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THREE ARRESTS FOR STOLEN PROPERTY, ILLEGAL WEAPONS AND DRUGS

A Joshua Tree man was arrested early Friday morning, accused of possession of a stolen vehicle. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to the Joshua Tree campground in the 2600 block of Sunfair Road about 5:15 a.m. for a prowler who was looking at tools and gas cans. When deputies arrived, they found Anthony Smith, 51, in a stolen 2000 Chevy Cavalier. Anthony Smith was arrested for investigation of being in possession of a stolen vehicle, booked into the West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $50,000.

A Joshua Tree man was arrested late Sunday night, accused of being a felon in possession of ammunition. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a white Ford, driven by Shawn Thayer, 39, just before midnight at Sage Avenue and Highway 62 in Yucca Valley for having an expired registration tag. During a search of the vehicle, the deputy found a backpack with ammunition and a baggie containing methamphetamine. Shawn Thayer was arrested for investigation of being a felon in possession of ammunition, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $35,000.

A Yucca Valley woman was arrested Friday, accused of dealing drugs. According to a Sheriff’s report, a deputy stopped a Saturn, driven by Treena Dominguez, 31, near Aviation Drive and Old Woman Springs Road about 5:30 p.m. for having an expired registration. During a search of Dominguez’s purse, the deputy found a bottle of sedative pills that had been prescribed to someone else. After an investigation, Treena Dominguez was arrested on suspicion of possession of and transporting a controlled substance for sale, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with her bail set at $50,000.


WE REVIEW “SYLVIA” AT THEATRE 29

The comedy “Sylvia” opened Theatre 29’s 2017 season last weekend. Reporter Rebecca Havely attended and offers this review of the production…

“Sylvia” follows the story of a middle-aged, Manhattan couple, Greg and Kate, and their love-hate relationship with another female. Although Greg is in the midst of a midlife crisis, Sylvia isn’t another woman, she’s a dog. A labradoodle, actually adoringly played by young talent Amy Fangmeyer. Greg, earnestly portrayed by Jeremy Volsteadt, brings home a stray from the park. His wife Kate, played by new-comer Ann Van Haney, is not amused. Theater favorite Kurt Schaupner takes on a trio of roles: A friendly dog lover who gives Greg advice; Kate’s gal pal who comforts her concerns; and an androgynous marriage therapist who helps the troubled couple. Director Eddie Tucker’s crisp set design is impressive as are the show’s lighting effects. In the end “Sylvia” is a tale about the redemptive power of love.

“Sylvia” will run Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 through January 29. Tickets are $8. to $15. and are available on line at theatre29.org or by calling the Theatre 29 box office at 760-361-4151. Due to adult language parental guidance is suggested.


MORONGO VALLEY CSD HONORS A RETIRING DONNA MUNOZ

Nearly three years ago, Donna Munoz swooped onto the scene at the Morongo Valley Community Services District as the mild-mannered general manager. Then, using what seemed like superhero powers, Munoz became defender of the district as threat after threat landed at her feet. Like so many flaming arrows, the challenges came from lawyers and loud mouths, from LAFCO, and from insurers leery of liability. Community confidence was low and dissolution was a real possibility, but working with the board, no threat was too great. At Tuesday’s meeting, Munoz’s last as general manager, the board recognized her many accomplishments with kind words, a plaque, and by naming a conference room in her honor. Also Tuesday, the board promoted Roxanne Brazell from administrative assistant to interim general manager; Munoz will remain available as a consultant/superhero for a limited time.


TINY HABITS CAN HELP YOU KEEP THOSE RESOLUTIONS

You can learn how some small adjustments in your life can make a big difference. Managing editor Tami Roleff explains…

If you’re having trouble keeping your New Year’s resolution, a class offered by the Town of Yucca Valley may be able to help. The Tiny Habits program helps participants learn new daily habits through two class sessions and one-on-one email coaching. The classes take place at the Yucca Valley Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m. January 20 and 27. The registration fee is $20; register online at yucca-valley.org or at the community center (Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.)


FREE SURPLUS FEDERAL FOOD GIVEAWAY IN YUCCA VALLEY TOMORROW

The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino will hold a distribution of federal surplus food 10 to noon, Friday, January 20, at the Church of the Nazarene, 56248 Buena Vista Drive in Yucca Valley.


