Page 1

March 2013


Peek into four

HISTORIC HOMES including this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gem near Bakersfield Country Club

RACE a journey for local cyclist



Spring wines

Food Dudes visit SORELLA Central Coast KAYAKING

I recovered from heart

surgery and now

I’m back to adventures with my son. -Tijuana Lusby Whether you’re in the midst of a sudden heart attack or need a triple bypass, The Chest Pain Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital is equipped to provide lifesaving care for your heart. During your recovery, The Wellness Center’s cardiac rehab program will help you change your life … for good.

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O R S’ C H O I C E P



56 Beyond the bike

March 2013

Our series on a local athlete continues, and closes, with a look at her purpose for cycling, and a look at the difficult road in preparing for the Race Across America.

62 Historic homes Visit magnificently preserved historic homes throughout our local neighborhoods.

72 Trees of Bakersfield What grows here, and what doesn’t? Learn planting tips, and what the favorites are in town for local arborists.

76 Welcome spring! Enjoy the season with outdoor events and activities.

60 6

Bakersfield Life Magazine

54 March 2013

Signature Properties, Signature Service


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Direct Cell

March 2013

13 28 30 32 36 40 42

Up Front It Manners a Lot Kelly Damian Food Dudes Food and Wine Entertainment Foodie

98 Home and Garden 100 Why I Live Here 102 History 106 Our Town 108 Community 110 Neighborhood Spotlight 112 It’s a Guy Thing 116 Personality 118 Real People

46 48 50 52 54 96

On the Road Hometown Hero All-Star Athlete Talk of the Town For a Cause Pastimes

120 124 126 128 138 146

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For the record: Lisa Kimble suggested that romance novelists write a book on the Rankin Ranch. That book was published in 1997, three years after Kimble’s piece on the ranch for KERO Channel 23 won an


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Emmy award. Who Kimble suggested the book to, and the year her piece was an Emmy award winner were incorrect on Page 16 of the “Named After” section in the February 2013 issue.

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Why are you looking forward to springtime in Bakersfield? “Because my birthday is in March. I am throwing a house party like the movie “House Party” that came out in 1990. It will be epic!” — Michael Lopez, contributing photographer “I love our two weeks of spring here in Bakersfield. You can play golf from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Doesn’t get any better than that!” — John Wells, senior vice president of revenue & marketing

“Eating and having a drink at local restaurant patios, and enjoying the weather by being active outdoors with my wife, friends and Leon the Shih Tzu.” — Jorge Barrientos, assistant managing editor “I recently started rock climbing at a local gym in town. I would like to go outdoor climbing sometime this spring. I have heard that it is a great experience!” — Emily Claffy, contributing writer

“I’m looking forward to being able to go to the parks with my daughter when it’s not too cold or too hot. It’s the perfect time for picnics and swings.” — Marissa Lay, intern

“Because spring promises renewal, repurpose, a respite from choking utility bills, and this year, the gateway to a host of family celebrations of academic achievements!” — Lisa Kimble, contributing writer

“I always look forward to the beautiful almond orchards in full bloom! It’s unlike anything else I’ve seen and makes Bakersfield look so magical!” — Jessica Frey, contributing photographer

“The perfect weather, and not having to scrape ice off my car in the morning.” — Mark Nessia, contributing photographer

“I love the springtime because I enjoy being outdoors in the sunshine. I can’t wait to play tennis and train for my next half marathon in April.” — Hillary Haenes, specialty publications coordinator “I’m solar-powered, and springtime marks the end of the long, dreary winter, and the start of baseball season.” — Gregory D. Cook, contributing photographer

“It’s track season, so I am looking forward to seeing my teenagers in action, and I especially love seeing the Chavez Elementary School track stars run their little hearts out. Go Coach Greenway!” — Olivia Garcia, editor “I love eating outside, and springtime in Bakersfield is perfect for eating on the patio of a restaurant or in the backyard. Nice weather and no flies!” — Kelly Damian, contributing writer “A lot of my loved ones have birthdays in the spring (including myself), and I enjoy celebrating with them. Also, I love shopping for spring clothing!” — Jeneal Wood, intern

Bakersfield’s Premier City Magazine March 2013 / Vol. 7 / Issue 6 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. To advertise, contact Lisa Whitten at or 395-7563. Publisher Ginger Moorhouse President/CEO Richard Beene Senior Vice President Revenue and Marketing John Wells Vice President, Administration and Operations Nancy Chaffin Director of Display Advertising Roger Fessler Interactive Advertising Director Sally Ellis Advertising Sales Manager Lisa Whitten Advertising Traffic Manager Shauna Rockwell Marketing Manager Mira Patel Distribution and Marketing Representative Patrick Wells Editor Olivia Garcia Assistant Managing Editor Jorge Barrientos Specialty Publications Coordinator Hillary Haenes Editorial Assistant Marisol Sorto Art Director Glenn Hammett Photography Felix Adamo, Henry A. Barrios, Jaclyn Borowski, Casey Christie, Gregory D. Cook, Jessica Frey, Michael Lopez, April Massirio, Greg Nichols, Mark Nessia, Carla Rivas, Jan St Pierre, Rod Thornburg, Brian N. Willhite, Scot Zimmerman Contributing writers Sally Baker, Allie Castro, Emily Claffy, Gregory D. Cook, Kelly Damian, David Dobbs, Lois Henry, Ken Hooper, Lisa Kimble, Katie Kirschenmann, Stephen Lynch, Michael Russo, Chris Thornburgh, Brian N. Willhite Interns Marissa Lay, Jasmine D. Lowe, Matilde Ruiz, Jeneal Wood On the cover Photo courtesy of Scot Zimmerman Photography. The Ablin House in Bakersfield, including the kitchen, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Why is Bakersfield Heart Hospital introducing the first women’s heart center in Kern County? Because women and men are different.

The symptoms and risk factors associated with heart disease are different for women and men. Bakersfield Heart Hospital understands those differences and the special concerns and needs of women. So it’s only natural we would be the first to introduce a heart health center specifically for women. The Bakersfield Heart Hospital Women’s Heart Center is the first of its kind in Kern County and one of less than 50 nationwide. Through education, early detection and preventive screening we help women understand their risk for heart disease and take steps to improve their heart health. Heart disease kills 50,000 more women than men each year. We just made it easier to do something about it.

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Editor’s Note Letter to the Editor Dear Editor, I appreciate some of our great writers in Kern County — they have some great columns. I really enjoyed Kelly Damian’s article in Bakersfield Life’s December issue about the Kern River (“Our river is a gift to be appreciated”). I’ve been floating, fishing and barbecuing on the lower and upper Kern for the last 45 years. It’s an incredible getaway that everyone should have a chance to enjoy. The only thing that concerned me in the article was the recognition given to some University of Rochester study on the great outdoors. I hope no public money was spent on this “insightful” study that came to the brilliant conclusion that “spending time in nature improves people’s physical and mental wellbeing.” It’s a no-brainer that getting outdoors and being active is a good thing, both physically and mentally. Too many parents let their children play video games and watch television all day. My advice would be to unplug everything and get outside — go fishing, boating, skiing ... anything — get outdoors, just like the old days. You don’t need any university studies to tell you that. — David Frazier

Thank you, thank you. I just finished reading your commentary on wearing pajamas in public (“Let’s turn off the lights on pajama parties,” February 2013). This has been a pet peeve of mine for months, and I rail against it every time I can. As a school teacher, I witness this lazy and slovenly behavior on a daily basis. To me, it represents a disrespect for the school as well as their child, but I am sure they do not look at it that way. I wish there was some kind of city ordinance that would make this type of dress illegal, but that day will not come in this city. Too many citizens would view it as government telling them what they can do and infringing on their freedom and rights. To them I say, what about my right to not have to see you in your ratty and juvenile pajamas? Thank you, Mrs. Kimble, for this piece as well as all the other ones you have written. I do enjoy them. Your sister in the fight for good manners and behavior, — Wendy Hodash 12

Bakersfield Life Magazine

Know a local superstar? Nominate them in our “20 under 40” contest!


pringtime has arrived, and for many of us, that means spring cleaning, decluttering and going through the checklist of what to do to care for our

zine’s Top 20 Under 40 will be featured in a future edition, but for now, keep your eyes out someone to nominate. To nominate someone, which can include yourself, you will need to go to our website at and fill out the Top 20 under 40 online nomination form. The nomination period will take place only from March 15 to April 12. You will need information about the person, as well as a photograph. You must also provide your contact information. Only individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 who are Kern County residents are eligible to be nominated. The candidates should exhibit qualities expressed in the Top 20 Under 40 criteria: up-and-coming star in profession or academics, leadership qualities or community service champion. There is no limit to the number of entries each firm or person can submit, and there is no entry fee. Once the entries are collected, a special Bakersfield Life committee will review the submissions and pick the top 20. For more information, visit our website. Even better, “like” Bakersfield Life on Facebook and we will keep our fans in the loop. Good luck to everyone who is nominated!

homes. In this issue, we devote features and photographs on homes. In fact, one of my favorite pieces is the one about older, historic homes in town. While I really dig newly built houses, I am a big fan of older homes. They have so much history and character, and you can add a part of your family’s history into the personality of older homes. I also love trees, especially ones that have withstood generations. I’m sure there are many tree lovers like me in the community, so we talked to arborists and got their thoughts on trees of Bakersfield. When I think of trees, I think of the many memories spent under them at my grandparents’ house, listening to their stories; and of course, at my house watching my boys play and grow. A few years ago, we had to cut down one of our trees because the termites had gotten a hold of it. In its place, we planted a pepper tree, and it’s been an amazing experience watching it grow, along with my boys. Be sure to check out the local tree photos taken by photographer Michael Lopez. I also want to inform readers that starting this month, we will kick off a contest highlighting 20 local outstanding individuals under the age of 40. We need your help, though. We are looking for local champions in the community, Olivia Garcia successful up-and-coming individuals and Editor game changers who are achieving success in 395-7487 • the workplace or school. Winners of the Bakersfield Life Maga-

March 2013

Up Front

Word on the street Compiled by Gregory D. Cook

What’s your favorite room in your house? Rebecca Mallory Living room: “It’s where we come together. There’s the fireplace, the couch; it’s where the family gathers.”

Antonio Patino

Hilda Ornelas

Garage: “That’s where all my fun stuff is. I like working on cars and spending time on projects.”

Bedroom: “That’s my space. There’s a lock on the door, and I can just get away from it all.”

Kimberly DuPree

Brian Tuttle

William Renfro

Living room: “I love to watch movies, play video games and just hang out and relax.”

Living room: “It’s connected to the kitchen, and that’s where the food comes from.”

Living room: “That’s where family time happens.”

Jay Smith

Matthew Kirk

Tina Sporer

Bathroom: “It’s where you clean and refresh yourself.”

Kitchen: “I like eating. And it’s the relationship center of our house; there’s a lot of good feelings in the kitchen.”

Dining room: “We eat as a family every night, and that’s very important for us.”

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Up Front

The Big Picture

Springing into spring Photo by Casey Christie


ichard Yaeger, 5, and Theresa Hall, 8, jump rocks while playing at Lake Ming in northeast Bakersfield recently. With spring weather here, expect to see even more children and Bakersfield residents playing throughout the lake.


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013


Up Front

Short take

Short take

Students win scholarships in local ‘farmworker’ art, essay, poem contest Dozens of local students were recently awarded scholarships for their winning entries in a local art, essay and poem contest honoring Kern County’s farmworkers. The contest — “Legacy of the Farm Worker in the San Joaquin Valley from 1800 to Present” — had Kern County’s middle and high school students draw or write essays, poems and short stories that explored the multiple perspectives of the legacy of the farm worker. It follows up on the 50th anniversary celebrations of the United Farm Worker Union last year. Twenty eight students in grades six through 12 were named winners. Awards varied from $50 to $250. For Raul Fierro, who placed third in poetry and fourth in art, it came natural for him to join the contest, he said. His grandfather and grandmother were both farmworkers. “I knew I had to put in my all into this contest, and with the help of my mom and family, I received a lot of feedback on my work,” said Fierro, who graduated from Tierra Del Sol Continuation High School, is attending Bakersfield College, and plans to transfer to the University of Nevada to study political science. • Group one first-place winners were: Javier Soto Gonzales from South High in art; Karisia Gonzales from Nueva Vista Language Academy in poetry; and Karen Escobar from Emerson Middle School in writing. • Group two first-place winners were: Brenda Cervantez from Delano High in art; Katrina Quiroz from Paramount Bard Academy in poetry; and Kristan Sigler from Highland High in writing. • Also, the Jack Brigham Musical Scholarship Award went to Xocthil Morales, a seventh-grader at Paramount Bard Academy. Judging was based on research and interviewing skills, outlining and organizing, critical thinking, developing narrative and concept. “Agriculture is the lifeblood of the San Joaquin Valley,” said Ray Gonzales, a contest judge, in a statement. “It is important that the youth of this valley recognize that, and also focus on the important role played by those who have labored in the fields over the years.” Donors for scholarships included Wells Fargo Bank, $1,000; Rabobank, $1,000; Jack Brigham, $500; Sandra Serrano and Robert Tafoya, $500; Christine Frazier, $250; Harvey Hall, $250; and State Senator Jean Fuller, $100. Kern County Superior Court Judge Robert Tafoya is credited for getting the contest started. Artists and local educators helped develop the contest. — Matilde Ruiz 16

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

CSUB honors 2013 Alumni Hall of Fame inductees Cal State Bakersfield recently recognized three of the latest inductees in the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame. The three were chosen for their significant contributions in their chosen field of endeavor or in the community, and whose accomplishments and careers have brought honor and distinction to the university. The inductees were honored during the seventh annual Alumni Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on Feb. 16 at the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield. They are: • Beth Rienzi, associate vice president of faculty affairs at CSUB, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s degree in behavioral science and doctorate degree in professional psychology from Fresno State. Rienzi managed her private practice for six years before beginning a 30-year career in higher education. She is a supporter of the Women’s & Girls’ Fund. “CSUB played a central role in my success. As a recently divorced single parent in 1970, CSUB challenged me with new ideas and provided exposure to a world perspective,” said Rienzi, who is no longer single. “My life really opened up. I am very proud to be a CSUB Alumni. My educational experience at CSUB

prepared me well for graduate school and for my career.” • Donald E. Carter, superintendent of Kern High School District, earned his master’s degree in education from CSUB in 1985. Carter taught math and science at West High School, was dean of students at East High and principal at Bakersfield High, including other KHSD positions. He also taught at Bakersfield College, and other local colleges. Carter now works closely with CSUB’s President Horace Mitchell to improve local college-going rates. • Monique Rogers earned her bachelor’s degree in communications in 1998 from CSUB, and is currently the corporate administrator and marketing director at ARRC Technology. Rogers serves our community on the boards of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, San Joaquin Communiy Hospital Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club. The CSUB Alumni Association began its Hall of Fame in 2006, and has chosen three inductees each year. Today, the CSUB alumni base is 41,000 and growing. To nominate a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, or for more information, go to — Matilde Ruiz

Short take

Foundation golf tournament to benefit local law enforcement Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation has been credited with raising more than $700,000 to buy such things as inflatable rescue boats for search-and-rescue teams, flak jackets and vests for SWAT, and tasers for patrol officers. The group aims to provide assistance and support to the men and women who protect the lives of citizens in Kern County daily — from various local, state and federal police agencies — by purchasing these much-needed items not included in an agency’s budget. But being that the foundation is a nonprofit, it could use some help from the community to assist in its mission. The Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation invites you to be a part of its first golf tournament to help raise money to support 29 law enforcement agencies within Kern County. It will take place at 10:30 a.m. March 25, at Stockdale Country Club. The tournament is for “any individual or group that wishes

to help raise money to support Kern County law enforcement, or just wants to have some fun playing the wonderful game of golf,” said Angela Barton, vice president of the foundation. Ticket prices vary from $700 for a foursome and tee sponsor; $600 for a foursome; $250 for a player tee sponsor; $150 for a player; and $50 for dinner only. The foundation was created as the Kern County Sheriff’s Advisory Council in 1988, to fulfill a campaign promise by Kern County Sheriff John Smith. The group also awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. Barton said the hope is to make the tournament an annual event. For more information, call 345-8091. To become a member of the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation, visit — Matilde Ruiz


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Up Front

Named After

Arvin High School building in 1949.


The Sunset Labor Camp when it first was built in 1936.

the DiGiorgios and Kovaceviches, made the area their headquarters. And Arvin’s history in oil discovery has been equally rich. The Mountain View Oil Field, which lies beneath the town and much of the surrounding area, was discovered in 1933, and was developed extensively. Many oil wells still stand amid fields of crops, with some slant-drilled to reach formations directly underneath inhabited areas. In 1937, the first federally operated farm labor camp opened. Two years later, The Arvin Tiller began publication, and in 1949, Arvin High School was built. Arvin was incorporated in 1960, and has survived notable natural disasters, including the earthquake of July 21, 1952 — which nearly destroyed the town — and an infamous December 1977 massive dust storm. Descendants of Arvin Richardson still live in the community, who also named Richardson Drive and the Richardson Acres development after the influential family. — Lisa Kimble




he city of Arvin, tucked at the foot of Bear Mountain southeast of Bakersfield that bills itself as “the garden in the sun,” indeed owes its livelihood to the farming of agricultural commodities, from carrots and cotton to grapes and grain. It’s also immortalized in migrant history due to the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.” The city is named after beloved store keeper George Arvin Richardson, the son of one of its original settlers, George Andrew Richardson. The family was originally from Kentucky, where the younger Richardson was born in 1883. The area was the first valley point in the Southern San Joaquin visited by Father Francisco Garces in 1776, as he sought a new route from Mexico through California. Wheat farmers settled a colony in the 1880s. But it was Richardson’s family, along with several others from San Bernardino, who settled the Foothill Citrus Farms Company colony in 1907, in this windswept pastoral region, and planted 10 acres of fruit trees. The colony, however, was beset with problems, including silting of its well, and frozen citrus trees. Seven years later, the town was surveyed and Birdie Heard petitioned for the Arvin addition of a post office. Heard, the first Richardson postmistress, opened the office in the living room of her house, but later moved it to the general store owned by the Staples family. That in-store postal branch doubled as the area’s first unofficial library. Among the proposed names Heard submitted with the petition — Bear Mountain, Walnut and Arvin. Postal officials chose Arvin as it was the only suggestion not already in use in California at that time. Ironically, according to descendants, it was Arvin’s brother, Carl Richardson, who established the community. Arvin worked in the fields and delivered mail in his pickup truck before opening the general store. He and wife Kitty had two daughters, Elizabeth and Jane, and lived in an apartment above the store. Relatives recall Arvin as a jokester with a wonderful personality. He died in 1951 at the age of 67. Over the years, major growers and produce packers, like



Main Street in Arvin, 1924. 18

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Russo’s Read

‘Children of the Dust Bowl’ “Okies,” but also the redemption The Great Depression, accompanied by years of Midthey found through one man — Kern west drought and wind storms, figure prominently in Kern County Superintendent of Schools’ County’s history. Lured by the promise of green orchards Leo B. Hart. His work establishing a and plentiful work, more than a million people from Oklaschool at the Weedhoma, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas patch Camp near made their way west in the late 1930s, “Children of the Dust Arvin placed hundreds only to find that the California Dream Bowl” by Jerry Stanley is of lives on a different was but a mirage. available for $9.95 at Russo’s trajectory, and in the In 1992, then Cal State Bakersfield Books at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave. process, helped re-write history professor Jerry Stanley doculocal history. mented this seminal event. The resulting The New York Times photo-essay book, “Children of the Dust Book Review called this 77-page book “a powerful account Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp,” of a desperate time.” Written for young adults, this title immediately garnered national acclaim and prestigious remains a “must-read” for all who call Kern County home. awards. — Reviewed by Mike Russo, co-owner of Russo’s Books Published by Random House and still in print 21 years at The Marketplace later, the book documents not only the struggles of these


Homeowners: Remember tax breaks Owning a home has been called part of the American dream, but tax deductions that come with home ownership are a taxpayer’s dream. Usually not much is involved in writing off your home mortgage interest, but there is no such thing as a cut-and-dry write-off. After all, we’re dealing with the U.S. tax code. Congress has left some individual tax breaks untouched. A few are worth mentioning this tax season: Mortgage interest: Your biggest tax break is the mortgage interest you pay. You can deduct interest on your primary residence and a secondary residence as long as your combined mortgages are less than $1 million. The limit is reduced to $500,000 if you are single or married filing separate. If you take out a home equity loan to pay off credit cards or for other personal reasons, the interest is also deductible. Like most tax deductions, there are hitches. Generally, interest on home equity loans of $100,000 or Thornburgh less is fully deductible. The home equity debt limit is reduced to $50,000 if you are married, filing separate. If you’re subject to Alternative Minimum Tax, tax benefits dwindle. Business write-off: If you refinanced your home to fund your sole proprietorship, Internal Revenue Service tracing rules may work to your advantage. You may deduct the mortgage interest against the profits of your sole proprietorship, which reduces your self-employment tax. Tracing rules are tricky, so check with your tax adviser. Points: When you purchase your home, you may pay points (also known as loan origination fees). These are generally fully deductible

in the year paid. If you pay points when refinancing a mortgage on your primary or secondary residence, you deduct the points over the life of the new loan. Don’t forget to write off the points on your old loan if they are unamortized. Taxes: You can write off property taxes paid during the year on any number of personal residences you own. If you bought a home during the year, check your closing statement to see if you were charged property taxes. Don’t miss the deduction. Energy credits: If sprucing up your home, you may be entitled to energy credits. The Nonbusiness Energy Property Tax Credit can knock up to $500 off your taxes for making certain energy-efficient improvements to your primary residence, such as installation of energy-efficient windows and doors. The Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit can be even larger since it is not capped. You can take a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of certain energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters. Not all energy-efficient improvements qualify, so be sure to have the manufacturer’s tax credit certification statement. Home office deduction: You can deduct the costs of a home office that you use exclusively and regularly for business. This includes depreciation, utilities and insurance for the office portion of your home. This is a hot audit button, and many rules apply so you’ll definitely want to seek a tax adviser. Homeowners have many write-offs to lower their tax bills. Make sure you get all the tax breaks you have coming. — Chris Thornburgh is a CPA and partner at Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp. Contact her at or 324-4971.


Up Front

Short take

CBCC fundraisers to aid local cancer patient programs The Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation for Community Wellness commits itself to making the cancer treatment process easier on cancer patients and their families. To aid in that mission, the foundation will hold its second annual gala and golf tournament — its biggest fundraiser of the year — on March 17 and 18 to raise funds for support programs. All proceeds collected from the events directly assist those facing cancer in our community. The foundation depends on the proceeds to uphold the pediatric and adult transportation programs, educational classes, support groups and financial aid programs, said Michelle Avila, director of the CBCC Foundation for Community Wellness. Proceeds from last year’s gala and golf tournament

allowed the foundation to provide more than 1,000 trips for cancer patients from Kern County to their medical appointments outside of Bakersfield, according to the foundation. The theme of this year’s gala is “making wishes come true.” Falling in line with St. Patrick’s Day, the gala will feature Irish heritage with Irish-influenced entertainment, and a few Irish foods to choose from in an extensive gourmet food spread. The event will also feature wine pairings, and chances to win elaborate prizes with a live auction. “The gala is guaranteed to be an enjoyable one, and will benefit more than 4,000 patients and family members in Kern County,” Avila said. The golf tournament portion of the fundraiser will be on March 18 at Seven Oaks Country Club. Teams have a chance to play alongside amateur golfers, while competing for the top spot. Tickets for the gala are $150, and the deadline to purchase is March 11. For more information, call 862-7145 or email — Marissa Lay

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Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

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Up Front

My mobile life


Carrie Williams Compiled by Hillary Haenes

Photos by Henry A. Barrios

This app enables me to stay in touch with my kids. We take pictures and share them instantly with each other.

