The government shutdown will not affect military personnel at the Twentynine Palms Combat Center; they will still report for duty, but they will be paid retroactively. Civilian government employees will be furloughed, however. Civilians will only be reimbursed for their lost time if a law is enacted to pay them, which happened following the last government shutdown in 1995. The base’s commissary will be open regular hours today but will close Wednesday until the furlough is lifted. Some of the other facilities that will be closed are: the Vet clinic, dry cleaner, MCCS Directorate, contracting and procurement, MCCS coordinator, Mojave Viper Coordinator, MC Family Team Building, Single Marine Program, The Zone, relocation assistance, retired activities office, personal financial management, information and referral, prevention/education, career resource, education, lifelong learning library, special events, sports programs and field reservations, youth sports, aerobics, community center, auto skills center, bowling center, ITT/Lake Havasu, stables, wood hobby shop, Desert Winds Golf Course, family pool, and Officers/SNCO pool.

Just as Joshua Tree National Park is approaching its peak visitor season, a federal government shutdown is closing it. Spokeswoman Lorna Shuman said plans are in place to close the park and evacuate its nine campgrounds. Shuman said employees will go through the park today to warn campers of the 48-hour notice to leave. “If they are camping, they cannot leave their stuff; they have to pack it up and move outside the park,” she said. All visitor facilities and services managed by the National Park Service will close. All government-permitted events inside the national park will be postponed or cancelled, she said. There are 106 federal employees in the park, and those not involved in law enforcement, firefighting, or other essential work to keep the park secure will be furloughed, she said. She said autumn is height of the camping and visiting season for the 794,000-acre park; the October 4 weekend is the start of camping reservation season, and all camp sites were reserved.

In the wake of the shutdown of much of the Federal government, local Federal employees headed over to the county services office in Twentynine Palms to apply for public assistance such as food stamps.   Many of them also gathered on the corner of Adobe and Sun Valley, near the county office, with hand-lettered signs, to publicize their unhappiness.  As passing motorists honked and waved in support, we spoke with them:

“How are you hoping people will respond?”

“I think they all see it the way it is – Congress is not doing its job, and we’re paying the price.”

“So what would you urge your fellow citizens to do?”

“Call the congressman, Congressman Paul Cook, we have the phone number…”

“OK, and it’s 202-225-5861…”

“And tell him how you feel!”

Other sign-holders pitched in, “We just want to know why Congress gets paid for not doing their job – we’d be fired – and we don’t get paid for trying to do ours”.


Furloughed Federal employees protest near county assistance office in Twentynine Palms

Furloughed Federal employees protest near county assistance office in Twentynine Palms


The Yucca Valley Town Council meets in regular session tonight. Public partnerships and pit bull control are on the agenda. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has a closer look…
The Yucca Valley Town Council will discuss tonight whether pit bull dogs should be subject to mandatory spaying and neutering, beginning at 4 months of age. Also on the agenda, the Council will be asked to approve partnership agreements and funding for the Boys and Girls Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Desert Regional Tourism Agency, and a lease agreement for the Boys and Girls Club, and amend the budget to accommodate the recommendations. Finally, the board will be asked to appoint someone to the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The meeting will be held at 6:00 tonight in the Yucca Room of the Community Center.


One of the two generals forced to retire by the Marine Corps Commandant yesterday once served as the commanding general of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center. Major General Mark Gurganus, who served as CG from May 2008 to September 2009, had his promotion to lieutenant general rescinded by the Commandant, General Jim Amos, for failing to prevent a massive attack on a base in southern Afghanistan in 2012. Amos said that Gurganus and Major General Gregg Sturdevant “did not take adequate force protection measures within the range of responses proportionate to the threat.” Two Marines were killed, eight others were wounded, and six aircraft were destroyed in the attack by insurgents on Camp Bastion, a British base that adjoins Camp Leatherneck. Gurganus, who was the overall commander of Regional Command Southwest at the time, had reduced the number of Marines patrolling the base perimeter by two-thirds one month before the attack. Both Gurganus and Sturdevant will be allowed to retire honorably with full benefits.


Bylaws, solar power, student recognition, textbooks, computer upgrades, and funding applications all figure into the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting. Dan Stork tells how the agenda is arranged…
The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting on October 1 gets off to an early 5 p.m. start with a pair of open work/study sessions—one on Board Bylaws, and the other on solar power. Following a very brief closed session for the usual items of collective bargaining status and personnel and student discipline issues, the public meeting resumes at 7 p.m. with recognition of the accomplishments of selected students, in honor of National Disabilities Awareness Month. In addition to status reports from staff, board members, and employee and student representatives, there are three items on the action agenda: a sufficiency of textbooks public hearing, a notice of completion for a computer network upgrade, and the consolidated application for state and federal funding of categorical programs. The meeting takes place at Joshua Tree Elementary School.


