Local News

Tuesday, Dec 25 2012 12:03 AM

Jan to June 2012 Year in Review: Wind, Walmart and Woodward

Related Photos

On Sunday, Feb. 19, "Wall to Wall" riders Jeremy Staat, Wesley Barrientos and Dale Porter wheeled into Tehachapi on the first stretch of their 100-day bicycle ride from the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield to the Vietnam memorial wall in Wash., D.C. An overnight stay in Tehachapi marked the end of the first day of their planned journey, in hopes to raise country wide awareness towards many issues facing the American veteran. Photo by Alex Horvath / Bakersfield Californian

The Warriors basketball team clinched its second South Sequoia League Championship under leading scorer Cory Lange.Photo By Michael Duffy

Mid March, two days before the first day of spring, a late winter storm dumped four inches of snow in the downtown area.

Two year old Kylee Jordan, who attended the whole weekend camping and fishing with her family, is seen learning the fine angler’s are of patience at the Brite Lake Fishing Derby. Photo by Nick Smirnoff

Crowds of curious townspeople and some 200 extras lined the streets of Downtown Tehachap to watch and be a part of the television commercial for the 2013 Chrysler Dodge line-up. Photo by Nick Smirnoff

An era in Tehachapi ended as Tehachapi Lumber Company closed after more than 65 years in business. Pictured above is The Tehachapi Lumber Co. Model T truck once a proud fixture in Mountain Festival Parades. Photo Courtesy of Tehachapi Lumber


City hit by redevelopment loss

In a decision that reverberated throughout the state, the California Supreme Court upheld a state law that abolished redevelopment agencies and struck down a law that allowed the agencies to pay to stay in operation. Tehachapi was among those that hoped to save redevelopment agencies or at least participate in a revenue share with the state, which would the agencies to keep helping to stimulate the local economy, while redeveloping the more blighted areas of the city, as well as downtown and the airport.

Reed gets two years in first case

Former Kern County firefighter and Tehachapi city council member Daniel Shane Reed was sentenced to two years in prison and had to register as a sex offender after he took a plea deal for molesting three boys. Reed was awaiting sentencing on other sex charges when he was arrested. On Aug. 15 he was sentenced to a total of 10 years for sex crimes involving minors.

Parks and Rec approves master plan funding

The Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Parks District approved $160,000 in funding for the preparation of the district's Master Plan with Irvine-based firm, MIG. A portion of the money will come from development funds collected by the City of Tehachapi, as well as the County of Kern, including $90,000 from the county that was set aside for the construction of a Golden Hills Community Center.

County considers Wind Resource Zone

Tehachapi residents got their first look at the proposed "Wind Resource Area" by Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner who introduced the idea to the Kern County Board of Supervisors in September 2011. The map, drawn up by county planning staff established boundaries in which future wind energy projects could be considered by supervisors. Later in month over 100 people jammed the meeting room at the Golden Hills Community Services District for a presentation on the county's plans for wind development in eastern Kern.

Chamber honors award winners

During the month of January, the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and the Tehachapi News honored Citizen of the Year, Mary Ann Hester, who was awarded for her tireless volunteer work at the Tehachapi Police Department. Also receiving recognition was 2012 Small Business of the Year -- Books & Crannies and Large Business of the Year Aspen Builders, Inc.

Solar project dead

Recurrent Energy withdrew its appeal of the Kern County Planning Commission's decision that denied the construction of two separate 20-megawatt solar projects on a 160 acres southwest of Highline and Bailey roads in the Cummings Valley. Although supported by the Stallion Springs Community Services District, which saw the development of solar as less water-intensive than agriculture, both Smart Growth Tehachapi and Cummings Valley Protective Association vehemently opposed the project.

CCI gets new Warden

Newly appointed Acting Warden Kim Holland was introduced at the Jan. 17 meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee at the California Correctional Institution. Holland replaces Michael Stainer who was formally appointed as Warden at CCI by Gov. Jerry Brown the same day, but was put on assignment in Sacramento as Acting Associate Director of the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Stainer had been Acting Warden since December 2010.

