A highway project in Twentynine Palms was one of 182 projects selected by CalTrans’ Highway Safety Improvement Project, out of 213 received. The project’s estimated cost is $783,000; however, the city will receive funding from the state for the project of more than $606,000. The project includes the installation of sidewalks along Highway 62 between Encelia Avenue and Larrea Avenue, along with crosswalks and pedestrian crossing signs at Encelia and Larrea Avenues and infrastructure on the south side of the highway and across a culvert.
Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally one of the busiest travel times in America, can also be one of the deadliest. The Morongo Basin California Highway Patrol will have all available officers on patrol during a Maximum Enforcement Period to help avoid tragedies for California motorists. Over the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend, 45 people died in collisions on California roadways, a 36 percent increase from the same period in 2013. In addition, the CHP arrested almost 1,000 people for driving under the influence. “Having a safe Thanksgiving drive this year—and being here to enjoy next Thanksgiving—can be as simple as buckling up,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Nearly half the people who died in the CHP’s jurisdiction over Thanksgiving last year were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.” The CHP’s maximum enforcement period will begin 6 pm. Wednesday, November 25, and continue through midnight Sunday, November 29.
In a special meeting last week, the Twentynine Palms City Council voted to contribute up to $1.7 million to the water district’s unfunded pension fund, since the county won’t proceed with the annexation of the fire department without a plan of how the unfunded liability will be paid. At a hastily called special meeting last night, the Twentynine Palms Water District’s board of directors met to consider the city’s offer. Managing editor Tami Roleff broke off her vacation to attend the meeting and files this report…
“The city’s proposal to provide funds … is unheard of in my experience.”
LAFCO’s executive director Kathleen Rollings-McDonald told the Twentynine Palms Water District’s board of directors at a special meeting last night that it was unprecedented for one agency to offer to pay the unfunded liabilities of another agency, which, in the case of the water district, is $3 million, more or less. Despite the unprecedented offer, the district’s board of directors, led by Director Sam Moore, shot it down. “Personally, I don’t think the water department needs to pay any money because it’s coming out of the rate-payers’ money, their pockets. If the city council wants to go ahead and help the district to annexation, there it is, there’s the money, cough it up.”
Director Carol Giannini chided the water district for resisting taking over the fire departmnet. “I have often wondered why the city has been so resistant, and it’s been publicly trying to be portrayed that it’s the water board that’s been resistant joining into a partnership with the city. It’s actually the other way around. It’s the city that’s been resistant to accepting responsibility of the safety of the citizens and even considering joining into a partnership with the water district.” Giannini added that residents need to speak up if they want to stop the annexation to the county. “Come to the board meetings, especially Desert Heights residents. If you really want to stop them, it’s in the citizens’ power.”
With the rejection of the city’s offer, the water district will not meet the deadline of December 2 to have its transition plan to LAFCO. Rollings-McDonald told the board that if LAFCO does not have the information it needs by February 17, it would be impossible to meet the fiscal year July 1 deadline.
As a reminder over this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, many off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders will be out riding their OHVs in the Morongo Basin desert areas. This holiday weekend, the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station will have OHV patrol units out meeting with riders and campers, educating them, and issuing citations if necessary. Riders need to obey all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to open OHV riding areas and should keep themselves up to date on current OHV laws. Remember that all vacant lands belong to someone or some government agency, so please respect private lands and remain on designated OHV riding trails and areas. The Sheriff’s Department would like everyone to enjoy their OHV riding experience, but riders who choose not to obey the laws, ruin it for those who do. Careless riders create situations which can cause injury and even death. Always remember to wear your helmets and if you drink, DO NOT RIDE. If you need to report OHV violations, please contact Sheriff’s Dispatch at 760-956-5001.
