A child playing with a lighter is responsible for a house fire in Twentynine Palms Monday afternoon. According to County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Snow, a 16-year-old was babysitting two younger siblings at home in the 6100 block of Morongo Road when one of the younger children found a lighter and lit a paper bag on fire in a rear bedroom. The fire spread and firefighters from Twentynine Palms, Wonder Valley, and the Combat Center were called about 4 p.m. Snow said firefighters arrived to smoke and flames showing from the rear of the house, but were able to contain most of the damage to the rear bedroom and contents. The fire was under control and basically out by 4:30, according to Snow. All the occupants made it outside safely, but Snow said firefighters gave oxygen to a cat in the home who suffered from smoke inhalation.
Two adults and an 8-year-old child are dead, and another child was wounded, in what is being called a murder-suicide at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Cedric Anderson, 53, of Riverside, came to the school shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday and went to his wife’s classroom. Karen Elaine Smith, 53, was there with two aides and 15 special-needs students between first and fourth grades. The pair had been separated for several weeks, Burguan said. “Without saying anything, armed with a large caliber revolver, he opened fire on his wife,” Burguan said. “She was killed in the exchange.” Student Jonathan Martinez and another student, who has not been identified, were behind the teacher and were also shot. Jonathan was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he later died of his injuries. The second child, a 9-year-old boy, was in critical but stable condition as of Monday afternoon.
Did you see it? A bright light, a meteor, lit up the skies Monday night over Southern California. A weather spotter reported around 9 p.m. seeing a fireball above Interstate 15 near Hesperia north of Cajon Pass, said the National Weather Service. A resident of San Juan Capistrano said the fireball streaked across the sky for about 8 seconds. “Zig-zaggy orange flames were coming off of it as it scooted by,” she said, “Then it turned green and disappeared. I couldn’t believe the enormity of it.” Other people from Phoenix, Arizona, to San Diego, and here in the Morongo Basin reported seeing the flash.
At last night’s meeting of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council in Joshua Tree, County Code Enforcement Chief Andy Wingert spoke to a full house about the County’s plan to permit and regulate vacation home rentals. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was there …
Wingert assured the more than 60 people in attendance that the short-term or vacation rental ordinance coming before the county board of supervisors does not apply to Joshua Tree. He went on to say that before drafting any ordinance regulating vacation rentals in the unincorporated areas of Morongo Basin, the county would organize more opportunities for community input. Some of those meetings could begin as soon as next month. The ordinance currently under consideration is limited to mountain area communities such as Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. That ordinance calls for restrictions on number of guests, requirements for parking, and prescribes a standard code of conduct. It also requires anyone operating a vacation rental to purchase a permit. And how does the county know who is operating such a business? Wingert said the county is very effective at “mining the Internet” for individuals who operate short-term vacation rentals without permits.
The Morongo Unified School District meets tonight in regular session. On the agenda: a resolution accepting the Surplus Property Advisory Committee Report dealing, among other things, with the disposition of the former Joshua Tree Elementary School site on Sunburst Avenue. The board will also recognize the completion of locker room upgrades at La Contenta Middle School, Twentynine Palms Junior High School and Yucca Valley High School, as well as consider an advanced piano course for seventh and eighth graders at Twentynine Palms Junior High. The meeting starts 7 p.m. at the new Joshua Tree Elementary School, also on Sunburst.
Business will be the focus at tonight’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council. Specifically, which ones to promote to rejuvenate the city’s downtown. Reporter David Haldane has the details…
Project Phoenix is on the agenda at tonight’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting. Specifically, the findings of a retail market study commissioned by the city on how to best promote private development downtown. Among other things, the study—conducted by the Federal Economic Development Agency—includes information on the area’s demographics and what kinds of businesses should be promoted to serve it.
In other potential actions, the Council will consider vacating a road easement at a residential property on the 6600 block of Valley View Drive and confer with real estate and labor negotiators in closed session.
