Earthquake Jolts Southern California

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake, centered in La Habra, jolted Southern California at 9:11 p.m. tonight. The earthquake came about an hour after a 3.6 earthquake, also centered in La Habra, and was followed by two more aftershocks, with a magnitude of 3.4 at 9:11 and 3.6 9:30. The Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Department has received no reports of damage or injuries.

THREE TWENTYNINE PALMS RESIDENTS MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAJOR CRIME SPREE

Sheriff’s investigators may have broken a major regional crime spree. Three Twentynine Palms residents were arrested Tuesday, accused of stealing merchandise and attempting to return it for a refund. According to the Sheriff’s Department, Suzanne Torres, 32, Patrick Wunderlee, 30, and Scott Downen, 61, went to the Food for Less in Yucca Valley about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

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Scott Downen

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Suzanne Torres

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Patrick Wunderlee

Store security personnel watched as Torres and Downen stole several items from the grocery store. Once outside, Torres and Downen are accused of giving the merchandise to Wunderlee, who then brought the merchandise back in to the store with a fake receipt to get a cash refund. When store personnel confronted them, all three suspects fled. After an investigation, detectives identified the three suspects, whom they believe are also responsible for stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise from stores such as Walmart, Food for Less, Home Depot, Big Lots, and Rite-Aid, in Beaumont, Banning, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley. Suzanne Torres, Patrick Wunderlee, and Scott Downen were arrested for investigation of burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime and booked at the Morongo Basin Jail. Their bail ranges from $25,000 to $60,000 each. Booking photos of Suzanne Torres and Scott Downen can be seen with this story at z1077fm.com. Anyone with information about the suspects, or businesses who may have been targeted by the suspects, should call Deputy Jacob Naylor at the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.

COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS TRAIN IN YUCCA VALLEY

Local county firefighters are constantly training to keep their skills sharp. Managing editor Tami Roleff tells us how…
During the month of February, Yucca Valley firefighters responded to only four fires. In order to keep their skills sharp, County Fire Captain Steve Lasiter says they have to practice and train for different conditions.

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Last week, county firefighters practiced using fire hoses for defensive and offensive fire-fighting techniques in a dirt field behind the Monterrey Business Center in Yucca Valley. “Today we came out to do our heavy attack, multi-company drill.” That’s fire-fighter-speak for fighting a large fire with fire fighters from different fire stations. In offensive fire-fighting, fire fighters advance the stream of water from the hose into the fire to try and put it out before it causes extensive damage to the structure. Defensive fighting means the structure is a total loss from the fire and firefighters use the stream of water to prevent the fire from spreading to other structures nearby. Lasiter said it was a morning to test their skills. “Pull hose and flow some water and see where our skills lie.”

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER REQUEST TO CHANGE ELECTIONS DENIED

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors, the Directors learned that the Water District’s request to move their elections to even years had been denied, so the elections will continue to take place on odd years. On the Fire side, there were 158 calls for help during February, and two were big fires. Fire Chief Jim Thompson reminds residents of the fire workshop this Saturday at 9 a.m.

WELL-OWNERS INVITED TO WEBINAR SERIES

Three free webinars for homeowners with wells will be offered in April. The webinars will be presented by the National Ground Water Association and will cover groundwater protection on April 2; well maintenance on April 9; and well flooding on April 17. Well owners should register now at www.wellowner.org, and click on the button to register for the 10 a.m. webinars and online lessons.

INDOOR AND OUTDOOR GRUBSTAKE DAYS BOOTHS NOW AVAILABLE

It is springtime, and that means it is time to start planning for the Annual Grubstake Days Community Fair in Yucca Valley. Reporter Dan Stork says it is time to reserve your booth…
The Yucca Valley Grubstakes Days event, on Saturday May 24, will include a Home and Craft show, at the Boys and Girls Club. Booths will be both indoors and outdoors. More than half of the 31 indoor spaces have been spoken for, but several spots are still available. Some of the already-reserved spaces will feature jewelry, pens, and stamping. Non-profit organizations can get spots along with the already signed-up Historical Society. Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Nankervis told us that she would particularly like to add vendors or exhibitors that focus on home improvement and gardening. Potential exhibitors can download an application for space from yuccavalley.org. The outside booths and entertainment area will open immediately following the Grubstake Days Parade and will run until 5:00 pm. Grubstakes Days is being sponsored by Hi-Desert Publishing, Z107.7 Radio, the Basin-Wide Foundation and the Town of Yucca Valley.

14TH ANNUAL CAR SHOW AND STREET FAIR COMING TO TWENTYNINE PALMS MAY 3

The excitement is building for this year’s 14th Annual Car Show and Street Fair in Twentynine Palms. The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for sponsors, vendors, and participants to be a part of this very popular community event. Bigger and better than ever before, this year’s festivities are going to be held at Luckie Park on Saturday, May 3, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of all the fun. For more information on how you can participate, please contact the Chamber at 760-367-3445 or visit their website events listing at www.29chamber.org.

