MORONGO BASIN THEATERS GET 32 DESERT THEATER LEAGUE NOMINATIONS

Hi-Desert theatrical productions have garnered 32 Desert Star Award nominations by the Desert Theater League for 2013-14. Leading the way with 16 nominations is Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms. The nominations include “The Perils of Goldilocks” for Outstanding Production: Comedy/Drama—Youth Theatre, with Natalie Coughlin as Outstanding Lead Actress, and John Wright for Outstanding Set Design. Gabby Timbrook, in her first role at Theatre 29, was nominated for her supporting role in the drama, “A Doll’s House.” The musical “Spamalot” received seven nominations: Outstanding Musical Production; Kathryn Ferguson as Outstanding Director, Outstanding Musical Director, and Costume Design; Mandi Pushkar for choreography; Analisa Pilecki for Outstanding Lead Actress; and Jericho McWilliams for Outstanding Supporting Actor. Mandi Pushkar received a second nomination for Outstanding Choreography for “Nunset Boulevard.” Marty Neider was nominated as Outstanding Director of a Comedy, and Donette Swain for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, for “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery.” Kathryn Ferguson received two other nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress for a comedy, and for costume design in “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

With the rest of the local nominations, here is managing editor Tami Roleff…
In its first year of productions, the newly formed St. Joseph’s Players received eight nominations. “Steel Magnolias” was nominated as Outstanding Drama. Rebecca Havely received three nominations as Outstanding Director and supporting actress for “Steel Magnolias” and Outstanding Director “On Golden Pond.” “On Golden Pond” was also nominated as Best Comedy. Nominated for their roles in “On Golden Pond” are Lloyd Steele for Lead Actor, and Trevor Carpenter for the Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Juvenile. Rebecca Havely and Ron Stimbert were also nominated for set design. The Hi-Desert Playhouse received seven nominations for its production of “A Moon Over Buffalo”: Outstanding Comedy; Wendy Cohen and Marge Doyle for Outstanding Director of a Comedy; Howard Cohen for lead actor in a comedy; Wendy Cohen for lead actress in a comedy; Richie Sande for supporting actor; and Joy Groves and Analisa Pilecki for supporting actress in a comedy. Joy Groves also was nominated as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for her role in “The Haunting of Vincent Van Gogh,” at the Groves Cabin Theatre.

LANDERS COUPLE ACCUSED OF FELONY CHILD NEGLECT

A Landers couple was arrested Thursday, accused of felony child neglect. According to a Sheriff’s spokesman, deputies went to a home in the 56800 block of Marquita Thursday afternoon on another matter. When they entered the home of Fredrick Gange, 59, and Joanne Gange, 52, they discovered there was no running water and the home was in a deplorable condition that was not fit for children. Fredrick Gange and Joanne Gange were both arrested for investigation of child cruelty and booked at the Morongo Basin Jail. Fredrick Gange was released on $100,000 bail Saturday, August 2; Joanne Gange was released on $100,000 bail Monday, August 4.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN HELD AFTER THREATENING TO KILL HIS WIFE

A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Sunday evening after he threatened to kill his estranged wife. According to a Sheriff’s report, Michael Ferrell, 46, started fighting with his juvenile daughter in the 5900 block of Encelia Avenue in Twentynine Palms about 8:30. The daughter left the home, and Ferrell told his soon-to-be ex-wife that he was armed and that he would kill her if she told deputies he was armed. The report states Ferrell also said he wanted to “commit suicide by cop.” Sheriff’s Sergeant Rick Millard said when deputies arrived, Michael Ferrell was relatively cooperative, and he was arrested for investigation of making criminal threats. Ferrell was booked at the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $50,000.

MORONGO VALLEY ASSAULT LEADS TO DRUG POSSESION ARREST

An assault in Morongo Valley resulted in an arrest for drug possession. According to a Sheriff’s report, a man had dropped off a boy at a home in the 10800 block of West Drive in Morongo Valley about 6:30 Saturday morning. While he was there, he was assaulted by the son’s mother’s new boyfriend, Jeremy Lopez. The report states the victim was choked and had bruises on the left side of his face and his left eye was extremely swollen. Lopez fled before deputies arrived. While at the residence, deputies located a clear bag of methamphetamine which the 18-month-old boy could have gotten into.  The assault with serious injuries case against Jeremy Lopez will be forwarded to the district attorney for review.

MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD GETS TO WORK TONIGHT

After a respite from public meetings, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education gets back to work on August 5. Reporter Dan Stork says the long agenda is highlighted by upper-level administrative contracts…
Following an open workshop/study session at 5 p.m., devoted to self-evaluation, the Board of Education of the Morongo Unified School District will adjourn to closed session at 6:30 to consider personnel issues. Upon return to open session at 7 p.m., the Board will consider approval of three contractual agreements:
• A contract with Acting Superintendent Tom Baumgarten to serve as Interim Superintendent for one year, at a base salary of $165,000;
• A 3-year contract for a new Assistant Superintendent for Business Service, Sharon Flores;
• An extension of the contract of Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Doug Weller, through June 2016.
Other business includes adoption of a Governance Handbook and an English Learners’ Master Plan; awarding a bid to move four portable buildings at Condor Elementary; adoption of history and geography textbooks; approval of policies on tobacco, food service, student wellness, and the Local Control and Accountability Plan. The Board meets at Joshua Tree Elementary School, 4950 Sunburst Drive.

COUNTY SHERIFF ISSUES FITNESS CHALLENGE TO AREA WOMEN

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is holding a fitness challenge for women 21 years and older who want to see if they have what it takes to be a deputy sheriff. The event will consist of a “pursuit and rescue” obstacle course, push ups, sit ups, and a 1 ½ mile run. The fitness challenge is Saturday, August 23, at the Sheriff’s Department Academy, 18000 Institution Road, San Bernardino. Register online by August 19. Check in begins at 7 a.m. Only participants will be allowed on the premises; all spectators, men, and children will be turned away.

BLOOD DRIVE IN YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

Desert Blood Services will conduct a community blood drive on Wednesday, August 6, at Vons in Yucca Valley from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Donors will receive incentives. In addition, Desert Blood Services now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 877-827-4376.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY HOSTING FIELD TRIP TO BIG BEAR

The Morongo Basin Historical Society invites you to join them and beat the heat in Big Bear. Reporter Cara Conway has more…
Cool down in Big Bear on August 16 with the Morongo Basin Historical Society! While enjoying a 20-degree temperature difference from the Hi-Desert, this field trip allows you to tour the Big Bear Valley Historical Society, which is home to one of only two operating stamp mills in California! $10 for members, $20 non-members and children under 14 are free! Call Laurie at 760-363-6681 or email at jrcs7599@roadrunner.com for more information.

BASIN-WIDE FOUNDATION BREAKFAST THURSDAY

The Basin Wide Foundation will hold their monthly breakfast meeting this Thursday, August 7, at the Helen Gray Center at the Hi Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree. The featured speaker is Paul Delaney Ph.D., Professor of Biology, and Chair of the Science and Mathematics Division at Copper Mountain College. He has monitored desert tortoises in CMC’s 85 acre preserve since 2008. Dr. Delaney will discuss issues facing tortoise translocation in urbanizing areas such as the Morongo Basin. The breakfast starts at 7:00 a.m. For questions, or to RSVP, please call 760-365-7219. The cost is $9 per person.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANNING COMMISSION WORKSHOP ON VACATION HOME RENTALS TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms Planning Commission meets tonight for another workshop on vacation home rentals. Reporter Dan Stork has the full agenda…
At its August 5 meeting, the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission continues a workshop on a topic that occupied the previous two meetings—vacation home rentals. A VHR is defined as a rental of less than 30 days in a residential building. The July 29 workshop was limited to hearing input from members of the public—three of them, as it turned out. Development Director Jim Hamilton has prepared a synopsis of 15 issues related to this topic, to serve as a basis for discussion for review and revision of a draft ordinance. The Commission is also slated to consider the scheduling of a workshop on a different topic–-a revision of the City’s sign code, an effort that was begun in a meeting in June.

DESERT HILLS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH COLLECTING DONATIONS

Desert Hills Presbyterian Church is collecting donations of clothing, bedding, toys, household items, and more for its annual trip to Window Rock Church and St. Michael’s School in Arizona. Donations for this poverty-plagued area can be dropped off through August 24 during church hours; 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday mornings; 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday; and 11:00 to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The church is located at 56750 Mountain View Trail in Yucca Valley.