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Public Works director, deputy city manager to merge


By Susan Read News Review Staff Writer– The City Council members voted for the Resolution to Create a Deputy City Manager /Public Works Director Position. It was pulled for further discussion. City Manager Strand reported that it is a hybrid position intended to be part of the long-range succession plan for the city manager position. It is an appointed, not advertised position, with no impact on the city budget. The council is asked to approve the position creation for establishment in the classification chart, not to fill the job. 

 The position will be filled via appointment rather than having the job advertised according to City Manager, Ron Strand. 

Strand suggested that Public Works Director Travis Reed is likely to be offered the new position. It had been announced earlier that Reed was leaving his job with the city to take the job of General Manager at the Indian Wells Valley Water District. 

Strand said, “I want to move forward and amend the contract with Mr. Reed to make him the deputy city manager as well as the public works director.” 

Meanwhile, the city will search for a new public works director.

Council approved the additional portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to replace the banquet hall floors in the Kerr McGee Center. It was reported that back in August, the contractor had measured the floor incorrectly, so the Sourcewell bid process will be followed without impact to the current budget.

Division Chief Kain Linville, the newest fire department representative to Ridgecrest.

Deputy Chief Bill Steers of the Kern County Fire Department introduced Division Chief Kain Linville as the newest fire department representative to Ridgecrest. Linville has served as fire marshal for the past year and has experience as a battalion chief and arson captain throughout Kern County. Linville invited the council members to contact him with any questions or concerns, saying “I am here for you.”

Councilman Blades said that the Infrastructure Committee will discuss further alternative markings for the quarterly painting of lines around schools and that a look at Active Transportation Grant funds will take place to consider a bike path on the south side of Bowman Road from Gateway to County Line Roads.

The Council heard the results of the Quality-of-Life Survey by Strand. The survey was developed by city staff so that citizens could respond with comments on four themes: the local economy, parks and recreation, cultural affairs, and public health. Strand reported that 87 percent of what was covered in the open comments fields falls in line with what the City Council knows to be of concern to the community. Comments on the economy were focused on a desire for more diverse businesses, restaurants, shopping, and a bowling alley. Two of the ongoing common themes for parks and recreation are the need for a public pool and indoor recreation activities during times of extreme heat. Culturally, respondents asked for more planned community events. Regarding health care, a desire for better hospital care, local veterinary services, and an effort to attract and retain human and animal healthcare facilities and staff were the subjects addressed. Strand thanked the 1,262 participants in the survey, and recommended that these results be taken back to the City Organization and the Quality of Life committees for review and to craft public messages.

Public statements from the podium included ongoing concerns about waste management costs and mandatory citizen compliance, citing that it inhibits citizens to self-haul, recycle, or compost on their own. Several public commenters expressed their intention not to vote for the Local Services Measure P on the ballot, which would increase local sales tax by one percent. Mary Mancini phoned in to make the council aware of the extremely high home rental fees affecting citizens with limited incomes. Ms. Mancini stated that there are agencies in place to assist, but there are long waiting lists of people who need relief from the high costs. Mayor Bruen offered to speak further with the caller.

Vice Mayor Solomon Rajaratnam addressed the public comments. He said the council welcomes public input and constructive criticism. “We are here because we are elected,” the vice mayor said. “We sacrifice our time to do our best for the community. We have no personal agenda. We are committed, we prepare and do our homework. We honor the oath that we have taken, and nothing will deter us.”

Councilman Kyle Blades announced that he had presented a proclamation to the local Altrusa Club on its 60th anniversary. He said there were Altrusans who have been members since the 1960s and ‘70s, and he was honored to be among them and show his gratitude for all that they do. He especially wants the public to be aware of the many ongoing good deeds of the Altrusa Club.

Mayor Bruen commented on the enthusiasm he sees in young people in Ridgecrest, particularly that of the second-grade students he recently visited at Faller Elementary School. Bruen also commented on the impactful work undertaken by a number of local youth volunteers who took it upon themselves to clean up and haul away an entire container of trash behind some buildings in the Gold Canyon area.