Two San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies who were stationed at the Morongo Basin station at the time of the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino were among 12 first responders who were honored with a Medal of Valor at the White House Tuesday. Bruce Southworth and Chad Johnson, now a homicide detective and district attorney investigator respectively, were working in the Morongo Basin at the time of the attack and were sent to assist law enforcement officers during the shooting. During the chaos, Southworth and Johnson helped a law enforcement officer who had been pinned down by the shooting get out of the line of fire. For their actions, they were presented with the Medal of Valor by President Trump, along with other local first responders: Sheriff’s Corporal Rafael Ixco, Deputy Shaun Wallen, San Bernardino Police Detective Brian Olvera, and Redlands Police Officer Nicholas Koahou. Fourteen people were killed and 22 others injured during a county department Christmas party in December 2015 when a husband and wife went on a deadly shooting rampage in San Bernardino.

District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnson, who was a deputy stationed at the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station in December 2015, was awarded the Medal of Valor for his heroic actions during the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Detective Bruce Southworth, a deputy stationed at the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station in December 2015, was awarded the Medal of Valor for his heroic actions during the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.


A proposition that will be on the June ballot is a $4 billion bond measure that has a provision that will directly benefit the residents of Yucca Valley and the Morongo Basin. Managing editor Tami Roleff says Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley was instrumental in designating some of that money for Yucca Valley…

In exchange for his support of cap and trade, Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley got a provision added to SB5, also known as Prop 68, that will provide $22 million in grant money to Yucca Valley. Mayes wrote a provision in Prop 68 specifically for Yucca Valley; it says $22 million will be available for grants to San Bernardino County desert communities that were incorporated after 1990, have a population of less than 22,000, and have adopted a master plan that includes the development of public facilities such as aquatic and fitness centers. Councilmember Merl Abel and the other councilmembers voiced their support for the proposition.

“I’d like to thank Assemblyman Chad Mayes for including us in this package. We have a huge need for this type of facility. We’re not wealthy, a lot of people are on fixed incomes. Having a recreational facility that would help us with better quality of life is amazing.” The council voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting Prop 68. The funds would only be available to Yucca Valley if Prop 68 is passed by California voters in June 2018.

Mayor Rick Denison presents a certificate of appreciation to Paul Hoffman for his efforts in spearheading Mara’s Christmas Wish in December 2017.

Mayor Rick Denison welcomes the town’s new attorneys, Erica Vega and Thomas Jex.

In other business, the town council also agreed to lower the amount of money it keeps in its reserve funds. Last year, its reserve funds equaled 61 percent of its budget, or about $8 million. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, it was reduced to 51 percent, or $7.5 million. The council voted to reduce the reserve funds to 40 to 45 percent, with a minimum of 50 percent of the excess funds to be transferred into a pension stabilization reserve fund, to pay for its unfunded pension liabilities.

The council also agreed to hire a part-time employee for the senior center. The position will be dedicated toward senior services, including expanded programming hours and activities at the senior center. And in a related item, the council heard from Tom Donahue of the Family Services Association, which provides the meals at the town’s Senior Center. The council had asked Donahue to provide an overview of the meals program, since many residents had complained about the menu, food quality and customer service. Donahue explained that he was aware of the residents’ complaints, and took them seriously, and the staff were attempting to improve customer service and the program’s quality.

And finally, the council agreed to allocate $113,591 to complete the renovation of Paradise Park, including the installation of turf or turf substitute, and $5,000 for code enforcement.

And following a closed session meeting, the Yucca Valley Town Council voted unanimously to immediately take all steps necessary to start the process to establish five, single-member districts that will be in effect for Town Council elections beginning in November 2018.

The Town—along with several other Morongo Basin government agencies—received a letter in September from attorney Kevin Shenkman, which alleges that the Town’s current at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act. During the closed session, the Council directed staff to immediately take all steps necessary to commence the process for establishing five, single-member districts to be effective for town council elections beginning in November 2018.

The Town said the councilmembers issued this direction in order to avoid spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars in defense of a potential lawsuit.

California law permits councils of small cities to change to district elections by ordinance.

The Town Council also directed the town manager and the town attorney to retain a demographer, develop a schedule for hearings and council action, and otherwise take all steps necessary to establish a five, single member by-district election system.


