LOCAL HOME VALUES GO UP, EXCEPT IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

Recently released figures show most of the Morongo Basin is recovering steadily from the real estate mortgage bubble burst that caused a deep recession nationally, except for Twentynine Palms. According to Data Quick of San Diego, over the past 12 months, Yucca Valley saw a 52 percent increase in the median resale prices of 40 homes sold, with the average cost of $130,000, averaging $90 per square foot. In contrast, Twentynine Palms saw a 5.4 percent drop in home prices with 25 sold, at an average median price of a home now at $88,000, or $80 per square foot. Joshua Tree also saw a healthy increase of 26.6 percent in home values; 24 were sold at an average of $98,000, or $88 per square foot. Morongo Valley saw an increase of 13.6 percent, with seven homes sold for an average of $142,000 each, or $100 per square foot. Landers, with five home sales last year, saw an increase of 9.6 percent in home values, an average of $63,000 each at $63 per square foot. Pioneertown did not have enough sales, with only one home sold in the past year, to get a statistical comparison. That home sold for $260,000 at $127 per square foot. The square foot figures do not include attached garages. Countywide, home values increased 20.5 percent, with 2,105 homes sold at an average price of $235,000, or $154 per square foot.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL MEETING CANCELLED

The regular Twentynine Palms City Council meeting scheduled for tonight will not be held. The next meeting of the Council will be held on Tuesday, August 26, at 6 p.m.

MORONGO BASIN MAC SUPPORTS HIGHWAY 247 AS SCENIC HIGHWAY

What’s special about special districts, and what is to be gained from declaring Highway 247 a scenic road? Reporter Dan Stork heard some answers at the Morongo Basic Municipal Advisory Council meeting…
In the featured informational presentation at the Monday, August 11, meeting of the Morongo Basin MAC, County Special Districts Regional Manager Tim Millington said that San Bernardino County has over 100 special districts, each of which provides limited municipal services to a defined geographical area within the county. Those services can include parks and recreation, street lighting, water, fire fighting, flood control, road maintenance, television, dams, cemetery, and more—singly or in combination. Districts are created when a community asks for one, and the County Board of Supervisors approves. Money needed to fund such services must be approved by a two-thirds majority of a vote participated in by registered voters in the case of a tax, or by a 50 percent plus one approval of property owners for an assessment. (During the Q&A following this presentation, it was revealed that a movement is under way in Wonder Valley to protest and appeal the recent approval by registered voters within that community of an increased tax for road maintenance.) Proponents Betty Munson and Joanna Wright of a Scenic Highway designation for Route 247 requested support of the MAC for that effort, with Munson saying that it would help draw tourists through the area. MAC Chairman and Supervisor’s Field Representative Mike Lipsitz explained that a scenic highway designation is descriptive only—it has “no teeth” with regard to regulating development that accords with existing zoning. Environmental activist Pat Flanagan said that the designation is considered when evaluating projects that are subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. The MAC passed a resolution supporting the Scenic Highway designation.

EXPIRED REGISTRATION LEADS TO TWO ARRESTS

Two people were arrested Thursday after drugs were found in their possession. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a car for expired registration tags shortly before midnight Thursday near Pawnee and Sunland in Yucca Valley. The driver, Brittany Rice, 22, of Yucca Valley, was on felony probation and also had a felony warrant out for her arrest. The deputy’s report states that a large plastic baggie containing several smaller bags containing about 20 Xanax pills were found between the driver and passenger seat. Brittany Rice was arrested for investigation of unlawful sale of methamphetamine and on her no-bail warrant, booked at the West Valley Detention Center, with her bail set at $50,000. The passenger, 52-year-old Robert Montenegro of Victorville, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. At the jail, methamphetamine was discovered on Montenegro. He was booked with his total bail set at $75,000.

HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER DRUG TAKE-BACK DAY SATURDAY

All those old prescription drugs can be a danger to your family and our water supply. The Hi-Desert Medical Center will take those off your hands. Managing editor Tami Roleff has details on drug take-back day this Saturday…
Every year, thousands of pounds of prescription drugs end up in landfills. These medications pose a danger to the environment. The best way to dispose of old, unused, and unwanted prescription medicine is to turn them in at drug take-back programs. Used “sharps,” or syringe needles, are also a health threat if not disposed of properly. The Hi-Desert Medical Center is hosting a free drop-off event for unwanted prescription drugs and used sharps/needles. Bring your unwanted drugs and used needles to the Helen Gray Education Center on the hospital campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, August 16. Sharps must be brought to the event in a container such as a coffee can; do not bring uncontained sharps to the event.

JOSHUA TREE CLEAN TEAM OUT TOMORROW MORNING

The next clean-up for the Joshua tree Clean Team will be tomorrow, August 13, at 7 a.m. at the Joshua Tree Post Office. Anyone interested is encouraged to join them for one short hour of work. There will be trash bags, grabber sticks, gloves, and water available to make the chore more do-able. Volunteers are invited to meet afterwards at the Park Rock Café for coffee and conversation. Fore more information about the Joshua Tree Clean Team, call 760-366-8415.

