Publication:

The Record - 2020-12-31

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Pandemic made for a tough 2020, but a new year has finally come

Couch’s Corner

David Couch represents Kern County’s 4th District.

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year where we wring out the old and bring in the new. Happy New Year, Kern County! The pandemic made 2020 a difficult year for all of us, and I’m sure we are all ready to move on. With vaccines available and hope on the horizon, 2021 could be the year we rebuild from the pandemic, stronger than ever before. In addition to the pandemic, a lot happened in 2020. Elections changed the names and faces of many District 4 community leaders. Congratulations to all you who were victorious in your campaigns. I look forward to working with all of you to make our communities a better place to be. In addition to an election, a census happened this year, and this census will help determine whether our districts might change again. Regardless of where those lines are drawn, I promise to serve you. While COVID stopped all our in-person events, public gatherings, meetings and town halls, we have learned that through Zoom and other online forums, we can continue to meet and discuss as a group important issues involving our district. I and my District 4 staff have worked with many of you through these forums and have found ways to continue to be productive and get things done. As the pandemic added to our hardships, I am pleased District 4 staff have been engaged with you at food banks, COVID testing sites and warm clothing drives, among other places, and I am grateful to my staff that they have handled any constituent issues over the phone or through email that we couldn’t handle in person. We have worked to serve you and your constituent needs throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so. We completed some important work, too. We finished 46, the Highway 46 widening project through Lost Hills. The bike trail extension in west Kern is near completion, major road work throughout District 4 has been funded and started, the sidewalk in Lost Hills is complete, and Lytle Avenue construction has been funded, among many other things. The important work of Kern County continued throughout this COVID-plagued year. But 2021 promises to be better. Near Shafter, the community center for La Colonia should be well advanced this year. A property has already been purchased and plans are being developed, with a second property to be purchased for this community center. Major initiatives originating out of the D4 office are bringing improved homeless services and response to our communities. In Delano, some delays forced us to push the opening of a proposed navigation center to March 2021, but we have the funds, the operator, the plan and the facility to help the community of Delano deal with their homeless problem. This solution will help the homeless get back on their feet without costing the city of Delano a dime. Delano should be proud. This program is the first of its kind in rural Kern County. Delano was also the first rural community to receive a Recovery Station, a facility for those on the street who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis and who need a place to detox, not a jail cell. We took Delano’s successful model and have begun using it as a baseline for solutions to homelessness in other District 4 communities. In Arvin, we are advancing toward securing funding and establishing a navigation center that will serve the homeless of Arvin and Lamont. In Wasco, we are having conversations with the goal of developing a solution tailored to the needs of the Wasco and Shafter communities. In west Kern, we are working to find funding for local caregivers already serving the homeless. Expect progress on other matters, too. Caliente Creek flood plain solutions are moving forward in Lamont, as will air pollution mitigation measures in Shafter as a result of AB 617 discussions. Public safety continues to be a concern in District 4, and increased involvement is needed to help our communities grapple with gang-related crimes. Finally, as your Kern County Supervisor, it is my responsibility to make sure the business of Kern County, as it relates to you and as it is performed through departments such as Public Works, Behavioral Health, the Sheriff’s Office, Planning and all the county departments, is performed with the highest quality. Let my office know if you are having any problem with the delivery of services by county departments. We will make sure county departments continue to do their job in providing service to you. That’s my all-encompassing New Year’s resolution for all of you. Happy New Year, Kern County! Got any questions? Contact us at 661-868-3680 or email us at district4@ kerncounty.com.

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