The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce's new board chairman is a Bakersfield guy through and through, even if he technically lives next door in Shafter.

"I was born in Memorial Hospital," Derek Jeffery, vice president and general manager of KGET-TV, told a packed house assembled Wednesday for his installation luncheon at Seven Oaks Country Club.

"I was named Derek after an oil derrick because my father worked for decades at Gary Drilling. I'm so 'Kern County' that I had the three A's — allergies, asthma, and an accent. Ever been in L.A. and someone's like, 'You from Texas?' 'No, an hour north of here.'

"... I went to Camp KEEP. I remember driving up the Grapevine to see those silly yellow umbrellas. I watched movies at the Crest Drive-In, and everything we have or had is from Urner's (Appliance and TV). I cried when Sinaloa (Mexican Restaurant) closed."

Chamber of Commerce board meetings — the first under Jeffrey is set for Feb. 4 — ought to be entertaining.

Jeffrey took the gavel from outgoing board chairwoman Darlene Mohkle, who also accepted a Chamber Champion award on behalf of her employer, Castle & Cooke. Dan and George Hay also accepted Chamber Champion recognition on behalf of Jim Burke Ford-Lincoln.

Chamber CEO Nick Ortiz, noting that 2020 is the Chamber’s centennial year, recognized several others. The Volunteer of the Year was Concepcion "Cepi" Willingham; Community Partner of the Year was Kern Community Foundation, represented by Kristen Beall; and outgoing board member Sue Benham, who served 2014-19, received an ovation for her service.

The event concluded with recognition for the six founding members from 1920 that are still in operation today: Bank of America, Chevron, Karpe Real Estate Center, Pacific Gas & Electric, The Bakersfield Californian and Urner’s Appliance and TV.

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