MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST “RALLY FOR THE MONUMENTS” SEES 160 PARTICIPANTS

A group calling itself “Desert Defenders” rallied at the Mojave Desert Land Trust offices in Joshua Tree yesterday. In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to review all national monuments over 100,000 acres that were created between 1996 and 2016 by the Antiquities Act of 1906, to determine if the monuments should be downsized or eliminated. Two of the 27 monuments under review are in our local region: Sand to Snow, and Mojave Trails National Monuments. (Another national monument, Castle Mountains, is only 21,000 acres and so is not subject to review.) Monday afternoon, Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) hosted a rally at their Joshua Tree offices with over 250 attendees standing up against what they call “The federal attacks on the California desert national monuments.” The rally featured live music and inspirational speeches from community leaders. Following the rally, the organization moderated a Q&A with Conservation Director Frazier Haney. The Department of the Interior will start taking public comments about the monuments under review as of May 12. Details on how and where to submit comments on the national monuments are available at:

Comments may be submitted online after May 12 at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/interior-department-releases-list-monuments-under-review-announces-first-ever-formal

A WARM RECEPTION TO CALTRANS DOWNTOWN JOSHUA TREE TRAFFIC PLANS

At last night’s meeting of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council in Joshua Tree, representatives from Caltrans held a final presentation on their pilot plan for more safely moving vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists through the Joshua Tree business district. And for an audience not known for cordiality, the plan was warmly received by the many Joshua Tree residents and business owners in attendance. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…

In a follow-up to a plan first proposed in February, Caltrans representatives presented a plan adjusted to incorporate community feedback. It calls for Highway 62 through downtown Joshua Tree to receive enhanced signage, a six-foot-wide green bike lane, corner delineators, and diagonal parking, all of which has been designed to improve safety and visibility. Caltrans’ District Chief of Operations, Haissam Yahya, confided that a secondary benefit likely to be seen from the changes is that through traffic naturally tends to slow down. Many in the community have called for reduced speed through Joshua Tree in response to a high number of pedestrian-versus-vehicle fatalities. And while $25,000 was originally budgeted for the project, Yahya said $98,000 has since been approved. The three- to four-day project is slated to begin May 22.

TWENTYNINE PALMS SEX TRAFFICKERS SENTENCED FRIDAY

The Twentynine Palms residents who were convicted last month on sex trafficking charges were sentenced Friday in Joshua Tree Superior Court. Kevin Akins, 28, was sentenced by Judge Rodney Cortez to 20 years in state prison at Chino for pandering. In addition, he was sentenced to eight years for causing a minor to engage in commercial sex; four years for depriving another of personal liberty; and two years for threatening a crime, all to be served concurrently with the 20 years for pandering. Akins’ co-defendant, Aubrei Wilson, 23, was sentenced to eight years in state prison at Frontera for depriving another of personal liberty and four years for pimping, to be served concurrently. According to court records, deputies found a teen girl in the desert near Twentynine Palms in June 2015, and determined that she was the victim of a sex trafficking ring. Kevin Akins and Aubrei Wilson were arrested six months later and their trial began in April 2017. After several days of testimony, Akins and Wilson accepted a plea bargain in exchange for several other charges being dropped. A restitution hearing will be held June 30.

ROCK CLIMBER BREAKS LEG IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK FALL

A woman climbing the rocks in Joshua Tree National Park fell and broke her leg Monday. The woman, who was described only as being in her 20s, was climbing on Dairy Queen Wall near Hemingway when she fell and broke her lower left leg. Joshua Tree Search and Rescue, along with park service rangers, Joshua Tree firefighters, Morongo Basin Ambulance, and guides were called in to help about 11 a.m. with the rescue. The woman was conscious and alert when rescuers arrived, but was in a lot of pain.  The rescue was technical, and required maneuvering around boulders by hand. She was taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center by Morongo Basin Ambulance.

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION HEARING ON BANNING MARIJUANA TONIGHT

Acting at the direction of the Town Council, the Yucca Valley Planning Commission will hold their second public hearing tonight as they come up with an ordinance that would ban marijuana in the town limits. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has more…
At tonight’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Planning Commission, commissioners will re-open the public hearing on marijuana. The agenda states commissioners will continue their work on amending the development code to prohibit all marijuana uses within the town and establish reasonable regulations for the indoor personal cultivation of marijuana. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center.

