TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL SAYS NO TO HOWSER PROPERTY, GETS MUSICAL INVOCATION

The Twentynine Palms City Council met last night, after an “invocation” consisting of just music, they waded through personnel contracts, block grant allocations, a new phone system, and a NO to buying land from the Huell Howser estate. Reporter Dan Stork was there, listening along with the Council, and filed this report…

At the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting, one item was pulled from the consent agenda for discussion: direction to staff for hiring a replacement Code Enforcement Officer. The job description received a minor tweak. Council members urged the City Manager to consider promoting a current employee to the vacant full-time position, before authorizing him to continue with the replacement process. The rest of the consent agenda—including a resolution against commercial solar developments within the City’s Sphere of Influence—was approved.  Member Jay Corbin dissented on the payment of the cost of the Fire Impact Fee study from the general fund. Per staff recommendation, all $118,000 of available Community Development Block Grant funds was allocated to improvements at Knott Sky Park, with an additional $47,000+ granted to five community organizations, to be paid from the general fund. The Housing Element 8-year plan, a required piece of the City’s General Plan, was adopted. Council authorized purchase of a new, Internet-based phone system after hearing that savings will pay for the purchase of the system within two years. The individual replacing Matt McCleary as Interim Development Director for three months and as administrator of the Successor to the Redevelopment Agency will be: Matt McCleary, pending contract negotiation with his new employer, the Kosmont Group. Finally, Council decided it was not interested in purchasing 70 acres from the estate of Huell Howser, citing cost considerations, and declined to discuss the matter further. (A realtor representing the estate had approached the City.)  Council Member Cora Heiser was absent, due to continuing family medical matters.

CONGRESSMAN COOK VOTES TO RESTORE MILITARY COLA

Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley voted to restore the full Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to all military retirees. This would undo the recent reduction to COLA and ensure that all veterans receive the full benefits that they were promised. The restoration of COLA for veterans passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote and is headed to the Senate for final approval. Rep. Cook has made restoration of veterans’ full COLA a top legislative priority. He had already voted to restore the full COLA for disabled veterans and was an original cosponsor of the bill of H.R. 3790, a bill that would eliminate the COLA reduction for all military retirees. Said Cook, “While we’re in difficult budget times, it’s vital that America keep their promise to men and women who have put their lives on the line defending America.”

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION GETS A PROJECT STATUS UPDATE, PART 1 OF 3

After making quick work of routine requests for time extensions for a site plan review and conditional use permit, the Yucca Valley Planning Commission heard progress reports on the status of various projects around the town. Today, managing editor Tami Roleff gives the low-down on the commercial updates. Tomorrow, updates on housing projects in the town. And in part 3, highway and roads updates…

The “lake” at Hawks Landing Golf Course has been completed and the developer expects to start filling it with water next week. It’s expected the course will be ready for play either in late fall or early winter. Grading has started on the Marshall’s and Petco stores in front of Home Depot, and the stores should be open the first of July. When Panda Express and Taco Bell open, on the southeast corner of Highway 62 and Avalon, the old Taco Bell will close. The opening of Tractor Supply in the old Wal-Mart building was delayed due additional fire protection requirements imposed by County Fire. Additional temporary parking will be added to the Warren Vista Center. Work is expected to begin soon for the new Ross store. The remodeling of the Starbucks is complete and it should re-open today. The owners of the former Chilly Willie’s restaurant have received a permit to add another restroom, as part of the health department requirements for them to seek a liquor license. Tomorrow, we’ll hear updates on housing projects in Yucca Valley.

FOUR MORE BURGLARIES, ATTEMPTED BURGLARIES IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

Four more Twentynine Palms businesses experienced burglaries or attempted break-ins Monday night. Two adjoining businesses in the 6400 block of Cholla Avenue reported Monday morning that a burglar had gained entrance and stole a computer, jewelry, and a purse. In addition, two adjacent businesses in the 73500 block of Twentynine Palms Highway had attempted break-ins Monday night. Deputies determined someone had tried unsuccessfully to pry the business doors open. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.

HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER BOARD BUYS HIGH-TECH MAMMOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

The Hi-Desert Medical Center Board voted to purchase a high-tech piece of equipment last night. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was there and files this report…

Last night’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Medical Center Board of Directors kicked off with a presentation on the hospital’s medical imaging department. And in a related matter, the board authorized purchase of a half-million dollar Hologic Tomography Digital Mammography Unit that promises early and more accurate detection of breast cancers. The unit is expected to be installed and operating by this fall. The features of this unit equal or exceed the capabilities of similar mammography units found anywhere in the area. Also last night, directors approved the process for filling the vacancy left by Paul Hoffman’s resignation. And in the hospital’s continuing Covered California enrollment drive, the District continues to sign up residents in advance of the March 31 enrollment deadline.

