Tag Archives: Nick Ortiz

Strengthening Kern County One Degree at a Time

Good morning Bakersfield, it is Saturday, April 29, 2017 and such a fabulous day to be a Renegade.

Yesterday was the culmination of an incredible day after an incredible week.  So much activity at BC that I will need to punt some of the events to next week’s blog.  Let me start my blog with The Kern Promise.

Bryon Schaefer Sonya Christian Horace Mitchell April 28 2017

Bryon Schaefer, Sonya Christian, Horace Mitchell

Imagine: Over the next 10 years, Kern County will advance our education attainment rates, increase the health of our community, engage our youth, and decrease poverty.

Kern Promise Logo

In Kern County, one in four residents live in poverty, with just 22% of Kern County residents 25 years of age and older holding an Associate’s Degree or higher, compared with California’s average of 39%. In the next ten years, more than six out of ten jobs will require employees to have more than a high school diploma. Today, only 40% of U.S. adults ages 25–64 are adequately prepared for the workforce.

Education is the key to equity, social mobility, and economic prosperity. This drives the work of educators throughout Kern County, and been the foundation for envisioned and implemented institutional, instructional, and student service policy changes locally and statewide in recent years.

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Horace Mitchell, Sonya Christian, Bryon Schaefer

 

With a critical lens on issues of equitable educational attainment, Kern County educators and industry leaders have been working to provide opportunities for applied learning through internships with business and industry partners, to embed academic support services for first generation and low- income students throughout the students’ pathways, and create pathways for success. Albeit a grand vision, the community is committed and inspired to usher in this vision, the promise of a college opportunity: The Kern Promise.

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Yesterday was an incredible day. It was one of hope, laughter, excitement, enthusiasm, but most of all – a promise. In front of almost 1,000 Kern County High School students, I was joined on stage by community leaders, political representatives, and industry partners to pledge our commitment to The Kern Promise.

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By working together with Kern High School District and CSUB, the Kern Promise is a commitment in action at Bakersfield College to help students complete their Associate Degree for Transfer within two instructional years through structured support, priority access to courses, and financial assistance to those who qualify. The Kern Promise focuses on a shared responsibility model where students will work with Completion Coaches and follow a clear path to success. In return, each promise student is required to maintain good academic standing and commit to their studies.

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Bree Parks

It was bright and sunny morning yesterday and as each school filled the stands at the Outdoor Theater, our student emcee, Bree Parks, shouted their school names and a roar spread across the auditorium. While they waited for the event to begin, students were engaged in games, videos, group selfies, and activities chanting, “We are BC!”

When our program began, Chancellor Tom Burke, gave his remarks exclaiming that the Kern Promise would be one of the best ways our future Renegades can contribute to the future of our city, state, community, and their own personal lives as well.

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Chancellor Tom Burke with dignitaries

I was joined by the initiative’s founding partnering institutions – Kern High School District Superintendent, Bryon Schaefer, and CSUB President, Horace Mitchell who also shared their excitement of the program. I remember specifically seeing the faces of the many students in the audience when Dr. Mitchell said that promise students who make it through that program, would be guaranteed acceptance into CSUB. Dr. Schaefer said that KHSD would work toward getting more high school students enrolled in college preparatory classes and promoting dual enrollment programs that allow students to complete college courses through BC while still being enrolled in high school.

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Horace Mitchell, Sonya Christian, Bryon Schaefer

The mornings dignitaries and guests even took a moment to share some words with the students before signing a commitment document. Mayor Goh touched on the ways education “transforms and advances communities.” Check out this video!


KCCD Trustee, Bill Thomas urged the crowd to look into the program and said,  “Dr. Mitchell would like many of you here today to graduate as Roadrunners, but before you run, you have to walk. If you follow the Promise, everyone here will deliver.”

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Retired Congressman and Trustee Bill Thomas

Supervisor Leticia Perez a strong supporter of Bakersfield College and a believer in the tranformative power of education said that she was proudly representing the Fifth District of Kern County.

Leticia Perez The Kern Promise

Supervisor Leticia Perez

Kern Taxpayers’ Association CEO, Michael Turnipseed described The Kern Promise as “instrumental in closing the education gap in Kern County”, while Michael Bowers, speaking for state Senator Andy Vidak, said that the program is “certain to create a pathway to success.”

Michael Turnipseed at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Michael Turnipseed, CEO Kern Taxpayer’s Association

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Michael Bowers representing Senator Andy Vidak

This kind of monumental promise is the kind of promise that only a community, working together can make. Thank you to BC’s educational partners and the KCCD Board of Trustees for providing such a powerful initiative for the students. Thank you to all of these community and industry leaders for supporting education in Kern County. Thank you to the elementary, middle, and high school educators in Bakersfield and in Kern County for preparing students before they begin college.

Mary Barlow Superintendent of Schools April 28 2017

Mary Barlow, Superintendent of Schools, Kern County

Mayor Jose Gurrola a Renegade and a Runner spoke in support of The Kern Promise and shared the vision of having a Bakersfield College satellite campus co-located with Arvin High School.

Mayor Jose Gurrola at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Mayor Jose Gurrola

Mayor Jose Gurrola signing The Kern Promise

Mayor Jose Gurrola signing The Kern Promise

Keenan Hochschild stopped by with a message from Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Sonya Christian with Keenan Hochschild

Keenan Hochschild representing Congressman Kevin McCarthy

 

Michael Herrera representing Senator Jean Fuller.

Michael Herrera at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Michael Herrera representing Senator Jean Fuller at The Kern Promise

 

Lauren Skidmore represented Assembly Member Vince Fong at the event.

