If you don't think this is a tough time for retailers as they try to compete with online shopping, check out this list of companies and the number of stores they have been forced to close:

Sears and Kmart, 150 stores; JC Penny, 138 stores; Macy’s, 68 stores; Abercrombie and Fitch, 60 stores; Guess, 60 stores; Crocs, 160 stores; American Apparel, 110 stores; Payless, 400 stores; RadioShack, 552 stores; Staples, 70 stores; and CVS, 70 stores.


One of our most prominent and longest serving local TV reporters, Carol Ferguson, has retired from KBAK after a distinguished career. Ferguson spent 25 years of her 37-year career with KBAK and served as a role model for dozens of young reporters who used Bakersfield as a stepping stone to move on to larger markets. Prior to working in local TV, she worked as the news director at KERN-AM as well as news director and anchor at KKXX.


"Which vitamins work best for fighting a cold or the urge to hit my ex boyfriend with my car?"


"Surround yourself with tacos, not negativity."


Mayor Karen Goh's recent litter survey that seemed to downplay our trash problem prompted a flurry of emails, virtually all of them reflecting comments like the one from this reader: "Thanks for keeping this trash issue alive ... (Mayor Goh's) results were laughable. It brought to mind another survey a while back that failed miserably: homeless population. Their count determined the homeless numbers had dropped by 50 percent. But buried in their information was the comment they’d reduced the census taking hours from a 24-hour day to only 12. Duh!"


And speaking of trash, I spent a few days in Austin recently and had the opportunity to see how a progressive city takes on litter. Historic downtown Austin is beautiful, but like Bakersfield it has a serious homeless problem. So how does it handle trash? There is a group called the Downtown Austin Alliance (a more focused, ambitious and strategic version of our Downtown Business Association) in which dozens of red shirted workers with push carts loaded with cleaning liquids go block by block picking up trash. I witnessed workers picking up litter as small as cigarette butts and on the day after Memorial Day one worker was busy cleaning up sidewalk vomit and urine on the side of a high rise — seriously. The idea? Downtown is Austin's welcome mat to the world and it deserves to look as clean as possible. Is there a cost to it? Certainly. But this is a city that takes its welcome mat seriously.


Congratulations to longtime Stockdale High School principal Ramon Hendrix, who is moving on to become the superintendent of the Greenfield Union School District. Hendrix led Stockdale with a steady hand, and while my daughter was there I witnessed his deep commitment to the students and their parents. Stockdale's loss is Greenfield's gain.


Here's yet another example of how some local companies feel it is important to give back to our community. Some 150 Grimmway Farms employees are volunteering to help restore the Greenfield baseball park this weekend. They will be sanding and repainting backstops, bleachers and dugouts, restrooms and storage facilities They will be joined by 25 Greenfield Baseball Association volunteers. The local little league, adult intramural teams and others will benefit from a refurbished baseball field and facilities to enhance their recreational activities.


The CSUB wrestling program is a civic treasure, and its success well documented. But (like litter removal) it doesn't happen without public support. That's why I purchased a $100 ticket in hopes of winning an Infiniti QX30 to support the program, which lives year by year via the generosity of all of us. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold and the drawing will be held on June 29. Call (661) 654-2343 for more information, or mail a check, payable to CSUB Wrestling, to 9001 Stockdale Highway, 8 GYM, Bakersfield, 93311.

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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