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Listen To Your News Thursday, December 20, 2012 News Archive
     

FORMER TEACHER, CHURCH LEADER, GUILTY OF CHILD MOLESTATION
A former first grade teacher and church youth volunteer pleaded guilty in a San Bernardino court yesterday to five counts of child molestation over 25 years. Caleb Hesse, 52, was facing 17 counts of various child molestation charges on boys younger than 14 years when he accepted the plea bargain Wednesday. Deputy District Attorney Jane Templeton said each of the guilty pleas represents one of his five victims. In the plea bargain, Hesse accepted a prison sentence of 60 years to life; Templeton said he will die in prison, as Hesse will not be eligible for parole for 60 years, at which time he would be 112 years old. The 17 counts of child molestation date from January 1988 to August 2012, when he was arrested. Templeton said all his victims were under 14 years of age, and some were as young as 9 or 10 years old. Until his arrest, Hesse was a first grade teacher at Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree. He was also a youth volunteer with Evangelical Free Church in Yucca Valley. Templeton said the crimes took place during overnight camping trips. Caleb Hesse is set to be sentenced January 22.

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FUTURE OF TWENTYNINE PALMS FIRE PROTECTION STILL UNDECIDED
The Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors reorganized itself, filled the position of Finance Director, and set a timetable for selecting a new General Manager. Then it returned to the hard question of the future of protection services. Reporter Dan Stork says that, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, the Board hopes that the City will help it pull its chestnuts out of the fire…
In the short water portion of its meeting, the Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors selected new officers–Sam Moore as president, Bo Bourikas as vice-president. Then it selected a new financial consultant–Cindy Byram. That leaves still open the position of a permament General Manager–for which the Board decided to concentrate on Internet advertising, with the intent of closing applications January 14, and evaluating them by the January 21 Board meeting. In the Fire Department meeting, retired Finance Director Wayne Jones returned to present long-sought actuarial projections recently provided by CalPERS, the Public Employees Retirement System. In the event of a County takeover of fire protection services, the District will still be responsible for pension accounts established to date. Jones presented three scenarios for the water district in funding the pensions, with potential costs to the district ranging from bad to terrible. Jones noted that, unlike most cities, the water district can't fund shortfalls from general revenues, and would have to keep a portion of special fire tax revenue for the purpose. Jones and Fire Chief Jim Thompson reiterated that, if the Lear station is forced to go to a paid-call status, the District can still run the operation more cheaply than can the County. Directors floated ideas of a two-pronged approach to retention of the fire department–going back to the voters for a tax increase after a more aggressive public education campaign, and soliciting funds from the City of Twentynine Palms. They asked staff to communicate with the City to set up participation in a joint Council-District meeting during January.

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MAYANS ACTUALLY NEVER SAID THE WORLD WOULD END TOMORROW
Just for the record, the whole media hype about impending end of the world tomorrow is not based on any facts, mostly, just that, media hype and a few opportunistic alarmists. The facts are the ancient Mayans kept time in a different way than we do—theirs was based on the idea of counting days and was tied to the solar year—and maintained three different calendars. The Long Count Calendar seems to end on or about December 21, 2012— triggering the Doomsday predictions across the world in recent years. In reality, the Mayans did not predict the end of the world. December 21 was just the completion of a major cycle—a 5,126-year circle—and marked the first winter solstice in 26,000 years. Some reports say they even marked down a few plans for after December 21.

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MORONGO VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT REORGANIZES FIRE DEPT, RECOGNIZES VOLUNTEERS
The Morongo Valley Community Services District Board met last night in regular session. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says Disaster planning, Fire Department Reorganization and a new command vehicle dominated the meeting…

Last night in Morongo Valley, the Community Services District adopted an update to the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. That action assures the District's eligibility for federal disaster reimbursement if such an event occurs. Turning to the Fire Department, Directors approved a new salary plan developed by Chief Jock Johnson. The plan includes a reorganization of crew shifts that are expected to reduce overtime costs by approximately $20,000 for the calendar year. The board also approved a planned application for a new credit union account in order to finance purchase of a new Fire Department Command Vehicle. In a related matter, the Board found itself in a bind when it had to authorize replacement of the transmission on the existing Command Vehicle which must be made operational pending delivery of its replacement which is not expected until mid-March. And on a positive note, Bill and Gayl Swarat of Swarat Signs were voted the District's Volunteers of the Year.

