JOSHUA TREE AND OTHER NATIONAL PARK FEE HIKES UNDER RECONSIDERATION

The Department of the Interior is reconsidering the fee hikes it proposed last year that would have dramatically increased the costs to enter 17 national parks, including our own Joshua Tree National Park. More than 100,000 comments were received in just 30 days last fall, of which the vast majority opposed raising entrance fees to $70 for a one-week vehicle pass into the parks. Officials are still considering raising the entrance fees, but a more modest fee of 10 percent, or $20 for annual passes. Also under consideration are options for increasing fees for buses or charging a per-passenger fee for tour buses. The proposed fee increase would have generated $70 million in revenue for improvements to address a $12 billion maintenance backlog of aging infrastructure in national parks.

YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL GETS A LESSON IN LOCAL ECONOMICS

The Yucca Valley Town Council received a comprehensive economic study last night from Dr. John Husing, a research economist who has specialized in the study of Southern California’s economy since 1964. Managing editor Tami Roleff says Husing went into detail about how Yucca Valley is doing compared to seven other similar cities…
Dr. John Husing explained to the Yucca Valley Town Council that Yucca Valley is an “edge city,” meaning it is just outside major metropolitan areas. Edge cities such as Yucca Valley are the first to suffer from recessions and are the last to recover when the economy picks up again.
While Yucca Valley’s job growth was faster than the Inland Empire’s prior to the Great Recession from 2008-10, and the town’s job losses during those years were faster, the town has added jobs at the same rate as the Inland Empire since 2010.

View the complete report at http://yuccavalleyca.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1165&Inline=True starting at page 105.

Husing noted that Yucca Valley’s population is better educated than most of the seven other nearby cities, has the third highest median household income, and has affordable housing, especially compared to Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The age demographics of Yucca Valley compared to eight other similar cities: Adelanto, Banning, Barstow, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Hesperia, Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley.

When councilmember Merl Abel asked what the town council could do to bring in more jobs to the area, Husing said the town should target tourists visiting Joshua Tree National Park, and gave an example of a type of business that targets a larger market: “Go get anything that sells to a broader market than just locally…. It’s a value-system question.… I’ve been working with Coachella, and one of the thing’s Coachella has done is go after cannabis. Cannabis is tough in that the infrastructure to support it, you need the electrical systems, you need the law enforcement systems, all sorts of things to do it. But it is a product that sells all over the place, but that is the kind of thing that you could consider.”

The council then heard a budget report, in which they learned that the cost for public safety is approaching 50 percent of the town’s budget. The effect on the town’s budget is minimal, because Measure Y revenues are absorbing most of the cost for the increase in the Sheriff’s portion of the budget.

During public comments, the council heard comments from Diane Mann, Ashley Goana, and Frank Goana about bullying in the schools and asked for the council to support an anti-bullying task force. Frank, who is a student at La Contenta Middle School, brought tears to the eyes of many at the meeting as he talked about being bullied so much that he has considered suicide.

During a meeting of the successor agency to the former Yucca Valley Redevelopment Agency, the agency heard a report about re-financing bonds, from a current interest rate of 5.85 percent to 3.85 percent. Reducing the interest rate on the bonds would save the town about $143,000 per year for the next 20 years. The agency approved the refinancing unanimously, and the matter will go to several local and state agencies before taking effect.

ANOTHER SETBACK IN THE SAGA OF THE CONTROVERSIAL CADIZ WATER PLAN

In the continuing saga of one step forward and two steps back for Cadiz Inc., which is trying to get federal approval to sell water from its aquifer to water districts across Southern California, the National Parks Conservation Association filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management in federal court Tuesday. The Association claims that the agencies illegally changed federal policies and procedures to greenlight Cadiz’s plan to build a pipeline along a railroad right-of-way to pipe billions of gallons of water to Orange County from an aquifer east of Twentynine Palms. The Association maintains that the pipeline requires a federal environmental review and permits, and that building the pipeline would threaten the desert’s water resources and wildlife.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uu9rSa4fPm1fFbBpbAISTXvELTrwRuUz/view

MARINE HELICOPTER CRASH NEAR EL CENTRO KILLS 4

A Marine helicopter that lifted off from the Twentynine Palms Marine Base crashed during a southern California training mission and authorities say all four crew members were killed. The military says the CH-53E Super Stallion went down shortly after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday near El Centro near the Mexican border. The helicopter was with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing out of the Miramar Air Station near San Diego. A press release said the helicopter was engaged in “Squadron training consisting of aircraft landings in unimproved zones.” The cause of the crash is under investigation. Authorities aren’t releasing the names of the victims or their home towns until next of kin have been notified.

