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Listen To Your News Thursday, September 6, 2012 News Archive
     

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK NAMES NEW CHIEF RANGER
The National Park Service has appointed veteran ranger, Jeff Ohlfs, to be the new Chief of Visitor and Resource Protection, or Chief Ranger, at Joshua Tree National Park. Ohlfs, a 33-year parks veteran who has served in a variety of capacities, replaces retired Joshua Tree Chief Ranger Judy Bartzatt. Ranger Ohlfs' most recent position was as the Cottonwood District Ranger at Joshua Tree where he supervised ranger operations for nearly 80 percent of the park's lands. Ohlfs knows the park extremely well having worked at Joshua Tree for the last 21 years. He and his wife Deb reside in Twentynine Palms. Jeff Ohlfs will oversee a staff of 30 employees engaged in law enforcement, fire, search and rescue, emergency services, fee collection, and managing special park uses. Joshua Tree National Park is approximately 794,000 acres in size and is visited by more than 1.4 million people per year.

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HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT HIRES SEWER PLANNERS, LOOKS INTO ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Hi-Desert Water District Board met in regular bi-monthly session last night. Reporter Kristy Lockhart was there and files this report...
The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors approved the selection of Atkins North America, Inc. to provide Wastewater Collection System Design Services for the Wastewater Treatment plant. Atkins was chosen because of their experience with septic to sewer conversion. They just finished a similar project in Lake Havasu.

On a similar note the board asked the Public Advisory Committee to look into funding for a Wastewater Assistance program for families who can't afford the cost of sewer hookup. The board also voted to repay a loan in the amount of $367,000 dollars back to the town of Yucca Valley.

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ANOTHER SET OF SQUATTERS REMOVED FROM YUCCA VALLEY HOME
In a second incident in less than a week, police were called to a home in response to squatters living in a vacation home, complete with a fraudulent rental agreement. The owner of a home in the 7300 block of Dumosa Avenue in Yucca Valley called police about 6:30 Tuesday evening to report that an unidentified man and woman had been living in her vacation home for about a week. The squatters had called the electric company to have the power turned on to the house, and had moved their possessions in, including a small refrigerator, brown couch, and mattress. The homeowner didn't wish to prosecute the squatters, so they and their belongings were moved to a friend's house on Dumosa Avenue. The police advised the squatters if they returned, they would be arrested for trespassing.

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THREE FACING CHARGES FOR STOLEN PROPERTY
A man who showed up for his probation appointment—six months late—was arrested Tuesday and jailed on $250,000 bail. In January, Dawn Carter, 39, along with Ronald Sartain, Kevin Sharits, 42, and Leana Bradford, 39, both of Yucca Valley, were stopped near the intersection of Avalon Avenue and Winters Road in Yucca Valley, by Detective Pat English, for not having a light on the rear plate of a trailer they were towing behind their Dodge pick-up truck. Detective English discovered the plate did not belong to the trailer, and then questioned the truck's occupants about the furniture, computer, electronics, and appliances in the trailer. The detective determined the goods in the trailer had been stolen. In March, Dawn Carter and Ronald Sartain both accepted a plea bargain for possession of stolen property. Sartain was sentenced to 1 year and 4 months in jail. Carter never showed up for his 60 days in jail and was declared a fugitive. Dawn Carter was arrested at 12:30 Tuesday afternoon at the probation office in Joshua Tree. A jury trial for Kevin Sharits and Leana Bradford is set to begin later this month.

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PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST WEST NILE VIRUS
Two new cases of West Nile Virus were discovered in nearby Needles yesterday. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says as it spreads through our county, you have some precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family...
It's only a matter of time before mosquitoes bearing the West Nile Virus show up in the Morongo Basin. Residents can protect themselves from the virus by taking these precautions: Remove all standing water around your property where mosquitoes lay eggs, such as birdbaths, green swimming pools, ponds, old tires, buckets, clogged gutters, or even puddles from leaky sprinklers. Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active. Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are loose fitting and light colored. Apply insect repellent containing DEET. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. You can report dead birds or squirrels to the State West Nile Virus toll-free hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD, or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

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MAN HELD AFTER HITTING ELDERLY MAN
A man who tried to pick a fight with an elderly man was arrested Tuesday, accused of elder abuse. About 6:15 Tuesday evening, Andy Carter was with two other men in the 6900 block of Apache Trail, when, for unknown reasons, he hit a 76-year-old man in the mouth with a stick, causing his lip to bleed. Andy Carter was arrested for investigation of elder abuse and booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

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TWO ARRESTS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TWENTYNINE PALMS
A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Tuesday morning after a fight with his girlfriend. Shortly before noon Tuesday, a woman called her mother to tell her that her boyfriend, Forrest Carter, 28, had beat her, and locked her and her baby in the bathroom, in a home in the 72200 block of Joshua Drive. Forrest Carter was arrested for domestic battery, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

And a few blocks away a few hours later, another Twentynine Palms man was arrested, accused of beating his wife. About 4 p.m., a woman called police to report her son-in-law, Lee Chenea, 24, of the 72200 block of Sunnyvale Drive, was out of control. Chenea is said to have pushed his wife into a set of closet doors, hard enough to cause damage to the doors. Police say his wife hit Chenea multiple times in the face in order to get away. Lee Chenea was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

