Ask a Barstow area resident to name one thing about 2010 that stood out and likely it'll have something to do with water.
When they were told the water wasn't safe to drink due to high levels of perchlorate a chemical found in rocket fuel Barstow residents swarmed grocery stores grabbing every bottle of water they could. For about four days before Thanksgiving, residents could neither drink nor cook with the local tap water.
City employees and representatives with Golden State Water Company distributed water to residents while scientists with the state water board worked to determine the source of the contaminant and how it got into the water supply. The investigation is expected to continue well into 2011.
Hinkley's ongoing struggle with chromium 6 contamination attracted international media attention again this year when water board scientists discovered in August that the toxin had migrated to a lower aquifer. Pacific Gas and Electric in November offered to purchase contaminated properties from Hinkley residents, and Erin Brokovich made an appearance at a community meeting in December that focused on the contamination.
2010 was also a wetter year than normal for the Barstow area. In January residents endured roughly four days of rain. And in the days leading up to Christmas, five days of rainy weather prompted authorities to release water from Cedar Spring Dam in Hesperia, causing the Mojave River to overflow its banks. The river washed out roads and bridges, stranding residents, and flooded homes and fields in the Soap Mine Road area, causing many to evacuate.
By Christmas Eve, however, the floodwaters had receded and residents returned to their homes.
Here is a list of other events and moments in Barstow that made headlines this year:
Harvey House celebrates 100 years
Barstow's Harvey House, a building that hosted Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and other famous people turned 100 years old in 2010. This year the Harvey House opened its doors for parties and weddings as well as businesses.
Mayor Gomez accused of sexual battery
An investigation into allegations that Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez had sexually battered an unidentified woman in the unincorporated Barstow area Dec. 2009 were made public Jan. 25. Gomez declared his innocence Feb. 1 and was officially charged Feb. 22.
Borax lockout leaves locals out of work
About 25 U.S. Borax employees that live in the Barstow area found themselves without a job after they and 560 other employees were locked out Jan. 31 following a labor dispute between the International Longshore Warehouse Union and Rio Tinto, the company that owns the mine. The lockout ended May 17 after 75 percent of the employees agreed on a settlement that included a 2.5 percent annual pay increase.
Henderson, Cameron Elementary Schools honored for test scores
After working to increase their test scores for two years in a row, the state awarded the 2009-10 Title I Academic Achievement Award to Henderson Elementary School and Cameron Elementary School during the first week of February. The award was bestowed on about 4 percent of 6,000 Title I schools statewide. Title I is a label from the federal government which indicates a large population of disadvantaged students.
Sen. Roy Ashburn's DUI arrest and "coming out"
With his term almost at an end, Barstow's representative in the state Senate was arrested for drunken driving in Sacramento March 3. A slew of rumors immediately followed that State Sen. Roy Ashburn who had a history of voting against gay rights issues was seen leaving a gay bar prior to his arrest. It was also reported that an unidentified male passenger was in the car at the time of Ashburn's arrest.
Ashburn came out to his constituents as a gay man on a Bakersfield radio talk show March 8. He pleaded no contest to two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol April 14 and was sentenced to two days in jail and three years probation. He also had to pay a fine and court fees of about $2,000.
BUSD approves cutting 32 teaching positions for 2010-11
Teachers with Barstow Unified School District began receiving layoff notices the second week of March after the school board approved cutting 32 teaching positions in an attempt to slash $2.2 million from its budget. The cut involved eliminating 24 elementary teaching positions, two junior high special education teachers, three high school special education teachers, one secondary art teacher, one secondary computer teacher and one elementary band teacher.
Trial set for Barstow man charged with 2002 slaying
About eight years after being charged, on April 1 Lawrence Rivera was found eligible to stand trial for the 2002 killing of co-worker Kristine Garcia, 26, of Lenwood. After several delays during which Rivera fired his attorneys and requested to represent himself, jury selection for the trial began in December.
Local Vietnam vets honored in homecoming ceremony
About 130 veterans from Barstow and the High Desert who fought in the Vietnam War were welcomed home and honored for their service in the war at Fort Irwin April 7. The local veterans represented 9 million military personnel who served in Vietnam but came home to an ungrateful country, according to Brig. Gen. Robert Abrams.
