After three days of jury selection, a Yucca Valley woman pleaded guilty to murder in a Joshua Tree courtroom Monday. 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. Prosecutors say Jordan and co-defendant, Heidi McDermott, 32—who accepted a plea bargain of voluntary manslaughter last week—lured McLane to Jordan’s home and 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.
Two freight trains collided deep in the Mojave Desert yesterday, where 20 rail cars derailed and 20 feet of railroad ties caught fire, according the County Fire Department. The wreck was reported at 2:58 p.m. Tuesday, beside Interstate 40, about 50 miles east of Barstow and three miles west of the tiny community of Ludlow. No one was hurt. Both trains were traveling in the same direction. “It appears that one train was switching over to a parallel set of tracks when the second train came through and they made contact,” said Eric Sherwin. “Both trains were loaded with produce: corn and other vegetables. “We had no release of hazardous materials.” But the tracks are expected to be closed through Wednesday while repair crews remove debris. For photos of the incident, go to www.sbcfire.org under Latest News.
In-house energy generation, financial support of non-profits, and signs in a particular right-of-way were the topics before the Twentynine Palms City Council Tuesday night. Reporter Dan Stork fills in details…
The trophies presented to top finishers in the Pioneer Days Outhouse Race were on display in the Twentynine Palms City Council Chamber. The artwork is by Anne Lear and Anna Houghton.
The Twentynine Palms City Council meeting featured a presentation by Eugene Sedanio, a Southern California Edison project engineer, on the services available from Edison for choosing among alternative ways to implement in-house renewable energy projects, taking into account both technical and economic considerations. The Council then listened to City Manager Joe Guzetta’s suggestions for policy guidelines for city contributions to programs and events of non-profit organizations. They added a provision for a small, budgeted contingency fund, to be used for occasional requests by non-profits, and directed Guzetta to incorporate it into a resolution to be brought back to the at a future meeting. Finally, the Council directed the Planning Commission to take up the issue of monument signs in the right-of-way on Adobe Road. The motivation for this discussion is that signs should not, in general, be in the right-of-way, but the right-of-way in question was intended to allow Adobe Road to be widened to a 6-lane expressway, which is viewed as an unlikely development.
A Twentynine Palms man with a history of domestic violence was arrested Monday after a fight with his girlfriend and a teenage girl. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant James Porter, Erwin Boyd, 37, of the 7300 block of Araby Avenue, was arguing with his girlfriend about 3:30 p.m. and punched her. A 13-year-old girl tried to intervene in the fight, and Porter said Boyd struck her in the face and again in the back of the head. The woman and the girl got into a vehicle, and Porter said Boyd punched out the car’s window, shattering glass onto the woman and girl. After an investigation, Erwin Boyd was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment. He was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $100,000. Boyd is currently on probation for domestic battery; in June, he pleaded guilty to punching his girlfriend, who was 9 months pregnant at the time. As part of his plea bargain, Boyd agreed to enter a treatment program for domestic violence.
A bronze, life-size statue was stolen out of a Joshua Tree yard sometime this summer. According to a Sheriff’s report, the residents of a home in the 62200 block of Cummins Way reported that sometime between May 30 and October 18, a statue by the renowned Palm Springs artist John Kennedy was stolen. The sculpture—of a sitting person with arms extended and holding a ball—has a value of at least $18,000. Anyone with information on the statue should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.
With just barely the stroke of a gavel, the Yucca Valley Planning Commission banned commercial power farms in the town last night. Managing editor Tami Roleff was there, but not for very long…..
In what could be the shortest meeting on record, the Yucca Valley Planning Commission approved an ordinance to the development code prohibiting the development of commercial solar and wind energy facilities in any land use district in the Town of Yucca Valley. The 5-minute meeting ended with an update on the new Ross store coming to the old Rite-Aid store; its improvement plans will be submitted shortly.
A dog licensing and pet vaccination clinic will be held in Yucca Valley tomorrow. Low-cost rabies vaccinations will be available for $6 each as well as the canine distemper/parvo booster for $10 each, bordetella for $10 each, and feline 5-way booster with leukemia for $15 each. Dr. Bethan Smith will administer the vaccinations. Dog licenses will also be available at the clinic. Dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers. Fees must be paid in cash. Checks will be accepted for Town of Yucca Valley licensing only. The clinic will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Yucca Valley Community Center courtyard. For more information, call 760-365-1807.
Yucca Valley’s new animal shelter is more or less complete. The directors of the Animal Care Joint Powers Authority will be asked to accept the construction project as essentially complete during its meeting at noon on Thursday. The meeting will be held in the Mesquite room of the Community Center.
The Twentynine Palms Water District Board will meet with both water and fire business tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker checks the agenda…
Tonight, Wednesday, October 23, the Water District meeting will start at 6 p.m. During this meeting, the Board Directors will review the voter turnout history for local elections and present an audit report for this fiscal year. Immediately after the Water District meeting, the Fire Department will start their meeting with the Board members. They will discuss the approval of proclaiming November 3 as “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” day. They will also present, discuss, and take possible action on the Citizens Advisory Committee report. Lastly, the Board Directors will discuss the approval of commending Craig Walker for 25 years of volunteer firefighter service and being the chaplain for the Twentynine Palms Fire Department. Both of these meetings take place at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.
