Two deputies escaped serious injury when their patrol cars collided Wednesday evening. About 6:35, the two cars were traveling westbound on Highway 62 at Arizona Street, just east of the CHP station, when one unit was rear-ended by the other. One patrol car rolled over, landing on its roof in the desert on the south side of the highway. The other patrol unit came to a stop on the north shoulder of the highway. Both deputies had to be extricated using the Jaws of Life, and were taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center. One deputy, Brandon Abell, suffered just minor injuries; the second deputy, who has not been identified, had more serious injuries, but both were treated and released. Highway 62 was closed in both directions until just after 9 p.m. Traffic was diverted onto dirt roads south of the hospital and Sheriff’s station. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.


The Morongo Basin’s first baby of 2014 was born at the Naval Hospital on board the Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Isaac David McKeown was born January 1 at 12:14 a.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. His parents are Casey McKeown and GySgt. Todd McKeown, a Marine with Installation Personnel Admin Center at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center.


As Theatre 29 begins its 15th year in operation, the volunteer Board of Directors has just completed its annual reorganization. Reporter Sara Snyder has this year’s Theatre 29 new officers…

The Board of Directors for the non-profit community theater organization, Theatre 29, held its yearly reorganization meeting December 10 and elected new officers and Board Members for 2014. Re-elected for two-year terms were Cindy Daigneault, Gary Daigneault, Marty Neider, Mandi Pushkar, and Frances Wright. Cindy Ross, who had served as the Board Secretary and a Board member in past years, was elected to fill a seat vacated by Tom Highfill. They will join incumbent board members Brian Tabeling, Kathryn Ferguson, Ken Palmer, Mary Phelps, and Robin Schmelling. In reorganizing for 2014, the board of directors voted unanimously to re-elect Brain Tabeling as the Board President for a fourth term, Gary Daigneault was named as vice-president, Robin Schmelling as Board Secretary, and Francis Wright as Treasurer. Beyond executive decisions, it takes a lot of detailed work to run the Theatre.

To that end, committee assignments were made:

Facilities Manager (Theatre 29 physical plant) – Ken Palmer
Technical Bridge Area – Ken Palmer
Outside, Shop and Storage Areas – Francis Wright
Stage Area Manager – Brian Tabeling
Box Office Operations / Mailing List Manager – Mandi Pushar
Publicity – Gary Daigneault
Sponsorship and Patrons – Cindy Daigneault
Security – Ken Palmer
Program Advertisement Sales – Cindy Daigneault
Snack Bar Manager – Brian Tabeling
Historian – Judy Andreshak
Props and Costumes Storage – Mary Phelps
Volunteer Coordinator – Marty Neider
Insurance Coordinator – Robin Schmelling

Named to 2014 Theatre 29 Board Committees were:

Play Selection Committee, Chair, Kathryn Ferguson – Gary Daigneault, Robin Schmelling, Marty Neider, and Frances Wright

Building Committee, Chair, Gary Daigneault – Brian Tabeling, and Ken Palmer.

Special Events Committee (Gala and Dinner) Chair, Kathy Ferguson – Cindy Daigneault and Robin Schmelling

Longtime volunteer and former board member Charles Harvey will continue to oversee all the graphics and printing for programs, posters, flyers and brochures through his Harvey Multi-Media Productions. Retired long-time former Board member Judy Andreshak will remain as the organizations Historian.


A Twentynine Palms man was arrested early Monday morning after his ex-girlfriend said he came to her home and beat her up. According to a Sheriff’s report, Ethan Saleem, 21, of the 4000 block of Hilltop Drive, went to the home of his ex-girlfriend, in the 7500 block of Palm Avenue in Yucca Valley. The two started arguing about 5:30 Monday morning, and the woman told police Saleem slapped her in the face five to 10 times, giving her a fat lip, abrasions, and pain in her eye. Ethan Saleem was arrested for investigation of domestic battery, booked at the Morongo basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.


