Annex 4 moves into iconic victory market building
After remaining vacant for over two years, Ridgecrest Boulevard’s historic Victory Market building reopened its iconic doors on August 25th as the new headquarters for JT4’s Annex 4 operations. Locals will continue to recognize the property by its familiar T-shaped sign jutting over the entrance, a marker that will continue to read “Victory Market” in honor of the rich history it represents in the Ridgecrest community.
The Victory Market was first built in the early 1940s by one of the founding families of Ridgecrest. Americo Rizzardini, better known as “Mac,” aptly named the store in honor of the end of World War II. As one of the first large grocery stores in the area, the Victory Market quickly became a vital part of the community. When the store tragically caught fire after a few short years, sailors and military officers from the nearby naval base joined the local fire department to battle the flames. In the late 1940s, the store was rebuilt half a block to the west to allow for a larger and more modern facility, and it is that very same facade that stands there today.
The Victory Market remained a family-run operation until it closed in the 1980s. Teresa Jacobs, JT4’s new landlord, is the daughter of Mac Rizzardini. She recalls that her entire family was raised in the store, stating, “We all started our first jobs there and learned every part of the business.” As the Rizzardini children harnessed their family’s legacy of entrepreneurship and moved on to open other businesses in the Ridgecrest community, the Victory Market became a rental property. The building has hosted an eclectic collection of inhabitants including a Western Auto hardware store, an antique mall, the Sierra Furniture Gallery and even a Tae Kwon Do studio, making JT4 the sixth tenant in the noteworthy building.
Like the facility that will be the company’s new home, JT4 has a long and rich history in Ridgecrest, California, supporting the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD). Under J-Tech I, Annex 4 operations predominantly supported the electronic warfare (EW) mission at South Range (formerly known as Echo Range [ECR]). The J-Tech II contract award resulted in the addition of two other ranges. The first, North Range, is the site of our ground operations, which include the Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track (SNORT) effort, target development work and unexploded ordnance (UXO) support. Together, the North and South ranges are referred to as the China Lake Ranges (CLR).
The second range is the Point Mugu Sea Range (PMSR), located approximately 200 miles south of CLR on the California coast. PMSR’s operating areas include instrumented land sites at Point Mugu and offshore locations at San Nicolas Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island and San Miguel Island. The range supports a wide variety of customer requirements in several mission areas. These include air and surface tactical/cruise weapons launched from air, surface, and subsurface launch platforms; manned and unmanned aircraft; air- and surface-borne directed-energy weapons (including laser weapons); combat system ship qualification trials; complex fleet sea and air exercises with multiple weapons firings; and space and ballistic missile launches from Vandenberg AFB and surface/subsurface vessels.
During the J-Tech I contract, Annex 4 Range Management Offices were found at South Range. However, during the transition to J-Tech II, JT4 was required to relocate in town. For the first 18 months, Annex 4 support staff met the challenges of working out of 122 S. Gemstone Street, JT4’s first temporary off-range residence. Despite the borrowed swamp coolers from Annex 1, indoor summer temperatures often felt as if they exceeded outdoor ones. As a result of the paper thin walls, it was not uncommon to see employees engaged in open-air “walking meetings” in order to conduct private conversations. Plumbing woes were an unwelcome complication added to the mix of troubles. Although these less-than-ideal circumstances were meant to be temporary, the July 2019 earthquakes delayed required renovations to Victory Market by an entire year, forcing JT4 to move briefly into yet another office complex on Ridgecrest Blvd.
Annex 4 employees could hardly believe it when moving day finally came. “You know, we had been hearing, ‘three more months’ for the last year and a half,” said Rashell Foster, Lead Finance Analyst. “After so many interim moves and delays, I cannot begin to explain how excited we all are to finally have a permanent home!” Beyond the benefits of a stable, air-conditioned facility, JT4 is thrilled to establish its presence in one of the oldest buildings in Ridgecrest, officially becoming a part of the local history and community.