Ourweekly top cover stories of 2013
OW Staff Writer | 1/3/2014, midnight
“The sites where solar is being built are all different, the dust issues are different and the solutions are different,” said Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner. “But the dust caused by the severe wind event we had over the Memorial Day weekend was not because of the solar. This is the desert. When you have 70-mph winds, you are going to have dust.” And not just dust. Earlier this week, a violent hail storm swept through Lancaster along Highway 14. With golf-ball-sized hail pelting solar installations, there is the possibility of regular damage to these multimillion-dollar installations which local officials tout as the energy source of the future.
The health concern about Valley Fever was further explained by recent figures released by the Centers for Disease Control which show an increased incidence of the potentially lethal, desert-specific, fungal respiratory disease in the Central Valley, just north of the Antelope Valley. Despite these concerns, it would appear solar power in the Antelope Valley will play a vital role in region’s economic future.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris set three years ago a “net zero” power goal for his city: that is, to harness energy from the sun and become 100 percent power-independent. So far Lancaster is halfway there, producing the most solar power per resident in the state. All future home construction in Lancaster will include solar panels, as will the new businesses being built locally (i.e., Kaiser Permanente’s expansion in Lancaster, as well as the new City of Hope facility).
‘Cactus Curtain’: the thorns of pride
Fighting has gotten very personal
By Merdies Hayes
While Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill remain fiercely divided regarding the nation’s fiscal and social path, Palmdale and Lancaster continue to wallow in their own political “sandbox.” Instead of “reaching across the aisle” for camaraderie, solutions and goodwill, the respective city halls are firmly entrenched on each side of the so-called “Cactus Curtain.”
It’s an old term, probably dating back to 1962, when Palmdale broke away from Lancaster to become the first city in the Antelope Valley to incorporate. Until then, both communities appeared to share responsibility for developing the desert landscape into a livable, workable and profitable alternative to the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, as well as making the region the world leader in aeronautics innovation and production with Edwards Air Force Base at the center. The biggest battles encountered then amounted to little more than the annual high school football rivalry.
Fifty years later, a dividing line has emerged at Avenue M, the thoroughfare that effectively divides mayors R. Rex Parris of Lancaster and his counterpart, Jim Ledford, in Palmdale. And like a determined “goal line stand,” each side is not budging-whether the subject be retail or auto malls, solar plants, federal lawsuits, election strategy, the use of parklands and even fireworks sales. Parris is nearing the middle of his third term as mayor of Lancaster (the city was incorporated in 1977); Ledford is serving his 11th term as mayor of Palmdale.