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April 2012

who 8 give back Scott Garrison provides free air transportation for medical treatment

Bakersfield’s most

storied buildings

Dining Divas nosh at

RJ’s Bar & Grill

10 ways to celebrate

spring Local man a


to the rich and famous


Tommy Moody

Production Manager Years of Experience: 20 Strengths: Project Management, Demo, Finish Carpentry, Cabinets, Framing, Electrical, Plumbing

Harold Workman Michelle Sweaney Office Manager Strengths: Organization, Accounting, Purchasing

Journeyman Carpenter - “Mr. Magic” Years of Experience: 42 Strengths: Project Management, Finish Carpentry, Cabinets, Framing, Electrical, Plumbing, Drywall, Painting

Mel Fox

Sales/Designer Years of Experience: 39 Strengths: Design, Residential Remodeling, Finish Carpentry, Framing

Everett Gray

Owner/Sales/Designer Years of Experience: 38 Strengths: Creative/Visionary, Design, Residential Remodeling, Carpentry, Framing, Concrete

Gabe Romo Patty Gray

Owner/Chief Stewarding Officer Strengths: Team Management, Organization, Customer Service

Apprentice Years of Experience: 4 Strengths: Customer Service, Staging, Demo, Finish, Cabinets, Plumbing

Dave Hacker

Owner, Valley Granite & Tile Years of Experience: 11 Strengths: Industry Leader in Machinery and Fabrication




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Now that spring has arrived, we wanted to give you 10 ways to get outside and celebrate the warmer weather with your family. We also have kid-friendly recipes, an adorable photo spread of kids Easter fashion and much more throughout the magazine.


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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Foodie Mai Giffard

She’s the assistant pastry chef at the Padre Hotel, so she is one experienced dessert creator. Get to know Giffard, what she orders at her favorite local restaurant and about her recent visit to Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley.


Our story told in architecture


Eight people who quietly give back

Witty Californian Opinion Editor Robert Price researched several Bakersfield buildings, many that top his favorites, along with his candidate for the city’s ugliest design.


Springtime family fun

We’re fortunate that within our community, we have many generous people who give back. Some are familiar faces while others choose to go beneath the radar to put others before themselves.

Photo by Jessica Frey

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D E PA R T M E N T S Downtown

1231 18th Street (18th and L Streets) 10:30am - 2:15pm Closed Sundays

Phone: (661) 323-2500


9160 Rosedale Highway (Target Shopping Ctr.) 11:00am - 8:00pm Daily

Phone: (661) 587-1600

13 26 28 30

50 52 54

Up Front Happenings It Manners A Lot

For a Cause Fashion All-Star Athlete

Page 36

Photo by Greg Nichols


104 History 108 Personality 110 Going Green

Kelly Damian


Photo by Mark Nessia

9500 Ming Avenue (Just West of The Marketplace) 7:00am - 3:00pm Closed Sundays

Phone: (661) 665-9990


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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

32 36 44 48

Dining Divas Food and Wine Our Town Family

56 On the Road 61 Hometown Hero 84 Outdoors 88 Pastimes 94 Why I Live Here 96 Community 100 It’s a Guy Thing

112 Real People 114 Smart Health 116 Talk of the Town 118 Trip Planner 122 Get Out of Town 130 SNAP! 138 Inside Story

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Bakersfield’s Premier City Magazine

What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard a kid say? “When I was telling my 3-year-old son (now 16) that he had to ‘clean his dinner plate,’ he comes back with the response ... ‘I have options.’ It floored me. And to top it off, his then-16-year-old brother said, ‘What are options?’” — John Wells, senior vice president revenue and marketing

“When my daughter was 2, we caught an older boy urinating in the park. I said, ‘Hey what are you doing?’ My daughter then shook her finger at him and said, ‘You busted, pee baby!’” — Jeff Nickell, contributing writer “Here’s one of the most recent: Driving home from the babysitter’s house, we always cross the railroad tracks. One day, there was a pile of gravel about 15 feet high alongside the tracks. My 3-year-old noticed it and said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of kitty litter!’” — Kelly Damian, contributing writer

“Standing outside John’s Incredible Pizza, the adults were in the middle of a discussion when my 5-year-old overheard the word ‘sign’ used in conversation. She turned to me and said, ‘Hey, I know a sign!’ and proceeded to flip-off the entire group.” — Dana Martin, contributing writer “My niece loves to perform. While about 5 or 6 years old (and still with the cutest speech), she came out into the living room all dolled up in sparkly clothes and announces, ‘I am Britney Fears in my farkly outfit!’” — Lisa Whitten, interactive sales manager “My Aunt Tami called a repair man to fix her air conditioner. She was in the basement with him and they were laughing about something, when her 7-year-old son, Brady, walked in and said, ‘You didn’t come here to laugh, you came to fix the air conditioner.’ Needless to explain why she calls him her little Benjamin Button — he’s 7 going on 70.” — Hillary Haenes, specialty publications coordinator


April 2012 / Vol. 6 / Issue 7

Bakersfield Life™ magazine is published by The Bakersfield Californian. The magazine is inserted into The Bakersfield Californian on the last Saturday of every month. To subscribe, please call 392-5777. Publisher Ginger Moorhouse President/CEO Richard Beene Senior Vice President Revenue and Marketing John Wells Vice President, Administration and Operations Nancy Chaffin Interactive Advertising Director Sally Ellis Interactive Sales Manager Lisa Whitten Advertising Traffic Manager Shauna Rockwell Marketing Manager Mira Patel Distribution and Marketing Representative Patrick Wells Editor Olivia Garcia Assistant Editor Stefani Dias Specialty Publications Coordinator Hillary Haenes Editorial Assistant Marisol Sorto Art Director Glenn Hammett Photography Felix Adamo, Henry A. Barrios, Casey Christie, Gregory D. Cook, Brian Drake, Jessica Frey, Alex Horvath, Tanya X. Leonzo, Greg Nichols, Mark Nessia, Jan St. Pierre, Carla Rivas, Annie Stockman, Brian N. Willhite, Jeff Vaughn, Laura Wiener Contributing writers Vicki Adame, Jenny Bachman, Sally Baker, Allie Castro, Gregory D. Cook, Kelly Damian, Lois Henry, Lisa Kimble, Katie Kirschenmann, Alexandria Lightsey, Stephen Lynch, Dana Martin, Jeff Nickell, Robert Price, Gabriel Ramirez, Mike Russo, Annie Stephens, Chris Thornburgh, Michael Wafford, Brian N. Willhite Interns Paola Becerra Breanna Fields Advertising Lupe Carabajal, 395-7563 On the cover Local financial planner Scott Garrison in front of his plane that he uses to transport those in need to and from hospitals out of the area. Photo by Jessica Frey


Bakersfield Life

April 2012


accessible, Golden Empire Transit District’s

mission is to consistently provide




public transportation to diverse customers in the greater Bakersfield area.

• GET uses Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in all its buses • More than 7 million passenger trips annually • One of the community’s most valuable resources and a key component in its growth and development

• GET-A-Lift provides curbside service for persons with disabilities

To learn more about GET check out our web site at

Editor’s Note

When my husband and I began seriously dating, we talked about this dreamy idea of someday having a family of four children. Life would be great. The kids would be smiling all the time, and we’d be the perfect parents. Fast-forward to the present where my husband and I are now parents to two teenagers, a preschooler and a toddler — all of them boys. Life is nonstop busy. The little ones are smiling — well, most of the time, except when it comes to sharing, bedtime or missing an episode of “The Backyardigans” or “Shaun the Sheep.” The same goes for the teenagers, who seem pretty much happy … unless it’s time to do chores, finish homework or tidy up their rooms. Julio and I have learned that we

aren’t perfect parents. Always facing new parenting tests, we hope we are making the right calls. That’s why I enjoyed reading Kelly Damian’s column because she gets to the heart of what many parents face. She wrote the column as part of this issue’s look at “raising Bakersfield.” In related stories, we feature four local male kindergarten teachers, pioneering school superintendents and have some parents address what it takes to help our youth. Also, I encourage you to read our new health column. Created by local fitness stars Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann, the monthly column will focus on healthier things to do locally as well as diet and workout tips for a fit lifestyle. Get to know what you can do to be healthier.

Photo by Tanya X. Leonzo

Raising Bakersfield issue

Olivia Garcia Editor 395-7487

This month I’m loving ...

Planet Wise snack line Planet Wise bags offer many options to send kids to school with a zero waste lunch. Smaller children love snacks in bags with cute prints. Easy to clean and reuse. Mom and Dad can use them, too! Sandwich wraps accommodate many different size sandwiches and double as a placemat. Everyone in the family will love these bags. They’re cute and colorful and you are supporting a local business, too!, $7.99. 12

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The smell of victory My boys are not too keen on scented candles, but I have found a way to bring nice scents to their bathroom and bedrooms by using Scentsy warmers shaped like a football or that pay tribute to a favorite college sports team. Visit to see if your favorite team is on the list. $30 to $35. (Scentsy bars are $5 each.)

Perfect cards Ever find yourself frustrated as you scour the greeting card aisle for that perfect card? Then consider since it features some really neat and unique greeting cards, especially for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Saphala, a local online fine paper company, carries paper products by the latest designers from all over the world. Saphala is offering free shipping to Bakersfield residents with a $25 minimum purchase from March 31 to April 28. Use coupon code: BLIFE.

Up Front Word on the Street Compiled by Brian N. Willhite

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a kid?

“To be patient.”

“To share more.”

“To always be honest.”

Tyler Noble

Linda Daves

Jamilah Salahud-Din

“Practice what you preach. I think it's good to be reminded as adults that we are the ones who are supposed to set the examples.”

“Don’t drink soda before bedtime.”

“That honesty is the best way to go.”

Julie Potwin

Wesley Rhodes

Ted Garrison

“Chill out and take it easy.”

“I’ve learned to smile because kids are always smiling.”

“To be myself.”

Richard Daves

Diana Rodriguez

Josephine Robles

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Up Front The Big Picture

10 ways to celebrate spring By Annie Stephens

Photo by Mark Nessia

Spring is in the air, and many of us are looking for fun activities to do so we can embrace this beautiful weather in and around Bakersfield. Take a look at some pastimes you can experience this season.

Experience a hike Although Bakersfield doesn’t have a long list of hiking trails, there are plenty of surrounding areas where the outdoors can be enjoyed. With the perfect springtime weather, the Bird Springs Pass trail is great for a mountainous getaway. The trail, located outside the east side of Lake Isabella off of Kelso Valley Road, is roughly 8.2 miles long. In the spring, the hills are filled with wildflowers, and the trail is mostly sandy tread, making for a beautiful getaway.

Enjoy some roaring river rafting With the warmer weather on its way, water levels are bound to rise from snowmelt. About an hour away from Bakersfield, river rafting companies in the Kern Valley area will take you on a journey you’ll never forget. Rafting is a safe and exciting way to make your spring vacations even more fun. Enjoy floating down the slow to mild rapids of the Kern River with professional guides who will make you love every moment of your getaway.

Go on a nice ride If you’re looking to get a little more exercise this spring, give bicycling a try. Even if you’re a beginner, there are easy bike paths built for almost anyone. Try the Park at River Walk where there is a well-built bike path that eventually takes you toward Enos Lane in the west or Cal State Bakersfield and along the Kern River to the east.

Spray park is the name of the game Enjoy a day in the sun at any of Bakersfield’s fun parks including those with spray features like Jastro, Saunders and Beale. It’s a nice way to keep the kids cool during the warm seasons. Take a camera to catch your kids having a blast.

Support local athletes

Take a break and cheer on your local athletes this baseball and softball season. From little league to the minor league, there is something for everyone. Going to sporting events is a great way to show support and get off the couch. Visit or gorunners. com to check out local collegiate athletics.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

A field of fiddlenecks glowing in the morning sun off of Highway 58 near Caliente.

Camping time is here Gather up family and friends for a memorable time around the campfire at the campground sites near Lake Isabella. Only an hour drive away from Bakersfield, Lake Isabella has more than enough campsites to accommodate even the pickiest people. If you’re looking for seclusion, areas close to water or a spot filled with sun, there is a campsite for you. Consider Live Oak, Boulder Gulch, Hungry Gulch, French Gulch, Pioneer Point, Auxiliary Dam and Paradise Cove.

A CALMing exploration of critters If you need to entertain the family this time of year, then head over to the California Living Museum. Check out native animals like the albino kingsnake, bald eagle, black bear, bobcat and many more. Not only is it fun for the family, it’s a great learning opportunity. CALM admits children ages 3 to 12 free on the last Saturday of each month.

Start a gardening project Gardening is a great hobby to hep you get outdoors. Try to plant some fresh veggies or bedding plants to make your yard look phenomenal. Gardening can also be relaxing when trying to relieve life’s everyday stresses. It helps you stay active while enjoying the outdoors close to the security of your own home. For gardening tips, head over to a local nursery to get started.

Improve your home It’s that time of year for a spring cleaning. Also try to get to that pesky “honey do list” that has been lingering around for so long. This is a great time to look around your home and see what you can do to beautify your place, whether it’s a new coat of paint, new wooden floors or retiling the kitchen.

Gone fishing Many may not realize it, but Bakersfield has beautiful nearby fishing areas. Buena Vista Lake, Lake Isabella and spots along the Kern River are full of surrounding greenery that are sure to make your fishing experience unforgettable. Show friends and family what a good time is all about and go fishing together.


Up Front

Facebook contest

Bakersfield Life photo contest The winner is: “The photo was taken by my husband on March 4, 2012, in downtown San Diego by the waterfront. In the photo are my two boys, Demetrius Jackson Jr.(10 years old) and Devin Jackson (5 years old). Thank you so much! We are so excited to take our first professional family pictures!” — Crystal Jackson Crystal Jackson won a gift certificate for $500 off a standard package at Valdophye Photography and Video.

Russo’s Read

‘Convict Lake’

by Richard Mallard

A true tale of the tragic Convict Lake drownings Richard Mallard has crafted a mesmerizing recounting of the tragic events surrounding the 1990 President’s Day Convict Lake rescue attempt and drownings. Complete with its troubling ties to Kern County, “Convict Lake” tells the true story of a juvenile group home in the High Sierras and its transformation from a place of hope to ultimate despair. In his book, Mallard weaves an engrossing story of how the “troubled-teen industry” spun out of control and claimed seven innocent lives on that day. Mallard, a Kern County author and businessman, shows both his literary and investigative

Mike Russo 16

Bakersfield Life

talents throughout the book. Thoroughly researched and well-documented, he spins a harrowing tale of courage and bravery, greed and deceit. In doing so, Mallard brings to life the many players, each of whom, had a significant role in a single-day event that made national news and, cast its long shadow decades before and after its occurrence. “Convict Lake” takes you on an emotional ride. From tears to outrage, you’ll mourn for the victims, angrily question public policy and, above all, keep the pages turning to find out what happens next. — Mike Russo, co-owner of Russo’s Books at The Marketplace

‘Convict Lake’ is available for $17.99 at Russo’s Books at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave. Author Richard Mallard will be at Russo’s Books signing copies of his book from 1 to 3 p.m. April 21. April 2012

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, I just finished reading your article on the do’s and don’ts of dressing for your age. I hope that every person who gets the magazine reads this. I am amazed at the way some people dress, or maybe I shouldn’t be. The “fashions” are out there, and many people feel that because they are available, they will look good in them. I mean men as well as women. Not only do some of them look awful in their clothes, but their hairdos are just as bad. Much more could be said, I guess, but thank you for the article. — Barbara Mullin Dear Editor, I always enjoy reading Bakersfield Life and was particularly overjoyed this morning to see two lovely photos of my great-niece, Laura Kovacevich Delis. She is the daughter of my nephew, Mike Kovacevich (my sister’s son). Of course, being a doting aunt, I think her photo on Page 76 could have made a good cover! But, your selections for a cover are always good. The photography of all the young ladies was outstanding! You can take pride in editing a fine publication each month. — Mary K. Shell

The Bakersfield Californian publishes Bakersfield Life magazine monthly. If you have any questions or comments regarding our magazine, write to us at Bakersfield Life, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302, or email us at We’d love to hear from you.

To submit material

Letters to the Editor: We publish all letters that are signed and deemed appropriate for our readership. Letters must be signed to be considered for a publication. Please type or print your name, as well as an address and a daytime phone number. Email should include the writer’s full name and city. We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and space. Please submit letters to Olivia Garcia, Editor, Bakersfield Life, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302. For email, send letters to the editor to Calendar events: Please submit information in writing to Marisol Sorto, no later than the first of the month, two months prior to the month in which the event will take place. Contact her at

To advertise

Please call Lupe Carabajal, retail advertising sales manager, at 395-7563 or

Short Take

Paint the Town Red and help a good cause Get ready to Paint the Town Red and enjoy an evening of food, wine tasting and art. Although you won’t be literally painting the town, you will be helping raise funds for The Bakersfield AIDS Project, which is dedicated to providing care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. The event takes place April 28 at Metro Galleries. “I wanted to have a fun event that had a double meaning,” said event organizer Jonathan Allen. “We want to paint the town red with some wine tasting and an art auction, but also red in significance of the AIDS ribbons.” Allen hopes that in addition to raising funds for BAP, which operates several outreach programs for HIV patients as well as Ricky’s Retreat (a housing and hospice facility for persons living with AIDS), Paint the Town Red, will help raise awareness of the organization. “Even though it’s been around for 20 years, there are still people within the community that don't know about the project, or know very little about it,” said Allen. “So our hopes are to increase our profile, as well as to raise funds.” This is Allen’s first time organizing a fundraising event, and he has been genuinely pleased by the response he has received so far.

“The Bakersfield community is absolutely amazing, and so generous,” he said. “On any given weekend there is probably a fundraiser going on in Kern County, and even though the community can get tapped out in terms of requests, they’re still really good about giving what they can.” In addition to wine tasting from local and coastal wineries, there will be a silent auction of art donated by artists. Allen credits Don Martin, creative director of Metro Galleries, for help in contacting artists for auction donations. “Don Martin has been extremely supportive of the project, with all of his connections and all of the artists he knows,” said Allen. “And the artists we have approached have been very happy to do it.” Paint the Town Red takes place April 28 at Metro Galleries, 1604 19th St. Doors open at 5 p.m., and tickets are $40 in advance, or $50 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets contact Jonathan Allen, 402-980-9118. — Gregory D. Cook


Up Front It’s Named After

By Lisa Kimble

Like so many early Kern County settlements, the designation of the Lerdo colony, for which the highway and sheriff’s detention facility are named, remains somewhat ambiguous. In Spanish, the word “lerdo” means “heavy” or “dull,” and may have been the first impression of the man who established a community of Mennonites right after the turn of the century. Historical accounts record the arrival of Danish colonists to C. Young’s Lerdo colony as early as 1890, the same year a post office was opened. It wasn’t long before land title problems developed, and the colony began to disperse. The property was part of land sold and resold later by the Kern County Land Co., included in their sales map of 1892. But reportedly it was Henry J. Marten who established one of two large and prosperous colonies of Mennonites in Southern California — known as Martensdale — near the intersection of present-day Highway 99 and Lerdo Highway on April 20, 1909, and who first applied the term to the locality. In March 1911, John McWilliams Jr. sold the land in Lerdo on which Martensdale was located to the Lerdo Land & Water Co. However, it was later discovered the Mennonites had been given worthless titles for land in exchange for their farms back in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Photo by Alex Horvath

Lerdo Highway

Efforts were made to have the deeds set aside, but Martensdale did not survive. The town site of Lerdo was established on the Southern Pacific Railroad right of way in 1912 by the Lerdo Land Co. A re-subdivision was filed in 1926, and, in 1940 the name was changed to Cawelo for the “Camp, West, Lowe Farm Co.,” whose giant farming operations were centered there. The unincorporated

community is 12 miles northwest of Bakersfield, and the Southern Pacific Railroad siding is still known as Lerdo. Over the years, there has also been speculation that perhaps the name was in reference to Ley Lerdo, a Mexican law involving Agrarian land reform.

