Latest Full Newscast

Full Newscast



The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will offer a weekend double treat with a complete turkey dinner Friday, December 19, from 4 to 6 p.m. The dinner includes turkey, dressing, potatoes, green beans and a roll. Sunday’s breakfast, served from 8 to 11, is pancakes, two eggs, sausage or bacon, or pick a super meal from the breakfast menu. There will be NO Taco Wednesday on Christmas Eve, but don’t forget Taco Wednesday New Year’s Eve from 11 to 1.


Volunteers are needed to help package meals for pets to be distributed to shut-ins on Christmas Day by Tender Loving Christmas. If you can help, come to the Yucca Valley Community Center at noon on Monday, December 22.

The 31st annual Tender Loving Christmas Holiday Celebration is right around the corner. It’s never too early to donate or volunteer to be a part of this very special celebration serving those in need and helping make sure no one in the Basin is alone this Christmas day Entertainment reporter Rebecca Havely shares how you can contribute…
Tender Loving Christmas is ramping up their year-round efforts to make this Christmas Day special for those in need. With over two dozen different programs including: Drives for toys, clothes, coats and canned food; gifts for vets, the retired, shut-ins, patients, babies and even pets. Donations are still needed and volunteers too. All these programs and more culminate on Christmas Day with a huge feast, give-a-ways and live entertainment. By then, TLC and its hundreds of volunteers will have touched the lives of more than 5,000 residents across the Morongo Basin. To offer your support to this incredible giving experience, contact Tender Loving Care founder, Mara Cantelo at 760-333-2413.


The California Retired Teachers Association, Hi-Desert Division 62, is currently accepting applications for two scholarships, each in the amount of $1,000 and each to be presented in June 2015. One scholarship will be awarded to a Morongo Basin resident or graduate of a Morongo Basin high school. The student must be a current, full-time student at a four-year college or university, must have earned a minimum of 90 semester units by the end of spring semester, and must be firmly committed to a career as a public school teacher. The second scholarship will be awarded to a teacher currently employed by Morongo Unified School District. The teacher must belong to the Morongo Teachers Association and must be enrolled or ready to enroll in a course of study that will provide professional or personal advancement. To receive an application for either scholarship, please contact Scholarship Chair, Joanne Gordon, at P.O. Box 651, Joshua Tree, CA, 92252. Completed applications and supporting documents are due no later than April 8, 2015.


The Yucca Valley High School debate team will be offering free gift-wrapping services on Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00 on the Yucca Valley Starbucks patio. Come relax and enjoy your coffee or sandwich while we wrap those last-minute purchases for you. They’re fast, friendly, and Santa approved.


A Yucca Valley tire dealer has been named one of the top 10 performing dealers in the country. Big O Tires was named a Platinum Performer—and is the only tire dealer in California—in the November 2014 issue of Tire Review, an industry magazine. The dealers were scored on objective questions dealing with their building and equipment, sales, operations, marketing, and personnel. Managing editor Tami Roleff talked with Big O’s owner Tom Huls, who says he is thrilled with the honor…
“They’re sending us a plaque and an award; it’s a big deal for us.” Big O owner Tom Huls said he and his wife were so excited when they learned they were one of the top 10 performing tire stores in the country. “I was amazed. Ecstatic and shocked at the same time. Dumbfounded as to how we could do that in little old Yucca Valley. What we do, we do right.” Huls said his store had a very good year last year, so he decided to enter the contest. “There are some worthy stores out there, but I thought mine was pretty darn worthy, myself.” His store, with 10 employees, was competing against stores in very large metropolitan areas. “I’m very proud of my store and Yucca Valley for helping me and supporting me. In our little area, in a 25-mile radius, we have 50,000 to 55,000 people, competing against areas with one to two, three, four million people. In little old Yucca Valley, our store came out smelling like a rose.” Huls explained why his store does so well in a small town and why 70 percent of his customers are repeat customers. “I believe in my employees and store. The customer comes first at our store.” Congratulations to Tom Huls, Big O Tires, and all his employees.


In high school sports, the Twentynine Palms Wildcats basketball team saw first De Anza league action on the road last night against Big Bear Bears. Coach Michael Schneider said it was a defensive battle throughout, but the Wildcats came out on top by a score of 40 – 34. Andrew Wilson led all scorers with 12 points and freshman Adam Bell added 10 points. This brings Twentynine Palms’ record to 2 and 3 overall, with a De Anza league record of 1 and 0.

