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JOHNSON VALLEY MAN ACCUSED OF RAPE, SPOUSE ABUSE, AND BURGLARY

A Johnson Valley man was arrested last Thursday, accused of felony spouse abuse, burglary, and attempted rape. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies were called to a home in the 56300 block of Joshua Drive in Yucca Valley about 11 a.m. for a report that a man, later identified as Jose Lopez, 19, had broken into a home and was beating up a woman inside. Deputies said when the victim confronted Lopez and told him to leave, he chased her to her bedroom, broke down the locked door, knocked her to the ground and tried to rape her. The woman was able to escape and ran to her neighbor’s home for help. After an investigation, Jose Lopez was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse, burglary, and attempted rape; booked into the Morongo Basin Jail with his bail set at $125,000.


HEALTH CARE DISTRICT GETS GOOD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS

The Morongo Basin Healthcare District Board of Directors met in regular meeting last night, Reporter Eric Knabe has the highlights…

The meeting began on a high point with the Morongo Transit Authority presenting checks for the two MBTA transportation grants in which they will purchase a new van that will be part of the LIFT Transportation Service. Next, CPA Tom Dingus presented the MBHD audited financial report. The result was a report that relatively problem free and prior findings from the past four years have finally been resolved. The result was a report that was free of any deficiency. Ron Stewart had a quarterly report for the Community Health Center. There will be new furniture and paint in the clinics in Yucca Valley and in Twentynine Palms.


NEW COUNTY FIRE BATTALION CHIEF COMING TO THE MORONGO BASIN

The Morongo Basin welcomes a new county fire battalion chief as of Monday, November 20. Battalion Chief Donnie Viloria has been a firefighter for 30 years, which includes 15 years with Newberry Springs and Fort Irwin, before joining the county fire department in 2002. Prior to his new assignment here, he was working in Fontana. Viloria, who lives in Newberry Springs, said he has worked at the Yucca Mesa and Joshua Tree fire stations, and he’s eager to get back to the South Desert Division. He joins Battalion Chiefs Mike Snow and Scott Tuttle in overseeing the Yucca Valley, Yucca Mesa, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Wonder Valley fire stations.


LOCAL WORLD WAR II VETERANS SOUGHT FOR HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

They’re called “The Greatest Generation.” But now the people who saved the world from fascism during World War II are dying off at the alarming rate of more than 600 per day. One young photographer hopes to preserve their legacy in a very visual way. Reporter David Haldane explains…

Before too long, they’ll all be gone. That was the realization that spurred 31-year-old Long Beach photographer Zach Coco to action. His goal: a self-published book containing portraits and short biographies of 100 surviving veterans of World War II.

He first started thinking about it, Coco says, during visits with his late grandfather, Anthony, a former Navy fireman aboard the USS Rushmore. Anthony Coco died three years ago at 91, leading Zach to an uncomfortable realization; that 95 percent of his potential subjects have already passed away and the rest are dying off fast.

Coco’s already done lots of portraits, some as close as Palm Springs. But the Morongo Basin, with its large contingent of veterans, is one place he thinks he’ll find more.

So, if you’re a World War II vet, or know someone who is, please email Coco at info@picturesforheroes.org. He urges you not to wait too long.


PIONEERTOWN’S THOUGHT THEATRE ANNOUNCES AUDITIONS FOR TWO PRODUCTIONS

Pioneertown’s Thought Theatre announces the audition date for the second half of its inaugural season. Two productions will be cast. With the auditions details, here is reporter Rebecca Havley…

Thought Theatre will hold auditions for two upcoming productions: an original music revue entitled “Stand for Freedom Cabaret” and for the play “Vagina Monologues.” For the musical revue, actors, singers, and musicians of all ages and ethnicities are needed. Please prepare both a one-minute monologue and a one-minute song. The revue will have two performances January 14 and 15. For the play, please prepare a comedy or drama monologue no longer than two minutes in length; all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to attend. Performances will run February 15 through 17. Auditions will be held Monday, December 4 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Studio B, located at 53722 Pioneer Town Rd in Pioneertown. For more information contact Miri Hunter at projectsheba@yahoo.com.


JOSHUA TREE VFW SERVING UP THANKSGIVING DINNER TONIGHT

The Joshua Tree Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will offer an early Thanksgiving dinner Friday, November 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. The VFW will open at 11 a.m. There will be no Taco Wednesday on November 22. The VFW Post is located at 6402 Veterans Way in downtown Joshua Tree.


