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BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics & people


Next time you drive through town make sure you appreciate the fast flowing current of the Kern River. Though still highly dangerous, the current has slowed considerably (at least from its peak) and experts are now saying the riverbed may be completely dry by October. When that happens, we can all break out our tee-shirts that read: "Bakersfield: a riverbed runs through it."


Willie Rivera, the youngest person ever elected to the Bakersfield City Council, has announced he will not seek reelection. Rivera, now 26, is in his second term serving Ward 1 but told me on my radio program that he is ready to move on. Rivera says he is not sure what the next step is, but he will remain in Bakersfield.


Did you catch House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy being interviewed on The Today Show by Jenna Bush Hagar? He was promoting the merits of a bill he sponsored that would provide free training in high tech careers to veterans.


Hats off to Dignity Health which has stepped up to become the new title sponsor for the Nov. 12 Bakersfield Marathon. The title sponsorship of the marathon represents a robust partnership between Dignity Health and the Active Bakersfield Alliance, a privately-funded nonprofit organization that has managed the Bakersfield Marathon since its inception.


"Being an adult means going to the grocery store and paying a ton of money and still having nothing to eat."


Tom Walker wrote to answer a question about a Sgt. Chitwood who used to visit local elementary schools. Said Walker: "He is my father-in-law. I married his daughter Cheryl Chitwood in 1966 and have been happily married to her for 51 years. Sgt. Carl Chitwood was a wonderful man and a member of the Bakersfield motorcycle drill team and retired from the police department after 25 years. He would go to the area elementary schools and teach bicycle safety to all the kids."


And Phyllis (Hicks) Smith added this: "In your memories section of your column Gary Fong has mentioned Sgt. Chitwood visiting the schools many years ago. His mother was my dad’s sister Mollie. I am sorry I really didn’t get to know the sons as they were somewhat older than I. I do not remember which one was the officer, but I think it was Carl. There was Carl, Russell and Wallace. Thank you Mr. Fong for remembering this."


Lastly, reader Vickie Shallock chimed in with this memory: "He came to the elementary schools and talked to us about the police department and, specifically, bicycle safety. I even came across my BPD Bicycle Riders License that Sgt. Chitwood issued to me in sixth grade (1961-1962). My dad, who was CHP, knew Sgt. Chitwood as well and always spoke favorably about him."

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

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