Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bakersfield welcomes home the children we all sent out into the world. Get ready Woolgrowers and Narducci's because here they come

* ... FAMILY: One of the wonderful aspects of a Bakersfield Thanksgiving is reconnecting with all the kids who grew up here but have moved on because of college or work. And it is no secret where you will find them; to track down a young adult just follow your stomach. Narducci's, Woolgrowers, Luigi's, Chalet Basque, Dewar's, Uricchio's, all the favorite haunts will be crowded with kids who were once small but are now adults out in the world, some with children of their own. They could not have picked a nicer weekend to once again drive the streets of Bakersfield.

* ... PIE RUN: Speaking of family, the annual Bakersfield Pie Run out at Hart Park is as close to family as one can get. It's the annual gathering of more than 300 people (and their dogs) for a brisk run or walk in the hills to return to a roaring fire and pies, cakes, donuts, cookies and even try-tip and hot dogs. Organized John Rous, the event brings together generations of families and friends. Among those I spotted this year were Karen Gleiter, Julie Moss, Lisette Stinson, Rob and Sally Baker and their girls Sarah, Maggie and Katie, Eydie Gibson, Tracy Walker-Kiser and husband Brian, Matt and Molly Clark and son Harry, Andy Noise, Lydia Rowles, Joe Peterson, Tori Allendorf-Mills, Karen Poteete and daughter Jamie, Olivia Garcia, Steven Wilkinson, Pete Elieff, Don Martin, Esther Brandon, Dave and Debbie Cohn and her daughters Kari and Lauren, and so many more.

 * ... GIVING THANKS: It's easy to overlook the many blessings in our busy lives, but this is the time of year to truly give thanks. My own list of blessings may be short, but it's enough to make for a good life. I am thankful to live in a community that  is full of people who care about others. I am grateful for my health, for having a job that puts food on my table, for two remarkable daughters and for having friends who are so willing to share in my joy and grief. And of course, I am thankful for my roommate, the ever-loyal lap cat Latte.

 * ... MCKEE: I am constantly humbled by how so many people in our community open their hearts and wallets to help the needy this time of year, and even more so when it involves young people. For the past eight years, students over at McKee Middle School have been collecting food for the needy. The first year, teacher Matt Ornelaz told me almost 500 cans were collected. This year, with a student body of just 900 students, 3,742 cans were collected. Now that is something to feel good about. (photos submitted by Matt Ornelaz)

 * ... MORE THANKS: And then there is this bit of gratitude from reader Gaylia Miller-Harris: "I just want to thank the Kern Humane Society for giving out the vouchers to have your pets spayed or neutered, and also to the Critters Without Litters. I had my Daisey spayed there Monday and the cost was $60, including pain medication. You can't beat the staff at Critters Without litters. They were quick, organized and friendly.  My local veterinarian wanted over $200. Kudos to both organizations."

  * ... TURKEYS: And hats off to the kids over at Independence High School who partnered with Living Grace Church to assemble 120 complete turkey dinners to the needy in our community.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Remembering 15-year-old Caleb Hannink and The Bakersfield Californian Foundation awards $145,000 in grants

 * ... CALEB: When you count your blessings this week, keep the family of Brad and Maren Hannink in your thoughts. It was their 15-year-old son, Caleb, who died of a heart ailment at Centennial High School last week. Brad Hannink is a financial adviser, an accomplished singer and a former president of the (downtown) Rotary Club of Bakersfield.

 * ... GO BEARS: Three 2012 graduates of Stockdale High School - Chelsea Sanford, Rio Gosling and Julia Johnson - are now freshmen at Baylor University and were in the stadium for Baylor's upset victory over then No. 1 Kansas State. As proud father Guy Sanford said: "The girls had an amazing experience in the stands and will cherish it forever. Having the opportunity to charge the field after the game with the entire student section was a memory of a lifetime. Go Bears!"

* ... AIR TRAVEL: In an earlier post I posed the question: what do you think of people bringing pizzas, hamburgers and French fries on airplanes? Jeff Travis wrote that it could be worse. "My beautiful, dear, and sensitive-nosed wife was on a long flight where we are all joyfully passing the time away, along with all our six kids, watching the televisions attached to the back of the seats when she smelled what she thought was smoke. After clearing the area around the seat it turned out to be a guy's stinking feet. But, to be safe, the pilot turned off all electronics for the rest of the flight. I still feel the glares. Awfully funny in hindsight."