Short Take

TOMS One Day Without Shoes After last year’s successful TOMS One Day Without Shoes event at Mainland Skate & Surf at The Marketplace, the store decided to continue the movement this year to help children. On April 7, Mainland Skate & Surf, along with other stores at The Marketplace, will host One Day Without Shoes, an event to raise awareness of the impact shoes can have on children’s lives. But not to worry, you won’t be forced to walk shoeless. There will be a donation box inside Mainland Skate & Surf where people can drop off shoes that are in good condition, with all donations going to the Jamison Children’s Center. Last 18

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

year, 150 pairs of shoes were donated. You will receive a raffle ticket for every $10 spent at participating stores. The raffle includes items donated by Nixon, Von Zipper, Electric as well as Bakersfield Museum of Art memberships, RJ’s Bar & Grill gift cards and much more! — Paola Becerra

Short Take

Making magic happen for those in need The message for the Mendiburu Magic Foundation this year is 12/12/12. For its 12th anniversary, the foundation is encouraging people to find 12 friends who would be interested in donating $12 to the foundation to “make magic happen” for children and families in Kern County. If money is not an option, then Brian Mendiburu, founder and CEO, encourages residents to give to the foundation in other ways, including volunteering. “We really hope that they learn more about the organization and figure out ways they can be involved,” said Mendiburu. The Mendiburu Magic Foundation raises funds to benefit cancer research, its patient-assistance fund, community investment and youth development projects, such as scholarships or small grants. The nonprofit began in 2000 after Mendiburu lost his mother to ovarian cancer. He wanted a group to help others in similar situations. “If a youngster from infant to 17 has anything that’s medically diagnosed as catastrophic or life-threatening, then our foundation has partnerships with area hospitals both in Bakersfield and in the Central

Valley in Madera and Los Angeles. So, if they are moved to a different city they can access our patient-assistance funds,” he said. The patient-assistance fund covers costs that are not typically covered by insurance for those in need. “They really use the assistance funds for things that can fall through the cracks, like when someone is diagnosed with something catastrophic or life-threatening, Brian Mendiburu one of the spouses, Mom or Dad, usually has to quit work and stay with their loved one,” said Mendiburu. “The fund helps with medical supplies, lodging, travel, anything in that first 60 or 90 days when the family is just going through a really tough time.” For more information about the Mendiburu Magic Foundation, find them on Facebook or contact Valerie Mendiburu at 319-0355. — Michael Wafford

Short Take

Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference ‘I’m Every Woman’ this year’s theme The Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to get your tickets! “As women, we juggle so many roles in both our professional and personal life. This conference will be a day to not only celebrate who we are as women, but also provide inspiration and empowerment to all the women in our community,” said LaMeka Ross, event chairwoman. This year’s keynote speaker is Tyra Banks, who has hosted television shows, acted, modeled and written a best-selling book. According to Ross, Banks was chosen as the keynote speaker “because she continues to transform herself throughout her career and her message has always been about empowering women to achieve their goals.” Judge Glenda Hatchett will be the opening speaker who you may know from her TV show “Judge Hatchett.” Lola Gillebaard — crowned the “Queen of Comedy” — will be the closing speaker. Mark your calendars for April 26. This is a conference you will not want to miss! — Paola Becerra




23rd Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference When: 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 26 Where: Rabobank Arena Theater and Convention Center, 1001 Truxtun Ave. Tickets: $95 Information: For ticket purchases and more information visit


Up Front Short Takes

Run in honor of fallen deputies, families

Dinner to benefit autism nonprofit In the spirit of Autism Awareness Month, Valley Achievement Center, a nonprofit organization, will be hosting a Friends of Autism Dinner at the Bakersfield DoubleTree Hotel from 6 to 11 p.m. April 7. Working to educate and raise awareness of autism throughout Kern County, the organization provides families with the necessary guidance and tools to succeed. This event will include a special appearance by John Hall, the author of “Am I Still Autistic?” Hall will be giving a speech on his diagnosis at the age of 2, and how he overcame this obstacle to become the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company. For more information regarding the dinner or to purchase tickets, call 6176440 or visit — Breanna Fields

The Kern County Sheriff’s Employee Benefit Association is gearing up for the first Honor Run. The event happens at 8 a.m. on April 14 at Hart Park. Runners of all skill levels are welcome to sign up and participate in any of the 2K, 5K or 10K runs to be held. Pre-registration is open until April 7 and costs $25. Runners can still register after the deadline and even on race day but the cost will be $30. Funds generated will be donated to the Sheriff’s Benefit Association, a nonprofit organization that will use the money to fund scholarships for children left behind by fallen deputies. In addition to the scholarships, the proceeds will also provide funding for these families to attend annual memorial events dedicated to honoring those who gave their lives in the line of duty, according to Lt. Drake Massey of the

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

honor run committee. “Once a year in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. during Peace Officer Memorial Week, which is in May, (the names of)any new officers who have lost their lives go on the wall, and they honor those who lost their lives that year and also the ones of the past,” Massey said of the yearly event. Funding for the run will be received through registration dues, donations and sponsorships from local businesses and private donors. There will also be a raffle during the event. To register, visit or and download the flier, fill it out and mail it in. To learn more about the Honor Run or how you can become an event sponsor, contact Vicki Erickson at 868-1676 or Drake Massey at 978-6396. — Brian N. Willhite

“Integrity isn’t Expensive, It’s Priceless”

Rhonda Lewis

Richard Rivera

Cathie Paulovitz

Kathy Keener

Marvin Bush

Stacy Harrison

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Up Front Short Take

Power of the Purse to benefit worthy cause Purses. They are a staple in any woman’s wardrobe. And on April 20, purses will be the focal point of a fundraiser by the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. “Power of the Purse” is being billed as a girls’ night out where attendees have the opportunity to purchase fabulous designers’ purses from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Kate Spade and Brighton. “This event will be the place to be for professional women, philanthropists and anyone who wants to make a significant impact in another person’s life with just the purchase of one purse,” said Jan Bans, acting secretary for the Alliance’s board of directors and fiveyear volunteer. “It will

be a night of bubbles, baubles and bags.” Although marketed as a girls’ night out, Bans encourages women to bring their husbands and boyfriends. In addition to the purses, there will be a silent auction featuring designer jewelry, travel packages and gifts with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Alliance. Signature cocktails and an array of hors d’oeuvres will be served. The event will be held at the home of Drs. Ravi and Naina Patel and is sponsored by Chevron. The Alliance began in 1979 as a 24-hour crisis intervention hotline for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, the Alliance offers a walk-in crisis intervention office; counseling and emergency shelters complete with licensed child care; awareness, education and prevention classes; and hospital and court accompaniment among its services. “Power of the Purse” gives everyone the chance to get involved, Bans said. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling 378-5646 (must be 21 to attend). — Alexandria Lightsey

Money Matters

Last-minute tax filing tips Editor’s Note: Chris Thornburgh is a CPA and partner at Brown Armstrong. Given her expertise, we asked Thornburgh to provide monthly financial tips that can come in handy for individuals and businesses. With the tax-filing deadline in just a couple of weeks, many of us will spend this weekend gathering tax information and filling out forms. If you haven’t tackled this annual chore yet, don't make costly mistakes or overlook deductions in the mad dash to file your 2011 tax return. Here are a few last-minute tips. Pay yourself rather than Uncle Sam. If you owe the IRS, you may be able to lower your taxes by contributing to an IRA. You have until April 17 to make a tax-deductible contribution for 2011. (Certain restrictions apply.) Research your options. There are different deductions and credits available depending on income and marital status to name a few. When in doubt, start with IRS Publication 17 at or seek a tax professional. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Believe it or not, the two most frequent mistakes made are using 22

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

incorrect Social Security numbers and failing to sign the tax return. An incorrect Social Security number will delay your refund. An unsigned tax return will not be processed and could cost you late filing penalties. Admit you need more time. If your tax situation is too complicated to sort out in the next two weeks, consider filing an extension to buy more time. To request an extension, file IRS Form 4868 by April 17. Approval is automatic and extends the filing deadline until Oct. 15. Here’s the catch: If you owe tax, you must still pay the estimated tax with your extension to avoid penalties and interest. — Contact Chris Thornburgh by email at or by phone at 324-4971.

Finding Fame

Shaun Sturz Bakersfield baby sitter to Malibu manny

On the job Sturz currently works in Malibu for the family of a Grammy award-winning smooth jazz musician and has given up his weekends for the past several years to do so. Although it’s not a full-time job, Sturz feels lucky to have it in the current state of the economy. His job entails all of the general tasks that a nanny would tackle, from tucking the kids into bed and making meals, to performing magic tricks and telling jokes. His favorite memories as a manny range from hanging out with the kids to swapping pizza recipes with Cindy Crawford. Or, when ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to the youngest son’s bar mitzvah: “There’s nothing like partying it up with the Governator,” Sturz joked. The kids Watching the children grow up the past six years has been an interesting experience for Sturz, who began working with the family when their children were 8 and 12 years old.

“Now they are teenagers and I must say, it’s crazy to see them go from playing with building blocks to moving across country to attend college,” Sturz said. Hobbies When he’s not playing the role of manny, Sturz enjoys writing, illustrating and working out. “L.A. is hardcore with their workouts. In fact, Bob Harper from ‘The Biggest Loser’ is my spin instructor.” After running into Brooke Burke of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ one night at dinner, he was asked to become a blogger on Burke’s website modernmom. com. While giving the manny’s point of view, he hopes to improve his skills as a writer. “I have blogged about everything from breast milk to bullying. I have to say, I never thought I would write about these topics. But life is funny that way,” Sturz said.

Dentistry. “I’m the oldest patient. Wish they made the chairs bigger, but I love the cartoons they play in the office.” — Breanna Fields

Parenting styles “Parenting is the same wherever you may live.” He commented that the main difference between living in a bigger city is that you’re exposed to more, simply because there are more people coming from all walks of life. “Bakersfield is great in the sense that you know everyone. You don’t really see that in a big city like Los Angeles.” He also spoke of the family-oriented nature of Bakersfield, hosting events all over town: “From athletic programs to church youth programs, Bakersfield has it all.” Homesick Returning to Bakersfield to see family and friends is a major priority for Sturz, even with a busy schedule. “There is nothing like coming home to a home-cooked meal or going to one of Bakersfield’s amazing restaurants,” he said. He visits on a regular basis to get his teeth cleaned by his brother at Sturz Pediatric

Photo by Alex Horvath

Becoming a manny During his junior year at Highland High School, Shaun Sturz was approached by a family in need of a baby sitter. He was the prime person for this position since he was active and would be able to entertain the family’s young boy. And that’s how Sturz fell into the gig of being a “manny” — a term coined by his mother that has stayed with him throughout his career. Having started looking after children in high school and continuing in college, Sturz has an impressive 10 years of experience working as a manny. After a year at Bakersfield College, Sturz moved away to attend Westmont College in Montecito where he graduated with a studio art major. He then moved to Los Angeles in search of opportunities for creative growth. “I always heard about really successful people who started off as women’s shoe salesmen, so I gave it a go. I have to say, I quit after two weeks. I hate being a salesman and I really hate feet,” Sturz said.


Up Front My Mobile Life

Andrae Gonzales Compiled by Hillary Haenes

Photo by Felix Adamo

The moment you meet Andrae Gonzales, you can tell he takes pride in his community and has a positive outlook on life. The 29-year-old is the CEO of Stewards Inc. — a faith-based, nonprofit that seeks to enhance the well-being and security of individuals who cannot manage their own personal finances — and a Bakersfield City School District Board of Education trustee who works hard to give back to others, especially kids. Gonzales shared his favorite apps on his Apple iPhone 4S that help get him through the day.

Music At 3 p.m. every workday, when Stewards Inc. closes its doors to the public and I still have three hours of work ahead of me, I turn to my iPhone for inspiration. My playlist this week includes Bon Iver, Rocio Durcal and The Rolling Stones. Starbucks Mobile Card Anyone who knows me knows where to find me in the mornings: Starbucks! With the mobile card app, I can keep track of my Starbucks card balance; earn gold star points for free drinks; and pay with a quick scan of my phone. Facebook I like to share positive things that are happening around our community with my Facebook friends, especially in our schools. There are a lot of incredible people in our community doing great things. Facebook is a good tool to keep people updated on what’s happening. Brain Trainer It helps me kill time when I’m waiting in line at the supermarket or post office. Google Translate Last June, I visited Iguazu Falls and stayed at the Hostel Natura, far away from the city. The place had no hot water, no heaters (it was cold) and not much of anything else. But it did have Wi-Fi (and that’s all I really need)! One night I met a group of Catholic seminarians and nuns gathered around a campfire singing. Thanks to Google Translate, I was able to strike up a conversation with the Portuguese-speaking group and joined them in singing “Garota de Ipanema” (“Girl from Ipanema”).


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Shazam It has been the answer to my hummed prayers. Not only can I tag and identify music I like on the radio, but I can also use Shazam LyricPlay to display the words to songs. This means that anywhere I go, and at anytime, I can do karaoke. SiriusXM Radio When I’m not listening to local radio, I’m listing to SiriusXM Radio. My favorite channels are P.O.T.U.S. (channel 124) and The Catholic Channel (channel 129). Sleep Cycle Sleep Cycle uses the iPhone accelerometer to sense my movement while I sleep and tries to wake me up in my lightest sleep state — within a 30-minute period of my pre-determined wakeup time. I like the app because it allows me to keep track of how long I sleep (average total time of 81 nights: 4 hours and 46 minutes).

Siri/text messaging I told Siri I loved her once. She replied: “I bet you tell that to all your Apple products.”

Up Front

Find more community events at or submit yours via email:

Wed. 4

Wed. 4-6 Thurs. 5

Fri. 6

First Wednesday, special events and refreshments, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R St. $4 nonmembers. 323-7219.

Titanic Exhibition, featuring photographs, live music and local businesses, 11 a.m., 3:45 and 8 p.m., Edwards Cinema, 9000 Ming Ave. 6633042.

Eden’s Edge, 7 p.m., Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. Free. Reservations, 3287560.

First Friday, featuring live music, art openings, specialty shops, galleries and boutiques. Artists will set up their artwork, 5 to 9 p.m., downtown arts district. Email or 634-9598.

Thur. 12

Sat. 14

Sat. 14

Sat. 14

Sat. 14

Sat. 14

“The International Tenors,” presented by Bakersfield Community Concert Association, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $40; includes two concerts for 20112012 season. 2058522 or 589-2478.

“Fun Under the Son” Spring Car and Motorcycle Show, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Calvary Bible Church, 48 Manor St., just below the bluffs. Free. Visit or 327-5921.

2012 Concert Series, with Karla Bonoff, 8 p.m., Bright House Networks Amphitheatre, 11200 Stockdale Highway. $10. or 800-745-3000.

“Three Concert Audience Favorites,” presented by Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $34 to $50; full-time students half price. bakersfieldsymphony.

CASA of Kern County Rio Bravo Run, 10K, 5K and onemile walk; registration 7 a.m., races begin at 8 a.m., Rio Bravo Ranch, 15701 Highway 178. or 631-2272.

Jenni Rivera, 8 p.m., Rabobank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $40.85 to $98.55. or 800-7453000.

Thur. 19

Thur. 19

Fri. 20

Fri. 20

Sat. 21

Read for Life Gala honoring Ray and Joan Dezember, reception and silent auction, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., home of Dallas and Mary Grider. All proceeds benefit the Kern Adult Literacy Council. 324-3213.

Tracy Lawrence, two shows: 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $39.50 to $48.50. Does not include dinner. vallitix. com or 322-5200.

Seventh annual Driller Football Hall of Fame Banquet, with six men being inducted, dinner, silent auction, 6 p.m., Marriott Hotel, 801 Truxtun Ave. $125. 393-4027.

10th annual Spring Social & Casino Night, presented by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; 6 to 11 p.m., Golden West Casino, 1001 S. Union Ave. $30; $50 couple. 633-5495.

Ryan Sheets Memorial, Arm-Wrestling Tournament, weigh-in 9 to 11 a.m., wrestling noon, Norris Road Veterans Hall, 400 W. Norris Road. or 301-2477 or 399-1155.

Wed. 25 Sat. 28

Sat. 28

Sat. 28

Healthy Kids Day, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., YMCA of Kern County, 5880 District Blvd., in the parking lot. Visit or 837-8313.

Village Artisans Bella Mama Arts and Craft Fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Beach Park, 3400 21st St. Portion of proceeds benefit a Kern County school art program. 852-8259.

Fourth annual Celebrity Waiter’s Luncheon, presented by BARC; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, 3100 Camino Del Rio Court. $40; $800 table of eight. 834-2272 ext. 278.

Gardens of Bakersfield Tour, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. $20; tickets can be purchased at The Flower Bar, Majestic Palms or O. See-EmBloom Nursery or on the day of the event at The Flower Bar. 3255352 or 363-5001.

Bakersfield Life

April 2012






Happenings: Can’t-miss events in April


By the Numbers

Eagle Mountain Casino

Lance & Sue England Locally Owned Over 30 years Experience

Compiled by Paola Becerra

Slot machines

$7.8 million Dollar amount of biggest win


Visitors per month

6 13,000

Cars given away in 2011

Visitors who come by bus per month


Betting tables


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People who join the slot tournament each month


Amount of money Eagle Mountain Casino donated during holiday season


Buffets sold per month


Members in the Summit Club


Number of people that the entertainment center seats


Miles away from Bakersfield

Source: Renee Garcia, Eagle Mountain Casino marketing manager

Photo courtesy of Eagle Mountain Casino


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It Manners a Lot

Social media’s ‘ten commandments’ By Lisa Kimble


n this digital age, it is almost unfathomable to think that Facebook, that great social media vortex of distraction, was once just someone’s quirky idea. Ten years ago, no one had any “Pinterest” nor gave a “tweet” about spending absurd amounts of time engaging with complete strangers while pretending the friendships had any real significance. Today, Facebook, and its spawn social networking sites, are as essential to daily living as food and water, if some studies are to be believed. According to the Pew Research Center, social networking among adult Internet users has more than doubled since 2008. It has changed the way we live, interact and do business. Such sites have also cost people jobs, relationships and reputations. Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Another Pew study said, 11 percent of adult responders said they had posted something they later regretted. That’s all? I suspect that number is probably much higher. So absent social media’s Moses, and our inability to live with and without it, Bakersfield Life has assembled a tongue-in-cheek guideline of commandments to help prevent social disgrace of biblical proportion. After all, “it manners a lot.”

1. Thou shalt not post pictures of any body parts other than the face. It’s Facebook, remember, not breastbook or bootybook. If you want to remain employed or gain acceptance to that prestigious university, don’t share the photographs of last weekend’s wild party. What you post can be held against you! 2. Thou shalt not covet thy “friends” friends. No one likes a Facebook poacher. If you want to friend someone you and others have in common, include a message introducing yourself. There is no obligation to confirm a request either. 3. Thou shalt not drag your newfound ‘family’ of acquaintances into your real-life relationship drama. Remember, public domain and privacy doesn’t mix. Ever. Case in point: The now infamous Facebook-ranting, laptopshooting Jordan family of North Carolina.

Lisa Kimble

4. Thou shalt avoid being a “Debbie Downer.” No one likes a complainer. If you are a daily dose of lemons with your status updates and not one soul so much as “likes” your status, it’s time to change your tune. 5. Thou shalt not post everything you are doing. If you are having your first cup of morning coffee, guess what? So are millions of others. If you are tired and going to bed, just do it! It’s not like we’re going to jump in our cars and drive over to tuck you in! Even in Facebookland, there is such a thing as too much information. 6. Thou shalt not post everything you are thinking either. Profanity and racial slurs have no place here or anywhere else. If you can’t temper your gutter mouth, private message your “friend.” The old rule of thumb about avoiding heated discussions about politics and religion at social gatherings applies here, too. 7. Thou shalt not be vague or cryptic. You may just simply be at a loss for words when posting “thanks for everything;” your 1,372 friends may fear for your well-being. 8. Thou shalt not bombard with challenges. We all have our special projects, and the occasional request for prayer or contribution to a worthy cause is certainly no reason to un-friend someone. But week after week of asking others to repost the color of one’s undergarments or middle name spelled backwards for the sake of cancer research or just because it is second cousin week will be a surefire way to go from “friend” to “scroll on by.” 9. Thou shalt pause before posting, sending or sharing. Jostens, the national yearbook and graduation company, has launched the public service campaign “Pause Before You Post.” So ask yourself, who will be able to see the post, will anyone be embarrassed or hurt by the post, are you proud of it and how would you feel if someone posted it about you 10. Thou shalt profile prune from time to time. Just like spring cleaning, deleting unwanted friends, comments and photo tags is growing in popularity as the sites become the main communications channel for most. One study suggests two-thirds of profile owners have dropped people from their network, a number that has doubled in the last three years. Remember, it is still your wall.

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April 2012

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Two daughters bring new lessons in parenting


hen I was pregnant with my first daughter, I read a lot of books on babies, childbirth and childrearing. I attended workshops and classes. I developed an “approach,” a “philosophy” to parenting. I was entering the unknown woods of motherhood and “attachment parenting” was the torch to light my way. So I breastfed, co-slept, cloth diapered and wore my baby like a chubby, fuzzy-headed accessory. It was all very exhausting, but I was happy because I loved her, and besides, I was raising her the “right” way. I was all set and ready to attach away with my second daughter, only there was a little snag. She wasn’t that into it. She was an entirely different creature from my first daughter, and I was a different mother. I was in an unfamiliar town, and my husband was in the throes of running his new business, which is itself a form of a screaming, red-faced infant. I could no longer give myself over entirely to my baby. I had a 4-year-old who needed things, too. One particular night while my husband was somewhere in the middle of the United States, I woke up at 3 a.m. to nurse the baby for the third time, and my 4-year-old, dissatisfied with her pajamas, pitched a giant tantrum while the dog whined urgently and scratched at the door. On that night, the warm and reassuring light of dogmadriven parenting sputtered and died. Faced with the possibility of losing my mind, I decided to open it instead. So I used cloth diapers but also disposable. I nursed the baby, but gave her formula, too. I made sure the kids played with blocks and played outside, but we all enjoyed the peace and quiet of TV time. I learned how my second daughter snuffled and snorted at night, and the only way she could sleep deeply was if she was in her crib with the mattress elevated. She loved her stroller and every time I put her in the baby carrier, she barfed on me. She downed formula with gusto and on more than one occasion during her developmentally stimulating tummy time, she cooed, gurgled and promptly fell asleep. It was a great learning experience for me as these days with working, writing and managing life in general, I take a more macro-level approach. I focus on the deal-breakers: brushing teeth, ingesting vegetables,

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going to bed before everyone’s head starts to spin. The youngest running naked in the backyard? Eh. The youngest running naked across the street? Deal-breaker. The girls rummaging through my closet for dress-up clothes? Eh. The little one prancing around with my wedding rings? Deal-breaker. Are my kids any worse for wear since I threw out the book and veered off my pre-determined course? No. They just want a happy mom and a stable life. (To be fair, they also want unfettered access to candy, but that is why God invented grandparents.) When I was more dogmatic, it gave me a sense of safety. But any parenting approach that relies heavily on dogma ­— whether of the home-birth, nursing in perpetuity, Waldorf-school persuasion or the ultra-conservative, Quiverfull, homeschooling camp — labors under the assumption that children are lumps of clay in the hands of their parents. This idea is reassuring because it couples the power of pure love with the illusion of total control. As my girls grow into smart, aggravating, energetic, creative, obnoxious, compassionate creatures, I am working on accepting the fact that I am not the all-powerful shaper of their lives. My influence is more like that of the coach on the sidelines. I can call the plays and put them through their paces. I can yell from the bench and throw my clipboard against the locker room wall. But no matter how present I am, I am still not allowed on the field. Their wins and losses are their own, their triumphs and defeats belong to them. I can guide from the sidelines, but this life is their game.


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Bakersfield Life

April 2012 Bakersfield, CA

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Dining Divas

RJ’s Bar & Grill

The Dining Divas, from left: Lisa Verdugo, Molly Clark, Amanda Meszaros, Tammara Newby and Katie Price enjoy some cocktails before dinner at RJ’s Bar & Grill.

Photos by Greg Nichols

Rosedale’s neighborhood hangout RJ’s Bar & Grill Location: 9440 Hageman Road, Suite C Phone: 587-4723 Website: Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Friday; 9 to 2 a.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Heel ratings (out of five)


ost of us Divas had never been to RJ’s, and those who had, had only been for lunch. The night of our Divas outing, we showed up hungry. And it was a good thing! The food was fabulous, while the atmosphere was fun and festive. Sort of like an episode of “Cheers.” It was obvious as we talked to Russ Carter — who co-owns RJ’s along with Jason Cox (ah ... that’s how they came up with RJ’s!) — that this restaurant/bar is very much a neighborhood hangout where the owners and staff know the customers by name. And they should, because these are some loyal customers. Many eat at RJ’s several times a week, and a few even eat there multiple times a day! But enough of that; let’s talk about the food.

