Traffic on Highway 62 was disrupted for about six hours on Saturday after a man drove his truck into a power pole in Morongo Valley. About 2:30 p.m., Raymond Yglesias, 48, of Whittier, was driving a Ford Ranger pick-up truck pulling a trailer, westbound on the Highway, just east of Willie Boys, when for unknown reasons, he veered onto the shoulder of the highway and crashed into a power pole, sheering it off. The pole, hanging by the power lines, blocked the westbound lanes of the highway. The collision also caused a second utility pole to fall into the westbound lanes of the highway. A Nissan Maxima, driven by Charles Putney, 60, of Yucca Valley collided with the second utility pole. Witnesses said they saw sparks coming from the power lines. Southern California Edison arrived about 30 minutes later to repair the power lines, and power was restored to the Morongo Valley area about 8:20. Westbound traffic on the highway was diverted into one of the eastbound lanes while Edison worked to restore power. Brian LaGrand, 69, of Desert Hot Springs, a passenger in the pick-up truck, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.


An elderly couple were critically injured in a crash in Joshua Tree Saturday afternoon. About 1:10, Velma Ringwald, 58, of Twentynine Palms was stopped at the southbound stop sign at Sun Ray Road and Highway 62, when she pulled out directly into the path of a bread delivery truck driven by Wallace Schempp, 61, of Desert Hot Springs, who was driving westbound on the highway. Schempp hit his brakes and tried to avoid hitting Ringwald’s 2006 Toyota Camry, but was unable to avoid a collision. Velma Ringwald and her passenger, Clarence Nolan, 83, of Twentynine Palms, suffered major injuries and were taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. Wallace Schempp was uninjured.


More upheaval in the upper management levels of the Morongo Unified School District. After the loss of two financial administrators, it seems the newly hired Superintendent is next. Reporter Dan Stork has the latest…

Dr. Cecilia English, the Superintendent of the Morongo Unified School District, has been placed on paid administrative leave. That was the full statement given to Z107.7 by a school board member, following a special meeting of the Board of Education that was noticed as a closed session performance evaluation of the Superintendent. That meeting began on Thursday, and continued on Saturday.
Dr. English became the Superintendent of the local district a year ago, when her employment contract was approved by a 3-2 vote of the Board. She became the focus of school employee protests during union contract negotiations earlier this year. Protests resumed at a recent Board meeting, when the Board considered raising her salary, and those of the three assistant superintendents, by a percentage matching that achieved by the two school employee unions, retroactive to last July. The raises for the assistant sup’s were approved, but the one for Dr. English was denied, by a 4-1 vote of the Board.
The Board of Education will meet in a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday of this week. No item on the action agenda relates to the Superintendent, and business will proceed without her presence.


A Yucca Valley man was arrested Friday afternoon after his ex-girlfriend said he tried to run her off the road in his car. According to a Sheriff’s report, the woman was driving westbound on Highway 62 at Balsa Avenue in a gold Toyota Highlander shortly before 4 p.m. when Tito Acosta, 23, pulled up behind her in a silver Honda Accord, started swerving all over the road, and allegedly tried to run her vehicle off the road. The deputy caught up to Acosta at Wamego Trail and the highway. After giving the deputy a false name, the deputy determined Acosta’s true identity. Tito Acosta was arrested for investigation of giving false identification to a deputy, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, and released on bail.


The Yucca Valley Town Council will meet in a special session this evening. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has the rundown of a very busy agenda…

The Yucca Valley Town Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight. Among the items on the consent agenda, the Council will be asked to approve a parcel map for three commercial businesses at the new Wal-Mart; approve an amendment to the contract for a town-wide slurry seal project; award a contract for information technology/network services; and approve the amended community development block grant cooperation agreement with the county. The Council will then hold a public hearing on landscape and lighting maintenance districts; hear a department report on the Highway 62 construction project; authorize a levy of a special service tax in community facilities district 1; and amend the 2013-14 budget to appropriate $56,000 from reserves for the recall petition expenditures. The Council will then go into closed session to discuss anticipated litigation. The meeting will be held in the Yucca Room of the Community Center.


