By Richard Beene
Interesting tidbits from the local campaign to clean up our community. The group, called "Litter: It's Beneath Us," estimates that the U.S. spends more than $11.5 billion each year for litter cleanups. In addition, 36 percent of business development officials say that litter impacts a decision on whether to locate to a community. And, fully 85 percent of litter is the result of individual attitudes. Somehow that does not surprise me.
Kudos to the group of retired citizens who are working with Caltrans to pick up trash along the Freeway 99 off and on ramps. These folks are volunteering their time to pick up trash discarded by others, and we all owe them a pat on the back.
And finally this, from the Bryan Kelly of Trader Joe's: "This is so totally awful... going west on 178 (what used to be a pleasant drive when litter was not so abundant) behind a pick-up loaded with household items, table, chairs, bookshelf, etc... strapped in were two white plastic garbage bags. One had to assume these had been used for packing, as nobody would move garbage but a hole was ripped open in one, and the contents were blowing to the four winds. When an empty toilet paper roll hit my windshield, I decided to at least pass and give the driver a dirty look. As I reached the bed of the truck a rat sticks his head out and obviously doesn't like the wind so he dives back leaving his tail to blow for a few seconds. They were at least driving away from our house."
A new, local three-hour radio and video newscast kicks off this morning, the first of its kind in the nation pairing the local newspaper with the leading news talk radio group. It's called First Look with Scott Cox, and it will be produced from a new radio and TV studio built in the middle of The Bakersfield Californian newsroom. You can hear it on NewsTalk 1180 KERN or view in on your computer or iPad on bakersfield.com. The studio is named for Dignity Health, the leading medial provider in Kern County. The show will feature news, weather, entertainment and analysis from The Californian's staff of editors and reporters. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will be the first guest on First Look at 7:30 a.m.
On 34th Street across from Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, an ambulance approaches with sirens blaring. Traffic is pulled over, but a young couple, pushing a toddler in a stroller and mom carrying a newborn, are stranded on the center median. Undaunted, they decide to make a run for it, crossing 30th Street in front of the ambulance, laughing with relief as they catch their breath safely on the other side.
Here is one person's testimony about the dangers of texting while driving. A reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said her husband was following a minivan in the Northwest when it suddenly veered off the road and slammed into a tree. He stopped and went to the driver's side to find a woman in an apparent daze. "She told my husband that she had been texting. Seeing that she was clearly horrified and upset and not wanting to make her feel even worse (although he rightly could), he told her that everything was going to be okay, that no one was hurt except a tree and her van, but that he truly hoped she learned a lesson from it, as that tree could have just as easily been his family going for a walk. She then began to cry even harder realizing this horrifying truth and said she knew she should not have been doing it. The police and her husband were called and my husband left. I wanted to share this with you so that we can once again remind readers to please not text and drive, facebook and drive, or do anything else on their phones while driving! Thankfully this situation was not horribly tragic (except of course for the tree), but it certainly could have been."
Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at www.bakersfieldobserved.com. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.