Three men were arrested last week following an investigation into the theft of large plaques and bronze statues—including the elk from the Yucca Valley Elks lodge—over the last several months. According to a Rancho Cucamonga police press release, deputies served a search warrant on homes in Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga in connection of thefts of a large bronze elk statue from the Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga. Evidence at the scene connected Christopher Cook, 39; Brian Vawter, 52; and Ben Rivers, 38, to that theft. Police say that the men stole a flatbed car trailer December 16 and towed it to Yucca Valley where they allegedly stole a large bronze elk sitting outside the Elks Lodge. The detectives found the Yucca Valley elk statue under a tarp near the stolen trailer at the home they searched in Rancho Cucamonga. Detectives also located a kiln used for melting down metal, several burglary and construction tools, and over 1,000 pounds of what they say appeared to be bronze plaques or statues cut up and ready to be recycled. Due to the unrecognizable condition of the bronze, detectives are looking for additional victims who may have had bronze statue or plaques stolen. Christopher Cook, Brian Vawter, and Ben Rivers were arrested for possession of stolen property and booked at West Valley Detention Center. Anyone with information about stolen bronze statues or plaques should call the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department at 909-477-2800.
A Desert Hot Springs man was arrested in Yucca Valley yesterday, after he was found with a stolen car. According to a sheriff’s report, a man called the Sheriff’s Department about 8 a.m. Tuesday morning to report that he saw his car—which had been stolen in Desert Hot Springs—in the Big Lots parking lot in Yucca Valley. Deputies made a traffic stop near the Denny’s restaurant about 8:40 a.m. and determined that the car was indeed stolen. The driver, Donald Griffith, 35, was arrested at gunpoint for investigation of possession of stolen property. Griffith has several felony warrants out of Riverside County. Donald Griffith was booked at the West Valley Detention Center with his total bail set at $210,000. The stolen car was returned to its registered owner.
Following a meeting with representatives from sPower, the company that wants to build a solar field on 35 acres in Landers, a group of Landers residents collected enough money to file an appeal of the solar project permit granted by the county. The residents’ appeal was filed with the county on Monday, December 15. Residents also asked sPower who actually owns the proposed site of the solar field; who initiated the solar project—previous owners of the site, real estate brokers, investment bankers, or someone else; does sPower have a commitment from Southern California Edison to buy the power generated by the solar fields; and would the company be willing to work with the community on project aesthetics? Managing editor Tami Roleff says the solar company answered at least one of the questions…
The sPower representative, Garret Bean, asked residents several times during the December 13 meeting how the company could help the community. Garret said in a letter to one resident that sPower would be open to repairing the potholes in Reche Road. Bean also said that historically, sPower has worked with communities by participating in events, improving roads, employing locals, working with schools, and working with the community to select landscaping that improve the aesthetics around and near the project.
A lot of people will be traveling during the holiday, which means the California Highway Patrol will conduct a maximum enforcement period. From 6 p.m. Wednesday, December 24, through midnight Sunday, December 28, all available officers will be out on the roads for enhanced enforcement efforts, and helping motorists wherever needed. During last year’s maximum enforcement period during the Christmas holiday, five people were killed, and 221 people were arrested for driving under the influence. The CHP urges residents to make the right and responsible decision before getting behind the wheel and always designate a sober driver.
The Sheriff’s Department has a reminder; many off highway vehicle riders will be out riding in our desert during the holidays. The Sheriff’s Department will have OHV patrol units out meeting with riders and campers, educating them and issuing citations if needed. Riders need to obey all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to open OHV riding areas and respect all private lands, remaining in and on designated OHV riding areas and trails. The Sheriff’s Department would like everyone to enjoy OHV riding, but careless riders create situations which can cause injury and even death. Always remember to wear your helmet and if you drink, DON’T RIDE. OHV riding violations can be reported to Sheriff’s Dispatch at 760-956-5001. This has been a Public Safety Announcement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Morongo Basin Station.
Tomorrow is Christmas, which means the annual Tender Loving Christmas in Yucca Valley. Reporter Caitlin Logan has your invitation…
There are many of us who spend holidays alone for one reason or another, and those who cannot afford to celebrate. If you or someone you know is shut in, attend Tender Loving Christmas on Christmas Day from 12:30 to 6 p.m. A free all-you-can-eat buffet, toys, clothing, and entertainment will be available. There will even be a guest appearance by Santa! The event will take place at the Yucca Valley Community center at 57090 29 Palms Highway on Dumosa. Volunteers and donations are always welcome! For drop-off locations call 760-333-2413.
