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A Morongo Valley man was arrested Monday morning, accusing of violating a restraining order by stalking and harassing his neighbor. According to a Sheriff’s report, Gregory Lonsdale, 60, of the 53200 block of Altadena Avenue in Morongo Valley threatened his neighbor and pointed a handgun at him on July 31. Lonsdale was taken into custody by deputies for a psychological evaluation and later charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Lonsdale pleaded guilty on August 20 and was sentenced to 36 months probation. His neighbor subsequently took out a restraining order against Lonsdale and Lonsdale was ordered to stay away. On Monday, the neighbor called Sheriff’s deputies about 5:20 a.m. to report that Lonsdale was looking in his window at him. When deputies arrived, they located evidence at the scene, and went to Lonsdale’s home where they could see him inside, but he refused to speak with deputies. Deputies got a warrant for Lonsdale’s arrest about 8:40, and negotiated with him for an additional two hours, trying to get him to talk to them and come out of his house. Deputies finally forced their way into his house and arrested Gregory Lonsdale for investigation of stalking, and for violating the terms of his probation.


A Joshua Tree man was arrested following a fight with his girlfriend Sunday night. According to a Sheriff’s report, a woman called the Sheriff’s Department shortly before midnight Sunday to say her boyfriend, identified as Brian Novak, had a knife, punched her in the face, and threatened her life. Deputies responded to the 62400 block of 29 Palms Highway where they arrested Brian Novak, 38, for investigation of felony spouse abuse, booked him into the West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $50,000.


Two items from the consent agenda of the September 1 meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors have direct local impact. Reporter Dan Stork says one is about a trail project in Joshua Tree, and the other is about bringing water to Pioneertown…
The Board of Supervisors accepted a grant award of $200,000 from the Habitat Conservation Fund to develop a 3.1 mile trail in Joshua Tree. The project will build trails in the “Section Six” area of south Joshua Tree, off Quail Springs Road. The idea is to reduce habitat degradation and promote allowable activities by providing designated parking areas, restrooms, and establish routes of travel around the site. Informational kiosks will be placed along the trail to educate the public on the natural resources of the area, creating an interactive experience with the environment. The area was given over to Community Services Area 20 in Joshua Tree in the early 1960s with the intention of turning it into a community park.
The Board also approved the submittal of a grant application to the State Water Resources Control Board to request funding, in the amount of a bit over $5 million, for the installation of an inter-connection pipeline between County Service Area 70 in Pioneertown and the Hi-Desert Water District in Yucca Valley for the Pioneertown Water Improvement Project. The contamination of local water in Pioneertown by naturally occuring arsenic and uranium is a decades-old problem that the County has had on its fix-it list for many years.


In a related story, Reporter Mike Lipsitz takes a closer look at how the supervisors’ action could solve a long-running problem with the Pioneertown water supply and service…
Folks in Pioneertown who have been working with the county on a plan to bring safe drinking water to the 120 service connections there have reason to be optimistic, or at least cautiously optimistic, that their efforts may finally be paying off.
Water service in Pioneertown is provided by County Special Districts, but wells there exceed maximum contaminant levels for naturally occurring arsenic, fluoride, and gross alpha. The effort to pipe in safe water began almost 25 years ago, and residents have repeatedly been encouraged by the promise of a solution, only to see hopes dashed by delay after delay. Recently the foot dragging came to the attention of the Local Agency Formation Commission. The complaint came as somewhat of an embarrassment to County Supervisor James Ramos, who in turn, put pressure on the Special Districts and at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the County approved a long stalled plan to lay roughly three miles of pipe along Pioneertown Road where it will connect to the High Desert Water District’s system. The cost of the pipe, two booster stations, and a holding tank is just over $5 million, which the county hopes will be mostly paid through a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board. A construction timeline indicates the system will be up and running a year from now.


A dozen agents with the FBI and the Riverside County district attorney’s office executed search warrants on Palm Springs City Hall yesterday. City Attorney Douglas Holland said staff were cooperating with the agents. Authorities also knocked on the door of an apartment listed as a home address by Mayor Steve Pougnet but no one answered. Items that were included in the search warrant for City Hall were recovered at Pougnet’s home, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. She said the warrants were part of an effort involving a public corruption task force. Pougnet has been accused of a conflict of interest in the purchase of City property by a developer he works for. The task force is comprised of agents from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Riverside and San Bernardino County district attorneys’ offices.

