TWO SOUGHT AFTER EMPLOYEE IS SHOT DURING A YUCCA VALLEY ARMED ROBBERY

Sheriff’s deputies are asking for the public’s help in finding two suspects who shot an employee of a Yucca Valley restaurant during a robbery early Monday morning. According to a Sheriff’s report, the two men entered the Castaneda’s restaurant in the 56500 block of 29 Palms Highway about 4:30 a.m. The suspects pointed a handgun at the employee and demanded money from the registers, as well as from the employee’s wallet. After the employee gave the suspects the money, one of the suspects fired two shots at the employee, one of which hit the employee in the head, and the other round missed. The suspects then fled the restaurant. The suspects are described as light-skinned Hispanic or white, wearing hoods that covered their faces. One was armed with a handgun and the other had a rifle or shotgun. The victim was transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s department at 760-366-4175.

MORONGO VALLEY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

A Morongo Valley man accused of murder in the stabbing death of a neighbor two years ago took a plea bargain Friday. On April 5, 2014, Chad Leyburn, now 31, was arguing with his neighbor, Robert Verbeck, 74, when he took out a knife and stabbed Verbeck five times, killing him. Leyburn pleaded guilty in a Joshua Tree courtroom to voluntary manslaughter using a deadly weapon, elder abuse causing great bodily injury, and assault causing great bodily injury. Chad Leyburn will be sentenced by Judge Rodney Cortez August 25.

CEREAL DRIVE WILL BENEFIT LOCAL FOOD BANK

A cereal food drive will benefit a local food bank. Managing editor Tami Roleff says businesses are encouraged to participate…

Let’s get serious about cereal. Hi-Desert Medical Center, Hi-Desert Publishing Co., and Z107.7 are sponsoring a cereal food drive June 2 through June 9, and are recruiting local businesses to participate. Donation boxes will be placed in participating businesses, and the business that collects the most cereal and monetary donations will win a trophy and advertising packages. The deadline for businesses to enter is Wednesday, May 31. All donations will benefit the Way Station in Joshua Tree and the FIND food bank in Indio, which partners with the Way Station. For more information, call 760-366-6322.

FIRE IN BIG MORONGO PRESERVE YESTERDAY

About 120 firefighters from CalFire, Morongo Valley, and the Bureau of Land Management fought a brush fire that broke out in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve about 12:30 a.m. Monday. As of Tuesday morning, CalFire says the fire, called the Matz Fire, is 16 acres and is 95 percent contained. Two air tankers and three helicopters were called in to help fight the blaze. Firefighters had to walk in about one mile, carrying hoses and firefighting equipment, to reach the flames. The fire was in a remote area of the park with heavy fuel, and CalFire said the high temperatures and low humidity were a concern. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photos Courtesy CalFire

A helicopter carries a bucket of water that it will dump on the flames below in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.

An air tanker flies over the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve as it prepares to dump retardant on the blaze.

A CalFire spotter plane flies overhead; this plane provides “eyes in the sky” for firefighters on the ground.

SUNDAY FIRE DESTROYS A NORTH JOSHUA TREE HOME

A home in North Joshua Tree is a total loss following an early morning fire Sunday. Firefighters from Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Yucca Mesa, and Twentynine Palms were called to the fire in the 64800 block of Broadway at 4:15 a.m. County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Snow said the two-story house was fully involved with flames and the blaze was threatening two other structures. Given the fire’s intensity, and the building’s potential for collapse, Snow said all firefighting efforts were restricted to the exterior of the house, which was believed to be unoccupied. One firefighter suffered a minor injury due to electrical shock and was taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center and later released. The fire was under control in about an hour. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Photos courtesy San Bernardino County Fire Department

Photo courtesy Monica Franceschetti

THEATRE 29 SEEKS DIRECTORS SUBMISSIONS FOR THE 2018 SEASON

Theatre 29 is asking area theatrical directors to submit suggested plays, comedies, dramas and musicals for their 2018 season line-up. Reporter Rebecca Havely has all the details…
Theatre 29 is beginning the process of forming their 2018 theatrical season. Directors are encouraged to submit two titles to allow flexibility in forming a well-balanced season such as a musical and non-musical title. Directors may request a particular time slot but are not guaranteed it will be available. The play selection committee will review all requests and will submit a recommended line-up; the full board will make the final determination. First-time directors should include a directorial resume or biography and an assistant director well accustomed to the Theatre 29 organization. All Theatre 29 directors are unpaid volunteers. For complete submission instructions visit the director’s page at theatre29.org.

Directors should submit their requests by June 30 by email to z1077fm@gmail.com or to:
Theatre 29 Play selection committee
c/o Gary Daigneault
6448 Hallee Road #5
Joshua Tree, Ca. 92252
For more information, call Gary Daigneault at 760-366-8471.

ALL BURN PERMITS AND OPEN FIRE SUSPENDED IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

Due to short-term high winds, high temperatures and low humidity, San Bernardino County Fire Marshal Mike Horton has suspended all burn permits and open fires in all unincorporated South Desert areas, including the town of Yucca Valley and the city of Twentynine Palms. THIS SUSPENSION SHALL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL LIFTED. Covered barbecues and recreational fires fueled solely by natural gas or propane are exempt from this suspension. Cooking fires of any type are permissible under permit only when NO alternate means of cooking are available. Residential burning of trash, yard clipping and tree trimmings are ALWAYS prohibited, regardless of conditions. Unlawful fires may result in administrative or legal action against the person kindling the fire and/or owner of the property on which the fire occurs. A full copy of the proclamation can be found at sbcfire.org.