The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojan basketball team bounced back from a tough defeat Wednesday to beat Shadow Hills in a De Anza league contest 45-40 last night in Indio. Coach Jess Geeson said senior Ashley Priest scored a team-high 14 points, while sophomore Taylor Spitz hit for 11 points. The Yucca girls now stand 9-3 overall and 2-0 in league play.

Last night, December 18, the Twentynine Palms High School girls’ varsity basketball team started league play with a 57 to 31 victory over Big Bear up in Big Bear. Nokomis Cabrera had 18 points, Lindsey Scammon had 11 points, and McKenzy Johnson had nine points on 3-for-4 shooting from behind the 3-point line.

The Yucca Valley High School girls’ soccer team traveled to take on Shadow Hills High School in De Anza League play and lost by a score of 7-1. Coach Scott Phillips said freshman Jackie Bolha scored the goal for the Lady Trojans off an assist from senior Karson Scaccianoce. Junior Nikole Cody recorded seven saves on goal.

In high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley boys wrestling team will travel away to Palm Springs, while the girls’ wrestling team will travel to La Puente to play Bishop Amat Memorial High School.


A Joshua Tree woman who felt spurned by a man she’d been dating took out her anger on his vehicle Tuesday. According to a Sheriff’s report, Marina Montgomery, 33, had been dating a man in the 5900 block of Chia Avenue in Twentynine Palms. When he broke off their relationship, she went to his home. After he told her to leave, the report states she grabbed a crowbar from her vehicle and broke the windshield, rear windshield, and passenger side windows of the man’s Honda, before leaving in her vehicle. Deputies found her on Highway 62 and arrested her for investigation of felony vandalism. Marina Montgomery was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with her bail set at $25,000.


Opponents of a medical marijuana dispensary in Yucca Valley have one less argument to fight the proposed initiative that would permit dispensaries to set up shop again in Town limits: that medical marijuana is illegal under U.S. law. When Congress passed its 1,600-page spending bill last weekend, it included a provision that ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana in states where it is legal. California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 under Prop 215, and 31 other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized medical marijuana. The Obama Administration has made it a policy not to raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal, and when Obama signs the spending bill, that policy will become law. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland said, “The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine.”


It’s the season of giving, and unfortunately, the season of taking, too. Whether it’s an online shopping scam, gift-card fraud, or a fake charity asking for donations, Managing Editor Tami Roleff says make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate charity before donating…

Crooks are always coming up with new ways to separate you from your money. Some of the newer scams include a $20 “Letter to Santa” scam, and a fake electronic greeting card scam.
“Which are going to appear like something you would want to open because it’s something innocent and something that you may be expecting to get. But if you’re not careful about the address, you may be susceptible to getting malware when you open the greeting card.”
AARP fraud expert Sally Hurme says she finds fake charity scams especially disheartening because people are so generous this time of year. She says a lot of fake charities crop up in December. “They use various schemes. They’ll use names that are similar to a recognized charity or they will just pull at your heartstrings and you think that you’re giving to a legitimate charity when you’re not.”
Before you donate to a charity, check it out on or through the Better Business Bureau.


Joshua Tree Station 36 firefighters will be giving Santa a ride through Joshua Tree neighborhoods THIS Saturday (Dec 20), Sunday (Dec 21), and Monday (Dec 22) from 6 to 8 p.m. each night. On Saturday, Santa will be riding a fire truck on paved roads in neighborhoods north of Highway 62. On Sunday, Santa and his fire engine will be visiting neighborhoods on paved roads south of the highway, north of Alta Loma and east of Outpost. Then Monday, December 22, the fire fighters will escort Santa through Joshua Tree neighborhoods on paved roads south of Alta Loma and west of Outpost. Neighborhood children are invited to come out and say hi to Santa as he visits their neighborhoods.


There will be a distribution of surplus federal food at Church of the Nazarene, 56248 Buena Vista Drive, Yucca Valley, from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Friday, December 19.


