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                                                                         YO U R R I D G E C R E S T A R E A N E W S S O U R C E S I N C E 1 9 2 6

sunny and
hot today,
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Some residents
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ‘alarmed’ by
93 degrees.
  Page A12

   Glad base
is looking
out for our
                                                                                                                                                                                                    plan to boost
best inter-

     Page A4                                                                                                                                                                                          On Aug. 13 the Water District Board of Directors
                                                                                                                                                                                                   are scheduled to vote on this plan. In order to help in-
                                                                                                                                                                                                   form the public, The Daily Independent will be speak-
                                                                                                                                                                                                   ing to a number of experts, reviewing several hydrolo-
  News                                                                                                                                          DAILY INDEPENDENT PHOTO BY JESSICA SHILLINGS       gy studies and will conduct numerous interviews with
   New poll                   The setting sun cast a distinctive red glow over Ridgecrest Sunday. This anomaly was caused by the presence of                                                       a variety of water agencies.
available on-                 smoke in the air, which scattered the rays of light emitting from the sun.                                                                                              This is the first in a week-long series on water is-
                                                                                                                                                                                                   sues and the District’s proposed pumping project. Al-
line at                                                                                                                                                                                            so see today’s comments on the topic by the Water

                              Smoke in IWV, but no fire
www.ridge-                                                                                                                                                                                         District manager and hydrologist consultant on page                                                                                                                                                                                       A3.

          See                                                                                                                                                                                                    BY LAURA DOBBINS
      Page A5                                                                                                                                                                                                      Executive Editor
                                        BY NATHANIEL LIEDL                                   est, “is at least 25 miles from the south-                The fire, which was human caused,
                                            Staff Reporter                                   west corner of Kern County and the like-             began on July 4, according to InciWeb,
  Sports                                                                                     lihood of the fire reaching the county is
                                                                                                                       an interagency wildland fire incident in-           That’s how some describe the local water
                                                                                             remote,” said KCFD Public Information                formation management system. The fire            agency’s plan to boost their water pumping ca-
                               Though the 67,000 acre Zaca Fire in                           Officer Tony Diffenbaugh.                                                                             pacities.
                                                                                                                                                  is currently 68 percent contained but full
                            Santa Barbara County has been very visi-                            “Should the fire eventually become a                                                                  Currently all water supply is from groundwa-
                            ble to Kern County residents for the past                        threat to Kern County, it would take sev-            containment is not expected until early
                                                                                                                                                  September.                                       ter — used by about 850 wells. Of that number,
                            few days, it is not a threat to the County,                      eral days and local residents would re-                                                               34 wells are owned by five major water produc-
                            according to the Kern County Fire De-                            ceive ample warning of any threat.”                    The lack of access and rugged terrain
                            partment.                                                           Eight firefighters from KCFD are cur-             have made fighting the fire difficult, ac-
                               The fire, in Los Padres National For-                         rently assigned to the Zaca fire.                    cording to InciWeb.                                                                      WATER / A3
                            Base badge                                                                     ‘He was
   See all the
latest com-                 change again                                                                  like a big
events.                       Badge requirements to access the Naval Air
                           Weapons Station are tightening once again in
          See              response to ongoing threat assessments.
                              Effective immediately, if one person in a
      Page A6              vehicle has a DOD common access card or                                                    BY RUTH JUSTIS
                           military ID, then others in the car entering the                                             Staff Reporter
                           Station don’t have to have a badge.                                          
                              Employee badges (blue and brown) and
                           Control Area Access Badges, such as vendor                                     Ridgecrest lost a very special young
                           and community badges (including civil service                               man when Eric Blackwell was killed as
   News                                                                                                the result of an explosion at Mojave Air-
  What was                                                                    BADGE / A5               port on Thursday, July 26.
that siren?                                                                                               Eric was employed in the SpaceShipT-
See the latest                                                                                         wo program at Burt Rutan’s Scaled Com-                                                                                    CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
police log.