COUNTY AND CALTRANS TO DEDICATE JOSHUA TREE STRIPING PROJECT TOMORROW

CalTrans and County representatives will hold a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at Tortoise Island in Joshua Tree at 10 a.m. tomorrow, (Wednesday, May 31), for the new bike lanes and striping plan in downtown Joshua Tree. The striping and bike lanes are a first for San Bernardino Counties. Bring your bikes; following the dedication ceremony, John Bulinski of CalTrans will lead a bike ride.

THREE-VEHICLE CRASH IN YUCCA VALLEY SENDS ONE MAN TO HOSPITAL

One man received serious injuries, and five others received minor injuries, in a three-vehicle crash in Yucca Valley Monday. According to the California Highway Patrol, Timothy Weber, 37, of Yucca Valley, was driving his 2011 Honda northbound at a high rate of speed on Old Woman Springs Road just before 6:30 p.m. As he crested the hill just south of La Brisa Drive, his car drifted across the solid double yellow lines and hit a pick-up truck driven southbound by Justin Roling, 22, of Twentynine Palms. Weber’s Honda deflected off the truck and continued northbound and hit a 2007 Hyundai, driven southbound by Bobbie Caress, 38, of Colorado. Weber had to be extricated from his car; he received multiple fractures to his left leg, arm, and pelvic area. He was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs by Morongo Basin Ambulance. Justin Roling and his passenger Nicholas Joseph, 22, of Vacaville, and Bobbie Caress, and her passengers, David Williford, and a 16-year-old boy, boy of Victorville, all sustained minor injuries and were treated at the scene and released.

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE WORKSHOP THIS FRIDAY

The summer heat is already upon us; do you need help paying for cooling costs? The Home Energy Assistance Program is holding a workshop, and reporter Eric Knabe has the details…
Do you need financial assistance to pay for your cooling or heating costs?
Drop into the FREE Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Energy Education Outreach/Workshop. Drop-ins are welcome. The service is first come, first served. The workshop is Friday, June 2, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m., At the Wonder Valley Community Center 80526-1/2 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley. You do not need to be a Wonder Valley resident to apply.

Checklist of mandatory documentation for HEAP.
All required documents must be included.
Current (most recent) gas bill/propane bill
Entire bill (all pages). Showing 22+ days of usage
Current (most recent) electric bill
Entire bill (all pages). Showing 22+ days of usage
Any disconnection and/or urgent notice (if applicable)
Rental agreement or mortgage statement

Also include the following if you rent and you receive (Low income housing)
– Section 8
– Hud
– Affordable Housing
Household Income:
Must be current (last 4-weeks) – Needed for all members of the household
Paycheck/unemployment stubs
Disability income (State – EDD or Workers Compensation)
Child Support/Alimony (Spousal Support)
Social Security (SSA) (SSI) – Current bank statement showing direct deposit, award letter for current year, copy of check
Pension or Retirement benefits – current award Letter
TANF (cash aid) current Notice of Action or Passport to Services

WEATHERIZATION
IF you are interested in Weatherization services you must complete the attached forms from State Community Services Department (CSD)
Form-515 Energy Service Agreement.
Form-515A For Owners of the property
Form 515-B For Renters, this form is to be completed by the owner of the property
Form Prop 65.

BLOOD DRIVES IN TWENTYNINE PALMS TODAY, YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

LifeStream will conduct two community blood drives Tuesday and tomorrow. The first blood drive, set for 2 to 6 p.m. today, will be at Little Church of the Desert, 6079 Adobe Road, in Twentynine Palms. Tomorrow’s blood drive is from 9 to 1 at Hi-Desert Water District in Yucca Valley. Blood donors of all types are needed to help fill a nationwide shortage. Donors will receive incentives. Those aged 18 to 44 years may also register for Be the Match bone marrow screening free of charge. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood for either blood drive, call 800-TRY-GIVING.

SKY’S THE LIMIT OFFERING ASTRONOMY CLASSES

Our Morongo Basin is blessed with some of the darkest night skies, and best views of space found anywhere on the continent. For anyone who wants to know more about the objects we see up there, Sky’s The Limit Observatory offers a hands-on learning opportunity. Reporter Mike Lipsitz says this class is out of this world…

Sky’s The Limit is offering an Astronomy Class on Wednesday, May 31 with repeat sessions June 28, and July 26. Participation is limited to between five and10 adults, which includes college and high school students. The cost is $20 per person. The class begins at 7:15 p.m. with a walking tour of the Orrery – a model of the inner planets from Mercury to Mars at a scale of 20 billion to 1, followed by a PowerPoint presentation on the basics of astronomy. Hands-on instruction at the dome using different types of telescopes and binoculars will provide a personal tour of the night sky. The evening will conclude with an extended look through Sky’s The Limit’s large, 14-inch Celestron telescope. The Observatory on Utah Trail is just outside the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms. To register or for more information contact Ray Yeager 760-365-7897 or ryeager890@aol.com.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CEMETERY BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

The Twentynine Palms Cemetery District will hold its regular meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 30. Among the items on the agenda, the board will discuss landscaping options. The cemetery has an antiquated irrigation system, a limited budget, and the landscaping has experienced damage from roots and water conservation. The public is encouraged to attend to give ideas on landscaping. The board will also receive its final budget, be asked to approve a request for a customized niche marker. The board will then go into closed session to discuss potential litigation. The cemetery district is still soliciting residents who are interested in serving on the board. For more information, call 760-367-9316.