Wednesday, June 2, 2021

People flock back to local theaters, a bad year for local retail is in the books, California tries to save the dwindling population of Monarch butterflies and Sheriff Donny Youngblood says he will run for office again

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. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... MOVIE THEATERS MUSCLE UP: If you were one of those who believed movie theaters may never rebound from the pandemic and lock down, think again. Across the country people are flocking back to theaters to take in the latest blockbuster, get out of the heat and enjoy a popcorn and a Coke. And no where is that

truer than in Bakersfield where theaters are doing a gang buster's business, and they still are not opened at 100 percent yet. Mike Armandariz, general manager of the Maya Cinemas in downtown Bakersfield, was thrilled to report that movie goers are flocking back to the theaters. "We could not be happier," he told me. And with temperatures hitting 106 and higher, Maya and other local theaters will remain top choices to spend a cool afternoon on a scorching day.

 * ... RIP RETAIL: Running a retail business has never been a walk in the park and the advent of the internet and brand killer companies like Amazon. And then came the pandemic which forced a number of prominent American brands into bankruptcy: Brooks Brothers, Joseph A. Bank, Belk, GNC, J.Crew, Lord and Taylor, Pier 1, Men's Wearhouse and J.C. Penny among others. The best locally owned companies thrive on a strong service ethic and have proved resilient but experts fear there will be a second wave of smaller retailers going out of business as consumers emerge from the pandemic more satisfied that ever with buying their clothes and other goods online.

 * ... MONARCHS AND MILKWEED: With Monarch butterflies facing eventual extinction, the state of California has launched an ambitious effort to plant 600 acres of milkweed statewide. Milkweed is known for being a "mega food market for insects," attracting more than 500 types of insects drawn to its sap, leaves and flowers. But not all types of milkweed are acceptable. According to a report in The New York Times: "Well intentional locals in California's cities have started planting tropical milkweed in their gardens in an effort to help the monarchs. However, tropical milkweed is not native to California and doesn't die out in winter, which confuses the monarchs' migratory patterns."  Locally, various types of milkweed are being planted in the Panorama Vista Preserve at the base of the Panorama bluffs to provide food and nutrients for the monarchs.

* ... DONNY YOUNGBLOOD: Sheriff Donny Youngblood has announced he will run for re-election, and now let me tell you why I believe that is a good thing. First, Youngblood has been a steady, consistent voice for law enforcement in Kern County, and he has displayed remarkable resilience and agility dealing with a host of challenges on his watch. Officer involved shootings, fatal car wrecks involving deputies, corruption, they have all been on his watch and he has handled each of them accordingly. Full disclosure: I urged Youngblood to run again. With the world in turmoil - police shootings, Black Lives Matter, recriminations, the movement to defund the police, the notorious "woke" culture in society - Youngblood would best serve the community by running for another term. Youngblood is now 70 and was first elected to office in 2006. He says he still has the passion, is in top physical shape and will offer himself up for another four years. That is good news. (photo by Alex Horvath of The Bakersfield Californian)

* ... BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: Yearning for a better life and weary of the crime and corruption with his native Honduras, a young man named Carlos packed up his family and moved to the United States,

determined to set his family on a better course for happiness. If this sounds familiar, it is the echo-chamber soundtrack of why so many people flee their homes in Central America and try desperately to get to America, only in this case it was all done legally, and we are all off better for it. The man in question is Carlos Baldovinos, father of his son and namesake who now runs The Mission of Kern County. "I did it all legally, and I am glad I did," he told me. "I would not have done it any other way." The subject of immigration - both illegal as it seen on the border and legal as is displayed in the case of the Baldovinos family - is the topic of the Bakersfield Observed with Richard Beene podcast being released later this week on Spotify and other podcast platforms. Access the interview there or on KERNRADIO.COM where a link to it will be posted. (father-son photo of Carlos Baldovinos and son)

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture from back in 1925 at DiGiorgio Farms, thanks to the Facebook page Kern County History Fans.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: Finally here is a valentine to all you West High graduates. A picture of your campus back in the day.

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