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JOSHUA TREE MAN HELD AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Joshua Tree man was arrested Wednesday, accused of punching his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff’s report, a woman called deputies about 10 p.m. to say Jay Tchakerian, 24, was drinking and punched her in the face. She said he then left the residence in the 62400 block of 29 Palms Highway. After an investigation, Jay Tchakerian was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.


HEAVY TRAFFIC EXPECTED ON HIGHWAYS

It is a three-day holiday weekend and the regional thoroughfares will be full of holiday travelers. Managing Editor Tami Roleff reminds you to be careful out there…
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally one of the heaviest travel times in the Inland Empire region. CalTrans is expecting lengthy delays on some area roads and freeways, with heaviest delays between Beaumont and Indio on I-10; at the Cajon Pass, and between Rancho Cucamonga and Hesperia on I-15. CalTrans urges motorists to plan ahead before they travel, and to bring water and snacks, have a full tank of gas, bring a car charger for your cell phone, and most importantly, be patient.


MEMORIAL DAY CLOSURES

All government offices, banks, libraries, schools, and post offices will be closed Monday, May 25, in observance of Memorial Day. In addition, Burrtec will delay its trash pick up by one day. The Morongo Basin Transit Authority will NOT operate service on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day and will resume its regularly scheduled service on Tuesday, May 26.


MORONGO VALLEY CSD IN BUSY MEETING WEDNESDAY NIGHT

The Morongo Valley CSD had a wide-ranging meeting Wednesday night. Reporter Dan Stork says they addressed the budget, the CalFire tax, a director’s complaint, change of meeting date, a threatening state bill, and heard a goodbye preview from a longtime director…
Budget
The Morongo Valley Community Services District Board of Directors approved a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year, with revenues and expenditures each coming to a little over $700,000.
CalFire tax revision
Residents were urged to fill out an application for reimbursement, so that they will be in a position to get money back if the much-protested CalFire tax is revised.
Karen Lowe complaint
The board voted to ask legal counsel how to proceed with member Karen Lowe’s request of an investigation of the conduct of members’ Gayle Swarat, Kristina Brook, and Johnny Tolbert’s behavior toward her and member Chuck Osborne.
SB 239 opposition
The Board formally opposed the proposed Senate Bill 239, which might increase the control by the Local Agency Formation Commission over local fire departments.
Terms for selling Women’s Club building
The CSD Board tuned the language of the listing notice of the unused Women’s Club building, owned by the district, to make it potentially easier to sell.
Change of meeting date
Starting next month, and extending until at least February of next year, the Board’s regular meeting date will be changed to the third Tuesday of each month.
Osborne announcement
Chuck Osborne announced that, after 20 years on the CSD Board, he will not run for re-election.


SKY’S THE LIMIT STAR PARTY SATURDAY

Sky’s the Limit will host a star party Saturday, May 23. The star party will start at the Twentynine Palms observatory about 9 p.m. and end about 1:30 a.m. After observing the moon and Jupiter, attention will turn to Saturn and its moons and rings. Bring water, snacks, chairs, and dress for cold weather. For more information, call 760-367-7222. Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is just north of the Twentynine Palms entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park at 9697 Utah Trail.


“BILOXI BLUES” AT ST. JOSEPH’S THIS WEEKEND

The St. Joseph’s Players of Yucca Valley opened “Biloxi Blues” last Friday night with a gala fundraiser benefiting two charities: The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and the Gladys Carol Scholarship Program. Reporter Rebecca Havely shares the fundraiser’s success…
The “Biloxi Blues” audience arrived last Friday night and enjoyed delicious pre-show foods beautifully prepared by Kerry Jimenez and her family, themed to the show’s locale of Biloxi, Mississippi. Huge arrays of donated items were available. The enthusiastic crowd bid on silent auction and live auction items. The play which stars Jericho McWilliams, Ryan Flieshman, Beau Stoker and Liyan Legavardi was well received by the crowd. The Gladys Carol Scholorship Program, Inc., led by Cheryl Gillon, raised over $1,700, and the Relay for Life crew, led by Diane Durden, garnered over $1,100 in donations, for a combined total of over $2,800. The spirits of the cast and crew were also raised by the excellent reception of the opening night crowd of theater goers.
St. Joseph’s church is located at 56312 Onaga Trail, Yucca Valley. Tickets for “Biloxi Blues” are $9 to $11. You can purchase tickets at Align the Spine Chiropractic in Yucca Valley or at Windwalker in Joshua Tree. The show runs weekends through June 7. To reserve your seat call 760-362-9319.


NO FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER AT JOSHUA TREE VFW

The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will not be serving dinner tonight. The Sunday breakfast is pancakes, eggs, quesadillas and omelets from 8 to 11. And don’t forget Taco Wednesday from 11 to 1.


