Thursday, February 9, 2023

The energy sector reacts with disappointment to the president's State of the Union address, water trickles back into the Kern River and all the hoopla over gender identity at the Kern High School District

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.

 * ... WATER IN THE RIVER: Don't look now but there is water back in the Kern River, albeit not much but at least there is something and that's worth celebrating. Because no matter who you are, the

overwhelming percentage of Bakersfield residents say water in the river is a much coveted quality of life issue, and when it's gone - well it's just plain ugly.  And so the legal tug of wars continue over who owns the water in the river, and those of us who live and pay taxes here are left wondering when it will be public's turn to enjoy the sight of water in our river year round.

 * ... CHAD HATHAWAY: Local oil executive Chad Hathaway got a front row seat at this week's State of the Union as the invited guest of GOP  Congressman David Valadao. Hathaway, a plain speaking oilman who company has survived the erratic ups and downs of the energy market, returned frustrated that President Biden seems blind to the contributions - both big and small - of fossil fuels.

 * ... CHAMBER TRANSITION: A major transition is under way at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce where CEO and president Nick Ortiz announced he is leaving to become vice president of local chamber relations at CalChamber and president and CEO of the business group's main training program, the Western Association of Chamber Executives. In the interim and while a nationwide search is conducted, Hilliary Haenes will replace him. Haenes is currently vice president of member engagement. Ortiz has presided over the Chamber for almost eight years and his departure is a big loss for Kern, but Haenes is experienced and talented and the transition should be a seamless one.

* ... RIP JOHN MOORHOUSE: John Moorhouse, a local insurance agent who was part of the family that owned The Bakersfield Californian, has died. He was 82. Moorhouse was married to Ginger Moorhouse, whose family owned The Bakersfield Californian for years before selling it a few years ago. He served on the company's Board of Directors until the paper was sold and he also served time as president of the Tree Foundation of Kern, as well as being a member of the downtown Bakersfield Rotary Club. Moorhouse was originally from New Hampshire and moved west to Bakersfield in 1994 when Ginger Moorhouse returned to California to run the family business.

 * ... LOU ANN DURRETT: A familiar name over at Garces Memorial High, Lou Ann Durrett, is leaving her job on the school leadership team to become executive director of the Bakersfield Catholic Education Foundation (BCEF). The foundation was previously known as the Garces Memorial High School Foundation, established in 1989 to benefit Garces.

 * ... WHAT'S HOT: The hottest ticket in town is a seat to watch the Kern High School District Board in action, and boy was there action this week. The topic: a Kern high school teacher who told The New York Times that her job is to "protect kids" and part of doing so is giving them advice on gender identity. As you can image dozens of Bible toting residents appeared demanding the Del Oro High teacher (Olivia Garrison) be fired. In addition the senior pastor of the Rock Harbor Church, Brandon Holthaus, called Garrison's remarks an affront to parental authority. For its part, school board president Bryan Batey assured the crowd that the school board believed that parents, not teachers, are the best people to counsel children.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of wonderful old historic photos, featured on the Facebook page called Kern County History Fans, to enjoy today. The first shows the Bakersfield Fire Ladder Wagon at 20th and "K" Streets in 1911 just outside of Fire Station number 1.

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