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Listen To Your News Wednesday, October 3, 2012 News Archive
     

COUNTY APPROVES CADIZ GROUNDWATER PUMPING PLAN
San Bernardino County Supervisors have approved a controversial plan by Cadiz Incorporated to pump massive amounts of Mojave Desert groundwater and sell it to Southern California. Third District County Supervisor was the lone opponent. The board approved a management document that spells out monitoring and pumping requirements intended to avert environmental harm. The county would allow Cadiz to withdraw more water than is naturally recharged, drawing it down by more than 1 million acre-feet over the 50-year life of the project. Cadiz proposes to extract enough water every year to supply 100,000 Southland homes. Opponents have filed five lawsuits to block the project, which is surrounded by public land just east of our Morongo Basin. Senator Dianne Feinstein has demanded federal review of the proposal and Cadiz must obtain permission from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to transport the groundwater to customers via the Colorado River Aqueduct. The Cadiz Company has yet to obtain financing for the project, estimated to cost $225 million to $275 million.

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YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL COMMITS TO SUPPORTING SEWER PROJECT
The Yucca Valley Town Council formally committed to their support of a sewer system last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was at the Council meeting and files this report….
The Yucca Valley Town Council approved a resolution last night committing the Town to supporting the Hi-Desert Water District's sewer project. While some residents at last night's meeting said the resolution isn't worth the paper it was printed on, Administrative Services Director Curtis Yakimow disagreed. "This resolution doesn't mean anything; of course it does." He said the resolution sets out guidelines that both the Town and Hi-Desert Water District have agreed to in principle: the Town will contribute approximately $70 million toward the project; the Town's contribution will not bankrupt the Town; the District has responsibility for environmental review; the funds will reduce the impact on ratepayers; and the Town will pay $4 million to $5 million to the water district for road repairs. Then Yakimow asked the question everyone was thinking. "One might ask, well, why don't we have a lease agreement now?" He answered by saying that until the water district has a better idea of the cost of the sewer system, which, at the earliest, won't be until Spring 2013, it would be premature to draw up a lease agreement. The Town Council also heard an update on capital projects in the Town, totaling almost $200 million, which would be partially funded by the proposed 1 percent sales tax. Some of the projects include park improvements, and numerous road improvements, maintenance, and expansion.

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HI-TECH TRACKING OF STOLEN BMW LEADS TO THREE ARRESTS
It's a high-tech tracking story right out of a spy movie, when a BMW, stolen in Yucca Valley, was located in Joshua Tree Monday afternoon, resulting in the arrest of three men. A black 2008 BMW 328i, 4-door sedan, had been reported stolen from the 7300 block of Aster Road about 10:30 Monday morning. The owner told police the car key had gone missing, and so he had had a new one made, and now the car went missing. Shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, Sheriff patrol cars, which are equipped with a Lo-Jack tracking system, started receiving GPS coordinate signals from the stolen car. Deputies tracked the signal to the 57800 block of Coronado Trail in Yucca Valley, where they arrested two men, Mark Wright, 52, for a probation violation, and Charles Goutin, 28, on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. However, the stolen BMW was no longer at the location by the time deputies arrived. Deputies continued to track it to the 3200 block of Sunset Road in Joshua Tree. There they arrested James Sullivan, 42, for investigation of vehicle theft. Charles Goutin was cited and released; James Sullivan and Mark Wright were booked into the Morongo Basin Jail where they are both being held on no-bail warrants.

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CAR FIRE THREATENS LANDERS HOME
A car fire in Landers threatened a home Monday afternoon. Shortly after 5, firefighters from the Yucca Mesa fire station responded to a car fire in the 1300 block of South Wamego Trail where they found a car fully involved in flames. The car was parked six feet away from the house, and firefighters had to spray foam on the house to keep the fire from spreading. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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FOUR CANDIDATES SPEAK AT HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER CANDIDATES FORUM
The candidates for the Hi-Desert Medical Center Board all participated in a candidate's forum last night. Reporter Mike Lipsitz gives us a snapshot of what the candidates had to say…
Last night at Hi-Desert Medical Center, four candidates vying for three board seats met for a forum. As incumbents Paul Hoffman, Martie Avels, and Pat Cooper, and, newcomer Mike McBride responded to questions the individual styles and approach to forming policy became apparent. Paul Hoffman, who has served for 12 years on the board, passionately related his vision of the District as a vital extension of the community and his belief that teamwork and communication are necessary for success. Marti Avels, who once served as interim CEO, spoke of her view of the board as a conduit into the community, the obligation to follow the strategic plan and make the District a place where people want to work. Pat Cooper discussed the importance of maintaining and improving the standard of care and characterized the board as the face of the healthcare district. And Mike McBride, who is president of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, related his conviction that the District's challenges, no matter how great, can be solved by establishing goals and objectives and methodically working toward them.

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6-WEEK SUICIDE GRIEF GROUP SESSIONS START SATURDAY
Hospice of Morongo Basin is offering a six-week support group, Healing Your Suicide Grief, Saturdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m., October 6 through November 10, free of charge. The group will be held at the Hospice office in Joshua Tree. For more information, or if you have never attended a group, please call Program Coordinator Kay Star at 760-366-1308.

