TWO KILLED IN FIERY 3-VEHICLE CRASH IN LANDERS WEDNESDAY MORNING

The California Highway Patrol has released some details about a fiery crash in Landers that killed two people early Wednesday morning. Douglas Barnes, 37, of Victorville, was driving a white 2012 Dodge 5500 pick-up truck, towing a 30-foot trailer, southbound on Old Woman Springs Road, at an unknown rate of speed. Just north of Linn Road, Barnes allowed the pick-up truck to cross over the broken yellow lines and enter the northbound lanes about 4 a.m. His truck collided with a 2004 green Jeep Liberty, driven northbound on the highway by Joshua Robbins, 36, of Joshua Tree. The collision sent the Jeep spinning out of control, and it eventually came to rest on its wheels and caught fire. Robbins and his two passengers, Zaqerre Holmes, 30, and Robert Still, 29, both of Yucca Valley, all managed to get out of the Jeep safely before it became fully engulfed in flames. Meanwhile, Barnes’ truck continued southbound and hit head on a blue 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer that had been following Robbins’ Jeep northbound on the highway. The two men inside the Lancer were pronounced dead at the scene. County Fire Battalion Chief Donnie Viloria told Z107.7 the Lancer’s driver and passenger were burned beyond recognition, but the CHP said the victims’ vehicle did not catch fire. When questioned about the discrepancy, Viloria later said that’s what he was told by his crew; he did not see the victims himself. The CHP has identified the victims only as a 21-year-old man from Yucca Valley, who was driving the vehicle, and his 52-year-old passenger from Desert Hot Springs. Joshua Robbins received only small lacerations to hi face and arms. Douglas Barnes, Zaqerre Holmes, and Robert Still were not injured in the crash.

SCHOOL BOARD DISAGREES ON FREE SPEECH AND RAISES FOR ADMINISTRATORS

A decision on a controversy at last night’s meeting of Morongo Unified School District Board of Education turned out to be, well, a little controversial. Reporter David Haldane was there, and explains…
Free speech. That was the crux of a testy discussion at last night’s meeting of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education. The board voted to update its policy on controversial issues, specifically prohibiting classroom teachers from advocating their personal points of view. But board member Karalee Hargrove dissented on what she said were Constitutional grounds.
“Really what it comes down to is limiting First Amendment rights. I understand that we do have controversial issues, but I think this pushes it a little too far. I want teachers to teach in the least restrictive environment possible.”
The previous policy—last updated in 2001—required only that all sides of an issue be fairly presented.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a tentative contract agreement with classified employees and postponed scheduled salary increases for two assistant superintendents amid allegations that they were inequitable to teachers.

WINDS HELP FIREFIGHTERS BATTLING BRUSH FIRE ON THE MORONGO GRADE

Morongo Valley firefighters were helped by favorable winds in fighting a brush fire on the Morongo Grade Tuesday afternoon. Morongo Valley Firefighter Jones said about 3:30 p.m., three passers-by traveling up the grade stopped at the Morongo Valley Fire Station to let them know about a fire in the middle of the grade. Firefighters found the blaze, which burned about one-tenth of an acre, on the south embankment of eastbound Highway 62 in the middle of the grade. Morongo Valley firefighters were assisted by Desert Hot Springs, Cal Fire, and Yucca Valley in putting out the blaze. Jones said the winds kept the 5-foot flames burning down toward the ravine instead of up into the hills and canyons. The slow lane of eastbound Highway 62 was closed for about 1 ½ hours while firefighters battled the fire. The cause is under investigation.

FIRE IN HIGHLAND COULD BRING SMOKE INTO OUR DESERT

Firefighters are battling a wildland fire east of San Bernardino and north of Highland. The fire began shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, and quickly grew to over 900 acres. Some smoke from that fire may come in to our area. Over 560 firefighters from several agencies are working to contain the fire. The fire caused Highway 330 between I-210 and Live Oak Drive in Running Springs to be shut down for several hours. Mountain residents and visitors are asked to drive cautiously and expect firefighters and equipment near the highway. Evacuations were ordered for approximately 200 residences, they returned home at 8:15 p.m. No homes or outbuildings were damaged. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
For more information:
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
call Fire Information Center at 909-383-5688
Twitter at https://twitter.com/SanBernardinoNF

TWENTYNINE PALMS AND HI-DESERT WATER DISTRICT BOARDS MEET TONIGHT

At tonight’s water board meeting in Twentynine Palms, directors will take up a number of items. Reporter Mike Lipsitz fills us in…
Tonight’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms Water District will start with a public hearing and board vote on the continuation of standby and availability fees in the district; these fees remain unchanged from the current year. Next the board will vote on the district’s proposed budget and compensation plan for fiscal 2017-18. And among other items on the action agenda, directors are expected to adopt a debt management policy, discuss a draft employee recognition policy, hear a utility cost management report, and among other items, vote on an amendment to the general manager’s employment contract. 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.
 
