An Orange County man who got lost in the desert for 11 hours near Johnson Valley Friday night diverted fire crews from a large house fire in Yucca Valley. About 5:30 p.m. Friday, fire fighters and search and rescue teams from Lucerne Valley, Hesperia, and Yucca Mesa, and the Sheriff’s Basin’s Urban Search and Rescue team, were called to an abandoned mine shaft about 18 miles east of Bessemer Mine Road near Johnson Valley. Sheriff’s Sergeant James Porter said Brian Buchanan, 27, had become separated from his friends about 3:30 p.m. while exploring an abandoned mine shaft; his friends told rescuers they heard a rock slide and then lost contact with him. After searching for two hours, they called for help. Porter said a helicopter was called in to aid in the search above ground, while searchers explored the mine. County Fire Captain Mark Murphy said rescuers called off the search about 2 a.m. During the drive back, rescuers noticed a light flashing and discovered Buchanan, uninjured, but suffering from mild hypothermia in just a pair of pants and T-shirt. Buchanan told rescuers he had escaped from the mine through a ventilation shaft and then had become lost in the desert. During the drive to and from the mine, two fire trucks became stuck in the sand, and crews had to call in a bull dozer to come pull them out. Meanwhile in Yucca Valley, fire crews from Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Morongo Valley, Twentynine Palms, and the Combat Center were called about 7:15 p.m. to a large house fire in the 5000 block of Mormon Lane. A neighbor, who told fire crews he was a retired fire fighter, had brought his personal fire truck to the scene and was spraying water on the 3,000-square-foot home, but County Fire Captain Rick Denison said the fire was too far gone for the house to be saved. The residents were not at home, and it’s not known if any pets were lost in the fire. The home was a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation. While nearly every unit from the Morongo Basin was fighting the fire, crews from Hesperia, Victorville, and Fontana were called in to cover the Basin’s fire stations.


The Big MAC has its first regular meeting this evening. Dan Stork says that most of the agenda is about start-up issues for the group…
The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight for an initial organizing meeting. The MAC is charged with assessing community input on matters of interest to County government and funneling that information to 3rd District County Supervisor James Ramos, and vice-versa. Due to Veteran’s Day closings, this meeting will take place in the Bob Burke County Government Center, 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. Beginning with the December 9 regular MAC meeting the expected meeting place will be the Joshua Tree Community Center, at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The public is invited to attend all regular meetings of the MAC. On the agenda for the first meeting, in addition to start-up business are informational items on the Homestead Valley call for an extension of the County solar development moratorium, a presentation on Joshua Tree National Park and the regional economy by Paul Smith, and a recap on the proposed 105-acre residential development project in Joshua Tree. The group’s only action agenda item is to establish a priority list.


A Twentynine Palms man was arrested early Saturday morning after a high speed chase through residential neighborhoods. Shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, a deputy tried to stop a motorcycle, driven by Hayward Adams, 29, for speeding and reckless driving near Highway 62 and Mesquite Springs Road. Adams took off, driving 80 to 100 miles per hour through residential neighborhoods and blowing through stop signs. Deputies finally caught up to Hayward Adams at Gorgonio and Desert Knoll when he tried to drive through the desert and his motorcycle got stuck in the sand. Deputies arrested Hayward Adams at gunpoint for investigation of felony failure to yield and reckless driving. He was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $100,000.


Sheriff’s deputies are looking for a suspect in a violent rape. Wednesday, deputies responded to Hero’s Market in Landers after woman had been assaulted. Deputies found the victim who reported she had been beaten, tied up and sexually assaulted by 42-year-old Louis Ontek. Deputies located Ontek later the same day driving in Joshua Tree near Park Boulevard and Highway 62. Ontek fled from deputies resulting in a short vehicle pursuit in the area of Desert Air Road and Bonair Road in Joshua Tree. Ontek fled from the vehicle he was driving, eluding deputies. Detectives served a search warrant at Ontek’s residence and recovered evidence supporting the crime. Onteks’ whereabouts are unknown and detectives have obtained a warrant for his arrest. Anyone with information regarding this investigation or Onteks’ current location is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Station at 760-366-4175.


A Yucca Valley man was arrested Friday, accused of punching his son. According to a Sheriff’s report, John Ligon, 43, was arguing with his son at a neighbor’s house. The report states Ligon kicked open the door, then went inside and grabbed his son by the hair and punched him in the face. John Ligon was arrested for investigation of child abuse and booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with bail set at $50,000.


If you have ever thought about joining the hard-working volunteers on the stage and backstage at Theatre 29, auditions are coming up this Sunday. Reporter Mike Lipsitz puts out the call…
At Theatre 29 the 2014 season will open with Oscar Wilde’s comical classic, “The Importance of being Earnest.” Director Butch Pelfrey will hold auditions at 4 p.m. Sunday, November 17 at Theatre 29, in Twentynine Palms. Pelfrey looks to cast four women and five men ages 20 to 60ish. ALL parts are open for audition. Audition dialogues are posted at A backstage crew will also be selected during the November 17th auditions. Anyone interested in working behind the scenes should plan to attend. Theatre 29 is an all-volunteer non-profit Community Theater organization. “The Importance of Being Earnest” will run from January 10th through February 8th with 12 performances over five weekends. Tickets can be reserved at or by calling the Box Office at 760-361-4151.


