With plenty of business coming to Hesperia, 2012 was a year of growth and prosperity for the gateway city to the High Desert.

The city closed out the year by cutting the ribbon on the 37,000-square-foot Civic Plaza movie theater in December, with newly appointed Mayor Bill Holland and Thurston "Smitty" Smith on scene.

Councilman Paul Bosacki was ousted when businessman Eric Schmidt and council incumbent Mike Leonard won their seats during the November election, which also saw Ella "Lee" Rogers and Cody Gregg win seats on the Hesperia Unified School Board.

The three-phase Rancho Road project made headlines for the city all year long and will continue to do so in 2013, with a possible groundbreaking of the Ranchero freeway interchange in January.

Once completed, the interchange will allow freeway commuters to proceed to and from Ranchero Road, which will eventually be widened to five lanes and should attract new businesses closer to the freeway.

In April, Hesperia officials cut the ribbon on a new 1-mile train track, which will allow businesses direct access to the BNSF railway. Officials expect the $8.6 million rail line to ultimately create 400 new local jobs.

In September, Councilman Russ Blewett welcomed the new Walmart Supercenter to Main Street with an early morning celebration that was led by the Hesperia High School marching band leading early morning shoppers into the store.

Two months later, Black Friday shoppers overwhelmed the new Walmart, as the store helped Walmart U.S. to set a national record by recording nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items processed per second during the 8 p.m. through midnight window.

In November, Pier 1 Imports opened its newly designed store in the High Desert Gateway shopping center as construction crews worked on a new Chase Bank location in the same area.

A new Blue Ribbon Stater Bros. took over the former Albertsons grocery store in Midtown Square Shopping Center in August, replacing the nearby Stater Bros. shopping center at Main Street and G Avenue.

The store, considered the largest Stater Bros. in the Inland Empire, was the first Stater Bros. to test a full service tortilleria that prepares tortillas and tortilla chips.

Residents in southern Hesperia were excited when work crews punched daylight under the railroad tracks at Ranchero Road in November. The underpass, which should be ready for traffic by early summer, will allow commuters easier access to both sides of the tracks.

After leasing water from Rancho Las Flores for the last 15 years, the city purchased the water rights from Rancho in December for $30 million. Funds to purchase the water rights were borrowed at the same current lease rate. The move secured Hesperia's water future for years to come, according to Blewett.

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.