A registered sex offender was taken into custody at his Twentynine Palms home Monday. The Sheriff’s Department said Deputies Dominick and Casey received information that Joseph Bickel, 34, a convicted sex offender from Missouri, had been living in the city of Twentynine Palms for a couple months and had not registered with local authorities. Monday, the deputies checked a trailer at the 5300 block of Adobe Road and identified the man in the trailer as Bickel. Joseph Bickel was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in the State of California, and was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with a bail set at $25,000.
Reach out Morongo Basin is linking Marines up with area seniors who can use a little help. Reporter Taylor Thacker tells you how to sign up to be part of this unique program…
Reach Out Morongo Basin is seeking senior and disabled persons needing home repairs or yard work for upcoming service projects coordinated with volunteers from 3/7 Infantry Battalion, 3/11 Artillery Battalion and 1st Tank Battalion aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center for upcoming service projects scheduled for Monday January 26, and with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion on Friday January 30. Requests for home repairs such as painting, light carpentry and other repairs not requiring permits as well as yard work projects are being sought. Homes must be the primary residence and owned by the senior or disabled person requesting the assistance. All requests will require inspection to evaluate the scope of work required. For more information or to sign up for this program please call 760-361-1410.
Applications are now being accepted for open seats on the Yucca Valley Planning Commission and the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Commission. Commissioners are appointed by the Town Council, and typically serve four-year terms. Planning commission meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. The Planning Commission reviews and offers recommendations to the Town Council on land-use decisions, zoning, the General Plan, and the Development Code. The Parks and Recreation Commission meets on the second Tuesday of each month and acts in an advisory capacity to the Town Council in matters pertaining to the planning of public recreation and the development of open space, parks, playgrounds, playfields and recreational facilities. The Commission also reviews programming related to community-wide leisure services, museum, events and special projects. Applications are available on the town’s website at www.yucca-valley.org, or at Town Hall, and must be submitted by January 8.
The City of Twentynine Palms will be closed through January 4. All city offices will re-open at 7 a.m. January 5.
The Twentynine Palms Cemetery District offices will be closed today (December 24) and Christmas Day, and next week, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The grounds will remain open sunrise to sunset.
With lights and sirens, Santa and Mrs. Claus, accompanied by dozens of law enforcement and fire personnel, and members of a charitable foundation, arrived at a home in Yucca Mesa Tuesday afternoon, to help make tomorrow the best Christmas ever for a 12-year-old girl. Abigail Snipes was born with a genetic nerve disorder, in which a tumor has grown so large it now encompasses the whole left side of her neck and upper chest, and is wrapped around her heart and blood vessels. The Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation, a law-enforcement charity based in Yucca Valley founded by Corky Weaver in 1994, has granted wishes for 400 seriously ill children at a cost of $1.3 million. The charity sponsored yesterday’s event in which the San Bernardino and Riverside County Sheriff Departments, County Fire Department, and the California Highway Patrol, delivered Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Christmas gifts for Abigail, her sisters Hailey, 14, and Makenna, 4, as well as her parents, Ricky and Angela Snipes. Managing editor Tami Roleff was there as Santa arrived, and files this report…
“I knew right away we wanted to get involved. We do this every year for families that have sick children.” Corky Weaver, the founder of the Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation, which organized the Spirit of Christmas give-away to the Snipes family of Yucca Mesa, said the event was a surprise to Abigail. “None of the children knew we were coming. We always make it a surprise for the kids; they kind of think they’re getting nothing for Christmas, because when you have a sick child, it takes all your finances.” Abigail’s mother, Angela, explained how she managed to keep Santa’s visit a surprise for the kids. “We just kept telling her that I was going to have some people coming over. I knew Riverside County was involved. I didn’t know San Bernardino and the Highway Patrol were all going to be here. But it was really awesome, it was a big surprise for me, myself, because I didn’t expect it to be so large.” And among all the presents for Abigail and the rest of her family was another big surprise. “I’m going to Disneyland!” The entire family received tickets to Disneyland, along with a $500 check for $500 for spending money to help make a very sick girl’s Christmas a happy one.
More information about the Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation can be found at a link with this story at Z1077fm.com.
Burrtec Waste and Recycling Services will be closed on Christmas, December 25, and New Year’s Day, January 1. Waste and recycling collection will be delayed by one day for both weeks.
In high school sports on Friday, the Twentynine Palms High School boys basketball team will travel away to play in the San Diego Tournament through December 30.
