Hesperia City Manager Mike Podegracz sat down with our reporter Beau Yarbrough to discuss the health of the city and where it's headed in 2010. The bottom line: Like other cities, Hesperia is tightening its belt, but the future continues to look bright.


Refreshingly frank, Podegracz openly shared his thoughts including several revelations, at least to the general public. For instance, the city will someday widen Main Street to six lanes from the freeway all the way down to 11th Avenue.


Podegracz, who formerly served as the City Engineer, said projects expected to break ground include a rail spur in the city's industrial section, a new fire station on 11th Avenue south of Main Street, renovations for the city's "township area" near City Hall, and the updating of Hesperia's general plan.


The City Manager also answered questions about the Ranchero Road Underpass project, which has yet to break dirt.


"In 2010, we will break ground on the Ranchero Road Underpass," Podegracz said. "I won't give you a date, but we will break ground."


Others have predicted the same; hopefully Podegracz's prediction will hold true this time.


Previously the city had a tough time securing government funding to start the project. But slowing the project this time are time-consuming negotiations with a handful of area landowners who must agree to let the city proceed. Once rights of way are purchased, which could take another year or so, the Ranchero Road Underpass project will likely begin.


Podegracz also noted that several businesses are staking their claim in Hesperia: Ross, Marshall's, Golden Corral and Sizzler, the later is expected to reopen this week.


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 We just got word that former Star intern Nichole Larson received a full, four-year scholarship to the Mississippi University for Women. Our newspaper has been blessed to have several outstanding high school interns, and Nichole, who came to us from Hesperia High School, was one of the standouts.


"Thank you for all your help and encouragement and the amazing opportunity you and Peter gave me," Nichole wrote to reporter Beau Yarbrough. "I am forever grateful."


Good luck, Nichole, and keep us posted on future exciting happenings in your life.