EASTER EGG HUNTS AND ACTIVITIES PLANNED THROUGHOUT OUR MORONGO BASIN

There will be all kinds of special events and church services in celebration of Easter this weekend, from Yucca Valley to Twentynine Palms. In addition to activities and church services, Easter egg hunts will be held all over our beautiful springtime Morongo Basin. The Twentynine Palms Fire Department Explorers will host the annual Easter egg hunt Sunday, April 16, at 1:00 p.m. at the Little League fields in Luckie Park. The egg hunt is open to children through age eight.
Joshua Tree Recreation and Parks will hold their 50th annual egg hunt tomorrow morning. Arrive by 8:30 a.m. to allow time to get to your egg hunt area. Right at 9 a.m. the fun begins with the start of the egg hunt, open to toddlers to sixth graders. The children will participate in six separate age groups. After the egg hunt there will be pictures with the Easter Bunny, a pancake breakfast, live music, a beer garden, games and activities, vendors, food, and a display by the County Fire Department. For more information contact the Joshua Tree Community Center Office at 760-366-8415.
Edica Gonzalez tells us about the Yucca Valley Easter egg hunt…
The Town of Yucca Valley will present its annual Easter egg hunt event on Saturday, April 15, at the Yucca Valley Community Center athletic field. All children 8 years old and under can participate, with a separate hunt area for each age group. Parents may help toddlers in the Li’l Hoppers Zone. The event will begin at 9 a.m., but early arrival is encouraged. In addition, there will be two contests with special prizes. There is no admission charge, but participants must bring their own basket to collect eggs and goodies. The Easter Bunny will also be available for photos, so bring your camera.
The Joshua Tree Library invites families for some fun games, crafts, and prizes tomorrow, Saturday, April 15. The library will host its annual “Egg-stravaganza” from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Activities will include crafts, egg-dying, and a Cake Walk for prizes. Children are encouraged to bring hard-boiled eggs to dye, but eggs will be provided for those who are unable to bring their own. For more information, call the Joshua Tree Library at 760-366-8615.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK WILL BE PACKED; PLAN ACCORDINGLY

With more than 2.5 million visitors last year to Joshua Tree National Park, the park’s Joshua Tree entrance often has a long line of cars waiting to enter the park. This week is certain to be busy as visitors come to the park during spring break. Edica Gonzalez reminds visitors to use alternate entrances…
Joshua Tree National Park is seeing more and more visitors, adding up to more than two million visitors yearly. As the park gets busier every year, so do the entrance stations and visitor centers. These busier times create long lines of cars waiting to enter the park, especially at the west entrance outside the town of Joshua Tree. To shorten your wait to enter the park, try using the north park entrance station, three miles south of the town of Twentynine Palms on Utah Trail. Park passes can be purchased at Visitor Centers, and this also helps to move the lines faster through entrances. Having your ID ready to show if you hold annual, senior, or access passes provides faster service through stations as well.
For more information about the park, call 760-367-5522.

AN ARMED ROBBERY AT WAL-MART

In a story still developing, Sheriff’s deputies called in a helicopter to search for a suspect in an armed robbery at Wal-Mart in Yucca Valley Thursday night. About 9:30 p.m., the suspect, described as a man, possibly in his 20s, wearing light pants, a gray hoodie and blue bandana, showed a weapon to a cashier and then left the store on foot. The store’s employees were locked in a back room while deputies searched the store. Deputies, a Sheriff’s K9, and a helicopter also searched the desert south of Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175. Z107.7 News will update this story as more information becomes available.

TWO VALUABLE MOUNTAIN BIKES STOLEN IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the theft of two mountain bikes in Joshua Tree National Park Wednesday. According to a Sheriff’s report, the bikes’ owner had the bikes in the bed of a pick-up truck while he was hiking at the Boy Scout trailhead in the park. When he returned to his truck about 4:30, he discovered the two bikes were gone. One bike is described as a baby blue 2013 Pivot Mach 6. The second bike is a black 2017 Pique Advanced Zero with bright yellow handlebars. The two bikes are valued at $10,500. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.