The Hi-Desert Water District Board is expected to adopt a $1.4 million deficit budget among other items tonight. Managing editor Tami Roleff checks the agenda…
At tonight’s meeting of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors, the directors will hold a public hearing on the annual water stand-by assessment rates, which are not expected to increase. Directors will also adopt the 2017-18 budget, which is expected to have a deficit of $1.4 million, and a budget for the wastewater treatment facility. The board will also calculate the appropriations limit, which sets the amount of property taxes the water district can spend. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. in district offices at Inca Trail and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley.

TWO AREA FELONS ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE ALLEGATIONS IN SAN BERNARDINO

Two local residents were arrested Sunday in San Bernardino, accused of possession of drugs and a stolen handgun. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies made a traffic stop of a vehicle in the area of Victoria Avenue and 28th Street just before 1 p.m. Inside the car were Pedro Sanchez, 28, of Yucca Valley, and Ondria Gomez, 33, of Joshua Tree. Both Sanchez and Gomez are convicted felons, and are on probation. During a probation search of the vehicle, the deputy found about 3 ounces of methamphetamine and a stolen .45-caliber handgun. As convicted felons, Sanchez and Gomez are prohibited from possessing any firearms. Pedro Sanchez was arrested for investigation of being a felon in possession of a handgun, and possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded handgun. He was booked into the Central Detention Center with his bail set at $90,000. Ondria Gomez was arrested on suspicion of possession and transportation of a controlled substance for sales, possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded handgun, and use of a false compartment to conceal a controlled substance. She was booked into the Central Detention Center with her bail set at $100,000.

TWENTYNINE PALMS STREET FIGHT RESULTS IN ONE ARREST

A Los Angeles man was accused of bringing drugs into the jail. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to a street brawl in the 6900 block of Eucalyptus Avenue in Twentynine Palms about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses said a crowd of up to eight juveniles were fighting in the street. One of the people contacted at the scene was L’Chanc Kelly, 20, who was found to have a bottle of vodka in his backpack. He was detained and brought to the Morongo Basin Jail where, during a search, deputies found a plastic bag with pills, and 10 bags of marijuana. L’Chanc Kelly was arrested for investigating of bringing drugs into jail, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

HICAP MEDICARE MEETING IN TWENTYNINE PALMS TOMORROW

The many options offered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans were a bit confusing, even before health insurance was rushed back onto center stage in Washington D.C. And with Medicare open enrollment beginning October 15, now is the time to consider your options. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has this story on how senior and disabled residents can take the guesswork out of choosing the right plan…
The non-profit Council on Aging’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program helps senior and disabled residents get unbiased individualized counseling on Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, and other health insurance topics. A state-registered representative, trained to answer your coverage questions free of charge, will at the Twentynine Palms Senior Center on Adobe Road this Thursday, June 29, from 9 to 11 a.m. If you have questions or want more information about benefits, coverage or enrollment; prescription drug coverage; Medigap or supplemental policies; limited income assistance; long term care insurance, and even legal assistance with Medicare appeals or administrative hearings, plan to attend Thursday’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. For more information, call program host Reach Out Morongo Basin at 760-361-1410.

SHELTER IN PLACE DRILL AT COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE THIS MORNING

Copper Mountain College will conduct a shelter-in-place practice drill on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. This is the college’s first such training involving students.

TWENTYNINE PALMS CEMETERY BOARD MEETS TONIGHT

Among the items on the agenda of tonight’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms Cemetery board of directors, the directors will hear a presentation on irrigation options and be asked to approve a modification to the district’s paid time off policy. The board will then adjourn to closed session where it will discuss one case of anticipated litigation. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in district offices on Encelia Avenue in Twentynine Palms.

ASTRONOMY CLASS AT SKY’S THE LIMIT TONIGHT

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, 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.