12c Financial Calculator There are no house searches or maps, just calculations and loan qualification calculations, and calculations to how much you can afford. I can also email the results to my agents or clients. This app calculates agent commissions — very helpful.

CNBC Real-Time This is one of my favorite apps. It helps me to stay on top of the stock market. I receive real-time quotes before, during and after market hours.

MyFitnessPal Google Maps


hank goodness for technological advances! Like many other professions, the invention of cellphones has made Carrie Williams’ job much easier. Williams, vice president of McMillin Homes, has had a 22-year career in new home sales and three years in real estate lending. Because she travels quite often, Williams relies on her iPhone to stay connected while on the road. “(With) Bluetooth, I am able to stay on top of communications for work and my personal life,” Williams said. “My cellphone frees me up to be more efficient — I accomplish more in a day.” And with Facebook, she has the opportunity to keep McMillin’s homebuyers and potential homebuyers apprised of current new home activity including home décor, trends, the latest new home phase releases, construction as well as architectural and green features. She also runs fun promotions with trivia, which adds a great interaction with clients while extending her reach.

Since I travel a lot, I use this as a navigation tool as well as locating property. It’s very helpful to be able to look around the neighborhood using the street view mode. Best of all, I can find this out before I drive there. I can also locate restaurants when I’m in an unfamiliar area meeting clients or associates. I love the quick and easy access I have for homes for sale. Most homes show multiple photos as well as pricing and open-house info. I can search and find sold homes automatically with map zoom and what they sold for.

WhatsApp I have a good friend who lives in Europe, who has an Android. We miss the ability to text because I have an iPhone and she has an Android. We recently discovered this cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows us to text. It’s so much easier now to stay in touch throughout the day rather than once a week.


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

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Up Front

Finding fame

Sasha Mallory By Jeneal Wood


Sasha Mallory was the runner-up on the Fox television show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and has toured with singers Adam Lambert and, most recently, Madonna. 24

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013


orn and raised in Bakersfield, Sasha Mallory knew early on what she wanted to do in life — dance. And Mallory plans on dancing straight to the top. The 25-year-old was the runner-up on the Fox television show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and has danced behind Adam Lambert and Rihanna, and most recently, the Queen of Pop: Madonna. Mallory was placed in ballet classes at age 5, and continued with it until she was 15. Eventually, Mallory became adventurous and learned new styles. She took her first jazz steps at Civic Dance Center, a local Bakersfield dance studio, where Mallory said she still likes to teach from time to

time. She also learned hip-hip and breakdancing, among other styles. While going to all of these dance classes, Mallory attended Ridgeview High School, and later left to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York for a year and a half. The school was amazing for her career, Mallory said, and she learned a lot, but she found the actual school part “boring.” “I was too eager to move the ball,” Mallory said. “I need to stay active, and sitting in a desk wasn’t easy. I gotta move.” After returning home from school, Mallory’s activities consisted of judging dance competitions and touring with West Coast Dance Explosion Company. Mallory finally got her break in 2009, when she had the opportunity to tour as a dancer for American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert. This is where her career really began to take off, she said. “Although West Coast Explosion was a paying gig, it isn’t somewhere you can be credited,” Mallory said. “People started to recognize me once I toured with Adam Lambert.” After touring with Lambert, Mallory auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance” for the second time. She had auditioned for the sixth season once before, but didn’t make it. Mallory didn’t think that was her time. But the eighth season, aired in 2011, was her time. She and her sister Natalia auditioned together, but only Mallory made it to the top 20. Lambert would advocate for Mallory, using Twitter to say “You’re amazing,” and to tell his fans to vote for her. “I have to thank Adam’s fans for voting for me on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’” Mallory said, adding that Lambert was a “big bundle of love” who was very supportive of her. As local family and friends printed “Team Sasha” Tshirts and fliers, and hosted viewing parties across Bakersfield, Mallory gathered millions of votes. She advanced and made it to the final two, and finished as the runner-up. The same year, The Bakersfield Californian named Mallory the “entertainer of the year.” In 2012, Mallory spent her time touring as a dancer again, this time on one of the biggest stages — with Madonna. That was a big learning experience, she said, along with it being very strenuous and fun at the same time. She traveled in style, too, and Madonna treated her dancers like royalty, she said. She even found love on the tour. Now, Mallory has plans to teach in Arizona, and at West Coast Dance Explosion where she used to dance. Mallory also has plans to teach choreography to dancers on “So You Think You Can Dance” during the preliminary rounds, before viewers pick their top 20.

— Do you know someone from Bakersfield who is finding fame, or is representing Bakersfield while in the spotlight? Please let us know. Email us at with the subject line: Finding Fame. Please include contact information if possible.

Up Front

Find more community events at or submit yours via email:

Happenings: Can’t-miss events in March Fri. 1 First Friday Downtown featur-

Fri. 8 37th annual Jazz Jam, 8 p.m.,

Sat. 23 Healthy Bakersfield Expo pre-

ing 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

CSUB, Doré Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway. $12; $8, seniors; free for CSUB students with ID. 654-3093. Rick Springfield, 8 p.m., Eagle Mountain Casino, 681 S. Tule Reservation Road, Porterville. $25, general; $35 reserved. Tickets online at or 559-788-6220.

sented by Mercy & Memorial Hospitals, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. Free. 395-7586. Jeff Dunham “Disorderly Conduct” Tour, 5 p.m., Rabobank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $42.50 plus fee. or 800745-3000. Messy Marv “Hate Made Me Popular Tour,” 8 p.m., Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $30 to $60. or 322-5200.01.

Fri. 1 and Sat. 2 “Menopause The Musical,” 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Bakersfield Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $45 to $65 plus fees; $115 VIP plus fees. or 3225200.

Sat. 2 10th annual “Cruisin’ for a Wish” Car Show hosted by the Stockdale Moose Lodge; music, raffle, 50/50 drawing, vendors, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St. Free for spectators; $40. Entry fee includes a barbecue steak dinner or $12 for adults. 399-8406.

Sun. 3 19th annual Christian Youth Film Festival, 7 p.m., Bakersfield Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $10. The Daughter Dance: Celebrate and Save a Daughter, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., Boys & Girls Club, 5702 Young St., Suite B-200. $45; $30 ages 6 to 14; free for children ages 2 to 5.

Sat. 9 Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra: Carmina Burana presents “Karl Orff: Carmina Burana,” 8 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $34 to $50; full-time students half price. or 323-7928. Model Train Show and Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St. $7; children under 12 free with paying adult. 331-6695 or Sixth annual Walk, Run & Ride for Brain Injury with a health fair, music, entertainment, food, carnival games, face painting, bake sale, arts and crafts, drawing for prizes, 7:30 a.m., Kern County Museum, Pioneer Village, 3801 Chester Ave. Fees vary. Visit or 872-4903.

Sun. 10 New Directions Veterans Choir presented by Bakersfield Community Concert Association, 3 to 5 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $60 for three remaining concerts. or 205-8522 or 589-2478.

Mon. 11 “Shrek The Musical”, 7:30 p.m., Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $27.50 to $55. or 800-7453000.

Sun. 24 Condors vs. San Francisco

Condors hockey Condors vs. Utah Grizzlies, 7 p.m., Rabobank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $8 to $30. Tickets: Rabobank box office, or 324-7825. Paquita La del Barrio, 8 p.m., Eagle Mountain Casino, 681 S. Tule Reservation Road, Porterville. $25, general; $35, reserved. Visit or 559-7886220.

Sat. 16 to Sun. 17 “The Imaginators,” noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday; noon and 2 p.m. Sunday, CSUB, Doré Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway. $5; free for children under 12. Limited seating; reservations, 654-3150.

Bulls, 5 p.m., Rabobank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $8 to $30. Tickets: Rabobank box office, or 324-7825.

Thur. 28 The Mavericks, 7 p.m., Buck Owens’Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Boulevard. $45 to $53.50. or 322-5200.

Sat. 30 Murray Family Farms Easter Egg Hunt, hourly Easter egg hunts, hayrides and more, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Murray Family Farms, 6700 General Beale Road. $7.99, $3.99, kids ages 1 to 3. 330-0100 or

Sun. 17 CSUB Chamber Singers and CSUB Chamber Orchestra, 4 p.m., CSUB, Doré Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway. $10; $5, seniors/students; free for CSUB students with ID. 654-3093.

22 Wed. 13 to Sat. 16 Fri. FLICS InterFriends of the Kern County Aaron Lewis

Tues. 5 Aaron Lewis, 7 p.m., Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $49.50 to $55.50. or 322-5200.


Bakersfield Life Magazine

Library Used Book Sale, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday; public sale, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday (half-price day Saturday), Beale Memorial Library, 701 Truxtun Ave. or call 868-0796.

Fri. 15 March 2013

national Cinema Society presents “Aftershock,” 7:30 p.m., Bakersfield Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $5. or call 4280354.

“Shrek The Musical”

Favorite Deli! BAKERSFIELD’S

By the Numbers

Bakersfield homes 117,759 single family homes in Bakersfield

58 percent of Bakersfield adults are homeowners

1,459 single family residences in Bakersfield have been assessed a value of $500,000 or more 77 percent of residences valued at $500,000 or more have swimming pools 76 percent of homeowners have lived in their current home for five years or more

13 percent of Bakersfield adults live in apartments

50 percent of Bakersfield households have children 42 percent of homeowners report three or more adults living in their homes 1,590 single family residences in Bakersfield have basements $150,000 median home sales price in the third quarter of 2012 $293,000 median home sale price when it peaked in the second quarter of 2006 1,000+ city building permits in 2012 — the first time since 2009 5,216 city building permits in 2005 Sources: Scarborough Research 2012 R2, The Bakersfield Californian Market Research Department, CoreLogic The Bakersfield Californian (data maintained by local appraiser Gary Crabtree) 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

9500 Ming Avenue (Just West of The Marketplace)


7:00am - 3:00pm Closed Sundays

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765 West Herndon Avenue


(Corner of Herndon and Willow - Target Shopping Ctr.) 11:00am - 8:00pm

Phone: (559) 323-0330

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Thank you, Kern County for your continued support!

It Manners a Lot By Lisa Kimble

Love thy neighbor?


oses commanded us to do it, State Farm promises to do so, yet many people haven’t the foggiest idea how to be a good neighbor. English poet Gilbert Chesterton, dubbed the “prince of paradox,” may have summed it up best when he wrote, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” Sadly, there’s a ring of truth there. One needn’t become traveling buddies, like the Ricardo’s landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz on “I Love Lucy,” or make themselves at home the way “Seinfeld” neighbor Cosmo Kramer did. But being friendly and courteous to the people we share street lights and property lines with shouldn’t be harder than lowering the national debt. If you have a neighbor who keeps an eye out, will grab your mail while you’re away, or brings you homemade baked goods at Christmas, consider yourself lucky beyond measure. They are becoming as rare as finding a meteorite in the backyard. If you have a neighbor you never see, or if you do, doesn’t bother to wave or speak but maintains their yard, luck is still on your side. Luck is running out if the nearby resident Lisa Kimble parks their cars on the front lawn. And if they have no idea that such things as noise and animal ordinances exist, and couldn’t care less what their lawn looks like, you’re down to dumb luck, if any. And the best of the worst in any zip code is the neighbor who has a steady stream of “visitors” at all hours of the day or night. If you share a sidewalk with one, start praying, and consider moving! Somewhere in the volumes of documents that renters and buyers are required to sign should be a pledge to treat one another with respect. Even cranky Mr. Wilson appreciated the simple smile or nod from Dennis the Menace’s parents. So start by introducing yourself and be friendly, but be wary of being snoopy. Bewitched resident Gladys Kravitz couldn’t help herself. Her

penchant for spying on Samantha and Darrin Stevens was, at times, hilarious. But no one on your block will find it amusing if you overstep your bounds by meddling in everyone else’s business. Some neighbors keep odd hours. If your employment requires that you leave in the predawn darkness, do it as quietly as possible. Slamming doors and revving the engine is unnecessary and inconsiderate. And perhaps the biggest unspoken cardinal rule of good neighboring is to honor the golden tenet of silence. If you’re having a party, give them a head’s up so they can make plans to be elsewhere. Just because you are an early riser does not mean your contracted workers should begin pounding, mowing and hammering as well. If you are a chatty early morning walker, remember, when the weather warms, many windows facing the street are open. Don’t make your lively conversation an unwanted wake-up call for everyone else. Not everyone is gifted with a green thumb, but if you are intent on starving all front yard vegetation, pour a slab of concrete and spare fellow residents up and down the street the agony of witnessing the daily de-beautification of the block. If you are an occasional “borrower,” make sure you are a good giver, too. A cup of sugar now and then is one thing, and should be reciprocated with an offer to pick up the mail or papers. If you are going to ask a neighbor to move large appliances on a triple-digit day, at least offer them a Dixie cup of water or cold beverage. A number of years ago, in the spirit of a bygone era, I welcomed a new family to the neighborhood with a homemade pie. The gesture was one of appreciation, as they had mercifully moved into the eyesore of the block and infused it with new life, paint and landscaping. In hindsight, I probably should have just written a “thank you” note. Instead, I was greeted with suspicion. The new owner looked at me as though I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead. Another new neighbor has moved in to the ‘hood. Undeterred, I will fire up the oven again, and prepare to deliver a warm welcome wrapped in my best “good neighbor” behavior. — Agree, disagree? Send your questions, comments or topics you’d like to read about to me at or visit

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Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

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Kelly Damian


hat are you guys doing with those pitchforks?” I asked, trying not to sound accusatory. One does not generally come across a gaggle of 10-year-olds with pitchforks during a regular school day, and so I felt like I had a right to know. “Cultivating,” Jonathon answered. The sun shone down on us with the bright intensity that comes after our valley air gets a good scrubbing from the rain. I was spending the afternoon in the Buena Vista Elementary’s Edible Schoolyard. “What does cultivating mean?” I asked in that annoying quiz-show manner that we adults tend to adopt around groups of kids. “I dunno,” said Jonathon. Then he planted the tines of his pitchfork in the earth, jumped on it and yanked up a clod of cover crop. “Plants are just like humans,” Jonathon said. “They need air, water and sun.” “Are you a spy?” student Ba wanted to know when I approached him, Shauna and Michael at the washing station. The three children were in front of a long trough washing carrots. For Shauna, however, this turned into a search for the most extraordinary carrot specimen. She held up each of her discoveries for the boys to see: the Kelly Damian tiniest (the size of a matchstick), the dirtiest (caked with enough mud to make an old work boot jealous), the biggest (about the size of a ruler). “I like this school,” Shauna said, “’cause it has a garden.” I wandered over to the cabbage patch. As a result of the recent frost, the tops of the plants were putrid and slimy. Three boys were busy pulling up the heads of cabbage and throwing them in a wheelbarrow. “I showed that cabbage!” one of them yelled after tossing it into the barrow. “This is so hard!” Micah exclaimed. “I can’t believe farmers have to do this.” Micah had a question for me, too. “Is that a V5 pen?” he asked. Indeed it was. We had a brief conversation regarding the superiority of the Pilot Precise V5 RT pen over all other writing instruments. If Miguel and Garret were not particularly interested in my pen, perhaps it was because they were surrounded by bees. They were philosophical about the inherent dangers of harvesting broccoli rabe. 30

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Buena Vista Elementary School’s Edible Schoolyard


Students turn into schoolyard gardeners, chefs

“The bees won’t really hurt you,” Garret said while he and Miguel snipped at the small heads of broccoli, carefully avoiding the bright yellow flowers and their black and yellow pollinators. Having scouted the outdoors, it was time for me to go inside to the kitchen. The school’s kitchen is set up with three separate work stations, each one with a cooktop, a sink and a large table for working and eating. Here the students were making their own ricotta cheese, and then stuffing it into large pasta shells with sautéed vegetables. Third grader Kyriaun assured me that thanks to the tutelage of his grandmother, he was an accomplished baker, but I was there to check out his stove-top skills. He and Esteban stirred the milk as it heated, making sure it simmered, not boiled. Their kitchen teacher, Lorri, came over to observe their progress and remind them that as cheesemakers, theirs was the most important job of the group. If they felt the pressure of their position, the boys didn’t reveal it. They simmered with confidence. Tania and Isabella, both fourth graders, turned out to be pros in the kitchen. Tania knows how to make rice, tostadas, pancakes and pozole. When pressed for the secret ingredient of her family’s pozole recipe, she relented and told me it was the chile. Don’t worry Tania. Your secret is safe with me. Finally after the cheese was made, the vegetables chopped, the garlic sautéed and the shells stuffed, it was time to eat. The room quieted noticeably when the 30 third- and fourth-graders settled down to eat what they had just prepared. “What adjectives would you use to describe what you just ate?” asked one of the kitchen teachers, Hannah. Answers ricocheted across the table: “Soft, delicious, yummy, green.” Karina ate the last bit of sauce from the plate. “If it was good, raise your hand,” she said. Judging from the hands, it was very good. — To read more, visit or follow Kelly on Twitter @kellydamian2.

Food Dudes

Sorella Ristorante Italiano Authentic Italian cuisine, family atmosphere nothing short of ‘fantastico’

Tutto Mare at Sorella proved to be a hit for the Food Dudes.

Photos by Greg Nichols


ave you ever been to Bonito, Italy? Many of you probably haven’t. No need to worry though, for a taste of Bonito can be found right here in southwest Bakersfield at Sorella Ristorante Italiano. Since Sorella’s inception in 1993, this fine establishment — created by owner Annunziata (Nancy) Cristallo, and her two daughters, Laurel Swift-Floyd and Lilian Larson — has been whetting the appetites of Bakersfield residents. After spending 45 minutes with Nancy in an engaging conversation, us Food Dudes learned much about her deep roots. As one of six children, she immigrated with her parents to Boston, and shortly after moved to


Bakersfield Life Magazine

Visalia, Calif., to setup shop and pursue the American dream. The original Rosa’s Italian Restaurant in Visalia soon branched out to Rosa’s in northeast Bakersfield, Sorella in the southwest, and Rosa’s at Pismo Beach. Many of the same family recipes are used daily; however, Sorella has had to adapt to the desires of its clientele. Numerous items are handmade like the dough, meat filling and pasta. With a great demand for an Italian restaurant in the southwest, Nancy recognized this opportunity and opened new doors. With offerings of various pastas and meats, a tranquil yet delightful ambiance, and the musical flavors of Frank Sinatra, we are thankful Nancy poured in all of her live savings to achieve her dream.

March 2013

Appetizers Derek: We started our meal off with warm French bread and Sorella’s surprising puttanesca sauce. It’s a green sauce with bell peppers as a key ingredient, and seasonings that produce a warm, fiery sensation comparable to the spicy personality of most Italians. Ask your waitress for the back story — the dish is named for a “wicked woman of the night.” David: The matriarch, Nancy, then brought us two more appetizers: the bruschetta pizza and sauteed mushrooms. If you like spicy, you have to try the mushrooms — just enough spice and with parmesan cheese bordering the plate. Vin: For the bruschetta, instead of using sliced French baguette, pizza dough is used

From left: Vin Dang, Rick Kreiser, Derek Abbot, David Leon and Rick Hudgens dig in to dessert at Sorella Ristorante Italiano.

Sorella Ristorante Italiano Address: 7800 McNair Lane (Behind the McDonald’s on White Lane) Number: 396-8603 Website: Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Video Hungry for more Italian fare? Check out the video of the Food Dude’s visit to Sorella on

to make a thin crust. The crust actually gives the bruschetta more flavor by adding a crusty texture. Rick K.: My personal favorite — the antipasto salad. With plenty of salami, mozzarella slices, black olives, crisp greens and a tasty house dressing, it never disappoints. Vin: Next, Rick H. and I tried the minestrone soup. As soon as you taste the soup, you can pretty much tell it’s made fresh daily. This vegetarian soup is loaded with vegetables cooked to the exact amount of soft-butnot-yet-soggy texture. The classic combination of tangy tomato, diced potato, pasta and beans is perfect.

Entrees Rick K.: Although I’d been to their family restaurants (Rosa’s, Joseph’s Italian Restau-

rant) a number of times through the years, it never hurts to consider recommendations from their experienced and friendly staff. And, our waitress Debbie was right. Although I don’t typically go for steak when dining Italian, I stepped out and ordered the rib-eye, medium rare. The generous and well-trimmed cut came out of the kitchen just right, with a flavorful garlic seasoning that made any extra sauce unnecessary. I have to say I’m a big fan of a nice pesto sauce, particularly on top of spinach ravioli. Debbie mentioned that I might enjoy mixing up their alfredo and pesto. Another splendid idea! Slightly sweet and crunchy, that little combo will be on my short list every time! Rick H.: As a vivacious seafood lover, I, of course, had to try the tutto mare. And I am elated that I did, for it consists of a plethora of delicacies of the sea: calamari, mussels, shrimp, clams, cod and scallops all slowly and tastefully simmered in fresh basil, garlic, secret spices and olive oil over a fresh bed of linguini. Each item is cooked to perfection:

the calamari rings, a bit sweet and not too chewy or soft; the mussels, tender and tasty; the shrimp, plump and garlicky; the clams, chewy and flavorful; the cod, mild to accent the more powerful natural tangs of the other items; and the scallops, tender with not too much chewiness and a flavor that makes them melt in your mouth. If you have never tried tutto mare, I implore you to try Sorella’s. It’s fresh, filling and fantastico! Vin: For my main entree, I went with the linguini with clams and white wine sauce — a staple in Italian cuisine. The linguini, cooked al dente, is soft enough to eat but still has a good bit of chewy texture. The delicious sauce is made using baby clams sauteed in fresh garlic, basil, olive oil and white wine. The flavor is great, not too salty or too watery. As an added bonus, the clams come without the shell; therefore, making it mess-friendly. For all the clam lovers out there, this dish will definitely please. Derek: As long as I can remember, I’ve never been one to crave seafood, but I’ve always loved shrimp. What’s that you say — shrimp is seafood? I won’t hear of it. Shrimp is a food in its own class, especially when fresh, prepared well and in jumbo form. With my passion for prawns, it’s no surprise that the shrimp scampi caught my eye. I ordered it, and instead of the pasta, I opted for gnocchi, which a friend suggested is a must. The scampi arrived with a bevy of beautifully cooked sauteed shrimp (as my Italian mother-in-law would say, “I want my guests to see a lot of shrimp.”) atop a layer of potato gnocchi, all swimming in a sun-colored sauce with vibrant green onions. The shrimp were plump, and upon first bite gave way with a pop, filling the palate with the garlic butter

Continued on page 34


Antipasto salad

Linguini with clams

Continued from page 33 sauce they’d absorbed. The sauce coated the tender gnocchi well. In combination, the shrimp, sauce, and gnocchi were a worthy representation of Italian comfort food. David: I consider Italian one of my “comfort” foods. So when picking out my entree, I went for a lot of comfort — a house special, the Italian trio. As the name would sug-

gest, the Italian trio is three dishes in one: lasagna, fettucini alfredo and chicken parmigiana. This is a lot of food and can easily be split between a couple. Nancy explained that these recipes are handed down through generations, and it shows. There are no fancy variations of the Italian classics, just extremely good traditional cuisine.