AN ARGUMENT OVER BACON RESULTS IN ARREST OF TWENTYNINE PALMS WOMAN

An argument over bacon led to the arrest of a Twentynine Palms woman for felony spouse abuse. About 6:30 a.m. Monday, Rene Cisneros, 49, violated a restraining order against her when she went to the 6400 block of Athol Avenue in Twentynine Palms to see her boyfriend. The man told deputies that Cisneros was angry with him for eating bacon and so she punched him in the mouth multiple times, causing lacerations and bleeding. Rene Cisneros was arrested for investigation of felony spouse abuse, and on a warrant for misdemeanor spouse abuse, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $75,000.

GRUBSTAKE DAYS BUSINESS DECORATING CONTEST TAKING ENTRIES

Get into the Grubstake Days spirit by entering a business decorating contest sponsored by Z107.7. Here to tell you how to enter is reporter Rebecca Havely…
The 68th annual Grubstake Days theme is “Celebrating Life in the Desert with Non-Profit Organizations.” It has a red, white, and blue color theme to honor Memorial Day. So, decorate the interior and/or exterior of your business red, white and blue with some Western flair and enter to win the “Western Heritage Decorating Contest” for all businesses located in the west end of the Morongo Basin. Winners get hundreds of dollars in local advertising, very cool plaques and bragging rights. Contest judges use a scale of 1-10 for five criteria, “overall appeal,” “use of available space,” use of color,” “inventiveness and overall theme,” and finally, “wow factor!” The categories are interior and/or exterior for both large and small businesses.
The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Friday, May 15. There’s no charge to participate so just call Z107.7 Radio at 760-366-8471 to enter. Winners will be announced May 25.

Judging will be done in 4 simple categories;
SMALL BUSINESS (up to 1,500 square feet)
Best Interior
Best Exterior
LARGE BUSINESS (1,500 square feet or over)
Best Interior
Best Exterior

Awards will be given for first and second place in all four categories. The judging is done on artistic merit; the decision of the judges is final.
First place winners get $250 in radio advertising from Z107.7* and a banner ad for 30 days at z1077fm.com.
Second Place winners get $150 in radio advertising from Z107.7* and a tile ad on z1077fm.com. There are some restrictions, (see * below).
There is no charge to enter; just call Z107-7 Radio at 760-366-8471 and tell us the name and location of your business and what category you are entering in.
Entries must be businesses physically located in the “Western Morongo Basin,” defined as from Morongo Valley to the west, Joshua Tree to the east, north to Johnson Valley, and south to the border of Joshua Tree National Park.
Deadline to enter is 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 15, 2018. Winners will be announced May 25, 2018
*(ad credit cannot be used for existing contracts or billing)
*(ad credit cannot be used for political purposes)
*(ad credit cannot be transferred)
*(ad credit must be used by August 25, 2018)

DEVELOPERS, OTHERS INVITED TO WORKSHOP ON HOUSING FOR HOMELESS VETS

California has the largest population of military veterans, and also the largest population of homeless veterans. In 2014, California allocated $600 million to fund the development of multi-family housing for homeless veterans and vets at risk of homelessness. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the state is offering a workshop Thursday on how developers can qualify for funding to provide housing for homeless vets…
The Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention program has made $75 million available to qualifying developers and nonprofit entities to construct, acquire, rehabilitate, or preserve affordable multi-family housing for veterans and their families. A workshop will be held 1 p.m. Thursday in the community room of the Bell Center at Copper Mountain College. Developers, veteran service providers, and non-profit organizations are invited to the overview and outreach session.

