YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL BORROWS FROM BONDS FOR SENIOR HOUSING PROJECT

Despite opposition from Council Member Bob Leone, the Yucca Valley Town Council voted last night to borrow from its bond funds to fulfill its loan obligation to the developer of the Town’s senior housing project. Of the project’s nearly $18 million cost, about $2.9 million is a loan from the Town of Yucca Valley. The developer, National CORE, will repay
the Town out of the project’s operational revenue. However, because the state of California is withholding—for three to five years—a reimbursement of $635,000 that it owes the Town, the Town has a cash-flow problem with the loan. So the Town Council did a little financial juggling last night. It agreed, 3-to-1, with Mayor Robert Lombardo absent and Leone opposed, to borrow $635,000 from its low- and moderate-income housing bonds, and repay the bonds when it gets repayment from the state. Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle stressed to the Council that the loan amount to CORE has not changed in any way. However, Council Member Bob Leone voted against the financial juggling, saying he thought it was “too sweet of a deal,” and that it placed the Town in an IOU position with no one knowing when the Town would get repaid. In addition, he said he didn’t like the location of where the senior center was being built.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANNING COMMISSION SAYS NO REASON TO PROHIBIT VACATION HOME RENTALS

Last night’s Twentynine Palms Planning Commission focused on allowing vacation home rentals in the city. Those who spoke were all in favor of allowing vacation homes, arguing that the city needs to offer a place to experience the beauty of Twentynine Palms. Speakers noted that vacation homes are a major market and will bring in many tourists and help improve neighborhoods by putting unoccupied houses to use, rather than letting them get run down. In addition, residents argued that vacation homes would allow a large family to come and visit a relative in Twentynine Palms without having to cram everyone into one small home. Also, there will be no transient occupancy tax on the homes, only a fee that needs to be paid every other year. Faced with these arguments, the Planning Commission couldn’t find a reason to prohibit vacation rental homes. The Commission will recommend that the City Council hold a public hearing on the issue to possibly reverse the current prohibition on vacation rental homes.

FOUR MARINES HONORED FOR HEROISM IN COMBAT

Four Marines in 1ST Tanks Battalion at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center were honored for their heroism at a ceremony on the base Tuesday morning for their actions while deployed to Afghanistan. Two Marines received the Navy-Marine Corps Medal, the services’ second-highest non-combatant medal; one Marine was awarded a Bronze Star with Combat V for valor in combat; and the fourth Marine was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during combat. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at yesterday’s ceremony…

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Captain Christopher Ashinhurst, who was awarded the Bronze Star yesterday, explained why he and the others were honored. “They were at their best when the situation was at its worst for seven months.” Ashinhurst was the company commander of Delta Company with 1st Tanks when insurgents attacked Outpost Shir Ghazay in May 2013 with a suicide improvised explosive device, or IED. “We had several Marines respond to the blast site itself to start providing care for the casualties… And then everybody that was on a tank moved out extremely quickly and essentially locked down the area to prevent a follow-on attack.” Two other Marines with 1st Tanks—Corporal Matthew Gonzales and Sergeant Arturo Zavala Jr.—were awarded for their heroism for another incident in an earlier deployment. In February 2012, their tank was going down a road in the rain when it sank in a hidden wadi, or ditch. Three of the four Marines were able to get out, but the driver was trapped inside. Gonzales said he and Zavala went back into the tank to rescue the driver. “The tank just sunk in there, and while it was sinking down, me and my gunner, we went down there and grabbed him and pulled and pulled and finally he got free.” Fredy Esquivel was just two weeks from returning home from his deployment in August 2010 went he was injured, earning him a Purple Heart medal. “My vehicle was the third vehicle back and we struck an IED.” Was he scared? “A little bit.” Four American heroes who say they were just doing what anyone would do in their position.

DOUBLE LOADED MORTAR IN NEVADA EXPLOSION THAT KILLED 7 MARINES

A newly released command investigation into the horrific mortar explosion last spring that killed seven Marines and wounded eight more concludes that the accident occurred when a Marine double-loaded rounds in a mortar tube. The March 18 explosion occurred while Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., were conducting nighttime live-fire training with 60-millimeter mortars at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada.

YUCCA MESA FIRE FIGHTERS DELIVER A BABY

Yucca Mesa fire fighters delivered a baby yesterday. Due to patient privacy laws, few details are available, but the healthy baby girl was born at 12:09, moments after fire fighters arrived at the home about one mile from the fire station. Both mom and baby were then taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS CALL FOR FIRE PRECAUTIONS

With a statewide drought the worse in decades and no end in sight, the danger of fire is very real. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has some reminders on how to protect your family and property….

In response to the ongoing wildfire threat, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offers the following prevention tips to protect your property and loved ones. Your gutters, eaves and roof should be clear of debris. Your street number should be clearly marked for emergency responders. Firewood and yard waste should be cleared from within 30 feet of buildings. Tree branches should be trimmed to within six to ten feet of the ground. Identify an emergency water supply for firefighting within 1,000 feet of your home. This could be a hydrant, swimming pool, or emergency storage tanks shared among neighbors. With your family, have a fire disaster plan including at least two evacuation routes. Have on hand a NOAA Weather Radio and disaster kit, and follow evacuation orders immediately. For more information on wildfire prevention, go to www.flsh.org.

SERIOUS INJURY IN JOSHUA TREE DUI CRASH

One man was arrested, and a woman was seriously injured following a drunk-driving crash early Saturday morning in Joshua Tree. According to the California Highway Patrol, Efrain Bravo Jr., 19, of Joshua Tree, crashed his silver Acura Integra about 3 a.m. on Alta Loma Drive, east of Sherwood Road. The CHP reports Bravo’s car left the road, struck a chain link fence and a utility pole, before coming to rest in the desert. Bravo’s passenger, Kayla Roland, 21, was severely injured in the crash. Both Roland and Bravo were taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs for treatment. After an investigation, it was determined that Bravo had been drinking prior to the crash. Efrain Bravo was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence. He was booked into West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $100,000.

