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Monday, Jun 16 2014 08:49 PM

Grand Jury to city: keep up good job

Five years running and nothing but good comments.

That's the assessment coming from Kern County's Grand Jury when it released its report on the City of Tehachapi on June 10.

Members from the Cities and Joint Powers Committee, the arm of the Grand Jury responsible for reviews on municipal governments, visited Tehachapi on April 29.

The Grand Jury's findings this year indicate the activities the city has engaged in over the last year, and reflects some of the findings from last year's report.

Among those in common are the fact that the redevelopment agency's dissolution hit the city but is now recovering. The new finding states that the city "has a general plan that is unique and proactive with the design to maintain a certain quality of life."

The Grand Jury's report notes the new police station on West "C" Street, set to have its grand opening on June 27, and the retirement of Tehachapi Police Chief Jeff Kermode at the end of this month. The new station us 12,000 square feet, larger than the original building that once housed the Kern County Sheriff's substation.

Methamphetamine is problem in the city, as the Grand Jury reports,

"However, the Chief reported a Kern County Meth Reduction Task Force has recently been established to address the problem," the report states.

In a June 4 interview, Kermode confirmed a group had conducted a series of ride-alongs in May as part of a process to update a 2009 report, and provide a better plan of attack to combat meth use.

The Grand Jury also took note of the city's active grant writing and success in obtaining various grants, despite not having an dedicated grant writer. Over the course of 10 years, the city has received approximately $12 million in grants from various sources.

The report highlights City Engineer Jay Schlosser and his team's attempt to secure some $8 million in grant funding from the state of California for various projects through the new Active Transportation Program.

Grand Jury committee members also took note of the feasibility study the city is conducting for a mountain bike park and a off-highway vehicle park.

On June 2, City Manager Greg Garrett had announced the city was the recipient of a $972,500 grant from the state of California, of which the city will match more than $500,000 to create an OHV park at the developing event center.

While the amount is still subject to change under the state budget, city officials believe there will be little change in the amount awarded to Tehachapi.

In way of recommendations, the Grand Jury had none, a rare occasion for a body known to issue recommendations on several government bodies and agencies.

"The Committee wishes to thank and commend all members of the Management Team for information and the obvious pride in the City," the Grand Jury report states. The Grand Jury report stated the committee visiting could "feel the excitement and motivation among the (management) team" and looked forward to visiting the city again in the future.

"There are so many positive qualities and great developments going on that the Committee is at a loss to list all that were mentioned," the Grand Jury report concludes.

Greg Garrett, city manager for Tehachapi, said the city was happy with the report.

"We are very elated with the report," Garrett said on June 11. "We spent several hours with Grand Jury members."

Garrett said the city's management team was open with sharing information and recent events

"We're all about transparency," Garrett said. "We love to have the Grand Jury visit us and we're very willing to share information with them."

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