THUNDERSTORMS BRING FLOODING, 400 CARS STRANDED EAST OF TWENTYNINE PALMS

Thunderstorms that swept across Southern California Sunday led to one death and caused flooding and mudslides that stranded more than 2,000 others. Locally, 26 people were rescued and 400 vehicles were stranded, due to flash flooding on Highway 62 east of Twentynine Palms Sunday afternoon. County Fire Captain Wayne Thompson said swift water rescuers were dispatched from Yucca Valley Fire Station 41 about 3:45 p.m.; it took about an hour to reach the flooded areas east of Highway 177.

Flash flooding about two hours east of Twentynine Palms Sunday afternoon.

Flash flooding about two hours east of Twentynine Palms Sunday afternoon.

Thompson said some of the stranded people had stopped their vehicles on high points in the road and were surrounded by flash flooding, while other vehicles were in the rushing water. Thompson said the swift water rescuers drove their 4-wheel-drive truck into the water and loaded stranded people into the truck and then drove them out. The 26 rescued people were in at least a dozen vehicles. Highway 62 is closed from Highway 177 to Vidal. Elsewhere in the county, a body was found in a car that was swept into a rain-swollen creek in Mount Baldy and overturned. Flash floods brought thick debris flows that cut off access to about 1,500 residents of Oak Glen, and another 1,000 residents of Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains. The stranded include 500 children and adults who had arrived at a Forest Falls campground Sunday morning.


The flooding in this clip is on 95, just north of Highway 62. Video by Aubrey Diehl.

SCRAPPERS ARRESTED ON BASE WITH UNEXPLODED ORDINANCE

Two people were arrested Wednesday on the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center after they were found with scrap metals, weapons, and drugs. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant Robert Warrick, the base’s military police came across Strader Surratt, 29, and Ashley Dedrick, 22, both of North Carolina, on the base and noticed a portion of a helicopter rotor blade in the back seat of his vehicle. Surratt, who is formerly of Victorville, told the MPs that he had more scrap metal in his trunk. While searching his trunk, the military police found unexploded 50-caliber incendiary rounds, 30-caliber tracer rounds, 20-mm practice rounds, and a high-explosive 20-mm round, all of which are illegal for civilians to own in California. The Sheriff’s Department’s Bomb and Arson Squad was called in to confiscate and transport the illegal ammunition. After an investigation, Strader Surratt was arrested on suspicion of possession of a destructive device, burglary, and two counts of possession of stolen property. He was booked at the West Valley Detention Center with his total bail set at $175,000. Ashley Dedrick was cited for trespassing and released.

HI-DESERT WATER RELEASES ASSESMENT COST ESTIMATES

As the Hi-Desert Water District plans for a state mandated sewer system, residents have been wondering what their cost would be. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the District has released those estimates…
The design for Yucca Valley’s sewer system is 90 percent complete, and the Hi-Desert Water District has updated its infrastructure cost for Phase 1 of the project. The cost for a property owner of a single-family residence is estimated to cost $18,280. The assessment will be attached to the home owner’s property tax bill, and based on the interest rate the water district receives for the construction loan from the state, will range from about $51 to $62 monthly. The assessments for property owners for multi-family homes, mobile homes, and undeveloped land, are estimated to be about $14,000, $10,500, and $14,300, respectively. Property owners in Phase 2 and 3 will also see a portion of the sewer system costs on their property tax bill. They will be charged a portion of the costs to build the water treatment facility—about $4500. When Phase 2 and 3 are built, their assessments will then more closely match those property owners in Phase 1. The costs do not include a monthly sewer charge on the resident’s bill, or the cost to hook up the home to the main sewer line.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN HELD FOR FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Saturday afternoon, accused of beating up his wife. According to a Sheriff’s report, Gerald Jonas, 30, was arguing with his wife in the 14700 block of Indian Cove Road about 11 a.m. The Sheriff’s report states that Jonas began to throw items around the living room, and then grabbed his wife’s hair, pulled her to the ground, and hit her head against the floor. He is also accused of kicking her in the leg and trying to choke her with his hands. The report states that he then put a trash bag over her head to suffocate her, but she managed to rip the bag off her head. After an investigation, Gerald Jonas was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked at the West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $50,000.

