TWENTYNINE PALMS MARINE TO GET SILVER STAR FOR SAVING LINGUIST DURING ENEMY FIRE

The Marine Corps will present the third-highest combat award to an Iraq War veteran Thursday, following a review that upgraded his commendation. Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn M. Walters, will present the Silver Star Medal to Capt. Andrew Kim, an officer with Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group, at the Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms tomorrow. Kim initially received a Bronze Star Medal for valorous actions performed on August 6, 2003, while serving as a counterintelligence specialist with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq. According to the Marine Corps, an Iraqi man approached Kim and his linguist, suddenly drawing a pistol, shooting Kim’s linguist in the neck. A sergeant at the time, Kim immediately returned fire, killing the assassin. He was then hit repeatedly by small arms fire from the rear. Disregarding his own wounds, Kim ushered his fallen linguist into a vehicle and left the ambush’s kill zone, pursued by five Iraqis in a white pickup truck. Taking volleys of enemy fire, Kim drove to a light armored reconnaissance security element and ordered a deadly counterattack on the enemy—“bold” actions the Marine Corps concluded showed “undaunted courage and complete dedication to duty,” plus “gallantry and effectiveness under fire” that “saved the lives of all those conducting the mission,” according to his award citation.

TWENTYNINE PALMS JOINT PLANNING/COUNCIL MEETING CALLS FOR DOWNTOWN CHANGES

Change is in the atmosphere of Twentynine Palms. Reporter David Haldane attended a meeting last night that took a major step towards ushering it in…

Out with the old, in with the new! That was the gist of last night’s joint meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council and Planning Commission, which reached consensus on rescinding a downtown revitalization plan in effect for the last five years.

The problem: many of its provisions contradict the city’s goal of creating a “walkable, pedestrian friendly” downtown. In particular, the Downtown Revitalization Specific Plan—adopted in 2012 and amended the following year—doesn’t conform to the boundaries of Project Phoenix, includes design standards inimical to economic development, imposes overly restrictive allowable land uses, and is generally out of date.

The Council promised to formally rescind the plan in the next few months, after which the Planning Commission will begin formulating a better ordinance to eventually replace it.

In the meantime, staffers said, standard building procedures will apply.

TRAFFIC LIGHTS IN YUCCA VALLEY ARE SYNCHRONIZED ONLY FOR LIMITED TIMES

The Yucca Valley Town Council heard a year-end report from the town’s Youth Commission last night, and passed out certificates of appreciation for a job well done to the youth commissioners. During the rest of the 2 ½ hour meeting, council members heard some surprising news about synchronizing traffic signals in the town. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills in the details…

Town of Yucca Valley Youth Commission

The Yucca Valley Town Council passed out certificates of appreciation for a job well done to the Youth Commissioners.

The Yucca Valley Town Council gave its approval at its meeting last night to go out to bid for signal synchronization for traffic lights from Sage Avenue to La Contenta. On the western end of town (from Camino del Cielo to Mohawk/Acoma Trail), Caltrans set the synchronization schedule and times, which are 8 to 9 a.m., 11 to 1:30 p.m., and 4 to 6 p.m. Outside of those times, the synchronization is turned off. When the traffic lights are synchronized, vehicles have between 67 and 77 seconds to travel through the highway intersection, while cross streets have only 33 to 23 seconds to get through (for a total cycle of 100 seconds). Town staff hope to convince Caltrans to not only make the synchronization hours for traffic signals on the eastern side of town earlier in the morning and continue through the weekends, but for longer cycle lengths as well (120 to 130 seconds for the total cycle; roughly 90 to 100 seconds for highway traffic, then 20-30 seconds for cross traffic to travel through the intersection.)

At this time, the traffic light at Church Street is not yet tied into the synchronization schedule; staff told council members they hope they can convince Caltrans to tie it into the synchronization schedule for the eastern end of town to alleviate the traffic back-ups caused by the that signal.

In other business, council members heard a presentation on the economic impacts of tourism on town businesses, and learned that spending on hotel rooms, gasoline, and dining have been steadily increasing after a dip in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the council learned that the town’s transient occupancy tax, or TOT, is among the lowest in the area (and perhaps even the state) at 7 percent.

An item for future discussion is whether the town wants to continue to support the California Welcome Center as a promoter of the Morongo Basin, or whether it should become a Yucca Valley visitor center.

DRUG SALES ALLEGED IN YUCCA VALLEY, TWENTYNINE PALMS, AND JOSHUA TREE ARRESTS

A Joshua Tree man was arrested Monday, accused of drug dealing. About 8:20 p.m., deputies stopped near Bonair Road and Highway 62 to check on a man, later identified as Jason Brown, 35, who had fallen off his bicycle. A deputy checked the area and found baggies of suspected methamphetamine and heroin as well as drug paraphernalia. A search of Brown, found a large amount of cash as well. Jason Brown was arrested for investigation of possession of a controlled substance for sales, as well as on various drug-related warrants, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $125,000.

