TODAY IS VETERAN’S DAY WITH HOLIDAY CLOSURES AND OPEN NATIONAL PARKS

Today is Veterans’ Day. In honor of the holiday, the City of Twentynine Palms, the Town of Yucca Valley, and the county courthouse in Joshua Tree will be closed, as well as most banks. Copper Mountain College and all schools in the Morongo Unified School District will also be closed today. Burrtec will maintain its usual schedule.

While many government agencies will be closed on Wednesday for Veterans Day, your national parks—including Joshua Tree National Park—will be open and will be waiving entrance fees.

SCHOOL BOARD TO APPOINT TRUSTEE, SPORTS TO WAIT FOR RED TIER

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees had many topics to cover at last night’s regular meeting, including the approval of the appointment process for a new board Trustee. Former area 5 Trustee Chris Proudfoot resigned from the board on October 23 following the sale of his home in Joshua Tree. The district will now accept applications from individuals living in District area 5 to fill the vacancy. Applications are due by November 19 with interviews to be held through December 4. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has more from the meeting…

The Morongo unified School District Board of Trustees. From left to right, top to bottom: President Hilary Slotta, Trustee John Cole, Kerri Condley, Karalee Hargrove, Assistant Superintendent Amy Woods, Assistant Superintendent Sharon Flores, Assistant Superintendent Mike Ghelber, SELPA Director Heidi Burgett, Acting Superintendent Doug Weller, Yucca Valley High School Principal Justin Monical, Director of Secondary Curriculum Dustin Howard, and Twentynine Palms High School Principal Michael Ruggiero.

At last night’s meeting, the board also held a lengthy discussion on approving Phase 1 of the District’s plan for students to return to athletic conditioning. A preliminary board vote, which would have started phase 1 in the County’s current purple-tier Coronavirus restrictions, ended in a split vote of 2-2 (Trustees Hilary Slotta and John Cole voting yes and Trustees Kerri Condley and Karalee Hargrove voting no) and did not pass. After additional discussions on student safety, liability, and impact on district staff that the plan would have; the board unanimously approved an amended plan, which will be submitted to the County health department for review and will not be implemented until the County reaches red-tier Coronavirus restrictions.

In other action items, the board approved additions to three assistant superintendent contracts, approved flooring repairs for several district schools, and approved the tentative agreements the District reached with the Morongo Teachers’ Association, California School Employees Association; Management; Supervisory; Confidential; and Contract Employees.

The board was also treated to a music video performance by the Twentynine Palms Junior High School choir; congratulated Kathy Nelson and Robert Hamilton as the next Trustees for District areas 1 and 2; and Assistant Superintendent Amy Woods shared the initial success of the district’s new library reservation and checkout program for students.

The board was treated to a music video performance of the song “Penny Lane” by the Twentynine Palms Junior High School choir, directed by Dr. Kelly Corbin.

SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT TOM BAUMGARTEN RETIRES AFTER 33 YEARS

The Morongo Unified School District announced the resignation of Superintendent Tom Baumgarten following a closed session meeting of the Board of Trustees Tuesday night. The board accepted Baumgarten’s resignation for personal reasons, effective immediately. The board placed Baumgarten on administrative leave on October 23 for an undisclosed personnel matter. Board President Hillary Slotta thanked Baumgarten for his past 33 years of service to the school district and stated that filling his position will be a top priority for the district. Former Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Doug Weller will serve as acting Superintendent on an “as needed basis” during the 2020-21 school year.

MEDICARE IN OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD, HELP AVAILABLE

We are in the middle of the Medicare open enrollment period for 2020, which runs through December 7. This is the time for seniors to look at their current Medicare plan and Medicare Advantage Plan and look for changes in costs, medication coverage, and whether their doctors are still a part of their plan. Hilary Sloane says there is help for seniors who are overwhelmed…

Now is the only time of the year that seniors can make changes to their Medicare plans without facing penalties. Trying to figure everything out can be challenging and stressful. The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program can help seniors figure out their Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare prescription drug coverage, and other health insurance issues. State-registered counselors offer objective information to help seniors make good health care decisions, and can help resolve any problems that may arise. All services are free of charge. For help, call 800-434-0222, or 909-256-8369, or visit coasc.org.

ONE ARREST AFTER A CAR-TO-CAR SHOOTING IN YUCCA VALLEY

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly shot a gun at another man’s vehicle. Shortly before 11 a.m., the victim and Derek Carter, 35, had an argument at a Yucca Valley convenience store. Both men left, and while driving away, the victim said Carter brandished a firearm and fired it at his car near Elk and Navajo Trails. The victim called to report the shooting. Deputies found Carter’s vehicle at his home in the 55800 block of Mountain View Trail in Yucca Valley. Deputies obtained a search warrant, and inside the house they found evidence linking Carter to the shooting. Derek Carter was arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.