By Richard Beene
Did you know that the highest grossing commodity in Kern County last year was milk? That's right, according to the Kern County Department of Agriculture milk shot to the top of the list after ranking fourth in 2010. Following milk were almonds, grapes, citrus, carrots and pistachios. The department said Kern County reached a milestone in 2011 by topping the $5 billion gross production value for the first time ever. The top five commodities - milk, almonds, grapes, citrus and carrots - make up 70 percent of the total value of all commodities.
Reader Teresa Hutson wrote to recognize Terry Pederson, a Bakersfield High School teacher who may have just saved a life on a field trip to Los Angeles. "As they were unloading the bus, Terry noticed a frantic woman with her child. The woman was panicked because she couldn't figure out what was wrong with her child. Terry recognized that the child was choking, and took the child from the mother. She gave the child a firm pat on the back and lo and behold a piece of candy about the size of a quarter shot out of her mouth... If Terry hadn't been there at that moment, and because the mother was panicked and couldn't react sensibly it could have turned out to be a terrible tragedy. Kudos to Terry and her quick response."
Vince Rojas, retired head of Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, is relating a story about spotting a woman in the old Mervyn's parking driving with a plastic bag full of trash stuck in the driver's door. "I motioned to alert her to the bag, so she opens the door and lets the trash fall to the ground and drives off. I couldn't believe it."
Fred Drew and wife Linda traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., recently for an emotional reunion with men he served with in the Tay Ninh area of Vietnam. He was just a 22-year-old captain when he went to Vietnam in 1969, and the reunion brought him face to face with 18 of the 165 men in the company he commanded. "Among those attending was my executive officer, one of my platoon leaders, my driver, and two of my platoon sergeants. We had several planned activities, one of which was to recognize Danny Peterson, who was killed in a heavy action on Jan. 9, 1970, and who was later awarded the Medal of Honor. There was a lot of emotion and joy and a few beers. These were the guys who helped make my command a success. I owe them a lot. America owes them a lot, as we do our current soldiers in harm's way."
Who knew that giving away new toilets would be such a big hit? It was all in the name of water conservation, and last week the West Kern Water District in Taft, Cooper's True Value Hardware Store and the Water Association of Kern County partnered to host "Junk Your John Day" in Taft. Customers of West Kern brought in old, inefficient toilets and swapped them for new, water efficient toilets. The event was a huge success and 121 toilets were traded out.
The folks over at Garces Memorial High School have reached out to a neighbor who complained about the fireworks every year at the school's homecoming game. New to the neighborhood last year, the woman was not aware of the fireworks which spooked her new cat, who was killed by two dogs who had escaped their own yard. Homecoming for Garces is Friday night, and Lou Ann Durrett at Garces told me that the school would distribute fliers letting everyone know about the fireworks. "We feel awful about your reader's rescued cat. Hopefully we can avoid having that happen again," she said.