Friday, May 9, 2014

McCarthy: House Majority Whip welcomes 77 veterans and their guardians to Washington, D.C., as part of the Honor Flight program

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, shares his week on Capitol Hill:

 "This week, I had the privilege of welcoming 77 veterans and their guardians to Washington, D.C., as part of the Kern County Honor Flight program. This was the tenth Honor Flight to-date, and each group is just as amazing and awe-inspiring as the last.
 "These incredible men and women—veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam—began their busy trip with a hero’s send off in Bakersfield. Once in DC, they took in the many sites and sounds, including the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery and a visit to the National Air and Space Museum.
 "In addition, our veterans visited the Korean, Vietnam, Navy, Marine, and Air Force memorials, and laid a wreath at the World War II Memorial. For many, this was their first time in Washington and, thus, the first time seeing these memorials created in their honor. As you could imagine, it was a very moving experience for all involved.
 "I especially was honored and humbled to give our veterans a tour of the U.S. Capitol building and take them to the chamber of the House of Representatives and onto the House floor. As our group entered the Capitol, a spontaneous round of applause broke out among the other tourists in the Capitol, and dozens of school children rushed to shake hands, take pictures with, and just say “thank you” to these heroes.
 "Finally, their visit came full circle with an afternoon barbecue put on by “Cooks from the Valley,” a local organization that flies around the world serving steak lunches to the men and women of our military. These volunteers cooked more than 11,000 steaks on Thursday for our Navy personnel at the Navy Yard, and they have served some 185,000 service members since 2002.
 "What a wonderful community we live in — from the veterans who sacrificed so much so that we could enjoy freedom, to the men and women who go to such amazing lengths to say thank you. Kern County is truly a remarkable place.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Burglars hit homes for sale in the La Cresta area, life imitates art at a local theater and an honest panhandler on our streets

 * … THEFTS: The La Cresta area has been hit with rash of thefts in homes that are up for sale. According to a neighborhood watch email alert, three homes were broken into within a week. These are homes listed for sale but vacant, and speculation is the thieves may be viewing the homes as prospective buyers, checking out the appliances and then returning at night to steal the stoves, range tops and refrigerators.

 * … BAD FORM? I not sure if this is bad form, bad luck or stupidity. But here goes, compliments of my friend Peter Wonderly: "A work colleague was among a small audience at the Maya Theater last night seeing The Other Woman. At some point, a woman walked in, looked up to search for someone, found the desired someone, and shouted, 'You come HERE!' The lad indicated sheepishly complied, leaving the 'other woman' he had sneaked-off with - unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Talk about life imitating art."

 * … PANHANDLERS: Bryan Kelly provided my laugh of the day with this message: "My favorite panhandler is back… eastbound off ramp at Mount Vernon and Highwaty 178. The sign reads 'WHY LIE?  I NEED SOME MONEY FOR BEER.'  I was the third car in line. The first car gave him some cash. The car in front of me was full of young people, probably headed to BC and they gave him a rather odd looking cigarette, twisted at both ends and no filter. Then they gave him a book of matches. And the truth shall set you free!"

* … PANHANDLING: Speaking of panhandling Gail Villallovos moved to Wichita, Kansas, two years ago and still owns a home in East Bakersfield, where she returns often. Her observations: "Each time I return, I notice how bad the panhandling is at the places mentioned by Jayne Hotchkiss. It is particularly unnerving when you’re approached in a drive-thru line, and can’t escape. Although she questioned what is going on in other parts of the state of California, I can tell you I’ve only seen one panhandler since I’ve been here, standing next to an off ramp on the freeway, and that was months ago. I’ve never been approached by a panhandler here, in other parts of Kansas, or in Kansas City, Missouri, where I have to admit to being an active shopper. I really miss my home and family in Bakersfield, and plan to return after retirement.  However, I have not missed dodging the panhandlers."

 * … FRANKLIN: Franklin School is turning 100 years old this year and is looking for old photos and memorabilia to celebrate the occasion. If you have anything to share, drop them off at the school (all items will be returned). The event will be Friday, May 16, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the school.