Appetizers and drinks Atmosphere Food


Bakersfield Life


Drinks Service

April 2012

Amanda on the sampler plat-

ter: What’s not to love about a sampler platter that includes almost everything made with homemade batter and fried to perfection? This particular sampler consisted of avocado egg rolls, boneless chicken wings in buffalo sauce, onion rings, calamari and mushrooms. The best part was the dipping sauces, which included ranch, tamarind, tartar and cashew. Molly on the French quarter martini: I started off the night with by far the best martini on the menu. The French quarter is made with Smirnoff raspberry vodka, Malibu rum, cranberry juice and pineapple juice. You can never go wrong with a drink that has Malibu rum and pineapple — at least not in my book.

Enormous entrees Tammara on the blackened chicken tortellini: An evening at RJ’s is a night out to have drinks with

Lemon pepper halibut

my girlfriends, not to eat — or so I thought. But I have to say that I really enjoyed going to RJ’s to eat. The food was pretty great. My blackened chicken tortellini included artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and blackened chicken. All of this was topped with a yummy cream sauce and parmesan cheese. A tasty piece of toasted garlic bread on the side and a delicious glass of Tobin James Made in the Shade merlot was the perfect complement. Molly on the filet mignon: I would have to say this was one of the better steaks I have had

Katie takes on RJ’s fat boy burger.

in a very long time. Our waitress Cari (who provided us with awesome service) recommended one of us should try the steak. I was glad I acted on her recommendation. It was cooked exactly how I like it — medium with just enough pink in the middle. I got to pick between three toppings for the steak: sauteed garlic, blue cheese or sauteed mushrooms. I went with all three, so I could experience them all. By far, the blue cheese sauce was the best. The steak came with rosemary potatoes and a seasoned vegetable medley. The menu states that RJ’s serves Midwestern beef aged to the perfect tenderness and is never frozen. This is a mustorder if you have a hankering for a good steak. It will not disappoint.

Katie on the RJ’s fat boy burger: All I can say is, “OMG!” This thing is huge! In fact, the two patty, three-bun creation is a whopping six inches high! I know this because Tammara just so happened to have a tape measure in her purse (I wondered why as well). This burger delight had the most tasty blackened seasoning along with provolone, pepper jack and cheddar cheese. The sauteed mushrooms and onions added just the right zip. When I asked Russ why there was no “fat girl burger” on the menu, his response was: “Because I’m a smart man.” On a side note, I appreciated the fact that the house chardonnay was Meridian because it’s my favorite midpriced wine. Lisa on the lemon pepper halibut: This was quite a hunk of halibut. Nice and thick, it had a yummy, spicy, lemon flavor and made me feel a little less guilty for indulging in all of the other dishes. Amanda on the barbecue chicken sandwich: I ordered this because Cari, our server, had me sold on the homemade barbecue sauce that was smothered on my sandwich. It was huge (hmm … are you detecting a theme here?) and consisted of chicken breast, bacon and onion rings. The side onion rings and spicy ranch sauce were the perfect combination. Although I really liked my sandwich, I had a tough time keeping my fork off Molly’s potatoes dipped in the secret blue cheese sauce and Katie’s

Sampler platter

Continued on page 34


Filet mignon

Marshmallow brownie a la mode

Continued from page 33

enormous burger. I’m not typically drawn to burgers, but that thing was incredible!

Satisfy your sweet tooth Lisa on the marshmallow brownie a la mode: All of the desserts were good, but this one was the best, and it’s the only one on the menu that is made by RJ’s chefs. It was extremely rich, gooey and yummy. It gives the famous Pizookie a definite run for its

money. All the Divas on the perfect RJ’s meal: We would begin with the avocado egg rolls, move on to the RJ’s fat boy burger for the main course, and top it all off with the homemade marshmallow brownie for dessert. As we waddled out of the door of RJ’s — feeling every bit the fat girls we were — we all vowed to return soon to share the experience with our families and friends. Whether for a romantic date or a family outing with young kids, RJ’s is definitely our kind of place.

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By Paola Becerra


Photos by Greg Nichols

ith easy recipes for strawberry-banana smoothies and tasty meals like turkey tacos, the “Recipes & Tips” cookbook compiled by a team of local teens is a must-have for households with youngsters. The Dream Builders’ Team Bank of the Sierra — a Jim Burke Education Foundation program for high school seniors whose focus is civic responsibility, life skills and leadership development — partnered with the Get Fit Club!, a community outreach program at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals to promote healthy lifestyles for children ages 8 to 14, and their parents. The goal is to educate kids on living healthy with teachings about nutrition and physical fitness. The students put together a unique cookbook complete with children’s illustrations to get families cooking not only healthy, but also affordable meals and snacks. This cookbook includes tips on shopping, planning and making healthy meals as well as activities and games for children. It’s a nice way for kids to eat well and stay active. All 30 recipes are in both English and Spanish, which helps bring some families together for a fun time in the kitchen. Most of the recipes in the book are pretty straightforward and geared toward children to make on their own, while others may need parental supervision. A few of the recipes don’t even require an 36

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Dream Builders Team Bank of the Sierra member Annie Berry, left, helps Evelyn Sandate and Melindi Rocha prepare a recipe.

oven or microwave to cook the food, so it’s easy to create a fast and healthy snack. These simple snacks such as peanut butter balls, sweet potato fries, orange soda (made with orange juice), taco popcorn and broccoli salad can keep kids from grabbing unhealthy snacks, plus parents get to spend quality time with their child. Laura Wiener, team adviser for the Dream Builders, said, “The recipes are great. We were blessed to work with incredibly talented students.” The project was started last September, Smoothie said Mikie Hay, vice 1 ripe banana president of affairs for 2 cups frozen strawJim Burke Ford. The berries teens were looking 8-ounce carton of yogurt for needs in the 3/4 cup milk community, so 2 to 3 cubes of ice they decided to Directions help families Peel the banana and work on staying cut it into chunks. Put healthy. banana chunks, strawberries, yogurt and Teddi milk into a blender. Pierce, a senior Blend until mixture is at Bakersfield smooth, and pour it into glasses. High School,

Student chefs, from left: Austin Donovan, Danny Munoz, Leah Moore, Annie Berry, Teddi Pierce, Kelsie Rhodes and Zeno Lee.

Edward Manager






explained, “We split up into different sections and found the recipes through websites, home cookbooks and family recipes.” Pierce, 18, focused on outdoors activities, easy ways to budget and plan meals for her section that consisted of healthy activities and eating habits. This cookbook is free for families in any of the wellness programs at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals. You can also buy the cookbook for $10 at the hospitals’ gift shops. The proceeds go to the hospital auxiliaries, which can help make a difference in children’s health. For more information, call the Community Wellness Program of Mercy and Memorial Hospitals’ Department of Special Needs and Community Outreach at 861-0852 or to inquire about the Get Fit Club!, call Adam Corral at 323-3032. Recipes on page 38

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Continued from page 37

Baked sweet potato fries 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about four small potatoes) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

Spicy ground turkey tacos 2 teaspoons chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon oregano 6 ounces extra-lean ground turkey 1/2 cup chopped onion 4 whole wheat, low-fat flour tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter, warmed in the microwave 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 2 cups shredded lettuce 2 medium tomatoes, diced 1/2 cup salsa

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and place it flat side down on a cutting board. Cut the potato halves into 1-inch-wide wedges. In a small bowl, combine the oil and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place the potatoes on a roasting pan and brush with the oil mixture. Lay the potatoes flesh side down on the pan, and put the pan in the oven. Cook until potatoes are soft, turning once; 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let the wedges Directions cool for a bit and serve warm. In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin and oregano. In a nonstick frying pan, add the ground turkey and onion. Cook over medium heat until the turkey is browned and onion is translucent. Drain well. Add the spices to the turkey mixture. Stir to mix evenly. To serve, place a quarter cup of the turkey mixture in each tortilla. Top each with 1 tablespoon cheese, quarter of the diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce and 2 tablespoons salsa. Fold in both sides of each tortilla up over the filling, and then roll to close. Serve immediately.

Complete details, class and performance times and registration forms available online at or call to reserve your space (661) 716-0316 or (661) 325-6100. 1927 Eye Street, Bakersfield

Student chef Danny Munoz serves up some green broccoli salad.

Hoffmann Hospice

Lorraine Dauwalder made sweet music in her Bakersfield home as a Hoffmann Hospice patient until her death on July 24, 2008.

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Mai Giffard By Hillary Haenes

Photos by Jessica Frey


ugust may only mark her second year in Bakersfield, but Mai Giffard, assistant pastry chef at the Padre Hotel, is no stranger to the

community. “I have been fortunate enough to have made a lot of connections with many people in the community, and a handful of very close friends through networking,” said Giffard. “Many of whom are supporters of art, good food and wine.” Giffard, 26, attended The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Orange County in her hometown of Santa Ana. There she studied culinary arts and management, then brought her impressive skills up north where she has really established herself. A lot of people hear about her work via word of mouth after she cooks at a dinner party, caters mixers at Metro Galleries or has made a birthday cake for loved ones. Her most exciting experience in the kitchen was when she recently had the opportunity to spend a day at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley. “I met her at the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard fundraiser, and she invited my good friend and fellow pastry chef to come work for a day. She is an amazing woman, food activist, chef, restaurateur, philanthropist and one of my biggest role models,” Giffard said, who is inspired by Waters’ philosophy on farm-to-table/ seed-to-plate food. When Giffard isn’t in the kitchen at the iconic downtown hotel or freelancing cakes and French pastries for parties, she 40

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Mai Giffard said one of her best experiences has been spending a day at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley.

Baked brie with maple and toasted pecans. My favorite piece of cooking equipment is: My All-Clad pans. They are amazing to cook in. My ideal dinner menu consists of: Sashimi or poke as an appetizer; seasonal salad; grilled fish and seasonal vegetables as an entree and seasonal fruit sorbet as dessert. I buy this in bulk: Almond flour — I love baking Parisian macaroons and I like to have this ingredient on hand at all times. A nut company I buy from makes the finest, clump-free variety. I’m addicted to: Carrot juice. Blini topped with smoked salmon and caviar.

enjoys doing makeup (she also used her creative skills as a makeup artist while in college) for weddings, special events and collaborating with photographers. She loves yoga, painting, continuing to become fluent in Spanish and French as well as practicing the guitar and piano.


I always mess up: A cookie here and there, so I can eat it. I rock at making: I make some pretty mean macaroons and croissants. Cake I am most proud of baking: One of my dearest friend’s birthday cake. A two-tiered chocolate cake with salted caramel and salted caramel buttercream filling. Decorated with a very teal buttercream, yellow and white flowers, gray bead accents and yellow inscription. It was very her, very me and very modern.
 My go-to cocktail is: An old-fashioned. My splurge at the grocery store: Fresh seafood.

I developed an interest in cooking and baking when: I was very young, watching and helping my mother cook dinner every day and baking with my older sister.

My kitchen disaster: I can’t remember honestly, because when I make a mistake, I immediately plan and execute a solution and move on. No time to dwell.

How often I cook at home: Almost every day, even after a long shift, and even if it is just a simple meal of fresh vegetables or eggs. At the very least, it’s three times a week, in which case I make big batches of healthy meals I can reheat throughout the week.

Worst kitchen injury: I cut my thumb while carelessly opening a bag and had to have five stitches. I was working two restaurant jobs and going to culinary school. We were short-staffed that day, so I bandaged my finger and put a glove on, worked a full eight-hour shift before going to urgent care, then when straight to class.

Ingredients that I love to use in my recipes are: Garlic and salt. I am a cook’s cook — these are my flavor-enhancing friends.

Ingredients I avoid/dislike: Artificial flavorings and extracts; Continued on page 42


Continued from page 41

anything with hydrogenated oils. My go-to ingredient: Savory fresh herbs and fresh spices or sweet vanilla bean. Number of cookbooks I own: A lot. But a few of my favorites are “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller, “The Perfect Finish” by Bill Yosses and “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz. If I could spend a day with a famous chef or fellow foodie, it would be: Anthony Bourdain, so that I could pick his brain and travel somewhere, eat and drink with him. Advice I would ask him: How to start up, run and maintain successful restaurants, while getting to write about food and travel for a living.

Eating My favorite local restaurant and my order: The Belvedere Room at the Padre Hotel. For an appetizer: yellowtail crudo and duck confit; entrée: shrimp pasta — made with our housemade black rigatoni — or Pacific ling cod with long beans, fresh baby corn, shitake mushroom and lemongrass consomme. (I also really love Mama Roomba, Uricchio’s, Enzo and Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar as well as all of our Basque restaurants!) My favorite cuisine/dish: Fresh, local, seasonal and sustain-

Padre Hotel assistant pastry chef Mai Giffard.

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

able. I am open to many different types of cuisine that utilize fresh, local, seasonal food. I am most partial to French, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine although, I love Peruvian, Indian, Italian, Thai, Greek, Filipino, Mexican ... the list goes on.


My favorite cooking show to watch is: I actually don’t have time to watch, but I make time to watch “No Reservations” and “Top Chef.” My most expensive meal: My honeymoon splurge dinner at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.
 Best food memory: The smell and taste of fresh breads and croissants in Paris. And my entire (respective) meals at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Chez Panisse! Worst food memory: Getting a fish bone in my throat when I was a kid. Weirdest food I like: Shrimp paste. It is an accoutrement to a Vietnamse soup called bún riêu cua — rice noodles served with tomato broth, stewed tomatoes and crab meat. Favorite fruit: Mangoes.
 Favorite ice cream bar: La Rosa strawberry ice cream bars. My favorite comfort food: Pasta of any variety. Where I find inspiration to create a new dish: I pair what’s in season or available at the market with memories of meals I have loved in the past. The local restaurant I want to eat at that I haven’t yet is: Moo Creamery — I have heard great things but haven’t made the trip out yet. Favorite dessert: Homemade vanilla bean ice cream or fruit sorbet. Cake I ask for on my birthday: I actually prefer a French-Vietnamese-style fruit tart — the shell is made of crisp puff pastry rather than traditional French pate sucree. My mom would get them from local FrenchVietnamese bakeries for me growing up.




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My favorite midnight snack: Toasted hazelnuts and dark chocolate or Popchips. The tastiest thing I’ve eaten this month: Chanterelle pizza straight out of the wood-fired oven at Chez Panisse. My favorite food discovery of 2011: The mberry (miracle fruit tablets).

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Our Town

Scots and their games Annual Scottish Games around the corner Compiled by Gabriel Ramirez



Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Ron Palmer dons 14th century period dress at the 2009 Scottish Gathering and Games.

Photo by Felix Adamo

The caber toss is one of the more popular events at the games.

Photo by Felix Adamo

f you are tired of watching the same hockey puck slide across the ice or baseball fly into the outfield, then why not try watching big men throw rocks and heavy poles? While it might sound like something you watch on a reality show, it is actually part of the Scottish heritage that is featured at the Scottish Gathering and Games, held at the Kern County Museum on April 21. Bakersfield Life talked to Gary Lockhart, chieftain for the Kern County Scottish Society, to find out more about this day of rock-and pole-tossing fun.

Supporting the Jamison Center

Kern County Scottish Society presents 17th Annual

Scottish Society has a long history in Kern The Kern County Scottish Society was founded in 1972, for the promotion of the Scottish heritage and education in Scottish history.

A colorful past The original Scots were the Picks or the Painted People who used a blue pigment to paint their bodies before going into battle much like the blue painting that was depicted in the movie “Braveheart.” In 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall built across the open countryside to separate Scotland from Roman Britain to keep the Picks out of the south. This wall stretched 73 miles from the Western to the Eastern oceans. (Just a side note, both the men and women would go into battle free of any clothing.)

9AM to 5PM Healthy Athletics Live Music Stages Food and Beverages Scottish Dancing Children’s Glen Clan Tents Geneology Expanded Vendors


Location • Wicked Tinkers • Banshee in the Kitchen • Milly’s Revenge • California Celts • WTL • Scottish Fiddlers of LA • Wrenwood in the Tea Room.



6PM to 10PM


Thousands of people from miles around We normally have between 4,000 and 5,000 people attend the Scottish Games and Gatherings from San Diego to as far north as Sacramento and as east as Nevada.

Tickets available at World Records and Online at w/ Pay Pal

Games, music, food and more Our games are known as the family games. It is a family-


Continued on page 46











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oriented event that has something for everyone. Our music is based on Scottish, Irish and Celtic backgrounds, and we try to involve upcoming local bands as much as possible. Some of the events are bagpipe competitions; Scottish country dancing; historical re-enactments; Celtic merchandise vendors; Scottish clan tents; Scottish sheep dogs; Scottish, English and American food vendors; great beer and the actual Scottish Games.

Scottish games began as a way for the Scots to stay fit after the battle of Culloden, a conflict between the house of Stuart and King George I, when the Highlanders lost the battle and Scotland became English. The English forbid the highlanders on a sentence of death from engaging in any form of warfare training, so they began throwing heavy stones and cabers to stay fit. In the Highlands, it became an annual event and eventually turned into a gathering of the clans and games that is practiced today around the world where Scots gather. The oldest organized gathering and games is the Pleasanton games outside San Francisco, which are 152 years old.

To learn more Come and watch big men throw big rocks and heavy poles and if you decide you would like to give it a try, go to and click on the SAA link.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Miguel del Gallego of Sacramento takes his turn at the stone toss during last year’s games.

Photo by Casey Christie

Staying fit in a creative way

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What’s the biggest problem facing local youth, and what can parents do to help?

Technology overexposure and unfiltered information With the proliferation of information and entertainment outlets, our children are being exposed to more stimuli than ever. Not only could these options make face-to-face family time seem boring, but also the messages expressed by these outlets may be contrary to our own values. With our oldest in kindergarten, we worry about the things she will be exposed to in the years to come. As parents, we try to focus on communicating with our children on a daily basis. Although sometimes difficult, we should put our social media, email and iPhones aside when we are with our kids to model an undistracted, intimate, face-to-face relationship.

Compiled by Allie Castro


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

40s: Norma and Sam Macias Kids must take on adult responsibilities while parents struggle to make ends meet With this economy, it takes two incomes just to maintain a household, which means that some of our youth have to take care of themselves, help around the house, help take care of their siblings and have their homework to do. The parents come home tired and don’t go over their kid’s homework with them; some parents don’t know when their children are in trouble in school until they get a call. Parents should take time to talk to their children, ask them how their day was, go over homework and ask them if they have anything bothering them.

Photo by Greg Nichols


here’s no “right” way to raise a child — everyone has a different life story and situation. These days, parents have to worry about technological advances such as social media, as well as a generation that has a strong sense of entitlement. And with today’s economy, it’s common for both parents to work, which may mean spending less time with their kids. These are some of the trending topics that are hitting our youth (and parents) hard. Through the years, parenting has changed, which is why we asked four couples of different ages to weigh in on what they consider to be a big problem facing our local youth.

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50s: Hector and Julie Bueno

Mary Christenson

Lack of alternative educational, vocational paths

S pecializing

One of the many significant problems facing local youth is the lack of educational opportunities that provide a variety of choices where individual strengths can be developed and nurtured. As parents, we believe in working with children at an early age to determine what interests they have and what motivational strengths a child possesses. Then a parent can encourage and provide guidance while finding programs and opportunities to build on those skills and provide other venues they can pursue.

Photo by Alex Horvath

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60s: Debby and Jud Collins

Photo by Casey Christie

Rising sense of entitlement leaves kids without sense of responsibility for own success There is a growing sense of entitlement perpetuated in our youth. In this economy, parents work hard to provide for their kids. However, in the attempt to make their kids’ lives easier, some parents are eliminating the opportunity for them to be responsible for their own actions and success. For example, when kids break rules at school, instead of allowing them to accept the consequences, parents make excuses for their children because they don’t want them to be in trouble. Parents should start early in teaching their kids to accept responsibility for themselves, so they are prepared for higher education and the work force.

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For a Cause

Autism Society chapter — Kern Autism Network Providing support and educating Kern on autism for 17 years

Kern Autism Network is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that works locally to improve the conditions of people with autism. Since KAN was founded 17 years ago, its goal has been to provide support and increase the level of awareness among Kern County residents. “We try to help our families be aware of what is out there in Mission statement: their own community services Autism Society chapter — wise, and if it is not out there, Kern Autism Network provides we will help by bringing it to support, awareness, informathem,” said Ramona Puget, tion and education to families, professionals and the public president of the Kern Autism throughout Kern County. We Network. work toward cooperation, The dedication toward coordination and the creation improving the lives of those of services between individuals diagnosed with autism is shared and agencies. We strive for the advocacy of research, educaby all 24 members on the board tion and inclusion for individuof community volunteers. This als challenged with autism. board consists of parents, educators, business owners, doctors, therapists and many other adults who feel that it is important for the community to be knowledgeable on the subject and aware of what can be done to assist these individuals. There are many things that parents and relatives can do to ensure that a child with autism develops into an independent adult. Seeking early intervention can lead to a relatively normal and productive life. Puget encourages parents to contact their local Autism Society Chapter for support groups, workshops, conferences and advice regarding the disorder. She stated that education and patience is the best key for “realizing that there is hope and that progress can and will be seen throughout time.” “Currently we have several acquaintances that are capable of living independent, productive lives. Each of them has their limits socially and prefers to remain private in their lives,” said Puget. 50

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Ramona Puget

Photo courtesy of Ramona Puget

By Breanna Fields

What is autism? Autism is a developmental disability that typically presents itself during the first three years of life. It is a result of a neurological disorder that affects the development of a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. The unique nature of autism is that it differs with each individual. Puget explained that Autism Spectrum Disorder ranges from low to high functioning individuals. Those with Asperger’s syndrome are considered to be the highest functioning of the group. The symptoms displayed with Asperger’s syndrome are often repetitive behavior and problems with social skills. Although autism cannot be cured, Puget makes an effort to raise the spirits of families who have children with the disorder by assuring them that there are a number of therapies that can be utilized to help a child with their symptoms. Early intervention in the school districts and behavior modification therapies in a home setting are recommended.

Tips for parents Puget assures parents that persistence and belief in a child with autism will lead to an improved way of life after diagnosis. “There is a grieving process that has to occur,” she said, “but once [parents] are able to get past that point, all will be fine.” Some of the programs available for children with autism include early start programs, private speech therapy, private occupational therapy, home-based behavioral programs, social skills programs, after school programs just for autistic children, telemedicine and music therapy. KAN hosts monthly support groups, two conferences each year and workshops periodically on different topics. There is also a 24hour call line for those in need of advice or assistance. “Autism is just a label. Being strong for their child is what will make them the best advocate. Help is out there and they are not alone,” Puget said.

How to volunteer or donate Volunteers have the opportunity to help out with events or serve on the board. Donations are accepted and go directly into community projects such as conferences and workshops. To volunteer or donate, contact Ramona Puget at 588-4235 or visit Also join their Facebook group: Kern Autism Network.

