Joshua Tree National Park is on track to have nearly two million visitors this year. Managing editor Tami Roleff says Park Superintendent David Smith told about 200 people at the State of the Morongo Basin October 29 that those visitors spend money in our Morongo Basin…
“The park is a big economic engine that helps the communities around the park.” At the state of the Morongo Basin event October 29, Park Superintendent David Smith said that two years ago, 1.3 million visitors spent $70 million dollars in the Morongo Basin, and this year, the park is on track to have two million visitors.” And remember, one in five of our visitors to Joshua Tree – and that’s 400,000 people this year – come to Joshua Tree to climb on that really groovy granite rock. So Joshua Tree is a vibrant part of what keeps our economy going.” During the sequester two years ago that shut down the park, several local businesses nearly had to close their doors due to the lack of park visitors. Smith said the park is available for those who can’t afford the entrance fee. “But there’s a lot of folks that can’t afford the $20 to go into the park, they can’t afford the $30 annual pass. So we don’t charge on the northern boundary of the park, at the Black Rock Canyon, Indian Cove, 49 Palms, Covington Flats. And that’s a decision that we made because we realized that this park belongs to the people who live around this area.” The National Park Service has made efforts to make the park accessible to everyone. It instituted the “Every Kid in a Park” program that allows fourth graders and their families to use national parks for free. Active duty military can also get in for free, and seniors can get a $10 pass. Smith summed up the state of the national park. “The state of the park is good, it’s good because we have good partners in the Morongo Basin.”
The Twentynine Palms Water District board of directors meet in a hastily arranged special meeting set for 4 p.m. this afternoon. Appearances are that the district is scrambling to address a long list of follow ups any one of which threaten to derail the planned takeover of Twentynine Palms Fire by County Fire. The shortfalls were detailed in a letter LAFCO sent to the District on November 4 with the caveat that every item be addressed by a December 2 deadline. Among the issues is the problem of the Fire Department’s unfunded pension liability; that alone requires a $3 million solution. LAFCO has a well-deserved reputation for demanding careful, logical, and thorough management, for being a stickler for detail, and for requiring the same in the districts they oversee. If Twentynine Palms Fire Department is going to successfully be taken over by County Fire in the next 12 months, then addressing the LAFCO issues with more sloppy submissions is a recipe for failure. This afternoon’s special meeting is at the District Office on the south side of Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms.
Residents have been asking why the Yucca Valley Branch of the bank of America is closed. Town officials told Z107.7 News that the regional Vice-President for B of A said the planned power outage last week had affected their computer system, rendering it inoperable. Simon McNeil said they are waiting for parts and software to bring the Bank Branch’s systems back on-line and would be open as soon as possible.
The regular fourth Tuesday meeting of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency will not take place tonight due to Thanksgiving holiday conflicts. Regular business will, instead, be taken up at a special meeting on Tuesday, December 8th.
As Southern California braces for the extra rain expected from the El Nino effect, so is Joshua Tree national Park. Reporter Sara Snyder says…
Joshua Tree National Park rangers are taking a pro-active approach to what scientists say could be the strongest El Nino on record. Staff preparations include a variety of planning scenarios ranging from dam safety, extreme weather rescues, to road and transportation issues. Superintendent David Smith will also consider preemptive closures if a forecast seems to warrant it in order to ensure visitor safety. Hikers should avoid washes and arroyos when rain is forecast. Motorists are reminded to never drive through moving water on flooded roads. “Turn around, don’t drown.” It can take only 6 inches of swiftly moving water to knock over an adult, 12 inches to carry off a small car, and 2 feet to carry away most other passenger vehicles.
At least six more burglaries were reported in Joshua Tree over the weekend. According to Sheriff’s reports, residents in the 6600 block of Sierra, 2400 block of Rice Avenue, 62600 block of Broadway, 62400 block of Campanula Street, 62000 block of Desertair Road, and 6600 block of Park Boulevard reported break-ins, and attempted break-ins Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Residents reported rocks thrown through windows, locks broken, and fences torn down. Some of the items stolen include weapons, tools, and motorcycle helmets. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.
