The Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a man suspected of rape, assault, and evading police. According to a Sheriff’s Department press release, on Wednesday, November 6, a woman went to the Hero Market in Landers about 12:45 p.m. claiming she had been beaten, tied up, and sexually assaulted by Louis Ontek, 42, of Twentynine Palms. Later that evening about 5:30 p.m., deputies located Ontek at the Circle K in Joshua Tree. Ontek led deputies on a short pursuit to the area of Desert Air Road and Bonair Road in Joshua Tree before he fled from his vehicle and ran south into the desert. Despite calling in a helicopter to aid in the search, deputies were unable to locate Ontek and he remains at large. A search warrant was obtained for Ontek’s home in the 2500 block of Sherman Hoyt Road in Twentynine Palms and evidence was recovered, and on Thursday, a warrant was issued for Louis Ontek’s arrest. Anyone with information about Ontek’s’ current location should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760- 366-4175. Anonymous tips can be called in to the We-Tip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME, 1-800-782-7463 or online at


In honor of Veterans Day, all national parks and national forests will offer free admittance to everyone this weekend, from Saturday, November 9 through Monday, November 11. Fees for camping and tours of Key Ranch in Joshua Tree National Park will still be collected. Active duty military are eligible for free annual passes good at all national parks, and national forests, Fish and Wildlife sites, and Bureau of Reclamation sites.


A Joshua Tree woman who was admitted to drug court two weeks ago  was arrested again Thursday, accused of being under the influence of drugs and grand theft. Valerie Belle, 33, went to a dog kennel in the 63300 block of Quail Springs Road shortly before 2 p.m. to get keys to a vehicle. According to the Sheriff’s report, Belle went into the office and took the keys and more than $1000 and put it in her purse. When confronted by the investigating deputy, Belle said she was told to take both the keys and money. The deputy determined that Belle was under the influence of drugs; the Sheriff’s report states that Belle admitted to using methamphetamine. Valerie Belle was arrested for investigation of grand theft and being under the influence of a controlled substance. She was booked at West Valley Detention Center with her bail set at $50,000.


Quick thinking by  Sheriff’s deputies and a neighbor saved a Joshua Tree home from being a total loss in a fire Thursday afternoon. About 3 p.m., Joshua Tree firefighters received a call of a kitchen fire in the 60000 block of Granada Road. When firefighters arrived, they found two Sheriff’s Deputies – Phillip Beushlein and Antonio Alcala — and a neighbor using a garden hose to spray the kitchen wall to keep the fire from moving up into the attic. County Fire Captain John Garber said if the deputies and the neighbor hadn’t sprayed water on the wall, the fire would have spread to the attic and the home would have been a total loss. Captain Garber said firefighters also rescued a Chihuahua dog that was hiding under a bed and that did not want to be rescued—biting at the firefighters as they reached for it. Captain Garber said trying to capture the dog was like chasing a greased pig, as the dog darted here and there, trying to avoid the scary-looking firefighters. Garber estimated damage to the kitchen and contents at about $3800. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


As the holidays approach, the Basin-Wide Foundation is again sponsoring their “Adopt-a-Child” Program. Managing Editor Tami Roleff tells you how to help…
Children in the Child Protective Services program, through no fault of their own, are often found during the holidays in temporary homes or foster care. The Basin Wide Foundation sponsors an “Adopt a Child” program that gives residents the opportunity to be their Santa and to bring smiles to many little faces. It’s easy; you’ll be assigned a child or family, and given their first name, age, and any special requests. You’ll be asked to spend between $35 and $40 per child you “adopt.” Drop off the gifts by December 13 at the Basin Wide Foundation office, located inside the California Welcome Center in Yucca Valley. For more information, or to “adopt” a child, call 760-365-7219.  Reporting for Z107.7, this is managing editor Tami Roleff.


Desert Congregational Church in Twentynine Palms will hold a Saturday Night Church tonight, November 9, at 7 p.m. Musicians of all types are invited to come and play country, bluegrass, and gospel music. The church is located at 5688 Sunrise Road. Call 760-361-0086 for a free ride to the church.  Also this weekend, the church will host a concert featuring a mixed singing ensemble Sunday, November 10. The concert begins at 10 a.m.


Volunteers are critical to an operation like the Twentynine Palms Historical Society’s Old Schoolhouse Museum – it takes 1,400 volunteer hours annually just to staff the facility part-time.  Like most all-volunteer organizations, the historical society can never have enough volunteers, President Les Snodgrass said.  Docents are always needed at the museum. There are few requirements, save membership in the historical society and a willingness to staff the facility for three hours with a fellow docent once or twice a month. Those who choose to work more days will not be denied.  There are plenty of other clerical and maintenance volunteer opportunities available for those who don’t want work as docents, Snodgrass said.  Volunteers also are needed for special events like the annual First Friday Lecture Series, Weed Show, Old Timers’ Gathering, rummage sale and others.  For more information on the historical society and its programs, and the Old Schoolhouse Museum, visit the facility at 6760 National Park Drive from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, call (760) 367-2366 during visitor hours or go online to the society’s website at


The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will not hold a Friday night dinner or Sunday breakfast this weekend. Instead, in honor of the Marine Corps’ 238th birthday November 10, the Post will hold a special rib-eye steak dinner Sunday. The cost is $15. The grilling starts at 3 p.m. and goes til 6-ish, or whenever the steaks run out.