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet


Our state representatives are moving up the state pecking order. Yesterday, the Republican Caucus announced it has selected Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley to be its next leader. Mayes will take over from current Republican Leader Kristin Olsen in January. Mayes, a former council member and mayor of Yucca Valley, was elected to the California Assembly last November. On Thursday, Senator Jean Fuller was tapped to take over the role of the Senate Republican Leader, months earlier than expected. First elected in 2006, Senator Fuller represents the 16th Senate District, which includes our Morongo Basin.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes

Assemblyman Chad Mayes

Senator Jean Fuller

Senator Jean Fuller


The Twentynine Palms Planning Commission will hold a special closed session meeting 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, September 2. The sole item on the closed session agenda is to discuss the significant exposure to potential litigation. The meeting will be held in City Hall on Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms.


The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says the board will focus on sewer system easements…..
Easements will be the main topic of discussion at tonight’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors. The water district has successfully negotiated easements on 207 properties, out of 353 in the wastewater project. The district plans to start the process of eminent domain on 96 properties due to a lack of response from the property owners, unreasonable counter offers for the value of the property, and an inability to locate owners for the properties. The district must procure Litigation Guarantees for these 96 properties, which will be used during court proceedings. After giving the general manager the authority to acquire litigation guarantees for these properties, the board, will be asked to adopt a resolution of necessity, stating that it needs to acquire the easements for the wastewater project. The meeting starts at 6:00 in district offices at Inca Trail and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley.


The Joshua Basin Water District will meet in regular session tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says, among other items, the board will consider a drought surcharge…
At tonight’s 7 p.m. meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, directors will receive an update on conservation efforts which look to be just short of the state-mandated 28 percent reduction. As further incentive, the state may require the district to implement a supplemental or drought surcharge. The feasibility and particulars of such a charge will also be considered at tonight’s meeting. In other business, the board will conduct a review of the two-year capital budget now at its midpoint and consider some adjustments to it. Those items and others will precede committee, staff and directors’ reports. Tonight’s meeting takes place at District offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.


The Twentynine Palms High School volleyball team Lady cats played the Rajahs at home and won in three sets. Coaches say the Lady Cats were led by senior Latasia Benevente with nine kills and Junior Tatiyanna Mackall with seven kills and three blocks. Sophomore Lindsey Scammon and junior Mara Mapuatuli had three kills each. Seniors Allix Durrum and Courtney Stanford each had two kills. Durrum had two ace serves and three assists and Stanford had one ace serve and 15 assists. Sophomore Hope Culver played super back row defense. The Lady Cats travel to Cathedral City Thursday.

Yesterday the Twentynine Palms Girl’s Tennis team won their season opener against the Indio Rajas 11 to 7. Coach Joe Ingram said single players dominated, winning 6 sets to 3. Senior Cortni Rahn clinched the victory by winning a tough tie-breaker set 7-5. In doubles action, seniors Brianna Sears and Marissa Thomas won both of their sets 6-3, 6-0. Juniors Sadie Brown and Samantha Crippen came from behind in the second set 1-5 to win it 7-5.

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms LadyCat volleyball and tennis teams will travel away to Cathedral City. First serve for tennis is at 3:15; volleyball is at 4:30.

The Wildcat cross country team will participate in its first meet of the season in the September Sizzle at Xavier Prep in Palm Desert. The meet begins at 5.

Also tomorrow, the Joshua Springs Lightning volleyball team will host Excelsior Education Center at home. First serve is at 5:30 p.m.


Two transients were arrested Saturday after a high-speed chase through Yucca Valley neighborhoods. Sheriff’s reports say a black F-350 pick up truck driven by Mark Hines, 28, failed to stop at a stop sign at Onaga Trail and Acoma Trail just before 6 p.m. Saturday. When a deputy attempted to stop Hines for the traffic violation, Hines took off and drove through the streets at speeds up to 75 miles per hour and on the wrong side of the roads. Hines drove the truck through asphalt curbs an open field near Sunnyslope and Yucca Trail, where his truck became stuck. Hines and his passenger, Tiffany Lang, 23, were taken into custody without incident. Mark Hines, who is not the Mark Hines who operates the Solar Now business, was arrested for investigation of felony failure to yield, and possession of a controlled substance for sales. He was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $100,000. Tiffany Lang was arrested on five warrants and on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. She was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with her total bail set at $105,000.


A Yucca Valley man was arrested late Friday night when a deputy became suspicious about the pesticide sprayer the man was towing behind his bicycle. Sheriff’s reports say an off-duty deputy spotted Michael Matson, 38, towing a pesticide sprayer behind his bicycle away from the Tractor Supply store in Yucca Valley about 11 p.m. The off-duty deputy stopped Matson and called for help. Matson told the deputies that the sprayer was his and that he had used it multiple times. However, the deputies determined the sprayer was brand new, at which time, the report states, Matson admitted he had just stolen the sprayer from Tractor Supply. During a search the deputy found methamphetamine. Michael Matson was arrested for investigation of possession of methamphetamine and petty theft. He was cited and released. The pesticide sprayer was returned to the store.


