About two dozen citizens gave the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors their views on the proposed ordinance regulating commercial solar power generation projects, with about half doing so via the teleconferencing facility in Joshua Tree. Reporter Dan Stork observed proceedings from the county government building in Joshua Tree and files this report…
The public hearing on the commercial solar ordinance began with a summary of the measure by Teri Rayhal, from the County’s Land Use Services Department. She said that the focus of her staff in preparing the ordinance was to define criteria for suitable sites, to reduce or minimize impacts, and to establish standards. The ordinance sets a fee of $157 per acre per year for projects of 15 or more acres. Rayhal added that the ordinance is the first step in the regulation process, to be followed by an update to the County’s General Plan in 2015.
During the public comment period, many speakers expressed qualified approval of the ordinance—or at least of the process leading to it—with many specific reservations. Among the concerns raised by environmentalists were the inclusion of RL (Rural Living) land zones among those in which solar projects may be sited; the interpretation of “significant impacts”; how protected wildlife corridors are to be determined; water usage standards; how the ordinance will be applied in the interim before amendment of the County General Plan; lack of details relating to wind hazards and dust control; the extent of the public notification radius around projects; and the shortness of the public review period.
A Southern California Edison representative asked that publicly regulated utilities be exempted from the ordinance. A solar developer and a ranch owner who has contracted for a project on his property questioned how the fee will be determined. Following public comment, the Supervisors voted 4-0 (with Janice Rutherford absent) to approve the ordinance, with final approval scheduled for the next meeting, December 17. With approval comes the end of the moratorium on project development, despite the pleas by several speakers to extend it.


The California Highway Patrol is searching for the driver involved in a hit-and-run accident last week that injured a Joshua Tree woman. According to a CHP press release, a dark colored Ford Explorer was traveling eastbound on Highway 62 in the left lane about 4:05 p.m. on Friday, November 29, when the driver changed lanes, forcing a gray Chevy Cavalier driven by Gilda Donche off the highway. Donche’s Cavalier struck the rear of an MBTA bus that was stopped on the shoulder at Sunburst Avenue. Donche suffered moderate injuries as a result of the collision and was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. None of the bus passengers was injured. The driver of the Ford Explorer fled eastbound on the highway toward Twentynine Palms. Witnesses tried to follow, but were unable to keep up with the speeding vehicle. Anyone with information about the driver of the Ford Explorer or the crash should call the CHP at 760-366-3707.


Marine Corps air and ground units will be conducting combined live-fire exercises aboard the base beginning today through December 16. Depending on atmospheric conditions, the sound of the explosions may be amplified. The Marine Corps has established a website for residents to file reports on the sounds from the exercises. The website can be found with this story at


After literally years of conception, planning, and construction, the new Yucca Valley Animal Shelter will open next week. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says the transition starts Friday…
Yucca Valley’s new animal shelter will open the week of December 9. In order to transition to the new facility, the shelter will be closed Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7. Regular shelter hours will resume on Tuesday, December 10, at the new facility, which is across the street from the existing building, at 4755 Malin Way. Telephone and Internet communication for the Animal Shelter and Animal Control will be intermittent through the final three-day, transition period, so visitors on Thursday, December 5, should be prepared for cash-only transactions. The Yucca Valley Animal Shelter will be available by appointment only Friday and Saturday for pet owners to retrieve impounded animals. Call the shelter at 760-365-3111 to arrange a meeting time to pick up your pet or to report a lost or found pet. Messages may also be left at Yucca Valley Town Hall at 760-369-7207 extension 227 or extension 235. Shelter staff will retrieve messages as available throughout the transition period. Those requiring emergency animal assistance during this time should call Animal Control at 760-365-1807 or San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dispatch at 760-365-2364.


This Saturday, December 7, Twentynine Palms letter carriers will be picking up food for their annual Christmas food drive. Residents are asked to leave food in or by their mailbox for the letter carrier to pick up. Please no glass. Residents who have post office boxes can bring food to the post office to give to the clerks. All food collected will go to the local food pantry located at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Their goal this year is to collect 3,500 pounds of food.