To register for the workshop, email:
nicole.neri@calvet.ca.gov
Or visit:
https://preview.tinyurl.com/homeless-vets-workshop
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/veterans-housing-and-homelessness-prevention-program-outreach-tickets-44241267823

HILLTOPPERS MOTORCYCLE RACE BRINGING THOUSANDS TO TWENTYNINE PALMS

Thousands of spectators and participants will be converging on Twentynine Palms this weekend for the 43rd annual Hilltoppers off-road motorcycle Grand Prix. This grand prix is an AMA-sanctioned event and part of the GPR Big Six Grand Prix Series. The gates open at noon Friday, and 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Registration starts at 4 p.m. Friday, April 6, but the races do not start until Saturday. The first race is at 7:30 a.m. both days. Motorcycle riders of all ages and abilities will race on desert courses that include jumps and dips. There will be food, vendors, and fun for all ages. The event will be held at the Twentynine Palms Motorsports Arena, about 3 miles east of the city off Highway 62. Tickets are $20 per day; there are discounts for military and children. For more information visit www.hilltoppersmc.com.

VENDORS SOUGHT FOR YUCCA MESA CRAFT AND ART SHOW SATURDAY

Vendors are needed for the Yucca Mesa craft and art show Saturday, April 7. The fee for an outdoor space is $10; indoor spaces are $15. Vendor set-up is from 7 to 9 a.m. and the sale, which is open to the public, is from 9 to 3. The Mesa Madness craft and art show will be held at the Yucca Mesa Community Center on Balsa Avenue. For more information, call 760-668-8697.

TWENTYNINE PALMS HISTORICAL SOCIETY GROUNDBREAKING FRIDAY

Years of hard work and fundraising have paid off for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society as it prepares to begin construction on its newest addition—a 2,222-square-foot multipurpose building with catering kitchen and restrooms. Reporter Eric Knabe has all the details…
Historical society President Les Snodgrass invites the community to a groundbreaking ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 6 at the site of the new building on the grounds of the Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms. When completed, the building will accommodate up to 200 people in the 1,500-square-foot multipurpose room, which will allow for expanded seating for their popular monthly Friday night lecture series; the Weed Show; and other events. Anyone who is interested in donating time, materials or money toward the project is asked to contact Snodgrass at 760-861-5801or les@29palmshistorical.org.

CONDOR ELEMENTARY GETS HIGH STATE HONORS

A Morongo Basin elementary school is one of 13 county schools that will be honored next month for its students’ outstanding educational achievement. Condor Elementary School was among 287 states school that were named a California Distinguished School for its students’ test scores, suspension rates, and English learner progress. The Distinguished School program returns after a three-year break, and replaces the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program. The schools will be honored at a May 4 ceremony in Anaheim.

RECEPTION SATURDAY AT TWENTYNINE PALMS DOWNTOWN ART GALLERY

An opening art reception for “The Bloomin’ Desert: Kaleidoscope of Color” will be held for the next Art in Public Places exhibition in Twentynine Palms. Here’s reporter Tanisha Cureton to fill in the details…
“The Bloomin’ Desert: Kaleidoscope of Color” is the theme for the next Art in Public Places exhibition on display at the Twentynine Palms Visitor Center Art Gallery. An opening art reception will be held Saturday, April 7, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Artists have expressed the theme in paintings and a variety of mixed media. The public is invited to view the exhibition, meet the artists, and enjoy live music. For questions or directions, call 760-367-3445.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

In high school sports, the next head football coach at Yucca Valley High School has been selected. JD Thompson has accepted the offer from Morongo Unified School District. Thompson comes to Yucca Valley from Vacaville by way of Long Beach, San Gabriel and Diamond Bar. Coach Thompson spent 17 years as an assistant coach for Centennial of Corona, his alma mater. Yucca Valley High School Principal Justin Monical said, “The Southern California native brings an up-tempo practice and game play to Trojan football and his spread offensive philosophy will be a perfect fit for the skilled Trojan attack.” Monical said a meet-and-greet will happen following spring break and a schedule for spring football should be released soon.
 
Twentynine Palms High School varsity baseball beat Yucca Valley Tuesday 5-2. 
 
The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojans varsity softball team shut out Twentynine Palms at their field with a score of 11-0.
Coach Josiah Gouker said junior pitcher Haley Smith struck out seven, and senior Savanna Fowlkes went 4-for-4 at the plate, bringing in two in-the-park home runs.

Yucca Valley High School Trojan golf suffered their first league loss of the season against a very tough Rancho Mirage team yesterday. In their best performance of the year, they lost by just one stroke with a final score of 214-213.

In high school sports today, the Yucca Valley High School boys’ tennis team will travel away to Desert Hot Springs. First serve is at 3:15 p.m.