Friday, May 24, 2013

McCarthy: Memorial Day is a solemn time to remember those Americans who sacrificed so much for our freedom

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip and a Bakersfield Republican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week, even as the dark skies have cleared above the American heartland, my heart is heavy for Oklahoma.  As photos and videos are shown of the devastation, it is clear that no community can ever mentally prepare for these devastating tragedies when they arrive at your doorstep. Please consider
supporting the Red Cross and the Salvation Army as they provide assistance to those in need, and please continue to keep those affected in our thoughts and prayers.

 "We also cannot forget that this weekend is Memorial Day weekend. A year ago this month, I watched 101-year-old veteran Louis Kerker lay a wreath at the California pillar of the World War II Memorial, in tribute to those who did not return home, on the very first Kern County Honor Flight over Memorial Day weekend. While three more Honor Flights trips have been made since then and more are being planned, sadly we have lost several of those brave local veterans in our community, including Louis. Seeing these men and women on the floor of the House of Representatives - where President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of the “day that will live in infamy” in 1941 – and watching tourists and onlookers erupt into a thunderous applause for them in the Capitol continues to remind me that Americans will never forget the sacrifices of brave generations past and present that guard our nation’s freedoms.

 "These experiences are both joyful and solemn as these landmarks serve not only as a sign of respect and gratitude to veterans, but also as a sobering reminder of their fellow patriots who did not live to see these monuments erected in their honor. Whether the Revolutionary War or the current War in Afghanistan, today we remember the heroic Americans who, in the face of danger, selflessly came forward, risked, and made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our freedom. These men and women represent the very best of our nation. These men and women are the reason America remains a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world today.

 "On Memorial Day, as we ought to every day, we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberty, and honor their memory by showing our gratitude to the veterans who fought alongside them. Thank those who are serving today and take some time to help the families in our communities with loved ones serving in harm’s way. I encourage everyone this Memorial Day to pay respect to our fallen heroes who lay at rest at the Bakersfield National Cemetery and at our local cemeteries throughout our community. These individuals served and sacrificed for our great nation, and they will never be forgotten.

 "I will continue to fight in Congress to ensure that our veterans have access to the care and benefits they deserve in a timely manner. In addition to requesting the Government Accountability Office conduct audits on unacceptable backlogs and wait times at Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) medical facilities in California and across the country, I remain committed to holding VA officials accountable for fixing the culture of dysfunction that is failing our veterans.  That is why I recently authored legislation designed to enact GAO’s recommendations to correct the disability claims backlog problem – no excuses. I will not stop fighting until our veterans see real results from the VA.

 "It is said that one of the reasons Memorial Day falls on the last Monday in May is because this time of year, the flowers are in full bloom.  Those flowers signify the continued life and growth of the American spirit, and we must always remember what has allowed that spirit to endure for generations upon generations, protecting the longest surviving Constitution in the world today.  It is the American people.  It is the American serviceman and servicewoman.  Even as the strength of our nation is tested, their unbreakable spirit and fortitude even in the toughest battles remains proof that the guardians of our freedoms and liberties, since the first day of our nation’s founding to today, are the courageous citizen-soldiers that answer the call of their nation. Let us always remember the sacrifices that our countrymen have made to keep us free, strong and united.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bakersfield ranks No. 3 on a survey of the best smaller cities for college graduates, right behind Ventura and Bridgeport, CT; and noting the 45th anniversary of the loss of 99 sailors on the USS Scorpion nuclear submarine

 * ... BAKO: Bakersfield has long suffered a "brain drain" as some of our best and brightest young people leave for greener pastures, but now comes word that our community is becoming increasingly attractive to young college graduates. According to a recent survey, Bakersfield ranked No. 3 on a list of smaller cities that pay a premium for college graduates. The Ventura-Oxnard area was No. 1 on the
list, followed by Bridgeport, CT., Bakersfield, Poughkeepsie, NY, and Melbourne, FL. The survey, conducted by CreditDonkey, took into account median income, cost of living and a salary premium for having a degree.

 * ... BAD FORM: A pox on the passengers in a small white sedan who deliberately ran down a cyclist on Panorama Drive this week and either threw something at his head or used a club to bash his helmet. The cyclist happened to be Tom Morgan, a former Kern County Sheriff's deputy who was shot point blank in the neck some years ago during an arrest and miraculously survived. He is now a lawyer with the county counsel office and took up cycling for fitness. Morgan escaped serious injury in the latest incident, but only because his helmet saved him from serious head trauma. So this is his reward for putting his life on the line in service of our community? (file photo of Tom Morgan)

* ... ACHIEVER: Good news for Timothy Schmidt, a 1989 graduate of Foothill High School who has been awarded tenure at South East Missouri State. He graduated from Westmont College with a bachelor of arts degree, received a masters from Northern Colorado University and his doctorate from the University of Illinois.  He has been on the music faculty at “SEMO” for the past five years. He is the son of Gerhard and Mary Schmidt of Bakersfield.

