Museum gets major boost for research center

BY JENNIFER SELF The Bakersfield Californian 

Groundbreaking shovels are the celebrities of the hand-tool community -- they come out only for VIP appearances, never do any of the dirty work and then slink from view when the cameras stop clicking. They're such a rare breed, in fact, that the Kern County Museum doesn't even own any. Staff was forced to borrow a half-dozen of the shiny gold earth movers for a ceremony Friday to break ground on a new research center that will one day house the thousands of images that tell the story of the county's history.

But if the board that runs the museum is successful in its mission to land donors like the foundation that is funding the latest project, investing in groundbreaking shovels might be smart.

The Bakersfield Californian Foundation Research Center and Historic Archive is the official name of what will be the approximately 3,000-square-foot building, located near the entrance to the Chester Avenue museum. The family that owns the city's oldest media company donated $150,000 to build the center, a fitting contribution considering a portion of the 400,000 photographic images in the museum's possession were gifts of the newspaper. The photos are now being stored in less-than-ideal conditions in a basement underneath the museum's Chamber of Commerce building.

"This facility will allow access (by the public) on a grand scale," said museum executive director Roger Perez at the ceremony. "These photos are jewels of Kern County history."

After the ceremony, museum curator Lori Wear led a tour of the underground archives, highlights of which included a rifle owned by city founder Thomas Baker, vintage guitars made in Bakersfield, portraits of a variety of city pioneers, and an extensive -- and kind of creepy -- selection of taxidermied wildlife.


TBC Foundation awards Salvation Army with $100,000 grant

  Local Salvation Army Director Marget Willer checks over a form from a client at the Salvation Army's Tehachapi Boulevard location. Gregory D. Cook/Tehachapi News

 Thanks to a $100,000 grant courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian Foundation the Salvation Army, Tehachapi Service Center will be able to fulfill its mission of creating a community center at its new location at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd.

According to Center Director Marget Willer, the community center will include an Internet cafe and reading room, complete with three new computers and three tablets that visitors can enjoy on new couches or laptop counters. The project will also include a 15 by 40 foot patio area for croquet, badminton, and a barbecue.

Although the center will be geared towards youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and will primarily serve as a center for after-school programs, Willer said all members of the community will be welcome.

Visitors will be able to participate in free and low-cost art and dance programs, and a number of retired teachers in the area have already committed their time for an after-school tutoring program, as well.

The Salvation Army of Tehachapi is also teaming up with the Tehachapi Unified School District, which will allow the organization to use Monroe High School's gymnasium to supplement the community center.

Willer -- who has worked for the Salvation Army for the last 15 years -- could not provide an exact opening date, but did anticipate it will be a couple of months, accounting for the construction permit needed to create an entrance from the building to the outside patio, and other red tape will need to be cut before the organization can proceed with its plans.

"It has really been a long-term vision," and it is finally coming to fruition, she said.

Willer said the grant will be enough money to set plans for the center in motion, purchase necessary materials and cover construction expenses. However, she anticipates the Salvation Army will need community support to sustain the center in forthcoming years, and added that organizations such as the Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs have already pledged their support.

In large part, it was that community support which earned the Salvation Army the grant, according to Tracey Cowenhoven, vice president of The Bakersfield Californian Foundation.

"The Salvation Army included eight letters of support for this project, from a variety of community members, and that, along with their active volunteer base, made the foundation's board feel that the $100,000 grant would be well-utilized," Cowenhoven wrote.

The Salvation Army was one of seven finalists considered for the grant, including the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, Bakersfield SPCA, Boys & Girls Club of Kern County, Critters Without Litters, Girls Scouts of Central California South, and the Kern County Museum Foundation.

The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has two grant cycles per year, one in May and one in November. Typically, they deliver multiple smaller-sized grants to many organizations at a time, but for their fall 2013 cycle, the members chose to hand out one lump sum to a single winner.

Willer said the Salvation Army currently has 50 regular volunteers, but estimates an additional 30 will be needed to operate the community center.

The 3,000 square foot center -- which in June was relocated from "E" Street -- currently hosts multiple food programs, including Senior Sack, Commodities, and Fresh Rescue, which serves up to 500 families per week.

