Friday, May 16, 2014

House Majority Whip McCarthy: recognizing some of the pioneers of NASA and Edwards Air Force Base

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip from Bakersfield, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill:

 "On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon and into the history books. But long before he accomplished this amazing feat, he was a young man with a dream working right here in our backyard.  In fact, Armstrong spent many of his early years training at NASA’s primary test flight test
facility at Edwards Air Force Base—as an aeronautical research scientist and a test pilot—and this week, the very center where he trained was renamed in his honor.

"The test range also is now named for Hugh Dryden, a titan of American aeronautics in his own right. Dryden oversaw the research and development of the revolutionary X-15 rocket aircraft, and his expertise was so valued that he was appointed the first deputy administrator of NASA.  His work paved the way for individuals like Neil Armstrong and the many accomplishments in aerospace today.

"On Tuesday, I joined with members of NASA to celebrate the lives and legacies of these American heroes.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and I was happy to see so many members of the Armstrong and Dryden families and the Antelope Valley community on hand for the dedication.

I "t took many years of hard work and many devoted individuals to make this a reality. I would like to especially thank Cathy Hart and members of the Antelope Valley Board of Trade for their tireless efforts in seeing this task through.

"When asked about his years at NASA’s flight test facility, Armstrong described it as a place of “enormous curiosity, wonderful intensity, and unbelievable willingness to attempt the impossible.” I have no doubt that the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautic Test Range will continue to foster this same imaginative and competitive spirit and inspire the next generation of aerospace leaders that will emerge from its ranks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

City of Bakersfield tells a downtown property owner to replace the sidewalk they dug up, and the rash of burglaries and break-in across the city continues unabated

 * … BURGLARIES: Every time I mention a burglary, or theft, in this column I hear from other victims. The other day, a friend who works downtown (she didn't want to be named) shared this
experience.  "My home was burglarized at the end of March while we were gone during the day. They broke through two double dead bolted doors using our garden tools. They ransacked the house; all of my jewelry was stolen, along with a couple of small items. It could’ve been worse, but it still is such a terrible thing to go through. Since this has happened, I am hyper-alert to all of the news stories of break-ins and am so discouraged to see how it is basically a daily occurrence  What is really bizarre is that the same time I was burglarized, a co-worker’s home was also broken into... And then a couple of weeks later, another co-worker’s home was broken into. We have a very small staff, and for three of us to have been hit in such a short span of time just seemed unreal to all of us. We all live in different parts of town, too.  One word of caution you might want to share with your readers: one of the break-ins happened while the home was tented for termites!  Apparently this is a 'thing' now; crooks know that if a home is tented, all of the windows have to be wide open. So, they don gas masks and break in, knowing they have at least a few days to take whatever they want, and all they have to do is cut the tarp, climb in a window, and have their run of the house. If criminals put this much effort into working, they’d be amazing employees."

 * … MORE THEFTS: And regarding the rash of incidents in which thieves steal rims and tires off trucks, a reader bemused: "I've lived in The Oaks for 23 years and leave my cars unlocked and sometimes even leave the keys inside. I never worry about anything happening to either of my cars.  After all, isn't that what the attached two-car garage is for?"

 * … SIDEWALK: Earlier this week I wrote about a downtown homeowner who unceremoniously dug up a city sidewalk - without permission - and replaced it with grass, even going so far as to plant a hedgerow of bushes to force walkers into the street. It drew a number of responses, including this one:
"It's not just bad form. It's also a violation of city rules and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It's not just forcing strollers into the street. It's also forcing people in wheelchairs, walkers, etc. into the street, which is a pretty major thing… Someone needs to send code enforcement over there ASAP, not complain about it in the newspaper." Update: Acting city Public Works director Nick Fidler said that code enforcement informed the property owners they have to replace the sidewalk. Score one for the good guys.

 * … BAD FORM: Reader J. Klein shared this bit of bad form that she witnessed in the parking lot of San Joaquin Hospital. "We came upon an older model gray van with two Chihuahuas locked inside barking madly in obvious distress. We were told they had been locked up for at least two hours.  It was 91 degrees that afternoon  Finally security had then hospital page the owners who finally came out with one of their party explaining they 'didn't know the dogs were in the car'…And these people really thought this excuse was believable? I don't have tactful words to illustrate how angry I was at these idiots.  A bit more time and I'd have broken their window and taken the dogs myself."