Two Joshua Tree residents, accused of conspiracy and identity theft, were arrested Sunday following a pursuit. According to a Sheriff’s report, the California Highway Patrol requested assistance with a vehicle pursuit about 10 p.m. Sunday. The vehicle was traveling southbound on Pawnee Avenue in Yucca Valley when it crashed south of Sunnyslope. The two occupants in the car, Jamie Rockett, 41, and Rebekah Rockett, 42, fled on foot from the vehicle and were located in the desert a short time later. During a search of the vehicle, a deputy found stolen mail, stolen credit cards, stolen check books, and a stolen passport. In addition, the license plates on the vehicle belonged to a different car. Rebekah Rockett was arrested for investigation of conspiracy, identity theft, and false vehicle registration, booked into the West Valley Detention Center, with her bail set at $50,000. Jamie Rockett was arrested on the same charges, as well as on arrest warrants for drugs and burglary, booked into the West Valley Detention Center, with his total bail set at $125,000.


A Joshua Tree man was arrested Saturday night, accused of transporting heroin. According to a Sheriff’s report, about 11 p.m. Saturday, a deputy spotted a vehicle matching the description of a strong-armed robbery and made a high-risk traffic stop at the Circle K gas station on Old Woman Springs Road. The driver, Brian Stumreiter, 53, was detained and placed in the back of the patrol car. During a search of the vehicle, the deputy found marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin. The report states that the driver Stumreiter admitted the marijuana and meth belonged to him, but claimed he was delivering the heroin to a friend so she wouldn’t get sick from withdrawal. Brian Stumreiter was arrested for investigation of transportation of heroin, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.


A heated 90-minute discussion took place between CalTrans and the residents of Morongo Valley during last night’s three-hour Morongo Valley Community Services District board meeting. Ongoing safety concerns regarding the design of the new Morongo Valley median prompted a large turnout. Residents were quick to contradict the statements of CalTrans representatives, but CalTrans contradicted the opposing claims just as quickly. Reporter Andrew Dieleman was there, and files this report…

Persisting concerns included the absence of road reflectors, improper drainage due to poor design, and the overall shape of the raised-curb design, which many continued to refer to as a “launch ramp.” Citizens also requested more communication between CalTrans and the public. CalTrans fired back, citing national safety studies on the median design to prove that it was safe. Despite the safety claim, citizens were not convinced. CalTrans ended the conversation by stating that there is always a possibility of collisions regardless of median design, the median is still under construction, and the design may be revisited based on statistical safety data once the project is complete.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included multiple reports from Fire Chief Gary Yearsley, who introduced six new reserve fire fighters to the department; the need for combination fire-extraction tools for the department (“Jaws of Life”); and a Homeland Security grant, which would give the fire department access to much-needed funds to help replace some of the department’s soon-to-be-expired equipment. There was also a brief presentation by Serenity Hospice to discuss the many services being offered. The board then unanimously elected Laurie Klimowicz as the new Park Commissioner of the board and briefly discussed four candidates for the Chuck Osborne Volunteer of the Year award.


Two men were arrested Saturday in separate incidents for possessing a dirk or dagger. About 4:30 a.m. Saturday, a deputy stopped a man, identified as Alex Minero, 36, near Split Rock Avenue and Highway 62 in Twentynine palms. Minero, a convicted felon, said he had a knife in his pocket that he used for protection at night. Alex Minero was arrested for investigation of possession of a dirk or dagger, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

A Joshua Tree man was arrested Saturday, accused of possessing a knife. About 8 p.m., a deputy stopped a vehicle near Chollita Road and Valley View in Joshua Tree for having an expired registration. A records check found that the plate did not match the vehicle. The driver, Christopher Hull, 40, was ordered out of the vehicle. The deputy performed a pat-down search and found a fixed blade knife with a 4-inch blade in Hull’s front pants pocket. Christopher Hull was arrested on suspicion of possession of a dangerous weapon, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.


A Desert Hot Springs man was arrested Friday, accused of felony theft from Walmart. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to the Walmart in Yucca Valley about 7 p.m. about a man, later identified as Jacob Patellis, 40, who had walked out of the store without paying for nearly $1,000 in merchandise. Jacob Patellis was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.


Tonight in Joshua Tree, the public will have one last chance to weigh in on the proposed and hefty water rate increases before a board vote. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more on tonight’s meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District board…

At tonight’s meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, directors will hold a public hearing on the proposed five-year plan of rate increases. The topic has been the focus of much discussion over the past year-and-a-half. The district’s Citizens Advisory Committee is endorsing the increases, which will see average customers paying 18 percent more this year, followed by lower but still double-digit increases over the next four years. If approved, and in all likelihood they will be, the increases will go into effect next month and pay for critical maintenance and repair of the district’s aging infrastructure as well as imported water. Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at district offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.