                              In appreciation                                                          posites Company.
                                                                                                          Always a meticulous and cautious per-
                                                                                                       son, Eric was selected to work on the
                                                                                                                                                          Eric Blackwell at work at Mojave Airport.
                                                                                                                                                             Eric attended classes at Pierce Ele-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           “He worked as a mechanic for awhile,
                                                                                                                                                                                                        and then got his degree as an A&P air-
                                                                                                       rocket ship project at Scaled Composites
      Page A2
                              of our teachers                                                          because of his skills and careful attention
                                                                                                       to details. Investigators have yet to deter-
                                                                                                       mine the cause of the tragedy.
                                                                                                                                                          mentary and Murray Jr. High School. He
                                                                                                                                                          graduated from Burroughs High School
                                                                                                                                                          in 1987, and joined the U.S. Army in Au-
                                                                                                                                                                                                        craft mechanic from the University of
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alaska at Anchorage. He was in Alaska
                                                                                                                                                                                                        about 12 years, and worked on a lot of
                                              BY JOHN V. CIANI                                            While authorities struggle with what            gust that same year. He served with the       different types of aircraft,” Pam said.
 Index                                          Staff Reporter                                         happened, family and friends grieve and            Army until February 1989.                        What brought Eric back to the desert
                                                                      remember the special person he was.                   He played soccer in 6th grade and          was the love of a certain young lady
Editorial A4                                                                                              Pam Blackwell met Eric when he was              football in high school. He was active in     named Kim. The two first met in 6th
Classified                     Second-grade teachers Pete and Kathleen                                 8 years old and became his step-mother             martial arts from Junior High through his     grade. During high school years, they
                            Konopak said they spent approximately                                      when he was 11. The family moved to                Army years. He also loved snow skiing,        dated a bit, worked together at McDon-
                            $1,000 each out of their pockets during the                                Ridgecrest in 1980, where Eric’s father,           fly fishing, camping, and riding his Tri-     alds, and attended the prom as a couple.
Lottery   A2                2006-07 school year on supplies for their                                                                                     umph motorcycle — anything outdoors,          After graduation, he went off to the
                                                                                                       Dean Blackwell, worked for Southern
Movies    A2                classrooms.                                                                California Edison.                                 even just sitting and looking at the stars,   Army and she to college in Minnesota
                               Third-grade teacher Sue Marvin also spent                                  “Eric became one of my own. He was              Pam said.                                     and they drifted apart. About three years
                            about $1,000. In addition the Las Flores Ele-                              a very sensitive and gentle person, al-               After he was honorably discharged          ago, Eric and Kim got back together and
A2                          mentary School Parent-Teacher Organization                                                                                    from the Army, Eric headed to Alaska,         magic happened.
                                                                                                       ways caring for others. He was like a big
Sports                      gave each teacher at the school $200 for sup-                              brother to his friends, always helping and         where he stayed with an aunt, to find em-
A14                         plies.                                                                     guiding them to do what was right,” Pam            ployment.                                                              BLACKWELL / A5
Nation and                                                                  STAPLES / A5
World     A3

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2007                                                                                         NEWS                                                                                                                           PAGE A5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         donation of $3 for every eli-

