VICTIM IN SUNDAY NIGHT JOSHUA TREE CRASH DIES, MORE DETAILS OF CRASH

One of the victims of a horrific DUI crash in Joshua Tree Sunday evening has died, and four others—including a 1-year-old toddler— remain hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Angela Matthews, 25, a passenger in a red 2011 Mazda 6 driven by her husband, Christopher Matthews, 28, died at Desert Hospital in Palms Springs at 2:47 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

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Angela Matthews, 25, died Monday at Desert Hospital in Palms Springs, two days after a horrific crash in Joshua Tree Sunday. Her husband, Christopher, and 1-year-old daughter Dakota remain hospitalized in critical condition.

Christopher Matthews, a Marine assigned to the Provost Marshall’s Office on board the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, had to be cut out of his car using the Jaws of Life; he is also hospitalized at Desert Hospital with critical injuries. His young daughter, Dakota, remains at Loma Linda Hospital with critical injuries. According to the California Highway Patrol, Jennifer Zapata, 22, of Magna, Utah, is suspected of driving under the influence when her white 2005 Hyundai Sonata crossed the center line and crashed head-on in the Matthews’ eastbound car, west of Arizona Avenue on Highway 62 about 6:45 p.m. Also critically injured in the crash were Zapata and Evelyn Martinez, 20, of West Valley, Utah, a passenger in the Hyundai with Zapata. Jennifer Zapata was arrested for felony driving under the influence causing injury, and will be booked if she survives her injuries.

The Matthews family has set up a fundraising site to help relatives from Georgia travel to California to be with the injured family: http://www.gofundme.com/8cgnks

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL ALLOCATES COMMUNITY FUNDS, STILL NO TOWN MANAGER

Yucca Valley still has no Town Manager….The Town Council met last night., Managing Editor Tami Roleff said community funds were announced and speed limits were lowered…

Despite an agenda that said the Yucca Valley Town Council would meet in closed session last night to consider the appointment of an employee to Town Manager, Town Staff said no reportable action was expected at the conclusion of last night’s meeting. In other business, the Council heard recommendations from staff about partnership funding requests. The Town received funding requests from 11 agencies totaling $111,400; staff recommended granting requests totaling $80,500 to six organizations: Boys and Girls Club ($16,000); Chamber of Commerce (for marketing and Grubstakes Community Fair, $24,500, including $12,000 in “in-kind” contributions); Desert Regional Tourism Association ($22,500, including $12,000 in “in-kind” contributions); Yucca Valley Rotary for fireworks and Festival of Lights ($9,000, including $500 in in-kind contributions); Morongo Basin Tennis Association ($2,500, including $1,000 in in-kind contributions); Healthy Generations for roof repair ($6,000), (less $16,000 charged to other departments). The Council also agreed to lower speed limits from 40 miles per hour to 35 on portions of five roads: Grand Avenue from Mt. View Trail to Joshua Drive; Joshua Lane from Highway 62 to Yucca Trail; Onaga Trail from Alaba Avenue to Palomar Avenue; and Yucca Trail from Airway Avenue to Joshua Lane; and from 40 miles per hour to 25 on Pioneertown Road from Highway 62 to Yucca Trail. And finally, the Council heard a presentation about the new sidewalks, complete with photos showing that the sidewalks are wide enough for wheelchairs even in areas where trees and power poles jog out into the sidewalk. Sheriff’s Lt. Russ Wilke, in discussing the recent horrific highway crashes in the Morongo Basin, commended the cooperation among the fire departments, Sheriff’s Department, and California Highway Patrol.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MARINE TANK OFFICER TO GET PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

A Marine Corps tank officer from the Twentynine Palms base who led his company to victory in a five-day battle against insurgents in Afghanistan last year will be honored with the prestigious Leftwich Trophy later this year.

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Captain Christopher Ashinhurst, who received the Bronze Star in January 2014 for his actions during combat in Afghanistan, will be honored with the prestigious Leftwich Trophy later this year.

Capt. Christopher Ashinhurst, commander of Delta Company, 1st Tank Battalion, will receive the annual award that recognizes an outstanding Marine captain in the ground forces. Ashinhurst was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Valor Device for exceptional bravery during a grueling fight against enemy forces that had surrounded and cut off a Marine special operations team in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Under Ashinhurst’s leadership, his company was able to kill 60 insurgents and disrupt the efforts of the enemy. Ashinhurst later led his company to assist allies after an outpost had been attacked, rendering aid to a Georgian soldier and organizing the transport of casualties to medical aid. He later maneuvered his tanks to protect against further enemy attacks.

