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A Twentynine Palms man was arrested early Wednesday after allegedly attacking a neighbor with a metal pipe. According to the sheriff’s department, Ricardo Rocha, 34, went to a home in the 6500 block of Eucalyptus Ave. just after midnight where he found his wife with another man. The men argued and Rocha allegedly hit the man in the head with a metal bar. He then broke several windows and left, a sheriff’s report said. The victim was taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center. Deputies went to a nearby home and arrested Ricardo Rocha for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, booked him into the West Valley Detention Center with bail set at $50,000.


A simple candy bar theft escalated into a felony robbery Wednesday when a Landers man allegedly grabbed the arm of a gas station employee who was attempting to call 911. According to the sheriff’s department, Eriberto Zapien, 32, went to the Chevron station on the 57200 block of Highway 62 about 10:15 a.m., picked up a candy bar and other snacks and was attempting to leave when the clerk began dialing 911. Zapien grabbed the clerk’s arm to stop the call, deputies said, and fled. Deputies detained him after a brief foot pursuit. Eriberto Zapien was arrested for investigation of strong armed robbery and booked into Morongo Basin Jail with bail set at $100,000.


The four candidates for Yucca Valley Town Council met Thursday evening to discuss their views on various issues facing the town. The candidates’ forum started 15 minutes late and without incumbent Dr. Robert Lombardo, who showed up about 30 minutes later, due to a dental emergency at his practice, he said. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the forum, and said the candidates agreed on practically everything…
The challengers for two seats on the Yucca Valley Town Council—Jeff Drozd, Eric Quander, and Jeri Wilson—all agreed that public safety and maintaining the town’s infrastructure were their top priorities (incumbent Robert Lombardo had not arrived yet, but Lombardo told Z107.7 News in an interview his top priorities are public safety and maintaining the town’s roads).
The issue that seemed to separate the three challengers was concerning marijuana dispensaries in the town. All agreed that they would support the will of the people—who in 2015 voted down Measure X that would have allowed dispensaries in town limits—but Drozd said he supported medical marijuana dispensaries. Quander said cities that have allowed dispensaries to open have benefitted from the revenue they bring in, while Wilson said she felt very strongly about not permitting dispensaries in the town. While Lombardo was not present during this portion of the meeting, in 2013 he voted in favor of allowing a marijuana dispensary to remain open in Yucca Valley.
The candidates were asked to explain why voters should vote for them over their opponents. Wilson said she was a new face with new perspectives. Drozd said he had longevity in the town; he’s been a resident for 40 years, is a 1979 graduate of Yucca Valley High School, teaches at the high school and he loves the desert and Yucca Valley. Quander said that while he doesn’t have longevity, he represents the direction Yucca Valley is going, a new resident who appreciates how Yucca Valley has been and who has an eye for what Yucca Valley can be. Lombardo was not present.
All the candidates support Measure Y and Measure Z.
When asked how Yucca Valley should market itself to the world, Wilson said the town was once ranked as a top place to retire. Drozd said the town should emphasize all the national parks and national monuments in the surrounding area, which all draw tourists. Lombardo said tourism was a great idea, but that the town should look to other ideas, such as the clear air and night skies, and as a place for those who can telecommute. Quander said the town should take a multi-pronged approach: tourism, affordability for young families, telecommuting, and the quality of life.
When asked about the Morongo Basin’s homeless population and drug addiction, Quander said a major goal was to open some type of in-house rehabilitation facility so addicts and homeless could have access to the help they need. Wilson said resources should be brought in from the county or state, and she’d like to see a shelter where the homeless can go and be supported. Drozd mentioned that passing Measure Y would help these problems by having more police on the streets, not to arrest them, but to interact with them and get them the help they need. Lombardo said it’s hard to address the homeless problem when some of them choose to be homeless and resist help, but that there are programs available through the Sheriff’s Department where they can get shelter.
All the candidates supported prayer to open town council meetings.
The candidates had widely different ideas on what types of recreational facilities they’d like to see in Yucca Valley, from Quander’s proposals of an outdoor theater and putt-putt golf, to Wilson’s Olympic-sized pool and more activities for senior citizens, to Lombardo’s wish for a performing arts center and robotic summer camps for high school students. Drozd said that while the town wants to do all it can with youth, the town shouldn’t be competing with businesses, and that there were so many youth activities sponsored by the town and the high school.
When questioned how they would support youth, Wilson and Drozd mentioned the Boys and Girls Club. Drozd added that the town needs to do more outreach to let residents know about all its programs for youth. Lombardo said the problem is the town’s budget, and that the council has to be realistic with its goals, but then added the town does need some kind of water park. Quander agreed, and said the town needs to work closely with the you ambassadors to ask residents what they want.



The Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who robbed a Yucca Valley jewelry store yesterday. Just after 1 p.m. Thursday, a man entered Marconette’s Jewelry Store in the 57000 block of 29 Palms Highway and asked to see several pieces of jewelry. Once the jewelry was out of the display case, the man grabbed them and fled south of the strip mall. Deputies described the suspect as white, about 20 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with sandy brown hair. He was wearing a black T-shirt and gray shorts. Deputies conducted an area search but were unable to locate the suspect or the stolen jewelry. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.


The latest in a series of BB gun attacks damaged a Joshua Tree business for the second time in three days, according to the sheriff’s department. The windows of an art gallery on the 61800 block of Highway 62 were punctured by 4 to 5 BBs in a possible drive-by shooting sometime Tuesday night. The sheriff’s department is investigating.


The leaders of Twentynine Palms churches, government and law enforcement all got together last night for a community conversation. The meeting was inspired by incidents around the nation bringing protestors out to the streets. Reporter David Haldane was there…
There were lots of empty seats at last night’s Community Conversation in Twentynine Palms. Those who did show up at Gospel Fellowship Christian Center Church, however, were highly diverse and intensely passionate. Pastor T.K. Washington, in his opening remarks, articulated the question that deeply concerned them.
“We have regressed…specifically in the area of race relations. Why is that?” He wasn’t talking about the Morongo Basin so much as the nation where, in city after city, protestors have taken to the streets in the wake of police-involved shootings. The panel on hand to discuss it included Mayor Dan Mintz, Councilman McArthur Wright and police Chief Jeff Joling. And while they couldn’t provide a definitive answer, they did assure their listeners that, in Twentynine Palms anyway, relations are good and communication is open.
The main purpose of the evening’s program, the pastor said later, was to make sure that it stays that way.


Most Saturdays in Landers are best described as slow and uneventful, but tomorrow will be anything but as hundreds converge on this small community a few miles north of Yucca Valley. Many will be heading to the annual Morongo Basin Orchid Festival at Gubler Orchids on Belfield Blvd. Others will be drawn to two giant rummage sales: one at the Landers Association’s Belfield Hall and the other at the Morongo Basin Historical Society. Tomorrow only, Belfield Hall becomes an indoor vintage marketplace. The Association has been collecting items since last Spring and now it’s time to unload everything at bargain prices. Belfield Hall is on Reche Road just east of the post office. Right around the corner at 632 Landers Lane is the Morongo Basin Historical Society’s popular Museum Marketplace; it returns after a short hiatus. Check out their treasure trove of unique and eclectic items for sale. While you’re there ask for a tour of this fascinating facility. Both sales are open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Orchid Festival stays open until 5 p.m. on Saturday.


Mark your calendars for a free fall festival featuring carnival rides, music, fireworks, and petting zoo in Desert Hot Springs. The Desert Hot Springs Fall Festival is a family-friendly event set from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 1, and is free. Live music will be provided by Gin Piston, Brian Scott, and the Brothers Quitos. In addition, there will be kids’ rides, arts and crafts, an art gallery, and fireworks by PyroSpectaculars. The fall festival will be held at the Mission Lakes Marketplace, 64949 Mission Lakes Boulevard in Desert Hot Springs.