Lauren Skidmore for Vince Fong The Kern Promise

 

Amanda Sampson represented Assembly Member Rudy Salas

Andrea Sampson representing Rudy Salas at The Kern Promise

Amanda Sampson representing Assembly Member Rudy Salas

The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a great partner of BC.  Here is Jay Tamsi, CEO of the KCHCC

Jay Tamsi at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Jay Tamsi, CEO KCHCC

Nick Ortiz, CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce pledged his support for The Kern Promise

Nick Ortiz at The kern Promise

Nick Ortiz, CEO Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

Kristen Barnes, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation pledged scholarship dollars to support The Kern Promise students.

Kristen Barnes at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Kristen Barnes, CEO, Kern Community Foundation

Here is Adam Alvidrez pledging Chevron’s support to advancing educational attainment.  Chevron has supported CSUB, BC, Taft College consistently over the years.  Adam, in his truly Adam way, then slaps on a BC baseball cap before he signs The Kern Promise.

Adam Alvidrez of Chevron at The Kern Promise

Adam Alvidrez, Chevron

Adam Alvidrez signing the Kern Promise with the BC hat

Adam Alvidrez

 

It was great to have Wonderful Company represented by Rebecca Farley.  BC has partnered with Wonderful to provide Pathways that start in the 9th grade.

Rebecca Farley for Wonderful Academy at The Kern Promise

Rebecca Farley representing Wonderful

Richard Chapman, CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation (KEDC) wholeheartedly supporting The Kern Promise.

Richard Chapman at The Kern Promise April 28 2017

Richard Chapman, CEO, KEDC

But perhaps most importantly – thank you to our future students for believing that you can, knowing that you can, and pushing yourself to excel. You are the future of Kern County and you are the reason for the promise and the inspiration for all that we do. And thank you for using ASL to sign PROMISE every time the word Promise was mentioned by a speaker.  Thank you Rayven Webb for stopping by my office in the morning and teaching me how to sign PROMISE.  Here I am demonstrating the second half of the word.

 

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Sonya Christian

This is a promise where our young people can define their own future and I’m so pleased to invite them to take the first step at Bakersfield College with The Kern Promise.

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I can’t thank enough my fellow speakers, leaders, and friends who joined me yesterday to sign The Kern Promise –

Tom Burke – KCCD Chancellor
KernPromiseEven-042817s-64-X3Superintendent Bryon Schaefer – KHSD
President Horace Mitchell – CSUB
Trustee Bill Thomas – KCCD Board of Trustees
Karen Goh – Mayor of Bakersfield
Leticia Perez – Supervisor, County of Kern
Michael Turnipseed – CEO, Kern Taxpayers Association
Michael Herrera – Senator Jean Fuller’s Office
Amanda Sampson – Assembly Member Rudy Salas’ Office
Michael Bowers – Senator Andy Vidak’s Office
Lauren Skidmore – Assembly Member Vince Fong
Nick Ortiz – Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce
Jay Tamsi – KC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Arleana Waller – KC Black Chamber of Commerce
Jose Gurrola – Mayor of Arvin
Rebecca Farley – Wonderful Academy
Adam Alvidrez – Chevron
Kristen Barnes – Kern Community Foundation
Richard Chapman — Kern Economic Development Corporation

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Here are some fun pictures before and after the event

BC Cheer Team at The Kern Promise

BC Cheer Team

Band

BC Drumline Students

Before the Kern Promise April 28 2017

Sonya Christian with BC Students

Dignitaries having fun

Mayor Karen Goh, Jay Tamsi, and Michael Bowers having fun

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Mayor Karen Goh, President Sonya Christian, President Horace Mitchell

After the program, our high school visitors were treated to a resource fair, workshops, and activities on campus. Thank you to Steve Watkin and the Outreach Team! 

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Here is a We Are BC pump up video from Chris Glaser prior to The Kern Promise event.

Thank you to those who worked behind the scenes to make The Kern Promise a reality.

Jennifer Marden, Lesley Bonds, Shannel Tyus, Tom Gelder, Janet Fulks, Chris Glaser, Mary Jo Pasek, Dylan Wang, Monika Scott, Keri Kennedy and many others. 

I don’t have pictures of many of these individuals, but here are pictures of few of them.

 

 

GardenFest on Earth Day

GF1Last Saturday was Earth Day and the BC campus was buzzing for GardenFest 2017. The open house featured the Environmental Horticulture and Agriculture programs for a day of family fun. With over 150 vendor booths featuring gardening, pets, farmer’s market, cooking, arts and crafts, and more… there is something for everyone. The Bakersfield Californian had a nice piece this week highlighting this year’s Gardenfest – check it out here!

The official website for Earth Day says in its history, “On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.”

Today on the site, it says “Education is the foundation for progress” and they offer suggestions for how you can take action in becoming more green. Check out http://www.earthday.org/take-action/ to learn more.

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Renegade Health Fair

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On Wednesday April 19, 2017, BC hosted the Renegade Pulse Health Fair on the lawn between the Student Services building and the Library. The local organizations who attended this Health Fair gave students an opportunity to peruse, discuss, and obtain pertinent information that could aid them and their loved ones in a variety of ways. Some of the local businesses that attended this year’s Health Fair were; Kern Public Health, US Army, Bakersfield Police Department, Blue Shield of California, Child Support Services, WIC, Behavioral Health and Recovery, Covered California, Community Connections for Childcare, Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, The Dolores Huerta Foundation, Bakersfield College’s own DSPS and student nursing program who were doing free health screenings, and many more.

