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An artist's rendering of a proposed Tehachapi Super Walmart.

Walmart plans to break ground in Tehachapi the first quarter of this year. 

That's according to City Manager Greg Garrett, who said at the Jan. 3 Economic Development Council meeting that plans for moving ground and issuing permits are expected early this year.

These permits allow Walmart to move forward on ground construction, road medians on Tehachapi Boulevard, Conway Avenue and Tucker Road, as well as street lights.

Plans for Walmart have been steadily moving along since this summer when the company agreed to more than $1 million in taxes, allowing permits to be issued.

The monthly EDC meeting is an opportunity for business representatives to provide a variety of updates on community happenings. Other items discussed include:

Bicycle path

The more than $1 million paved bike path should soon be finished.

Griffith Company employees are finishing the path and paint on the roadway to warn drivers of the new curb to protect bicyclists. The Class I, two-lane asphalt bike path extends from Hayes Street east to Steuber Road, and follows the north side of Tehachapi Boulevard.

This will create a safe option for bicyclists to travel toward Monolith or work at the various businesses and truck stops on Tehachapi Boulevard.

Funds for the project came from the Transportation Development Act in the amount of $360,000 and the rest came from leftover Redevelopment Agency bonds. The City Council agreed to the project July 17.

Park and Ride Center

The Park and Ride transit center planned for Tehachapi Boulevard is still in the final planning stages and the city continues to coordinate with Union Pacific Railroad.

This location on the north side of Tehachapi Boulevard and between Mill and Pauley streets will be leased from the railroad and include 100 to 120 parking spaces and a bus turnout for both east and westbound traffic for Kern Regional Transit shuttles.

Funding for the Kern County Fire Department

Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner said a $150,000 study from the Center for Public Safety Management has helped identify ways to save money in the Kern County Fire Department.

There is currently a $9.1 million deficit, putting a drain on the county's finances.

Scrivner said there may be some ways to save money by changing overtime pay and filling more positions with civilians instead of sworn personnel.

Kern County supervisors will take up the issue Tuesday, Jan. 9. Additionally, fire department union leaders and the county are expected to discuss the issues this summer.

Awards

The city has won the State of California Award from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering for Freedom Plaza, which honors all five branches of the military.

Tehachapi's Freedom Plaza now goes to the national level to compete with other cities.

“It evokes a lot of pride for our community and it’s the least we can do for our military, our veterans and ones who are serving today,” Garrett said after the meeting.

The award will be presented in San Francisco in March.

A Lifetime Achievement Award has been given to City Councilman Phil Smith for his work as a director for the Kern Council of Governments.

Garrett said Smith has been instrumental in his work in helping manage and assign funds for road projects in Kern County and the region. These projects include the widening of Highways 14, 395, and 58, construction of Challenger Drive and numerous city improvements.