It will be breakfast and a swap meet at Copper Mountain Mesa’s Community center tomorrow. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has your invitation…
The Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center will hold a swap meet on Saturday, October 1, along with the popular $7, First Saturday Breakfast. Both events are at the Community Center on Winters Road., 4.5 miles east of Border Rd. Swap Meet vendors may rent a 16 ft. by 20 ft. space for $10 and take $2 off breakfast which includes coffee and a small juice. Whether you’re buying, selling, or bounding for breakfast, every buck made on Saturday goes to the “roof replacement fund.” They say it’s in very bad shape, but come out for Saturday’s events and see for yourself. For more information, call 760-362-6037 or email


You can get your favorite furry friend blessed Sunday at the Art Queen complex in Joshua Tree. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has more….
A blessing of the animals will be held Sunday, October 2, in Joshua Tree. Residents are encouraged to bring their dogs, cats, goats, horses, birds, reptiles, and other animals that can safely attend to the blessing. The blessing of elderly, special needs, service, and adoptable animals will begin at 10 a.m. The canine unit from the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms will be honored at noon. At 12:45, animals from the Feathers ‘n Fur Wildlife Rehab Team will be blessed. Portions of the event will be broadcast live on the Mojave Animal Protection’s Facebook page. Those attending are encouraged to bring blankets, towels, and pet beds that will be distributed to Morongo Basin animal shelters.


Boy Scout Troop 229 will be holding a rummage sale this Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Little School of the Desert (just behind Little Church of the Desert). The rummage sale is a fundraiser to help scouts purchase uniforms and assist in paying for camp outs, hikes and other outdoor activities. Please come out and show your support. All items to be sold are donated. If you have Boy Scout uniform items, excess camping equipment, or items you would like to donate for this event, please contact Michael Collins, Troop Committee Chair, at 760-362-3781 or 760-367-5015 and leave a message.


This Saturday, October 1, the Food For Life meal will be prepared by Palms Baptist Church and will consist of chicken alfredo, salad, and dessert. The hot meal will be served from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, across from Del Taco restaurant on the highway.


The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will offer a spaghetti and meatballs dinner tonight, Friday, September 30, from 4 to 6, complete with salad and garlic bread, for $7. And don’t forget Taco Wednesday, from 11 to 1. The Joshua Tree VFW post is located on Veterans Way north of the highway in downtown Joshua Tree.


Cactus Sewables Quilt Guild will hold its general meeting Monday October 3, in the Yucca Room of the Yucca Valley Community Center. Doors open at 12:30 and the meeting begins promptly at 1:00pm. Lori Conway will present the day’s program, Tips and Tricks for a Better Quilt. There will also be an over the top show and share of all member projects completed during the summer.
Guests are welcome with a $3 donation.


The free, live at the rock concert series continues at Tortoise Rock Casino tonight with Urban Skies. Here’s reporter Rebecca Havely with more…
Friday, September 30, at 8 p.m. raise ‘em up for Urban Skies and their tribute performance to Keith Urban. Enjoy a free live concert under a starry desert sky, live at the rock, hosted by Z107.7. Urban Skies pays tribute to one of the most exciting and exhilarating performers in country music today. With millions of records sold and numerous number one hits. This is the next best thing to a Keith Urban show with seasoned musicians performing all your favorites from, “Somebody Like You,” to “Days Go By.” Be sure to bring a date ‘cause you may just want to “Kiss a Girl” as you experience the high energy and excitement you’d expect from a Keith Urban concert.


In high school sports today, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat football team will host the Desert Hot Springs Golden Eagles at home. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
The Joshua Springs Christian School Lightning football team will travel to Rancho Mirage to play Palm Valley High School. Kick-off is at 4 p.m.
The Yucca Valley High School Trojan football team does not play this week.