Dessert Rick K. and David: No one could blame us if we stopped with the entree, but Nancy would have none of that. We’ll admit that we asked for a box to take home left-

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March 2013

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Sorella has served southwest Bakersfield diners for more than 20 years.

overs because we didn’t want to miss dessert. The beauty of this gig is that we don’t have to order just one. We weren’t leaving until we sampled the bananas foster, spumoni (which you can’t leave an Italian restaurant without trying), and Nancy’s homemade tiramisu. Derek and Vin: Bananas foster — one word that describes the mountain of melted magic: bliss. It is loaded with four large scoops of soft vanilla ice cream, topped with banana pieces that are cooked in banana liqueur, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar and dark rum. The alcohol flavor is minimal since the liqueur and rum are greatly reduced during the cooking process. The combination of cold ice cream and warm cooked banana pieces is a genius idea. This was the dessert that grabbed everyone’s attention and had the five of us eating out of the same dessert dish. It’s not on the menu, but if you ask nicely, how can Chef Laurel say no? Rick H.: I sampled all three fine desserts, but clearly my favorite was the tiramisu. Rich with cocoa, mascarpone cheese, rum, espresso and lady fingers, this is a dessert that I will return for many more times. As a non-coffee drinker, the espresso was just enough to accent the rest of the fine mixture. Bellisimo!

Conclusion David: You always want to have that perfect, go-to place for a romantic evening where you will have friendly service, a good ambiance and great food. Sorella is one of those places in Bakersfield. Even though on this occasion I was with four other Dudes, I could see that the other patrons were feeling it. The atmosphere is cozy and every so often, waiter Mark Downing will get on the microphone and belt out some Sinatra or an Italian classic. Rick H.: Sorella has served southwest Bakersfield diners for 20 years, and now does minimal marketing as Nancy has built-up a clientele whom she proclaims is “family.” Thankfully, for us Food Dudes, who have supped here before and will return, we got a little taste of Bonito and a greater respect for a wonderful family achieving the American dream. We hope you will, too.


Food and Wine

Six sensational wines for springtime Pair with your favorite foods and raise a glass to warmer weather By David “The Wine Guy” Dobbs

Photos by Jessica Frey


pringtime — it’s the time of year I love most. During the winter months, I tend to drink exclusively big, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon, syrah or French Bordeaux. But when I start to see more sunshine, and things begin to bloom, so does my wine palate. My greatest joy in the wine business is to encourage people to experiment with new and different wines. Let’s face it, how much cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay can one drink? The following wines are exciting, enjoyable and different than most, and consider them when you’re in the mood to experiment. Cheers to these six interesting sips.


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

2011 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato This wine hails from Victoria, Australia, and is considered by many to be the finest moscato from Down Under. Pale cherry pink in color, the wine is intensely scented of fresh grape juice, crushed cherries and red blossoms. It’s also slightly sparkling, sweet, light-bodied and has low alcohol, at only 5.5 percent. You’ll be surprised by its refreshing acidity and enjoy the long, fruity finish. Seriously, you can’t help but like this wine. Normally, I will turn up my nose to a pink wine, but this one is a surefire winner. Do yourself a favor, surround yourself with friends and family that you enjoy, and open a bottle of Innocent Bystander. ($14.99)

2012 Butterfly Kiss Moscato This wine is lovely and bright, and the Moscato dances with aromas of honeydew and apricot along with hints of orange blossom and candied pineapple. The palate is silky and lush, combining rich stone fruit and fresh melon flavors. Serve it chilled on a nice spring day, paired with spicy Asian foods or grilled prawns. ($8.99)

2011 Marc Bredif Vouvray Another favorite of mine is the 2011 Marc Bredif Vouvray. What is Vouvray? In America, we call it Chenin blanc. Vouvray has a range of flavors from bone dry to late-harvest concentrated sweet. This wine is grown on the lower slopes of the Loire Valley in the village of Vouvray, France. If it is white and it comes from Vouvray, then it is Chenin blanc. French wine labels will not declare the varietal on the label because the government dictates what varietal you can grow in each region. This is unlike American winegrowing, where if you own land you can grow what you want. The depth of experience in winemaking in France means they know what grows best in a given area, and they mandate what is planted. The vineyards have soils of mainly chalk, clay and some flinty clay. This wine’s soil imparts an intense and fruity nose with notes of white flowers and quince. The Marc Bredif Vouvray is an ideal match with baked ham, white fish or sushi. ($18.99)

Continued on page 38


2010 Dustan Chardonnay from Sonoma

Continued from page 37

2011 Argyle Riesling from Oregon

All lists should include a chardonnay, as long as it is not another ho-hum, over-oaked offering. Have I found one for you! The 2010 Dustan Chardonnay from Sonoma comes from the famed Durrell Vineyard, which was first planted in the late ’70s for chardonnay. In 1998, Ellie Phipps Price purchased the vineyard and started replanting it. This bottling is from the new vines. Freshness and drinkability merge with Durrell longevity. It features expressive aromas of white flowers and Meyer lemon with notes of toasted almonds and vanilla. Full bodied flavors of mango, lemon curd and spiced pear with bright acidity give this wine a long finish. The options to pair this chardonnay with are endless, but I suggest any type of white meat like chicken or turkey. With fewer than 400 cases produced in the world, it’s worth looking for. ($29.99)

The 2011 Argyle Riesling from Oregon is a very special wine. This is one of the few domestic rieslings that I would recommend. This is not your grandmother’s riesling. One of the noblest grapes is riesling, and it is so versatile. I describe this wine as “youth in a glass.” It is light on its feet and smells of spring with lime blossoms, white lilacs and just a hint of lychee on the nose. This wine finishes medium-dry with some minerality reminiscent of wet stones. Argyle has made its name by producing outstanding sparkling wines and pinot noir. This wine is limited and worth the search. The Argyle Riesling is great with roasted pork, Mexican seafood dishes or goat cheese. ($18.99) 38

Bakersfield Life Magazine

2011 Jenner Pinot Noir Last up is my favorite varietal, pinot noir. My suggestion is the 2011 Jenner Pinot Noir, crafted from luscious fruit grown in the cooler regions of the Sonoma Coast appellation. Sonoma Coast, in my opinion, is the finest place to grow pinot noir. This wine is loaded with aromas and flavors of Bing cherries, red licorice and plums, which complements roasted duck or salmon very well. And again, it’s a wine that is balanced by its bold acidity (key word, acidity). This is my house wine; that should tell you something. ($18.99) — David Dobbs is the owner of Imbibe Wine & Spirits Merchant, 4140 Truxtun Ave. If you have any questions about wine or if you’re looking for a particular bottle, Dobbs is the person to call at 633-WINE (9463). Also, visit the store’s website at

March 2013


Art Imitates Art, II The artwork of 5-year-old Vienna, along with the interpretation of the child’s work by artist Jessica McEuen below.

Back by popular demand, The Foundry exhibit has artists recreate children’s works Foundry Director Alan Urquhart and Executive Director Christina Sweet — along with Director Alan Willis, not pictured — are partners in the downtown Bakersfield art gallery.

By Jasmine D. Lowe

Photos by Henry A. Barrios


ges ago we proudly presented our best pieces of artwork to our parents for the assurance of our talent. The bright sparkle in our eyes used to glisten as we smiled when Mom or Dad sandwiched our masterpieces between a magnet and the refrigerator. One would never assume that an ordinary child’s Crayola-colored drawing posted up on the refrigerator could ever come to life and be sold in an art gallery. But that’s exactly what’s taking place here with the help of professional artists. It’s a simple idea with truly amazing outcomes — an artist takes a child’s handmade image and brings them to life through acrylic and watercolor techniques. You then end up with an elaborate fragment of a young mind’s eye. The exhibit is called “Art Imitates Art, II,” and is organized by Christina Sweet, founder of The Foundry art gallery. Last year, Sweet asked kids to send in their artwork, gave The Foundry artists a chance to pick what children’s art they wanted to interpret, and gave the artists two months to complete their works. Artists at The Foundry — at 1608 19th St. — have taken


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

the children’s drawings, and creating the same basic geometric shapes, have painted a wonderful take on the younger artists’ imagination, Sweet said. The idea comes from New York-based artist Dave DeVries who created the book “The Monster Engine,” a project that uses illustration techniques to transform children’s drawings. DeVries — a comic, video game and concept artist — would use monsters drawn by children and render them realistically, with airbrush, acrylic and colored pencil, while giving them a gritty and devilish sort of look. The final collection of drawings made for the project ended up in a 48-page book by the same name. “I contacted him and he was really excited about us doing

the show last year,” Sweet said. “And because it went Go and Do so well last year, we decided to do it again this year.” What: “Art Imitates Art, II” For Sweet’s exhibit last When: Opens 5 to 9 p.m. year, all but four of the 23 March 1, during First Friday, works sold. The children and runs until April’s First attended the showing with Friday their parents, grandparents Where: The Foundry, 1602 and other relatives, she said. 20th St. “The kids love it,” Sweet Information: said. “We give them a little present for helping, and Interested in entering your they get to see what an art child’s piece for the 2014 show is about.” show, or interested in parThis year, The Foundry ticipating as an adult artist? plans to display works from Email sweet@bakersfield35 artists for the “Art tates Art, II,” exhibit, which opens March 1, during First Friday. The gallery will remain open for a month, until April’s First Friday. A portion of the proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to charities of the children’s choice.


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Darci Atkinson is the kitchen manager at Buena Vista Elementary’s Edible Schoolyard.

Darci Atkinson Eating fresh and healthy is important to this foodie Compiled by Hillary Haenes


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arci Atkinson started working at the Buena Vista Elementary’s Edible Schoolyard in February 2011, when the property adjacent to the school was still just a dirt plot. During the next several months, the kitchen and garden were built, and the Edible Schoolyard opened that fall. Atkinson, the 52-year-old kitchen manager at the Edible Schoolyard, teaches the elementary school students how to prepare food they have grown in the garden, as well as how to eat healthy and seasonal foods. She enjoys showing the children how to prepare and cook nutritious foods, she said — something that is very important to her. “It is not only important, but necessary, for children to learn how to prepare nutritious meals. Childhood obesity is rampant, so we must be diligent with our diets,” Atkinson said. “Our program encourages young children to eat


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

seasonal and healthy foods. The students share their skills and knowledge at home with family and friends creating a ripple effect throughout the community.” Feel inspired to prepare fresh and healthy dishes after reading this foodie’s advice. And give Atkinson’s spring panzanella salad recipe a try.

Cooking advice When I developed an interest in cooking: Many years ago, I took a course at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif. I loved the energy I found in the kitchen. How I find inspiration to create a new dish: Inspiration comes from the seasonal ingredients that are available. One of my cooking secrets: Keep everything as fresh as possible. An ingredient that I love to use in my recipes: Olive oil — it’s healthy, delicious and a great way to finish a dish. If I could spend a day with a famous chef, it would be: Julia Child. Advice I would ask her: What was the hardest decision you ever had to make as a cook?

Served with homemade croutons, spring panzanella is the perfect spring salad.

Tools of the trade Favorite piece of cooking equipment: My sauté pans. Must-have kitchen tools: A good French knife. Go-to cookbooks: “The Professional Chef” by the Culinary Institute of America; “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters; I love the New York Times’ dining section every Wednesday; and I’m on the web quite often! Spice cabinet essentials: Fleur de sel, cumin, za’atar, Aleppo pepper. Favorite cooking show to watch: I’m a fan of Ina Garten, and I can get pulled into a few episodes of “Chopped,” especially when I’m on the treadmill.

Globe-trotting Favorite cuisine: Mediterranean. Favorite local restaurant, and my order: I grew up at Mexicali, downtown. I spent Friday nights there with my parents and brother. Great memories. I started with a child’s plate (hamburger patty, rice and beans), and graduated to Esther’s Delight! Margarita? Yes, blended with salt. Best food memory: Eleven Madison Park Restaurant in New York City. The food is creative and beautiful, and the service is stellar. This restaurant received three Michelin stars in 2012, and is one of my top five restaurant experiences. Best culinary destination: There are many! The best so far: Paris. And I’m headed back next month with my daughter for a culinary extravaganza.

Most expensive meal: The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. Our dinner cost $300 for a nine-course tasting. Perfectly balanced dishes.

A few of my favorite things Always in the fridge: A variety of cheeses, white wine, and half-and-half for my coffee (I drink it like my grandfather — light brown). Favorite finds at the farmers market: Brussels sprouts (on the stalk), cheese and local honey. I’m addicted to: Weekend mochas at Sweet Surrender Bakery. Wine: Friuli Isonzo Pinot Grigio. It’s a beautiful unoaked chardonnay with a glass cork. Love that! Dessert: Anything with nuts. I love Dewar’s: two scoops of peppermint ice milk, hot fudge and almonds. The single tastiest thing I’ve eaten this month: Luigi’s ravioli with sage butter.

Favorite recipes At the schoolyard: Vegetable tostadas with homemade corn tortillas. At home: I check the refrigerator and pantry, and go from there. Healthy snack: Edamame. Local bakery: Sweet Surrender Bakery and Smith’s Bakeries on Union Avenue.

Continued on page 44


Continued from page 43

Spring panzanella This is a perfect spring salad with crisp asparagus, croutons and spicy arugula. Add a few red and yellow grape tomatoes in the summertime. For the croutons: 1/4 cup olive oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled 1 baguette, sliced lengthwise salt and pepper Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub whole cloves of garlic on baguette, then cube the bread into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to sheet pan and bake croutons, stirring once or twice, for about 10 to 15 minutes until crisp.

For the vinaigrette: 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar 1/2 lemon for juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 cup olive oil


Bakersfield Life Magazine

salt and pepper Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil, until emulsified, and season with salt and pepper. For the salad: 3 green onions, sliced thin 1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1inch pieces, then blanched* 4 cups arugula salt and pepper Directions: In a large bowl, combine onions, beans, asparagus and arugula. Add cooled croutons. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, then enjoy! To blanch: In a medium pot, add asparagus pieces to boiling water for about one minute, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Drain and pat dry. Your asparagus should be crisp-tender and bright green.

March 2013

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On the Road

2013 Cadillac ATS is out to compete for luxury sport sedan crown

You can manuever nearly all controls in the 2013 Cadillac ATS using the steering wheel panel.

Fast and luxurious By Jorge Barrientos

Photos by Michael Lopez


ho knew luxury and sport could fit so well together? Apparently, Cadillac did. For 2013, Cadillac unveiled a new model, the ATS — a luxury sport sedan that is sure to bring some competition to the market. In fact, already the ATS has received the 2013 North American Car of the Year award given by a national panel of 49 automotive journalists. After test driving the ATS throughout Bakersfield for several days, it’s no wonder. The ATS handles amazingly and is extremely powerful, packed with easy-to-use technological features and is luxuriously comfortable. And it’s aggressive. That is, it’s out to take out its competition, said Mike Thomas, senior sales manager at Three-Way Chevrolet Cadillac. It’s going after the BMW 3-series. “It’s affordable, compared to the BMW, and with more features,” Thomas said. “You get more bang for your buck.” The Washington Post agreed. It wrote that the ATS “easily competed with the BMW, and the proof was in the drive and the pricing. “It is the tightest, best-built car Cadillac has made, and one of the most fuel-efficient,” according to The Washington Post. 46

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March 2013

For 2013, Cadillac unveiled the new ATS model.

Here’s a few more details of what the new ATS offers: • Rear- or all-wheel-drive, three engines to choose from (2.0-liter, 270-horsepower turbo four; 2.5-liter, 202-horsepower four; 3.6-liter, 321-horsepower V6), six-speed automatic or manual; and three trim levels ranging from $34,000 to $52,000. • The new Cadillac User Experience system, or CUE, with navigation. This touchscreen system allows you sync with your phone via Bluetooth to play music and make phone calls. Actually, the entire panel — to set everything from temperature, to heated seats and volume — is used by touch, like an iPad. In fact, each ATS purchase comes with a new iPad, Thomas said. The Bose audio system is top notch, too, and the navigation is first-rate. • Tons of other neat features: keyless engine start, USB plug, rear view camera, voice recognition, and driver assistance to help prevent accidents. What stuck out to me the most was how powerful and sporty the ATS felt and how classy it looked at the same time. The handcrafted leather French stitched interior (chocolate brown for my model) and exotic wood trim simply made for an fast, elegant ride. It’s a brilliant fusion of luxury and sport.

Bakersfield Life's assistant managing editor Jorge Barrientos and wife Carla Barrientos cruise through the Haggin Oaks neighborhood in the 2013 Cadillac ATS.

The 2013 Cadillac ATS comes with the new Cadillac User Experience touchscreen system.

It’s all in the details Mileage 22 mpg fuel economy (19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) Price tag $41,195 standard price ($43,745 test drive model, with cold weather package) What makes the 2013 Cadillac ATS stand out from others? The technology of the Cadillac User Experience, or CUE, as well as the affordability for the value of the product. Target customer A younger, more outgoing buyer looking for a technologically-advanced vehicle. Three words that define the 2013 Cadillac ATS Quick, nimble, responsive. What do you like most about the 2013 Cadillac ATS? The overall look and stance, with a great value in car that’s affordable for most. Source: Mike Thomas, senior sales manager at Three-Way Chevrolet Cadillac


Hometown Hero

Judy Reynaga West

What I liked most about being in the Army: The opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds. My favorite memory in the Army: Returning to the United States, and being welcomed by a group of World War II veterans. We arrived at about 2 a.m. and a group of vets greeted us and thanked us for our service. I felt very honored.

U.S. Army Compiled by Marissa Lay


udy Reynaga West served for decades in the U.S. Army. Today, she is a school teacher at Sequoia Elementary in Shafter.

Age: 48 Former assignment: Sgt. First Class, transportation specialist and instructor. During my time, I was stationed at: Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Iraq; Kuwait; and various assignments throughout the United States. I was in the Army for: Nearly 23 years. Why I joined: For the education benefits. My greatest military accomplishment: Being an instructor of the basic training cycle while training Iraqi troops.

What I learned while being deployed: I learned to value my freedom, and to always be thankful for the work my fellow soldiers are doing to ensure our freedom. I’ve also learned to appreciate the work the veterans who fought before us, and what they’ve done to keep our country free. Valuable advice I learned in the Army: Take care of others first. My greatest challenge was: Having to juggle between teaching and my duties in U.S. Army Reserves when I left active duty. It was not difficult going from being in the military to being a teacher. The Army taught me valuable leadership skills that transferred to my teaching job. I have good classroom management because of my military background. What I missed most about Bakersfield, while being deployed: I missed baby carrots.

Judy Reynaga West on her first day in Iraq in March 2005


Favorite activities to do in Bakersfield: I like to go to the movies and restaurants at The Marketplace.

Judy Reynaga West is a teacher at Sequoia Elementary School in Shafter and a U.S. Army veteran. 48

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March 2013


The first thing I did when I got home after deployment: I cried when I saw the light of Bakersfield as the plane was landing. I was so happy to be back; Bakersfield never looked so beautiful! Something I’d like to accomplish this year: Visit the new Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, D.C.

— Know a Kern County resident who has served, or is currently serving honorably in the military? Email us at with the message subject line: Hometown Hero. Please include an email, phone number and/or Facebook link to reach the nominee.


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All-Star Athlete

Gyasi Zardes By Stephen Lynch


Bakersfield Life Magazine

CSUB forward Gyasi Zardes takes a shot on goal against San Jose State.

March 2013



s a forward on the Cal State Bakersfield men’s soccer team the past three years, Gyasi Zardes wowed fans, teammates and opponents alike with his spectacular playmaking ability. The 6-foot-2-inch 175-pounder from Hawthorne racked up goals at a record pace, and carried the Roadrunners to new heights, including a berth in the NCAA tournament during his junior year. Now the 21-year old soccer standout is about to take his immense talents to a much bigger stage as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Despite having another year of college soccer eligibility remaining, Zardes recently signed as a “Homegrown Player” with the two-time defending Major League Soccer champions. “It’s definitely a blessing to get picked up by a team such as the L.A. Galaxy, which has a lot of history, especially winning various championships and titles,” Zardes said. “It’s a great accomplishment, and I know I have more work to put in to keep to achieving more accomplishments.” Zardes has already began training with the Galaxy, a club that he previously represented at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels. He led the Galaxy U-20’s to the United Soccer Leagues Super-20 final in 2010. “So far it’s going great,” Zardes said. “I’m working hard each and every day. I’m definitely taking in as much advice from the coaches and others players, and trying to increase my level and adapt to the professional game.” Zardes, who is still taking online classes at CSUB in an effort to graduate with a degree in criminal justice later this year, decided to turn professional after scoring 33 goals in 37 games during the past two years for the Roadrunners. During that same time span, he

Gyasi Zardes Born Sept. 2, 1991 Son of Glen and Linda Zardes Attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, where he was a first team All–Bay League selection. Featured in the Oct. 3, 2011 edition of Sports Illustrated’s “faces in the crowd.” Ranked fourth in goals during his sophomore year at Cal State Bakersfield among all NCAA Division I players, fourth in goals per game (.90), seventh in points and eighth in points per game (1.90) . Semifinalst for the Hermann Trophy in 2011 after earning a spot on three different 2011 AllAmerican teams. Scored 38 goals while at CSUB, the second most in school history. Set CSUB Division I records for most points (8) and goals (4) in games this past year. Named second team Soccer America and third team College Soccer News All-American in 2012.

was twice named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year. “Everybody in college really wants to win a NCAA title, but I definitely feel I had done all I can do at that level,” Zardes said. “So the next step was to go pro." Now, Zardes couldn’t be happier that he will be playing for the Galaxy, a team he grew up watching. But Zardes acknowledges that his journey back to L.A. was helped by the detour through Bakersfield. “I’d definitely have to say (playing at CSUB) helped me a lot,” Zardes said. “I was always a skillful player, but it was kind of like I had the skills, but didn’t know the correct things to do with that as a forward. (CSUB coaches) Simon Tobin and Keith Costigan really opened my eyes, and really showed me various things to add to my game as a forward.” Zardes said he will always remember fondly his time in Bakersfield, on and off the soccer field. “The whole community was very welcoming,” Zardes said. “... Everybody was very friendly and I really appreciate that.” Zardes has the potential to become a MLS star once he gets accustomed the pro game. He certainly has the talent to make it big, as he recently told a reporter at the MLS draft. “My skill is just going to blow your mind,” Zardes said.