LECTURE TODAY ON THE PLANTS IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum’s brown bag lunch lecture today focuses on botanical discovery. Reporter Rebecca Havely has your invitation…

Bring a brown bag lunch and a friend to this month’s lecture, “Botanincal Discovery and Inventory in Joshua Tree National Park.” The California desert plants remain the least documented in the state. Recent efforts have added over 100 species to the catalogue of plants within Joshua Tree National Park. Currently, there are about 725 plant species documented within its boundaries. The lecture will take place January 19 at 12 noon at The Hi-Desert Nature Museum, located at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway in Yucca Valley. Admission is $5 or free for museum members. Complimentary beverages will be served. For more information call 760-369-7212 or visit hidesertnaturemuseum.org.


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ basketball team defeated the Coachella Valley Arabs Tuesday night 72-39. Coach T.J. Stanford said this brings the ’Cats record to 16-1 overall and 3-0 in league.

Adam Bell had 24 points, D’Shaun Barrett had 18 points, and Abraham Bell had 15 points.

The Twentynine Palms girls’ basketball team is currently 16 and 2 overall and 3 and 0 in league, after winning their game Tuesday at Coachella Valley 87-58.

Lindsey Scamman had 36 points, Destiny Dedmon had 21 points, and Makya Bullion had 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

The Twentynine Palms Wildcat boys’ soccer teams hosted the Arabs of Coachella Valley at home Tuesday night. The varsity Wildcats played a tight game and came away with a 2-1 loss.

Senior Sam Eggers scored in the first half to equalize the score until late in the first half. Goalkeeper KJ Magwood led the Cats with a strong performance, saving 10 shots on goal.

The JV soccer Wildcats lost a close game 2-1.

Coming up in high school sports today, the Yucca Valley boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, and boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will play Desert Mirage High School. The boys’ teams will play at home; soccer starts at 5 p.m. and basketball starts at 6 p.m. The girls will travel away to Thermal. Soccer starts at 5 p.m. and basketball starts at 6 p.m.

The Twentynine Palms High School boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball teams will play Desert Hot Springs High School. Both basketball games and the boys’ soccer game will be played in Desert Hot Springs. Soccer starts at 5 p.m., girls’ basketball at 6, and boys’ basketball at 7:30. The girls’ soccer game will be played in Twentynine Palms and starts at 5 p.m.

The Joshua Springs Lightning boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will host Bloomington Christian School at home. The girls start at 5 p.m., boys start at 6:30.


MAN KILLED AT TWENTYNINE PALMS MOTEL 6 HAD BEEN SMOKING METH FOR DAYS

The man who died in a shooting at a motel in Twentynine Palms early Tuesday morning had been smoking methamphetamine for days with his girlfriend, and they were in fear for their lives from unknown killers, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Deputies were called to the Motel 6 on 29 Palms Highway at 3:22 a.m. Tuesday to investigate a call of shots fired. When deputies knocked on the third-floor room and identified themselves as law enforcement officers, they heard a gunshot from inside the room. The door immediately opened and the suspect—who has only been identified as a 39-year-old man from Yucca Valley—fired a handgun at the deputies—who immediately returned fire and took cover. The suspect went back inside his room and closed the door. Deputies ordered the man to surrender and come out with his hands up. A woman in the room, Tani Garcia, 39, of Yucca Valley, did emerge, and she told deputies that her boyfriend was injured, but alive. She told deputies they had been up for several days smoking meth and had checked into the room a few hours earlier because they feared they were being followed by unknown persons who wanted to kill them. A SWAT team arrived and tried unsuccessfully to communicate with the suspect inside the room. About 8 a.m., SWAT sent a robot equipped with a camera into the room, where it was discovered the suspect appeared to be deceased. A Taurus 9 mm gun was located nearby, and two magazines of ammunition were in the man’s pants pockets. The Riverside County Coroner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death. Tani Garcia was arrested for investigation of being under the influence of a controlled substance, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, where she was cited and released later that evening.


OVER 2.5 MILLION VISITORS TO OVER CAPACITY JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK IN 2016

If you thought Joshua Tree National Park was more crowded than ever last year, you were right. Managing editor Tami Roleff has the details on the park’s visitors…

More than 2.5 million people visited Joshua Tree National Park last year; 2,514,839 to be exact. That’s 500,000 more visitors than all of 2015.

