Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans are required to have health insurance. Open enrollment for obtaining insurance coverage for 2015 in California’s insurance marketplace, Covered California, began Saturday, November 15. Hi-Desert Medical Center is hosting a Covered California enrollment drive Saturday, November 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Helen Gray Education Center on the hospital campus. Certified enrollment counselors (including Spanish-speaking staff) will be on-hand to answer questions about the state’s insurance exchanges and help with the enrollment process. Those who schedule appointments will have the opportunity to sit one-on-one at the event with trained staff who will help them enroll in Covered California. To schedule an appointment, call 760-366-4370. Open enrollment runs through February 15, 2015.
The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education stuck to its timeline and finalized an agreement with its selected solar contractor at its meeting last night. Reporter Dan Stork tells what comes next…
At the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting, the Board heard a recap of the process for selecting a vendor for the solar energy generation project, conducted a brief public hearing, and unanimously approved a master solar power services agreement between NextEra Energy Resources and the District. The project will be implemented in three overlapping phases, with five school sites in each phase. The schedule calls for installation to be completed at all sites between early September and late October of 2015.
During public comment, a representative of NextEra, Matt LeDuke, responded to questions from Board member Karalee Hargrove:
Why wasn’t NextEra represented at the October 21 Board meeting? (All hands were busy at a big industry trade show.)
Will NextEra hire local labor? (Answer: Yes. Immediately after the meeting, a local electrical contractor starting making a case for his services to NextEra reps in attendance.)
NextEra has less school experience than some competing vendors. (LeDuke cited NextEra school projects in and out of California.)
Will NextEra use USA-made components? (LeDuke said that at this point, domestic manufacturers of solar panels are less stable than some foreign suppliers, but if the District wants domestic components, NextEra will accommodate.)
In other business, the Board approved revised policies on complaint procedures, non-discrimination and harassment, and sexual harassment, but held over a policy on bullying for closer reading.
During public comment, Dolores Lawless noted that the Howard Jarvis Foundation supports AB 2372, a measure intended to close a loophole in Prop 13 property assessment procedures that some corporations have used to avoid real estate tax increases. At its last meeting, the Board declined to endorse the measure.
The Town of Yucca Valley is soliciting applications from community organizations for the 2015-16 community development block grant. All proposals and applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. Friday, December 4. The Town anticipates a 10 percent reduction in its overall grant amount; due to minimal funding, only four grant applications will be funded. Applications and instructions are available at a website in this story at Z1077fm.com. For more information, call Sharon Cisneros at 760-369-7207, extension 229.
Applications can be requested via e-mail to: email@example.com.
Applications are still being accepted for rentals in Phase 2 of the Dumosa Senior Village in Yucca Valley. Residents have moved into Phase 1 of the low-income senior housing next to the Yucca Valley Town Hall. Rents for Phase 2 range between $504 and $629, depending on income, and residents are expected to be able to move into Phase 2 in December. Applications are accepted Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 in the third floor reading room in Phase 1 of Dumosa Senior Village, 57110 29 Palms Highway, or call 909-257-0960 to make an appointment.
The Twentynine Palms Water District Board meets tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker says the board will look at water and fire business…
The Twentynine Palms Water District will have their regular meeting on Wednesday, November 19, starting at 6:00 p.m. At this meeting, the water district will continue to receive recommendations and information on their current rate study being conducted for the purpose of possibly raising the rates that customers pay in the future. They will also consider exercising the termination clause of agreement with the City of Twentynine Palms regarding encroachment permits and water delivery. Immediately following this is the Fire Department meeting. There are no new agenda items being discussed at this meeting. Both of these meetings take place at the Twentynine Palms Water District office at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms.
The Hi-Desert Water District Board may set a date for sewer assessment vote tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff takes a closer look…
The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors will hold their regular meeting tonight. Among the items on the agenda, the directors will be asked to schedule a date for the assessment vote for the proposed sewer project; approve a contract to mail and tabulate the ballots for the assessment vote; and purchase a 2014 John Deere grader. Following updates on the wastewater project, the board will go into closed session to discuss the general manager’s evaluation. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the district’s offices at Inca Trail and the highway in Yucca Valley.
