A high-speed pursuit in Johnson Valley and Landers ended with the arrest of a Buellton man Sunday afternoon. The California Highway Patrol said Officer Caleb Miller was assigned to the King of the Hammers event, and was monitoring traffic in the area of State Route 247 and Boone Road. About 4:30 p.m., a black 2005 Pontiac Sunfire, traveling southbound on the highway approaching Boone, passed another vehicle at a speed more than 90 miles per hour. Miller attempted a traffic stop, and the driver, later identified as William Leair, 39, eventually stopped. However, Leair refused Miller’s commands to keep his hands visible, and then sped off. As Miller pursued, Leair began passing other vehicles over yellow lines. Leair led officers onto several dirt roads in the Landers area before returning to Highway 247 heading toward Johnson Valley. At Camp Rock Road, Leair again led officers onto dirt roads until Leair lost control of his car, which became disabled. The pursuit by multiple CHP officers, Sheriff’s deputies, and a Sheriff’s helicopter, lasted more than an hour. William Leair, who is on post-release community supervision and who had removed his ankle monitor prior to the pursuit, was arrested for investigation of felony reckless evading, resisting arrest, and driving with a suspended license, and is being held on a no-bail warrant out of Santa Barbara for possession of stolen property. William Leair was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $350,000.
A Twentynine Palms man and woman were arrested Monday following a burglary at a business. According to a Sheriff’s report, construction workers returned to their work site in the 73500 block of 29 Palms Highway shortly before 2 p.m. to find two men fleeing the scene with items from the worksite. Evidence led deputies to the 6400 block of Cholla Avenue where they found Raynah Faatoallia, 23, and Albert Gonzalez, 21. After an investigation, Raynah Faatoallia and Albert Gonzalez were arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with their bail set at $25,000 each.
With the end in sight of the weeklong King of the Hammers desert mega-race and rock crawl in Johnson Valley, this is your last chance to get in on the fun at this year’s 11th annual event. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more on what to expect …
This Friday will see the culmination of the week’s races with the 8 a.m. start of the final heat aka the King of the Hammers race. The winners will truly have proven themselves by the conclusion some 14 hours later at 10 p.m. Anyone still standing on Saturday will be welcome to participate in the final event known as the King of the Hammers Experience, and described as “a once in a lifetime chance to experience the Hammers like never before” … a journey on one of the most brutal race courses ever created. Saturday’s “Experience” follows a 9 a.m. awards ceremony where all the week’s winners will be recognized. In addition to the thousands of spectators on the dry lake bed, an estimated 50,000 more are expected to tune in online. For the week’s complete schedule, go to www.ultra4racing.com
The King of the Hammers is in full swing, and the CHP is anticipating heavier than normal traffic flow on State Routes 62 and 247 through Sunday. The event draws a high number of slower-moving vehicles, motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, and toy haulers. The event concludes with most participants and spectators leaving the venue Sunday, February 12. The CHP will be deploying additional patrol units this week. It asks drivers to be patient around the slower moving vehicles, and to be aware that most of the visitors may be unfamiliar with the Morongo Basin. The CHP notes that all Driving Under the Influence laws will be strictly enforced both on and off the highway, and in BLM territories as well. Operating an off-highway vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs carries the same consequences as operating any other motor vehicle while under the influence.
The Yucca Valley Town Council met in regular session last night. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was there and files this report…
In a 45-minute meeting that had little discussion, the Yucca Valley Town Council zipped through its short agenda last night. It authorized spending up to $125,000 to demolish six homes that were a public nuisance due to criminal trespass or that were damaged by fire (55601 29 Palms Hwy., 55831 Yucca Trail; 7531 Cherokee Trail; 6442 Fortuna Avenue; 7082 Avalon; and 57460 Encelia Drive.) It approved guidelines for a commission to oversee the disbursement of tax revenues from Measure Y and Measure Z. The town will start accepting applications for the commission as of today. And finally, the town discussed activities to recognize and honor local law enforcement officers on March 21.
On the agenda for tomorrow’s regular 2 p.m. meeting of the Copper Mountain College board of trustees is a closed session evaluation of president/superintendent Jeff Cummings near the top of the meeting. Back in open session, and among items up for discussion on the action agenda is a resolution that would allow CMC to participate in a grant program called the Strong Workforce Initiative. If approved, the college expects to receive close to a half million dollars for use in job placement, vocational equipment upgrades, and other programs aimed at preparing graduates for post college employment. Tomorrow’s meeting takes place in the Bell Center’s Community Room on the Joshua Tree campus.
Some of the items the Yucca Valley Airport District Board of Directors will discuss at their meeting tonight (Wednesday, February 8) are airport use agreements, and runway maintenance. Under new business, directors will discuss a contract for weed control for $4300, and report on an airspace meeting held last month at Copper Mountain College. The meeting starts at 6:30 in the Mesquite Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.
The Joshua Tree Highlands artist in residence will open her studio tomorrow. Reporter Edica Gonzales has details…
Maryrose Mendoza, the current artist-in-residence at the Joshua Tree Highlands, will hold an open studio exhibition Thursday, February 9, from 3 to 6 p.m. Mendoza replicates and reinterprets everyday objects. Mendoza has had shows in Los Angeles and Toronto. The open studio exhibition is free and will be held at 9321 Via Rocosa in Joshua Tree.
The Mane Street Stampede Wild West show, the volunteers that do the fun Western re-enactment shows at Pioneertown, is putting out a casting call for Western enthusiasts who want to join their fun, family-oriented group of actors. No experience is necessary. Shows begin in April. Contact Paden for details at 760-366-3333.
Learn about the gold and silver in our Mojave Desert at a lecture this evening. Managing editor Tami Roleff has your invitation…
The 50,000 acres of the Mojave Desert are the Old West’s final frontier. Following the discovery of gold and silver in the desert, there was a 20-year rush for riches, much of which was documented in photos. Author, historian, and film maker Nicolas Clapp will present a lecture on Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of the Last Frontier, during the Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s Second Wednesday lecture, starting at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $5, free for museum members. A book signing will follow the lecture. The museum is in the Yucca Valley Community Center complex.
The Yucca Valley Lady Trojan basketball team started off slowly but used a strong third quarter outscoring Desert Mirage 24-7 to pull away for a 70-38 win over the Rams last night in Trojan Gym. Coach Jess Geeson said
junior Kloee Scaccionoce scored a game-high 15 points while junior Kiley Pitts added 14 points. Junior Savannah Beasley scored 13 points and dished out nine assists, while Zena Yakimow pulled down 10 rebounds for the Yucca Valley girls.
The win ups the girls’ record to 7-2 in De Anza league action and overall record to 17-7. The CIF Division 3AA’s 10th-ranked Yucca girls finish the regular season this Thursday with a home game against Desert Hot Springs. The Senior Night game tips off at 6 p.m.
The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ basketball team defeated Desert Hot Springs, 85-51. Ian Duhon and D’Shaun Barrett had 18 points each.