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FOUR TEENS INJURED IN ROLLOVER CRASH NEAR JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK TUESDAY NIGHT

Four teenagers were injured late Tuesday night when their car rolled over near the Joshua Tree entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. According to the California Highway Patrol, about 11:30 p.m., a 16-year-old Joshua Tree girl was driving a green 2003 Toyota Solara southbound on Quail Springs Road, toward the park entrance, when she lost control north of Tortuga Road, and the car went off the east side of the road and rolled over. The driver and her three passengers—a 17-year-old girl, and two boys, aged 15 and 16, suffered minor injuries and were taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center. It’s unknown at this time if alcohol was involved.


HOW WATER IN YUCCA VALLEY AFFECTS GROUNDWATER RECHARGE

US Geological Survey scientists, who educated a large group in Joshua Tree about aquifers last Friday afternoon, touched upon how a water treatment plant in Yucca Valley might affect groundwater in Joshua Basin. Reporter Dan Stork says it sounds like good news for Joshua Tree…

During the lively Q&A that went on throughout the two-hour presentation, the two scientists carefully refrained from commenting upon how local agencies use the data developed by the USGS, emphasizing the scientific partnerships with the districts. However, there was one projection related to the proposed Hi Desert Water District wastewater treatment facility. Currently, an estimated 84 acre-feet of the natural recharge of the Joshua Basin aquifers — about 40% of the total — comes from outflow from Yucca Valley. One questioner asked whether “bad stuff” would come into Joshua Basin from wastewater treatment in Hi Desert. Dr. Nishikawa replied that studies estimated that over time the inflow from Hi Desert might double, but that it would be “pretty clean” water.


TENSIONS HIGH AT TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT BOARD MEETING

Tensions were high last night during the Twentynine Palms Water District’s meeting about the Fire Department. The Board of Directors is considering four options to raise funds needed to continue operations of the Fire Department. Three of the options include a tax increase, while the fourth option is to do nothing. Director Bo Bourikas said the Fire Department would only be able to sufficiently operate past Fiscal Year 2018-2019 if revenues are not increased. Bourikas said he doesn’t like any of these options, but, he added, he doesn’t have an answer. Director Suzi Horn said she relies on the Fire Department for her health and safety. She said the board wants to keep the Fire Department open, but she’s starting to feel like they are the only ones who do. Despite spending more than $100,000 on ballot measures to increase the fire department’s funding, the Directors agreed that more public education is needed or there is no hope of any tax measures getting passed. The Board plans to meet April 30 to discuss the matter the issue again. On the water department side, the month of May has been declared Water Awareness Month. This is an opportunity for the Water District to educate the public about water conservation. Keep a lookout for the Water District newsletter for tips on how to conserve water and what water conservation means to our community.


SUSPICIOUS FENCE FIRE IN TWENTYNINE PALMS WEDNESDAY

The Sheriff’s department is investigating a small fire in Twentynine Palms Wednesday that burned a section of a wooden fence. Sometime between 3 and 4 p.m., Twentynine Palms fire fighters were called to a fence fire in the 5400 block of Chia Avenue, off of Buena Vista. Fire fighters were able to quickly put out the fire, which burned between 30 and 40 feet of the fence. The Sheriff’s arson unit is investigating the cause.


HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER TO HOST HEALTH FAIR SATURDAY

The Hi-Desert Medical Center is holding a free day of health information and screenings for Morongo Basin residents. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says Saturday is a great day to “spring into health”…

The Hi-Desert Medical Center invites you to “Spring into Health” at the annual Health Fair Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your family for free health screenings, food, fun, giveaways, “ask the nurse” and “ask the doctor” information booths, kids’ activities, exhibits and information on a variety of Medical Center programs and services. It’s all free and happens in the Helen Gray Education Center on the hospital campus in Joshua Tree. Registration is not required. For more information, call 760-366-6324.


SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT WARNS OF SO-CAL EDISON PHONE SCAM

The Sheriff’s Department is warning residents and businesses that it has received a number of reports about a telephone scam. Imposters claiming to be from SoCal Edison are calling businesses and telling them their electric bills are overdue. The caller then demands immediate payment through a prepaid cash or debit card to avoid having the business’s electricity disconnected. The scammers then collect the value deposited on the card. A Southern California Edison spokeswoman said SCE employees will never ask for payment over the phone or at a customer’s business or residence, nor does SoCal Edison accept PayPal payments. If the caller asks the resident or business owner to leave a location at a certain time for utility work, call the police, as it could be a burglary attempt set up by the caller. Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, department, and business phone number, and then they should call SCE at 800-655-4555 to report the incident. For more ways customers can stay safe, see the safety tips at www.sce.com.


COUNTY WARNS OF SCAMS PHONE CALLS FROM ALLEGED PUBLIC DEFENDERS

And some County residents are the victim of another scam, in which a scammer calls and impersonates a loved one, and says they are in jail for driving under the influence and hit-and-run. The impersonator tells the victim that a public defender has worked out a great deal; the case will be dismissed or the charges dropped if a relative pays for the damages to the vehicle. A second person, impersonating a public defender, follows up with a call to the victim, and claims that the case will be dismissed and the family member will be released from custody, provided payment is made for restitution. The impersonator gives instructions on how and where to send the money for restitution. The County Public Defenders Office advises residents that no public defender will contact a member of the public by telephone to demand money via wire transfer or any other form of payment. Anyone receiving such a phone call should refuse the demand and contact his/her local law enforcement agency.