A 14-year-old Joshua Tree boy suffered second degree burns to his face following an explosion of gunpowder Sunday morning. According to a Sheriff’s report, the teen didn’t realize what he was doing when he was “playing with gun powder” in the 64800 block of Chollita Road shortly after 8 a.m. and lit it on fire. The powder then “blew up” in the boys face. The boy was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
Twentynine Palms firefighters have been called to at least three fires in the same area in the last two weeks, started by transients trying to keep warm. Just before 3 a.m. Monday morning, a transient started a fire in a dumpster in the 4700 block of Adobe Road. Firefighters were called 3:15 Sunday afternoon to a stand of trees west of the intersection of Adobe Road and Amboy Road where a campfire, started by the same transient, had started smoldering in the trees’ fallen needles. Firefighters said the only damage was to portions of the tree. Late on the night of November 10, firefighters responded to a fire near Adobe Road and Calle Todd where tamarisk trees and fallen needles were burning. That fire is also believed to have been started by transients.
Check your calendar; Christmas is coming up fast and the volunteers at Tender Loving Christmas, TLC, are on the look-out for special sponsors. Reporter David Knutson says the main dish is the first priority…
Tender Loving Christmas (TLC) is seeking meat sponsors for the TLC Christmas Day event at the Yucca Valley Community Center. Each year, 1,200 pounds of turkeys and hams must be purchased for this event, which typically costs around $3,000 each. TLC is seeking individuals who can donate $25, $50, and $100 or more toward the meat fund and buffet. TLC organizer Mara Cantelo says their turkeys and hams comprise roughly one-third of the cost. They must buy their meat in quantity to be delivered just before the event. She adds that, due to health regulations, individual meats cannot be accepted. TLC provides a full Christmas Day banquet for all those in need, or who find themselves alone on the holiday. For more information, contact Cantelo at 760-333-2413.
TLC Address: PO Box 895, Yucca Valley, CA 92284
A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Friday morning, accused of elder abuse. According to a Sheriff’s report, an elderly resident in the 6500 block of Juniper Avenue in Twentynine Palms told deputies that Thomas Snover, 45, was high on drugs and attacked him about 7:30 Friday morning. The resident said Snover tried to climb up the living room curtains, kicked objects inside the home, and then kicked the resident. After an investigation, Thomas Snover was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center where he tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana, and was treated for his drug usage. Thomas Snover was later booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $50,000.
A Yucca Valley man wanted on warrants was arrested Saturday morning. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies went to a home in the 56500 block of Mountain View Trail Friday looking for Anthony Sacco, 27, but he wasn’t there. Deputies returned to the home about 8:30 Saturday morning and found Sacco sleeping on the couch. During a search of Sacco, deputies found drugs and numerous stolen items. Anthony Sacco was arrested on numerous drug and traffic warrants with his bail set at $225,000.
The Hi-Desert Division 62 of the California retired Teachers Association is accepting applications for a $1,000.00 scholarship. The aim of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to a student who has made a firm commitment to a career as a public school teacher. Applicants must be residents of Morongo Basin or graduates of a Morongo Basin high school. They must be full time students at a four year college or university and must either have completed their junior year with a minimum of 90 semester units by June, 2016, or must be college graduates currently enrolled in a Teacher Preparation Program. If you are a student who meets the above requirements, please contact Joanne Gordon, Division 62 Cal RTA Scholarship Chair, at P. O. Box 651, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, for an application. Completed applications and supporting documents are due on or before April 5, 2016.
The 12th annual Reach Out Morongo Basin “Parade of Homes” fundraiser is set for Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz says it’s not too late to be a sponsor…
Reach Out Morongo Basin’s “Parade of Homes” is the organization’s primary annual fundraiser, bringing in thousands of dollars to support services for area seniors and disabled residents. Sponsorship opportunities for the popular six-home tour are now available. Sponsors will be featured at varying levels in event advertising and publicity, on promotional items, and receive free tickets to the tour. Sponsorship levels include gold, silver and bronze at $1,000; $500; and $250 respectively. And the tour’s primary, platinum sponsor position with tailored, community-wide exposure and lots of extras, remains open for $2,500 or more. To secure your sponsorship position, call Reach Out Director Robin Schlosser at 760-361-1410.