STAR TWIRLERS SQUARE DANCE TONIGHT

The Star Twirlers Square Dance Club is hosting a plus-level square dance at the Yucca Valley Elks Lodge tonight at 55946 Yucca Trail. Brent Lively will be calling squares from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. Lines will be cued from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. and between tips. For further information contact Dennis at 760-366-8626.


FIVE CHURCH CONGREGATIONS MEET TOGETHER SUNDAY

Five congregations will meet Sunday for Pentecostal services at Knott’s Sky Park in Twentynine Palms. The service will start at 9:30 a.m., and will be followed by a potluck, so bring a dish to share and your own dishes and utensils. Participating in the services are congregations from St. Martin’s in the Field Episcopal Church, IPOP Lutheran, Faith Lutheran, and the Methodist churches from Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. All are welcome.


JOSHUA TREE TREENIAL UNFOLDS THIS WEEKEND

A new art event is coming to Joshua Tree at the end of May. Reporter Dan Stork points the way to the Joshua Treenial…
BoxoPROJECTS has announced the inaugural Joshua Treenial. This is an international art event whose focus and locus is Joshua Tree, and surrounding areas. Featuring installation and performance works, the event includes artists and works from fifteen different countries.
The Joshua Treenial unfolds over Memorial Day weekend, May 22 – 25, concurrent with events at other area arts organizations. For the full schedule and program, follow links in this story at z1077fm.com.
www.joshuatreenial.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1638983946332740/


CIF FIRST-ROUND WIN FOR YUCCA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL

The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojans Softball Team defeated Desert Christian Academy in round one of CIF play, 7-1, in seven innings. Coach Dennis Priest said freshman Jaqueline Bolha gets the win in the circle, throwing a two-hit, three-walk complete game. The hot bats of Sierra Scali, Savanna Fowlkes, Karson Scaccianoce, who all had multiple extra bag hits, and a three-run home run by freshman Ayriel Fonseca gave the Trojans the victory. The Lady Trojans host Polytechic of Pasedena in round two at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26 at the Boys and Girls Club softball field in Yucca Valley.


MEMORIAL SERVICES SET FOR DUI VICTIMS LONNIE AND PAT TINER

A Memorial service for the victims of a Sunday night DUI hit-and-run in Joshua Tree has been set. The family of Lonnie and Pat Tiner said the service will be Saturday, May 30, at 10:00 a.m. at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Twentynine Palms. Granddaughter Keliana Tiner thanked the community for their outpouring of support saying, “I know they were truly missed by all. There has been such an outpouring of love and support these last few days that it truly brings our family a sense of solace to know that they’ve touched so many people in this community.” A 21-year-old Marine lance corporal, Mariah Natividad, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run, and drunk driving in the crash that killed the couple.

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CALTRANS HEARS FROM MORONGO VALLEY RESIDENTS ABOUT HIGHWAY 62

A modestly-sized, but vocal group of Morongo Valley residents showed up to hear what CalTrans had to say about the Route 62 median project. Reporter Dan Stork tells about the give-and-take…

Caltrans officials conducted a public meeting at the pavilion in Covington Park in Morongo Valley Wednesday night, to update the community on the status of the Route 62 median project. District 8 operations supervisor Hassam Yahya said that construction on a permanent median should begin in late 2016 or early 2017. Lack of drainage systems have required hydrological studies, that have shown that the solid divider that is used at the top of the Yucca Grade is not suitable for many sections of the median. Environmental studies are also required. Yahya, CHP officers, and Morongo Valley fire personnel and residents all noted that there have been no cross-median collisions since the plastic delineators have been installed, and generally agreed that this outweighs inconvenience and extra care in crossing and turning that they require. Yahya and Caltrans spokesperson Terry Kasinga asked for public input on where turn pockets and traffic signals might be installed; the current breaks in the delineator array don’t have to match the permanent configuration. Yahya said that the only traffic signal planned would be at Bella Vista, which met with disfavor by many of those present. Residents also complained that the delineators have led to increased, and rapid traffic in neighborhoods, as drivers look for ways to cross the highway. Yahya said that he is willing to come again to Morongo Valley when the design for the median project is further along. Morongo Valley residents or business owners who have thoughts on implementation of the median project can share them with Caltrans at an email address given in this story: terri.kasinga@dot.ca.gov


CHP ON MAXIMUM PATROL THIS MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND

More drivers on the road for the Memorial Day weekend means the California Highway Patrol will conduct a maximum enforcement period. From 6 p.m. Friday, May 22 through midnight Monday, May 25, CHP officers will be out in force, enforcing speed limit laws, click-it-or-ticket, and looking for DUIs. Last year, 25 people were killed in traffic collisions in California during the Memorial Day weekend and seven of them were not wearing a seat belt. Motorists are reminded to buckle up, drive the speed limit, and designate a non-drinking driver.


