ISABELLA DAM

Facebook is good for many things, but distributing unfounded and alarming "news" should not be one of them. One of the posts making the rounds these days concerns Lake Isabella Dam, which is nearing its recommended capacity after a season of heavy rains. The post warns the dam could fail, and inundate downtown Bakersfield under a wall of 20 feet of water. Not so fast, say the experts, who told KGET the dam is far from capacity and well within its recommended limit. Regarding a Facebook post that says the dam will pose an "unacceptably high risk of failure as soon as next week," Kern River Watermaster Dana Munn told 17 News this is "altogether wrong," adding the only thing that could cause the dam to fail at this point would be a "super earthquake."

FATHER'S DAY

Americans will spend about $12.7 billion on Father's Day this Sunday, but that pales in comparison to the $21 billion we spend on Mother's Day. The average person spends about $115 on presents for dad, about $2 million more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The most popular presents for dad come in three categories: eating (grilling, food, etc.) drinking (whiskey, wine or beer) or casual wear (t-shirts, sports shirts etc).

TIGERFIGHT

Hats off to Chris Wilson and the folks who organized the annual TigerFight Casino Night gala to help fight childhood leukemia. Now in its ninth year, TigerFight has grown into a huge, elaborate fundraiser that takes control of the second floor of the iconic Padre Hotel with food, beer, wine, dancing and silent auctions. Since its humble beginnings at Luigi's, the event now raises north of $60,000 for research and to aid families who have a son or daughter fighting leukemia.

SPOTTED ON TWITTER

"So a baby crawls across the floor to its bottle and it's cute, but when I do it I'm in need of an intervention?"

GOOD FORM

If you regularly walk the Panorama Bluffs, you know it is often littered and marked by graffiti. Which is why Jerry Evelyn, who just turned 97, is doing his part to clean up the place. His son dropped me this note last week: "My mother and father have been walking the Panorama Bluff park daily for more than 30 years. His 97th birthday is Saturday and he wants to give back to the place and the people that have given them so much joy these 30 plus years. After applying to the Kern County Parks Department for approval he will restore a graffiti filled bench and will plant a tree in a weedy area."

YOUNG ACHIEVER

Hats off to Andrew Tibbetts, a 2012 Frontier High School graduate, who was recently named to the Dean's List at Briar Cliff University, in Sioux City, Iowa. Andrew also received an award for Outstanding and Scholarly Achievement by the Elementary Education Department and was named to the NAIA Academic All America baseball team. Andrew will be working as a camp counselor In Pittsfield, Mass., this summer before returning to Briar Cliff to complete his student teaching.

MEMORIES

Someone posted a picture of a menu from the old Bakersfield Inn on Union Avenue from the summer of 1956. Among the entrees: Spring lamb for $1.50, Yankee pot roast for $1.65, filet of Alaskan halibut, $1.50, and the chef's special: barbecued prime beef ribs, $1.10.

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at rsbeene@yahoo.com. His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.

(1) comment

Robert Greer

Hello, I appreciate your interest in my article. However, based on my investigation, I don't believe that your characterization of the dam's situation is accurate.

The allegedly-unsupported claims in my article are not merely my lay opinion, but are taken directly from statements by the Army Corps of Engineers. For example, "The Corps has determined that the seismic, seepage, and hydrologic deficiencies associated with the Auxiliary Dam pose an unacceptably high probability of failure of the dam.” (1) While it is true that the Army Corps made this statement before the lake levels were reduced, the fact that the levels are now potentially rising beyond the recommended level is, at least on its face, genuine cause for concern. If officials have an explanation for why the risk of having the lake above 66% capacity is not as great as the Army Corps originally feared, then they should have a more specific answer than that my story was simply “fake”.

Second, you quote an official in your article as saying that the only way the dam could fail is if there were a "super-earthquake”. But that statement does not comport with the previous assessment of the Army Corps, which was that seepage issues at the dam posed independent concerns about its ongoing safety:

"A seepage study conducted in 2005-2006 by the Corps found that the Auxiliary Dam was being subjected to higher foundation pressures than originally believed from earlier studies, and the study concluded that the pressures in the foundation had reached levels that could lead to potential dam safety concerns. Therefore, an emergency deviation from the water control plan was implemented on April 27, 2006, to reduce the foundation pressures and provide an acceptable factor of safety. The deviation consisted of reducing the previous lake capacity (gross pool level) from 2,609.26 feet (NAVD88) to a restricted elevation not to exceed 2,589.26 feet (NAVD88) during the flood-control off-season, from April through September of each year, as an IRRM until a more permanent solution could be implemented.” (1)

I hope you identify the aspects of my article that were incorrect, or that you amend your article to remove the inaccurate statement that my article was "unfounded". Thank you!

(1)http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Portals/12/documents/usace_project_public_notices/ISABELLA_DSM_DEIS_Volume_I_13MAR12.pdf

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