Lifestream will conduct a community blood drive on Wednesday, November 26, at Hi-Desert Water District in Yucca Valley from 9 to 1. Donors will receive a mini-physical. Donors must be at least 15 years old, weigh 110 pounds, and be in general good health. Blood donors should maintain their regular meal schedule, but drink an extra 16 ounces of water in the 24 hours prior to their donation. Donors are asked to sign up a week in advance by calling 760-365-8333, extension 128, or signing up on a sheet in the water district lobby.
The Joshua Basin Water District Board meets in regular session tonight. Among items of interest is spending a lot of money to quiet a loud well. Reporter Caitlin Logan has more…
The Joshua Basin Water District will have their regular meeting on Wednesday, November 19, starting at 7:00 p.m. This meeting takes place at 61750 Chollita Road in Joshua Tree. During this meeting, the board will recommend the approval of an expenditure of about $30,000 to mitigate a noise code violation at Well 15. They will also discuss changes to Appendix A of the District’s Conflict of Interests Code.
The annual 29 Palms Art Gallery Holiday Art and Craft Fair will be held this Saturday, November 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the historic Gallery at the corner of Cottonwood and National Park Drives in Twentynine Palms. Featured in the sale will be items by desert artists and artisans. Hot dogs, chili dogs, sodas, coffee, and muffins will be available for hungry shoppers on the patio. The Gift Shop will also be open, and the November art show featuring paintings by Shea Cline and Tanner McGuire, and works by Artists’ Guild members will be on display in the gallery. Artisans and crafters who would like to participate in the Holiday Art and Craft Fair can contact Helen Matoush at 760-367-5351. For directions or more information, contact the Gallery at 760-367-7819 or visit the website at www.29palmsartgallery.com.
The Twentynine Palms Cemetery Board meets tomorrow afternoon. Reporter Cassie Zimarik checks their agenda…
The Twentynine Palms Cemetery Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow, Thursday, November 20, at 5:30 p.m. with a full load of agenda items to discuss. These discussion items, resuming from October, include; continuing the argument on gravesite compliance; donation acceptance procedures; clarification of the Saturday service policy; addition of a part time employee; announcing a board seat availability; and more. The cemetery is located on Encelia Ave. in Twentynine Palms and the public is invited.
The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce reminds merchants to protect their business and livelihood. State and federal law requires that you maintain compliance regarding employment regulations every year. The Chamber of Commerce offers these 2015 California and Federal Employment Compliance materials to help serve you and your business. Orders are now being accepted through December 1 to allow you to meet the January 1 deadline. Download the order form today at www.29Chamber.org and email it to 29Chamber@29Chamber.org or stop by the Chamber office downtown Twentynine Palms. Remember, orders are only accepted through December 1, so act now. For more information, contact the Chamber at 760-367-3445.
Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley introduced a bill earlier this year that was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday that would rename the post office in Twentynine Palms as the Colonel M.J. ‘Mac’ Dube United States Marine Corps Post Office Building. Before his death in April, Dube served as a Marine for 38 years, earning four Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars with Combat V, and a Silver Star, and served as Chief of Staff at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center before retiring. Dube was elected to the Twentynine Palms City Council where he served as mayor three times, as well as the field representative for County Supervisor Bill Postmus. In his remarks about the bill, Cook said, “This is a tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving his nation and serving the Marine Corps and Twentynine Palms community. He left a legacy for all those who’ll come after him…. I think that he will always be remembered in the Twentynine Palms area for his hard work, his dedication, and his patriotism.” The bill now goes to the Senate.
