KernCOG honors Morgan for lifetime achievement

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

KernCOG honors Morgan for lifetime achievement“It’s very humbling to be recognized by the other community leaders throughout Kern County,” said Steve Morgan, former city councilman, former mayor and recipient of the Kern Council of Governments’ Ronald E. Brummett Lifetime Achievement Award for an elected official. “Their recognition of my efforts is very special.”

The award was presented during a ceremony held March 7 in Bakersfield. Other KernCOG award recipients from Ridgecrest were Jerry Taylor and the Ridge-crest Military Banner Program team and Desert Empire Fair CEO Mike Leming. Morgan’s award came with a stack of certificates of recognition from county and state officials.

Two special moments occurred for Morgan during the awards ceremony.

“My father was there, so I got to thank him publicly for making me the man I am today,” said Morgan. “He’s 82, and he’s never seen me in the public arena. He lives in Newark, California, and he’s known about my efforts, of course, but he actually got to see it.

“People went up to him and told him that his son was hard-working, dedicated, a little rough around the edges at times, but always honest. For him to hear that from strangers and for me to be there to thank him publicly for making me the man I am today — well, how many people get to do that in their life?

“That night, that was the best part of getting the award.”

The other amazing moment for Morgan was when he was presented with the Ronald E. Brummett Award — by Ronald E. Brummett. As a member of the board of KernCOG, Morgan led the motion last year to name the award after Brummett, who was the executive director of KernCOG for about two decades (and who before that was on the Ridgecrest city staff).

“I suggested we should rename the lifetime achievement award in his honor and then was able to present it to him last year as the first recipient. He was there to hand the award to me this year — that was very special.”

Morgan is no stranger to controversy during his political career. “When I started this in 1994, when I ran for office and lost the election, I remember talking to my father and him telling me that politics was dirty and not worth it. I certainly have had those times when people are attacking you and questioning your integrity, your intelligence, your honesty — it does make you wonder if you’re doing the right thing for yourself.”

He looked down at the stack of awards in his hands. “Once again, this shows that nice guys don’t always finish last.”

Morgan was also awarded the League of California Cities, Desert Mountain Division’s Sixth Annual Larry Chimbole Public Service Award on Dec. 7, 2012.

“I’m the only person from this area who has won both awards and I’m sure there will be others in the future, but for once I can say I was No. 1, and I’m proud of that.

“I never did this for me. These awards given to me are very gratifying, and because they came from different groups who saw me working at trying to acquire funding or working on legislation or working on a collaborative county project —everyone came to the same conclusion, that I made a difference.”

After years of meetings, committees, boards, traveling and talking with local, county, state and federal representatives, Morgan was recently elected to the Inyokern Airport Board, a job he has wanted for some time, and will also be on the Ridgecrest Planning Commission for the next two years.

“I want to continue to move Ridgecrest forward and be a positive influence, but I also want a private life. I’m spending more time with my wife, Dorene, and our daughter, Nichole. I think the fact that my 22-year-old daughter wants to spend time with her old man is amazing.”

He is actively involved with the Lions Club, where he has been a member for 18 years.

Story First Published: 2013-03-27