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Listen To Your News Thursday, February 14, 2013 News Archive
     

TWENTYNINE PALMS MARINE BASE TO EXPAND INTO JOHNSON VALLEY AND WONDER VALLEY
Despite protests from tens of thousands of people, it appears the federal government will acquire 168,000 acres of land west and south of the Twentynine Palms Marine base to expand the base to accommodate battalion-size training. According to a press release from the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, the Department of the Navy, on behalf of the Marine Corps, has signed a Record of Decision (ROD) selecting Alternative 6 as "the optimal alternative when considering both the operational factors and environmental impacts." Alternative 6 closes public access to 140,000 acres of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area, while allowing OHV riders to continue to use 40,000 acres for 10 months of the year. The expansion will also include 19,000 acres of Wonder Valley, East of The City of Twentynine Palms, on the southern border of the base, just east of the existing main gate area. The Marine base expansion Alternative 6 gives a Marine Expeditionary Brigade—or ¬about 15,000 to 20,000 Marines—enough room to maneuver and train in live-fire exercises. The plan is to ¬ Maneuver from the east from the current base boundaries and the Wonder Valley area, the battalions would then converge on an objective in the Johnson Valley area. The proposed expansion needs congressional approval. The military hopes to begin training on the land in 2014.

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ONAGA PARENTS AND TEACHERS UPSET OVER PRINCIPAL TRANSFER
Parents and teachers at Onaga Elementary School want answers from the Morongo Unified School District about why their principal of three years is being transferred and demoted. Principal Kyle Hannah informed his staff Monday that he will be moved to La Contenta Middle School next year and as assistant principal. As Kristy Lockhart reports parents and Teachers are asking the school board to reconsider at their meeting February 19...
"This is a personal vendetta against Kyle Hannah." Parents upset with Mr. Hannah's removal are passing around a petition and emailing school board members in an effort to stop what they call "unfair treatment." Corinna Mitchell's son is in the school's high- achieving sixth grade class. She says this is the first time her son has been challenged academically and she credits Hannah for starting the program. "I think our children really deserve to form a relationship with one person at the school. You know every year the teacher is gonna change." "He's very active he knows all the kids, he's in the classroom." Teacher Heather Possehl says under Hannah's leadership the school has made many strides including a prevention program for struggling students, "No Excuses University," parent outreach programs, a new parent pick-up system, and a new discipline plan called "Character Counts." "We feel what we are doing at our school is extremely successful and we owe a large part of that to our leader. Kyle stepped up when we were in a tumultuous time and helped us regain our footing and having a more secure feeling as staff leads to more security in the classroom for our students."

In the last six years Onaga has had four different Principals. Possehl feels the students and staff need consistency. "Kids are the priority. That's the bottom line. As a teacher I put my full support behind that, so I find it very difficult to understand why you would remove somebody from a position who's made it all about children…which is what a school should be." The Morongo Unified School District declined to comment on the transfer calling it a personnel issue, but Parent Tamara Reaves says she wants answers. "Why … the public hasn't been informed as to why they're pulling Mr. Hannah." Parents and Teachers plan to continue their campaign to keep Mr. Hannah at Onaga. They say they will take their fight to the school board meeting on February 19.

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TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL PART 2: BLOCK GRANTS AND SYNTHETIC DRUGS
When the Twentynine Palms City Council met Tuesday night, the status of the beleaguered fire department wasn't the only item on the agenda. Today, in part two of her report, managing editor Tami Roleff says the Council also approved community development block grants, and discussed what to do about businesses that sell synthetic drugs like bath salts and spice…
The city of Twentynine Palms will receive more than $108,000 in community development block grants, and at Tuesday's meeting of the City Council, the Council voted to distribute the funds to two programs and two construction projects. Reach Out Morongo Basin and the county library will each receive $11,000; the remaining funds will be divided up between improvements at the senior center and at Knott's Sky Park. The Council then turned its attention to synthetic drugs—known as bath salts and spice—which are chemically similar to drugs such as marijuana, PCP, cocaine, and heroin. City manager Richard Warne warned council members about the dangers of these drugs. "The plain simple reality is these particular synthetic drugs are killing people. These products are a definite public health hazard." Fire Captain Robert Marquez told the council what it's like for paramedics who encounter someone high on the drugs. "They are desensitized to pain. They have no clue that we there trying to help. It's horrible." After much discussion, the council voted unanimously to ban the sale of synthetic drugs and to revoke the business licenses of stores that continue to sell synthetic drugs after receiving three warnings from the city.

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KEY TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY STAFFER RETIRING
Changes at Twentynine Palms City Hall. Sources with the City have told Z107.7 News that Charles LeClair, the City's Community Development director, is retiring, with his last day to be today. LeClair told City staffers he had been in local government planning for 31 years and he felt like it was time to retire. LeClair had been with the City Of Twentynine Palms since 2008.

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SPECIAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT IN YUCCA VALLEY
This week the Town of Yucca Valley traffic officers will be conducting traffic enforcement on Deer Trail between Onaga Trail and SR 62. Deputies will be focusing on vehicles traveling at excessive speeds and other various vehicle code violations.

