Last night at Hi-Desert Medical Center, outgoing CEO Chad Chadwick gave a candid examination of the Hospital District’s fiscal health to a diverse dozen people, all past participants in a District-sponsored community outreach program. Assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
In his review, Dr. Chadwick highlighted the District’s admirable strengths and its sobering weaknesses. Bottom line is that “business as usual” will not be enough to stop the hemorrhaging of cash that Hi-Desert Medical Center has been experiencing for the last few years. Then Dr. Chadwick confided he is leaving because he no longer has the endurance to carry the District, unable to change the downward trajectory of the Basin’s third largest employer. Chadwick suggested his replacement could deliver a new framework. And he said that the Board of Directors will have to engage the community in deciding if it will reduce services and lower standards, pursue a hard-to-win tax measure, or look to affiliate with an outside concern willing to invest in the Hospital. Whatever direction the Board pursues, it must act soon. Chadwick estimated a 12-month timeline before the District runs out of options.


Tomorrow, the Combat Center will celebrate the Marine Corps 238th birthday by holding a pageant of uniforms at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field. Marines from the Combat Center’s Headquarters Battalion will dress in Marine Corps uniforms dating back from the beginning years of the Marine Corps to present. Many of the uniforms mark a chapter in United States and Marine Corps’ major conflicts. The pageant will include introductions and stories to each Marine uniform and the Marine Corps cake cutting ceremony. All tenant units aboard the Combat Center are invited to attend.


In 2010, the Town Council allowed a medical marijuana dispensary known as CAMS to relocate from the Monterey Business Center to an industrial/commercial center on Wamego Trail, with the stipulation that it would have to close its doors for good on December 6, 2013. The Council also established a moratorium prohibiting any other dispensaries from opening. In May of this year, the managing director of CAMS requested a three-year extension of the agreement that permitted CAMS to operate in Town limits. Managing editor Tami Roleff reports that a split Town Council voted last night against the time extension, which means Yucca Valley’s only legal medical marijuana dispensary will have to shut down next month…
A split Yucca Valley Town Council voted 3 to 2 last night to deny a request for a time extension that would allow the Morongo Basin’s only legal medical marijuana dispensary to keep its doors open for three more years. Public comments were mostly in favor of allowing the dispensary to continue its operations. Yucca Valley resident Bob Stadum argued that if CAMS was forced to shut down, patients would have to get their drugs from criminals. “I support regulating and taxing, rather than moving off into the black market.” Council Member Dawn Rowe explained why she voted against granting the time extension to CAMS. “The Town of Yucca Valley currently has an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries to exist within the boundaries of the Town. If we allow CAMS to continue operations, we are acting in violation of our own ordinance.” Joining Rowe in denying the time extension were Council Member George Huntington and Mayor Merl Able; Council Members Robert Lombardo and Bob Leone voted to allow CAMS to continue operations. The Town’s 2010 agreement with CAMS allows it to continue operations until December 6, 2013.


The Twentynine Palms Fire Chief said a longer response time because of the closed Lear Avenue fire station was a factor in fire damage to small home Tuesday. Chief Jim Thompson said firefighters responded to a report of smoke at about 1:00 p.m. on the dirt extension to Indian Cove Road, north of the highway, to find a 1,000-square-foot single story structure “well-involved” in flames. The home had been built as a homestead cabin back in the 1950s and added on to repeatedly over the years. Thompson said the fire was made more difficult to put out because a peaked roof had been built over the original flat roof, and the fire was in the space between the two roofs. One firefighter suffered an electrical jolt but no serious injury when he touched a metal fence with a downed power line on it. The resident, Devin Keihm, was not home at the time the fire started and arrived to find his house in flames with firefighters present. He said two cockatiels in the house had died; his dog was outside and was safe. The exact cause of the fire was unknown and Chief Thompson said the estimated loss from the house and contents was about $60,000. Twentynine Palms firefighters were assisted by mutual aid from the Combat Center and Wonder Valley fire stations. The County Fire station from Yucca Mesa covered the downtown Twentynine Palms Fire station during the incident.


Student achievement goals, Prop 30 fund uses, and mileage reimbursement were among the topics at last night’s school board meeting. Dan Stork fills in the details…
The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education moved through its action agenda with the customary lack of discussion, save for one item. A discussion of flat monthly mileage stipends versus per mile reimbursements for certain administrative employees was tabled to a future time, so that staff could clarify current practices and available alternatives. Ed Will, in his role as legislative liaison for the Board, reported that no Prop 30 money will be used this year for additional programs; rather, the first $2 billion of Prop 30 funds will be used to fill in a part of the late payments owed by the state to districts. Four of the action agenda items ratified the single school plans for student achievement for the four schools whose plans had been presented during an earlier workshop. The meat of those plans was a set of goals, most of which set targets for school-wide performance on standardized tests.