Tonight’s meeting gets underway 6 p.m. at City Hall on Adobe Road.
A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Saturday, accused of dealing drugs. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped William Bagley, 47, near Hillside Avenue and Sun Valley about 9:30 p.m. The deputy found methamphetamine and cash inside the vehicle. William Bagley was arrested for investigation of possession for sales, and on a warrant, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $100,000.
A Morongo Valley man was arrested Friday, after he was found in a stolen car. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies went to the 57700 block of Highway 62 about 4 a.m. where they found Jesus Rael, 28, inside the 2014 Ford compact sedan. A records check determined that the car had been reported stolen. Jesus Rael was arrested for investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle, and a $100,000 warrant, booked into the West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $150,000.
The Sheriff’s Department is investigating an abandoned vehicle left at the intersection of Highway 62 and Old Woman Springs Road Sunday night. According to a report, a witness spotted a man get out of a gray Lexus IS300 left in the middle of the intersection shortly before 11 p.m. and walk eastbound on the highway. Deputies were unable to locate the driver; the vehicle had no license plates or registration paperwork; the vehicle identification number was not on record in California or Arizona. The vehicle was towed. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.
A Landers man was arrested Friday, accused of breaking windows and slashing tires. According to a Sheriff’s report, Leroy Lewis, 35, had been drinking, and started breaking windows at a home in the 600 block of Tahoe in Landers. He also allegedly took a pipe and broke the windows of a vehicle and slashed all four of the vehicle’s tires. Damage is estimated to be about $3,000. Leroy Lewis was arrested for investigation of felony vandalism, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $25,000.
Last week’s Z107.7 report that water rates in Pioneertown and parts of Morongo Valley would be going up—way, way up—caught many by surprise. Well, ratepayers weren’t the only ones caught by surprise. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has part two of the story and this time there’s a happy ending…
California’s Prop 218 allows consumers to reject water and sewer rate hikes by County Special Districts. Sounds good, but to stop an increase, a majority of those affected must write a letter of protest. Such efforts are rarely successful even when rate increases are in the 80 percent range as were those now proposed. So when County Special Districts received fewer than the needed majority of protests, they announced the increases would go into effect July 1. That was about the time the Board of Supervisors Chairman, Robert Lovingood, began hearing from angry constituents. He took a closer look at the five-year schedule of increases and accompanying data; much of it provided on the day supervisors were expected to approve the plan. And in a move that surprised the Special Districts Department, Supervisors put a one-year hold on any increases during which time the proposed hikes will need to be thoroughly justified. Pioneertown and Morongo Valley water customers can breathe easy, at least for now.
The public is invited to a spring, Easter and Passover sing-along and ice cream social tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Yucca Valley Senior Center. Admission is free and it is open to all ages.
The Morongo Basin Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have experienced the death of a child, will meet tomorrow—and every second Wednesday of the month—from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Helen Gray Education Center on the campus of the Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree. The group is facilitated by Kristin Martin. For more information, contact Martin at 760-250-7295 or visit the Hi-Desert Medical website at www.hdmc.org.
The Morongo Basin Community Health Centers provide dental services to residents of the Morongo Basin. There are two clinics in the Morongo Basin: one in Twentynine Palms, and one in Yucca Valley. Managing editor Tami Roleff says no one is turned away based on their inability to pay…
The Morongo Basin Community Health Centers provide a wide range of dental services to area residents. Because the clinics are owned and operated by the Morongo Basin Healthcare District, a Federally Qualified Health Center, a sliding-fee scale is available to patients based on income and household size. The clinics treat patients of all ages with dental care that includes routine cleanings, composite fillings, root canals, crowns, and full and partial dentures. For more information, visit www.mbhdistrict.org.
Phone numbers for the clinics:
Twentynine Palms: 760-366-6438
Yucca Valley: 760-820-4131
Coming up in high school sports today, the Joshua Springs baseball and softball teams will travel away to Calimesa to play Mesa Grande Academy.