A controversial long-running lawsuit, which had divided many community members in Morongo Valley, is finally over. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was at last night’s Morongo Valley CSD Board meeting and files this report…
Following a mid-meeting closed session at last night’s regular meeting of the Morongo Valley Community Services District, President Johnny Tolbert announced the board had unanimously approved a negotiated settlement in a long-running case against the District. With that decision, former Morongo Valley Firefighter Chris Perez will drop his wrongful termination lawsuit against the CSD in exchange for a payment of $65,000, an amount roughly equal to one month’s operating expenses for the District. In other business, Standing Committee assignments were announced last night with Karen Lowe chairing Finance & Budget, Chuck Osborne chairing Parks & Grounds, and Gayl Swarat chairing the Facilities, Apparatus & Equipment Committee. Also noteworthy, outgoing General Manager Rick Lebel donated five oak trees, one for each director, that have been planted in Covington Park.


The Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce has chosen the theme for its 2014 Grubstake Days parade, and the parade’s Grand Marshal. The theme is “Honoring All Who Serve,” and the Grand Marshal will be 93-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor Clarence Lux. Lux served in the Navy aboard the USS Tennessee and was stationed at Pearl Harbor. He has been a resident of Yucca Valley since 1975. He was a volunteer at the Hi-Desert Medical Center. Lux was married to his wife, Lucia, from 1942 until her death in 2003. The Chamber is now looking for a logo to reflect the theme “Honoring ALL Who Serve.” The logo will be used on the Grubstake Days Parade awards and on materials marketing the event. Logo designs should be submitted to the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce by Friday, February 7. For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at 760-365-6323.


After waiting for more than a year, Joshua Tree fire fighters finally got a present for the new year—a brand new fire engine to replace their 14-year-old fire truck. The fire fighters made a caravan of their three trucks to San Bernardino to pick up the new engine and drove it back home to Station 36 on Park Boulevard last Thursday. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the fire fighters didn’t even make it back to their station in Joshua Tree before they were called out on a fire…


County Fire Captain Jon Garber, Engineer Dave Faller, and Fire Fighter Bryan Wharton with Station 36’s new fire engine.

“We were in service about five minutes and broke a structure fire on the first call.” County Fire Engineer Dave Faller said they responded to a fire in Yucca Valley January 9, in which a malfunctioning water heater started a fire in the garage. Fire Captain Jon Garber said the engine was in front of the Joshua Tree Playhouse when they got the call. “We pulled over, got dressed, and then went there.” Garber said the new engine came fully equipped with everything they need to fight fires, including some items they didn’t have on their old engine. “What we didn’t have on the other fire truck and we do now is our rope rescue gear.” The engine also has a pump system that lets it pump water out of pools or ponds, directly to its hoses, or to store in its 500-gallon water tank. Another new feature is a Stokes basket, used to rescue and lift patients. Since Joshua Tree’s Station 36 is a county-run station, the County will decide what to do with their old fire truck.


The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce will hold a planning meeting for their 14th Annual Car Show and Street Fair Thursday, January 23, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is to allow community members the opportunity to provide input on how they can make this year’s event the best ever. Ideas and participation are welcomed and greatly appreciated. For more information, please contact the Twentynine Palms Chamber at 760-367-3445.


The Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold a seminar on sales and use tax for businesses. The seminar will include information on who needs a seller’s permit, resale certificate, or exemption certificate, and how to obtain them, along with what is and what is not taxable. Participants should bring a brown bag lunch. The sales and use tax seminar is set for Wednesday, January 22, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. in the Joshua Tree Room at the Yucca Valley Community Center.


Dan Stork broke his report on Tuesday’s wide-ranging Twentynine Palms City Council meeting into two parts. Today: The auditor’s report, and public prayer…again…
After the Council heard a favorable summary of the City’s financial reporting practices by an outside auditor, public prayer again dominated the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting. During public comment, several speakers previously heard on the issue reiterated their positions. There were some fresh perspectives. From LeeAnn Clarke: “I believe we had two comments already made that financially we’re doing quite well. I really want to account that in the fact that the Council for 18 years, including the current Council, has always put God first.” From Ray Miller: “You have plenty of time to pray at home. You have plenty of time to pray in church. You have plenty of time to pray before work. You can pray before the Council meeting.” Council member Jim Harris took pains to indicate that he was not proposing following the Chino Hills model, in which anyone can use the public comment opportunity for religious expression; he had only intended to put it forward for discussion. That idea found little support on either side of the issue. In the end, Council voted 4-1 (with Jay Corbin opposed) to continue the current policy of invocations, pending any decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to the contrary.


The High Desert Water District Board of Directors finally elected a president for 2014 during a special meeting last night. After Dan Munsey’s nomination of Sarann Graham failed to receive a second, Sheldon Hough nominated Roger Mayes to continue on as President, and the vote was unanimous. Bob Stadum also received a unanimous vote for vice president. Then, during its regular meeting which immediately followed the special meeting, the Board heard a presentation from SunPower Corporation about the feasibility of generating solar power for the water district from its own solar field. The district owns land on the east side of Pioneertown Road, between Sunland Drive and Coyote Trail. The solar field would need about six acres to generate 835 kilowatts to cover its needs now, and an additional 417 kilowatts once the wastewater treatment facility is operating. The Board authorized SunPower to draft a preliminary design for a two-phase solar project, provide an estimated cost for the project, and contact Southern California Edison to determine what Edison would require the District to do to develop solar power, for a cost of $3300.


