ACTIVE-DUTY MARINE ARRESTED AFTER DOUBLE MURDER IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

An active duty U.S. Marine stationed at the Twentynine Palms base, the suspect in a Twentynine Palms double murder, was arrested Thursday aboard the base. Homicide investigators say just after midnight, March 24, a 911 call was placed, stating that two women had been shot multiple times in the 7700 block of Bedouin Avenue. Arriving deputies found Christy McKissic, 32, and her mother, Renee Metcalf, 62, dead at the scene. A 10-year-old child was at the home and was unharmed. Through investigative leads, detectives identified Lance Corporal Rafael Aikens, 22, a machine-gunner attached to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment aboard the base, as a person of interest in the murders, and with the assistance of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, arrested him at his base housing just before 7 p.m. Thursday for investigation of the murders of Christy McKissic and Renee Metcalf. Rafael Aikens was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $2 million.

THE PRICE OF WATER FOR PIONEERTOWN AND PART OF MORONGO VALLEY IS GOING UP

Water rates for residents of Pioneertown and the Hacienda Heights section of Morongo Valley are about to go up, way up. It’s just one of the topics up for discussion when county supervisors meet in San Bernardino tomorrow. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has details …
Among the many items on the agenda is a public hearing on county water. It’s part of a series of increases the department is about to levy. Beginning 2017-18 through 2021-22, those in Pioneertown and a portion of Morongo Valley will pay more for water. The hikes follow a rate study concluded in January. For the 120 connections in Pioneertown, the monthly facilities charge for a ¾-inch meter will climb from the current $38, to $46 next year, to a whopping $57 in fiscal 2021-22. Consumption charges would increase in similar fashion. For 167 connections in the Hacienda Heights section of Morongo Valley, the monthly facilities charge for a ¾-inch meter will increase from the current $44, to $69 next year, to just over $104 in fiscal 2021-22. Tomorrow’s public hearing is on all county water fees and charges; the rate increases were already passed when fewer than 50 percent of ratepayers responded to a mail-in protest exercise. The higher rates will go into effect July 1.

THOUSANDS EXPECTED FOR TWENTYNINE PALMS HILLTOPPER MOTORCYCLE RACES

There will be a large an influx of off-road motorcycle racers and their families and fans into the Twentynine Palms area this week. The American Motorcycle Association and Hilltoppers Motorcycle Club are hosting the 43rd Annual Grand Prix this Saturday and Sunday. Races are held on an 8-mile course off State Route 62 three miles east of downtown Twentynine Palms, at Mojave Road. The event includes peewee, quad, sidecar, vintage, classic, unclassified, and pro team races. Races start at 7:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s last race is 2:30 p.m. and the last race Sunday starts at 1:30 p.m. Vendors will be open both days. Gate fee is $10 a day, per person, or $20 for the weekend. Seniors, military, and kids 6 to 12 years old pay $5. Overnight camping is allowed, and there will be registration booths open for anyone who wants to take part in the Grand Prix. More information is available at:
www.hilltoppersMC.com
www.district37AMA.org
www.americanmotorcyclist.com

KING OF THE HAMMERS SET THE DATE FOR THE 2018 WEEK-LONG EVENT

The organizers of King of the Hammers have set the dates for week-long race next year. The opening of Hammertown in Johnson Valley will be February 2, with a week of off-road racing, and culminating in the 12th annual King of the Hammers race February 9, 2018. King of The Hammers is considered the hardest one-day off-road race in the world, and is always the first race in the ULTRA4 Racing season.  Nearly 500 competitors and 40,000 fans visited Hammertown for seven days of off-road racing. All of the races held in 2017 will return next year.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL PLANNING WORKSHOP TOMORROW AFTERNOON

The Yucca Valley Town Council will start updating its strategic plan this fall. The Town Council has requested a series of workshops to discuss some issues and priorities to include in the next strategic plan. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills in the details…
The Yucca Valley Town Council will hold a special workshop Tuesday afternoon prior to its regular meeting. Some of the items the council members may discuss include transportation assistance, a performing arts center, homeless assistance, county partnerships, non-maintained infrastructure review, and rodeo grounds. These items and more could possibly be included in the town’s next strategic plan, which is scheduled to be updated this fall. The workshop starts at 4:30 p.m. in the Mesquite Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.

SOME YUCCA VALLEY TOWN OFFICES CLOSE FOR TRAINING

The Yucca Valley Community Development and Public Works offices will be closed for a few hours Monday, April 3, and Wednesday, April 5 for staff training. The closed hours are Monday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Yucca Valley Town Hall and animal shelter will not be affected by these closures.

