YUCCA VALLEY ARMED ROBBERY SUSPECT ARRESTED

A Yucca Valley man was arrested in connection with a robbery at Payless Shoes last month. On May 21, deputies were called to the Payless Shoe Store in Yucca Valley about 6:30 p.m. for a report of an armed robbery. The clerk told deputies that a man entered the store, showed the clerk a gun, and demanded cash from the register and safe, before fleeing with the money and a pair of basketball shoes. Deputies identified Tony Tupper, 55, as a suspect in the robbery and went to his home in the 5200 block of Elata Avenue June 1 with a search warrant. A search of the residence found evidence connecting him to the robbery. Tony Tupper was arrested for investigation of armed robbery, intimidating a witness, and enhancements for using a weapon in the commission of a felony, and a three-strikes enhancement. Tupper was booked into the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $425,000. His first court appearance is set for June 14.

SECOND SUSPICIOUS FIRE IN TWO WEEKS AT TWENTYNINE PALMS PROPERTY

A Twentynine Palms property that had an arson fire two weeks ago had another suspicious fire early this morning. According to County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle, firefighters from Twentynine Palms, assisted by Wonder Valley and the Combat Center, were called to the 6400 block of Yucca Avenue at 2:25 a.m. Wednesday morning. Tuttle said the unoccupied building was fully involved with flames when firefighters arrived; the structure is a total loss. On May 24, a duplex on the property caught fire about 8:30 p.m. Witnesses reported hearing explosions before the fire, and a Hispanic woman was seen leaving shortly before the fire was reported. An arson investigator from the County Fire Department has been called in to investigate. Anyone with information should call 909-386-8400.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES $4.2 MILLION SHERIFF CONTRACT

Morongo Unified School District Superintendent Tom Baumgarten talked to the Yucca Valley Town Council last night about his vision for the school district 10 to 20 years in the future. Baumgarten hopes Yucca Valley and the Morongo Basin will work together with the school district to develop programs to train students for jobs needed in the Morongo Basin. Next, the council recognized Jessica Cuna and Maureen Neely as the part-time and full-time employees of the year. Managing editor Tami Roleff fills in the details of the rest of the meeting…

The Yucca Valley Town Council gave its approval last night to submit 3 project applications for competitive grants from the county, and after discussion, agreed to match 35 percent of the projects’ costs. Council member Robert Lombardo tried unsuccessfully to get his fellow council members to commit to a 50 percent match of the grant funds, which would increase the applications’ score in the competitive grant application. The projects would add curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and ramps near the Yucca Valley High School, Yucca Valley Elementary School, and Onaga Elementary School, totaling $637,000 for the three projects, with a potential cost to the town of $223,000. The council also approved a $4.2 million contract with the Sheriff’s Department, which is an increase of more than $83,000 from over last year’s budget, but does not yet include an increase in Sheriff services. The Sheriff’s contract is about 42 percent of the town’s budget. The council learned that the first quarterly payment of Measure Y sales tax revenues is expected to be about $375,000.

COUNTY FIRE CONFISCATES ILLEGAL FIREWORKS, WRITES 40 CITATIONS

A San Bernardino County multi-agency task force led by County Fire Investigators seized 7,500 pounds of dangerous and illegal fireworks during operations conducted June 3 and 4. Fire investigators issued 40 citations totaling $50,000 in fines for possession of illegal fireworks. With our county facing a dangerous wildland fire season, County Fire is partnering with law enforcement to increase its vigilance in enforcing state and county firework laws to protect public health and safety. Fire officials will be issuing citations for the illegal use, possession, or storage of fireworks with fines up to $1,250 for the first offense with the possibility of arrest. Property owners may be cited if they allow fireworks to be possessed, stored, or used on their property. All fireworks that explode, shoot into the air or move along the ground are termed dangerous and are illegal anywhere in California. Here in the Morongo Basin, all fireworks, even the so-called “Safe and Sane” are illegal. County Fire encourages residents to leave fireworks to the professionals and enjoy local shows planned for both Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. Residents are encouraged to report illegal fireworks to local authorities.

