After three days of jury selection, a Yucca Valley woman pleaded guilty to murder in a Joshua Tree courtroom Monday afternoon. Against her lawyer’s advice, and just as her trial was set to begin, Diana Jordan, 38, changed her plea to guilty in the murder of Lauren McLane, 22, of Yucca Valley. In December 2010, McLane left her job at the Dollar Tree store but never arrived home. Jordan and her co-defendant, Heidi McDermott, 32—who accepted a plea bargain of voluntary manslaughter last week —lured McLane to Jordan’s home where they killed her because Jordan and McLane were seeing the same man. McLane’s body was found in Jordan’s garage inside a plastic container along with bloody sledgehammers and a wrench. Jordan’s sentencing is set for Friday. McDermott’s sentencing is scheduled for December 6.
Police in two cities are searching for a man suspected of carjacking a woman at knifepoint in Temecula, and then driving the car to Twentynine Palms. According to Temecula police Sergeant Curt Harris, about 8 p.m. Monday, October 14, a Murrieta woman had gone to a park in Temecula to pick up her daughter from soccer practice. As she was waiting, a man got into her car and forced her out at knifepoint. The suspect then drove off in her white Mazda SUV. About five hours later, around 3 a.m., Tuesday morning, a California Highway Patrol officer in Twentynine Palms attempted to pull over a suspected drunk driver, traveling westbound on the highway near Mesquite Springs Road. CHP Officer Bill Green said the driver refused to yield, and the car’s license plate came up as the carjacked vehicle from Temecula. CHP officers pursued the stolen car through residential neighborhoods in Twentynine Palms before the carjacker eventually ended up near Utah Trail and Sunset. The suspect then drove off into the open desert. When the desert became too rough to drive, the suspect abandoned the car. Green said CHP officers spent several hours searching for the driver but were unable to locate him. The suspect is described as a black male, 20 to 25 years old, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches tall with a thin build. He was clean shaven, and wore a dark-colored baseball hat, a white pullover shirt and baggy pants. Anyone with information is asked to call Sergeant Harris at the Temecula police department at 951-696-3000.
Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in a motorcycle crash that killed a Yucca Valley man Sunday evening. According to a CHP press release, Jay Lewis, 51, was riding his new custom “chopper”-style motorcycle southbound on Pioneertown Road, north of Skyline Ranch Road, about 8 p.m. Domenic Provenzano, 43, of Rancho Mirage, was driving a 2012 Mazda sedan northbound on Pioneertown Road, at approximately 40 mph. The press release states that Lewis veered into the northbound lane and struck the Mazda head on. Lewis was killed in the collision. The CHP reminds motorists not to drink and drive.
A woman driving eastbound on Highway 62 yesterday was sent to the hospital after she crashed her car into the concrete divider on the Yucca Grade about 4:40 p.m. According to Morongo Valley Fire Chief Jock Johnson, the woman, identified only as being in her 40s, suffered serious injuries in the crash and was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The Twentynine Palms City Council has a busy schedule this week. Solar in the city, support of nonprofits, and signs on Adobe Road are all on the agenda of the regular meeting on Tuesday. There is an all-day workshop on Thursday, as well. Dan Stork previews the discussions…
At the October 22 meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council, Southern California Edison (SCE) will make a presentation to the Council on options and feasibility of adding solar to city facilities, along with the various rates and programs. The Council will discuss a policy drafted by staff that defines and limits contributions to nonprofit organizations. Then the Council will discuss a staff recommendation that a policy on allowing monument signs in the right-of-way on Adobe Road be referred to the Planning Commission. The regular meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Council chambers in City Hall on Adobe Road. On Thursday October 24, the Council will meet all day—9 a.m. to 3 p.m.—for a Strategic Planning Workshop. That meeting will be held at the Community Services Building on Joe Davis Drive, across from Luckie Park. The published agenda has no details on what is up for discussion.
The Town of Yucca Valley plans to hold two more workshops to hear from business owners and residents about the upcoming raised medians and sidewalk projects along Highway 62. The next meeting will be Wednesday, October 23, from 7 to 8 a.m., and then Wednesday, October 30, from noon to 1 p.m. Both workshops will be held in the Cholla Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center. The workshops will provide an overview of the upcoming projects and will cover topics such as anticipated project schedules, funding sources, community outreach, and communication. The two projects are located on the highway between Kickapoo Trail to just east of Palm Avenue. The projects include raised medians, curbs, sidewalks, gutters, a traffic light at Church Street. The public is invited to the workshops to learn how the projects will affect them.
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission is poised to ban commercial wind and solar operations in the Town. Managing Editor Tami Roleff checks tonight’s agenda…
The sole item on the agenda for the Yucca Valley Planning Commission’s regular meeting tonight is a proposed amendment to the Town’s development code that would ban commercial solar and wind energy facilities within Town limits. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Community Center.
Joshua Tree National Park announced Jumbo Rocks Campground is open after extensive repairs due to a September storm. A Park Spokesman said Maintenance crews worked around the clock to mitigate damage and reopen the popular area for the busy season. Work continues on the section of road from the north entrance, nearest the Oasis Visitor Center to the turn-off to Cottonwood, as well as to Cottonwood Oasis, including Cottonwood Springs Trail, Mastodon Trail and Lost Palms Oasis. These areas were damaged in the same storm.
