City will also get regional award of merit

Kern Council of Governments will honor 14 individuals, organizations and programs for making major contributions to this area’s quality of life through innovative, cooperative efforts during its 20th annual Regional Awards of Merit Program on March 1.
The City of Taft and two men with strong ties to the community will be  honored.
Ken McMinn, who retired as Taft chief of police at the end of 2011 will receive the  Lifetime achievement Award for a public official. After working with the california Highway Patrol and Kern County Sheriff's Office, McMinn joined the Taft Police Department in the late `980s and rose through the ranks to become chief. He  played a key role in establishing the Taft Community Correctional Facility and laid the groundwork for a  Police activities League in Taft before retiring.
Business owner Bob Hampton will share the Darrel Hildebrand Distinguished Leadership Award with Bakersfield mayor Harvey hall. Hampton, owner of Westside Waste management, had led numerous volunteer efforts to clean up unincorporated areas of Kern County.
The City of Taft is being honored for its general plan.
Regional Awards of Merit recipients, as decided by a Kern COG Board subcommittee, are divided among nine broad categories and include:
Local Government:
•City of Tehachapi & the Tehachapi Heritage League for their work to expand the Kawaiisu exhibit and the Tehachapi Museum.
•The City of Taft for sustainability measures in the Taft General Plan.
•Ruth Justis, for her contributions to the Ridgecrest Daily Independent newspaper.
Community Involvement:
•Price Disposal’s “Greater Bakersfield Green Expo” program for engaging high school students in recycling through a recycled material art contest.
•The Kern River Valley Revitalization Committee’s “Living Green Kern River Valley Festival” for teaching environmental stewardship and resource conservation.
•Caltrans District 6 Interim Director Sharri Bender Ehlert for her commitment to the Thomas Roads Improvement program.
•Caltrans District 6 Design and Environmental Team for its efforts to complete the State Route 99 widening project from Wilson Road to State Route 119 under budget and on an early deadline.
?Ken Volpe: Environmental Resources:
•Falcon Autistic Solar Team at Independence High School for teaching students how solar energy works.
Richard A. Maxwell: Public Safety:
•Tehachapi Police Chief Jeff Kermode for his success in developing such programs as the Volunteers in Policing, Police Explorer Program, Horse Mounted Patrol, and the K-9 officer program.
•Kern Co. Sheriff’s Sgt. James Craig for commitment to making Wasco a safe and secure place to live.
Darrel Hildebrand Distinguished Leadership – Public Group or Individual:
•Bob Hampton of Westside Waste Management for his volunteer work in Taft clean-up projects.
•Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall for his leadership and commitment to keeping Bakersfield beautiful.
Lifetime Achievement – Private Citizen:
•Ridgecrest resident Bruce Auld of Bruce Auld Consulting for his dedication to improving educational services in the Indian Wells Valley.
Lifetime Achievement—Public Official:
•Taft Police Chief Ken McMinn for his dedication to public service and the community.
This the 20th year Kern COG has recognized those programs and people in our region whose ideas and hard work have made life in Kern County better for us all.
The awards banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, at the Petroleum Club on the 12th floor of the Stockdale Towers, 5060 California Avenue Highway in Bakersfield.