   New online
  poll available
    A new online poll is
                                           Family Fun Day held                                                                                                                Continued from A1
                                                                                                                                                                                 In recognition of these sac-
                                                                                                                                                                              rifices, Staples the world’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         gible ink or laser toner car-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         tridge collected.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Tighter budgets mean
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         teachers are spending more of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         their own money to keep
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         their classrooms stocked,”
  now available at The                                                                                                                                                        largest office-products com-               said Staples Executive Vice
                                                                                                                                                                              pany, is hosting a Teacher                 President of Marketing Shira
  Daily Independent’s                                                                                                                                                         Appreciation Day Saturday,                 Goodman. “In an effort to
  Web site. Cast your                                                                                                                                                         Aug. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1                  make starting the new school
  ballot now – the poll                                                                                                                                                       p.m. at locations across the               year easy for teachers, Sta-
  will only be available                                                                                                                                                      country. Public-, private- and             ples stores are kicking off the
                                                                                                                                                                              home-school teachers are in-               back-to-school season with a
  for the next seven                                                                                                                                                          vited to participate.                      Teacher Appreciation Day
  days.                                                                                                                                                                          The local event will be                 and giving educators tools to
    Question: Will you                                                                                                                                                        held at the Ridgecrest Staples             keep them organized. Staples
                                                                                                                                                                              store at 923 S. China Lake                 is pleased to dedicate a day
  be or are you excited                                                                                                                                                       Blvd.                                      solely for educators, and it’s
  to see Barry Bonds                                                                                                                                                             Each year, teachers spend               our way of letting them know
  break baseball’s home                                                                                                                                                       an average of $475 of their                how much they are valued.”
  run record?                                                                                                                                                                 own money on classroom                        Staples Teacher Rewards
                                                                                                                                                                              materials and supplies, ac-                is another way to help teach-
    Yes                                                                                                                                                                       cording to a report, Teacher               ers who spend their own
    No                                                                                                                                                                        Buying Behavior 2006-07,                   money on school supplies.
    Make your voice                                                                                                                                                           from Quality Education Data,               By enrolling, teachers can
  heard. Visit The Daily                                                                                                                                                      Inc.                                       earn up to 5 percent back in
                                                                                                                                                                                 The first 200 teachers will             rewards when they spend
  Independent online at                                                                                                                                                       receive a Staples polybinder               $200 or more in a calendar                                                                                                                                                         that will include a legal pad,             quarter. During back-to-
  m to cast your ballot.                                                                                                                                                      paper clips, highlighters and              school’s Teacher Bonus Sea-
                                                                                                                                                                              index flags, among other                   son, July 15 – Sept. 15, every
  The final poll results                                                                                                                                                      back-to-school accessories                 $1 Staples Teacher Rewards
  will be shown in next                                                                                                                                                       and discount coupons.                      members spend will count as
  Tuesday’s paper.                                                                                                                                                               Teachers will also have the             $2 toward earning rewards.
    Last week’s Ques-                                                                                                                                                         opportunity to preview new                 Staples Teacher Rewards
                                                                                                                                                                              products, learn more about                 members also get 20 percent
  tion: Is Ridgecrest a                                                                                                                                                       the Staples Copy and Print                 back in Copy and Print Cen-
  safe place to live?                                                                                                                                                         Center and enroll their school             ter purchases – up to $200
                                                                                                                     DAILY INDEPENDENT PHOTO BY BRYAN HERBERT                 in Recycle for Education, a
    Yes 234 votes, No                                                                                                                                                                                                    per quarter. Teachers may en-
  65 votes                                 Kids throw softballs in an effort to dunk their friends at First Baptist Church’s Family Fun                                       program that has raised more               roll at any Staples store or
                                           Day, held Saturday morning in Ridgecrest.                                                                                          than $2 million for schools                online at www.staplesre-
                                                                                                                                                                              nationwide through a Staples     

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Shop Ridgecrest
                                              If nobody in the vehicle has        normal working hours to pick                a.m. to 3 p.m.
                                           a common access card or mili-          up a day pass. Day passes will                 As always, everyone needs                                         Merchants First
                                           tary ID, then everyone over the        be given out by the gate guards             proper area access to enter into
Continued from A1                          age of 16 will need to show the        only when the Visitor Center is             any of the secured areas on

retiree badges), will not be ac-           proper identification when en-         closed. The Visitor Center is               base.
cepted as the sole source of               tering the Station. People who         open Monday through Thurs-                     Questions can be addressed
identification for a vehicle with          do not have a badge must stop          day from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and               to the Public Affairs Office at
more than one person.                      by the Visitor Center during           on non-flex Fridays from 6                  (760) 939-1683.                                      Equine Services, Products,
                                                                                                                                                                                     Classifieds and more
                                           him. We never left the house in        Thursday morning how I                      Composites the same day Eric