Kern Autism Network facts 1995: Year KAN was founded. 24: Board of director members. $200 billion to $400 billion: The expected annual cost of autism in 10 years. 1 out of every 91: Number of children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 10 to 17 percent: Annual growth, which makes it the fastest growing developmental disability. Sources: Ramona Puget, president of the Kern Autism Network, and KAN’s website,

Risk & Safety Management Workshop When: 9 to 11 a.m. April 14 Where: University Square, 2000 K St., Conference room 101 Cost: Free to parents. Information: Seating is limited to 100 people. Speaker officer Brian Herritt of San Diego is a parent of a son who is nonverbal and on the Autism Spectrum. Register online at



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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Photo by Tanya X. Leonzo

Dressing up for Easter


All-Star Athlete

By Stephen Lynch


Californian file photo

ot many people can say that they are a one-of-a-kind athlete. Kristi Kehoe can. The Bakersfield native is the only woman from the Central Valley to ever play NCAA Division I ice hockey. She not only played big-time hockey, she excelled at it.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The 5-foot8 forward had a brilliant four-year career at Northeastern University in which she racked up a plethora of goals, assists and awards, which led to her recent induction into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. Kehoe started playing in-line hockey as a kindergartner. A few years later, she made the jump to ice hockey. Despite having to play against boys a lot of the time, Kehoe was always a standout on the ice. She honed her innate scoring prowess by playing in the prestigious Cal Select program in Huntington Beach from age 12 until going off to college. That meant a lot of long hours in the car, driving hundreds of miles several times a week to practice and play in games. However, it paid off when her U16 team won nationals. Along the way she caught the eye of college recruiters, who saw her vast talent and potential. Kehoe lived up to all of it, becoming one of the best women’s hockey players in the country. She now passes along all of her expertise to the current generation of women’s hockey players as an assistant coach and hockey camp instructor. Californian file photo

Kristi Kehoe

Kristi Kehoe facts Born Nov. 10, 1989, in Mission Hills. Moved to Tehachapi when she was 5, and then to Bakersfield at age 10. First started playing ice hockey at 9 years old in a boy’s league. Was part of the original Junior Condors program at Centennial Garden. Competed in basketball and track and field while a student at Liberty High School. Averaged 11.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Patriots girls’ basketball team her senior season. During junior and senior year of high school also played in boys hockey league based out of Valencia and made all-star team. Went to college at Northeastern University where she scored 45 goals and had 43 assists in four seasons. Was the Huskies points leader three times (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10). Also led Northeastern in goals and assists two times each. Hockey East All-Rookie team selection in 2007-2008. That same year was voted the Northeastern team’s Rookie of the Year. Recorded first college hat trick her sophomore year against Union College. Her 135 games played at Northeastern are tied for sixth most in school history. During time with Huskies won numerous accolades including Hockey East Player of the Week and National Offensive Player of the Week. Member of the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Festival Team Red. Recently named to the Huskies’ All-Decade Team as a part of the Women’s Hockey East Association’s 10-Year Anniversary celebration Spent last summer a coach at the Canadian Hockey Enterprises’ youth camp, the USA Mid-Am District Camp and the New York State Amateur Hockey Association USA Hockey Camp Favorite leisure activities include surfing and water skiing. Currently is working as an assistant coach for the State University of New York College at Cortland women’s ice hockey team while at the same time pursuing a master’s degree in sports management at the school.

On the Road

Living the Lexus way 2013 Lexus GS 350 combines luxury with comfort and technology

The 2013 Lexus GS 350 features performance driving modes and seamless connectivity to your favorite mobile apps.

By Olivia Garcia

Photos by Mark Nessia


y neighbors are big Lexus fans, and, after test-driving the 2013 Lexus GS 350, I can see why. A Lexus already conveys an aura of luxury and class. But there’s much more to enjoying a car than what is pleasing to the eye. The 2013 Lexus GS 350 understands that by providing comfort, technology and confidence. Just sit in the car and you can imagine sitting in your favorite spot at home. Jashan Bal, a Motor City Lexus product specialist, noted that in the GS 350, the seat conforms to your drive with the aid of 18 adjustments. Yes, 18. Need more head room? Space to stretch your shoulders and extend your knees? How about lower lumbar support? This car has it all. Who can say no to sitting in comfort? At home, I have my favorite desk chair and spot on the couch to watch “The Walking Dead,” which left fans hanging with the season two finale. (Now I impatiently wait for the third season — but that’s another story.)


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The GS 350 comes with an all-new 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display.

There’s plenty of room in the GS 350.

You can’t go wrong with a 3.5-liter engine and 306 horsepower at 6,400 RPMs.

It’s all in the details: Five best features about the 2013 Lexus GS 350:

Back to the 2013 Lexus GS 350, music geeks like me will openly embrace this car based on its technology alone. Finally, a car that understands me! For example, if you sync your iPhone to the GS 350, it will, of course, load your contacts, allowing you to make calls using handsfree Bluetooth, but it takes it to another level with your iPhone’s music. Many cars are now set up to play your iPod or iPhone. That’s a great feature made greater for models like the GS 350, which will begin playing the music from where you left off, the moment you turn on your car. I had fun switching different playlists and as soon as I left the car, it turned off. But once I got back in, it remembered what I was listening to and automatically turned to that song. I didn’t have to do a thing. Bal said its Enform App Suite uses compatible smartphones to give you access to mobile apps, including one of my favorites, Pandora. I was able to sync my iPhone and listen to my Pandora playlists. Techies will totally dig the system, exploring other apps like iHeartRadio, Bing, and Facebook Places. Another cool feature is the Safety Connect, which is a 24/7-response center. This is a fantastic option that, in the case of a car accident, will deploy the air bags and send an emergency service request automatically. It will even help track a stolen vehicle. Other draw of the GS 350 is its aerodynamic shape, which improves performance while reducing cabin noise, and its bright lighting at night. For those who are much like me — you either wear glasses and/ or have a tough time seeing at night — you will be happy to know that the GS 350 illuminates farther and wider. (Imagine bright lights but not really bright.) The illumination makes it easier for me to take the wheel at night. The last but equally important items are performance and safety. The GS 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet torque and Dynamic Handling System that gives motorists a better handle and more control.

The best feature is the technology that you’ll find in the all-new GS introducing the industry’s first available 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display providing you with instant access to various systems including navigation, audio or climate controls. I have to mention the 18-way front power seats with 3-position memory. The GS takes performance to an all-new platform with four optional suspension settings for even greater steering response and reduced body lean. Last but not least is the beautiful new spindle grille design, which is merely designed to move through the air. It was sculpted to turn heads and raise your level of anticipation for what a driving experience could be. City and highway mileage and price tag: EPA estimated 19 city; 28 highway. Starting at $46,000 The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is perfect for: A second generation of luxury car owners ready to move up from BMW 3 series, A4, C Class or the Lexus IS, of course. What makes the 2013 Lexus GS 350 stand out from others: Among the many innovations you’ll find in the GS, the advanced design of the interior comfort and convenience, performance and handling, and the industry first technology is next-generation from this car forward. Lexus will never be the same. Target customer: Age 30 plus, previous luxury car owners looking for something fresh, fun, and exciting to drive and with enough room to take three friends and all the stuff for a weekend. Three words that define 2013 Lexus GS 350: Cutting-edge technology! What you like most about the 2013 Lexus GS 350: The GS is designed to be every bit as unique as its driver. The driving comfort and visibility are Lexus like while the performance of the vehicle is never compromised. Source: John Pitre, general manager and Lezley Pumphrey, marketing managers


On the Road

Monumental Mazda CX-5 Featured in ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,’ crossover SUV delivers new driving experience By Olivia Garcia

Photos by Tanya X. Leonzo


may not star in “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” but I felt a brief brush with celebrity status by test-driving the 2013 Mazda CX-5, which featured the animated character in its recent ad campaign. Although I don’t know what it’s like to drive in the Lorax world, I can tell you that the CX-5 I drove was of the same sky blue color, and this crossover SUV can go zoom-zoom and save you on gas. (Consider its miles per gallon: 26 in the city and 32 on the freeway.) In these days of high gas prices, we can all

By Olivia Garcia

Photos by Tanya X. Leonzo

The 2013 CX-250 brings Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” to a new level.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The five-seater crossover SUV is thrifty when it comes to gas. appreciate that. Mazda sales and leasing consultant Jesus “Chuy” Tafolla credits this fuel efficiency to the Skyactiv Technology engine. The fairly young but effective system consumes less fuel and produces fewer emissions than previous engines, according to Tafolla, who has been named salesman of the year at his dealership for the past two years. (Yes, he was honored with it every month.) Tafolla appreciated the recognition, although he said his greatest source of pride is his two sons, one who enjoys dancing and the other who loves writing, including poetry. Tafolla recently spent some of his money to publish his son’s work. That falls along the line of Mazda’s focus on literacy. According to the National Education Association website, Mazda North American Operations has partnered with a number of groups and pledged “up to $1 million in support of the nation’s public school libraries through a unique test drive program.” The partnered groups are Universal Studios, NEA’s Read Across America and the NEA Foundation. The way it works, for each test drive of a Mazda vehicle through April 2, the company will donate $25 toward public school libraries nationwide, up to $1 million. And we all know how much libraries can use the support.

Confident handling One thing that I enjoyed about the CX-5 was its all-wheel drive system that adjusts to adverse chances in the road or bad weather conditions. The system monitors factors such as wheel speed and other engine data to maintain a strong balance of power between the front and rear axle torque, according to promotional materials. Tafolla also praised the Skyactiv car design, which relies on “ultra-high tensile steel to make the CX-5 lighter but stronger.”

Follow me Another cool feature of the CX-5 is the Bi-Xenon Adaptive Front-Lighting System, which pretty much follows you. So as you turn the corner, the headlights will turn with you to improve visibility. The rear-view visibility camera also comes in handy as well as the blind spot monitoring system, which uses radar sensors to detect objects in blind spots and then alerts you with a warning alert, Tafolla said. Crossover SUVs are becoming more popular these days for families, couples and individuals. They’re economical, easy to navigate and trendy. It’s nice to have a car where you can fit your groceries, your kids, and their sports gear and still have some space.

The CX-5 navigation system offers voice recognition, advance lane guidance and route recommendations, thanks to TomTom’s help.

It’s all in the details: Five best features of 2013 Mazda CX-5: Gas mileage, push-start button, SUV with Skyactiv engine, its tight turning radius, and other available options, including blind spot assistance.

Target customer: Twentysomethings to those in their 30s and 40s.

Price tag and MPG: Starting at $23,000; 32 mpg for highway; 28 for city.

What makes the CX-5 stand out? It has a new body style — an aggressive look, like a shark. Added bonuses include the great gas mileage — the best for any SUV type around — and that it’s super comfortable.

Three words that define the CX-5: Comfort, style and safety.

What you like the most about the CX-5: The gas mileage on this SUV, you can’t beat it; and it’s safety-focused all the way. A recent Consumer Reports listed the CX-5 as one of the best of the best.

Source: Mazda sales and leasing consultant Jesus Tafolla


2013 MAZDA CX-5


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Hometown Hero

Nathanael Witmyer Age: 23 Assignment: Fly the RC-135. Its mission

is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. It primarily flies over foreign countries and gathers information to help those on the ground be safe, and make the most optimal decision to lower both civilian and military casualties. Stationed: Omaha, Neb. I have been in the military for: Two

years active duty service after receiving my commission through the Air Force Academy in 2010. Why I decided to join: The Air Force

Academy was a free education with a guaranteed job after graduation. Why I continue to serve: The first year

really addressed some of my personal issues with regard to pride and a little arrogance. I learned about those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so others may live. I wanted to be a part of that. I choose to serve to honor those who did not go home to their families. I choose to serve because of the sacrifices that sons, daughters, husbands, wives and many of our own hometown heroes made so that my family can be safe. What it was like going through pilot training: There were many days where I

was like, “Why am I doing this to myself again?” For a few months, I would wake up at 3:45 every morning and get ready to be in the flight room at 4:30 for a test, emergency training and prepare for two flights that day. I’d fly twice and leave at 4:30 that afternoon, go home and vent to my roommates, eat dinner, study or watch TV, then go to bed at 8 p.m. and repeat the process. The instructor pilots expect so much — to push you in every direction to

make you the best you possibly can be. The best part is the friends I have made who are incomparable. Not only have my friends become more important to me, I have to give a shout out to my mother, Chris Witmyer, and father, Jim Witmyer. This program brought me closer to them. I relied on their advice and guidance many times, which kept me going. This program changed me as a person — it forced me to focus on my flaws and how to fix them. This mainly pushed me to focus on my walk with Christ. All glory goes to him because he helped me persevere through those days. What I like most about my job: Seeing

the sun every day no matter the weather, and spending a couple of hours with amazing

people and learning about them. My best military accomplishment or memory so far is: Graduating pilot

training and being able to travel to so many different places like India, Africa, Belize, Southwest Asia and many countries in Europe. Something I’d like to accomplish this year is: Complete RC-135 training and get

some hunting in. I graduated from: Bakersfield Christian

High School. My hobbies include: Sports (soccer,

tennis, racquetball, running), grilling and reading. My favorite activities to do in Bakersfield: Floating the river, races at Bakersfield

Speedway, Bakersfield Condors, but mostly just reminiscing about old times and making new ones at our favorite places to eat. When I return to Bakersfield, the first thing I’m going to do is: Go to Dewar’s

and get a black and white. If I had to choose a different career path, I would have become: A veteri-

narian, scuba instructor or get involved in Young Life camps. After my time in the Air Force, I would like to: Retire on a vineyard and own sev-

eral horses near the ocean, so I could scuba dive and chill on the beach. — Know a Kern County resident who has or is currently serving in the military? Email us at bakersfieldlife@ with the message subject line: Hometown Hero. Please include an email, phone number and/or Facebook link to reach the nominee. Photo courtesy of Nathanael Witmyer

United States Air Force


Our story

architecture told in

Rabobank Convention Center


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

anhattan we ain’t. Let’s get that out there right now. Hotshot architects do not gravitate to singlestory farm towns like Bakersfield. They target cities where money, expectations and physical constraints conspire to produce inhabitable sculpture on a Jovian scale. Forty stories is a lot of clay from which to mold art. Bakersfield has a different set of standards, utility and economy chief among them. Those are limiting characteristics, to be sure. But this humble San Joaquin Valley city has some great buildings, new and especially old. Were it not for the earthquake that pummeled Bakersfield 60 years ago this summer, there would be considerably more. But, that said, architectural

gems are still relatively abundant here. Touring Bakersfield is like tracing the lifeline on an old woman’s worn palm. The creases, calluses and sinews of triumph and disappointment are all there, along with hope, uncertainty, stubbornness and achievement. Bakersfield’s buildings are the most visible evidence of its history — and a course for its future. Some structures are unique and powerful, suggesting stability and confidence; others are dated or misguided. One thing is certain: A city’s buildings say something about what its people aspire to become, and buildings remind them how they got there in the first place. These are some of the best of them (along with my candidate for the city’s ugliest). Continued on page 64

Photo by Felix Adamo


By Robert Price


Fox Theater

Continued from page 63

Rabobank Convention Center (1962) 1001 Truxtun Ave. If the Rabobank Convention Center resembles a huge alien mother ship, perhaps fueling up for that long commute back to the Andromeda Galaxy, there’s a good reason. Initial permits for the Saturn-ringed building, then known as Bakersfield Civic Auditorium, were issued in 1960, as the Soviets and Americans were angling to be the first to send a manned orbiter into space. (The Ruskies did so in April 1961, followed by the United States three weeks later.) Bakersfield architect Frank Ghezzi’s work, completed in October 1962, has endured long past the great space race. The rounded, turquoise-colored structure, with its flags, spires and gently sloping roof, lend a festive air to the area. The city has quite literally built on that feeling


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

with the 10,000-seat Rabobank Arena, which opened in 1998.

Fox Theater (1930) 2001 H St. The Fox earns a lot of architectural points, but its appeal is as much emotional as aesthetic. It has an embracing warmth, thanks to its smooth edges, soft curves and fond memories evoked in many who today are in a position to help restore the civic gem. The three-story Spanish Colonial Revival theater, with its six-story bell tower and 80-foot stage, opened on Christmas Day 1930. It was designed by architects S. Charles Lee of Los Angeles and Charles Biggar of Bakersfield. It underwent significant renovation in the mid-1990s and today looks as good as ever.

New China Cafe (1928) 801 18th St. George Toy was born in 1906 across the street from the site that would become his father’s cafe. As a small child growing up in downtown Bakersfield, he chased jack rabbits down 17th Street, shot quail on 18th Street and used a bucket to catch fish out of a ditch at 17th and Q streets. When he was 22, his father, Di Toy, told architect Clarence Cullimore what he wanted in a cafe, and Cullimore produced plans for the small, squarish building with the steep-pitched roof. The New China Cafe opened in 1928. Cullimore gave the building a distinctive hipped tile roof and, lining the bottom of the facade, a row of green tile with ornamental Chinese characters. The walls are Flemish bond brick laid in a criss-cross pattern of red and black, a design that Toy says survived the 1952 earthquake

Photo by Felix Adamo Photo by Felix Adamo

Photo by Felix Adamo

New China Cafe

Castle & Cooke/Occidental

generally intact. Toy operated the cafe full-time until about 1965. Paul Dennis bought it in 1971, leasing to various people, including Golden Empire Ambulance. Subsequent owners have had the good sense not to touch the exterior’s basic key elements. Today it houses the Jasmine Nyree Day Center, a private child care/preschool facility.

Castle & Cooke/Occidental building (2009) 10800 Stockdale Highway They don’t build palaces anymore, at least not in humble valley towns like Bakersfield. Or do they? They did when Castle & Cooke, the international real estate development company with a huge, longtime local presence, decided to construct a new regional headquarters at the Shops at River Walk. Continued on page 66


Continued from page 65

Steve Ruth, Brian Wolfe and Michael Tseng of Long Beach-based Perkowitz & Ruth Architects designed the copper-domed, 39,902-square-foot building, which was completed in May 2009, to be the centerpiece of west Bakersfield’s upscale River Walk corridor. Referred to simply as building “J” in the overall Shops at River Walk site plan, the design incorporates Georgian and French Rivera styles, Tseng said. Castle & Cooke’s Darlene Mohlke said the design is “neo-eclectic with a collection of various European influences.” No, I’m not exactly sure what that means either. When it was time to actually move in, however, Castle & Cooke’s brass decided the building was better suited as a lease-out, and the Occidental Petroleum subsidiary Occidental of Elk Hills Inc. moved in. No word on whether the Oxy dress code has been updated to authorize powdered wigs.

Masonic Temple (1924) 1920 18th St. You want imposing? You want grand, solemn, majestic? This is the place. The Masonic Temple, completed in June 1924, has the kind of commanding presence that few, if any, Bakersfield buildings can match. Which naturally made it the perfect setting for the wackiest television program to ever bring a production crew to Bakersfield: “Bakersfield P.D.,” the short-lived 1993 show that made few local friends for the Fox TV network. The show used the 40,000-square-foot, blockish building’s wide, ornate entry as the exterior setting for its fictional police department. But we digress. The temple, conceived in 1921 by Henry Jastro and dedicated in 1923, houses Masonic Lodge 224, which was chartered in 1873. The lodge’s previous location at Wall Street and Chester Avenue burned down in 1889, one year after it was built. The Beaux Arts-style building, drawn by architect Carl Werner of San Francisco, has four stories plus a full basement. The building has two main structures, the rear portion four stories high, the front portion three. The ornamentation includes lions’ heads, acanthus leaf patterns and a mezzanine level with windows, iron railings and round, faux balconies. If it looks like a fortress, that’s because it was built like one. And that’s only fitting. Modern Masonry, which goes

Photo by Felix Adamo

“… the perfect setting for the wackiest television program to ever bring a production crew to Bakersfield: ‘Bakersfield P.D.’”

Masonic Temple


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

back to 1717, was originally a fraternity of brick layers, stone masons and similar craftsmen. People that serious about symmetry, balance and sturdiness would figure to be meticulous about something like this. And they were. (1934) 230 E. 18th St. Forty-five years ago, long before Highway 99 moved two miles to the west, Union Avenue/Golden State Highway was a bustling business corridor. And this distinctive edifice, with its three-story spire topped with a rotating 7-Up logo, was a popular place. The 7-Up building, widely believed to have been built in 1934, was a popular vantage point for the city’s annual Christmas parade. People would beg to go inside the building and take in the view. The rotating sign, built by Bakersfield Neon, spun with an electric motor connected to a differential from a 1944 Ford. When the original part ceased to function, the whole thing ground to a permanent stop, and replacement parts couldn’t be located. Many longtime Bakersfield residents will remember touring the soft-drink bottling operation as a Cub Scout or elementary school student. The management would give each kid a seven-ounce bottle of soda and a little paper hat.

Photo by Felix Adamo

7-Up Bottling

7-Up Bottling

Kern County Land Co. (1893-94) 1712 19th St. In many ways this building, built in 1893-94, is a monument to the hard-fought, often-acrimonious battle over Kern County water rights waged throughout the 1880s by two powerful rival partnerships. Within those 104-year-old walls at 19th and H streets, men wrangled Continued on page 68


Photo by Henry A. Barrios

Old Standard Oil Co.

Continued from page 67

for land, for money, for influence, and in the process, laid the groundwork for Bakersfield’s growth and expansion. Haggin & Carr, forerunner of the Kern County Land Co., finally compromised in July 1880 with Miller & Lux, and six years later the Land Co.’s dignified headquarters for its “colonization” of the Southern San Joaquin Valley was complete. By the time the building was ready for occupancy, however, J.B. Haggin and W.B. “Billy” Carr were almost out of the picture, replaced by William Tevis and Henry Jastro. But there were still plenty of Wild West-style land wars to be waged. The Land Co. building, still in near-pristine condition — the green awnings were a much later addition — is built of “cream-colored pressed brick trimmed with gray sandstone and granite,” according to a historical plaque in front, although it seems to have aged to a nice rust-gold.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The Bakersfield Californian

Photo by Felix Adamo

Photo by Henry A. Barrios

Kern County Land Co.

The firebrick used in construction was shipped around Cape Horn from the East Coast; the Panama Canal would not open for another 20 years. The building was designed by architect Henry A. Schulze of San Francisco, whose clients saw its solid rectangular presence as an expression of “faith in the future.”