 * … SUMMER CAMP: An important summer camp for kids was left out of our listings recently. It is the Harmony Road Music School for children from ages 16 months to 12. There is a Junior Music Camp, a Music and Movement Class for Toddlers and Preschoolers and an Intro to Piano Camp. Classes are held in June, July and August. Call (661) 665-8228 for information or visit their website at

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Kurt Seeger says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember watching the Meet Mitchell show starring Harry Mitchell. "His well known catch phrase was 'pull up your socks and go to the Fox.'"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another truck in Stockdale Estates is found on blocks, its wheels and tires missing, and is it legal to rip up a city sidewalk and replace it with grass, forcing strollers into the streets?

 * … THEFT: Well it has happened again. Yet another homeowner has awakened to find his truck on blocks, the wheels and tires stolen during the night. This time it happened to Stockdale Estates resident Jason Cohen, but in this case there was a silver lining. Said Jason: "After filing a police report and calling my insurance company I texted Mike from Three-Way Chervolet. His words were, 'we will get you taken care of.' They came over, put tires on the car and took it to the shop as
well as dropped off a Tahoe for me to drive in the meantime. What could have been a horrible day turned into the Saturday it was supposed to be. I owe a huge thank you to Mike and all the guys at Three-Way. I honestly believe that was Bakersfield at its finest. This town always takes care of itself. Certainly noteworthy."

 * … BAD FORM: In a downtown historic district with wide leafy streets, a homeowner digs up the city sidewalk, plants sod and installs a row of hedges to keep people off her lawn, forcing strollers and walkers into the street. (Good luck if you are in a wheelchair) Someone missed the memo about the benefits of walkable communities and safety.

 * … ACHIEVER: Hats off to Chelsea Fraley, a 2010 graduate of Bakersfield High School, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Gonzaga University with a double major in political science and criminal justice. She will be spending the summer as an intern at Klein, DeNatale, Goldner and in August will enter the Duke School of Law. Chelsea's proud parents are Sean Fraley, a battalion chief with the Kern County Fire Department and Christy Fraley, the head guidance counselor at Independance High School.

 * … FLAGS: There will be a spectacular display of flags at the Park at Riverwalk over Memorial Day weekend. Sponsored by Breakfast Rotary, the event will feature more than 1,000 flags in honor of the many people who have served, or continue to serve, our nation and community. The cost to sponsor a flag is $50 and can be ordered at The flags will be flying from 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 24, through Monday.

 * … PANHANDLERS: Robert Yoo lived for a short time in the northern Kentucky town of Alexandria, just a short distance from Cincinnati which had a strict panhandling ordinance. "One day while walking along the Cincinnati waterfront, I saw a disheveled homeless person with a hand printed sign saying, 'homeless, need money,' begging for money from the tourists along the waterfront. About an hour later, I walked by the same spot and the man and his belongings were gone, however his sign was propped up against the wall where he had been previously sitting.  Neatly printed on the sign were the words, 'This site closed courtesy of the Cincinnati Police Department.' Stapled to the sign was an officer’s business card. Now that’s an anti-panhandling enforcement ordinance with some teeth in it!  I wished we had that here in Bakersfield!"

 * … MEMORIES: Another reader remembers Casper's Men's Store downtown. Listen to Brenda Bosley: "The two recent entries from Greg Cowan and Kelly Casper Donovan about Casper's Men's stores really caught my attention. I remember my mom taking me shopping with her to Casper's at a very young age and as I grew up Casper's was always THE men's store our family patronized. But, to show the strong thread that connects the people of Bakersfield, many years later both Greg and Kelly were a very near and dear part of my adult life…. my mom was Greg's great aunt and Kelly's grandmother, Mrs. Casper, often brought Kelly in shopping at our store, Lou Ella's Children's Shop on Baker Street. We were so lucky to know Mrs. Casper and Kelly for many years, and Greg was and still is a very special part of our family. It is so good to know that as Bakersfield continues to grow younger people still have fond memories of our town's past. Thanks Greg and Kelly for bringing back my fond memories of two special kids!"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day: a local mom awakes to find one of her family's car stolen and the other ransacked, and remembering Casper's Men's Store downtown

