Thursday, February 23, 2023

Another homeless fire claims a downtown office building, the fossil fuel industry fights back and vagrants chip away at the memory of the old Noriega's

 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.

 * ... ANOTHER WEEK, MORE DESTRUCTION: Another week has passed in Bakersfield and that usually means another vacant building downtown has been burned to the ground by vagrants. This time they torched a once unique office complex on 18th Street directly across the street from the
Women's Club, the latest in a long string of homeless fires to strike our community. The building in question has burned four times in six months - twice in two days - and yet city Code Enforcement

apparently did nothing to prevent this from happening again. City Councilman Andrae Gonzales told KGET he saw this coming and pushed his proposed city ordinance to force landlords to list vacant property for the city. That's all well and fine but where was Code Enforcement and the city in the years leading up to this fire, when everyone (including Gonzales) saw this coming? Aside from the loss of historic buildings, the seemingly endless string of fires has aggravated those who have had dealings before with Code Enforcement. Said one downtown businessman: "They (Code Enforcement) were going to fine me and shut me down because a door threshold was a quarter inch too high. But half the city is burning and nothing is done." The city is indeed burning. Is anyone paying attention?

 * ... PAM TAYLOR: Thanks to advances in technology and the ever present iPhone, rank and file citizens have been turned into world class photographers. Just take a look at these two Kern County sunrise pictures from my friend Pam Taylor. Simply outstanding.

 * ... FOSSIL FUELS: For years I have argued that the fossil fuel industry needs to do a better job of explaining its mission to combat the current effort to drastically reduce or ban oil and natural gas in California. It looks like the energy sector finally has fought back and is spending millions on a TV advertising campaign funded by a group called Californians For Energy Independence, which receives financial backing from the energy sector. The message is clear: why import foreign oil from countries run by dictators and tyrants when you and pump oil right here in California amid the strictest safety standards in the world.

 * ... STATE OF DOWNTOWN: Some random scenes around town (primarily Ward 2) that speak to our inability to effectively address a problem that is negatively affecting businesses and residents alike. Some things the city has tried, like hiring contractors from Flood Ministries to help clean up the streets and private security guards for some areas, are clearing helping to keep the crime and grime to a manageable level. The new city and county homeless navigation shelters are doing their job, as is the Mission of Kern Country, but a solution to the toughest problem - what to do with the criminals, tweakers and mentally ill - has eluded us. Progress is slow, people are frustrated, and this collage of photographs illustrate where we are today.

 * ... ALSOP, PEREZ HONORED: The Highland High School Hall of Fame is set to induct two local political and government leaders into its latest class. Ryan Alsop, chief administrative officer for Kern County, and Supervisor Leticia Perez will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with members of the school's 1977 championship wrestling team.  Members of that team included Mike Gonzales, Fred Gonzales, Joe Calvillo, Dale Dow, Aaron Duckworth, Flint Pulskamp, John Hopkins, Rob Romine, Mike McKeehan, Mike Osthimer, Donny Monsibais, David Kincaid, Richie Phillips and Freddie Torres. (File photos of Alsop and Perez)

 * ... JASON GALVIN: Do you remember Jason Galvin, the likable morning news anchor with KGET a few years ago? Well it turns out Galvin, a longtime racing fan, has landed a big job in the car racing world by being named the second announcer for “the biggest and baddest Pro Mod race in the history of the known universe.” Galvin joins veteran drag racing announcer Al Tucci, previously named as one of the voices of the 2023 Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod. Galvin served admirably as a morning anchor at KGET, a likable young professional who delivered the news straight without trying to become a personality.  “It’s a huge honor,” said Galvin. “I’m still – I guess you could say the new guy – when it comes to announcing major drag races, and in the world of Pro Mod, this is absolutely the event to be at. Honestly, I was shocked and humbled when the DI team approached me. I can’t wait to get to Florida and get going. The money, the grudge matches, the star power, it all already feels so big. I’m stoked.”

* ... MOSRITE MEMORIES: If you are a guitarist, you likely know the story of the fabled Mosrite guitar made right here in Bakersfield. Some of the biggest names in rock used the Mosrite, and thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page, here musicians Joe Maples plays a rare double-necked Mosrite.

 * ... OLD NORTH CHESTER: And finally, check out this remarkable photo of North Chester in 1945, a terrific memento featured on the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

No comments: