Thursday, January 24, 2019

County CAO Ryan Alsop rolls out an ambitious plan to upgrade Hart Park, Harry Starkey leaves the West Kern Water District, and do remember the great snow day 20 years ago?

Friday, January 25, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... HART PARK: The county is getting ready to roll out an ambitious, multi-year project to renovate and improve Hart Park, the 300-acre green lung of lakes, trees and hiking trails that has fallen into disrepair. County CAO Ryan Alsop laid out the plans for me on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM (the complete interview is posted on The plan, which must be approved by the
Board of Supervisors, would implement improvements over three to five years. Among the improvements would be a dog park, a splash water park for children, new signage at both entrances, upgraded picnic and play areas, food vendors, increased law enforcement patrols at all hours and restricted access to the river where people leave trash. Improvements to the four bathrooms will begin soon and funded out of the current budget.

 * ... SNOW DAY: Has it really been 20 years since the "great snow day" in Bakersfield? I remember waking to what I thought was sunlight but it was the reflection off a fresh coat of snow that toppled four trees at my southwest Bakersfield residence. It was a remarkable day for a desert community like ours. Enjoy these pictures published by The Bakersfield Californian, KGET TV and KERO TV.

 * ... HARRY STARKEY: Harry Starkey. general manager of the West Kern Water District for the past nine years, is leaving to join the Hallmark Group, a consulting and project management firm based in Sacramento. One of the leading authorities on water law and water politics in California, Starkey will be dividing his time between  Bakersfield and Sacramento. He has also agreed to become a regular Wednesday guest on The Richard Beene Show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) at 1:30 p.m. Greg Hammett, manager of the Belridge Water District. is taking Starkey's position at West Kern.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Apparently putting Alka-Seltzer in my mouth while getting baptized and pretending I’m being possessed by the devil is not funny."

 * ... RODRIGUEZ: Local plaintiff's attorney Daniel Rodriguez
is moving his firm to a new building on Truxtun just blocks from the courthouse. The building is located near the old church plaza that is now home to the Tower Craft Bar. Rodriguez and Associates is currently located in an historic brick building on Eye Street near Dagney's Coffee shop.

 * ... DANIEL ROOT: Daniel Root, a Garces High grad, has taken a job with the law firm of Young Wooldridge in the firm's water department. Root went on to attend University of San Diego where he earned his B.A. in Business Administration in 2012. He later obtained his law degree from McGeorge School of Law with an emphasis in Business Law and Environmental Law. He joins the firm's experienced team of water and environmental attorneys and will serve the needs of clients throughout Kern County and the state of California.

* ... PERRY FINZEL: Perry Finzel, field rep for former Congressman David Valadao, has joined the staff of Rep. Kevin McCarthy in Bakersfield. Valadao lost his bid for reelection to Democrat T.J. Cox and McCarthy picked up Finzel after Cox was sworn into office.

* ... MEMORIES: Don't you just love these old photos that appear on the Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans Facebook pages?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Anne Frank's step sister to speak at the Fox Theater downtown, Michelle Chantry is leaving The Bakersfield Californian, and cities with homeless populations are flirting with health epidemics

Monday, January 21, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... EVA SCHLOSS: Put March 12 on your calender when Eva Schloss, the step sister of Anne
Frank, comes to Bakersfield to speak at the Fox Theater. Schloss lives in London and is being brought here by the Chabad Jewish Community Center. Chabad has asked me to conduct the interview and I am honored to do so. Schloss and her family were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, where her parents died.

 * ... HOMELESSNESS: It goes without saying that homelessness is a problem across the country, not just here in Bakersfield. And how various municipalities are dealing with it is eye opening to say the least. In Denver, the city council voted unanimously to decriminalize the offense of people committing certain low-level crimes like lying in a public right-of-way, urinating in public and panhandling. While I understand you can't fill the jails with people who happen to be homeless and defecate in public, we are flirting with a real health crisis here in our cities if we don't get a handle on it. Stay tuned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I'm just saying before you choose a name for your baby you should google 'popular stripper names' first."

 * ... BRC PRO: Congratulations to Mark Fredriksz, the club pro at the Bakersfield Racquet Club, for his amazing transformation after losing almost 40 pounds. Fredriksz never seemed to be overweight, but his doctor told him he needed to embrace healthier eating or he was at risk of becoming diabetic. So he cleaned up his act and now eats vegetarian a few times a week, just enough to keep him honest. He has dropped 38 pounds and the last time I saw him, he was heading to the Hens Roost vegan restaurant for lunch.

 * ... CHANTRY OUT: Michelle Chantry, chief executive officer of The Bakersfield Californian for the past two years, is leaving the newspaper for another job. The paper has yet to officially announce her departure but employees were told of it last Friday. No word yet on where Chantry is going or who will replace her.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this very cool old picture compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.