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JEWISH NEW YEAR SERVICES IN DESERT HOT SPRINGS
Jewish New Year and other observances are coming up. Reporter Dan Stork says services will be held in nearby Desert Hot Springs...
Religious services for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and for Yom Kippur, will be held in Desert Hot Springs, at a location convenient to the Morongo Basin. For the sixth consecutive year, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, through a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Palm Springs and the Desert Area, is sponsoring these observances during the High Holy Days. Admission is free to Jewish residents of the Morongo Basin and Desert Hot Springs, and includes a break-the-fast meal in the facility's dining room following the end of Yom Kippur. The times and dates are 7 p.m. on Sunday, September 16, and 10 a.m. on Monday, September 17, for Rosh Hashanah, and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25, and 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 26, for Yom Kippur. Memorial and concluding services start at 4 PM on Yom Kippur. To receive tickets and more information, call Linda Zweig at Jewish Family Services, 760-325-4088 extension 109.

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DEPUTIES APPROVE NEW CONTRACT WITH THE COUNTY
The union representing County sheriff's deputies voted to approve a new four-year contract in which they agree to pick up a greater share of their retirement costs. The Safety Employees Benefit Association, safety unit, voted by a margin of 87.4 percent in favor of the agreement, according to a news release. The agreement, which still must be approved by the Board of Supervisors, follows a period of protracted negotiations in which relations between the county and its unions had grown increasingly rocky. Under the plan, the county would institute a two-tier pension system for new employees and require all employees to pick up a 4.76 percent supplementary contribution to their retirement that the county now pays. Existing employees would continue to receive retirement benefits when they earn 3 percent for each year of service at age 50, according to an informational slide on the union's website. New employees would get 2 percent at age 50, starting in mid-2013. The plan includes no cost-of-living salary increases and reduces the pay bumps that employees get when they move up in level from 5 percent to 2.5 percent. New hires will start at an additional lower step, 5 percent below the current beginning salary for entry-level deputies.

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THEATRE 29 ANNOUNCES MORE MATINEES IN 2013
The 2013 season for Theatre 29 will be unveiled at a gala announcement event set for Wednesday, September 12, at the Joshua Tree retreat Center. Reporter Mike Lipsitz said the Morongo Basin's Premiere live theater venue will also announce a new performance schedule...
When Theatre 29's 2013 season begins, a new performance schedule for the live theater venue will make it easier for those who cannot or prefer not to drive at night to attend performances. For 2013, the Thursday night shows have been replaced by an additional Sunday matinee in the fourth week of the run. So now performances will be held on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. for each five-week run, and Sunday matinees will be held at 2:30 on the second and fourth Sundays. There will no longer be any Saturday matinees. Theatre 29's 2013 season will be announced and season tickets will go on sale at a special Four-Chamber "Season announcement Gala" at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 12. For more information about all the Theatre 29 programs call the box office at 760-361-4151 or visit www.theatre29.org.

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MORONGO BASIN CULTURAL ARTS CENTER OPEN HOUSE IN JOSHUA TREE TOMORROW
The Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council is having a open house Celebration for their new location of the Donation=Creation Store at 6448 Hallee Rd. Suite 10 in Joshua Tree, shared with the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce. It is open to the public and will be held this Friday evening, from 6 to 8 p.m. They will be serving snacks, beverages and live music, a little sampling of the soon to be rehearsing new community jazz band, along with having a 20 percent off sale of the entire stock.

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RETIRED TEACHERS MEET NEXT WEEK
The California Retired Teachers' Association meets the second Friday of each month at the Helen Gray Educational Complex in Joshua Tree at 10 a.m. The September 14 program speaker will be Jim Majchrzak, Morongo Unified School District Superintendent. All retired educators are invited to attend. For more information or to make luncheon reservations, contact Ruth Ann Crites at 760-367-7321 before September 11.

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BHAKTI FEST STARTS THIS WEEKEND AT JOSHUA TREE RETREAT CENTER
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, you can join the thousands of visitors at the annual Bhakti Fest. Kristy Lockhart reports...
The Bhakti Fest has been described as the Spiritual Woodstock of the Decade, offering yoga, music, dance and workshops. The fest is this weekend at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Tickets are available at the gate for $400 for the entire weekend. For more information go to their website at www.bhaktifest.org.

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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS, SCORES AND SCHEDULES
Wednesday the Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojan Volleyball teams played a home match against San Jacinto High School, the varsity team lost 0-3. Coach Matt Jennings said the team played hard, but fell short to the Tigers. Senior Arianna Eigner led the team with three kills and went seven for eight from the service line. Juniors Savannah Smith and Michaela Milone both had two kills. Senior Melissa Smith led the back row defense with 15 digs. The team will continue to work on their preseason play this Saturday, September 8, at the Desert Classic Tournament at San Bernardino Valley College. The Junior Varsity lost their opener.

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley girls' tennis team will travel away to San Jacinto to play the Tigers. First serve is as 3 p.m.

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