SUSPECT IN CORWIN MURDER COULD FACE DEATH PENALTY, EVIDENCE REVEALED

The man accused of killing Erin Corwin, the wife of a Twentynine Palms Marine, made his first appearance in court yesterday in Anchorage, Alaska, his home state. The state of Alaska charged Christopher Lee, 24, a former Marine and neighbor of Erin and Jonathan Corwin in Twentynine Palms, as being a fugitive from justice and the court set his bail at $2 million. Meanwhile, in California, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said Lee will be charged with Corwin’s murder with special circumstances of “lying in wait,” which if convicted, means he will be sentenced to either life without parole or the death penalty. Corwin’s body was discovered Saturday afternoon, at the bottom of a 140-foot mine shaft in the Rose of Peru mine, east of Twentynine Palms, and recovered Sunday. Lee’s arrest warrant states that he conducted Internet searches—and also asked someone—on how to dispose of a human body. According to the arrest warrant, investigators recovered at the mine shaft bullet casings and rebar that matched bullet casings and rebar found in Lee’s car and at his residence, along with other evidence. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that Lee asked to speak with his attorney—who practices in California—before making a decision on extradition to California. Ramos said depending on whether Lee waives extradition, his return to California could be in just a few days, or up to four to five weeks. In addition, Ramos told a Los Angeles radio station that Lee’s wife, Nicole Lee, is a “person of interest.” The Sheriff’s Department is investigating to determine if Nicole Lee helped her husband with the murder or conceal it afterward.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES HOME ART STUDIO, GETS A REFUND

The Yucca Valley Town Council met in regular session last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says an appeal against a permit for well-known artist’s studio was denied….
The sole action item on the agenda at last night’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Town Council was an appeal of granting a home occupation permit to David Falossi for his home-based stone sculpture business. The council members denied the appeal, allowing Falossi to continue with his art studio, but changed the permit period to annually. In other business, during public comment Sue Tsuda, representing the Center for Healthy Generations, presented the Town with a check for $250. She explained that the Town had made a grant of $6,000 to the Center for half the cost of repairing the Center’s roof. The repair came in at $500 less than the estimated cost of $12,000, so the Center was returning half of the savings, or $250. Council members remarked that it was a first that money had been returned to the Town, and indicated that they plan to return the money to the Center at its next meeting.

TWENTYNINE PALMS KIWANIS NAME THE “FAMILY OF THE YEAR”

A local family that’s active in the community, and stepped up to help friends in need—has been named 2014 Family of the Year by the Twentynine Palms Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis spokesman Ron Bryant said the Jimenez family—Cruz and Kerry, and children Allie, 25, Nena, 18, and Diana, 16—were selected for their service to the community over the past year.. When a childhood friend of Diana’s died at age 13, Diana—and the Jimenez family—named a Relay for Life team named in her honor. Kerry Jimenez makes homemade goodies and soups to sell as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, and is in charge of the Memorial Garden at the event. The family is also helping a herpetologist friend in Wonder Valley who needs transportation to his doctors’ appointments, and they helped him transfer his snakes into rescue when he couldn’t care for them any longer. The family is heavily involved in Theatre 29 and were named the theater’s Volunteers of the Year for 2013. Diana is also involved in the Twentynine Palms High School student body and Interact Club, and coaches Park and Rec volleyball teams and sponsors a team. Despite health issues, Nena participates in plays and was stage manager and director of the theater’s summer youth program. She was chosen to represent the County at the Youth Leadership forum in Sacramento. Nena also received Soroptimist’s Violet Richardson Award in 2012 and the Interactor of the Year in 2013. Allie and her father Cruz both work for Joshua Tree National Park—Allie for the Division of Interpretation, and Cruz as an IT specialist. Cruz is a former Marine with 21 years of service. Congratulations to the Jimenez family, the Kiwanis 2014 Family of the Year.

SCHOOL BOARD MOPS UP LAST MINUTE BUSINESS BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS

In a brisk meeting at which the small audience was comprised mainly of District administrators, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education accomplished a variety of pre-term mopping up activities. Reporter Dan Stork lists the actions…
Following the approval of her contract as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services by the Board of Education, Dr. Deborah Turner took a seat at the head table. Then the Board officially acknowledged projects placed on the “Applications Received Beyond Bond Authority List”; this details items that were somewhere on the Measure O bond fund priority list, but not high enough to get done with the available funds. Despite two late change orders and a notice of completion, and the impending actual use of newly constructed facilities at Twentynine Palms High School, the legal battle is not over, as the District and the contractor will continue to wrangle over who was to do what when, and how. A supplementary U.S. history book, which contains some potentially controversial essays and readings, was approved for use. In previewing the school year that is about to get under way, administrators and board members highlighted the addition of 46 new teachers to the work force, and described in glowing terms a new building at Yucca Valley High School.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN ACCUSED OF SEX CRIMES AGAINST A YOUNG GIRL

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Monday, accused of sex crimes with a child. According to a Sheriff’s report, a girl told her mother that Floyd Manning, 77, had been exposing himself to her and making lewd requests for several months. After investigation, Floyd Manning was arrested about 4 p.m. Monday at a home in the 7500 block of Bannock Trail in Yucca Valley. Manning is being held at the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $250,000.