Several highly-visible and (mostly) highly-compensated administrative positions in public agencies turned over this year. Dan Stork says you can’t tell the players without a scorecard…
The parade of changes in the highest-level administrative posts in public agencies in the Morongo Basin began in March, when Tamara Alaniz became the General Manager of the Twentynine Palms Water District. That post had become vacant when Mike Wright retired the previous year. In April, Richard Warne exited as City Manager of Twentynine Palms in a move initially described as retirement, but which was in actuality a firing. He was quickly replaced by Joe Guzetta, who vacated the post of General Manager of the Joshua Basin Water District to seize the opportunity. The Joshua Basin job remained unfilled at year’s end. In the Morongo Unified School District, James Majchrzak was succeeded as Superintendent in July by Dr. Cecelia English. Dr. English’s contract had been approved by a bare 3-2 majority of the District Board of Education, and Majchrzak stayed on as a consultant until his official retirement at the end of the calendar year. Mark Nuaimi, whose compensation package had been a flashpoint in the effort to recall two Town Council members in Yucca Valley, was fired from the job of Town Manager by the Council in August. The Town Manager job remained vacant at year’s end. In October, it was announced that Lionel “Chad” Chadwick would end his tenure as the CEO of Hi-Desert Medical Center. The hospital board cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the separation, but Chadwick indicated he was simply stressed-out by the difficulties of the position. In December, HDMC Chief Financial Officer Robert Tyk moved up to the CEO Administrator position. Finally, in mid-December, General Manager Rick Lebel surprised the Morongo Valley Community Services District by announcing his retirement at the end of January.


And in more current news… Attention high school seniors: Applications are being taken for a prestigious local scholarship that can pay the entire cost of your college education. Z107.7’s Diana Jones tells you how to apply for the Greenleaf Scholarship from Copper Mountain College…
Local high school seniors are invited to apply for the Roy Greenleaf Jr. Scholarship sponsored by the Copper Mountain College Foundation. The scholarship will pay the winning applicant’s tuition, books, fees, and living expenses for his or her entire academic career, as long as the student attends Copper Mountain College for the first two years, and then any University of California or Cal State University school. The student is expected to enroll in Copper Mountain in 2014 and earn a degree in two years, after which time he or she may transfer to a UC or CSU school. The scholarship is open to all highly motivated and financially needy students who possess a strong determination to succeed, who demonstrate a desire to help others in their school, family and community, and who have an interest in serving the Morongo Basin upon completing their education. Application forms are available at all area high schools and at the Copper Mountain College Foundation office on campus. The deadline for application is February 12 by 3 p.m. The finalist will be notified in early March. For more information, contact the Foundation at 366-3791 extension 5012.


Reach Out Morongo Basin was awarded a $5,000 grant Monday from the Opus Community Foundation for its Senior Safety Program.


Opus Bank manager Jay Kanner from the Twentynine Palms branch presented the check to Reach Out Morongo Basin executive director Robin Schlosser, who expressed her appreciation and said Reach Out will use the funds to help seniors and the disabled remain in their homes.


There’s a great opportunity for public service for those who have the time to devote. Assignment reporter Katie Baker describes what it takes to be a grand juror…
Volunteers for the 2014-2015 San Bernardino County Grand Jury are now being requested. Successful applicants will serve as Grand Jurors for the period beginning July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2015. Applications will be accepted through February 28, 2014. To be eligible, a person must be at least 18 years old, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the County of San Bernardino for at least one year prior to appointment. Grand Jurors are also required to speak fluent English, be in possession of their natural faculties, and of sound judgment and good character. The County Grand Jury investigates all aspects of County, city and special district government. You can complete the application on-line at the Grand Jury’s website at


Some of our top stories of 2013 in local sports…
The Tri-Valley Little League 9-and 10-year-old girls’ softball team is the best in the state, after they won the state championship in July. The girls beat Crescenta Valley during the state play-offs, and then beat them again during the final round, for the state championship. The all-star team of 10 girls are undefeated, 9-and-0, in post-season play.

After years of planning and fund-raising, the Miracle Field in the Brehm Sports Park opened Memorial Day weekend in Yucca Valley. The field allows special-needs players to play sports safely.

Chaylin Couzens of Yucca Valley High School set the school record for the most goals and most assists in girls’ soccer, with 101 goals and 46 assists during her four years at YVHS. She scored in every game she played in high school, and scored four goals in at least one game in each of her four years at Yucca Valley High, and scored five goals during a game as a sophomore. Chaylin Couzens now plays soccer for California Baptist College in Riverside.