By Helen Tomlin News Review Staff Writer – With only three members present, the Ridgecrest City Council held its last meeting in November. Both Mayor Eric Bruen and Scott Hayman were unable to attend, but because there was still a quorum, Mayor pro tem Solomon Rajaratnam led the meeting. All items on the agenda were addressed, except for two, which were pushed to the next meeting on December 6.
During the Presentations section, Ridgecrest Police Department’s Captain Aaron Tucker presented lifesaving awards to several police officers. First was Sergeant Nathan Lloyd who has already received four of these awards in the past. But, for his fifth, Lloyd gave most of the credit to his partner, James Quiroz. Referring to an incident that happened on July 11, Lloyd said, “My officer did all the work.” He recalled it was Quiroz who was first on the scene and had already begun CPR to an unresponsive victim who had no pulse. “It did not look good.” Lloyd said he assisted his partner, but it was Quiroz who “immediately administered life-saving procedures” until the ambulance arrived. The victim made a full recovery. The second award went to officers Robert Henderson and Ryan Smith who responded to a call on September 16th. The male subject was unresponsive and “turning blue” when they arrived, but after the team “immediately began administering CPR and Narcan,” the victim’s pulse returned, and after spending time at the hospital, he was able to make a full recovery. The third life-saving award went to officers Logan Bebee and Kyle Cushman who saved the life of a 15-year-old girl on September 17. Tucker said that when these two officers arrived, the victim’s father was “holding his lifeless girl in his arms in front of the residence.” According to Tucker, due to Bebee’s swift assessment of this severe situation and both the officers’ quick response in administering aid, this young woman’s life was saved. Tucker said all these officers are to be commended for their swift responses in each of these situations. He said these officers “exemplify the highest standards and are an inspiration to the community they serve.”
Also during the meeting, Tucker recognized both the Evan Etoch Foundation and Toyota of Ridgecrest for their continual help to the Ridgecrest community for the past two years. Many of the workers from Toyota were present for the event and Fred and Janelle shared how the foundation has progressed since 2012. Fred said in their early years, they held garage sales to help support the community’s youth. Since those humble beginnings, the foundation has since been able to raise $344,000 they have given out to the community. Tucker said that the events the local Toyota employees helped put on, such as Winter Wonderland, Trunk or Treats, and Movie Nights, are “second to none.” He concluded, “They’re always there for us.”
During the Public Comments segment, Robert Blackwell spoke on behalf of the Kawaiisu tribe that has “had its territory in the Ridgecrest area for well over 10,000 years.” He related that this tribe staged “informational protests” at the last Petroglyph Festival. Their “respectful protest” did get the attention of some “key stakeholders,” and he felt the tribe was given “an extremely good reaction.” However, Blackwell wanted to point out “one important issue” to the city. Speaking for members of the tribe, he said that a lot of the Indian petroglyph art that has been placed on city and state property is “kind of cheap copies of native art and the local natives find it objectionable.” He said the tribe would like to propose “a joint effort by the city and tribal officials to do a survey of the art” and have it reviewed. Besides the “objectionable” art, the “real native art from the rocks” needs to get approval by the tribe before it is “put throughout the city.” Blackwell informed the council of the many “sordid” ways this tribe has been treated in the past 175 years, including genocide and concentration camps, and he requested that the community be respectful to their religion, culture, and beliefs.
The last important item accomplished at last week’s meeting benefited the Ridgecrest animal shelter. Since maintaining cleanliness is important in order to keep the dogs and cats healthy and comfortable, the shelter needs working and efficient washers and dryers. In the last budget approval, it was given an allotment of $50,000 for their “laundry project,” in order to upgrade the machines. However, as the project was initiated, electricians and plumbers determined the cost to upgrade the laundry area could be substantially higher. With assurance from City Manager Ron Strand that the budget could handle the extra costs, the three council members voted unanimously to raise the allowance to $75,000. Travis Reed, who oversees the project, assured the council that only what was necessary would be spent “to bring the shelter’s electrical components to the needed specifications.” The new commercial-grade washers and dryers are expected to “cut the loads by two-thirds and save immensely on staff time and energy use.”