Thursday, August 1, 2019

St. Francis Church is vandalized as the investigation continues into Monsignor Craig Harrison, Trevor Horn lands at Garces Memorial High School and missing McFarland city manager John Wooner is found dead in the Kern rRiver

Friday, August 2, 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

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: St. Francis Church was vandalized recently, adding fuel to the division in our community over the fate of suspended priest Craig Harrison, who has been accused of sexual
impropriety by multiple men. The word "rape" was scrawled on the church in two places. Meanwhile, The Bakersfield Californian's John Cox wrote a long piece detailing the more than 100-page investigation by Bakersfield Police into the case, revealing some lurid allegations that could never be substantiated. No word yet on when the Diocese of Fresno will wrap up its investigation into the molestation allegations.

 * ... TBC ALUMNI: Trevor Horn, the popular prep sports writer at The Bakersfield Californian who left the paper recently, has landed a job as Sports Information Director and assistant athletic director at Garces Memorial High School. An award winning journalist, Horn was just the latest TBC employee to leave while landing another gig in town. The talent drain includes former lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, now communications director at CSUB, former city editor Christine Bedell, now with the CSUB alumni affairs office, former columnist Lois Henry, now with BizFed and graphics editor Glenn Hammett, now teaching at Bakersfield College.

 * ... BODY RECOVERED: Sad to hear that the body of John Wooner, the missing McFarland city manager, was found inside a car found submerged in the Kern River. The CHP confirmed that Wooner's body was found in the back compartment of the Dodge Durango, perhaps indicating he had tried to escape rising waters before succumbing to the water. Wooner had been missing for more than six weeks. Authorities are investigating to determine if foul play was involved, or it was simply an accident along Highway 178 in a treacherous stretch of road. He was 57 years old.

 * ... PET ADOPTION: Here's a big shoutout to Assemblyman Vince Fong who funded the adoption of 100 dogs and cats from the Kern County Animal Shelter. Fong has two rescue dogs himself and has been a strong advocate for adoption and "no kill" shelters.

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

 * ...MORE MEMORIES: And thanks to Art Moore with the Kern County History Fans for these classic pictures of old Wasco.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dinuba police drop charges against suspended priest Raul Diaz, vandalism and crime runs amok downtown, Trevor Horn leaves The Californian and a water alert for La Cresta

Monday, July 29, 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

 * ... PRIEST ALLEGATIONS: Just a day after Bakersfield police closed an investigation into 20-year-old abuse charges Monsignor Craig Harrison, authorities dropped charges of inappropriate
conduct with minors against long-time Dinuba priest Raul Diaz. These two developments - separate cases only linked by the popularity of the two priests - are certain to buoy the hopes of the scores of loyal Catholics who hope both men will return to the pulpit. Diaz, a former cross country runner with the storied McFarland High School track team, was facing charges of inappropriate conduct with minors. The question for Diaz: is this enough for the Diocese to return him to his old position? Harrison, meanwhile, awaits investigations by the Merced and Firebaugh police departments into four allegations dating back more than three decades. If the authorities cannot substantiate the allegations - well short of an exoneration that leaves us with a "he said/he said" case - the Diocese will have to decide if Harrison has been irreparably harmed by charges and act accordingly. (file photo of Raul Diaz)

 * ... CRIME: If you don't think are streets are turning meaner with this homeless and vagrant crisis, think again. In the past week three houses - all in a row - were broken into and burglarized on 21st Street, while literally dozens of cars were broken into downtown. Meanwhile there has been a rash of vandalism linked to homeless vagrants, from Salty's to Blue Oak Coffee to Lululemon. When laws are changed and the consequences of "non violent" crimes are diminished, crime spikes accordingly.

 * ... MOVING ON: The Bakersfield Californian, which changed hands not even a month ago, is experiencing a talent drain in its newsroom not short of alarming. We have now learned that Trevor Horn, head preps sports writer, is leaving the company after a stellar career. Horn is staying in town (he and wife Kristen recently purchased a home here) but has not yet revealed where he is going.

 * ... WATER ALERT: Residents of parts of La Cresta and northeast Bakersfield near Garces Memorial High School are being advised to boil their water after a malfunction at California Water. The advisory reads in part: "Cal Water and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) advise all customers in our “660 zone” (affected area inside black border in map below) to only use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth until further notice. We are advising you to take this precautionary measure after a malfunction in our monitoring software caused a temporary water outage in this area. Any time water pressure drops below the threshold set by DDW, we test water quality samples to ensure that water quality was not negatively affected. All tap water used for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth should be boiled rapidly for at least one minute. Let the water cool before drinking. Customers should also discard ice cubes made from tap water or their refrigerator’s water line. If you have pets and are unsure about providing water to them, please consult your veterinarian. Tap water is safe for showering, bathing, and other household uses."

 * ... MEMORIES: Now here is a blast from the past.