On behalf of Supervisor James Ramos, his field representative Mike Lipsitz invited a small “focus group” to meet with the developers of the 248-house Alta Mira gated community proposed for Joshua Tree. Following a storm of concern about a closed meeting, the gathering was opened to media, although the Supervisor’s office judged that it was not subject to public meeting laws. Reporter Dan Stork was the fly on the wall, and reports that the locals and the developers expressed very different views of what Joshua Tree is—or should be —about…
The planning consultant for the Alta Mira project—John Criste, of Terranova Planning & Research in Palm Desert—listed features of the proposed residential project that he regarded as positive, concentrating on density, drainage, sustainability, and economic benefits:
· the 248 units planned are a large reduction from the 350 originally scoped;
· the density is considerably less than what the County allows in its zone;
· drainage and “sheet water” diversion has been carefully planned;
· waste water will be treated at the project’s dedicated package plant, and treated water will be injected to recharge groundwater;
· traffic studies around Friendly Hills Elementary School have been used to inform the entrance and exit design for the gated community;
· builders will be required to use solar energy in some fashion in every unit;
· garages will be pre-wired to be compatible with recharging of hybrid electric plug-in vehicles;
· no turf will be used in the project;
· Joshua Trees and other selected native vegetation will be removed to on-site nurseries during phased construction, and will be re-transplanted after construction;
· and a large proportion of the buyers are expected to be empty-nester baby boomers, with substantial discretionary income available to spend in the community.
For their part, the six local participants (conservationists Pat Flanagan and David Fick, architect and Friendly Hills Elementary School parent Janet Johnston, Joshua Basin Water District General Manager Curt Sauer, JBWD Board member Victoria Fuller, and MAC and MUSD Bond Oversight member Mark Lundquist) detailed their reservations about the project at length and with a give-and-take that would have been unlikely at a large public hearing. The objections raised ranged over:
· traffic impact around Friendly Hills Elementary School and at the intersections of Sunnyvista with State Route 62 and Alta Loma;
· school district boundaries: Friendly Hills is reportedly full, and students might have to be shifted;
· flooding: the adequacy of the drainage design was questioned
· economic viability; it was doubted that the builders could find sufficient buyers at the projected average house price of $278,000, and who would be interested in moving to Joshua Tree without getting large view lots;
· air quality: it was feared that long or incomplete construction would cause dust problems;
· a call for an Environmental Impact Report. Ron Schwartz, representing the Altamira investors, said he’d rather spend the time and money addressing the traffic safety concerns.
· dislike of a gated community; it was stated that a gated community would impair social cohesion
· Water District impact; Curt Sauer said that the developers need to address with the Water District mainline infrastructure requirements, eventual central wastewater treatment, water storage, and a funding mechanism other than Homeowner Association fees for operating the package plant.
· wildfire vulnerability;
· and wildlife corridors.
While all participants lauded the civility and specific detailed nature of the meeting, and each side came away with an enhanced appreciation of the other’s points of view, nobody’s mind was changed about the appropriate direction the project should take.
A man accused of shooting a Twentynine Palms man he believed informed on him was found guilty yesterday. On October 18, 2013, LaShawn Lightfoot, 42, went to visit an acquaintance in an apartment complex in the 5800 block of Bagley Avenue. When he arrived, he was ambushed by Torey Simpson, 31, also of Twentynine Palms, who shot him multiple times with a 9-mm handgun. Lightfoot was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs where he died the next day. After a long investigation, detectives issued a warrant for Simpson’s arrest on December 31, and Simpson turned himself in to Los Angeles police April 14. Simpson’s jury trial began in Joshua Tree Superior Court October 27; jurors began deliberations Friday afternoon and they returned Monday morning with a guilty verdict of first degree murder with special allegations of using a firearm; dissuading a witness, and criminal threats. A sentencing date will be set today (Tuesday, Nov 18). Torey Simpson faces 50 years to life in state prison for the murder charge and up to eight years for the other charges.