Desert Blood Services will conduct a community blood drive Wednesday, October 23 at Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree from 10 to 2. Donors will receive incentives. In addition, Desert Blood Services now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 877-827-4376.
The regular fourth Tuesday meeting of the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency Board has been cancelled. Agency business will be considered after the November 5 election at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 19. Assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
Voters in the area served by Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency should have received last week a Voter Information Guide and Sample Ballot via the U.S. Postal Service or e-Mail. Three open seats are on the November 5 ballot. Vying for those seats are the three directors who now hold them including Judy Corl-Lorono, Dennis Staley and Terry Burkhart; a fourth candidate, Larry Coulombe, is also on the ballot. Coulombe served as a director in the past and last month was appointed to fill the seat left open when Director Dave Larson moved from district. If Coulombe comes in fourth in the November 5 election, he’ll still keep the seat he was appointed to last month. If any other candidate comes in fourth, the board will have to fill an empty seat most likely by appointment. What does it all really mean? It means that regardless of how voters complete their ballots, there won’t be any changes to the board as a result of this election.
An enthusiastic group of citizens gathered in the lobby of the County Services Building in Joshua Tree to take the first bite of the Big MAC – as we just have to refer to the new Municipal Advisory Committee for the unincorporated areas of the Morongo Basin. Dan Stork adds the special sauce…
Supervisor Ramos poses with his appointees to the Morongo Basin regional MAC: Max Rossi (Wonder Valley), Larry Parrott (Flamingo Heights), Elizabeth Karman (Yucca Mesa), David Peach (downtown Joshua Tree), Supervisor James Ramos, Mark Lundquist (east Joshua Tree), Mike Lipsitz (Landers), Jack Dugan (Pioneertown), Gayl Swarat (Morongo Valley), Mary Helen Tuttle (Copper Mountain Mesa — not shown)
The Municipal Advisory Committee for the unincorporated areas of the Morongo Basin was sworn in by Third District Supervisor James Ramos in Joshua Tree on Monday. Ramos stressed the value of addressing Basin issues on a regional basis. “The reasons for the big vision, for the regional MAC, is to really create that unified voice for issues that are drastically facing the whole region, from energy to water issues, certainly tourism, and solar constraints that we’re facing now.” As the first order of business, the MAC elected its officers—Chairman, Mike Lipsitz of Landers; Vice-Chair, Gayl Swarat of Morongo Valley; and Secretary, Max Rossi of Wonder Valley. The other six members are Jack Dugan (Pioneertown), Elizabeth Karman (Yucca Mesa), Larry Parrott (Flamingo Heights), David Peach and Mark Lundquist (for Joshua Tree), and Mary Helen Tuttle (Copper Mountain Mesa, and who was absent on a personal matter). A regular meeting schedule is yet to be announced. Following the meeting, we asked the members for their individual top priorities. Although not a unanimous choice, a recurrent theme was environmental quality. Mike Lipsitz linked this to a process already in progress: “I think right now, what affects most of the Basin and should probably be of primary concern is DRECP, that’s the location of the solar and wind renewable energy projects.”
Make money for the holidays, and help our communities’ homeless pets too, by reserving a space at a garage sale to benefit the basin’s no-kill shelter in Joshua Tree. The garage sale takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27, in the Elks Lodge parking lot on Yucca Trail in Old Town, Yucca Valley. Spaces are only $25 for one day or $40 for both. This is a perfect opportunity to sell your treasures during the popular Harvest Fest of Old Town. The Humane Society will also accept donations to sell at their table. For more information or to sign up, call Lesley at 760-902-3704.
The monthly meeting of Twentynine Palms Library’s teen book club is this on Thursday, October 24, from 4 to 5 p.m. Club members will discuss The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The story of Huck and Jim’s journey down the Mississippi is acknowledged as one of America’s great novels. They will also select books teens would like to read as a group for future months as they enjoy refreshments. This event is open to teens in grades seven through 12.For more information, please call the Twentynine Palms Branch Library at 760-367-9519. To check out a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, please visit the library and ask for the book at the front desk.
Attention elementary age kids: The Town of Yucca Valley will have a kids’ Halloween dance this Saturday featuring the Z107.7 Mobile DJ. ROP Broadcast student Marcella Cruz has your invitation…
There will be a Kids’ Halloween Dance on Saturday, October 26. It will be from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Yucca Valley Senior Center. To get in, it will be $3 per person. Children in grades kindergarten through sixth are welcome. If you would like, come dressed in your Halloween costume. Refreshments will be provided at no extra cost.
A family excursion to Los Rios Rancho Pumpkin Patch is being planned for Sunday, October 27, to pick pumpkins and wander through the corn maze, along with other fall activities. The trip is sponsored by Desert Hills Presbyterian Church. Participants will leave the church about 11:30 a.m. Bring a sack lunch, or lunch is available for purchase at the site. The church is located at 56750 Mountain View Trail in Yucca Valley.