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Mariah Natividad, a Twentynine Palms Marine who pleaded guilty in April to a DUI crash that killed a prominent Twentynine Palms dentist and his wife, was sentenced to eight years in state prison Wednesday. Natividad, 23, was a lance corporal with the Exercise Support Division on the Combat Center in May 2015 when she rear-ended a pick-up truck traveling eastbound on Highway 62 near Juniper Road in Joshua Tree. The impact sent the truck into the desert where it rolled over several times. Inside the truck were Dr. Lonnie Tiner, 80, and his wife, Patricia, 75. The Tiners died 10 minutes apart the next day at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. A large number of family members were present at the sentencing hearing in a Joshua Tree courtroom to give victim impact statements. Judge Bert Swift sentenced Mariah Natividad to six years in state prison for the first count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and two years for the second count, to be served consecutively.

LCpl Mariah Natividad pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter in the deaths of Dr. Lonnie and Patricia Tiner.


Illegal fireworks are a concern especially around the Independence Day holiday. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more on the potential risk and costs associated with using illegal fireworks…
Possession of fireworks is illegal throughout Morongo Basin. This includes so called “safe and sane” fireworks, and any fireworks that explode, shoot in the air or move along the ground. With the threat of wildfire nearing peak season, San Bernardino County Fire has stepped up enforcement of state and county fireworks laws. Fire officials will be issuing citations for the illegal use of fireworks, with possibility of arrest and fines of more than $1,250 for the first offense. Property owners may be cited if they allow fireworks to be possessed, stored or used on their property. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on a typical July 4th, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes combined. Basin residents are encouraged to watch fireworks at community celebrations rather than risking the death, blindness, and maiming injuries that children and adults suffer every year.


On June 21, at 10:27 am , a fire was reported in the Quail Springs area of Joshua Tree National Park. Fire crews from CAL FIRE, San Bernardino County, BLM and National Park Service responded to a brush fire approximately 100 yards off the road near mile marker #21. The fire burned an area of approximately one and a half acres. It was fueled primarily by dried grasses with no significant damage to living Joshua Trees. Quick action by fire crews and the lack of driving winds minimized the area affected. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo courtesy Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo courtesy Kathy French

Photo courtesy Kathy French

Photo courtesy Kathy French

Photo courtesy Kathy French

Photo courtesy Kathy French


Firefighters continue to battle hot temperatures and difficult terrain fighting a 1,540-acre wildfire north of Baldwin Lake in the Big Bear area. Over 1,200 firefighters from multi-agencies are working to contain the fire. The fire is 10% contained. The National Forest Service said fire activity increased mid-day as temperatures again reached highs near 95 degrees. Highway 18 remains closed between the Mitsubishi cement plant and Delta Avenue near Baldwin Lake. Several forest roads including Van Duesen Canyon and Holcomb Valley Road East  are closed, as well as a section of the popular Pacific Crest Trail between Highway 18 and Van Duesen Canyon Road. The fire started Monday, June 19. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Residents and visitors are being told to monitor the fire, and be prepared to leave if conditions change or if new fire threatens your community.

For more information, visit, call 909-383-5688, or Twitter at


Most people are aware that they shouldn’t leave their dogs in cars during hot weather. Managing Editor Tami Roleff has this reminder about another danger for dogs in the heat…
If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on pavement—and it’s been plenty hot recently—then it’s too hot for your dog to walk on pavement. A dog’s paws can be burned by hot pavement. To prevent burns and blisters on your dogs’ pads, walk your best friend in the early morning or late evening hours when it’s cooler. And scorching temps aren’t just on the pavement; hot car seats can also be uncomfortable for your dog. If you do have to travel with your dog, put down a blanket or towel. And don’t put your dogs in the back of your pick-up truck. For one thing, it’s not safe for your best friend, and the hot metal bed can quickly burn their pads.


