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TEACHERS IN CONTRACT DISPUTE MASS OUTSIDE DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS

With protest folk songs alternating with appreciations of union solidarity over a portable P.A. system, Morongo Unified School District teachers massed outside district headquarters on both sides of Utah Trail on Tuesday afternoon. Reporter Dan Stork was at the rally, and spoke with MTA representatives John Ferguson and Terry Weitz…

MTArally

Morongo Teachers Association members rally outside school district headquarters, heading into contract mediation.

Morongo Teachers Association bargaining chair John Ferguson reiterated the position the teachers have taken throughout the stormy negotiation period:

The state of California is benefiting by the economic upswing with increased tax revenues, and will be sending large amounts of money to school districts. The MTA wants to see more of that money going to improve the lot of teachers than the District has offered.

Ferguson described where the process goes from here:

“The first step is declaring impasse, the Public Employees’ Relation Board sends a mediator… He is an arbiter of sorts, to hear from both sides, and look at information, and attempt to bring a settlement about. If that’s unsuccessful, we go into a more research-oriented phase, where there’s some in-depth digging into the finances of the school district and such, moving toward a potential job action on the part of the union, which is a fancy way of saying strike. Let’s get rid of the euphemism.”

The mediation session is scheduled for today, May 27. During the rally, school Board president Karalee Hargrove mixed with the crowd, and called out her support for the teacher’s lot. Union head Terry Weitz told us that the classified employees union has not yet reached an agreement with the District, but their proposed contract has a “me-too” clause, which guarantees parity with any MTA contract.


CORRECTION TO STORY ABOUT TODDLER WHO FELL INTO FIRE PIT

We have a correction to a story we ran yesterday about a toddler who fell into a fire pit. The boy fell into a washing machine tub that was being used for a fire pit, but there was no fire at the time and the 16-month-old boy was not burned, but just received a deep cut to his face. Z107.7 regrets the error.


MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE GETTING MAJOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

A $4.1 million federal contract is resurfacing roads within the Mojave National Preserve to make them safer. The roads include Ivanpah, Morning Star Mine, Kelso Cima and ZzyZx. These roads are known to many as the back roads to Las Vegas from Twentynine Palms. This project will continue through the end of June. Resurfacing may cause delays of up to 15 minutes due to single lane closures. In 2016, The Federal Highway Administration expects to award a pavement-resurfacing contract to treat the majority of the 150 miles of paved roads in Mojave that are not resurfaced this year. The resurfaced paved roads will then be placed on re-treatment program. More information and traffic conditions related to this road work can be found in a link in this story at z1077fm.com

www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm


YUCCA VALLEY OFFERING SPAY/NEUTER VOUCHERS

The Town of Yucca Valley is now offering vouchers to get your pets spayed and neutered. Managing Editor Tami Roleff tells you how to apply…

The Town of Yucca Valley continues to offer its voucher program for spaying and neutering dogs and cats. There are no income restrictions for the voucher, but residents are limited to three vouchers, each worth $60 for dogs, and $35 for cats. Applications are available at Town Hall, at the animal shelter, or online at yucca-valley.org. Completed applications must include proof of residency. For more information, call 760-365-1807.


WONDER VALLEY MAN HELD AFTER THREATS

A Wonder Valley man was arrested Saturday morning, accused of threatening to kill a woman. According to a Sheriff’s report, Randy Vessells, 46, was arguing with a woman in the 81400 block of Star Lane in Wonder Valley, over whether he had stolen items from her. The report states Vessells yelled at the woman that he was going to kill her. The woman locked herself in her home and called 911 about 10 a.m. When deputies arrived, Vessells fled into the desert, but he was located about 11:30 hiding near the intersection of Encanto Road and Sunlight Road. Vessells had two sets of brass knuckles in his possession. Randy Vessells was arrested for investigation of possession of a dangerous weapon and for making terrorist threats. Vessells was booked into the West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $50,000.


TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN BREAKS WIFE'S CELL PHONE, ARRESTED

A Twentynine Palms man who didn’t want his wife recording him was arrested early Friday morning for breaking her cell phone. According to a Sheriff’s report, two women went to a bar in the 73600 block of Highway 62. Brandon Carpenter, the husband of one of the women, saw them there with two other men and confronted his wife about 1 a.m. Friday morning. The report states the wife pulled out her cell phone to record him in case he injured her during the confrontation. Carpenter is accused of grabbing her cell phone and throwing it on the ground, breaking it. Brandon Carpenter was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.


TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL IN BRISK MEETING

The Twentynine Palms City Council moved briskly through its agenda Tuesday night. Reporter Dan Stork recaps the action…

The Twentynine Palms City Council began its May 26 meeting by approving an amendment to the Development Code that will establish guidelines for single room occupancy facilities, in accordance with state guidelines. There are no current plans or noted demand for an SRO facility, which would offer small places to live for people transitioning from homelessness.

Then the contract of Jim Hamilton, the part-time Development Director, was extended. The terms call for 450 hours at $75 per hour.

Council authorized the city manager to lease a city-owned house to the Joshua Tree Science Campus Committee at $1 per year, to be used as a place for meetings and other activities related to the NatureBridge Science Camp.

City Manager Frank Luckino reviewed this year’s budgeting process, which resulted in a draft budget for fiscal 2015-2016, with a surplus of about $23,000 projected in the nearly $8 million budget. The current year’s budget is expected to have a surplus of about $400,000. According to Luckino, next year’s small surplus reflects conservative revenue and expense assumptions. He noted that, despite the recent favorable state concession on Project Phoenix bond funds, the city may still have to pay back, from reserves, a $2 million loan it had gotten from the Redevelopment Authority. Council approved the budget.


GRUBSTAKE DAYS PARADE WINNERS ANNOUNCED

More than 75 entries took part in the 65th annual Grubstake Day parade, held on the highway in Yucca Valley Saturday. The Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the parade entries. First place in dance was the California Youth Spirit Corps All Stars. The Youth category was won by the Morongo Basin Girl and Boy Scouts. Novelty motorized was won by the Mane Street Stampede Wild West Show, while the Morongo Basin Old Car Club won the motorized division. First place in floats was Yucca Mesa Elementary School; band was the Yucca Valley High School band, flag, and cheer squad. Joshua Springs Christian Ministry won the Mounted Color Guard. In the equestrian matched pairs category, the Black Cowboys won first place, and Equestrian Working Western was won by the Hi-Desert Dust Devils 4-H club.

Yucca Mesa Elementary

Yucca Mesa Elementary

Joshua Springs Mounted Ministry

Joshua Springs Mounted Ministry

Mane Street Stampede

Mane Street Stampede

California Youth Spirit Corps

California Youth Spirit Corps

Yucca Valley High School Band and cheer

Yucca Valley High School Band and cheer

Yucca Valley High School Cheer and Dance

Yucca Valley High School Cheer and Dance

Black Cowboys

Black Cowboys

Hi-Desert Dust Devils 4H

Hi-Desert Dust Devils 4H

Morongo Basin Old Car Club

Morongo Basin Old Car Club

Morongo Basin Boy and Girl Scouts

Morongo Basin Boy and Girl Scouts


JOSHUA TREE WATER PARK OPENS TODAY

The Joshua Tree water park will open today for the summer. The water park’s hours will be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Water from the water park is recycled to irrigate the park district’s baseball field, and irrigation of the park is being reduced in order to meet the governor’s requirement to reduce water usage. The Joshua Tree water park is located at 6171 Sunburst Avenue in Joshua Tree. For more information, call 760-366-8415.


BIGHORN DESERT VIEW WATER APPROVES BUDGET, AUDIT CONTRACT

The Bighorn Desert View Water Agency met last night. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was there and files this report…

Last night in Landers, the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency Board of Directors set and adopted the agency’s budget for fiscal 2015-2016, approved the coming fiscal year’s ad valorem tax for District 1 at $176,000, and approved a three-year contract for audit services from the CPA firm Davis Farr. The contract puts the annual cost at $30,000, unchanged from the last three years. In preparing for the expanded customer base when W1 goes online the end of June, the agency is hiring two new water distribution operators; 56 applications were received.


TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT MEETS TONIGHT ON WATER AND FIRE BUSINESS

The Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors will meet at 6:00 tonight. The board will hold a public hearing on mandatory restrictions for water conservation, and will then, vote on a resolution to comply with state drought regulations. Next the board will hold a budget workshop and a rate study workshop. The board will then go into closed session to discuss an appointment to the general manager and salary negotiations. The Fire Department meeting will follow. Both meetings take place at 72401 Hatch Rd in Twentynine Palms at 6 p.m. tonight.


TWENTYNINE PALMS CEMETERY BOARD MEETS TOMORROW

The Twentynine Palms Cemetery District Board of Directors will hold its monthly meeting 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Among the items on the agenda, the directors will review current term expirations and discuss recruitment plans; discuss website options and computer repair; review alternatives for an alarm service; and update its petty cash procedures. The meeting will be held in the cemetery office at 5350 Encelia Avenue in Twentynine Palms.


