Serving the community since 1922


Enthusiasm, commitment mark Wasco's busy year

2023 was eventful for the City of Wasco, and here are the highlights:

JANUARY welcomed new leadership with the appointment of Vincent Martinez as mayor. He came equipped with experience, enthusiasm and a willingness to work as a team.

He said he was excited to take on the role and added that the city was in an excellent position to make many positive changes. He said his two years on the City Council prepared him to put his best foot forward to demonstrate a commitment to honesty, integrity, transparency and openness to compromise.

"I am passionate about the City, and I don't think anyone can doubt my love for Wasco. I hope that showed through during my time on the council."

Looking back on his year of service, Martinez said, "We accomplished a lot. We were able to make tremendous strides with our Police Department, the demolition of the old labor camp and we opened several new businesses in Wasco. It was a great year, but we still have plenty of work left to do. I look forward to working with the rest of the council to complete our existing projects and start new ones."

FEBRUARY was a somber month,with the passing of educator Robert (Rob) Cobb.

His was a success story as he worked his way up from teacher, vice principal, principal and assistant superintendent to the superintendent role for Wasco Union High School District. He worked in the district for 27 years.

WUHSD Superintendent Kevin Tallon said, "He was a wonderful man of principle and strong character. A great leader in our district and an amazing and devoted family man, someone I admired, not only as an educator but as a husband and father."

MARCH saw the opening of a national retailer. Ross opened its doors with a celebratory grand opening attended by community members and city leaders.

It was a busy morning, with over 150 people walking through its doors in the first 10 minutes.

Bri Villa was one of the shoppers.

"I am here today to check out the new store because it's closer than Delano or Bakersfield. I wanted to be one of the first shoppers to have the first look at the merchandise. It's also a sign that the City is growing, adding new stores and expanding with all the new housing."

The Wasco Ross store manager, Daisy Puente, said, "The community has been receptive to the store. They have been loving it."

"I hope to develop and train our new hires. A lot of them are from Wasco. This is pretty much the only retail store in Wasco apart from Walmart. It's an amazing company."

In APRIL, the city continued to beautify Wasco with a community-wide clean-up event where almost 15 tons of bulky waste was disposed of at no cost to the residents.

The event was in collaboration with the Wasco Public Works Department, American Refuse, Alianza and many local volunteers.

There were 127 loads dropped off and 65 curbside pick-ups for those that didn't have a way to transport the bulky waste.

Jeff Martin, owner of American Refuse, said, "We do this because the people need it. We've been doing these events for at least ten years. We keep doing this every year because we want to take care of Wasco."

In MAY, City Council members approved the purchase of artillery and computer-based training software for the start-up of the Wasco Police Department.

With this, the City entered into a purchase agreement with ProForce Law Enforcement for weapons equipment for the police department, including Glock Gen5 handguns, shotguns, non-lethal shotguns and tactical rifles.

ProForce Law Enforcement is a locally based law enforcement weapons dealer that provides weapons equipment to Kern County police agencies.

"The weapons are the first of two acquisitions. We are buying the weapons we need for the start-up of the police department. That first acquisition is roughly half of the weapons we will need," Wasco Police Department Chief Charles Fivecoat said.

In addition, in May, the council approved contracting Art Sherwyn as a consultant on the downtown beautification initiative.

In January 2022, the city council had approved a resolution authorizing a $5 million grant to work on the downtown streetscape.

Part of the project includes public art installations in four locations (three pedestrian alleys and the open plaza.)

Sherwyn will oversee the theme, selection and creation of the art to meet the grant's intent, fit within the designated spaces and reflect on the community of Wasco.

JUNE was significant for the city's finances, as the council adopted the 2023-24 annual operating budget of $87.5 million and the 2023-2028 Capital Improvement Program.

City Manager Scott Hurlbert said the budget responded to the city's challenges in recovering from the adverse economic and fiscal circumstances resulting from covid-19 and new challenges resulting from mixed economic messages from inflationary pressures and possible recession.

However, he added that while the impacts were uncertain, the budget assumed continued recovery, and the city entered these difficult times with unique strengths compared with many other cities in California.


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