First, a huge thank you to all of the community members who participated in the Adventist Health Foundation's fundraising dinner a few weeks ago. Thanks to the generosity of this community, more than $600,000 was raised for our hospital. This money will be used for equipment that will further the offerings of our hospital and keep more patients local instead of traveling for specialty services. The evening was a huge success.
Fitting as I left that event, Jason Aldean’s "Rearview Town" song was on KUZZ. If you haven’t heard it, it’s about a rusted up small town with nothing to offer, except a view for those leaving in their rearview mirror. “Ain’t nothing what it used to be, population minus me,” he sings; it’s sad to think there are small towns like this across our nation.
However, after leaving an event full of forward-thinking individuals who care enough for this community to give both their time and in some cases their money, I was encouraged to know that Tehachapi is the exact opposite of a rearview town. It’s a town looking forward through the windshield and not over our shoulders with nothing to offer but sad country songs.
Proof of that can be found in the fact that many of our former residents, those who could write a song like Jason Aldean about leaving a small town, are coming back. Some of our finest community leaders, business owners and investors are those who grew up here, left to gain some world experience and are coming back to Tehachapi to be part of a thriving community. They don’t write country songs about that because it simply doesn’t fit the narrative, but it should.
We’re also a destination for many who enjoy what we have to offer, our small-town feel with a quality of life rarely found in California. From retired residents originally from Southern California to young families who are relocating here for work in aerospace, healthcare or business, we are a place that must continue to look forward and plan for our future.
Those goals are being sought after with new projects such as our groundwater sustainability project, an initiative that was recently approved by the City Council to undergo engineering studies. Essentially, this project will treat our wastewater to a higher tertiary level before it is ultimately pumped to Blackburn Dam above Highline where it will be spread to percolate back into the ground.
With the treatment it receives at the plant, plus the natural filtration it receives in the soil, we’re confident that in two years or so the water will once again be clean drinking water to be pumped out of our city wells. This initiative will allow us to be self-sufficient in the world of water, not relying on the state water project for additional allocations and allow us to maintain a healthy groundwater basin in Tehachapi.
Our developments and planning continue to project into the future as well. From private residential and commercial projects to community-owned public projects, the team at the city continues to ensure that what is built today has a lasting positive impact on our community’s future. We don’t want to simply know what something will look like when it is completed; we want to be confident that it will stand the test of time.
Our future is one that must be viewed through the windshield. We can and will continue to be a small town, but one with a big vision. One that supports state-of-the-art healthcare, strong groundwater resources and developments that serve the community for years to come.
It doesn’t make for much of a country song, but it sure does make for a brilliant future.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.