More details today following a violent, motorcycle-to-motorcycle head-on crash in Joshua Tree National Park Sunday afternoon. Base officials say the man killed was a Marine stationed at the Twentynine Palms base. Corporal Elmer VanHoorebeke Jr., 27, was an electrical system technician with VMU-1 who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. VanHoorebeke was driving a Yamaha sport bike south and collided with Patricia Root, 62, of British Columbia, who was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle north, about 1 1/2 miles from the Joshua Tree entrance into the park at 1:50 p.m. Root died at the scene; VanHoorebeke died a few hours later at the hospital. VanHoorebeke is the 28th High-Desert Marine to die in an off-duty vehicle crash since 2007 and the eighth to die while riding a motorcycle.
The meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council was far-ranging and crisp. Reporter Dan Stork was there, and says that the topics ranged through budgetary matters, public art, and how the city might respond to homelessness…
Twentynine Palms City Manager Joe Guzetta described to the City Council the calendar of budget topics he intends to present to them in the next few months. Some council members professed to be surprised at the relatively low public turnout for the opportunity to provide input to the budget process. Several speakers made pitches for continued or increased funding in the areas of tourism marketing (Paul Smith); Community Emergency Response Team (Kelly Lomax); Action Council 29 murals (Larry Briggs); the fire department (Tamara Alaniz); public safety (CJ Horn); homeless veterans (Kevin Fish); and attracting new residents (Jack Briggs).
At the request of Council member Cora Heiser, approval of a ball field lighting project at Knott’s SkyPark was pulled from the consent agenda, and was modified to approve only the bid process, but not going through with the project without coming back to Council.
Staff was authorized to spend $13,000 of previously budgeted Public Art funds on a “Miner and Pack Horse” statue by Ricardo Breceda. Approval was unanimous, with Jay Corbin changing his mind about the project from disfavor to favor after hearing the staff report. Council also approved installation of three statues donated by Simi Dabah–-two at the SeniorCenter, and one at Theatre 29.
City Manager sketched current programs in the MorongoBasin for combating homelessness. Three actions followed on the subject: Jim Harris will represent the City at meetings of Morongo Basin Haven; Sheriff’s Lt. Russ Wilke said he’ll arrange a presentation to Council on Project Hope, a Department program to reduce recidivism by addressing homelessness among released offenders; and, at the request of Jim Harris, staff will look into the availability of two unused elder-care facilities for purchase and conversion to shelters.
A wanted parolee released early under AB109 was found hiding out in Twentynine Palms with another wanted felon Sunday. At 1:30 p.m., deputies responded to the 6200 block of Ocotillo Road in Twentynine Palms for a report of a verbal disturbance. At the location, deputies contacted two men. One identified himself as “David Abery.” The second subject, later identified as Laron Howard James, identified himself as “Robert Totress.” Investigation revealed Laron James had absconded from the Los Angeles Probation Department and had a felony no bail warrant for his arrest. James had used his brother’s information in an attempt to avoid being arrested. Deputies also discovered “David Abery” to be “David Avery,” on felony probation out of Los Angeles County. Deputies learned Laron James was on supervised probation for kidnapping.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s Rural Crimes Task Force recovered on Monday a piece of heavy equipment that had been stolen last year in Yucca Valley. According to a Sheriff’s press release, a Bobcat augur attachment, owned by JMJ Construction out of Winchester, was stolen in September 2013 while workers were building a new playground at the Yucca Valley Community Center. The Task Force had developed leads that stolen heavy equipment was at a residence in the 3000 block of Rockwood Road in Joshua Tree. During a search of the location, deputies recovered the stolen Bobcat augur, valued at about $2,000. The Sheriff’s Department expects to arrest a suspect in the near future.
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission gave the new Ross store a bigger sign last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was at that meeting and files this report…
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission went against its staff recommendation at its meeting last night, and granted a variance for a 238-square foot wall sign for the new Ross Dress for Less store coming to Yucca Valley this summer. Staff had recommended a denial of the variance request, saying that state law allows variances only when special circumstances, such as size, shape, topography, or location of the property, make adherence to the ordinance impractical. The Town’s sign ordinance would have limited the sign to about half of what Ross wanted—125 square feet. Representatives from Ross argued—successfully—that their sign was a standard corporate logo, and that the building was so far from the highway that a smaller sign would be difficult to see. Led by Commissioner Steve Whitten, the Commission voted 3-1 to grant the variance, with Commissioners Vickie Bridenstine against and Jeff Drozd absent.