Small business owners, and those hoping to start their own business, can get advice and information at an expo at Copper Mountain College Thursday the 14th. Representatives from SCORE, a non-profit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals, will be at the Bell Center Community Room from 9 a.m. to noon. SCORE volunteers represent over 60 different industries and can offer expertise in many different fields, and will be able to give an overview of the services they offer. Counselors will also be on hand to offer one-on-one consultations. The cost to attend is $5. Refreshments will be provided. The event is sponsored by the Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms Chambers of Commerce.


The Santa Fe Social Clubhouse in Yucca Valley will be continuing their Rummage Sale on Tuesday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. It’s a blow out sale so make an offer! Call the Clubhouse at 760-369-4057 if you have any questions. The Clubhouse will be closed today for Veteran’s Day.


While San Bernardino County staff was preparing a draft ordinance intended to govern commercial solar energy generation in the County, a local group, working at the behest of Supervisor James Ramos’ office, generated its own Renewable Energy Analysis. Reporter Dan Stork says, the BEAT goes on…

The Basin Energy Assessment Team (BEAT), which has been meeting since July in the Joshua Tree offices of Supervisor James Ramos, has issued a report titled “Renewable Energy Analysis.” Ramos’ staff sought input from community “stakeholders” to complement the work of County planners during the County’s moratorium on commercial solar energy development, and to help inform the Board of Supervisors on future decisions. The report identified 12 of the BEAT participants (there were a few more). Of the 12, eight are either members of the Board, or advisors to, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, with one of the other four being a realtor (James Simpson). At a meeting with five of the participants – Seth Shteir, Meg Foley, Victoria Fuller, Mickey Luckman, Marina West — we asked how their report related to the draft ordinance on solar energy development that was discussed recently by the County Planning Commission. National Park Conservation Association representative Seth Shteir, a member of the group, said that the County ordinance was a good start, but lacked specificity. Examples given by the group included: The ordinance calls for avoidance of wildlife corridors, but doesn’t say who gets to define what a wildlife corridor is. Also, the ordinance calls for the use of “sufficient” water for dust control, but doesn’t quantify reasonable water use, which can vary by project. In an area where the ordinance is specific, the BEAT report calls for 30-mile Recreational Tourism Zones with no industrial renewable energy development around Joshua Tree National Park and other public and conservation lands; the ordinance wants a two-mile buffer around a smaller number of places. The BEAT report also recommends renewable energy projects in the “built environment,” such as warehouse and residential rooftops and parking structures. The ordinance is expected to come before the County Board of Supervisors during December.

Click here to read the Draft Solar Ordinance. Visit the Desert Renewal Energy Conservation Reports website at


Students at both Yucca Valley High and Twentynine Palms High Schools are doing their part to help the less fortunate of the Morongo Basin. The Twentynine Palms school group, Teens for Humanity, are collecting new and used coats that will be given out to those in need on November 23 in the school’s parking lot starting at noon. To donate a coat, or join the school’s Teens for Humanity organization, contact Mrs. Lee Briggs at Twentynine Palms High School, 760-367-9591.

At Yucca Valley High School, the S Club, a service club sponsored by Soroptimist International of Yucca Valley, is holding a food drive at the school. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are competing to see which class can collect the most holiday-themed food during the month of November. Collection boxes for the public are in the high school’s front office. Food will be distributed to needy families at the end of November. For more information, call 760-365-3391.


Top academic honors for some students at Twentynine Palms High School. Managng Editor Tami Roleff has the kudos…
Several Twentynine Palms High School students received honors recently for their academic achievements. Suhas Arehalli scored in the top three percent of students nationally on the National Merit Scholarship test. He also received a perfect 600 score on the science portion of the California standards test last April. Ryan Crow was recognized as an AP Scholar with Honor following his performance on advanced placement exams last May. Heather Centner was recognized by Cal State San Bernardino as one of the top one percent students in the County. Centner also received a perfect 600 on her math portion of the California Standards test. Other students earning perfect scores of 600 on the California standards test were Joshua Elmer, Kevin Johnson, and Lauren Tuck in science, and Jake Culver in math.


The Twentynine Palms Varsity Wildcats won their record setting 9th consecutive Battle of the Bell football game, defeating the visiting Trojans from Yucca Valley 21-0 Friday night at Tom Nicoll Stadium. The Wildcats used a dominating defensive performance on Senior night to shut out the Trojans. The Wildcats rushed for more than 230 yards and three rushing touchdowns. TPHS ran up their win total to 29 victories, compared to 17 for the Trojans in a series, which began in 1968. The Wildcats secured their 12th playoff appearance in the last 13 seasons, and their 9thconsecutive CIF appearance. The Wildcats will now travel to face St. Margaret’s on the road in Orange County in the first round of the East Valley CIF playoff bracket. The Wildcats will play a 7 p.m. game Friday night at St. Margaret’s High School in San Juan Capistrano. Pre-Sale tickets will be available at the High School for the contest. No football report was made available from Yucca Valley High School.