FOOD FOR LIFE SERVING IN TWENTYNINE PALMS TOMORROW

This week Food for Life in Twentynine Palms will be serving spaghetti, salad, and dessert at Church of the Nazarene (across from Del Taco) from 3 to 5 p.m. Patrick Smith will be cooking the meal with help from the board.


“OPERATION GOBBLE” GIVING OUT TURKEYS IN MORONGO VALLEY TODAY

For 27 years, “Operation Gobble” has put Thanksgiving turkeys on holiday tables of Morongo Valley families. Reporter Mike Lipsitz dishes up the stuffing…

Some six dozen holiday birds will land on the tables of as many needy families in Morongo Valley this Thanksgiving. The Morongo Valley Community Services District, or CSD, along with new Fire Chief Gary Yearsley and crew, and Golden State Water Company staff will give out the ready-to-roast birds starting at 9 a.m. this Friday, November 17 as part of “Operation Gobble.” The aim is to get the turkeys to those with limited resources who may otherwise go without a Thanksgiving dinner. To collect a bird, Morongo Valley residents should bring identification and proof of residence to the CSD office on Ocotillo Street next to the Morongo Valley Fire Station.


JOAN OF ANGELS AND WRITING CLASSES AT RAINBOW STEW TOMORROW

If you believe in angels, make plans to attend Rainbow Stew’s next class Saturday, November 18. Joan of Angels is a spiritual teacher and messenger for angelic and celestial beings. The $20 class is set for 10:30 to 12:30 p.m. at Rainbow Stew, located in Old Town Yucca Valley on the south side of the highway. RSVP by calling 415-717-1385.

Rainbow Stew is offering a class for would be writers, “Everyone Can Write.” Reporter Rebecca Havely has all the details…

Writer Heather Morgan says, “Everyone can write, let me show you how.” Join Morgan Saturday, November 18, from 1:30 to 4:30 for a lecture, followed by an in-class assignment you’ll read after you’ve written it. The cost is $25 to $35, based on what you can afford. The class will be held at Rainbow Stew 55509 Twentynine Palms Highway in Old Town Yucca Valley. The class is limited to 10, so call now, 760-418-5170.


LOCAL MAN WINS BAJA 1000 MOTORCYCLE RACE

A prestigious win for a local off-road competition team—Yucca Valley’s Mark Samuels, 27, and team won the 50th running of the Baja 1000 in the motorcycle division; that’s 1,134 miles of fun in just about 21 hours.

Mark Samuels


COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ACTION THIS WEEKEND

In college sports this weekend, the Copper Mountain College men’s basketball team will participate in the Allan Hancock Tourney Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Santa Maria.

Tomorrow, the women’s team will host Glendale Community College in the Bell Center Gym, starting at 5 p.m.


PALM VISTA ELEMENTARY PLACED ON LOCK-DOWN DUE TO POLICE ACTIVITY

UPDATE 11 a.m.:

In an abundance of caution, because of police activity in the neighborhood, Palm Vista Elementary School in Twentynine Palms was placed on lock-down This morning. Superintendent Tom Baumgarten said because it occurred just as students were arriving for classes, the students who were arriving on buses were taken directly to 29 Palms Elementary and were held in the multi-purpose room there until the lock-down was lifted. Students who were not on buses were kept in lock-down at Palm Vista. At 11 a.m. the Sheriff’s Department suspended its search for a missing suspect and lifted the lock-down at Palm Vista Elementary School. The students at 29 Palms Elementary were safely returned to Palm Vista.


YUCCA VALLEY RESIDENT SCAMMED OUT OF $15,000

A Yucca Valley resident is out $15,000 after falling victim to a Nigerian scam. According to a Sheriff’s report, the victim said a friend, whom she had never met, traveled to Nigeria in 2016 and recently asked for money to get out of Nigeria. The victim received several checks, supposedly from the friend’s father, with instructions to cash the checks and then send the money to a third party. The victim sent $8,000 to the third party in November and $7,000 in October. The Sheriff’s Department reminds residents that they should be leery of any requests to deposit a check—whether it’s a personal check or cashier’s check—and then send or wire money from the check either back to the original party, or to a third person, as the checks are usually counterfeit. If you are a victim of such a scheme, contact the Sheriff’s Department.


