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.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Kern Board of Supervisors considers a new tax to clean up after vagrants, the super moon woos the world, and a new Bakersfield Observed podcast makes it debut

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.

 * ... TRASH TAX: Did you see the Kern County Board of Supervisors is looking at a new parcel tax to help pay for all the illegal dumping around town? The idea would be to increase the land use fee charged to property owners to help pay for illegal dumping, an increase expected to generate some $6 million a

year. But is this fair to the property owners, who often already bear the brunt of ridding their properties of illegal trash and debris? The problem here clearly is not the property owners but the legions of homeless and vagrants and residents who feel free to use our community as their personal dumping ground.

 * ... STOLEN ASHES: A security alert from a Ring security doorbell lamented a car break-in in Oildale this week. Among the items stolen: the ashes from a "despised husband." That's right, the alert noted that among the items stolen were "a brown purse, with wedding set, black watch, red knife and ashes from despised husband inside."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Baby shark implies the existence of Ginger Shark, Scary Shark, Posh Shark and Sporty Shark

 * ... BLOOD MOON: Did you spot the super moon this week? It was bright and reddish and spectacular, but not quite as spectacular as this picture taking by Bakersfield resident Debi Bozanich from her second home in Cabo San Lucas. Enjoy.

 * ... NEW PODCAST: The Richard Beene Show on KERN NewsTalk Radio has been retired and has now evolved into a podcast. My goal is the same: to provide in-depth interviews with Kern County newsmakers about a variety of subjects, but all local. The inaugural podcast features former Californian columnist Lois Henry, who is now devoting her time to a blog (SJVWATER.ORG) covering the politics of water in Californian. On this first podcast Henry talks about how some areas of the Central Valley are

literally sinking after years of farmers pumping water out of the group. An excerpt: "Subsidence is the technical term for the phenomenon — the slow-motion deflation of land that occurs when large amounts of water are withdrawn from deep underground, causing underlying sediments to fall in on themselves.
 Each year, Corcoran’s entire 7.47 square miles and its 21,960 residents sink just a little bit, as the soil dips anywhere from a few inches to nearly two feet. No homes, buildings or roads crumble. Subsidence is not so dramatic, but its impact on the town’s topography and residents’ pocketbooks has been significant. And while the most recent satellite data showed Corcoran has only sunk about four feet in some areas since 2015, a water management agency estimates the city will sink another six to 11 feet over the next 19 years." Access the podcast via the KERNRADIO.COM website.

 * ... BITWISE: The Fresno based company Bitwise is wrapping up its renovation of the old Turk's copy building across 18th Street from the old Padre Hotel. The color scheme is stunning.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Kern County History Fans for this "now and then" picture of a property downtown. "Then & Now ... 1920's - C. N. Johnston Auto & Truck Repair... 1000 18th Street
Bakersfield, Kern County, California."