The oldest, continually operating school in the Morongo Basin turned 100 years old this year. The Morongo Valley Elementary School is celebrating its centennial, Saturday, November 2, with a birthday party, and the public and all former students and employees are invited to attend. The keynote speaker will be Congressman Paul Cook of Yucca Valley. Also in attendance will be representatives from the Morongo Unified School District and the Morongo Basin Historical Society. The school will show movie clips from 1913, as well as have modern versions of toys that were introduced in 1913, like Kewpie dolls, Crayons, and Erector sets. A 1913 Model T car will be on hand, and guests will be invited to have their photos taken with the car. There’ll be games and prizes, and birthday cake and refreshments. Morongo Valley Elementary School started with six children from the McKinney and Schlicter families, taught by one teacher, Alice Sturdy, and currently has 206 children enrolled and 11 teachers. The birthday celebration runs from 9 to 1 Saturday at the elementary school, 10951 Hess Boulevard in Morongo Valley.


Pioneer Days 2013 are gone, but not forgotten in Twentynine Palms. Dan Stork observed a group of volunteers review what went wrong and what went right this year, in order to make next year’s event a success…
The recap of this year’s Pioneer Days was led by Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cynthia Truitt. She reported on several events, and prompted the group of volunteers gathered in City Hall for their comments on what went right, what not so right, and what might be done better next year. On the plus side was increased participation over last year, a net profit of about $1,600 in commemorative button sales—compared to $11 last year—the renewal of the outhouse race, and a $6,000 increase in carnival ride ticket sales. Other good news included successes at the motorcycle poker run, the pet parade, the alumni association barbecue, the old-timers’ gathering, the chili dinner at the 29 Palms Art Gallery, the barrel races sponsored by the Morongo Basin Horsemen’s Association, and the pancake breakfast for the Fire Explorers. There were some glitches and disappointments: Uncertainty generated by the federal government shutdown led to an uncertain start of the four-day event; a delayed setup by the carnival operator on the first day of the festival; the talent show was cancelled due to a lack of entries; the parade was small, and lacked bands; an Army military band that had been engaged was forced to cancel before the festival; and a lack of musical entertainment. Cynthia Truitt explained some of the obstacles faced in mounting a community celebration, among them large (and growing) liability insurance costs for bleachers and carnival rides. Attendees brainstormed ideas for next year, ranging from button design contests to cow, goat, or chicken chip bingo. Planning will begin for Pioneer Days 2014 in earnest in about six months.


A Joshua Tree transient, who’s been convicted of several felonies, was arrested again Tuesday for theft and parole violations. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Wilson, William Gaines, 49, had been a caretaker for an elderly couple in the 62200 block of Verbena Road in Joshua Tree. On his recommendation, the couple also hired Christy Popevis, 38, a transient from Desert Hot Springs, as their caretaker, but Wilson said they were too intimidated by Gaines to fire him. Sunday night, Popevis arrived at the couple’s home, but Gaines refused to let her in, and Wilson said he also convinced the couple not to let her in. Popevis called police, who ended up arresting her on two warrants, totaling $165,000. When the woman was released from jail Monday, she went back to the couple’s house and discovered that her plasma TV and some clothing were missing from her room. The couple also discovered that a .22-caliber, 9-shot revolver was missing from the locked gun cabinet. Gaines, who is a registered sex offender, was wearing a GPS ankle bracelet, and on Tuesday, the parole officer tracked him down to a house in the 3200 block of Heron Avenue in Joshua Tree. Deputies found Popevis’s TV and clothing in the house, but were unable to locate the missing gun. William Gaines was arrested for a parole violation, and for investigation of theft. He was booked into the West Valley Detention Center and is being held without bail.


