TWO DEAD, TWO INJURED, IN HIGH-SPEED ROLLOVER CRASH IN JOSHUA TREE FOLLOWING YUCCA VALLEY ROBBERY SATURDAY

Two men are dead and two people are critically injured from a high-speed crash following a robbery in Yucca Valley Saturday. Sheriff’s deputies received a report about 3:15 p.m. Saturday that a home in the 7200 block of Palo Alto had been broken into. The victims called back shortly before 4 p.m. to say that the robbers had returned and threatened them with a handgun, putting the gun to their face and saying they were going to shoot up the house. About 5 p.m., the suspects in the robbery were driving eastbound on Alta Loma, at a high rate of speed when just west of Friendly Hills Elementary School, the driver of the Altima lost control of the car. The car crossed over the westbound lanes and went into the desert north of the road, rolling over multiple times. Three helicopters landed at the nearby school to transport the victims to area hospitals. One man, later identified as Michael Cotterly, 37, of Crestline, died at Hi-Desert Medical Center about an hour later. Sean Keller, 21, of Mountain Home, Idaho, died at Desert Hospital about 6:25; Neither the identities or the conditions of the other two victims have been released yet. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash; the Sheriff’s Department is investigating the robbery prior to the crash.

LOOKING FOR BATS

They’re somewhere between creepy and cool, and their nighttime wanderings lend them an air of mystery.  Ranger Pam Tripp says you can see bats in the National Park…

When visiting Joshua Tree National Park during the warmer months, keep an eye out for the only flying mammal in the world – the bat. As the sun sets, you can see them flying in seemingly erratic, haphazard patterns, or sometimes darting a little too close for comfort.  Bats roost during the day in caves or old mine shafts, and come out at dusk to search for food and a cool drink of water.  Bats have the most sophisticated, echo-locating system in the animal world, enabling them to track and eat individual insects.  They also play an important role in nature by pollinating plants and dispersing seeds.  If you come across any sick or injured bats, avoid contact; and if you think that you may have been bitten by a bat, seek prompt, medical attention, as some can carry the rabies virus.  For more information about animals in Joshua Tree National Park, visit our official website at www.nps.gov/jotr, or call us at 760-367-5522.  For Z1077, this is Park Ranger Pam Tripp, reminding you to enjoy the solace and wonder of your national park.

WATCH OUT FOR SWEEPSTAKES SCAM

Winning a large sweepstakes prize is a dream come true for many people. However, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if the win notification was actually a sweepstakes scam. One Yucca Valley resident fell victim to fraud this week. The woman was contacted by phone by someone who said she was the winner of a half million dollar sweepstakes prize. All she had to do was send money for processing fees and insurance on the prize. The woman borrowed money from a friend to the tune of $19,530 before she realized she had been scammed. If you are called out of the blue that you won a prize, chances are it’s a scam. You can’t win if you didn’t enter the contest. In addition, legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive a win—those are sure signs of sweepstakes scams. Report any scams to the Sheriff’s Department.

29 PALMS INN TO CLOSE FOR RENOVATIONS

The 29 Palms Inn Restaurant will be closed for renovations beginning Monday, July 14, through Friday, July 25. The inn will remain open for hotel guests, as will the oasis area and pool. The Inn will continue to offer continental breakfast and box lunches, as well as complimentary picnic dinners for hotel guests. The restaurant will re-open at 5 p.m. Friday, July 25, with a special “Welcome Back” dinner. For more information, call 760-367-3505, or visit 29palmsinn.com.

CANDIDATE FILING STARTS MONDAY

The period for filing to be a candidate for public office in the November 14 election opens July 14 and closes August 8.  If no incumbent of a specific public agency has filed by August 8, the filing period for that office extends to August 15.  Candidates can file online, through the web site of the Registrar of Voters of San Bernardino County.  Go to sbcountyelections.com, click on Elected Officials and Candidates.  That page has information on reports and disclosures that must be filed, and also has an Electronic Filing Portal, where some of the forms may be completed directly.  Some public agencies may have filing packets available for pickup at their offices, but it is best to call first, if you don’t use electronic filing.   Several local public agencies have one or more seats up for grabs in the November 2014 elections:  Yucca Valley Town Council, Twentynine Palms City Council, Joshua Basin and Hi-Desert Water Districts, Morongo Unified School District, Copper Mountain College, and the Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District.

ROAD WORK IN YUCCA VALLEY THIS WEEK

Construction is set to begin Monday for the Safe Route to School Project on Sage Avenue between Onaga Trail and Highway 62. The project includes curbs, gutters, and sidewalks on the west side of Sage Avenue from the Yucca Valley High School to the highway; on the east side of Sage Avenue, the work will be done from Onaga Trail to Pueblo Trail. Construction should be completed by August 25, depending on weather.