TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER TO ENFORCE WATER CONSERVATION

The State of California is facing a major drought and local water agencies are being urged to put measures in place to prohibit wasteful water use. The state has authorized local agencies to fine water wasters up to $500 per day or violation until April 28, 2015 or drought conditions cease. The general manager of the Twentynine Palms Water District, Tamara Alaniz, told Z107.7 News her District will enforce conservation through existing codes, rather than new ordinances. She said water conservation is a concern even though Twentynine Palms gets all of its water through underground aquifers and is relatively untouched by the statewide drought. Alaniz said the residents of Twentynine Palms are way ahead of the state in water use at 147 gallons per person per day; the statewide average is 291 gallons per person per day. The state has identified finable infractions as: Landscape irrigation runoff; washing down sidewalks, driveways, or parking lots; washing vehicles without a shut-off nozzle; and running fountains without recirculation. Alaniz said existing local water code already includes most of those prohibitions including sprinkler use from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; drip watering is OK. She said rather than being heavy-handed, they have issued conservation reminder letters to some customers who are watering excessively. The Twentynine Palms Water District Directors will hear an item at the August 27 meeting to consider enacting Stage Two of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which details more water use limitations, in order to comply with the new regulations.

CANDIDATE FILING ENDS FRIDAY, BALLOTS ARE FILLING UP

With the deadline to file, local ballots are starting to fill up. Managing Editor Tami Roleff tells us who has filed so far for Yucca Valley Council, Hi-Desert Water, Copper Mountain College, HDMC, and Mojave Water Agency….
The filing period for local elections closes Friday. So far, five candidates have filed papers with the Registrar of Voters for three seats on the Yucca Valley Town Council: Bob Leone, Merl Abel, Charles McHenry, Ron Cohen, and Lori Herbel. At least one other resident has said they planned to run, but has not officially filed the paperwork yet. For the Hi-Desert Water District, four candidates have filed for three seats up for election: Sheldon Hough, Roger Mayes, Gina Orban, and Margo Sturges. Incumbents Liz Meyer and Eva Kinsman have both filed for re-election to the Copper Mountain College Board of Trustees. Jim Ventura, the incumbent director for the Mojave Water Agency, is the sole candidate on the ballot for that agency. The Hi-Desert Medical Center has two seats up for election, but as of Tuesday, no one has filed to be on the ballot. If an incumbent doesn’t file for re-election, the deadline for filing will be extended to August 14.

WEEK-LONG MAJOR EXERCISE STARTS FRIDAY ABOARD THE MARINE BASE

The Marine Corps will hold a week-long expeditionary brigade exercise on board the Combat Center starting THIS Friday, August 8. The Large Scale Exercise 14, (LSE-14), will assess the ability of the expeditionary brigade to command ground, air, and logistics combat elements’ capabilities to conduct combined-arms maneuver warfare. Participating in the exercise are Marines and sailors from the 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and forces from the 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. The exercise will also challenge units within the Training and Education Command, and the Air-Ground Task Force to work together and to expose the units to a wide range of military operations.

FOUR TIRES AND RIMS STOLEN OFF CAR IN JOSHUA TREE

A Joshua Tree single mother is pretty upset after her tires and rims were stolen off her car Sunday night. Sometime between 6:30 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday morning, someone stole the tires and 17-inch Toro rims off Autumn Nulanz’s 2007 Chevy Aveo, parked in front of her home in the 6200 block of Verbena Road in Joshua Tree, and then left her car up on blocks.

Stolen Rims 080614

Missing Rims 080614

Nulanz said she uses her car to drive back and forth to her job as manager at the Yucca Valley McDonald’s, and to drive her two children places. Nulanz values her tires and rims at $2,000. Sheriff’s Sergeant Derek Garvin said it was an unusual theft and that her neighborhood generally doesn’t see a lot of crime. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.