After the manager of a Joshua Tree apartment complex noticed the electric bill for the meter in the complex’s laundry room had increased significantly, he determined that a tenant was stealing the electricity. Sheriff’s Sergeant James Porter said a deputy was called in to investigate, and when the deputy knocked on an apartment door in the 61900 block of Grand View Circle, the tenant, Harold Ghaemmaghami, 50, ignored the knocking. When the deputy persisted, Ghaemmaghami met the deputy at the door with a large hunting knife in his hand. Porter said the deputy put Ghaemmaghami to the ground at gunpoint, after which there was no further resistance from the suspect. Harold Ghaemmaghami was arrested for investigation of brandishing a weapon and theft of utilities. He was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $25,000.


The Twentynine Palms Historical Society will honor the late Huell Howser and his popular television show, “California Gold,” with the theme for its 2013 Weed Show this weekend. “Twentynine Palms Gold” will feature physical and historical landmarks in the weed show categories. Managing editor Tami Roleff says it’s time to start getting creative with area landmarks…
Some of the categories in this year’s Weed Show include Sugar Bowl, Sheep Hole Pass, Chocolate Drop, Four Corners, the Old Schoolhouse, Historic Plaza, Oasis of Mara/Joshua Tree National Park, Condor Field/Marine Corps Base and Knott’s Sky Park and Luckie Park. Entries must be turned in Friday from 4 to 6:30, or Saturday morning from 7 to 9 a.m. The weed show will be held at the Old Schoolhouse Museum in Twentynine Palms Saturday, from noon to 4, and Sunday from 10 to 4. For complete rules, visit the Historical Society website,


Crews will capture, test and attach radio transmitters to Bighorn sheep in the nearby Mojave National Preserve this weekend. Experts will launch a $48,000 helicopter survey and GPS tracking effort this weekend to gauge the scope of a pneumonia epidemic that has killed more than 100 bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert.


The outbreak has decimated two herds, one around Old Dad Mountain in the Mojave National Preserve and a second in the Marble Mountains, 35 miles south. Officials have said the highly contagious infection may have come from sick domestic sheep illegally dumped off a truck en route to alfalfa fields in the Imperial Valley. The crew of a federally contracted helicopter will search for the scattered animals over as much as 80,430 acres, in areas where dead and sick bighorns have been found and in nearby mountain ranges. Individual animals will be captured with a net fired out of the low-flying helicopter. The bighorn is then removed from the net, blindfolded to reduce stress and hobbled with a leather restraint to prevent kicking, she said. The workers take blood samples and a nasal swab, attach the collar and release the animal. The disease has killed about half of the 200 to 300 sheep in the herd there and at nearby Kelso Peak.


The Twentynine Palms High School Pep band is bringing lively tunes and fun to the school’s home football games. ROP broadcast student Cassie Zimarek says come out and show your support…
Come and support your local Twentynine Palms Wildcat Pep Band. This musical assemble is at its largest ever and will grab you by your nostrils with songs by Taylor Swift, Green Day, Justin Bieber, and more. The Pep Band plays at all home football games with the last game being Battle of Bell on Friday, November 8. Show your Wildcat PRIDE by going to the home football games and for all you band members out there: SHACCACOW!!


The Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project will hold its regular meeting 2:30 Saturday, November 2. The featured speaker will be marijuana advocate Lanny Swerdlow, who will discuss the International Drug Policy Conference held in Denver last week. More than 1,000 people, including government officials from all over the world, attended the conference and discussed reforming marijuana laws and the War on Drugs. The meeting will be held at the Red Arrow Gallery, 61597 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. The meeting is free and open to the public.


Twentynine Palms Recreation and Z107.7 Radio are co-sponsoring this year’s Halloween Fun Fest for the 25th year. The free event is designed to be a safe alternative to Trick or Treating for kids 10 and under. Game booths with candy prizes and a not-so-scary haunted house will be featured at the City of Twentynine Palms Community Service building at Luckie Park from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Halloween night. The booths are manned by Recreation Staff and Twentynine Palms High School Interact Club volunteers Halloween Night. Z107.7 will broadcast live from the event.