TWO ARRESTS FOR FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

An argument between a Twentynine Palms man and his wife resulted in the arrest of the man, accused of felony spouse abuse. According to a Sheriff’s report, Alexander Castano, 24, a private first class with CLB-7 on board the Combat Center, was arguing with his wife in the 6600 block of Mesquite Avenue early Friday morning, when the argument became physical. Castano brought his wife to the Naval hospital about 6:30 a.m., and the military police called the Sheriff’s Department to report the crime. After an investigation, Alexander Castano was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, and was released Sunday on a $50,000 bond.

A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Friday afternoon after he was seen hitting his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff’s report, a witness drove by a home in the 73800 block of Cactus Drive about 4 p.m. and saw Clayton Milbauer, 28, who was sitting inside a pick-up truck parked in the driveway, hit his girlfriend, also inside the truck. After an investigation, Clayton Milbauer was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, and for committing a felony while on parole. He was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his total bail set at $75,000.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER TO CONSIDER CONSERVATION ORDINANCE TONIGHT

The Joshua Basin Water District may start enforcing water conservation soon. Reporter Taylor Thacker says they will hold a public hearing tonight…
The Joshua Basin Water District will have their regular meeting on Wednesday, August 20, starting at 7:00 p.m. First on the agenda, the Board will have a public hearing to consider the adoption of a proposed water conservation ordinance. They will then receive information about probable recharge project costs and consider filing a notice of completion for the replacement of the D3 booster pump station. This meeting takes place at the Joshua Basin Water District at 61750 Chollita Rd in Joshua Tree.

HI-DESERT WATER MEETS, FOCUSING ON THE SEWER SYSTEM

The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says a busy session includes a lot of sewer planning…
The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors will meet in a regular meeting tonight for the third week in a row. Among the items on the agenda, the directors will hold a joint meeting with the Public Advisory Committee to discuss the committee’s recommendation concerning service lateral ownership and responsibility, and installation of private property connections for the wastewater project. The Board will then take action on service laterals. Next, the directors will revisit the water district’s interest in performing the on-lot improvements as part of the sewer project’s primary construction package. Also on the agenda are updates about the wastewater project and the state revolving fund loan. The directors will then go into closed session to discuss the performance evaluation of the general manager. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in District offices on Inca Trail and the highway in Yucca Valley.

JURY IS STILL OUT ON CONTESTED WONDER VALLEY ROAD TAX

Wonder Valley residents who expected the fate of a proposed special tax for road maintenance would be settled at yesterday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting in San Bernardino will have to wait another month for answers. Supervisors were expected to declare official the results of a special election held in Wonder Valley last month. Voters there approved creation of a district that would tax each parcel $55 for 2014-15 and $30 annually with a 2.5 percent inflationary factor starting next year. Speakers on either side of the issue made their case to the Board, many complaining of confusing procedures prior to and during the election. Supervisors found the issue confusing as well, enough to unanimously approve continuing the matter until the September 24 meeting to allow more time to look at the matter. The move gives those opposing the special tax extra time to collect the approximate fifty additional letters needed to kill the plan.

HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER BOARD MEETS FOR TRAINING

The Hi-Desert Medical Center Board, who will lose two members this November, is calling a Board training session. Reporter Taylor Thacker tells us what they are learning…
The Hi-Desert Medical Center will have a special meeting on Thursday, August 21, starting at 10:00 a.m. The only item on the agenda is an information item on the Brown Act Training which is aimed to help Board members understand the Brown Act and how to properly run meetings. This meeting takes place at the Helen Gray Education Center at 6601 White Feather Rd in Joshua Tree.

MORONGO VALLEY CSD BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

Money is the subject of most of the topics at the Morongo Valley CSD meeting. Reporter Dan Stork has more details from the agenda…

The August 20 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Morongo Valley Community Services District will start with a presentation by Fire Chief Johnson. Under new business coming before the Board are the final budget for the coming fiscal year, a discussion of a questionnaire prepared by Director Swarat’s Reserve committee, a discussion of possible future use versus sale of a particular property, the possible formation of a committee to pursue two grant opportunities, and approval of an agreement with the Department of Forestry and Fire for a Volunteer Fire Assistance Program grant. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Covington Park.

OPEN HOUSE PLANNED AT MORONGO VALLEY FIRE STATION MONDAY

The Morongo Valley Fire Station will hold an open house Monday, August 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. Fire fighters and paramedics will be serving hot dogs, compliments of the Fire Fighters Auxiliary. Visitors will be able to take a tour of the fire station and ask questions. Kids will get a sticker from Sparky. For more information, call Charlie at 760-363-6454.