LEGAL WRANGLING OVER THE USE OF EAGLE MOUNTAIN

Although the Eagle Mountain mega-dump plan is legally dead, legal wrangling continues over usage of the Eagle Mountain area, most recently with regard to a hydropower project that was granted a federal license. Reporter Dan Stork says another front has been opened by activists…
Monday, the Desert Protection Society issued a press release charging Riverside County with failing to enforce state law governing reclamation of defunct mines. The press release says that Kaiser Steel mined Eagle Mountain for iron ore from World War II to 1983, at which time implementation of a reclamation plan should have begun, followed by integration of the area into the then Joshua Tree National Monument. The release goes on to say that Riverside County failed to enforce the reclamation plan, and Kaiser Ventures–a successor company to the bankrupt Kaiser Steel–claims a vested right to mine in the area. The area is being mined currently for aggregate. The DPS says that a 2012 report by geologists from the Department of Conservation (DOC) cited eight violations by Kaiser Ventures of the reclamation plan, but a report signed by a DOC supervisor later that year reduced the number of violations to a single, relatively minor one. The Desert Protection Society release says that the supervisor in question himself was a mine operator at the time. Although an opinion by the Fair Political Practices Commission later absolved him of a conflict of interest, the Society wants the FPPC to reconsider that decision, and considers the report signed by the supervisor to be a falsified document. The Society also says that a Department of Conservation who complained about the conflict of interest has been subject to retaliation and investigation by the DOC. Activist Donna Charpied, who is a Director of the Desert Protection Society, told us that its next step will be to ask for a grand jury investigation in Riverside County of the County’s behavior in this matter. She also hopes to raise public awareness of the issue before the next meeting of the Mining and Geology Board on August 14.

ORV INFORMATIONAL KIOSKS INSTALLED TODAY

The Barstow office of the BLM is installing informational kiosks today with a detailed map of the area and a list of relevant laws regarding off-road vehicle recreation in Landers (at Highway 247 and Reche Road) and at Gold Crown (off of Highway 62 in Wonder Valley). The kiosks are to help control illegal ORV activities and educate riders on safety and responsible recreation. A member of the Community ORV Watch said, “With a detailed map of the area and a list of the laws covering ORV trespass, the kiosks will inform riders about where they can and cannot ride legally and will hopefully reduce the problem with illegal trespass and private property damage by ORVs.”

SUPERVISORS DENY APPEAL FOR APPLE VALLEY SOLAR FARM

County supervisors voted to uphold the San Bernardino County Planning Commission’s denial of a conditional use permit for a solar farm in rural Apple Valley. The proposed 3-megawatt photovoltaic solar farm went down on a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Robert Lovingood, James Ramos and Josie Gonzales voting against the project. “Renewable energy projects must be carefully and thoughtfully located,” Lovingood said in a written statement. “This is not the right location for this project.” Planning commissioners earlier found the 23-acre project did not meet Apple Valley’s code requirements, and the county’s Development Code defers to incorporated municipalities’ codes when considering projects in their spheres of influence.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

The Joshua Basin Water District Board meets tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says a tax rate decrease and surplus property are on the agenda…
The Joshua Basin Water District Board of Directors will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at district offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree. Among the items on the agenda, the board will be asked to decrease the tax rate from $0.0264 to $0.0211 per $100 of assessed valuation. The Board will also discuss writing off bad debts of more than $17,700, and consider raising the deposit amounts of some customers. The Board will also be asked to approve the disposal of surplus property, including a 600KW generator and 600 hp gas engine.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK READY FOR PERSEID METEOR SHOWER

Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds are expected to be fuller during the Perseid Meteor Showers which peak August 9-13. Visitors are welcome to view the showers at various places in the park. Remember camping must be in a campground or in the backcountry by permit. A reminder that Ryan, White Tank and Belle Campgrounds are closed, as are the eastern half Black Rock, Loop B of Cottonwood and the eastern half of Indian Cove. Hidden Valley and Jumbo Rocks are open. Campfires are only allowed in designated campsites provided with fire rings. Road construction is currently underway on the Pinto Basin Road. During the weekdays, travel through the construction zone is by pilot car only. There may be as much as a 30 minute delay. The road construction area is currently dirt and opened during the weekend. In addition to the above campground closures, the closure for the Cottonwood Springs Oasis and trail areas will be continued until further notice. This closure is necessary to allow for remediation of the damage and safety hazards in the area from the September 2013 floods.

SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES ADMINISTRATION CONTRACTS

In a departure from the pattern of recent meetings, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education dispatched its open session business in under 40 minutes. Reporter Dan Stork summarizes the action…
At its Tuesday meeting, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education approved a one-year contract for Tom Baumgarten to serve as the District’s Interim Superintendent. (Noting the careful language in the contract about a performance evaluation this coming March, we asked Baumgarten if he was in the running for a permanent appointment. He replied that he wants to be considered.) The Board also approved a three-year contract as Assistant Superintendent for Business Services for Sharon Flores, starting August 14; Flores comes to Morongo Unified from a position with the Rialto school district. The employment contract for Assistant Superintendent Doug Weller was extended through June 2016. Other business transacted included: adoption of a Governance Handbook and an English Learners’ Master Plan; awarding a bid to move four portable buildings at Condor Elementary, at a cost of $297,000; adoption of one history and one geography textbooks, while holding another history book over for further review; and approval of policies on tobacco, food service, student wellness, and the Local Control and Accountability Plan.