“THE TRAMP AND THE ROUGH-RIDER” AT THE 29 PALMS INN

Two great figures from America’s past will come alive at the Twentynine Palms Inn Sunday afternoon. Reporter Taylor Thacker says to make your reservations now for “The Tramp and the Rough-Rider”…
Imagine stepping back in time to the early 1900s and meeting naturalist John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt as they sit by a campfire in the Yosemite wilderness, talking about preserving the western forests and creating national parks for future generations. Our generations! Join actors Lee Stetson as Muir and Alan Sutterfield as Roosevelt as they portray these important characters in American history in “The Tramp and The Roughrider.” This event takes place on Sunday, April 26, at the 29 Palms Inn starting at 3:00pm. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the 29 Palms Inn at 760-217-0015. Tickets are limited and reservations are required. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the newly formed Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts, which presents this performance in honor of the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act.


SKY’S THE LIMIT STAR PARTY SATURDAY NIGHT

Sky’s the Limit will host an evening with the cosmos Saturday, April 26. The star party will start at the Twentynine Palms observatory about 7:30 p.m. and end about 1 a.m. Observers will be able to focus telescopes on the constellation Leo, Mars, and Jupiter. Visitors should bring binoculars or telescopes, chairs, snacks and water, and dress for unpredictable weather. For more information, call 760-367-7222, visit the STL web site at www.skysthelimit29.org or email contact@skysthelimit29.org. Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is just north of the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park at 9697 Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms.


SUNDAY AUDITIONS FOR THEATRE 29’S “A DOLL’S HOUSE”

Auditions have been announced for Theatre 29’s production of “A Doll’s House.” Award-winning director Kurt Schauppner has set auditions for the classic drama by Henrik Ibsen for 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27 on the theater’s main stage. “A Doll’s House” tells the story of Nora Helmer, a seemingly happy housewife and mother who comes to realize her life is not as ideal as she thought. Needed are three women in their 20s to mid 30s; one woman in her 60s to 70s; two men in their late 20s to late 30s; a man in his late 50s or older; a porter of any age, and three children, ages 4 to 7. Rehearsals will begin immediately following the try-outs. “A Doll’s House” will run Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. from June 20 to July 19, with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on June 29, and July 13. For more information about auditions of “A Doll’s House”, call Schauppner at 760-367-4577.


ROTARY SEEKING COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR 4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS SHOW

The Yucca Valley Rotary club is making plans for its annual 4th of July celebration, including a community fair and fireworks show. Plans for the day include a community fair with vendors, children’s activities, great food, music and other great entertainment. Local residents and businesses are asked help support the event by sending a check payable to the Yucca Valley Rotary Foundation at PO Box 200, Yucca Valley, CA 92286. Vendors interested in having a booth should contact Jill at 760-766-5656. Sponsors to date include the Town of Yucca Valley, Burrtec Waste & Recycling and the Hi Desert Medical Center. For information on being a sponsor or regarding entertainment, please call Cynthia at 760-365-1988.


TWENTYNINE PALMS VACATION HOME WORKSHOP NEXT WEEK

A process that played out nearly four years ago in Twentynine Palms will be revisited next week. Reporter Dan Stork serves notice of a public workshop on vacation home rentals…

The City of Twentynine Palms invites all members of the community to attend a special workshop of the City Council and the Planning Commission on Tuesday, April 29, at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the subject of vacation home rentals. The workshop will be held at the Twentynine Palms Community Center, 74325 Joe Davis Drive, across from Luckie Park. The topic of discussion at the workshop will be whether or not the City should allow vacation home rentals in residential neighborhoods in the city limits. A vacation home rental is defined as a short-term rental of a residential dwelling for less than 30 days. If you have any comments or questions about vacation home rentals or about the April 29 workshop, please contact City Manager Joe Guzzetta at City Hall, 760-367-6799.


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

In high school sports tomorrow, the Joshua Springs Lightning baseball and softball teams will travel away to play Temecula Prep. Both games will start at 3:15.


CHARGES UPGRADED TO MANSLAUGHTER AGAINST WOMAN ACCUSED IN JOSHUA TREE DUI

The charges against a woman accused of causing a head-on crash in Joshua Tree 10 days ago that killed a woman and critically injured her husband and 1-year-old daughter, were upgraded Saturday from felony DUI to gross vehicular manslaughter. According to the California Highway Patrol, Jennifer Zapata, 22, of Magna, Utah, was driving a white Hyundai Sonata that drifted across the center line while driving westbound on Highway 62 about 6:45 p.m. April 13. Her car crashed head-on into an eastbound red Mazda 6 near Arizona Avenue, driven by Lance Corporal Chris Matthews, 28, a Marine assigned to the Provost Marshall’s Office at the Twentynine Palms Marine base. Angela Matthews, his 25-year-old wife, died two days later at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. Matthews and his 1-year-old daughter, Dakota, were critically injured, as were Zapata and a passenger in her car, Evelyn Martinez, 20, also of Utah. Zapata is being held at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center on $250,000 bail. If convicted, Jennifer Zapata could face up to 10 years in state prison.


