About 100 upset parents, students, and supporters showed up at a special meeting of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education to let the Board know how they felt about the denial of athletic eligibility to six Twentynine Palms High School football players. Dan Stork was there and reports how the work-study session went…
For the most vocal element in the audience at Joshua Tree Elementary School, the issue was this: Kids were betrayed by adults. Student athletes who had failed an elective course last spring were advised that if they took a different elective during summer school, and passed it, then they could play football. After the boys passed the summer school course, the new principal at Twentynine Palms High School ruled that the advice didn’t match up with written Board of Education policy, and didn’t allow them to play football. A succession of speakers returned to the trust theme: From Nicolette Estrada, the mother of one of the boys affected: “Teach them integrity, honesty, and as you go out into the world in a few short months, that your word is your bond.” From Twentynine Palms High School and summer school teacher Karen Beasley: “The bottom line is, they did what they were told to do.” Board member Ed Will acknowledged that the students had been mis-advised. Board President Chris Proudfoot replied to the demands of Trustee Karalee Hargrove for immediate action, saying that the policy could not legally be revised on the spot, because the special meeting had been publicly noticed as a work-study session. John Cole, a former principal of Twentynine Palms High School and a former Twentynine Palms City Council member and Mayor, advised the Board to fast-track the usual lengthy procedure applied to policy revisions, and implement a probation policy that meets California Interscholastic Federation requirements at its next regular meeting September 17, to take effect then. Cole concluded: “So I say, please, I ask you, take action to get these kids back on the bus, and not under it.” Also lobbying for a probationary program, head football coach Ernest Martinez said, “In America we give kids second chances, and they deserve it.” Despite unhappiness by many in the audience that change isn’t happening soon enough to cover this week’s football game, the Board followed Cole’s advice, and directed staff to come up with a probationary program they could consider at this Tuesday’s meeting.
The Twentynine Palms City Council covered a wide range of topics in its meeting this week. Dan Stork broke his report into three parts. Today: Building codes, the strategic plan Workshop, the tourism group report, and a Catch-22 on National Park Drive…
Building codes: In a pro forma vote needed to preserve local variations in the City’s Building Code, the Council amended the code to reference changes in state rules.
Appeal withdrawn: A public hearing on an appeal to a Planning Commission ruling was cancelled, since the appeal has been withdrawn.
Strategic plan workshop: Council directed staff to facilitate the October 24 Strategic Planning Workshop internally, since an external consultant would cost $9,000 to $15,000.
City Manager report: City Manager Joe Guzzetta reported on multiple issues, including:
- He expects that the community tourism group will move quickly on marketing initiatives, and urged attendance at the October 2 public meeting;
- A work stoppage on National Park Drive improvements due to the discovery of archaeological artifacts leaves a Catch-22 situation. Federal HUD funding requires that there be a 2-month process to study the site. But HUD funds of $247,000 must be used by September 30, and HUD won’t extend the deadline. One option is to relinquish the HUD funding, which could reduce the study process to one week, and allow the project to proceed.
Acting on tips from neighbors, aerial patrols, and other sources, about 20 Sheriff’s deputies raided six marijuana grows in Landers yesterday, arrested 17 people, and seized almost 2,000 mature marijuana plants. Deputies raided a residence in the 1200 block of Goat Mountain Road, where 421 plants were seized and two men were arrested; in the 58600 block of Philippe Lane, with 216 plants seized and where one man was arrested; a loaded .38 revolver and methamphetamine were also found; the 60500 block of Lorraine Road, where 414 mature marijuana plants were seized and two men were arrested; the 400 block of Mallow Road, where 322 plants were seized; and the 61600 block of Neptune, where 10 men were arrested, 174 mature and budding plants were seized, as well as 100 pounds of processed marijuana, and a .22-caliber rifle; and in the 3000 block of Sage Avenue, two men were arrested, 378 plants seized, and two pounds of processed marijuana.
Managing editor Tami Roleff was there for one of the raids and files this report…
At the first three raids on marijuana grows in Landers Wednesday morning, deputies arrested five people. At the fourth raid in the 400 block of Mallow, the caretakers at the marijuana grow in the 400 block of Mallow had most likely been tipped off; Sheriff’s Sergeant Ernie Perez said no one was at the grow when deputies arrived. “We didn’t get any answer and the door was locked so we had to force the entry inside.” The house, which didn’t have any bedrooms, had two tents set up inside. “You have a house, a residence, with rooms. Why would you sleep in a tent? You can clearly see they don’t have furniture; it’s not like a normal house.” Outside, the half-acre back yard was completely fenced in with privacy fencing and plastic sheeting to protect the secret crop from the eyes of nosy neighbors. “They want this to be discrete, clandestine, if you will.” And there, planted in neat rows, were 322 mature marijuana plants, ready for harvesting. After conducting their investigation, the deputies pulled out all the plants and threw them into the back of a trailer, to join plants from the earlier raids at the county incinerator. Then, it was on to the next grow, in the 61600 block of Neptune in Landers, and then on and on and on. “Yeah, this is what I do full-time every day.”
A complete list of those arrested can be found with this story at KCDZFM.com.
Arrested for investigation of cultivation of marijuana were:
1200 Goat Mountain Road
Phou Keomahaxay, 55;
Vanphachay Chanthaachone, 45
58600 Philippe Lane
Manuel De Jesus Martinez, 32
60500 Lorraine Road
Bounma Yommarath, 58
Thavon Phouthavong, 38
400 Mallow Road
Suspects unknown at this time
61600 Neptune Drive:
James Hubbard Sr., 64;
James Hubbard Jr., 32;
Jesus Tapia, 27;
Ronald Rice, 25;
Oscar Fuentes, 32;
Ronald Aguilar, 25;
Daniel Ortuno, 23;
Angel Flores Gomez, 21;
Hector Sanchez Uvalle, 26;
Leobegldo Antonio, 45
3000 Sage Avenue
Sengchanh Nanthavondouangsy, 44
Manikhone Chithavong, 59