A deal has been made to preserve most of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area while still allowing the Marines to conduct exercises in the area. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 would preserve about 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley while allowing the Marines to expand the Twentynine Palms Marine Base into a portion of Johnson Valley, and ending the threat of military expansion to the remaining off-road area. The Marines would be allowed to use a portion of the nearly 100,000 acre Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area for a maximum of 60 days per year, and the area would be open to the off-road community for recreational use during the remaining 305 days. The new Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area is nearly as large as the Imperial Sand Dunes at Glamis and is explicitly designated for off-highway vehicle use under the new law. Included in this area is the entire “Hammers” area, (both the front and back side), Spooners, Aftershock, Sunbonnet, the Riffle Monument, and the Cal200 Memorial (The Rockpile). The majority of the Fry Mountains and full access to Soggy Dry Lake Bed are also guaranteed for off-highway vehicle use, as well as access to Emerson Dry Lake Bed. The famed “King of the Hammers” Race, which draws over 30,000 people to Johnson Valley every year, will continue under the new bill. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that OHV users in Johnson Valley currently generate more than $71 million annually for local economies. The Marine Corps said in a statement that Marines will now be able to conduct fully integrated, live-fire exercises based on current training requirements, while still preserving safe public access for Off-Highway Vehicle recreation in Johnson Valley. Political leaders from U.S. senators and Congressmen Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, to Third County Supervisor James Ramos, to the mayors of Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley, praised the compromise bill.


The Yucca valley Town Council heard some good budgetary news at their Tuesday meeting. Managing Editor Tami Roleff gets out her calculator…
The Yucca Valley Town Council received some good news about its budget at its meeting Tuesday night. Revenue exceeded the final budget by more than $600,000, and expenditures were more than $350,000 less than budgeted. Staff told the Council the excess revenue was due to property tax revenues being higher than anticipated, the majority of it due to one-time dissolution funds from the redevelopment agency and property taxes for transitioned properties to the Town. In addition, the Town’s animal shelter received a bequest of more than $300,000. Expenditures were less due to staff reductions and other cost-savings measures the Town took near the end of the fiscal year, and less-than-expected overtime charges from the Sheriff’s Department. Finally, an audit of the Town’s books for the 2012-13 fiscal year resulted in an “unqualified” opinion, which actually means the Town has sound fiscal policies, procedures and financial management.


The County coroner has released the name of the woman who was killed during a high-speed pursuit Monday night. Deputies had attempted to stop Janice Richardson, 55, of Yucca Valley, about 9:20 Monday night for reckless driving near Palm Drive and Highway 62, when she fled through residential neighborhoods, driving at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. She got back on the highway at Kickapoo and sped westbound on the highway at speeds of 130 miles per hour. Sheriff’s Sergeant James Porter said as she reached the first curve at the top of the Morongo Grade, Richardson lost control of her car, which hit the center divider, and overturned. Richardson was ejected from the vehicle and killed on impact. Janice Richardson was the sole occupant of the car. The pursuing deputies had backed off the pursuit prior to Richardson entering the grade and so did not witness the crash, but came upon it several seconds after it occurred. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating.


At an Emergency meeting yesterday, the Hi-Desert Medical Center Board announced the new hospital CEO Administrator. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the new hospital boss is a familiar face…
Hi-Desert Medical Center Board of Directors has named a new chief executive officer. Following a closed session meeting late yesterday afternoon, the board announced that Chief Financial Officer Robert Tyk will move to the position of CEO effective January 1. In a statement following the announcement, Tyk said he looks forward to working with the board, physicians and staff to ensure the viability and future of the District. Search for a new CEO began the first of November, following the announcement of a mutually agreed upon parting between present CEO Lionel “Chad” Chadwick and the District. Robert Tyk joined the medical center as top financial officer last January; he has served in the industry as a CFO for 35 years. Tyk will continue with CFO duties as he takes on the additional responsibility as the District’s top administrator.