A five-month-old baby from Twentynine Palms is hospitalized in a coma, and authorities have arrested his father, saying that he is responsible. According to a Sheriff’s press release, paramedics were called to a home in the 5800 block of Ocotillo Avenue for a baby who was not breathing. After assessing the situation, paramedics started CPR and called deputies about 10 a.m. Friday. The baby was taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center, where it was determined he had suffered a traumatic brain injury; he was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center where he remains hospitalized. After an investigation, the baby’s father, Armando Espinosa, 25, was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse involving great bodily injury resulting in a comatose state. Armando Espinosa was booked at the Central Detention Center with his bail set at $500,000.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested 11 people Saturday, during a shoulder-tap sting operation in Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. Deputies Shaunna Ables and Brandon Abell conducted a juvenile alcohol decoy sting, in which juveniles, under the supervision of the deputies, visited several liquor stores in Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley and asked people to buy alcohol or tobacco for them. The deputies made four arrests for furnishing alcohol to a minor, three arrests for furnishing tobacco to a minor, one citation for a juvenile in possession of tobacco, one citation for a juvenile in possession of marijuana, one arrest for a misdemeanor traffic warrant, and one arrest for driving under the influence.
The County has combined fire and Sheriff’s aviation operations to form an air rescue team. Reporter Mike Lipsitz say the move makes it a full-time operation…
Last week the county board of supervisors made some changes to the what’s known as Air Rescue. The program is moving from a part time separate program for County Fire and law enforcement to a 24/7 joint Sheriff and County Fire program that employs innovative rescue tactics quickly and efficiently throughout the largest county in the continental U.S. Currently Air Rescue responds to about 250 calls annually ranging from technical hoists, to swift water rescues, to getting medical aid to hard-to-get-to major accident trauma victims.
Desert Blood Services will conduct two community blood drives on Tuesday, November 24. The bloodmobile will be in the Hi-Desert Water District parking lot at Inca Trail and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley from 9 to 1 p.m. Then, it will move to Little Church of the Desert, 6079 Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms from 2 to 6:30 p.m. Donors will receive incentives. Those aged 18 to 44 years may register for Be the Match bone marrow screening free of charge. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 877-827-4376.
As we approach the holidays, area blood banks are asking for O-negative blood donors. Reporter Sara Snyder puts out the call…
Lifestream, the region’s blood bank, is in desperate need of O-negative blood, as there is insufficient supply to meet the demand of local hospitals. Only about 7 percent of the population has O-negative blood. Those with O-negative blood are known as “universal donors” as their blood can be accepted by all others, regardless of the recipient’s blood type. O-negative blood is especially critical in emergencies when there’s no time to determine the recipient’s blood type. However, when someone with O-negative blood needs a transfusion, their system can only accept O-negative blood. For the location and hours of LifeStream donor centers and mobile blood drives, call 800-879-4484.
Do you still have your Joshua Tree Star? The Stars Come Out in Joshua Tree was originated by the Joshua Tree Chamber in 2008 along with the help of Z1077FM. It’s time to put them up and light them up. The Joshua Tree Chamber will be holding its annual Holiday Market beginning 10 a.m. Friday, November 27 through 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 at Coyote Corner. Plan on lighting your star at 5 p.m. Wednesday, November 25, kick off the holiday shopping season. If you know anyone who might be able to help BUILD new stars, contact the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce at 760-366-3723.
Entries are now being accepted for the 18th annual Yucca Valley Festival of Lights parade. The light parade is set for Saturday, December 12, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Bannock and Santa Fe Trail, and heads west on Santa Fe to the Hi-Desert Water District’s office at Inca Trail. The parade theme is “Light Up the World.” The parade will conclude with a visit from Santa and a puppet show at the water district’s office. All entries are $25. Entry forms are available at the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce. For more information call the Chamber at 760-365-6323.