I had a nice chat with David James, community development director for the City of Tehachapi, last week about the challenges of demographics for the area and farming.
If you've ever tried to look up population statistics for Tehachapi online, for instance, you may have noticed that they can be pretty skewed.
That's because the inmates at the California Correctional Institution are counted as "residents" of the City of Tehachapi.
A special state law was passed a number of years ago to allow this. A benefit to the city is some extra tax revenue based on population.
An "unintended consequence," James noted, is that it makes Tehachapi seem like a Gold Rush boomtown, with far more men than women. And since the state has been reducing inmate population, it can also make it look as if our town is shrinking.
What is more important most of the time is to look at the population of the Greater Tehachapi Area, but this is also impacted by the inmate population so it's important to take that into consideration when looking at demographics.
James also addressed the farming issue that the city has been dealing with lately.
I wondered why there is some active farmland within the city limits -- while the city has issued a "cease and desist" order for some areas including between the high school and the new homes to the west where blowing dust has been a problem lately.
James explained that if land is annexed to the city with plans for it to be used later for residential or industrial use (as examples) and the farming continues without interruption until a change is made, it's not an issue. But in the case of former ag land zoned residential or industrial that has not continued in agriculture, it's not an option for farming to resume.
Complicated stuff, but he made it easier to understand.
As to the areas in question, you may see what looks like farming resume as efforts to reduce erosion and dust may include planting a cover crop, he said.
A number of readers called or stopped by the office last week because the Save Mart insert was not in the newspaper.
Save Mart has previously run its weekly advertising insert in the paper and we were sorry when they cancelled their April order and told us they were "trying something different."
The "different" was to be included in the "RedPlum" advertising packet that many people receive in their mailbox on Tuesdays.
We deliver the Tehachapi News by two primary methods -- within the city, Golden Hills and most surrounding areas, our readers receive the Wednesday paper at their homes sometime Tuesday.
The more rural areas, including Bear Valley Springs, Cummings Valley, Sand Canyon and Stallion Springs, and a few areas closer in that are part of post office contract routes that serve those areas, cannot be well-served by carrier delivery, so we use the much more expensive option of the postal service.
Knowing how important it was to our readers to have grocery store advertising early, we entered discussion with the post office last fall when we expanded our circulation, looking for a way to get delivery on Tuesday or even Wednesday.
Unfortunately, we were told by the post office that two companies have national contracts with the USPS have priority and that even though we pay much higher postage and mail our newspapers locally, these companies have priority in the mail.
Recently, the company that was normally delivered on Wednesdays has not been sending material to Tehachapi, which means that most people have received the newspaper we mailed on Tuesday on Wednesday.
But even if we mailed on Monday, the post office has told us that we're stuck -- delivery of the Tehachapi News in Tehachapi cannot take place on the same day that these larger companies with national USPS contracts want their items to arrive (unless we pay an even higher rate which isn't feasible for our advertisers).
Fortunately, most of our readers appreciate our efforts and understand the difficult logistics of reaching nearly everyone in our 275 square mile market with a weekly newspaper and have accepted the distribution we're able to offer, even though we're not able to please everyone all of the time.
And fortunately a number of large retailers who do business in Tehachapi make use of the newspaper to reach their customers. We appreciate this because it helps us provide news and information of value to the community. This is not a by-product of the advertising placed with companies who operate with the special privileges of their national post office contract, however. They pay lower rates and the revenue goes out of the community without providing news or information beyond the advertising being delivered.
CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Call her at 823-6360 or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.