This weekend is your last chance to see Theater 29’s final offering of the 2014 season, the hilarious Ken Ludwig farce, “Shakespeare in Hollywood.” Entertainment reporter Rebecca Havely shares how you can get tickets…
“Shakespeare in Hollywood” it’s not just a play; it’s a play within a movie within a farce! Shakespeare’s famous characters—King Oberon played wonderfully by Ben Bees—and Puck, his mischievous servant—delightfully portrayed by Lizzy Schmelling—magically land in the 1930’s Hollywood movie set of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Love affairs, love triangles, and cross-dressing chaos ensues.
Local stage favorite Leonard Webber portrays the Austrian film director Max Reinhart and garners lots of laughs, along with the rest of the large talented cast, making this final offering of the Theater 29 season a must-see!
So take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season, grab a friend and go have a few belly laughs at Theater 29 this Friday and Saturday night. The curtain rises at 7 p.m.
Tickets range from $8 to $12. For reservations, call the Theater box office at 760-361-4151 or purchase tickets on line by visiting


Last night, the Twentynine Palms Water District board met for their regular meeting. The board members reelected Sam Moore as president and Chauncey Chambers as vice president. The Water District reported that there were zero main leaks in the month of November. On the Fire Department side, Fire Chief Jim Thompson reported that during the month of November, the Department responded to 179 calls for assistance. November was another month without a structure fire. Thompson also wanted to remind the public to stay fire safe this holiday season in regards to candles, lights, and Christmas trees.


For 12 years, Hi-Desert Water District employees have donated to local charities during the holiday season. At the district’s annual holiday party, employees buy raffle tickets, and the money that is raised is donated back to local charities. This year, 38 water district employees raised $770. Tender Loving Christmas received $500 worth of new toys for distribution to those in need. The Boys and Girls Club of Yucca Valley received a donation of $270 for their programs.


The Hi-Desert Water District Board met last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff said after reorganization, there were some questions about a no-bid contract…
The Hi-Desert Water District board of directors unanimously selected Bob Stadum to serve as its president next year. But Sarann Graham’s nomination of Dan Munsey for vice president failed to garner a second. Stadum’s nomination of Sheldon Hough for vice president passed 3-2, with Graham and Munsey dissenting. In other business, Munsey was the sole “no” vote against a contract with CV Strategies to continue its outreach and public relations services with the district to explain why the district’s customers needed to vote yes on the upcoming sewer system assessment vote. “Outreach is certainly needed for the district; this company has done a great job for us… However, … I can’t continually vote to increase money to a firm that was never competitively bid.” The district hired the firm in June 2013 for $48,000 without going out to bid, then paid it another $49,000 in February 2014, again without a competitive bid, and then approved another payment of $35,000 last night.


Mojave Desert Land Trust is moving its offices to a new location: two miles west of downtown Joshua Tree into the building formerly occupied by Hanna’s Nursery Gardens. Executive director Danielle Segura said the move is an opportunity for the land trust to be directly across from its Section 33 property. The land trust is moving this week and will officially open for business in its new location on Monday, January 5.


Desert Christ Park Foundation will hold its annual meeting at the Park on Friday, December 19, at 10:00 a.m. Desert Christ Park is located at 56200 Sunnyslope Drive in Yucca Valley. All are welcome to attend. The Park’s Foundation is always seeking new board members and volunteers. For more information call 760-365-3984.


Sky’s the Limit will host a star party Saturday, December 20. The star party will start at the Twentynine Palms observatory about 5:30 p.m. and end about 11 p.m. Late December is one of the finest months to observe the night skies. Bring binoculars, telescopes, water, snacks, chairs, and dress for unpredictable weather. For more information, call 760-367-7222. Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is just north of the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park at 9697 Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms.


Black Rock High School is the subject of a documentary film, currently in production, that is scheduled to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Reporter Dan Stork spoke with Principal Vonda Viland about the project and about the alternative school…
We asked Black Rock High School Principal Vonda Viland how the school came to be the subject of a documentary film. She told us that filmmakers who had been scouting schools were intrigued by the specialness of Black Rock.
We also asked what makes the Morongo Unified School District’s only alternative high school so special.
“We approach it that these aren’t the ‘bad’ students. They are many times the gifted and talented students in the District. They just learn in a different way, and need to have a positive, nurturing environment. We’re not about punishment, we’re about education. I think you’ve heard me say at the Board meeting that we believe in the power of positive. Many of these students haven’t had any positive acclaim or recognition in many years. We start very small, and say ‘We’re glad you’re here. We believe in you, we have faith in you, that you can accomplish your goals. So let’s figure out what your goals are, figure out a plan, and figure out a direction for that.’ ”