Blackwell                                  the morning without a huge,
                                           warm hug to each other and a
                                           kiss goodbye. I left little notes
                                                                                  thought Eric was going to die
                                                                                  — I would have said motorcy-
                                                                                  cle accident, eaten by a bear, or
                                                                                                                              did in 2005, and was basically
                                                                                                                              his partner for the next year or
Continued from A1                          for him in his lunchbox and he         old age. To think he would die                 “Eric was the hardest worker
   “Kim was the love of his                left sweet messages on our             at work? Never. He was too                  I’ve ever seen. He was a very
life,” Pam said. “He moved                 bathroom mirror and put cards          careful for that. I just keep
back to the desert to be with              under my pillow. After work,                                                       honest person, a loyal friend
                                                                                  coming back to one word to de-
her.”                                      we would walk together or just         scribe this — surreal. Words                and willing to go out of his way
   With the assistance of                  sit on our porch swing, to             really can't explain it. We all             for anyone. The company often
friends, who owned the Rands-              watch the world go by, hand in         miss him,” Kim said.                        sent new employees to Eric and
burg General Store at the time,            hand.                                     With his background as an                me to help them learn the
Eric set up a very unique mar-                “When I hear people say he          A&P mechanic, the job at                    ropes. Eric was always eager to
riage proposal.                            died doing what he loved, I            Scaled Composites was a natur-              teach someone new,” Josh said.
   “Mike and Jan Hillenbrand               cringe. It's an acid jolt to my        al for Eric.                                   But, his life at work was not
owned the store and were good              system. He did indeed enjoy               “Eric was picked to work on              what made Eric who he was.
friends of Kim’s — she used to             working on rocket systems and          the rocket ship because of his                 “The most important thing is
come help in the store when we             enjoyed his co-workers, but it         aircraft skills and his meticu-             his life was his wife and family
were really busy,” said Theresa            wasn't his true passion or love.       lous nature. The fabrication
                                                                                                                              — they meant everything to
Worthing, employee at the                  He would have much preferred           jobs he did for Scaled — mak-
General Store. “They helped                to die old near me, his family,        ing the foam forms, bonding                 him. He loved spending time
Eric string up a big banner over           and his close friends.                 and tooling — he called arts                with Kim and taking their trips
the street with “Kim, will you                “Eric was always doing what         and crafts. The rocket propul-              to Mammoth. He was an avid
marry me?” on it. It was really            he was supposed to do. He nev-         sion project was a challenge for            skier and mountain biker and
sweet.”                                    er even had a speeding ticket          him and one of the other men                enjoyed being outdoors,” Josh
   That was Valentine’s Day                and he earned a good conduct           was encouraging him to go                   said.
2006. Two weeks later, the                 medal in the Army. He was so           back to school and get an engi-
couple pledged their vows to
each other in a small wedding
                                           conscientious about everything
                                           he did. His death is a huge loss
                                                                                  neering degree,” Kim said.
                                                                                      Pam agreed. “Eric was al-
                                                                                                                                                               Visit Our New Website at
ceremony at the Valley of Fire
near Las Vegas. The family
celebration came later.
                                           to the community — he was
                                           working hard to keep people
                                           safe. If you had asked me
                                                                                  ways ready to tackle new chal-
                                                                                  lenges and he did it well.”
                                                                                     Josh Bates hired on at Scaled
   Kim has her own cherished
memories of the unique man,
                                                                                                                                                           Home of the.....
who was her husband for such
a short time.
   “Eric showed me more love                                                                Salon & Spa
in the few years we had togeth-
er than most people receive in a
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                                                                                                                                  723 N. China Lake Blvd. • 760-375-4471 / Open 8am-7pm - Mon to Fri/ Open 8:30am-6pm - Sat
                                                        250 BALSAM, RIDGECREST • 375-7107                 Lindsays

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