A motorcycle rider suffered major injuries to his leg yesterday when he was hit by a car in Yucca Valley. Shortly before 11 a.m., a man driving a Ford Fusion eastbound on Onaga Trail—who was not identified by the Sheriff’s Department—pulled over to the south shoulder of the road. After a red truck following behind the Ford went by, the driver started a U-turn on Onaga, and hit Aaron Burkholder, 20, of Yucca Valley, riding a Suzuki motorcycle eastbound on Onaga Trail. Burkholder suffered compound fractures to his right leg and was airlifted to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the crash.
A Twentynine Palms man who’s been married for just a week was arrested Saturday, accused of fighting with his new wife. According to a Sheriff’s report, Guy Evans, 43, of the 74700 block of Sunset Drive, and his wife, were arguing most of the day over their marriage. The woman told deputies that about 8 p.m., she walked away from Evans, and when she did, he pushed her in the back, causing her to fall to the ground, and giving her lacerations to her hands and knees. After an investigation, Guy Evans was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, and released about 4 a.m. on $50,000 bail.
The county is looking for citizens interested in serving on their civil grand jury. Reporter Taylor Thacker tells you how to find out more about the grand jury and put your name in…
Volunteers for the 2015-2016 San Bernardino County civil grand jury are now being requested. Successful applicants will serve as civil grand jurors for the period beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2016. To be eligible for selection, a person must be at least 18 years old, a citizen of the U.S., and a resident of California and the County of San Bernardino for at least one year prior to appointment. By law, elected public officials are not eligible. Service as a civil grand juror involves an average of three to five full working days per week. Compensation is $25 per day plus meals and appropriate mileage. The regular civil grand jury meeting place is located downtown San Bernardino. The civil grand jury is charged by the California Penal Code to investigate all aspects of county, city and special district government, and possibly hear information on certain criminal investigations. Interested applicants can complete the application on-line at the civil grand jury’s website at www.sbcounty.gov/grandjury or by calling 909-387-3820. Applications will be accepted through March 2, 2015.
An overturned big rig carrying 10,000 pounds of wooden cabinets wreaked havoc on Interstate 10—both eastbound and westbound—in the low-desert last night. CHP officials said at 5:10 p.m., a semi-truck overturned west of Cook Street—just north of the Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert—onto a passenger vehicle, blocking all eastbound lanes and one westbound lane. Eastbound traffic was passing the scene on the right shoulder. Witnesses reported seeing a white Freightliner run several vehicles off the roadway. Three hours later, the eastbound No. 3 lane had opened, but cars were still backed up seven miles, Caltrans reported. Westbound lanes were backed up about two miles. All lanes finally reopened by 10:15 p.m.
It was déjà vu all over again when a man with previous convictions for driving under the influence was arrested again Saturday night for driving drunk. Sheriff’s reports indicate a deputy saw a white Dodge Ram pick-up truck leaving a Yucca Valley gas station at Highway 62 and Church Street about 10 p.m. The truck, driven by Jeffrey Larsen, 43, drove south on Church Street where the deputy made a traffic stop. The deputy determined that Larsen was driving on a suspended license due to previous DUI charges, he did not have insurance, and the vehicle registration had also expired. The truck had a current registration tag on the license plate which belonged to Larsen’s mother’s vehicle, which was taken without her knowledge. After an investigation, Jeffrey Larsen was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, cited and released.
Yucca Valley will be closed during the holidays, with limited services available. Town offices will be closed from December 24 through January 5. The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be closed from December 24 and will re-open to visitors on Friday, January 2. Though the senior lunch program at the Yucca Valley Senior Center will not be affected by the Town office closures, meals will not be served on December 25, 26, or January 1. The Yucca Valley Community Center will be open on Christmas Day from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m. for Tender Loving Cause, a volunteer-led program that provides meals, food boxes, clothing and toys for families in need. Managing editor Tami Roleff says while the town’s animal shelter will be closed, residents can still pick up and drop off pets…
The Town’s animal shelter will be closed from December 24 until January 2. Residents who have lost a pet can pick up their animal at the shelter by appointment only. Call the shelter at 760-365-3111, extension 106, to arrange a time to pick up your pet, or to leave a message for a lost or found pet. Shelter staff will return calls each day between 8 and 10 a.m. Kennel runs are available for those who have found a stray and who want to drop off the pet at the shelter. The animal shelter will only respond to emergency calls during the holidays. To request emergency animal assistance, call 760-365-2364.