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Talk of the Town

Sonya Christian New Bakersfield College president By Bakersfield Life Magazine

Photos by Casey Christie

In October, Sonya Christian was introduced as the 10th president of Bakersfield College. It was a sort of homecoming for her. Christian served as BC’s math instructor and dean of science, engineering, allied health and mathematics from 1991 to 2003 until leaving for a job at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., where she worked as vice president and chief academic officer. She began her job as the leader of one of the largest community colleges in California on a part-time basis in December. Working full-time since January, Christian shared a bit about her new job with Bakersfield Life. How do you like being back in Bakersfield? Did you ever think you’d make it back to Bakersfield College? It is great to be back in Bakersfield. I’ve missed being able to go to In-N-Out Burger for lunch! I didn’t know what life would bring when I left Bakersfield for my work in ... Oregon. Life certainly has unpredictable twists and turns. Nearly 50 people applied for your job, and 14 were interviewed. Why do you think you were chosen? I came to the process with a love of Bakersfield because this is where I started my work. I think my affection for BC and the community was visible from the start. When interviewing, I said my experience in the educational system, wide range of work responsibilities, and my passion for community college education in general, and Bakersfield College in particular, gives me the background, skills and commitment needed to function effectively as president. How did you prepare for the president position? I spent time talking with faculty and staff, getting acquainted with what has taken place at BC since I left, what the current state of the college is, what needs and concerns are pressing, and what kind of teams can be formed to address those needs and concerns. What is your short-term focus at BC? In many ways, short-term and long-term plans are tightly connected. Education is facing budget issues nationally, so I am focusing on engaging with the current budget challenges. My primary focus is galvanizing all employees — all 717 of us — to have laser focus on our goals. I am also focusing on building our ties with the community BC serves. What about your long-term plans for the college? The fundamentals don’t change — 52

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March 2013

Bakersfield College exists to serve the educational and workforce needs of students and community. But the larger picture of higher education is certainly in flux. Ensuring that BC is well-positioned to address the changing national and international issues and pressures while maintaining our local character and commitment is essential to our long-term success. We are celebrating our centennial year — 1913 was when we opened our doors to students in our community. BC will honor our tradition of excellence and equity while we boldly move into the future creating learning environments of the 21st century. Why should local students choose Bakersfield College for their college education? All students find a friendly campus of dedicated professionals who are really here for the students, and who quickly become partners in the student’s growth and success, whether that is faculty, counselors, advisers, facilities staff — everyone is focused on the student’s success. There is a sense that when you come to Bakersfield College, the college is really standing there with you.

Southern California, and now my daughter, Eisha, is doing her residency in neurosurgery at USC. She graduated from Highland High School, and loved her experience here in Bakersfield. Outside of work, I enjoy long walks and meeting friends to enjoy the local cuisine at some of my favorite Bakersfield restaurants. I also enjoy movies.

Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your life outside of work. I grew up in Kerala, India, and came to the United States to do graduate work in math. I went to University of

For a full interview with BC President Sonya Christian — including how she prepares for work each day, and why she became involved in education — go to


Christian speaks to the crowd during an awards presentation by Congressman Kevin McCarthy in Memorial Stadium for the Renegades football team.

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For a Cause

Advanced Center for Eyecare Nonprofit, local doctors aim to give sight to underserved of Kern County

Optometrist Candi Kimura checks the optic nerve of a Standard Elementary student during a visit from OneSight’s Vision Van.

By Marissa Lay

Photos by Felix Adamo


amona Martinez remembers being legally blind in both eyes. “I couldn’t see at all,” Martinez, 58, said. “During my eye exam, they put two fingers in front of my face and I couldn’t see them.” She had put off getting her eyesight fixed, she said, because she didn’t have insurance. That’s when Dr. Daniel Chang and Advanced Center for Eyecare came to the rescue. Thanks to an eyesight-restoring surgery that Chang and the nonprofit provided in April last year, she now has 20/20 vision. “I was so excited,” she said. “I walked right out of there being able to see. I was so happy. I was finally able to see what he (Dr. Chang) looked like.” Advanced Center for Eyecare, or ACE, is a nonprofit that provides complete medical and surgical eyecare for the underserved around Kern County, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. About 42 percent of Kern County’s residents have no access, or extremely limited access, to quality eye care, said Justin Cave, executive director for ACE. Those kinds of statistics led doctors Joseph and Daniel Chang — of Bakersfield’s Empire Eye and Laser Center — to form ACE in 2010. 54

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

“Like my brother, I've always wanted to help the people who truly cannot help themselves,” said Daniel Chang. “There are few things I love more than to help people to regain their vision.” As Daniel Chang explained, “adjusting or writing off charges based on a patient’s ability to pay simply was not a viable business model for a professional medical practice. Establishing a nonprofit seemed like the best way to create a means by which they could care for all patients,” he said. ACE arranges for local volunteer ophthalmologists and optometrists to donate a portion of their time and expertise to provide eye care services to “a community that is in desperate need of reducing the amount of people who are living in darkness,” according to ACE’s website, In 2012 alone, 641 patients received eye care services, and 65 sight-restoring surgeries were performed, according to ACE. “Giving the gift of sight to a child or elder person so they regain their independence is an extremely moving experience,” said Cave. “I am so lucky to be able to experience this incredible event.” The progress and success of ACE not only relies on the volunteer physicians, but also on donations. “Donations are extremely important to the work we do,” Cave said. “No matter how many patients or surgeries we

do, we will always have patients on a waitlist for surgery because the need in Kern County is so large.” ACE and another nonprofit, Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, united at the beginning of this year. The two together will now provide routine eye exams, manage eye diseases, perform eye surgeries, and provide independent living skills for the visually impaired, computer technology and Braille assistance — all in the same place. ACE has also partered with nonprofit One Sight, which brings its “Vision Van,” named EyeLeen, to local schools to give pre-screened Bakersfield children vision care. The groups hosted one such screening in mid-February. And in April, ACE and the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, will move into a new, modernized facility at 1721 Westwind Drive, Suite B, across from the current location. “Thanks to a generous grant from Kern Health Systems, Dignity Health and a large individual contribution from Don and Earlene Barnes, our new facility will have the most up-to-date eye equipment,” Cave said. Daniel Chang said he hopes to see more participation among doctors, staff, volunteers and the community to help fulfill ACE’s mission. “With continued success, ACE can be a model for other communities to imitate,” he said. If you would like to make an appointment for eye care

Standard Elementary students use shades to protect their eyes after having their pupils dilated prior to an examination. services at ACE, call 215-1006. To donate to ACE, visit; call 664-9121; mail it to 1701 Westwind Drive, Suite 101 in Bakersfield, 93301; or drop off donations at the facility directly.

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Kimberly Keathley and her mom Corey ready for a morning ride. 56

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March 2013

Local cyclist must make difficult decisions while preparing for arduous race

About this series This is the final part in a feature on local athlete Kimberly Keathley — who has quickly made her mark in the cycling world — and her quest to prepare for the Race Across America. In Bakersfield Life’s January issue, we met Kimberly and learned her purpose for cycling. In this closing article, Kimberly is faced with the realities of doing the race solo, and makes a difficult decision.

By Kelly Damian

Photos by Felix Adamo


nterstate 50 is a knife slash across the state of Nevada. Brown tufts of scrub poke out of the snow that blanket the valley floor. Bakersfield’s Kimberly Keathley, riding her bike eastward toward Utah, paints a solitary picture in the early grey light. It is Nov. 10, and she is attempting to set a record for an eastbound crossing of the state of Nevada. Doing so will qualify her to participate in the Race Across America, an arduous 3,000-mile bike race that begins in Oceanside in June and ends in Annapolis, Md. The ride has not gone well. Kimberly scheduled this record attempt weeks earlier. A winter storm blew in unexpectedly, and rather than cancel, Kimberly decided to alter her plans. To arrive at the highest elevation during daylight hours, she started the course at 9:30 p.m. the previous night. Now, the next morning and 150 miles into the ride, the temperature outside is 19 degrees. Kimberly is averaging 19 mph — when she is on the bike, the air feels like 4 degrees. She is wearing layers upon layers of clothes, and her drinks are being prepared with hot water instead of cold; even so, her extremities are numb and a good rhythm has been elusive. At 7:47 a.m. something breaks up the monotony of the road. A man standing next to a crumpled truck in a ditch waves to the SUV trailing the cyclist. Keith Barnden, Kimberly’s crew chief, pulls over and taps on the horn, signaling Kimberly to stop. — Kimberly Keathley Keith runs 20 yards across the snowy ground to the ditch. The truck’s roof is flattened. Its wheels are bent out of shape and wedged a foot deep into the dirt. Every window has been shattered and bits of hair and blood are stuck in the driver’s side door frame. Cables, tools and deer chops wrapped in white paper litter the ground. Wedged behind the wheel is an elderly man. Half his face is covered in brown dirt and the other half in blood. He moans softly and his eyes flutter open and closed. “What happened?” he whispers. Keith runs back to the car for blankets and a first aid kit. The injured man’s name is Bob, and he is 68 years old. Keith tucks a blanket around him, and covers the injured man with whatever else might keep him warm: a scarf around his head, a pair of pants across his chest. Bob is prodded into talking, but he is disoriented and in pain. When his truck veered off the road and rolled into the ditch, it kicked up enough dust to catch the attention of the snowplow driver. If not for that cloud of dust, the accident may have gone unnoticed by the few drivers blasting by at 60 mph. An ambulance has been called, but this stretch of road between Reno and Eureka is dotted with only a few towns, many so small that they don’t even have their own police

I did my very best with the circumstances I was faced with. I realized ultimately that no matter how well one plans for things, life is beyond our control.

Continued on page 58


Continued from page 57 departments. Help is a long way off. For now Kimberly’s ride is on hold. An hour passes, and still there is no ambulance. Kimberly’s second support vehicle arrives and Marsha Barnden, a nurse and an official for the ride, evaluates Bob and determines that while he is definitely hurting, there is nothing anyone can do other than keep him warm. The decision is made that the fresh crew will continue to follow Kimberly, while the other crew will stay with Bob. Kimberly suits up again. She digs the snow out of her cleats, replenishes her drink bottles, and at 9:17 a.m. she is off. The ambulance finally comes, and once Bob is in the hands of the paramedics, Keith drives ahead to check on Kimberly. What he sees does not look good. At mile 185, her legs are no longer the relentless pistons they were the previous night; they move slowly, knees popping out slightly. Icicles hang from the bike’s handlebars, fork, cables and cassette rings. The brake pads are coated with a layer of ice. The storm is not over, and at three hours behind schedule, she will not reach the state line before dark. Keith drives up next to her, rolls down his window and shouts, “You want to stop?”

Tears pour down Kimberly’s cheeks. She nods. No record would be made today.

A higher purpose “There is a line between determination and stupidity. At what expense do you cross it?” Kimberly said later when reflecting on her first record attempt. “I wanted so incredibly badly to reach the state line no matter what, but would it be worth it to tear up my knees and possibly become uncontrollably hypothermic and be so far from help?” As she saw it, the record attempt was an opportunity to practice many things she would need to do for Race Across America: organizing a crew, finding officials, working out logistics and submitting paperwork. “I did my very best with the circumstances I was faced with. I realized ultimately that no matter how well one plans for things, life is beyond our control,” she said. She also wondered if God had placed her there in that empty bit of Nevada specifically for the purpose of helping the injured driver. Coming across the man in the crumpled truck reminded her of the higher purpose behind her bike riding. “God blessed me with this passion for cycling unlike any passion I’ve had for anything else,” the 23-year-old said. “I want to use the talent and passion that I’ve been blessed with to honor God by making a difference in the



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Kimberly Keathley, left, and her mom Corey Keathley.

world.” That difference Kimberly wants to make a difference includes raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

One of one million Just more than 1 million Americans are living with, or are in remission from, leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or myeloma. In November of 2011, Kimberly’s mother, Corey Keathley, became one of them when she was diagnosed with non-

Continued on page 60






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Continued from page 59

Changing course

Hodgkin lymphoma. In some ways, the diagnosis was a relief. Corey had been feeling awful for months — unable to eat or sleep, dealing with heartburn and exhaustion — and it was good to put a name to her symptoms. On the other hand, lymphoma is cancer, and cancer is dangerous. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society became a source of information and support for Corey. “I was a student of lymphoma,” she said. On the society’s website she found an accurate description of her disease, details about the latest breakthroughs in treatment, and a source of emotional support. While receiving her initial eight-hour round of chemotherapy, she got a phone call from a woman named Cheryl, a mentor from a peerto-peer support program called First Connection. The society matched the two women together because Cheryl, too, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She knew what Corey was going through, both physically and emotionally. “Talking about it, and finding out about it helps,” Corey explained. In the chemo room, talking to Cheryl and surrounded by people who were frail, bald and much sicker than she, Corey felt fortunate. “Going through this gives you a whole new level of compassion,” she said. Corey received seven more treatments of Rituxan, and on Sept. 5, 2012, she found out that her cancer was in remission. Now she is a trained First Connection mentor and is looking forward to being a source of support for other people. “There is comfort in being other-oriented, in helping others,” Corey explained.

This June, Kimberly and Corey Keathley will participate in “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,” a 100-mile journey around Lake Tahoe. The money they raise together will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Kimberly will not compete in the Race Across American this summer after all. The ultra-endurance training resulted in constant knee injuries, and a mild food allergy turned into a complete intolerance for all forms of dairy. On top of that, she received an invitation to race for the SpyGiant-Ride elite women’s cycling team. “I love racing,” Kimberly said. “That’s been my passion since day one. I fell in love with it on the first group ride even when I got blown out the back and thought my lungs and legs were going to erupt in flames.” The decision to change plans was not an easy one to make. It was preceded by hours of soul-searching, days of prayer and quite a lot of tears. “I felt that I couldn’t let down the people who expressed admiration for my goal, and feared disappointing people who I believed expected me to accomplish the endeavor.” Kimberly, like so many young people, is learning about the fine balance between ambition, commitment and flexibility. She is discovering that sometimes a plan must be muscled forward, but other times it is wise to follow the path as it unfolds. She is balancing the honor of being of service to others along with the importance of listening to the voice inside of her. It is not always easy. The way is not always clear. It is the tough work of being human.


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March 2013

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Like most of the furniture in the house, the dining room table and chairs were designed by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.


The main living area overlooks the lawn and gardens of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ablin House in the Bakersfield Country Club area.

Historic Homes OF BAKERSFIELD By Emily Claffy


ome of Bakersfield’s most historic homes have stood the test of time, even surviving a great earthquake that toppled hundreds of other buildings. In fact, some of these survivors have aged magnificently. These unique homes are spread throughout our diverse neighborhoods, bringing a special characteristic to their area. Here are four special standouts.

Bakersfield (Country Club) gem The Ablin House, built in 1961, is historic in that it is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Hidden deep in the hills of the Bakersfield Country Club, on a 1.5-acre lot surrounded by trees and juniper bushes that blend in with the mountainous landscape, rests the Ablin House. George and Millie Ablin wrote a letter to the famous architect about building their home with little expectation of a response. To the Ablin’s surprise, and after some deliberation, Wright agreed to the project. The Ablin home differs from most of Wright’s designs because it was built to accommodate the large family with seven children, a necessity that Millie Ablin made clear. The home is about 3,200 square feet and features five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a triangular swimming pool, and a spacious common area where a glass wall allows residents to enjoy a scenic view.

Continued on page 64


The Prairie-style home uses low flat eaves, and accents horizontal lines in the brick for dramatic effect. The brick blocks were custom mixed but had to be painted after workers smeared too much mortar on the surface. The pink color on the exterior was chosen because it was the least obtrusive color during sunrise and sunset, when the family would be leaving and coming home. The fabric used inside of the home has been replaced, though the original color was picked to match the colors of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Wright “unity of design” philosophy can be seen in the gridded concrete foundation that covers the interior, patio and driveway of the home. The grid uses 60-degree and 120-degree angles to ensure that every wall, chair and table is meticulously matched on the grid to offer an overwhelming sense of unity. Wright also believed that homes were a part of the environment, and were not meant to confine people, which is the basis of his “breaking the box” philosophy. The glass wall in the common area was designed in a way that removed the corners of the room to “break the box,” and drew the residents and guests outdoors.


Continued from page 63

The furniture was designed with the house and serve as key elements in the living space.

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The master bedroom of Teri Bjorn’s house in the Alta Vista neighborhood.

Alta Vista antique


This New Orleans French Quarter home brought a new style to Bakersfield when it was built in 1935, and is listed in the City of Bakersfield’s “Register of Historic Places.” Located near the former Green Frog Market in Alta Vista is another historic building — the home of Teri Bjorn. The 3,000-square-foot home was built by Hugh Curran, the original owner, and features sandstone brick, a Spanish tile roof, brick walls and wrought iron highlights. Curran’s neighbors built their homes in the 1920s, so he had to design a structure that made use of the long and narrow lot. The home has three levels: a basement, a first and a second floor. This is also one of the first reinforced masonry homes in Bakersfield with structural steel between the first and second stories, which served well during the 1952 earthquake. The home was originally painted white until a previous owner sandblasted the paint off and revealed the beautiful brick underneath. Former

Continued on page 66


Continued from page 65 Congressman and resident Bill Thomas removed the small orchard behind the home in the 1970s to add a pool area, and brick planters. This is one of the few renovations that the home has seen, and much of the home has remained unchanged, including the roof, windows, hardwood and cement floors, walls, most of the tile and plumbing fixtures and some light fixtures. The basement’s cement flooring is original with hand-

This 4,500-square-foot Westchester home was built in the 1920s. 66

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Westchester Only three families have occupied this 1920s Westchester home built by former local drug store owner J.A. Hughes. This 4,500-square-foot home still flaunts original furniture, and other features including light fixtures and cabinetry. The large entryway has been kept original and features a staircase that leads to both bedroom wings. To the right of the staircase, a small bathroom is furnished with the original sink. And in the entryway, next to the front door, is a small telephone room used to enjoy a private phone call. The living room and dining room are original; in fact, the dinning room table, chairs and buffet bar are original pieces left by the owner. Many of the light fixtures have been left untouched by the current owners. The original design of the home included a maid’s quar-

Continued on page 68


The basement of Teri Bjorn’s home includes a gas fireplace, kitchenette/bar and shower.


trawled tiling, identical to the tiling in the sunroom on the first floor. The basement stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter with the gas fireplace, and can be used as a guest space as it features a sitting area, laundry room, kitchenette/bar, bedroom and bathroom with a newly added shower. Other interesting items in the home include two fireplaces — one in the living room and a brick fireplace in the backyard — a curved wall above the staircase in the entryway that carries into the office on the second floor, a curved shower on the second floor, an almost completely original kitchen with the exception of a vintage-style stove and refrigerator, and the laundry chute that runs from the second floor to the laundry room in the basement.


Many of the original fixtures remain in the 1920’s Westchester home.

Continued from page 66 ter, closed off by a wall near the kitchen that has since been torn out. The majority of the kitchen was remodled in 2001, but some of the original cabinetry remains. One major change in the kitchen is the addition of glass doors that look out to the backyard in exchange for a wall with a small window. A new countertop and an island were added during the remodel. A sewing room on the second floor has been changed into a bedroom, and a sunroom near the master suite features new glass windows. The balcony in the backyard remains original, and has not experienced significant damage. An awning near the living room and a patio extension along the kitchen have been added. In the future, the current owners hope to add a mini master suite and family room to replace the maid’s quarter.

The buffet table is one of the original pieces of furniture in the house. 68

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013


Sunset-Oleander original Kevin and Emilee Gonsalves’ Sunset-Oleander home has been sitting pretty since the 1930s The English Tudor-style home of Emilee and Kevin Gonsalves was built in 1930, on one of the first streets in Bakersfield to have sidewalk street lights installed. The original owners of the house rented out some of the rooms for about 15 years after World War II. Today, the 3,400-square-foot home features five bed-

Continued on page 71


The newly-remodeled kitchen in the Gonsalves’ 1930s Sunset-Oleander home.

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rooms, four bathrooms, detached garage, high-pitched roof, a basement and a third story that serves as a loft area. The exterior is covered in dormant ivy, with green leaves that hug the house during the warmer months. The Gonsalves have made a few changes to the home since they moved in more than seven years ago. Significant changes took place after the couple agreed to let filmmakers film the 2011 “The Measure of a Man” in their home. Shortly after, the Gonsalves made improvements and extended hardwood floors throughout the house. During that process, they discovered mismatched linoleum flooring underneath, a material that was considered high-end in the 1930s. Kevin Gonsalves has also redone the landscaping in the backyard, adding all new stamp concrete, sprinklers, an awning and iron gates. The couple likes to blend their eclectic and more modern design tastes into the home, while still maintaining the classical look of the home. “I have super eclectic taste,” said Emilee Gonsalves, who added Spanish-style features in the newly remodeled kitchen. Original features include French doors, arched room entrances and built-in shelving units. The Gonsalves are interested in turning their basement into a wine cellar, but are content on enjoying their new kitchen for now.


Continued from page 68

The exterior of the Gonsalves’ home is covered with ivy.

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Poems upon a sky Strategically planted, Bakersfield’s trees are a gift to our environment By Lisa Kimble

Photos by Michael Lopez


n all their stately grandeur, trees are, as poet Alexander Smith once wrote, our very best antiques. And author Kahlil Gibran once described trees as “poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” The ultimate natural coolant, urban forests provide enormous benefits. The beauty of our community, the quality of its air, the character of our neighborhoods and our own level of comfort all rest on her mighty branches. One acre of trees provides enough oxygen to support 18 people. They can help lower temperatures by up to 20 degrees in the summertime, break bitter winds and buffer the noise of our concrete world. Strategically planted, trees can lower utility needs significantly, lessening the collective carbon footprint on our urban landscape. And the larger, the better. “There is an energy savings with larger trees,” said local certified arborist Dana Karcher. “They help in the absorption of pollutants and storm water.”


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

I love everything about it. It is beautiful, and the texture of the bark is exquisite.

— Local arborist Dana Karcher on the cork oak at the corner of 21st and Beech streets

Some of Bakersfield’s oldest and majestic trees can be found downtown, including the valley oaks at Beale Park. Among Karcher’s favorite is a cork oak tree at the corner of 21st and Beech streets. “I love everything about it,” Karcher said. “It is beautiful, and the texture of the bark is exquisite.” Experts like Karcher enthusiastically endorse varieties like the Chinese pistache, California sycamore and Chinese elm. “These trees adapt well to the environment and are drought-tolerant,” said City of Bakersfield Arborist Race Slayton, who also favors liquid ambers and oak trees like the Bradford pear. “The Chinese pistache has a great root system and will grow to be 25 to 30 feet in height,” Slayton said. “It also provides a nice canopy and is easy to maintain.”

The right tree Among the varieties local experts don’t recommend for Bakersfield’s arid climate is the coastal redwood. “Years ago, there were thousands of coastal redwoods planted downtown, but they didn’t do well,” Slayton said. “With water conservation, the city stopped planting them.” Experts say other trees to avoid include the mulberry,

because of its aggressive root system, and the female cottonwood. Selecting the right tree can be a daunting task. Arborists agree that before you decide on what to put down into the ground, look it up. The first thing to do is think about, as PG&E advises, “the right tree, the right place.” “Don’t plant under power lines, which is a common mistake people make,” Slayton said. And check for underground utilities as well. Then ask yourself how big the tree will look in the future. Something that seems small and manageable can be enormous in 20 years, Slayton said. Next, examine where the tree will be planted. “You have to look at the space first, and where you are going to plant it,” Karcher said. “Trees like the valley oak will get large.” She suggested the website,, which can help even novices with their selection, sizing and gives useful information to take to a local nursery.

