IN A LATE CLOSED SESSION, TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY MANAGER JOE GUZZETTA FIRED

In a move that took many by surprise, the Twentynine Palms City Council let City Manager Joe Guzzetta go last night. After the regular Council meeting, the council went into a late final closed session. When the results of actions at that session were revealed at 10:55 p.m., as per state law, it was announced that the city wanted to “Go in a different direction” and City Manager Joe Guzzetta would be on paid administrative leave until Thursday, which would be his last day. Guzzetta leaves with just under a year under his belt; he was hired April 30, 2013, he was paid a base salary of $184,000.00. Guzzetta had also been required to move to Twentynine Palms. Current Finance Officer Ron Peck will serve as City Manager until a new manager is hired.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL: REAL ESTATE, DEVEOPMENT CODE, AND NEXT YEARS BUDGET

A wide-ranging Twentynine Palms City Council meeting started with the topic of invocations, and went on to real estate matters, Development Code policy, and next year’s budget. Reporter Dan Stork has details…
City attorney Patrick Munoz opened the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting with an update on the Supreme Court decision on invocations at public meeting. His opinion was that current practice in Twentynine Palms is consistent with what the Court has allowed.
At Council member Cora Heiser’s request, an item to prequalify two firms to provide real estate services to the City was pulled from the consent agenda. After hearing City Manager Joe Guzetta’s explanation that this would streamline the process of obtaining expert advice when needed, Heiser and three colleagues approved the prequalification, but member Jay Corbin dissented.
The Council considered eight questions from the Planning Commission asking for Council direction on issues related to revision of the Development Code. The questions concerned the sign code, rooftop-mounted equipment, alternative parking surfaces, streamlining of the permitting process, historic structures, and light intensity measurement. In general, Council direction tended toward more flexibility in the Code.
Following a brief closed session to consider property acquisition, the Council voted to acquire 3 parcels on Smoke Tree, at a cost of $123,000, using Project Phoenix bond funds.
City Manager Joe Guzetta presented a balanced draft budget for fiscal 2014-2015. Council then began the work of going through it line by line with comments, questions, and directions for refinement, tinkering with items such as weekend park maintenance, whether to engage a lobbyist, development personnel, public art funding, and more.

LANDERS COUPLE ARRESTED AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Landers couple was arrested Sunday after an argument turned physical. According to a Sheriff’s report, Sandra Venegas, 53, and her husband, Gene Lahue, 67, were arguing about 8 p.m. at their home in the 56600 block of Napa Road when Venegas said Lahue attacked her and tried to break her neck. According to the report, the deputy was unable to determine who was the dominant aggressor and so arrested them both for investigation of felony spouse abuse. Gene Lahue and Sandra Venegas were booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with their bail set at $50,000 each.

TEMPERS FLARE, VOICES RAISED AT YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION

Voices were raised and tempers were flaring at last night’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Planning Commission. A few of the 30 residents present were angry that the commissioners held a public hearing, rather than a workshop as discussed at an earlier meeting on home occupation permits. About an hour and a half into the meeting, Commission Chair Tim Humphreville called a five-minute recess when one resident became disruptive and demanded that public comment be re-opened. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills us in on some of the topics discussed at last night’s public hearing…
Residents wanted to talk about how home occupation permits would affect two types of home-based businesses: art studios, and selling firearms. For the most part, residents said the proposed changes to home occupation permits were too restrictive for artists, and they urged the commissioners to ban outright the selling of firearms out of residential areas. After hearing public comment, the commissioners agreed that limiting the size of accessory structures to 25 percent to 35 percent of the home’s square footage was too restrictive. They also agreed that regulations should be created that are specific to artists, and that would not infringe on the Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours or open houses. The commission continued the public hearing to its May 27 meeting, at which time it will hold a workshop, followed by another public hearing at its June 10 meeting.

HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT HOLDING NEIGHBORHOOD MEETINGS, TWO THIS WEEK

Hi-Desert Water District will host a series of neighborhood meetings about the proposed sewer project to collect community input and answer questions. Two meetings will be scheduled for each neighborhood in Yucca Valley. Meetings for the Old Town area will be held Thursday, May 15 at 2:30 and 5 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Community Center. For residents who live near the high school and Boys and Girls Club, meetings will be held Friday 16, at 12:30 and 5 p.m. in the Yucca Room. A second set of meetings will be held Thursday, May 22, at 2:30 and 5 in the Yucca Valley Senior Center.

NUNSET BOULEVARD DIRECTOR BRINGS THEATRE 29 YEARS OF EXPERTISE

The delightful Musical Comedy “Nunset Boulevard” continues its run at Theater 29. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says a very experienced director brings her special gifts to our local stage……
Audiences are raving about “Nunset Boulevard.” Yes, it’s a musical comedy and yes it’s hysterical, but making comedy takes more than a good script. It doesn’t hurt if you have a multi-award winning Director like Kathryn Ferguson. Barely five feet tall, she’s been a dominant figure in the desert arts scene for 25 years. And for the past ten years, Ferguson’s no-nonsense style backed with solid experience, a respect for those under her tutelage and a sense of humor have drawn top talent and productions to Theatre 29. In “Nunset Boulevard,” The Little Sisters of Hoboken are invited to perform at the Hollywood Bowl. They are thrilled until they arrive and realize that they are booked into the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama not the famed ‘Bowl.’ “Nunset Boulevard” runs Friday and Saturdays at 7 p.m. through May 24, with a Sunday matinee May 18. Tickets are $8 to $12, available at theatre29.org, and by calling 760-361-4151.