Tonight is the last chance this year—and in fact the last chance, period—to get freaked out at the Theatre 29 Halloween Haunt. Dan Stork got in on the scary fun at the penultimate session…
The tours through “Nightmares”, this year’s Halloween Haunt at Theatre 29, got off to a slightly delayed start, as the large crew of volunteers that make it happen gathered outside for a group picture. Once inside the theatre lobby, we visitors were strongly urged by the ticket sellers to make use of the restroom facilities before starting the tour, to fend off accidents that could be prompted by what would be encountered on the other side of the entrance door. In the first chamber, we entered into the nightmares of a young girl, which later featured assaults out of the darkness on our sight, hearing, tactile sensibilities, our very balance. Upon release from the labyrinth to the cool and reassuring night air, we saw a long line of people eager to get their share of scare. Don’t miss out on yours. It’s your last chance, 7 to 10 p.m. tonight, $7 per ticket, or $5 per ticket in a group of 4 or more.


With the final night of the Halloween Haunt at Theatre 29 tonight, the hard-working volunteers are already getting ready for their next production. The Dickens’ Holiday Classic “A Christmas Carol” opens November 15. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says the cast has been selected…
Theatre 29 and Director Rob Wanless have announced the casting for the Charles Dickens Christmas Classic, “A Christmas Carol.” The show will run for 12 performances, weekends from November 15 through December 14. Portraying Ebeneezer Scrooge is Kurt Schauppner; Leonard Weber is Bob Cratchit. The Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed by Nicholas Smith, Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Nick Reiner, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is played by Ed Manson. Nathan Bosworth plays Tiny Tim. “A Christmas Carol” will play Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. with Sunday Matinees November 24 and December 8 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-$12. The play is suitable for all age groups.


The Chaparral Artists will hold a Barn Sale Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both days. In addition to art supplies, there will be all sorts of items for sale. Look for the balloons and barn. There is parking in back of the barn, 7685 Valley Vista, at the corner of Onaga, in Yucca Valley.


CEO Administrator Chad Chadwick has been removed from his position by the Hi-Desert Medical Center Board of Directors. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the Board cites “irreconcilable incompatability.”…
Late yesterday, a press release from Hi-Desert Medical Center announced a mutually agreed upon end to CEO Lionel “Chad” Chadwick’s employment with the Health Care District, effective December 31. Dr. Chadwick has been employed with the District for exactly five years. The Board of Directors cited differences of opinion arising out of managerial priorities for the District. Those differences led to what both parties now deem, quote, “an irreconcilable incompatibility of management approach.” In a written statement, board president Korina Cole, said, “Dr. Chadwick has made meaningful and appreciated contributions to the District’s mission and operations. We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.” Coles says that now the priority is to move forward without destabilization of operations or disruption of the District’s mission. The Board plans to appoint an interim CEO at the November 12 meeting and then convene a search for a new CEO.


The Chief of Staff for the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center will retire Thursday, October 31. During his 33 years in the Marine Corps, Colonel George Aucoin served in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and in operations in Liberia and Iraq. Colonel Aucoin’s current tour at the Combat Center began in October 2010 as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Mission Assurance; in 2011, he took over as Chief of Staff for the Commanding General, the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Colonel Aucoin’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Ranger School, a Marine parachutist and a Marine combatant diver, and a graduate of Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans.

CORRECTION: Due to incorrect information provided to Z107.7, the date of Colonel George Aucoin’s retirement was originally reported as Friday, but the correct date is Thursday, October 31.


A vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle that was stolen in Minnesota 28 years ago was recovered earlier this month in Joshua Tree. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the owner couldn’t believe it when the California Highway Patrol called to tell him it had been recovered…


Noble Handley thought his 1934 Harley-Davidson motorcycle was gone forever after it was stolen out of his garage in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1985. “I reported it to the police and his words to me were I’d probably never see it again. So I just held out hope for a long time.” So he was a little surprised when he received a call Monday from CHP Officer Jake Griffith called him to tell him it had been recovered in Joshua Tree earlier this month. “I wasn’t sure if it was a prank, at first. I asked for a picture and the picture they sent me was in front of a CHP car.” When an unidentified 66-year-old Joshua Tree resident brought it to the CHP station October 1 for an inspection to get it registered, it came up in the nationwide database as stolen. The CHP stressed that the Joshua Tree man was not a suspect in the burglary; he is a former Minnesota resident who had gotten the bike in trade in 1985 for helping another man move, and had kept it all these years. Handley is having the bike shipped to his current home in Clark, Wyoming, but he’s not sure what he’ll do with it when it arrives. “I’ll have to see it, see what kind of condition it’s in, the practicality of it, make some judgments. It’s always money.” And Handley’s hope was finally rewarded.


