The Marine Corps will be practicing a drill to evacuate civilians during a training exercise on board the CombatCenter Friday, April 18. In this exercise, Marines will simulate real-life scenarios where non-combatants need to be evacuated from a potentially hostile area. The “civilians” will be evacuated using helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which will make multiple landings onto Lance Corporal Torrey L. Gray Field, and Del Valle Track and Field between the hours of 4 and 10 p.m. The “Sounds of Freedom” will be noisier than usual; to provide feedback about the noise, visit a link in this story at


A skeleton crew of firefighters battled a fire in Wonder Valley yesterday. Wednesday morning at 9:50 the crew assigned to Medic Brush Patrol 45 in Wonder Valley received a call for a structure fire a few miles east of their station and firefighters could see heavy smoke coming from the 87000 block of Amboy Road.


Photo Courtesy: 29 Palms Fire Department


Photo Courtesy: 29 Palms Fire Department

On arrival they found a 3,000-square foot single family dwelling with heavy smoke coming from the attic vents and the interior of the structure. The two firefighters began an exterior attack on the fire while waiting for resources from the Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Fire department and a chief officer from Joshua Tree to arrive with water and personnel. The lone occupant of the house had left a few minutes earlier to attend to a neighbor’s pet and returned to find his home ablaze. Firefighters were successful in the attack on the fire and were able to limit the structural and content losses to about $40,000 to $50,000. County fire officials say only eight firefighters battled the blaze, as many other emergency calls for service were occupying Morongo Basin resources. They commend firefighters from the Wonder Valley station for working very hard to reduce losses due to fire in such a remote area and long awaiting assistance. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


The Yucca Valley proposed sewer project is estimated to cost about $140 million. So far, the Hi-Desert Water District has received grants totaling $7 million. The water district hopes to get more grants and a low-interest loan from the State Revolving Fund for the remaining $133 million. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at last night’s meeting, and says the water district is nearly finished jumping through hoops to submit its loan application…

At last night’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District, the Board of Directors decided to hire an outside contractor to construct the Town’s sewer project, so that the sewer is completed in two years as opposed to five years if the District built the sewer itself. The directors also adopted a resolution for a special assessment that will go on property tax bills. The special assessment is another requirement needed for the low-interest loan, as these property tax assessments will be used to repay the State Revolving Fund’s low-interest loan. The District’s Chief Financial Officer Rochelle Clayton said Town residents will be asked to vote this summer to place the special assessment on their property tax bills. “The vote must receive a 50-percent-plus-one positive vote to pass. If the vote does not pass, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund will not fund the loan and the project will have no source of funding.” What will happen to the sewer project if the election fails to garner enough yes votes? “That’s not going to make it go away. A “no” vote will make it more expensive.” All that’s needed now before the loan application is complete is a determination of how assessments should be charged for commercial properties, which the District expects to have by next week. The directors also voted to hire a real estate appraiser who will have nine months to perform appraisals for easements on 245 parcels, and to extend the contract of a public relations firm for the project’s outreach efforts.


A two-vehicle crash on the Morongo Grade closed Highway 62 for about two hours Wednesday night. About 9:20, two cars collided in the steep, winding section of the westbound highway just north of Indian Canyon. The roads were closed at Hess Boulevard in Morongo Valley and re-opened about 11:20. One man was injured and taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. The California Highway Patrol has not released details about what caused the crash.


A fender-bender in a grocery store parking lot resulted in a drunken driving charge against one of the drivers. According to a Sheriff’s report, Darrin Bergeron, 41, of Twentynine Palms, was allegedly involved in a collision in the Twentynine Palms Stater Brothers parking lot about 5:30 PM Wednesday. Witnesses said Bergeron, who appeared to be drunk at the time of the crash, left the scene and drove to a home in the 6200 block of Daisy Avenue. The report states that when deputies contacted Bergeron, he admitted being in the collision, but said he was so distraught that he drove home and drank a pint of Jack Daniels prior to the deputies’ arrival. Darrin Bergeron was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $100,000.


The Morongo Valley CSD Board met last night. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was there and says the board saw the results of community support and put off an inspection…

At last night’s meeting of the Morongo Valley Community Services District, Fire Chief Jock Johnson unveiled a new state-of-the-art defibrillator that the District purchased with $6,300 raised though the ongoing Morongo Valley Dollar-A-Day campaign. The unit makes it possible for the Fire Department there to respond to multiple events simultaneously. The Board tabled any decision on completing required inspection and certification of District playgrounds pending further investigation of a cost-saving plan proposed by General Manager Donna Munoz. Those actions and others were in addition to regular reports and items on the consent agenda.


National Park Week begins April 19, and Joshua Tree National Park will join the celebration. The National Park Service is waiving park entrance fees Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20, although camping fees and fees for Keys ranch tours will still be collected. April 22 is Earth Day, and volunteers who can roll up their sleeves and pitch in on projects are always appreciated. Saturday, April 26, is National Junior Ranger Day; young visitors will be invited to “explore, learn, and protect” their park. All visitors are urged to enjoy the solace and wonder of their national parks.


