Felix Adamo / The Californian
Braxton Huggins stands with his father, Louis, in the field next to their house where he shot hoops as a child to stay out of trouble. Huggins, the youngest of 10 children, will be playing basketball for Fresno State.

"There is nothing for you on the east side of Bakersfield, California. Especially after high school … living in the hood, there's no jobs, there's nothing. All there is gangs, guns, violence, and you just try to stay out of the way."

— Braxton Huggins, college basketball star, of the Bakersfield neighborhood in which he grew up.


"There's really kind of a self-defeating attitude among people in town. They like to make fun of the town — the pollution, the water. People go on and on about its problems but people don't often celebrate what's good about Bakersfield. I want people to take pride in their town."

— Zoot Velasco, organizer of a "TEDx" conference.


"I told them that I think we as an organization are better than this, and if we're not better than this, then it's my job to make it better."

— Lyle Martin, the Bakersfield police chief, reiterating an apology he made to the family of Tatyana Hargrove, a woman mistaken by police for a much larger, bald, machete-wielding man who had a police K-9 unit deployed to subdue her.


Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
Mike Brown tells story after story about Bailey Schweitzer her family and the uniqueness of Bailey and how she related to people. A Celebration of Life service was held at Valley Bible Fellowship in Bakersfield Bailey Schweitzer who was killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting on Oct. 1, 2017.

"There is one thing in this world that is the most precious gift, and it's called time. You can't recreate it. It doesn't matter how much money you have. You can't buy it. You can't store it. You can't pass it along, but you can waste it, so take the time to be like the Schweitzers."

— Mike Brown, family friend of the Schweitzer family, speaking at Bailey Schweitzer's funeral. Schweitzer was killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting in October.


"We need to recognize we have a long-term problem with our economy here. We have a state that is very hostile toward our specific industry (oil) and would probably like it to disappear if it could. It's going to be a battle and we can't program in a recovery. I think at some point we need some money for investing in a better community. You either grow or you shrink. You're either a winner or a loser. I want to be a winner."

— Bruce Freeman, Bakersfield city councilman, on why a sales tax increase is necessary.


"Who the f ok'd the purchase of tasers in the first place?"

— Otis Jennings, director of pupil personnel at the Kern High School District, complaining to a fellow administrator in a March 2015 email. The exchange came after a KHSD police officer tased a 17-year-old twice after he was tardy to class.


Felix Adamo / The Californian
Heather Menzel spent months riding the bus from Lake Isabella to Bakersfield to take part in an opioid treatment program that helped her recover from her heroin addiction. Despite a high overdose rate, the Kern River Valley hasn't a single program like it, and those in recovery must make the 42-mile trip to Bakersfield daily for treatment. Menzel started after she got pregnant with her daughter, Bella Sunshine. 

"They're just stuck with no way to get sober."

— Heather Menzel, a Kern River Valley woman who overcame a substance abuse addiction by undergoing Medication Assisted Treatment. However, no treatment center is in the Kern River Valley, one of many towns in California that struggle with opioid addiction.


Felix Adamo / The Californian
Brandon Park, of Stockdale High, is The Californian's boys tennis player of the year.

"I almost want to say 'competitive' isn't strong enough. He's tenacious. He loves competition, and he's one of the best fighters that I've ever had. He doesn't give up on any points. Sometimes you can't coach kids to have the heart that he does."

— Dave Hillestad, Stockdale boys tennis coach, of Brandon Park, named The Californian's boys tennis player of the year.


Felix Adamo / The Californian
Ann Bailey holds the Aug. 5, 1998, edition of The Bakersfield Californian showing that the body of Joshua Patton had been recovered from the Kern River. Bailey's granddaughter Micaela Schafer, along with Patton and Brett Schafer, Micaela's father, all downed in the river on July 4, 1998.

"Please stay out, so your loved ones don't go through what we have gone through."

