Reader: Your recent column ("Loaner life vests: Another possible answer to Kern River drownings," June 26) said if anybody out there is in a position to donate to a local loaner-vest program for the Kern River, to call you. I think I probably can scrounge up enough money to take care of some vests, if somebody else would purchase them.

It alarms me every year that so many people go missing in the river. It's not acceptable and it's preventable. People are not going to stay out of that river, they are just not going to do it, no matter what the signs say. But maybe they would at least put on a vest.

— Pat Richard

Reader: I'm 86, closer to 87, and I'm on a limited income, but I could donate $100 each year I'm alive to this cause. Life vests make sense.

By the way, I like your picture better without that scruffy, unshaved look you used to have, back when it was popular.

— Vera Juul

Price: Some people say loaner flotation devices will just be stolen. Others say they're not effective in a fast-moving river with underwater hazards. And yet the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways has partnered with Sacramento-area fire stations to provide loaner life vests at 10 access points on the American River. So somebody thinks it's a good idea.

Stay tuned. The idea is getting some serious consideration here as we speak.

And thank you, ladies, for being the first to step up.

Vera, my mom, agrees with you on the scruffy beard. She says she's partial to my chin.

Reader: Robert, I enjoy your columns but had to comment on this idea of loaner flotation vests. I've lived in Bakersfield for a long time and the Kern River remains an issue almost every year, especially when water levels are high. I drove the Kern Canyon route yesterday and looked at the river several times. Just wearing a life vest is not going to keep lots of people from being killed in that raging torrent where the current will smash a person into the rocks or your body will get wedged between the rocks underwater, which will drown you, life vest or no vest.

Another problem is that handing out life vests will encourage more, not less, people to go into the river. Those who wear them will believe they are safe because they are wearing the vest. Then when a loved one dies, the family will blame the person handing out the life vest. I think the message has to be "Stay out of this river!" totally with the river as high as it is now.

— Ken Davenport

Price: As the great Billy Joel once said, you may be wrong but you may be right. I wondered if there might be a negative message in there, too. I think most of the people who use the loaner vests will be people who have already arrived at the river's edge planning to get in, vest or no vest. Sure, some may get a false sense of security from a life vest. But some will see those vests and perhaps really ponder the potential hazards for the first time. You're right that it's still very possible to drown with a vest on. But I've still got to believe they'll help.

Reader: How did Robert Price come to the conclusion that six people are missing and presumed drowned in the Kern River? Is he including presumed drownings from a previous year or something? I'm only aware of four presumed drownings in the Kern this year — three on the lower Kern and one on the upper Kern in Tulare County. I don't know why he is so sure that the number of drownings in the Kern will top 100 before the end of the week (from the previous number of 96). Tulare County drownings in the Kern have never been included in the Kern County body count, so if two more bodies of those missing are found in the Keyesville area, the Kern County number would be 99.

— John Sweetser

Price: You are correct. The number should be 99. At the time of that writing, six people were still in the Kern River, missing and presumed drowned — but three of them were on the Tulare County side, upstream. On Tuesday, the Kern County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team found a male body. We can probably assume it was one of the three missing individuals on the Kern County side of the border. If, somehow, it was not, the number could reach 100 after all. In any case, a grim tally.


Reader: Congratulations to Steven Mayer on doing such a good job on the John Hollins piece ("Local trumpeter, bandleader John Hollins dies at 66," June 26). John was a great local musician, and a hardworking guy. A lot of musicians, including Steve, know the local scene and how hard it is. They know how hard John worked at his craft. John was very well-known and well-respected. I just wanted to tell Steve, good job. Keep it up.

— Michael Canchola

Price: Steve was definitely the right guy to write Hollins' obituary, for a couple of reasons. He, like that beloved late trumpeter, has been in the local trenches.