San Bernardino County is creating a plan for renewable energy and is looking for public input throughout the process. Tonight, the County Land Use Services Department is holding its first round of public workshops to discuss the future of renewable energy projects within the County. The workshop will be held in in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. Details about the workshop agenda and online activities can be found at


The Annual Earth Day Conservation Fair is set for this Saturday in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex.  ROP Broadcast Student Lexi Wade says bring the whole family…

Earth Day Conservation Fair you say? Yes, there is an Earth Day Conservation Fair at the community center complex in Yucca Valley from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday April 19. This event will include local experts demonstrating composting and gardening. There will be Yucca Valley’s finest selling their hand-made jewelry and crafts. This family-oriented event will also have kids’ activities, face painting, live music, dance performances, and a whole bunch more! Come out and have fun at the Earth Day Conservation Fair.


A year ago, the Mojave Desert Land Trust purchased 640 acres in Joshua Tree that were once slated to become a subdivision for 2,700 houses at the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Section 33, as the tract is known, is home to desert tortoises, hummingbirds, and other desert animals. It’s also a dumping ground for construction waste, hazardous materials, and household trash. On Earth Day, April 19, volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. on La Contenta Avenue, across from the school, for a trash clean-up day. Volunteers should wear work gear, hats, and bring water. For more information, call Frazier Haney at 760-366-5440.


Theatre 29 will be holding open auditions for their fourth show of the 2014 season. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has more on try-outs for “A Doll’s House”…

Auditions have been announced for Theatre 29’s production of “A Doll’s House.” Award-winning director Kurt Schauppner has set auditions for the classic drama by Henrik Ibsen for 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27 on the theater’s main stage. “A Doll’s House” tells the story of Nora Helmer, a seemingly happy housewife and mother who comes to realize her life is not as ideal as she thought. Needed are three women in their 20s to mid 30s; one woman in her 60s to 70s; two men in their late 20s to late 30s; a man in his late 50s or older; a porter of any age, and three children, ages 4 to 7. Rehearsals will begin immediately following the try-outs. “A Doll’s House” will run Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. from June 20 to July 19, with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on June 29, and July 13. For more information about auditions of “A Doll’s House”, call Schauppner at 760-362-4577.


Sky’s the Limit will host an evening with the cosmos Saturday, April 19. The star party will start at the Twentynine Palms observatory about 7:30 p.m. and end about midnight when the moon rises. Observers will be able to focus telescopes on the galaxies in Ursa Major, also known as the Big Dipper, along with Mars, and other galaxies and stars. Visitors should bring binoculars or telescopes, chairs, snacks and water, and dress for unpredictable weather. For more information, call 760-367-7222, visit the STL web site at or email Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center is just north of the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park at 9697 Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms.


One 80 Ministries of Joshua Tree will hold an Easter service 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 20. Following the service, there will be a free barbecue with music and other activities. The public is invited. Childcare will be provided. One 80 Ministries is located at 61858 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.


The Joshua Tree Library is having its annual party on the day before Easter. Reporter Dan Stork says don’t miss the Eggstravaganza…

The Joshua Tree Branch Library invites families to hop on over to the library for some fun games, crafts, and prizes, on Saturday April 19. The library will be hosting their “Eggstravaganza” on April 19 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Activities will include; children’s games, children’s Easter and spring crafts, give-a-ways, and a raffle. Prizes, crafts, and activities are provided at no cost through funding by the Friends of the Joshua Tree Library. For more information about the “Eggstravaganza,” story time, or other library programs, please call the Joshua Tree Branch Library at 760-366-8615.


Twentynine Palms High School track and field earned two wins yesterday at Desert Hot Springs. Girls varsity won by a score of 41-78. Multiple individual event winners were D’Avion Oliver in the long jump and 400 meter, Jubilee Bosch in the 800 meter and 3200 meter, and Chiyanna Maxwell in the triple jump and 30-meter hurdles. The girls relay teams of Adriann Miller, D’Avion Oliver, Alicia Saldivar, and Makya Bullion and Cheyenne Hunsinger stepped closer to CIF aspirations with times of 55.9 and 4.25.93.


Zach Kanlong was the sole multiple individual event winner. He took first in the 800 meter and 3200 meter. Kamaljot Singh and Synai Salgado earned first and second in the 1600 meter. The boys’ 100-meter team swept the Golden Eagles, each running sub 11.6 seconds. The boys won 74-53.


The Wildcats boys’ tennis team lost yesterday against the Desert Mirage High School Rams in Desert Mirage 8-10. Coach Larry Battle said in singles, Jarod Burks, Bradley Linkey and John Lanza each won one out of three sets. In doubles, Marcus Simon with partner Brian Gaddis, and Sam Choi with his partner Vincent Thomas, won two out of three sets. Scott Clinkscales with partner Raul Hernandez won one out of three sets.




Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Joshua Springs Christian School baseball team will travel away to play Baptist Christian School. Game time is 3:15.


Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan track team will travel away to Walnut to participate in the Mount San Antonio College Invitational meet.