The story in the May 20 Daily Independent headlined, “Fire Department set to undergo examination after persistent budget struggles” caught my eye.

The story stated the [Kern County] Board of Supervisors is poised to spend $150,000 examining how the Kern County Fire Department operates, a rare move aimed at addressing what’s been a substantial drain on the county’s finances in recent years. “Money — or more specifically a $9.1 million lack of it — is powering the move,” the story stated.

I have what might seem like a radical idea, and I hope Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason reads this and passes this idea along to his fellow supervisors.

What the board should do is go to Radio Shack and purchase scanners, like the one I used when I worked for the paper, for the members.

When the board is not in session, the supervisors can monitor the scanners, and if a call interests them, they can go out and observe the fire department in action.

They might even consider visiting the fire stations within their districts to get a firsthand look and interact with the firefighters. Then maybe, just maybe, the supervisors will have a good idea of how the fire department operates.

The board might also consider riding along with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Not only will this give the supervisors a firsthand look at the KCSO, but it will give them an opportunity to interact with the folks who protect their properties.

Public safety is supposed to be government’s first priority, and it would help those in power to get a firsthand look and to interact with the local first responders.

I saw a story in the same edition headlined, “Council approves 750k for Freedom Park splash pad.”

The story stated the city wants to spend up to $750,000 for a fountain/splash pad, movie screen and seating for Freedom Park. Equipment will be bought and installed using a purchase order and therefore sidestep the construction bidding process, and funds are to come from TAB funds.

I wonder what goes through the city’s collective minds. The Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation is moving forward with plans to build an aquatics center.

The corporation hired a grant writer, retired Sierra Sands Unified School District Special Projects Coordinator Laura Hickle, to help find funding for the project. It seems that $750,000 might be better spent toward the aquatics center, which could then include a splash pad.

I read Jessica Weston’s story in the May 25 paper about IWV EDC Executive Director Scott O’Neil’s presentation to the Ridgecrest Exchange Club, which included an update on the aquatics center. After reading the story, it seems the project is moving right along.

The story stated an IWVEDC committee is working with Kern County to secure a lease for 14.4 acres north of the Maturango Museum, with approximately 450 feet fronting on North China Lake Boulevard, and the idea has received positive support from Kern County.

Given all that, it would make good sense for the city to throw in with this project, but the city being the city, I doubt that will happen. Let’s see what happens.

— John V. Ciani is a retired Daily Independent education/water/public safety reporter. He currently resides in Florida.

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The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.