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Felix Adamo / The Californian

New 32nd District Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, speaking during the campaign to the North of the River Chamber of Commerce.

Shannon Grove is a hard-head. Take the word of her mother, Lillie Belle Hines, on that.

When Grove was a child, her older brother tried to help her learn new things.

He didn't get a lot of thanks.

"If her brother tried to help her tie her shoe, she'd slap his hands away," Hines said. "She would sit there for 30 minutes, but she'd get it tied."

Grove would challenge herself to a tough task to prove a point.

"She could drive a jet ski before she could reach the pedal," Hines said. "You're not going to do anything she couldn't do."

Retired Kern County Superintendent of Schools Larry Reider remembers Grove from her elementary school years in Arvin, where he was once a principal.

"Shannon is a very intelligent young lady. She focused and, if she started something, finished it."

Hines said school wasn't Grove's favorite pastime.

"She did not like school because she had to do what they told her," Hines said.

Reider said Grove did respect school, though.

After school, Grove served in the Army for three years, including at Headquarters Company, 5th Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, doing administrative work.

When she came home to Kern County, Grove started working at temporary staffing agencies.

She struck out on her own in 1993, launching a temporary staffing company with her brother's wife, Karen Cain, in a pocket office building on a dirt road road off Fruitvale Avenue.

This time she did accept her brother's help.

"My husband was a cowboy and I worked at the old Onyx Ranch store," Cain said. "We put our cows up for collateral."

Grove remembers her brother stopping by with the check.

"He said, 'Here sis, don't lose my cows,'" she said.

Grove and Cain didn't lose the cows.

Continental Labor and Staffing Resources now has offices in Bakersfield, Ridgecrest, Paso Robles and Visalia.

Cain said making the business work took a lot of effort. But the sisters-in-law worked well together.

"She is everything I'm not. She's like a pit bull. She gets on something and she'll fight for something," Cain said. "I'd much rather be in the back doing the books for the company."

They bumped heads at times but they also had fun.

Cain remembers the times they didn't have enough temps to offer tow-truck companies who'd been summoned to clean up messes left when big-rigs crashed on local freeways.

She and Grove would throw on hard hats and steel-toed boots and head out to lend a hand on the jobs.

After the grimy job was done, the pair would critique the impact on their makeup. Moisture cream had captured dirt mustaches for both of them.

"We'd look at each other and say, 'You should see yourself.' Then the other one would say, 'Have you looked in the mirror recently?'" Cain said.

Then they'd laugh -- a lot.

Grove was the public face of Continental, Cain said, representing the company in the community through civic organizations, business groups and boards.

Inevitably civic involvement led to political involvement for Grove on issues like workers compensation.

Earlier this year Grove co-chaired the Lincoln Day Dinner, putting her in contact with Republican leader and consultant Mark Abernathy.

She decided to run for Assembly and hired Abernathy to help her.

Hines said her daughter was always destined for big things.

"Shannon didn't start anything she didn't finish. I didn't have any doubts she would be successful," she said.