YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL PART 1: DIVISION ON MORE HIGHWAY MEDIANS, GUTTERS AND SIDEWALKS

Last night, the Yucca Valley Town Council narrowly accepted the sole bid for a construction project on Highway 62 on the west end of Town. The $2.8 million dollar project, which will add raised medians, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks from Mohawk Trail to Palm Avenue, and a traffic light at Church Street, is slated to start in February and will last at least four months. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at last night’s 4-hour marathon meeting. Today in part one of a two-part report, she explains why the vote was so close. Tomorrow, spay and neuter vouchers…
In a 3-2 vote, the Yucca Valley Town Council accepted the sole bid for the second highway median project on the west end of town. Seven business owners told the Council the medians would hurt their business, including Chet Smelser of Chet’s Appliance. “This is going to cost me my business, and I have 12 people working for me. I’m going to move my business to Joshua Tree.” Many spoke out about the dangers of having commercial trucks drive on alternate routes through residential streets to get to the businesses, and about the Town’s poor notification in notifying business owners about the project. Council member Bob Leone agreed with the business owners. “The business people are constituents of this town. The people of this Town own the town, we don’t own the Town. There isn’t a person out there that I’ve spoken to that isn’t against the medians.” Mayor Merl Abel thought the Town should scrap the raised medians and only go forward with the sidewalks and traffic light. “We got a lot of it right; we got part of it wrong. I would love to reject this one and come up with a project and say we’re just not going to do center dividers at this particular time.” Council member Dawn Rowe argued that previous councils made a commitment to the Town that the current council needed to honor. “This is an inevitable project that will come forward sometime in the future; we will be required to do this. I’m not willing to throw away a million dollars that we have put aside and then add more money to do this later.” Voting to accept the bid were Dawn Rowe, George Huntington, and Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lombardo. The revised median project will include a left-hand turn pocket for northbound Palm Avenue only. As part of the approval council members also asked staff to prepare a rough construction cost of paving the alley between Palm and Grand Avenues, and Pima Trail east of Church Street to Palm Avenue.

LANDERS WOMAN ROBBED AT GUNPOINT IN HER HOME TUESDAY

A Landers woman said she was robbed at gunpoint in her home. According to Sheriff reports, the woman who lives in the 200 block of South Cambria Avenue called police about 5:50 to report that two men entered her home and confronted her with a gun. She told police the men stole her purse which had an undisclosed amount of cash in it. Sheriff deputies are investigating.

BICYCLIST HIT BY TRUCK TUESDAY MORNING IN YUCCA VALLEY

A Yucca Valley man was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle yesterday. About 9:30 a.m., Steven Garnett, 20, was riding his bike near the intersection of Barberry Avenue and Golden Bee Drive when he was hit by a driver in a 2005 Dodge pick-up truck. Garnett complained of leg pain and was taken to Desert Hospital as a precautionary measure.

MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PART 1: AB 1266, ACCOMMODATIONS FOR TRANSGENDER STUDENTS

AB1266, nursing resources, and mileage allowances were the major topics at the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting. Dan Stork reviews the presentations, pleas, and perturbations in two parts. Today, AB 1266…
Assistant Superintendent Doug Weller and John Dietrich, who advises the school district as legal counsel, gave a presentation on AB 1266, and fielded subsequent questions from the Board and the public. The points emphasized by Weller and Dietrich were:
• AB 1266 was intended to clarify an existing section of the California Educational Code, changing just 6 words.
• Nondiscrimination rules to protect transgender students have been a part of state and federal laws for many years, and failure to comply with them could be costly to school districts.
• Current practice in districts such as San Francisco and Los Angeles that have dealt with this issue of facility use for several years use emphasize that “nonconforming gender identification” should be “firmly held,” genuine, and documented.
• Day-by-day changes in gender identification, driven by whim or mischievous intent, just don’t happen, in practice.
• MUSD has formed a committee of teachers, administrators, and the District psychologist to discuss contingencies, and is open to community and staff input.
Questions and comments from the public focused on the lack of specific implementation procedures or decision criteria in the law, for transgender use of restroom and locker room facilities, and the unease that bad things could happen as a result. Dietrich acknowledged that there might be test cases in the future that will test the boundaries of the law from both sides of the issue. But he said that cases should be dealt with as they arise, on an individual basis. When asked specifically, what if there is an incident testing the law when the changed clause comes into effect after the first of the year, Weller said the school administration should be informed immediately.

EDISON WARNS ABOUT A TELEPHONE SCAM

Southern California Edison is warning residents and businesses that it has received a number of reports about a telephone scam. Imposters claiming to be from SoCal Edison are calling businesses and telling them their electric bills are overdue. The caller then demands immediate payment through a prepaid cash or debit card to avoid having the business’s electricity disconnected. The scammers then collect the value deposited on the card. A SoCal Edison spokesman said SCE employees will never ask for payment over the phone or at a customer’s business or residence. If the caller asks the resident or business owner to leave a location at a certain time for utility work, call the police, as it could be a burglary attempt set up by the caller. Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, department, and business phone number, and then they should call SCE at 800-655-4555 to report the incident. For more ways customers can stay safe, see the safety tips at www.sce.com .