 * ... GRADUATE: And kudos go to Elizabeth Key, a graduate of Ridgeview High School who just graduated from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. She graduated with university honors and cum laude. She has now moved to Toledo, Ohio, to work for the Red Cross and plans to eventually earn a PhD in biology.

 * ... FLY IN: The Bakersfield Municipal Airport is holding an open house and a "fly in" on Saturday, June 1, starting at 9 a.m. This looks like a great event for parents and their children and is free to the publice. Aircraft will be on display and there will even be a Porsche and Mopar club cars there.

 * ... MEMORIES: More memories of Wayne's Dairy and the growth of our town. This one comes from reader Bow Porter" "Our family was a Wayne's Dairy customer also. We lived in a Gannon built house on Mt. Vernon when it was a dirt road, and our back door was open to George, our milkman. As Bakersfield moved east, we did too, making about three moves as new houses became available over the years... George's route kept up,  also moving east. My son, Ken Klose, had a Sunday morning newspaper route, and would report new residents, new potential customers to George who rewarded him with a special treat of chocolate milk or donuts... We paid our bill monthly, and I didn't  keep track of what George put in our refrigerator; he just knew what we used and kept us supplied. Life was so simple and trusting and honest."

 * ... NAVY: And finally reader Gene Bonas reminded me that May 22 was the 45th anniversary of  the loss of the nuclear submarine the USS Scorpion. Ninety-nine sailors died in the incident. As Gene said: "Anytime a Navy shipmate is lost, we Navy veterans say: 'Sailors Rest Your Oar! We Will Always Remember!'" (historic photo of USS Scorpion)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bakersfield College appeals the punishment for its football program, and local folks wonder if someone will have to pay the price for it

 * ... ALARM SYSTEMS: Here is an important tip about home alarm systems in the city of Bakersfield, compliments of reader Gary Crabtree. "Saturday evening we returned from dinner about 6:30 to find our alarm activated and a message from our alarm company on our answering machine that our front door had been breached." he wrote. "We found nothing missing. A call to the alarm company indicated that they
had called the police. At 9:30 p.m. an officer arrived at our front door. He indicated that he just got the call from dispatch. We were told that if we didn’t renew our alarm permit with the city every year for $30 they may or may not respond.  So a warning, if you expect BPD to respond to your alarm system, better cough up $30 a year to the city."

 * ... THE BUZZ: It's good to see Bakersfield College appealing the punishing sanctions against its football program, but folks are wondering if someone will be sacrificed because of the harsh penalties. If BC Athletic Director Ryan Beckwith is fired over all this, it won't be because he has lost the support of the BC Helmet Club. Paul Pavletich, president of the booster club, made it clear on First Look with Scott Cox that the club supports Beckwith and would not agree with his dismissal. Stay tuned as this story unfolds.

* ... ACHIEVER: Another local Bakersfield product has gone on to make quite a name for himself in the healthcare industry. Dr. Jason Dinger has been identified as one of the top 300 most influential people in U.S. health care, according to a recent survey by Dinger graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School and went on to Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He is currently CEO of Mission Point Health Partners in Nashville. His father, Steven Dinger, is president of BCHS and his mother Nancy is a social worker at Koinonia Family Services.

 * ... GIVING: Yet another example of the generosity of our local Rotary clubs. The Waterman Foundation of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield (the downtown club) has awarded nearly $40,000 in capital improvement grants to nine local non profits. Among the recipients were the Alliance Against Family Violence, the Bakersfield Music Theater, the Buena Vista Museum, the Boys and Girls Club, CASA, the Golden Empire Gleaners, the Kern County Museum, MARE and San Joaquin Community Hospital.

 * ... HOSPICE: If you are looking for a way to support a good cause and enjoy a nice glass of wine, mark this Thursday, May 23, on your calendar. That's the date of the "Optimal Cares Wine Tasting and Concert" set for the Bakersfield Museum of Art at 5:30 p.m. It is a fund raiser for the Optimal Hospice Foundation. Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased by calling Cherie Shoemake at (661) 716-8000.

  * ... MEMORIES: Brian Landis said his 85-year old grandmother, Elizabeth "Bette" Crume, wanted to share this memory about when everyone would leave their back doors open so Wayne's Dairy could deliver fresh milk to your refrigerator while you were either sleeping or away from home. She is, thank you, a faithful reader of The Bakersfield Californian and said she enjoys reading Herb Benham's column but worries for his kids. "She wanted to be sure to let you know that she thinks John Arthur is a smart-ass!" Brian said. I will make sure both Herb and John get the message, Brian.