By Helen Tomlin News Review Staff Writer– Last week, the Ridgecrest City Council met for their first October meeting. There were three presentations, two public hearings, and one discussion and action item. At the end of the meeting, announcements were given for upcoming October events.
The first presentation was given by Vice Mayor Kyle Blades, who proclaimed that Ridgecrest will recognize the week of September 17 as “Constitution Week.” This week marks the 236th anniversary of the signing of this country’s “most important document in history.” Sharon Homer, the regent representing the Panamint Springs chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), was on hand to accept this proclamation. She thanked the mayor and the council members and said, “I urge the people…to observe [this week] with appropriate ceremonies and activities in their schools, churches, and other suitable places.”
Next on the agenda was a presentation of the “Key to the City” awarded to Darrell Eddins. Before presenting the award, Mayor Eric Bruen explained this was for volunteers who “continue to go above and beyond,” making “the lives of our community better.” Bruen called Eddins the “daddy bear” of the Star Follies but has done much more for the community in the past 20 years. Bruen told the audience Eddins has “continued to dedicate his life and service to making this community as great as possible.” When accepting the award, Eddins said, “I always say IWV means ‘I will volunteer.’” He said he has volunteered “for every organization he possibly can” and is currently serving with former mayor Chip Holloway at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. Eddins closed by saying, “I just love Ridgecrest; I love our people.”
Closing out the Presentations section was the recognition of several city employees. The longest worker was Mary Stage, who has worked for Animal Control for 35 years. Both Jayson Arnold and Erik Hallmark have been with the Ridgecrest Police Department for five years and also serving for five years was Nicholas Castillo, who works for the Parks and Recreation Department for.
The first Public Hearing was to vote on a “Resolution to Renew the Ridgecrest Tourism Improvement District” through 2033 and to “sunset” the existing resolution. This was the third public hearing before the council. Since there were no protests from the council nor the public, the council voted to renew the proposed 5.75 percent rate, which will bring in more money from the hotels for the Ridgecrest Area Convention Visitors Bureau (RACVB). Now that it has been approved, this additional revenue will bring in approximately $1,139,647 during its first year, which equates to $11,396,470 through the end of 2033. This new rate affects all existing and future lodging establishments within Ridgecrest’s city limits. It will promote local sports and filming events in Ridgecrest and any reciprocal marketing efforts with Mammoth and Death Valley.
The second public hearing began with a presentation from a consultant, Isaac George, who was hired to update the council and citizens on the last stage of Ridgecrest’s “housing element update.” Through a PowerPoint presentation, George showed the “General Plan Housing Element and Fair Housing Analysis” from his company’s findings so far. The “fair housing analysis” is the master plan for the next eight years and is known as the “six-cycle housing element.” It provides an analysis of Ridgecrest’s socioeconomic as well as demographic data and addresses its “fair housing issues.” Since 1969, California has required that all local governments adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community by looking at factors such as integration and segregation patterns and trends and racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty. This was approved and will be submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
City engineer Quinn Ortega presented the one Discussion and Action Item. He presented a resolution to amend a professional services agreement with Willdan Engineering, Inc. for $32,500.00 to include additional design efforts for the Felspar/Norma detention basin near the recently built Mojave View Apartments. This amount is in addition to the previously authorized project budget of $578,021. When Hurricane Hilary drenched Ridgecrest with approximately 5.5 inches of rain within 48 hours, the current facilities were overwhelmed and damaged. On behalf of the staff, Quinn requested these funds so all drainage infrastructure improvements could be made in this area. He said, “The current design facilities only consider minor surface improvements such as minimum runoff for storms that can be classified as a 10-year occurrence.” Still, Hilary was much worse, and the basin could not handle something like this, which was more a 50 or 100-year event. He acknowledged, “We’re all aware that our drainage infrastructure has not gotten the attention it deserved for the past 25 years.” He said, “The staff feels this needs to change,” so they are better prepared for future flooding. The council voted to authorize Ron Strand, the City Manager, to execute this amendment.
Some of the upcoming events for October is the Navy Ball at the Kerr McGee Center on October 20. The County Fair is that same weekend and will feature an Exhibit from 9-11 in a procession from Kramer Junction on October 18. Two events sponsored by the city are Trunk or Treat, which will be on October 27, and Boos Off Balsam on October 28.