FREE HI-DESERT CHORUS CONCERT IN YUCCA VALLEY THIS WEEKEND

The Hi-Desert Chorus, directed by Bill Barrett and accompanied by, local composer Clyde Grabski will perform its’ annual “Keep the Music Alive” concert. Featured songs will include “God Bless the USA,” “Always,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “On My Own,” “Route 66,” Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” “It Might As Well Be Spring,” and several more. The chorus will also perform, for the first time “Once Again We Meet At Springtime,” music and words by Clyde Grabski. The concert is held at the Yucca Valley Community Center in the Yucca Room. Doors open at 2:00 p.m.. and the concert begins at 2:30 p.m. We will also feature our always popular sing-a-longs. The annual concert is free to the public, donations are welcomed.

HOMESTEAD VALLEY POKER RUN THIS SATURDAY

A poker motorcycle run, benefitting the Homestead Valley Community Council, kicks off 8:30 Saturday morning at the Yucca Mesa Community Center, just off Aberdeen Road. Riders will visit Landers, Flamingo Heights, and Johnson Valley, all on paved roads. The cost is $15 or $25 for a rider and passenger, and includes breakfast, snacks, lunch, and the ice cream social finale. Poker hand prizes range from $150 to $75. The ice cream social is open to the public and will be held, starting at 1:30, at the Johnson Valley Community Center on Larrea and Quailbush Roads. Ice cream will be $1 per scoop, $3 for a root beer float, and $5 for a banana split.

MORONGO BASIN MAC PART 2: DOGS, DESERT HEIGHTS, AND SAFETY

The meeting of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Committee on Monday night was chock-full of community information. Reporter Dan Stork broke his report into two parts. Today: packs of abandoned dogs, Desert Heights MAC representation, motorcycle safety, formula retail, and sand hazards…
A scheduled discussion at the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Committee meeting of possible MAC representation of the Desert Heights area between Copper Mountain and Twentynine Palms was hampered by a lack of residents from that area in attendance. Desert Heights resident Mary Reeves was asked to gather information about the population, geographical extent, and concerns of the area for a future meeting.
CHP Officer Joan Griffin listed tips for both auto drivers and motorcycle riders, in support of motorcycle safety awareness.
In community and committee reports, Wonder Valley representative Max Rossi relayed reports that Marines leaving the area are dumping dogs in the desert, leading to marauding packs of dogs in the area. He also noted an increase in graffiti vandalism. Mark Lundquist said that a land use committee meeting next Tuesday morning at the County Building will discuss a formula retail (i.e., chain stores) ordinance. Morongo Valley rep Gayle Swarat said that accumulations of sand on county-maintained roads near Morongo Valley Elementary School was forcing children to walk in the road.

YUCCA VALLEY AIRPORT BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

Some of the items the Yucca Valley Airport District Board of Directors will discuss at their meeting Wednesday, April 9, are correspondence from the Local Agency Formation Commission, airport use agreements, and transient parking fees and facilities. The meeting will start at 6:30 in the Mesquite Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.

MOJAVE WATER AGENCY OPENS NEW OPERATIONS CENTER TOMORROW

The Mojave Water Agency will hold the opening celebration of its new Central Operations Center, High Desert Interpretive Center, and Regional Recharge and Recovery Project on Thursday, May 15, from 10 to noon. The celebration will be held at 7620 Deep Creek Road in Apple Valley. For more information, call the water agency at 760-946-7000.

TWENTYNINE PALMS YOUTH CLUB BEAT THE HEAT BIKE RUN THIS WEEKEND

A bicycle ride this weekend will benefit the Twentynine Palms Youth Club. Managing editor Tami Roleff tells you how to sign up…
The Twentynine Palms Youth Club will host the Beat the Heat Bicycle Ride on Saturday, May 17, starting at Luckie Park. Registration starts at 7 a.m., although you can pre-register at the Youth Club. There will be five rides, and each ride has four stations where riders will draw UNO cards. Registration is $20 up to 12 years old, and $35 for 13 and up, with discounts for multiple family members. The distances are 3, 7, 15, 25, and 45 miles. The 45-mile race starts at 7 a.m., with each lower race starting one-half hour later. There will be prizes for the lowest UNO hand, a flush hand, and the highest UNO hand, and all riders receive a complimentary “Beat the Heat” shirt. Riders must wear a helmet and obey all road laws, but most importantly have fun! For more information call the Youth Club at 760-367-5776 or stop by from 2 to 6 p.m.

EVENING AT THE RUIN RAISES $3500 FOR REACH OUT MORONGO BASIN

More than 90 people attended Reach Out Morongo Basin’s fund-raising dinner and auction, “An Evening at the Ruin” in Pioneertown Saturday evening. More than $3500 was raised to support Reach Out’s programs for the Morongo Basin’s seniors and disabled residents.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORE AND SCHEDULES

Yesterday the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcats boys’ tennis Team traveled to San Bernardino to compete against Aquinas High School Falcons in the Wildcard Round of CIF. Wildcats lost to the Falcons 6-12. Coach Larry Battle said in singles Jarod Burks, John Lanza and Sam Choi each won one out of three sets. In doubles, Marcus Simon with his partner Brian Gaddis won two out of three sets and Vincent Thomas with his partner Jose Valdez won one out of three sets. Wildcats end their season 5-5 in regular season and 6-9 overall.

 

High school sports tomorrow is all baseball and softball. The Joshua Springs Lightning teams will travel away to play Bloomington Christian, starting at 3:15.

 

The Yucca Valley High School Trojans will travel away to play the Big Bear Bears; first pitch for both games is at 3:15.

 

And finally, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcats will travel away to Indio to play the Shadow Hills Knights. Game time for both baseball and softball is 5 p.m.