Tag Archives: Vision for the Valley

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.


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

Derek Abbott
Tejon Ranch Company

Andy Paulden
Brown Armstrong Accountants

Vice Chair Public Policy and Political Action
Carla Musser

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


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

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


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?


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


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.

water panel dec 2015 cropped

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.


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?


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