Two Yucca Valley residents were arrested early Monday morning, accused of multiple counts of identity theft. According to a Sheriff’s report, about 1:30 a.m., a deputy stopped a car driven by Stephanie Viestenz, 24, near the intersection of Antelope Trail and Cholla Avenue in Yucca Valley for having expired vehicle registration. Viestenz had multiple felony and misdemeanor warrants for her arrest, as did her passenger, James Mosier, 30. During a search of the car, the deputy discovered several pieces of identity and bank information belonging to other people. Stephanie Viestenz was arrested for investigation of identity theft and on her warrants totaling $265,000, and is being held with no bail at Morongo Basin Jail. James Mosier was arrested on his warrants totaling $230,000 and was booked into the West Valley Detention Center with no bail.


A correction about a story we ran yesterday about a motorcycle crash in Twentynine Palms. We reported the motorcycle failed to yield to a Ford F-150 pickup truck, when, according to Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Wilson, it was the truck that failed to yield. Wilson said Raymond Greenidge, 67, was riding his motorcycle northbound on Condor Road about 7:20 a.m. when a westbound F-150 pick-up truck, driven by Brandon Sharpe, 20, pulled out from the intersection of Valle Vista directly in front of Greenidge on the motorcycle. The motorcycle T-boned the truck, denting the passenger door and tearing off the truck’s running board. Raymond Greenidge received moderate injuries in the crash, and was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.


While the results are very close, the unofficial results of the vote for Bighorn Desert View Water Agency Board have been released. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has the preliminary count…
In the Morongo Basin’s only election-day race, four candidates were on the ballot for three open seats on the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency Board of Directors. Results as of midnight last night show incumbent Dennis Staley narrowly leading with 28 percent of the vote, incumbent Terry Burkhart trails Staley by four votes, and Director Judy Corl-Lorono was in third place, just two votes ahead of spoiler Larry Coulombe. A total of 512 votes were cast. The next update is expected tomorrow at 4 p.m. when any mail ballots, damaged ballots, emergency, overseas and military ballots are expected to be added to the count.


In an effort to prevent a future sewer predicament, the City of Twentynine Palms and the Twentynine Palms Water District jointly paid for a planning study on the groundwater management and wastewater treatment. Tonight, the governing bodies of the two agencies will learn the results of the effort. Dan Stork has the workshop agenda…
On Wednesday, November 6, the Twentynine Palms City Council and Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors will hold a joint workshop to discuss groundwater protection and wastewater management. The agenda includes an introduction and overview, a consultant’s presentation, discussion of future actions and responsibilities, public comment, and joint submittal of the draft studies to the Colorado Regional Water Quality Control Board. The workshop starts at 6 p.m. at the Community Services Building, 74325 Joe Davis Drive, in Twentynine Palms.


More than 700 people went through the Old Schoolhouse Museum this past weekend for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society’s Annual Weed Show. Fifty-five residents took on the challenge of showcasing local desert flora in 177 entries to the theme of Twentynine Palms Gold in honor of the late Twentynine Palms resident Huell Howser. First place winners in the 11 categories are:

Category 1 – Sugar Bowl (arrangement using museum quality purple glass as an accessory)
1st Place – Holly Lee Upton
2d Place – Marilyn Fernald
3d Place – Laureen Lentz
Honorable Mention – Melodie Allen

Category 2 – Sheep Hole Pass (composition using broken purple glass as an accessory)
1st Place – Pat Rimmington
2d Place – Pegi Feldman
3d Place – David Beeken
Honorable Mention – Molly Vermette

Category 3 – 29 Palms Art Gallery (miniature composition not to exceed 6x6x6 inches)
1st Place – Marilyn Fernald
2d Place – Tom Cribb
3d Place – Gerry Gates
Honorable Mention – Larry Bowden

Category 4 – Chocolate Drop (miniature composition not to exceed 3x3x3 inches)
1st Place – Gerry Gates
2d Place – Rita Vickery
3d Place – Sue McMahan
Honorable Mention – Pegi Feldman

Category 5 – Four Corners (composition using an item associated with travel or transportation as an accessory)
1st Place – Pegi Feldman
2d Place – Dana Bowden
3d Place – Marilyn Fernald
Honorable Mention – Chris Kallgren

Category 6 – Old Schoolhouse (composition using something associated with education as an accessory)
1st Place – Marilyn Fernald
2d Place – Gerry Gates
3d Place – Lisa Pitts
Honorable Mention – Cathy Snodgrass