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The Bakersfield Pregnancy Center or BPS who was on site with their mobile health van, which allows individuals to obtain free screenings along with free ultrasounds. The Milan Institute booth was one of the biggest attractions, giving much needed neck and back massages to those students who visited and the constant line that was present seemed to speak to the need for some stress relief in this upcoming finals preparation. Another booth that seemed to have captured the attention of many in attendance was the booth on Community Needs Survey.. The individual at the booth was asking everyone to have a voice in Kern County concerning areas they feel are of greatest concern and could use attention. Each person was given five stickers and asked to place them on a chart of local needs.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was located directly behind the Community Needs Survey brought attention to the growing need for adequate Mental Illness facilities and care in Kern County as well as passing out green ribbons to commemorate that May is Mental Health Illness month. Throughout the morning and afternoon, a multitude of students frequented the Health Fair, listening to music, walking from booth to booth, obtaining healthy and helpful information and hopefully took away knowledge, and resources that will better their lives. I loved our photo on BC’s instagram of Terri Goldstein out at the Health Fair.  If you’re not following BC on Instagram, check us out at https://www.instagram.com/bakersfieldcollege/ for most up to date snaps and photos.

Instagram

Retail Management Showcase

The Retail Management and Hospitality Showcase sponsored by Deputy Sector Navigator, Shelley Attix (Retail, Hospitality & Tourism Programs) and CTE Transitions took place on Monday. ROC students learned about the sector and received valuable insight about industry trends, employment opportunities, and HS to College pathways and certifications. Thank you BC Faculty and staff including, Mike Ivey, Alex Gomez, Beth Harrison, Lupe Aguilera, Antonio Alfaro and Pam Gomez.

 

Guided Pathways in April 2017 Rostrum

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has a quarterly newsletter titled Senate Rostrum and it was great to see two special BC Faculty had an article published in April’s edition. The article, Guided Pathways: Two Professors’ Perspective on Why We Need the College GPS  by Nick Strobel and Jessica Wojtysiak is a piece worth reading if you’re not familiar with the Guided Pathways project.

 

Talking about Guided Pathways, we had our statewide CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee meeting in LA on Thursday, April 27, 2017.  The one-day meeting funded by College Futures and hosted by Bakersfield College was successful.  We made progress on a few difficult issues which makes the hardship of travel and and other work associated with the meeting, well worth it.  Lesley Bonds and Jessica Wojtsiak are amazing!

Here are some photos:

Lesley Bonds and Jessica Wojtsiak CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee April 27 2017

Lesley Bonds, Jessica Wojtsiak

Sonya Christian Janet Fulks and Craig Hayward at CA Guided Pathways Advisory Committee

Sonya Christian, Janet Fulks, Craig Hayward

Sonya Christian and Craig Hayward April 27 2017 at Manhatten Beach

Sonya Christian, Craig Hayward

The Joy and Enchantment of Life

CCCApply Annual Meeting

Michelle Presenting w screen (2)

Every year, the CCCApply and eTranscript California steering committees meet to connect with colleagues at other institutions and discuss the issues unique to the online application to the California Community Colleges (CCCApply) and electronic transcript exchange across California, including CSU, UC, and private universities. This year, it was held on April 12th and 13th at Sacramento City College.  As the Vice Chair, Michelle Pena, BC’s Assistant Director of A&R, helped coordinated the conference, sessions and meals. She provided the introductions for each speaker including Dr. Walker and gave an overall orientation of what the day, the closing, and the raffles. She ran a session on Residency Algorithm 101 with Michael Quiaoit and Natalie Wagner with the CCCCO, in conjunction with Los Medanos.

Dr Walker and Michelle _n

Veterans Club Giving Back

On Friday April 21st the Bakersfield College Veterans Club went to the Bakersfield homeless shelter to serve dinner to the community as well as the people living at the center. They took a tour of all the facilities to better understand where their help may be needed.

Veterans Club

BC’s Korean Culture Festival

The first annual Korean Culture Festival took place at BC this week on April 25th. Students of the Korean Club put together a great event including Korean karaoke, information on the culture and history, a language table to have your name written in Korean script, known as Hangeul, food and snacks, and a table on tourism and UC/CSU study abroad opportunities. Check out the fun photos taken by Belen Martinez at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/Korean-Culture-Festival

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Civic Engagement covered by CHAP in Delano

CHAP2017The Bakersfield College Delano Campus Cultural Historical Awareness Program (CHAP) hosted its final event for the spring semester. Political Science Professor Charles Kim did a wonderful job moderating an informative panel about civic engagement and the political process with staff members from Congressman David Valadao’s office and State Senator Andy Vidak.  Following a 45-minute discussion about their entrance into local politics, political staffers Ariana Joven (Valadao) and Rogelio Caudillo (Vidak) fielded questions from the audience ranging from immigration reform, human trafficking, water policy, and what prompted their interest in pursuing a career in politics. This was a fun and lively session and connected local issues to the lives of our rural students. We hope this is the first of many future policy-oriented community dialogues our campus can host in the spirit of promoting civic education and participation in the political process.

Penelope Project

I’m always impressed when hear incredible stories about what our BC students are doing with their lives. A recent article on BakersfieldNow.com featured one of our BCSGA students and her incredible story. The article titled, “Local dog owner turns fundraiser into business venture” begins by highlighting Diana Martinez as a BC student studying architecture and photography. She is the founder of the Penelope Project which she started as a way to afford her dog’s medical care after her pet was hit by a car. In the article, Diana says, “I wanted to create a win-win situation, where the people would receive something in return and I did not want it to be an unequal service, I wanted to give the community a service.”

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Congratulations to Sue Vaughn

Sue vaughSue Vaughn was recently honored with the Robert Brown Award for distinguished leadership at CAACRAO. The website describes the award by saying,  “The Robert Brown Award is given to a CACCRAO member who has distinguished him or herself within the Admissions and Records profession.  CACCRAO presents this award to recognize the outstanding contributions of individual CACCRAO members and to further the profession of Admissions and Records Officers within the California Community College system.  It is a symbol of commitment to leadership, innovation and professional standards.” From everyone at BC, Congratulations Sue!!!