A MARATHON AT SKY’S THE LIMIT TOMORROW

It’s a marathon at Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center tomorrow. Reporter Taylor Thacker explains……
Hardy stargazers are invited to a Messier Marathon on Saturday, March 29, at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center. Starting at approximately 7:00 p.m. and ending at sunrise, this free event is open to the public and features a grand tour of Charles Messier’s deep sky objects, cataloged in the late 18th century. At this time of year it is possible to view most, if not all, of Messier’s 110 nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters in a single night. This will be a night of education in navigating the sky, reading star maps, and operating your telescopes. Participants will be able to view objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy, Crab Nebula, Milky Way, Leo, Virgo, Jupiter, Saturn, and many more! Everyone should bring snacks, water bottles, chairs, and a small flashlight (red lens preferred) and dress for unpredictable desert weather. For more information call 650-678-0179 or go online to www.skysthelimit29.org.

TAY CENTER OFFERS YOUNG HOMELESS SERVICES

Pacific Clinic’s TAY Center offers young adults a safe and comfortable place to define and accomplish their life goals. Clients can come to the TAY Center to meet their basic needs such as a meal, shower and a place to do laundry. Once they become drop-in clients they can utilize additional services, such as counseling, job training, housing referrals, enrichment groups, medication support services, and a place to meet new people. For more information contact the TAY Center at 760-228-9657 or visit them at 58945 Business Center Drive, Suite D in Yucca Valley.

ANIMAL ACTION LEAGUE OFERING LOW-COST VACCINES AND MICROCHIPPING

The Animal Action League will be offering low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics in April for dogs and cats, as well as low-cost spaying and neutering. No appointments are necessary for vaccines or microchips; appointments are required for spay and neutering services. Microchips are only $15, and can help reunite you with your lost pet. Clinics will be held in Joshua Tree, behind the dinosaurs on Highway 62, from 10 to 2 on April 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 21, 23, 28, and 29. To make an appointment for spay or neutering, call 760-322-4560. Visit animalactionleague.us for updated schedules on clinics.

LOCAL AUTHOR AT THE TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY TOMORROW

A local author has finished her fourth book and will be at the Twentynine Palms Library tomorrow for a signing. Managing editor Tami Roleff has your invitation…
Accomplished author Mari Collier has just published her fourth science-fiction novel, “Return to Maca.” A Twentynine Palms resident, Collier will hold a book signing at the Twentynine Palms Library Saturday at 2 p.m. “Return to Maca” continues the stories from her earlier books, “Earthbound,” “Gather the Children,” and “Before We Leave.” Collier said each book can be read as a stand-alone novel without reading the others first. “Return to Maca” and her other books will be available for purchase at the book signing.

A BUSY KITCHEN AT THE JOSHUA TREE VFW

The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will be serving up a pulled pork dinner with potato salad, tonight from 4:00 to 6:00, for a $7 donation. No Sunday breakfast is scheduled. But don’t forget Taco Wednesday from 11 to 1.

FREE MEAL IN TWENTYNINE PALMS TOMORROW

The Food for Life meal for tomorrow will be served by Gospel Fellowship at Little Church of the Desert Community Hall in Twentynine Palms from 3 to 5 p.m.

STAR TWIRLERS SQUARE DANCE TONIGHT

The Star Twirlers Square Dance Club is hosting a plus-level square dance at the Yucca Valley Elks Lodge tonight. John Walter will be calling squares from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Lines will be cued from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. and between tips. For more information contact Dennis at 366-8626.

TRUE VINE CAR WASH TOMORRROW

The True Vine Fellowship Ministry will hold a carwash fundraiser tomorrow to support its youth and community outreach program. The carwash will be from 9 to 2 in the Santana’s parking lot (73680 Sun Valley Drive) in Twentynine Palms.

TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL TALENT SHOW SATURDAY NIGHT AT 6:00

The 14th annual Interact Club-sponsored Talent Show, “Showtime in the Desert” will be at Twentynine Palms High School Tomorrow. ROP Broadcast Student Lexi Wade invites you to the fun…
The Twentynine Palms High School Interact Club is having their annual Showtime in the Desert talent show. Be there Saturday, March 29, to watch 15 different students show off their vocal, instrumental, acting, and dancing talents with a special performance by Eduardo Basil. All will be hosted by Z1077’s Gary Daigneault. There will be cash prizes for the first, second, third place winners and the first place winner will get their name on the perpetual trophy. Be there ready to listen and watch the amazing talents of Twentynine Palms High School students at 6 p.m. at the Twentynine Palms High School MPR. Tickets are $5 at the door and children 12 and under are free. Proceeds from this event will be used to support college scholarship funds. For any questions regarding the talent show, please contact Mrs. Cosgriff at 760-367-9591, extension 46.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULE

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School track team will travel to Covina. The meet starts at 8 a.m.

Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan swim team will travel to Hemet to participate in the Hemet Invitational Meet.