There’s nothing more infuriating or heartbreaking than seeing a dog locked in a car on a hot day. Even on cool 70-degree days, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to more than 100 degrees in a short time. On Saturday, September 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Right to Rescue Act into law, which allows Good Samaritans to break into cars to rescue animals without legal ramifications. However, Managing Editor Tami Roleff says there are five requirements bystanders must follow in order to legally break into a vehicle…
The California Right to Rescue Act grants immunity to bystanders who break into a locked vehicle to rescue an animal inside, but they must first follow these five requirements: Rescuers must have no other way to gain access to the animal, and they must believe the animal is in imminent danger. The Good Samaritan must contact law enforcement first before breaking in, they must not use more force than necessary, and they must remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. The Right to Rescue Act goes into effect January 1. Under California law, it is already a crime to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle under dangerous conditions, such as excessive heat or cold.


In light of violent incidents around the country, leading to a disconnect between government, law enforcement and citizens, local Twentynine Palms leaders and citizens are getting together tonight for what is called a community conversation. Reporter David Haldane says the public is invited to participate…
How does a community build bridges to prevent the kind of violence recently seen in Charlotte, North Carolina, and numerous other American cities? One way to start, the pastor of Gospel Fellowship Christian Center Church in Twentynine Palms believes, is to start talking.
To that end, the church is hosting a community conversation tonight featuring the city’s mayor, Dan Mintz, as well as its chief of police, fire chief, community leaders and Christian counselors.
The public is invited to attend and participate in the event, set to begin 6:30 p.m. at the church on the 5800 block of Adobe Road. For more information, call 760-361-6510 or visit the church’s website at


Gas was 31 cents a gallon, the mini-skirt was introduced, and the “Sound of Music” was the year’s top grossing film; it was 1965 and twenty-two-year-old Donna Johnson began working at Hi-Desert Memorial Hospital in Yucca Valley. Assignment report Mike Lipsitz picks up the story from there…
Tomorrow, Hi-Desert Medical Center marks Donna Johnson’s 51 years of service with a small celebration in the Helen Gray Education Center. November 5 is officially the last day for Johnson who still works full time. Presently, Johnson is the hospital’s occupational health coordinator, but she was an emergency room nurse for the bulk of her career. Johnson’s history at the hospital spans a lifetime of medical advances, social change, and area growth; she is credited with helping establish paramedic service as the first mobile intensive care unit nurse here. Among her most memorable experiences was a stint working as a life support nurse at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, although the bulk of her skills there, she says, were spent treating sunburn and diarrhea. Johnson says she looks forward to retirement but will really miss the people she has worked with; and what’s next for Donna Johnson? Read the book, she says, it will be called, “Oh my God!”


In a case that could be characterized as thieves’ remorse, a Morongo Valley man was arrested Saturday after a bizarre case of a stolen license plate. According to Sheriff’s reports, employees from Liberty Automotive in Morongo Valley called about 8 a.m. Saturday to report a license plate had been stolen Friday night off an employee’s vehicle parked at the dealership. Video surveillance showed a Jeep Cherokee pulled up behind the vehicle about 8:30 p.m. A man got out of the Jeep and removed the rear license plate from a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan and fastened it to the Jeep. The Jeep then drove off. Then about 1 p.m. Saturday, a dealership employee called the deputy to report that Michael Johnson, 42, had called and said he had stolen the plate, that it was all a big misunderstanding, and he was going to bring it back to the dealership when he brought his Jeep in for repairs. About 2:30 p.m., Johnson and a friend stopped at the dealership and Johnson said he was on his way to retrieve the license plate. A deputy made a traffic stop on the vehicle, and the report states that Johnson admitted to using the stolen license plate on his vehicle. Michael Johnson was arrested for investigation of a felony charge of using a stolen license plate, booked at the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $25,000.

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