DEFENSE BILL BRINGS RAISE, SUSTAINS BENEFIT FOR LOCAL MILITARY

Approval of the defense authorization act last night will bring a minimal 1 percent raise to our Marines and sailors starting January 1. The bill extends a number of expiring special pays and bonuses that would otherwise have ended on New Year’s Day and also includes rules against any fee increases for Tricare or new user fees for the military health program by more than 1.7 percent next October. Among the $632.8 billion bill’s provisions is a restriction on transferring to the U.S. anyone held as a suspected terrorist at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and allowances for detainees to be transferred to foreign countries. The bill includes provisions related to sexual assault in the military, and protecting victims of rape and sexual assault, including a specific criminal charge in the military justice system for retaliating against a victim who comes forward. The bill will give 171,000 military retirees and family members forced from Tricare Prime on October 1 the option to return to the program. It also changes eligibility rules for selective early retirement boards so that officers passed over just one time for promotion would be considered by selection boards for involuntary retirement. While the bill contains no military pay raise, it enacts a presidential order giving troops a 1 percent raise. The bill, H.R. 3304, provides $552.1 billion for the military budget and $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations.

Z107.7 RADIOTHON TO HELP TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR GET TO CARNEGIE HALL

With the Twentynine Palms High School Select Choir selected to go to Carnegie Hall, now comes the hard part, raising the money to get them there. Managing Editor Tami Roleff explains how Community Radio, Z107.7, is stepping up to help…
It’s the chance of a lifetime for 22 Twentynine Palms High School students. The school’s Select Choir has been invited to participate in a multi-day workshop at in New York City, culminating with a concert at Carnegie Hall. But their dream can’t happen without your help to raise the $50,000 the choir needs to get to New York. Listen to Z107.7 Saturday, January 11, from noon to 5 during a “radio-thon.” The radio-thon will raise money by selling sponsorships, guest DJ spots, and ads for businesses and organizations, and soliciting pledges from listeners. All of the funds raised will go to the effort to “Get the kids to Carnegie Hall.” To make a donation to help these deserving students get to Carnegie Hall, call Anita Clinkscales at 760-361-5306.

NO DUI ARRESTS IN LAST NIGHT’S TWENTYNINE PALMS CHECKPOINT

The Twentynine Palms Police Department conducted a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint last night in the area of Adobe Road and Sunnyvale Drive between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. During the checkpoint a number of intoxicated persons were contacted, however, all were passengers in vehicles driven by a sober designated driver. While 479 vehicles were screened, no DUI arrests were made. Two drivers were cited for operating a vehicle with a suspended driver’s license and two drivers were arrested and booked on warrants for failing to appear on traffic violations. The Twentynine Palms Police Department will be conducting additional DUI/drivers license checkpoints or DUI saturation patrols in the near future. The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

HOLIDAY SCHEDULES FOR TOWN OF YUCCA VALLEY AND CITY OF TWENTYNINE PALMS

If you’ve got business at City Hall in Twentynine Palms over the next two weeks, Dan Stork says you should be aware of some office hour changes…
During the holiday season, Twentynine Palms City Hall will be open Mondays, December 23 and 30, and Thursdays, December 26 and January 2. It will be closed Tuesday, December 24, Christmas Eve; Wednesday, December 25, Christmas Day; Tuesday, December 31, New Years Eve; and Wednesday, January 1, New Years Day. City Hall will be closed on Fridays, as usual. According to City Manager Joe Guzetta, closures affect only workers in City Hall. Public works and recreation functions will continue as scheduled or needed during the holidays.

The Town of Yucca Valley business offices will be closed between the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays. Except for emergency services and specifically scheduled recreation programs, the Town offices will be closed from Tuesday, December 24, through the end of the year, re-opening for business on Thursday, January 2. The Yucca Valley Animal Shelter will be available by appointment only for pet owners to retrieve impounded animals. Please contact the shelter at 760-365-3111 to arrange a meeting time to pick up your pet or to report a lost or found pet. The shelter will resume its regular public hours on Thursday, January 2 at 12 noon. The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will re-open to visitors on Thursday, January 2. The senior lunch program at the Yucca Valley Senior Center will not be affected by the Town office closures, but meals will not be served on December 24, 25, 31, or January 1. The Yucca Valley Community Center will be open on Christmas Day for Tender Loving Cause, a volunteer-led program that provides meals, clothing and toys for families in need.

VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT FOR CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

The annual Christmas Bird Count is coming to Joshua Tree National Park. Park Ranger Pam Tripp says volunteers are being sought…
Attention bird lovers and volunteers: your expertise and enthusiasm are needed for the upcoming Joshua Tree National Park Christmas Bird Count. The count begins at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 28. Participants of all skill levels of birding are encouraged to attend. The National Audubon Society sponsors the event that attracts thousands of observers each year, throughout the nation. Those who participate in the bird count help to collect important data used in many scientific studies. This data constitutes the largest body of information about wintering bird populations anywhere in the world and helps us learn more about the environment. For the bird count, inexperienced birders will be partnered with veteran birders. Territories are mapped out ahead so that participants know where to start the morning of the count. Volunteers should be prepared for an all day event in the field. Contact Joe Zarki at 760-367-5520, or Bill Truesdell at 760-362-4132 to sign up for this year’s Christmas Bird Count.

