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A Twentynine Palms Marine was arrested Sunday, accused of helping a teenage girl run away from home to participate in a sexual relationship. About 8:15 Sunday morning, Hesperia deputies were called to a home in Hesperia about a call of a run-away 15-year-old girl. The girl’s grandmother said the teen ran away from home sometime during the night. Deputies learned that the girl had been communicating with Benjamin Clinton, 19, a lance corporal with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, base in Twentynine Palms. Investigators say that Clinton and the girl had met online, and had been communicating over a period of time to coordinate their plans for her to run away and join him in a sexual relationship. Detectives contacted the base, and Benjamin Clinton was arrested about 6:15 p.m. Sunday for investigation of sex with a minor, and concealing a minor from a legal guardian, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.

Benjamin Clinton


Joshua Tree National Park welcomed 2.4 million visitors in 2020, despite temporary closure orders last March, April, and May that kept many visitors at home. The Morongo Basin’s local national park was the 10th most visited national park in the United States last year. Last year was also the first time in seven years that the number of visitors did not set an attendance record. Visitation was up from 2019 during most months that the park was open. Park Superintendent David Smith said Joshua Tree National Park was a place where southern Californians could take refuge and safely recreate. “We need wild places to hike, climb, and even just to look at night skies to help keep us mentally and physically fit during tough time.”


The Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees held a special meeting last night (March 1) to discuss possibly allowing the return of student athletic conditioning and special education cohorts. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the results…

District Director of Secondary Curriculum Dustin Howard presented a detailed three-phase athletic plan to the board—athletic conditioning in phase 1, non-contact practice in phase 2, and full-contact practice and competitions in phase 3—all while maintaining COVID-19 protocols in accordance with the state health department. After nearly an hour of in-depth discussion on procedure details and student safety, the board voted unanimously to approve phases 1 and 2 of the plan for all sports offered by MUSD. The board is expected to collect additional information to discuss and possibly approve phase 3 of the plan at its regular meeting on March 9. The board will also require updates during each regular meeting on student participation in the program and COVID-19 compliance practices. Howard emphasized that the district will strictly enforce COVID-19 compliance for student athletes and coaches alike, and that failure to comply will be met swiftly with program closures or forfeiture of seasons.

The board also voted unanimously to approve the return of special education cohorts. The cohorts will resume March 22, which will allow the district time to prepare classrooms and organize student transportation.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom has struck a deal with state lawmakers to reopen classrooms to the state’s youngest students by the end of March. School districts could tap into a fund of $6.6 billion if they reopen classrooms by March 31, but, to get the money, schools must return to in-person learning at least through the second grade by that time. The deal includes districts in counties like San Bernardino, which are still in the purple tier. Those that do not open by that deadline would lose 1% of eligible funds for every day they miss the deadline. Schools in the state’s red tier or above would be required to offer in-person learning to all students in all elementary grades as well as at least one grade in middle or high school, or they would risk the same penalty.


Following the promotion of County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle to Assistant Chief last year, a new battalion chief was assigned to the Morongo Basin. Managing editor Tami Roleff introduces us to Bob Evans…

“I’ve been really happy with this fire district.”

Battalion Chief Bob Evans started his fire service career in 1991 as a paid-call firefighter in Highland. After serving with the US Forest Service, San Bernardino City, and various districts with county fire, Evans is now a battalion chief in the South Desert Division, which includes the Morongo Basin. Evans, who was assigned as a battalion chief for the South Desert in October, is enjoying his time here.

“It’s been a brand new area of the county for me; I always thought it was a neat place to be.”

Evans says he’s getting to know the various communities of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms, and their residents.

“I’ve been welcomed with open arms from the community. I’m eager to serve and do the best that we can for all the people in the Morongo Basin. I’m excited to be here.”

San Bernardino Assistant Chief Scott Tuttle (R) introduced the newest member of the department, Battalion Chief Bob Evans. Heather Clisby photo


Battalion Chief Bob Evans started his fire service career in 1991 as a paid-call firefighter in Highland. In 2000, after serving eight years with the United States Forest Service, he joined the San Bernardino City Fire Department. Chief Evans promoted through the ranks of firefighter, engineer and captain and in 2016 promoted to battalion chief. Chief Evans joined the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District (SBCoFPD) in 2016 as part of the San Bernardino City Fire Department annexation into the District.

Since joining the SBCoFPD, Chief Evans has served in the Valley, Mountain, and Wildland divisions, and now the South Desert Division which includes the Morongo Basin.

Chief Evans holds a Chief Officer’s certificate through California State Fire Training and an associate degree in Fire Science.

Since transferring to the Morongo Basin in October 2020 Chief Evans said, “I am enjoying my time here in the Morongo Basin and really enjoy the people and its beauty.”

Chief Evans has two sons, 22 and 19, one in his senior year at Cal Baptist University and the youngest just graduated EMT school at Crafton Hills College.

In his off time, Evans enjoys spending time with family, riding his dual sport bike, and numerous outdoor activities in Lake Havasu.

“San Bernardino County Fire is excited to have Chief Evans working with us in the South Desert Division and serving the residents and visitors of the Morongo Basin. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge,” stated Assistant Chief Scott Tuttle.