Jerry Ludeke, a BC Treasure

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A beautiful piece about Jerry Ludeke by KGET,  Tabatha Mills did a great job capturing the spirit and person of Jerry Ludeke.

http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/news/local-news/jerry-ludeke-a-true-bakersfield-college-treasure/700757000

I went back to my photo archives and found these two pictures of me with Jerry.  One from 2014 when Jerry received one of the 100 stars and the second from the 2016 Sterling Silver event.

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Sonya Christian, Jerry Ludeke receiving one of the 100 BC stars

 

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Jerry Ludeke, Sonya Christian. 2016 Sterling Silver

 

Bakersfield College transforming our community one degree at a time.

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That’s all for now.  

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya —
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

 

 

 

July 9 Blog

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Jack Brigham. Photo from The Bakersfield Californian website

Professor Jack Brigham passed away on Thursday at 10:11 p.m.  A man who has left a deep legacy at Bakersfield College and in our community.  James Burger in his article says: “Brigham’s generosity extended to his wit, spirit and time.” For more read his piece Beloved Professor Philanthropist Jack Brigham Dies http://tinyurl.com/zr643qv

 

Yesterday I felt the whole city was mourning.  Social media was buzzing with tributes to Jack.  Here are some:

Daniela Miramontes:

Your endless wisdom brought light to us all. Thank you for being our mentor at PEAK and for your endless support, we will always love and remember you, Jack Brigham.

 

Saw Kapi

My heart hurts as I heard early this morning that my foremost professor of history and political science passed away in California. Professor Jack Brigham is an exemplary humanist, educator and mentor. Through his actions and encouragement, he showed us how to be a good citizen of the world. He embraced me and my sisters at Bakersfield College and helped us navigate complicated US education system. He encouraged us to read and be a life-long learner. He was the one who introduced us to the works of Ernesto Che Guevara, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Howard Zinn. He lived his best and we will miss him dearly. Professor Jack Brigham, may your soul rest in peace.

Sandy Woo:

My heart hurts and I still don’t want to believe that last night happened, but I’m comforted in knowing that Jack is now resting in peace. I’m so grateful that God led me back here. I got to spend the last year of Jack’s life with him, and got to share that time with so many others who also held him close to their hearts. I will always think of him, especially on Sunday afternoons… I’ll miss admiring those bright roses in the garden and barging through that front door like that house was my own home.

Jack, you were more than a teacher. You were my family. You were the reason I believed I could reach for the stars. You have touched so many lives with your love for humanity. Thank you for all that you have taught me these last 13 years. I hope to make you proud. Until we meet again, dear friend…

Shawn Taro Newsom:

RIP Jack Brigham. You made me believe in myself and to reach for the stars. You were a force of nature in my life with your quiet demeanor. You will be missed my friend.

Misa Ingles:

Last night, we all lost one of the foremost philanthropists that has ever set foot on kern county soil. A man of immeasurable wisdom and a heart of gold. He was an inspiration to many, including myself.

He had a knack for finding undeveloped talent and bringing out the true potential in everyone.
He believed wholeheartedly in the importance of encouraging the youth to take control of their future. He knew how to build a better world.

He was truthful and his values unwavering.

 

Professor Jack Brigham
1946-2016

Tassos Frangou:

Wisdom, humility, love, integrity, catalyst for greatness, a silent leader that guided everyone to audacious self exporation in exceeding their potential…… as far as my concern Jack is alive in my heart, in my thoughts, in my contribution to humanity, in my every actions, in what I am and what I will pass to my children. I am celebrating the opportunity to know him, to guide me, and his contribution in shaping me for who I am. Thank you Jack, thank you for being there, thank you ! Till we meet again!

Oliver Rosales:

A great tribute to a wonderful man, educator, and model of social justice activism over decades…he will be missed but his work and legacy continue…!!!

 

Randy Beeman and I were writing back and forth about Jack and here is an excerpt from Randy:

I would cone in the office and if he is clicking the keyboard at rocket speed I knew an injustice was being righted! He’s in heaven now forming a committee on something!

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Jack Brigham (2nd from left) with the BC Leadership and Equity Academy

Chains of Suffering

This week was hard for many reasons. After reading my comments about Elie Wiesel last week, Jack Hernandez txted me a quote by Wiesel that said

Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere

This week saw the devastating news from Dallas that followed public anger and sorrow over shootings, which were preceded by bombings and more in what felt like chains of suffering. There is so much suffering that concerns us all – I take solace in what we do, our community, our learning, our values of tolerance and diversity.

BC Hosts Black Caucus Annual Leadership Conference

I discovered this draft blog post from earlier in the spring term and felt it was the right time to include it in today’s blog.

Dating back to 1976, every U.S president has designated February as Black History Month to celebrate the achievements of black Americans and recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S history.

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Sonya Christian, Clayton Fowler

Prior to that, dating back to 1926, this recognition was celebrated only during the second week of February, during the birthday week of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. This “Negro History Week” event gave schools and communities an inspiration to organize local celebrations.  But in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized and lengthened the commemoration to Black History Month, calling on all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.”

On February 19th, Bakersfield College was honored to become the first community college to host the Black Caucus Annual Leadership Conference with a massive event that sprawled across the entire campus.  From the Simonsen Performing Arts Center to the cafeteria to the Fireside Room to spaces in the Math/Science and Language Arts buildings, attendees to the three-day conference converged on BC to take in scores of speeches, seminars and training sessions.

Students from throughout the state convened at the 15th annual convention to discuss local issues, share best practices, and take action locally, regionally and nationally.

