JOSHUA TREE MAN ARRESTED FOR ELDER ABUSE, IDENTITY THEFT

A Joshua Tree man was arrested late Monday night, suspected of stealing his father’s credit and debit cards. According to a Sheriff’s report, the victim, an elderly man in the 7300 block of Valley Vista Avenue in Yucca Valley, told Sheriff’s deputies four of his credit and debit cards were missing from his wallet, and had been used to charge $1500 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart. After an investigation, Roger Morrow, 52, was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and identity theft for stealing his father’s credit and debit cards. Roger Morrow was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $50,000.

FIRE DESTROYS A WONDER VALLEY HOMESTEAD CABIN

An older homestead cabin in Wonder Valley is a total loss after a fire Tuesday afternoon. According to County Fire Battalion Chief Gary Bush, Wonder Valley fire fighters, assisted by Twentynine Palms Fire Department and Combat Center fire fighters, were called to a single family residence fire in the 88000 block of Raymond Drive at 4:29 p.m. Smoke and flames were visible, and 75 percent of the home was involved in the blaze, when the units arrived. Fire fighters had to tear down the ceilings and the walls to ensure the fire was completely out. The fire was considered under control about an hour later, at 5:36. The 800-square foot home is a total loss. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

SHERIFF WARNS ABOUT SCAM TEXTS

Local residents are being targeted by scam artists who are using text messaging to try and get your personal information. Sheriff’s Safety Specialist Anita Northcutt joins us with this warning…

With online and mobile banking skyrocketing, it isn’t a surprise that scams quickly follow. One recent tactic is the use of scam texts, known as “smishing,” to steal personal information. They look like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit card” by following a link on your smart phone. Banks of all sizes have been targeted, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN. You may even inadvertently download malicious software that gives the scammer access to anything on your phone.

JOSHUA TREE TURTLE RESCUE MERGING, FOUNDER MOVING

As of Monday, March 31, the Joshua Tree Tortoise Rescue is now a part of the Heaven’s Gate Large Animal Rescue. After running the tortoise rescue organization for 17 years, founder Rae Packard will be moving to Yuma, Arizona, later this month, to serve as a chaplain at the Arizona State Prison there. While the website and email address will remain the same, the phone number for Joshua Tree Tortoise Rescue has changed to 760-490-2818. Packard thanked all her supporters for their help over the years, adding the organization could not have helped the tortoises without them.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL HEARS PRELIMINARY BUDGET, SALES TAX IS UP

The Yucca Valley Town council heard some good financial news last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was at that meeting and files this report…

The Yucca Valley Town Council heard some mostly encouraging news at its meeting Tuesday night. Sales tax revenues, which have been mostly flat in previous years, are expected to increase by about 4.5 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year, and by 5.5 percent the next year after that. The expected increase is due to new retail stores in Yucca Valley, such as Tractor Supply, Marshall’s, Petco, and Ross. In addition, property taxes are projected to increase by 3.5 and 2.5 percent over the next two fiscal years. Council member Bob Leone had a suggestion for another way to increase revenue for the Town: the Transient Occupancy Tax, or TOT, charged on hotel rooms. “It’s not going to affect the people in town; it’s a tourism tax. We are the lowest community in the entire area. Nobody’s got 7 percent tax on the TOT. That should be something we should look into and move forward in an effort to bring it up to the current standard of other communities.”

The Council also heard about road maintenance, in which 7.4 miles of Joshua Drive and Joshua Lane would receive slurry seal and cape seal. The Council authorized the project to go out to bid, with an awarding of the estimated $550,000 contract expected in June.

CHARLES MCHENRY ANNOUNCES RUN FOR YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL

Another resident has announced he intends to run for a seat on the Yucca Valley Town Council. Charles McHenry told Z107.7 news Tuesday that he is declaring his candidacy for one of the three seats that will be up for election this November. Council members Dawn Rowe and Merl Abel have already announced they do not intend to seek re-election; Council Member Bob Leone has said he is still considering whether to run or not. McHenry, who has served on the Town’s Traffic Commission and General Plan Advisory Committee, works on the Marine base in Twentynine Palms for the Exercise Support Division.

MORONGO BASIN TRANSIT AUTHORITY BOARD MEETS TOMORROW

Morongo Basin Transit Authority Board of Directors will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the MBTA Operations Center on Verbena Road in Joshua Tree. The board will recognize State Road-eo competitors. Among the items on the consent agenda are treasurer, ridership, operations, administrative and financial reports. Under new business, the board will hold public hearings on: approving a new fare schedule and approving a grant request for $471,000 for operating assistance. The board will also be asked to adopt a conflict of interest code. The board will then go into closed session for an evaluation of the general manager.

MORONGO BASIN SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD: LABOR AGREEMENTS AND SOLAR ENERGY

Imminent labor agreements and solar energy highlighted the Board of Education meeting last night. Reporter Dan Stork says that funding measures and policy revisions were also dealt with…

In their regular reports to the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education, the representatives of the District labor unions told about progress made toward agreements. Morongo Teachers Association representative Jason Bolt said that the MTA membership has approved the Tentative Agreement reached during bargaining with the District, and awaits District response. Classified employee rep Maria Brunetti said that her union will vote April 10 on a Tentative Agreement that calls for a 5.77 percent increase, retroactive to last July. The Common Core Funding Plan was approved, as was authorization for temporary borrowing between funds (which is not expected to be needed). Revisions to a policy on weapons and dangerous instruments was approved, but another policy on student trips was held over for further review.