The San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) is offering a regional forum on Public Safety in the Morongo Basin Thursday, October 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Bell Center of Copper Mountain College. Featured speakers are San Bernardino Superior Court Presiding Judge Marsha Slough, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, and Caltrans District 8 Director Basem Muallem. A limited amount of tickets to this open-to-the-public event are available for $15 each. Lunch will be provided. The forum is part of a series of regional meetings being offered by SANBAG that highlight area-specific issues. SANBAG President Bill Jahn said “In our role as a regional council of governments, it is important that we take on quality of life issues from all corners of our county.” “The Morongo Basin Regional Forum is just one more opportunity to help the people we represent have a voice on the issues that matter the most.” For more information on how to participate in this event, interested parties can contact Joe Meer, at the MBTA 760-366-2986.


The yearly “Desert Run” a fund-raiser for our local Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, is this weekend in Johnson valley. Reporter Taylor Thacker has your invitation…
The Morongo Basin Search and Rescue Desert Run Fundraiser is this weekend on October 5. To help offset costs, the team sponsors an off-road event every year at the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Park in Johnson Valley. The Desert Run consists of a 15-20 mile course and is designed to meet many off-road challenges. You must have a four-wheel drive vehicle to participate and the trail will be marked “Easy” and “Hard” so you can choose which challenge you would like to take. Tickets are $55 if you preregister and $60 at the event. For more information call 760-366-4175.


Tomorrow, Reach Out Morongo Basin will host an estate planning seminar at the Twentynine Palms Senior Center at 9:30 a.m.  Information on living trusts, wills, joint tenancy and other aspects of estate planning will be provided at no cost. This seminar is for all seniors, families with children and homeowners. Make sure that your family is taken care of should something happen to you. For more information or to sign up, call Reach Out at 760-361-1410.


Twice a year there’s a book sale at the Joshua Tree Branch Library. Dan Stork says, come get some good reads at the fall sale…
The Friends of the Joshua Tree Library Fall Book Sale opens to the general public on Saturday October 5, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But if you are a current member of the Friends of the Joshua Tree Library, or would like to join, a Friends and Members’ Only Pre-sale will take place on Thursday, October 3, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Memberships begin at $10 per year. The general sale continues Monday and Tuesday October 7 and 8 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The sale concludes with a $1 and $2 a bag sale on Wednesday, October 9, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Through October 3, the Friends are accepting gently used books, paperbacks, videos, DVD’s, books on tape or CD, music CD’s, and current magazines. They are unable to accept magazines older than one year, encyclopedia sets, condensed books, or damaged or soiled
items. The book sale proceeds are used by the Friends of the Joshua Tree Library to purchase new books and materials and fund children’s and adult programs at the Joshua Tree Branch. For more information about the Fall Book Sale, please call the Joshua Tree Branch Library at 760-366-8615.


The Santa Fe Social Club will distribute free food on a first-come, first-served basis tomorrow, the first Wednesday of every month, starting at 3 p.m. The distribution center serves individuals and families living in the Morongo Basin who need supplemental food due to low income. The distribution center is located at 56020 Santa Fe Trail, Suite M, in Yucca Valley. For more information, call 760-369-4057.


The Animal Action League will be offering low-cost vaccine clinics in October for dogs and cats, as well as low-cost spaying and neutering. No appointments are necessary for vaccines; appointments are required for spay and neutering services. Clinics will be held from 10 to 2 at the following locations and dates: in Joshua Tree, behind the dinosaurs on Highway 62: October 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 21, 22, 29 and 30; and at Wild Mustang Feed in Morongo Valley, October 11. To make an appointment for spay or neutering, call 760-322-4560. Visit for updated schedules on clinics.


If you are interested in officiating community sports, Yucca Valley Recreation has an opportunity for you. ROP Broadcast Student Khang Huynh has details…
Do you have an interest in officiating sports? The Town of Yucca Valley is looking for individuals with a desire to officiate in our youth and adult sports programs including adult softball and youth basketball. These are paid positions contracted through the town. Applications are available at the community services office or call the Yucca Valley Recreational Office at 760-369-7211 for more information.


La Contenta Middle School would like to invite all parents to visit the school for our monthly Parent Visitation Day on Wednesday, October 2.  Parents may come for all day or part of the day. Parents may also stay for lunch. The school hours are 7:08 -1:50. Seventh grade lunch is at 10:16 and eighth grade lunch is at 11:48. When parents visit, they are reminded to check in at the office, with a photo ID, and get a Visitor’s Pass. Parent Visitation Days will be held throughout the school year on the first Wednesday of every month.