BAIL RAISED, COURT DATE SET, FOR TWENTYNINE PALMS DOUBLE-MURDER SUSPECT

Double murder suspect Rafael Aikens was in Joshua Tree Superior court again Wednesday, and Judge Rodney Cortez acceded to the prosecution’s request to increase his bail. Aikens, 22, a Marine lance corporal assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7thMarine Regiment, was arrested two weeks ago on board the Combat Center. He is accused of killing Renee Metcalf, 62, and her 32-year-old daughter Christy McKissic, both of Twentynine Palms, March 24. At last week’s arraignment hearing, Aikens pleaded not guilty and Judge Bert Swift set his bail at $1.75 million. Prosecuting attorney Shannon Faherty then requested a change of judges, and yesterday, Cortez agreed to double Aikens’ bail to $3.5 million. Aikens’ public defender announced that Aikens had hired a private attorney, Donald Calabria, to represent him. Aikens’ next court date is May 17, followed by a preliminary hearing May 18.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN ACCUSED OF DEALING DRUGS

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Tuesday afternoon, accused of dealing drugs. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a vehicle at Avalon Avenue and Paxton Road about 1:30 p.m. for not having a license plate. Inside the vehicle was Donald Palanuik, 40. During the traffic stop, the deputy located methamphetamine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia. Donald Palanuik was arrested for investigation of possession of methamphetamine for sales, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

“INTO THE WOODS” OPENING POSTPONED 1 WEEK AT THEATRE 29

The musical, “Into the Woods” at Theatre 29 postponed its opening for one week. Reporter Rebecca Havely has the details…
The fairy tale musical “Into the Woods,” helmed by director Charles Harvey, will be postponed one week at the Theater 29 due to a medical emergency affecting the family of a key cast member. Patrons who have reserved seats can easily be rescheduled to another date. Please call the Theatre 29 box office at 760-361-4151 with the date you would like to exchange your tickets for. The show run has also been extended and will now run from April 28 to May 21, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7, and Sunday afternoons at 2:30. If none of the dates now work for you Theatre 29 will be more than happy to offer you a full refund.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CHAMBER PROFESSIONALS NIGHT FOCUSES ON MORTGAGES

The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce will be holding its monthly Professionals Night tonight, Thursday, April 13. Mary Jane Binge of First Nations Home Finance Corporation will answer your questions about the ins and outs of the mortgage industry and purchasing real estate. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Twentynine Palms.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MINISTERIAL SERVICES ON GOOD FRIDAY, EASTER SUNRISE

The Twentynine Palms Ministerial Association will hold a Community Good Friday service on Friday, April 14, at noon, at Little Church of the Desert. The church is located at 6079 Adobe Road.
An Easter sunrise service will be held at the Rotary shelter in Luckie Park on Sunday, April 16, at 6 a.m.
Both events are free and open to the public. For more information call Pastor Steven Byrnes at 714-376-3898.

NOMINATIONS DUE NEXT WEEK FOR MARINE WIFE OF THE YEAR

Celebrating the sacrifices of military wives, an award will be given for Marine Wife of the Year. Managing Editor Tami Roleff tells you how to make a nomination…
Nominations are due next week for the Irene Ferguson Marine Wife of the Year Award. World War II veteran Major Glenn Ferguson established the award six years ago in memory of his late wife to honor the sacrifices of military wives in support of their Marine husbands. All women whose husbands serve in the Marine Corps Southwest region, which includes the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, are eligible for the award. Nominations are open through April 19. Winners will receive an award of $1,500 and their name will be displayed on a plaque at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. More information is available here:
https://www.flyingleathernecks.org/programs/marine-wives-award/

SCHOOL BOARD NAMES TWO NEW PRINCIPALS

The Morongo Unified School District named two new principals for the 2017-18 school year. Justin Monical will be the principal at Yucca Valley High School. Jennifer Sands, who is currently the principal at Friendly Hills Elementary School, will become the principal at Black Rock High School. The board of trustees will formally approve the changes at its next board meeting.

BLOOD DRIVE AT TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL TOMORROW

LifeStream will conduct a community blood drive on Friday, April 14, at Twentynine Palms High School, 72750 Wildcat Way in Twentynine Palms, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donors will receive incentives. Students who are at least 15 years of age may donate blood, but everyone under 18 must provide written parental consent. Consent forms are available at LStream.org. LifeStream now offers donors free cholesterol screening and a mini physical with every blood donation. Those aged 18 to 44 years may register for Be The Match bone marrow screening free of charge. For more information, call 800-TRY-GIVING.

EARTH FEST IN JOSHUA TREE SATURDAY

Joshua Tree will host an EarthFest event this Saturday. Reporter Kirby Davis said the event will celebrate kids and pets…
EarthFest Joshua Tree is a family and earth-friendly day celebrating kids, animals and the planet. The free event takes place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 15, in the courtyard at Art Queen at 61855 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. The day’s activities include a Mutt Strut, where children can introduce their dogs on the stage at Art Queen; and a Green Carpet walk, in which children can take the stage and show off their animal and nature themed clothing. A National Park ranger will give a presentation on protecting desert tortoises. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for both people and pets, and a there will be a recycling station for plastic. For more information visit: www.mojaveanimalprotection.org

TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL ROBOTICS TEAM TAKES A CHAMPIONSHIP

The Twentynine Palms High School robotics team, the Steamcats, came home winners last week from a national robotics championship in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Steamcats were among 172 teams from the United States and Canada that competed in various challenges. The Steamcats took first place in the Mega Alliance Challenge, in which they competed as an alliance with two other teams against other teams in alliances. The Steamcats also finished 35th in the skills challenge and 81st in their division.