REGIONAL COUNCIL ON AGING MEETS TOMORROW

The Regional Council on Aging will have its next meeting on Thursday, May 28, at 1 p.m. in the Yucca Valley Nutrition Center. Questions answered, solutions found for “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.” The speakers are Cindy Lopez, Helping Hand Kinship Support Services and Damian Wright, Supervisor of Children/Family Services. Everyone is welcome. Refreshments will be available. For more information, call 760-228-3280.


TWENTYNINE PALMS JUNIOR HIGH MUSIC SCHOOL CONCERT TONIGHT, HIGH SCHOOL CONCERT TOMORROW

Twentynine Palms High School will highlight their music department in concert tomorrow night. Reporter Taylor Thacker has your invitation…

The Twentynine Palms High School music department will present their final concert of the school year on Thursday, May 28th with performances by the Select Choir, Concert Choir, and Symphonic Band. The concert starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat Gym, and the doors open at 6:15 p.m. The cost is $5 per person and a refreshment table will be available. For more information call 760-367-9591. Come out and support these talented students.

The Twentynine Palms Junior High School will present its spring concert tonight. The concert starts at 6 p.m. in the Quad area in front of the school. Bring a chair, bring dinner or snacks, sit in the grass and listen to the wonderful music department.


LA CONTENTA MIDDLE SCHOOL LION SHOWCASE TOMORROW

Check out the diverse talents of students at the Third Annual La Contenta Lion Showcase on Thursday, May 28. Watch students perform on stage and enjoy displayed student work all on the same night. Admission is free, and doors open at 5 p.m. in the multi-purpose room. Refreshments will be provided and baked goods will be available for purchase.


TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIP NIGHT TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms High School annual senior awards and scholarships program will be held tonight, Wednesday, May 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school MPR. Twentynine Palms High School seniors will be honored with numerous scholarships and awards. Representatives from many local organizations, clubs and businesses will award scholarships to deserving seniors. Graduates receiving academic and athletic university scholarships will also be named. The public is invited to share the excitement of the college bound seniors and their families as they are honored for their achievements. Congratulations to all.


YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL RENAISSANCE ACADEMIC AWARDS TONIGHT

The Yucca Valley High School’s Annual Renaissance Academic Awards Night will be held tonight, Wednesday, May 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Yucca Valley High School Trojan Gymnasium. The Jazz Band, under the direction of Bill Barrett, will perform at 6:00 p.m. The award program will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. Yucca Valley High School students will be honored with various awards for their academic achievements. The public is invited to share the excitement of the students and their families as they are honored for their academic achievements.


JOSHUA TREE MUSICIAN ON BICYCLE HIT AND KILLED SUNDAY NIGHT

A Joshua Tree musician was killed Sunday evening when the bicycle he was riding was hit by a car. According to the California Highway Patrol, Tim Kelly, 58, was riding his bike northbound on Sunburst Avenue near Jericho Lane about 8:15 p.m. A 2014 Chevrolet Sonic, driven by Derek Burnham, 26, of Yucca Valley, was also traveling northbound on Sunburst at about 50 miles per hour when the car clipped the back of the bike, which did not have any lights on it. Kelly, who was not wearing a bicycle helmet, was thrown from the bicycle and despite CPR attempts by Burnham, died at the scene. Tim Kelly was often seen at the Joshua Tree farmer’s market playing his violin. Derek Burnham was arrested for several outstanding warrants for driving without a license and for no vehicle registration. Burnham was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail and released Monday morning.


TODDLER FALLS INTO WASHING MACHINE TUB

A toddler suffered bad cuts when he fell into a washing machine tub that was being used as a fire pit in Morongo Valley Monday evening. According to Fire Engineer Mark Murphy, the parents brought the 16-month-old boy to the fire station just after 7:30 p.m. with a cut that went all the way through his lip. Paramedics called for a helicopter to transport the child, but no airships were available, so he was brought to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs, where he was transferred to Loma Linda Medical Center.


ANOTHER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON SCAM

Recently, some Morongo Basin residents were called by people pretending to be employees of Southern California Edison. The callers said the residents had outstanding bills, and demanded the customers make payments with prepaid cards over the telephone. Managing editor Tami Roleff offers these tips on how to avoid being a victim of these types of scams…
Imposters claiming to be from SoCal Edison are calling businesses residents, and telling them their electric bills are overdue. The caller then demands immediate payment through a prepaid cash or debit card to avoid having their 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, in person at a customer’s business or residence, nor does SoCal Edison accept PayPal payments. Customers should never give out personal information over the telephone. Do not call back the number given to you; use the phone number on your electric bill. 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.


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