$12 million lotto ticket sold locally goes unclaimed
After 25 years of selling lottery tickets, Champ and Peggy Sue Gabler finally sold a winning ticket April 26 at their ice cream shop in Barstow Station. The person who bought the ticket, however, never came forward to collect his or her winnings. On Oct. 21, the $12 million was placed in a fund for education and the ticket was declared expired.
Mojave cross stolen
Roughly two weeks after an eight-year-long legal battle culminated in a ruling by the United States Supreme Court that it could stay, a cross erected at the Mojave National Preserve as a war memorial was reported missing May 9.
About three days following the theft of the cross, the Desert Dispatch received a call from an anonymous person who claimed to know who was responsible for the theft. The person said he would return the cross if it would be displayed on private land instead of public land.
In response to the theft the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which erected the original cross in the 1930s, offered a reward of $100,000 for anyone who returned the cross. The cross has yet to be returned.
Gomez pleads not guilty on sex charges
Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery charges on May 21 three months after being charged. After several postponements Gomez is scheduled to return to court in San Bernardino Jan. 21.
CHP officer struck, killed during traffic stop
Officer Justin McGrory from California Highway Patrol's Victorville station was struck and killed by a Las Vegas man while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 15 near Hodge Road June 27. Rafael Garcia, 18, of Las Vegas was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, child endangerment and possession of marijuana following the incident.
California Highway Patrol honored McGrory by adopting the stretch of Interstate 15 between Barstow and Victorville in his honor.
Desert Dispatch turns 100
The Desert Dispatch celebrated 100 years of local news July 8. The paper started as the Barstow Printer in 1910 evolved into the Barstow Review, the Printer-Review and, in 1958, the Desert Dispatch.
Barstow woman pleads no contest to murder cover-up
Joyce Fransson, 24, of Barstow pleaded no contest July 29 to covering up the 2009 murder of Leisa Hurst by Jeami Chiapulis of Silver Lakes. She was sentenced to three years in prison Aug. 6.
Council awards contract for 17 street projects
The Barstow City Council unanimously awarded a contract for 17 street repair projects to Sully-Miller Contracting Aug. 2. The Council approved of the projects after the city hired an engineering firm in 2009 to finish the design process of about 26 projects budgeted for in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Sully-Miller began construction on the street projects in October.
Eight people killed, 12 injured in off-road race
Eight people were killed and 12 injured at the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area Aug. 14 in Lucerne Valley when a modified pickup truck competing in a race barreled into a crowd of spectators. The crash sparked a federal investigation and made hosting other off-highway vehicle events uncertain.
City, hospital dignitaries and the community celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Barstow Community Hospital Sept. 8. The finished hospital will be 80,000 square feet and offer 30 private beds. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
Barstow Junior High's test scores
After its Academic Performance Index score grew by 64 points in the 2009-2010 school year, Barstow Junior High ranked third among county schools that showed the highest growth in test scores on Sept. 13. Six other schools in Barstow Unified School District and three in Silver Valley Unified School District showed improved test scores.
Barstow remembers Irene Camacho following her homicide
Many Barstow residents were shocked when they learned that Irene Camacho, who worked at Stater Bros. and participated in activities at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, was killed Sept. 26. Barstow Police issued a warrant for Camacho's son Desi Allen Woods, 36, Dec. 2, who they believed strangled Camacho to death during an argument Sept. 26.
"She was the nicest woman I ever did know," said Barstow resident Ignacio Robles. "I saw her Saturday at mass . . . it's something you hear about in other towns, you don't think it will happen here."
City Manager Richard Rowe announces retirement
The Barstow City Council began the search for a new city manager Oct. 5 after Richard Rowe announced he planned to retire on Dec. 31. Rowe, who had been a city manager in Needles and Chino, was hired to be interim city manager in 2008. He entered into a three-year contract with Barstow as a permanent city manager December 2008.
Ivanpah solar project breaks ground
Groundbreaking of the 370 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Project began near Primm, Nev. Oct. 27, attracting dignitaries such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ken Salazar, the U.S. secretary of the interior.
