With 2019 just around the corner, we take some time to reflect on the past year.

A lot happened in the first half of 2018. Tehachapi mourned the death of much-loved and respected mayor Ed Grimes, also known as "The Voice of the Warriors." The family of 23-year-old Cheyenne Sara Watkins sought answers on who was responsible for her death. The Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District introduced Measure R, a $43 million bond meant to revitalize parks, which ultimately failed in the Nov. 6 election. And residents gained hope that Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley's new hospital, would, indeed, open this year.

But there was so much more. Today we remember the first half of the year. In next week's edition, we'll look at the second half of the year.


• In his City Manager's Memo, Greg Garrett reported Tehachapi would see an historic year, with construction beginning on Walmart and the opening of the new Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital. In addition, local business owners are reinvesting in downtown, bringing new concepts to enhance the reasons people visit. (Jan. 3)

• The Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News awarded Small Business of the Year 2018 to Wood Family Funeral Service. Staff members said they care for the families they serve and do their best to help them get through the process, as it is more than just a job. (Jan. 10)

• Bakersfield's first baby of the New Year was born to Tehachapi parents, Mercedes Macias and her husband, Jose Aguilar. Ximena Aguilar arrived at 1:08 a.m. Jan. 1 at Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield. (Jan. 10)

• The Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News named Mary Beth Garrison as Citizen of the Year 2018. Garrison was nominated for her philanthropy efforts including founding Cheers to Charity and Community Clean Sweep and serving on the Greater Tehachapi Development Council for more than a decade. (Jan. 17)

• Tehachapi City Councilman Phil Smith received the Ronald E. Brummet Regional Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement from the Kern Council of Governments. Smith was lauded for helping to facilitate several projects that have transformed Tehachapi. (Jan.17)

• The Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual dinner and awards gala at Villa La Paz at the National Chavez Center in Keene. Stephanie Ursua, Tehachapi News' business manager, was named chairperson of the Chamber's Board. (Jan. 24)

• Nearly 50 Tehachapi women boarded a bus to take part in the Bakersfield's Women's March and rally as part of the Me Too Movement. (Jan. 24)

• Inmates at California Correctional Institution Tehachapi won the Ethics Bowl competition against Cal State Bakersfield students. Six students of CSUB's philosophy department arrived at the prison and debated the ethics of euthanasia for alcoholics. (Jan. 24)

• Students thought of ways to perform random acts of kindness during Great Kindness week at many of the Tehachapi Unified School District locations on Jan 22 to 28. It was part of a global challenge that people have been putting into action since 2011. (Jan 31)


• Hall Ambulance was accused of violating its contract to supply ambulance service to customers in Kern County, including Tehachapi, by the Kern County Public Health Services Department. Reports included chronic failure to meet time performance standards, among other complaints. The company apologized for the failures outlined in the report, and Public Health decided to keep a close eye on performance. (Feb. 7 and 14)

• Tehachapi High School and other students participated in free workshops building an airplane at the Tehachapi Municipal Airport. It was hosted by the Tehachapi Society of Pilots. (Feb. 7)

• Sabrina Limon's attorney argues the convicted murderer received ineffective counsel and her trial attorney should never have let her take the stand where she gave "abysmal" testimony during the September 2017 trial. Limon was convicted of murder in the shooting of her husband, Robert Limon. (Feb. 14)

• Housing prices in Tehachapi have increased significantly, along with the rest of the state of California. Investors and out-of-town buyers are highly interested in real estate in the city and greater Tehachapi. Data has shown that since 2012, the median price for a house rose from $165,000 to $255,000. (Feb. 21)

• A BNSF freight train derailed Feb. 17 just east of tunnel 17 at the start of the double tracks that head east through Tehachapi and into Mojave. Five cars left the tracks, spilling contents and halting train traffic. (Feb. 21)

• In a second accident, train traffic was stopped after a vehicle traveling east on Highway 58 plunged down the 10-foot embankment, cutting through a Caltrans fence and onto the Union Pacific right of way. (Feb. 21)


• Local Tehachapi resident and pilot Joe Biviano received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which is the highest award the FAA issues to master pilots with good safety records. (March 7)

• Dylan Ragsdale was crowned Mr. Warrior at Tehachapi High School during the annual event. (March 14)

• Brianna Gabriela Medina, 19, of Tehachapi was fatally stabbed March 2 in downtown Bakersfield. Miranda Garcia, the woman accused of stabbing Medina, was arrested by Bakersfield police but later released without being charged after prosecutors sent the case back to Bakersfield police for further investigation. (March 14)

• Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District proposes Measure R, a $43 million bond measure, in an effort to fix existing parks and build a new recreation facility. (March 14)

• Fiddler and Picker Joe Wallek was named Grand Champion at the 9th Annual Tehachapi Old Time Fiddlers Contest. (March 14)

• Marget Willer was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Kiwanis Division 33. Willer was nominated for her tireless dedication to less fortunate children and adults as a Salvation Army employee of 25 years. (March 14)

• Tehachapi Unified School District Superintendent Susan Andreas-Bervel submitted her resignation on March 13. This comes after contentious relations with the Tehachapi Association of Teachers, 92 percent of whose members last May voted no confidence in her. (March 21)

• Gary Schoelen embarked on a four-month solo voyage from Tehachapi to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, on his motorcycle in a Pan-American ride. "It takes a special tenacity to do these trips," said Schoelen. (March 21)

• Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall and fire department forester Jeff Gletne laid out the status of the county's efforts to remove thousands of dead wildland pine trees killed by bark beetles in a report to the Kern County Board of Supervisors. The plan included the removal of 320 dead trees in the Tehachapi Mountain Park followed by 400 dead trees near Pine Mountain Club. Bids for that work were accepted. (March 21)

• Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes heard final arguments in a lawsuit against Kern's ambulance system. Attorney Steven McGee with the California Emergency Medical Services Authority called Kern's operating areas "mini monopolies" and said the county has violated state laws by handing out those EOAS without a required competitive bid process. (March 21)

• More than 100 residents gathered at Tehachapi's March For Our Lives at the intersection of Tucker Road and Valley Boulevard to demonstrate their growing unrest over the lack of action among elected officials on what they called a meaningful gun control plan. "This rally was conceived in response to these ever-increasing incidences of gun violence in our schools and nation," said Ginny Tunks, local march spokeswoman. (March 28)

• Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District presented options on possible tax rates for a bond measure to fix parks, which ultimately failed in the Nov. 6 election. (March 28)

• Six inmates were injured — including one who was shot in the buttocks — during a riot at California Correctional Institution Tehachapi. Approximately 65 inmates were involved, and multiple weapons were discovered concealed in drains following the riot. (March 28)

• A new church took root in Tehachapi, growing from Bible study. A City on a Hill Church opened its doors under the leadership of Pastor Michael Clark. Located at 48771 W. Valley Blvd., the church is the second founded by Pastor Mike, with the first being Calvary Chapel Tehachapi. (March 28)


• The Kern County grand jury issued a positive report on the status of buildings at the California Correctional Institution Tehachapi operations. The facilities are also awarded a 97.8 percent rating from the American Correctional Association. (April 4)

• J&M Dance Center's dance company competed against dozens of dance studios from around the state for prestigious top honors at Showstopper, the largest dance competition in the country. The dancers earned 14 overall Top 10 awards, 8 Double Platinum awards and 18 Platinum awards. (April 4)

• Souza Family Vineyard turned over the Tehachapi landmark to new owners Mike Van Atta and his wife, Beth Hamilton. Bob and Patty Souza had created the first wine-producing vineyard in the Tehachapi Valley a decade prior to selling it to the new owners. (April 11)

• Tehachapi Community Church, UCC, celebrated 90 years of worship at the little church on the corner of E and Green streets. (April 11)

•  Waste Management started implementing the Mandatory Organics Recycling Program for business recycling services required by California law. (April 29)

• Gerard Keller won first place for adults in Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District's annual Fishing Derby held at Brite Lake. Joshua Hernandez won for children age 16 and older. Pedro Lopez won for the 10 to 15 age group, and Zadan Ramirez took first place for children age 9 and younger. (April 25)


• Tehachapi Mountain Vineyard Church hosted its 5th annual Single Parent Fair to help local moms and dads raising children in a one-parent, one-income household. Upwards of 250 parents and children were treated to complimentary haircuts, nail painting, mini manicures, car washes and more. (May 9)

• One of the many series of public workshops hosted by the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District showed residents options for new facilities and gathered information on public needs for recreation. (May 9)

• Tehachapi Unified School District board discussed a path to hiring a new superintendent or an interim superintendent and what the job description would look like. (May 9)

• Tehachapi folks gathered for the National Day of Prayer activities by attending the 32nd annual Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Kiwanis Club. More than 150 attendees sat down for breakfast at St. Malachy Catholic Church and heard words of encouragement from local church leaders. (May 9)