SMALL GREASE FIRE AT YUCCA VALLEY MCDONALDS

A grease fire briefly closed down the Yucca Valley McDonald’s Tuesday afternoon. About 12:30 Tuesday, workers at the fast-food restaurant put out a grease fire in the deep fryer with a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher, before fire fighters even arrived at the restaurant. State regulations require the restaurant shut down until it’s cleared by the California Department of Public Health Environmental Health. By 3:30, the restaurant was back up and running again.

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER BOARD MEETS WITH WATER AND FIRE BUSINESS

The Twentynine Palms Water District Board will meet with both fire and water business tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker checks the agendas…

The Twentynine Palms Water District monthly meeting is scheduled for this month on Wednesday, January 22, at 6:00 p.m. During this Water District meeting, the Directors will take possible action on District Election Cycle and Ballot Type, will have a report on ACWA Fall Conferences by Director Chambers, and will have a closed session about Public Employee Performance Evaluation. Immediately following this is the Fire Department meeting. The Fire Department has no new agenda items. At this meeting, the Directors will review the consent calendar and department reports. Both of these meetings take place at the Water District Office at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.

MORONGO BASIN TRANSIT AUTHORITY BOARD METS TOMORROW

Morongo Basin Transit Authority Board of Directors will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 23, at the MBTA Operations Center on Verbena Road in Joshua Tree. The board will recognize the employee of the quarter and an outgoing board member. Among the items on the consent agenda are treasurer, ridership, operations, administrative and financial reports. Under new business, the board will elect new officers and make sub-committee assignments. The board will also hear a mid-year system review and funding update, a presentation on fares, and on unmet needs by SANBAG.

YUCCA VALLEY STARTS SPAY AND NEUTER VOUCHER PROGRAM

The Town of Yucca Valley began its new voucher program Tuesday for spaying and neutering dogs. Yucca Valley residents must go to the new animal shelter, 4755 Malin Way, and fill out an application for the voucher and provide proof of residency. The application will be reviewed and if approved, the resident will receive a voucher a few days later good for $60 toward the cost of spaying or neutering a dog with local veterinarians. There are no income restrictions for the voucher, but residents are limited to three vouchers every five years. The voucher program is funded by a bequest from Cyla Wells to the Town, and is expected to fund spaying and neutering operations for 500 dogs and cats over the next one to two years.

WE MEET MISS YUCCA VALLEY CANDIDATE HAILEY LASSITER

Z107-7 has been introducing you to the 10 candidates for the Miss Yucca Valley Scholarship pageant, set for February 1. Today Managing Editor Tami Roleff talks with candidate Hailey Lasiter…

Today we visit with Hailey Lasiter, a junior at Joshua Springs Christian School and candidate for Miss Yucca Valley. Tell us, who is the prominent woman you interviewed, and what you have learned…

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“My prominent lady is Jessica Gibbs and she has taught me to fulfill the life that God has planned for me and to count my blessings and stay positive through life’s obstacles.”

What have you learned from your experience with Miss Yucca Valley?

“The pre-pageant activities are stressful. I have learned how to deal with stress and manage my schedule to balance my time with school, the pageant, and other extra curricula activities wisely.

REGIONAL COUNCIL ON AGING MEETS TOMORROW

The monthly meeting of the Morongo Basin Regional Council on Aging will be Thursday, January 23, at 12:30 p.m. at the Senior Nutrition building in Yucca Valley Community Complex. The Chair of the Senior Affairs Commission, David Wilder, will be the guest speaker. The public is invited to attend.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CHAMBER PLANNING FOR STREET FAIR AND CAR SHOW

The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce will hold a planning meeting for their 14th Annual Car Show and Street Fair Thursday, January 23, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is to allow community members the opportunity to provide input on how they can make this year’s event the best ever. Ideas and participation are welcomed and greatly appreciated. For more information, please contact the Twentynine Palms Chamber at 760-367-3445.

PRE-SCHOOL STORYTIME TOMORROW AT THE TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY

Calling all preschool aged children! The Twentynine Palms Library’s preschool story time is walking through the alphabet. This Thursday, January 23, at 11 a.m., preschool children aged 3, 4, and 5 years old are invited to bring something to share that begins with the letter M. Preschool story time is held every Thursday through February 13 at the Twentynine Palms Library. The program includes age appropriate storytelling, apron stories, finger plays, songs, and other activities to promote a love of books, reading, and language.

REACH OUT LOOKING FOR SENIORS WHO NEED HOME REPAIR

In partnership with our military neighbors, Reach-Out Morongo Basin is looking for seniors who are in need help with their homes or yards. Reporter Taylor Thacker put out the call…

Reach Out Morongo Basin is seeking seniors needing home repairs or yard work for an upcoming service project coordinated with volunteers from 1st Tank Battalion and 3/4 Infantry Battalion aboard the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center. Organizers are seeking 25 homes in the Morongo Basin that have requests for home repairs such as painting, light carpentry and other repairs not requiring permits as well as yard work projects. Homes must be the primary residence and owned by the senior or disabled person requesting the assistance. This service project will take place on Friday, April 4. For more information call 760-361-1410.

YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL VERSUS TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL IN BASKETBALL TONIGHT

In high school sports today, the Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms High School basketball teams will play each other in Twentynine Palms. The girls’ game starts at 6 p.m.; the boys start at 7:30.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School wrestling team will host the Desert Mirage Rams at home. The match starts at 5 p.m.