CHARGED UPGRADED TO MANSLAUGHTER AGAINST WOMAN ACCUSED IN JOSHUA TREE DUI

The charges against a woman accused of causing a head-on crash in Joshua Tree 10 days ago that killed a woman and critically injured her husband and 1-year-old daughter, were upgraded Saturday from felony DUI to gross vehicular manslaughter. According to the California Highway Patrol, Jennifer Zapata, 22, of Magna, Utah, was driving a white Hyundai Sonata that drifted across the center line while driving westbound on Highway 62 about 6:45 p.m. April 13. Her car crashed head-on into an eastbound red Mazda 6 near Arizona Avenue, driven by Lance Corporal Chris Matthews, 28, a Marine assigned to the Provost Marshall’s Office at the Twentynine Palms Marine base. Angela Matthews, his 25-year-old wife, died two days later at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. Matthews and his 1-year-old daughter, Dakota, were critically injured, as were Zapata and a passenger in her car, Evelyn Martinez, 20, also of Utah. Zapata is being held at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on $250,000 bail. If convicted, Jennifer Zapata could face up to 10 years in state prison.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN FORMALLY CHARGED IN CLAREMONT RAPE

A 34-year-old Yucca Valley man was formally charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with multiple sex crimes against children. Joseph Davall is charged with seven felony counts, including four charges of sexual assault, two burglary charges, and making criminal threats. According to Claremont police, Davall broke into a 12-year-old girl’s home on the night of March 21 and sexually assaulted her while she was home alone. Police linked Davall to the case through DNA. Claremont police staked out Davall’s home in the 7600 block of Joshua Lane, and with the assistance of local Sheriff’s deputies, arrested him after a short pursuit early Friday morning. Joseph Davall is being held in the Los Angeles County Jail with his bail set at $5 million. If convicted, Davall could face a maximum sentence of life without parole.

PROJECT PHOENIX UPDATE AT TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL MEETING

Rolling stock inventory condition, capital improvement schedule, the law enforcement costs of homelessness, city signage, and Project Phoenix status were all discussed at the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting last night. Reporter Dan Stork has details…

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Design for a proposed Twentynine Palms “wayfinding” sign, approved by the City Council.

Cary Harwin delivered the quarterly report of the Desert Regional Tourism Authority, emphasizing its efforts to promote Twentynine Palms, and decrying the shortcomings of the state’s California Welcome Center web site.

A Sheriff’s Department representative told the Council that an arrest of a homeless person for vagrancy or panhandling is followed by 4 to 6 hours of administrative processing, followed by release back onto the streets. The Department’s HOPE program is trying to reduce costs and recidivism by instead directing homeless arrestees to resources that can address their problems more meaningfully.

City Attorney Patrick Munoz delivered a detailed history of the controversial Project Phoenix bond dispute, up to the recent court decision favorable to the City’s view that it can apply bond proceeds to downtown revitalization. Council adjourned to closed session at the end of the open meeting to discuss the litigation with the Department of Finance further.

As part of the budget review process, City staff surveyed the state of “rolling stock” inventory—trucks, mowers, and the like. The Council approved a request to retire several aged or chronically troublesome pieces of equipment.

Council approved the design of new highly-reflective city way-finding and street signs on city-maintained roadway, pending approval by Caltrans of the same design for Route 62. Council also approved the purchase of sign-making equipment.

Finally, Council approved a multi-year capital improvement plan with regard to its goals. Concrete financial allocations for specific projects will be addressed later in the budget process.

MIKE LIPSITZ NAMED FIELD REP FOR COUNTY SUPERVISOR

Mike Lipsitz, honorary mayor of Landers, Z107.7 reporter, chair of the Municipal Advisory Commission, and out-going president of the Morongo Basin Democratic Club, was officially named as field representative for the County’s Third District Supervisor James Ramos Tuesday. Lipsitz’s contract was approved at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting. Supervisor Ramos said, “Mike’s previous positions have provided him with insight into the different issues facing the diverse communities in the Basin. He has been a key community member for several years and I feel he will be a dedicated and hardworking field representative for the residents in the Morongo Basin.” Lipsitz will work out of the Supervisor’s Joshua Tree District Office, located in the county government building on 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.