Tehachapi Lumber calls it quits

It had survived a world war, and an earthquake, but it couldn't endure the country's tough economic climate, and in January the end of era came to pass in downtown Tehachapi with the closing of the Tehachapi Lumber Company. In addition to supplying hardware and building materials and being one of the downtown's largest employers, for many years Tehachapi Lumber printed the area's only community phone book and provided it free to anyone who came in.

Historic night for Warriors' basketball

Senior Cory Lange became the all-time scoring leader for Tehachapi High School boy's basketball after registering 21 points against Independence in the CIF quarterfinals. Earlier in the week, Lange scored 45 points against Taft to put him just behind John Capdeville, who scored 48 points in 1964 against Rim of the World. Lange then tied the all-time mark after posting a triple-double with 11 assists, 10 rebounds and a record-tying 48 points in a win over Bakersfield Christian.


Tehachapi 'Wall to Wall'

Tehachapi Boulevard was lined with spectators holding flags when "Wall to Wall" riders Jeremy Staat, Wesley Barrientos and Dale Porter wheeled into Tehachapi on their first day of their 100-day bicycle ride from the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield to the Vietnam memorial wall in Wash., D.C. They were given a hero's welcome and presented with $11,000 that was raised by various individuals and local businesses to help support the Jeremy Staat Foundation.

Vernon resigns from city council

Former mayor and long-time council member Linda Vernon resigned from the Tehachapi City Council at its Feb. 6 meeting. Vernon served 12 years, first on the planning commission and then for over 10 years on the council. Her tenure included a period of considerable infrastructure improvement, particularly in the downtown area.

Monroe High School selected for excellence

Out of more than 500 continuation high schools in the state, Monroe High School was one of 25 that were named a Model Continuation High School by the California Department of Education. As part of the application for recognition, the school demonstrated excellent program effectiveness in six categories of educational climate.

P.D. gets new digs

The Tehachapi City Council approved the $400,000 needed to purchase a new home for the Tehachapi Police Department. The vacant 10,000 square foot building at 220 West "C" St. was primarily an empty shell, allowing for creative interior design of an efficient and functional police facility. The funding for the purchase and renovation came from the city's Public Safety Impact Fund, which was funded through various development projects in the city.

THS basketball clinches championship

The Warriors' boy's basketball team clinched its second South Sequoia League championship since 2010 with a win over Taft. Tehachapi finished the season 17-8 overall and 9-1 in league play. The Warriors closed out their 20-year stint in he SSL with six championships before moving to the Southeast Yosemite League for 2012-13 season.

Gilbert is new TUSD Superintendent

Although it would not take effect until July, the board of trustees appointed district Chief Administrator of Instructional Services and Technology Lisa Gilbert, as the new Tehachapi Unified School District Superintendent. Gilbert had been serving as the Interim Superintendent since October 2011, when Richard Swanson resigned from the position after the school board's firing of then-Superintendent Marian Stephens in 2007.

Tehachapi Airport gets full-time airport manager

The City of Tehachapi promoted part-time Airport Manager, Tom Glasgow, to a full-time position. For the two years leading up to his promotion, Glasgow, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., had overseen many improvements, working with FAA and city officials to develop a long-term plan for the airport's economic success.

Sewer services in limbo

Despite an order by a state Public Utilities Commissioner requiring that it continue operations of its sewer service, the Golden Hills Sanitation Company indicated it would file for bankruptcy protection. And while property owners served by the company were left wondering who would operate the wastewater treatment plant, a petition was filed with the CPUC requesting a receiver be assigned to operate the utility until a resolution could be reached.


Bear Valley PD survives changes

After February's meeting of the Bear Valley Community Services District's board of directors drew opposition in regards to its consideration of doing away with its police department and contracting with the Kern County Sheriff's office. The board took action, sticking with its own law enforcement agency in the wake of the resignation of Police Chief Terry Freeman earlier that week. Interim Chief, Joe Pilkington was named just two days later.

Teacher of the Year

Cummings Valley Elementary School teacher Sharon Weaver was named the Tehachapi Unified School District Teacher of the Year for 2012. A teacher in the district for 17 years, Weaver won several awards, including the IRA Regie Routman Teacher Recognition Award in 2006 and the Channel 29 "One Classroom at a Time" grant in 2007.

