MOBILE HOME PARK FIRE DESTROYS 2-STORY RESIDENCE

Singing trees MHP fire 3-18-14A fire at a Twentynine Palms mobile home park completely destroyed a two-story residence Tuesday afternoon. According to Twentynine Palms Fire Captain Matt Helmkamp, firefighters from Twentynine Palms, the Combat Center, and Wonder Valley were called to the blaze at the Singing Trees Mobile Home Park, 74685 Amboy Road, at 2:30. Black smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away, and heavy smoke and flames in the upstairs apartment were visible when firefighters arrived. Helmkamp said the fire was under control at 3:15. The structure’s adobe walls suffered water damage, and Helmkamp said the building was a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Two years ago, the mobile home park was under investigation by the state for substandard living conditions, with open septic, electrical issues, and no heat. Residents said they had formed a co-op in order to be hooked up to utilities again.

STILL NO TOWN MANAGER AFTER LAST NIGHT YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL MEETING

The Town of Yucca Valley still has no Manager, Managing Editor Tami Roleff waited for the results of last night’s 1 ½-hour meeting and two-hour closed session meeting and files this report…

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The Yucca Valley Town Council and members of the Town’s Park and Receation Commission gather at Paradise Park for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Town’s newest playground equipment.

The Town of Yucca Valley is still without a town manager. At last night’s meeting, the Town council was in a two-hour closed session to consider appointing an employee to the position of Town Manager, with two council members acting as negotiators for the terms of the contract, but at the end of the closed session meeting, Town Attorney Lona Laymon gave the following statement: “The Ad Hoc Committee for Town Manager recruitment does continue to evaluate multiple internal organization candidates. Meanwhile, Mr Stueckle will continue to serve as acting Town Manager.” In other business, the Council unanimously approved the Safe Routes to School project, which will install sidewalks on the west side of Sage Avenue from Yucca Valley High School to Yucca Trail, and on the east side of Sage from Pueblo to Yucca Trail. Prior to the meeting, the Council met at Paradise Park for a ribbon cutting, to open the park with newly installed playground equipment.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS CITY OFFICIAL ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND JOSHUA TREE WARRANT

Desert Hot Springs Planning Commissioner Dean Gray, 62, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic assault and on a warrant out of Joshua Tree that accused him of driving on a suspended license, according to Desert Hot Springs police. Gray was detained at Correctional Facility in Banning, according to the Desert Sun newspaper. Desert Hot Springs Councilman Russell Betts said Gray and Gray’s partner had a domestic dispute. Betts recommended Gray for the Planning Commission post.

TRAFFIC STOP RESULTS IN TWO ARRESTS

A traffic stop for expired license plate tags resulted in the arrest of two men Monday. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a vehicle near the intersection of Mojave Avenue and 29 Palms Highway about 2:45 Monday for having expired tags. The driver, Daniel Weber, 33, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The passenger, Herman Platzke Jr., 28, had three warrants for his arrest, two for being under the influence of a controlled substance, and one for driving without a license, and was arrested. He was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $110,000. This younger Herman Platzke should not be confused with the older Herman Platzke who is active in community service.

SCHOOL BOARD HEARS MATH OVERHAUL, LABOR NEGOTIATION PROGRESS

An overhaul of the math program, community service at Black Rock High School, and labor negotiation progress were on the floor at the regular meeting of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education. Reporter Dan Stork was there and hits the high points…

A tag team of administrators, curriculum specialists, and math teachers presented plans for an integrated mathematics curriculum to the MUSD Board of Education. The plan is the fruit of a long effort by a team that included the secondary school math teachers in the district, working through frequent and long uncompensated meetings.  The idea of integrated math is that it will replace the current separate algebra, geometry, algebra 2, and statistics offerings with math courses that apply methods from different areas of mathematics to real-life problems at every grade level. Presenters of the plan urged the board to increase the minimum requirement for graduation from the current two years to three years of mathematics, so that there would not be long gaps in students’ practice of math. Current ninth to 12th graders will continue with the current program, with the transition to integrated math only fully affecting current sixth graders. In a related issue, Karalee Hargrove reported that the state department of education has decided to suspend the Academic Performance Index (or API) program, and its associated standardized testing, for two years, until 2016.

A student representative from Black Rock High School told about that school’s requirement for 75 hours of community service from each of its students. She listed how that is met: in animal shelters, youth clubs, senior centers, and highlighted a recent desert cleanup by five students in the Sky Harbor area.

Classified employee representative Maria Brunetti reported that her union has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the District. She cautioned that, because of a “me-too” clause in the CSEA contract, if the teachers’ union does better at the bargaining table, then the classified employee will go back to negotiations to even things up.

HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER BOARD APPOINTS JOE SULLIVAN TO EMPTY BOARD SEAT

The Hi-Desert Medical Center Board of Directors voted Tuesday to appoint Joseph Sullivan to fill the board vacancy left when Paul Hoffman resigned in January. Sullivan is retired from the Morongo Unified School District, where he was Director of Facilities, Planning, and Risk Management, a post he held for 15 years. He was also a small business owner, real estate appraiser, and police officer for the City of Ontario. His term runs through December 2016.

2014 BOYS STATE REPRESENTATIVES NAMED

The Joshua Tree American Legion Post 761 recently announced that seven area juniors have been named as the 2014 Boys’ State delegates. Delegates from Twentynine Palms High School are Jared Burks, Dylan Martinez and Francisco Romo, with Vincent Thomas as an alternate. From Joshua Springs Christian School is Eddie Costello, with Luke Humphreville as an alternate. And from Yucca Valley High School, Martin Kennedy, Joseph Hesse, and Bryant Pahl were selected, with William Parquette as an alternate. Boys’ State is a week-long leadership and citizen project of the American Legion, in which participants learn about the political process from the local to the state level. This year’s Boys’ State will be held in June on the campus of Sacramento State University.

