The Yucca Valley Town Council changed the order of its meeting last night, so that the 15 people who there to speak during public comment wouldn’t have to wait until the end of a four-hour meeting to do so. In the first of a two-part story, Managing Editor Tami Roleff says the speakers tried to persuade the Council members to change their minds about medical marijuana. Tomorrow, the rest of the meeting…


Brian Nicholson, operator of the California Alternative Medicinal Solutions, was one of 14 speakers who asked the Town Council at its meeting Tuesday night to allow the medical marijuana dispensary to reopen.

Residents from across the Morongo Basin pleaded with the Yucca Valley Town Council during its meeting last night to allow the only legal medical marijuana dispensary to reopen. California Alternative Medicinal Solutions, or CAMS, was forced to close its doors December 6 as a result of a Town ordinance passed three years ago that allowed it to operate until then. Lanny Swerdlow, the founder of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project said closing CAMS will put residents in danger. “I would strongly urge that you allow the collective that had been operating here to open up again as soon as possible because patients here are either going to go on the black market or drive down to Palm Springs; they’re not going to go without.” Brian Nicholson, who operated CAMS on Wamego Trail, told the Council there’s been no crime at his dispensary. “I’ve operated for three years with no issues, everything has been great.” Only one resident, Jamie Anderson, urged the Council not to allow the dispensary to reopen. Since the item was not on the agenda, the Council took no action, nor did any council member request that the issue be brought back for a second look.


The few local residents who addressed the County Board of Supervisors were cautiously approving of the new solar development ordinance. Dan Stork describes their last requests…
Since it was a consent agenda item, and no Supervisor requested additional discussion, the San Bernardino County ordinance on commercial solar development was approved without further debate at the Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday. But several Morongo Basin residents, speaking from the teleconferencing site in Joshua Tree, requested some specific considerations in its implementation. National Parks Conservation Association representative Seth Shteir asked that wildlife corridors already identified for other purposes be used when evaluating commercial solar sites, and promoted the notion of Recreational Tourism Zones to establish more protected areas. Pat Flanagan cautioned against dust hazards during windstorms, if ground disturbance is excessive. Almut Fleck asked for greater scrutiny on water usage for cleaning panels. Julian Gonzalez asked for greater discrimination in the RL (Rural Living) category of zoning when evaluating solar sites. Supervisor Janice Rutherford, who was absent from the public hearing on the issue on December 3, registered her opposition to the ordinance, because she did not like the fee structure that it puts in place.


San Bernardino County firefighters remind residents not to smoke in bed. Fire Captain Mark Murphy said Joshua Tree firefighters were called out about 6:50 this morning to the 62000 block of Mountain View Circle to put out a small fire caused by a man smoking in a sleeping bag. The duplex suffered mostly smoke damage in the bedroom.


The Morongo Valley CSD gets down to work with their newly formed board tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says the CSD will reorganize and look at user fees…
At tonight’s regular 7 p.m. meeting of the Morongo Valley Community Services District, new board members Karen Lowe and Gayl Swarat, and incumbent Kristine Brook will take the oath of office followed by election of board officers and parks and fire commissioners. Then among items on the action agenda, the board will consider a revised fee schedule for facility rentals, as well as some policy revisions with respect to use of district vehicles, staff levels, financial reports, and public comment as it relates to the Brown Act. Then following a closed session in connection with potential litigation, the board will hear nominations for the Chuck Osborne Volunteer of the Year Award. Those actions and others follow regular reports and items on the consent agenda. It all happens in the Covington Park Multi-Purpose Room. As always, the public is invited to attend.


The county fire stations here in the Morongo Basin are joining the 21st century. According to Fire Captain Mark Murphy, the firefighters/paramedics in Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Yucca Mesa are in a pilot group and are among the first in San Bernardino County to transition their record-keeping from pen and paper to digital tablet computers. Captain Murphy wants to assure residents that paramedics are NOT checking their Facebook page when they’re typing away on their tablets. The firefighters have been receiving training for the transition to the tablets and Murphy said they are excited to be in the digital age.