YUCCA VALLEY AIRPORT BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

Some of the items the Yucca Valley Airport District Board of Directors will discuss at their meeting Wednesday, February 12, are correspondence from LAFCO and the Department of Homeland Security; airport use agreements; setting up a reserve account; and nominations for LAFCO members. The meeting will start at 6:30 in the Mesquite Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.

SCHOOL DISTRICT OFFERS “COMMON CORE” MEETING TOMORROW

No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now the Common Core Standards are all approaches to improving educational outcomes in this country. If you’re confused about what the latest of these, the Common Core, adds to the mix (and you should be), reporter Dan Stork tells you about an opportunity to sort things out…

The Morongo Unified School District will hold the second of two informational meetings on the Common Core Standards Thursday, February 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the La Contenta Middle School library. The Common Core is a states-based, non-Federal movement to define what K-12 students should learn in mathematics and English language arts. One site characterizes the approach as being focused on “real understanding,” through going deeper into fewer topics. What are those topics? Who is choosing them? What is this going to mean for students? For testing regimens? For teachers?  This is an issue that will affect all students; come out and learn about it, and ask the hard questions.

VALENTINE’S ACTIVITIES AT THE JOSHUA TREE LIBRARY TOMORROW

Children of all ages are invited to have some Valentine’s Day fun at the Joshua Tree Library Thursday, February 13. Activities will include, hearts bingo, making your own Valentine’s Day Card, and sweetheart box. Crafts and activities are provided at no cost through funding by the Friends of the Joshua Tree Library. For more information about “Be My Valentine,” story time, or other library programs, call the Joshua Tree Library at 760-366-8615.

PRE-SCHOOL STORYTIME AT THE TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY TOMORROW

This week’s Twentynine Palms Library’s preschool story time will be celebrating Valentine’s Day, by reading Valentine’s Day-themed stories and creating homemade valentines. Plan to attend preschool story time tomorrow at 11 a.m. Children are invited to bring something from home to share, if they wish. Parents and babysitters are invited to bring their three-, four-, and five-year olds to attend this free program 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. For more information about preschool story time, please call the Twentynine Palms Library at 760-367-9519.

DESERT GARDENING LECTURE AT HI-DESERT NATURE MUSEUM TOMORROW

Need some help and advice on your desert garden? Reporter Taylor Thacker says that is what the Hi-Desert Nature Museum is offering tomorrow…

Attention all gardeners with a green thumb! On Thursday, February 13, starting at noon, Museum Program Coordinator Stefanie Ritter will present a lecture on the trials and triumphs of desert gardening. There is nothing better tasting than a ripe tomato right off the vine, still warm and deliciously sweet. Think that is impossible in the Hi-Desert? Think again. Even with all the challenges in the desert like heat, cold, wind, and hungry critters, it is possible to grow in your backyard with a little preparation and lots of patience. Learn about the difficulties and successes of a desert gardener and take some seeds home to begin your own garden adventure. Admission for this Winter Lecture Series is free and coffee will be served. The Winter Lecture Series takes place at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum and is held one Thursday of every month from January through March. For more information call 760-369-7212.

REVERSE RAFFLE TO BENEFIT TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PROGRAM

The Twentynine Palms Boys Basketball Booster Club is holding a Reverse Raffle on March 1, beginning at 5:00 pm. The Grand Prize is $5,000, and tickets include a great tri-tip dinner for two prepared by Chef Larry Bowden. The Boosters are only selling 200 tickets at $100 each. All 200 tickets are then drawn, one by one; the last ticket picked is the grand prize winner, and there are many prizes given out along the way. You don’t have to be present to win, but it is a great night of fun and all the proceeds go to support Twentynine Palms High School Basketball for travel and tournament expenses as well as equipment. Anyone who would like to purchase a ticket or has questions, can call Kevin or Korina Cole at 760-668-5176 or Mike Schneider at 760-668-0235.

COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE BOARD MEETS TOMORROW

The Copper Mountain College Board meets tomorrow afternoon in closed and regular session. Reporter Mike Lipsitz checks the agendas…

The regular monthly meeting of the Copper Mountain College Board of Trustees begins at 3 p.m. tomorrow, following a 2 p.m. closed session pertaining to evaluation of the president/superintendent. Once in open session, trustees will receive and consider a financial audit report for fiscal year 2012/2013. Those items and others are in addition to regular reports and items on the consent agenda. It all happens in the Bell Center’s Community Room on the Joshua Tree campus.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

In high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will host Desert Hot Springs at home. Tip-off for the girls is at 6 p.m., the boys start at 7:30.

 

The Yucca Valley High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will travel away to Indio to play the Shadow Hills Knights. The girls start at 6 p.m., the boys at 7:30.