MILITARY DRUG TESTS GET TOUGHER ON “SPICE” USE

The military is getting tougher on testing for the use of “spice.” The Defense Department has changed its urinalysis tests to include the synthetic marijuana substance known as spice on its list of drugs to screen for. The move comes after an internal Pentagon study that found that about 2.5 percent, or about 35,000 service members, were probably smoking the widely available drug. Starting today, spice will be included with the traditional list of prohibited drugs, such as real marijuana, cocaine and others, said a Pentagon spokesman. Any service members who test positive for spice will be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and would likely face a form of non-judicial punishment and possible separation. For years, spice and similar products such as “K-2” were sold quietly, and openly, in some smoke shops and convenience stores. Spice is made by spraying or soaking common herbs in a synthetic chemical, that when smoked, induces a high similar to naturally grown marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency has recently banned the chemical compounds commonly used to make popular varieties of spice. Service members are subject to routine and random drug tests, and the frequency varies depending on operational tempo and commanders’ discretion.

CHP RELEASES DETAILS ABOUT MILITARY-CIVILIAN CRASH LAST WEEK IN JOSHUA TREE

The California Highway Patrol has released details about the collision last week between a civilian pick-up truck and a military light armored vehicle. According to a CHP press release, Anthony Hall, 50, of Twentynine Palms was driving a red GMC Sierra eastbound on Highway 62 just east of Bonair Road. The press release states Hall took his eyes off the road to look at something in his vehicle, and when he looked up at the road again, he saw a military convoy ahead of him, also traveling eastbound on the highway. Hall struck the rear of a light armored vehicle (LAV), spinning it in a clockwise direction. Anthony Hall suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.

JOSHUA TREE MAN ARRESTED FOR FELONY SPOUSAL ABUSE

A Joshua Tree man was arrested Sunday night, accused of beating up his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff’s report, about 10 p.m., Douglas Shisler, 46, of the 6100 block of East Parkway Boulevard, suddenly hit his girlfriend in the mouth with a closed fist, causing her mouth to bleed. The report states she hit him back in self-defense. After an investigation, Douglas Shisler was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked into Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $50,000.

MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

On the agenda of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting tonight are more individual school plans, a musical performance, financial reports, and policy presentations. Dan Stork has details…
The December 17 meeting of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education begins with a closed session at 5:30 p.m. on discipline and bargaining issues. That will be followed by the annual reorganization of the Board and a work/study session on the Single Plans for Student Achievement from Twentynine Palms, Palm Vista, and Onaga Elementary Schools, and La Contenta Middle School. The regular open session at 7 p.m. will adopt those four plans. The regular session will also feature a performance by the Twentynine Palms Junior High School Choir; presentation of the District’s annual financial report; certification of the first interim budget report; presentation of policies on damaged or lost instructional materials and selection and evaluation of instructional materials; and adoption of a bylaw exhibit on vision and mission. The Board meets at Joshua Tree Elementary School.

BLOOD DRIVE TOMORROW AT HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER

Desert Blood Services will conduct a community blood drive Wednesday, December 18, in the Helen Gray Education Center at the Hi-Desert Medical Center, in Joshua Tree from 10 to 2. Blood donors will receive incentives. In addition, Desert Blood Services now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 877-827-4376.

RIBBON CUT ON NEW YUCCA VALLEY ANIMAL SHELTER YESTERDAY

The Town of Yucca Valley held a ribbon cutting yesterday for its new animal shelter. The new shelter consists of three buildings and several exercise yards for the dogs. It has 59 dog runs and 36 cat cages, plus a separate room with cages for feral cats, and a room for other small animals and exotic pets.

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Present at the ribbon cutting for the new Yucca Valley Animal Shelter on Monday, December 16, were Brian Cronin, Chief of San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control; Donna Munoz, field representative for Third District County Supervisor James Ramos; Yucca Valley Council Member Dawn Rowe; Mayor Robert Lombardo; Council Member Bob Leone; and Mayor Pro Tem George Huntington.

But besides the new upgraded facilities, what the shelter staff is probably the most excited about is the laundry room with a washer and two dryers, and an expanded and updated food prep area with a three-bowl sink and a sanitizer for the animals’ food bowls. The animal shelter, which is a joint project with the county of San Bernardino, was five years in the making, and cost nearly $4 million, with the Town’s contribution just under $1 million. The shelter officially opens for business today (Tuesday, December 17), and is located just south of the old shelter, at 4755 Malin Way. Shelter hours are noon to 5, Tuesday through Saturday. The shelter has reduced the adoption fees for all cats 6 months and older, and black kittens, to $20 through Saturday, December 21. All cats will be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. A heavy-duty cardboard cat carrier will be provided to transport your new cat home.