The City of Twentynine Palms will overlay several city streets today and tomorrow. Today, Cahuilla Avenue will be overlaid from El Paseo Drive to Gorgonio Avenue. And on Thursday, Cahuilla Avenue will be overlaid from Gorgonio Avenue to Verbena Drive. Barricades with No Parking signs will be in place the day before the road work. The roads will be closed from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Thought Theatre production of “The Vagina Monologues” will be moving their production to Theatre 29 for a special final performance. With details, here’s reporter Rebecca Havely…
Thought Theatre of Pioneertown just finished a successful run of the Eve Enser play, “The Vagina Monologues,” and will now take the show to Twentynine Palms for a special presentation at Theater 29. Playwright Enser interviewed women of all ages, ethnicities, religions and cultures to write this collection of personal monologues. Produced and directed by Project Sheba and Thought Theatre founder Miri Hunter, the cast includes Dawn Davis, Ann Van Haney, Lisa Diaz and Bianca Stoker. The special final performance at Theatre 29 will be a matinee on Sunday, February 25, at 2:30 p.m. for tickets visit or call the Theatre 29 Box Office at 760-361-4151.


LifeStream will conduct a community blood drive on Thursday, February 22, at Copper Mountain College, from 10 to 3:30. Due to a nationwide blood shortage, all blood types and all types of blood donations are needed. Donors will receive incentives. In addition, LifeStream now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. 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, call 800-TRY-GIVING.


Yucca Valley High School hosted the annual Morongo Unified School District Science Fair last night. Reporter Tanisha Cureton celebrates the winners…

Did you know that you can use the energy in a peanut to heat water? Neither did I, and that’s just one of several other projects presented at the Morongo Unified School District Science Fair. While parents waited patiently with their scientists, judges, volunteers, faculty and staff helped grade these projects. Some students were even tested on their public speaking by explaining their purpose and methods. Judges were so blown away by the students’ work, they spent an additional 30 minutes to come up with winners. Awards included 10 bronze medals, 10 silver medals, nine gold medals and three class projects. The nine gold medalists will attend the San Bernardino County Science Fair in April.


Science Fair

Big Dirty Teeth

Big Magnets

Big Peanut


GOLD winners:
Tyler Luke, grade 6, Twentynine Palms Elementary School
Evelyn McMurchy, grade 6, Onaga Elementary School
Jasmin Kumpe, grade 5, Friendly Hills Elementary School
Emma Montes, grade 4, Oasis Elementary School
Randi Engle, grade 6, Yucca Valley Elementary School
Makenzie Johnson/Leila Schwab, grade 5, Yucca Valley Elementary School
Izabel Valdez, grade 4, Morongo Valley Elementary School
Elise Thiebwacha, grade 4, Morongo Valley Elementary School
Brooke Allanbeck, grade 5, Morongo Valley Elementary School

SILVER winners:
Julia Scott, grade 5, Palm Vista Elementary School
Nicholas Mallard, Twentynine Palms Elementary School
Samantha Williams, grade 6, Landers Elementary School
Richard Breese, grade 4, Oasis Elementary School
Bryant Thraller, grade 6, Landers Elementary School
Wyatt McDavis, grade 5, Joshua Tree Elementary School
Dominic Cortez, grade 5, Yucca Valley Elementary School
Zavin Austin, grade 4, Morongo Valley Elementary School
Zoe Youngsma, grade 4, Oasis Elementary School
Juliana Goodwin, grade 4, Onaga Elementary School

BRONZE winners
Aurora Harris/Keira Bermudez, grade 5, Oasis Elementary School
Jordan Hard, grade 5, Landers Elementary School
Sydnie Rahn, grade 6, Twentynine Palms Elementary School
Cameran Mahone, grade 4, Landers Elementary School
Sharlie Overcast, grade 6, Morongo Valley Elementary School
Tyler Bargholz, grade 6, Yucca Valley Elementary School
Adrian Tamayo, grade 5, Landers Elementary School
Joseph Terry/Isaiah Bates, grade 5, Oasis Elementary School
Cassidy Albrink, grade 6, Friendly Hills Elementary School
Toby Hall, grade 4, Onaga Elementary School

1st place: Morongo Valley Elementary School, “Are School Backpacks Too Heavy?”

2nd place: Yucca Valley Elementary School, “Which Soil Grows Beans Best?”

3rd place: Oasis Elementary School, “Crayola Rock Formations”


Twentynine Palms High School boys’ basketball won its second-round CIF playoff action at home last night. The Wildcats defeated the visiting Leuzinger Olympians, 88-79. They will travel away to play Knight High School this Friday at 7 p.m. in the division 3AA semifinals.