The Salvation Army will host a number of programs for the holidays, including "Giving Tree," which delivered Christmas gifts to almost 900 children last year.



Bakersfield Californian Foundation grants announced

In its fall grant cycle, The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has awarded $144,954.45 to Kern County nonprofits focused on improving mental health and environmental education, as well as several involved in improving animal welfare and educational opportunities.

These organizations submitted proposals that "had a narrow focus and clear budget so the money could really make a difference," said Tracey Cowenhoven, foundation vice president.

  "I'm very excited to hear that!" Independent Living Center of Kern County's resource development manager Christine Lollar said upon hearing Tuesday that the nonprofit had received grant money.

Lollar said one of the missions of the Independent Living Center is to provide cultural activities and awareness for people with disabilities. The grant funding will allow them to create a tactile art exhibit and hold art workshops for clients.

Lollar said people with disabilities sometimes tend to isolate themselves, but the workshops will allow them to express themselves and think about their creativity.

"Experiencing the freedom of choice can be given back through the experience of art," Lollar said.

Kim Albers, executive director of Flood Bakersfield Ministries, said the money the organization received will go toward funding incentive items for street outreach efforts. Basically, the incentive items -- snack bags, blankets, water bottles -- are used to get local homeless people into a conversation about getting long-term help and getting off the streets.

Albers said she was thrilled about receiving the grant.

Linda Hartman, executive director of the BARC Foundation, noted that many groups ask for money and said hers is privileged to have been selected. The money will support BARC programs, which have about 500 clients with various levels of disabilities.

BARC clients learn everything from how to run a cash register to working with tools and putting brochures together, Hartman said.

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer

Donation helps 'Art, Science and Technology' meet local school needs

AST — Arts, Science and Technology — board members used a donation from The Bakersfield Californian Foundation to help buy art supplies for Tehachapi schools. Pictured are, from left, Joel Beckmann, AST Board Member; Jackie Estes, THS Art Teacher; Carol Horst, THS Art Teacher; and Beverly Thompson, THS Principal.
The AST is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in Tehachapi in 2009 to support local educators in the areas of Arts, Science and Technology. Its mission is to enable educators to enhance the classroom experience, supplement the core curriculum, and foster a creative atmosphere during the teaching/learning process.

In May 2011, the AST received a $2,300 grant from the Bakersfield Californian Foundation. The grant was made to AST so that they could buy supplies for art and music classes for Tehachapi schools.

The AST bought supplies for the THS art department over the summer and when those supplies arrived, the AST delivered them to art teachers Carol Horst and Jackie Estes at THS.

The Bakersfield Californian Foundation grant was especially timely because cutbacks in funding to education have resulted in virtually no budgets for art and music supplies for Tehachapi schools. Thanks to the grant, the AST was able to at least partially alleviate the lack of art supplies for our schools. Previous grants from the Mark and Jessie Milano Foundation, Union Bank, and individual donors have helped with similar situations at Monroe High School and Tompkins School, respectively.

The AST is continuing with other fund-raising initiatives to raise money to help provide art and music supplies and equipment for Tehachapi schools. If foundations, businesses, or individuals would like to help, you can donate directly by sending your check to “AST,” 23001 San Juan Drive, Tehachapi CA 93561. AST is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so your gifts will be tax-deductible.

Community members interested in becoming a volunteer for the AST’s many activities should contact AST by writing to the address above, e-mailing them at ast@hdwireless.net or calling 477-1071 or 823-0976.


Tehachapi Community Orchestra receives new bass

Tehachapi Community Orchestra Concertmaster Gayel Pitchford demonstrates the new Kay bass — acquired with a grant from the Bakersfield Californian Foundation — to one of her aspiring bass students, Manuel Quintanilla, age 9. Quintanilla is a musically gifted student who has already become a member of the Tehachapi Strings Orchestra (the Community Orchestra's intermediate level teaching orchestra) and also plays old time fiddle tunes on his bass in fiddle contests!
The Tehachapi Community Orchestra is training a stable of aspiring young bass players and hope to become a Center for Excellence in Bass Playing. Each young bass player will get to use the new Kay bass when they are in high school and have auditioned for and been accepted into the Tehachapi Community Orchestra.
For more info on Orchestra events, see the Orchestra's website, www.tehachapiorchestra.com.