Get out your secret recipe for chili; a chili cook-off at Copper Mountain College this Friday will end with someone winning a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle. Managing Editor Tami Roleff will be there…
Your last chance to buy a raffle ticket for a 2013 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle is Friday, when the winning ticket will be drawn during a chili cook-off at Copper Mountain College. Entries for the chili cook-off should be dropped off between 4 and 5 p.m. at the Bell Center at the college; judging will begin at 5 p.m., and prizes will be awarded for best chili. The evening will include live music by Spankshaft and last-minute opportunities to purchase a $20 raffle ticket for the motorcycle. Tickets may also be purchased before Friday from Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Twentynine Palms Rotarians, at the Z107.7 studio in Joshua Tree, at the CMC Foundation office, Pacific Western Bank in Yucca Valley, Desert Cycle Works, Freedom Motorcycle, and online at cmccd.edu/foundation website. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn at 7 p.m. The winner need not be present to win. If you can’t attend the chili cook-off, listen to the live broadcast at Z107.7 FM or online at z1077fm.com.


The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting was enlivened by protests from representatives of the Morongo Teachers Association. Dan Stork explains…
During the public comment opportunity at the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education meeting, Terri Weitz, the president of the Morongo Teachers Association, protested about the date set for discussion of sunshine items for this year’s collective bargaining discussions. She said that February is too late to begin the discussions that follow selection of issues. Superintendent Cecelia English said she would review the schedule this week. Weitz went on to criticize a purported “sweetheart deal” that would pay administrators a bonus for work done on preparation of certain reports. Certificated employee representative Jason Bolt added his voice to the protest. Assistant Superintendent Tom Baumgarten said that compensation for extra work done last year had been discussed, but no payments had been decided upon or made. In scheduled business, the District received a clean report from independent auditors for its financial records. The Board heard and approved another set of Single Plans for Student Achievement for four schools, and were entertained by the Twentynine Palms Junior High School Choir. In its annual reorganization, the Board selected Ron Palmer to succeed Chris Proudfoot as its president. Other assignments: Karalee Hargrove, legislative representative; Ed Will, representative to the County Committee on School District Organization; Donna Munoz, clerk of the Board.


The Twentynine Palms Water District Board meets tonight. Reporter Taylor Thacker says they will look at both Water and Fire business…
Today, Wednesday, December 18, the Water District and Fire Department will have their monthly meetings. Starting at 6:00 p.m., the Water District will consider and possibly approve the purchase of Wachs Valve Exerciser and the Financial and Utility Billing Contract. Also, the Directors will partake in the election of officers. Immediately following is the Fire Department meeting where they will just discuss the consent calendar and department reports. There are no new agenda items. The public is invited and welcome to attend. Both meetings take place at 72401 Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information call 760-367-7546.

The Joshua Basin Water District Board will meet tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says among items of interest is a look at new fees for unused water meters…
The Joshua Basin Water District the board will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. tonight in the District office on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree. In addition to election of officers, the board will consider a fiscal 2012/2013 audit report, another rate study, purchase of some computer equipment, and look at charging a fee for pulled and inactive meters. Those possible actions will precede committee reports and a closed session in connection with hiring of a general manager and some legal concerns.

The Hi-Desert Water District Board meets tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff checks that agenda…
The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors will meet at 6:00 tonight at District offices in Yucca Valley. Among the items on the agenda, the board will elect new officers. Next the board will review the current purchasing policy, and it will be asked to approve the purchase of a new dump truck for $95,000. The Board will then hear an update on the wastewater project, an update on the strategic plan, followed by staff and director reports.


The TLC Love Notes are recruiting people to go caroling with them in Yucca Valley this Friday, December 20. The TLC Love Notes plan to sing Christmas carols in the 7500 block of Condalia Avenue from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and collect donations for Tender Loving Christmas. The neighborhood is lit up like “Deck the Halls” with more than 30,000 lights displayed. There’ll be hot cocoa too. Condalia Avenue is located behind the old Stater Brothers on the west end of Yucca Valley, between Sage Avenue and Joshua Lane.


The Yucca Valley High School basketball Trojans fought hard for a victory but fell to the San Jacinto Tigers by a score a 63-57. Coach Gilbert Berry said senior Captain Lawrence Mays suffered an injury in the second quarter and never returned. The team rallied around each other and fought until the last second but came up short. Although leading most of the game and by three at halftime, Yucca Valley High School couldn’t put the Tigers away, and the Tigers eventually won by wearing the Trojans down.

Coming up in high school sports today, the Yucca Valley High School boys’ and girls’ soccer teams play Sultana High School from Hesperia. The girls host at home, with game time starting at 6 p.m. The boys are away, with game time at 6:30.

Also today, the Twentynine Palms High School girls’ basketball team travels away to Yucaipa High School. Game time is 6 p.m.