THIEVES STEAL CABLE FROM YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL

The Yucca Valley High School was burglarized over the weekend. According to a Sheriff’s report, about 1,000 feet of black power cable was stolen from the school’s construction site. The cable, which was attached to wooden poles, is valued at about $4,000. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating.

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER AND FIRE DISTRICTS MEET TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms Water District and Fire Department will hold their monthly meeting tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker joins us again to tell us what’s on the agenda…

The Twentynine Palms Water District and Fire Department are scheduled to have their monthly meetings this week. On Wednesday, April 23, starting at 6:00 p.m., the Water District will have a public hearing on the proposed adoption of a resolution to update the groundwater management plan. The Water District Board members will also discuss the declaration of making May the Water Awareness Month. Immediately following this meeting is the Fire Department meeting. The board of directors will discuss future fire department expenses and possibly request a voter survey for the proposed fire tax measure. Both of these meetings take place at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.

BIGHORN-DESERT VIEW WATER AGENCY AGREES TO ANNEX PART OF LANDERS

At last night’s meeting of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, Directors approved a resolution to apply to the Local Agency Formation Commission for annexation of nearly 6,000 acres in east Landers now served by County Special Districts 70W-1. So today, General Manager Marina West will go to the City of San Bernardino to deliver the application. Expectations are that the application will be approved, but the process will likely take until December. According to the Agency’s Plan for Service, ratepayers in 70W-1 can expect their Basic Service Charge to drop as little as 6 percent all the way down to 44 percent and their water usage charges will be 37 percent to 52 percent less than they currently pay. The variations based on meter size. Also last night, the board approved a cost of living increase which will increase their per diem compensation from $105 to $110.25.

REACH OUT SPONSORS AN EVENING AT THE RUIN

Come dine al fresco at an abandoned homestead cabin in beautiful Pipes Canyon during a fundraiser for Reach Out Morongo Basin. An Evening at the Ruin will be a unique dining experience, from 4 to 8 p.m. May 10, featuring a barbecue dinner by Hero’s Catering, a no-host bar with beer and margaritas, and live music by Machin’ and The Luminators. Tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple and are available at Reach Out offices in the Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms Senior Center, ArtFx and Furnishings in Yucca Valley, the Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley Chambers of Commerce, from Reach Out Board Members or by calling Reach Out at 760-361-1410.

AQUIFERS 101 ATTRACTS A CROWD

An “aquitard” is NOT exercise clothing that you wear for water aerobics. That’s one of the things that reporter Dan Stork and over 100 other attendees learned in class at Aquifers 101…

A capacity crowd at the Joshua Tree Community Center in the middle of a Friday afternoon was introduced by two US Geological Survey scientists to the science of groundwater, with particular emphasis on the water-bearing geology of the Morongo Basin. After stressing that the USGS is NOT a regulatory or policy-making agency, but is focused on basic earth science research, Dr. Tracy Nishikawa and Dave O’Leary identified the basic principal of groundwater: Water runs downhill. Then they defined many technical terms pertinent to the ability of the earth to store and transport water. They described instrumentation and drilling techniques that allow them to collect data about water movement and substances found in water at a large sample of locations. The data is used in the creation and refinement of mathematical models that are used to describe and predict the movement and makeup of water over large areas in which the drilling sites are located. In the Morongo Basin, the USGS has created test sites in the Warren Basin in the west end of the Morongo Basin, the Joshua Basin, the Copper Mountain area, and the Marine Base area.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CEMETERY DISTRICT MEETS THURSDAY