The Black Caucus of the California Community Colleges began in 1998 as an affiliated Caucus of the then California Student Association of Community Colleges (CalSACC).  Since then, the Black Caucus has worked to build coalitions and alliances for the purpose of leadership, advocacy and equity with other student leaders and organizations.

This conference and the Black Caucus organization were great additions to Bakersfield College and thanks to BC’s own Fitzgerald Graves for helping to pave the way to bring such an amazing event to our campus.

Meeting with the VFW

On Wednesday, I gave a presentation with Paul Beckworth and Jenny Frank to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #97 about “A Better BC,” which highlights our plans to improve our facilities for the future with a potential November 8th ballot measure.

I read up about the VFW, a very prestigious organization and here is an excerpt from their website http://www.vfw.org/:

The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.

In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.

Since then, the VFW’s voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI Bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.

Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.

Annually, the nearly 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.

From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the president’s cabinet, the VFW is there.

We were honored to meet the California VFW State Commander, Dale Smith, who happened to be on the grounds at the time.

District Commander, Deb Johnson, who is also the President/CEO of the California Veterans Assistance Foundation, invited us to repeat our presentation on August 27 at their district wide meeting, which consists of thirteen different VFWs in the area.   Jenny did a great job as our community lead and took the reins when the time came.

Good job team!

AG Ventures Camp

For the past 3 years, Bakersfield College has partnered with Wonderful Education and put on our “Ag Ventures Camps.”

Talking about Wonderful, here is a shout out to Noemi Donoso a great leader who believes in the transformational power of education and is in charge of the Wonderful Academy.

Also a shout out to the fabulous Lynda Resnick who has the heart for communities like Delano and Lost Hills.  Check out a piece I did on the work of Lynda in my May 21, 2016 blog at https://bcpresidentblog.com/2016/05/21/so-much-diversity-and-we-are-bc/

 

The purpose of the Ag Ventures Camps is to paint a vivid and complete picture of agriculture for young students (8th graders) in the Wasco and Delano areas. Although many of the students’ parents may be involved in agriculture, ofttimes they are active in the crucial and challenging areas of the industry that bring the product to market (field work, product sorting…), and exposure to just this experience can paint a limited picture of the opportunities available in agriculture.

Ag Ventures provides a hands-on, active curriculum that focuses on careers in our industry that require the additional education of a certificate, 2-year or 4-year degree (water engineering, product fabrication, new product development, marketing…).

This is accomplished in a 6 days and 5 nights fast-paced, energetic “camp like” environment that the students love. The camp culminates with a Friday evening, family dinner presentation where they demonstrate what they have engaged in during their week in camp experience. Thank you Rich McCrow and entire Rural Kern Team as well as Chris McCraw and the Ag faculty for putting in countless hours to make this happen.

Check out this 7-minute video by Manny De Los Santos

Celebrating our neighbor Shafter

There was a recent article in The Californian by Pete Tittl about a little downtown restaurant in our neighboring city of Shafter which caught my attention. A triple-decker enchilada Shafter has been keeping to itself, until now.

Wait a second… A triple-decker enchilada? I knew I had to read the whole article.

El Michoacano, located in downtown Shafter is described by Tittl as what you’d expect when you see the description of a “little hole in the wall restaurant,” but raves that the food is absolutely delicious.

Scot Hurlbert Sonya Christian July 5 2016

Sonya Christian, Scot Hurlbert

Well, I got to try the street tacos at El Michoacano this Tuesday along with Scot Hurlbert, Shafter City Manager, David Franz, Director of the Learning Center, and Rich McCrow, Director of the BC Delano Campus.  The food was awesome and the conversation was so engaging that I was terribly late for my next meeting.

 

The folks in Shafter have a big vision and they pursue that vision in a collaborative manner and put in the resources necessary to make that vision happen.  What’s not to like about that? It got me thinking about our neighboring city and all that has happened there over the past few years.

In 2013, the city of Shafter celebrated 100 years with their centennial anniversary. This exciting milestone brought renovations and projects to beautify the city, which is described on the city website as “plans to honor the city’s heritage while embracing its future.”

The city continues to grow in population and size.

Ask almost anyone who lives in Shafter, and I bet they will tell you they love it because there’s little to no traffic, but Shafter is home to many amazing things – Paramount Logistics Park (PLP) (formerly known as the International Trade and Transportation Center (ITTC)) was built to facilitate Central Valley access to ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles via the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

And then there’s Minter Field, which began operations in 1941 and saw heavy use during World War II. It’s incredible how much history is in the area.

In the last two years, Bakersfield College has been working closely with David Franz and the High School to expand college courses in Shafter.  I suspect that we are going to be doing way more in the future.

Bakersfield Chamber Government Review Committee:

Friday, July 8th, at 7:30 a.m., Tom Burke, CFO of KCCD, and I presented to the Chamber Government Relations Committee (GRC) about the potential bond measure being considered by the KCCD Board of Trustees for the November 8th ballot.

The presentation was well received and GRC members unanimously voted to recommend endorsement of the bond to the Greater Bakersfield Chamber Board.  This was great news and Tom and I were absolutely elated.  What was particularly enjoyable was the conversation.  Let me start by saying that Mayor Harvey Hall, Chair of the BC Bond Blue Ribbon Committee, took the time out of his crazy busy schedule to be there.  Just his presence in the audience set the tone for the conversation.  Then, Congressman Bill Thomas, Senior Advisor to the BC Bond Blue Ribbon Committee spontaneously addressed the GRC as well as responding during Q&A.

