SEARCH FOR MISSING HIKERS SCALED BACK

Now in its 12th day, an intensive search for two hikers who went missing in Joshua Tree National Park has been scaled back. A park press release says Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 21, drove their car into the park at 6:45 a.m. July 27 and have not been seen or heard from since. Searchers from the park service, Sheriff’s Department, Joshua Tree Search and Rescue, the Bureau of Land Management, Border Patrol, Highway Patrol, and others, have searched on foot and from the air, and with search dogs, all to no avail. As of Monday, the search has been scaled back, but a special team made up of National Park investigators has arrived, as well as NPS drone specialists. Canine teams from JOSAR are also continuing the search when the temperatures will allow. The couple’s vehicle was found July 28 at the trailhead of the Maze Loop Trail. Park spokesman George Land noted the search for the missing hikers will not technically end until they are found; he said the park service will continue with regular training exercises that specifically address this particular incident. Anyone who might have been hiking or who stopped in the area, and saw a couple in their early twenties, or who has other pertinent information about the two, should call San Bernardino Dispatch at 909 383-5652.

DOG TEAMS CONTINUE THE SEARCH FOR MISSING HIKERS

One of the volunteers with Joshua Tree National Park Search and Rescue who has been out searching for the missing couple nearly every day with her search dog is a Pioneertown resident. Reporter David Haldane spoke with her and says she’s determined to see the search through…

Imagine that someone’s life depends on you and your dog. You’re out searching for them in the sweltering heat of the desert and time is of the essence. What goes through your mind, knowing that your actions could affect whether the effort ends in triumph or tragedy?

Alice Waltermire knows the feeling well; she’s been living it every day. The 52-year-old Pioneertown resident, working with two bloodhounds and a border collie named Montana, is among about 100 volunteers who have been searching for an Orange County couple lost in Joshua Tree National Park since July 28.

Alice Waltermire carries her search dog, Montana, a border collie, out of the desert after a search for the missing hikers last week. Courtesy photo.

It’s exhausting, she says, and dangerous for both her and the dogs. But while each passing day makes a happy ending less likely, she’s determined to see it through.

The family needs closure, Waltermire says. Whether that means finding their loved ones healthy and alive, as everyone hopes, or otherwise, the important thing is to reach a conclusion.

And so, the search continues.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MARINE PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO BRINGING LIVE ORDINANCE ON PLANE IN PALM SPRINGS

A Twentynine Palms Marine pleaded not guilty in an Indio courtroom yesterday to trying to bring live military ordnance onto a plane in Palm Springs in March. Steven Vella, 21, was arrested March 4 as he tried to board his flight to New York. Authorities had discovered inside his luggage two live smoke grenades, a dummy hand grenade, and inert mortar body shell, and three ground burst simulators. Steven Vella is a Marine stationed in Twentynine Palms with Headquarters Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

HORSE STRUCK, KILLED BY CARS IN DESERT HOT SPRINGS

A horse was killed after it was hit by multiple cars in Desert Hot Springs last night. The horse was being ridden at about 8:30 p.m. near Palm Drive and 20th Avenue when the rider fell off. It’s not known at this time what made the rider fall off the horse. The horse continued on and was hit by the cars. The rider was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs with unknown injuries.

TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2ND ANNUAL LOBSTERFEST

Enjoy a lobster dinner under the stars during the Rotary Club of Yucca Valley’s second annual lobsterfest near Pioneertown in April. Sara Snyder says pass the butter…

Tickets are now available for the second annual lobsterfest, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Yucca Valley. The event, which sold out last year, will be held outside under the stars at an old-fashioned Western town in Pioneertown. Fresh Maine lobster, a baked potato bar, and dessert, with a no-host bar, are once again on the menu. Live music will be provided by the Whiskey Blues Band. The lobster feast is set for September 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person and are available online at yvrotary.org. Proceeds benefit the club’s service projects. For more information, call 760-365-1988.

TWO TWENTYNINE PALMS MEN ARRESTED, ACCUSED OF BURGLARIZING STORAGE UNITS

Two Twentynine Palms men were arrested this weekend, after they were found with items believed to have been stolen from storage units. According to the Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Jason Jimenez stopped a vehicle about 10 p.m. Saturday near Bagley Avenue and Split Rock Avenue for a vehicle code violation. Inside the vehicle was Randy Bryant, 22, who had a warrant for his arrest. Jimenez searched the vehicle, and found several items that could possibly have been stolen from storage units in Twentynine Palms and Laughlin, Nevada. Randy Bryant was arrested for investigation of burglary, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, and for violating his parole, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000. Another passenger in the car, Allison Lee, 22, also of Twentynine Palms, was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, and two warrants. Allison Lee was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with her bail set at $55,000.