• The world premiere of "Warfighter" was shown at the Hitching Post Theater, featuring a 16-year-old Tehachapi High School student, Hannah Strategos. She is a life-long cancer fighter and survivor who caught the eye of the film's producer, Jerry G. Angelo, who met Strategos while filming a previous production partially shot in Tehachapi. (May 16)

• Tehachapi Unified School District board selected interim superintendent Paul Kaminski, who came from the position of principal at Jacobsen Middle School. Kaminski accepted the position as a temporary one, as a search for a new superintendent started. (May 16)

• Kern County was named wind capital of the world. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Kern has 4,581 wind turbines, more than any other county in the nation. (May 23)

• Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital announced the new hospital would open in the fall. (May 23)

• Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District announced survey results on opinions of registered voters within the district on the $43 million bond, Measure R. (May 23)

• Hall Ambulance founder Harvey L. Hall died at 77. A community celebration honoring Hall's life was held at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. (May 23)

• Mike Adams was named Tehachapi Police Office of the Year 2018 during an annual awards ceremony and banquet. The award is given to the police officer who embodies a high moral character and demonstrates exemplary performance. (May 23)

• The Tehachapi Heritage League was among 17 recipients of grants totaling $236,417.35 to fund a variety of projects around Kern County from The Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation. The league received $16,625 to help fund the relocation of the historic Errea Garden. (May 23)

• Multiple mountain lions spotted on a 7-acre property in Stallion Springs were blamed for killing two llamas. (May 30)

• A Tehachapi man who paid another man $200 to rape his wife and participated in the brutal assault against her was sentenced to a life term behind bars. Russell Higgins, 58, was sentenced to 53 years to life in prison. His co-conspirator, Haliki Green Jr., 44, was found guilty and later sentenced. (May 30)

• An individual exposed to a substance believed to have been used as an insecticide at a Stallion Springs farm walked into Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, prompting a quarantine within the hospital for about two hours. (May 30)

• Tehachapi resident and insurance agent Marty Pay was voted faculty of the year of the University of Phoenix's School of Business in Bakersfield. Pay has been a small business owner for 28 years running the Farmers Insurance Marty Pay office in Tehachapi. (May 30)


• A memorial service was held for Mayor Ed Grimes at Tehachapi High School. Grimes was remembered as the "Voice of the Warriors," "Mr. Tehachapi," "Coach Grimes" and "Papa Ed." (June 6)

• The Kern County Sheriff's Office investigated a homicide in a Golden Hills residence in the 19700 block of Kid Place. Found deceased was Cheyenne Sara Watkins, 23, of Tehachapi, with a gunshot wound to the head on June 1. (June 6)

• Tehachapi High School was hit with vandalism. More than 25 trees were cut down on campus, classroom doors glued shut, trash cans overturned and windows marked. (June 6)

• A Home Depot store manager, Alfredo Burgueno, built a cart for a local canine that couldn't use his back legs. Pet owners Mark Fox and Tricia Sasaki met Burgueno after taking their Boxer, Echo, into Home Depot looking to put new wheels on the dog's walking cart. Burgueno, who also owned a boxer that had a health complication, said he heard about their problem and ended up constructing the cart using a furniture mover as a base. (June 13)

• The city of Tehachapi took applications for an interim Tehachapi city council member due to the death of Mayor Ed Grimes. The council decided not to appoint someone and instead put the position on the November ballot. (June 13)

• Stepsisters Amy Langston and Samantha Johnson were given a Rising Star of the Year Award by Cal State Bakersfield's Small Business Development Center, as co-owners of Johnny's Take and Bake Pizza. The pair purchased the local eatery in 2017 after three family members died in a boating accident the year before. (June 20)

• Tehachapi High School received almost $1,000 in donations and trees after vandals sawed off 25 campus trees three weeks earlier. Home Depot purchased 23 trees and three pallets of soil through its vendors to give to the school. (June 20)

• The Kern County grand jury stated the Tehachapi Unified School District should more actively recruit participation in district leadership and its board should receive further training on communication and ethics standards. (June 20)

• Local wine grape growers sought to put Tehachapi on the map by making it a designated wine grape-growing region. An application was submitted by to make Tehachapi known as an American Viticultural Area, to be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. It could take a few years to receive an approval. (June 27)

• More local businesses shuttered their doors, including Applegate Garden Florist and Taylor's Specialty Provisions. Also closing its doors was Get Dressed Boutique. (June 27)

• The Bear Valley Snake Guys started off snake season responding to calls from local residents and capturing snakes for relocation. (June 27)