REACH-OUT PLANS DESERT TEA FUND-RAISER

Reach Out Morongo Basin is holding a fund-raiser at a unique location later this month. Managing editor Tami Roleff has details…
Reach Out Morongo Basin will hold a Desert Tea Social to raise funds for the neighbors-helping-neighbors organization. The tea will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Flora Desierta, 4524 Avenida La Flora Desierta. The Joshua Tree home was one of the houses featured on Reach Out’s home tours in February. Refreshments and tea will be served while the string quartet “Desert Strings” performs. Homeowner Janet Tucker will give tours of the one-acre garden which features native plants, themed seating areas, a vegetable garden, and more. Tickets are $5 each and are available at Reach Out offices in the Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms senior centers, at the Z107.7 studio in Joshua Tree, the Desert Trail and Chamber of Commerce in Twentynine Palms, and ArtFx and Furnishings in Yucca Valley. For more information, call 760-361-1410.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojans varsity softball team bested Twentynine Palms away with a mercy score of 20-1. The girls had a total of 15 hits, with many players hitting impeccably, bringing in runs since early in the first inning. Haley Smith pitched, striking out eight girls with only one walk and allowing only one run. The Trojans were sure-handed without a single error on the field. They play against the Twentynine Palms Wildcats at home on Friday at 3:15pm.

The Twentynine Palms High School swim teams rung Yucca Valley High School’s bell in the second annual Battle of the 500 Bell Wednesday. The Twentynine Palms girls’ swim team defeated the Trojans 119.5 to 50.5; the boys won 126 to 33. Lexi Wade of the Wildcats improved her CIF-qualifying time for the 100-meter backstroke. This was the second annual Battle of the Swim Bell. The bell is used to mark the final lap in the 500 Free event.

Complete results for Twentynine Palms:

200 Medley relay
Girls
1st Gabby Crank, Teagan Thompson, Lexi Wade, Lindsey Scamman
2nd Bella Crank, Nicole Elmer, Devanee Johnson, Tabitha Zuniga
3rd Abril Lazaro, Iris Rivera, Meganlynn Slover, Victoria Williams
Boys
1st Kyle Bobadilla, Josiah Henderson, Tyler Abrams, Brian Soster
3rd Braden Beaudoin, Matthew Councell, Marcus Freitas, Kevin Johnson

200 Free
Girls
1st Taylor Scamman
2nd Ashley Waring (tied)
Boys
1st Nicolas Valenzula
2nd Braden Beaudoin

200 Individual Medley
Girls
1st Gabby Crank
3rd Nicole Elmer
Boys
2nd Kyle Bobadilla
3rd Kevin Johnson

50 Free
Girls
1st Teagan Thompson
2nd Lea Speer
Boys
1st Brian Soster
2nd Cody Landry

100 Butterfly
Girls
1st Lindsey Scamman
2nd Lexi Wade
Boys
1st Josiah Henderson
3rd Tyler Abrams, Marcus Freitas

100 Free
Girls
1st Gabby Crank
2nd Teagan Thompson
3rd Lea Speer
Boys
1st Brian Soster
2nd Cody Landry

500 Free
Girls
1st Nicole Elmer
2nd Ashley Waring
Boys
1st Nick Valenzuela
2nd Matthew Councell
3rd Andrew Baxter

200 Free Relay
Girls
2nd Bella Crank, Lea Speer, Ashley Waring, Tabitha Zuniga
Boys
1st Josiah Henderson, Nic Valenzuela, Cody Landry, Brian Soster
3rd Jacob Smith, Michael Hedges, Andrew Baxter, Matthew Councell

100 Back
Girls
1st Lexi Wade
2nd Iris Rivera
3rd Devanee Johnson
Boys
1st Josiah Henderson
3rd Kevin Johnson

100 Breast
Girls
1st Lindsey Scamman
2nd Taylor Scamman
Boys
1st Tyler Abrams
2nd Kyle Bobadilla
3rd Matthew Councell

400 Free Relay
Girls
1st Nicole Elmer, Taylor Scamman, Lexi Wade, Lea Speer
2nd Bella Crank, Devanee Johnson, Ashley Waring, Tabitha Zuniga
Boys
1st Cody Landry, Kyle Bobadilla, Tyler Abrams, Nicolas Valenzuela
3rd Andrew Baxter, Braden Beaudoin, Kevin Johnson, Michael Hedges

Yucca Valley High School did not provide any results.

In high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School golf team will play Rancho Mirage High School at the Road Runner Dunes golf course in Twentynine Palms, starting at 2:45.
Also today, the Joshua Springs baseball and softball teams will play in Bermuda Dunes against rival Desert Christian Academy, starting at 3:30 p.m.