MARINE ACCUSED OF FELONY ASSAULT IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

A Twentynine Palms Marine was arrested Monday, accused of assault. Deputies were called to the 73300 block of Sunnyvale Drive in Twentynine Palms about 2 a.m. Monday morning for a disturbance. Deputies determined that Ainsley Clift, 24, armed herself with a pistol with the intent of shooting the victim. The victim was able to disarm Clift, but Clift then found a knife and chased the victim out of the house with the knife. When deputies arrived, they filed a search warrant and during a search of the home, found numerous weapons inside the home that were not compliant with California law, as well as possible explosives. Ainsley Clift was arrested on suspicion of assault and booked into the Morongo Basin Jail. She was released about 11 p.m. on $50,000 bail. Ainsley Clift is a corporal assigned to 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at the Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

CITY OF TWENTYNINE PALMS TO FREEZE ALL PAY RAISES IN JULY

Last night’s meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council resulted in some tough decisions in light of the COVID-19 economic reality. Reporter Heather Clisby has the details…

the Twentynine Palms City Council and administrative staff wear face masks during the meeting. Video screenshot

The Twentynine Palms City Council gathered last night to hear presentations from the U.S. Census and the County Fire Department before facing necessary budget changes in light of COVID-19.

Doug Hassett from the U.S. Census presented an updated status on census participation. Thus far, California is at a 59.8 percent self-response rate and Twentynine Palms is at 48.6 percent. Due to COVID-19 inhibiting outreach, many of the response deadline dates have been moved from summer to fall.

San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey offered a detailed review of what a repeal of FP5—the annual $157 parcel fee—could mean for the City’s fire protection. The FP5 tax brought in $9.5 million last fiscal year for the South Desert region that includes the Morongo Basin. Munsey stated that a repeal of FP5 could result in shuttered fire stations, increased emergency response times and staff reductions.

County Fire Chief Dan Munsey discussed the impact that repealing FP-5 would have on the fire department at the Twentynine Palms City Council meeting. Video screenshot

The council approved the use of community development block grant funding so the city can then allocate the $102,000 to local food banks stretched thin by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

And facing a loss of TOT (bed tax) and sales tax revenue due to the shutdown, the council reviewed proposed changes to budgets for fiscal year 2020-2021. After some discussion, council members resolved to give step raises only (no merit and no cost-of-living) to city employees through the end of June. In July, all pay raises will be frozen tentatively for 12 months. The council will re-visit the issue come September.

The council voted not to cancel but instead, officially postpone the city’s summer day camps until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removes restrictions on group gatherings.

Kary Minatrea addressed the Twentynine Palms City Council. Video screenshot

The council voted to temporarily stop adding to the city’s post-retiree benefits trust fund though this will not affect any current retiree or their benefits.

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION GETS DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

The Yucca Valley Planning Commission met last night to discuss updates to some current town developments. Reporter Joshua King has more details…

First on the agenda was a request to grant a waiver for a garage that was built too close to a property line at 6040 Carmelita Avenue in Yucca Valley. The request was approved unanimously due to the topographical layout of the site and lack of impact on neighboring properties. Following this agenda item, commissioners decided whether or not to adopt a threshold and guidelines for Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT, in accordance with state law. VMT are defined as “the amount and distance of automobile travel attributable to a project” and as the most appropriate metric to evaluate a project’s transportation impacts. The threshold and guidelines of VMT per capita were established. These guidelines are part of a state-focused approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle miles traveled.

COVID-19 UPDATES FROM THE COUNTY (5/13/20)

Five more San Bernardino County residents have died from COVID-19, the public health department reported Tuesday, May 12. The virus has killed 120 and infected 3,078 in the county of 2.1 million residents, according to the county’s online dashboard. Here in the Morongo Basin the county indicates there are 42 confirmed cases; Yucca Valley has 16 with one death; Joshua Tree with 15 and two deaths; Morongo valley with six; and Twentynine Palms with five.

Deaths are up 4.3 percent from 115 and cases are up 2.1 percent from 3,015 reported Monday, May 11.

The county has tested 32,568 people, of which 9.5 percent were positive. Testing was up 2.5 percent since Monday, May 11.

CASES BY COMMUNITY
Adelanto: 39 cases, 1 death
Angelus Oaks: 0 cases, 0 deaths
Apple Valley: 41 cases, 2 deaths
Crestline: 10 cases, 1 death
Barstow: 9 cases, 2 deaths
Big Bear City: 4 cases, 0 deaths
Big Bear Lake: 6 cases, 0 deaths
Bloomington: 41 cases, 1 death
Blue Jay: 0 cases, 0 deaths
Chino: 371 cases, 5 deaths
Chino Hills: 74 cases, 2 deaths
Colton: 119 cases, 11 deaths
Fontana: 350 cases, 10 deaths
Fort Irwin: 2 cases, 0 deaths
Grand Terrace: 16 cases, 1 death
Hesperia: 78 cases, 1 death
Highland: 83 cases, 3 deaths
Joshua Tree: 15 cases, 2 deaths
Landers: 0 cases, 0 deaths
Loma Linda: 49 cases, 0 deaths
Mentone: 16 cases, 0 deaths
Montclair: 44 cases, 4 deaths
Morongo Valley: 6 cases, 0 deaths
Oak Hills: 16 cases, 0 deaths
Ontario: 254 cases, 7 deaths
Piñon Hills: 0 cases, 0 deaths
Phelan: 9 cases, 0 deaths
Rancho Cucamonga: 142 cases, 6 deaths
Redlands: 180 cases, 13 deaths
Rialto: 140 cases, 4 deaths
Rimforest: 1 case, 0 deaths
Running Springs: 5 cases, 0 deaths
San Bernardino: 393 cases, 4 deaths
Twentynine Palms: 5 cases, 0 deaths
Upland: 108 cases, 9 deaths
Victorville: 122 cases, 6 deaths
Wrightwood: 1 case, 0 deaths
Yucaipa: 186 cases, 24 deaths
Yucca Valley: 16 cases, 1 death
Undetermined: 127 cases, 0 deaths

SCHOOL BOARD HEARS REQUESTS FOR GRADUATION CEREMONIES

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees had many topics to discuss during last night’s videoconference meeting. The board first reviewed a budget update for the 2020-2021 school year, which predicted significant revenue decline and an increase in spending due to COVID-19. The board requested a more comprehensive budget outline to be discussed at the next board meeting. The most prominent topic, by far, was the alternative graduation ceremony scheduled for the Morongo Basin high school seniors of 2020. Reporter Andrew Dieleman tells us more…

During public comment of last night’s videoconference meeting, the MUSD Board of Trustees were presented with numerous requests from graduating seniors and parents of seniors to allow some form of an in-person graduation ceremony for seniors that would comply with limited gatherings and social distancing. After much discussion among board members and a plea from Board member Karalee Hargrove, the board agreed to hold a special meeting on Friday, May 15, at 9 a.m. to discuss the requests.

The board also discussed upcoming California legislation pertaining to student homework and student suspensions and expulsions (Senate Bill 419 and Assembly Bill 982), heard a presentation on the district’s PBIS & MTSS programs, and approved the eventual purchase of $806,000 in new science books for K-6 students. Finally, the board unanimously declared May 13 as the Day of the Teacher and the week of May 18-22 as Classified School Employee Week for the District.