I’d like to take a moment to update the community on some of the work your Chamber of Commerce has been doing. We receive a lot of questions such as “what does the Chamber of Commerce do?” and “what’s the point?”, so hopefully this review will address those questions.
Over the last two years, we have increased our focus on government advocacy because in unincorporated regions such as this, there is little representation for local concerns. Public services are all handled by the county, state, or federal agencies that are largely removed from our day-to-day issues. As a Chamber of Commerce, we can be a conduit for getting more services focused in our area, or at least help make better use of the current services.
To that end, we were very concerned when our county Supervisorial District was redrawn, and the mountain communities became part of District 2 and had a new Supervisor (Zack Scrivner). We didn’t want our region to get lost in the shuffle. There were projects in the works, such as rehabilitation of the Community Building in Frazier Park.
Our Board of Directors was proactive with this redistricting change. Rachel Unell and I went to Bakersfield for a meeting with Supervisor Scrivner and his Chief of Staff John Antonaros. We presented several topics of concern, including but not limited to, the building rehabilitation project, snow traffic, road conditions, and economic development. During that meeting, Supervisor Scrivner offered to meet with organizations in a round table setting, like he does in other parts of District 2.
Because District 2 is so geographically large (ranging from Boron to Taft), scheduling visits can be a challenge simply due to the travel time involved. Balancing that with all the other responsibilities of representing such a large area is tricky. I followed up with Mr. Antonaros for nine months to get us into their schedule and make these Roundtable sessions come to life in our community. The first session was held on September 12, 2019 and was very well attended by several agencies and community organizations.
The agenda of our most recent Roundtable (November 14th) was on emergency services and response teams. Several agencies, organizations, and local groups were invited. Snow traffic was to be addressed, however a few key agencies were not able to attend due to emergency calls and other unforeseen reasons. That morning was the Valencia school shooting. Despite the two agencies being absent the meeting was encouraging nonetheless.
At the close of that Roundtable, we were invited to the interagency meeting held by the CHP that following Monday. That meeting was being held solely and expressly to address the snow traffic issues in the Frazier Mountain area.
I want you to know that the CHP, Kern Sheriff’s Department, Kern County Public Works, Kern County Roads, Ventura Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Forest Service, Nordic Ski Patrol, Chief of Staff John Antonaros (for Supervisor Scrivner), Karin Shulman as the General Manager of PMCPOA ... I'm sure I’m forgetting a few others... and Chamber Board Member Debbie Turner and I all sat in on this meeting to focus on the plans for controlling snow traffic on our mountain. This was really amazing to be a part of; all these entities working together for the benefit of our community. Not only was it a proactive meeting, but a multi-departmental cooperation all working towards one goal; specifically helping our community.
I got a follow-up call from Mr. Antonaros on the Monday following our first snowfall, asking if we survived the snow traffic and if all the systems that were put in place to minimize traffic was helpful. This was such a positive sign that others are now thinking about our community!
As volunteers, we all do what we can. I only wish we had more volunteers and members. With only 4 people on our board, the work to be done can feel truly overwhelming and is a heavy burden. Caring about our community assets is a long-term commitment. It's not about having an event or clean-up day once a year, and then forgetting about it for the other 364 days. It’s a lot of quiet work done behind the scenes that most don’t ever see.
The Chamber is an easy target for criticism, but the board and a few hands-on members volunteer their time almost every day in some kind of way to help businesses, to facilitate connections, and to make your community a better place. In a town that is unincorporated the responsibility to get things done falls on us, and there's too few of "us". If only people would understand that coming together is power, we could get so much more done! You don’t even have to volunteer; just being a member is a tremendous help because those membership dollars are reinvested right back into your community.
To all those who do volunteer their time in community events and to businesses that support causes or donate their resources, I truly thank you!
I care immensely about the community where I live and the people with whom I share it, and one way I show that is by leading your Chamber of Commerce. I hope this update has answered some questions, and I welcome you to contact me with other questions or concerns.
President of your Mountain Communities Chamber of Commerce