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By Pat Doody
staff writer 

City Council honors five extraordinary women

City Council Update


March 16, 2024

The City of Tehachapi announced in February that in recognition of March as Women's History Month they were hosting a new Extraordinary Women Recognition and asked for submissions from the public. All nominees had to live or work within the City of Tehachapi. At the March 4 City Council meeting, Community Engagement Specialist Mya Acosta said that the city had received 70 nominations for the recognition.

A panel consisting of Acosta, Community Engagement Manager Key Budge and Councilwoman Jeanette Pauer reviewed the 70 candidates and found five that stood out as individuals who, "support and contribute to keeping the City of Tehachapi thriving day in and day out."

Certificates of Recognition were presented to Dixie Coutant, Lindsay Villapondo, Teresa Ruth and Claudia Baker. The fifth, Mary Cunningham, was unable to attend the meeting. Acosta said that those chosen represent various aspects of a wide spectrum of involvement in our community.

Dixie Coutant: Dixie takes on the responsibility of preserving and showcasing the town's rich railroad history as the curator of the Tehachapi Train Museum. She serves as the Second Vice President of the Tehachapi Heritage League, further solidifying her commitment to preserving the town's cultural legacy. Dixie is also an active member of the Audubon Society, the Tehachapi Valley Gem and Mineral Society, volunteer with the Tehachapi Community Theatre Association and leader of the line dance program at the Senior Center. Dayna Wells and Joan Cote added that, "her commitment to preserving local heritage, fostering community engagement and supporting various organizations demonstrates the impact one woman can have on the collective spirit of a town."

Lindsay Villapondo: Lindsay is a realtor at Miramar International and recently was awarded "Top Listing and Selling Agent" at the Miramar Tehachapi office. Lindsay serves on committees for the Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors and supports the Tehachapi Mountain Rodeo Association and the Tehachapi Mountain Bike Team. She volunteers at the Tehachapi Visitor Center, her church, at her children's school and various community events. Brittany, one of several people who nominated Lindsay, said: "Lindsay is an inspiration to others by putting her mind to something and achieving. She is always offering help and guidance to women aspiring to do the same. She carries herself in a professional manner always and is showing women they can be and achieve anything they set their heart to do, at any age and state in life."

Teress Ruth: Teress is a shift supervisor at Starbucks, where she serves as a mentor to many of the younger workers. Katherine McCool nominated Teress explaining: "She is an extraordinary woman because she sees the best in everyone and pushes them to their potential, she has the best life advice. She's the hardest working woman I know, she loves her job and she does her job so incredibly well. She is a mother figure to so many. My whole family call her 'Mother Teressa.' She has been a mom to me and most of my sisters. She has a magnetic, caring, loving energy ... she's the best dressed woman I know and she makes me laugh harder than anyone I know. She constantly pushes women she works with to their potential even if they don't see their own potential. She's always so supportive to any woman going through any situation and she will always offer you her shoulder to cry on."

Mary Cunningham: Throughout her life, Mary has been involved in a variety of community organizations including the Tehachapi Lions Club (past President), Cultural Arts board member, Horseman's Association advisory council, Environmental Committee member and the Tehachapi Heritage League. Mary has volunteered as a docent for 15 years and has had a major role in designing, developing and donating her resources to the current Errea House Museum garden. Judy Mitchell nominated Mary and said: "Her unwavering dedication to making Tehachapi a better place, and her contributions to Tehachapi have been immeasurable. Her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come."

Claudia Baker: Claudia began The Loop newspaper more than 20 years ago as the Hilltop Shopper, which grew into the biweekly community paper it is today. She is currently on the Board of the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council and has been on the Tehachapi TOURISM COMMISSION since its inception. She served on the board of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Mainstreet Tehachapi. Projects under Claudia's direction include the Experience Tehachapi Magazine, placemats for several local restaurants and The Loop Digital Screens, all platforms for supporting and promoting local events, businesses and organizations. Pat Doody says Claudia is an extraordinary woman because she leads by example: "Many of her columnists are women that range in age from their 20s to their 90s. Having been in the publishing business for many years, Claudia has inspired women of all ages to always be the best version of themselves."

Look in future issues of The Loop for feature stories on each of these extraordinary women.

The Tehachapi City Council meets on the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. They are currently meeting at the Police Department Community Room, 220 W. C St.


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