Tips from the experts How and where the tree is planted is critical. Don’t plant

Continued on page 75


Why our trees matter Trees keep our air supply fresh by absorbing carbon dioxide. Trees help reduce yearly heating and cooling costs by $2.1 billion. The average tree in a metropolitan area survives only about eight years. A tree does not reach its most productive stage of carbon storage for about 10 years. Tree roots stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer. Source:

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BUSINESS MEETINGS? Continued from page 73 right up next to a house. As the roots grow, they will interfere with sprinkler and sewer lines and affect the foundation. “Choose a tree with a small root system when selecting something for a small yard,” said John Varela, with General Tree Service, who added that the hole should be twice as wide and the depth of the root ball. “If it is being planted on a lawn, provide a ring of mulch around its base,” Karcher said. “Planting it right at the beginning will give your tree many more years.” While caring for a young tree doesn’t require much expertise, maintaining the integrity of it as it grows can be tricky. Don’t overwater or root rot will develop underground. Experts recommend watering once a week during the winter, and at least three times a week in the summer, if there is no covering. And never top a tree. Water will sit on open cuts, attract bugs and lead to decay. “That is the best way to kill it,” said Slayton. “Years ago, it was a common pruning practice here, but in the last few years we have planted new trees in anticipation of the decline of those older trees that had been topped.” Pruning, Karcher said, should be done after a tree has lost all of its leaves in the fall. “Don’t trim off essential branches, or take more than 25 percent of the tree off at one time.”

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Welcome to

Start the season by enjoying the outdoors with one of these local events, activities Fiddlenecks cover the ground along Highway 58.


spring in Bakersfield

Compiled by Marissa Lay, Jasmine D. Lowe, Matilde Ruiz and Jeneal Wood



here is no better way to enjoy the spring than to be outdoors, especially before the Bakersfield heat kicks in. And there are plenty of events and activities locally to help kick off the season. Here are just a few of them.

Spring’s wildflowers Wildflowers galore: The spring season is not complete without taking a trip to see the wildflowers surrounding Bakersfield. Not much can compare to the serene feeling one can get from gazing at the wildflowers that come with spring. Pack the car, pack a picnic, pack a camera and enjoy a fun-filled day with all that nature produces. The prime blooming period for California’s wildflowers is from March to May. They can be viewed at several locations including the Carrizo Plain, along the foothills of Bakersfield, off Granite Road, at the Audubon Kern River Preserve, in the Elkhorn Plain near Highway 58, and at Wind Wolves Preserve, to name a few. The amount of wildflowers during the season depends heavily on the previous season’s weather. To check the general wildflower status, visit, or call The Theodore Payne Foundation’s “wildflower hotline,” during the weekends from March to May, at 818-768-3533.

Take a swim Underwater EGGStravaganza: Skip the traditional egg hunt this year and take part in the Underwater EGGStravaganza at 11 a.m. March 23 at the McMurtrey Aquatic Center instead. For only $5 per person, the entire family can hunt for weighted eggs underwater. It’s an event for all ages, and all swimming abilities. Any child shorter than 48 inches must be accompanied by a parent in the water. T-shirts will be available for $10, and goodies will be awarded for egg hunters’ efforts. And be sure to bring your


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camera for the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny. For more information: 852-7430, or download the event brochure at

Need for speed March Meet: This year the March Meet is celebrating 55 years of drag racing. There is much to see and do at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, which features drag racing, hot rod showings and various vendors. Be on the edge of your seat as cars roar down the track, and check out the fine craftsmanship of classic hot rods. Join in on the fun with fellow car lovers while you camp out in your RV for the weekend, or just visit for the day. March Meet runs from March 7 to 10. Tickets:

Join the Scots 18th Scottish Games and Gathering: The Kern County Scottish Society will be invading the Kern County Fairgrounds on March 23 with the 18th annual Kern Scottish Society Games and Gathering. Bring friends and family and

Take a run Thin Mint 5K: The first 1,000 runners to register for the Thin Mint 5K will receive a box of Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies at the race, on March 2. And you won’t have to feel guilty about eating a box of cookies, because of all the calories you will burn from running a 5K. The race begins at 8:30 a.m., and takes place at The Marketplace. Registration is $30 for adults, and $10 for kids. Runners will receive a free T-shirt, goodie bag and, of course, the cookies. All proceeds go to the Girl Scouts. For more information, and to register: Kilt Classic 5K Run: Wearing a kilt is encouraged for this 5K run on March 9 at 2900 Royal Scots Way, benefitting the Highland High School track and field team. Awards will be given to the top three female and male finishers in each age group. Pre-registration is $20, $15 without a T-shirt, and $25 on race day.


enjoy a day full of entertainment, Celtic music and Scottish culture. Scottish Heavy Athletics is hosting the 2013 games. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Scottish party and dancing and Ceilidh portion beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adult general admission, $13 for senior citizens (60 and over), and free for students, military personnel with ID, and children 10 and under. Tickets for the Ceilidh are $16, or $26 for a combined games and Ceilidh ticket. For more information: or call 865-8890.

Deadline is March 1. Information: 872-2777 or or St. Patrick’s Day 5K: Dress in all green attire for this run on March 16, and show off your St. Patrick’s Day spirit. The second annual Cal State Bakersfield PEAK St. Patrick’s Day Run will feature a 5K or one mile run, a costume contest and a raffle for prizes. The event begins with registration at 7 a.m. at The Park at River Walk, and the race begins at 8:30 a.m. All ages are welcome, and awards will be given out for different age group categories. Pre-registration deadline is March 11, and is $22. Registration on the day of the race is $25. For more information: email or call 654-2378. Pre-register:

Move to the beat 47th Bakersfield Fiesta: Grab your partner, put on your dancing

Continued on page 78

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dancing attire in the evening. Requests for rounds start at 6 p.m. March 15, and the events continue until 8 p.m. the same day, throughout the day on Saturday, and on Sunday morning as well. Pre-registration for the event is $22 per night, or $25 per night at the door. For more information, or to pre-register:, call 399-3658 or email

Continued from page 77 shoes and head to Kern County Fairgrounds from March 15 through 17 for a fun-filled fiesta. Whether you have square danced for years, or you have never managed to move your body to the rhythm of a beat, you can still join in on the excitement. Don’t forget to put on your bolos, kerchiefs and cowboy boots. To keep in the traditional modern Western square dancing theme, attendees are required to dress in square

Enjoy your Earth, space “Dynamic Earth” and “Black Holes” at The William M. Thomas Planetarium: Take a seat underneath the beau-

tiful images of the cosmos on a guided tour through our universe. The William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College will serve as a venue for two different world-changing presentations: “Dynamic Earth” and “Black Holes.” The “Dynamic Earth” presentation, which reveals the story of our planet through up-to-date computer simulations on a dome screen, will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 21. The “Black Holes” presentation will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 18. Tickets for “Black Holes” will go on sale March 21. The doors for both shows open at 7 p.m. and close promptly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $6.50, and $4.50 for seniors and children. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets:, or call 395-4326.

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March 2013

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P E O P L E TO WATC H NOMINATE SOMEONE WHO IS A: NOMINATE CChampion hampion in in oour ur community community //// SSuccessful uccessful uup-and-coming p-and-coming lleader eader GGame ame cchanger hanger iinn hhis is oorr hher er pprofessional rofessional ccareer areer oorr sschool chool AACCEPTING CCEPTING NOMINEES MARCH 15 TTOO APRIL 12 Bakersfield Life will celebrate the excellence of 20 local individuals under the age of 40 who exhibit leadership qualities in their personal life, career eer,, community or academics and who represent the people to watch in Bakersfield. Submissions accepted at during the nomination period only. The nominee must be between the ages of 18 and 40 during nomination period. For detailed criteria information visit Deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2013. Winners will be published on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in Bakersfield Life Magazine.


Replace your roof Sponsored by BSW Roofing Contractors Inc. Buckling shingles: Like algae, buckling shingles are another unsightly problem on a roof. But buckling shingles are more than just an eyesore, they actually might indicate significant problems. Buckling shingles also indicate that the roof is poorly ventilated, which can take years off the roof’s life expectancy while driving up home cooling costs along the way. Granule loss: Granule loss is typically a byproduct of normal shingle wear and tear that results from inclement weather, such as hail. Any granule loss, even if slight, should be addressed, as the side effects of granule loss include a weakened roof and leaking. Tips from the

sponsor Ernest Eloy Montoya opened Bakersfield Shingles Wholesale on May 1, 1971. From the very beginning, Ernest Montoya was dedicated to serving Kern County with honest service at fair prices so that even the “little guy” who had a family and a budget could literally keep a roof over their head. The world has changed a lot since BSW opened for business. Today, his son, Ernest Montoya Jr. runs the company with the same commitment to providing quality products and services for its customers as his father did when he opened the business 41 years ago.

Mold: Mold is not visible on the outside of the home. Instead, homeowners should look in the attic of a home to see if there is any mold growth. If there is, the roof is likely leaking, and the health risks of mold growth in a home are substantial. Mold will need to be removed and all options, including a roof replacement, must be considered to keep mold from coming back.

Roof rot: Perhaps the most discouraging sign a homeowner can see on his or her roof is roof rot. Roof rot appears when a roof is in considerable decay and, if not addressed, its consequences can stretch far beyond the roof, damaging other parts of the home thanks in large part to water getting through the roof.

There are warning signs homeowners can look for that might indicate a roof replacement is on the horizon. Recognition of these signs can help homeowners be more financially prepared should the day come when the roof needs to be replaced. The presence of algae: If the roof has lots of dark streaks and stains clinging to it, that is likely algae, which can grow on the roof for quite awhile. Algae does not necessarily do any damage to a roof, but it does do some damage to a home’s physical appearance. If algae is a problem on your roof, spray washing with a mixture of water and bleach can effectively remove it.


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March 2013

Did you know? Homeowners don’t have to break the bank when it comes to replacing a roof, which can be made from a variety of materials that can vary greatly in price. Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing material and that budgetfriendly price is one reason why asphalt shingles are so popular. Ceramic tiles are another roofing material, but these tend to be quite expensive. Slate tiles are another roofing material, but one that’s very labor-intensive to install and, as a result, costly as well. But slate tiles are very durable, in some cases lasting as long as half a century or more.

— Metro Creative Services


Home design Sponsored by Red Door Interiors

Many homeowners may not realize that there are many ways to make updates and changes to a home that do not require a major overhaul or a large price tag. The following are seven home design projects to consider with the help of an interior decorator. Furniture. Interior designers know how to arrange furniture for maximum appeal. Find a focal point in the room and angle the furniture toward it. Don't make the focal point the television, however. Try changing the placement of chairs and sofas. Simply moving a curio cabinet from one corner to another may also make a difference. Lighting. Lighting at different levels in the room can create 82

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a vibrant impact. Many homeowners mistakenly put in a couple of table lamps and think that will be adequate. However, properly illuminating a room means varying the lighting to create different moods at different times. Plus, more light can make a room feel more welcoming. Pillows or drapes. Changing a few aspects of a room can give it an entirely new look. If you want to add a splash of color but don’t know what to do, think about incorporating some new throw pillows or change the curtains. An accessory here and there in a bright color also can incorporate a new hue without it being overTips from the whelming. sponsor Knobs or small • Working with an interior designer on a home accents. Give a room a improvement project can be new look by focusing on time- and cost-effective if the small details. Switch you plan and collaborate out cabinet knobs for carefully. Before you start something updated and with an experienced interior designer, ask yourself: What modern. Take inventory of do I want, and how much do wall outlets and light I want to spend? switches and think about • To find the right designer, selecting new ones that ask for referrals from real coordinate with your estate agents, along with home decor. your neighbors and friends whose homes you have seen Plants. Empty corners and liked. or spots you’re not certain • Come see what’s new at how to fill may benefit Red Door. By wisdom a from a plant. Plants are house is built ... through inexpensive ways to add knowledge its rooms are instant color and visual filled with rare and beautiful treasures (Proverbs 24: 3-4). appeal to a room. Plus, having live plants can help improve indoor air by filtering out contaminants. A home with plants also feels more cozy. Wall art. It may be time to look at your photos and artwork and make a few adjustments. Finding new prints to hang could instantly change a room’s ambience. And you needn’t spend a lot of money on professional photography, either. Grab your camera and take a few close-up shots of flowers or take in a landscape scenery. Many of today’s home printers can produce professional-quality prints in minutes. Coat of paint. After you’ve exhausted other avenues, choosing a new paint color may be the new look you desire. Painting is one of the least expensive, yet most dramatic, methods of changing a home’s interior. With dozens of hues to choose from, you will have scores of opportunities to explore fresh new colors for your home. — Metro Creative Connection

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Choose the right homebuilder Sponsored by McMillin Homes

Whether the kids have all grown up and moved out, or if the kids are on the way and it’s time to expand a living area, building a new home is an exciting, yet often agonizing experience. The reasons for building a new home are many, but regardless of the reason, the process of choosing a builder should remain the same. Prospective homeowners with their eyes set on building a dream home to call their own can follow the following advice. Look for a builder with a solid reputation. A builder’s reputation speaks volumes, but it doesn’t have to speak for itself. That’s because a builder who has spent years providing personal service, innovative design and quality workmanship will no doubt have a host of happy former customers ready and willing to offer their input. If during the interview process a builder appears reticent to share his work or experiences with previous customers, this should be a red flag. Reputable builders will be proud of their work and more than willing to show it off. Find a builder who is flexible. You will be paying to build your home, not the builder’s home. A builder should be flexible and ready and willing to meet your needs, no matter how unique they might be. Look for a builder who does more than build. A good builder should do more than just build. A builder should provide a network of qualified professionals to make the process go more smoothly. This network should include real estate and building consultants, interior designers, architects and engineers. Such connections can provide peace of mind and will 84

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Tips from the sponsor It’s so important to choose a builder with core values rooted in integrity and customer service. McMillin Homes has built a solid reputation as a quality-leader in homebuilding for more than 50 years, and is committed to providing exceptionally constructed and innovatively designed homes that stand the test of time, as seen in Saybrook and Sanibel at Bridgeton in northwest Bakersfield. You will notice the difference the moment you drive into this beautiful community: unique exterior elevations, spacious 10,000 square-foot home sites, standard three-car garages and solar. McMillin’s team of professionals takes pride in providing an outstanding home buying process.

also illustrate that a builder is both respected in the community and is intent on ensuring your home becomes the dream home you envision it to be. Don’t build on the cheap. Buyers who plan to build their own home are in the unique position to ensure their home is as safe and high-quality as possible. This isn’t always the case when buying a resale, so make the most of your opportunity and use only top-of-the-line construction materials and features, and choose a builder with experience in working with such materials and features. Building on the cheap could prove disastrous in the not too distant future, so don’t sacrifice on quality when building a new home.

— Metro Creative Connection


Choose an air conditioner Sponsored by Econo Air

One of the most expensive purchases you could ever make for your home is an air-conditioner. You want an AC system that not only lasts a long time, but also one with high-efficiency that reduces cooling costs. To find the right system for your home, here are some basic points to remember during the process. Getting the right-sized system, and the right contractor, are key. Unless you have worked in the HVAC field, you cannot expect to competely understand all of the details in air-conditioning. Many, many contractors are not licensed. This puts your home and your system at serious risk of personal liability issues if a system isn’t installed properly by a licensed contractor who can guarantee the quality of the work. Pick a contractor based on recommendations. Check


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March 2013

with the Better Business Bureau to see if a contractor has been the subject of complaints, and get a list of past customer names, and how long the contractor has been in business. Get at least three written bids on your project, and make sure you’re comparing bids based on identical plan specifications, and scope of work. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid. In fact, beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others. It probably indicates that the contractor made a mistake, or is not including all of the work quoted by his or her competitors. Tips from the You may be headed for a sponsor dispute with your contracChoose your contractor tor if you accepted an wisely. Make sure your conabnormally low bid. It’s tractor is state licensed, and possible that a low bidding that the license is current and in good standing. Make contractor may cut corsure your contractor has ners, or do substandard workers’ compensation and work to make a profit. liability insurance. Is your Contractors are contractor including the city or county inspection permit required to have a and state required duct testlicense number on their ing, plus all the upgrades to business card, and on all make the job a safe and bids and contracts. Seeing legal installation? How is the a license number doesn’t equipment rated in quality and efficiency? “The bitternecessarily mean the ness of poor quality remains license is valid. Check the long after the sweetness of license status. Although an low price is forgotten.” (Benunlicensed operator may jamin Franklin, 1794). Call Gary at 837-1700 for more give you a low bid, the information. risks of possible financial and legal consequences outweigh any benefits that a lower bid may seem to offer. You can find a licensed contractor’s address of record when you look up his or her license status. Verify the contractor’s workers’ compensation and commercial general liability insurance coverage. Ask to see a copy of the certificate of insurance, or ask for the name of the contractor’s insurance carrier and agency to verify that the contractor has insurance. In California, a contractor is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you could be financially liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. A good contractor will know about options to suit your home better than what the homeowner has in mind. A good contractor also knows which manufacturers give the best warranty. — Contractors State License Board,




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Choose an antique store Sponsored by In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Consignment and Liquidations

It is difficult for some of us to keep up with the latest fashions when it seems that they change almost weekly, especially in the area of home decor. In that light, it may be a good idea to forget buying new items at all and focus on classic items that have been around for a very long time. For the fashion conscious, staying power is important, and what has more staying power than an antique? The first step to investing in antiques is choosing a store that offers genuine antiques, not just old items. As a general rule, any item should be 50 to 100 years old before it is considered an antique, although all old items are not


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necessarily antiques — some are just old. Antiques are valuable because of their age, their workmanship and their popularity among collectors, which also helps to set the price of the piece. Another aspect to consider is the difference between collectible, vintage and antique. Many items are collectible, as this depends on the collector’s personal taste, from Pez dispensers to Mickey Mouse watches or salt and pepper shaker sets. Items peculiar to a particular era are called vintage. Age helps to determine if an item is considered vintage, but the decade in which it was manufactured matters more than how old it actuTips from the ally is. sponsor Although it is possible In Your Wildest Dreams Antiques, Consignment and to purchase genuine and Liquidations is a full-service valuable antiques online company specializing in through auctions on the helping people and businessInternet, care must be es liquidate and recycle their taken to really know what personal and/or unused business assets. Our knowlis being purchased. edgeable, diverse and comOften the best values passionate staff members are found locally and great are always ready to listen items can be found to perand help you with your consignments or on-site sales fectly fit in with your events. We handle many home’s decor. Check your quality items in our 21,000newspaper for advertisesquare-foot showroom rangments, and put the word ing from designer label and out through friends, relavintage clothing, hand bags, shoes and accessories to tives and co-workers that beautiful antique, retro and you are looking for a repdecorator furnishings. Local utable antique dealer. boutiques consign their new When you have nardesigner label clothing and accessories. You can also rowed your choices down find estate, costume and to two or so dealers, visit fine jewelry. We are treasure each and try to establish a brokers! rapport with him or her. This is the best way to choose an antique dealer that will be willing to work with you whenever you are looking for antiques for investment or to enhance your home. Most antique dealers are eager to talk about the items they offer and are a wealth of knowledge on collections or one-of-a-kind items. Once your dealer gets to know you and what you like, he or she will be more than willing to contact you as soon as a piece that may interest you becomes available. Finding a friendly antique dealer and forming a lasting relationship is the best way to choose an antique store that you can count on for many years to come. — Metro Creative Services

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Make your home solar Sponsored by Bland Solar and Air, Inc.

Tips from the sponsor How do you choose a solar company? Glenn Bland, owner of Bland Solar and Air, said the answer is simple — choose one with experience. Bland has been in the solar industry since 1985. Not only do they sell, install and service top-rated solar systems, but Bland has personally trained more than 2,000 people in Kern County and California. Whatever solar company you may choose, chances are Bland has trained them. When choosing a solar company, make sure you’re working with a local and accredited company, and also an expert in the field. For more information, call Bland Solar and Air at 836-3880.

Private residences consume lots of energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, Americans are increasing their electricity consumption at home, with some homes even using more energy than small businesses. The EIA states that on average, a home uses between 936 and 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month. There is also a heavy reliance on natural gas, one of the primary fuels used to heat homes. On average, homes use 100 million BTU per year for heating and cooking needs. Thousands of dollars are spent every year on home heating, cooling and electricity needs, but there are many different ways to conserve energy. This includes using alternative energy sources that may be better for the planet and more cost-effective for the average homeowner. When considering green energy, many homeowners think of solar panels, which currently account for .01 percent of all electricity used in homes across the United States. However, solar power could provide as much as 10 percent of that elec90

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tricity by 2025. California leads the nation with the most solar projects to date, but homeowners across the country are considering solar panel additions to their homes. While the initial cost of solar panel installation can be considerable, the panels generally pay for themselves in energy savings within a few years of installation. Also, some solar power companies now allow homeowners to rent the photovoltaic panels, which can cut down on the cost of installation. Choosing green energy may not involve any effort on the part of the homeowner. In fact, there are many different companies that work in conjunction with traditional energy suppliers so that a portion of the energy supplied to homes comes via an alternative energy source. Some companies enable homeowners to switch a certain percentage of their energy usage to renewable energy. Homeowners interested in making any other changes for energy savings can sign up to have an energy audit. Conducted through a utility provider or a third-party organization, energy audits assess many things in the home. Appliances are examined, as are insulation and the types of windows and doors used in the home and an inspector will check the home for drafts. A report is generated, and homeowners are provided recommendations as to how they can improve their home's energy efficiency. Making such changes may make homeowners eligible for tax breaks or even rebate incentives while reducing the cost of their monthly utility bills. Homeowners hoping to embrace green energy have many options at their disposal. It’s just a matter of researching those options and taking the initiative to make changes. — Metro Creative Connection


Choose a barbecue Sponsored by Econo Air

Choosing your grill should start with thinking about how you want to cook for family and friends. Ask yourself the following questions before you venture to your local grill store. What is your favorite grilled food? If hamburgers, hotdogs and the occasional steak are as far as you get, there is a wide range of basic gas and charcoal grills to choose from. However, a Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association survey shows that 68 percent of grillers see themselves as “better than average or extremely proficient at grilling.” So if you don’t want to be running in and out of the kitchen when you could have everything you need happening at the grill, consider a grill with more than two burners, precise heat control and a side and rotisserie burner. How many people are you grilling for? The cooking surface on grills can range from 250 to 1,000 square inches. Grilling for four to eight people and occasional crowds of 12, you should have 500 square inches or more. If you’re preparing a feast on a regular basis, look for a grill that is equipped with two separate cooking surfaces. In addition to cooking surface, look for the depth of cookbox allowing you to put a turkey or large roast on the grill. What are the burners like? Check out the burners and understand what they are made of, and how are they shaped. Dual Tube style burners, and H- or eight-shaped burners, offer the most even heat distribution and excellent performance. Is there something covering the burners to protect them and dissipate the heat? A welldesigned grill will have a stainless or porcelain-coated steel 92

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Tips from the sponsor Several styles of barbecue grills, running on different fuels, are available. Among styles are smoking, true barbecueing, grilling-baking and grilling-searing. Among fuels are natural gas-propane, and charcoal-wood and pellet. The real decision is based on what quality of barbecue you want. At Econo Air, our most popular for charcoal are the Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe and Weber Smokey Mountain. Gas grills include freestanding and built-in: Weber, Alfresco and Fire Magic. Purchase from a dealer who will honor warranties, and provide service. Many of our grill parts have lifetime warranties. Call Gary at 837-1700 for more information.

