Thursday, December 15, 2016

Out with the old guard and in with the new and Bakersfield welcomes a new mayor, police chief and new council members, and recognizing the remarkable work of retiring Californian photographer Casey Christie

* ... CITY COUNCIL: Change is inevitable, particularly in politics and government, but it was bittersweet to watch the new City Council being sworn in. We will all miss Mayor Harvey Hall, the
eternal optimist and ambassador of goodwill, but I am confident incoming Mayor Karen Goh will display the same inclusiveness that was the hallmark of the Hall years. It's in her nature to do so. Terry Maxwell and Harold Hanson are also gone, and in their places are Andre Gonzales (downtown) and Jeff Tkac (southwest). New energy for new times.

 * ... CASEY CHRISTIE: Also leaving the local scene is longtime Californian photographer Casey Christie, whose stunning photographs graced the pages of the local newspaper for more than 25 years. Like Harvey Hall, Christie was always gracious, kind and thoughtful as he went about his work. Life will go on, but we will all miss his keen eye for capturing life in this place we call home.

 * ... LYLE MARTIN: And finally I am not sure there could have been a better choice to lead our police department than Lyle Martin, who replaced the retiring Greg Williamson as police chief. Martin's personality is one of openness and honesty, and he will have to call on that to confront a department under attack after yet another officer-involved shooting, this time claiming the life of an unarmed 73-year-old man in the southwest. Martin deserves a change to address some of the cultural and training issues facing the Bakersfield Police Department.

 * ... DUMP ROAD: Most of you have never been on the old County Dump Road right off Fairfax and Alfred Harrell Highway. The dump has long been closed, and the road is a dead end so it doesn't get much traffic other than cyclists who like its long steady climb to the top. And even though "no dumping" signs are posted all along the way, the road has become a favorite spot for people to discard everything from soiled mattresses to washing machines to old sofas and chairs. It is an absolute mess, a civic embarrassment, and it resembles something out of a dirt poor Third World country. Can we get it cleaned up?

* ... MEAN STREETS: My earlier post about the growing criminal element on our streets hit a nerve and prompted responses like this one from reader Lydia Dunton: "I think 'prison realignment' and the subsequent early-release programs are a direct cause of our mean streets. It doesn't take a genius to foresee that this would happen. Thanks federal mandate!"

* ... TAFT COLLEGE: There was a nice scene out at Taft College recently when the college foundation surprised Chevron with an announcement that it was naming its STEM Lab after the energy company. The Chevron STEM Lab recognizes Chevron's generosity to the college, totaling more than $1.3 million over the last several years. Said Dr. Deb Daniels, president of Taft College: “We are grateful to Chevron for their continuous generous support of not only the programs and students of Taft College but of their support for education from elementary school through college. Their investment in our community has made it possible for more students to go to college and become part of an educated workforce to return to our community."

 * ... MEMORIES: Lastly, Bill Clayton wrote to talk about the old 34th Street Junior Baseball diamonds off 34th Street. "I played Little League there in the 1950s and my team was the Hod Carriers sponsored by the labor union by the same name. Our coach was Mr. Pigg who I think was a union member. I like your Bakersfield Observed column!" Thank you Bill.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Are the streets of Bakersfield growing meaner by the day? And would it surprise you to know that the labrador retriever is among the dogs that need the most attention?

 * ... MEAN STREETS: Are our streets growing meaner by the day? I've been mulling this over for the past year or so as I've noticed an explosion of homelessness as well as an alarming rise in young men who clearly of the criminal bent. For the most part the homeless are harmless, and many are
suffering from emotional or mental disorders or just simply down on their luck. But the restless, jobless criminal element is also out there, contributing to the spike in petty thefts and burglaries that has not left any neighborhood unscathed. And we wonder why folks want to live behind the gates in Seven Oaks and other planned communities.

* ... DOGS: Do you know what breeds of dogs need the most attention? By that I mean they thrive on human interaction. According to the website, the Australian Shepherd tops the list follows by the Labrador Retriever, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Border Collie, Brussels Griffon, German Shorthair Pointer and the Cocker Spaniel. Personally my tastes have always run toward pound mutts.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Russia hacked the election and I can't even hack my neighbors wifi."

 * ... PROVIDENCE: Congratulations to Tracy Leach and her crew over at Providence Strategic Consulting which held a holiday open house at its newly renovated offices on F Street. Leach furnished the offices with some handsome locally made tables and wrought iron, a testament to the creativity that Kern County offers.

 * ... WOOD WORKING: And speaking of local artists, I recently purchased a seven-foot long handmade wood table from Sam Ames, a friend who has been repairing wood instruments (violins etc) for years and has now turned his attention to making custom furniture  The table is made from reclaimed vineyard stakes and - like the piece in Tracy Leach's office - speaks to our local history, our agricultural heritage and a burgeoning local artisan scene.

* ... STARS THEATER: The Stars Dinner Theater has been struggling financially for several years now, but its regulars give its performances rave reviews. Said Marilynn Dunbar: "We attended Forever Plaid, the Christmas version, and it was delightful. The talent was amazing, as good as anything you would see in Los Angeles. The only thing lacking was a larger audience."

* ... MEMORIES: Here's some more on those junior baseball fields that existed next to Memorial Hospital, from reader Warren Pectin. "There were 10 baseball diamonds at the JBA fields on 34th Street near the Memorial Hospital. I played two years in the minor league (junior high school age) and two years in the major leagues (freshman and sophomore years.) ... There were close to 60 different teams consisting of about 15 to 18 individuals/ team, each with a sponsor that provided uniforms, bats, baseballs, etc... The managers and assistant managers were guys who enjoyed baseball and coaching, some of whom were fathers of the players but not on the same team as I recall. We usually played one game a week on a Saturday and the 'season' started before school was out and ended by the last days of summer. Each age group had an all-star game that was played at Sam Lynn field on North Chester. The playing fields were moved to the Sam Lynn area my second year in the minors (1959) and remained there for some years after I quit playing. The 1,000 or so boys who played and the 120 managers and assistant managers were kept up to date weekly as standings were published weekly by the Californian and occasionally an article about an individual or team would also be featured in the Californian."