Reader: I read your June 23 column, "We’re changing owners, but not passion and purpose,” and I could not help but feel nostalgic of the people like you have who have left a lasting impact at The Bakersfield Californian. Like you, I know the paper really well. The Californian served as my home away from home for nearly 20 years (that’s not counting my internship and high school journalism days) as I worked as a reporter, editor and in management. I grew up in the hallways of The Californian and found some amazing, lifelong friends, both inside The Californian and outside in the community.

I was a newlywed when I started my career at the paper, but I had children and bought my first home all the while working for our publisher, Ginger Moorhouse, a woman I respect and remain ever so grateful for taking a chance on me, this young, idealistic cub reporter. She always made me feel like family, and that’s how I saw The Californian.

Although I have since moved on to my second career, I hold great memories and admiration to the staff that remains. We joined this profession because we wanted to make a positive impact in our community. Journalism still remains one of my greatest loves as does this paper that I still adore aplenty. In fact, I have moved from an employee to a loyal subscriber, digitally anyway — I guess I'm a product of our time, right?

As a historian, I can sense this is a major turn of events for this 122-year-old family newspaper, but as you state, it is reflective of the industry’s ongoing challenges that began decades earlier. I am reminded of the mid-1800s Penny Press era when growing, independent papers competed with each other for all sorts of news coverage — only in this case, today’s newspaper’s competition takes form in digital and broadcast media.

The Californian has lived through more than a century of ups and downs, and I remain hopeful and optimistic that the new owners will carry the legacy of good journalism forward and allow the staff to continue what they do best. It is needed more than ever.

— Olivia R. Garcia

Price: Every former journalist I've ever communicated with, and there have been many, is grateful to have been in the business. To a person, they are thankful for the broad (if sometimes only ankle-deep) knowledge of the world that the duties of the job helped impart to them, thankful for the opportunity to have served, thankful to live in a country that, for the most part, gives them the freedom to do their work. To a person, they miss journalism. I know, when that day comes, I'll miss it too. 

I'm glad to see you happy and thriving in academia, Olivia. I miss you at the water cooler.

Reader: Thank you for your article describing ownership change outcomes. I canceled my cancellation. This my humorous/serious info for today.

— Barb Fleming

Price: I won one back! Thanks, Barb. The Californian will do its best to keep you this time.

Reader: I read Robert Price's June 23 column about the transition at the newspaper, and then his Wednesday update about distribution of the paper. I needed to let you know that I'm glad that Herb and some of the other people are staying on. However, I am strongly against going to the new full-size format on weekdays. I can hardly manage Saturday's and Sunday's paper and have been thinking of canceling my weekend subscription.

However, now I may have to cancel my entire subscription to The Bakersfield Californian. I like the smaller (tabloid) format — I can handle it and a larger one I cannot. It's too long and my arms must be too short. So whatever, just wanted you to know. No long papers, please!

— Judith O'Brien

Price: When The Californian went to a tabloid format a decade ago, many readers hit the roof. We were National Enquirer sized! I suppose we can expect the same thing when we return to a seven-day full size.

If it helps, the new full-size version will be slightly smaller than the one you've been receiving on weekdays. The width of the "broadsheet" page is going to go from a 23-inch-width roll (11.5-inch page) to a 22-inch-width roll (11 inch page). It's going to be a bit slimmer but definitely larger than a tabloid. Come on, you can get used to it. You might also consider our e-Edition, which you can view on a smartphone, tablet or PC. That's how I read The Californian: It's cheaper, too, and I no longer have mountains of old newspapers in my garage.


Reader: As with most things you write in The Californian, particularly in the Sound Offs, I totally see it ("Should everyone get to choose their own pronouns?," June 22) the way you seem to. Always open and accepting, but well-reasoned. 

Perhaps one suggestion (addressing pronoun options for individuals of nonbinary sexual orientation) is to do as I’ve done in the attached edit.

