Sheriff deputies are investigating a fiery three-vehicle crash Sunday evening in Yucca Valley. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant Derek Garvin, Diane Findley, 62, of Joshua Tree, was driving an older mini pick-up truck eastbound on Highway 62 just east of Church Street about 9:15 p.m. when she made an unexpected U-turn. Garvin said during the U-turn, Findley’s truck was hit by a man driving eastbound in a Toyota Corolla. The impact disabled the Toyota in the highway’s eastbound fast lane. When smoke started coming out of the Corolla’s engine, the driver and his passenger were able to get out of the disabled car just in time. Garvin said the driver of an eastbound Pontiac Vibe didn’t see the crashed vehicles, and drove his Pontiac right into the smoking Toyota, which then burst into flames. Garvin said no one was seriously injured in the crash, and everyone was treated at the scene.


The National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze warning here in our Morongo Basin through tomorrow morning. With Temperatures in the 20’s, Reporter Taylor Thacker reminds you to watch for freezing pipes…
Standing water in pipes and hoses expands as it freezes, possibly causing pipes and hoses to break. Leaks due to freezing are usually not noticed immediately, which allows the water to run through the break and flood property. Here are some tips to prevent costly damages to your property. Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs and irrigation lines, are the most likely to freeze. Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses when not in use. Outdoor taps can be left on at a very slow trickle overnight to keep the water moving. If you plan to be away from home overnight, turn your water off at the meter box. Adjust the thermostat in the house before you leave so that interior water pipes will be protected from freezing. If a break does occur, turn the water off at the meter to prevent water loss and to allow the break to be repaired.


Morongo Basin Sheriff deputies arrested two people in separate chases Saturday. In Twentynine Palms, Deputy Shaunna Ables and Detective Heidi Hague attempted to stop a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero driven by James Jarrard, 37, of Twentynine Palms, for a minor equipment violation about 4:45 p.m. near El Paseo and Lorraine. Jarrard sped away, refusing to pull over for the patrol car’s lights and sirens. Sheriffs say Jarrard failed to stop at two stop signs, and reached speeds of more than 90 miles per hour as he drove through residential neighborhoods. After a two-mile pursuit, he finally abandoned his SUV near El Paseo Drive and Desert Knoll Avenue and fled on foot. James Jarrard was found hiding at a residence in the 74200 block of El Paseo Drive, for investigation of felony failure to yield, and booked into Morongo Basin Jail, with bail set at $100,000.

In Yucca Valley, deputies were finishing a search warrant at a home near Barron Drive and Camarilla Avenue about 9:30 p.m. when Thorn Mitchell, 22, of Joshua Tree drove by in an ’89 Toyota. The deputies began to follow Mitchell, who sped away on Barron. Mitchell turned onto Del Monte Avenue and crashed the Toyota into a fence and a tree. Mitchell, and his 17-year-old passenger bailed out of the car and fled on foot. The boy soon gave up and was arrested on a no-bail juvenile warrant. Mitchell was later found hiding under another vehicle in the 6300 block of Del Monte Avenue. Thorn Mitchell was arrested for investigation of failure to yield, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $100,000.


Two people were arrested Friday afternoon after drugs were found in their vehicle. Sheriff’s Sergeant Derek Garvin said deputies attempted to stop a 2003 Honda CR-V for a minor traffic violation at Hanford Avenue and Highway 62 about 2 p.m. A check of the vehicle’s license plate showed that the vehicle had been stolen. A search of the vehicle revealed drugs in the car. Landers residents Crystal Horath, 27, was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, and Bradley Mason, 32, for possession of dangerous drugs. Crystal Horath and Bradley Mason were booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with their bail set at $25,000 each.


In his address to the Basin Wide Foundation’s breakfast meeting on Thursday, Third District County Supervisor James Ramos marked his first year in office with a recap of accomplishments and a peek at future aims. Assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz has highlights…
Chief among accomplishments, Ramos described a new sense of cooperation among the five-member Board of Supervisors and he emphasized that impacts to our Morongo Basin are receiving prime consideration in board decisions. Among more tangible accomplishments, Ramos pointed to the Joshua Tree Video Conferencing Center where the public has been participating in county meetings remotely, he noted the newly formed regional Municipal Advisory Council which is allowing our diverse communities to come together with one voice, also the recent county-funded community clean ups, and the newly approved 32 conditions required for placing solar industry in sensitive rural environments. Looking ahead, Ramos touched on creative ways the county is looking to fill the voids created by elimination of the Supervisor’s discretionary funds and federal sequestration, such as a planned Internet drive with the goal of raising $300,000 for 150 non-profits in the county.