With a hard freeze warning in effect tonight, and some snow a possibility later this week, Reporter Taylor Thacker has some reminders about winter driving…
Winter weather is on its way! Driving in snow and rain during the winter times are extremely dangerous. Here are some tips for safe driving this winter season. Don’t pass snow plows or sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility and the road in front of them is probably worse than the road behind. Give them room. Decrease your speed and allow plenty of room to stop so you don’t crash into the car in front of you. Brake gently to avoid skidding. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle any condition. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter problems during winter conditions. Lastly, pack a winter safety kit. Include blankets, water, food, candles, matches, ice scraper, radio, batteries, and a rope. For more information, go to


The Morongo Basin Historical Society will hold a museum marketplace Saturday, December 7 at the historical society’s home in Landers.  The sale will be held inside, and will feature new vendors who will be selling silver jewelry, crafts, jellies, as well as our antiques, collectibles, household items, Christmas decorations, local history books, and gently used clothes. The new winter hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Morongo Basin Historical Society museum marketplace is located on the grounds of the Vernette Landers House, home of the original Landers Post Office, at 632 Landers Lane.


The school board meeting last night mostly stuck to its agenda of budget report, student achievement plan presentations, school recognition, and policy updates. There were a couple of surprises, as Dan Stork reports…
In an early workshop, Assistant Superintendent Dave Price led the Board of Education through the first interim budget report for the current school year. Price said that the Morongo Unified School District remains in good fiscal health, and will be able to meet its obligations for the current year and the succeeding year, which is the statement required for this report. The report was affected by the LCFF—the Local Control Funding Formula—the new approach to school funding, which will be phased in over several years. Price said the LCFF will ultimately be a simpler funding mechanism, but the transition will be complicated.
In the regular meeting of the Board, Condor Elementary School and La Contenta Middle School were recognized for large increases in API scores over three years. A group of five students from La Contenta Middle School performed several musical selections. Single Plans for Student Achievement from Morongo Valley, Landers, and Yucca Mesa Elementary Schools, and Twentynine Palms Junior High School presented in the early workshop were approved, as were several changes in Board policies and Bylaws, and the annual report on the use of developers’ fees.
During public comment, a contingent of parents expressed alarm over impending cuts to the junior varsity baseball program at Yucca Valley High School. The “cuts” were unknown to the Board and District staff, which promised to investigate the source of the reports. Rejection by the state of standardized scores at Oasis Elementary School, due to a teacher’s error during administration of tests, has been successfully appealed. Scores for Oasis will be issued in February.


A holiday craft fair, with 30 local crafters, will be held at the Twentynine Palms Junior High School’s gym. The craft fair is open to everyone, but is especially designed to help children and those on a limited budget. Local crafters will sell their items for $10 or less. The craft fair will be 9 to 3 on Saturday, December 7. Santa will be present from 10 to 1 with treats and a photo.


The Twentynine Palms High School Baseball team is gearing up for the season. ROP Broadcast student Nathaniel Thomas spoke with Coach Brian Sosa……
Twentynine Palms High School is getting an early start on the baseball season this year. Coach Sosa was interviewed and asked about his views on the team so far. “Right now, not all the kids are out on the field. This time some are in other sports. But as of right now, the young men that we do have out they seem to be getting along real well, they’re trusting in each other and they’re believing in our goal so far this year, which is to get better every day, and to learn and grow as a team.” The Wildcats might just go far this year.


The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojan basketball team notched their first win of the season with a 75-69 victory over Carter High School of Rialto last night in a second-round game in the West Valley Tip-Off Classic in Hemet. Coach Jess Geeson said the local girls were led by junior Ashley Priest’s 21 points. Also scoring in double figures was freshman Taylor Spitz with 15 points; senior Hannah Hughes and junior Yvonne Tran both added 10 points each. The win evens the team’s record to 1-1 on the season with a third round tournament game Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. against Heritage High School from Menifee.

Monday night the Yucca Valley High School Trojan boys’ soccer team took care of business versus Silver Valley in the first game of the season, winning 8-1. The team moved the ball well and worked out the first game jitters early and freshman Abel Rodriguez scored the first goal of the season in the 18th minute. Coach Tee Vallo said scoring continued all game, seeing five different Trojans score. Seniors Andy Lopez and Jonathan Teague both had one goal. Junior Paul Desilets had a great game at defense and recorded two goals, and senior forward Logan Vallo capped off the night with a three-goal hat trick. Abel Rodriguez, Haelen O’Donnell and Juan Sillas all recorded assists.

In high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School girls’ soccer team will be participating in the first day of a three-day tournament in Desert Mirage. The Twentynine Palms girls’ basketball team will be participating in the two-day West Valley Tournament.