DESERT DAZE GETS A DO OVER PERMIT FOR JOSHUA TREE RETREAT CENTER SHOW

In April, the County of San Bernardino denied a permit for the return of a controversial major music festival, “Desert Daze” at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Late night noise, traffic, and the clearing of three acres for parking had many residents upset. Now, it appears the county has decided to give them a do-over. It seems the large festival is returning this fall, with a newly approved County permit in hand. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more…
Desert Daze founder and organizer, Phil Pirrone, told Z107.7 News yesterday that in response to community feedback following last year’s three-day event, a number of changes would be implemented this year. Live music will end earlier in the evening and stages will be repositioned in order to direct sound away from neighbors along Yucca Mesa Road. Desert Daze will take place October 12, 13 and 14. The county permit spells out a laundry list of conditions including a cap on attendance at 5,000 per day, and use of independent on-site noise monitors and stipulates that violation of the county’s noise ordinance would trigger an immediate shutdown of the event. According to Pirrone, an estimated $4 million is injected into the Basin’s economy during the three-day festival and the weeks leading up to it. Just last week, the Retreat Center’s Interim Executive Director Terry Taylor-Castillo pledged that transparency and community involvement would be major elements of Desert Daze 2017.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN ARRESTED AFTER ASSAULT, BURGLARY WARRANTS

A Twentynine Palms man was arrested Monday, accused of threatening to hit another man with a large rock. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to the 75100 block of Mayfair Drive in Twentynine Palms about 5 p.m. to break up a fight involving three men. Deputies learned that Anthony Smith, 20, picked up a large rock to hit a man in the head who was lying on the ground, but was talked out of it by his wife and other bystanders. After an investigation, Anthony Smith was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and on a $250,000 warrant for burglary. Smith was booked into West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $300,000.

HUMANE SOCIETY CELEBRATES THEIR GUARDIAN ANGELS

The Joshua Tree no-kill animal shelter depends heavily on donors for their mission. Reporter Kirby Davis says the no-kill shelter will honor their “Guardian Angels” this Sunday…
The Morongo Basin Humane Society will hold an ice cream social for its Guardian Angels and the public. The social will feature cake and ice cream, an “Ask the Trainer” presentation, and an opportunity to meet some shelter pets. You can sign up to become a guardian angel, and help save an animal’s life, for $20 per month. The social, set for Sunday, June 11, from 1 to 3 p.m., is $5, and free for the no-kill animal shelter’s Guardian Angels, at the Center for Healthy Generations, 57121 Sunnyslope Dr. in Yucca Valley. RSVPs are required; call Eleonore Claire at 760-408-7275.

JOSHUA BASIN WATER HEARING TONIGHT ON RAISING STANDBY FEES

The Joshua Basin Water District meets tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz tells us what’s on the agenda…
At tonight’s meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, the board will hold a public hearing on proposed increases to standby charges for the coming fiscal year. Also tonight, directors will look ahead as part of a discussion on variables expected to impact future water rates. Those variables include chromium-6 compliance, capital improvements, the cost of water recharge, and building adequate reserve funds. Forecasting the financial impacts of those issues is important in determining future rate increases. And finally, a midyear budget review and two appointments to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee are also on tonight’s agenda. It all starts at the 6:30 p.m. at the Joshua Basin Water District offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.

LEARN ABOUT THE MILITARY HISTORY OF THE SALTON SEA AT TWENTYNINE PALMS LECTURE

The Twentynine Palms Historical Society offers the final lecture in a series this Friday. Reporter Rebecca Havely has the details…
The Second Friday Old Schoolhouse lecture series offers “The Military History of the Salton Sea” this Friday, June 9. Historian Sid Burks shares the fascinating but little known history of the World War II Navy Base at the Salton Sea, extensively illustrated with historical photographs. The 7 p.m. lecture takes place at the Old Schoolhouse Museum 6760 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms. Admission is $5 at the door. Arrive early as seating is limited. Prior to the lecture, meet the speaker for a dinner at the 29 Palms Inn, at your own cost, at 5 p.m. RSVP for the dinner today, Wednesday, June 7 by calling 760-367-5535.

LOCAL DEMOCRATIC CLUB AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS

The Morongo Basin Democratic Club awarded four scholarships to graduating seniors in the Morongo Basin. Dana Mahelona-Roger of Twentynine Palms High School and Sadie Mecham of Yucca Valley each received $500 scholarships, and Breneisha Cleveland of Twentynine Palms and Nichole Sugita of Yucca Valley received $250 scholarships. Congratulations to the scholarship winners.

COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE BOARD IN BUSY SESSION TOMORROW

Tomorrow looks to be a busy day for the Copper Mountain College board of trustees. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has this overview…
A 1 p.m. board study session will precede tomorrow’s regular 2:30 p.m. meeting of the Copper Mountain College board of trustees. Several board policies will be discussed during the study session as well as a board self-evaluation. Once in regular session, the board will adjourn to a closed session conference for matters involving labor negotiations. And at about 3 p.m. the board will likely reconvene in open session for regular reports and consent items. Then on the action calendar, trustees are expected to vote on a handful of board policies, a renewed contract for the president/ superintendent, an adjusted agreement with the county workforce development board, the fiscal 2017/18 proposed tentative budget, and a number of other items. Tomorrow’s meetings take place in the Bell Center’s Community Room on the Joshua Tree campus.