The Yucca Valley Town Council meets tonight. Among items of interest is a discussion of the future plans for the eyesore former PFF building which has been sitting empty in the busiest intersection of the town since the Town bought it for $1.3 million in October of 2009. In April of 2015, the Town paid a consultant $60,000 for a use study. Managing editor Tami Roleff checks the council’s agenda…
Among the items on a routine consent agenda, the Yucca Valley Town Council will receive and file the treasurer’s report for the fourth quarter of 2014 during its meeting tonight. The council will then accept the budget report for the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year. Next, it will be given an engineering update and on capital projects. Council members will discuss future plans for the former PFF Bank building and provide policy direction to staff. And finally, the town will discuss what should be included when it holds its strategic planning meeting later this year. The meeting starts at 6 p.m in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.


The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Veterans Way in Joshua Tree was broken into Saturday night. Employees said sometime between 6 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, thieves cut the lock off the gate and stole bags of aluminum cans, folding chairs with the VFW logo stamped on them, and a propane barbecue grill. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.


A Yucca Valley transient arrested Sunday evening, accused of shoplifting from Wal-Mart, was found to be in possession of heroin and weapons. Sheriff’s reports say Ruben Minero, 36, went to Wal-Mart about 6:30 p.m. and was cutting items out of their packaging with razor blades putting them into a backpack. Store security spotted Minero on surveillance cameras and notified the Sheriff’s department. When Minero left the store, there was a short pursuit by deputies who captured him at Linda Lee Drive and David Avenue. Deputies found the stolen merchandise inside the back pack, along with the razor blades, black tar heroin, a digital scale, and a .45-caliber pistol in his waistband. Ruben Minero was arrested for investigation of possession of narcotics and violation of his felony probation. He was booked at the West Valley Detention Center and is being held without bail. Minero has multiple convictions for possession of a controlled substance, and has also been convicted of receiving stolen property.


A Texas man was arrested Sunday morning, accused of smashing windows at two businesses in Yucca Valley. Sheriff’s reports say a witness called deputies at 9:19 a.m. to report a man, later identified as Michael Hernandez, 29, of Irving, Texas, walked up to the windows at Marshall’s and Petco and smashed them with a pipe bender. The witness told deputies that after Hernandez broke the windows, he told them to call police and he left toward Walmart. Hernandez was located in the Walmart parking lot and positively identified by the witnesses. Michael Hernandez was arrested for investigation of felony vandalism, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.


Scam artists are still luring trusting area residents into parting with their hard-earned money. Reporter Rebecca Havely says beware of the “Arrest Warrant” scam…
In this scam, con artists are taking advantage of technology that can change whatever is visible on Caller ID, and allow the to pose as the office of the local sheriff or other law enforcement agency. They call to say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine to avoid criminal charges. Of course, these “police” don’t take credit cards; only a wire transfer or prepaid debit card will do. Sometimes these scams seem very personal; the scammer may refer to a loan or other financial matter. It may just be a lucky guess, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are about to be arrested.


A San Bernardino woman was arrested Sunday morning, accused of running into her boyfriend with a vehicle. Sheriff’s reports say deputies were called to the 6100 block of Panorama Road in Joshua Tree about 8:30 due to a fight between a man and a woman, later identified as Jennifer Casas, 33. The report states Casas hit her boyfriend with her vehicle on purpose. After an investigation, Jennifer Casas was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $50,000.


A Twentynine Palms woman was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of drug dealing. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a vehicle driven by Ruby Shaw, 50, near Stardune Avenue and Cactus Drive in Twentynine Palms about 12:40 a.m. During the traffic stop, the deputy discovered that Shaw had drug paraphernalia in her purse, along with eight bundles of methamphetamine for sale. Ruby Shaw was arrested for investigation of possession for sales, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $50,000.


A 15-year-old boy who stole his grandmother’s car in Joshua Tree early Saturday morning was arrested several hours later in Landers. Sheriff’s reports say the car was reported stolen about 12:30 a.m. Saturday when a neighbor said someone ran into her awning in the 6100 block of Valley View Street in Joshua Tree. She said the driver then backed up really fast and ended up in the dirt, before driving away. About 7:30 Saturday morning, the boy went to a home in the 2400 block of Goat Mountain Road in Landers and said he had run out of gas. Deputies recovered the stolen vehicle and returned it to his grandmother. The boy was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft and booked at juvenile hall.

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