Old Standard Oil Co. (1917) 1800 19th St. Local architects praise the Old Standard Oil Co. building, also known as the Jastro Building, for its faithful adaptation of late Second Renaissance Revival architecture, but the nature of its present use says as much about the building’s timelessness as its unique, vitrified brick facade. The building houses Lightspeed Systems, a Bakersfield company that’s been riding the lead wave in the modern communications revolution for years. Talk about spanning the centuries. The main portion of the Old Standard Oil Co. build-

ing was constructed in 1917, with an addition completed in 1921, when Standard Oil’s central valley and Bakersfield offices were merged. The building, designed by Everett M. Hinsha of Whittier, survived the area’s two major 1952 earthquakes virtually unscathed and sustained major fire damage in 1990. The owner rebuilt and the structure lives on.

(1926) 1707 Eye St. Charles Biggar, perhaps Bakersfield’s first great architect, completed the Italian Renaissance Revival building for newspaper publisher Alfred Harrell in 1926. It has undergone one significant expansion and a series of smaller ones, and in 1997, The Bakersfield Californian building got a new structural companion in the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce building, completed in 1996. Biggar’s work is everywhere: the stately Bell Tower Club (previously a Baptist church), the handsome Haberfelde, Bakersfield High School’s IT building and Bakersfield City Fire Station No. 1.

Kress Building (1931) 1401 19th St. No Bakersfield renovation has been more dramatic or satisfying than that of the Kress. Designed by Edward F.

Photo by Henry A. Barrios

The Bakersfield Californian

Kress Building

Sibbert of New York and completed in 1931, the four-story Kress is a work of both simplicity and complexity, with strong, simple lines and ornate, intricate molding patterns. The design is art deco, except for the curved canopy running along the building’s east and north sides. Continued on page 70


Photo by Felix Adamo

Padre Hotel

Continued from page 69

Companies like Kress and Woolworth’s were prominent in low-end retailing throughout the U. S. in the 1920s and ’30s. Despite that market positioning (they were known as five-and-dimes, or more simply, dime stores), they made positive statements with their architecture. Bakersfield’s first Woolworth’s store is across 19th Street from the Kress. Woolworth’s, like Kress, has been renovated.

Padre Hotel (1928) 1813 H St. No building in Bakersfield, perhaps anywhere, is as closely identified with a single individual as the Padre Hotel, owned by Milton “Spartacus” Miller. The man who defied City Hall for three decades turned the Padre into a personal protest sign, an icon of individualism. He first displayed his unhappiness with City Hall in 1959 by erecting above his hotel a sign, “Alamo Tombstone,” an allusion to Texans’ suicidal defense of the famed San Antonio mission. Then he erected a mock missile, which, as legend had it, was pointed at City Hall some 300 yards away. Later still he hung vertical protest signs from the windows of the eight-story building. The 198-room hotel, which opened in 1928, is unique because of its gargoyles and Spanish Colonial Revival ornamentation. To some, the Padre may look like a box trimmed with garish gingerbread, but when the light on the building’s outer walls is just right, a subtle, textured


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

dimple-like pattern emerges. The new owners wisely added exterior lighting that highlights that unique feature. We would credit the visionary architect, but his (or her) name is lost to history; John M. Cooper Co. of Los Angeles was the builder. Miller, who was trustee and two-thirds owner of the hotel from 1946 until his death in 1999, would undoubtedly have been pleased with what the new owners have done with the place, although he might not have been happy about paying $10 for a glass of beer. The Padre’s rebirth was difficult. It was purchased in 2003 by Pacifica Enterprises LLC, whose principals hoped to turn the hotel into a condominium building. Eat. Drink.Sleep, a San Diego development team, bought the nearly empty building for $4 million in March 2008, and after a few false starts, including difficulties getting construction loans, opened the lavishly restored hotel to great acclaim in February 2010.

Old Community National Bank (1961) 529 Chester Ave. Remember the closing credits from “The Jetsons,” the Hanna-Barbera cartoon set in the 21st century? It ends with George Jetson, frantically running in place on the dog-walking-conveyor-belt-gone-amok apparatus, banging on a window and pleading for Jane to “stop this crazy thing!” The same demand should have been made when the first renderings were revealed for this architectural nightmare — which, by the way, looks a lot like the Jetsons’ place. Continued on page 73

Photo by Felix Adamo

Old Community National Bank

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Continued from page 70

Completed in October 1961 (a year before “The Jetsons’” premiere), the two-story building was originally Community National Bank’s downtown branch. Community National Bank, originally the National Bank of Buttonwillow, evolved into Community First Bank, which was purchased by ValliWide, which later merged with WestAmerica Bank, which later ... oh, never mind. The circular, salmon-pink building, which once appeared to be resting on pumpkin-colored concrete stilts, originally had a spiral pedestrian ramp that wound around the building to the second floor, but all that’s been lost to exterior renovation. The building has been a beauty supply store (ironic, no?) and a men’s clothing store over the years, among other things; now it’s multi-family housing. “Whoever did that,” Bakersfield architect David Milazzo once said, referring to the original owners and designers, “should apologize to the community.” The building has a slightly-less-ugly sister: the old Community National Bank, now a private office, at 3831 Mount Vernon Ave. Yes, we have us a trend here. Having successfully landed its spacecrafts on other unsuspecting corners in Kern County, Community National Bank planted this unusual edifice near Bakersfield College in October 1965. It is now a low- key, well-maintained office. The building, designed by David Harkness of Bakersfield (he also designed 529 Chester Ave.), has five “wing-flaps” at the front roof-line and, at the center of the roof, an odd, six-pronged projection that once housed a turret from which the bank’s sign rotated. Fortunately, the building has never gotten off the ground, even in a stiff wind.

Celebrate your Easter with brunch at the Crest Bar and Grill located inside the Bakersfield RV Resort. Featuring a “create-your- own” omelet station, fresh fruit, traditional breakfast items, a ham and beef carving station, assorted cold salads, and complimentary champagne. Brunch will be served from 9 am to 2 pm and reservations are recommended. $18.95 Adults, $8.95 Children under 10. Enjoy the Easter holiday with Bakersfield’s best kept secret, the Crest Bar and Grill. 5025 Wible Road Bakersfield, CA 93313


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At Wallʼs Hearing Aid Center, weʼre committed to our customers and dedicated to ensuring your satisfaction. Come to us and youʼll get the personal attention, superior service and advanced, customized solutions you need to keep you hearing your best. Just like all our customers have, since 1946.

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Past president Richard Beene shows his appreciation to Evelyn Johnson, who has been the Downtown Rotary Club’s secretary for 53 years. 74

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

give People who Recognizing those who quietly improve our community By Dana Martin

Photos by Jessica Frey

In every society, there are folks who fly beneath the radar to accomplish amazing feats of community service. Call them good Samaritans, but for some, helping their fellow man is a way of life. In the following profiles, you’ll find a recurring theme: service over self. The people interviewed have one exceptional common thread tying them together — humility. None of them say that what they do is extraordinary or that they can accomplish their feats alone. Not only are their actions commendable, so are their attitudes. Continued on page 76


Evelyn Johnson Continued from page 75

come and go, and she's been the constant. She’s the glue.” She doesn’t miss anything, either. Whether she was correcting Gordon Wickersham’s years of service, teasing Greg Gallion to tell the truth, or gazing fondly at Tracy Walker-Kiser to say, “See her? She can herd cats,” Johnson’s attention is never far from those in her charge. “Are you all right?” she spoke quietly to Paul Sheldon. “You’re so quiet. You have a lot on your mind.” She doesn’t miss anything, especially the pleas of those who want her to work forever. “I’d like them to pay me to stay home!” she said of her retirement plans. “I’ve thought about it. I should retire. But what else would I do? I wish I were younger. I want to do this forever.” The feeling is mutual, Miss Evelyn. May the clocks slow indefinitely.

Evelyn Johnson

As 87-year-old Evelyn Johnson settled into her seat at the past presidents meeting of the Downtown Rotary Club, the expectant faces around the long conference table looked adoringly in her direction. “I don’t want to do this,” she whispered to Ben Stinson, local business owner and the past president closest to her side. Johnson was talking about being interviewed for this article and had only agreed to it if her support system could be around her — supporters like Wickersham, Friedman, Barbich, Gallion, Beene, Brandon, Herman and Hill, to name a few. If Bakersfield had a local business A-list, they were out in force to support their tiny Evelyn. The banter around the table was easy, as those who’d been most touched by their secretary watched her fidget nervously and argue, “I’m just not that interesting!” But she is. Probably unknown to even those who consider her their “nucleus” or their “foundation,” Johnson is proficient at reading Braille, attended college at USC, has been a gold miner, and dances alone in her kitchen to ’30s and ’40s radio. “Oh, I love to dance,” she said. Evelyn Johnson has been the Downtown Rotary’s secretary for 53 years, longer than many at the table have been alive. She carries what she calls her “little black book” of names and keeps it within handy reach. The book contains statistics on the club’s past presidents, including everyone seated at the table. “How many women have a little black book with so many men in it? Legally?” Rotary Club International’s motto is “Service over Self ” with a commitment to charitable donations of time, money and energy to worthwhile organizations. Everyone agreed that successful presidential endeavors would not have been possible without Johnson’s help. “Evelyn is the beating heart of the club. She knows all the traditions and protocols and is the stabilizing backdrop,” said Harry Starkey. “She has the yearly challenge of breaking in each new starry-eyed president and adapting to that person’s ideas and style of leadership and still maintains the tradition and integrity of this 90-year-old club. She’s seen a lot of us 76

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Scott Garrison

Scott Garrison

Scott Garrison believes that if everyone did just one thing for someone else, the world would be a better place. But if someone drops the ball, he seems to have the entire court covered. Garrison, 58, is a pilot for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit program for which he uses his own Cirrus Aircraft to fly children and adults with serious medical conditions, free of charge to hospitals or appointments where they need special treatment. According to its website, Angel Flight West has a network of 1,600 pilots throughout the 14 Western states, who donate their aircraft, piloting skills and all flying costs to help families in need. He has been flying for nearly eight years and has been an Angel Flight pilot for all but the six months it took him to get

the required experience he needed to apply for the position. To him, it was never an option to use his plane only for recreation. “You have to find something practical to do to justify what you’re doing,” he said of buying the four-seat Cirrus Aircraft, the only plane built with a ballistic parachute system — for the airplane. “If you own a plane, you should make use of it. If you’ve been blessed, then you act that way.” Garrison said he has flown more than 160 flights for Angel Flight West. Most missions (selected from a pilots-only website) are quick because the organization wants its volunteer pilots to return home after each mission. He is also building a 1965 Shelby Cobra replica to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley. But he can’t build the car alone. Garrison gives most of the credit to Mike Holubeck, owner of CJ’s Automotive, an expert mechanic volunteering his time to help build the Cobra. Garrison believes these types of people are the real story. “It’s about how people come alongside you when you are willing to do something like this,” he said. “Friends offer to help you. It’s about the people who come to the aid of people who volunteer like this.” Garrison explained that when people see someone else doing something good, they want to be a part of it, too. The act of volunteering, he believes, puts you in good company. “If you hang out at the track meet, you will find people who fun fast.”

Rick Keel

Rick Keel mends fences, and you could say that he does it literally and figuratively. As owner of Fence Menders for 25 years, Keel specializes in repairing old fences, using as much of the original material as he can. And while he’s in a backyard, the 53-year-old is looking at more than your fence. Keel is eyeing your fruit trees. Five years ago, Keel noticed fruit dropping on the ground by the ton and decided to do something about it. He created a movement called Feed the Need from your Fruit Trees to stop the wasteful rotting of good fruit and use it to help feed the needy in Kern County. “We pick lemons, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and just about anything,” said Keel. “That first year, we collected about 800 pounds of fruit, and, in 2011, we hauled 18 tons to the needy in Bakersfield.” Keel admits to getting the idea but said he doesn’t do it alone. In 2011, he fell out of a 16-foot fruit tree and broke his arm and leg. Today, Keel is slowed by some lingering back problems, and finds he is relying more on community volunteers to help him carry on his dream to help feed those in need. “Let’s all pick our fruit this week and we can feed everyone in town,” he said. Besides collecting fruit, Keel also coordinates Rock Your Socks Off at Skateland each year, where entry into the rollerskating event (that includes pizza and a live musical performance) costs three pairs of new socks that Keel collects for the

Rick Keel

homeless center. Going into their fourth year, Keel’s donations seem to be doubling. In 2010, he collected 1,100 pairs of socks, and, in 2011, that number jumped to 2,300 pairs. This year, he hopes to double that number again. The best part of giving back, said Keel, are the people helping him. “It’s not just me making this happen. It may be my idea, but it’s people in the community joining with me to make these things possible.” Continued on page 78


lege, Garza spends each summer at John’s Hopkins University in Lancaster, Penn., counseling seventh-to 11th-graders at the Center for Talented Youth. Gifted students, said Garza, are just like the kids he works with at home — they have emotional and social needs. Even though they are gifted academically, they still need guidance. “We are used to taking care of the academic side of students. We don’t really touch on the social and emotional side. I’m always looking for professional development and to do the best I can at my position. Working at John’s Hopkins expands my strengths,” said Garza. At home, one of Garza’s most important projects is Lions Got Dream, a group designed to help and empower undocumented Mira Monte students (the Lions) prepare a path (and scholarships) to higher education. These undocumented students, he said, feel like they are invisible. Their voices are not heard. “They are already leaders and valedictorians and just want the opportunity to give back to their community,” he said. “Everyone is born with a desire for something. We aren’t about this life. There is so much more we can do other than in this life. We all have a destiny. To help people.”

Jose Garza Continued from page 77

Jose Garza

What is a Harvard graduate doing as a counselor at Mira Monte High School? While counseling is respectable and rewarding, most graduates of prestigious Ivy League universities enjoy the luxury of attaining jobs that offer more perks than positions offer within a high school district. For Jose Garza, the rewards are in the students he serves. Garza, 31, began his career at East High teaching English and AVID before moving to Mira Monte, where he has been working as a school counselor three years. A local product, Garza went to Foothill High School, then to Bakersfield College, after which he transferred to Berkeley, and then received his master’s degree at Harvard. Besides helping his Mira Monte students prepare for col78

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Gail Johnson

Gail Johnson

For 26 years, Gail Johnson has worked in education, the last nine of them as the Kern High School District’s foster youth liaison. What does that mean? For Johnson, it means a lot.

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Teddi Pierce

Nine years ago, Johnson left her post at Bakersfield High School for the district office, where her job working as the homeless youth liaison morphed eventually to a liaison for foster youth, a job, she said, that paralleled in many ways with her duties for the homeless. “I have over 400 foster youth in the district,” said Johnson, who said that the number in her charge has never slipped below 400 and never gone over 500. Johnson’s job is to make sure this population gets the “very best we can provide under the circumstances,” which includes trying to keep each child in the high school where he or she enrolled. “It is not uncommon for a foster youth to attend five or six high schools or more,” she said, depending on the number of foster homes in which they’ve lived. Johnson is passionate about the foster population. “I want to keep them in their school or origin — where they have some roots. I want them to stay connected. Some kids never get connected.” For many teens in foster care, turning 18 means they are on their own, so Johnson makes it her personal mission to ensure that Continued on page 80


Continued from page 79

they have a clear goal for either furthering their education or pursuing a vocational skill. “Anytime we can graduate foster youth from high school is a good thing. Anytime we can get them into vocational school or training or go to college, that’s a great thing.� Johnson prepares other teachers to recognize the signs of a foster or homeless child — the rumpled clothes, sleeping in class. In educating others, she feels that the system is improving all the time. “I like what I do. Every time I make a way for a kid to be better, I have made a difference.�

Teddi Pierce

Bakersfield High School honor student Teddi Pierce seems to have a calling to help her fellow man, and that calling is from a higher power. Pierce, 18, attends Laurel Glen Bible Church, where she teaches Sunday school to toddlers ages 2 to 4 years old. To Pierce, her work with children is rewarding, and she enjoys reading them Bible stories and teaching them songs. She became a Sunday school teacher in the eighth grade and also

serves as an instructor each summer during Vacation Bible School. Even though Pierce is the teacher, she has learned more than her 4.4 GPA would indicate. “I’ve learned how much God loves me and how to communicate his love to others,� she said. “I’ve also learned that I’ve been blessed with patience, and I can use that with children.� Pierce plans to attend college and pursue a degree in pediatric medicine. Pierce is also in the Ford Dimension program Dream Builders, a leadership program for achieving high school seniors with a focus on civic responsibility, life skills and leadership development. These students must develop a community service project, and Pierce’s group came up with an idea that seems to suit her current and future aspirations just fine. “We created the Get Fit Program and made a cookbook,� she said. The students worked with Mercy Hospital’s Community Wellness Program and met with kids over three or four nights to talk about healthy eating. (See Food and Wine story on page 36 for recipes from the cookbook.) “The most surprising thing to me was that kids don’t really know about eating healthy like I thought they would,� said Pierce. No, but give her a few years, and Dr. Pierce will be there to teach them. Patiently.

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

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Seth Champness

Seth Champness

For a 17-year-old, Garces student, Seth Champness has accumulated more community service hours than most people amass over a lifetime. First, he is an Eagle Scout, and as a requirement must develop and execute a hefty project that gives back to his community. For Champness, he looked to his church. “My Eagle Scout project was at Calvary Bible Church in the Sunday school rooms. I refinished all the cabinets,” said Champness. It was no small task. These aren’t medicine cabinets; these cabinets stretch across the 20foot length of each of the 12 classrooms and

nearly reach the ceiling. Each cabinet needed sanding, putty, staining and finishing and Champness said it took him no fewer than 100 hours. But he enjoyed the experience. “The Eagle Scout project teaches us how to plan and carry out a project while giving back to the community,” he said. Champness knows about giving back. He has logged more than 100 service hours at Garces and an additional 18 hours with children at Garden Pathways, educating kids about the arts as part of his project through Ford Dimension. But there’s more. Much more. Continued on page 82


Continued from page 81

At 16, Champness joined with Cooks from the Valley and traveled to Kosovo to help cook a steak dinner for American troops. He estimates he cooked for around 1,000 men and women in uniform. “They were so happy to see us. Especially a young kid over there was unexpected. They were very grateful,” he said. Finally, Champness loves to backpack and recently made the trek to Shasta Trinity National Forest where he and part of the Boy Scout community spent a week to repair trails that rain had washed out. The group worked 66 hours rebuilding roads that had become unsafe. With so much volunteerism, a student can’t possibly maintain his grades, right? That question might not be for Champness. He currently maintains a 4.37 GPA.

Jolene Berg

For 25 years, Jolene Berg has been teaching deaf students for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, a job she chose, she said, because she knew it would never be boring. She was right. Berg, 47, chose a career working with the hearing impaired during college and never changed her major, she said, because she loved it. She grew up in Chicago, went to Illinois State University and, in 2000, moved to Bakersfield.

Jolene Berg

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April 2012

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Gables Residential Care Homes Apart from her daily duties, Berg works with the deaf parent PTO. She works in conjunction with the schools and teachers to try to help with events to encourage parents and families to come and see what their student is doing — and communicate more. “Many of our families aren’t able to take the kids on educational activities, so I help raise funds for that,” said Berg, as well as coordinate the trips. Fundraisers help students attend field trips to places such as the California Science Center, Hearst Castle, Long Beach Aquarium, Wind Wolves Preserve in Maricopa and the adolescent rite of passage, Camp K.E.E.P. Berg also tutors deaf children through Do The Math, a televised math-tutoring program for students in Kern County. She helped them do the pilot with deaf students last year and spends one night a week making herself available via a Sorenson Videophone to help deaf students with math. Berg said one of her best moments has been when a deaf student from Central America arrived to junior high school without any knowledge of sign language. She was shy, an introvert. But left in the hands of the caring staff, Berg reports that the young girl became so competent in sign language that she blossomed, became an extrovert — and all in just two months. “When she returned to her country, her community saw the change sign had made, so they decided to provide services,” said Berg.

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Backyard adventures Compiled by Hillary Haenes


ust in time for spring break and for families making summer plans with the kids, here are 20 fun activities that are right in your backyard. If you can’t take a trip to the coast, visit these local places and sign up your kids for sports clinics or educational camps.

Sports/recreation Education Performaing arts Visual Arts

California Keyboards

CSUB Learn-to-Swim program Summer is here and the Cal State Bakersfield swim team is set to begin the 17th season of its Learn-to-Swim program. The program is designed to promote a fun learning experience for swimmers of all abilities. The program teaches skills from basic swimming essentials to competitive swimming skills, as well as personal water safety training. Sessions of eight 30-minute lessons begin May 7 and run all summer long. For more information call 654-2071 or send an email to

California Keyboards has the largest and affordable music school in the area that teaches piano, guitar, violin and winds. We have summer programs that will highlight beginning guitar for ages 7 to 12 and another camp for ages 13 and up. We also have a drum camp for those who favor drumline. Piano lessons are ongoing, but the end of the school year is a great time to start. We have 27 teachers for all instruments and styles. Located at 100 Oak St. Call us at 327-5397 or visit

Just for fun

Country Christian School’s summer school programs

Kiddie Amusement In business since 1993, we strive to offer high quality, lead-free inflatable units. Each unit is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. We are registered with the city Parks and Recreation Departments of Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Taft and other cities in Kern County. We are insured to work with churches, schools, company events, fairgrounds, colleges, etc. Our goal is to offer safe products at a reasonable price and get repeat customers and referrals! Thank you Kern County for your business. 1424 G St.; 323-4386;


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

One of our programs is a concentrated six-week, reading-only course in Simply Phonics for children kindergarten through sixth grade. This program is recommended for children struggling with reading and spelling. We also offer a three-in-one, six-week course incorporating reading, math and computer lab for first through sixth graders who need to maintain their academic progress and have a love for learning. These courses are 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, June 4 through July 13. Located at 2416 Dean Ave.; 589-4703.