MORONGO VALLEY CSD BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

The Morongo Valley CSD Board meets in regular session tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz checks the agenda…
At tonight’s regular 7 p.m. meeting of the Morongo Valley Community Services District the board is expected to establish a policy for cost recovery for emergency services provided where the responsible party should be held accountable for their actions. Also tonight, directors will establish a committee to consider nominations for the Chuck Osborne Volunteer of the Year Award. Those actions and others follow regular reports and items on the consent agenda. Tonight’s meeting wraps up following a closed session with legal council on a matter of potential litigation. It all happens in the Covington Park Multi-Purpose Room. As always, the public is invited to attend.

YUCCA VALLEY POLICE FOCUSING ON SPEEDING

This week, traffic enforcement officers in Yucca Valley will focus on speeding and other violations on Highway 62 between Inca Trail and Mohawk Trail. The Sheriff’s Department reminds motorists the speed limit in the construction zone on the west end of Yucca Valley is 35 miles per hour and construction is estimated to last for five months.

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT MEETS ON WATER AND FIRE BUSINESS TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms Water District board will have brief meetings tonight on both water and fire business. Reporter Taylor Thacker has a closer look…
There is a brief Water District meeting tonight, Wednesday, November 20, at 6:00 p.m. The Directors will approve the commending of Philip C. Cisneros for 20 years of distinguished service as a Director of the Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors. Immediately following this, the Fire Department will have their usual meeting. This meeting will also be brief due to the fact that there are no new business agenda items. However, the Directors will do the usual review of the consent calendar and hear the department reports. Both meetings will take place at 72401 Hatch Rd in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.

HI-DESERT WATER BOARD GETS STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE TONIGHT

The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff checks the agenda…
Among the items on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors, the directors will be given a review of the district’s quarterly budget report, get an update on replacing water mains during construction of the waste water reclamation project, an update on the strategic plan, and will watch a presentation on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the District’s offices at Inca and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT CONSIDERS STATEWIDE WATER ACTION PLAN TONIGHT

The Joshua Basin Water District the board will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. tonight. Among the items to be considered is a resolution in support of a statewide water action plan by the Association of California Water Agencies. The plan outlines 15 actions to improve water supply reliability, protect water rights and the integrity of the state’s water system, and promote better stewardship. Also tonight, the board will consider a tank art mural with an educational message.

BIGHORN-DESERT VIEW WATER AGENCY BOARD HEARS COUNTY WATER CUSTOMER WOES LAST NIGHT

The Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency Board heard from local ratepayers … but not theirs. Assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz explains what county water customers were doing at last night’s meeting of Landers local water provider…
“They railroaded us.” “They’re vultures.” “Inept.” “County water has been a big headache.” Such was the testimony of Landers residents at last night’s meeting of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency Board. The group, all from the eastern half of Landers is petitioning the Agency to take over their water service from County Special Districts. Following that testimony, the board directed staff to investigate what it will take to provide water service Landers residents who are buckling under the County’s new rate structure. Among other items, the Board received the 2012/2013 Financial Audit which showed the Agency has three-quarters of a million dollars in cash and investments, with revenues exceeding expenses by $294,000. The Mayer Hoffman McCann auditor complemented management and staff for the condition of the records and financial statements.

JTAG CALLS FOR ARTISTS FOR DECEMBER SHOW

The Joshua Tree Art Gallery, JTAG, is putting out a call for art for its December show. The themed show is titled PLACE. Artwork may describe geography–whether of an actual place or of the artist’s self, a place in history, or where the artist is now or is going in the future.  A cash award will be given for Best in Show. The deadline for submission to the show is November 30. An application can be found on the gallery’s website, joshuatreeartgallery.com. An opening reception will be held Saturday, December 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. The show will run through January 3.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK OFFERS PREMIERE STARGAZING EVENT THIS SATURDAY

Joshua Tree National Park is renowned for its dark night skies, making it an ideal place for astronomy and stargazing. Dan Stork says that there will be an exceptional opportunity for learning and viewing this weekend…
Joshua Tree National Park, in partnership with Celestron Telescopes, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), American Park Network, and the Joshua Tree National Park Association, will host an astronomy event on Saturday, November 23. This event will take place in the Oasis Visitor Center parking lot in Twentynine Palms. The day’s events will begin with information tables with equipment for visitors to view and use from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. In the evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., telescope viewing will take place in the Oasis Visitor Center parking area. This event is free and open to the public. Entry to the park is not included with this event. In addition to helping visitors understand and appreciate the night sky, Celestron professionals will also help demystify the technology behind the telescopes, and coach participants on their use. Participants will learn about a variety of stargazing tools.