— Alvin Gregorio 

Price: I studied your edit, Alvin, and must award you an A-plus. You kept your rewrite of an earlier article about pronouns for self-described queers in the realm of comprehension and respect. So it's clearly possible to achieve that combination without too much mental strain. I have forwarded your edit to the U.S. secretary of grammar.

Reader: I don’t care what gender people choose to be, but ... “They seems like that kind of person”? Makes my neck hairs stand up and my eyes bulge!

— Laurie Green

Price: Sorry about that. But as an illustration of painting oneself into a grammatical corner, it's worked, didn't it?


Reader: I read your reply to Larry Dunn in the June 22 Sound Off. If it’s OK with you, I’m going to create a sign and post it on my personal bulletin board at work with your statement, “Efficient communication facilitates unity and builds community.” I loved this!

— Jane Vovilla

Price: Should I have copyrighted that? No, I suppose not. That would not have encouraged efficient communication, facilitated unity or built community. So, yes, go ahead. Please do. Thank you.


Reader: Thanks for a very good read in TBC last Sunday ("We're changing owners, but not passion or purpose," June 23). A big thank you to all of you at the newspaper for hanging in there when the going got difficult. As an old retailer, I know how tough it has been, with dwindling ad revenue and reduced staff. I am grateful to Ginger and family for bringing us the news for well over 100 years. I have been reading TBC for over 70 years. I have fond memories of first reading to my dad in the late 1940s. The best of luck to you and your colleagues. Perhaps if Americans read more newspapers, we would hurt each other less.

— John Martinez

Price: I firmly believe we would, John. And wow. Seventy years? Thank you.


Reader: Excellent follow-up article by John Cox ("Bitwise's expansion plans fuel debate over local tech market," June 23). Thank you to John for taking the time and making the effort to shed light onto the local tech market more fully before the eyes of the community.

— Kevin Mershon 

Price: Local tech entrepreneur Kevin Mershon was the guy who proposed the story that Cox wrote for last Sunday's Page A1.

Cox responds: "Happy to oblige, Kevin. Made for a decent little story, I thought."


Reader: In the original "Point Break" movie, there is a scene where Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers explains to Keanu Reeves that he is just going to kick his backside, because talking to him would be a waste of time. The Maureen Strodes of the world just do not understand until they or someone they love is at the receiving end of one of these wild dog packs, during an early morning jog. Until we clear out the wild dog packs that Maureen Strode — is this lady legally blind or a shut-in? — says do not exist ("No, dog attacks that kill people are not that common — and pit bulls aren't the main culprits," June 24), go through the county CCW training. In open-carry states, wild dogs are commonly shot. I will not be victimized by the ignorance of the Maureen Strodes of the world. And thanks to CCW, anyone willing to become certified — well, you too can jog again without fear. It is sad that it has come to this. This lady is a spokesperson for irresponsible dog ownership.

— Fram Smith

Price: Don't bite the messenger. Maureen merely reported dog-bite data from the National Canine Research Council that likened the likelihood of a dog-bite death to being struck by lightning. Janis Bradley, a spokeswoman for the council, told Maureen "that's the reason dog bite-related deaths are talked about so much when it does happen" — it's so rare. I personally can think of only one other dog-bite fatality — that of Dianne Whipple in San Francisco in 2001. Does that mean one should dismiss the possibility from one's mind while jogging or delivering mail? Heck, no.

The Californian’s Robert Price answers your questions and takes your complaints about our news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

(4) comments


I drove up the canyon to the lake, stopping at several pull outs along the way. 3 of us climbed on the rocks, walked along the river and had a wonderful time. None of us drowned. How about a little personal responsibility instead of looking for someone to protect us from ourselves.


Chargersfan, not everybody is as lucky as you and your buddies. This whole conversation is about how to people just like you, so the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have to fish you out, no longer able to boast about your personal responsibility.


This whole conversation is about people like me? You mean people that can be responsible for their own actions and take care of themselves? I guess I missed that part.


About Life Vests, if too costly, what about pool noodles? Also, Walmart sells Floaties.

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