A classic comedy, first performed in the late 1800’s, opened last weekend for a five-week run at Theatre 29. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was in the audience of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and offers this review of the show…
Theatre 29’s first production of 2014, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde, starts off slow, but starting in the second act, the audience is laughing hysterically, so much so, that sometimes it’s difficult to hear the actors’ witty and frivolous banter over the laughter. Director Butch Pelfry has done a terrific job of bringing to life this classical farce that skewers Victorian customs. Jack, played by Ben Bees, and Algernon, played by Cyrus Short, have each created fictional identities so that they can escape tiresome situations, to hilarious effect. Bees gets all huffy about who has the right to eat his muffins, while Short is a vain dandy who makes wise cracks about everything. The beautiful and elegant Katie Van Sumerin and Lizzie Schmelling, as Gwendolen and Cecily, are two gifted actresses who trade razor-sharp lines. Schmelling’s expression as she confides to her Uncle Jack that she has a secret to share is worth the price of admission. Algernon’s aunt, the Lady Bracknell, perfectly portrayed by Kathyrn Ferguson, is easily horrified, to the audience’s great amusement, and is the true star of the play. Ferguson also designed the costumes, and the women’s costumes are especially lovely, as are the sets. Janet Peercy, as Miss Prism, plays an important role in the events of the play. Leonard Weber (Reverend Chasuble) is all sweet bluster as he woos Miss Prism. Marv Schmelling, as butlers Lane (in town) and Merriman (in the country), knows how to make a dry silent pause. The Importance of Being Earnest is full of misunderstandings, over-the-top characters, and zany misadventures, and by the end, we learn why it’s important NOT to be too earnest.


The St. Joseph’s Players of Yucca Valley are holding a chili dinner fundraiser Saturday, January 18 to raise money for their next production, “On Golden Pond.” Chili, including vegetarian chili, cole slaw, corn bread, and dessert, along with coffee, tea, and lemonade, will be served by the cast and crew from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The dinner will be held at the Rusack Parish Hall at the St. Joseph of Arimathea Church, 56312 Onaga Trail in Yucca Valley. There will also be raffle prizes. Tickets are $8 each, $14 for couples, $25 for families of four or more, and are available at the Silk Purse in Twentynine Palms, Wind Walker in Joshua Tree, from members of the cast and crew, and at the door. “On Golden Pond” will open February 21 and run through March 9.


The theater students at Twentynine Palms High School invite you to join them this Friday evening. ROP Broadcast Student Brianna Jillson invites you to Café Night…
The International Thespian Society of Twentynine Palms is having their Café Night. The participants can sing, dance, and act. It’s on January 17 at Twentynine Palms High School in the Multi-Purpose Room. It is $3 at the door. Doors open at 6:30. If you want to perform please call 760-367-9591; just ask for Mrs. Waycott. There will be concessions there also. So come have fun and support I.T.S!


The Joshua Tree Rotary Club is holding its 27th annual Super Bowl Party at Copper Mountain College. Watch the Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, at Bruce’s Coyote Kitchen on the college campus with an all-you-can-eat super buffet. The doors open at 2 p.m.; kick-off is 3:25. Tickets are $25 each and are available from Joshua Tree Rotarians.


Art made from recycled items is being sought by the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley for a special exhibition. Turn-in is tomorrow and Saturday, from 10 to 4, with a reception to follow next week at the museum. Reporter Taylor Thacker puts out the call…….
As part of the Town of Yucca Valley’s annual Earth Day celebration, local residents are invited to contribute artwork made from recycled and reused materials for the Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” art exhibition on display January 25 through April 26. Paintings, sculpture, mixed media creations, photographs of recycled products, or any other art-related objects can be loaned to the museum for display in the exhibition. Individual and group projects are welcome and children are highly encouraged to participate. Guidelines for the submittal of artwork are available at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum during operating hours or on the museum’s web site An opening exhibition will be held on Friday, January 24, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The reception is free to the public. For more information call 760-369-7212.


The Yucca Valley Lady Trojan basketball team opened up their De Anza league schedule with a 59-43 win over Big Bear last night in Trojan Gym. Coach Jess Geeson said the Yucca girls were led by junior Ashley Priest who hit for 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Freshman Taylor Spitz scored 15 points and junior Celeste Reyes netted nine points for the Lady Trojans. With the win the girls raised their record overall record to 10-5 and 1-0 in league. The girls travel to Desert Hot Springs Friday for a 6 p.m. game.

The Yucca Valley High School Girls’ Soccer team hosted Big Bear in De Anza League play. The Lady Trojans outshot the Lady Bears and controlled the time of possession, but fell short by a score of 4-1. Coach Scott Phillips said Freshman Alexia Missett scored the goal with Junior Karson Scaccinoce getting the assist.

In high school sports today, the Joshua Springs Christian School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will travel away to Calimesa to play Mesa Grande Academy. The girls’ game starts at 5:30; the boys’ game starts at 7 p.m.
Coming up tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School wrestling team will take part in the West Covina tournament, starting at 11 a.m. The YVHS girls’ and boys’ soccer teams will travel away to Desert Hot Springs to play the Golden Eagles. The girls’ game starts at 3:15; tip-off for the boys is at 5 p.m.