YUCCA VALLEY MAN FORMALLY CHARGED IN CLAREMONT RAPE

A 34-year-old Yucca Valley man was formally charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with multiple sex crimes against children. Joseph Davall is charged with seven felony counts, including four charges of sexual assault, two burglary charges, and making criminal threats. According to Claremont police, Davall broke into a 12-year-old girl’s home on the night of March 21 and sexually assaulted her while she was home alone. Police linked Davall to the case through DNA. Claremont police staked out Davall’s home in the 7600 block of Joshua Lane, and with the assistance of local Sheriff’s deputies, arrested him after a short pursuit early Friday morning. Joseph Davall is being held in the Los Angeles County Jail with his bail set at $5 million. If convicted, Davall could face a maximum sentence of life without parole.


PROJECT PHOENIX UPDATE AT TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL MEETING

Rolling stock inventory condition, capital improvement schedule, the law enforcement costs of homelessness, city signage, and Project Phoenix status were all discussed at the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting last night. Reporter Dan Stork has details…

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Design for a proposed Twentynine Palms “wayfinding” sign, approved by the City Council.

Cary Harwin delivered the quarterly report of the Desert Regional Tourism Authority, emphasizing its efforts to promote Twentynine Palms, and decrying the shortcomings of the state’s California Welcome Center web site.

A Sheriff’s Department representative told the Council that an arrest of a homeless person for vagrancy or panhandling is followed by 4 to 6 hours of administrative processing, followed by release back onto the streets. The Department’s HOPE program is trying to reduce costs and recidivism by instead directing homeless arrestees to resources that can address their problems more meaningfully.

City Attorney Patrick Munoz delivered a detailed history of the controversial Project Phoenix bond dispute, up to the recent court decision favorable to the City’s view that it can apply bond proceeds to downtown revitalization. Council adjourned to closed session at the end of the open meeting to discuss the litigation with the Department of Finance further.

As part of the budget review process, City staff surveyed the state of “rolling stock” inventory—trucks, mowers, and the like. The Council approved a request to retire several aged or chronically troublesome pieces of equipment.

Council approved the design of new highly-reflective city way-finding and street signs on city-maintained roadway, pending approval by Caltrans of the same design for Route 62. Council also approved the purchase of sign-making equipment.

Finally, Council approved a multi-year capital improvement plan with regard to its goals. Concrete financial allocations for specific projects will be addressed later in the budget process.


MIKE LIPSITZ NAMED FIELD REP FOR COUNTY SUPERVISOR

Mike Lipsitz, honorary mayor of Landers, Z107.7 reporter, chair of the Municipal Advisory Commission, and out-going president of the Morongo Basin Democratic Club, was officially named as field representative for the County’s Third District Supervisor James Ramos Tuesday. Lipsitz’s contract was approved at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting. Supervisor Ramos said, “Mike’s previous positions have provided him with insight into the different issues facing the diverse communities in the Basin. He has been a key community member for several years and I feel he will be a dedicated and hardworking field representative for the residents in the Morongo Basin.” Lipsitz will work out of the Supervisor’s Joshua Tree District Office, located in the county government building on 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.


THIEVES STEAL CABLE FROM YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL

The Yucca Valley High School was burglarized over the weekend. According to a Sheriff’s report, about 1,000 feet of black power cable was stolen from the school’s construction site. The cable, which was attached to wooden poles, is valued at about $4,000. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating.


TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER AND FIRE DISTRICTS MEET TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms Water District and Fire Department will hold their monthly meeting tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker joins us again to tell us what’s on the agenda…

The Twentynine Palms Water District and Fire Department are scheduled to have their monthly meetings this week. On Wednesday, April 23, starting at 6:00 p.m., the Water District will have a public hearing on the proposed adoption of a resolution to update the groundwater management plan. The Water District Board members will also discuss the declaration of making May the Water Awareness Month. Immediately following this meeting is the Fire Department meeting. The board of directors will discuss future fire department expenses and possibly request a voter survey for the proposed fire tax measure. Both of these meetings take place at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.


BIGHORN-DESERT VIEW WATER AGENCY AGREES TO ANNEX PART OF LANDERS

At last night’s meeting of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, Directors approved a resolution to apply to the Local Agency Formation Commission for annexation of nearly 6,000 acres in east Landers now served by County Special Districts 70W-1. So today, General Manager Marina West will go to the City of San Bernardino to deliver the application. Expectations are that the application will be approved, but the process will likely take until December. According to the Agency’s Plan for Service, ratepayers in 70W-1 can expect their Basic Service Charge to drop as little as 6 percent all the way down to 44 percent and their water usage charges will be 37 percent to 52 percent less than they currently pay. The variations based on meter size. Also last night, the board approved a cost of living increase which will increase their per diem compensation from $105 to $110.25.


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