Annual luncheon paints optimistic picture of what lies ahead

Things are looking up for Taft.

The reopening of the city's community correctional facility with a new contract and the very real prospects of major developments coming to the Sunset Rails property as well as a new plan from the Greater Taft economic Development Authority give the community a lot to be optimistic about.

But it was talk of a fast-food franchise returning to Taft that got the biggest cheer from the audience.

Geary Coats, the developer for the Sunset rails project, talked of how close construction of a new hotel was, along with a contract from Dollar General and plans for a soon-to-be built recreational vehicle park.

But he drew the most applause when he said said Taco Bell is coming aback to Taft at an undisclosed location.

That's what the crowd wanted to hear.

Coats, Mayor Paul Linder, West Kern Water District General Manager Harry Starkey, Mayor Paul Linder, City Manager Craig Jones and Michael Long, executive director of the greater Taft Economic Development Authority, all spoke at the annual event, hosted by the Taft Kiwanis Club.

There were several references to Taft' s long-awaited, often delayed downtown hotel project for Sixth Street and Main.

Coats had the definitive word.

He said the proposed Best Western Express has corporate approval, an owner who has already build a similar project in Wasco and even has financing.

All that's waiting is the final plan check, Coats said.

“Hopefully, construction will start in a very, very short time,” Coats said.

That's the big project, the one Coats says will get development started in earnest.

Another project that was discussed and delayed is apparently back on track. Dollar General has signed a contract to build near Supply Row and Tenth Street.
Taco Bell left taft in 2013

Now the popular fast food franchise is returning, but Coats didn't say where.

Plans for a new RV Park in the area of Second Street and Supply Rowe, at the southeast corner of the Sunset Rails, should come to the city this summer and the project will hopefully be done by Oildorado 2015.

He also hinted at a new retail business considering Taft, a clothing and shoe store he didn't name.

Linder and Jones started the speeches off, talking about the importance of the reopening of the CCF as a modified CCF.

Linder admitted the city reluctantly entered into talks with the state, but said he's just glad to see the facility open again.

He's also glad to see the council isn't stirring up any controversy, just taking care of business.

“We've been told we're getting boring. We prefer boring We'll take boring any day,” Linder said.