Directors for the Twentynine Palms Public Cemetery District will hold their monthly meeting Thursday, April 24, at the cemetery office, 5350 Encelia Avenue in Twentynine Palms. Among the items on the mostly routine agenda, the directors will be asked to approve the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15 and the closure of a bank account at Opus Bank. The directors will also be asked to approve an Eagle Scout project proposal, purchase of equipment for Section B development, and employee performance evaluations and possible wage increases. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

TWENTYNINE PALMS TEEN BOOK CLUB MEETS TOMORROW

The classic fantasy novel, “The Hobbit” is a tale of Precious treasure, wizards, dwarves, a dragon, and other creatures, as well as the courage and conviction of Bilbo Baggins, who goes on an adventure. Reporter Taylor Thacker says the Twentynine Palms Library teen book club will be discussing the book tomorrow…

Join the Twentynine Palms Library for their monthly teen book club meeting. On Thursday, April 24, from 4 to 5 p.m., they will discuss the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, home-loving hobbit, is quite happy to stay at home until he meets a wizard, Gandalf, and is enticed into an adventure in which he becomes an “Expert Treasure Hunter.” Together with Gandalf and a band of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins sets out to reclaim a fortune in gold that is now in the hands of Smaug the Magnificent, a terrifying dragon. Along the way they encounter threats in the guise of trolls, spiders, and wolves. Bilbo must draw upon his courage and strength of conviction to stand alone before the dragon and do what he has been chosen to do. In the end, Bilbo makes a discovery that will have far-reaching effects on the inhabitants of Middle-Earth. This event is open to teens in grades 7 to 12 and refreshments will be served. Come join the fun. For more information, call 760-367-9519.

POULTRY ASSOCIATION TO MEET TONIGHT

The High Desert Homegrown Poultry Association will hold its quarterly meeting from 6 to 8 pm tonight (Wednesday, April 23), at Yucca Mesa Community Center, 3133 Balsa Avenue off of Aberdeen on the Mesa in Yucca Valley. All chicken lovers and those who keep poultry are invited to attend. Experienced poultry people are available to help newbies get set up to raise many kinds of birds for both eggs and meat. A presentation will focus on getting newly hatched chicks off to a good start. Discussion will include information on feeding, housing, and tips on caring for new hatchlings. Children are welcome. Facebook users can find them at High Desert Homegrown Poultry Association. For more information call 760-401-0689.

COUNCIL ON AGING MEETS TOMORROW

The monthly meeting of the Morongo Basin Regional Council on Aging will be Thursday, April 24, at 12:30 p.m. at the Senior Nutrition building in the Yucca Valley Community Complex. All seniors and all those interested are welcome to attend.

REGISTER NOW FOR SEMINAR ON HIP AND KNEE PAIN AT HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER

It’s a sad fact that age and sports take their toll on our joints. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the Hi-Desert Medical Center is hosting a session on options for those who suffer from hip and knee pain…
Today’s options for hip and knee replacement offer shorter recovery times. If hip or knee pain is making it hard for you to keep pace, it’s time to find out what is the cause and learn how to live an active life free of pain. Your chance to do that is on Tuesday, April 29 at the Hi-Desert Medical Center’s noon “lunch and learn” session in the Helen Gray Education Center on the Hospital Campus. A light lunch will be provided. Registration is required; call 760-366-0808 or go to hdmc.org.

REGISTRATION DUE FOR MOJAVE VIPERS YOUNG MARINE PROGRAM

All youth who are joining the Mojave Vipers Young Marine Program beginning May 2 must have their registration paperwork turned in by Friday, April 25. Adult staff will be available for registration drop off at Twentynine Palms Elementary in Twentynine Palms between 6 and 7 p.m. For more information, call the Unit CO Juan Montero, at 623-853-7463.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

It’s golf day in high school sports tomorrow. The Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat golf team will travel away to Desert Hot Springs to play the Golden Eagles. Tee time is 2:45.

The Yucca Valley High School Trojan golf team will travel to Indio to play the Shadow Hills Knights. Tee time is 3 p.m.