The Sheriff’s Department confirmed Tuesday that six Twentynine Palms High School students, all between the ages of 14 and 15, are being referred to the District Attorney’s office for possible charges related to possession and distribution of child pornography for a sexting video. Sheriff’s Captain Rich Boswell told Z107.7 News that because the student in the sexually explicit video is a minor, the video is legally considered child pornography. The student sent the video to her boyfriend’s phone and the boy then forwarded it on to some of his friends. Boswell explained that under the laws concerning child pornography, it is a crime to possess the video and to forward it, because of the girl’s age. Investigators expect to send the case to the district attorney this week for review, and the DA will make the decision whether to prosecute the students for possession and distribution of child pornography.


Sheriff’s deputies have one person in custody after a high-speed pursuit through the Morongo Basin this morning. According to Deputy Erdem Gorgolu, CHP tried to pull over a motorcycle rider in Morongo Valley shortly before 7 a.m. The motorcycle rider failed to yield, and led CHP and Sheriff deputies on a high-speed pursuit through Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, at speeds up to 120 miles per hour. The rider eventually lost control of the bike near Desert Quail and the highway in Twentynine Palms and crashed, suffering minor injuries. The rider was taken into custody. The investigation is on-going.


Traffic officers for the Town of Yucca Valley will conduct traffic enforcement this week on Highway 62 between Hilton Avenue and Warren Vista. Officers will focus primarily on speeding and other vehicle code violations, and remind motorists that driving while holding a cell phone—even while in speaker mode—is a violation of the vehicle code law.


Federal employees protest furloughs in Twentynine Palms

Federal employees protest furloughs in Twentynine Palms

Many Morongo Basin residents are dependent on paychecks from the federal government. Having weathered reduced paychecks from the earlier sequestration, the current government shutdown leaves them with no paychecks at all. Dan Stork spoke with some of them near the San Bernardino County public assistance office in Twentynine Palms yesterday…
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 their 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”.


JTNP closed

West Entrance gate of Joshua Tree National Park, in Joshua Tree

The government shutdown that has forced the closure of our Joshua Tree National Park—and 400 other national parks—hurts not only park employees and visitors, but the communities surrounding the parks. Businesses in our area that cater to Park visitors are reporting dismal sales as tourists leave. Joshua Tree National Park hosts 7,000 visitors on average each day in October. Visitors to the park will have until 3 p.m. Thursday to leave the park. Joshua Tree National Park will lose more than $7600 in just entrance fees each day of the shutdown. While 15 employees will remain on duty during the shutdown to provide security and emergency services, 92 Park employees have been furloughed and another 10 concessions employees are similarly affected.  Nationwide, the National Park Service stands to lose $450,000 per day in lost revenue from tours, activities, and camping. And communities across the country will lose about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending.


The Yucca Valley Town Council met in a busy regular session last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff breaks her report into two parts. Today, in Part 1, mandatory spay and neuter for pit bull breed dogs…
Owners of pit bulls and pit bull mixes in Yucca Valley will be required to spay and neuter their dogs that are 4 months and older (with a few exemptions), under an ordinance that was approved by the Yucca Valley Town Council last night. The Town’s Animal Care and Control Manager, Melanie Crider, listed the reasons why the Council should approve the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance: “It increases the safety to humans and animals; it reduces the number of unwanted pets in the community; and it holds irresponsible pet owners accountable. It also decreases undesirable behavior such as roaming, and reduce [the cost] to taxpayers to house impounded animals.” Eight residents spoke in favor of the ordinance; Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lombardo and other council members said they only received one e-mail opposing it. “I am overwhelmed by the support this ordinance has and I have changed my mind from being opposed to being in favor of spay-neuter.” In fact, Lombardo and Dawn Rowe were so in favor of the ordinance they wanted to expand it. “Along with Dr Lombardo, I would also encourage us looking into all breeds.” The ordinance will have a second reading at the Council in two weeks, and then will take effect 30 days later.