While that’s good news for businesses in the Morongo Basin, the record crowds mean long entrance lines, full campgrounds, and congested parking. Park Superintendent David Smith said the high number of visitors are “loving the park to death” and are having a negative impact on the desert’s fragile ecosystem. In order to ease congestion, the park is planning future projects including additional entrance facilities, a new visitor center and a shuttle service in cooperation with the Morongo Basin Transit Authority. Park officials are also considering a “campsite by reservation only” program to help ease camping capacity issues.

Park officials recommend that visitors come early in the day and consider coming mid-week when possible, to avoid crowds. Campers are encouraged to consider reserving a private site out of the park or even camping on surrounding BLM lands.


INVESTIGATION CONTINUES IN TWENTYNINE PALMS MOTEL SHOOTING THAT KILLED ONE

The Sheriff’s Department has not released any additional information about the shooting early Tuesday morning that left one man dead in Twentynine Palms. About 3:30 a.m., deputies were called to Motel 6 on the highway for shots fired. When deputies arrived to the room on the third floor of the motel, they were shot at by the suspect. Law enforcement evacuated nearby rooms and closed both directions of Highway 62 until about 9 a.m. for public safety. Various reports say there was a “shoot-out” sometime during the stand-off, and that at least one deputy opened fire on the suspect. Deputies sent a robot into the room about 8 a.m. which determined the suspect was dead. It’s unknown at this time how the man died. The victim has not yet been identified.


LUCERNE VALLEY MAN ARRESTED FOR THE MURDER OF HIS WIFE

A Lucerne Valley man was arrested Friday, nine months after he allegedly killed his wife during a house fire. According to the Sheriff’s Department, county firefighters found the body of Lynda Cestone, 56, April 19, 2016, while they were battling a house fire in the 9800 block of Mesa Road in Lucerne Valley. Sheriff’s investigators discovered that a gas supply line in the home had been disconnected. Cestone, who was paralyzed and bedridden due to a stroke, lived with her husband, Donald Jenman, 68, in their home. After the investigation, Jenman was arrested on suspicion of murder, booked into West Valley Detention Center, with his bail set at $1 million. Donald Jenman is scheduled to be in court today.


YUCCA VALLEY COUNCIL SAYS NO TO MARIJUANA RETAIL

One of the first items of business at last night’s Yucca Valley Town Council was appointing commissioners to the Planning Commission and Parks and Rec Commission. Council member Jeff Drozd appointed Johnny Terfehr, and Council member Robert Lombardo re-appointed Charles McHenry for the Planning Commission. For the Parks and Rec Commission, Drozd appointed Jeri Wilson. The council also received a resignation letter from Parks Commissioner Eric Quander. Eric Quander’s resignation from the Parks Commission comes five months after a Z107.7 News investigation revealed he had falsely claimed five non-profits and two fake titles, including a sham British lordship. Council member Bob Leone will be appointing his replacement at a future meeting. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the main item of business was discussing the issue of business of recreational marijuana in the town…
If you thought the passage of Prop 64—which legalized recreational marijuana in California—would allow you to open up a pot business in Yucca Valley, think again. At last night’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Town Council, the Council discussed regulating and prohibiting recreational sales, cultivation, and businesses in the town, and to a man, they said not in our town. Mayor Merl Abel linked the council’s policy direction with the residents’ rejection of Measure X in 2015, which would have allowed medical marijuana in town limits.
“We did have a recent vote on this particular issue…. And they did turn down medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses in our town. It’s very dangerous to override the voters. My opinion is we already have quite a few tobacco and vape shops, I don’t think we need to add marijuana shops to it as well.”
The Planning Commission will now be charged with developing ordinances to regulate recreational marijuana businesses, sales, and cultivation in town limits in line with the council’s direction.


JOSHUA TREE CRASH INJURES ONE

A man was injured in a rollover crash on Highway 62 this morning. Just before 6 a.m., the man, identified only as being in his 30s, was driving eastbound on Highway 62 when he lost control of his SUV near Sunnyhill Road, drove through landscaping and into the parking lot of the Joshua Tree Inn, landing on its passenger side. The driver was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.