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SCHOOL BOARD MEETS, HONORS EIGHT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
At last night's meeting, the Morongo Unified School District Board held a public hearing on the sufficiency of textbooks and instructional materials and approved a tentative agreement with the Morongo Teachers Association. Also at the meeting, in honor of National Disabilities Month, the board members recognized eight students from area schools. Jacob Barnhart, Kyle Fontecchio, Terry Smith, Thomas Ray, Sophia Vargas, Arron Cumper, Kaitlin Arestizabal, and Summer Morning were recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. Reporter Kristy Lockhart introduces us to one high schooler who isn't letting her disability interfere with her dreams…
"I would like to go to Copper Mountain College and then a four-year college and be a teacher." Meet Summer Morning, an 11th grader at Twentynine Palms High School. Summer was born with a heart defect and has hearing loss in both ears. Her mother says she has overcome multiple disabilities. "She's had open heart surgery. We've made through it just fine. She's a hard worker and she doesn't let anything get in her way." Summer loves math and dancing. She is also a starting member of the school's tennis team. Special education teacher Robin Wilson says Summer is an inspiration to everyone. "She has this marvelous personality that comes across. She's an over-achiever. If she wants it, she will strive for it. Nobody's told Summer that she can't." Not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist but they do have to earn a living and have self-worth and feel good about themselves. Summer has that in spades." Summer's parents, teachers, and fellow classmates couldn't be prouder. In addition to being recognized, all the students got to choose a book from Books Are Fun California.

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LOCAL DEMOCRATS MEET THURSDAY
The Morongo Basin Democratic Club will hold a special meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the historic Broadview home in Twentynine Palms. Members will endorse local candidates in the November 6 presidential election. Candidates must request endorsement in order to be considered. Only registered Democrats may attend this meeting and only club members may vote. Broadview is located at 73452 Sunnyslope Drive. For more information, email mbdems@gmail.com.

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AB109 PART 3 OF 3: THE PROBATION PERSPECTIVE
AB 109, the Prison Realignment Act, has been in effect for a year now. The act was designed to prevent overcrowding in state prisons by transferring inmates to county jails. This shuffling of state prisoners has led to the early release of "Triple Nons" county inmates—those convicted of non-serious, non-sexual, and non-violent crimes. Many people blame the increase in crime in the Morongo Basin on the early–release inmates. Monday, Managing editor Tami Roleff explained what AB 109 is. Tuesday, we heard the Sheriff Department's take on AB 109 and the crime rate. Today, in her third and final report, Tami Roleff explores the Probation Department's perspective on AB109…
The first thing the Probation department wants the public to know is that AB 109 has NOT added offenders to the community. Probation Department spokesman Chris Condon, explained. "The offenders that are being released would have been supervised by parole, but now they're being supervised by the Probation Department." The difference, he said, is that parole is a state program that just monitors the offenders. Probation is a county program that offers programs such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, life-skills and job preparation classes, and other programs to help keep people out of custody. "If you take a person out of prison and you've done nothing for sobriety, you've done nothing to help them get a job, that they're going to re-offend is almost a given." While admitting there are some loopholes, Condon believes San Bernardino County's Probation Department is successful, with a 9 percent recidivism rate for County probationers. In the Morongo Basin, the rate for probationers who re-offend is 24 percent, but it's still significantly lower than the county's parolee rate of 87 percent. Condon also addressed the perception of early-release inmates being dumped in the Morongo Basin. "That never happens. They go back to the address they came from." So is AB 109 the cause behind the increase in crime rates? Or do its provisions for probation help criminals put their lives back together? The experts are still debating the issue and only time will tell.

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HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT TO DISCUSS RESOLUTION ON WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
The Hi-Desert Water District holds its regularly scheduled meeting tonight. On the agenda the board of directors will discuss a resolution that could help lower the costs of building the Wastewater Treatment plant. Staff members will also give the board a project update. The board will discuss the Brown Act and decide whether or not to continue to follow it, even though portions of the act are being suspended. The meeting will be held at District offices on Highway 62 in Yucca Valley at 6 p.m.

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JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT TO ELIMINATE REQUIREMENTS FOR FREE TURTLE ISLAND WATER
The Joshua Basin Water District will lower the requirements it put in place to provide water paid for by their ratepayers for the Turtle island Project. Reporter Mike Lipsitz takes a look at tonight's Joshua Basin board meeting agenda…
The Joshua Basin Water District Board of Directors meets at 7 o'clock tonight at District offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree. Tonight, the board will consider an amendment to Turtle Island agreement eliminating the requirement for demonstrating two climatic and eco-systems for the national park. Also, a ratepayer's appeal of the District's remote meter policy charges, and rescheduling the regular Board meeting from December 5 to the 12. Following those possible actions, reports and consideration of the consent agenda, directors will adjourn to closed session.

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JOSHUA TREE LIBRARY BOOK SALE STARTS TOMORROW
The Friends of the Joshua Tree Library Fall Book Sale will starts tomorrow through Wednesday October 10. The book sale opens with a Friends Members-Only Sale, Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. New members are welcome and memberships may be purchased at the door. The sale is open to the public Saturday, October 6, from 9 to 5 and Tuesday October 9 from 11 to 7. The book sale ends on Wednesday October 10 with special clearance prices from 11 to 7. The Fall Silent Auction which began in September will conclude on Saturday October 6 at 1 p.m. For more information about the Friends of the Library Fall book sale, silent auction or ordering See's Candy, call the Joshua Tree Branch Library at 760-366-8615.

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TABLES AVAILABLE FOR NOVEMBER MAY CARLE CRAFT FAIR
Tables are available for the May Carle Craft Fair, set for Saturday, November 3, at Little Church of the Desert. The cost for tables is $25. Checks must be received by October 5. The sale will run from 8 to 1. For more information call 760-367-3799.

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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES
Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School girls' tennis team will travel away to Desert Hot Springs to play the Eagles. First serve is at 3:15.

The Joshua Springs Lightning volleyball team will host the Bloomington Christian Ravens at home. Game time is 5 p.m.

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