— Ann Bailey, speaking of this year's Kern River drownings. It's been 19 years since the Kern River took her 7-year-old granddaughter, Micaela, and Micaela's dad and cousin — all three on the same day.


"When's the last time you saw a teacher wearing a tie and insisting on being called 'Mr.' or 'Miss'? Everyone is buddy-buddy. My teachers never pretended to be my friend."

— Michael C. Lukehart, a retired Kern County attorney, on the growing number of local school employees alleged to have engaged in sex acts with students.


"Trout's is over with. It died the same death the Blackboard did."

— Glenn J. Pogatchnik, referring to the storied Oildale bar, now closed, whose famous sign has gone missing.


"Seeing people just sitting there with no place to call home, and you drive through the neighborhoods, and there are piles and piles of debris. I had never seen anything like that."

— Abel Victorio, of Clinica Sierra Vista, on his trip to Texas to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey.


Courtesy of Dave Schreuter
Linda Bidabe, who developed a program to help developmentally disabled students gain mobility, died late last month after a short bout with cancer. She was 72.

"I was impatient. I wanted results — not just for my sake, but for the children's, too. I knew enough to know that if I couldn't help them develop some basic skills — soon — their lives were at stake."

— Linda Bidabe, in her 2001 memoir, "No Ordinary Move." Bidabe, who died this year, founded MOVE International, an organization that helps students gain mobility.


Courtesy of Alisha Pitkanen
Alisha Pitkanen

"I kind of blacked out a little bit. I don't remember running. I just remember hearing."

— Alisha Pitkanen, of her experience in Las Vegas during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.


"Billy was a crucial player in the birth of the Bakersfield Sound, but his polished style and refined vocal delivery set him apart from his peers. He could have just as easily been a star of the silver screen had he not chosen a life in country music."

— Scott B. Bomar, music writer, on singer Billy Mize, who died Oct. 28.


"Everyone deserves a nice cake for their wedding day."

— Elena Delgado, after Tastries bakery refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.


"Domestic violence continues to affect thousands of women in Kern County each year. Victims are deprived of their liberty and security, and face tremendous threats to their health and safety. I urge women to come forward and break the silence surrounding domestic violence."

— Lisa Green, the Kern County district attorney, in a Community Voices article published in The Californian. 


"This Thanksgiving, while sitting at the table with family, go around the table and have each person talk about their most recent sexual activity. That's the level of discomfort we're talking about when asking someone to talk in court about being trafficked."

— Michael Fagans, a spokesman for the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking, on why human trafficking victims don't speak up against their traffickers, who often go unprosecuted.


Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
Isaiah Mosley often drops in at the Dream Center in downtown Bakersfield where he and other foster youth spend time together. Mosley grew up in the foster care system.

"There were times I would cry and cry and say that I wanted to die."

— Isaiah Mosley, who endured much childhood trauma — and was a key figure in The Californian's three-part series on toxic stress.


"I have evoked God's name and have acted exactly opposite to his dictates."

— Jonathan Hearn, at his sentencing for killing Robert Limon, the husband of Sabrina Limon. 


"You have to know when to give and take. You can't have your way about everything. It takes dedication. But with respect, admiration and love, it's not such a big deal."

— Juanita Dudney, offering her advice for a successful marriage on the occasion of her 75th wedding anniversary with husband Richard Dudney.


Felix Adamo / The Californian
Defense attorney Richard Terry delivers his closing argument in the Sabrina Limon murder trial.

"It's not a love triangle. I would call it more of a love polygon."

— Richard Terry, defense attorney for Sabrina Limon, on his client's relationship with her husband, Robert Limon, who was killed in 2014. Terry said the couple was involved in a swingers group, engaging in sex with other couples.


"When somebody has a need, we want to meet the need. ... We want them to have a place where they can have a safe environment."

— Ruben Heredia, director of Kern County Teen Challenge, on his group's response to the Ventura Teen Challenge building burning down in the Southern California fires. Nearly 60 women were transported to the local Bakersfield Teen Challenge center.