“wave-shaped” vaporizer completely covering the burners. The vaporization of food drippings creates that authentic barbecue flavor you’re looking for, so this is an important feature. What are the cooking grids made of? Look for cast iron or stainless steel. These cooking grids should be heavy enough to retain heat, create steakhouse style sear marks and vaporize food drippings right at the grids, adding to the barbecue flavor of what you are cooking. Where is the grill made? Make sure you can readily access customer service and parts support for your grill. The North American manufacturers offer this support direct from Canadian and U.S.-based factories.

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Make the most of small bathrooms Sponsored by DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen Renovating bathrooms is commonly at the top of home improvement to-do lists. Although many people may dream about creating a spa-type oasis in their homes, not everyone is lucky enough to have a large bathroom, much less a large budget for a full-scale renovation. Small bathrooms are common, particularly in older homes, but they need not force homeowners to compromise on style when renovating. By thinking creatively, homeowners can maximize their spaces and redo bathrooms in ways that bring out their best assets. When space is at a premium, it’s best to look for fixtures and items that fit with the scale of the bathroom. Although you may want a large vanity and cabinet in which to hide all of your toiletries, this simply may not be practical. Instead, look for elegant pedestal sinks that have a much smaller profile. They’ll also help you control the clutter in the bathroom because there won’t be anywhere to hide it. Use optical illusions to make the bathroom appear more roomy. For example, lay tile diagonally to create the impression of space. A large mirror will reflect the room back and make it appear much larger than it really is. Select lighter hues in paint colors and accessories. Dark paints and fixtures could make the room feel cramped. Instead, think light and bright and the room will instantly feel more airy. Minimize wall hangings and keep fixtures smaller. Filling the walls with knickknacks may contribute to clutter and make the space appear closed in. Use decorative items sparingly. If possible, store towels in a closet outside of the bathroom. This way you won’t have to devote space inside the bathroom to a closet, leaving more room for other things. While some people like the thought of a separate bath and shower, in smaller bathrooms this may not be possible. Instead, look for a combined shower and bath, or select a walk-in shower with a much smaller profile. Windows are often welcome in bathrooms because of the ventilation they provide, but they could be a hindrance in smaller bathrooms because they take up prime wall space. Cover a window in a shower stall to free up space. Maximize wall space if you need storage. Find cabinets that will fit beneath windows or be able to fit in thin areas between sinks and toilets. Over the toilet is prime area for cabinetry. Consider a frameless shower. This is a partitioned area of the bathroom that’s set aside for the shower and is typically only cordoned off by a thin wall or piece of glass. Think about installing a skylight if you prefer natural light, but there is no room for a traditional window. — Metro Creative Connection 94

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March 2013


Painting Bakersfield Artist showcases portraits of local landmarks, people, country culture

Patti Doolittle — known for portraits and murals that prominently represent Bakersfield — stands next to her painting titled "Miss Kitty."

Story and photos by Brian N. Willhite


atti Doolittle has a flair for painting the picturesque styles of the Old West. Whether it’s a cowboy and his horse, a bull rider in a rodeo, or an outlaw firing his six-shooter pistols, Doolittle’s realism imagery has made her a respected artist. But it’s her love for painting portraits that inspires this hometown artist to do what she does best. After moving to Oildale from Oklahoma with her family when she was 4 years old, Doolittle was surrounded by the burgeoning cowboy scene and was influenced by her family and the country and western culture of the time. Doolittle is also known for murals that prominently represent Bakersfield and feature historic landmarks and images of Kern Valley life, like the "Buck Owens" by Patti Doolittle mural inside of downtown 96

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Bakersfield’s Mill Creek Deli. She’s also painted portraits Art showing of Kern County’s great counWhen: 2 to 5 p.m., March 9 try legends that line the walls Where: The Empty Space of Trout’s Nightclub in OilGallery, 706 Oak St. dale in a tribute to the pioneers of the Bakersfield Workshop on portrait Sound. painting with Patti It was when she started Doolittle taking art classes at North When: May 18 High School that her interest Where: Bakersfield Art in the arts began to take Center, 1817 Eye St. shape. “When I was in high school, I used to draw and sketch a lot, and then I took a class from Bill Ryan,” Doolittle said. “He was a really good teacher.” She followed up her tutelage by taking lessons from Bakersfield artists Clayton Rippey and Betty Hay before moving to Orange County, where she continued her education in the arts. She describes her style as “realism impressionistic,” and nearly photographic. She favors certain color palettes with vibrant reds and gold, which accentuate the western imagery in her paintings. One of her techniques is to add a lot of color to faces in her portraits, which give her portraits a unique personality, and setting her work apart from traditional portraits. Doolittle said she draws a lot of inspiration from costumed actors in the Mojave Muleskinners, a re-enactment

Go and Do

Patti Doolittle is known for murals that prominently represent Bakersfield, including this one of Mayor Harvey Hall.

"Sarge" by local artist Patti Doolittle

troupe that faithfully depicts the life and times of the late 19th century with historically accurate and authentic clothing and props. Her husband is an honorary member of the Arizona-based group, and has dressed up and participated in events, too. “We used to go to their gun shows, and I would take a lot of their pictures,” Doolittle said. “So I’ve painted a lot of cowboys.” Much of the ideas for her paintings come from photos she has taken of people in costumes or ceremonial garb, in addition to capturing candid moments of everyday people. Recently, Doolittle completed a mural titled “The Discovery Well,” which features the discovery of the first oil well on the north bank of the Kern River, and the two men who dug the well by hand. She was commissioned by Citizens for a New Oildale, and sponsored by Chevron Oil Co. Doolittle also has completed a portraiture of Marilyn Monroe for Maya Cinemas, where she was one of eight finalists in a 2011 contest held by the Arts Council of Kern. Supporting and participating in the local arts scene is important to Doolittle. She has shown her work during First Fridays and at the Bakersfield Art Center, among other places, and enjoys helping out when she can, she said. She will be teaching a portrait painting class at the Art Center, and said she is excited about sharing her knowledge with others.


Home and Garden

Helen Maas, a longtime member of the Camellia Society of Kern County, shows off some of her favorite flowers.

Competing with camellias Green thumbs throughout the state to contend in 65th annual show By Jeneal Wood

Photos by Casey Christie


ern County participants in the annual camellia show are one group of Bakersfield residents who love the city’s weather. It gives them a real edge in the competition that attracts participants from throughout the state, said Marvin Belcher, vice president of the Camellia Society of Kern County. The 65th annual Camellia Show will take place March 2 and 3 at the Bakersfield Racquet Club, 1660 Pine St. It’s a chance for the public to proudly display their blooming camellias they have cultivated with their own hands, and compete to win awards. People travel from Fresno, Los Angeles or San Diego to participate in this competition, Belcher said. The judging is based on certain criteria including color,


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March 2013

Two light pink Easter Morn camellias grow beautifully in Maas' back yard. size, condition and quality of camellias. The best blooms in each category are selected to go to a final judging, where the judges choose and vote individually for the top four. The top three in each category are winners and they are placed on the head table, and awarded a crystal trophy. The camellia season blooms in winter, when most other flowers do not. February and March will have the heaviest set of blooms for most camellia varieties, but generally their season is from November to May. One type of camellia is called the “Tinkerbell,” and most children like to participate in the growing process of this particular flower because of the name

alone. The Camellia Society of Kern County was established in 1948. Anyone who loves and cares for the camellia plant can become a member of the society. Millie Wheeler was inspired to join the society recently after she attended last year’s camellia show. Now she has eight camellia plants in her garden. “They are wonderful people, and we share a common interest, that is the camellia plant, the queen of the winter garden,” Wheeler said. Helen Maas, the president of the society and camellia show chairwoman, has been part of the society for 25 years, and is the fourth woman to become president. The society hosts five meetings each year to provide knowledge to members and the public on how to care for their flowers, and how they can achieve the healthiest, fullest blooms for the season. Meetings are open to non-members. “(This is a place) where you will enjoy friendship, and improve your knowledge of how to grow that prize-winning camellia,” Belcher said. “Warning: You may get hooked! I did 42 years ago.” Participants may enter their camellias for the annual show from 8 to 10 a.m. March 2, and judging begins at 10:30 a.m. The public can view the displays from 1 to 4 p.m. on March 2, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 3. Raffles and prizes will be featured.

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Why I Live Here

Genie Navarro-Ambriz and Fernando Ambriz Compiled by Jasmine D. Lowe


Genie Navarro Ambriz and Fernando Ambriz with their two kids, Joel, left, and Nicholas, in front of their home in Stonecreek neighborhood in southwest Bakersfield 100

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enie Navarro-Ambriz has spent her entire life in Bakersfield and plans on staying here with her husband, Fernando Ambriz, who is originally from Mexico City. Fernando — the promotions director at 92.5 FM Radio Campesina — has lived with his wife, who works at Mercy Housing, and their children in Bakersfield for the past 25 years. Today, they live in the Stonecreek neighborhood in southwest Bakersfield.

Ages: Genie, 38; Fernando, 43 Three words that describe Bakersfield: Genie: hot, fun and busy; Fernando: extreme (weather), nice (people), and future (where my future lies). Where you can find me eating lunch or dinner: Genie: some of my favorite places to have lunch are Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine, Cafe Med Deli or Carniceria Rancho Grande; Fernando: Some of my favorite places to have lunch are Carniceria Rancho Grande and at Buffalo Wild Wings or Just Wing It for dinner. How I relax in Bakersfield: Genie: I go to the gym or spend time at home with family and friends; Fernando: Listening to music, and playing soccer with my boys. My favorite Saturday activity: Genie: Depending on the time of the year, our family enjoys going to a Bakersfield Condors game or a Bakersfield Blaze game, or just spending time at home with family and friends; Fernando: Watching soccer games. When I want to get out of town, I go to: Genie: For a quick getaway, we enjoy going to Paso Robles for a day of wine-tasting or for a longer trip Las Vegas; Fernando: I really like going to Cambria. What surprises me most about Bakersfield compared to other places I have lived: Genie: What surprises me about Bakersfield is to hear so many people say that they can’t wait to leave or move out of Bakersfield; Fernando: The extreme weather temperatures that we experience in both summer and winter. What I think Bakersfield is most famous for: Genie: Its agricultural community, and its heat. My best memory of Bakersfield: Genie: My best memories are the schools I attended: Saint Francis, Bakersfield High and Cal State Bakersfield; Fernando: The birth of my children. What I enjoy most about living here: Genie: I am a foodie and what I love about Bakersfield is the variety of places to eat; Fernando: That all my family is here with me. Two words that describe my neighborhood: Genie: Very quiet and spacious; Fernando: Tranquil and pretty. The positive list I think Bakersfield would rank near the top on is: Genie: The number of organizations and events created for the sole purpose of helping those in need or facing some type of a challenge. Bakersfield is a very generous community; Fernando: Hard-working people. My favorite community event: Genie: The Village Fest at Kern County Museum, and HolidayLights at CALM; Fernando: The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce menudo cook-off. The best-kept secret in Bakersfield: Genie: Nothing stays a secret in Bakersfield.

— Do you know someone from outside of Bakersfield who now calls Bakersfield home, has chosen to stay in Bakersfield above anywhere else, or returned here after living away, and is proud of it? Please let us know. Email us a name and contact information to with the message subject line: Why I Live Here.


Youth, including a Boy Scout, help tend to a local Victory Garden in 1943.

‘Greatest Generation’ gardeners During World War II, locals grew ‘victory gardens’ for patriotism, survival By Ken Hooper

Photos courtesy of Kern County Museum


magine a time when gardening took on an edge of patriotism and survival. During World War II, the “Greatest Generation” was not just on the war fronts, it was also here on the homefront. As the fog lifted from the San Joaquin Valley and the winter of 1942 came to an end, gardening advice columns began suggesting lists of vegetables to be grown in a simple 20-by-30-feet garden plot for a “victory garden.” Gardeners were asked to forgo any thought of planting flowers and consider planting Swiss chard, lettuce, tomatoes, stringless green beans, carrots, beets and peppers. 102

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The North of the River Woman’s Club notified members in February of 1942, to meet at the home of Mrs. Ray Innes to find out “what to plant this month and how to plant it.” In May of 1942, the agriculture department’s open house at Kern County Union High School (now Bakersfield High School) emphasized how to grow “foods for freedom” in their victory garden demonstrations. “Bug-a-Boo” gardening spray was perfect for victory gardens, as advertisements began reflecting the national emergency. Vegetable seeds evolved into “victory garden” seeds. The motivation to grow a victory garden was not limited to patriotism. In the spring of 1942, it was announced that fruits and vegetables would not fall under the newly enacted Price Control Act to keep down wartime inflation. Now planting a victory garden became a means to protect the family budget. By the spring of 1943, the days of mild encouragement to grow a victory garden was over. Under the guidance of Howard K. Dickinson, the director of the “food-for-victory” program in Kern County, the young men and women of the Future Farmers of America, 4-H Clubs, YWCA Girls Reserves, Camp Fire Girls and the Boy Scouts were used in a door-to-door outreach campaign in every community of Kern County. Nothing was left to chance as amateur gardeners were organized by block leaders answering to the Kern County Defense Council and the Bakersfield War Council. People were also encouraged to begin raising chickens and rabbits to offset the increasingly tight rationing of meat.

Home gardening was encouraged as a sign of patriotism as well as a means to protect the family budget during the war. The message was clear: helping on the homefront will win the war. At the dawn of 1945, Americans could see great gains against the Axis countries. The installation of German prisoner-of-war camps in Lamont, Arvin and Shafter were reminders that great military victories were being won, and the end of the war was growing ever closer. After four years of war, the victory gardeners of Kern County had become very experienced. No more “ration book blues,” when certain fruits and vegetables were unavailable in local stores. The gardening season of 1945 was going to be the most productive of all the war years. It had to be. Not only did 1945 dawn with the Allied victories, it dawned with announcements of food shortages due to the lack of labor for the fields, decline in canned foods for civilians, and a sharp cut in allotments for sugar used in home canning. In the spring of 1945, California encouraged all victory gardeners to increase the size of their plots by at least 10 percent. Kern County responded with determined grit. The Kern County “food-for-victory” campaign published a free guide specific to the gardens of Kern County, offering assistance in irrigation, controlling insect infestations, and instruction on food preservation. Ten vacant lots — comprising three acres — were cleared by children in Tehachapi as “500 tomato plants, 300 bell pepper plants and 200 hundred eggplants” were put in the ground. By the end of World War II, the victory garden program was deemed a smashing success. Besides providing food for the table, it was also seen as a cure for everything from boredom to juvenile delinquency. A real estate advertisement for a home in the Alta Vista neighborhood stated it had a “nice victory garden,” reflecting the attitude that victory gardens were an asset when selling a home, and had become part of the culture of Kern County.

Continued on page 105

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Standard Oil Co. officials ready a Victory Garden at Highway 99 and H Street in 1944.

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Continued from page 103 — Ken Hooper is a history and archiving teacher at Bakersfield High School. He is the past-president of the Kern County Historical Society and the current historian for the Kern Veteran’s Memorial Foundation.

Kern County Historical Society The Kern County Historical Society is a countywide, nonprofit organization founded in 1931, as an outgrowth of the Society of Kern Pioneers. Today’s membership is open to all people who are interested in history, and Kern County history in particular. Our current membership includes people from many diverse occupations, as well as retired people, longtime residents and more recent residents. The society is devoted to preserving, publishing and distributing information related to the history of Kern County. Society meetings are held monthly between September and May, with the exception of December. Programs feature speakers on

subjects pertaining to county history, historical sites and Kern lore. Field trips are led by experts wellacquainted with the sites. Programs and field trips are open to members and guests. Upcoming programs include: • Saturday, March 16: Behind the scenes tour of the Beale Memorial Library, by Christopher Livingston • Saturday, April 20: Kern County Fair Association Race Track, by Lori Wear • Saturday, May 18: Bakersfield College “Move to the Hill,” by Jerry Ludeke For more information on membership and programs, visit



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Our Town

Neighborhood book program honors life, words of local champion of children’s causes By Jasmine D. Lowe


ome say memories written down and preserved on paper can live on in a sense of immortality. Our thoughts, and the thoughts of others, are forever embedded within a series of words that make up a harmonious combination of letters. So when the words of Wendy Wayne, a well-known local champion of children’s causes who died of cancer last June, were included in books that were placed inside little houses painted with bright colors, the wisdom of Wendy was able to live on. "We don’t always have a chance to fulfill all our fantasies,” Gene Tackett, Wayne’s husband, told The Californian. “Wendy read to live her fantasies.”

Gene Tackett looks through the books of the first Wendy's Words Library in the front yard of Susan Reep's home. The libraries honor Gene Tackett's wife, Wendy Wayne, who passed away last year. 106

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Wendy’s Words Libraries

Wendy’s Words Libraries came about as a way to honor Wayne, while still giving back to the community. Books are donated and placed in the microwave-sized houses so that children in the community can check them out, and return one to the nearby mini libraries. The libraries scattered across Bakersfield are based on the Little Free Library model now seen throughout the world, but with a twist. Just like the Little Free Library model, Wendy’s Words Libraries promote child literacy and the love of reading, but also included inside each donated book’s frontispiece are Wendy’s words to live by. Susan Reep, a retired teacher, said she started the project for a few reasons. “Wendy was my closest friend, and as we all know, Wendy based her life on service to others. Her death booted me into action,” she said. “Part of a famous quote from the Rabbi Hillel asks, ‘If not now, when?’ This seemed to be the time. And when the Liberty High School (students) held a ‘pay-it-forward day’ the Monday following Wendy Wayne Wendy’s celebration of life, I drew the task of leaving a favorite book somewhere for someone to pick up. Why not leave a library instead, I thought?”

Reep and fellow teacher and friend Pat Johnson culled from speeches Wendy had given to fill the frontispieces of the little libraries, which Dignity Health volunteered to print. Don Ambriz designed the logo based on Wendy’s granddaughter Lola, and many other people in the community helped pitch in to continue spreading the wisdom Wendy shared. Those involved with the project love how the community has come together, — Susan Reep and how this has helped promote the love of reading in children. “I have a bench next to my library and there are kids there every single day reading books. It’s terrific fun to watch them,” Reep said. “And I’ve had fun leaving candy canes in the library at Christmas, putting flashcard reading games in, and getting creative. One little girl returned a book with a book report! New books appear and I add frontispieces to them. That’s the idea — take a book, leave a book.” Bakersfield currently has three active libraries, and eight in various stages of readiness. It’s a pay-it-forward type of thing that brings the community together and shares the wisdom in Wendy’s words in the process.


Wendy based her life on service to others. Her death booted me into action.

One of Wendy’s Words Libraries in front of Linda Sullenger's home. Donations to the project can be dropped off in the library of KGET-TV, Channel 17 on L Street during regular business hours, or you can send them to Wendy’s Words Libraries at 5508 Via Ravenna in Bakersfield, 93312. Those willing to start their own library can receive a sign free of charge from Little Free Library, and be registered into their system. More information: or email, or

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The new San Joaquin Community Hospital AIS Cancer Center on Chester Avenue.

Cancer-fighting community hospital In local cancer battle, San Joaquin Community Hospital opens new center, other hospitals team together By Matilde Ruiz

Photos by Casey Christie


an Joaquin Community Hospital in 2008 provided our community with Bakersfield’s first nationally-certified stroke center. And in 2009, it brought the fulltreatment Grossman Burning Center. With Kern County having one of the highest cancer rates of any region across the state and nation, with 20 percent of 108

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cancer patients leaving Kern County to seek treatment, San Joaquin officials knew we needed a local world-class cancer center, to help people fight cancer in their hometown. The hospital took a huge step last year by building the $36.2 million, 60,000-square-foot Advanced Industrial Service Cancer Center. Its director is Dr. Oscar Streeter. The AIS Cancer Center, Bakersfield’s first cancer center, was named after Advanced Industrial Services for its great deed and donation of $2 million to the San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation. AIS officials knew of the hospital’s desire to create a patient- and family-centered cancer care featuring some of the best technology available. The donation — as well as a $1 million gift from Dr. Donald Cornforth and his wife, Edna, donated a year before — allowed the hospital to launch the cancer center. State Sen. Jean Fuller at the center’s dedication event called it a welcome help and will provide hope for those who are suffering. The new cancer center includes radiation and medical oncology, affiliation with another nationally-renowned cancer center, highly trained, experienced physicians board certified in oncology care, a family centered approach with the latest

The lobby of the San Joaquin Community Hospital AIS Cancer Center is eye-catching.

information on cancer care, Kern County’s first Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification given by the U.S. Green Building Council. The AIS Cancer Center has also teamed up the UC Davis’ Comprehensive Cancer Center to bring clinical trials, virtual tumor boards and second opinions for local cancer patients. San Joaquin doctors will participate in “virtual tumor boards” with partners from across the UC Davis Cancer Care Network via video conferencing to mull over patients’ cases. Officials called it a “big win” partnership. The number of cancer cases is increasing here locally each year, with Kern County having the highest incident rates of cancer in California, officials said. In 2012, more than 1,000 deaths in Kern County were attributed to cancer. California Cancer Registry data shows that Kern County has significantly higher lung cancer incidence and death rates for men and women than the rest of the state, according to San Joaquin Community Hospital’s marketing and development officials. Kern also has a higher rate of colon and rectal cancer among men, and a significantly higher rate of death among men with prostate cancer. Our community will now have even more options for cancer care. Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center also serves local cancer patients, announced plans to open a comprehensive inpatient cancer center with three Dignity Health hospitals here. AIS Cancer Center plans to make it easy for cancer patients and family members to overcome cancer and provide them with the best resources and services, San Joaquin Community Hospital officials said. San Joaquin Community Hospital has been serving Bakersfield and Kern County communities since 1910. Its mission is to share “God’s love with the community through physical, mental and spiritual healing.” For more information, visit To make donations, call the San Joaquin Hospital Foundation at 869-6570.