Ivanpah received final approval from the California Energy Commission and Bureau of Land Management to build earlier in October. The project sparked concern from the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors who were worried that jobs from the project would benefit people in Las Vegas.
The permitting stage for the project had begun in 2007. It and five others are being listed in a lawsuit by Indian activists claiming they want to protect native sacred sites in the California desert. The lawsuit is against the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of the Interior, Californians for Renewable Energy and five individuals.
Candidates Ben Rosenberg and Ray Perea were elected to the Barstow Unified School District Board of Trustees Nov. 2, replacing former members Barbara Rose and Ernest Vogt. Voters in the Newberry Springs area elected Heather Reid to the Silver Valley Board of Trustees to fill a vacant position.
Barstow voters re-elected Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre and Tim Silva to the Barstow City Council to serve a second term. Hackbarth-McIntyre and Silva beat challenger Carmen Hernandez.
Barstow's representative in the state Assembly, Connie Conway, was elected to a second term while Jean Fuller, who had served as an assemblywoman for district 32, replaced Roy Ashburn for District 18's state Senate seat.
Chromium 6 in Hinkley
Water quality tests that showed the chromium 6 plume in Hinkley had reached deeper aquifers were made public Nov. 9, sparking worldwide media attention.
As a result, Pacific Gas and Electric, which is charged with cleaning up the chromium 6 contamination, announced its plan to step up efforts to purchase property within the plume Nov. 17. Erin Brokovich, the Southern California paralegal who initially exposed the contamination, made an appearance at a community meeting Dec. 1.
On Dec. 20, the results of a tap water study were released which showed that chromium 6 is found in water throughout the U.S. However, naturally occurring levels of chromium 6 is higher in Hinkley than most of the e areas studied.
City takes over fire district
The Local Agency Formation Commission approved the merger of the Barstow Fire Protection District as a subsidiary district of the city of Barstow Nov. 15, dissolving the BPFD's board of directors. LAFCO's approval marked the end of a process that began in March. The fire protection district board of directors and the Barstow City Council approved of the merger in September.
Don't drink the water!
Barstow residents ran out to buy bottled water Nov. 19 after the Golden State Water Company announced that the tap water was unsafe due to high levels of perchlorate a chemical found in rocket fuel. Employees with the City of Barstow and representatives with the water company distributed water at Barstow Community College, but not before residents were told to go to the Cora Harper Fitness Center.
The water company announced that high levels of perchlorate was discovered in three of its wells and began flushing the system Nov. 20 and water restrictions were lifted for the west part of Barstow Nov. 21, the same day Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency.
Barstow residents relying on private wells worked together to make sure they had enough water during the water crisis. On Nov. 22, officials with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board were busy investigating the source of the contamination, a process that could take months, they said. Water restrictions were lifted for all Barstow residents Nov. 23.
Curt Mitchell named as new city manager
The Barstow City Council voted unanimously to appoint Curt Mitchell, a former Barstow Community College administrator, to the post of city manager, replacing former city manager Richard Rowe. Mitchell will start his new job Jan. 4. Rowe, who has been city manager since December 2008, is retiring Dec. 31, 2010.
21 soldiers at Fort Irwin become U.S. Citizens
Twenty-one soldiers, many of whom have already fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, took the oath of citizenship at Fort Irwin Dec. 9. According to Brig. Gen. Robert Abrams it was the first time the citizenship ceremony was held at Fort Irwin. More than 300 soldiers at Fort Irwin have yet to become U.S. citizens, he said. He hopes to hold citizenship ceremonies quarterly.
Stormy weather brings Mojave River to life
After four straight days of rain officials with the state water project released water from Cedar Spring Dam in Hesperia into the Mojave River Dec. 21, causing roads and bridges to be washed out and motorists to be stranded.
In two instances a helicopter from Fort Irwin was dispatched Dec. 23 to pick up motorists in Newberry Springs who got stuck trying to ford the river.
When the rains subsided, residents living on Clay River Road and Marks Road woke up to water coming through a broken levee and into their fields and back yards Dec. 23. Many evacuated with their horses and livestock. The waters began receding and people returned to their homes Dec. 24.