A few hours later, Deputy Jimenez stopped another vehicle near Sun Valley and Aztec in Twentynine Palms. Inside the vehicle was Michael Stewart, 23. Jimenez learned Stewart may also have been involved in the burglaries of the storage units in Twentynine Palms and Laughlin. More of the same types of items that had found in Bryant’s vehicle were found in Stewart’s vehicle, and further investigation linked Stewart and Bryant to the burglaries. Michael Stewart was arrested for investigation of burglary, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

TWO MEN ACCUSED OF SPOUSE ABUSE

A San Bernardino man was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of punching his girlfriend. According to a Sheriff’s report, Christopher Wharry, 26, was arguing with a woman in the 7400 block of North Star Trail in Twentynine Palms about 1 a.m. The woman told deputies the argument escalated and Wharry punched her in the face and back of the head, giving her a black eye, bruises, and scratches. After an investigation, Christopher Wharry was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Saturday afternoon, accused of shoving his girlfriend in a swimming pool and threatening her with a hammer. According to a Sheriff’s report, Daniel Castro, 32, was arguing with his girlfriend in the 7600 block of Dumosa Avenue about 12:30 p.m. The woman told deputies that Castro pushed her into the pool, then threw a plastic chair in after her, which struck her in the arm. She also said he swung a hammer in the air, threatening her. After getting out of the pool, she fled to a neighbor’s house and called 911. Daniel Castro was arrested for investigation of domestic violence and on two felony warrants, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

JOSHUA TREE MAN ARRESTED ON $250,000 WARRANT

A Joshua Tree man was arrested Friday on a $250,000 warrant. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies went to a home in the 62400 block of 29 Palms Highway about 8:45 p.m. where they found Joseph Anderson, 49. Anderson, who had a $250,000 felony warrant for his arrest for running a drug house, was found to be in possession of suspected methamphetamine. Joseph Anderson was booked into West Valley Detention Center on his warrant.

MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT AGENDA

The Morongo Unified School District’s Board of Education meets tonight with a variety of issues on its plate. Reporter David Haldane explains…

Think you graduated from a Morongo Basin high school in June? Well, think again; you haven’t really graduated until the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education says you have.

Don’t worry, though, that’s expected to happen tonight when the board officially ratifies nearly 500 graduates of Black Rock, Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms high schools.

In other business, the board will adopt student achievement plans for the coming year at three elementary schools and one junior high school, as well as revise a purchase order to reroute nearly $380,000 worth of new fiber optic cabling to be installed at all district sites. The rerouting is expected to add more than $125,000 to the project’s price tag.

Tonight’s meeting gets underway 7 p.m. at Joshua Tree Elementary School on Sunburst Avenue.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PASTOR TO HOLD BOOK SIGNING WEDNESDAY

A Twentynine Palms pastor will hold a book signing Wednesday, August 9, for his new book. Dr. K.B. Brewer, of Faith in the Word Christian Center will sign his book “Faith to Obey God” at the church, 5792 Adobe Road, at 5:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase at the signing. For more information, visit fitwcc.org.

YUCCA VALLEY TEEN PLACES 8TH IN NATIONAL CROSSFIT GAMES

A Yucca Valley teen who competed last weekend at a CrossFit competition in Wisconsin didn’t medal, but she was in the top 10 for her age group. Reporter Rebecca Havely has more…

The CrossFit Games are equivalent to the Olympics in the sport of fitness, and a Yucca Valley teen was there competing. Sequoia Berrara, 17, competed in six events at the CrossFit Games and came home in eighth place for her age division of 16-17 year-old girls. Over four days, Sequoia competed in workouts that included running, swimming, dumbbell snatches, rowing, burpees, ring work, weightlifting, jumping rope, pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and squats. Congratulations, Sequoia.

JOSHUA TREE CLEAN TEAM OUT TOMORROW

The Joshua Tree Clean Team will meet for about an hour tomorrow, (Wednesday, August 9) at 7 a.m. at Highway 62 and the Mojave Desert Land Trust headquarters. Grabbers, gloves, safety vests, and trash bags will be available to make the job of picking up other people’s trash easier. Optional coffee and conversation will follow at the Park Rock Café.

COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS SUPPORT GROUP TO MEET TOMORROW

The Morongo Basin Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have experienced the death of a child, will meet Wednesday, August 9, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Helen Gray Education Center located on the campus of the Hi Desert Medical Center at 6601 White Feather Road, Joshua Tree on Wednesday, August 9. The monthly support group, facilitated by Kristin Martin, offers practical help from other parents who are also grieving the loss of a child.

SING-A-LONG AT YUCCA VALLEY SENIOR CLUB TOMORROW

The Yucca Valley Senior Club will hold a Dog Day Afternoon sing-along tomorrow. The theme will be songs about, or with, dogs in them, as well as the old stand-bys from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. All ages are welcome to this free event. The Yucca Valley Senior Center is located behind the library next to the community center soccer field.