One of the most under-utilized but greatest gems in our community is our library.

Although my personal library favorite is the Beale Memorial Library's Jack Maguire Local History Room, I was pleased to hear that the Truxtun Avenue branch is now offering a Veterans Resource Center, which will connect veterans to benefits and resources available to them, according to Stacey Aldrich, state librarian.

The Veterans Resource Center is a program made possible through the California State Library and the California Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Beale Library is one of three public libraries in the state to offer the veterans center and part of a yearlong pilot program, according to Kim Brown, a communications officer with the State Library.

However, to make this local program a success, volunteers are needed, said Katherine Ross, the Beale research librarian.

Volunteer will receive training from the California Department of Veteran Affairs to learn about veterans benefits and services, veteran reintegration challenges, listening and problem-solving skills, and referral techniques, Aldrich said. After the training, volunteers will be able to help veterans by informing them of services and benefits available to them and their families and how they can go about receiving such resources.

"Public libraries across the state .... are dedicated to supporting the men, women, and families of the military, who have sacrificed so much for us to live in this great state and country in freedom," Aldrich said.

According to state library officials, volunteers can work at least one two-hour shifts per week and must be willing to make a one-year commitment.

In light of Veterans Day approaching and a number of military men and women returning home from the service, this project is deserving of local community support and attention.

Those who are interested in volunteering at the Veterans Resource Center should contact Head Librarian Maria Rutledge at 661-868-0745. For additional information, visit

Bakersfield's Best The Bakersfield Elks Lodge #266 will be holding its first Bakersfield's Best awards ceremony and fundraiser where they will honor local civic, media and business professionals for their community involvement. The awards dinner will be held Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Elk's building, located at 1616 30th Street.

Those being honored include Mayor Harvey Hall; Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ali Morris; Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jay Tamsi; recently retired Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debbie Moreno; Kern County Sheriff's Department Sgt. John Money; Ruthe West of the Union Cemetery; Jim Scott of Channel 17 and Norma Gaspar of Telemundo.

"I think we have good people in our community who need to get recognized," said Risto Rubio, one of the event's organizers. "By recognizing leadership, we learn ways to become leaders ourselves."

Rubio is vice president of Mission Family Mortuary and Bakersfield Elks Lodge #266 leading knight and will assume the exalted ruler position in 2013.

"We got a great town, we got great people, and we got to think in positive ways to celebrate those two things," Rubio said.

Monies raised from the fundraiser will benefit the Elks Lodge's charity efforts, which include supporting local veterans and providing medical and equipment supplies to disabled children and Christmas gifts for local first-, second- and third-grade children in need.

Tickets are $50 a person or $500 a table. For more information, please call 865-0584 or 323-3339.

Dolores Huerta

All-out efforts are being made by several groups to get out the vote. The nonprofit Dolores Huerta Foundation is among them. In fact, Dolores Huerta, the labor and civil rights activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers, spent the last couple of days in Bakersfield, holding an informational rally at Bakersfield College and walking neighborhoods, knocking on doors and urging registered voters to cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The group is particularly advocating support for Proposition 30, which, according to the Secretary of State's website, would increase income taxes on high earners (individuals who make more than $250,000 a year) for seven years and sales taxes for four years.

Huerta says the initiative would significantly support education, which has faced major cuts over the past several years. Opponents say the initiative will drive businesses out of the state and lead to job losses. Huerta says some voters are still confused over the proposition because of conflicting information.

"We need money for our schools," Huerta said. "We want the rich to pay their fair share for schools."

To see which propositions the foundation is supporting and opposing, visit

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