GRC Group 1 July 8 2016

It was wonderful seeing our community so engaged and the stories they brought up from the past.  I was just sitting back and enjoying the leadership of Bakersfield at its very best.  Leadership that has been with us with the likes of Gene Tackett, Peter Pankey, Michael Turnipseed, John Mcquiston etc.  Jennifer Pitcher, Chair of GRC did a masterful job managing this group of, at times rowdy individuals 🙂  I guess, when you get Tackett, Pankey, and Thomas in a room, the discussions are quite vibrant 🙂 I was happy to see Trustee Kyle Carter at the meeting.  Also, thank you Nick Ortiz for your leadership as the CEO of the Chamber.

 

Coming Soon: New Student IDs

It’s such a delight to see college employees engaged and excited about the work we do at BC. Thursday afternoon was no different as 20 or more employees from Bakersfield College and the other district colleges, Porterville and Cerro Coso, gathered to learn about the new Student ID printing process.

It has been almost 2 years since our student ID’s have had actual student photos on them, so I know these new cards will be anticipated by all.

Jimmy, the technician we had on campus, demonstrated all kinds of useful things, such as how to use the printer, loading the ID cards, and even a trick for when you have to print a large volume of cards.

We’re not ready to start printing just yet, but I look forward to seeing all our eager students picking up their IDs in the Welcome Center within a few short weeks.

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Wrapping up…..

I did not actually feel too well this week but have finally turned the corner.  This week was intense with work. However, I was able to check out the music performance Thursday evening by the Fountain at the Market Place.  This is my first time at this event this season.  Usually the Summer Music at the Fountain has been a regular activity for me.

Also, I through I would sign off by mentioning two movies — The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan.  Although both movies did not get rave reviews, I enjoyed them very much.  But for that matter, I am told it is just part of my personality — enjoying everything that is.  Never sure if it is a compliment or not…….

Growing up I read a lot of comics and the four of us children had a library that was filled with comic books with about 10 bound together so that it would not get tattered.  Tarzan, the King of the Jungle, along with Phantom, the ghost who walks, were some of my all time favorites.  Of course when the animated Tarzan came out in 1999, I think I watched it on opening night.  I loved the soundtrack of that movie with Phil Collins doing two beautiful pieces. Check out this love song You’ll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins.

 

 

The other movie Jungle Book came out in 1967 capturing Rudyard Kipling’s characters in all their glory.  I have lost track of how many times I have watched the movie.  And although this year’s release did not stack up against the original, I still enjoyed it very much.  I wish they had included the songs in it.  In any event, here is my favorite Jungle Book song on youtube which I watch when I am feeling low and Balu, the bear, always cheers me up.  Not only is the video so much fun (it is a must see), but there is definitely some wisdom in the lyrics.  How about this:

 

‘Cause let me tell you something little britches

If you act like that bee acts, uh uh

You’re working too hard

And don’t spend your time lookin’ around

For something you want that can’t be found

When you find out you can live without it

And go along not thinkin’ about it

I’ll tell you something true

The bare necessities of life will come to you

 

 

And, btw, good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, July 9th.  A wonderful day to be a Renegade.

sonya July 8 2016

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. from the Firestone at 7:00 a.m. Friday morning, assuring a friend that I would do a good job at the GRC presentation and there was nothing to worry.

and of course, the luckiest and happiest college president in the whole world

 

 

Engaging our Community: Bakersfield Chamber

Good Morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, February 27, 2016…..A good day to be a Renegade!

Jameik Riviere Feb 26 2016

Got back home late last night after watching an incredible Renegade men’s basketball game at Moorpark College, 114 miles southwest from BC.  The Renegades won 96-78 in what was an intense, fast, and smart game.  It was super cool to see the pride on the face of our Athletic Director, Sandi Taylor, and the other fans who came out to Moorpark.

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Below you can see the progression of my tweets as the game unfolded. Each tweet was accompanied by a picture of the game – to see the pictures along with the tweets follow me on twitter @sonyachristian.

@GoGadesGo 18-12 playoff @MoorparkCC #RenegadeBasketball @coachrichhughes @coachstaylor008

@coachrichhughes in action @GoGadesGo powering thru 25-14@MoorparkCC #WeAreBC @coachstaylor008  #RenegadeBasketball

#RenegadeBasketBall on the move 54-39 @MoorparkCC #BCRocks @GoGadesGo @coachrichhughes @coachstaylor008

@coachrichhughes with his winning team team 66-48 @MoorparkCC. Rockin payoff. @GoGadesGo @coachstaylor008 #WeAreBC

#JaneokaRiviere on the move. @GoGadesGo dominate 70-59 @MoorparkCC #BCRocks @coachrichhughes @coachstaylor008

@GoGadesGo playing fast. Playing smart. 80-69 @MoorparkCC @coachrichhughes @coachstaylor008 #WhatAGame @baksports

#LawrenceMoore controls the ball 88-72 with 1:33 min to go. @coachrichhughes @GoGadesGo @coachstaylor008 #WeAreBC

96-78 What a win at the playoff! @GoGadesGo @coachrichhughes @coachstaylor008 #RenegadeBasketball #WeAreBC #BCRocks

The Rooter bus left BC at 4:00 p.m. yesterday to bring out a group of Renegade fans to cheer on their team.  The fans were intense and noisy in their support, and concluded the last 10 seconds of the game with the “We Are…BC” chant.  Needless to say, I have no voice left today.

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Check out the details from Francis Mayer at http://tinyurl.com/haseu6c.  

