Jerry Taylor and team to receive KernCOG award

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The Ridgecrest Military Banner Program has been selected for the Community Involvement Award from the Kern Council of Governments. The award will be presented at the KernCOG’s 22nd annual Regional Awards of Merit Program on March 7 in Bakers-field.

Taylor heads a team that has been putting up the banners on light and traffic signal poles around town. Other team members include Nathan Ahle and Heather Spurlock of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, Terry May of Media-com, Mike Chierotti of Factory GraphX and Jan Bennett of the Nexus Foundation. The banners honor those actively serving in the armed forces who have a tie to the Indian Wells Valley area.

“In the beginning, I couldn’t have gotten this project off the ground without Terry May,” said Taylor. “In the summertime, we were out there at 6 a.m. putting these banners up.”

He emphasized that the banners are about thanking active-duty military service personnel. Family members or others who want to honor a particular active member of the armed forces can submit an application through the chamber of commerce. The suggested donation of $150 almost covers the expenses of printing the banner, installing it and maintaining it. Once the service person leaves the military, the banner is retired and given to the family.

“I think we should separately memorialize the fallen soldiers. That’s what Freedom Park is all about,” said Taylor.

“We’ve had some great sponsors, like Southern California Electric, Jewelry To Go, the Veter-ans of Foreign Wars and their Women’s Auxiliary, the Exchange Club, Peggy Breeden of the Swap Sheet and lots of others, as well as private citizens. I really appreciate the support,” said Taylor.

Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so at the chamber office, 128 E. California Ave., 760-375-8331.

“We use the chamber of commerce as our storefront. Nathan and Heather deal with the applications and the customers. Jan Bennett does the books for me through the Nexus Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity. I don’t touch a dime,” said Taylor.

“A big shout-out goes to Terry May from Mediacom. He donates his time, and Mediacom allows him to use their bucket truck to install the banners.

“Sometimes banners fall down or come apart. We have extremely high winds out here. If we can’t fix it, we’ll print another banner and put it up, at no cost to the family. Mike Chierotti does the banners. We’ve improved the banner process, using a better material. Factory GraphX is right here in town, so we can get the banners done quickly,” said Taylor.

“We have literally used every light post from the city limits on Inyokern Road to South Albert-son’s and from China Lake Boulevard to Downs.”

KernCOG’s awards banquet will be held March 7 at 6 p.m. at the Petroleum Club on the 12th floor of the Stockdale Towers, 5060 Stockdale Highway, in Bakersfield. For more information, call 661-861-2191 or e-mail lcollins@ kerncog.org.

Story First Published: 2013-03-06