In a public workshop before the regular meeting, the Board heard an informal presentation from Kathleen McKee, a lawyer who specializes in guiding school districts through solar energy implementations. McKee advised on how to seek vendors, and on elements that can or should be explicit in contracts. An example: if a vendor guarantees that 80 percent (to use a typical contractual agreement) of a district’s electricity needs can be met from on-site solar, and if delivery falls below that mark, then the solar vendor should be on the hook for the shortfall. McKee also gave high marks to PsomasFMG, the solar vendor that gave a presentation to the Board recently.

ART RECEPTIONS IN TWENTYNINE PALMS AND WONDER VALLEY

An opening artists’ reception will be held Friday, April 4, for “The Desert Rocks! Life on the Faultline” at the Twentynine Palms Visitor Center. Presented by the Twentynine Palms Public Arts Advisory Committee, the exhibition features two- and three-dimensional artworks by more than 30 desert artists. The public is invited to the opening reception Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to meet the artists, enjoy refreshments, and listen to music by Jamie Hafler. Admission is free. The “Desert Rocks!” art show will be on display at the gallery 10 to 4 daily through June. The Visitor Center is located at 73484 29 Palms Highway in downtown Twentynine Palms.

 

Local artists will be exhibiting at the Glass Outhouse Art Gallery in Wonder Valley in April. An opening reception is set for Saturday, April 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. Featured artists include Ray Yeager, Mary Best, Douglas O. Smith, Suzanne Ross, Laura Peterson Volz, Bill Dahl, George Howell, Cinda Lassen, and Karin Mayer. The Glass Outhouse is located at 77575 Highway 62, east of the Twentynine Palms airport.

DESERT CHIC PART TO BENEFIT TWENTYNINE PALMS HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Tickets are still available for the Desert Chic Wine and Cheese Social this Saturday night, April 5, sponsored by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society at the historic home of Bill and Prudie Underhill, Broadview Hacienda. This fundraiser, besides teaching you a little about pairing wine and cheese, will support the Old Schoolhouse Museum. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets are $25 per person for Society members and $30 for non-members. The event will be held from 4:30 to 7:30, 73452 Sunnyslope Drive. For more information, email splproj@29palmshistorical.org.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT LOOKS AT 5-YEAR PROJECT WITH JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

The Joshua Basin Water District Board meets tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the board will look at a unique program with Joshua Tree National Park….

At tonight’s regular 7 p.m. board meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District directors will consider approval of a five-year pilot program between the District and the Park Service. The program involves collaboration on native plant issues. If approved, it is believed the agreement will become a model for the National Park Service to follow with other communities. In other actions the board will consider a resolution in support of a statewide water action plan. It all happens at the District office on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.

HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT TO WEIGH CONTRACTOR VERSUS IN-HOUSE FOR SEWER CONSTRUCTION

The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets in a special meeting tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff tell us why…

The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors will begin its regular meeting Wednesday with a closed session, starting at 5:30, to discuss potential litigation. The open session will begin at 6. After hearing reports on project delivery methods and treatment technology options for the wastewater plant, the Board will review the costs of using a contractor versus in-house crews to construct the sewer system. The meeting will be held in the water district’s office at Inca Trail and the highway in Yucca Valley.

PRESCHOOL STORY TIME TOMORROW AT TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY

Calling all preschooler aged children. The Twentynine Palms Library’s preschool story time is walking through the alphabet. This Thursday, April 3, preschool story time will be exploring the letter T. Children are invited to bring something to share that begins with the featured letter. Parents and babysitters are invited to bring their  three-, four-, and five-year-olds to attend this free program. Preschool story time is held every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at the Twentynine Palms Library. For more information about preschool story time, please call the Twentynine Palms Branch Library at 760-367-9519.

RETIRED TEACHERS TO MEET

The California Retired Teachers’ Association will meet at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 11, at the Helen Gray Center on White Feather Road in Joshua Tree. The guest speaker will be Ellen Suglow, an exchange student from Ghana who, through the sponsorship of AFS (American Field Service), is attending Twentynine Palms High School this year. Please call Sherry Craft, 760-881-5275, no later than Monday, April 7, if you wish to reserve lunch.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Twentynine Palms Wildcat golf team hosted Desert Mirage yesterday at Desert Winds Golf Course aboard the Marine Base and won their DeAnza League opener, 245-275. The ’Cats are now 1-0 in league play. Coach Grant Whipple said Brandon Steffins led the way with a solid 38, followed by Ty Lueken, 46.

 

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School and Yucca Valley High School golf teams will tee off against each other, starting at 2:45.

 

The Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat baseball and softball teams will host the Desert Hot Springs Golden Eagles at home. Both games start at 3:30 tomorrow.

 

Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan baseball team will host the Shadow Hills Knights at home; first pitch is at 3:15.

 

And finally, the Joshua Springs Lightning baseball team will travel away tomorrow to Redland Adventist Academy. Game time is 4 p.m.