Also for photos by Joe Bergman check out: http://tinyurl.com/z75za8j

Here are my previous blogs on this winning coach and winning team:

February 20, 2016: http://tinyurl.com/zl559bg

February 12, 2016: http://tinyurl.com/jhuyl8l

Honestly, I am the luckiest person, to be the President of this amazing college with its amazing people.  I wish I had time to do a blog every day….but alas, time is my biggest enemy.  But here are some quick snippets:

Nick Strobel brought us news that on Feb 11, teams using advanced LIGO Project detectors had confirmed the existence of “gravity waves,” ripples in spacetime like ripples on a lake. Quantum theories unify every force except gravity, which is explained by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. (E.g. light has photons, and gravity might have “gravitons,” but we can’t show/explain it yet.) Our new ability to detect gravity waves might even allow new ways of “seeing” the universe with “gravity telescopes”. This is a very big deal – the kind of Nobel-prize-winning, this-made-waves-in-history sort of event – but might well have escaped our attention except for our astronomy detector Nick Strobel.

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Erin Miller’s talk titled Death of Virtue: Citizenship, Race, and Manhood in Colonial America was extraordinary. A scholar and great story teller, we are so fortunate to have Erin at BC. And thank you Norm Levan for your generous gift to BC that supports the Norm Levan Faculty Colloquium.

It was also heartwarming to attend the Bob Elias Hall of Fame event at the Rabobank last week with over 700 people and to see that a significant number of inductees over the years are Renegades.  I also enjoyed connecting with Wesley Lyons, a student vet at BC.

Talking about our students who are veterans, we have seen an increase in the numbers since 2013 and there is so much more we need to do at BC to support this group.  Here is some recent data I received from our IR office.

data veterans feb 2016

Every year, we all say that there’s so much to do and so many events to attend during the holiday season.  But we’re now two months into 2016 and it feels like my events calendar is just as packed as ever.  While I find there’s little time for reading or movies, I’m still satisfied — because the events I DO attend are such a constant wonderful reminder of the best in our community.

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Chamber Board

On January 22nd, I had my most recent experience with one of our community’s true crown jewel organizations, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.  Their 2016 Board of Directors Installation Gala and Masquerade Ball event was fabulous, with President Nick Ortiz welcoming this year’s new officers, including new board chairman Steve Murray of Murray Family Farms (succeeding outgoing chairwoman, the wonderful Danielle Wade of Bright House Networks).

The evening was delightful, particularly the one-on-one conversations.  I enjoyed meeting Tom and Gina Saba whose son goes to BC.  He is apparently enjoying his experience and appreciated the summer bridge program.  Thank you Kimberly Bligh for expanding Summer Bridge 2015 and to the numerous faculty who participated.  You are creating the first experience for our students as they transition to Bakersfield College.  A very important event in their lives.  Here’s to an even bigger Summer Bridge 2016.

Also enjoyed catching up with Kelly and Greg Chamberlain, you truly know how to have fun.  Check out their picture below.

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I am looking forward to getting to know the Bakersfield Chamber Board members many of whom I have heard by name but never met.  Here is a copy and paste from the Chamber website:

Chairman of the Board
Steve Murray
Murray Family Farms, Inc.


Immediate Past Chair
Danielle Wade
Bright House Networks


Chair-Elect
Derek Abbott
Tejon Ranch Company


Treasurer
Andy Paulden
Brown Armstrong Accountants


Vice Chair Public Policy and Political Action
Carla Musser
Chevron


Vice Chair Economic Vitality
Darlene Mohlke
Castle & Cooke California, Inc.


Vice Chair Leadership and Workforce Development
Kathy Miller
Aera Energy LLC


Vice Chair Member Engagement
Karen Goh
Garden Pathways, Inc.


Vice Chair Community and Resource Development
Brooke Antonioni
Trans West Security Service, Inc.


Member at Large
Paul Anderson
Moneywise Wealth Management


BOARD MEMBERS

Susan M. Benham
Dignity Health Memorial Hospital


Don Bynum
Temblor Brewing Company and Gregory D. Bynum & Associates, Inc.


Greg Chamberlain
Bakersfield College


Dr. Sonya Christian

Bakersfield College


Tasha Clayton
Tel-Tec Security Systems, Inc.


David Dobbs
Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant


Scott Guseman
Paramount Farming Company


Derek Jeffery
KGET-TV 17


Ronald Johns
RA Johnsfam dba McDonald’s


Duane Keathley
Cushman & Wakefield/Pacific


Karen King
Golden Empire Transit District


J.P. Lake
Rain for Rent


Pritesh Patel
Valley Republic Bank


Tom Saba
Creative Concepts/Saba Agency


Rick Stevens
Stevens Transportation, Inc.


John Stovall
Law Offices of John F. Stovall

The Chamber has repeatedly backed learning initiatives at all educational levels and emphasized that a better educated workforce not only lifts the business opportunities for their member companies, but improves the fiscal outlook for the county and the region as a whole.

With an abundance of partnership ventures available in 2016 (including a second year of the wildly-successful Vision for the Valley conference), it’s great to know Nick, Steve and the entire Bakersfield Chamber are always ready to dig in and work with Bakersfield College and other community partners on our shared goals for Kern County.

 

Vision for the Valley: Kern County Leaders Look to the Future at BC

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Sonya Christian

Whether you’re titans of industry, learned academics or pre-schoolers on the playground, there’s a simple rule that holds true — talking through problems is usually the most effective path to workable, sustaining solutions.

 

Unfortunately, we’re all so busy with our daily lives (especially this time of year) that we have a hard enough time identifying the problems, let alone crafting the complex answers needed to settle them.

So how do we as a community solve the multi-layered puzzle of addressing Kern County’s critical infrastructure needs?

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Richard Beene (TBC), Nick Ortiz (Chamber), Victoria Rome (NRDC),    Tupper Hull (WSPA)

Well, there are few experiences more energizing than listening to a collection of very smart people talk about very important things — so BC was thrilled to host the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Vision for the Valley summit this week.