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A REMINDER ABOUT HAVING A HOME ESCAPE PLAN
You never know when a fire, flood, or other emergency may strike your home and family. Assignment reporter Taylor Thacker urges you to make a home escape plan…
You may think a house fire won't happen to you. But statistics show that thousands of people die each year because of fires. With proper planning, you and your family don't have to become just another statistic. What can you do? Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home, and have a carefully thought out escape plan. Smoke alarms are very important. Most fires happen at night while you are asleep! Make sure you have a proper alarm system by positioning alarms in the hallway outside all bedrooms. Sleep with the door closed, but be sure you can hear the smoke alarm. If not, install an extra unit in your room. Read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Test each smoke alarm once a month! Also, always keep extra batteries on hand. By doing these things you can make your life, and others' safer from fires.

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CLEAN UP AND RESTORATION OF JOSHUA TREE'S COYOTE HOLE THIS SATURDAY
Mojave Desert Land Trust, MDLT, invites you to join them for another Volunteer Land Stewardship Event in Joshua Tree's Coyote Hole area. Join fellow land stewards this Saturday for a fun day of desert restoration and clean-up. MDLT recently received its first land donation of 111 acres from the Kerfoot family, situated adjacent to Coyote Hole. They have an opportunity to restore an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) route, remove solid waste from the area, and learn valuable restoration techniques which can be applied to our own backyard! The time is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the end of Easterly Drive. Be sure to bring water, lunch, snacks, gloves, sunglasses (eye protection), long sleeve shirt, long pants, sunscreen, wide brim hat, and hiking boots. PLEASE RSVP by contacting Miz Hanford at 760-366-0542.

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HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS URGED TO APPLY FOR SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Local high school seniors are being encouraged to apply for a unique scholarship through the Copper Mountain College Foundation. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has details of the Greenleaf scholarship program…
Morongo Basin graduating high school seniors, the Copper Mountain College Foundation encourages you to apply for the prestigious 2013 Greenleaf Scholarship. The deadline for submission is 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 3. For more information or to obtain an application, visit your high school counseling office or follow the link at http://www.cmccd.edu/Greenleaf-Scholarship. The Greenleaf Education Fund pays for all tuition, fees, and living expenses. It was the hope of Mr. Greenleaf that the recipient would return to serve the community upon completion of their degree. The F. Roy Greenleaf, Jr. Education Fund was established by the estate of Roy Greenleaf, Jr. who came to Morongo Basin in the 1970s and started a community bank. The college's library is named in his honor. The Greenleaf Education Fund requires that recipients begin their education at CMC. They may then pursue baccalaureate degrees elsewhere in the state.

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BUNCO FOR CHARITY AT THE EAGLES SATURDAY
The Eagles Auxiliary of Twentynine Palms will hold their Fourth Annual Bunco Day for Charity at the Eagles Aerie on 29 Palms Highway Saturday. The event starts at noon with lunch and dessert, followed by six games of Bunco, with raffles and prizes, all for a $10 donation. If you don't play Bunco, you can come for lunch only for $5. All proceeds go to the Max Baer Heart Fund for heart disease research.

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YU-GI-OH AT THE TWENTYNINE PALMS LIBRARY SATURDAY
The Twentynine Palms Branch Library is continuing its YU-GI-OH tournaments on Saturday. All ages are invited to bring their own cards to participate in the tournament. Top player will receive a prize, the tournament is scheduled from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the library meeting room. For more information about the library's monthly YU GI OH tournament, please call the Twentynine Palms Branch Library at 760-367-9519.

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A LONG LINE FOR "ASHES TO GO" IN YUCCA VALLEY YESTERDAY
Yesterday marked the first day of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, many Christians wear a smudge of ash in the form of a cross on their forehead as a sign of penitence. As reporter Kristy Lockhart tells us, St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Yucca Valley made it easy for those wishing to receive ashes…
Residents here become accustomed to long lines at the post office, but yesterday there was a long line on the sidewalk in front of the post office in Yucca Valley at noon as many lined up to receive ashes. Priest Jane Crase says this is her second year doing the "Ashes to Go" program. "We realize that some people cannot get to a regular church service, especially those who work, so just as Jesus did, I'm out here meeting the people where they are." The program has been so successful, they plan to continue it next year.

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TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL WINS FIRST ROUND CIF PLAYOFF GAME
The Twentynine Palms High School wildcat boys' basketball team won their first round CIF playoff game last night. The Wildcats played a home match-up against the 15th-seeded Paraclete Spirit form Lancaster, out of the Alpha League. Coach Michael Schneider said the cats found themselves down by five points after the first quarter, then the defense was sparked by junior guard, Richard Williams. The energy and teamwork carried the wildcats into halftime with a 22-20 lead. The third quarter defensive effort continued, as Twentynine Palms gave up only three points and extended their lead to six points. The fourth quarter went toe-to-toe, but the 'Cats prevailed with a 49-37 victory. Coach Schneider said, "We were the underdogs the entire time, but we always fight with a defensive chip on our shoulders. It was a team victory that was exciting for everyone involved with the team." Timmy Dyer had 10 points, 11 rebounds; Ramon Smith led all scorers with 13 points. David Haney had nine points and Morgan Cole added seven points. This brings the Wildcats' overall record to 18-6. Their next match-up will be against Bishop Montgomery out of Torrance Friday night at 7 p.m. The Knights of Bishop Montgomery currently hold the number 3 national ranking.

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