Gamestor Gamestor Video Games offers an exclusive use of our party rooms to host your next birthday, youth group or sports team party! Come check out our Xbox 360 party rooms to book an Xbox party where customers have said it was the best birthday party they have ever planned, and that their kids loved it! Gamestor southwest location 8000 McNair Lane; 836-3333. Gamestor northwest location 9919 Hageman Road; 829-6767. For more information or to check out our services, visit

Starting New at Golf Starting New At Golf (SNAG) contains all of the elements of golf but in a modified form. Kids see positive results because the club heads and balls are larger than normal golf equipment. Kids will learn full shots, pitching, chipping and putting. The colors and look of SNAG creates a fun atmosphere for learning, but students also get to play the real thing! For more information call Jacque Servadio at 301-5944 or visit

Insect Lore Kid-friendly bug exploration is just minutes away from Bakersfield at Insect Lore’s Bugseum in Shafter. The bugseum is full of incredible live insect displays. See Insect Lore’s butterflies and ladybugs, and view exotic insect specimens from all around the world. Experience hands-on bug discoveries and visit the exciting bug-themed gift shop. It’s fun for all ages. Admission is free. Located at 132 S. Beech Ave. in Shafter. For details, call 746-6047, ext. 202, or visit

Boys & Girls Club of Kern County Want a great summer experience that includes sports, arts and crafts, computer lab, robotics and performing arts? Come and join the club for awesome summer fun! We have four locations open for your convenience: southwest Bakersfield (663-8733), east Bakersfield (325-3730), Lamont (845-4253) and Frazier Mountain (651-245-2678). Call us for more information and locations or visit

CSUB Soccer Camp If your child is inexperienced in soccer, they will leave the camp a soccer enthusiast, while experienced children will learn technical skills as well as group drills. The pee wee camp costs $150 and for boys and girls ages 3 to 4 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. The half-day camp is $180 for 5- to 11-year-olds from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The all-day camp is $225 for ages 7 to 14 years from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All camps run Monday through Friday, June 18 to 22 and July 9 to 13. Contact Melissa Phillips, women’s head soccer coach at 654–2407 or

Bakersfield Ice Sports Center The Bakersfield Ice Sports Center is the coolest place in town. We offer a full range of ice sports activities such as public ice-skating sessions, figure skating sessions and instruction, adult and youth hockey leagues, hockey classes for ages 2 through adults, hockey camps, birthday parties, DJ nights and broom-ball games, as well as a fullservice pro shop and snack bar. For more information, call 852-7400 or visit

Harmony Road Music School Harmony Road Music School offers music classes for all ages. Do you have a toddler or preschooler? Our music and movement classes for ages 16 months to 4 years old include singing, playing with rhythm instruments, finger games, songs with balls, scarves and hoops, rocking songs and piano keyboard activities. Group piano classes start at age 5 on up to teens. Our new six-week spring session begins April 16! Discover why we were voted “Best Music Lessons” in the 97.7 The Breeze radio station moms’ choice awards! 5381 Truxtun Ave.; 665-8228;


YMCA of Kern County We believe all kids have potential, and should have the opportunity to discover who they are, express themselves and be nurtured in all their possibility. We have several programs at the YMCA of Kern County that creates safe, authentic and positive relationships between participants and caring role models. We offer before and after-school child care, day camps, theater arts, cheer, hip-hop dance, youth sports and adult boot camp/yoga. YMCA of Kern County is located at 5880 District Blvd., Suite 13;

Color Me Mine at The Marketplace When it’s hot, a great way to stay cool is creating functional (or just-forfun) ceramic pieces where no SPF is required! Color Me Mine offers one-day and four-day multi-media workshops, kids-night-out events and mommy-andme story time and painting classes for toddlers and preschoolers, too. Or just come in and paint a memory together! No reservation required. Open daily at 9000 Ming Ave. Call 664-7366 or visit

CSUB All-Sports Camp The all-sports camp introduces children to different sports including golf, baseball, basketball and flag football. It also teaches them cooperation and teamwork. The pee wee camp costs $160 for boys and girls ages 3 to 4 and is from 8 to 10:30 a.m. The half-day morning camps is $175 for ages 5 to 13 and is 8 to 11:30 a.m. The all-day camp is $190 for 7-to 13-year-olds and is from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All camps are Monday through Friday June 11 to 15. Contact Simon Tobin, men’s soccer coach at 654-2428 or

Wonder Window


John’s Incredible Pizza

Roadrunner Aquatics

John’s Incredible Pizza Co. is 50,000 square feet of incredible food and fun! John’s features a variety of themed dining rooms to suit every occasion; fresh, all-you-care-to-enjoy pizza, pasta, soup, salad and dessert buffets. John’s Incredible Fun World is jam-packed with rides like Twister and Boogie Bump bumper cars, and more than 100 of the hottest video and ticket-dispensing games for nonstop thrills and excitement designed to please guests of all ages. Perfect for birthday parties, family outings and much more! 3709 Rosedale Highway; 859-1111;

Looking for a fun summertime activity for your kids? Roadrunner Aquatics is a competitive year-round USA swimming team dedicated to enhancing the sport of swimming in Bakersfield and the surrounding areas. Roadrunner Aquatics offers programs for all levels of swimmers, including swim lessons. Also during the summer, Roadrunner Aquatics has a summer recreational team that competes as part of the Kern County Recreational Swim League. For more information please call 654-2071, email or visit

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

For 40 years, Wonder Window has been a part of the Bakersfield community. We provide a loving, Christ-centered preschool where children are given the opportunity to develop to their full potential in a safe environment. Faith in Jesus is taught and integrated throughout the day by our dedicated staff. We believe families go where there is excitement, but they stay where there is love. There is love at Wonder Window. 8001 Panorama Drive; 871-7051. License #150407255 / 150407569.

Kern County Museum It’s a summer of discovery at the Kern County Museum with new classes added for pre-kindergarten and junior high campers. There are 10 half-day and all-day weekly camps for ages 4 to 13 that begin June 4. With camps themes like Superhero Science, Kitchen Science, Space Science, Junk Box Wars and The Science of Harry Potter vs. the Science of Star Wars, there is something for everyone! For more information call 868-8421 or visit

La Rosa Fruit Bars Spring has sprung and what better way to celebrate than with a La Rosa Fruit Bar! Everyone loves our array of flavors. Treat those you love with the freshest treat in town. Guaranteed to make you smile with delight and keep you in good health, too! Fundraising, parties or any sort of event — we do it all! Give us a call and see what 32 years has made us who we are today! Thank you Bakersfield and Kern County! 1717 Niles St.; 3236877;

Roadrunner Volleyball Camps Our Cal State Bakersfield camps for boys and girls K-12 require no experience. The Little Spikers Camp is full of volleyball fun and development for kids. Our little campers will have a blast learning teamwork, getting exercise and practicing the fundamentals of volleyball. The All Skills Camp is for new and experienced middle school and high school players to learn the skills of passing, setting, attacking, blocking, defense and serving. Come join the fun July 16 to 20 and July 30 to August 2. Please contact Aaron Shepardson at 654-2007 or aaron@



Forward “Big John” Ogelsby attempts to jump over a Riverside defender but is caught on the foot.

Rugby madness Kern County Tuskers aim for shot at national title

Follow the Kern County Tuskers on Facebook or check out their website at


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Story and photos by Brian N. Willhite


he Kern County Tuskers, Bakersfield’s hometown rugby team, is on a quest this season to go all the way to nationals and bring home the Division II championship. The Tuskers play in the Southern California Rugby Football Union. Currently standing at 5-1 after their 48-10 win against Riverside on March 3, the Tuskers are in second place behind the Old Aztecs out of San Diego, a team that has been undefeated in the regular season since 2009. They also handed the Tuskers their only loss in the first game of the season. But resiliency is a thing that these Tuskers have in bulk, and since that first loss they have defeated the next five teams that have come their way, and with only three games left in the regular season, head coach Art Gonzalez said he is confident the Tuskers have what it takes to go all the way. The team’s tough loss in the first match helped get the team going and focused on winning, said team captain Ahmed Baameur. “The season started out tough, but the boys kept their heads going and put their nose to the grind and bounced back this season. It’s exciting, too, we haven’t had a season like this for years,” Baameur said as he referred to the 2004 season where the Tuskers brought home the Division III championship.

The Tuskers A team is wearing white and the B team is in black.

But now the team is playing in a tougher division coaches have also made a strong difference. “They’ve where the competition includes teams that have previously done an absolutely fantastic job with the guys and espebeen in Division I, as well as the unbeaten Old Aztecs. cially the whole camaraderie thing.” Gonzalez said that he attributes the team’s success to The team is also proud of their Bakersfield roots, their will to win and to the tight bonds that the players and according to Gonzalez. “One of the things we take pride coaches have formed. in as a team is that our guys live in Bakersfield and play “We have 30 guys that have bought-in to what we’re for Bakersfield,” he said, adding that many teams actively doing and they play for each other, and they play for the recruit players overseas but the Tuskers are focused on patch on their chest, and they just love being together and bringing in talent from the community they play for. you can tell when you’re out here Many of the team’s players, ... they spend as much time as they like Ramirez, came from local high can together and that’s the thing school rugby programs. Gonzalez that has created this winning envisaid all members of the community ronment,” Gonzalez said proudly are welcome to come out for the of his team. team and emphasizes that it’s not a Jeremy Ramirez, another team youth-only sport. captain, said he feels the team “(Rugby) is not a sport that has has been inspired by one another, an age limit or an age ceiling to it. Head coach Art Gonzalez feeding off of their performances, Our oldest guy on the team now is 43 which has been encouraging everyone on the team to step and our youngest is 18. It’s a game that we want people to up and elevate their game. know is available to them,” Gonzalez said. He added that “Everybody works together. It’s much more team no one has ever been turned away who wants to play. based – it has to be for you to be successful,” Ramirez The Tuskers are also active in promoting rugby in said. Bakersfield by holding youth clinics open to the public The 23-year-old Ramirez, who is in his fourth season, before games for young children, teaching them the funalso credits new fitness and training workouts, which the damentals of rugby alongside the players in a non-contact team does on Mondays and Wednesdays in addition to fashion. normal practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As for their next matches, Gonzalez said, “There are Kelly Naden, a 38-year-old native from New Zealand, no easy games in our league. Every team is tough and attributes much of the team’s success to the coaching staff there’s no gimmes on our schedule. So our biggest thing is as well as the emphasis to build the team bonds. to take it one game at a time.” “This is my fourth season and I think, by far, this is my Playoffs begin in April with 32 teams and concludes most enjoyable season in the sense that there’s a lot more with the national championship game to be held in Glenstructure to the team this year,” Naden said. He added the dale, Colo. in May.

“Our oldest guy on the team now is 43 and our youngest is 18.”



The Zone New owners, new plans for indoor soccer facility

Sergio Vite, right, of the Destroyers puts a move on Brett Blakslee of FCB who tries to tap the ball from Vite's control at The Zone Indoor Soccer facility.

By Gabriel Ramirez


Photos by Felix Adamo

ired of playing soccer under the hot sun or in the drizzling rain? Then indoor soccer might be for you. The indoor version of this competitive sport has been gaining momentum around town since 2007, when it started as the Vision Zone. In February, the facility changed ownership and Jordan Merino took over The Zone Indoor Soccer, Vision In Sports Inc. “It’s by far better than any other leagues in Bakersfield,” Merino said. “This league was made for the people who love playing indoor soccer and want things done correctly.” Luis Mejia and Cesar Ayala saw the appeal of indoor soccer and have been reaping its benefits. “Indoor soccer is faster and you get more playing time,” said Mejia, who has been playing indoor soccer 90

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

for two years. “I think that indoor soccer is more interactive and you have to move faster and think faster.” Both Mejia and Ayala said they like being able to play year-round and not having to worry about the weather during summer and winter months. “It really is a great sport, and the best part is that you don’t have to worry about bad air quality or it being super hot or too cold,” Mejia said. Ayala said that he finds indoor soccer to be more competitive and a great way to improve your technique. “This sport keeps you in shape and it is fun,” Ayala said. “You get to improve your technique with the ball and become more quick about your actions on the field.” According to Merino, indoor soccer differs from outdoor soccer in the amount of players on the field and the pace at which it’s played. “In outdoor, if the ball is not in your area, a player Continued on page 92

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PERSEVERANCE Never give up

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CONFIDENCE Believe in yourself

C O O P E R AT I O N Together, everyone achieves more

GOAL SETTING Work hard to achieve your dream

LEADERSHIP Show the way by setting a proper example

8500 Harris Rd., Suite H • Bakersfield, CA 93311 • 665-8465

Teams Now Accepting Players for 2012 Season (Ages 7-14 Years) Freshmen Division:

Junior Varsity Division:

Sophomore Division:

Varsity Division:

Ages 7, 8, 9 Yrs.

Ages 10, 11, 12 Yrs.

Ages 11, 12, 13 Yrs. Ages 12, 13, 14 Yrs.

*Note: Participant placement is based on age & weight with a League cut off date of 11/15/12.

Also Offering an Instructional Youth Football & Cheer Camp held at Bakersfield College in June 2012!

(661) 837-4393 WWW.GEYF.ORG

Jordan Merino, owner of The Zone.


can watch the game for a moment; where in indoor it’s fast-paced and there is no taking a breather,” Merino said. “Anyone can join a team. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before or if you are seasoned veteran, we’ll find a team for you.” Since they opened under new ownership this year, people who have just moved to Bakersfield from Fresno, Arizona and New Orleans have joined the league. “This league was put together for the soccer lover. We are here to do things right and have people enjoy the most beautiful game in the world by providing a facility that cares about its players,” Merino said. “The Zone will provide indoor soccer year-round with no interruption due to weather or anything else. If you want to play indoor soccer, the Zone will be open.”

The Zone Indoor Soccer Address: 4301 Resnik Court, Suite. B3 Hours: Men’s league 6 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday; Women’s league 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday; Coed league 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday; Youth league (4-and-a-half to 14 years) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Cost: Team $200 to $350 for adults, depending on league. Individuals is $25 to $30 per adult, depending on league. Youth pays $60 per child or $50 per child if part of team (minimum of eight players). Contact: Call the office at 412-4977 or Jordan Merino’s cell at 852-1397, or visit

Sara Sullivan, left, and Brittany Hernandez fight for control of the ball during a co-ed game at The Zone Indoor Soccer facility.


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What will we buy from you? 92

Bakersfield Life

April 2012


What will we buy from you?

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Photo by Felix Adamo

Why I Live Here

Vicky Erickson stands in front of Dewar’s, which is what she likes most about Bakersfield.

Vicky Erickson Kern County Sheriff’s Department support technician

I keep cool during the summer by: Staying inside.

Compiled by Vicki Adame

Best place for a family outing: Family rides to the mountain.

Age: 49 Born and raised: I have lived in Bakersfield all of my life. My family is here: Mom and two of my four brothers, Joe and Michael. My husband Kirk’s family is here also. We live in the southwest. Three words that describe my neighborhood: Having lived in my neighborhood 21 years, I’d say it is boring, safe and quiet.


Two popular spots: I have two favorite local restaurants. For lunch, my favorite place is KP, Cope’s Knotty Pine Cafe. And I love, love the Crest Bar & Grill for dinner.

An easy getaway drive: When I want to get out of town, I always go to Las Vegas, Black 6 or San Francisco to watch the San Francisco Giants. What I like most about Bakersfield: Ice cream from Dewar’s

Favorite Saturday activity: Sleeping in.

Bakersfield often gets negatively ranked on lists, the positive list I think we should rank near the top on is: When someone is in need for help, the community always comes through with monetary donations.

Driller pride: My favorite community event is Thursday and Friday night football. Go Drillers!

The perfect date night in Bakersfield: Dinner at Wool Growers, a movie and ice cream.

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

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Dreaming big

League of Dreams aims to get children with disabilities on the field.

By Kelly Damian


aymond Lara doesn’t have to sit in the stands any more. Every Sunday during baseball season, he dons his Dodgers T-shirt, gets to the diamond early and sits in the dugout to wait his turn at bat. His older brother, Ramon, may help him swing, but the bat is in Raymond’s hands. With Ramon pushing his chair, 13-year-old Raymond feels the wind on his face as they round the bases. And when the crowd in the bleachers shouts and chants his name, well, there’s no mistaking who they are cheering for. Raymond plays in the League of Dreams and for the next six weeks he, along with 150 other athletes, will spend Sunday afternoons playing baseball in the league, which begun in 2005 by Tim Terrio. Watching TV one day, Terrio saw a “challenger” baseball league of children with disabilities. “As I watched it, I reflected on how much fun my children have playing in sports leagues and how much I enjoy coaching them. The next day, I asked the head of our pediatric division why we didn’t have a league like this in Bakersfield and she said ‘because no one has started it.’ Six weeks later, we held our first League of 96

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April 2012

Photo by Brian Drake

League of Dreams gives children with disabilities a chance to shine

Dreams baseball games.” Today the sports league continues to grow, and any child with a developmental or physical disability is eligible to participate. To play, they first go through tryouts, in which an occupational therapist from Terriokids evaluates the player to see which division he or she qualifies for. There are three divisions, from rookie to AAA, with rookies using the most assistance and AAA the least. If necessary, the player is then assigned an angel who provides one-on-one help during the game. Whether or not there are outs or scores depends on the division, but one thing that is a tradition across all divisions is the seventh-inning stretch when everyone belts out “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” “I’m a big fan of The League of Dreams,” said Helen Cuevas, mother of 7-year-old Jacob. “It’s been a great experience. It allows my son to play a sport. He loves it, and he loves the attention.” Jacob, who has cerebral palsy, is very bright and loves dinosaurs, but he struggles with fine motor skills. This year, when he tried out for baseball, Cuevas noticed that he was able to pick up the bat himself. “He actually connected with the ball. Just the fact that he’s able to do that on his own,



(No camp July 4 or 5)

Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to Noon

“Those who come out and volunteer, they get so much more in return.”

Photo by Henry A. Barrios

Camp Highlights: Small Class Sizes 42 Hours of Instruction Pre-Assessment Post Report from Teacher Reading Camp will focus on phonics, uency, vocabulary, and comprehension Math Camp will focus on building skills in mastering math facts and increasing mathematical reasoning

ADVENTURES IN ART SUMMER CAMP that’s a big thing.” “I’d like the community to see that our kids are just like everyone else,” said Christina Heard, whose daughter has been in the league four years. “Kelsie has learned about being a part of a team. Our daughter is nonverbal but she gets so excited when she sees someone she knows.” Parents and staff of the League agree across the board that participating in the sports programs has helped children improve their social skills, develop friendships, learn Helen Cuevas, mother of about teamwork and become League of Dreams player, Jacob stronger and more coordinated. And many parents enjoy the camaraderie in the stands just as much as they enjoy the game on the field. As Susan Lara explained it, “The sense of community is so vital. It doesn’t matter if our children have different disabilities. This is a way to bond with other parents.” Terrio has big plans for the future of the league. “My vision is that every child will have the chance to play in a sports league regardless of the disability they have. There are still way too many kids out there that have yet to put on their team jersey and be cheered on by the fans or hold their first trophy.” Thanks to a successful fundraiser gala and the sponsorship of Brent Morel, all participants were able to register for free this year and swim lessons and weight loss programs are in the works. Said Lara, “Those who come out and volunteer, they get so much more in return.” If you’d like more information about registering a player or being an angel, visit

“I’d like the community to see that our kids are just like everyone else.”

Presented by CSUB Children’s Art Institute FOR ENTERING 2ND GRADE THROUGH 6TH GRADE* June 18 through July 12 (No camp July 4 and 5)

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Summer 2012 Camp Fees $325 per camper if registered by May 11 $375 per camper after May 11 Discounts Available




Head coach Paula Dahl, center, inspires her team during a time out.

BC women’s basketball Wrapping up the season with Coach Paula Dahl By Stephen Lynch


Photos by Gregory D. Cook

he recently completed 2011-12 women’s basketball season at Bakersfield College was one of both great triumph and bitter disappointment. Led by 17-year coach Paula Dahl, the Renegades posted an impressive 18-9 overall record and won their first-ever conference title. But because of some unfortunate circumstances beyond its control, BC failed to make the playoffs. Despite the post-season slight, Dahl was named Western State Conference Coach of the Year and several of her players also were awarded post-season accolades. Dahl recently spent some time with Bakersfield Life to talk all about it. 98

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April 2012

What was the key to your team’s success this season? It was a total team effort. We had an amazing point guard in Jausecca Cockerel. We had great inside play with Madison Tarver, Gabi Morales and Brittany Smith. And we had amazing shooting in Emily Banks and Haley Huntington. How special was it be part of the first BC women’s basketball team in school history to win a league? It was absolutely amazing. It’s something, that as a coach, you work for every year. We’ve been in the playoffs and we’ve been runner-up many time. Jenny Dahl was the head coach prior to me and we worked together for years. This was the first year in a long time she hadn’t been with us, and we always used to joke that we’ll probably be in wheelchairs but we’re staying on until we win that conference title. So it was a spectacular experience with a wonderful group of kids. How disappointing was it that after all the success you had this year including winning the conference title, not to make the playoffs? That was something that was really tough. It was going from high, high, high to the recognition of we’re not in playoffs to the really low and then trying to figure out if there’s any way we can make it happen. The reason College of the Canyon got into the playoffs instead of us is because they

just confirmed with me that the changes I’ve made have me doing what I should be doing and that I’m on the right track. Several of your players were also give post-season recognition. I’ve never had a conference MVP and Jausecca Cockerel, what a unique, special young woman. She gives 100 percent in practice and on the court. She is just always going and making the team go. She is just such a calming influence to this ball club. For her to be recognized by the other coaches as MVP was so exciting. And then to be named to the second team all-state team. I’ve only had one other player — Wendy Kolim my third year I was coaching — be named to that team. That was so exciting. And then for them to recognize Gabi Morales, Brittney Smith and Madison Tarver as all-conference selections, I just felt like we were acknowledged for what we accomplished.

Bakersfield College forward Haley Huntington goes to the basket against Citrus College. picked up a forfeit from Citrus College, which had some paperwork issues. There was no change in personnel. It was clerical issues. And the recognition that (we weren’t going to be in the playoffs) was really hard to stomach. So you go from having the greatest thing happen in your professional career to not receiving the reward of playoffs. How much more special was your success this season credited to a team made up almost entirely of local players? When I’m out recruiting I say that I’m Bakersfield College and I want my team to be represented by Kern County to prove that we can win. That’s just what I’ve always been committed to. It’s a wonderful community. It’s a wonderful school and I want to do it with local kids. What was is the reason for such great success (10-0) at home this season? We had great crowds. Ryan Beckwith, our new athletic director, got our gym floor redone and the walls painted. It looked like a new gymnasium and the environment was just so exciting that the kids were just fired up. What did it mean to you to be named Coach of the Year? A few years ago I was really struggling. I was trying to figure out how to reach our current generation. And our volleyball coach Carl Ferreira recognized the struggles I was having. He had me contact a man by the name of Rolland Todd … Rolland is basically a mentor for coaches. He works with coaches all over the country. I started working with him and in that process I reinvented myself. Being named Coach of the Year

Forward Gabbi Morales battles for the ball against West Los Angeles College. You’re coming off a really good year. Do you think that can serve as a springboard for even bigger and better things next year? I sure hope so. We’re returning most of our team. My only sophomores were Jausecca Cockerel, Madison Tarver and Gabi Morales. I shouldn’t really say only. They were a huge part of what we did. But there is some great talent in town and we’re returning a really strong base of young women that worked really hard and sacrificed. The whole time I told my team, it’s a total team effort and it was. We had kids practicing hard every day making everybody else better. As we get some of the key kids in Bakersfield to stay home and play and have a wonderful experience, I believe this can be a great springboard.