Administrator of the Year

The California Continuation Education Association, District five representing seven counties in the Central Valley, named Principal Paul Press of Monroe High School, Administrator of the Year for 2012. The announcement followed the Feb. 6 designation of Monroe as a Model Continuation High School by the California Department of Education.

Students rally to save jobs and programs

A grassroots campaign started by Tehachapi High School sophomore Prince Gill gathered momentum as students representing S.O.T. (Save Our Teachers) rallied to save the jobs of some of their favorite teachers who had received lay-off notices. The group placed posters in store windows throughout town and created-shirts and bracelets to support their cause. They also addressed the Tehachapi Unified School District Board of Trustees, in an effort to save the high school's drama program.

Police presence spotted at Benz Sanitation

It was the fist sign of things to come as Ridgecrest Police and federal officials raided the Tehachapi headquarters of Benz Sanitation as part of a criminal investigation by the state Dept. of Justice. The city of Ridgecrest accused Benz of possible fraud and grand theft, resulting from illegally dumping waste from Los Angeles County in a Kern County landfill in order to save money. Among things authorities took during the raid were computer files and trucking records, which eventually were forwarded to the U.S. Attorney General's Office.

Late winter storm

One of the mildest winters on record in the Tehachapi Valley concluded with a storm that dumped up to four inches on the ground on March 18 -- just two days before the first day of spring. Snow continued to fall for two days, forcing road and freeway, as well as school closures.

Tehachapi Pioneer Bob Freemen passes

Bob Freeman, 93, the patriarch of one of Tehachapi's oldest established families passed away on March 9. Born in Tehachapi in 1881, Freeman was the student body president of his 1936 senior class at Tehachapi High School and captain of the Warrior football team. He worked at the Monolith Portland Cement Company as a quarry foreman and was also involved in ranching. Freeman was laid to rest at the Bakersfield National Cemetery on March 16.

Dodge commercial brings dollars and excitement

Cars sped down Tehachapi Boulevard as crowds cheered with delight during the filming of a television commercial for the 2013 Chrysler Dodge line-up. More than 200 locals were cast as extras for the two-day shoot that brought welcomed revenue and excitement to downtown Tehachapi. The commercial was never aired.

Vachon named to council

Apple Shed owner Mary Lou Vachon was named to the Tehachapi City Council to complete the term of Linda Vernon who resigned earlier in the year. Vachon's appointment brought a female majority to the council, as Kim Nixon and Susan Wiggins -- were already on the council.

New ER group for hospital

Medical Director of the Emergency Room Dennis Martinez and Dr. Ron Ostrom of Buena Vista Emergency Medical Services in Bakersfield were hired by the Tehachapi Hospital to provide emergency department and hospitalist services. Martinez, 52, is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine, while 43-year old Ostrom studied at the Western University of Health Sciences. Both men also provide services for the Bakersfield Heart, Memorial and Mercy Hospitals in Bakersfield.


Norbertine Monastery expands facilities

A groundbreaking ceremony attended by approximately 150 guests was held by the Sisters of the Canonry of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph on Water Canyon Road, in celebration of the expansion of the Norbertine convent complex. The new 24,000 square foot building was to provide much needed living and working space for up to 48 nuns.

Golden Hills' sewer gets receiver

Clifford Bressler was appointed by the Kern County Superior Court as the new receiver for the Golden Hills Sanitation Company. The appointment was the court's response to a letter sent by a group of residents requesting the court to issue an emergency ruling appointing Bressler. The move was widely viewed as the first step toward whatever the future might hold for the sewer system that serves a portion of the Golden Hills community.

Money for tourism

The Tehachapi Tourism Council got a boost as part of Kern County's $100,000 Tourism Promotion Grant Program, receiving $7,950, which it planned to use for upgrading the tourism commission's website and to do outreach and advertising outside Kern Count to highlight Tehachapi to communities within a 100-mile radius.

History made at Woodward West

Twelve-year old skateboarder Tom Schaar of Malibu made history at Woodward West when he became the first ever shredder to pull off three mid-air full rotations before landing on giant 27-foot quarter pipe ramp built by Red Bull. Legendary skateboarders Tony Hawk and Shaun White had also attempted the trick, but failed.

