Thursday, March 16, 2023

Water level at Lake Isabella rises amid predictions we will have water in the river through the summer, a former priest has a bad day in court and Bakersfield loses two prominent businessmen and notables

 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.

 * ... LAKE ISABELLA: All this rain is finally having a positive impact on filling some of the states reservoirs, which were drained dangerously low during the long drought. Closer to home the rains almost doubled the amount of water stored at Lake Isabella, going from a low of about 135,000 acre feet to

around 265,000 acre feet now. Mark Mulkay, Kern Water Master, told KGET it was "a once-in-a-generation event that’s going to happen this year. There’s going to be a lot of water in the river all year long.” Mulkay said. Depending on the depth of the water in the river, that means we could be seeing a lot of kayaking, canoeing and swimming this summer along the Kern River through town. (file photo of Lake Isabella)

 * ... GOOD NEWS? Is there finally some good news for our beleaguered downtown? Did the powers at be finally listen to the people and businesses who have been crying for help for years? Hopefully that answer is a firm yes now that the City Council has authorized city staff to  place bids on 13 different properties that are deemed eyesores, and potential fire hazards. This is a terrific start and it deserves our applause, but we should all be aware that the city may need to pony up yet more money to buy and refurbish these old properties. It's a start in the right direction.
 * ... CRAIG HARRISON COURT LOSS: It has been a bad - and expensive - week for Craig Harrison following yet another loss in court, the latest setback for the embattled former monsignor who is fighting allegations he spent part of his career as a repeated abuser. Harrison and his civil defense team, led by local attorney Craig Edmonston, have been ordered to pay $219,800 in attorney costs after their defamation lawsuit against Stephen Brady was tossed out of court. Brady was among a handful of people that Harrison sued for defamation, and so far his defense team has struck out in court, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees without a single win show for their efforts. In addition to the lawsuit against Brady, Harrison's defamation lawsuit against former monk Ryan Gilligan was also thrown out of court. If Harrison is ordered to pay those attorney fees as well, he could be on the hook for almost a half million dollars in fees. And all this before Harrison even steps foot in trial to defend two civil lawsuits from men who claim to have been abused by the former priest. Those cases, and thousands of dollars in attorney fees, are making their way through the courts. Edmonston told KGET it is unlikely Harrison can pay the fees. “He spent his entire life in the church, and he was compensated slightly above subsistence,” the attorney said. While that may be true, Harrison's lifestyle has been anything but subsistence level. He lives in a downtown home valued at more than $700,000 (owned by supporters) routinely posts pictures of himself on an oceanview property on the central coast and often takes long excursions to Italy with friends. Stay tuned to see how all that plays out in court. (file photos of Harrison and Craig Edmonston)

 * ... REST IN PEACE: Our community has lost some good people lately, business men and women and community members whose individual sweat and toil helped make Bakersfield a better place. Some of these names may not be familiar, but each deserves a recognition for being part of the fabric of a community we call home.

  HENRY MARTIN "MARTY" MAYFOHRT Jr.: Marty Mayfohrt lost his battle with cancer on March 10 after spending a lifetime raising his family and working in the San Joaquin Valley. He was a graduate of West High and CSUB and worked as an accountant with Lou Barbich and Geoff King before he got "the car bug" and became general manager of Bill Wright Toyota and later Family Motors. In 2000 Marty realized a lifelong dream and purchased the Madera Auto Center and moved to Clovis where he lived with his wife, Lela, and daughters Lauren and Michelle. A proud graduate of CSUB, Marty was a member of the downtown Rotary Club, Seven Oaks Country Club and other civic organizations. He was 68. Marty is shown here with his wife, Lela.

 JOHN  BROCK JR. A descendant of the family that ran the famous Brock's Department store, John Brock Jr. was a lifelong resident of Bakersfield and a prominent member of the business community. After his family sold the department store Brock joined Gregory Bynum and Associates in 1988 where he was integral in hundreds of developments around down. John graduated with a BA degree from Stanford and a Master's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California. A true gentleman with a soft touch and dry wit, John is shown with his wife, Ginette. John was 75 years ago.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the archives of the Kern County History Fans' page on Facebook comes this look at Guarantee Shoe Center over the years.