DRUM CIRCLE THURSDAY IN YUCCA VALLEY

Nationally known Joshua Tree percussionist Sam Sloneker will facilitate a community drum circle Thursday, August 14, at 10 a.m. in the fellowship hall of St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church, Onaga at Church Street in Yucca Valley, during Dr. Lou Gerhardt’s weekly Positive Living seminar. The drum circle and seminar is open to the general public and there is no charge. Refreshments will be offered. Call Gerhardt at 800-995-1620 with questions or if you need transportation.

FREE BACKPACKS AND SCREENINGS FRIDAY AT BACK-TO-SCHOOL DAY

To help students—particularly those from low-income families—prepare for the quickly-approaching school year, a community back-to-school day will be held in the center of the Morongo Basin. Reporter Dan Stork tells you what will be available this Friday…
On Friday, August 15, from 9 a.m. to noon, several local organizations will jointly sponsor a Community Back-to-School Day at the Sportsman’s Club in Joshua Tree. The County School office and the Sportsman’s Club will hand out student back packs to students who are present at the event. The Hi-Desert Medical Center Family Health Clinics will provide TDAP shots and dental screenings. The Morongo Unified School District Nutritional Services office will give information about and sign up students for the School Lunch Program. The school district’s Community Outreach Services office will have information for homeless or displaced students or families. Also, Pacific Clinics will give out information on its Student Assistance Program. The Sportsman’s Club is located at 6225 Sunburst, next to the Joshua Tree Community Center.

HOW TO APPLY FOR FREE AND LOW-COST MEALS AT SCHOOL

The federal government provides free or reduced meals for students. There are several ways that public school students can qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school. Households that receive food stamps, CalWORKS, Kin-GAP or FDPIR benefits may not have to complete a separate application. Instead, school officials will use documentation they get directly from those agencies about families, and will notify such households directly. However, households who are part of these programs but who hadn’t been notified of their eligibility by August 10, should complete the standard application. Other families may apply and be evaluated based upon household size and income. For example, in a household of four people, children are eligible for free lunch, breakfast, and milk if the annual household income is less than $31,005. The ceiling goes up nearly $5,300 for each additional household member. For reduced-price food, the family-of-four annual income ceiling is $44,123, and goes up more than $7,500 for each extra person. Applications are available online at www.morongo.k12.ca.us or at schools or other Morongo Unified School District sites. You can apply at any time during the school year. Eligibility for a foster child is based on a separate application, and depends upon the child’s “personal use” income.

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION LOOKS AT HOOKAH LOUNGE, CODE AMENDMENTS TONIGHT

Adding a hookah lounge to an existing restaurant, development code amendments, and a time extension are all on the agenda for the Yucca Valley Planning Commission meeting tonight. Managing editor Tami Roleff takes a closer look…
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission has a full agenda for its meeting tonight. The commissioners will be asked to approve a change in use for Chen’s Chinese Restaurant to a Middle Eastern restaurant with an outdoor hookah lounge. Next, the commissioners will be asked to amend the development code’s home occupation permit regulations, administration regulations, and zoning districts and development standards. A request for a time extension for a conditional use permit for an office project on Lupine Drive will be followed by a proposal to vacate a 10×132-foot easement on the southwest corner of Sage Avenue and Hidden Gold Drive. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.

TWENTYNINE PALMS ROTARY TO HOST OPENING OF “THE 39 STEPS” AT THEATRE 29 FRIDAY

The Twentynine Palms Rotary Club will host the opening night gala of “The 39 Steps,” Friday, August 15, at Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms. “The 39 Steps” started as a World War I espionage novel and became an Alfred Hitchcock film in 1935 before being adapted for the stage. In “The 39 Steps,” Richard Hannay notices a mysterious woman at the theater, and when he returns alone to his London home that night, he finds her dead inside. And with that, Richard is in a headlong run for his life as he fights to clear himself of the murder. There are 150 characters played by just six actors. Doors open Friday, August 15, at 6 p.m. with the curtain up at 7. The $20 ticket price includes refreshments. Proceeds will support the Rotary Club’s scholarships and projects. Call 760-362-3642 for tickets or more information. After the opening night gala, “The 39 Steps” will run Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. through September 13, with 2:30 Sunday matinees August 24 and September 7. Regular ticket prices are $8 to $12 and are available by calling 760-361-4151, or online at theatre29.org.

WE CORRECT INFORMATION ON A BIG BEAR FIELD TRIP

This correction today. Earlier we announced the Morongo Basin Historical Society will be offering a Beat the Heat Day in Big Bear. The Big Bear Valley Historical Society is home to one of only two operating stamp mills in California! It is $10 for members, $20 non-members (we said earlier it was $30 for non-members) and children under 14 are free! Call Laurie at 760-363-6681 or email at jrcs7599@roadrunner.com for more information.