Fifty artists from California, across the nation, and as far away as England, have been selected for the first juried and judged art show for the Joshua Tree National Park Art Show and Faire. The jury spent nearly seven hours one day last month reviewing more than 200 images from 78 artists. The artwork was to depict or be inspired by the natural beauty and cultural history of Joshua Tree National Park. The art ranged from oil and acrylic paintings, to watercolors, mixed media, sculpture, photography, and ceramics. The artists will be competing for $6,000 in prizes. The Joshua Tree National Park Art Show and Faire is set for December 6, 7, and 8 in Twentynine Palms.

Below is a complete list of artists who were selected for the art show:

Joshua Tree: Raini Armstrong, Matt Collins, James Hammons, Anahita King, Noreen Lawlor, David McChesney, Eva Montville, Drew Reese, Karine Swenson, Ellie Tyler, Alita VanVliet.

Morongo Valley: Snake Jagger.

Twentynine Palms: Chuck Caplinger, David Greene, Gretchen Grunt, Anne Lear, Sandra Lytch, Terrence Mayes, Noemy O’Hara, Aaron Scott, Olive Toscani.

Yucca Valley: Janis Commentz, Bill Dahl, David Eckenberg, Mike Fagan, Ethan Garcia, John Greenfield, Shirley James, Mark Junge, Deane Locke, Darlene Morris, Janet New, Tami Roleff, Jean Scobie, Esther Shaw, Margie Trandem, Nichole Vikdal, John Whytock.

Other California cities: Natalie Franco, Alhambra; Robert Arnett, Glendora/ Wonder Valley; Kathy Harmon-Luber, Idyllwild; Michael Gordon, Long Beach; Jenifer Palmer-Lacy, Los Angeles; Gerhard Kammer, Studio City.

Other states: Rikk Flohr, Apple Valley, MN; Shelley Hull, Denver, CO; Laurie Hernandez, Excelsior, MN; Mark Spangenberg, Greensboro, NC; Robert Fogel, Haughton, LA.

Across the pond: John Tierney, Durham, U.K.

Jury members were: Mita Barter, steering committee member, artist, and member of the 29 Palms Artists Guild; Jimbo Jimson, artist and president of Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council; Ann Congdon, artist, architect, and member of the Public Arts Advisory Committee for the City of Twentynine Palms; Caryn Davidson, Joshua Tree National Park Ranger and Artist-in-Residence Liaison; Andy Woods, executive director of Arts Connection for San Bernardino County; and Art Mortimer, artist, muralist, and Action Council for 29 Palms member. Jury facilitator was educator and former Twentynine Palms Mayor John Cole.


The County Fire Department has issued an extreme fire advisory. Reporter Taylor Thacker says residents are asked to “Keep their guard up.”…
With the extreme fire hazard that exists across San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire, everyone needs to “keep their guard up” as the potential for wildfire grows with the arrival of the Santa Ana wind period. These Santa Ana winds have caused many fires before and are a problem primarily through the months of October through December. CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Fire Prevention Battalion Chief Preston Fouts reminds us that “that one less spark can result in one less fire. By being fire safe, people really can make a difference in preventing fires from starting in the first place.” Also, make sure to create a defensible space around your property by clearing any shrubbery and making sure your house number is easily visible from the street for firefighters.


A second candidate from San Bernardino County has entered the race for California’s 42nd Assembly District. Karalee Hargrove of Twentynine Palms, who was elected to the Morongo Unified School Board less than a year ago, has announced that she will enter the race, which will pit her against former Mayor Chad Mayes from Yucca Valley, who is the only other candidate from San Bernardino County. Other candidates include Chris Mann, a businessman from Banning, and former Palm Springs police chief Gary Jeandron. As of July 31, Mayes had raised more than $94,000 for his campaign, far more than his opponents.