Hospital lawsuit goes forward

A collection of court-admissible evidence and interactions between the Tehachapi Area Critical Land Issues Group and the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District was accepted by the Kern County Superior Court, allowing the lawsuit filed in November 2011 by TACLIG's William Nelson to move forward. Nelson contended that the approval of the new hospital project in Capital Hills was in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. The case was assigned to Judge Kenneth Twisselman and scheduled for a hearing.

Walmart gets day in court

Nearly a year after the Tehachapi City Council approved the construction of the Walmart Super Center near the intersection of Tucker Road and Tehachapi Boulevard, a hearing was set for April 27 before Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Twisselman to decide the fate of the proposed project. A lawsuit filed by Tehachapi First halted the Super Center in it tracks, after demanding that the city revise its Environmental Impact Report on the Walmart project to address five issues it said were inadequate.

Five Warriors in Arena Bowl

The Tehachapi High School football team sent five if its senior players to the 2012 Arena Bowl at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. Marcus Curiel, Cory Lange, David Lara and Wyatt Vance all saw action on both sides of the gridiron. Lange hooked up on the receiving end of a 9-yard touchdown pass from Curiel to lead the Black team to a 39-27 victory in front of a crowd of more then 5,000.

Anglers set record at Brite Lake Fishing Derby

An event record of 798 people lined the shoreline of Brite Lake for the annual Fishing Derby. Amber Wooster of Bakersfield was the winner of the tagged fish worth $300, while Wayne Uhl won the adult Big Fish competition and Elena Montoya won the Big Fish youth competition.


Judge rejects Walmart EIR

After hearing arguments from the City of Tehachapi and citizens' group Tehachapi First, Kern County Judge Kenneth Twissleman decertified the Environmental Impact Report for the Walmart Supercenter approved by the city in 2011. The issues of concern were water supply, noise and traffic.

Ed Tompkins dies

Longtime resident for whom Tompkins School is named, Edward L. Tompkins, passed away May 5 at his home in the Northern California community of Anderson. The 92-year old was the former owner of the Monolith Store, where he also served as postmaster. His activities in Tehachapi also included many years on the Board of Trustees of the Tehachapi Unified School District.

Downtown get money for improvements

The city of Tehachapi received $316,000 from the Kern Council of Governments to install streetlights, enhance walkways, upgrade sidewalks and retrofit curb ramps on Tehachapi Boulevard from Hayes Street to Robinson Street. The money was part of the funding from Proposition 1b that was aimed at rebuilding California's infrastructure and sparking job growth.

City approves rodeo project

The Tehachapi City Council approved the expenditure of $500,000 to perk up the rodeo grounds and the new Tehachapi Event Center. Among the new improvements -- increased seating capacity, restroom and concession upgrades, play and picnic areas.

THS track and field wins CIF

The Tehachapi high school track and field team won its third Division II CIF championship in four years. Senior Brendyn Heath led the Warriors' 400-relay team to its third straight first place finish to help clinch the win over Exeter under the watchful eye of head coach James Grimes.

Soccer coach retires

After leading the Lady Warriors' soccer team to an overall recorded of 313-109-42, longtime coach Tom Franchere called it quits after 20 years. Under his direction, Tehachapi high's girl's soccer piled up six South Sequoia League championships and won two CIF titles.

Tehachapi men make 'Honor Flight'

World War II veterans and Tehachapi residents Isadore Asher, George Sandy, James Skilling and Jon Grenek were recognized for their service to their country, as they and 18 other WWII veterans from Kern County took part in "The Honor Flight," which flew the men to the WWII Veterans Memorial in the nation's capital.

Kirk named as assistant city manager

After several years of vacancy, the Director of General Services, Christopher Kirk, filled the office of Assistant City Manager at the City of Tehachapi. Among Kirk's accomplishments, were his role in completing over $6.5 million in public improvements, including the community branding initiative and the bike master plan.