Expect more “Sounds of Freedom” from the 29 Palms Marine Base. Marine officials say Morongo Basin residents may hear more noise than usual. The Marine Corps is in the middle of a 29-day integrated training exercise conducting battalion-size, live-fire maneuvers and will incorporate combat support, combat service support, and aviation units. Depending on atmospheric conditions, sound from the training area may be amplified. To make a comment on the exercise and sound levels, go to:
Call: (760) 830-9222 or

Photo by USMC Sgt. Sara Graham, MCAGCC 29 Palms.


It’s Thursday night and that means it’s movie night in Luckie Park in Twentynine Palms. Reporter Eric Knabe tells us what’s on the big screen tonight…
Tonight’s movie under the stars is “Ghostbusters” This 2016 movie stars Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig as paranormal enthusiasts, who, after
a ghostly invasion of Manhattan, band together with a nuclear engineer and a subway worker to stop the supernatural threat. The movie starts at 8:30 pm, at the north end of the racquetball court, with refreshment offered by the Twentynine Palms Youth Club.


You may have noticed some construction and a huge mound of dirt on the south side of Highway 62 near Sunny Vista Road in Joshua Tree. In February, the Board of Supervisors approved a behavioral health crisis residential treatment facility to be built at the location. The $8.5 million project will have 16 beds in an 11,000 square-foot facility, and will provide voluntary crisis intervention for adults diagnosed with mental health and/or co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The mental health program will offer a positive, short-term community-based treatment option with recovery-based services and interventions in a home-like setting for stays up to 90 days. The construction is expected to be completed by January 2018.


A four-day celebration in remembrance of the Stonewall riots will be held in Joshua Tree, starting Thursday, June 22. In 1969, members of the gay community spontaneously rioted following a police raid on a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City. The Stonewall Riots are credited with the beginning of the gay rights movement. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more on the Joshua Tree celebration…
The Joshua Tree Stonewall Remembrance Days is four days of music, film, poetry, dance, and fashion. The celebration begins 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Art Queen Complex on the highway in downtown Joshua Tree. Highlights include a screening of the films “El Canto del Colibri” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” a presentation by writer-director-actor Guinevere Turner, a photography exhibit by Eric Schwabel, and readings by Raquel Gutierrez and Anna Joy Springer. Admission to all events is free.
Joshua Tree Stonewall Remembrance Days Event Schedule

Thursday, June 22

730 p.m. – Poetry “Out” Loud! presented by Space Cowboy Books
830 p.m. – Eva Soltes screens selections from her documentary and archive on the life and times of Lou Harrison, at the gallery opening of his paintings and drawings, “Lou’s Men.”

Friday, June 23
8:00 p.m. – My Journey Through Lesbian Representation, a clip reel and conversation with Guinevere Turner followed by Q & A
9:30 p.m. – Documentary: Marco Castro-Bojorquez’s El Canto del Colibri, Latin American immigrant fathers and their LGBTQ children experience the process of family acceptance

Saturday, June24
3:00 p.m. – Dance and Stretch with Dapper Studios. Participate…bring a yoga mat!
3:45pm – Introductory Remarks: Why Remember Stonewall with T. Hammidi
4:00 p.m. – A fun fashion show by Dusty Deserette, and Pink-ish Leather Fashions presentation by the legendary Robert Warner
5:00 p.m. – Gallery reception for Eric Schwabel’s “Fertile Desert” exhibition
5:30 p.m. – Shari Elf performs “An Ode to Mr. Morgan”
6:00 p.m. – Poetry/Spoken Word by Raquel Gutierrez and Anna Joy Springer
6:45pm – Dance Party/Live Bands: Teddy Quinn Band, Leslie Mariah and Small World Experience, Jeff Hafler & The Wonder People, Daytime Moon
10:30 p.m. – Screening of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (attendees encouraged to dress up)

Sunday, June 25
11:30 a.m. – A pancake breakfast with live music by the JT Jazz Band and performance art by Aaron Sheppard

To learn more about the event visit JTSRD’s Facebook page at


As if high temperatures weren’t bad enough, depending on winds, you may smell the stench of rotten eggs for the next few days. The smell is coming from the Salton Sea, where elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide have developed. It’s caused by decaying organic matter. Its presence may be felt on and off through Thursday, “Hot weather enhances the process,” according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.