30 ARRESTED IN MASSIVE DESERT HOT SPRINGS CRIME SWEEP

The Desert Hot Springs police department arrested 30 people Tuesday during massive raids throughout the city in an operation police dubbed Operation Sandstorm. The operation focused on subjects wanted on outstanding arrest warrants and parole and probation violations. More than 160 law enforcement officers, 20 police dogs, and helicopter air support from various agencies and specialized teams participated in the sweeps. Some of the arrest offenses included felony and misdemeanor warrants, firearms and weapons violations, narcotics offenses, and probation and parole violations. Teams conduced 112 compliance checks which resulted in the seizure of illegal firearms, ammunition, and narcotics. Included in the arrests was a fugitive from Arkansas who was trying to hide in Desert Hot Springs to avoid capture and was victimizing members of the LGBT community in the process.


TRAINING FOR COUNTY HOMELESS COUNT IS THIS FRIDAY

Later this month, the fourth annual census of local homeless people, known as the “Point-in-Time Count,” takes place. The results will be used in a variety of ways, including to help determine where County funds and other resources will be best allocated. The count is conducted primarily by volunteers. Edica Gonzalez explains how you can help…
The homeless “point-in-time” count will be conducted primarily by volunteers from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 26. Volunteers are needed from every community and unincorporated area of the Morongo Basin. Working in pairs or small groups, volunteers will visit locations where homeless people live and spend time in order to count individuals, conduct brief surveys and distribute convenience items and other essentials. A volunteer training session will be held Friday, January 20, from 10 to noon at the county government center in Joshua Tree.

For more information or to volunteer, call 909-386-8231 or go to: http://wp.sbcounty.gov/dbh/sbchp/community-projects/point-in-time-count/


MORONGO BASIN MAC TO HEAR FROM HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER TONIGHT

The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council will hold a special meeting 6:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, January 18. After swearing in Dawn Johnson to fill the vacant seat for Landers, the advisory council will hear public safety reports from fire and law enforcement agencies. Next up is a presentation by Hi-Desert Medical Center on the hospital’s accomplishments since its affiliation with Tenet and future plans for the hospital. The MAC will also be asked to approve a resolution recommending that the board of supervisors hold a special election to increase road maintenance fees locally. The meeting will be held in the Joshua Tree Community Center.


JOSHUA BASIN WATER BOARD MAY REVISE CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY

The Joshua Basin Water District board of directors convenes tonight in regular session. Among items on the agenda, directors will consider revisions to the conflict of interest policy after which it will hear standing committee, staff and director reports. It all starts at 6:30 p.m. at district offices on Chollita Road in Joshua Tree.


SURPLUS FOOD GIVEAWAY IN TWENTYNINE PALMS THIS MORNING

The January distribution of USDA commodities will take place Wednesday, January 18, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Immanuel Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, located at 6450 Star Dune Avenue, in Twentynine Palms.


29 PALMS ART GALLERY PAINT NIGHT FUND-RAISER TOMORROW

The 29 Palms Art Gallery is holding a fundraiser, Living Color: Wine and Paint Night. Rebecca Havely has your invitation…
The wildly popular fundraiser, Living Color: Wine and Paint Night, is back at the 29 Palms Art Gallery. On Thursday, January 19, enjoy festive treats and nibbles as you sip some wine and create a beautiful floral painting to take home from 5:30 to 8:30. Local Hi-Desert artist Janis Commentz will guide you in creating your own Van Gogh-like still life. To register go to 29palmsartgallery.com. For more information call 760-367-7819 or email 29artgallery@gmail.com.


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: SCORES AND SCHEDULES

The Yucca Valley High School Lady Trojan basketball team played their first home game of the season and cruised to a 65-35 De Anza League win over Rancho Mirage High School last night in Trojan Gym. Coach Jess Geeson said junior Savannah Beasley led the team with 14 points, while junior Keilah Dillon came off the bench to score 11 points and also collected three steals. Juniors Kloee Scaccionoce and Zena Yakimow each pumped in eight points while junior Hannah Hovious chipped in seven points, while blocking a season-high six shots. 
The win moves the #12 CIF Division 3AA ranked girls’ league record to 2-1 and their overall record to 12-6, with a road game at Desert Mirage next on the schedule on Thursday. Game time is 6 p.m.
 
In high school sports, today, the Yucca Valley High School wrestling team will host Desert Hot Springs at home, starting at 5 p.m.


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