"He was bright, personable and an overall warm human being. He had such a magnetic personality that after our IJC meetings the public would flock to speak to him not only because of his knowledge of certain areas of law, but also because of his infectious smile and because he was approachable."

— David A. Torres, a Bakersfield attorney, speaking of Marcos Abraham Vargas, 26, who was killed Nov. 29. The homicide case remains unsolved.


"I'm a very religious person. I believe that there's a reason God is putting me through this. I'll go through this journey."

— Rick Stewart, Wasco High football coach, who was diagnosed with leukemia in August. The coach decided to step down.


Nick Ellis / For The Californian
Shawn Reagan, right, from the FBI's Sacramento field office speaks to the media about Operation Blind Mice. District Attorney Lisa Green and Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin are to his right.

"This is a message that if you want to get out of the gang life, there are avenues for you, but if you continue down that violent path, we will investigate, arrest and prosecute to the best of our ability."

— Lyle Martin, the Bakersfield police chief, on the recent anti-gang crackdown.


The Californian
Ivan Gonzalez, of Ridgeview, wins the boys 800 and then reacts with a torrent of emotion.

"The reason I ran track is because nobody cared about my legal status. They only cared how fast I ran."

— Ivan Gonzalez, a "Dreamer" who won a state championship in the 800-meter in his senior year at Ridgeview High and got a full-ride scholarship to UC Berkeley.


"He was a big guy, but he also had a big personality. When he was in the room, everybody knew."

— Tina Haddad, wife of Jeff Haddad, who died Nov. 17 at age 50.


"What we're doing here tonight is making sure we're moving forward with this new industry and taking control of cannabis within our city. This ordinance sends a message that rather than put our heads in the sand and hope that everything turns out OK, we're taking proactive steps to put cannabis in the city's control, keep it out of our kids' hands and making sure the city recuperates its costs in terms of regulating this industry."

— Jose Gurrola, the Arvin mayor, during an Arvin City Council meeting Nov. 21 on an ordinance that would allow the indoor cultivation of marijuana. It passed.


"It's very difficult to say goodbye to a man who was a wonderful son and brother, a loving husband and father. What should have been a wonderful evening of music and fellowship turned into a nightmare for everyone. (Jack) laid down his life for his best friend, Laurie, and he would have laid down his life for any of those people who lost their lives that evening. That is a kind of heroic love that we don't see too often in our world."

— Monsignor Perry Kavookjian, speaking at a memorial for Bakersfield's Jack Beaton, who was killed in October's Las Vegas mass shooting


Felix Adamo / The Californian
Sabrina Limon confers with her trial attorney, Richard Terry, during her trial on charges including first-degree murder last year. She's set to be sentenced on Feb. 21. 

"But all that the years bring to us, I never want to forget you were made for me and I was made for you."

— Sabrina Limon, writing in a letter to Jonathan Hearn, the man she was having an affair with, months before her husband's death.


"At 2 months, my son was stripped away from me. It was wrong what they did."

— Jesus Flores, acquitted of allegedly injuring his infant son.


"She always said it's not about the messenger, it's the message. So often, we in TV ... put an awful lot of ourselves in the story. Carol didn't."

— Kyle Harvey, KBAK Channel 29 reporter, on former colleague Carol Ferguson, who retired from the station this year. 


Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
Tatyana Hargrove stands with her family and supporters at a rally at the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield to bring more attention to an incident where she was allegedly punched by a Bakersfield police officer and attacked by a police K-9 in a case where she was misidentified.

"She's not the same anymore. She's not full of energy anymore. She used to be so full of life, freewheeling and playing with her friends, but now she's afraid. This did something to her mentally. It's going to take time. We've got a long journey ahead of us."

— Craig Reece, Tatyana Hargrove's father, speaking of his daughter's mistaken-identity confrontation with Bakersfield police.


"This is very personal, but it's also my community."

— Donny Youngblood, the Kern County sheriff, after revealing he would be starring in a series of valley fever public service announcements.

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