It’s a Guy Thing

Matt Rotherham

39, Munsey Elementary

Kristopher Franzen

41, Cesar E. Chavez Science Magnet School

Bakersfield City School District kindergarten teachers Compiled by Hillary Haenes


Photos by Greg Nichols

How long have you been teaching?

Fitzpatrick: 28 years. Franzen: 15 years. Garcia: I’ve had the privilege of teaching 11 years (seven have been dedicated to kindergarten). Rotherham: 18 years. 100

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Tim Fitzpatrick

51, Frank West Elementary

What made you decide to become a kindergarten teacher?

Fitzpatrick: I had a wonderful high school teacher named Mr. Eugene L. Stormer. He was built like a brick wall and looked like a bulldog. Mr. Stormer taught me more about literature and writing than any other teacher I had ever met. He also had a great sense of humor and a very quick wit. I admired him greatly. Franzen: When I went to family parties growing up, I was the person who the young children would gravitate toward. I’ve

innovation in my teaching career. I appreciate the opportunity my principal, Gwen Johnson, gave me in considering me for kindergarten when one of her kindergarten teachers transferred out. This was the best transition I ever made! Kindergarten is an awesome grade to teach and I truly enjoy it to the fullest!

Pedro Garcia Jr. 37, Casa Loma Elementary

Rotherham: Three out of four of my siblings are teachers (myself included), and numerous aunts and uncles were in the same profession. I would have to say it was a calling. Every teacher has their preferred grade, and mine is definitely kindergarten. There is an energy with younger kids. The want to learn is great, and the growth throughout the year is magnificent. The kids nowadays have to learn so much in kindergarten that it has changed within the last 12 years or so. It’s not the socializing playtimes we had when we were in school.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Fitzpatrick: I love coming to work every single day, working with my students and watching them grow. I try to treat them as if they were my own children. I am rewarded the most when I realize I have earned their trust. This is shown the most when they call me Mom or Dad. Lately, I have been hearing grandpa. Franzen: Seeing the joy on my students’ faces when they are learning and having fun at the same time. Garcia: It is with great gratitude and appreciation that I say this, I have found kindergarten to provide me with intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Students are always complimenting me; they bring the best smile and say the sweetest things as well as think that I am the greatest hero and funniest person in the world. Those are the intrinsic rewards that I treasure. Also, they provide me with majestic art pictures, notes, flowers, candies, food, toys and the list goes on. Over all, the greatest reward is to see students who walk in with little skills and capabilities at the beginning of the year, and walk out with great capabilities and accomplishments in their educational journey. Rotherham: For me, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is when a struggling student connects with the concept that practice usually leads to success. The most important things in life are not given to you; you have to earn them.

always had the ability to make children laugh and talk when others could not. For example, a few years ago, I was with my wife at her cousin’s party. The cousin had a daughter who was super shy and wouldn’t talk or look at anyone. By the end of the night, I had her talking and laughing. The mother was amazed at how I was able to do that. I also make it my goal to give each student the best first experience they have with school. It is so important that children love school and if they don’t have a good first experience, it will follow them their entire time in school. Garcia: To be quite frank, I had never thought I would have been teaching kindergarten. My ambition was always to be an elementary school teacher with the intention to teach third grade through sixth grade. Never the less, due to great circumstances, a great change came into my life, which resulted in a joyful


What is the funniest comment a student has said or a favorite memory from your classroom?

Fitzpatrick: First of all, I want to make one thing very clear: 4- and 5-year-old kids do not think about or view the world in the same way as adults. A number of years ago, my class was scheduled for our yearly eye exam. This is a simple test where the student covers their eye and tells you what picture they see: a house, tree, car, etc. I explained this to the students, but as we were leaving for the test, one child broke down and began crying. I tried to calm him down, and all he did was cry, “No, no, no! It’s going to hurt.” No matter what I said, I could not reassure him. Continued on page 102


Continued from page 101

Finally, I asked him what he thought was going to hurt him. He whispered, “When they take them out.”





Bakersfield Life


April 2012

Franzen: I have a few, but I don’t think you could write them in this magazine! One time, I made Gak (combining borax, water and glue) but I made it too watery. Two of my students were playing with it and decided to put it all over themselves, and they came up behind me making moaning sounds and walking funny. I was shocked to see them covered in this stuff, and when I asked them what they were doing, they replied, “We are Gak zombies!” Garcia: I can tell you many wonderful silly, humorous and fatuous moments in the classroom, but I would like to share one of the special moments. If anything, children are very genuine, kind and, believe it or not, understanding, too. It was last year in the spring when I got an emergency call from my niece notifying me of my father’s health status. I had been waiting eagerly for that call. It was at my lunch hour when I received the message, and I did not want to hear, but it was evident that my father had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and had a bulging tumor that had to be removed ASAP. Well, I did not share anything with my students and continued teaching as normal, but the students showed some type of concern and asked what was wrong. I took a couple of minutes to deliver the message, and they all began to sadden. Some cried and all in one accord said they did

not want to see me sad. As they stood slowly and walked in slow motion, they came to me and embraced me. There was a pause, I could not believe that a group of 5-year-olds had offered me such tremendous support in a time like this. I did what anyone would do, I cried. I realized so many things, and all I know is that I am blessed to teach kindergarten. Rotherham: No matter how many times you tell a child to go to the bathroom at the appointed time, they find a reason to just stand in line and wait. They don’t go to the bathroom, and then we move on to other things. Every day we have a bathroom break before recess. It was almost summer break, and the girl had been in my class all year and knew the routine. She came up to me at recess and said, “It is hot outside, and I’m sweating like crazy!” It was a hot day and she had heard me say that phrase a lot since I sweat at the drop of a hat. I look down and she is rubbing off the little droplets on her legs. Sometimes it takes awhile to connect with what is happening when you are watching more than 60 children on the playground. I eventually caught on to her way of asking me to go to the bathroom. Think of all the accidents your children have at home, the meltdowns, the talking back and multiply that by 20 to 25, depending on the day.


What is your fondest memory of kindergarten?

Fitzpatrick: Personally, I remember I enjoyed playing with and building dinosaurs out of wet, red clay. Professionally, I really get a kick out of having a former student wanting their child to be taught by me because they remember kindergarten as being a wonderful experience. Franzen: One year I had a selective mute who would not talk in my class. I continued to praise him in all he did and encourage him throughout the year. He finally felt safe and secure enough in my room that he started to talk in front of the class, and my other students were blown away when he did! I will never forget that student and the impact he had on me as a teacher. Garcia: Art was my thing. I recall taking my time to create the most elaborate compositions. My mom always made me feel I was the greatest artist in the whole world, and she would display those colorful pictures of distorted shapes and wiggly lines in our well-known “art museum” — the kitchen refrigerator. Rotherham: My fondest memory of kindergarten was going to school with my older siblings. I always had to stay home with Mom since I was the youngest. Then being able to shop for my first backpack and lunch box — I couldn’t believe my wish had come true. I attended a Catholic school, so I didn’t have a male teacher until I was in seventh grade. It was so much more different than being taught by the nuns. There was a presence with that male teacher that made me listen more than any other time in my learning years. Even as a teacher, I learn new things everyday. The staff and school that I work at are fantastic. We work to empower these students, so that they will be successful in society.

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School superintendents Leading the educational path for our children since 1866 By Jeff Nickell and Steve Talbot, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office Photos courtesy of Kern County Museum


he history of educating our children dates to before the creation of Kern County. However, soon after Kern County was founded on April 2, 1866, the County Superintendent of Public Education was also created to oversee the education of our children. The following superintendents were chosen because they were the first to lead our county’s educational system, such as Dr. Joseph Riley, although most served tenures that made their time in office stand out. And in the case of Dr. Christine Lizardi Frazier, being the first woman to hold the office is quite remarkable. We wish we could have included them all, but this highlights the office very well. 104

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April 2012



Dr. Joseph Riley August 1866 to November 1866 • Elected as our county’s first superintendent. • He resigned to go back to his medical practice after only three months in office. (His tenure is still the shortest of any person to hold the position.)

Edward W. Doss 1866 to 1869 • Doss was a pharmacist who was appointed to succeed Riley. • Administered the first teacher examinations. • Granted the first 12 teaching certificates.

Rev. Joseph H. Cornwall 1869 to 1873 • The first true educator. Cornwall was appointed after Doss was elected to the state Legislature. • Held the first Teacher’s Institute in 1873. • Came up with the idea that school funding should be based upon average daily attendance. (His idea did not come to fruition until 1911, long after he was out of office.)

Frank S. Wallace 1880 to 1882 • First superintendent to serve under the newly formed County Board of Education. • The ex-officio (non-voting) secretary of the board. Thus, he recorded the first minutes of the board, which exist to this day in the Kern County Superintendent of Schools archives. • Visited each of the 82 schools in Kern County to assess their effectiveness. Because of this, he received $200 per year for travel expenses on top of his $1,000 salary.

Alfred Harrell 1887 to 1898

Leo B. Hart 1939 to 1946

• The youngest superintendent in the history of the county — he took the job at age 23. • He aided in organizing 31 rural schools, so all children had a chance to get an education. • Extended the school year from six to eight months, and instituted annual countywide student testing. • Kern County High School (now Bakersfield High) came into existence when it was formed in 1892.

• Led the county’s educational system during World War II. • Hart received federal funding to establish the Arvin Federal Emergency School to segregate Dust Bowl migrants. The migrant children had been denied an education in many circumstances and were even threatened by residents.

William C. Doub 1899 to 1902 • Electric lighting was installed (and worked) at the high school in 1899. • In May 1899, oil was discovered near the banks of the Kern River, leading to the oil boom, a huge jump in population and the need to educate children.

Robert L. Stockton 1903 to 1914 • He led 92 schools and 5,500 students. • While in office, Delano High School opened and students received public transportation to school in 1912.

Herbert L. Healy 1928 to 1938 • During the devastating time of the Great Depression, student enrollment grew by 30 percent, while the number of teachers only grew by 13 percent, which led to larger class sizes.

Jesse D. Stockton 1947 to 1963 • He remains the longest serving superintendent. • At the time, the office was in the old Kern County Courthouse. In 1952, the earthquakes that shook Kern County forced Stockton to move the office until the new county courthouse was built in 1956. • In addition, state law changed and the Kern County Board of Education members had to be elected. That also took place in 1956.

Harry E. Blair 1963 to 1977 • During Blair’s time in office, there was a sharp increase in special education classes from five to 56. • Cal State Bakersfield opened. • The county office relocated to Sundale Avenue where the Kern High School District currently has its offices.

Claude W. Richardson 1977 to 1986 • School revenues fell due to the passing of Proposition 13. However, Richardson was able to trim costs, as well as find ways to improve insurance and legal services.

Continued on page 106

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Continued from page 105 • He won a court battle to keep the state from imposing forced school district unification.

Kelly F. Blanton 1986 to 1999 • The county office moved to its present location at 17th and L streets in 1994. • Many things happened while Blanton was in office such as the focus on alternative education schools, museum schooling, distance learning via television, computer literacy training and connectivity, increased migrant education and improved child care.

Larry E. Reider 1999 to 2009 • Valley Oaks Charter School was created to provide home-schooled children a place to get credentialed instruction and case management. The school has 1,000 students enrolled in K-12 classes. • Instrumental in developing the Community Reading Project along with The Bakersfield Californian. • A founder of the Ready to Start program targeting kids with no preschool experience who are heading into kindergarten.

Lizardi Frazier

• Peripheral arterial disease: P.A.D • Comprehensive Vascular Lab • Leg pains, night cramps • Leg wounds • Stroke • Aneurysm • Blood Clots


Board Certified in: Vascular Medicine - Endovascular Medicine - Phlebology

• Co-chaired a teacher retention and recruitment task force that developed approaches to recruit and retain more Kern County-based teachers.

Christine Lizardi Frazier July 2009 to present • The first woman to be appointed and then elected to the position of superintendent. • She has used her fiscal experience to guide Kern County’s 47 school districts through what many consider to be among the most challenging budget periods for education. • Developed the u-PLAN-it college and career website for middle and high school students. • Created the Champions of Education campaign to share the positive impact that public education has had on Kern County residents.

Thanks to Edmund Ross Harrington, Jerry Kirkland, Mary Ann Helton, Steve Sanders and many others who have been the guardians and researchers of the history of Kern County Superintendent of Schools throughout the years.

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

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Nicole Saint-John Bakersfield is where this artist’s heart is By Lisa Kimble


Photo by Felix Adamo

ocal artist and advocate Nicole Saint-John has spent nearly her entire life in Germany. The winding road to Bakersfield has taken her through some of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, such as London, New York and Los Angeles, where she has exhibited her work, before bringing her to California’s Central Valley. Yet it is here that this self-described “city girl” from Hamburg feels at home unlike any place before. “In Germany, homeownership was not common, and I always wanted to have my own home,” said Saint-John, exhibition curator and director of the Young Audiences and Visual Arts programs through the Arts Council of Kern. “My whole life we lived in apartments and I wanted a nice house.” She finally found it, and a new life in full bloom when she moved here about five years ago. “I like California, but (I found that) the coastal views were unaffordable,” she said. The move to Bakersfield has afforded her a community of friends and supporters who embrace her artistry and vision for arts education. Working for the Arts Council of Kern, Saint-John believes she’s finally found a way to nurture her own artistic talents while mentoring the creative youth in the community. The 53-year-old does not come from a family of artists but recalls the thrill of learning to please people with her creations on canvas.


Bakersfield Life

April 2012

A gift since childhood “From an early age on, I can remember sitting on the kitchen table and I was fascinated with collaging,” she said. She studied art history and her artistic flair helped land brief stints working in the film and music industries. There is an ethereal quality to Saint-John’s demeanor.

Her own work has an air of whimsy. She’s worked with acrylics, pastels and oils, and recently discovered the cartoonish possibilities of markers. Despite the geographic divergence of this region, Saint-John prefers capturing the personalities and peculiarities of people, rather than places, onto canvas. When she moved to Bakersfield, she gave herself a window of two years to devote herself full time to art. But in the long run, she discovered that being a full-time artist wasn’t nearly as gratifying as she thought it would be. “It is a lonely art being a visual artist. It was great, but it was not something I wanted to do the rest of my life. Just being an artist is satisfying.”

Reaching youth Saint-John spent two years as curator at the Bakersfield Museum of Art before joining the Arts Council of Kern. “I wanted to do something to change somebody else’s life. I can’t do that just by putting paintings out there. I wanted to explore other ways.” Through her work with young audiences and the disabled, she believes she has found a way to reach people on a deeper level. “In this position, there is such a diversity of groups of people I can reach. I’ve worked with the developmentally disabled and it is so satisfying. I learn so much and they teach me more than I teach them.” For Saint-John, an only child with no children of her own, her work with the Arts Council also affords her the opportunity to serve as a guardian angel of sorts to aspiring talent and a champion for art-supported learning. These days, she is also busy preparing for the April show titled “Inspired by Music,” featuring renowned local artists like Art Sherwyn, David Gordon and Barbara Reid and their interpretations of the songs that move them. As for what moves her, it is here in Bakersfield where she sees infinite possibilities for artistic expression, a continent away from her native Germany. That is the home where Saint-John’s heart is.


Going Green

Earth Day events Compiled by Jenny Bachman


arth Day is intended to inspire awareness and a love for the environment. Celebrated on April 22 by 1 billion people and in more than 190 countries, Earth Day is noteworthy as the largest civic observance worldwide. This year, the Bakersfield community has several Earth Day events planned to raise awareness and make our local environment a healthier and greener place to live.

Garden Fest 2012 Each spring when the air is warm and the flowers are in bloom, folks are struck with the urge to get outside. And what better way to spend time outdoors than planting a garden. Now in its eighth year, Bakersfield College is hosting Garden Fest, an open house featuring the Environmental Horticulture and Agriculture program that attracts thousands of visitors to the BC campus for a day of fun. This year, Garden Fest will be presenting a new attraction called “The Country Garden Experience,” which is an interactive gardening exhibit displaying multiple gardening vignettes sponsored by local landscape and nursery businesses. When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 21 Where: Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Drive Information:

Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Join thousands of community volunteers and take part in Bakersfield’s 11th annual Great American Cleanup. Bakersfield residents can do their part at Yokuts Park by planting trees, picking up litter and painting over graffiti. After the tree planting, volunteers are 110

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invited to a free barbecue at Yokuts Park during the third annual Greater Bakersfield Green Expo. Another treeplanting project in conjunction with the cleanup at Yokuts Park focuses on the walkways and medians along Hageman Road, requiring at least 50 volunteers. For those interested in volunteering, bring your signed waiver, a water bottle, sunscreen, hat, garden gloves and sunglasses. When: 8 a.m. Yokuts Park/Tree planting on Hageman Road 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (check-in at 8:30 a.m.) April 14 Where: Yokuts Park, Empire Drive just North of Truxtun extension and the corner of Hageman Road and Calloway Drive. Information: Sign up at or visit

Fight For Air 5K Walk The Fight for Air Walk is a three-mile walk around beautiful parks in California. This event takes place at Yokuts Park and attracts people of all ages. Fight For Air gives participants the power to improve the air we breathe. Those interested in participating can do so as an individual or create a team of friends, family members and co-workers. Through fundraising, the walk helps those battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other serious lung diseases with the hopes of one day finding a cure for lung cancer. Those who choose to participate can be assured that they are doing their part to protect loved ones from the harmful affects of air pollution and secondhand smoke. When: Registration begins at 10 a.m. April 21 Where: Yokuts Park Information: Contact our local American Lung Association at 847-4700, or to learn more visit

Celebrate CSUB Cal State Bakersfield’s annual open house event, Celebrate CSUB is taking place April 28. To coincide with Earth Day, there will be earth-friendly groups who will share their creations and tips for helping preserve our planet. Kids for Solar Energy from Sierra Middle School will be baking cookies with solar ovens that they created. Participate in the fun run, check out the different food and craft booths as well as activities for kids! When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 28 Where: CSUB campus, 9001 Stockdale Highway Information: Call 654-2175 or visit

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Real People

Dagny’s barista Andrew Winton wants his customers to leave happy.

Barista Aiming to please, 33-year-old Andrew Winton finds joy in role as barista By Michael Wafford

Photos by Annie Stockman


e leaves a creamy leaf in your latte, hands you a warm cup with a smile and is always willing to offer advice on which caffeine concoction to try. He is Andrew Winton, a barista at Dagny’s Coffee Co. in the heart of Bakersfield’s downtown. Winton, 33, can be seen operating the machinery behind the counter at Dagny’s most nights, in between serving steaming cups to smiling regulars and striking conversations with the sometimes perplexed new customers. No matter what he is doing, Winton loves his role as a barista. He’s been there since July 2006. I’ve loved coffee since I was about 9 years old, maybe 10. My parents and I went to Santa Barbara for a weekend and I remember my dad letting me try a mocha. I fell in love with it. It was around me a lot when I was young. I remember waking up and smelling it. It always reminded me of my parents. It started out as 112

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curiosity and when I tried it, I didn’t care for it. But over time, as I discovered not all coffee was like instant coffee, I became very intrigued by it. I didn’t realize that there is so much with the coffee world. It's almost like wine. I like how over the past decade people have become way more coffee savvy. I remember growing up around here there was nothing like this. I like making people happy. I know it sounds cheesy, but it

really feels good when I make a drink for someone and they come back and tell me how much they enjoyed it. It’s very rewarding. It really makes the job. It’s the cherry on top for my day. I know if people choose to come here, I don’t want to disappoint them. I mean, they have options as far as where they can, so if they choose to come here you want to make sure they leave happy. They deserve it.

The level of sophistication in the world of coffee has become like that of wine.

There are so many characters who hang around here at Dagny’s. I get surprised with something almost daily. We’ve had a lot of good musical acts perform here. I think there was a group called the Skip Keller Trio and their drummer is a guy named DJ Bonebreak who plays in a band called X. I play drums, and he’s one of my favorite drummers. I didn't know he was going to

play in that group, and he just walked to the door, and I said, “Oh my God, that’s DJ Bonebreak!” He was really cool, too. He's a maniac and drinks a lot of coffee. We talked about a lot of music and stuff like that. I do have a second job. I work for an attorney. I do that from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. So during the week, I’m very busy. I cherish my weekend. I love Thai food, so usually my girlfriend and I go to Singha Thai. We also like to go to L.A. I collect records, so I like to go digging around for records at some of the stores in L.A. I’ve got quite a few prized vinyls. One of them was from a Bakersfield group, a band called Terrorist. There were only around 100 albums pressed, and almost all of them got thrown away, but I ended up getting one.

Why I selected Dr. Helliwell. Shannon B. “Actual Patient” - Breast Augmentation “I selected Dr. Helliwell because I had family and friends who highly recommended him. They were extremely happy with the results and with their entire experience – plus they look fantastic!

“From the first consultation with Dr. Helliwell and throughout the entire process, the Advanced Women’s team was amazing. I did my research and was pleased to find that AWHC is a fully accredited surgical facility and that Dr. Helliwell is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

“I felt that Dr. Helliwell took a more modern approach to my procedure. Other doctors wanted to put me out during the surgery but Dr. Helliwell addressed the health risks associated with that approach. I elected to use local anesthesia and was very comfortable through the entire procedure, without any pain. If I had to do it all over again – I would definitely go back to Dr. Helliwell and would recommend him to anyone!”

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Smart Health

Four healthy items to consider this month 1. The Gravity machine The Gravity machine is a perfectly versatile piece of workout equipment using your body weight as resistance. It provides hundreds of different exercises for all body types and levels of fitness. It can also provide a high cardio blast through plyometric movement, as well as a whole array of beautiful yoga and pilates poses. If increasing muscle mass is your goal, gravity will give you fast results in no time! (Ouch!)

2. Get out and move Sally Baker, left, and Katie Kirschenmann work out on the Gravity machines at Total Woman.

By Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann Photos by Tanya X. Leonzo Editor’s note: Friends and fitness stars Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann have joined together to produce a monthly column on how to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. In this debut column, they share some of their favorite healthy things to do in town.