 * ... CALIFORNIAN: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation has awarded $145,000 in grants, the latest in the family's long legacy of giving back to the community; The recipients include the American Lung Association, $15,000;  BARC $10,000; Boys and Girls club of Kern County $7,500; California Living Museum , $16,800;  Community Action Partnership of Kern, $8,276;  Desert Area Resources and Training, $3,000; Flood Bakersfield Ministries, $5,000; Greater Bakersfield Green Expo, $2,500; Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic $10,676.45; Independent Living Center of Kern County, $3,702; Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, $4,000; Kern Economic Development Foundation, $25,000;  Laze Foundation, $3,500; Legacy Behavioral Services, Inc., $10,000.

 * ... CHARITY: Dress for Success is a national charity that helps women get on their feet by outfitting them with gently used shoes and clothes. The organization has now returned to Bakersfield, and it has a big event coming up on Tuesday, November 27 with a women's shoe drive. Its goal: helping women attain and retain employment. You can help by dropping off shoes at the Haberfelde Building, 1530 17th Street, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. next Tuesday.

 * ...  CLINICA: Did you know that Clinica Sierra Vista, the agency that provides primary and preventative health care to the underserved residents of Kern, Fresno and Inyo counties, now has almost 1,000 employees? Forty years ago it had two staff members today is operating out of 70 offices.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bakersfield's housing market starts the long climb back and it's time for the annual Thanksgiving Day "Pie Run" out at Hart Park

 * ... BUILDING PERMITS: The five-year cloud hanging over the local housing market seems to be lifting, and Realtors are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Home prices are rising, inventory is tight, mortgage rates are low and homes are selling. New homebuilders also are showing clear signs of confidence with more than 100 permits pulled in October alone. That's the word from Baynes Bank of Mission Bank. Some of the top builders, according to Banks, are DR Horton, Lennar, McMillin, Balfanz, Castle and Cooke, S and S Homes, Towery Homes and Froehlich.

 * ... PIE RUN: If it's Thanksgiving week it must be time for another Pie Run, that iconic Bakersfield tradition that starts at dawn on Thanksgiving Day out at Hart Park.  John Rous, one of the fathers of the annual event, says it will all start around 6 a.m. Bring a pie, cookies or other eats and then hit the hills for an invigorating run or walk with your favorite friend or dog. Rous will have a bonfire where he will make hot dogs and tri-tip, along with enough coffee for some 300 people. This is one of Bakersfield's signature seasonal events and it's well worth setting the alarm clock for an early start.

 * ... SMALL WORLD: City councilwoman Sue Benham and husband (Californian columnist) Herb were in a small bar in Paris on election night when they met two young American college students. "When we told them we were from Bakersfield they said, 'Our friend is from Bakersfield! Here she comes.'" Sue told me. And who walks up? Stockdale High graduate and now Stanford student Melissa Hamilton, daughter of local orthopedist Dr. Chris Hamilton and wife Susan. Small world, indeed.

 * ... GOOD DEED: Sheila Vogel sends a shout-out to an unidentified man "at the corner of Coffee and Stockdale Tuesday morning who exited his work vehicle to assist a disabled pick-up with a trailer through the intersection. The man who appeared to be in the bakery business with white pants and an apron helped the truck’s occupants push the truck out of traffic's way and to clear the intersection. Thank you! "                                                    

 * ... WREATHS: The Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club is renewing its annual drive to place wreaths at the National Cemetery on Dec. 15. You can help by buying a wreath for just $15 to honor our veterans. Check out the webside at

 * .. THANKSGIVING: Jolie Brouttier is a kindergarten teacher at McKinley Elementary who is part of a group that gets together to feed the needy on Thanksgiving.  "I sent out fliers to inform families about this event and got a tremendous amount of families (some households of 10 living in tiny apartments) who can't provide a meal on Thanksgiving day. These families, my students, are the light of my life. I have food on my table every day, I have a fridge full every day. These kids, they don't. Two hundred families returned the form desperately requesting food to be delivered Thanksgiving day, and 'Love for Thanksgiving' does that.