Category 7 – Historic Plaza (composition using necessities of daily living as an accessory)
1st Place – Gerry Gates
2d Place – Molly Vermette
3d Place – Linda Turk
Honorable Mention – Dana Bowden

Category 8 – Oasis of Mara/JTNP (composition using necessities of daily living as an accessory)
1st Place – David Beeken
2d Place – Laura Pellior
3d Place – Juan Valera
Honorable Mention – Larry Bowden

Category 9 – Gold Park
1st Place – Dana Bowden
2d Place – Kris Mitchell
3d Place – Tom Cribb
Honorable Mention – Marilyn Fernald

Category 10 –Condor Field/Marine Corps Base
1st Place – Gerry Gates
2d Place – Melodie Allen
3d Place – Mark Ziolkowski
Honorable Mention – Cathy Snodgrass

Category 11 – Knott’s Sky Park (kids under 8 & under)
1st Place – Hunter Yoho
2d Place – Lance Bowden
3d Place – Bruce Mallard
Honorable Mention – Nicholas Mallard
Honorable Mention – Canyon Crawford

Category 12 – Luckie Park (kids 9 to 12)
1st Place – Rollie Bowden
2d Place – Taunya Causseaux

2013 Weed Show Judge’s Favorites went to: Cathy Snodgrass – Category 1 (Sugar Bowl) – Judge 1’s Favorite; Larry Bowden – Category 8 (Oasis of Mara/Joshua Tree National Park)- Judge 2’s Favorite; and Stevie Villareal – Category 2 (Sheep Hole Pass)- Judge 3’s Favorite.

The 2013 People’s Choice Award went to Canyon Crawford, for his entry with Legos in the category for children under age 8.

Canyon_Crawford_Ppls_Choice_Winner 2013-Category11-HonMen-CanyonCrawford


Donations are now being accepted for a rummage sale held by the Santa Fe Social Clubhouse. Donations can be dropped off at the clubhouse between 9 and 5 through Friday. Call Phebe or Susie at 760-369-4057 if you need items picked up. The rummage sale will be held Thursday and Friday from 9 to 5. The Santa Fe Social Clubhouse is located at 56020 Santa Fe Trail, Suite M, in Yucca Valley.


The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight. Among items of interest is a $5,000 a month consultant. Managing editor Tami Roleff takes a closer look…
Among the items on the agenda for tonight’s regular meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors, the Board will be asked to authorize forgiveness of a $6 million loan by the State Revolving Fund for Phase 1 of the Wastewater Reclamation Project. The Board will also be asked to approve an agreement with a state lobbyist firm for $5,000 per month. Finally, the board will hear an overview of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the District’s offices on the Highway and Inca Trail in Yucca Valley.

The Joshua Basin Water District Board will meet in both a closed and regular session tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz checks the agenda…
Prior to tonight’s regular meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District the board will meet for a 5 p.m. special closed session in connection with the search for a general manager. Among the items to be considered when the regular meeting convenes at 7 p.m. is a review and likely approval of a required notice of an impending rate increase for mailing to customers. The proposed increase would take effect in March 2014 and would increase the average residential bill by a little over $3 a month each year for the next five years. The increase, if approved, will be the first for the District in three years; the resulting rate will still remain below average compared to other area water providers. According to the proposed notice statement, the increase is needed to help fund water purchased from the Mojave Water Agency, repair and replace aging and undersize pipes, and to fund increasing operating expenses.


La Contenta Middle School will present a band and choir concert in their multi-purpose room at 6:00 p.m. tonight. The band and choir director is Mrs. Rebecca Dulatre-Corbin. The public is welcome to attend.


The Twentynine Palms High School Ladycats traveled to Desert Hot Springs yesterday and beat the Golden Eagles in four sets. The Ladycats were led by senior Cherokee Turner with 14 kills. Senior Tusia Brown and freshman Tatiyanna Mackall had eight kills each. Brown had two ace serves and Mackall had four blocks. Sophomore LaTasia Benevente had five kills and sophomore Courtney Stanford had four kills. Koko Cabrera had 33 assists for the night. The Ladycats finished second in the DeAnza League with an 8-2 record and will begin CIF action next week.

The Yucca Valley High School Varsity Volleyball varsity team lost in three sets yesterday. Coach Matt Jennings said standouts were:
Chelsea Mondary, 13 assists; Ashley Priest, four kills, 3.5 blocks; Michaela Milone, four kills, five digs; Chelsea Leboutillier, five kills;
Sarah Jennings, 16 for 16 serving, six digs. The Trojans finished 5-5 in League and are awaiting CIF playoff seeding.