FIRE DESTROYS A JOSHUA TREE HOME

A home in the Desert Heights area of Twentynine Palms is a total loss after a fire Tuesday afternoon, and smoke from the fire could be seen for miles. Firefighters from Twentynine Palms, Wonder Valley, the Combat Center, and Joshua Tree were called to the home of Joanie Johnson and the late Jocko Johnson, in the 70300 block of Winters Road about 4 p.m. When they arrived, they found the home fully involved in flames. The fire had spread to outbuildings, including a shed, buses, and a Conex box. Johnson said she lost “everything,” although firefighters were able to save a 5th-wheel RV, one outbuilding, and a kitten. The homeowner and her dogs escaped injury. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Courtesy Combat Center Fire Department

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION DENIES RECONSIDERATION OF MARIJUANA BAN

The Yucca Valley Planning Commission made a few tweaks to the short-term vacation rental ordinance, changing quiet time hours to 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.; requiring (removable) signs with 24-hour contact information; and requiring a minimum age of 21 for renters of short-term rentals. The ordinance will now go to the Town Council for approval. Next up, the planning commission heard from more than 50 people about whether it should revisit the ordinance prohibiting all marijuana uses within the town, as requested by commissioner Charles McHenry. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the comments became a little heated at times…

“Measure X voted against medical marijuana shops, so we don’t want recreational marijuana shops…. And we know there are unscrupulous people waiting to get pot into the hands of our youth. I fear these are the very same people who are influencing Mr. McHenry, and it is obvious to all involved he has crumbled to pro-pot people who are attacking Yucca Valley. So please move this ordinance on to our elected officials and let our council members do their job.”

Becky Vowles was just one of more than 50 people who spoke at Tuesday’s planning commission meeting about a request by Commissioner Charles McHenry to reconsider the ordinance prohibiting marijuana in Yucca Valley. McHenry said he was in favor of allowing discrete deliveries of medical marijuana in town limits. While Commissioner John Terfehr also supported medical marijuana deliveries, he and McHenry were outvoted 3-2 to reconsider the ordinance. The ordinance now goes to the Town Council for review.

TWENTYNINE PALMS NEW TOURISM DISTRICT HAS SOME BUSINESSES CRYING FOUL

Twentynine Palms is implementing a new measure to increase tourism over the objections of some local business owners who are crying foul. Reporter David Haldane attended last night’s City Council meeting and filed this report…
Hoteliers of Twentynine Palms, get out your wallets! That was the main takeaway from last night’s meeting of the City Council, which voted unanimously to establish the Twentynine Palms Tourism Business Improvement District, otherwise known as the TBID. Its purpose is to promote tourism. But it will be financed by assessments collected from hotel owners and people who rent their houses out to vacationers.
In fact, two hoteliers showed up to speak against the measure, including one who described Twentynine Palms as a “cul-de-sac city that offers no services.” He argued that the measure would only raise room prices, driving potential customers away.
The new TBID is set to become operational in October.
In other actions, the Council renewed its $3.5 million contract with the county sheriff’s department and reviewed the city’s preliminary General Fund budget for the next two years.

LOCAL DESERT DEFENDERS DISAPPOINTED IN PROPOSED PARK SERVICE BUDGET

Local desert lands supporters are “disappointed and troubled” at the new fiscal year 2018 figures for the National Park Service included in the latest budget proposal. President Trump proposed a $2.55 billion budget for the National Park Service, including funding increases for Administration priorities like deferred maintenance. The administration says the budget makes a balanced investment in daily park and program operations and parks’ long-term needs while putting the federal government on track for a balanced budget by 2027.
Mojave Desert Land Trust Executive Director Danielle Segura said, “MDLT is disappointed and troubled by this Administration’s lack of commitment to take care of our Nation’s most pristine National Treasures. While funds are allocated for much needed backlog projects it reduces overall operational support and eliminates the bi-partisan supported Land and Water Conservation Fund, a primary tool of continued conservation for our Parks.”

