As we take a look back at 2013, there are some news highlights of note: More than 1,000 residents attended a job fair in Twentynine Palms in July for 100 to 150 jobs at the new Tortoise Rock Casino being developed by the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians. The response was so unexpected and overwhelming that the company ran out of applications and had to end interviews early. Tortoise Rock Casino plans to open in early 2014 in a 30,000-square foot building that will feature gaming, retail, entertainment, and dining.
Construction started in November on the former Blue Skies Golf Course in Yucca Valley. The golf course was bought by Bill Brehm at a foreclosure auction in July 2012. The course is being developed as a 12-hole course, and should open late summer or early fall of 2014.
Some Morongo Basin residents are irate about two sets of medians proposed for Highway 62. In August, CalTrans put up temporary posts without warning along a stretch of highway in Morongo Valley. The Yucca Valley Town Council is taking heat for giving the go-ahead to a median project in Old Town that business owners say will prevent shoppers from turning into their businesses and force large delivery trucks onto residential streets.
A deal was made to preserve most of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area while still allowing the Marines to conduct exercises in the area. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 preserves about 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley while allowing the Marines to expand the Twentynine Palms Marine Base into a portion of Johnson Valley, and ending the threat of military expansion to the remaining off-road area. The Marines will be allowed to use a portion of the nearly 100,000 acre Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area for a maximum of 60 days per year, and the area will be open to the off-road community for recreational use during the remaining 305 days.