A standing-room-only crowd showed up that Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting, mostly to be heard on issues of passionate interest–classroom crowding and AB1266. Dan Stork says there were scheduled items too…
The bulk of the large audience at the MUSD meeting were parents and teachers from Condor Elementary School, protesting that none of the eight new teachers recently hired were assigned to their school, which purportedly has the highest average class sizes in the District. A parade of speakers voiced safety concerns about small rooms, and described the difficulties of bearing the instructional burden of 32 kindergarteners at one time.
Pro and con passion was displayed in public comment – again – on AB 1266, which requires “that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity.” A current high school student spoke in favor of the bill, while several parents and grandparents opposed it on grounds of modesty, privacy, or Biblical law. Board member Ed Will quoted from a San Jose newspaper article, which characterized several arguments against the bill as myths that can be refuted.
In scheduled business, eight students were recognized for their achievements and positive attitudes, as part of National Disabilities Awareness Month. They were:
Adrian Acevedo, Condor Elementary
Jacob Draper, Friendly Hills Elementary
David Bureman, Joshua Tree Elementary
Deavante Bogan, Palm Vista Elementary
Angel Rodriguez, Yucca Valley Elementary
Rebecca Phipps, Black Rock High School
Nahjeyel Reid Hardin, Twentnine Palms Junior High School, and
Chaquantae Williams, Twentynine Palms High School.
Assistant Superintendent Tom Baumgarten presented a data-rich overview of the District’s laudable record on Academic Performance Index (API), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), and Program Improvement. Three high-performing schools had been picked to celebrate their achievements by each shaving one-third of Baumgarten’s head, the results of which were gleamingly on display.
The action items–which consisted of an infrastructure completion notice, a sufficiency-of-textbooks finding, and a funding application–were dispatched quickly.


The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojans Volleyball team began league play last night hosting the Shadow Hills Knights, losing in three sets. Coach Matt Jennings said a few highlights came from Sarah Jennings who went 13 for 13 from the service line and setter Chelsea Mondary had 11 assists. The JV team also fell to Shadow Hills.


Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School girls volleyball and tennis teams host the Big Bear Bears at home. Tennis starts at 3:15; volleyball at 4:30. The Wildcat cross-country team will travel to Machris Park in Yucca Valley; the first race begins at 4:30. And the Joshua Springs Christian School girls’ volleyball team travels away to Bloomington Christian; first serve is at 5 p.m.


The Town of Yucca Valley is moving toward mandatory spaying and neutering of pit bulls and pit bull mixes as a way to reduce the number of pit bulls in the animal shelter and to prevent dog attacks. In this editorial opinion, managing editor Tami Roleff doesn’t think mandatory spay-neuter ordinances are the answer some make them out to be…
How does requiring people to spay or neuter their dogs solve the problem of irresponsible owners? And how do you even get irresponsible owners to take the responsibility for spaying or neutering their dog? If the Town of Yucca Valley requires pit bulls to be sterilized, do you think owners of intact dogs are going to license them with the town? Of course not, and that’ll mean reduced revenue for the Town. If an intact pit bull is picked up by animal control, how many owners do you think will be willing to pay the impound fee, the cost of the ticket for having an unsterilized dog, AND the cost of the surgery? What if you have a lab mix but Animal Control says it’s a pit bull mix? Sterilizing a dog will NOT change its behavior; pit bulls and other dogs are TAUGHT to be aggressive by their owners. A government that requires people to surgically alter a dog is too much government intrusiveness into private people’s lives. Spaying and neutering is a medical surgery with risks; the decision to sterilize a dog should be between a vet and the dog’s owner, and not forced on the owner by the government. Recent research links health issues, like cancer and torn cruciate ligaments, with spaying and neutering at an early age. And four months is WAY too early; most reputable breeders urge their puppy owners to wait until at least one year, preferably two years, before their dogs are altered. And watch out, Yucca Valley dog owners. Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lombardo and Council Member Dawn Rowe are not content with mandatory spay/neuter of just pit bulls. “Is it practical to extend this measure to all breeds and not just limit it to pit bulls?” “Along with Dr Lombardo, I would also encourage us looking into all breeds.” Mandatory spay/neuter ordinances of any breed is a bad idea.
This is an editorial opinion by managing editor Tami Roleff.