Hall resigns from hospital board

Dr. Susan Hall submitted her resignation from the Tehachapi Healthcare District Board of Directors after stating she had taken on significant duties at the hospital. Among other matters during her time on the board, was the decision to move forward with the construction of new hospital in Capital Hills.

Warriors' swimmers win two SSL titles

Both Tehachapi High School's boy's and girl's swim teams rolled to an easy victory at the South Sequoia League championships en route to a pair of league titles. With 416 points overall for the boys and 395 points for the girls, six Warriors and six Lady Warriors qualified for the CIF Division I championships at Clovis West High School.

Tehachapi celebrates graduations

A total of 274 Tehachapi High School students received their diplomas, with several students receiving part of the over $130,000 in scholarships that were handed out. Monroe High School graduated 80 students, while Tehachapi Adult School had eight grads. Valley Oaks had 18 graduates and Heritage Oak School had four.


Train Depot B'day

The Tehachapi Depot celebrated the second birthday of its rebuilding after the fire that destroyed it on July 13, 2008. The celebration included a dinner at the depot, and fundraiser auction that raised over $17,000.

County approves purchase of old Monroe school

The Kern County Board of Supervisors gave its final approval to pay the Tehachapi Unified School District $504,000 for the purchase of the former Monroe school building near Monolith. The building and property would become the new home for the Kern County Fire Department as a base camp and training facility for wildland fires within the Tehachapi area.

Memorial Day celebrations

The 7th annual Memorial Day parade and various ceremonies were held throughout the city. Hundreds of spectators lined the parade route along "F" Street and gathered in Central Park where there was a name reading and bell ringing tribute, along with a rifle salute to fallen comrades.

Wind Museum opens

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to dedicate the Tehachapi Wind Museum located along the Cameron Ridge Segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. Made possible by a grant from The Bakersfield Californian Foundation and several wind industry and government partners, the exhibit consists of three interpretive trail panels, which educate hikers on the human and natural history of wind energy development, the local environment and the history of the eastern Kern area.

Monroe High hosts first prom

The first ever Monroe High School Prom was held with a huge success. Dozens of prom goers filled the Monroe gym, which was transformed into an elegant ballroom for the gala event.

Hospital goes paperless

The Tehachapi Hospital launched its paperless record system that eliminated paper patient charts with more sophisticated computer charts. Nearly 80 percent of the system's $1 million price tag was paid for by funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and will help hospital staff better track and report patient data.

Old Wells school slated for district office

The former Claude L. Wells Elementary School building at 300 S. Robinson St. was slated to become the new Tehachapi School District's headquarters. The $225,000 renovation included staff offices, a new boardroom, conference room, and a state-of-the-art computer-training lab.

Bear Valley Police tax

Directors of the Bear Valley Community Service District approved a third party survey to poll 300 residents in order to ascertain whether or not they were in favor of an additional tax to support the police services in their community. Directors voted to retain BV's own police after considering contracting with the Kern County Sheriffs.

Windstar project complete

Western Wind celebrated the completion of its 120-megawatt Windstar project that provided 12 full time jobs to Tehachapi residents. The $313 million project located along Cameron Road just east of Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road, pumped $12 million into the state tax revenue stream during construction, and feeds $2 million in property tax revenue to Kern County every year.

Ostrich ranch celebrates 20th anniversary

Tehachapi's 80-acre Indian Point Ostrich Ranch celebrated its 20th anniversary with a daylong event that included a bounce house, refreshments, ostrich egg shell painting, and the unveiling of the ranch's newest project titled "Beware of the Bird" -- a virtual ostrich ride.

Banner Year for JMS track and field

Athletes from Jacobsen Middle School represented Tehachapi in the county and state track and field championships. Sandra Cone, Justin Walters, Sarah Stickney and Angel Garcia all competed at the Kern County track meet, with Garcia and Stickney moving on to state in Kingsburg. Garcia made JMS history at state with a personal best first-place 42-feet, eight inches shot put.

Parks and Rec District Manager fired

The Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Parks District terminated General Manager Jim Wood who according to the district declined the opportunity to resign. Wood began took the position in May 2010, and during his tenure worked to improve the pool and skate park facilities operated by the district, and helped to initiate the district-wide master plan process.


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