Category Archives: Kern County

County to Upgrade Crosswalk by End of March

Crosswalk signalFebruary 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.

Crosswalk Diagram.pngMs. 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.

Planning Commission Approves Recurrent & Aquahelio Projects

Recurrent23 January: By a 4:1 vote the Kern County Planning Commission approved the Clearwater/Yakima solar project by Recurrent Energy of San Francisco. At 1 square mile, the project would be larger than Mojave’s downtown area, located west of Sierra highway and north of Camelot Boulevard. Proponents advocate that the project would produce 40 megawatts of clean renewable energy and create up to 200 temporary jobs. Critics claim the project, located just 1,400 feet west of a residential area and school, would release dust and other pollutants, kicked up by Mojave’s strong winds, causing health problems for children and elderly residents. Many residents support renewable energy, but resent the location. But Recurrent Energy claims this is the only parcel in Mojave with a single owner willing to sell the property, and it is located close to a power sub-stations installed by the wind companies.

Kern County provided a video conference in the Mojave Veteran’s Hall for residents to participate in the hearing, but most citizens left after midnight. The hearing, which lasted over seven hours, involved 13 other items, but the agenda was changed twice so that the Recurrent project was heard last. Opening comments began at 1:30 am, and the final vote was not reached until 2:30 am, by which time most residents in Bakersfield and Mojave had gone home. Click here to watch the hearing online.

AquahelioCommissioners also approved the Fremont Valley water & solar project by Aquahelio of Beverly Hills, by a vote of 3:2. The Aquahelio project plans to take 114,000 acre feet (AF) of water (37 billion gal) per year from the Fremont Valley aquifer located north of Cal City. The Fremont valley aquifer contains about 1 million AF of known safe water, and possibly up to 7 million AF of unexplored water at deeper levels. Historically the aquifer has a natural recharge rate of approximately 15,000 AF per year. Proponents argue that the project is necessary for Kern County’s long term water security. Critics argue that the project will gradually deplete a precious natural resource, sending water to other areas of Kern County and could be used for “fracking” or other industrial uses. Critics also argue that the project is an attempt to control a majority of East Kern’s water resources, making the entire county reliant on one company if drought conditions persist. Aquahelio offered a last-minute compromise to the commission, offering to stagger the water extraction to 5,000 AF in the first year, 10,000 in year two, 20,000 AF in year three, 50,000 in year four, 80,000 in year five, and 114,000 by year eight to continue indefinitely. The compromise also selects a joint Kern/Aquahelio commission to oversee the project to ensure that the company does not destroy ground water or private wells as extraction rates ramp up.

Opening comments began at 11:30 pm, and public comments continued well after midnight. Commissioners appeared divided as they began deliberations around 1:00 am with three out of five initially intending to vote “no” on the water portion of the project. However, when Aquahelio asked the commission to vote on the entire water and solar project in its entirety, one commissioner switched to a “yes” vote, delivering an approval for the project. Both projects are now referred to the Board of Supervisors who will make the ultimate determination whether these projects will go forward. Click here to watch the hearing online.

The Mojave Foundation is primarily concerned for the health and safety of our residents, and our long-term water security. Although we support renewable energy, and solar in particular, we must not disturb our ancient desert ecosystem before we have a credible plan in place to minimize the health impacts to our residents. We also call on Kern County to ensure that the Fremont Valley has a sustainable source of water for generations by providing intense scrutiny and oversight of all consumers to ensure that water extraction does not exceed our natural recharge rate.

Entrepreneurship workshop – Tuesday, October 22

RaimoneThe Mojave Foundation is proud to sponsor a series of Entrepreneurial Workshops, starting Tuesday, October 22 at Anthony’s Grill (next to Stater Bros) at 6 p.m. Raimone Roberts of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Los Angeles is our first guest speaker, and will explain the basics of starting your own business: how to write a business plan, submit the documentation, insurance, taxes, etc. There are several business opportunities in Mojave that are desperately needed right now – a coffee shop, a cleaning service, a restaurant, a bakery, a day care, plumbing, etc. – but the paperwork and legal requirements can be daunting. Raimone will de-mistify a lot of the technical hurdles, and put the tools in your hand to confidently start your own business. We will also discus how startups can pool their resources through a “small business incubator” to take advantage of economies of scale while their idea grows and matures. Raimone is a former Air Force officer, and owner of his own consulting firm. Raimone is an expert on small business start-ups in the Antelope Valley, and has helped hundreds of small businesses get started.

JayThis kicks off a series of bi-weekly meetings supported by Raimone and fellow SBDC expert, Jay Thompson of CSU Bakersfield. Jay is a long-time business leader in Kern County, and owner of his own financial services consulting firm. Jay is a respected leader in Kern County, and has helped numerous businesses get started here. Jay and Raimone will alternate hosting bi-weekly meetings, and each meeting will cover a different aspect of entrepreneurship – marketing, financing, taxes, business plan writing, etc. These meetings are open to ALL residents and business owners in Mojave, and designed to help entrepreneurs to start thinking about the kinds of businesses they want to start or expand into. The Mojave Foundation is working closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the Revitalize Committee to bring critical amenities and lifestyle businesses back to Mojave, which is critical to support a thriving and healthy community.

Kern County Sheriff adds 5 deputies to the Mojave Sub-Station

Sergeant Steve Williams said that the Mojave Sub-station now has 17 deputies, at the last Neighborhood Watch meeting on August 5th. This is up from 12 only a few months ago. The community appreciates the extra investment KCSO is making in Mojave, and the Mojave Foundation looks forward to strengthening the partnership between the community and the Sheriff’s office when Citizen Service Unit (CSU) stands up in October.

Mojave donates 50 pints of Blood

Houchin Blood Bank collected 50 pints of blood this Wednesday during our second blood drive this year. “This was a very successful drive” says Christina Scrivner, who heads up Houchin’s activities in east Kern County. Houchin set up 2 large air-conditioned buses right outside the Voyager Restaurant on the Mojave Air & Space Port. There were food and drinks, and very friendly nurses who are highly-trained and very good at taking your blood! Most donors were in and out in less than 30 minutes. Houchin plans to be back in December, and this time, we’re shooting for 100 pints! Contact Tenina at 661-824-2433 to donate or get involved.