Nick Ortiz and our friends at the Chamber really outdid themselves, creating a half-day symposium that assembled some of our area’s most knowledgeable business, legislative and analytical minds to examine issues we all face every day (whether we think about them or not) — issues around energy, water, agriculture, housing, transportation and their interlocking impacts on Kern County’s economy.

Before I get into the content of the summit’s multiple panels, a quick congratulations to the Chamber and our team at BC for the great visual presentation on the Simonsen Performing Arts Center stage.  From the Scandinavian type furniture to the backdrop to the impressive lighting package, the production crew behind the summit did a phenomenal job.

As for the panels themselves…well, delving into “big think” topics like this can be an enormous challenge, but the summit’s roster of insightful speakers — under the well-orchestrated direction of moderators Richard Beene and Louis Amestoy of the Bakersfield Californian — crystallized the major points around these complex issues, making them all very relatable.  Elizabeth Sanchez did a piece in the Californian on the summit which can be found at

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2015/12/08/thomas-urges-county-to-seek-half-cent-transporation-sales-tax.html

The Energy, Sustainability and the Economy panel, for instance, brought together natural opponents for a spirited discussion of where the oil industry is headed, particularly focusing on its impact on Kern County, the San Joaquin Valley and the rest of the state’s transportation needs.

Much of the conversation with conservationist advocate Victoria Rome with the National Resources Defense Council and Western States Petroleum Association vice president Tupper Hull centered on state regulation, both its impact on oil producers and whether California was going too far — or not far enough — in overseeing the industry’s activities.

While Victoria was encouraged that California’s 140,000 electric and hybrid cars on the road today could hit the 1 million benchmark by 2030, both agreed the state’s need for oil would likely remain strong for years to come.

“We need to stop looking for simplistic answers to complex questions,” Tupper said.

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John Burtchaell (Wells Fargo), DeeDee D’Adamo (State Water Resources Control), Lois Henry (TBC), Louis Amestoy (TBC)

That was a theme that held true throughout the day, including a deep-dive look at the impact of California’s drought on our groundwater demand during the Agriculture and Water Resources panel. DeeDee D’Adamo, a board member with the State Water Resources Control Board, defended and explained, and in some cases, commiserated over the state’s water use policies. Lois Henry made the issues clear in a pragmatic and a “let’s cut to the chase” approach of addressing these complex issues.

Water use in California has reduced by 27 percent in the five months since emergency conservation regulations began in June.  While there was general agreement that it will be a long-term,  multi-year effort to replenish state water reserves, there was a sense that some form of permanent conservation measures would remain in place even once the drought is declared over, helping to protect the state from future water shortage issues.

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Louis Amestoy (The Bakersfield Californian), Greg Bielli (Tejon Ranch),   Bill Thomas (former Congressman), Dave Cogdill (former State Senator)

The third and final panel of the day, a round-table talk about housing, land use and transportation, was also a strong contender for highlight of the day, particularly thanks to the spirited engagement and effusive charm of panelist, retired congressman and luminary BC faculty emeritus Bill Thomas.

I wasn’t here during Bill’s teaching career on this very campus from 1965 to 1974, but those nine years as a political science faculty were part of the beginnings of one of Kern County’s most storied political careers.  Bill’s 27 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, highlighted by his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, grant him a unique perspective on issues that few others could offer.

One of Bill’s political passions is transportation — and like the true statesmen he is, Bill didn’t hold back, crusading for Kern County to keep pushing through apathy and threats of adjudication to complete the scores of local transportation projects undertaken by his namesake Thomas Roads Improvement Program (TRIP).

Ret. Rep. Bill Thomas and former state Sen. Dave Cogdill on the Housing, Land Use and Transportation panel

Ret. Rep.Bill Thomas, former state Sen.Dave Cogdill 

For those who don’t know the history, TRIP has been overseeing the use of $630 million in federal funds secured by Thomas in 2005 to tackle Bakersfield’s specific transportation problems.

He repeatedly framed it as transportation issues that arise when an “east-west” county resides within a “north-south” state. The projects include the completed construction of the Westside Parkway, the State Route 178/Fairfax Road Interchange, the State Route 58 gap closure and the State Route 178/Morning Drive Interchange.

Right now, one of TRIP’s top priorities is to begin work on their largest project, the Centennial Corridor, which will ultimately connect State Route 99 and Interstate 5.  But Thomas warned about the danger of obstructionist attorneys using CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) statutes to slow Corridor construction via unnecessary litigation.

“Adjudication takes a long time and costs a lot of money,” Thomas said. “That’s their way of trying to control the outcome.”

Bill also made some news during the summit, coming out in support of Kern County voters approving a half-cent tax measure that would mark Kern as a “self-help” county, earmarking funds for future county transportation projects.  More importantly, the designation would significantly boost Kern County’s ability to secure state and federal money to carry such projects to completion.

As a staunch Republican acutely aware of Kern County voters’ pervasive anti-taxation stance, Bill told the crowd he understood initial bristling to the idea — but warned the cost of not attaining “self-help” status and losing out on federal transportation dollars to other areas made passing the tax infinitely more cost-effective for the county and its residents.

Talking through water regulations and oil production restrictions and transportation funding can seem like dry policy wonk chatter, capable of making anyone’s eyes glaze over. But at the end of the day, all of these critical conversations come back to some simple questions — how does this affect the people of Kern County and how do we make everyone’s lives better through our collective decisions?

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Sonya Christian (BC), Mary Jo Pasek (BC), Karen Goh (Garden Pathways), Michael Turnipseed (Kern Tax)

It was wonderful to see the community out at the college to engage in these discussions. Events like the Vision for the Valley summit help point us toward ways of enriching the life of every single Kern County resident…and we at BC couldn’t be happier to play our part in making events like this happen.

Ramon Puga Cropped Dec 7 2015

Ramon Puga from BC. Helping with the take down