Swiss ch ard

with ga rlic, lem on


feta Swiss ch ard (5 - 8 stems) • Toss in small am Salt (1/8 ount of coarse tsp.) salt (abo Garlic clo ut 1/ 8 tsp). Let ves (3) about 3 m wilt down Olive oil inutes. (1 tbsp) • Stir a litt Lemon (h le, then to alf a lem ss 3 garlic c on) Feta che loves, fin in ese (4 oz ely chopped .) . • Rinse le • Drizzle aves and a li ttle olive cut stems fro oil on top (a m leaves pprox 1 tb . Toss stem s p.) • T urn off h s in hot p eat. Allow an. • Chop le to s it in warm pa aves acro n until ss in bite-size ready to pieces. T to eat (no li hrow d). in pan to • When rea ste dy to eat, wilt. (Lea am and squeeze ves will s lem till have mo blood ora on or istu nge over the rinsin re from top. • Sprinkle g.) liberally w ith feta. Enjo y! 114

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April 2012

If you would like to join a friendly group to walk or jog the Panorama Bluffs on a Saturday morning, head over to meet the merry band you see accumulating at the west end of the Panorama walking trail at 7 a.m. each Saturday. You cannot miss the leader of the pack, Paul Anderson, who will guide you through an excellent and vigorous workout up and down the bluffs, on various trails, one of which is aptly named “Killa Hilla!” For further information about the many camps and groups available, visit Anderson’s website at

Swiss chard

3. Eating fresh and local Swiss chard grows beautifully in Kern County and is a super nutrient-rich food including vitamins A, C, E, K and iron. It can be harvested from September all the way through the winter until our hot temperatures arrive in March or April. Different colors can be grown, such as white, red or orangey leaves. It is easy to cook and delicious.

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As an active business owner and Marathon enthusiast, it’s important to keep my body in good shape. Total Woman offers a limitless variety of class & training options that do just that–but I also find I’m drawn to Total Woman for the extreme social connection I find there. Working-out with friends, coupled with laughter therapy is what I call a well-rounded training experience!


Take a walk around your neighborhood or drive by local orchards, and you cannot miss the spectacular blooms around Kern County this month. From almond or cherry blossoms, to tulip and quince trees, you will be stunned by the beauty and perfume from all the magnificent blooms, along with that tinge of bright new green as the leaves push forth. This splendor is short-lived, so enjoy it while you can. Cut the tall branches for a spectacular arrangement, or snip small stems for a simple display.

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Sally and Katie

Sally and Katie Sally Baker is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Sally has 25 years of experience in fitness. The wife and mother specializes in: • Running — more than 25 marathons, ultras, 10Ks, 5Ks • Cycling — competed at state and national level • Yoga — teaches in corporate and gym setting • Les Mills Program instructor, Bodyflow and RPM certified • Certified in Liz Franklin’s Yoga in Chairs, (emphasis in MS) • Individual and group marathon training • Manager of pool program at Total Woman • NASM-certified in Senior Fitness • Experienced working with clients with physical limitations • Teaches yoga for Mercy and Memorial Hospitals Wellness Program • Teaches Weigh Down class in pool - cardio, strengthen, stretch • Teaches group and individual Gravity • CPR- and AED-certified with American Red Cross Katie Kirschenmann is mother and wife. She is married to the love of her life, Brian Kirschenmann, and together, they have a very active 3-year-old son, Chase. Her first priority is the health and well-being of her little family. When she is not running after Chase, she is running with Sally Baker. Thanks to Sally, Katie has fallen back in love with running. “Running has made me fitter, happier and a fitness role model for my child and husband. My favorite thing is to hear Chase shout at me from his jogging stroller to run ‘faster, Mommy, faster!’â€? For Katie, health and well-being also involve giving back to the community. As the president-elect of the Junior League of Bakersfield, her volunteer work is an integral of Katie’s spiritual fitness.


Photo by Felix Adamo

Talk of the Town

Dr. Emmanuel Mourtzanos is the new dean of instruction at Bakersfield College.

Dr. Emmanuel Mourtzanos Familiar face in local higher education is back as BC’s Dean of Instruction Compiled by Allie Castro


e isn’t quite a newcomer to the area. During his 15plus years in academic administration, Dr. Emmanuel Mourtzanos served as Cal State Bakersfield’s dean of students before becoming dean of academics and art at Bakersfield Christian High School. He moved to fill the position as director of education at the University of Washington’s school of medicine, but just last summer, he returned with his wife and their two boys, for his new role as Bakersfield College’s dean of instruction. Mourtzanos (or Manny, as he calls himself) found time in his busy schedule to answer questions about his new job and the warm welcome back to this familiar city. 116

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Why the Renegades were worth the move I really enjoy working with college students and faculty. BC has a very vibrant campus community filled with friendly people. I feel quite welcomed here.

Adjusting to a new school I’ve worked at a few public institutions, as well as several private schools. Each school has its own unique culture. An important objective for any new member of a community is to know and understand the culture in which they live. BC has a larger student body than many of the private schools I have served in the past. It’ll take extra time to learn names and faces of students around campus.

From high school kids to college students There are many differences between high school and college students. I wouldn’t say that one group is easier than the other; they’re just at different stages in their academic pursuits. As a result, each group has unique interests and motivations. The key is to understand how we can partner with students in their educational endeavors.

A day on the job As dean of instruction, my primary responsibilities are to provide administrative leadership and support for four academic depart-

ments (English, ESL, foreign languages and academic development). I also provide leadership for BC’s Basic Skills Initiative grant, which is targeted toward improving the development of skills for academic success among our students.

My goal as dean As dean of instruction, I want to support the faculty and academic leadership to continually improve the level of academic quality offered to BC students. I also have the propensity to explore new solutions that improve operational efficiency and maximize collaboration within institutions.

Where to find me on campus when I’m not at my desk My family and I enjoy being involved in campus activities. It’s not uncommon to see us at sporting events, theater productions and student events.

Where to find me when I’m not on campus I used to play ice hockey but quit when the competition seemed to be getting younger and younger. I still enjoy hockey as my favorite sport, though. My sons and I will frequently play street hockey. I also enjoy being involved in my children’s community activities (Boy Scouts, sports, etc.). You will likely find me spending time with my family, usually playing sports, riding bikes or just hanging out. We really enjoy our family time together. Our favorite spots around town vary: playing sports, bike riding, fishing at the Park at RiverWalk or dining out together at various restaurants.


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Trip Planner

Millpond Music Festival Never too early to plan for a fall trip

A lone guitar player practices in front of the pond at the Millpond Music Festival.

By Lois Henry


Photos courtesy of Inyo Arts Council

know it’s not even summer yet, so planning a fall trip may seem a little excessive in the “plan early” department, but I want to put a bug in your ear about a very cool, low-key music festival. The Millpond Music Festival will be Sept. 21 to 23 this year at, well the Millpond campground (where else?) just north of Bishop. This is one of those “best-kept secrets” kind of events. The reason I’m telling you about it so early is because tickets go on sale starting April 2. And while the music festival tickets can still be had fairly close to the event, you’re going to want to get your camping spot early. Both can be obtained through the Inyo Arts Council website: Look on the left-hand side of the site and you’ll see the link to the Millpond Music Festival. What’s really fun about this festival is it gives music lovers a little bit of everything. “The range of music is remarkably varied,” said regular attendee Josh Gordon. At last year’s festival, he said, the music ran from marimba bands to the Cal State Northridge orchestra to a barn-burning performance by Los Lobos. “There’s really a bit of everything.” 118

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An American Indian dancer performs at the Millpond Music Festival. The list of acts for this year’s festival weren’t out yet, but an Inyo Arts Council rep did give me a few of the confirmed acts, including Tom Russell, Samantha Robichaud, Ronney Cox, String Theory and Jo Henley. Sounds like a good start. But Gordon told me it’s not just the music on stage that makes this festival so much fun. Music is everywhere.

How much does it cost? Millpond music festival and camping tickets go on sale April 2 at the Inyo Council of Arts website: Full weekend purchased before July 2, $75; from July 3 to Aug. 31, $85; at the gate, $90; students (ages 5 to 18), $25; seniors (65 and up), $70. Friday night only, $25 Saturday only, $35 Sunday only, $35 Student one day, $15. Camping for the whole festival is $35 to $60 depending on location and whether you’re using a tent or RV.

Festival attendees listen to music at the Millpond campground north of Bishop with the eastern Sierras serving as a backdrop. “The best thing about it are the jams,” said Gordon, himself an avid ukulele player. “You can go from campsite to campsite.” And everyone from very serious players to “amateurs who just started last week” are welcome.

There are also workshops put on by performers, which is great, Gordon said. Except sometimes it can be hard to choose — the concert, workshop or a great jam session. If you’re into music, but not that into music, never fear. Millpond is located at

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the base of the Eastern Sierras so hiking, horseback riding, fishing and more are just steps away. “But it’s still really close and convenient to Bishop, so it’s not like you’re stuck out in Continued on page 120

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the wilderness,” Gordon said. “For instance, if you really want one of those incredible sandwiches from Schat’s, you can get there in minutes.” There are food vendors on the campgrounds as well, Gordon said. There’s also a big pond, equestrian center and acres of rolling grass covered hills. It’s very family-friendly and lot of kid activities too, Gordon said. Speaking of wilderness, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of sleeping in a tent for a whole weekend, but, as luck would have it, there’s a trailer rental company in Mammoth (Adventures in Camping) that will set up a trailer for you at Millpond and haul it back. All you have to do is show up. How great is that? There’s a two-night minimum and prices vary depending on how luxurious you want to go. Gordon summed up the festival by saying, “It’s not slick, just very well done.” Definitely something to put on the calendar.

Fall colors near Bishop

For other Millpond activities check these sites Hiking: Horseback riding: Millpond Equestrian Center 760-873-6037 Cycling: Fishing: ATV and Kayak rental:


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April 2012

Get Out of Town

San Diego


Take a side path and discover new fun spots


La Jolla


By Kelly Damian




very year San Diego plays the gracious host to millions of tourists. With the perpetual sunshine, sparkling water and big city amenities, it is no wonder the world loves this place. The only problem being that sometimes it feels as if those millions of tourists are blocking your view, taking your parking spot and ahead of you on the list for dinner. While the suggestions here are not completely off the beaten path, think of them as a side path, an alternate route through this glittering city beloved by the entire world (who just happens to be waiting in line in front of you for the bathroom).


Mission Bay 5 8

15 805

Mission Hills




Bakersfield Life

April 2012




San Diego Coronado

5 5

2 Photo courtesy of Birch Aquarium

Photo courtesy of Hornblower Cruises & Events

Every year about 20,000 grey whales mosey down the Pacific Ocean to the lagoons of Baja California. This means that whale watching off the coast of San Diego is in full swing until April. Several outfits offer whale watching, the largest being Hornblower Cruises and Events 1 , 888-467-6256 or Tours are at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and last 3 ½ hours. The naturalists on the boat wear bright yellow jackets and carry informational cards and little whale replicas. If you catch the eye of one, this fountain of information will tell you that the reason the grey whales hug the shore is to escape their predator, the orca. They are solitary creatures and do not travel in pods. For those who would spend their day on a boat in a nau-


Photo courtesy of The New Children’s Museum


seous swirl, enjoy the wonders of the ocean at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps 2 , 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 858-534-3474, The entrance features a gray whale sculpture that is much more cooperative for photos than the real thing. Sit and view the the floor-to-ceiling kelp display or head outside to the touch tank full of starfish, anemones and seaweed. When one more thrill ride or long line will make your darling disintegrate into a tantruming dervish, consider a visit to The New Children’s Museum 3 , 200 West Island Ave., 619-233-8792, Head to the toddler room with its ingenious row of light switches about 18 inches off the ground that allow kids to turn lights on and off and on and off. Then head outside to the art space that encourages kids to paint a giant sculpture with an oversize brush or sculpt some clay.

World Famous 4 , 711 Pacific Beach Drive, 858-272-7100, is a

place where tourists and locals intermingle peacefully. The food here is California coastal cuisine, which translates into fresh produce and fish with a kicky Mexican twist, resulting in food that is both light and satisfying. And a bloody Mary is a must for breakfast as well as sitting on the patio to catch the San Diego vibe. Be prepared for the show: in the mornings, watch seagulls dive-bomb the sand while the surfers tear across the waves. Or enjoy the sunset while sipping a glass of wine from the extensive wine list

Shop The Hotel del Coronado is the reigning beauty queen of this island, but don’t make the mistake of overlooking the girl in the corner wearing glasses. Bay Books 5 ,1029 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619-435-0070, is a cozy shop that invites you to peruse, relax and allow yourself to get absorbed in something interesting. Large chairs throughout the store make it easy to open a book and drop into another world. Even the children’s section has tiny chairs and stools. The book selection here is small but well-curated. Hand-written staff recommendation cards are on almost every shelf. In the children’s section, some of the recommendation cards are written by kids. If you like to bring a few magazines along with you when you vacation, then you will be certain to find one you’ve never heard of on this store’s huge magazine rack. A coffee cart called Cafe Madrid makes a reasonably good latte and the sidewalk is filled with tables and chairs.


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Business Profile

Photo by Casey Christie

American Kids Sports Center

Address: Northwest 3622 Allen Road; southwest 4401 Ride St. Phone: Northwest, 589-2100; southwest, 833-3986 Website: Facebook search: American Kids Sports Center


ith so many families enjoying American Kids Sports Center each year, many think that it’s some kind of national franchise. Actually, it is the result of 27 years of persistent hard work and a dream by local owner Sheri Williams and her husband, Mike. What started out as Sheri’s passion for gymnastics has become a nationally recognized kids multi-sport venue. The business originally started as a gymnastics club in 1984, called American Academy of Gymnastics. The first new activity started in the 1990s with the addition of American Cheer and the construction of their first building. Within a few short years, the club was at capacity and the idea to expand into a one-stop kids sports center began. In 2007, the name was officially changed to American Kids Sports Center with the completion of construction of its newest 40,000-square-foot building on Allen Road. Soon after, a second location was opened near Gosford and White Lane. Currently, American Kid serves more than 3,100 students, which peaks around 5,000 during the summer and employs 150 people each year. Kids from all over Kern County are having fun participating in gymnastics, dance, taekwondo, swim lessons, tumbling, cheerleading, trampoline, sports camps, parent nights out and kids parties. 124

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

What makes American Kids unique can be summarized in three principles. One is the belief that American Kids coaches teach life skills and mentor kids through the use of sports. They believe that they are preparing kids to live a healthier, happier and more fulfilled adulthood by teaching them the value of personal responsibility, respect, dedication and teamwork. Additionally, American Kids believes everything should be done with excellence. This includes the facilities, equipment, training and the professionalism of their staff. This has not only led to success as a business, but in competition where American has won numerous state, regional and national awards in every sport they compete in. Lastly, it is their unique approach to customer service, where they believe that the parent’s experience is just as important as their kids. Their clean, air-conditioned facilities provide large comfortable parent viewing for every activity. Parents can socialize with friends in the cafe as they enjoy a latte and a made-to-order sandwich, or use the free Internet. Just as important is the ease that they make for parents to bring all of their children to one facility and do several activities in one trip. Mike and Sheri’s future plans for American Kids is for further growth both in activities and locations. Their kids — Matt, 24, and Michelle, 21 — plan to put their own stamp on that future. Outside of their business, Mike and Sheri are active at Christ Church of the Valley, enjoy traveling and are involved in community events. Mike is also a trustee for the Kern High School District. Both stay active and continue their own love of sports, including snowboarding, hiking, golf and are currently training for their first sprint triathlon.

Penelope S. Suter, O.D. Address: 5300 Lennox Ave., Suite 101 Phone number: 869-2010 Email: Website:

The vision care we provide involves not just me, but my associate, Dr. Elizabeth Torres, certified opticians, certified vision therapists, assessment personnel and a wonderful support staff. What makes your office different from many other optometry offices? In addition to routine eye examinations, we offer testing and vision therapy for children and adults. Their situations range from problems learning to read or write, developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, eye-turns, lazy eyes (amblyopia) or following a stroke or other brain injury. We frequently coordinate care with the patient’s primary eye doctor or with other doctors and therapists. On the wellness end, we offer sports vision training to improve visual perceptual speed and visual motor responses. Our focus emphasizes functional vision for all kinds of activities. My child seems to see fine but is struggling in school. Could he still have a vision problem? Most people think that if you can see small details (20/20) and the eyes are healthy then there are no problems. But there are many visual problems that can contribute to school difficulty. We can test for and treat these with lenses, colored tints or vision therapy. These conditions can cause parents to be confused because these are smart children. For instance, a child having difficulty tracking a line of print may skip words and demonstrate poor reading fluency. Difficulty coordinating or focusing eyes for deskwork leads to misreads, difficulty attend126

Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Photo courtesy of Penelope Suter

Business Profile

ing, fatigue and frustration. Poor visual memory causes difficulty learning letters, numbers and “sight words.” Do you see and care for patients who need routine examinations? Yes, we enjoy providing primary care optometry for our patients from infants, to children, to adults of all ages. When should my child have his/her first eye examination? It is recommended that children have their first eye exam before their first birthday or earlier if there are any noticeable problems. Parents are surprised that we can successfully test the eyes of very young children. We find children easiest to examine between the ages of 8 and 10 months. Actually, we have a lot of fun working with preschool children, even the 2-year-olds. Is it normal for a child’s eyes to turn during infancy? Yes, but the eyes should turn only a small percentage of the time, and should not turn after the age of 5 months. An eye-turn that is present most of the time is not normal at any age, and the child should be examined by an eye doctor as soon as possible. How does vision impact those with autism and other disabilities? Studies show that children with autism and other developmental disabilities have more vision problems than the average child. These associated vision problems can be tested and treated with the goal of the patient reaching their maximum potential. Warning signs that your child might benefit from a complete eye exam: Clumsy, tripping or walking into things, headaches, head tilts or turns, closing or covering one eye when reading or in sunlight, eyes are not tracking together, turning in different directions, poor attention to tasks requiring near focusing.

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012







7. 8.

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Susan B. Anthony Celebration and 2012 Woman of Distinction Feb. 23 Held at Stockdale Country Club Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at

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American Cancer Society Hollywood Love Stories Feb. 11 Held at The Petroleum Club Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at Cash Long and Leslie Knox

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

Frank and Lisa Bizzarro and Trish and Ray Adams

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Feb. 26 Held at the Fox Theater Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at

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Heritage Christian Schools That’s Amore Fundraiser March 2 Held at Bakersfield Country Club Photos by Greg Nichols View these photos and more online at

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

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JJ’s Legacy Golf Tournament and Dinner March 4 Held at Seven Oaks Country Club Photos by Jan St. Pierre View these photos and more online at Cindy White and Paula Cady

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SPCA’s Furry Paws & Foggy Nights Feb. 24 Held at The Petroleum Club Photos by Carla Rivas View these photos and more online at

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

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Fifth annual BIACAL Walk for Thought March 10 Held at Kern County Museum Photos by Carla Rivas View these photos and more online at Paula Daoutis and Mike Hart

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Bakersfield Life

April 2012

The ladder truck staffs four: a fire captain, two fire engineers and a firefighter.

— Gabriel Ramirez


55-feet long

Ladder Truck

firefighter is constantly on the go. Their job is never finished as they look to protect citizens. According to Bakersfield Fire Chief Douglas R. Greener, firefighters work 24-hour shifts and respond to roughly 30,000 emergency requests annually. While technologies have improved the system that firefighters rely on, these men and women are still needed for their skills and protection. Of course, those iconic red engines also come in handy. There are two primary types of fire apparatus, the fire engine (pumper) and ladder truck (aerial). Both serve a different purpose. The fire engine staffs three: a fire captain, a fire engineer and a firefighter.

30-feet long

Fire Engine

Ladder trucks are used to get Bakersfield Fire Department firefighters to upper floors or to the roofs of burning structures.

Life-saving trucks

Inside Story

Fire engines carry more than 2,000 feet of fire hose and pump up to 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

Ladder trucks have ladders up to 100 feet in length and carry tools for ventilation, forcible entry and rescue of trapped occupants.

Fire engines are the workhorses of the Bakersfield Fire Department.

Photos by Alex Horvath

Ladder trucks are tillered (rear-steered) for maneuverability in tight urban areas.

The engines have a 750-gallon water tank and carry the tools necessary for making direct attacks on fires.


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FEATURED SPECIAL LEASE: Closed end lease for 2012 Civic LX Automatic (FB2F5CEW) available through 3/31/2012, to well-qualified lessees approved by Honda Financial Services. Not all lessees will qualify. Higher lease rates apply for lessees with lower credit ratings. MSRP $19425 (includes destination; excludes tax, license, title fees, registration, documentation fees, options, insurance and the like). Actual net capitalized cost $14061.50. Net capitalized cost includes $640 acquisition fee. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect actual lease payment. Total monthly payments $3475.08. Option to purchase at lease end $12043.50. Must take new retail delivery on vehicle from dealer stock by 3/31/2012. Lessee responsible for maintenance, excessive wear/tear and 15¢/mile over 12,000 miles/ year for vehicles with MSRP less than $30,000, and 20¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP of $30,000 or more. See your Honda dealer for complete details.


FEATURED SPECIAL LEASE: Closed end lease for 2012 Fit Sport Automatic (GE8H5CEXW) available through 3/31/2012, to well-qualified lessees approved by Honda Financial Services. Not all lessees will qualify. Higher lease rates apply for lessees with lower credit ratings. MSRP $18530 (includes destination; excludes tax, license, title fees, registration, documentation fees, options, insurance and the like). Actual net capitalized cost $14832.43. Net capitalized cost includes $640 acquisition fee. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect actual lease payment. Total monthly payments $6177.60. Option to purchase at lease end $11488.60. Must take new retail delivery on vehicle from dealer stock by 3/31/2012. Lessee responsible for maintenance, excessive wear/tear and 15¢/mile over 12,000 miles/ year for vehicles with MSRP less than $30,000, and 20¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP of $30,000 or more. See your Honda dealer for complete details.

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FEATURED SPECIAL LEASE: Closed end lease for 2012 Accord LX (CP2F3CEW) available through 3/31/2012, to well-qualified lessees approved by Honda Financial Services. Not all lessees will qualify. Higher lease rates apply for lessees with lower credit ratings. MSRP $22950 (includes destination; excludes tax, license, title fees, registration, documentation fees, options, insurance and the like). Actual net capitalized cost $18815.40. Net capitalized cost includes $640 acquisition fee. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect actual lease payment. Total monthly payments $6950.16. Option to purchase at lease end $13081.50. Must take new retail delivery on vehicle from dealer stock by 3/31/2012. Lessee responsible for maintenance, excessive wear/tear and 15¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP less than $30,000, and 20¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP of $30,000 or more. See your Honda dealer for complete details.

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Bakersfield Life Magazine April 2012