CALL FOR ART FROM TWENTYNINE PALMS VISITORS CENTER ART GALLERY

The Twentynine Palms Visitor Center and Gallery is putting out a call for art for its next show, “Dust, Rust, and Verdigris: Weathered Relics of the Desert.” The show takes its inspiration from relics transformed by desert dust, aging rust, and verdigris, the natural patina formed by weather over time. Artists are invited to submit one piece of original art that depicts the effects of desert weather on man-made objects. The art can be paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media, sculpture, or assemblage. There is no charge to enter the show. Artwork should be submitted to the Twentynine Palms Visitor’s Center Friday, December 27, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. An opening reception will be held Friday, January 3, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the visitor’s center. For more information, visit the Art in Public Places page on the city’s website at www.29palms.org.

JOSHUA TREE HOMES SOUGHT FOR REACH-OUT FUNDRAISER

With four homes secured for the upcoming 10th Annual Parade of Homes, Reach Out Morongo Basin officials are seeking two more homes in Joshua Tree to complete this coming year’s line-up, set to take place Sunday, February 16, 2014. The annual event sees Reach Out Morongo Basin supporters open their homes to curious visitors and is the Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors program’s longest-running fundraiser bringing in thousands of dollars in ticket sales and sponsorships every year to support its services to senior and disabled residents of the Morongo Basin. This year’s tour promises a variety of homes to draw curious parade-goers from all over with the chance to peek at artistic, historical and renovated homes. Homeowners are urged to call Reach Out at 760-361-1410 for information or to volunteer their homes. Sponsors are being sought at the various levels. For more details, call Reach Out Morongo Basin at 760-361-1410.

APPLICATIONS FOR GREENLEAF SCHOLARSHIP AT COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE

Attention high school seniors: Applications are being taken for a prestigious local scholarship worth up to $100,000 for your college education. Reporter Mike Lipsitz tells you how to apply for the Greenleaf scholarship…
The Copper Mountain College Foundation is accepting applications for the Annual Greenleaf Scholarship. Academic excellence is not the primary criterion; the scholarship will be awarded to a local high school senior who demonstrates a determination to succeed, a desire to help others, and an interest in serving the Morongo Basin after college. The Scholarship pays for tuition, books, fees and standard living expenses for a graduating senior from a Morongo Basin high school. The selected senior is expected to enter Copper Mountain College in the fall of 2014 and earn a degree within two years. The scholarship continues to pay for the student to receive a baccalaureate degree at a four-year state school. Applications are available in high school counseling offices and online. They are due February 12. For more information contact the CMC Foundation at 760-366-3791 or online at cmccd.edu.

BUSY KITCHEN AT JOSHUA TREE VFW THIS TONIGHT

The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign War Post will serve up a full Christmas turkey dinner with dessert tonight from 4 to 6 p.m. for just $8. There will be no Sunday breakfast, and no tacos on Wednesday, December 25, or dinner next Friday, December 27. On Sunday, December 29, there will be a pancake breakfast.

OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS AT YUCCA VALLEY UNITED METHODIST

The community is invited to join in an old-fashioned Christmas Spirit celebration at the United Methodist Church in Yucca Valley n Saturday, December 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. Hot dogs, chili dogs, and chips will be served at 5 p.m. A bonfire in the church yard will welcome children while they make s’mores around the fire, weather permitting. Christmas carols and secular Christmas songs will be sung for fun indoors. The evening will end with a visit from Santa Claus who will have special gifts for the first 48 children. Cookies, cocoa, and coffee will also be served. There is no charge to attend. The Yucca Valley United Methodist Church is located at 57273 Onaga Trail at Joshua Lane. Call the church at 760-365-3671 for more information.

YUH-GI-OH AT THE TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY TOMORROW

The Twentynine Palms Branch Library is continuing its YU GI OH tournaments tomorrow. All ages are invited to bring their own cards to participate in the tournament. The top player will receive a prize. The tournament is scheduled from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the library meeting room.For more information about the library’s monthly YU GI OH tournament, please call the Twentynine Palms Branch Library at 760-367-9519.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Coming up in high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School girls’ and boys’ basketball teams host La Quinta High School at home. The girls game begins at 6; the boys’ at 7:30.

The Joshua Springs boys and girls basketball teams travel away to Desert Christian Academy. The girls’ game starts at 5:30; the boys at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the Yucca Valley High School wrestling team competes for the second day in the Palm Springs Pow Wow Tournament.