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Listen To Your News Wedesday, February 13, 2013 News Archive
     

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL APPROVES HANDS-OFF POLICY FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
For the fourth time, the Twentynine Palms City Council discussed what it should do about the city's beleaguered fire department. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at last night's meeting and in the first of a two-part story, files this report about what the council decided. Tomorrow, community development block grants and how the council's plans to battle synthetic drugs…
City manager Richard Warne restated his position against the city taking on the fire department. "The city simply can not put its finances in jeopardy. We've reached a point where the fire department is insolvent." He recommended the city take the initiative and submit an application to LAFCO requesting the county to take over the fire department. That suggestion was not well-received by council member Jim Harris. "What business do we have going out and submitting an application to LAFCO? That reeks of a hostile takeover. It's none of our business at this point. None of our business. I don't care what staff says. The fire department is doing their job efficiently and effectively. They're not insolvent at this point. If they go down in flames, then maybe they have to look at another approach." Council member Cora Heiser's suggestion that the city loan money to the fire department was met with statements that the fire department didn't need money; giving the fire department money was against the will of city residents who voted against a tax increase; and even if it the fire department did need money, it could ask for money from the Indians who will be building a casino in Twentynine Palms. In the end, the council voted 4-1, with Cora Heiser voting no, to back off and take no action at this time.

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TWENTYNINE PALMS MOBILE HOME PARK RESIDENTS SAY UTILITIES NOT PAID TO FORCE EVICTION
Tenants of a Twentynine Palms mobile home park that was investigated by the state last year for health and safety violations such as sewage backups, piles of trash, and substandard electrical lines, are once again complaining about the park's living conditions. Carmellia Wright-Berkley told Z107.7 News that Thomas Conway, owner of the Singing Trees Mobile Home Park, located at 75685 Amboy Road, is trying to evict the tenants and force the park to close by not paying any of the park's utilities. Berkley said when the tenants found out Conway was not paying their water and trash bills, they banded together and paid the bills themselves. Residents narrowly averted having their electricity turned off by Southern California Edison, which agreed not to turn off the tenants' power at 5 p.m. yesterday as they had originally been told. In addition, the residents contend that Conway drastically overcharged them for their electricity, sold mobile homes he did not own, and is trying to illegally evict them from the park. Last month, inspectors from the Department of Housing and Community Development, which oversees mobile home parks, inspected the park and found sewage spills, electrical issues, in-operable water heaters and furnaces. Last year, HCD found a collapsed sewer line, causing open sewage to flow near an occupied residence in the park for months, and Conway was ordered to make immediate repairs.

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TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT BOARD TO ANNOUNCE NEW GENERAL MANAGER THIS MONTH
After months of searching, the Twentynine Palms Water District announces they are one step closer to naming a General Manager. Reporter Kristy Lockhart has details…
The Twentynine Palms Water District held interviews on Saturday. Interm General Manager Ray Kolish confirms the board plans on offering one of the candidates a contract. The Board hopes to be able to introduce a New General Manager at their next board meeting February 27.

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EXPANSION AT KNOTT'S SKY PARK BRINGS QUESTIONS, ANSWERS
Twentynine Palm residents have asked questions about recent work by the city which one described as "defoliation" at Knott's Sky Park. Z107-7 News checked with City Community Services Director Randy Councell who said the extensive improvements at the park have been part of the city's approved master Plan for ten years. Councell said they are removing some 34 trees at the east end of the park to make way for additional softball, soccer, and football practice fields. Councell said, "There are too many kids for the available playing area and we are running out of playing surfaces as the local sports programs expand."

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DEPUTIES CHECK OUT SUSPICIOUS SUPPLIES IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
While it's now believed that accused cop killer Christopher Dorner never left Big Bear, Morongo Basin Sheriff deputies and Joshua Tree National Park rangers were checking out a suspicious site inside the park on the off-chance that Dorner had stashed some supplies there. Shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, a hiker called Sheriff deputies that he had found two large tubs filled with supplies and a black case that could have held guns, near the Jumbo Rocks campground. The hiker believed it could have been a survivalist—or Christopher Dorner—who had put the supplies there. Authorities checked the site out and did not find anything to be alarmed about.

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AN ARREST FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TWENTYNINE PALMS
A Twentynine Palms man was arrested late Sunday night after fighting with his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff's report, Rodney Gerloff, 37, was arguing with his live-in girlfriend of nine years about 10:30 Sunday. The verbal argument escalated, and the woman tried to grab Gerloff's neck. He pushed her, and they both fell through the front gate at their residence in the 6400 block of Palmview Avenue. The woman hit the left side of her head on the gate latch, and then fell face first onto the ground, with Gerloff falling on top of her, injuring her lip, nose, and left knee. After an investigation, Rodney Gerloff was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse. He is being held at the West Valley Detention Center on $50,000 bail.

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LOCAL EXPERT ADDRESSES RENEWABLE ENERGY
At the annual meeting of the Morongo Basin Conservation Association in January renewable energy blogger and Joshua Tree resident Chris Clarke was the featured speaker. Reporter Dan Stork says that the writer of the Rewire column on the KCET web site addressed trends in renewable energy…
Chris Clark summed up the situation in the renewable energy industry with an analogy to the state of the online music industry some years back: "We have a group of companies that are very, very wealthy—very, very powerful—who are seeing that wealth and power threatened by technology, and they are reacting." He illustrated his statement by stating that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's supposed incentives to residential rooftop solar are "designed to fail," because of the minimum size requirements and financial arrangements demanded. He noted that rooftop solar has been very successful in the not-particularly-sunny country of Germany, in part because that government has required utilities to buy excess power from such installations. With regard to those who call grass roots opponents of commercial renewable energy NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard); he said "When somebody calls somebody else a NIMBYist now, I read that as 'I don't care about the realities on the ground.'" Clark also said that big companies are in business to sell projects to each other, not to generate power. But he stressed that the big companies like So Cal Edison are needed to provide the administrative infrastructure that will be needed by widespread adoption of any sort of renewable energy.