VETERANS TARGETED BY SCAMMERS

Scams aimed at veterans are on the increase, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. So postal inspectors are teaming up with the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network in a new campaign called “Operation Protect Veterans.” Reporter David Haldane explains…
Are you a veteran who’s been targeted by scammers? According to recent surveys, an astounding 80 percent of American vets would answer that question in the affirmative, and at least 16 percent have, in fact, been defrauded.
Strat Maloma, with the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, describes one common scheme in which callers offer veterans lump sums to buy out their future pension benefits. “They might find themselves in a difficult situation and therefore, might be tempted. They sign over their benefits, and they never receive any compensation for it.”
Other scams seek data that can be used to steal a victim’s identity. And sometimes victims are offered—for a fee and some personal information—access to job listings from companies supposedly looking to hire veterans.
In short, Maloma says, there’s lots to look out for. For more information go to aarp.org/ProtectVeterans.


TWENTYNINE PALMS CITY COUNCIL IN CLOSED SESSION TODAY

The Twentynine Palms City Council will hold a special closed session meeting at 1 p.m. today to discuss potential litigation regarding the at-large versus district elections for city council. The meeting is set for 1 p.m. at City Hall on Adobe Road.


JOSHUA BASIN WATER MOVING TOWARDS RATE HIKES

Last night, the Joshua Basin Water District board of directors again reviewed the particulars of various scenarios coming out of the district’s rate study. Their dilemma? How to balance a backlog of needed maintenance and repairs with the financial limitations of those with fixed and low income. Reporter Mike Lipsitz was there…
In Joshua Tree last night, directors at the water district again looked at different approaches for increasing rates, all of which are proposed to be phased in over the next five years beginning March 2018. The increases are needed to pay for the district’s overdue capital improvement program which includes meter and pipeline replacements, funding escalating cost of water and inflation. Expectations are that the proposed rate increases will be set by the December 6 meeting with Prop. 218 notices going out to ratepayers shortly thereafter.


YUCCA VALLEY MAN ACCUSED OF MAKING FRAUDULENT GIFT CARDS

A Yucca Valley man was arrested Tuesday, accused of making fraudulent gift cards. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies served a warrant at his home in the 58700 block of Ocotillo Drive in Yucca Valley about 9 a.m. During the warrant search, deputies located Benjamin Lim, 47. Lim allegedly told deputies he makes fraudulent gift cards and then uses them to obtain goods. Benjamin Lim was arrested on suspicion of fraudulent use of gift card and on several warrants for drugs and alcohol, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $75,000.


TWO TWENTYNINE PALMS JUVENILES FOUND ON STOLEN DIRT BIKES

Two juveniles were arrested Tuesday after they were found with stolen dirt bikes. According to a Sheriff’s report, the juveniles were seen riding the dirt bikes about 6:15 p.m. in the 5700 block of Halsey Avenue in Twentynine Palms. A deputy performed a traffic stop and determined that both dirt bikes had been reported stolen last week in Twentynine Palms. The juveniles were arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, and booked into county Juvenile Hall.


THEATRE 29 HOLDING AUDITIONS FOR “THE ODD COUPLE”

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” will be cast by director Katie Fleischman at Theatre 29’s open auditions. With the details, here’s reporter Rebecca Havely…
Oscar and Felix are a match made in mayhem. A divorced slob and a neat-freak decide to room together, and the hilarity ensues. Auditions will be held on the Theatre 29 mainstage Monday, November 27, at 6:30 p.m. Eight roles will be cast, including Oscar—a messy sportswriter—and Felix—a fastidious, hypochondriac news-writer—plus their poker buddies, policeman Murray; mild-mannered Vinnie; a sarcastic buddy Speed; and an accountant named Roy. Neighbors Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon are a pair of giggly English sisters. Prepare a one-minute monologue for auditions and be prepared to read excerpts from the show that will be provided. The play is set in New York City, and some characters will be asked to use New York dialects; the Pigeon sisters have English accents. Rehearsals will run weeknights through January 18, with a rehearsal break December 25 through 29 for the holidays.
“The Odd Couple” will run weekends from January 19 through February 4, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are from $8 to $15. For reservations visit theatre29.org or call the Theatre 29 box office at 760-361-4151.


YUCCA VALLEY CHAMBER MIXER TONIGHT AT RAINBOW STEW

The Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold an after-hours mixer tonight (Thursday, November 16). The mixer is set for 5 to 7 p.m. at Rainbow Stew, 55509 29 Palms Highway, in Old Town Yucca Valley. All Chamber members and guests are invited to attend.


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