For the complete interview we had with Vonda Viland, see this story at

Principal Vonda Viland talks with Z107.7 news about Black Rock High School and the film being made about it.
Z: How did the project come about?
VV: Dr. Turner, from our District office, was working with the Gates Foundation, and they were doing some mini-documentaries on various school projects. She said while they were here, “You know we have a really unique successful program. I’d like you to go and visit it.” So they came by and said, unfortunately, it didn’t meet the criteria of what the Gates Foundation was looking for. They left, and about three months later I got a call back from them, saying they couldn’t get our program out of their mind. Could they come back and visit for a couple of weeks to determine if there was a story—a documentary—here? So they came and visited for a couple of weeks, and the rest is history.

Z: What is the group that is doing the documentary?
VV: It’s called Low Key Productions. These gentlemen are award-winning documentarians. They made the movie “Lost in La Mancha ,” which was a documentary about the movie “Don Quixote,” which was the biggest loss ever. They filmed that with Johnny Dep, going around and spending a year with him, and won several awards for that. Then they also did a documentary on the making of “Twelve Monkey” with Bruce Willis, so they spent a year with that, too.

Z: How long has the production been going on at Black Rock?
VV: We’re into our second year of production. They started in October of last year, and they’re planning on filming through the end of this year’s school year, and then hopefully starting on the actual production and marketing of the documentary.

Z: Has the filming affected the normal goings-on at Black Rock in any way?
VV: You know, it really hasn’t. It’s been interesting. Initially, when they came, they students, you know, giggled and so on. But now that they’re here so often, the students don’t even know they’re here.

Z: How often have they been there? Is it a continual presence?
VV: Pretty much. Like from now until the end of the year, they’ll be here pretty much every day. Last year, they were here in probably two-week blocks, and then they were here all of April and May.

Z: Has the experience of someone observing your school at work given you any insights, perspectives, ideas about your operations? Just being aware of somebody watching you…
VV: That other outlook…. Sometimes, they might give me another idea how to approach a child or a situation or discussion. But as far as the day-to-day operations of the school, it hasn’t affected it at all, but maybe, no, it really hasn’t. Like I said, maybe getting a few more ideas, like what about trying this, or, I wonder what the student’s life is like at home, because they not only spend time at school, they also spend time at home and out in the community with the students.

Z: Are they focusing on particular students, or is it hard to tell until it gets edited?
VV: They are highlighting certain students. They are looking at the overall program, and the student body as a whole, and they are highlighting certain students as they go.

Z: I’ve been covering the Morongo Unified School District as a reporter for a number of years now, and have gotten a strong impression about the alternative high school program in the District. One, that it’s different than other alternative high school programs, and in general, more successful. Why do you think that is? What makes Black Rock different?
VV: We approach it that these aren’t the “bad” students. They are many times the gifted and talented students in the District. They just learn in a different way, and need to have a positive, nurturing environment. We’re not about punishment, we’re about education. I think you’ve heard me say at the Board meeting that we believe in the power of positive. Many of these students haven’t had any positive acclaim or recognition in many years. We start very small, and say “We’re glad you’re here. We believe in you, we have faith in you, that you can accomplish your goals. So let’s figure out what your goals are, figure out a plan, and figure out a direction for that.”

Z: Is there any recurring profile of students who come?
VV: Absolutely. We have almost 90 percent of our students on free or reduced lunch, coming from an economically disadvantaged situation. We’ve focused in on students who have had academic, attendance, and discipline problems at the traditional high school. But we also look at those students who are ready for change—students who still have hope and really want to accomplish their goals, but they just haven’t had the support that they’ve needed to do that. And that’s one of the things that our District has been so great about, that our school hasn’t become a dumping ground. It’s a school that really looks at students who are ready to change their lives and move forward.

Z: It’s been two or three years since the schools consolidated and went from two to one alternative high school…
VV: Yes, this is the third year of the consolidation.

Z: Does that result in a large demand, a waiting list of students wanting to get in? How large could the program be?
VV: We have a pretty large waiting list. Usually there’s between 20 to 30 students waiting. We’ve also gone to where we can only serve juniors, seniors, and fifth-year students, whereas in the past we were also able to serve sophomores.