More than 300 people attended the opening night reception of the Joshua Tree National Park Art Show and Faire at the 29 Palms Art Gallery Friday evening. Four artists received an artist award and a check for $1000: Robert Fogel of Louisiana for his metal sculpture “High Blue Turquoise Seam;” David Green of Twentynine Palms for his acrylic painting, “Storm at Twilight;” John Greenfield of Yucca Valley for his ceramic sculpture, “Sedimental;” and Karine Swenson of Joshua Tree for her oil painting, “Confrontation.” Winner of the Artist of Distinction Award and a check for $2000 is John Tierney of England, for his oil painting, “Rocks, Joshua Tree #3.” The judge was Rhonda Coleman of the former Red Arrow Art Gallery in Joshua Tree. The art show featured the works of 50 artists from throughout the United States and England. The art faire featured vendor booths, demonstrations, live music, lectures, and nature walks Saturday and Sunday.


Having finished with installation and setting of priorities, the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council is ready for its first meeting in what should be its regular format. Assignment reporter Dan Stork has the agenda…
The December 9 meeting of the Big MAC starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Avenue. The regular features of the meeting include reports from the Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol, community reports from the individual members of the Council, and committee reports. For this meeting, the featured event will be a report from Ad Hoc Committee on Siting of Renewable Energy Projects, followed by review and adoption of the language of a recommendation letter to the county supervisors. There will also be an informational item on the Marine Base expansion in the Johnson Valley area.


A huge endorsement for former Yucca Valley Mayor Chad Mayes in his run for State Assembly. The influential Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, the deep-pocketed bargaining group representing more than 3,200 members of the county’s law enforcement, is backing Mayes 42nd Assembly race. “Public safety has been my top priority from my tenure on the Yucca Town Council and it remains so to this day,” Mayes said in a statement. “Knowing my record has earned the trust of the largest law enforcement organizations in each of the two counties contained in the 42nd District means a great deal to me.” Mayes, chief-of-staff for San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, and a resident of Yucca Valley, also secured the San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association endorsement earlier.


The Morongo Basin Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have experienced the death of a child, will hold their monthly meeting Wednesday evening 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Helen Gray Center on the campus of the Hi Desert Medical Center. The group is facilitated by Kristin Martin. For more information, please contact Martin at 760-250-7295 or visit the Hi-Desert Medical website at www.hdmc.org.


The California Highway Patrol is collecting toys to distribute to local needy children. Bring your new, unwrapped toy to the California Highway Patrol office in Joshua Tree or to the Yucca Valley Wal-Mart, pharmacy entrance. For more information, call CHP Officer Joan Griffin at 760-366-3707.


With the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” running through this weekend at Theatre 29, the hard-working volunteers are getting ready for their 2014 season opener. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says another classic, the Oscar Wilde Comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” has just been cast…
A cast of Theatre 29 veterans will return to the stage for the first show in the 2014 season, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde, and directed by another Theatre 29 veteran, Butch Pelfry. Called “A trivial comedy for serious people!” “The Importance of Being Earnest” was first performed in 1895, and is a tale of lost and found love and objects. Ben Bees, who starred in last year’s production of “Deathtrap,” is back as Jack Worthing. Cyrus Short, a natural comic actor, will portray Algernon Moncrieff. Multi-award winning director, music director, costumer, and performer Kathryn Ferguson will step back on the stage to play Lady Bracknell. Katie Van Sumeren, who starred as Gypsy Rose Lee in “Gypsy,” will play Gwendolen Fairfax. Lizzie Schmelling, who performed in nearly every play at Theatre 29 last year, is back as Cecily Cardew. Playing Miss Prism is Janet Peercy. Leonard Weber takes on the role of Mr. Chasuble, and Marv Schmelling will play Merriman, and Merriman’s twin, Lane. “The Importance of Being Earnest” will run for 12 shows from January 10 through February 8. Friday and Saturday night shows are 7:00 p.m. and Sunday Matinees on January 19 and February 2 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, call 760-361-4151.


The Yucca Valley High School Varsity Basketball team beat Coachella Valley Friday 88 to 64. Standouts were: Trenton Pecaro, with 20 points; Lawrence Mays, with 18 points; Ja Shawn White, 17 points; Thomas Geiger, with 15 points. The JV boys lost 35-79.

Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will host Imperial High School at home. The boys’ game starts at 3:15; the girls at 5 p.m.

The Yucca Valley High School Trojan wrestling team will host the Triple Dual wrestling meet at home tomorrow, starting at 5 p.m.

The Joshua Springs girls’ and boys’ basketball teams will host Desert Hot Springs at home; the girls start at 5, the boys at 6:30.