SCHOOL BOARD MEETS, TEACHERS RAISES APPROVED

Teachers and substitutes for the Marengo Unified School District got a pay raise at the Board of Education’s regular meeting last night. Reporter Dan Stork has the details…

A standing-room-only crowd of mostly parents and students were treated to a performance by the Japanese Dan Group of Joshua Tree Elementary School at the start of last night’s meeting of the Board of Education of the Morongo Unified School District. The crowd stayed on to witness about 60 students from around the District be honored for perfect scores of 600 on some state achievement tests last year.  The names of the honored students, and their schools, are listed at the end of this story.

The Board then got down to regular business, which included accepting the tentative agreement with the teacher’s union. The new contract has a 5 percent increase in the overall basic scale. With step increases, the average teacher will have a 6 percent increase over current salary. According to the public-released summary of the proposed agreement, the average total compensation—salary and benefits—per full-time equivalent certificated employee will be a shade under $90,000 per year. Classified hourly substitute pay was also increased, to keep pace with the impending changes in the California minimum wage to $9 per hour.

The Board also approved participation in a Joint Powers Authority with many other school districts to share legal representation. This results in a lowered rate of only $230 per hour for legal services.

The Board also approved several course outlines in biology and technology, plus math for the junior high school Common Core curriculum. During public comment, culinary students brought to the Board’s attention new state regulations that keep them from selling what they make to students and teachers, resulting in a loss of financial support for their classes.

The students who registered perfect scores on a California standardized test last year were:

Condor Elementary School  
Talia Goody
Friendly Hills Elementary School  
Collin Betts
Elizabeth Doerr
Andrew Fellbaum
Sara Mills
Genesis Rialmo
Rylie Rohr
Neryssa Tarrant
Joshua Tree Elementary School  
Gavin Chriss
Anwyn Hilderbrand
Griffin Hilderbrand
Gabrielle Jordan
La Contenta Middle School  
Zoe Beers
Christopher Brown
Caitlyn Ruggiero
Shane Scott
Landers Elementary School
Haley McGinness
James Reed
Logan Simms
Nathan Stainbrook
Morongo Valley Elementary
Brooke Altum Anderson
Destinee Dewett
Natalie Mondry
Elisa Murray
Katch Smith
Oasis Elementary School  
Brendan Crow
Kirsten Dunphy
Irene Harlan
Gabriel Loman Rangel
Onaga Elementary School  
Alexia Edelbrock
Alejandro Garcia
Jaylene Harmon
Kyle Hickenbottom
Meagan Lowe
Deja Neeley
Gabriel Osborne
Marquis Ramirez
Christopher Russo
Claire Sanchez
Palm Vista Elementary School  
Samuel Niles
Weston Pratt
Twentynine Palms Elementary School  
Robert Johnson
Alexis Tobin
Twentynine Palms High School  
Suhas Arehalli
Heather Centner
Jake Culver
Joshua Elmer
Kevin Johnson
Lauren Tuck
Twentynine Palms Junior High School  
Alexander Rodriguez
Vanessa Walton
Yucca Mesa Elementary School  
Christopher Davis
Markina Evdokimoff
Coralie Gross
Faith Roses
Yucca Valley Elementary School  
Amanda Belisle
Kayla Brundige
Angel Rodriguez
Yucca Valley High School  
Dan Armitage
Joseph Hesse
Preston Hill
Jazmin Pushkar
Onyx Ramirez
Danielle Tate

 

AN ARREST AFTER A FIGHT AT THE YUCCA VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER

A fight at the Yucca Valley Community Center Monday morning led to the arrest of a man for felony spouse abuse. According to a Sheriff’s report, Charles Whitehead, 36, of Oroville, and Jennifer Boatright, 26, of Yucca Valley, were waiting for the Yucca Valley Library to open about 10:30 a.m. when they started arguing. Witnesses said Whitehead kicked and slapped Boatright, cutting her lip. Charles Whitehead was arrested for investigation of felony spouse abuse, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $50,000. Jennifer Boatright was arrested for drunk and disorderly, was cited and released.

14-YEAR-OLD INJURED PLAYING WITH BLACK POWDER

A teenager got a little more bang than he bargained for when he was playing with some black powder Tuesday. According to the Sheriff’s Department, shortly before 5 p.m. in the 400 block of Mt. Nebo Road in Joshua Tree, a 14-year-old boy poured some loose black powder into an aluminum soda can and then lit the powder with a lighter. The black powder blew up and gave the boy severe flash burns. The boy was taken to Arrowhead Medical Center. The Sheriff’s Department bomb and arson squad is investigating.

MORONGO VALLEY CSD BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

The Morongo Valley CSD Board will meet tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says surplus items and selection of new legal counsel are all on the agenda…

Morongo Valley seniors are invited to a brown bag lunch in Covington Park at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. The Morongo Valley Community Services District will provide beverages and dessert. Come meet the District’s new general manager, Donna Munoz, and Fire Chief Jock Johnson. The Senior Affairs Commission will be on hand to advise seniors of the services available to them in the basin. Plans will be made for future senior lunches, crafts, outings, and games. For more information, call Charlie or Donna at 760-363-6454.