A parolee was arrested Monday morning, accused of selling drugs. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to a gas station convenience store in the 1100 block of Old Woman Springs Highway in Yucca Valley about 9:15 a.m. for a customer, later identified as David Vandell, 37, who was arguing with other customers and employees. The deputy determined Vandell was on parole and was attempting to sell drugs. David Vandell was arrested for investigation of possession for sales and for violating the terms of his parole, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

Two Twentynine Palms men were arrested early Monday morning, accused of dealing drugs. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a vehicle in Twentynine Palms near 49 Palms Avenue and Highway 62 about 4:20 a.m. Inside the car were Matthew Sins, 24, and Andrew Gaxiola, 25. Sins was on probation and the deputy searched the car and found methamphetamine and heroin, as well as drug paraphernalia and a large amount of cash. Andrew Gaxiola was arrested for investigation for possession of a controlled substance for sales, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000. Matthew Sins was also arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales and identity theft, and on no-bail warrants for forgery and grand theft.

COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE DOWN TO FOUR MASCOT CANDIDATES

When It comes to sports, a great deal often rides on a team’s name and mascot. When Copper Mountain College basketball hosts their historic first home game this fall, how they’ll be known has yet to be determined. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says that’s where you come in …
Following an exhaustive process with input from more than 300 employees and students at Copper Mountain College, the “Final Four” contenders, each vying to be the new CMC mascot name, have been identified. Will it be Copperhead, Dust Devil, Fighting Cacti, or Tortoise? With the first Copper Mountain College basketball home game scheduled for this fall, time is running out for a school mascot name to be selected. For this reason, CMC is asking you to help make the choice. Which mascot name best reflects the culture and history of Copper Mountain College and surrounding community? Vote for your favorite online at www.cmccd.edu and click on the banner on the home page to be a part of this momentous decision. The deadline to vote is 5 p.m. Friday, May 26.

BOARD MEMBER SOUGHT BY TWENTYNINE PALMS CEMETERY DISTRICT

The Twentynine Palms Cemetery Board of Trustees is looking for a volunteer to fill a current vacancy on its five-member board. Eligible residents must reside within the Cemetery District and be a registered voter. Cemetery board meetings are held on the last Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. Appointments are for four-year terms.

Applications are available at the Cemetery office or at: http://cms.sbcounty.gov/cob/Forms/BCCApplication.aspx. For more information, call Stacey Lee at 760-367-9316.

HI-DESERT WATER IN SPECIAL AND REGULAR MEETINGS TONIGHT

Prior to tonight’s regular meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District board of directors, the directors will hold a special meeting at 5:15 to approve a resolution supporting a policy statement issued by the Association of California Water Agencies’ on the Bay-Delta water flow requirements. ACWA is against a proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board which will supply water based on a percentage of unimpaired flow of water. ACWA urges the State Board to supply water requests based on a negotiated, collaborative process. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills in the agenda for the regular meeting that follows…
At tonight’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District board of directors, the board will considering aligning the future assessment district formation and facilities construction of Phase II and Phase III with the septic tank discharge prohibition compliance deadline of December 31, 2025, by combining both phases. The board will also discuss changing the dates of its regular meetings from the first and third Wednesdays of the month to the second and fourth Wednesdays. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the water district’s office at Inca Trail and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley.

FORMER BOXOHOUSE RESIDENT PRESENTS “FULL CIRCLE” SHOW STARTING FRIDAY

An artist who was in residence at BoxoHouse four years ago will show an exhibition of her work that sprang from her residency. Heather L. Johnson rode her motorcycle from New Jersey to Joshua Tree in 2013 and collected texts, artifacts, and other memorabilia from the places she visited. Then in 2015, she rode from Twentynine Palms to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her show, “Full Circle” is based on experiences she collected during her journeys. The opening reception is set for Friday, May 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at BoxoHouse, 62732 Sullivan Road in Joshua Tree. Her exhibition will be on display Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6.

Heather L Johnson, Diversion [Piura, Peru], watercolor on paper, 38″x38″ (detail)

THE SOCIAL LIFE OF BUGS: LECTURE AT HI-DESERT NATURE MUSEUM TOMORROW

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s next brown bag lunch lecture focuses on the social structures of insects. Reporter Rebecca Havely has more…
Social insect specialist Dr. Jessica Purcell will lecture on the benefits and costs of cooperation in societies. The social structures of the tiny societies in a bugs life will be explored. The focus is on the social life and ecology of our local desert ants. The lecture at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum takes place Thursday, May 18, at noon. Admission is $5 or free to members and sponsors. Bring your friends and a brown bag lunch, beverages will be served.

VENDORS SOUGHT FOR JUNE 3 STREET MARKET AT TWENTYNINE PALMS UNITED METHODIST

Just over two more weeks till the Street Market at the United Methodist Church at 6250 Mesquite Springs Road in Twentynine Palms. The event will be on June 3 and will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come shop for treasures, plan on purchasing lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, garden burgers, with chips and soda, or chicken breast sandwich with corn on the cob and soda, and look over the delightful treats at the bake sale. If you would like to set up a station to sell your goods, call the church at 760-367-7338. A donation of $10 would be appreciated.