Obviously, 2020 was unlike any other year.

You can lock down our cities, quarantine our residents, restrict our local businesses and cancel our parades. But you cannot stop the world from turning. 

Each December, Tehachapi News takes time to reflect on the year with a summary of top stories featured in the newspaper.

So here is our collection of top stories. Your list may be different — we realize that. But read on for some highlights, a mix of news and features.

Citizen, Large and Small Business of the year

The Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News jointly presented honors to Citizen of the Year Carl Gehricke, Small Business of the Year Ashmore Motors and Large Business of the Year Kaiser Permanente in January.

Gehricke was honored for his service to many local organizations, including serving as the chairperson of Tehachapi Mountain Festival for more than 25 years. 

Marlon and Brandon Ashmore were recognized not only for providing value to customers but also using the services of other local businesses to prepare their vehicles for sale.

Kaiser Permanente grew from offering a mobile health vehicle in Tehachapi in 2012 to establishing an office in 2016 to serve about 7,000 members in the area.

Rallying around the candidates

You can take away our Mountain Festival, our GranFondo and the traditional Christmas Parade, but you can't take away our right to show support for one's choice of presidential candidates.

The intersection of Tucker Road and Valley Boulevard was the focal point for rallies held by avid citizens showing support of either President Donald Trump or now President-elect Joe Biden. 

Tehachapi wines gain accreditation

After years of hard work, Tehachapi Mountains received accreditation for its award-winning wines. On Nov. 18, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, announced that local vintners can now label their bottles of wine as the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area. 

“This announcement is welcome news for our community, which has been working to establish the Tehachapi Mountains AVA for several years and is something I have strongly supported and urged the administration to finalize," McCarthy wrote in a news release.

Tehachapi Humane Society closes after 25 years

Founded by Robin Freckman, the local humane society will close its doors effective Dec. 31. The goal of Tehachapi Humane Society was to prevent animal cruelty and reduce pet overpopulation by providing assistance with the cost of spay or neuter surgery.

In addition, it provided pet food assistance to the community, operated a lost and found line, and provided assistance for veterinary services, among other things.

Shelter woes continue to plague east Kern animals

Due to COVID-19, the Mojave branch of the Kern County Animal Shelter was shuttered in March. Located at the Mojave Air and Space Port, the lease on the shelter's property lapsed in June.

Chromebook Sit-In

Tehachapi Unified School District parents and students were up in arms over the school board's decision to continue with virtual learning. On Oct. 1, more than 100 students showed up at Tehachapi High School with Chromebooks in hand for a peaceful, organized protest that they called The Chromebook Sit-in. 

Education leader retires

Tehachapi Unified School District said goodbye to an education giant as Paul Kaminski stepped down following 25 years as an educator in May. During his time with TUSD, Kaminski has worn many hats: teacher, vice principal, principal, academic coach and interim superintendent.

Asked his most rewarding experience as an educator, Kaminki said, "Participating in all the promotion and graduation ceremonies and being able to speak on behalf of the students."

TAT president says goodbye

On May 15, Joan Cooper, president of the Tehachapi Association of Teachers for the past 24 years, received a royal sendoff as a line of cars carrying fellow teachers and well-wishers drove by the retiring president and gave her a secret caravan sendoff.

"This has been a learning experience during my whole entire career of teaching here, from the different leaderships to the many adjustments," said Cooper, who taught algebra at Tehachapi High School.

When the cry for help goes out

A group of local women started the Tehachapi Humanitarian Relief Group Facebook page to answer cries for help after local grocery stores were hit hard as the city experienced panic hoarding in response to COVID-19.

Over the year, Justina Engen, Cassandra Wilsted and Nicole Gallella have been joined by hundreds of volunteers who have helped scores of other local folk, many of whom have since been paying it forward.

Virus leads to prison protest 

On July 23, several dozen family members gathered at the gates of California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi to speak out about concerns after a surge of confirmed coronavirus infections was recorded inside the prison beginning the month before. The peaceful protest lasted about an hour.

Adventist Health president bids farewell to Tehachapi

In the three short years since he arrived in Tehachapi, Jeffrey Lingerfelt, president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, moved mountains to get the state-of-the-art hospital facility finally open.

On Aug. 7, Lingerfelt left his position to lead another facility, Bath Community Hospital, in Hot Springs, Va. 

"It was the hardest decision of my professional life," Lingerfelt said in a telephone interview July 14.

A real life beauty queen

It was a crowning moment for Tehachapi's very own beauty queen, Tiffany Rea, who captured the title of Miss United States 2020 in Palm Beach, Fla., Oct. 14. She has competed in pageants for 14 years.

American Legion Post No. 221 celebrates 100th birthday

One year after the American Legion was founded nationally, Tehachapi American Legion Post No. 221 held its first charter meeting on Aug. 1, 1920. One hundred years later, the post continues to thrive with a strong membership and an enthusiastic new commander. On July 1, Kevin Davey was installed as this year's commander.

Another 3-day tour for S.S. Minnow

In June, former Tehachapi resident Paul Winston brought his film crew to the Popejoy property to shoot a television pilot around the historic S.S. Minnow on Highway 58. The pilot, "Nawalt," is a sci-fi series set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, and starred Winston as "Chad," Moriah N. Boone as "Nawalt," and Freddie Diaz as "Dr. Shayton." 

'Aerospace Valley' hosts flyover

On Oct. 19, residents watched from rooftops, overpasses or from their own backyards as a succession of fighter jets, cargo aircraft and strategic bombers soared over the streets of Tehachapi in an extended display of military hardware organized by the Aerospace Valley Air Show, which went "hybrid" this year thanks to COVID-19.

Local election results

On Dec. 1, Kern County certified its Nov. 3 election results. The Tehachapi Unified School District welcomed two new trustees to its board with Tyler Napier and Tracy Kelly prevailing.

The Bear Valley Community Service District also saw two new board members with Charles Jensen and John Grace coming in at the top of the heat.

On Dec. 21, Phil Smith was selected as Tehachapi's new mayor by his fellow councilmembers, and Michael Davies was selected as mayor pro-tem. 

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