 * … OLPH: The numbers are in from the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Spring BBQ, and they are impressive. The always organized and effervescent Deborah Leary told me they served more than 1,000 people (the menu featured Gary Icardo grilled steaks and chicken) and netted some $40,000. Not bad for a simple barbecue.

 * … MEMORIES: Hall of Fame skeet shooter Ken Barnes sent this note about where he was during the 1952 earthquake "You have posted a lot of interesting information about the intersection of 18th and Chester Avenue lately, and I have a very distinct memory of that area of downtown Bakersfield.  I was 13 years old on the afternoon of the August, 1952, earthquake that struck the city. I was sitting on the aisle of the California theatre just off the northeast corner of the intersection. A friend from Oklahoma was with me at the time and when the shaking started I knew exactly what was happening after experiencing the Tehachapi quake a few weeks earlier. I grabbed my friend's hand and screamed and ran. We tore up the aisle and right out into the center of Chester Avenue  All around us the old fronts of brick buildings were falling into the street and dust was  thick as fog. I believe a woman was killed just to the north in Lerner's Dress Shop when the roof collapsed. It was early evening before we were able to catch a bus back to Oildale and were greeted by my parents who were sure we had been buried under the rubble downtown. Scariest day of my life…. bar none."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

More feedback on the explosion of panhandlers across Bakersfield, a hit and run is caught on camera and it's time for another CSUB barbecue to support the Roadrunner athletics

 * … HIT AND RUN: This blog entry falls under both "good" and "bad form." Steve Wilkinson, a information technology specialist at KBAK TV, was driving east on 21st Street when he saw a truck attempting to parallel park right across from Guarantee Shoe Center. "The truck ended up backing right into a parked red Volkswagen, smashing the rear door and shattering the window. The truck then hastily took off. Since I was right behind him I grabbed my phone and snapped a shot of his plates
before he made a right turn on Chester and sped off. I circled back around and went into Guarantee Shoe center to see if anyone inside knew who owned the red car. Roscoe (Rolnick) was there, and was happy to help me out. He offered to print out my picture of the truck and leave it on the car for the owner. By then the owner of the red car had returned and was checking out the damage. I was able to send him the picture of the truck and gave him a description of the driver. Hopefully he recovers damages from the loser. Sad thing is that at least two other drivers and possibly pedestrians witnessed this too. As far as I could tell I was the only one to do anything."

 * … PANHANDLING: You can count Jayne Hotchkiss of Walker Basin among the growing group of people who are weary of panhandlers. "I live up in the mountains and when I'm in town doing errands, I have been asked for money at Wallmart, inside and out of it, in front of a Rite Aid, waiting for my car to be repaired, at the Starbucks, and that was in just one day.  Panhandlers , you are not the only one who has asked for money, three people have done that before you got to me. It's gotten to the point that I dread going to town. But it isn't that much better up here. At the Vons parking lot in Isabella there's the guy at the entrance with his sign, another young man leaning against the Vons building with sign, a couple over by the mailbox with their sign, and one gal selling tamales. The panhandling can't be just in Kern County, whats going on in other parts of the state?

 * … GOOD FORM: Charlotte Brandt wrote to send a huge "shout out to the four bike path riders who noticed smoke coming from a house in Westchester on Saturday morning and took the time to exit the path, come into the neighborhood, try to raise the occupants and call 911. Your actions saved the house and its contents from serious damage. A short while more, and it would have been a total loss. It is reassuring that people would be good Samaritans and take the time to act in this manner. We can never thank you enough, but we can 'Pay It Forward' for someone else. May God bless you all!"

 * … CSUB BBQ: Don't forget the annual CSUB Athletics Springs BBQ is this Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. This year’s theme is A Salute to the 1990s with contests and prizes for the best 1990s attire. There will also be live entertainment from the band Foster Campbell and Friends and dancing throughout the evening. Dinner features Harris Ranch New York Steak or Teriyaki Chicken grilled by head chefs Gary and Adam Icardo along with their team of excellent BBQ cooks.  All proceeds benefit the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund to help meet the educational needs of over 300 student-athletes at CSUB. Tickets are available at any Vons, Lengthwise or Mexicali location throughout Bakersfield. This year they have also partnered with Vallitix and for online purchases. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the gate.

