HEAVY RAINS CLOSE SEVERAL ROADS IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Due to heavy rains on New Year’s Eve, Joshua Tree National Park has closed several roads because of standing water. Desert Queen Mine Road, Odell Road, and Big Horn Pass Road are all closed. Crews are working on opening Desert Queen Mine Road to the Pine City parking lot by tomorrow, Friday, January 6.

PART 3 IN OUR LOOK AT NEW LAWS FOR 2017

As we welcome a new year, we continue our look at several new laws that took effect as of January 1. Low-Level felons serving sentences outside of state prison get to keep their right to vote.
It will now be legal for motorcycle riders to split lanes. Law enforcement have been looking the other way and permitting the practice, but it’s now legal. The California Highway Patrol will be developing guidelines for the safety of motorcycle riders and drivers.
Children under 2 years old must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat, unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are taller than 40 inches.
Sexually assaulting an unconscious or severely intoxicated person will become a crime ineligible for probation.
Tomorrow, in part 4, we’ll look at more new laws.

HI-DESERT SPECIAL MEETING TONIGHT: JOBS AND MANHOLE COVERS

The Hi-Desert Water District board of directors cancelled its regular meeting for last night and scheduled a special meeting tonight. Managing editor Tami Roleff takes a look at the agenda….
Water district jobs—both current and new—are among the items that are on the agenda for tonight’s special meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District’s board of directors. Board members will be asked to approve revisions and upgrades for three positions, and add three new temporary jobs. Directors will be asked to approve the implementation of an additional retirement savings plan, change orders for the wastewater project; and approve the design of manhole covers. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. tonight in district offices at Inca Trail and the highway in Yucca Valley.

OVERDUE COUPLE AND BOY RETURN HOME AFTER SEARCH COMES UP EMPTY

An overdue couple and a two-year-old boy returned home safely to Johnson Valley Tuesday night, hours after they were scheduled to return, and after a Sheriff’s search had been launched to find them. Per a Sheriff’s report, the man, his fiancée, and his son left Johnson Valley on a yellow dune buggy about 10:30 a.m.to drive the back road to Big Bear so the boy could play in snow. The man told a family member they would be back by 2 p.m. When they had not returned by dark, the relative called the Sheriff’s Department to report them missing. A Sheriff’s helicopter search did not find the dune buggy, and two search vehicles also drove the entire road from Rimrock to Big Bear without seeing the missing people or dune buggy. About 10:30 p.m., Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Wilson was notified that the man, woman, and boy had returned; the woman said their dune buggy had broken down and had to be towed back to the man’s home near Bodick Road and Old Woman Springs Road. They were uninjured.

Z107-7 HOST RADIOTHON TO BENEFIT TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL SELECT CHOIR TRIP

The Twentynine Palms High School Select choir has been given a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity and the Morongo Basin’s Community Radio Station is stepping up to help. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has details…
The Twentynine Palms High School Select Choir has a chance to participate in this spring’s Choirs of America conference with world-renowned clinicians and composers. In addition to performing, the conference will include educational workshops to introduce and expose the students to career opportunities as professional, working musicians. With enough community support, 27 students, along with Choir Director Michael Mayes and chaperones, will travel to Orlando, Florida, in April. How much community support? The students must raise $45,000 by the end of this month. And toward that end, the Z107.7 “Send Our Kids to Orlando” Radio-thon for the select choir trip has been set for January 21 from noon until 5 p.m. Z107.7 is donating all of the time and staffing so 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward the Orlando trip. Area businesses and supporters who want to assist with the project are asked to contact Anita Clinkscales at aclink29@gmail.com.
The Twentynine Palms High School Music Booster Association is planning the event by identifying sponsors, guest DJs, overall supporters, and marketing radio commercials to play during the radio-thon. Donations are sought for varying levels of participation:
$5,000: Your company will be recognized throughout the 5-hour program as the sponsor of the “Send Our Kids to Orlando” radio-thon.
$1,000: Your company will be announced as a major sponsor at the top of the hour and will also be advertised leading into and out of every musical set during that hour. That’s a minimum of 10 advertising spots.
$500: You will spend an hour on the air with the regular DJ, conversing between musical sets and reading advertising copy leading into and out of each musical set.
$50: One advertising spot during the radio-thon
 
The Boosters can assist you in writing your advertising copy. If you have an existing ad with Z107.7, you can choose to use that.
 
Make checks payable to:  TPHS Music Booster Association
                         P.O. Box 1681, 29 Palms, CA  92277
 
The Booster Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Tax I.D. #45-3708641). Direct questions or requests for information to aclink29@gmail.com.

COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DENIES JOSHUA TREE CHARTER SCHOOL APPEAL

The San Bernardino County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to deny the charter petition appeal by Joshua Tree Arts and Technology Academy (JTATA). A petition to establish JTATA as a charter school was denied by the Morongo Unified School District on May 17. JTATA appealed that decision to the County Board on November 7. The county board had held a public hearing in Joshua Tree December 5 to consider the level of support for the petition. The appeal was denied after the Charter School Advisory Committee reviewed the petition and its attachments, conducted an inquiry into the affiliated Hi-Desert Arts Academy and the Hi-Desert Cultural Center, and considered information from parents and stakeholders, and recommended the appeal be denied. Among the staff findings were that the petition was “An unlawful conversion of a private school to a charter school.” The staff also found that a planned expansion of the Hi-Desert Cultural Center would create a conflict of interest saying, “The Cultural Center expansion will likely be funded with JTATA funds, which would run afoul to the California Constitution.”