The Town of Yucca Valley will hold a public information workshop for business and property owners about the construction project that will install curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and medians along Highway 62. The workshop will be held Wednesday, June 25, in the Ocotillo Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center, starting at 9 a.m. Topics such as the anticipated project schedule, funding sources, and outreach will be covered at the workshop.


The Rotary Club Fireworks show in Yucca Valley this year will see a wide variety of family activities and entertainment. Reporter Taylor Thacker says plan to be at the Brehm Sports Park on the 4th of July for the show and the fun…

Thanks to the generosity of so many great sponsors, the Yucca Valley Rotary club has great plans for this year’s fireworks show and community fair. This fair will have good food, children’s activities, vendors, booths, and more. The entertainment before the pyrotechnic show has a big line-up of “On Tapp” country rock band, the Star Twirlers, The Heat Dance Team, the Yucca Valley High School Cheer Team and a special performance by local singer, Kristina Quigley. The activities for kids include water activities, face painting, glow items to wear and lots of room to run and play on the huge new grass field at the park. This event starts at 6 p.m. and takes place at the new Brehm Youth Sports Park at Little League Drive in Yucca Valley. Vendors need to sign up before July 1 by calling 760-766-5656. For more information on the event, call 760-365-1988.


The Twentynine Palms City Council will hold a ribbon cutting tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m. midway down National Park Drive, on the center median across from the Old Schoolhouse Museum. The ribbon cutting will celebrate completion of the National Park Drive improvement project, which consists of new curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, road surface repaving, and median work. A highlight of the improvement project is a new sculpture by acclaimed artist Ricardo Breceda of Temecula, a life-size metal sculpture of a prospector and his burro, a historical piece that honors the gold mining heritage of the 1870s to early 1900s. Breceda also created the sculptures on the north end of National Park Drive. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held prior to the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, which is expected to begin at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, when council members arrive back in Council Chambers from the site.


The Eagle Mountain landfill project is dead, but another massive project has desert residents, environmentalists, and some government agencies up in arms. According to a story in Friday’s Desert Sun, a controversial plan to build a hydroelectric plant in the open pits of an old iron mine was granted a license on Thursday by federal regulators. Reporter Dan Stork describes the project, and some objections to it…
The decision to permit the project at the abandoned Eagle Mountain mine prompted strong criticism from residents who say building two large reservoirs in the desert would severely deplete the water supply and harm the wildlife in adjacent Joshua Tree National Park. The decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was a significant step in years of efforts by Santa Monica-based Eagle Crest Energy Company to win government approvals and financial support for the project. The $1.5 billion project has drawn criticism from other federal agencies as well as environmental groups. The proposed Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project would involve pumping water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir during times when electricity from nearby solar plants and wind farms exceeds demands, and letting the water run downhill to generate power during other times when electricity is needed. In order to fill the reservoirs, water would be pumped from the aquifer in the Chuckwalla Valley over a period of four years. The president of Eagle Crest, Steve Lowe, said that the total amount of water that would eventually be needed is “less than 1 percent of what is estimated to be in the aquifer right now,” an estimate that is disputed by residents and environmentalists. A transmission line would need to run through Bureau of Land Management property, and that agency has yet to grant a permit. “We’re reviewing the license and we have significant concerns,” Andrea Compton, the acting superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, said Thursday in response to the commission’s decision.


A Celebration of Life for the late Muffin Hill will be held 5 p.m. Friday, June 27 at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Noble Hall. Muffin Hill, a 23-year resident of Twentynine Palms, died May 16. Light refreshments will be provided. Guests are encouraged to wear something purple in honor of Muffin’s favorite color. Please be prepared to leave footwear at the door as shoes are not permitted in Noble Hall. Reservations are required by Wednesday, June 25; leave a message at 760- 819-1060 or email an address in this story at Joshua Tree Retreat Center is on the north side of Highway 62 just east of La Contenta Road.