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By Pat Doody 

Council talks aviation, future projects

Tehachapi City Council Update


April 27, 2019

Two aviation related youth groups were front and center at the April 15 City Council meeting. Agenda items involving Tehachapi youth were discussed at length.

The first was the Build-a-Plane project that has been under way at Tehachapi Airport for over a year and a half. Thanks to an anonymous donation through Arts, Science and Technology Corporation of Tehachapi (AST), the Tehachapi Society of Pilots has been able to purchase a kit airplane, a Zenith CH750 Cruzer for a group of high school students to assemble while learning about aviation and flying. The students come from both Valley Oaks Charter School and Tehachapi High School.

President of the Tehachapi Society of Pilots Bob Meyer along with Paul Nafziger, who oversees the program, had asked the City for the group to rent a portion of its maintenance hangar at the airport. Meyer told the council that to date the program has included about 20 students over two semesters and currently includes 11 students regularly. Meyer said that members of the team learn about aerospace design, manufacturing, safety and flight operations from FAA-licensed pilots and technicians and can receive credit through the Kern County Superintendent of Schools. With the first plane nearly completed, the plan is to purchase a second plane and use one to build and one to fly. The use of the hanger would ensure a more permanent location for the continuation of the program. In addition, better parking would be available eliminating the need to drive on the airport.

The City believed that their equipment could be placed out of the way allowing room for the project. They proposed a monthly rent of $72 based on the ground lease rate as opposed to hangar rental rates. However, Councilman Phil Smith felt they could do better than that. He suggested an even lower rate. The Council agreed and unanimously voted to lease part of the maintenance hangar to the Build-a-Plane project for $1 per month.

The City had also been approached by the Civil Air Patrol Tehachapi Composite Squadron 46 Cadet Program to use a portion of the airport pilot’s lounge for their meetings. Established in 1942, the cadet program’s goal was to form future aviation and aerospace leaders. Ideally the cadets attend a weekly meeting plus at least one Saturday aviation related event monthly.

The Tehachapi Squadron leases one trailer and owns two additional trailers located on the airport that are in very poor condition. According to Tehachapi resident Carl Gericke, the two owned trailers where purchased for the group years ago and came from CCI. Melissa Hughes and Shannon Loftus who mentor Squadron 46 proposed to have the group move into the office space by the end of August. The group conducts meetings on Tuesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays for Civil Air Patrol activities. In exchange for use of the space, Squadron 46 will clean the building and pick up outside weekly, will maintain their own WiFi system and remove their two trailers from the airport. The group also plans to make the restrooms ADA compliant. The terminal will remain open to visiting pilots.

The main problem with the proposal appeared to be the disposal of the three trailers. Hughes and Loftus said that the group operates on a budget of about $2,000 a year and were not sure how they would be able to remove the trailers in the six months outlined in the agreement. City Manager Greg Garrett said the City would work with them to that end if they were unable to find a way to remove them by the deadline.

As the City currently pays about $250 a month to clean the facility, Squadron 46 would be saving the City that amount. The Council voted unanimously to allow Squadron 46 to use the facilities rent free in exchange for their services.

In other business, the City Council approved a list of proposed projects eligible to be presented to the California Transportation Commission in order to receive funds from SB1 (the gas tax). In order to receive the funds, the City must provide the list every year. This year’s resurfacing list includes:

(1)The continued repaving of Tehachapi Blvd. from Curry to Hayes

(2)Surface treatments for streets (a) from Pinon St. to Highline / between Curry St. and Ponderosa- 13 streets (b) from Georgia St. to Abajo Ave. / between Dennison Rd. and the city limit – 16 streets (c) from Valley Blvd. to Fir St. / between Curry St. and Clearview – 8 streets

(3)Surface treatments were also added for C St. to Tehachapi Blvd. from Mill St. to Robinson St. – 9 streets

Tehachapi City Council meetings are held the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Wells Education Center, 300 S. Robinson St.


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