Saturday, January 12, 2013

McCarthy: While the Taft shooting was tragic, the heroic actions of Ryan Heber and Kim Fields show the strength of our community

 Our weekly update from House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

 "This week, Judy and I were deeply troubled and saddened by the news of the shooting at Taft High School.  The heroic actions of Taft High School teacher Ryan Heber and the campus supervisor Kim Fields led to countless lives being saved. I also commend those from the Taft Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department for their quick response.  Additionally, Taft High School students bravely remained calm and acted on the training they received that same morning to prepare for such an event.  Judy and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire Taft community during this time.

 "Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to get to know students at Mira Monte High School and Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore. I'm always impressed with these students who are already serving as leaders in our communities and who remind us of the work we need to do so that they may have a future of endless opportunities. I stressed to the students in the audience that they have the power to achieve anything in life, so long as they maintain their drive to do it.  One of the students asked me about the direction of America.  I compared America to an Olympic swimmer.  That America was - and still is - in first place, but over the years our nation has added weights to its back in the form of burdensome government regulations that have slowed down its performance.  America has accumulated excess weight that can and should be shed.  These types of questions tell me our students are interested in issues facing our nation and have a passion to succeed.

  "I also attended the grand opening this week of the Caterpillar California Parts Distribution Center in Kern County.  This is a great addition to our community but as we move forward we must constantly work to improve our business climate by reducing the burdens caused by taxes, regulation, and litigation.

 "This week, I am reminded of how extraordinary our community is and how much we care for each other. As I work with leaders in both local government and the business community and see the future leaders of our nation hard at work in our local schools, I know that we have the ability to overcome our nation's biggest obstacles.  I look forward to working with all of them to solve the challenges we face every day.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oil production across the country surges to new highs and the country is now producing 83 percent of its energy needs, and former Bako mayor Mary K. Shell throws some love at the downtown Post Office

 * ... OIL: Thanks to fracking and other new methods of extracting oil, our country is now producing more than 7 million barrels of oil a day, the highest since 1993. And, we are growing closer to total oil independence. According to a story distributed by the Bloomberg news service, the United States is now producing 83 percent of its total energy needs. "Production grew by the fastest pace in U.S. history last year and will accelerate in 2013 as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocks crude trapped in formations such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale," the story said. "The state boosted production 40 percent last year through October, Energy Department data show. Texas was up 23 percent, and Utah rose 11 percent."

* ... DARNELL:  Steve Darnell, vice president and general manager of the Buckley Radio stations in Bakersfield, is leaving to become sales manager of Clear Channel radio in Fresno. Darnell joined Buckely in 2002 and was a member of West Rotary. The Buckley stations include KKBB, KLLY, KSMJ and KNZR.

 * ... LOFT LIVING: The finishing elements are being installed on the 1612 City Loft project in downtown Bakersfield. All nine units have been pre-leased and residents are expected to be moving in within the next month or so. The project, which is in the building formerly known as the Hay building, has been in the construction phase for the past year. Some of the residents include local Realtor Adam Belter, KBAK reporter Tom Murphy and long-time Walker-Lewis employee Stephanie Gonzalez and husband A.J.

 * ... OVERHEARD: At a local Starbucks a customer who had bought a coffee for a young homeless man outside remarks: "Well that was unexpected. He said he really wanted a hot chocolate."

* ... POST OFFICE: Former mayor Mary K. Shell speaks for many when she talks about the outstanding service at the downtown Post Office. "The employees are exceptional! They make it a practice to let you know if you can mail or ship something at a better price and they greet each customer with a smile, especially when the waiting lines are long  In addition, I can’t forget to thank my letter carrier, Ralph, who’s been on the same 93301 route for maybe ten years or more.  He gets mail to me even with a mangled address, in rain, fog or blistering heat!"

 * ... CRABFEST: The hottest ticket is in town next week is for the Crab and Rib Fest to benefit the St. Francis Parish School.  It is already a sellout with some 400 people expected to head to the Kern Country Fairgrounds next Friday for the annual event that raises tens of thousands of dollars for the Parish.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bako Bits: Get ready for the "Nut Festival" in June, voting is underway for the Best of Kern County and a new face at KBAK TV

 * ... TRASH: Betsy Gosling spotted something you don't see often in our community. "On Sunday morning on my way to church at about 8:30 a.m., a man is picking up trash along Gosford across the street from Sam's Club.  I really commend him for doing that. He's obviously doing that on his own and
wants the street to be clean.  I want my residential area and have begun pulling garage sale signs off poles and picking up papers myself.  It's our planet and we need to take care of it.  Most people don't think about that, unfortunately."