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Neighborhood Spotlight

The Greens at Seven Oaks By Jasmine D. Lowe

Photos by Gregory D. Cook

Living in the beautiful 55-plus gated community is a ‘dream come true,’ residents say The gorgeous landscaping and wonderful amenities originally drew residents like the Franks to the beautiful and lavish homes in The Greens at Seven Oaks. But it’s the neighbors who look out for each other that makes them stay in the community. “There’s a fellow here who picks up our paper every morning and puts it at our door,” said Colleen Franks, a 77year-old resident of the 55 and older gated community. “(And) there was guy a little while ago who waited until one of our neighbors backed up out of his driveway in the morning just to tell him that he had seen him drive out of garage before with one of his break lights out.” “I like the neighborhood,” she continued. “Everyone is so friendly and helpful ... everyone takes care of their yard and there are so many activities going on all of the time here.” Staying at The Greens neighborhood in Bakersfield feels as if you have packed your bags and stepped into an ultimate getaway for a nice long vacation, residents say. With a large

At the Ridge Oak Club House, one of two clubhouses in the neighborhood, a wide range of activities are available for residents, such as a pool and hot tub, billiards tables, shuffleboard and lawn bowling, a library, exercise room and this rose garden. 110

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The tree-lined streets and manicured lawns, The Greens at Seven Oaks, in southwest Bakersfield country club, its world-class amenities, a 27-hole championship golf course and two restaurants, The Greens is one of the best places to live in Bakersfield. The Seven Oaks Country Club also has its own clubhouse. A few beautiful pools, hot tubs, with tennis courts and locker rooms are near shopping venues, restaurants and everything else Bakersfield has to offer. The combination of friendly people, the world-class amenities and amazing landscaping makes living in the community a dream for residents in the area. “I have several friends and clients who live in The Greens

Rd. Rd.

G ra n d L a k e s


Buena Buena Vista Vista Rd. Rd.

Old Riv River er

and speak of how friendly, warm and quiet the neighborhood is,” said John Glentzer, a real estate agent at Watson Realty ERA. “They love how neighbors know neighbors.” The landscaping is enough for anyone to rip a for-sale sign out of a front lawn at The Greens and move right in to any available house, but the people in the community really draw residents in. “My husband likes to sit in the garage with the door open. People call it his office,” Colleen Franks said. “Everyone is so friendly, and there is always someone walking their dog outside or taking a stroll, and they would just wave hello.” 1/4 1/ 4 mile Ming A Ave. ve. The security at The Greens, residents say, is The Greens top-notch, and k a ite O the people in the Wh Dr. Seven S even Oaks Oaks community conCourse Golf Course tinue carrying out their own means ak of security every eO Ridg . ve Dr day. . “We watch S Stockdale tockdale out for each High S School chool Whit Lane White other,” said Leck THE CALIFORNIAN CALIFORNIAN Franks, Colleen Franks’ husband The Greens at and fellow resiSeven Oaks dent at The • 501 single family homes Greens. • 86 percent of households have The Franks incomes of $75,000 or more nearly bought a • 95 percent are homeowners new home in the • 85 percent have lived in the home for northwest before six years or more settling on The • 94 percent of the households have a Greens, but they head of household at age 50 years or said the commuolder nity there just Source: The Bakersfield Californian Market didn’t have the Research Department same feel. As you walk through The Greens you feel a sense of serenity and peace, residents say, but as you continue walking through the beautiful neighborhood you find that the gated community is never dull. The residents spend most of their days at the two clubhouses for neighborhood gatherings. “The Ridge Oak clubhouse is home to a grand piano, library, billiards, plus a game, hobby and card room,” Glentzer said. “The White Oak clubhouse is a social center for dinners, dances, meetings, games, yoga and exercise classes, (and) both clubhouses feature a pool and spa.” The Greens group activities and amenities allows residents to meet their neighbors. Many of the residents enjoy taking day trips to the mountains, the Central Coast and wine country while still being able to avoid the congestion and the high cost of living in larger cities. And residents in the community benefit from the friendships made in the affable neighborhood. They believe The Greens is a truly wonderful place to live, and they say it’s as if they’re living “happily ever after.”

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It’s a Guy Thing

Landscape businessmen These four are building beautiful scenery out of local land Compiled by Jeneal Wood

Photos by Mark Nessia


he beautiful calming garden you walked through during that stressful visit to the hospital? The state-of-the-art school with a play yard for your kids? The park where you can have a nice relaxing picnic? All of those were planned out by landscape contractors, designers or architects. Here are four men who are beautifying Bakersfield one project at a time.

Dan Monji D an isa second generation landscape contractorand designer.H isfather founded M onjiLandscape Com paniesin 1953,and D an hasw orked there for36 years. What made you choose this career path? I wouldn’t say that I chose to enter the landscape industry, but rather it chose me. I remember being 5 years old and watching my father work in the company, and thinking to myself that I would one day follow in his footsteps. Where can we find your work around town? You could find our projects in virtually thousands of residential and commercial properties all around Bakersfield. Some public projects that we’ve completed recently have been the healing and vertical gardens at Mercy Southwest Hospital and Mercy Hospital downtown, as well as the Living Memorial to the Virgin Mary at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. What is it like to work during the Bakersfield summers? I think it’s fabulous! We like to think we live in a perpetual spring here at Monji, so we don’t shy away from the heat. I can 112

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Dan Monji understand why others dislike it though. What is the best part of your job? The best part about my job is the long-lasting client relationships that I get to make. When a customer comes in, I get to listen to their wants and their needs, and then create a vision for a beautiful environment just for them. On top of all that, I get to spend my days in my most favorite place in the world — the garden. You can’t beat that!

How has technology helped or changed your job? In terms of new “green” technology, we have recently received a provisional patent on our Living Wall system, which has allowed us to bridge the gap between the harsh, concrete-filled landscapes of our cities with the lush, green environments of nature. This type of “green” technology is beyond anything my father could have imagined 50-plus years ago when he

Jim Rios

started the company. What job of yours are you most proud of? The healing and vertical gardens Mercy. Our team and I were able to utilize a new, innovative way of gardening to create places of peace for the hospitals’ patients, visitors and employees. The idea that thousands of people can walk through my vision daily, and it can relax them or bring them some peace in the chaos of life is really humbling to me.

Jim Rios Jim hasbeen a landscape architectsince 1984,and hasw orked for design firm sin Riverside and O range counties.In 2009,he and hisw ife, M egan,started theirow n business,RiosD esign Studio,LCC.,orRD S. What made you choose this career path? I have always had a love for the outdoors. As a young man, I toyed with idea of working in the field of forestry, and then later looked into architecture. The profession of landscape architecture allowed me to combine both of my earlier interests. Where can we find your work around town? We did the design for the Creekview Villas project and surrounding city streetscapes along the south Mill Creek canal area, as well as the two new combined schools (in the Bakersfield City School District) that are currently under construction near the former Mesa Marin Raceway. We also designed the landscape for the Grimmway Academy in Arvin. What is the best part of your job? To see the life cycle of the project, from design conception, design development and construction implementation. The absolute best part is seeing people enjoy the outdoor living space that you had a hand making a reality. What is the most difficult part about being a landscape architect? Most of our clients say they want a low-maintenance, low-cost landscape; however, they also generally say that they want to see a lot of grass. Turf grass takes a greater number of man-hours to

Continued on page 114

Javier Lesaca


Wayne Cox

Continued from page 113 keep it looking manicured and green. I suggest that my clients install grass only where it is needed for functional purposes, such as recreation, rather than to satisfy a visual need or for a “sea of green carpet.” As the cost of water continues to rise, I anticipate that more Californians will reduce the size of their lawns. What job of yours are you most proud of? One of RDS’ first jobs was the design of the estate of local private oil company businessman Chad Hathaway. The project was a blank slate with only the existing residence given. The project offered the ability to work with a site that has nice topography, allowing for nice dynamic of changes in elevations. We were allowed to be creative. The client worked with us to create some really beautiful “outdoor rooms,” each with a separate function. The installing contractors involved did a phenomenal job. It is currently the gem of our portfolio.

Javier Lesaca Javierisa landscape contractorw ho becam e partnerof hisfather’sbusiness,Lesaca Landscape Co.,in 1990.N ow he and hisw ife,Benita,m anage the business.H e hashisbache114

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lor’sdegree in plantscience-ornam entalhorticulture from Fresno State.Aftercollege,he w orked atvariousnurseriesasa production m anager,and returned to Bakersfield w here he gothiscontractor’slicense and started hiscareer. What made you choose this career path? When I was young, my father would take me to work with him on the weekends and during the summers. I grew to enjoy working with plants and landscapes. Where can we find your work around town? Right now, you can find us working at San Joaquin Community Hospital. We provide them with landscape maintenance services at their various properties. Is your job more creative or hands on? A little of both, but mostly creative. On smaller jobs, where there is no landscape plan, the client is looking to me to create a beautiful landscape. So it’s my job to put the right plant in the right place and build an efficient irrigation system, as well as hardscape, landscape lighting, water features, patio structures, soil preparation and drainage. What is the most difficult part about being a landscape contractor? We have the same difficulties as any small business has that is trying to survive and grow. But as a landscape contractor we are competing with unlicensed operators that will underbid us every time. They can become a hazard to the consumer because they do not

carry the proper insurance to protect their employees or customer. We try to educate every one of our potential clients to check out the company that is working on their property. Go to the Contractors State License Board website, enter the contractor’s license number and it will tell you all of their information. It’s easy, and gives you peace of mind that the person working on your property is who they say they are. What job of yours are you most proud of? When we were approached to provide landscape services for San Joaquin, the one thing they said that I remember was, “No one wants to go to the hospital. So while they are here, we want to keep it as pleasant as possible.” Our job was to provide a landscape that is as beautiful as we can make it. So, when a patient enters and leaves the hospital, they have a beautiful clean landscape to make them feel better. What is the best part of job? The best part is watching something you have created and built mature over time, and become part of the community.

Wayne Cox W ayne isa landscape contractoratCentury Landscape Inc.H e isalso a certified landscape irrigation auditor,and a m em berofthe California Landscape ContractorsAssociation.H e hasbeen in the landscape businessm ostofhislife. How did you get started in the landscape business? I’ve been in the business most of my life. When I was 10 years old, my older brother Jim and my dad built me a trailer to pull my gardening equipment behind my bicycle. So I went around the neighborhood and mowed lawns. With help from Kern Turf Supply, I bought my first front throw lawnmower. After about 4 years, I started high school at West High and I got a job at Cooper’s Nursery, back when they were in Kern City. I would water all of the plants and trees after school and on weekends. In high school, I took a landscape and plant identification class through the ROC Program. Then came graduation day. I remember going to work the next morning at 6 a.m. for my brother Jim, who owned Century Landscape. I have worked there ever since. So I have been in the business for 45 years total. What made you choose this career path? I have always loved the outdoors. There’s a lot of satisfaction when you finish a project, knowing that the finished product will impact our ecosystem, and the beauty a finished job gives to our community. Where can we find your work around town? You can find our work all over Kern County, some in the Central Valley, between Bakersfield and Fresno, and west into the Santa Barbara area. What is it like to work during the Bakersfield summers? Working in Bakersfield in the summer can be brutal. So on those really hot days we start early and try to finish early in the day, which usually doesn’t happen. So we just push on, and drink lots of water. What job of yours are you most proud of? We have done so many great jobs over the years, but most recently we have done some custom homes in Grand Island that I am really proud of. These projects have won us some awards and recognition from our local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association. What is the best part of your job? Meeting and getting to know our clients. Also, the satisfaction you get when you finish a project.

4560 Coffee Road 661-588-7503

Coffee & Hageman Vons Shopping Center



The big man on campus

Randall and Debbie Barker 116

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Randall Barker has come a long way to become a school photographer of choice

By Lisa Kimble


or someone who doesn’t appear on local television or preside over local civic government, Randall Barker is one of Bakersfield’s most recognizable businessmen. It is his work behind the scenes and in back of the lens that has made the 50-year-old native the “big man on campus” these days. The high school portrait photographer of choice attributes his success to nothing more than being a “people person.” Barker has photographed celebrities, politicians and generations of families, but his favorite subject is the high school senior, on the brink of the milestone of graduation and a bright future. “I like engaging people and pulling out the individual personalities,” Barker said in his office, surrounded by dozens of framed fresh faces captured by his cameras. “When I can have that one-on-one with one person, it maximizes the connection.” Able to coax smiles out of frowners, and lure spunk out of wallflowers, Randall and his business Randall Photography is the coveted and contracted photographer for some area schools, and sought after by families throughout the state, and others across the country.

Jack of all trades A graduate of now-defunct Horizon High, who bounced from school to school, Barker said he never imagined becoming a photographer. “Yet, my mother was a school portrait photographer, and I took 90 percent of the pictures in my high school yearbook,” he said. “Photography was not on my radar. Yearbook was an elective for me.” His goal was to become a registered chef working in the food services industry. After a semester at Bakersfield College, he started a string of odd jobs that included a stint as a singing waiter, and street sweeping. “I became an entrepreneur early on,” Barker said laughing. “I think I’d had nine jobs in the first eight years of marriage.” A jack of all trades, but he was a master of none, until opportunity came calling. While sweeping streets, he’d met a man who owned a photo lab. Barker purchased it in 1992, and changed its name to Timeless Photo. “We were developing 100 rolls a day until digital came out,” Barker’s wife, Debbie, recalled of the business’ dental lab service. By 2004, the tsunami of digital photography was taking the industry by storm. The Barkers decided to ride the crest of the digital wave and started Randal Photography. Self-taught, Barker said he spent the early years attending every seminar possible, taught by some of the nation’s top shutterbugs. “The first year was low volume, carriage trade of commercial, family portraiture and high-end weddings,” he said.

‘God moment’ But the following year, life was not developing as he planned. Business had fallen off, and a staph infection landed Barker’s wife and daughter in the hospital. “For the next two months, I would work maybe two hours a day,” he remembered.

They recovered, but not long after, Randall was diagnosed with double-pneumonia. “I was working by myself, and I considered bailing on the photography business,” he said. He loved what he was doing, but love alone couldn’t pay the bills. So in August of 2005, at the suggestion of a friend, the business went through a bit of “photo-shopping” when Barker decided to bid for high school contracts. “Garces Memorial was looking to make a change,” he said, calling it the studio’s turning point. “That was our God moment, when I thought, ‘If photography is for us, then that is the way we will go.’” His pitch was honest and candid. “I basically said, ‘We have never done this before, but we will do everything in our power to make you happy.’” The candor paid off. Two weeks later Randall was awarded the lucrative school contract. “Randall goes above and beyond to help out at all of our student activities,” said Garces Memorial’s spokeswoman Lou Ann Durrett. Echoed Myka Peck, Garces Memorial’s director of student activities: “Randall is so easy — Randall Barker to work with, and he comes to everything he can with his camera in hand. He makes it fun for the kids, feels like part of our campus, and he is definitely part of the Garces family.”

I became an entrepreneur early on. I think I’d had nine jobs in the first eight years of marriage.

Staying old school In 2006, the studio picked up Bakersfield High School. Later came Highland High. The couple estimates they have photographed probably thousands of students, easily 600 seniors per year, if not more. Today, Barker remains one of just a handful of local veteran photographers with storefront studios. With an effusive smile and twinkle in his eye, Barker remains old-fashioned to the core. “We want to stay old school, keep that human connection, but within that we embrace the changes of the Internet age within a warm environment,” he said. Several years ago, Barker decided once again to take his enterprising instincts “outside of the box” by renovating the 8,000-square-foot property on Buck Owens Boulevard — turning his back lot of the props he designed and built as a saloon front, with mission doors and urban scenes — into a full-service venue and backdrop for special events. The Barkers arrange all of the details for those occasions, but Randall said he never pulls out a camera. Looking back on the business’ evolution, Barker — a 2005 recipient of the “Kodak Excellence Award” for western states’ commercial photographer of the year — said the ups and downs helped “build them on the backside.” For now, the Barkers are content with the size and scope of the business. “We want to be a photography studio of purpose, not convenience,” he said.


Real People

Interior designer Roger Upton’s specialities include interior, theater design, retail remodels Compiled by Hillary Haenes

Photos by April Massirio


e fell in love with designing during his early grade school years. Roger Upton, 58, sees design in everything. In fact, interior design is only one facet of his business, Roger Upton Design. Upton recently closed his downtown shop after 25 years to concentrate on his clients’ projects. He’s currently taking on a restaurant remodel, and is in the process of redesigning several homes. He’s also completing the scenery and costume designs for Cal State Bakersfield’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” which will run from Feb. 28 to March 3 at the Dore Theatre. Learn how Upton got his start in the designing business, what services he offers, and get tips on how to brighten up your home for springtime. How did you get started in interior design? My family moved to Bakersfield at the beginning of my high school years, and that’s when I took to working in costume and scenery theater design. After graduation, I started working at Brock’s Department Store in the display department where I learned the retail side of design. While working my way up the ladder at Brock’s, I continued designing for all of the local theaters, which worked its way into interior design. After Brocks, I opened Renaissance, a boutique interior design and antique store on H Street. It thrived there for 19 years, before moving to 18th Street in 2008, where it transformed into Roger Upton Design. I have designed the sets for The Bakersfield Business Conference, Bakersfield Centennial Party of the Century, as well as countless fashion show backgrounds, runways and bridal events. I still enjoy doing the costumes for Cal State Bakersfield’s theater and music departments. What is a typical day like for you? There is no such thing. One day may be 118

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March 2013

Roger Upton explains the process of the stencil and design work on the ceiling seen throughout the Guild House.

interiors, the next taking meetings for a special event, and another day may be retail or restaurant design. Never a dull moment.

colors, custom carpet and furniture that highlights the wonderful millwork and Edwardian details.

What types of services does your business offer? For interior design, we can start with an hourly consultation, or help you with your contractors. We also offer a full design service with a planned budget, where we take on a complete project from ideas to installation. I guess that goes for all my design jobs. The client chooses how much help they want, and we are there to make it happen. A huge part of my business is holiday design. We decorate many restaurants, medical and energy companies and homes. I am kind of known for my holiday design, including the animated windows at the hisRoger Upton toric Brock’s building, and now at Timeless Furnishings. We will be opening a pop-up Christmas store this fall, somewhere near you!

Describe your personal interior design aesthetic: I used to think it was traditional opulence or historic, but I truly enjoy all styles. I just completed a very contemporary/modern custom home and another modern farmhouse from the blueprints up. I love mixing old and new, giving the interiors a collected personal style, always with a bit of whimsy or special details that make them memorable.

What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on? I have always loved the rooms I designed for the Bakersfield Showcase of Design, often a historic home of local significance. They were always a bit over the top, and let local designers really show off. But I would say it is The Guild House, which was another historic building project. It took more than two summers with a committed group of volunteers to renew and redecorate the beautiful Queen Anne home. We incorporated historical stenciled ceilings, soothing

What have you enjoyed most about your career so far? The variety. Each day can be a new experience or something new to learn. Can you share a design tip on how to liven a home for the spring season? I just returned from Las Vegas Market, where one of several new trends was intense color, with a capital C. Bohemian in theme, we saw brights in orange, turquoise, magenta and hot pinks mixed with all sorts of natural. It’s cliche to say, “add a few pillows/cushions, some new bric-abrac, and paint a focal wall” (yes, I still like to use several paint colors in any room), but it works every time. For a weekend project on a $100 budget, you can make your space fresh and new, even if it’s for the season. Adding or trading a few accent pieces will make it new to you and make you happier. For help, I can be reached for appointments at 327-2902, or by

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Fit and Fresh


Challenge yourself in spring with hill climbs, trails, exercises Get fit with these race, recipe and recreation ideas

By Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann

Rio Bravo 10-miler, 5K and 2K Baker: Come out to this great race on April 13 to support Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County, and run among one of the most beautiful sceneries in Kern County. Take Highway 178 toward the mouth of the canyon to the Rio Bravo Ranch — 15701 Highway 178 — park amongst the orange orchards, and enjoy the wildflowers and orange blossoms. Beautiful! The challenging 10-miler will take you through a creek crossing, around orchards and up some hills. Funds raised will be used to raise awareness of child abuse in Kern County, and to promote increased community advocacy for abused and neglected children. For more information: or

Bucks for Blades 5K Baker: This fundraiser for East High School will take place at 8 a.m. April 20, and has been moved to a new location, at California Living Museum. Come enjoy this great location along the Kern River, and support a good cause. Registration is available now on ($20 if registered by April 15).

Memories on ice Baker: How about taking the family out for some fun exercise at San Joaquin Community Hospital Ice Center of Bakersfield. Family nights are Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For $5 per person, including skates, you can have a blast, create some memories and use some muscles you haven’t used in a while. For more information:


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Crispy pest o kale


Baker: Ka le delicious fo , which has green o r beta carote rm of cabbage. It ha purple leaves, is a s it has provene, vitamin K and vi very high levels of ta and also b n potent anti-cance min C. In addition, o r baked, kale osts cell repair. Inte fighting properties, restingly, w ta ke s o n the consist chip, almo hen st e powerful n melting in your mo ncy of a potato utritional p uth, while use as a sn p u ack food o nch. Try this simple acking a r add to sa re 2 tablespo lads or san cipe, ons olive o dwiches: il 1 teaspoon from Trade pesto (a jar of pesto r Joe’s or C can be purc ostco) hased Sea salt, fo r sprinklin g on kale 1 bag of ch o Trader Joe pped kale (a nice b ig bag is av ’s, ready to ailable at use) Direction s: Pre-heat olive oil w o ve n to 27 it big bowl, a h pesto in small bow 5 degrees. Mix n it. Toss to d drizzle the olive o l. Put the kale in a co il, clean hand at thoroughly. Don pesto blend over ’t s leaves. Sea to really massage th be afraid to use cookie she son. Spread leaves ev e oil in to the et. Bake fo r 20 minuteenly on a large s. Let cool.

Exercise of the month Pushup with rotating side plank 10 times.

Assume push-up position; lower chest to floor, focusing on a strong core, keeping body in alignment from shoulder to heel; push back up, and rotate to right, lifting right arm high (advanced version: lift top leg and hold briefly); rotate back to pushup position, do a pushup, then rotate to left. Repeat 10 times, focusing on a core control and correct alignment.

Continued on page 122

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Continued from page 121 Challenge yourself with hills, trails Kirschenmann: Getting into shape, or back into shape, is no easy task. Inevitably we all hit a plateau. In my opinion, the best way to get off the workout plateau is to run up a hill. By changing the scenery in your fitness journey, you will find a renewed push forward. Adding the outdoors into your workout regime offers a change in pace both mentally and physically. We in Bakersfield are blessed with beautiful nearby trails that are especially nice in the spring. Nothing could be better than running in vibrant green hills, bright blue skies and

The hills northeast of Bakersfield make beautiful running venues in the spring.


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March 2013

spring breezes. The landscape is so lovely this time of year that one could almost forget the white-hot burning legs and lungs produced by hill running. Almost. Running hills is fun, challenging and burns a ton of calories. Sally and I frequent Hart Park to run the “pistol range” trails. This area boasts a maze of trails and hills that are great for beginning and expert runners. These trails are my favorite despite how unkind they are to me. If the pistol range trail is too much of a trek, the bluffs at Panorama Park are nearly as challenging. Several loops will take you up and down the bluffs with varying difficulty. One loop, known as the “killa hilla,” is a tough one. If you are starting out on the bluffs, find a loop you are comfortable with, and challenge yourself by repeating it. Once you have conquered your favorite loop, move on to more challenging courses, like the “switchbacks” or the infamous “killa hilla.” Getting back to my pre-babies ability has been a most humbling experience. Hills that I used to be able to trot right up are now seemingly ginormous monoliths. It has been especially important to me to have a mentor and the support of my friend Sally to remind me that nothing happens overnight. If you are like me and getting back into shape, or just beginning your fitness journey, it important to banish the naysayers, and surround yourself with positive mentors and friends. Be kind to yourself and don’t set unreasonable expectations. More often than not we are our own worst enemies, and sabotage ourselves without even realizing it. If you have to walk up that hill while other people are whizzing past you, it’s OK. You’re out there doing it. Stay with it, don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Stick with it, and results will come.

