Friday’s rain resulted in at least three crashes in Morongo Valley, two of which closed Highway 62 for about two hours, and rain also forced the closure of several roads in Yucca Valley. Managing editor Tami Roleff gives the details of the crashes and road closures……
At 9 a.m., a vehicle being driven eastbound on the highway skidded off the road at Hoopa Trail, nearly going down the embankment at the bottom of the Yucca Grade. The driver was not injured in this crash. The second crash occurred just after 11. Shawna McGillic, 35, of Yucca Valley, was driving her 2002 Honda Civic westbound on the highway down the Morongo Grade. CHP Officer Stephanie Hamilton said McGillic was driving too fast in the rain, and made an unsafe turning movement, which sent her car off the highway in an area where there was no guard rail, about three-quarters of a mile east of Indian Canyon. Her car dropped about 10 feet down an embankment, rolling over in the process. Morongo Valley Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to extricate McGillic, who was wearing her seatbelt. McGillic suffered major head trauma and was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. The highway was closed until after the third crash of the day, which happened about 12:20, just west of Hess Boulevard at the top of the Morongo Grade. A trailer being towed by a Ford pick-up truck went out of control, causing the truck to rollover. The driver and passenger were not injured during the roll-over, and managed to get out of the truck themselves.

In Yucca Valley, the rain closed several roads , starting about 2 p.m. Paxton Avenue was closed at Balsa Avenue. Indio and Yucca Mesa Roads were both closed at the Yucca Wash. In addition, Grand and Palm Avenues were closed between Cassia and Little League Drive.


Vets Cruzin’ for a Cause will hold its first Poker Run fundraiser for homeless veterans Saturday, March 22. All are welcome, no matter the motorcycle or even vehicle. Start time is 7 a.m. at the Change for Vets Thrift Store, 5758 Adobe Road, in Twentynine Palms. The poker run’s second stop will be the Utah Trail entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. The third and fourth stops will be at the Cholla Cactus Garden and Keys View, in side the Park. The fifth stop is the Sand to Snow Monument Bar and Grill in Morongo Valley, before ending at Hi-Desert Motorcycle Supply in Yucca Valley. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third-place for best poker hands. Registration is $40 and includes a T-shirt and a meal. To pre-register, email vccpreshidesert@gmail.com. All proceeds will go to homeless veterans.


The Twentynine Palms Art Gallery is hosting a reception Sunday for two new exhibitions of artists Janis Commentz and Olive Toscani. Commentz, who recently retired as a high school art and English teacher, founded the Morongo Basin Life Drawing League seven years ago. Her artwork of watercolors, pastels, acrylic, and oil paintings feature her love of the human form, the ocean, and the desert. Toscani, a 12-year-resident of Twentynine Palms and Wonder Valley, has studied figure drawing, ceramics, painting, metal smithing, and dance. Her show will feature assemblage, ceramics, and paintings inspired by the Mojave Desert. The opening reception is set for noon to 3 Sunday at the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery, 74055 Cottonwood Drive in Twentynine Palms.


BOXOHOUSE artist-in-residence Biddy Connor performs in concert tonight, March 1st, at 7:30, following a 7 pm reception. Biddy is a composer, musician and vocalist. She will be performing several pieces from her repertoire using viola, saw, voice and electronic effects. Biddy will also perform the soundtrack to Megan Evans’ video work entitled Stranger in the Desert which will be screened. Boxohouse is located at 62732 Sullivan Road in Joshua Tree, off Whitefeather Road, south of Route 62.
Seven climbing routes in the Indian Cove area of Joshua Tree National Park have been temporarily closed, the Park Service announced Monday. Park Superintendent Mark Butler signed a temporary emergency closure notice due to golden eagles that are nesting in the area. The closed climbing routes include Slatanic Area, Rattlesnake Buttress, Margaret Thatcher Spire, the Stepping Stones, the Bulkhead, the Dunce Cap, and Commissioner’s Buttress. Day hiking in the Rattlesnake Canyon area is not restricted at this time. Butler said the nesting pair appears to have finished building their nest. The area will remain closed until the nest has been abandoned to ensure the protection of the birds for the duration of the nesting activities, which is not expected to last beyond June 15.


One beneficiary of school construction projects in the Morongo Basin has been athletic facilities. ROP Broadcasting student David Knutson tells about the status of field improvements in Twentynine Palms…
Track season is starting at Twenytnine Palms High School, now with a brand new track. The new polyurethane track has 8 lanes, is fully painted, and will be fully functional for all future races. The new track was constructed because the high school didn’t have its own and practicing in the dirt wasn’t ideal. The new track was completed in May of 2013 and wasn’t ready for use until later last fall. Construction is still being done for the other field events. According to school officials, the long-term goal of the school is to put in a new football stadium on the high school campus.


In order to be prepared for the actuality of a real fire, the Twentynine Palms Fire Department performed a training drill Thursday. Firefighters trained on a simulated section of a roof to practice venting tactics. Working in the Twentynine Palms Water District’s yard, they used saws and axes to break through the roof to let smoke and heat out from a simulated fire. The section of the roof was about 12 by 12 feet, and started a few feet above the ground, with a 4-by-8 foot platform under it, and rose up to about 7 feet high. Fire Captain Matt Helmkamp said the “low frequency-high risk” exercise was training for something firefighters don’t do often but need to be prepared for when they do encounter it.


Personal health and fitness were the theme of the annual Healthy Hearts 5K Run and 2K Health Walk on Saturday, February 22nd. The event was organized and conducted by the Recreation Division of the Town of Yucca Valley’s Community Services Department with timing services provided by Jay Stepp, coach of the Yucca Valley High School Cross Country Team. Media support was provided by sponsors Hi-Desert Publishing Company and Z107.7 FM Radio.  188 runners and walkers participated.  Womens overall 5K winners were Marie Stevenson, Steph Velsquez, and Charlotte Gallardo.  Mens winners were Paul Gattuso, Jerry Muscato , and Richard Buckles.  Awards were also presented to top finishers in each age division. Participation certificates went to those who completed the non-competitive Health Walk.


The Animal Action League will be offering low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics in March for dogs and cats, as well as low-cost spaying and neutering. No appointments are necessary for vaccines or microchips; appointments are required for spay and neutering services. Microchips are only $15, and can help reunite you you’re your lost pet. Clinics will be held in Joshua Tree, behind the dinosaurs on Highway 62, from 10 to 2 on March 3, 4, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, and 26. To make an appointment for spay or neutering, call 760-322-4560. Visit animalactionleague.us for updated schedules on clinics.


Through the miracle of tissue and organ transplantation, thousands of lives are saved, and the quality of life for hundreds of others, is greatly improved. In fact, transplantation is one of modern medicine’s true triumphs. But the true miracle workers are the donors themselves. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has the little pink dot on her driver’s license signifying that she’s an organ donor…
Every three hours, someone in the United States dies because of the shortage of donor organs. Every 18 minutes, another name is added to the thousands awaiting organ or organs. You can help resolve this national health shortage by becoming an organ donor. All the costs involved in organ and tissue donation are the responsibility of the organ procurement organization. Let your family know your wishes, and sign a donor card to signify your commitment to organ and tissue donation. A single donor can help more than 50 people, so remember, the gift of organs and tissue is truly a gift of life.


The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will offer Sunday morning of an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, plus bacon, sausage, burritos, and quesadillas, from 8 to 11. And don’t forget Taco Wednesday from 11 to 1.  The post is located at 6402 Veterans Way in downtown JT.