 * ... NUT FESTIVAL: Planning is well under way for the first Kern County "Nut Festival," a two-day celebration of the almonds, pistachios and other nuts that are so important to our local economy. Organizers are promising a"truly unique experience" that will put Bakersfield on the map, much as the garlic festival has done for Gilroy. It is planned for Friday and Saturday June 14-15.

 * ... BEST OF KERN: Remember to vote in the annual "Best of Kern" competition that highlights everything from the best romantic restaurant to the best personal trainer in town. The voting started this week and extends over a month. To vote, go to and register your email. The results will be printed in the April 27 edition of BakersfieldLife magazine.

 * ... DIVAS: Speaking of BakersfieldLife magazine, a new group of "Dining Divas" will debut the February issue. The new group includes teacher Andrea Ames, Stephanie Pickering, Marlene Morales of Chain Cohn and Stiles, Denise Ornelas of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and pastry chef Mai Giffard.

* ... OVERHEARD: Best panhandling line of the week, so far: "Do you have any change I could use to get back to Shafter to get my debit card?"

* ... SPOTTED: Posted by a friend on Facebook: "While I was waiting for my takout pimento cheese sandwich, a woman walked in, placed an order and said to the cashier, apropos of nothing, 'I need some affirmation.' Without missing a beat, he replied, 'You are awesome. Nice to get what you ask for, isn't it?'"

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that certain birds actually mourn the death of other birds? That's the conclusion of a study in the journal Animal Behaviour, which concluded that when a Western scrub jay dies,"other jays may hold a kind of funeral - screeching over the body for as long as half an hour."

* ... KBAK: More comings and goings in the local television market. Rob Finnerty is joining Lynda Halligan and Aaron Perlman on KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News Mornings. Finnerty arrives from Boston where is was most recently a wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch. Previously he was sports anchor for New England Cable News.

Tonia Valpredo, owner of Luigi's Delicatessen in Bakersfield, talks about her personal taste in designing her home.

 Don Martin, director of Metro Galleries in downtown Bakersfield, interviews Tonia Valpredo about her personal design taste in her beautiful Bakersfield home. This video accompanies a story on her home in the most recent issue of BakersfieldLife magazine.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Former House Ways and Means chairman Bill Thomas will discuss the fiscal cliff Monday on Californian Radio, and good news in the local housing market

 * ... BILL THOMAS: Bill Thomas, the longtime congressman from Bakersfield who once steered the House Ways and Means Committee, will join me Monday morning on Californian Radio at 9 a.m. to discuss the fiscal crisis and where the country goes from here. Before retiring in 2007, Thomas was widely known as one of the smartest men in the room, a tax and budget expert who knew how to get things done in a divided Congress. We will talk about the current congressional deadlock and get his views on what our country needs to do to resolve our fiscal mess. Join us at 9 a.m. on KERN 1180.

 * ... HOUSING: Good news on the local housing market. Gary Crabtree, one of the foremost local real estate experts, said the December market showed "amazing strength" due to a shortage of supply and fewer distressed homes on the market. "This comes as very good news for the new construction sector who continues to gear up to meet the lack of supply, which also results in job growth," he noted in his Crabtree Report. The report said the median price had risen 6.6 percent month over month and almost 19 percent over a year ago. "With the continued decline in REO (real estate owned) saturation rate and the foreclosure rate, the market has nowhere to go up up!" Now that is good news.

* ... HOMELESS: The number of street people in Bakersfield is simply staggering, overwhelming the good work our homeless shelters do to provide for the needy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only New York tops California for the number of homeless people living in emergency or transitional shelters. California had more than 27,000 people living in shelters while New York topped 36,000.

 * ... ABANDONED DOGS: Deanna Haulman witnessed an event that is all too common these days. "We live on College Avenue and there are many stray dogs. Today we would like to thank the Hispanic man in a light blue pickup who stopped and dropped off a small white dog right on the street.  We hope when you are no longer wanted by your family, they do not dump you along the roadside.  We tried to get the dog to come to our house but it was too frightened. Don't worry within a half hour the dog was hit twice and died. We hope you are proud of yourself.  A nice young man that hit the dog a second time stopped and was very concerned because he hit the dog after it was struck the first time.  Another young lady also stopped and check to make sure the dog was dead, bagged it so we could call the county animal control the next day."

 * ... SCOUTS: Mark Saturday, Jan. 26, on your calendar for the annual Grand Slam Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser put on my Boy Scout Troop 147. It runs from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Olive Knolls Church cafeteria on Fruitvale Avenue. You get eggs, sausage, pancakes, orange juice and coffee all for only $5.