The Yucca Valley Town Council meets in regular session tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff checks the council’s agenda…
The Yucca Valley Town Council will meet in regular session tonight. Among the items on the agenda, the Council will be introduced to the Youth Commissioners, whom they will later appoint to the commission. On the consent agenda, the council will be asked to approve three amendments to the Town’s development codes. Then the council will hold two public hearings on two more amendments to the development code. Finally, the board will hear a report on the comprehensive financial report, and an audit of the low- and moderate-income housing in Yucca Valley. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.
The major pieces of business before the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education at its November 18 meeting are about the much-discussed solar energy project. After discussing required easements in the 5:30 p.m. closed session, the 7 p.m. open session will include a public hearing on entering into a contract with a solar vendor, followed by an expected approval of a Master Agreement with NextEra for the projects, and directions to staff on contract negotiations. Other business involves policies on complaint procedures, bullying, nondiscrimination, and sexual harassment. The school board meeting takes place at Joshua Tree Elementary School, 4950 Sunburst Ave.
The Special Education Local Plan Area of Morongo Unified School District is holding a meeting of the Community Advisory Committee noon Thursday, at the new Joshua Tree Elementary School. The CAC consists of teachers, parents, school staff, and community members concerned with the educational needs of disabled youth. This meeting’s topic is being presented by Eric Smith, school psychologist from Morongo Unified School District, on “Achievement Assessment: What Does It Really Mean Compared to Classroom Grades?” For more information, call 760-365-3394 or 760-367-9191 extension 4230.
This Friday is the gala Opening Night for “Shakespeare in Hollywood” at Theatre 29. Entertainment reporter Rebecca Havely says the opening night will benefit TLC………
The opening night gala for Theatre 29’s final production of 2014, “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” will be sponsored by Tender Loving Christmas. This comedy farce by Ken Ludwig is set in Hollywood 1934. Shakespeare’s most famous fairies, Oberon and Puck, have magically appeared on the Hollywood set of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Hilarity ensues as the talented cast of characters is lead by Theatre 29 veteran director John Wright.
Opening night is Friday, November 21, and starts at 6 p.m. with a Shakespeare themed dinner and silent auction. The curtain rises at 7 p.m. and desserts will be served at intermission. Tickets for the opening night gala only are $25. Proceeds will benefit the 31st annual Tender Loving Christmas celebration. To purchase tickets, for opening night only, contact Mara Cantelo at 760-333-2413. Fill your tummy at the gala; help fill the tummies of others on Christmas Day.
Reach Out Morongo Basin was the recipient of a generous donation from the 29 Palms Lions Club in the amount of $5795. Reach Out executive director Robin Schlosser said, “With over 75 years of service to our community the Twentynine Palms Lions Club will be closing its doors and we are very honored to be the recipients of $5795 from them to help fund our services. We appreciate the years of service the Lions Club and their members have given to our community and their spirit of giving will live on in this donation which will help hundreds of senior and disabled residents.”
The proposed medical marijuana ordinance for Yucca Valley has met some objections and reservations. Reporter Dan Stork reports that Jason Elsasser, the main proponent of the measure has written a rebuttal to four objections that he terms “myths”…
The Alliance for Safe Access has answers to critics of its proposed Yucca Valley medical marijuana ballot initiative:
1. Once adopted, the Town Council will not be able to amend the initiative.
Elsasser says that the initiative states that the Council may amend the ordinance, to further its purposes.
2. In the event two competing initiatives both receive a simple majority of votes, the two initiatives would be combined piecemeal and then harmonized.
Rather, state law says that the measure with the greatest number of votes will be used.
3. The initiative neglects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the Town.
Elsasser says that enforceable civil, criminal and administrative penalties for noncompliance already exist within the Town’s Code.
4. The initiative fails to impose a special tax for the purpose of meeting crime-connected expenses that would likely ensue.
The rejoinder has three points: There is no clear-cut evidence that dispensaries increase crime, and there is some evidence to the contrary; joining a tax to the ordinance is probably unconstitutional; and the Town has the power to assess fees for different types of business activities.