MORONGO VALLEY CSD BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

The Morongo Valley CSD meets in regular session tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…

Tonight in Marengo Valley, the regular meeting of the Community Services District kicks off at 7 p.m. It is to be the first for Donna Munoz in her new position as the District’s General Manager. Among other items, attendees can expect to learn the names of locals tapped to serve on the Finance and Parks and Recreation committees. That is in addition to regular reports and items on the consent agenda. It all happens in the Covington Park Multi-Purpose Room.

MOTORCYCLE RUN SATURDAY TO BENEFIT HOMELESS VETERANS

Vets Cruzin’ for a Cause will hold its first Poker Run fundraiser for homeless veterans this Saturday, March 22. All are welcome. Start time is 7 a.m. at the Change for Vets Thrift Store, 5758   Adobe Road, in Twentynine Palms. The poker run will make three stops in Joshua Tree National Park, followed by a stop in Morongo Valley, before ending at Hi-Desert Motorcycle Supply in Yucca Valley. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third-place for best poker hands. Registration is $40 and includes a T-shirt and a meal. To pre-register, email vccpreshidesert@gmail.com. All proceeds will go to local homeless veterans.

DRUM CIRCLE TOMORROW TO CELEBRATE BEGINNING OF SPRING

The Joshua Tree Retreat Center’s open Community Drum Circle for March celebrates the beginning of spring tomorrow from 7 to 9 p.m. in the sanctuary. Well-known Marengo Basin percussionist Sam Sloneker will facilitate the gathering. Participants are encouraged to bring drums, shakers, tambourines, etc.; a number of instruments will also be available for use at the event. There is no charge to attend, though a suggested donation of $5 per participant or $10 per family will be welcomed and appreciated. The Joshua Tree Retreat Center at the Institute of Mentalphysics is located at 59700 Twentynine Palms Hwy. in Joshua Tree. For more information, call the Center at 760-365-8371.

SKY’S THE LIMIT EVENING WITH THE COSMOS SATURDAY NIGHT

The Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center will hold “An Evening with the Cosmos” this Saturday night. Reporter Taylor Thacker gets out her telescope…

The public is invited for an evening with the cosmos on Saturday, March 22 starting at 7 p.m. at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, located just north of the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park. March is the perfect month for viewing space because many constellations are in good viewing positions such as Leo, Hydra, Ursa Major and more! Also, Jupiter and its famous Giant Red Spot will be able to be viewed and you can even track its four large Galilean satellites. For those late night observers, Mars will be rising around 11 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring binoculars and telescopes to this free event on March 22. Everyone should bring snacks, water bottles, chairs, and a small flashlight (red lens preferred) and dress for unpredictable desert weather. For more information call 760-367-7222 or go online to www.skysthelimit29.org.

DESERT HILLS PRESBYTERIAN MONTHLY DINNER TONIGHT

Desert Hills Presbyterian Church has changed the date of its monthly dinner and family game night. The new date is now the third Wednesday of the month, and will start at 6 p.m. March 19. The church is located at 56750 Mountain View Trail in Yucca Valley. For more information, call 760-365-6331.

YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL ROCK-OFF SATURDAY NIGHT

Join the Yucca Valley High School staff and students for a night of fun at the annual Rock Off, Saturday, March 22, 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Yucca Valley High School. Performances will include lip singing to the Bangles, Beatles, David Bowie, and the Supremes just to name a few. This is a night of good old family entertainment. Money raised will go to seniors who are continuing their education. Refreshments will be available during intermission for a small fee. Adults $6; children 12 years and under $4. For more information please call Yucca Valley High School at 760-365-3391.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT MEETS TONIGHT

The Joshua Basin Water District will meet tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz said the District will question a proposed solar project…

At tonight’s regular board meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District directors will consider a letter to the County’s Land Use Services department to register a “Standing Objection” to the proposed 24-acre solar project that developers aim to locate on Alta Loma in Joshua Tree. Their opposition to the project is based on the developer’s unrealistic claim that it will not require water, and the developer’s failure to meet with the District in order for both interests to get a clearer picture of the long and short term impacts of such a project on Joshua Tree’s water supply. Prior to tonight’s 7 p.m. open session, the board will convene a 6 p.m. closed session in connection with labor negotiations. It all happens at the District office on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat Golf Team is 0-3 in preseason play. The ’Cats traveled to Apple Valley and Maywood Palm Valley last week and lost both matches. On Monday, the ’Cats hosted Apple Valley and suffered their first home loss. Coach Grant Whipple said the ’Cats played hard and gained valuable experience for league play that starts in a couple weeks. The stand-out for the Wildcats is Brandon Steffins. Brandon shot a 40, even par 36 and 40 in his last three matches. Brandon will be aiming to win DeAnza League most valuable player this year after winning it last year. The Wildcats will host Maywood Palms Valley today at Desert Winds Golf Course aboard the Marine Corps Base.

 

Coming up in the school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan softball and baseball teams will travel away to Desert Hot Springs to play the Golden Eagles. Both games start at 3:15.

 

The Trojan swim team will host Banning High School at home. The first event starts at 3:15.

 

Also tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat baseball and softball teams will host the Desert Mirage High School Rams at home. Both games start at 3:30 p.m.