Visit our Facebook Album for more photos from the new Yucca Valley Animal Shelter.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION IN JOINT SESSION TONIGHT

The Yucca Valley Town Council and planning commission will meet together tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff checks what the two agencies will be discussing…
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission and Town Council will meet in a special joint meeting tonight. On the agenda, the commissioners and council members will discuss amending the general plan and adopting a general plan update. Some of the issues they are expected to discuss include scenic highway designations, wildlife corridors, private property rights, truck and bike routes, and water supply. Immediately following the joint meeting, the Town Council will meet. Among the items on the Town Council’s agenda, the Council will hold a public hearing to allow a nonprofit organization to issue $70 million in bonds to buy and improve three mobile home parks in the Town. The Council will also hear a report on public facilities development impact fees, followed by selecting representatives to various public agency boards. Finally, the Council will go into closed session to conference with legal counsel on two cases of anticipated litigation. The meetings start at 6 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Community Center.

SANTA AND PUPPET SHOW FEATURED IN SATURDAY’S YUCCA VALLEY LIGHT PARADE

Come one, come all, to the Rotary Club’s 16th annual Festival of Lights Parade this Saturday, December 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. The parade will be on Santa Fe Trail, starting at Cherokee Trail and ending at Inca Trail. The floats from the parade will be displayed at the Hi-Desert Water District area after the parade and the kids are all invited to come in to the Water District offices to meet Santa and receive a present as well as enjoy Miss Becky’s Puppet Show! The district offices are located at Inca and Hwy 62. A large amount of entries have been received for this fun annual holiday event and entries will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Friday, December 20, by dropping off at either the Yucca Valley Chamber or Realty Professionals in Old Town. Call 760-365-1988 for more information.

SKY’S THE LIMIT SKY PARTY SATURDAY

Sky’s The Limit and Joshua Tree National Park will host a free sky party Saturday, December 21, starting at 6 p.m. Park Ranger Pam Tripp will start the party with a talk about navigating with the stars. Then, state-of-the-art telescopes will focus on galaxies, nebulae, and other sky objects throughout the evening. A full agenda is posted on SkystheLimit29.org website. The star party is free and open to the public at the Sky’s the Limit Observatory, located just north of the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park on Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7222.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANNING COMMISSION MEETS, LOOKS AT CHURCH EXPANSION TONIGHT

A public hearing on a church expansion request, and another study session on the Development Code comprise the agenda for the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission meeting tonight. Dan Stork fleshes out the schedule…
At its December 17, meeting, the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission will start off with a public hearing on a request by the Spirit and Truth Worship Center to amend its Conditional Use Permit to include the addition of 1,950 square feet, to include a foyer, pastor’s office, church administration office, children’s rooms, resource room, hallway and storage area to the existing 3,384 square foot church building at 4751 Adobe Road. Following that, the Commission will hold its 31st study session on the review and revision of the Development Code. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall on Adobe Road.

WINTER CONCERT AT LA CONTENTA MIDDLE SCHOOL TOMORROW

La Contenta Middle School will present their “Wonders of winter” Concert in the multi-purpose room tomorrow evening, Wednesday, December 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Free admission. All are welcome. Beginning band, choir, and advanced band will be performing. The La Contenta Parent Association will be selling refreshments.

ELKS HOOP SHOOT WINNERS

Three boys and two girls won the first round of competition in the Elk Hoop Shoot free-throw contest Sunday at the Twentynine Palms Junior High School. The girls’ winners were Kate Bobadilla in the 8-9 year-old category, and Lea Spears in the 12-13 year-old category. In the boys’ division, the winners were: in the 8 to 9 year-old category, Trayvion Givens; 10 to 11 years, Joseph Barbagallo; and 12 to 13, Kyle Bobadilla. The five Twentynine Palms champions will advance to the district finals in Blythe on January 11, where they will compete with other winners from throughout the area.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

Coming up in high school sports today, the Yucca Valley High School boys’ basketball team will travel away to San Jacinto. Tip-off starts at 6:30. Also today, the Joshua Springs boys and girls basketball teams will travel away to Winchester to play Temecula Prep. Girls’ game starts at 5, boys’ at 6:30.

In high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley high school girls’ soccer team hosts Silver Valley High School at home at 3:15. The boys’ soccer team hosts Sultana High School at home, game time is 5 p.m.

The Twentynine Palms High School girls’ and boys’ soccer teams travel away to Banning High School. The girls’ game starts at 3:15; the boys start at 5 p.m.