VEGETATION FIRE AT BOTTOM OF MORONGO GRADE THURSDAY

Morongo Valley firefighters were called to assist Desert Hot Springs firefighters with a 2-acre vegetation fire at the bottom of the Morongo Grade about 4:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Firefighters battled the flames for about one and a half hours on the corner of Highway 62 and Indian Canyon. The cause is still under investigation.

JOSHUA SPRINGS CALVARY CHAPEL ASKS COURT FOR GUIDANCE AFTER FUND-RAISER

Saeed Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian pastor, became famous after his 2012 arrest in Iran for allegedly “attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam” by creating a network of Christian home churches. During his four-year imprisonment, his then-wife, Naghmeh, worked tirelessly for his release by, among other things, meeting with the President, speaking at the UN and seeking help from Christian congregations nationwide. One that responded was Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel in Yucca Valley. Now the church is experiencing the apparent reality of the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Here with more is reporter David Haldane…
An Iranian prison, $200,000, and divorce. Those are the elements of a legal drama engulfing a Yucca Valley church that’s, well, worthy of daytime TV.
It all started back in 2013 when Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel decided to help the family of a jailed Christian pastor by raising enough money to buy them a house. Saeed Abedini, a former Muslim, had been jailed in Iran the year before for spreading Christianity.
The fundraising netted nearly $200,000. But Naghmeh Abedini—Saeed’s wife in Boise, Idaho—was too busy getting him out of prison to immediately make the purchase. And after his release last January, the couple got divorced.
Now Saeed is demanding the money, and the church—which still has it—doesn’t know what to do. “The funds may be subject to being returned to the donors,” it suggests in a lawsuit asking the court to decide.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled in San Bernardino on June 26.

MARINES HAVE BEGUN MOVING TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

Operation Desert Tortoise is in its seventh day as Marines work to move over a thousand Desert Tortoises out of Johnson Valley. The Marines, working with about 125 wildlife biologists, expect to move 1,156 tortoises, clearing areas expected to be most disturbed by live-ammunition training missions. It’s part of a multi-year, $50 million-plus tortoise relocation and study program approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, following a 2013 vote by Congress to add about 88,000 acres in Johnson Valley to the Twentynine Palms Combat Center. Marines say the expansion will allow them to hold longer and more-involved live-ammunition desert training missions, set to start this summer. For the tortoise, a species listed as threatened with extinction, it means the loss of more than 100 square miles of quality habitat.

TIRE ROUND-UP IN LANDERS TOMORROW

Last December, volunteers from the Landers Community Association partnered with County Code Enforcement in an all-out effort to remove mostly illegally dumped vehicle tires from rural roads, private properties, just about everywhere. So successful was that effort, tomorrow they’ll do it again. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
Dubbed the “Greater Landers Monster Tire Round Up II,” organizers just yesterday announced their goal of matching December’s haul of approximately 800 tires. The announcement followed word from County Code Enforcement that tires with rims would be accepted. Association President Roxanna Shamay said it was great news because Saturday is the first time that those bringing tires with rims attached won’t be turned away. Saturday’s free tire round up is financed through a grant from CalRecycle, the state agency that oversees recycling. Tires collected will be turned into playground cover, building materials, erosion control, and alternative fuel. Electronic waste such as computers, printers, TVs, VCRs, cell phones, fax machines, stereos, and electronic games will also be accepted. Tomorrow’s round up is from 8 a.m. to noon at Homestead Valley Park on Belfield Blvd. in Landers. Tires must not exceed 12 inches wide by 44.5 inches high.

LOCAL CHURCHES OFFER EASTER ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES

Sky View Chapel Church of God will hold an Easter egg hunt for children ages 3 to 12 on Saturday, April 15, at 10 a.m. The egg hunt will be held at Friendly Hills Park on Sunny Vista Road in Joshua Tree.
Gospel Fellowship Christian Center Church will host Easter services Sunday, April 16, at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 5898 Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms. For more information, call 760-361-6510, or visit gfccc.org.
One 80 Ministries will hold Easter services at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 16. A lunch and free food give-away will follow. The event will be held in the bicycle shop parking lot at 6414 Hallee Road in Joshua Tree.
Godwin Christian Fellowship will hold its first service in its new building on Easter Sunday, April 16. The Easter service will be held at 10:30; a luncheon will start at noon, and Pastor Garry Brooks of Wonder Valley Community Church will hold a puppet ministry from 1 to 2. Godwin Christian Fellowship church is located near the corner of Godwin Road and Highway 62 in Wonder Valley. For more information, call Pastor Max Ross at 831-234-6848.