At last night’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Town Council, the council heard from dozens of people who were nearly unanimous in their support of a town ordinance prohibiting commercial marijuana businesses in the town. Managing editor Tami Roleff says council members voted to approve the new ordinance…
“Medical marijuana comes in many forms: oils, salves, ingested pills…. It’s a miracle drug when it comes to reducing pain. Recreational [marijuana] is something different, and as long as you do it at home and to want to be high, great, that’s great, but using it in public is something that’s very disturbing.”
Council member Bob Leone became very emotional as he talked about the benefits of medical marijuana, but as he and many others pointed out, that was not the issue at last night’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Town Council.
Even Jason Elsasser, who once ran a medical marijuana dispensary in the town, and was behind Measure X, to allow two medical marijuana dispensaries in town limits, spoke in favor of the ordinance that would prohibit commercial uses of recreational marijuana.
“I am in favor of keeping ordinance as it is. If I lived in a nice neighborhood and someone started growing next to me, and I had to smell marijuana when I was having dinner with my family, I wouldn’t be that happy about it.”
And council member Robert Lombardo said marijuana laws were certain to change.
“There’s too much uncertainty in the state and federal laws. I think that this is definitely not the time to be considering to make pot shops in town.”
The council tweaked the title of the ordinance, changing “prohibiting” personal marijuana uses to “regulating” it, because residents can still grow up to six plants in their home, assuming they apply for a permit to do so. When town staff was questioned on the need for a permit, council members were told a permit would give law enforcement and code enforcement teeth to enforce the ordinance.


A Twentynine Palms woman was arrested Monday, accused of child endangerment and animal cruelty. According to the Sheriff’s Department, a deputy went to a home in the 5800 block of Halsey Avenue in Twentynine Palms about 10 a.m. to assist an animal control officer. The Palm n Paws Animal Shelter had been alerted that two dogs had been left outside in the 115 degree heat with no shade and no water, and the ground temperature was about 145 degrees. While at the home, the deputy realized a girl about 7 years old was in the home with what appeared to be no adult supervision. Deputy Arden entered the unlocked home and found the mother, Natalya McCourt, 27, asleep in a bedroom. While in the home, the deputy saw a child’s arm reaching under another door and discovered two boys, ages 3 and 6, had been locked into their bedroom with no water or access to toilets. The doors had been locked from the outside, and one of the boys was autistic. Natalya McCourt was arrested for investigation of felony child endangerment and felony animal cruelty, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $100,000.


The San Bernardino County Coroner’s office has identified the body found in the desert in Yucca Valley last week as Luther Anson Junior, 47. Anson was found about 8 a.m. Thursday, June 15, in the desert near Sunnyslope and Palm Avenue by a passer-by. The coroner’s office has not determined a cause of death yet, but said the there was no trauma to the body.


As the extreme heat continues in our Morongo Basin, cooling centers remain open in our desert communities, go to: Managing editor Tami Roleff also has this timely reminder about dogs in hot cars…
On a hot day, temperatures inside of a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. The temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in minutes, regardless of whether the windows are rolled down or not. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting or sweating through their paws. A hot car doesn’t provide enough fresh air for their body temperature to stay at a safe level. Dogs can sustain brain damage or even die in as little as fifteen minutes. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, immediately call your local animal shelter or the Sheriff’s Department at 760-245-4211 or 760-366-3781. Be prepared to provide a vehicle description and license plate number.


The Holcomb fire near Big Bear Lake burned for a second day, prompting fire officials to briefly evacuate an area northeast of Big Bear Lake. The fire has burned 1,200 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest, and was 10 percent contained last night, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire caused rolling power outages Tuesday afternoon as temperatures in the mountains reached into the upper 80s. Areas in the direct path of the smoke were under an advisory from the South Coast Air Quality Management District that conditions were unhealthy Tuesday.
A spot fire burning near Baldwin Lake Road picked up Tuesday afternoon and ran through an area dangerously close to homes causing an evacuation. Just over two hours after the evacuations began, the orders were lifted. The power failure closed the doors to many businesses in the Big Bear area, including gas stations. Other gas stations not affected by the power outage sold out of fuel and were forced to turn away customers. Highway 18 remains closed between the Mitsubishi Cement Plant and Delta Avenue near Baldwin Lake. Several forest roads are closed, as well as a section of the popular Pacific Crest Trail between Highway 18 and Van Duesen Canyon Road. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