 * … MEMORIES: Bakersfield native Greg Cowan, who now lives in Fresno, sent me a picture of the intersection of 18th Street and Chester Avenue taken sometime in the 1950s which he has framed in his office. In his words:  "After I picked up the print from the frame shop, I sat down at my desk and marveled at the detail of this print. I immediately recognized the Sill building, because not only it is a Bakersfield landmark, but also because I worked next door at Casper’s Men’s Store when I was a student at BHS in the late 1980s. Included in the picture is Tiny’s Waffle House (on the southeast corner); a business before my time, but I recognized the name from readers’ comments from your blog over the last few weeks. Also visible in the print is the Anglo California National Bank (another business before my time) and the Padre Hotel. I don’t know how many people remember the bank, but Casper’s Men’s Store was an institution in Bakersfield for 40 years before closing in 1991 and will likely bring back fond memories for your readers.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bako Bits: car thefts in broad daylight, the explosion of panhandling and Covenant Coffee plans to open a kiosk in Bakersfield Memorial Hospital

 * … THEFT: Yet another theft and another sign of the times. Chris Lowe is a banker who works off California Avenue and recently he discovered that the the catalytic converter and the co2 sensors were stolen off his car  in broad daylight.  "I looked into why someone would steal this and there’s two
reasons:  they can resell them for a decent price and the catalytic converter contains platinum, which can be torn out and sold to a recycler. Also the time it takes to remove it is about two minutes. When I reported it to the police and my insurance they said it’s a common occurrence for the catalytic converter to be stolen from SUVs and Hondas. To protect it from being stolen again, I’ve ordered a device called a 'Cat Clamp' which goes over the catalytic converter and makes it harder to steal quickly.  Hope it works!"

 * … COVENANT: More good news for the folks over at Covenant Community Services, a non profit dedicated to helping foster youth get back on their feet. The organization is opening a Covenant Coffee kiosk at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  In addition, chief Covenant cheer leader Randy Martin tells me that Bakersfield North Rotary gave $5,000 for the Hope fund, which helps distribute books to students in Oildale elementary schools.

* … PANHANDLING: No matter how you feel about the homeless and panhandlers, it is clear this situation is way out of control. Consider this note from Mindy Wright, a church-going woman who helps numerous charities and who is on disability income. She was at the Starbucks on Mount Vernon when, while waiting in the drive-through lane, was approached by not one but two panhandlers. "The staff came out and chased him off. I gave my order and another young man came up to the driver window side of waiting cars knocking on windows. I just turned my head. When I finally got to the window as I was waiting I bowed my head and said a prayer for those men. The barista asked if I was all right and I said yes. It just upsets me when I can't even leave when being approached by these men... Then I go to Costco to pick up some pictures and an elderly man with a cane comes up and says he needed money to get to someplace and asked for money. I just kept walking! It is getting to the point that where a normal person likes me avoids places due to the possibility of being alone and being accosted!"

* … COUNTY ROADS: Carmen Needham Tyack wrote to give thanks to the foreman of the Pumpkin Center yard of the Kern County Roads Department for hearing out her concerns about a small quarter mile section of country road. "It gets chewed up by tractors and people in the community use it as a shortcut if its nice and smooth. He has always obliged until last week when he told me they had to do something. I forgot to tell him that I had survey marks in the road for when I paid to have it surveyed due to a property split. So I panicked a little bit when they were covered with blacktop of some sort.
Joe, the foreman came out with a metal detector and kindly marked and dug up my survey marks. I was so appreciative to what he was doing for me I went out to thank him and see if he had luck locating the nails. So for this I thank him… I want to also acknowledge the fact that county workers get paid by us, the tax ayer, and they should never forget that. We are all public servants if we are getting paid with taxpayer dollars. I recall in my younger days as a first grade teacher a principal me aware of that 'we are just a public servant.' That was about 30 years ago,everyone should be reminded."

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Paul Summers says you know you’re a Bakersfield old timer if you remember Don Hart talking about the “Fly Catching” (not baseball) contest in East Bakersfield .The one who caught the most flies was the winner and received a new bicycle donated by Roux and Kuentzel Sporting Goods.