Theatre 29’s latest offering, “Farndale… Christmas Carol” opened last weekend. The laugh-out-loud comedy had audiences in stitches. Reporter Rebecca Havely attended and offers this review of the production…
Directed by Theatre 29 veteran Marty Neider, this show is a fast-paced comedy of errors that’s sure to please all ages. An English acting troupe of all women perform their version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with the help of their reluctant stage hand Gordon, played by Edward Pierce. You may remember him from his recent role as Lurch in “The Adams Family.” The stalwart leader of the troupe, Phoebe Reece is played by Donette Swain, who deftly plays many roles in the production, all with different dialects. Her Tiny Tim portrayal was my favorite. Her arch rival Thelma is the diva of the group; sternly played by Kathryn Ferguson, who portrays Scrooge in the play-within-a-play. Mercedes, played by Mandi Pushkar, stumbles about on crutches desperately trying to do her best. The young ingénue of the group is innocently played by Lisa Goldberg. From collapsing scenery to line mix-ups and in-fighting, plus some audience participation, this engagingly goofy comedy will get the whole family into the holiday spirit.
“Farndale Christmas Carol” runs Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. with 2:30 Sunday matinees on November 29 and December 13. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, military and students with I.D., and $8 for children. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Theater 29 box office at 760-361-4151. Or purchase tickets on line at theatre29.org.
Food For Life will be putting on the Betty Garrett Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow, Thursday, November 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Little Church of the Desert Community Hall in Twentynine Palms. A traditional dinner of turkey, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, etc. will be served. If you would like to volunteer to help during this day, please call Teresa Brown at 562-324-9099.
Tortoise Rock Casino teamed up with local food banks and charities to help give area families a heart-felt Thanksgiving. To help meet the demand of food banks and local organizations that cater to the under-served families this holiday season, they split a donation of about 25 turkeys between Food for Life/Breaking Bread Ministries and Little Church of the Desert, both located in Twentynine Palms. The organizations will now be able to provide even more hot meals for local families in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
Many volunteers are working today to make this Thanksgiving a special one for those in need, but the volunteers are getting a special feeling too. ROP broadcast student Danielle Candelaria asked a local volunteer, Brooklyn Jarrett, why she does it…
Volunteering helps out the community immensely. Brooklyn Jarrett, a regular volunteer in Twentynine Palms, says, “To volunteer, it’s indispensable to be vocal, have great listening skills, and be prepared to do any task someone gives you.” When asked how she started to volunteer, she said, “I began volunteering and serving around my church, and still do, but now on Saturdays I help out the Little Church of the Desert, for Food for life. Every now and then, I also help other places in the community.’’ Lastly, when asked why she continues to volunteer, she said, “Volunteering is great for college and job applications, but the best part about volunteering is having a chance to give back to the community and it helps you build certain skills for when you’re on your own.”
The Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce’s third annual bazaar at Coyote Corner opens at 10 a.m. Black Friday, and continues Saturday and Sunday. Shop for gifts and goodies, enjoy family fun, and hot food. This year offers free pony rides for kids each day, courtesy of White Rock Ranch Horse Rescue. On Saturday, Santa rides in at noon on his shiny red fire engine, manned by the Fire Technology class from Copper Mountain College. Also on Saturday, enjoy live local music from 1 to 7 p.m. The holiday market, at 6535 Park Boulevard, is open until 6 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday until 3 p.m. For more information, call the chamber at 760-366-3723.
The majority of emergency room visits for pets during the Thanksgiving holiday revolve around the turkey. Don’t feed your dog or cat any food from your Thanksgiving meal. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more about how even a small piece of turkey skin or butter-coated vegetable can cause a life-threatening illness in certain pets…
When you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving meal, resist the temptation to give your dog or cat a piece of turkey. Your roast turkey can trigger pancreatitis in your pet, resulting in an expensive trip to the vet. Signs of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Pancreatitis may occur as a single episode or a recurring event. Pets can quickly develop potentially fatal side effects such as dehydration and liver or kidney damage. Overweight dogs are even more at risk. If you suspect your pet has pancreatitis, take them to the vet immediately. Don’t risk the harm to your dog or cat or your wallet and just say no to those begging eyes.
The Morongo Basin Transit Authority will NOT operate service on Thursday, November 26, in observance of Thanksgiving Day. The MBTA will resume its regularly scheduled service on Friday, November 27.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Yucca Valley, will conduct a Thanksgiving Service at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, thanksgiving eve. The public is welcome to attend.
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.