The new senior housing project in Yucca Valley has a name and a schedule for when residents can move in. Dumosa Senior Village will feature 73 one-bedroom apartments for residents 55 and older who meet income limits, and one two-bedroom unit for the project manager. The first phase, featuring 31 units, is expected to open for move-in in late July or early August. The second phase, featuring 43 units, is expected to open in October or November. To qualify, residents must earn less than 55 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) of $46,551, with some units restricted to residents earning less than 30 percent, 45 percent and 50 percent of AMI. Applications for the units will be taken April 21 and 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.
Some of the items the Yucca Valley Airport District Board of Directors will discuss at their meeting Wednesday, April 9, are airport use agreements; setting up a reserve account; and aircraft tie down rental agreements. Under new business, the directors will be asked to accept a law firm to represent the district and elect a member and alternate to the Local Agency Formation Commission. The meeting will start at 6:30 in the Mesquite Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.
The Hi-Desert Medical Center Board met last night. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says Board members named a vice president and heard of more belt tightening…
At last night’s Board meeting of the Hi-Desert Medical Center, Director Pat Cooper was named Board Vice President; that office had been filled by Paul Hoffman who stepped down in January, Also last night, Directors approved a recommendation from management that the District outsource compliance services. And in his remarks, CEO Bob Tyk reported that patient volumes continue to lag with February’s gross revenue coming in $1.5 million under same month last year. The District continues belt tightening and recently placed a freeze on filling all open positions pending additional review.
Nationally-known Joshua Tree percussionist Sam Sloneker will facilitate a community drum circle Thursday, April 10, 10:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall of St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church, Onaga at Church Street in Yucca Valley. This delightful experience is open to the general public and there is no charge. Refreshments will be offered. For information call Joe of Jananne Turner at 760-365-5695.
Preschool-aged children can attend the Twentynine Palms Library’s preschool story time tomorrow at 11 a.m. The theme for preschool story time will be “colors.” Children are invited to bring something to share, that relates to the theme. Parents and babysitters are invited to bring their three-, four-, and five-year-olds to attend this free program. The program includes age appropriate storytelling, apron stories, finger plays, songs, and other activities to promote a love of books, reading, and language. For more information about pre-school story time, please call the Twentynine Palms Library at 760-367-9519.
This weekend only, two performances only of a delightful one-man show that wowed audiences and critics in New York and Los Angeles. Reportage Taylor Thacker tells you how to get tickets to “The Fabulous Divas of Hollywood” at Theatre 29…
There is a popular, fun show coming to the desert for a limited time! For only two days, Theatre 29 and Z107.7 radio are presenting the one-man production Fabulous Divas of Hollywood. Starring and created by Alan Palmer, this show is an audacious tribute to Hollywood films and the delightful divas that starred in them. This outlandish, outrageous and out-and-out fun-filled show parodies some of the biggest and best that Hollywood has to offer. Don’t miss a fun night out with the Fabulous Divas of Hollywood to see the show that wowed New York and Hollywood! The shows will be playing April 12 at 7:00pm and April 13 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Z107.7 radio station, Theatre 29, and Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce.
The Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat golf team came out strong yesterday (Tuesday April 8th) and beat Desert Hot Spring at home in a league match 224-283. Coach Grant Whipple said standouts for the ’Cats were Brandon Steffins, 38; Ty Lueken, 43; Michael Goodale, 46; and Justin Delarosa, 46. The ’Cats play an important league match today at home against Yucca Valley.
Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat baseball and softball teams will travel away to Indio to play Shadow Hills High School. Baseball begins at 3:30; softball at 5 p.m. The Wildcat golf team will travel away to Big Bear; tee-off is 2:45.
The Trojans’ softball and baseball teams also travel away to Big Bear tomorrow. Both games start at 3:15.
Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan golf team will travel to Thermal to play Desert Mirage High School. Tee time is 3 p.m.