February 27: Kern County Road Department Director, Pat Ebel was the featured guest at the Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Mariah Inn in Mojave. Ms. Ebel updated the Chamber on the progress her department is making in cross-walk consolidation and upgrades in response to the tragic death of 16 year old Raven Knight last November while crossing highway 58 on her way to school. The new safety device will include three crossing signs with rapid fire beacons located on the north side, south side, and center median of the the highway. The project will also include a raised median in the center of the road in order to warn drivers and slow traffic. The project should commence “within four weeks”, according to Ms. Ebel during the Chamber lunch.
Ms. Ebel also indicated that the County will eliminate the crosswalk where Ms. Night was killed, in order to funnel pedestrian traffic to the crosswalk just west of The Desert Inn on Highway 58, closer to the school. There is currently no walkway from Mojave Gardens across The Desert Inn, but Ms. Ebel said the County would eventually construct a sidewalk there, but did not provide a time frame. The roads department will also consider upgrading the chain link fence to a block wall in order to provide added protection between pedestrians and vehicles on Highway 58.
The Mojave Foundation appreciates Ms. Ebel coming to Mojave to update the community on the progress, and hope we can work together to resolve many of the chronic safety issues in the community. There were three pedestrians killed in Mojave in the month of November, all due to visibility issues of one kind or another. We appreciate the work that has been done to address the crosswalk on Highway 58, however we feel that this tragedy only shines light on a systemic problem that includes lack of adequate street lighting, poor signage, and excessive vehicle speed in residential areas. We will continue to address these issues with the county and look for alternative ways to make our streets safer immediately.
Mojave Air & Space Port is in negotiations with Monster Fitness in Lancaster to expand into the new community center on the Airport. Monster may provide amenities, such as state-of-the-art equipment, martial arts classes, Zumba classes, and personal trainers to provide the most modern, comprehensive fitness center in the Antelope Valley – right here in Mojave!
However, Monster needs to know how many people in the community are interested before negotiations continue. If we can get 200 people in Mojave and the surrounding areas to say they would be interested in joining, Monster could locate to Mojave as early as spring 2014! Memberships are expected to be around $35 per month, with a one-time $95 initiation fee. Just fill out this form below if you want Monster in Mojave. (This is for market research purposes only, and will not result in any sales calls.)
February 8: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) branch in Mojave is looking for motivated, community-minded seniors to participate in the Senior Volunteer Program (SVP). CHP will be hosting an orientation and informational-meeting at the CHP Office in Mojave, just east of the Mariah Inn, on February 14th at 10:00 am. Eligible volunteers must be 55 years old, with a clean driving record, and able to pass a background check. Volunteers typically perform a variety of duties that include administrative functions, participation in community events, directing traffic, and assisting officers as needed. They can also ride along with officers, serving as an extra set of eyes in search of vehicle code violations.
The Mojave Foundation is proud to have helped stand up a volunteer police squad in Mojave through Kern County Sheriff’s Citizen Service Unit (CSU), and we will enthusiastically support establishing another volunteer unit through CHP. The Senior Volunteer Program offers a slightly different volunteer experience, geared specifically for seniors, and offers another dimension of citizen participation in law-enforcement. Safety and security are our primary concerns, and the SVP is another opportunity to increase the connectivity between law-enforcement and the community in Mojave. For questions about the SVP, contact Darlena Dotson at (661) 823-5500, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8: The Kern County Planning Department is revising its previous recommendation to approve the Aquahelio Fremont Valley water/solar project that would extract 114,000 acre feet of water per year (37 billion gallons per year) within 8 years. The Planning Commission approved the Aquahelio project by a vote of 3:2 on January 23rd amid much concerns from local water departments and communities. The planning department is now recommending that the Board of Supervisors refer the project “back to staff to revise and recirculate the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)”, according to a Feb 7 memo issued by the Planning Department. Although this does not permanently kill the project, it does raise questions about whether Aquahelio will continue to pursue an application process that has taken years. Click here for the memo from the Planning Department.
The decision by the Planning Department comes amid a “water emergency” issued by Governor Brown, and recent revelations that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is likely the reduce this year’s allocation of water to zero. Since a cornerstone of the Aquahelio project relied on “water banking” (temporarily storing some water from the LADWP Aqueduct in the Fremont Valley aquifer) to recharge the ground water extracted by Aquahelio, the Governor’s decision to restrict water allocations “calls into question the sufficiency of the project”, said Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt in an interview with the Bakersfield Californian. Since water banking typically requires depositors leave 10 percent of the water they store in the bank, the Planning Department took that 10 percent into account when reviewing Aquahelio’s EIR, Oviatt explained. Click here for the full article.
Locals estimate the Fremont Valley Aquifer’s natural “recharge rate” is historically 15,000 acre feet per year, but nobody knows what the aquifer’s actual rate of recharge or depletion has been since the drought which has lasted in east Kern County for over four years. The Board of Supervisors will hear the case and the Planning Department’s recommendation on February 25th at their normal meeting place at 1115 Truxton Ave in Bakersfield.