LECTURE TONIGHT FEATURES ARTIST AND AUTHOR HENRY MOCKEL

The Old Schoolhouse second Friday lecture series features wildflower artist and author Henry Mockel. Here with the details is reporter Rebecca Havely…
Henry Mockel and his wife Beverly took many trips to Joshua Tree National Park and made frequent stops so he could paint the flowers along the way. They moved to Twentynine Palms in 1961 and opened the Pioneer Art Gallery. After studying botany, and culminating in 14 years of notes, he and Beverly co-wrote “Mockel’s Desert Wildflower Notebook.” The lecture begins at 7 p.m.; tickets are $5 at the door of The Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, on Friday, April 14. For more information, call 760-367-5535.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ varsity tennis team hosted the Rattlers of Rancho Mirage on Wednesday. The Wildcats lost 3 to 15.   
In singles,  the Wildcats were led by Brett Hope, who won one of his sets. In doubles action, the teams of Ben Pressnall/Dylan Smith and Sean Sears/Mac Miller each won one set. 
 
In high school sports today, the Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms High Schools baseball teams will play their second rivalry game of the season, in Twentynine Palms. The game starts at 3:15.
The Wildcats and Trojan softball teams will play their first rivalry game today, in Yucca Valley, starting at 3:15.
The Joshua Springs baseball team will host Redlands Adventist Academy at home, starting at 3:15.
And finally today, the Wildcats Tennis Teams host Desert Hot Springs at 3:15 pm.

SERVICES SET FOR JUDY ANDRESHAK

Judy Andreshak, a 44-year resident of Twentynine Palms, died April 8; she was 67 years old. She is survived by brother and sister Elaine Bowden and Dave Andreshak, of Twentynine Palms, and a niece and great nephew in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Andreshak retired after working as a budget analyst for Joshua Tree National Park. A service will be held at 11:00 on Wednesday, May 3, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Twentynine Palms with a private, family-only, crypt-side service at Twentynine Palms Cemetery. Judy Andresak was a very active member of the Theatre 29 family, serving on the Theatre 29 board and as historian for many years. She worked as a director, assistant director, stage manager, and as an actress. Judy was a frequent guest on the stages of several theaters in the Morongo Basin over the past thirty years. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in the name of Judy Andreshak to Theatre 29, Palms and Paws animal shelter, or the charity of your choice.

Words From Theatre 29

It is with a very heavy heart that we report the passing of a generous, talented, gracious soul who touched all those she met and worked with and leaves an indelible void in our arts family and, indeed, the Morongo Basin. Judy Andreshak, who had served on the Theatre 29 board for many of our earliest years and continued to serve as our historian, left this mortal coil early Saturday, April 8. Her sudden loss was a shock to all who knew her. Judy was a frequent guest on the boards of several theatres in the Morongo Basin over the past thirty years she was active in these endeavors.  Never one to demand the spotlight, she was often a chorus member or background player on major musical, spritely comedy and deep drama alike. But the spotlight found her in such roles as Tituba in “The Crucible,” Helen O’Toole in “Exit the Body,” Mother Baker in “Come Blow Your Horn,” and Helga Ten Dorpp in “Deathtrap,” to name just a very few.  She was also a director, having helmed “Clue The Musical” (2002) and “Quilters” (2003). Judy was also a vocal supporter and die-hard producing partner of the Theatre 29 Halloween haunt events since their inception a dozen years ago. Hers was the smiling face you would first see in the lobby before getting your wits scared out! She was a voracious patron of the arts, attending productions all over the Morongo Basin and supporting all of the companies, great or small, whenever possible. Generous with her time and her talents, Judy was a quiet, passionate force for good in our corner of the world.  She leaves behind a wealth of friends, colleagues and family. To her sister Elaine, our most heartfelt condolences to you and your family. A unique light has left our world and our skies are a little bit dimmer. But a new star is in the heavens and she will have the best seat in the house ever after.