* … BAD FORM: A friend of mine who lives in The Oaks had a rude awakening on Mother's Day when she awoke to find one of the family cars stolen and the other ransacked. Her husband, as it turned out, had left her Mother's Day gift in his car and went outside to find it gone. "He also left his wallet in the car and we are terrified of identify theft," she told me. The thieves tried unsuccessfully to hot-wire the second car, popped open the trunk and left a duffle bag of a girl's personal items. The lesson: never leave anything of value in your car, no matter where you live.

 * … CASPER'S: Kelly Casper Donovan is the grand daughter of the founder of the old Casper's Men's Store downtown. She was surprised when a reader wrote to me with his fond memories of the place. "Thanks to reader Greg Cowan and his memory of downtown and Casper's Men's Store. The day the article was printed was my birthday, and what a wonderful birthday present that my grandfather's store was mentioned. I worked at the store from childhood through the time I went away to college, working at the front desk and wrapping gifts for our customers. I watched as men from all over town came in to be fitted for suits and clothing, and watched my grandfather and his staff provide a place where the customer knew he would find a quality product with superior customer service. Casper's was truly a Bakersfield institution, and I am so proud to have been a part of my grandfathers dream.

 * … DREAMMAKER: Good news for the folks over at DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen of Bakersfield. First, they were recognized as "Best Home Improvement Building Contractor" in the annual Best off Kern County readers' poll, and now they have been recognized on a national level with the BIG50 title, published in Remodeling Magazine. Fifty contractors are chosen each year to join an elite group of professionals from all over the country that have performed exemplary business practices, management skills, community service, design, and craftsmanship.

 * … ACHIEVER: And kudos to Nicole Bonna, a student at Tevis Junior high who will perform at Carnegie Hall next month with the Honors Junior Band as a trombonist. This is all part of the Middle School Honors Performance Series that highlight some of the most promising young musicians in the country. Nicole currently is a member of the Tevis Symphonic Band and Jazz Band under the direction of Kelly K. Willey.

 * … KERNVILLE: Bob Hyde from Kernville weighed in on the panhandling issue: "We live in Kernville and 'go to town' (Bako) with our lists every three weeks or so and the panhandlers are everywhere. We usually have breakfast at the IHOP off Buck Owens and about 9 a.m. and we always see a group of young men with their signs and pets pass through the parking lot on the way to the Rosedale/Buck Owens intersection. It is almost like they are unionized-they meet and then disperse to their assigned corners. We also encounter panhandlers in the parking lots at Costco, Wal-Mart, Smart and Final and Trader Joe's, and even at the Fast Trip gas stations. Encountering or trying to avoid them is very stressful, but we have little compassion for "'the regulars.'  And, yes, we do have our share in the Kern River Valley. The Valley Plaza in Lake Isabella is a panhandlers haven but Ms. Hotchkiss should not include our 'tamale lady.'  She and her family make the tamales at home and sell them in various locations around the valley. She is nice, never pushy, and her tamales are excellent. I am guessing she drives up from Bakersfield and I cannot imagine she takes much back at the end of the day, but she is producing not begging and for that she deserves credit and our respect."

 * … MORE PANHANDLERS: And finally, Riley Parker of Santa Maria noted "we have a couple that have set up a permanent post near a driveway into the Costco/Trader Joe’s parking lot. They rotate on the hour, sharing the well done, easily read sign asserting that he/she is unable to work since their 'accident.'  They are both clean and well dressed. Her long, nicely coiffed blond hair appears to be professionally highlighted, etc.  They arrive daily at about 10 a.m. driving their late model, clean and well maintained Toyota pickup. It appears that they are operating a lucrative, all cash business preying on the kindness of others. I particularly like the fleece lined jacket and high quality western hat that he wears on cool days. Nice touch with his well-trimmed grey mustache. Some days they bring the dog along…must appeal to the animal lover in all of us. After so many months, now days they just wave like old friends when I pass them by."