Friday, December 23, 2022

Private investment sparks a renewal in the "Eastchester" zone, Pastor Roger Spradlin addresses his church while battling cancer and the never ending battle to clean up trash and debris

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.

 * ... MERRY CHRISTMAS: One of the winners of 2022 was downtown Bakersfield, pockets of which have shown remarkable growth and improvement thanks to private investment that seems to be going block by block. Homelessness, vandalism, crime and graffiti remain a problem to be sure, but the downtown

area east of Chester (known as "Eastchester") has enjoyed dynamic growth despite the problems. Call it "the Sage" effect because none of this would have happened without the vision of City Councilman Bob Smith and his company Sage Equities. Smith helped put his daughter Stasie and husband Shai in business with Cafe Smitten coffee shop on 18th Street, a development that seemed to spark other private investment in the area, including Sage's 17th Street Townhomes. Sage is also about to open another apartment complex, The Que, further down 18th and three other projects are in the planning stages. Add to that a flurry of downtown shops opening - PaperPlane Coffee on 19th and The Botanist on 18th just opened recently joining the 18th Street Bar and Grill, Zama, BottleShock and others  - and we have what one calls a positive trend. 


 * ... HOMELESS TRASH: Next time you see a city maintenance vehicle around town, you might want to thank the driver for pitching it to help fight the mess that homelessness creates. Check out these photos posted by the city highlighting the Support Team for Operations, Rangers and Maintenance (STORM) , which assists Park Rangers in trash removal. Here, more than 500 pounds of trash was removed from the San Miguel Grove off the Kern River Parkway. The last picture shows the Grove after cleaning.

 * ... WELCOME HOME: Pastor Roger Spradlin of Valley Baptist has been courageously fighting a tough battle against cancer and recently returned home to the church to preside over services once again. Faced with a fatal prognosis, Spradlin has displayed amazing courage and compassion as he fights the battle of his life.

 * ... RIDGE ROUTE: John Kelley knows more about the old Ridge Route, the curvy and dangerous road that connected Los Angeles with Bakersfield before Interstate 5, and he has access to hundreds of old pictures and drawings of the old road. Here are three John highlighted on his Facebook page.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old advertisement for the grand opening of the Rice Bowl downtown, compliments of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. The caption: 1948 - Grand Opening Rice Bowl... 1119 19th Street ... Bakersfield, Kern County, California ... Owners: William "Bill" Leong (1904-2003) Helen Leong (1913-2004)