JOSHUA TREE MAN ATTACKS ANOTHER WITH LIQUOR BOTTLE

A Joshua Tree man who hit another man with a liquor bottle because the victim refused to give him a ride and had no work for him to do, was arrested Sunday afternoon. According to a Sheriff’s report, Quincy Arredondo, 23, approached a resident who was working in his front yard in the 3400 block of Lucerne Vista Avenue in Yucca Valley about 2 p.m. and asked him for work and for a ride. The man told Arredondo he wouldn’t give him a ride and he didn’t have any work for him. The report states Arredondo was angered by the reply, and reacted by hitting the man on his forehead with a glass 1.75 liter bottle of liquor he was holding. The victim suffered bruising and swelling to his forehead. Arredondo then allegedly threw a plastic bottle at the victim, and punched him in the mouth before fleeing the scene. After an investigation, Quincy Arredondo was arrested on suspicion of assault with a weapon, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN ARRESTED FOR BURGLARY

A Yucca Valley man was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of attempting to burglarize a Twentynine Palms home. According to a Sheriff’s report, the resident of a home in the 6500 block of Cholla Avenue called deputies at 2:30 a.m. to report someone was trying to break into the house. The resident said the man, later identified as Benjamin Tyerman, 40, was at the front door, knocking on windows, and tried to open windows to come inside. Benjamin Tyerman was arrested for investigation of attempted burglary, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

YUCCA VALLEY MEN ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Friday, accused of beating up another person. According to a Sheriff’s report, neighbors called deputies about 8:30 p.m. Friday about a fight in the 7100 block of Cherokee Trail. Jermain LaCour, 44, was arrested for investigation of spouse abuse. Jermain LaCour was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000. The victim was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs for treatment.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES RENTALS AND REVENUE TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms City Council meets tonight in regular session. Reporter David Haldane says the agenda is dominated by the two big R’s…
Rentals and revenues. That’s what’s on tonight’s Twentynine Palms City Council agenda. Specifically, the city’s proposed preliminary special fund budget for the next two years and a general fiscal forecast for the next five. Reports on both will be presented for the Council to bite on and chew.
Regarding rentals, the county will present its newly minted vacation home rentals ordinance designed to reign in the use of such platforms as AIRBNB. Though presently the ordinance applies only to mountain areas, county officials have said that eventually it—or an ordinance like it—will be applied to Joshua Tree.
Tonight’s meeting gets underway 6 p.m. in the Council chambers on Adobe Road.

COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS MEET TOMORROW

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 pm to 6:00 pm The meeting will be held at the Helen Gray Education Center located on the campus of the Hi Desert Medical Center at 6601 White Feather Road, Joshua Tree. The group is facilitated by Kristin Martin. For more information, please contact Martin at 760-250-7295 or visit the Hi Desert Medical website at www.hdmc.org

SCHOOL BOARD IN STUDY, CLOSED, AND OPEN SESSIONS TODAY

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education will meet in a work-study session at 5 p.m. today to discuss the district’s strategic plan. The board will then go into closed session at 6 p.m., to discuss student expulsions and readmissions; discipline, dismissal or release of a district employee; negotiations with the Morongo Teachers’ Association and California School Employees; and to hear a complaint against a district employee. The board reconvenes in open session at 7, during which it will recognize employees who have 20 or more years of service with the district. Reporter Eric Knabe has more details…
In addition to the recognition of employees’ years of service, the board will be asked to approve a new agreement with Doug Weller, the acting superintendent who took over from Tom Baumgarten, who is on a leave of absence. Weller will be paid the superintendent’s salary through June 30, or until Baumgarten returns (whichever is earlier). The board will also approve a ¾ of 1 percent salary increase for the MTA and CSEA. The meeting will be held at the Joshua Tree Elementary School, 4950 Sunburst Avenue.

20 Years of Service
Jennifer Beasley
Martha Boice
Victoria Montgomery
Michael Ruggiero
Daniele Snider
Lori Thomas

25 Years
Dyan Carroll
Carol Dougwillo
Jeffrey Drozd
Linda Hamilton
Raymond Larson, Jr.
Jimmy Tumbleson
Cynthia Villani

30 Years
Terrence Bergey
Kenna Boyer
Jacqueline Brand
Julie Casseaux
Jeff Evans
Abigail Geoghegan
Diana Jones
Mary McGrorty
Avlisa Mintz
Terri Weitz
Donna Weller
Douglas Weller

40 Years
Ann Budd

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SCHEDULES

In high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School baseball and softball teams will play the Rattlers of Rancho Mirage High School at home. Both games start at 3:15.
 
The Joshua Springs baseball and softball teams will host their rivals, Desert Christian Academy from Bermuda Dunes, at home. Baseball begins at 3:15; softball at 3:30.