The new improv comedy troupe, The Baker’s Dozen, debuted to a sold-out house at Theatre 29 with overflow seating added. Reporter Rebecca Havely was there and offers kudos to the cast…
If you’ve been to see an improv comedy show you know it’s a blast; if you’ve never been its something you’ve got to experience. The Baker’s Dozen” is a newly formed improv comedy troupe at Theatre 29. Director Chris Fleischman held workshops and auditions to choose the 13 cast members that make up The Baker’s Dozen. He leads them through a series of theatre games and scenes with some suggestions from the audience thrown in, but basically it’s a show without a script. In the moment the actors create the story, characters and dialogue. This will make every performance completely unique, and once you’ve tried it you’ll want to come back again and again. Chris Fleischman is adept at leading the troupe and jumping in repeatedly as a cast member. The entire cast made the evening fun; standouts include Graham Cooley, who even threw in a few celebrity impressions; Korey Fleischman; Joseph Rego; Yvonna Mullen; Amy Fangmeyer; and Katie Fleischman. The cast also includes actors Cindy Daigneault, Cam D’Angeles, Lisa Goldberg, Cody Joseph, and Hope Spicer. Since every performance will be totally different you may as well plan to see them all before they sell out.
The next performance by The Baker’s Dozen is July 15, also August 12, September 23, October 28, November 11, and December 30. All performances will begin at 7 p.m. The performances are rated PG 13. Tickets are $10 each; military and seniors are $7; and students with ID are $5. Theatre 29 season ticket holders may attend one performance at no additional charge. For tickets visit or call the Theatre 29 box office at 760-361-4151.


The Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce held its installation of officers and directors at Bistro 29, June 15. The new executive committee and directors are: President, Jacob Smith; Vice-President, Aaron J. Kyle; Treasurer, Jim Brakebill; and Secretary, Denise Cullum. Board members are: Kevin Hatcher, Tim Christians, Wanda Llewellyn, Star Bassion, and Amanda Mann. At the meeting, the Chamber gave its annual awards with Business of the Year a tie, going to both Aaron’s Air Services and the Bowladium Family Fun Center. Individual Member of the Year for 2017 went to Kim Ortamond and Volunteer of the Year to Ann Congdon. The Chamber said the awards recognize the many contributions of the members including their time, energy, innovation and leadership.

Ann Congdon and grandchildren with Congdon’s award for Volunteer of the Year, along with Chamber vice president Aaron Kyle.

Aaron’s Air Services and the Bowladium tied for Business of the Year.

New board members of the 29 Palms Chamber of Commerce are sworn in.


The Morongo Basin Healthcare District board of directors will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. this afternoon, Wednesday, June 21. The sole item on the agenda is a performance evaluation of the chief executive officer, Jackie Combs. The board will take up the evaluation again in another closed session following its regular meeting on Thursday, June 22, at 5:30 p.m. The meetings will be held in district offices at 6530 La Contenta Road, Suite 100, in Yucca Valley.


At Thursday’s (June 22) meeting of the Morongo Basin Transit Authority, directors will begin the meeting with a closed session for an evaluation of its general manager. Under new business, directors will be asked to approve two grants for operating assistance. Directors will also be asked to approve adjustments to the general manager’s contract. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. at the MBTA Operations Center, 62405 Verbena Road in Joshua Tree.


The twice-monthly Joshua Basin Water District meeting is tonight. Reporter Mike Lipsitz tells us what’s on the agenda …
At tonight’s meeting of the Joshua Basin Water District, the board will consider allocating $110,000 for extension of a joint funding agreement with the US Geological Survey. The money would pay for continuation of study begun in 2006. Primarily, the study is tasked with monitoring water quality and flow at the district’s recharge facility, that in addition to separate, Basin-wide monitoring for water quality. Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Joshua Basin Water District offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.

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