By Susan Read News Review Staff Writer–
The report of Ridgecrest City Manager Ron Strand at the March 15, 2023, City Council meeting focused on the recent town hall meeting with public input for a new community pool. Two design architect consultants attended that meeting when nearly 40 citizens came forward to offer their desires for a swimming facility. The posters on which those inputs were displayed are mounted in the lobby of City Hall for public viewing. The design architects will now create a concept drawing for staff review. Another town hall meeting for the public is planned for April, with a date and time to be announced. “We’re hoping to have their design so we can move on to the staff portion, where we work with the architects on the finer details of the pool, such as the solar (aspect),” Strand said. “We hope to be under construction in either November or December of this year or January 2024. It’s moving along quite quickly,” he continued. “We will make a concerted effort to get to the public at the next town hall meeting so we can continue to have input from the community, which I think is very important. We’re going to have a pool!”
Captain Justin Dampier, Support Services Manager of the Ridgecrest Police Department (RPD), presented certificates to Officer Martin Dorrell and Officer Kassie Parsons for 20 years of service. Mayor Eric Bruen thanked the officers for their dedication to the community’s safety.
Vice Mayor Kyle Blades read a proclamation for National Transit Driver Appreciation Day set for March 18, 2023. Transit Services Director Christopher Smith accepted the proclamation and shared the microphone with transit driver John. John said his favorite passengers were the children on field trips, as was the case recently with a Montessori School class, with whom John sang “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.” Transit drivers welcome passengers from all walks of life, John said, as it should be.
The RPD’s Life Saving Award was presented by Captain Dampier to Officers Garabay, Rinaldi, Beard, and Pietrangelo for their brave and successful work saving the lives of four individuals during the September to December 2022 timeframe. One of the individuals was infant Elijah, who was in Council chambers with his mother and family to acknowledge the team whose skills saved the baby’s life. Mayor Pro Tem Solomon Rajaratnam praised the officers for their successful responses to serious and emergent circumstances.
In other council business, Finance Director Cheri Freese introduced independent auditor Coley Delaney, who presented the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR). This report is a high-level overview of the financial status of the city as a whole, including governmental and business activities and each of the city’s fund categories. Delaney presented slides that included the condensed statement of net position, the income statement of activities, general fund condensed balance sheets, and status reports of pension and employee benefit funds. “There were no material weaknesses identified in internal control over financial reporting or compliance,” Delaney said. “There are no accounting issues, nor inappropriate activities noted.”
Council Member Scott Hayman provided highlights from the IWV Groundwater Authority Board meeting of March 8. The board approved a pipeline project request to amend the Water Resources Development Act proposal and water recycling feasibility study annual submission to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The board also heard Heritage Village’s request for shallow water mitigation for its well. It was recommended that the Village work with IWV Water District for an agreement to bring the Village well services under the Water District.
The council approved a resolution to accept the Base bid by Elector Belco Electric, Inc., to execute a contract for three unified projects using budgeted Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funds. Public Works Director Travis Reed said the three projects combined for cost efficiency were (1) controller and interface upgrades for all traffic signals at intersections along the China Lake Boulevard corridor; (2) flashing stop signs for every intersection considered arterial (for example, Mahan Street and Las Flores Avenue), which CALTRANS and Kern County has already approved; and (3) crosswalk upgrades at mid-block of Ridgecrest Boulevard and mid-block of Downs Street to add flashing beacons and indicators on the medians, facing in both directions of the roads. Once awarded, the timeline is about 45 days and should be completed at the end of summer 2023. Mayor Bruen reminded citizens that all the road work around the city is to increase public safety.
The community is reminded of two upcoming events. The annual “Respect for Law” Dinner will be held on Saturday, March 25, at the Kerr McGee Center, 100 W. California Avenue, Ridgecrest. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., buffet dinner will be served at 6 p.m., and the program will start at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $25.00 each from members of the hosting organizations and law enforcement agencies or contact Jan Bennett at 760-382-4488, (make checks payable to Ridgecrest Nexus Foundation). Sorry, no tickets at the door. For additional information about the dinner, see The News Review article of March 3, 2023.
The Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and several local businesses met recently to make preliminary plans for the next “Night On Balsam” event, tentatively scheduled for May 19. More details will be forthcoming.