NPS’s FY18 Budget Justification is available: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/upload/FY-2018-NPS-Greenbook.pdf.

Additional details on the President’s FY18 Budget proposal are available on the Department of the Interior’s website: https://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2018/highlights.

CHP OFFERS START SMART CLASSES FOR NEW DRIVERS

The California Highway Patrol Morongo Basin is hosting a Start Smart driving awareness class for newly licensed drivers. Reporter Eric Knabe has the class details…
Start Smart is designed to provide teens and their parents with an interactive, safe driving awareness class. This class is one and a half to two hours long and is offered free of charge. The class will illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel of a car can affect the lives of numerous people. It also teaches collision avoidance techniques and focuses on responsibilities of newly licensed drivers. The class is May 26 at 6 p.m. at the CHP Area office located at 63683 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. Parents and teens interested in attending a Start Smart class should call Officer Simon Miller at 760-366-3707.

YUCCA VALLEY MAN ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Yucca Valley man was arrested early Monday, accused of punching his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff’s report, Patrick Stallworth, 28, was arguing with his girlfriend in the 7300 block of Bannock Trail about 3:30 a.m. when she said he threatened her with a kitchen knife. After he threw the knife away, she said he grabbed her by the neck, causing a superficial laceration. Patrick Stallworth was arrested for investigation of felony spouse abuse, booked into West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $50,000.

TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER BOARD GETS CHROMIUM-6 UPDATE TONIGHT

At tonight’s water board meeting in Twentynine Palms, the board will hear an update on Chromium-6 treatment and look at a draft budget. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
At tonight’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms Water District the board will hear a presentation on the draft budget for fiscal 2017/2018. And among other items tonight, the board will receive an update on Chromium-6 treatment, discuss developing an employee recognition program, and consider a resolution to enter the Joint Protection Programs of the Association of California Water Agencies/Joint Powers Insurance Authority. Those items and others are in addition to routine items on the consent agenda. Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the District Office on the south side of Hatch Road in Twentynine Palms.

FILING PERIOD OPENS FOR THREE SEATS ON TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Three four-year terms for the Twentynine Palms Water District board of directors are up for election in August. Twentynine Palms residents interested in running for election may obtain and file the candidate filing documents from the water district office, or from the San Bernardino County Elections Office, 777 East Rialto Avenue, during business hours. Candidate filing is open through 5 p.m. Friday, June 2. Residents will receive a mail ballot which must be returned by the August 29 election. For more information on this election, visit the Elections Office website at SBCountyElections.com or call 909-387-8300.

WARREN VALLEY WATERMASTER SPECIAL MEETING TONIGHT

The Hi-Desert Water District Board will put on their Warren Valley Watermaster hats for a special meeting tonight. Managing editor Tami Roleff takes a closer look…
The Warren Valley Basin Watermaster board of directors will hold a special meeting Wednesday, May 24. On the agenda, the board will be asked to approve a deficit budget, amend the agency’s rules and regulations, and discuss a request by a resident to drill a residential well in the Basin’s boundaries. The meeting will be held at 5:30 in the offices of the Hi-Desert Water District at Highway 62 and Inca Trail in Yucca Valley.

A TOWN HALL MEETING IN DESERT HOT SPRINGS TONIGHT

Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas will hold a town hall meeting today (Wednesday, May 24) instead of holding a State of the City address. The meeting will consist of a 30-minute presentation by the mayor, followed by a question-and-answer session. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Miracle Springs Resort and Spa, 10625 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs.

THE GRUBSTAKE DAYS PONY EXPRESS RIDES AGAIN THIS FRIDAY

The Grubstakes Days Pony Express rides again! Reporter Rebecca Havely has the details…
Bring your stamped mail to the Yucca Valley Chamber office or head in for a free post card and buy a $1 stamp from the chamber. Then drop your mail in the Pony Express Mailbox before May 25. A commemorative cancellation stamp will be used on all mail in Pioneertown through June 26th. On May 26 local horseman Bud Hurn will ride the mail down Mane Street in Pioneertown arriving at about 1 p.m.