The Morongo Basin Democratic Club meets this Saturday morning at Bruce’s Coyote Kitchen on the Copper Mountain College campus in Joshua Tree. Fellowship and a $10 full breakfast begin at 9 a.m.; the regular meeting begins at 10 a.m. On the agenda is a brief review of the year, followed by a workshop to establish the Club’s priorities for the election year ahead. Input from area Democrats is essential so bring a friend. More information, links and resources are online at


The third Monday of the month is the day for most of the monthly distributions of surplus Federal food in the Morongo Basin. Reporter Dan Stork has the times and places…
The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino will distribute surplus food to low-income residents of the Morongo Basin Monday, December 16th. The locations and times are: The Church of the Lighted Cross, at 11518 Elbow Lane in Morongo Valley, from 8 to 10; Belfield Hall, on Reche Road in Landers, 8:30 to 10:30; The Community Center in Yucca Valley, 8:30 to 10:30; Copper Mountain Mesa Foundation, 65336 Winter Road in the Copper Mountain area, 9 to 11; Joshua Tree Community Center on Sunburst Road, 9 to 11; The fire station in Wonder Valley, 10:30 to 11:30; and Little Church of the Desert at 6079 Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms, from 10 to noon.
There will also be distributions at the Way Station, 61722 Commercial Street in Joshua Tree, on Friday December 13, from 9 to noon, and at the American Food Bank, 55922 Twentynine Palms Highway in Yucca Valley, on December 31, from 11 to 1. Recipients should bring their own paper or plastic bags. The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to serve the low-income families, elderly, disadvantaged and homeless of the county. For more information, call 909-723-1580.


The TLC Love notes will be at Starbucks Friday, December 13, from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. TLC is gearing up for the 30th annual TLC event which includes 150-foot all-you-can-eat buffet, entertainment, Santa and gifts, food boxes,  clothing and much much more. Come have a cup of coffee, sing, sign up to volunteer or drop off a donation. For more information call Mara Cantelo at 333-2413.


The 29 Palms Historical society will present a lecture Friday night about “The Accidental Artist”. Reporter Taylor Thacker explains…….
The 29 Palms Historical Society presents the story of Ricardo Breceda, the accidental artist. Ten short years ago, Breceda was an injured construction worker making a living selling boots. Now, his famous and metal sculptures are found across the globe, from Canada to Australia with over 125 scattered through Borrego Valley, including his bighorn sheep sculptures which adorn the intersection of Highway 62 and National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms. Join biographer and photographer Diana Lindsey as she recounts how Breceda became a renowned artist with no previous art training or even an interest in art. This event takes place on Friday, December 13, at 7:00 p.m. at the Old Schoolhouse Museum in 29 Palms. There will be an optional dinner with the speaker at 5:00 p.m. at the 29 Palms Inn. Space is limited so sign up now! For more information, or to sign up, call 760-361-1202.


Twentynine Palms High School is unique in the wide range of cultures represented by their students. Tomorrow at 12:30 they will celebrate their diversity with the annual “International festival.” ROP Students Trinity Toomalatai spoke with organizer, teacher Derek Keith…
There is an event called International Festival that is coming up in the beginning of December, and the new director is very excited to organize this event. Mr. Keith is getting ready to prepare how things are going to be set up. When I asked Mr. Keith, what the importance of International Festival was, he said, “The importance of this day is to celebrate the different cultures our school has to offer.” I also asked Mr. Keith what the International Festival means to him. He answered, “Well, there are three reasons what International Festival means to me. First reason, is that our American heritage, we easily forgets where we come from, so this gives us the opportunity to remember where we come from. The next reason is that the school takes one day out of the entire year to focus on what is being appreciated in different cultures, and last, but not least, he really loves to eat him some food.” Well, there you have it.


The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojan basketball team suffered a close loss Tuesday night, 35-30 to the San Jacinto Tigers in Trojan Gym. Coach Jess Geson said senior Hannah Hughes put in eight points to lead Yucca Valley while freshman Taylor Spitz followed with seven points.

The Yucca Valley High School boys soccer team beat Imperial Tuesday 4-1. Coach Tee Vallo said the defense, along with senior keeper Victor Garcilazo, played hard and stopped Imperial from getting into scoring positions. Senior midfielder Andres Lopez had two great assists to senior forward Logan Vallo on the night. Standouts were: senior Logan Vallo, three goals; junior Haelan O’Donnell, one goal; senior Andres Lopez two assists; freshman Oscar Hernandez, one assist.

The Yucca Valley High School girls’ soccer team traveled to take on Xavier Prep High School Wednesday afternoon. The Lady Trojans fought hard but came up short against the Desert Valley League champions. Coach Scott Phillips said senior Teresa Nava scored a goal with freshman Alexia Missett providing the assist. Next up is a home game against Silver Valley High School on Friday in Trojan Stadium at 3:15 p.m. with the boys’ soccer team to follow at 5:00 p.m.

The Twentynine Palms High School girls’ soccer team will hold a pancake breakfast Saturday, at the Twentynine Palms Senior Center. The cost is $5 and includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a drink. Tickets are available at the door.

In high school sports today, the Yucca Valley High School girls’ basketball team will host San Jacinto High School at home, starting at 6 p.m.