Z: Fifth-year students—that’s a concept you’re not going to see in the other high schools in the District.
VV: No, we’re the only school in the District that has fifth-year students, and that is a student who maybe made a mistake in their freshman year or sophomore year, and so they’re behind. So when they come to us, they just have so much to overcome that they can’t just finish in time. So what I tell the students is, we’re not about time, we’re about the diploma; it doesn’t matter to us when you graduate, it matters that you graduate. That’s another big difference between us and the traditional high school. We not about time. In a traditional high school, they’re stuck in a classroom from September to January, January ’til June. At our school, they’re only in a classroom as long as it takes to accomplish the standards and do all the work that the state says they have to do. So they can work at their own pace, and accelerate, get caught up, and then get ahead. They can pick their graduation date, they can pick when they’re done with a certain subject area. Say they dislike, oh, science. They can focus in on their science and really work on it and get done. They feel in control, and in charge of their program.

Z: Has there been a large aspect of independent study as well? The way you describe it, it sounds like a traditional classroom structure doesn’t altogether fit the model.
VV: We only have about eight students on independent study who work from home. The rest of our students come full-day, but what we do is a combination of direct instruction and what we call “contract work.” Two days a week they’re in the classroom and do direct instruction. The other three days they work on their individual work at their own pace.

Z: Over the years, my wife and I have discussed the individual models and the schooling we’ve been through. She in particular would have loved having a structure like that, that you described. It seems a model that could be of benefit to a much larger population of students, too. Has any of this trickled into the other high schools, that you know of?
VV: I don’t believe so, because of their size. Maybe it could be done? But it would take an overwhelming revamping of their system in order for that to be done.

Z: So you’re benefiting by your small size, and I’m assuming that you can give a lot more individual attention.
VV: Absolutely. There’s no way we could give the individualized support and care and concern if we had more students. That’s one of the things the District has been really great about—recognizing that and keeping it small.

Z: One thing that was mentioned in the [Hi-Desert] Star article was a benefactor that came about as a result of the filming.
VV: Yes, we’re very excited about that.

Z: How did that happen?
VV: The documentary was shown at the Sundance Film Festival Institute Forum, and at the forum Mr. [Ted] Dintersmith [a successful venture capitalist] and several other benefactors saw it. They showed clips of the documentary—which none of us have seen—they’ve been very careful, because they don’t want to change how we act or anything. So they showed the documentary, and Mr. Dintersmith was so impressed by it that he asked if he could come and spend a day with us. He and a representative from a project called The Future Project—an incredible project—came and spent the day. At the end of the day, he said, this program has everything I believe in—the only thing I see that is lacking is some sort of a career/tech component. I’d like to donate $100,000 for you to create that, and to work with the students on creating it. So we’ve been working with the students and talking with them about what would be beneficial for them. Right now we’re looking at developing a medical preparation lab, and working with CMC [Copper Mountain College] a little bit on that. We’re also going to do on the side something that was very important to Mr. Dintersmith, which was some musical engineering/technical component, in a different room, a different lab—one of the students that was in the documentary, one of our very gifted and talented students, that was one of the things that intrigued him.

Z: So the impetus for these particular ideas has come in large part from the students, and their needs, as they define them?
VV: Yes

Z: Thank you for your time; I don’t want to keep you longer from your busy day. [Ms. Viland had excused herself a few times during our conversation to ask others to wait.]
VV: I really appreciate your interest.


In high school sports today, the Yucca Valley Lady Trojan basketball team traveled to Sultana last night and fell by a score of 45-38 in a non league contest. Coach Jess Geeson said Senior Ashley Priest led the team with 11 points, while junior Annika Dendekker and sophomore Taylor Spitz each added eight points for the Yucca girls, whose record dropped to 7-3 on the season. The team travels to Shadow Hills for a 5 p.m. tip tonight.

The Yucca Valley High School varsity wrestling team is now 2-0 in league after downing Lucerne Valley, by a score of 64-18 last night at the Mustangs’ gym. Coach Brandon Whitbread said pinning their opponents were Andrew Reyes, Anthony Espinoza, Kevin Spurbeck, Gabriel Contreras, Everett Harris, and Rene Gamboa.

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will host Banning High School at home. The girls start at 3:15; the boys at 5 p.m.

Also tomorrow, the Joshua Springs boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will host Desert Chapel at home. The girls start at 5; the boys at 6:30.

<< Read Newer Newscasts -- Read Older Newscasts >>