Trip Planner

Central Coast kayaking Cruise between rock formations, waves and wildlife in Central Coast kayak trip

A beginning kayaker goes through natural bridges during a Central Coast Kayaks trip in Shell Beach.

By Lois Henry

Photos by Justin Jewell

As our guide showed proper paddling techniques and how to avoid leaning over the sides of our kayaks, I couldn’t stop myself from looking at the ocean. There were waves. Big ones. Coming in one after the other. When I signed up for this ocean kayak cave tour through Central Coast Kayaks in Shell Beach, I somehow forgot about this whole “wave” part of it. In a few minutes, we were going to grab our boats, point our bows straight into those waves and launch.

Rock formations are plentiful in the Shell Beach area. 124

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I’m not kidding when I tell you these waves were crashing (OK, they wouldn’t have made even the most timid surfer salivate, but I’m from Bakersfield so they were tsunami-like to me!). I foresaw imminent dunkage in my future. Perhaps it was my constant head turning, or our guide Justin Jewell’s keen safety instincts kicking in, but luckily, he decided to take us about 50 yards down the beach to launch into much gentler, lapping waves. Shwew! Once I crossed through the waves, I was out into smooth water in no time with my fellow novice kayakers. We all grinned as we sat there in the placid water looking back at the picturesque California coastline on a picture-perfect California day. I really can’t rave about this trip enough. I had always wanted to try ocean kayaking and after such a great experience, this won’t be my last trip. It cost about $70 per person for a half day tour starting at 9 a.m. (hours change depending on season, so be sure and check). Central Coast Kayaks provided everything: wetsuit, windbreaker helmet, life vest. And Jewell made sure none of us got in over our heads out on the water. On the walk down to the

Where to eat

Central Coast Kayaks provides everything you need to manuever safely through the ocean including a wetsuit, windbreaker, helmet and life vest.

beach, he let us know he’d just given this tour a few days earlier for a woman celebrating her 80th birthday. None of us could chicken out after that. Out on the water, we glided along the coast just a few hundred yards out, paddling in between rock formations and, yes, in and out of the many caves that Kayak rentals pockmark the cliffs There are several kayak rental from Shell Beach and tour businesses on the south. coast, so call around and pick True to the the one you like best. brochure’s description, the animal life was all Central Coast Kayaks around us including 1879 Shell Beach Road in Pismo seagulls, cormorants, Beach pelicans and other Phone: 805-773-3500 Web: birds I couldn’t identify. Pismo Beach Surf Shop And there were 470 Price St. in Pismo Beach plenty of seals sunning Phone: 805-773-2089 Web: on rocks. Some pups even swam through SLO Coast Kayaks our little flotilla, pop3915 Avila Beach Drive in Avila ping up around the Beach kayaks to check us out. Phone: 805-704-6902 Web: A few otters were out there as well, but Central Coast Outdoors apparently too busy 2189 10th St. in Los Osos rolling in kelp to bothPhone: 805-528-1080 Web: er with us. And I did spot some dolphins in the distance. In some places the water was so still and clear, it seemed you could almost reach down and pluck up a starfish. It wasn’t just sightseeing either. Jewell gave us lots of tips on how to get through, by and around various obstacles.

There are tons of great places to eat on the Central Coast, but I thought I’d mention the Cracked Crab, in case you haven’t visited. After my kayak tour, I was famished and the Cracked Crab was the first spot I saw. What a lucky stop it turned out to be. Everything is really fresh and made in-house. I had the crab cakes, of course, and they were full of crab without all the bready filler some places include. The salad was crisp with locally grown tomatoes. And the crab melt was delish. I’d be remiss in not mentioning the house specialty, which plenty of my fellow diners were enjoying — the bucket. You can choose from a variety of seafood — lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels, crawdads and more — which is then combined in a bucket with corn, potatoes and cajun sausage, and steamed to perfection. The whole thing is then dumped into the middle of your table and you get to dig in. So good! — Cracked Crab; 751 Price St. in Pismo Beach; 805773-2722;

Guides at Central Coast Kayaks can show beginning kayakers how to paddle in and out of the many caves that pockmark the cliffs. We learned how to stay put in surging water, maneuver through tight rock caves with their own currents, and how to ram through waves at just the right moment. I really came away with a lot more confidence than I started with. That doesn’t mean I’ll be renting a kayak and heading out solo anytime soon. Even on a nice calm day like the one we had, the ocean has a mind of its own that demands respect and requires a lot more experience than I have. For now, I think I’ll just stick with relying on someone else’s experience.


Health and Wellness

Free to eat gluten-free Eating food locally without gluten can be a wheat-free cake walk By Allie Castro


ith the influx of trendy diets hitting the scene in the past few years, it’s tempting to lump gluten-free eating in the same category as Atkins and South Beach diets. However, the gluten-free diet isn’t just a fad. For some people, it’s the only way to get through the day without bloating, stomach cramps, nausea and other symptoms that make those last three seem like a wheat-free cake walk. Gluten-free eaters generally eat this way because their bodies cannot


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March 2013

process gluten, a substance responsible for the elastic texture of dough that’s found in wheat, barley and rye. Registered dietician and Kaiser Permanente health educator Cheryl Leighter said those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity lack the enzyme to breaks down gluten, essentially resulting in the gluten acting as a toxin in the person’s body. While theories vary somewhat as to whether or not gluten sensitivity is the same as celiac disease, the general consensus shows that while those with a gluten sensitivity suffer painful consequences if they consume gluten, there are no long-term effects to their health, as gluten sensitivity is akin to a kind of allergy. However, celiac disease, unlike gluten sensitivity, is an autoimmune disease that Cheryl Leighter causes the immune system to attack intestinal tissue, which can severely damage the lining of the intestine and cause malabsorption of nutrients if not treated properly. Leighter said she’s even heard of gluten being the cause of other symptoms such as migraines, body aches and skin rashes. Blood tests or intestinal biopsies can be used to diagnose gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. But with either condition, the one and only treatment is the same — eliminate gluten from the diet. While it may seem that eating gluten-free equates to excluding everything delicious from one’s diet — including bread, cookies, pasta or beer — restaurants and stores are meeting the rising demand to provide tasty alternatives to products that normally contain gluten. Many grocery stores and restaurant menus are also now highlighting items as inherently gluten-free (such as rice cereal or corn tortillas), or have been specially made to be gluten-free. While it takes time to master it, Leighter assures that eating glutenfree can be done, and can be done tastily. The most important thing, she said, is to learn to read labels, as less obvious ingredients, such as seasonings, can contain gluten. For example, nachoflavored Doritos are not gluten-free, while cool ranch-flavored Doritos are. Also, ask an experts or dietician, and get involved with groups like the Celiac Disease Foundation in Los Angeles, who can help provide support, knowledge, and best of all, delicious recipes.

Gluten-free options in Bakersfield Where you can get gluten-free groceries locally: • Fresh & Easy • Trader Joe’s: gluten-free items are marked with a “g” • Lassen’s Natural Foods & Vitamins • Nature’s Food Market and Juice Bar • Most grocery stores, including Albertsons and Vons, now carry gluten-free pasta that can be made from rice or quinoa

Where to order gluten-free locally: • The Cookie Jar (1717 20th St.): Cookies and sweets can be made gluten-free with advance notice. • Cupcakes-n-Crema (4715 Coffee Road, Suite D.): Gluten-free cupcakes are

available Fridays and Saturdays. • Red Brick Pizza (9500 Brimhall Road): Gluten-free crusts are available, and pizzas are prepared separately to prevent

Romano’s penne rustica cross-contamination • Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Italian Restaurant (8850 Rosedale Highway): Gluten-free penne pasta is available; menus show gluten-free options. • Camille’s Sidewalk Café (9000 Ming Ave.): All pizzas, sandwiches and wraps can be made gluten-free. • Moo Creamery (4885 Truxtun Ave.): Sandwiches can be made on gluten-free

bread. • Yogurtland (10930 Stockdale Highway, Suite 103): Gluten-free yogurts are marked. • BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse (10750 Stockdale Highway): Gluten-free chocolate chip pizookies, pizzas and beer are available. • Eureka! Burger (10520 W. Stockdale Highway): Menu notes gluten-free items, and items that can be made gluten-free by subbing a bun for a lettuce wrap with vinaigrette. • Lupe’s Bakery (311 Central Ave. in Shafter): Glutenfree cookies are prepared with advance notice.

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Business Profile



Premier Realty What’s it like running the family business with your son, Joe? Joe has a unique business acumen. He makes up for my liabilities. Even if he wasn’t my son, I’d still like to work with him, but because he is, it’s even sweeter. You are very active in the community. What recent projects have you been involved in, and what’s currently on your plate? My membership with Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary gives me many ways to give back to our community. For example, I’m co-chair for the “Wreaths Across America” project, which places wreaths on the headstones of our fallen heroes at the Bakersfield NationPremier Realty al Veterans’ Cemetery every December. I’m Adoree Roberson, co-owner on the governing board of directors for The and manager Mendiburu Magic Foundation. This very Address: 3977 Coffee Road special foundation provides financial assisPhone: 588-6600 tance for local families who have children Website: with devastating illnesses. And I’m also on the finance council at Christ The King Email: Catholic Church. How has the real estate market been this past year? Any signs of improvement? Last year was challenging with the lack of inventory, but I remain optimistic for 2013. We’ve already seen an increase in qualified buyers, an increase in prices and the lowest 128

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

number of recorded notices of default since May 2005, and the second fewest since January of 1995. How does your company continue to remain successful after so many years? In a word, it’s integrity. We have been blessed with a special group of hard-working, dedicated, professional realtors who believe in the Constitutional right of all Americans — to own property and work diligently to uphold that right. I believe that in any business, the agents and employees reflect their management. And our agents reflect our business standards and beliefs. What do your real estate agents offer that agents from other realty groups do not? It gives me the opportunity to let readers know that realtors in general are great supporters of the Bakersfield community. You will see them volunteering for many worthy causes. I am proud to say that I have been a member of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors since 1979. I have watched it grow into a major participator in all things Bakersfield. Our office is very involved in the Fair Housing Committee and is also well-represented on several other committees. That being said, Joe and I work in an office where we respect, admire and appreciate our diverse family of realtors. Some have been with us for more than 20 years and a few have joined us recently. We still look forward to coming to work every morning!

Dedication…“To our agents and our clients” Loyalty… “From our agents and our clients” Service… “Unparalleled”

“We’re Not National, We’re Your Neighbors” Not a franchise company

3977 Coffee Road, Ste. C (Behind Chicago Title)

661.588.6600 •


Scott Ryan, left, vice-president, and Jeff Periera, president, of Sun Solar Energy Solutions.

What differentiates Sun Solar from other solar companies in Bakersfield? We are not just another solar company. We founded Sun Solar based on the ideas and principles our family and the community demonstrated to us growing up in Bakersfield. We place our focus back to three basic ideals: superior products, quality installation and unparalleled customer service. We have a unique perSun Solar Energy spective of traditional values and goals. Solutions That is something missing in most busiScott P. Ryan, vice president nesses today. Address: 9307 Langley Road (northwest of Brimhall Road and Calloway Drive) Number: 379-7000 Website: Email:

What advice should people interested in solar consider? Not all solar panels are created equal. Quality solar panels will last well more than 25 years. It’s very important to make sure you choose the right products. Many brands of solar panels are made overseas, are inferior in design and start losing their performance. Due to our climate and high utility costs, Bakersfield is one of the top solar markets in the United States. This invites a constant turnover of traveling sales companies to town that are here today and gone tomorrow. These compa-


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013


Sun Solar Energy Solutions

nies typically have an overall lower quality installation and product as well. We suggest that before deciding to buy from these companies, make sure you get a quote from Sun Solar, your local professionals. If you ever have a problem or need service, we’ll be here to help. What products and programs do you offer? We are pleased to offer an array of great financing programs for homeowners. Our unique $0-down programs, along with high-performance solar panels, equates to your maximum savings from PG&E. We prefer Sunpower Solar Modules. They have a patented design documented in the Guinness Book of World Records, proving that it’s the most powerful solar on the planet. What certifications, awards or recognition has your company received? We have many accomplishments to be proud of in recent years. Our company earned the honor of being listed in the 2012 Top 100 Solar Contractors in North America by Solar Power World Magazine. This is really special to us — we are the first and only Bakersfield solar company to achieve this elite status.

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Business Profile



Watson Realty What drives your continued success? After 25 years in real estate, I have experienced so many wonderful transactions, made so many new friends, and get huge pleasure from taking a client from start to finish with loyalty, integrity and looking out for their best interests. My team is my pride! We are a well-oiled machine, and there is always at Watson Realty least one of our four people to respond to Rosina Dewar, Realtor every inquiry. Address: 9101 Camino Media Number: 327-5161 Website: Email:

What do you think the future holds for Bakersfield real estate? Good things are happening in Bakersfield. New construction is back in business. Oil fields are flourishing and lots of relocation is happening. Investors are back, with affordable housing, and new demands for individual and office space. Agricultural land is in demand. Interest rates are at an extreme low. New homebuyers are taking advantage of this


Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

opportunity to buy, buy, buy! Everything is moving. Real estate is on the mend and making great headway. What are some keys to your success? • Create a positive vision, set goals and think positive. What you think is who you are.

• Referrals. We put our heart and soul into every transaction. Our clients recognize that and tell their friends. That, I feel, is the best compliment an agent can get. I owe a great part of my success to referrals. • Availability. Always respond; always let every client in every price range know they are important. We have happy, and appreciative of clients. We love our clients, and they love us! That is the key ingredient. How do you juggle your work life and your personal life? I take both seriously. Live, laugh and love! What is your favorite place to R&R? Always the beach.

Business Profile

Shelley and Michael Gill

Michael Gill Cellars From the minute you step into Michael Gill Cellars, you become aware that this is no ordinary tasting room. You are sharing the opulent space, reminiscent of a French hunting lodge, with stuffed trophy game including elk, antelope, Siberian lynx and an arctic wolf, which is towered over by a 10-foot tall polar bear. This is “where the wild things are!” Upon shaking Michael Gill’s calloused hands, you don’t expect these to be the hands of a dentist. Dentist by profession and winery owner by desire, Gill grew up in the oilfields of Taft. Graduating from University of Southen California’s dental school in 1974, he returned to Bakersfield to build a healthy practice Michael Gill Cellars now into its 39th year. Spotting a barren Address: 4125 Peachy Canyon 25 acres in Peachy Canyon, Paso RobRoad in Paso Robles les, he turned it into more than 12 acres Number: 805-239-1668 of grapes that he originally sold to Website: neighboring wineries. For the last five Hours: Tasting room hours are 11 years, Gill has focused his talents into a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday through fine wine production. Sunday or by appointment. “Rolling hills, deep valleys, clay and limestone soils, and 50 degree temperature swings produce to a premier example of what Paso Robles can do with Rhone wines,” remarked Gill. “The steeper 134

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March 2013



the hillside slopes, the more character the wine has.” Producing up to 1,000 cases when in full production, Gill wants to stay at a smaller scale to keep as much consistency, control and excellence in the wine as possible. “If one grape takes extra care, it gets extra care; we make the time,” said Gill. He and his wife, Shelley, oversee every aspect of the process, from the demands of the vineyard to the bottling. All of the wines are estate grown; if it is in the bottle, it came from the Gill Vineyard. Having just opened the tasting room in 2012, they had only two varieties to begin with, Syrah and Viognier. The 2008 Double Rings Syrah melds rich aromas of blackberry, licorice, cassis and stone pebble. Gill’s syrahs are among the darkest in the county, blending well with the thick, luscious texture of these treasures. The 2009 Black Tie Syrah has sweet blackberry jam and currant aromas sprinkled with spearmint. Another favorite is the 2010 Tuxedo Cellars Viognier, which has lush banana, peach and ripe apricot aromas. The recent release to wine club members is the 2011 Tempranillo, called Tantrum. Coming from the steepest of the hillsides, the fruit has the very best sun exposure to produce a bright and lively wine. Fruit driven, you can taste the berries and plum flavors, laced with vanilla and tobacco. For wine club members, a wine country cottage overlooking the winery, vineyards and the Paso Robles valley is available for rent. To see what others are saying about Michael Gill Cellars, and to stay informed about upcoming events, visit, or check out their Facebook page: MichaelGillCellars. Stay connected for details.

Prime Finds 1


Mouth-watering toffee

Fine, handmade English toffee by Aunt Mae’s Sweet Tooth. Available at Luigi’s, Sweet Surrender Bakery, Cafe Med, Flourishing Art and Sullivan Petroleum stores. 725-5200,

Aunt Mae’s Sweet Tooth

2 Pottery Easter basket Hop in to Creation Craze Studio and pick up a to-go pottery Easter basket. The $40 basket includes six eggs, one base color, and six additional colors and brushes. Bring it back and we will glaze and fire it for you. 9680 Hageman Road, Suite D. 588-7107.

Creation Craze Studio

3 Endless variety Eva’s Boutique carries a variety of casual wear and evening wear in sizes small to 3X, and jeans sizes 0 to 19. Eva’s also carries jewelry and accessories, Nerium AD and Herbalife. 5009 Stockdale Highway in Stockdale Fashion Plaza. 4724818

Eva’s Boutique

4 Indoor doggy fun Treat your four-legged friend to an adorable toy dog house. Lightweight for indoor fun. They’ll be begging you to put them back in the dog house again and again for hours of fun. Visit Biscuit Boutique & Doggy Spa, 1617 19th St., 321-9602.

Biscuit Boutique & Doggy Spa

5 Hoppy Easter platter Kids of all ages will want to help paint this platter. Paint your own Easter eggs, baskets, bunnies, chicks, Seder plates and more. Color Me Mine at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave. 664-7366,

Color Me Mine at The Marketplace

6 Eco-friendly bedding Greenshops offers bed pillows from Holy Lamb Organics. Shop 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. 4821 Stockdale Highway, 834-6477.



Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

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Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Beatriz Coronado, Helinda Coronado, Julian Sanchez, Silvia Coronado and Marianna Sanchez

Bakersfield Symphony Feb. 9 Held at Rabobank Theater Photos by Greg Nichols View these photos and more online at

Michael and Janice Sullivan

Alice Oden, Lynn Deats and Renee Goodwin

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PEAK Valentine’s Run Feb. 9 Held at Cal State Bakersfield Photos by Jan St Pierre View these photos and more online at

Valerie and Doug Taylor

Lisa Jorgenson and Mindi Niebuhr

Frank and Priscilla Bacus

Meet Our Health Experts

& Discover Healthy Tips!

Richard and Janie Perez

Nora and Elvira De La Torre and Gabby Preciado

Neddy and Israel Ocampo

Susan Hopkins and Stefanie Blythe

11 a.m. Cheryl Leighter Kaiser Permanente 12 p.m. Tim Gojich Fit For Life Gym Alex Silicz & Katie Taylor Get Fit Challenge Candidates

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Richard Payne, Richard Walton, Jennifer Hernandez, Arthur Reyes, Isabella Walton, Jose Chavez, Maria Villarreal and Juan Camacho 142

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Murder at The Museum Feb. 9 Held at Held at Buena Vista Museum of Natural History Photos by Carla Rivas View these photos and more online at

Gary and Dana Ashbee

David and Jill Hanley, John Stegall, Linda Hood and Fred Drew

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Go Red for Women Luncheon and Fashion Show Feb. 7 Held at Bakersfield Marriott Photos by Casey Christie View these photos and more online at

Darnetta Smith, Jovita Melero and Louise Trevino

Erin Kennedy and Elizabeth Ayala

Christina Sweet and Stacy Buratto

Sylvia Lozano and Shari George

Christina Hernstedt and Elana Stafford

Julie Liebel and Kristie Woock

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Thania Palacios, Kim Irvine and Angela Grove 144

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

Bikersfield “Bikersfield has everything from bling jeans to bling purses and jewelry. We carry kids sizes 1 to 16, women’s higher waisted jeans sizes 1 to 15, and regular junior and plus sizes from 0 to 21. Every $50 you spend, you get a $5 chip off your next purchase.” -Kelly Woodhouse, owner

Meaghan Pollard is wearing: a lacy long sleeve Vocal top, $39.99; bling belt, $45: LA Idol jeans $60, Milwaukee boots, $110.

Inside Story

Baker Branch Library Compiled by Bakersfield Life Magazine

Photos by Felix Adamo


hen it was completed in 1915, the local Morning Echo newspaper called the Baker Branch Library — then the East Bakersfield Library — “a monument to the civic progress and culture of Bakers-

field.” Today, library personnel refer to the branch as the “grand lady of library buildings” in Kern County. The 4,137 square-foot branch is on the National Register of Historic Places, and today

• The building was finished on July 7, 1915 with a capacity for 30,000 books, and 200 magazines. • The library opened on July 8, 1915. • First librarian was Miss Anna Craig. • “At one time there was a gentlemen’s reading room in the basement. A dumbwaiter (elevator) running from the first floor to the basement was used to haul books up and down since the stairs are somewhat narrow.” — Sherry Gom ez,Kern County directoroflibraries.

Baker Branch

Librarian Sherry Ward appreciates the beauty of the building, which is almost 100 years old.

serves tens of thousands of people per year. “Working in a building with so many ties to the past, both in the community and the building itself, was amazing to me,” said Sherry Gomez, Kern County director of libraries who served as Baker Branch supervisor. “Several generations of people have so many fond memories of using the Baker Branch.”

• The building Nearly 100 years after it was was designed by built, the Baker Street branch Orville Lee Clark, of the Kern County Library still who also designed draws people to its doors. dozens of other buildings in Kern County including Fremont School, Kern County Jail and the Noriega residence. • Design was an Italian Renaissance version of Greek Revival federal villa, with 48-foot wings on the front and back, with grand six Doric columns in its entry. “It is a sturdy square, symmetrical building appropriate for a Greek Revival Federal public building.” — Richard C. Bailey during a plaque dedication ceremony. • Survived the 1952 earthquake. • Listed on National Register of Historic Places in April 1981. • Closed in 1988 for renovation; reopened four years later with handicap accessibility, interior restoration, and refurbished heating, cooling and electrical systems. It was also nearly restored to its 1915 appearance. • $1.1 million renovation was financed through grants from California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Kern County and Bakersfield community development department.

Visiting History • “East Bakersfield Library” on Baker and Oregon streets was approved by city trustees in April 15, 1913. • $7,000 was offered to A.W. Marion for the land. • A squabble over money with the contractor delayed its construction. Three buildings had to be moved to make way for the library. • Construction cost was $26,000. It was financed through a local bond of $28,038. 146

Bakersfield Life Magazine

March 2013

• Branch Supervisor: Sherry Wade • Where: 1400 Baker St. in Bakersfield • Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays only • Phone: 861-2390 • Website: Source: Sherry Gomez, Kern County director of libraries; Sherry Wade, Baker Branch supervisor; Beale Memorial Library “Local History Room” archives; Kern County Facilities Master Plan.

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Years of Serving Kern County

Bakersfield Life Magazine March 2013  

Spring Home and Garden

Bakersfield Life Magazine March 2013  

Spring Home and Garden