An after-action meeting will be held this afternoon to discuss the recent Pioneer Days event. The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce has said this year’s celebration was a huge success. The multi-day event, commemorating the unique history of Twentynine Palms, was held October 17 through 20. The Chamber invites all community members to attend the after-action meeting to be held at City Hall this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. They are asking for feedback on this year’s event and ideas on how to make next year’s Pioneer Days even better. For more information, contact the Chamber at 760-367-3445.


Reach Out Morongo Basin’s 7th Annual Craft Fair and Bake Sale will be held Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3 at the Twentynine Palms Senior Center, 6539 Adobe Rd, Twentynine Palms, from 9 to 4 Saturday, and 9 to 3 Sunday. There will be a variety of wonderful handcrafted goods from 17 vendors as well as delicious baked goods for sale. There will also be a rummage sale. Come get your holiday shopping started early. For more information contact Reach Out at 760-361-1410.


Cadiz, Inc. is publicizing the conclusions of an environmental consulting firm’s report that specializes in water issues. The report from Aquilogic analyzes four objections to the Cadiz plan to pump water from beneath the Cadiz Valley and sell it to coastal water users, and says that the objections don’t hold water. Reporter Dan Stork summarizes the report’s findings, and its effect on one lawsuit related to the project…
Aquilogic, a Costa Mesa-based environmental consulting company, has published a report titled “Review of the Groundwater Hydrology of the Cadiz Project.” The report was prepared for three plaintiffs in a suit against the Santa Margarita Water District. The water district is both the lead agency for the Cadiz project’s environmental impact report, and one of its main intended water recipients. The report addresses at length four objections to the project that have been raised: damage to springs in the area from pumping; subsidence of land as water is pumped out; salt water intrusions into the project’s wells; and unsustainability of the intended pumping volume. The report denies the prediction of spring damage. It says that subsidence will be negligible, and that salt water intrusion will not reach the wells. Further, it makes an argument that even at low natural recharge rates claimed by project opponents, the groundwater reserves will not be appreciably affected—in part because of administrative oversight to be exercised by San Bernardino County—and can be expected to recover after the 50-year life of the project. The report adds that the Cadiz project is neither as unique nor as risky as opponents have claimed. In short, the report supports the Cadiz, Inc. claims for the water project without exception. The Cadiz press release touting the report added that one of the plaintiffs, Laborers International Union Local 783, has dropped its suit against the Santa Margarita Water District. The report is available at


Harrison House Music and Arts in Joshua Tree will present artist-in-residence Evan Ziporyn in a solo performance of works for bass clarinet and electronics this Saturday, November 2, at 8:00 p.m. Award-winning composer/bass clarinet virtuoso Ziporyn makes music at the crossroads between genres and cultures east and west. His compositions have included pieces for the Silk Road Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, Wu Man, and Bang on a Can All-Stars in addition to commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, and Meet the Composer. Evan currently performs with Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley as the Eviyan Trio and is Inaugural Director of MIT’s new Center for Art, Science and Technology, where he has taught since 1990. Tickets are a $15 and are available at Joshua Tree Health Foods. Harrison House is located at 6881 Mount Lassen Avenue in Joshua Tree. For information call 760-366-4712.


The members of the United Methodist Church of Twentynine Palms will host a Trunk n’ Treat on Thursday, October 31, for the local children to have a safe place to get candy on Halloween. They will be in the church parking lot and will hand out candy to the children who attend. The event is from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.