It is important both in our personal and professional lives to really focus on what matters. Often we’re distracted with the imperfections around us, the bumps in the road, the details of the journey, and we forget about the moments, the defining moments that make us, that make our community.
In our personal lives those moments could be things like our first day of school, our first car, first job. Graduating high school, leaving for college, marriage — all these moments woven together provide the fabric of our lives.
The same goes in city government where we try to focus on what matters for the people, for the community and help both define and respond to those defining moments through our business operations. We’ve had plenty of those moments in our history. In 1876 the Tehachapi Loop was completed and our relationship with the railroad took the next step.
Even to this day we continue to not only see and hear trains coming through our community, but we also regularly partner with the railroad for public projects, such as our new downtown parking lot and transit center, as well as our upcoming rail crossing improvement project slated for next year.
There was the incorporation of the city in 1909, when a group of residents realized that governance of this community was best accomplished together and through a formal process. That moment continues to define us today. The construction of the cement plant for the Los Angeles Aqueduct proved to be a move that mattered. Not only did Tehachapi play a critical role in delivering water across the state, but as a result we received electricity sooner than many other communities and today what we know as Lehigh Cement continues to be a major force in our community.
The 1952 earthquake was a moment of course. The rebuilding shaped what and how things were constructed in our community. Remember the day the first official stop light was turned on in Tehachapi? Not only was the corner of Tucker and Valley Boulevard changed forever, but it was the first step in the maturity of this community and the creation of what is now our busiest commercial corridor.
In the 1980s the idea of wind turbines on the Tehachapi Pass created an industry that we still work with today. It matters when these companies, a few of which are based in the city, continually reinvest in our community in the form of jobs, training and revitalization efforts. Working with them and the renewable energy industry as a whole is work that matters.
We’ll have a moment in a few weeks when Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley opens its doors. The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District and Adventist Health have journeyed a long way for this to happen, but in the process they continued to focus on what mattered, improving health care for our residents. They’ll cut the ribbon and will revolutionize medical care in our community. That will be one shining moment that we will remember forever.
It’s hard to tell what our future moments will be. We are working on projects that address major needs in our area such as water stability and transportation. We push infrastructure projects for the good of both citizens and those seeking to invest in our community. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll actually see the completion of the proposed High Speed Rail Project. All indications point to Tehachapi being the proverbial “Golden Spike” that will link north and south. If it happens, great; if not, we have plenty of other work that matters and moments to look forward to as we continue our journey as a community.
There have been plenty of moments that have defined us, all of which were the result of focusing on what matters and prioritizing for the greater good. It will continue to be a driving force in our approach at City Hall and we can’t wait for the next shining moments for our community.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.