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TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 9TH ANNUAL PARADE OF HOMES THIS SUNDAY
Reach Out Morongo Basin has finalized the six homes for its 9th Annual Parade of Homes tour, set for Sunday, February 17. The annual fundraiser—in which residents from across the basin open their homes to curious visitors—brings in thousands of dollars for the Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors programs for senior and disabled residents of the Morongo Basin. One of the homes on the tour is the Garden Vista Bungalow in Twentynine Palms, home to Josh Lazar and Kathy Dunham. This house was born as a homestead cabin. Over the years it has stretched out to become a lovely bungalow. It is situated at the foot of the Joshua Tree National Park and has 360 degree views of the park hills, rocky formations and the basin below. A beautiful desert garden with indigenous plants rings all around the home. Tickets for the parade are $25 each and include a tour of six homes, a lunch stop at the wonderful Park Rock Café in Joshua Tree where there will be live music by Celtic Curse and a silent auction. In Yucca Valley, tickets are available at Windermere Realty, ArtFx & Furnishings, and the Chamber of Commerce; in Joshua Tree, at the Z107.7 studio and Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce; and in Twentynine Palms at the Chamber of Commerce, the Desert Trail, and Cowboy Attic; and at Reach Out offices in Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms.

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WE MEET THE YUCCA VALLETY TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATES: PART
3 OF 3

Yucca Valley residents can expect to start receiving their ballot after February 4 for the special mail-in election for the vacant seat on the Town Council. Running for election are former council man and mayor Bob Leone, Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce president and owner of Farmer's Insurance Jennifer Collins, and Planning Commissioner and general contractor Michael Hildebrand. Candidate Claude Short has withdrawn from the election. All ballots must be received by the Registrar of Voters by March 5. Managing editor Tami Roleff sat down with the three candidates. In our earlier reports, we heard their views on the biggest challenge facing the Town and a special tax for the proposed sewer system. Today in our final report, what the candidates would have done differently…
When deciding which candidate to vote for, it's sometimes helpful to know which decisions from previous councils they disagreed with. Bob Leone is unhappy about the site of the proposed senior housing project on Highway 62 and Dumosa Avenue. "I certainly would not have put the senior center on the lot on the highway. I would have selected another location. I had that lot designated as a senior park. Seniors need a park where they can play chess or cards, have some shade. Someplace in the community center that's easy for them to access." Michael Hildebrand says despite claims to the contrary, previous Town budgets were not balanced. "They said the budget has been balanced over the last 12 years, but if you go back to, I believe it's 2008, or 2004, the budget didn't balance." Jennifer Collins said disagreed with the Town Council after Measure U failed to pass in the November election. "After the failure of Measure U, I really wanted the Town Council to put another sales tax measure on the ballot."

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YUCCA VALLETY AIRPORT DISTRICT MEETS TONIGHT
The Yucca Valley Airport District Board of Directors will hold its regular meeting 6:30 Wednesday in the Joshua Tree room of the Community Center. Old business includes a review of the Town of Yucca Valley Mid-Town workshop. A routine housekeeping matter is the sole item under new business. The treasurer will report on transient parking fees, following by the manager's and director's reports.

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"YOUNG AT HEART SERIES" FILM SHOWING IN YUCCA VALLETY FRIDAY
The "Young at Heart Theater Series" returns Friday with the movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" Enjoy the free film along with some hot soup, compliments of the Yucca Valley Center for Spiritual Living where the young and the young-at-heart are invited to film screenings that are thought provoking, spiritually inspiring and entertaining. "What the Bleep Do We Know?" is a feature-length presentation that follows the story of a photographer whose challenges allow her to see that individual and group consciousness can influence the material world. Doors open at 5:30; the movie starts at 6 p.m. The Yucca Valley Center for Spiritual Living is at 7434 Bannock Trail, two blocks east of Pioneertown Road in Yucca Valley. For more information, leave a message at 760-365-2205.

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COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE BOARD MEETS TOMORROW
The Copper Mountain College Board meets tomorrow. Reporter Mike Lipsitz checks the agenda…
Following a closed-door evaluation session, the Copper Mountain College Board of Trustees convenes in regular session at 3 o'clock tomorrow in the Bell Center's Community Room. Following regular reports, and approval of items on the consent agenda, trustees will turn to the action agenda where they are expected to approve payment of warrants, some out-of-state travel, and other housekeeping measures.

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JUNIOR TEAM TENNIS SIGNUPS NOW BEING TAKEN
Junior Team Tennis sign ups are open with the Morongo Basin Tennis Association. Junior Team Tennis is a nationally sanctioned program of practice and match play for boys and girls, ages 6 to 18, all skill levels. The season runs from March 4 through May 18, 2013, at Basin community tennis facilities, Yucca Valley High School and Twentynine Palms High School. Players are assigned to teams based upon their home community, age, experience, and skill level. Beginners are welcome. Players receive a free t-shirt in the colors of their team. Racquets are available, on loan, if needed. There is a small fee. The emphasis of Junior Team Tennis is on fun, fitness and friends. For more information, call the Morongo Basin Tennis Association at 760-365-3851.

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