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City schedules 9.2M in street improvements

By Susan Read News Review Staff Writer– Public Works Director Travis Reed presented the focus of the December 7, 2022, Ridgecrest City Council meeting with photos, maps and data regarding the major street improvements that are scheduled to begin in mid-to-late January 2023. Three projects totaling approximately 9.2 million dollars include four projects: FY22 Measure V paving, FY22 Measure V chip seal, the full restructure of one-half mile of Franklin Avenue, and the West Ward Avenue Phase I street improvement. “Measure V covers 95% of our roads budget, and I just want to thank the citizens of Ridgecrest for trusting us, city staff, and city council to get all this done,” Reed said. Council member Kyle Blades asked how the roads were chosen for improvements, to which Reed responded that a comprehensive grading system was used to set up the five-year plan. Arterial status (a street that connects to a more prominent, highly traveled street) and traffic volume are two of the factors considered to categorize the subject streets. Reed reported that the current five-year project ends in 2025. The plan will be updated in 2023, using a software system and human analysis to help further prioritize, plan, and allocate funding to streets. Work starts and locations will be announced by press releases to newspapers and outreach via social media. Notice flyers will be placed on the front doors of homes near the streets being improved.

In the next presentation, Reed outlined the Phase II Sewer Project on West Ward Avenue, which is the major trunk line for 65% of the city’s sewer flow. City Council already approved the 6.3 million dollars for this work, which includes the reconstruction of 21 manholes and epoxy lining for an additional 27 manholes. The sewer rate was increased in 2013, according to Reed, which meant there were no bonds required, saving tax dollars. An additional 7.4 million dollars will be used to remove/replace, repair, or epoxy line manholes along California Avenue. Reed assured that the public will be kept informed and updated as street work goes along.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Hayman reported on the Parks, Recreation, and Quality of Life Committee meeting on December 6, 2022, regarding good discussions with the public on building a community pool. Future discussions will follow about detailed aspects of a pool project. Hayman also stated that most of the new flooring in the Kerr McGee center has been installed and that the lower Jackson Park Field shade structures are currently being built. Mayor Eric Bruen added that game arcades have been ordered for young people to use indoors at the Kerr McGee Center.

City Council members stood to acknowledge and congratulate staff employees with service awards. Mayor Bruen presented certificates to the following: Mike Ogas, Police Officer, 5 years; Elaina Neild, Police Records, 5 years; Sandra Montoya, Police Records, 15 years; Roger Ziesler, Public Works/Streets, 15 years; and Jamie Graus, Wastewater, 20 years. Council Member Peggy Breeden honored Les Wood, accompanied by his wife of 41 years, Susan. Wood received a plaque honoring his 35 years of service in Public Works and his dedicated performance of duty in the Streets Division. 

Council Member Breeden offered some final thoughts at the close of her last meeting. “We’ve learned a lot together,” she said, referring to her present council colleagues. “Understanding each other is the most important thing we can do. Learning comes from talking to the public, each other, and our incredible city staff. I am so pleased about what’s happening in our community because of our staff’s efforts.” Breeden went on to address her recently elected successor on the council, John “Skip” Gorman, welcoming him and encouraging him to fully participate. “I am proud to have worked with you all,” she concluded. 

Council will meet again on Wed., Dec. 21, 2022.