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MILITARY EXPANSION INTO JOHNSON VALLEY OHV AREA DELAYED
Off-road riders who use the popular Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Riding Area may not lose most of the area to a Marine base expansion after all, according to the American Motorcyclist Association. The military is barred from spending money on expanding the Twentynine Palms military base into Johnson Valley until it completes a report on how the expansion would affect off-highway riding, under a military spending authorization bill approved by U.S. House and Senate conferees Tuesday, "The report to Congress would cover the impact on off-highway vehicle recreation in the Johnson Valley region, along with alternatives for achieving the goals of the military and the OHV recreation communities," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "This report would allow for more time to, hopefully, come to a solution that meets the training needs of the military while maintaining access for motorized recreation." In July, the Department of the Navy released a final environmental impact statement for the expansion of the Marine base. The preferred alternative would allow public use of only 40,000 acres of the 190,000-acre Johnson Valley OHV area, and for only 10 months a year. It's all part of an effort by the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms to expand its land holdings to allow for more live-fire training. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy. The proposed expansion needs congressional approval. The military had hoped to begin training on the land in 2014.

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HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT APPROVES $52,000 STUDY
The Hi-Desert Water District wrapped up some business matters at its final meeting for the year last night. Reporter Kristy Lockhart has details…

The Board Directors approved a pre-purchase water agreement with the Town of Yucca Valley, authorized a uniform contract extension with Aramark Uniform Services, as well as a software upgrade for billing and accounting. The Board also approved a plan to participate in a geological survey that will collect and analyze samples from well 20 West. The total cost to the district for the project is $52,500. The board will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting January 16.

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RUMMAGE SALE AT ST. JOSEPHS' CHURCH IN Y.V. SATURDAY
Everything must go at the rummage sale sponsored by St. Joseph's Episcopal Church of Yucca Valley. The sale will be held Saturday, December 22, from 8 to 3 at the church, on the corner of Church Street and Onaga Trail in Yucca Valley.

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DEATHTRAP OPENING AT THEATRE 29 TO BENEFIT SOROPTIMISTS
Theatre 29 will open their 2013 season with the comedy thriller, "Deathtrap." Managing Editor Tami Roleff says the January 11th opening night gala is a fund-raiser for the Soroptimist Club…

Theatre 29's first production of the 2013 season is the classic thriller "Deathtrap," written by Ira Levin and directed by Theatre 29 veteran Butch Pelfry. This thriller about a washed-up playwright who wants to steal a script from an unknown writer is filled with plot bends, spirals, and twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The opening night performance of "Deathtrap" on January 11 is a fundraising gala for Soroptimist International of Twentynine Palms. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the curtain rising at 7 p.m. The evening will feature appetizers and desserts made by SI members, with a silent auction concluding during intermission. Tickets to the opening night gala are $25 each and are available from any Soroptimist or at the Flower Garden in Twentynine Palms. Proceeds from the evening will benefit SI scholarships and service projects. For more information, call Tanya Stuckey at 760-265-2552, Dee Foster at 760-362-4057, or Pat Sanford at 760-333-8995.

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ADOPT A PET FROM THE PALMS N' PAWS SHELTER IN TWENTYNINE PALMS
The Twentynine Palms City Animal Shelter offers a variety of services, including pet adoption. ROP Broadcast student Holly Johnson has more…

The City of Twentynine Palms provides Palms N Paws animal shelter at 7086 Bullion Avenue. According to their website, the animal control service captures wild or lost dogs, cats, and other animals and holds them to be retrieved by their owners or to be adopted into a new home. The animal shelter is not a boarding facility. The adoption process is first come first serve and you may not reserve an animal. They are a minimum kill shelter meaning they only execute when absolutely necessary. Open Monday through Friday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Sunday. For any more information please call at 760-367-0157.

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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The Twentynine Palms High School Lady 'Cats Varsity basketball team raised their record to 8 wins, 4 losses, Tuesday at home with a 60 to 47 win over Redlands High School. Coach Tim Stanford said the home crowd was entertained by an outstanding game by both teams; Redlands came into the game with eight wins on the season. With the win the Lady 'Cats have won six in a row. All 11 players played great defense putting pressure on the ball and keeping up with their defensive rotations. Leading the stat sheet were Johnette Brown with 34 points and 13 rebounds; Alex Herrera with 12 points, seven assists; and Cherokee Turner anchored the defense as well as adding 11 rebounds to her team high total.

In high school sports tonight, The Joshua Springs Lightning boys and girls basketball teams will host Apple Valley Christian School at home. The girls' game starts at 5; boys at 6:30.

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