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Mike Miller

We are leaving our home in Kern County after 30 great years here and moving to Austin, Texas, to be with our son Jeff and his family.

There have been lots of changes here over those years. Dewar's has several locations now instead of just the original store -- all the better. Sadly, some of the small businesses like Vincent's Sporting Goods have been closed and replaced by national chain stores.

The Fox Theater has been renovated and is the venue for many special presentations. Wouldn't it be great if they showed "King Kong" in that magnificent theater? It would be as if you were in the movie when King Kong was on stage.

The Crystal Palace has been a wonderful addition to Bakersfield and we have enjoyed dinner and dancing there many times. Bakersfield is host to such great restaurants, such as Little Italy and Valentien.

Our former tool and die company, Kern-Tech, built the time capsule for the Bakersfield centennial celebration. The addition of Rabobank Arena and Centennial Plaza at that time has enabled a greater variety of entertainment to be staged here and has been booked consistently ever since.

Calico Gun Co., which we started here in Bakersfield, remains the most rewarding part of my working career in regards to longevity of the company, creative opportunities and lasting relationships. The company is now located in Oregon.

Outside of work, we have enjoyed being involved with several organizations and projects. One of those projects was leading the committee for Patriotic Documents, which are now located at City Hall.

The dearest to me is the Arvin Manufacturing Academy, which has won two state awards for career technical training in California and is helping more than 150 students each year prepare for meaningful careers.

PCL Industrial has been my employer for the last three years of my career. The management and employees represent the best of industry and I thank them for the opportunity to finish my career in style.

We take with us memories of a community that is based on kindness, compassion, inclusiveness and generosity. How is it that Bakersfield, and not New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, raised more money to fight cancer through Relay for Life than any other city in the world? It is not just happenstance. Rather, it is reflective of the caliber of people that live and work here.

You have all read letters on these pages about families that were driving through town and got a flat tire on Highway 99. Two dozen people stopped to help, they changed the tire, filled the car with gas, offered to put the family up for the night, took them to dinner, fed the dog, bought presents for the kids and wrote home to Mom and Dad -- well, pretty close anyway. We will truly miss that kind of hospitality and neighborliness after all.

So many dear friends and neighbors. Such warm and memorable moments. We will miss you all -- and thank you, Bakersfield Californian, for graciously printing my many letters over the years.

All the very best.

Mike Miller of Bakersfield is recently retired as a steel fabrication estimator for a local manufacturer. He wrote the The Californian's Letter of the Year for 2011 and the runner-up letter in 2008. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.