In reaction to the denial, JTATA petitioner and Hi-Desert Cultural Center President Jarrod Radnich told Z107.7 News, “The county staff report was factually false and contained erroneous legal and logical analysis. Staff never contacted the Cultural Center for information and clearly did not perform the due diligence required of them. Not only is the expansion already fully funded, but staff’s finding that the after-school program was instead a private school is contrary to California Department of Education documents and was also questioned by the Board. These shortcomings raise grave concerns about the appeal process, and we intend to pursue our administrative and legal remedies.” Morongo Unified School District officials said the county board denial of the JTATA charter petition appeal may be appealed to the State Board of Education.

TWENTYNINE PALMS ART GALLERY EXHIBITION CLOSES SUNDAY

The final day to see the mini show now on display at the 29 Palms Art Gallery is Sunday. Kirby Davis fills in the details…
The 29 Palms Art Gallery’s current exhibition will close its mini show Sunday, January 8. Featuring original art by guild members, the art in this show is 12×12 inches or smaller, with prices to match. In addition to the mini show, guild members are on display in the Pickering Room. The featured artist this month is photographer Robert Miramontes, whose photos of Joshua Tree National Park and rock climbing can be seen in books and magazines. Regular hours are noon to 3, Wednesday through Sunday. The 29 Palms Art Gallery is located at 74055 Cottonwood Drive.

CALFIRE FIRE FIGHTERS LOOKING FOR SUBSTANTIAL RAISE

CalFire firefighters are looking at a proposal that would give them a hefty raise. The state-employed firefighters, some of the lowest-compensated in their profession in California, are preparing to vote on a contract offer that would increase their base pay by 9.29 percent to 22.55 percent over four years. Union leadership, which represents about 6,000 current and retired CalFire employees, could bring the contract to the membership by late January. Several previous offers by the state were rejected by union leadership without a membership vote. The contract would increase compensation for the job categories of Firefighter II at the bottom and Battalion Chief at the top. For instance, a Firefighter II currently making base pay of $3,872 monthly would make $4,483 in 2020 after a 17.45 percent pay raise over that span. “Right now, it’s a tentative proposal,” said Battalion Chief Scott McLean, a spokesman for CalFire’s state office.

JOSHUA TREE BOXOHOUSE ARTIST IN RESIDENCE TALK SATURDAY

BoxoHOUSE of Joshua Tree presents artist-in-residence Amanda Beech for an artist’s talk. Reporter Rebecca Havely has your invitation…
Amanda Beech, an artist-in-residence at BoxoHouse is working on a long-term project which she’ll share at an artist’s talk on Saturday January 7. You’re invited to attend the presentation from 3 to 6 p.m. with the talk beginning at 3. There will be a screening of past work and discussion of her next, followed by an opportunity for Q&A. Beech is an artist and writer who works with video, installation, print and painting. Her work has explored the intersecting themes of groundlessness, freedom, chaos, contingency and equality in different strands of culture, politics and philosophy. Beech is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. Her work manifests in different media, including critical writing, video installation, drawing, print, and sculpture. She’s shown her artwork at many major international venues. BoxoHOUSE is located at 62732 Sullivan Road, Joshua Tree.

HI-DESERT NATURE MUSEUM “SEEDS” EXHIBIT OPENS TODAY

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s newest exhibit: “Seeds: Nature’s Artful Engineering,” opens today and will run through March 11. The exhibit explores the diversity, beauty, and importance of native California plants and their seeds through photographs. More than 25 detailed photos of seeds and more than 30 seed specimens are featured in the show, which aims to increase awareness and appreciation of seeds. The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 to 5, and is in the Yucca Valley Community Center complex. Admission is free.

CALL FOR ART AT 29 PALMS VISITOR CENTER ART GALLERY

The Twentynine Palms Visitor Center and Art Gallery’s upcoming show will feature the many moods and shades of the desert in the winter. Edica Gonzalez issues this reminder that the deadline to submit art for the show is Friday…
The Twentynine Palms Visitor Center and Art Gallery is putting out a call for art for its winter exhibition. Desert artists are invited to submit an original piece of art for possible inclusion in the next show, “Winter Blues: Desert Moods and Shades.” “Winter Blues” is an exhibit meant to depict winter in the desert, and art should reflect this theme. Artwork, which can include painting, photography, ceramics, mixed media, or 3-dimensional work, must be delivered to the visitor center on Friday, January 6, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or by appointment. An opening reception will be held January 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and will include refreshments and live entertainment. For more information, call 760-367-7562.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ basketball team traveled to Hemet to face the Bulldogs in a non-conference matchup Wednesday. They came out victorious with a 66-52 score. Coach T.J. Stanford said leading the ’Cats in scoring was D’Shaun Barrett with 22 points and four steals. Adam Bell had another double double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Abraham Bell contributed with 15 points and six rebounds. Rounding out the cats was Javier Soriano and Ian Duhon with eight points apiece. The ’Cats are now 12-1 overall.

In high school sports, today, the Yucca Valley High School boys’ basketball, and boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will host Hesperia’s Sultana High School at home. Girls’ soccer starts at 3 p.m.; boys’ soccer at 5, and basketball is at 6 p.m.
 
The Joshua Springs boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will host Desert Chapel at home in the Thunderdome tonight. The girls start at 5; the boys at 6:30 p.m.