II and was populated by a very strong work ethic middle class families. As a matter of fact after my spouse and I married in 1965 we rented in the area for a few years. Surrounding the area were many business, both commercial and industrial. Today most are gone. Go down 34th Street and it looks like total urban decay. Someone at City Hall really needs to wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late. All American City... I think not!"

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: If you are out and about Friday night, make sure you head downtown and take in the arts district during October's First Friday celebrations. One show not to miss: the Metro Galleries on 19th Street is featuring the art of former CBS newsman Bill Lagatutta, an impressive and interesting show featuring some unique art.

 * ... MUSEUM: And speaking of the arts, best luck to Bernie Herman who is stepping down as executive director of the Bakersfield Museum of Art after eight years. During his tenure the museum paid off its debt, greatly expanded its education programs and consistently produced high quality shows. Bernie will be retiring after the first of the year, giving the museum Board of Trustees time to find a successor.

* ... STREET SWEEPERS: There may be bigger things to worry about, but sometimes it's the little stuff that drives you crazy. For Jim VanderZwan, it is the city street sweepers. "Why is it that when street sweepers come around, they almost always leave the condition of the gutters worse than before they came through with their big bristles full of mud water?  Do they fill up at Buena Vista lake before painting the edges of the street with giant streaks of mud? This past week I came home from work to find that the sweeper had been through the neighborhood. How did I know? The neighborhood kids were riding in the sweeper's path like it was a BMX track. This kind of thing doesn't really bother me, except that my tax dollars pay for someone to drive through once a month and leave a trail of mud that fades only in time for the next round of 'cleaning.'"

* ... LAWYER: Hats off to local lawyer Therese Foley was was recently presented with the Sharon Wallis Mettler award by the Kern County Women's Lawyer Association. The award recognizes local lawyers who have "demonstrated a genuine concern for issues relating particularly to women and a willingness to advance, protect, and pursue those concerns, however difficult, time-consuming, or long-range they may be."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bernie Herman to retire as executive director of the Bakersfield Museum of Art, planning on retirement and move to Southern California

 Bernie Herman has announced he is stepping down as executive director of The Bakersfield Museum of Art after eight years at the helm of the city's most prominent arts organization.
 Herman told members of the museum's Board of Trustees that he was planning on retiring and moving to Southern California to be closer to his daughters. He plans to leave the organization early next year and work with the Board on a transition.
 Herman has been a fixture in Bakersfield civic and non-profit organizations for 27 years, and once served as head of Mercy Hospital. He replaced Charles Meyers as head of the museum eight years ago.
 No word yet on who might succeed him at the museum. Among his most memorable accomplishments were dealing with a crushing debt that was later paid off and greatly expanding the museum education programsl.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bako Bits: speculating about the old Padre Hotel and $160,000 raised for the children's wing at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital

 * ... SMALL WORLD: Mary Vanfleet and her husband, owners of Purifying Systems, were on a 12-day trip to China recently when they were reminded just how small the world is. "While cruising down the Yangtze River on a ship that holds only 200 passengers, my husband Rodger and I ran into our old neighbors from Bakersfield, Ed and Chris Biebrich! They moved about 15 years ago and now live in North Carolina. We haven't seen each other since. Ed Biebrich was with American Bank and then with Citizen's Bank and is now retired. So after all these years,  there they were and there we were in a far away land. It was like running into an old friend at Cafe Med!"

* ... HAUNTED PADRE? Who would have guessed the the old Padre Hotel would turn up in a new cable television show featuring an alleged psychic from Long Island? Will Winn said it happened as he was watching a promotion for a new episode of "Long Island Medium." The episode features an email the psychic received from a lady who claimed to have been visited by a child who died in a hotel.  "The picture of the hotel is shown and it is the Padre!" Winn wrote. "Wonder which room she was in?" 

* ... MEMORIAL: Good news from the 10th Annual Larry Carr Memorial Golf Tournament last week: it raised more than $160,000 to go towards the construction of a children's pavilion for emergency care. The event was held at Bakersfield Country Club and was co-chaired by Steve Loyd and Jenny Waguespack. 

 * ... COLLEGE BOUND: Julie Gibson wrote to say that her son, Timothy, is now attending the University of California Irvine and while dropping him off at school, she learned he was in good company.  "Five of his classmates from Golden Valley High School who were also on the 'We the People Constitution' team are also entering freshmen at UCI. They include Arshdeep Gill, Rocio Martinez, Karen Cervantez, Juan Castaneda and Stephanie Padilla.  I attribute that to the influence of their coach, John Hansen." Mike Gibson, Timothy's father, was his son's football and baseball coach at Golden Valley.

* ... ACHIEVERS: The Jim Burke Education Foundation has released its new team of "Dream Builders," a group of high achieving local kids from our local high schools. Among them are Alexander Pearson, Highland; Renae Lewis, West; Connor Brady, Liberty; Emily Norris, BHS; Nolan Cooney, Stockdale; Xitlaly Estrada, Golden Valley; Sean Tieu, Independence; Heather Hansen, Centennial; Joshua Park, Centennial; Alice Verderber, BHS; Connor Fisher, Stockdale; Katie Cornford, Frontier; Joshua Gaddis, Independence; Abby Grisedale, North; Robert Keathley, Bakersfield Christian; Esperanza Gutierrez, South; Corbin Burnes, Centennial; Paige Basconcillo, Liberty; Charles Hale, East; Bailey Wanner, North; Caroline Kim, Frontier; and Hunter Villanueva, West.

 * ... BLESSING: One of my favorite events will be held this Friday at the St. Francis Parish School when it will hold its annual 'Blessing of the Animals.' It will start at 2:30 p.m. at the Palm Street school. The community is invited to bring pets for a blessing, in honor of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, along with their spare change.  It is always a fun event, with critters large and small, manageable and hard-to-handle.  The school will also finish its annual  Coins for Canines drive to raise money for needy pets and will donate the money raised, in addition to blankets and pet food, to a local animal charity.