CONGRESSMAN COOK GETS $4 MILLION GRANT FOR YUCCA VALLEY SEWER

Some good news for property owners in Yucca Valley. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says a federal grant will help pay for the new sewer system…

The Hi-Desert Water District has been awarded a $4 million grant from the Bureau of Land Reclamation—with the assistance of Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley—for its wastewater treatment project. The treatment facility will provide tertiary treatment to percolate recycled water in the Warren Valley Groundwater Basin, where water levels have been depleted. Once completed, this projected is expected to result in the recharge of more than 1,900 acre-feet of recycled water annually, to replace water that would otherwise be imported by the State Water Project from the Bay Delta.


TWO ARRESTED AFTER A MORONGO VALLEY BURGLARY

Two people were arrested Tuesday morning, accused of stealing firearms and electronics from a home in Morongo Valley. According to the Sheriff’s Department, deputies were called to a home May 1 in the 52600 block of Altadena Drive in Morongo Valley to investigate a burglary. The homeowners said tool and all their firearms and computer equipment were stolen, and suspected that Katelyn Wright, 21, and Russell Young, 26, both of Twentynine Palms, may be involved. On May 19, a CHP officer made a traffic stop on the highway in Morongo Valley. Inside the vehicle were Wright and Young. Sheriff’s Deputy John Lett arrived to assist with the stop, and items inside the car were identified as items that had stolen May 1. Detectives served a search warrant on a home in the 6000 block of Daisy Avenue in Twentynine Palms where they found the stolen firearms and computer equipment, valued at more than $2,200. Katelyn Wright and Russell Young were arrested on suspicion of residential burglary, and booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with their bail set at $25,000 each. Russell Young also had several outstanding warrants with an additional bail of $37,500.


JOSHUA BASIN WATER HOLDS ALTA MIRA LETTER DURING DROUGHT ORDERS

Last August, Joshua Basin Water District passed a conservation ordinance in response to the State Water Board’s call for reductions in wasteful water practices such as over-irrigation. Now the state is imposing more stringent measures. Reporter Mike Lipsitz tells us how one local water agency is coping with the new regulations…
At last night’s meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, directors approved a staff recommendation that the conservation ordinance be overhauled in response to new statewide emergency water regulations. Under the mandate handed down earlier this month, the District must reduce consumption a staggering 28 percent, or be subject to fines up to $10,000 per day. Under such pressure, Joshua Tree can expect to see a revised ordinance with strict limits on water uses, and significant penalties for both residential and commercial accounts that waste water. In other business, directors learned several district wells are—or will be—out of compliance when and if the state’s new lower threshold for Chromium-6 goes into effect. The condition is not considered a serious threat to public health, but federal guidelines require customers be notified. Also last night, the board voted to delay issuing a will-serve letter for the 248-unit Alta Mira residential development while emergency water regulations are in effect.


MEMORIAL DAY SERVICE SET FOR TWENTYNINE PALMS

The Twentynine Palms cemetery will host a Memorial Day service on Monday, May 25. The service will start promptly at 9 a.m. Major General Lewis Craparotta will be the guest speaker. The Marine Color Guard and Firing Detail will also be present. The public is invited to attend. The cemetery is located on Encelia Avenue in Twentynine Palms. For more information, call Stacey Lee at 760-367-9316.


SCHOOL BOARD PART 2: NEGOTIATIONS AND DISPUTES

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education began its May 19 meeting with presentations and recognitions. Then it turned to regular business. Reporter Dan Stork broke his report into two parts. In this story, the progress of labor negotiations, teacher transfers, an eliminated position, and a disputed board policy…

During regular reports, Morongo Teachers Association representative Terry Weitz kept the pressure on the Board and staff to come up with a more generous contract, citing the billions of extra dollars likely coming to districts state-wide from Sacramento this year. Classified rep Jim Goldsborough was hopeful and positive about the tentative agreement hammered out by his union with the District. Marine Liaison Tom Cruz distributed tips on school transitions for military families, who are faced with frequent reassignments.

The Board heard teacher and parent comments on a variety of issues. Friendly Hills teacher Pamela Coleman protested her “forced re-alignment” transfer to another school. Twentynine Palms Junior High School teacher Doug Walters begged for assignment of an assistant principal to his school. A noon supervisor at Twentynine Palms Elementary had the same request for her site. Parent Candy Hart had aired a list of concerns, including class size, playground safety, budget clarity, and arts and music funding.

On the action agenda, the board voted 3-2 to eliminate an instructional aide position, Karalee Hargrove and Ron Palmer dissenting. A 4-1 vote approved a revised Advanced Placement policy, with Chris Proudfoot dissenting, saying the cost to families might deter students from taking AP tests. The board unanimously supported the ballot measure that would approve the Medical Center affiliation with Tenet Health Care.


HOSPITAL BOARD MEETS ABOUT CEO SALARY TONIGHT

The Hi-Desert Medical Center Board of Directors will hold a special meeting at 6:00 tonight to discuss a performance evaluation of its Chief Executive Officer Bob Tyk. The directors will then go into negotiations over the CEO’s salary. The meeting will be held in the Helen Gray Education Center board room on the hospital campus.


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