TORTOISE ROCK CASINO OPENS TO CAPACITY CROWDS

The new Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms is a hit. Less than half an hour after the casino opened its doors to the public, it had reached its capacity crowd of just over 1100 people. Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, Congressman Raul Ruiz of Palm Springs, San Bernardino Supervisor James Ramos, Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, and Twentynine Palms Mayor Dan Mintz, were among the VIPs and dignitaries who welcomed the casino to Twentynine Palms. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the grand opening event, and files this report…

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Twentynine Palms Mayor Dan Mintz and Tribal Chairman Darrell Mike cut the ribbon to signal the official opening of Tortoise Rock Casino, while members of the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians watch.

Tribal Chairman Darrell Mike of the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians, which owns the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella, welcomed tribal members and invited guests during a private reception and ribbon cutting prior to the official opening of the Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms Monday. “This was a long hard journey. We ironed it out, we’re here, and we’re back home. A toast to the future of this community and what lies ahead. So with that, Twentynine Palms, thank you all for showing up and your support and I can’t wait to start working with the community.” Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley said it was good to have the tribe back home. “This is a special day for the Morongo Basin, Twentynine Palms. The jobs, the economy, more than that, just the connection again with the ancestral homelands.” Twentynine Palms Mayor Dan Mintz said the city was excited about having the casino. “We’re looking forward to a partnership with the tribe. As we can see, there are a lot of folks here that aren’t actually from Twentynine Palms. That’s what we’re hoping to bring in, tourism, and I think this is really going to help us. We appreciate your being here and we’re looking forward to a long partnership.” Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said he knew another group who’d be excited about the casino. “This is great for the economy, good for the community. I’m sure the Marines will appreciate the opportunity to recreate here.”

The new casino employs about 180 people, has 490 slot machines, and table games including black jack, Spanish 21, three card poker, and Texas Hold ’Em. Live entertainment will be offered every Friday and Saturday night in the lounge.

MEDICAL AID CALLED TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK TWICE SUNDAY

On Sunday, Joshua Tree fire fighters were called to Joshua Tree National Park two times. Fire Captain Steve Lasiter said just before 11 a.m., a motorcycle rider was seriously injured when he came around a curve about a mile inside the western entrance to the park, and found traffic stopped in the road. When he tried to avoid hitting the cars, he lost control of his motorcycle. Lasiter said the Mercy Air helicopter was unable to fly to the park due to Sunday’s high winds, and so the man was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs via ambulance.

 

Then about an hour later, just after noon, Joshua Tree firefighters and National Park search and rescue personnel were called to rescue a rock climber who had fallen at Headstone Rock, near the Ryan’s Ranch area. Captain Lasiter said Joshua Tree Search and Rescue lowered the 38-year-old man, who was unconscious with a head wound, to the ground. Again, Mercy Air couldn’t make the flight to the Park due to the high winds, so the climber was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs by ambulance. Lasiter added there were so many people in the park this weekend that the traffic significantly impeded their ability to get to the scenes.

MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD MEETS: ENERGY, FUNDING AND POLICY

Renewable energy, funding plans, and board policy revisions fill out the agenda of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting for tonight. Reporter Dan Stork has the schedule…

Following a brief closed session at 5:15 on pupil and employee personnel issues, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education will hold an open workshop at 5:30 on April 1 on legal considerations surrounding renewable energy. In the regular 7 pm open session, the Board will consider the Common Core Funding Plan, which describes how the District will use $1.8 million in state funds for staff training, curriculum development, and technology. The biggest single item by far goes for support of math textbook adoption, accounting for over $1 million. The Board will also address authorization of temporary borrowing between funds, a step required by the County annually, as well as policies on weapons and dangerous instruments, and school-sponsored trips.  The Board meets at Joshua Tree Elementary School, 4950 Sunburst Avenue.

WILDFLOWERS ARE OUT AND ABOUT, WE HAVE THE LINK

It’s spring, and that means it’s wildflower time in the Morongo Basin. While the drought is having an effect on the wildflower display, there are areas where wildflowers are abundant. Desert dandelions, evening primrose, and datura add color along the shoulders of Highway 62 in Joshua Tree, and along Quail Springs Road as you travel toward the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Other flowers brightening the desert landscape in Queen Valley inside the Park are phacelia, desert marigold, and sand verbena. The chollas in the Cholla Garden are just starting to bloom, while the flame-red ocotillos are just past their peak. Look for the bright red Scarlet cup and hot pink beavertail cactus flowers near Hidden Valley too. For complete information about wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park, see the link:

http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/blooms.htm

MATING RAPTORS CAUSE CLOSURE OF SOME PARK CLIMBING ROUTES

Joshua Tree National Park Interim Superintendent Andrea Compton has announced a temporary closure of a climbing and bouldering area near the Hidden Valley Campground due to nesting prairie falcons. The climbing routes include: Patagonia Pile, both east and west faces; the Head; Labor Dome; and Wall of Biblical Fallacies. The closed bouldering routes include Iron Door Cave; Voices; Tidal Wave; Tilt-o-Meter; Lizzy; Dino’s Egg; and Chuckwalla. These areas will be closed until the raptors have abandoned their nest, but Compton does not expect the closures to last beyond June 30.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL IN ROUTINE MEETING TONIGHT

The Yucca Valley Town Council meets tonight, managing editor Tami Roleff says among some routine items, the council will discuss commission appointments…

After a routine consent agenda, the Yucca Valley Town Council will be asked to approve the plans and specifications for the Town-wide slurry seal project, and open the project for bids. The Council will then amend the Council manual of procedural guidelines for committee meetings and for how appointments are made to various commissions. The Council will then hear a baseline budget review.

FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

The Santa Fe Social Clubhouse will have a USDA Food Distribution on Wednesday, April 2, at 3:00 p.m. as long as supplies last. The distribution will take place at the front of the building where there is sufficient parking. Please wear proper attire for the weather and remember there are no public restrooms available. The address of the Social Club is 56020 Santa Fe Trail, Suite M. If you have any questions about the distribution please, call 760 369-4057 and ask for Susie or Phebe.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANNING COMMISSION MEETS TONIGHT

Dan Stork says the agenda for the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission meeting tonight seems very simple…

The Twentynine Palms Planning Commission will discuss how and when a chair and vice-chair should be selected from among its members. That will be followed by the 37th study session on the review and revision of the City’s Development Code. The principal topic for this study session will be Code section on Animal Control. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. on April 1 at City Hall on Adobe Road.

HI-DESERT SAND SHARKS SWIM TEAM SIGN-UPS AND TRYOUTS THIS WEEK

The Hi-Desert Sand Sharks swim team will hold try-outs and sign-ups Wednesdays, April 2, and Thursday, April 3, for all children ages 4 to 18. Try-outs will be held at the Yucca Valley High School pool, 7600 Sage Avenue, starting at 4:30 p.m. Children must bring their birth certificate with them. Registration fee is $188 and includes swim suit, cap, and dues for the season.

56TH BOYS AND 36TH GIRLS TWENTYNINE PALMS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT RESULTS

The City of Twentynine Palms played host to the 56th Annual Boy’s and 36th Annual Girl’s Basketball Tournament this past weekend. Forty-seven teams competed for championships in seven divisions played out at local gymnasiums. In the third- and fourth-grade boys division, a very good Redondo   Beach team won. In the girls’ division, Twentynine Palms earned their way into the championship game by beating Yucca Valley and Needles. The Twentynine Palms third- and fourth-grade girls came up short and finished in second place. The fifth- and sixth-grade boys’ division saw two teams from Twentynine Palms competing for trophies. The A team was able to finish up the tournament with a win. In the girl’s division Redondo Beach took the championship. In the seventh-grade division, a team from Goodyear, Arizona took the championship. The eighth-grade girls and eighth-grade boys from Twentynine Palms went undefeated in their brackets, winning the championships for their divisions. Cory Watt, Kate Bobadilla, Carveona Garner, Victoria Pacheco, Jamie Brann, Brett Hope, Tyrell Bell and Ethan Calvert were selected to the All- Tournament Teams for their respective divisions. Lindsey Scamman and D’Shaun Barret were named MVPs for the eighth-grade girls’ and boys’ divisions. The John Bass Award for superior sportsmanship on and off the court was given to Raul Diego Navarro from Calipatria. The Lil’ Hoopsters Sportsmanship Award was awarded Carveona Garner from Twentynine Palms. The annual tournament concludes with the naming of the Hugh “Chief” Jones trophy winner, it went to KJ Morton. The Dana Casey Award for outstanding sportsmanship, attitude and excelling in school was given to Lindsey Scamman.

CAR SHOW VENDORS SOUGHT FOR MAY 3 TWENTYNINE PALMS CHAMBER EVENT

Start shining up your classic car; the annual Twentynine Palms Car Show and Street Fair is at a new date, time, and place this year. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says vendors are sought for the May 3 event…

The excitement is building for the 14th Annual Car Show and Street Fair in Twentynine Palms and the Chamber of Commerce there is looking for sponsors, vendors, and participants to be a part of the popular event. This year’s Car Show and Street Fair will be at a new date and new location.  For the first time, it’s being held at Luckie Park on Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. To learn more about how you can participate, contact the Chamber at 760-367-3445 or go to events listing at 29chamber.org.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCEDULES

Yesterday the Wildcat’s boys’ tennis team played host to the Desert Mirage High School Rams and won 12-6. Coach Larry Battle said in doubles, Edgar Sosa with partner Brian Gaddis won two out of three sets. Marcus Simon with partner Scott Clinkscales swept in doubles winning three out of three. Also sweeping in doubles was Sam Choi, who started with freshman player Jose Valdez for one set and finishing with his partner Vincent Thomas for two sets, to secure a three-out-of-three win. In singles, Jarod Burks won one out of three sets; Bradley Linkey won one out of three sets, and John Lanza won two out three sets.

 

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojans and Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat tennis teams will play each other in Yucca Valley. First serve is at 3:15.

 

The Wildcat track and swim teams will host Desert Mirage High School at home tomorrow. Track begins at 3; the swim meet starts at 3:15.

 

The Yucca Valley High School Trojan track team will host the Desert Hot Springs Golden Eagles at home tomorrow. The first event starts at 3:15.

 

And finally tomorrow, the Joshua Springs Christian School Lightning softball team will host Temecula Prep at home.