SENIORS INVITED TO BROWN BAG LUNCH IN MORONGO VALLEY TOMORROW

Morongo Valley seniors are invited to a brown bag lunch in Covington Park at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. The Morongo Valley Community Services District will provide beverages and dessert. Come meet the District’s new general manager, Donna Munoz, and Fire Chief Jock Johnson. The Senior Affairs Commission will be on hand to advise seniors of the services available to them in the basin. Plans will be made for future senior lunches, crafts, outings, and games. For more information, call Charlie or Donna at 760-363-6454.

MORONGO BASIN HORSEMAN HOST FREE EVENING WITH EQUINE VET FRIDAY

An equine vet will be the speaker at a free event sponsored by the Morongo Basin Horsemen’s Association. Dr. Ron Lenhert from the Apple Valley Equine Hospital will answer questions and discuss equine topics such as feed, lameness, colic, fly allergies, and basic first aid on Friday, April 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. The event will be held at the Joshua Tree Community Center on Sunburst Avenue. For more information call Kim Ortamond at 760-367-1120.

HI-DESERT WATER BOARD MEETS TONIGHT IN BUSY SESSION

The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight, Managing Editor Tami Roleff takes a look at the agenda……

The Board of Directors of the Hi-Desert Water District has a busy meeting planned for tonight. Among the items on the agenda, the board will be asked to approve a contract with a real estate appraiser; elect a candidate and alternate to the Local Agency Formation Commission; and will hear a presentation on outreach efforts for the wastewater reclamation project. The board will be asked to approve selecting an outside contractor to construct the wastewater collection system, and will be asked to dedicate a source for repayment of loans for the wastewater reclamation project. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in District offices on the Highway at Inca Trail in Yucca Valley.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT MEETING CANCELLED

Tonight’s regular meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District Board of Directors has been canceled. The next regular meeting is scheduled for April 30.

RECENT JOSHUA TREE ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE AWARDED PULITZER PRIZE

Harrison House Music and Arts congratulates recent composer-in-residence John Luther Adams on winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for music, for his composition “Become Ocean.”  The piece is described by the Pulitzer jury as “an orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.”

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Photo Courtesy: Eva Soltes

John Luther Adams, a former resident of Alaska, considers composer Lou Harrison to be a life-long mentor. In addition to his 2013 Harrison House composing residency, which provided him with an inspirational setting in the Mojave Desert, Adams recently joined Frid Frith, Mark Morris, Bob Ostertag, Terry Riley and Ralph Samuelson as the newest member of their Artistic Advisory Board. Harrison House Music and Arts is an artist residency, performance and community arts program based in the straw bale retreat built by the late composer, Lou Harrison. Gifted artists are invited into this historic and remarkable acoustic environment to share their art with audiences and participants in an intimate setting.

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE IN YUCCA VALLEY

An Easter Sunrise Service is planned for 6 a.m. April 20 in the amphitheater at Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley. Hosted by the Evangelical Free Church, the service will be followed by a pancake breakfast and regular church service at 10:15 a.m. Desert Christ Park is located at 56200 Sunnyslope Drive in Yucca Valley.

EARTH DAY CELEBRATION IN YUCCA VALLEY SATURDAY

Earth Day will be celebrated with an annual celebration in Yucca Valley that gets bigger and better every year. Reporter Taylor Thacker invites you to join Z107.7 as we broadcast live from the Earth Day event…

In honor of Earth Day, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will celebrate the diversity of life on earth with a day of activities that will inform, educate, and entertain visitors. Yucca Valley’s 2014 Earth Day Fair will take place on Saturday, April 19, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Town of Yucca Valley’s Community Center Complex. Admission is free. Local experts will be on hand to provide demonstrations on gardening with native plants, growing your own food, composting, and recycling.  This family-oriented event includes live music and dancing, animal presentations, face painting, and kids’ activities, in addition to booths featuring local artists and environmental education resources. For more information call 760-369-7212.

YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL SWIM TEAM ITALIAN DINNER TOMORROW

The Yucca Valley High School Swim Team will be hosting an Italian Dinner tomorrow night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Yucca Valley High School multi-purpose room. Tickets are $10, and the meal includes a delicious fettuccine, Italian salad, garlic bread, dessert cookie, and drink. Come out and support the Trojan swimmers.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School golf, softball, and baseball teams will all travel away to Desert Hot Springs to play the Golden Eagles. Tee time for golf is 3 p.m.; first pitch for softball and baseball is at 3:15.

 

Also tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat golf, baseball, and softball teams will play the Desert Mirage High School Rams. The golf team will travel away to Thermal; tee time is 2:45. The Wildcat baseball and softball teams will play at home; first pitch is at 3:30.