Sunday, July 7, 2019

Caltech seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones helps calms our nerves, quake activity stirs fear of the dam at Lake Isabella failing, and a contract dispute leaves KGET off the air on DirectTV

Monday, July 8, 2019

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. Send news items to

* .. DR. LUCY JONES: Is Dr. Lucy Jones the most interesting person in the world? How many of you spent the last few days captivated by her briefings from Cal Tech as we anticipate another
aftershock or soft roller? For those of us in earthquake country, Dr. Jones' steady hand and patient lectures on exactly what is happening  provides reassurance in tense times. When thinking about Dr. Jones I recalled my years living in Miami, hurricane country, where Dr. Neil Frank of the National Hurricane Center held center court much as does Dr. Jones, only on the science behind hurricanes not earthquakes. For both Dr. Jones and Dr. Frank, it is just the facts. No hyperbole or fanfare, just helping us understand science and weather.

 * ... EARTHQUAKE COVERAGE: Hats off to the news crew over at KERO TV (23ABC) where anchor Tim Calahan and his crew provided simply outstanding coverage of the earthquakes. Calahan went wall to wall, cutting in to cover live press conferences by Dr. Lucy Jones at Caltech, and I found the broadcast indispensable. Meanwhile, the quakes could not have come at a worse time for KGET where a contract dispute between its corporate owners, Nexstar, and DirectTV has left them blacked out in the area. Imagine the crew at KGET working one of the biggest stories of their lives and half the town couldn't access it.

* ... FLOOD: When was the last time you looked at a map of what would happen if the dam at Lake Isabella failed? Well check out this map courtesy of The Californian. It seems we will all be under water if seismic activity leads to dam failure, even though they say that is highly unlikely. In any event, have your paddle boards and kayaks ready.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you think your life is in shambles, remember that there are actual adults out there arguing about the racial ethnicity of fish."

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison, fighting charges of sexual abuse, is telling friends that he expects to be cleared by police as early as this week. That's the word from two insiders who say the embattled monsignor is confident he will be cleared by local authorities. This would not be the first time Harrison has been investigated and not charged. If you remember, in 1998 the Fresno County Sheriff's office investigated a claim of abuse dating to around 1992 and declared the allegation "unsubstantiated." To be sure that is well short of total exoneration, but Harrison and his supporters will certainly say that it amounts to the same thing. Meanwhile, the only real investigation that counts is being done by the Catholic Church itself, and there is no word from the Fresno Diocese when action will come from that. Stay tuned.

 * ... HOMELESS:  If you want to get a clear idea of the number of homeless about town, take a drive downtown in the early morning hours. During a trip to the Meadows Field Airport on Sunday morning, I spotted more than 20 (yes, I counted) between downtown and the airport. I took Chester to Merle Haggard Drive and back, very little traffic but plenty of homeless roaming North Chester and sleeping on the curbs downtown. And so it goes.

* ... FIREWORKS:  Here's a free tip for all you looking for a good spot to view fireworks: try the grass berm in front of the Area Energy building at the corner of Old River Road and Ming Avenue, excellent for the Seven Oaks fireworks show and it won't cost you a penny. One couple has been going to that same spot for 15 years.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these old pictures of the old bank at the corner of Chester and 18th Street that has been renovated and reopened as The 18Hundred restaurant. Amazing.

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