Thursday, August 31, 2017

Football is back, but participation in high school football takes a nosedive because of concerns over concussions, and Uricchio's Trattoria reopens after being closed almost a week

 * ... FOOTBALL: For those of us who love college football, the season is finally upon us. USC plays Western Michigan, preseason No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 3 Florida State and my alma mater
Georgia Southern travels to Auburn to take on the Tigers. But the future of football is in doubt, and nowhere is that more visible than in local high schools. Trevor Horn, the Californian's prep sports writer, cited a CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) study that showed while participation among boys in high school sports jumped 3.5 percent over the last decade, participation in high school football actually sank more than 10 percent. The reason: concerns over concussions and other safety concerns. The sport making huge strides in popularity? High school lacrosse.

 * ... URICCHIO'S: Uricchio's Trattoria has reopened after being shut down for almost a week because of a mechanical issue. The popular downtown restaurant was forced to close last week and it remained shuttered over the weekend because the part had to be shipped in from out of state. Owner Claire Porter told me they are now back in business and she is hoping to see the familiar faces of her regulars back at the bar and in the restaurant.

* ... GOOD FORM: A big thanks to Ron Lommen for sharing this example of good form in our community: "Hats off to the Boy Scouts of Troop 188 out of East Bakersfield. They spent a very hot weekend morning walking part of the bike trail picking up trash. They worked their way from Manor Street west towards Lake Ming. In the few miles they covered they picked up eight large trash bags of garbage. These scouts prove there are some very good youths in our community."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sorry that we don't have any fun snacks in the house, but we do have a variety of knee braces and reading glasses."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "What wine goes well with two ungrateful teenagers, an oppressive boss and insurmountable credit card debt?"

 * ... CHAIN COHN: Ray Pruitt, a former information officer for the Kern County Sheriff's Department, has joined the law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles as an investigator. Given the number of times the law firm has sued the sheriff's department over the years, there is a certain synergy to this announcement.

* ... GOOD FORM: David Milbrodt reached out to commend All Climate Air for its prompt response and service repairing his air conditioning unit. And he also put a plug in for two teams he follows: the UCLA Bruins and the Los Angeles Angels.

 * .... LEBEC HOTEL: How many of your remember the old Lebec Hotel that existed on the old Ridge Route highway before the interstate of built? According to the history Ridge Route website, the hotel was built in 1921 and was officially closed in 1968. It fell into disrepair, was eventually bought by the Tejon Ranch Co. and burned down in 1971. Said the website: "The Lebec hotel was a 'complete gambling joint with a ball-room, rooms and apartments' during its heydays from 1925 to 1934. Clark Gable and his actress wife, Carole Lombard, as well as gangster Benny 'Bugsy' Siegel, frequented the Lebec Hotel. A 1926 touring guide describes it: 'Hotel Lebec is new and high class, 80 rooms, thoroughly modern single $2-$3, with bath $4, coffee shop open 24 hours.' The Lebec Garage nearby was the largest and best equipped on the ridge. Labor was $1.75 an hour, increasing to $2.40 after 6 p.m."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monsignor Craig Harrison celebrates 30 years in the priesthood, Ben Stinson III gives away $93,000 in non-profit grants and lamenting those crazy Bakersfield drivers

* ... FATHER CRAIG: Congratulations to our own Monsignor Craig Harrison, who celebrates 30 years in the priesthood in September. Harrison began his journey in Merced and his first parish
was in Mojave and Rosamond, then on to Firebaugh and finally now at St. Francis where he has been for 19 years. There are few more popular religious figures in town than 'Father Craig,' and as one friend said to me: "I'm not even religious but talking to Father Craig makes me want to join the Catholic faith."

 * ... GOOD FORM: People who are in touch with their own "true north," that internal moral compass that guides decision making and feeds the soul, are invaluable to the success of any community. We are blessed with many of them here, and one of them is Ben Stinson III, who has guided Stinson's Stationers to a growth path despite the challenge from big box competitors and online shopping. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Stinson, to celebrate his company's 70th anniversary in business, decided to give away $93,000 in $1,000 grants to local non profits. At his vast warehouse off Union Avenue Tuesday morning, more than 200 representatives from local non-profits gathered to network and enjoy a robust breakfast.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Racism is alive and well. I entered a plane and a white lady started freaking out. I laughed so hard my grenades fell out of my pocket."

* ... DRIVING: Are drivers in certain parts of town more reckless and prone to speeding than others? That occurred to me the other day while driving on Coffee Road near Meany Avenue when I was passed by not two, but three different drivers doing at least 80 mph plus on a quiet Saturday morning. Is it the width of the roads in the Northwest and Southwest that turn them into our personal German autobahns?

 * ... GET A GUN: I spent a lazy morning this past weekend at a relatively new firearms store called Get A Gun over off Patton Way in the northwest. For you hunters and enthusiasts gearing up for dove season, owner Rafael Esqueda and his staff have put together a remarkable destination for firearms and accessories.

 * ... MEMORIES: My pal Gene Bonas, a proud Navy submarine vet, submitted this memory on growing up in Bakersfield in a simpler time. "I was reminiscing about growing up in east Bakersfield during the 1950s when I realized what today's youth missed. I remember pasta had not been invented yet. Back then it was called macaroni or spaghetti. Pizza? Sounds like a leaning tower somewhere.  Potato chips were plain, oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking. Healthy food consisted of anything edible! Sugar was considered white gold. Water came out of the tap; if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than gasoline for it, they would have been the laughing stock.  There were two things mom never allowed on the table: elbows and hats, and there were always two choices for meals: take it or leave it!  I really miss those days!"