The Basin Wide Foundation will hold a “Shredding Event” tomorrow, from 11:00 to 1:00 in the parking lot of Legacy Office Products in Yucca Valley. The cost is 50 cents per pound or $4 for a letter-size storage box. There is no limit to the amount of paper and documents that can be shredded. All profits from the shredding event will benefit the non-profit Basin Wide Foundation. For more information call Pam Naylor at 760-365-7333.
Nationally known Joshua Tree percussionist Sam Sloneker will facilitate a community drum circle Thursday, October 24, in the Fellowship Hall of St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Yucca Valley. The drum circle starts at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be available. For more information, call 800-995-1620.
It’s déjà vu all over again. A story we first aired on February 2, 2009, on Z107.7 can be aired again with very few changes. Dan Stork remixes news of a large residential project planned for Joshua Tree…
With no media notification, county planners are in the process of reviewing plans to develop 248 residential lots along with 40 multifamily lots in the Friendly Hills area of Joshua Tree. County documents say the project, on 105 acres, is between Alta Loma and Sunburst Road, west of Sunny Vista. (That’s just to the north of Friendly Hills Elementary School.) Included in the plan: a package sewage treatment plant and a community center building. Messages left with county planners were not returned. The applicant for the permit is identified as YV 105, whose registered agent is a lawyer in Palm Desert. A Project Planning Notice dated October 17 received by Joshua Tree residents near the proposed project said that comments on the project must be received by the Land Use Services Department by October 31, in order to be included in the final project action. The contact person for comments is Kevin White. His telephone number is (909) 387-3067, and his email is Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunting for fall flora and viewing the firmament will be two highlights of the free Discovery Day at Sky’s the limit just north of the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park on Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms, this Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon. Space is limited, so participants are asked to register in advance at the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation Office at 74362 Joe Davis Road, next to the Skateboard Park, or by calling 760-367-7562. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Other activities will include a demonstration of solar energy, cryptobiotics, and a chance to frolic in our solar system. Attendees are encouraged to bring water bottles and their own snacks, wear hats and plenty of sunscreen, and dress for unpredictable desert weather. For information call 760-408-6099 or visit the STL web site at www.skysthelimit29.org
Volunteers are needed for TLC. TLC invites all interested people to the meetings held every Wednesday at the Yucca Valley Community Center at 6:00 p.m. This year marks the 30th anniversary that Tender Loveing Christmas (TLC) will provide a free Christmas Day dinner, Santa, toys, clothes, and food boxes to anyone finding themselves alone or in need on Christmas Day. For more information please call Mara Cantelo at 760-333-2413.
The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is looking for a few good volunteers. Reporter Mike Lipsitz puts out the call…
Volunteers are critical to the Twentynine Palms Historical Society’s Old Schoolhouse Museum. “The historical society can never have enough volunteers says President Les Snodgrass. Docents are always needed to staff the facility even if it’s just for three hours with a fellow docent once or twice a month. There are plenty of other volunteer opportunities available for those who don’t want to docent. They include Data entry, sorting, filing, taking inventory, and related tasks; or building and grounds cleaning and maintenance. Volunteers also are needed for special events like the annual First Friday Lecture Series, Weed Show, Old Timers’ Gathering, rummage sale and others. There’s no pay, but Snodgrass says the job offers a lot of satisfaction.
The 6th annual Twentynine Palms High School Powder Puff Game, with the cheerleaders playing football and the football team cheering, is this evening. Come down and get into the homecoming spirit at 6:30 p.m. at the Twentynine Palms Junior High School football field. Donations will be taken at the gate and all proceeds go to the TPHS Yearbook. There will be items for sale, such as pom-poms, and Starbucks and Pizza Hut Gift Cards available as prizes.
The Yucca Valley High School volleyball teams traveled to Desert Mirage High School to take on the Lady Rams in the second round of League play. The varsity team won in five sets. Leading the team were: Sarah Jennings, 33 for 33 from the service line, 18 digs; Chelsea LeBoutillier, 19 for 19 serving, 15 kills, three blocks; Chelsea Mondary, 18 assists, 12 digs; Ashley Priest, seven kills, four blocks; Ashley Burnett, 13 digs. The JV and freshman teams fell in three sets.
The Twentynine Palms High School Ladycats volleyball team traveled to Big Bear and defeated the Bears in three sets. They were led by seniors Cherokee Turner with 10 kills and three solo blocks and one assist. Tusia Brown had nine kills and one ace serve. Freshman Tatiyanna Mackall stood out; Tatiyanna had seven kills and six blocks. Super defense was played by Hannah Southerland, Rebecca Deguzman, and Sierra Jensen in the back row. The Ladycats are now 5-1 in league play.
Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School Lady Cat tennis and volleyball teams will travel away to Shadow Hills High School. Tennis starts at 3:15; volleyball at 4:30.
The Yucca Valley High School girls’ volleyball team travels to Big Bear tomorrow to play the Bears. First serve is at 4:30.