YUCCA VALLEY SCULPTORS TAKE FIRST AND THIRD IN INDIAN WELLS ART FESTIVAL

Two Yucca Valley residents won first and third place for their stone sculptures at the Indian Wells Arts Festival over the weekend. David Falossi won first place for his 8,000-pound sculpture of a mountain lion in a cave entitled “The Guardian.” His 17-year-old son, Christopher, won third place for his sculpture of a Mojave green rattlesnake wrapping around a boulder.

David Falossi’s sculpture

Christopher Falossi’s sculpture

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S “MOUSETRAP” REPLACES HALLOWEEN HAUNT AT THEATRE 29

Theatre 29 will replace the “Halloween Haunt” event, previously scheduled for October, with the Agatha Christie classic murder-mystery-thriller “The Mousetrap.” Reporter Rebecca Havely has more…
The Theatre 29 Board of Directors determined that it is more in keeping with their artistic mission to produce an additional, quality stage play for the 2017 season rather than expend the considerable talent and resources necessary for the “Halloween Haunt.” The world’s longest running play, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” will run three weekends from October 6 to October 22, with performances Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday Matiness all three weeks at 2:30 p.m. “The Mousetrap” will be directed by long-time Theatre 29 performer/director Katie Van Sumeren. This will be Van Sumeren’s first adult main stage directorial assignment.
For tickets to all performances, reservations can be made online at theatre29.org or by calling the Theatre 29 Box Office at 760-361-4151. Admission to “The Mousetrap” will be free for season ticket holders.

LOW-COST VACCINE, MICROCHIP, AND SPAY AND NEUTER SERVICES AVAILABLE IN APRIL

The Animal Action League will be offering low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics in April for dogs and cats, as well as low-cost spaying and neutering. No appointments are necessary for vaccines or microchips; appointments are required for spaying and neutering services. Microchips are only $15, and can help reunite you with your lost pet. Clinics will be held in Joshua Tree, west of the dinosaurs on Highway 62, on April 5, 6, 7, 12, 19, 26, and 27, and in Desert Hot Springs’ Wardman Park on April 25. All clinics are held from 10 to 2 and are cash only. Visit animalactionleague.us for more information. To make an appointment for spaying or neutering, call 760-366-1100.

DAV TO HOLD FUN SHOOTING EVENT FOR VETERANS

The Morongo Basin Chapter #60 of the Disabled American Veterans will hold a fun shoot and picnic in Twentynine Palms. Kirby Davis sets her sights on when and where…
The Disabled American Veterans Morongo Basin Chapter #60 will hold a free fun shoot and picnic Saturday, April 8, at the Twentynine Palms Pistol and Rifle Club. The shooting range opens at 8, and the safety brief begins at 9, with shooting following immediately after. Bring your own 22-caliber rifle or pistol and at least 40 rounds of ammunition per person. Eye protection is mandatory. This is a family-friendly event, but all children must be supervised. A lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks will follow. For more information, call 760-364-2027.

29 PALMS ART GALLERY OFFERING CLAY ART WORKSHOPS FOR ADULTS

The 29 Palms Art Gallery will hold a hands-on workshop for adults on the art of clay. Led by local artist Ed Keesling, the five sessions will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 6, 13, 20, 27, and 28 at the art gallery. Participants will learn about clay, modeling techniques, building and using a kiln, and more. The cost is $56 for members; $70 for non-members. To register, go online at 29palmsartgallery.com. The gallery is located on Cottonwood Drive in Twentynine Palms.

CMC ALUMNI SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION DEADLINE WEDNESDAY

Copper Mountain College Foundation is now accepting applications for its CMC Alumni Scholarships for students who attend high school in the Morongo Unified School District. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the deadline to apply is coming up fast…
One student from each of the three local Morongo Unified School District high schools will receive a $500 Alumni scholarship to attend Copper Mountain College. To be eligible, applicants must include two letters of recommendation, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and include a one-page essay on the student’s educational goals. Applications must be postmarked by Wednesday, April 5.

JOSHUA TREE LIBRARY BOOK SALE STARTS THURSDAY

The Joshua Tree Library spring book sale begins Thursday, April 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. with a Friends of the Library members only sale. Memberships will be sold at the door for $10. The silent auction closes at noon on Saturday, April 8. Wednesday, April 12, is 3 bucks a bag sale. The library’s hours are Monday through Wednesday 11-7, Thursday 10-6, and Saturday 9-5.