FIRE DESTROYS AN SUV IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

An SUV was destroyed in a fire Saturday evening in Twentynine Palms. According to Twentynine Palms Fire Engineer Lee Martin, a GMC Envoy was traveling eastbound on Two Mile Road, a mile east of Lear Avenue, shortly before 7 when the interior caught on fire. The driver called 911 and a California Highway Patrol officer arrived first on the scene and managed to put out most of the fire with a fire extinguisher. Fire fighters put out the rest of the blaze in the roof lining and door panels. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

650 STOPPED, 11 TICKETS WRITTEN IN TWENTYNINE PALMS CHECKPOINT

More than 650 vehicles were screened during a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint in Twentynine Palms Saturday, with zero arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Five drivers were cited or arrested for operating an unlicensed vehicle or with a suspended or revoked license; one arrested on other criminal charges, and six citations were issued.

COUNTY SUPERVISORS MEET TOMORROW, SOME ITEMS OF LOCAL INTEREST

The agenda of the August 5 meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors contains items of interest for the Morongo Basin. Reporter Dan Stork picks them out…
At the regular meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the Board will re-appoint Les Snodgrass and Jennifer McBain to their seats on the Twentynine Palms Cemetery District; renew the Conditional Use Permit for the Safari Inn in Joshua Tree; approve the transfer of property tax revenues related to the pending annexation to the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency of County Service Area 70 Zone W-1; and proclaim a drought emergency for the entire county. All of the above are consent agenda items. A discussion item that affects another Hi-Desert area is the appeal of a solar energy developer of a decision to deny a permit for a 23-acre solar field in Apple Valley. The meeting starts at 10 a.m., and can be viewed, and participated in, at the videoconferencing facility in the County Government Building in Joshua Tree.

TWENTYNINE PALMS FIRE DEPARTMENT BALANCES BUDGET WITH PERSONELL CUTBACK

Facing a financial deficit, the Twentynine Palms Fire Department has been forced to cut back on its service level for 2014-15, but has balanced their budget. According to the District’s newsletter, projections for the department had shown they would slip into a deficit had they maintained the same level as in 2013-14. The Twentynine Palms Fire Department is funded only by a voter-approved special parcel tax of $80 per unit with no inflation adjuster. State law prohibits any water funds to be used for fire protection. Twentynine Palms Fire is operated under the Water District because it was the only government entity in Twentynine Palms when the Department was formed over 50 years ago. While the Water District had offered fire protection responsibility to the City, they reneged, unhappy with City plans to contract with the County for fire protection. In May 2012, a tax measure to increase the $80 tax failed. At that time, the district reduced the fire service level by closing the Lear Avenue Fire Station. The balanced budget for FY 2014-2015 was accomplished by keeping the Lear station closed, reducing daily staffing from six full- time paid firefighters to only five, eliminating a part-time administrative position, and having employees contribute more to their retirement and health benefits.

AUDITIONS FOR “YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN” AT THEATRE 29 IN TWO WEEKS

Auditions for the hilarious musical, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, are just two weeks from today. Reporter Cara Conway tells when and where to try out…
Calling all actors and actresses in the Hi-Desert! Directors Gary Daigneault and Bill Barrett are looking for talent between the ages of mid-20’s to mid 50’s to star in their upcoming musical comedy “Young Frankenstein.” Twenty-two roles need to be filled and auditions start Monday, August 18, at 6 p.m. Show up to Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms to give it your all. Rehearsals begin August 19. For more information contact Gary at 760-366-8471 or email at z1077fm@gmail.com

3RD COMBAT ENGINEER BATTALION TO BE DEACTIVATED TOMORROW

3rd Combat Engineer Battalion will be deactivated during a ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field aboard the Twentynine Palms Marine base Tuesday, August 5. The Battalion was first formed in 1942 in support of the campaigns at Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima, and deactivated at the end of World War II. The unit reactivated in 1952, later deploying to the Republic of Vietnam from 1965 to 1969. Deploying in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm between 1990 and 1991, 3rd CEB later deactivated in 1995. In 2007 the unit was reactivated at the Combat Center and deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.