Monday, January 15, 2018

Steve Schilling given a proper sendoff as he heads to retirement, the Wounded Heroes Fund puts on a comedy jam and Rod and Julie Crawford survive the nuclear scare in Hawaii

Monday, January 15, 2018

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 * ... OLD GUARD: There was a big send off for Steve Schilling as the outgoing CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista last week, and it many ways it showcased the changing of the guard in Kern County.
Schilling spent more than 40 years building Clinica into one of the largest providers of healthcare in the West, and over that time he moved adroitly on the political right and left to get what he needed to provide basic health care for the underserved. Among those I spotted at a reception at the downtown Women's Club were former Congressman Bill Thomas, former state senator and supervisor Roy Ashburn, Supervisor Mike Maggard, Mayor Karen Goh, Ben Stinson III, cardiologist Dr. Brij Bhambi, attorney Matt Clark and Schilling's replacement, new Clinica CEO Brian Harris. At one time Schilling, Thomas and Ashburn were at the center of political power in Bakersfield, and it was curious to see them back together for perhaps one of the last times.

 * ... TBC TROIKA: And speaking of the old guard, it was also curious to see so many former Bakersfield Californian big wigs at the reception, all of whom have since left TBC to strike out on their own. (Full disclosure: I too am a former TBC employee). The exodus from our local newspaper of top talent in the past year has been stunning, and it was on full display at the Schilling reception. Among those I spotted were former lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, now a director of advocacy for Clinica, former city editor Christine Bedell, now an alumni affairs director at CSUB, and former columnist Lois Henry, TBC's star editor/reporter who abandoned ship to work with a business advocacy group. And taking their picture? None other than John Hart, formerly one of TBC's talented photographers. Between the four of them, they represented more than 80 years of reporting on Kern County.

 * ... SOUND WALLS: It looks like work has started to build sound walls on the north side of 24th Street as the widening project moves into the construction phase. The sound walls (only on the north side, not the south) go in first followed by a total widening, resurfacing and installation of a landscaped median. The entire project, from Highway 99 to C Street, is expected to take two years. As City Manager Alan Tandy told me: "It will be a mess." Ain't that the truth.

 * ... COMEDY HOUR: Hats off to Julio Torres and the folks over at the Wounded Heroes Fund for a raucous, hilarious and successful comedy night to support the service dog program for combat veterans. Held Saturday night at the  Elks Club near the Garces Circle, the event raised money to train service dogs for veterans suffering from post traumatic issues.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If I got a nuke alert I wouldn't call my family and say goodbye or anything. I'd be here tweeting top quality content for you all, harvesting retweets until the fireball took me."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: A tropical outdoor bar is shown in a picture with this written on a chalkboard: "We have beer as cold as your ex's heart."

 * ... HAWAII: Rod and Julie Crawford, owner of Pyrenees Cafe and the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge, had just arrived in Hawaii for a vacation when the alarm sounded that a nuclear strike was imminent. This Facebook post from Julie says it all:  "Just want to say I LOVE YOU to all my friends and family today. I didn’t realize how sweet life is till I thought it was gone. Huddling between the beds holding our six year old baby girl between us kissing each other good bye was the real deal. I’ve never been so scared or more thankful all at the same time. I was not happy to die but glad we were all together as a family. Ok so now back to the vacation in beautiful Hawaii."

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