A Morongo Valley man was arrested Sunday (February 28), accused of threatening a driver and stabbing a truck with a screwdriver. According to a Sheriff’s report, the victim called deputies about 9:30 p.m. Sunday to a parking lot in the 49700 block of Highway 62 in Morongo Valley. The victim said Ray Mejia, 30, threw rocks at a silver pick-up truck and stabbed it with a screwdriver, causing about $3000 in damage to the truck. The victim said Mejia also threatened to kill him and stab him through the truck’s window, causing him to fear for his life. Ray Mejia was arrested for investigation of assault with a weapon and vandalism, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with his bail set at $50,000.
Life in a small town means many things: you have probably known your neighbor for many years; you remember when there weren’t so many traffic lights in Yucca Valley; and you may be one of the first people to notice when a new business pops up; or a building is getting renovated, as is the case with the old Happy Cooker space in Morongo Valley, the old Diamond Automotive building in Yucca Valley, and the old tractor store (most recently Action Automotive) in Joshua Tree . You may be wondering who has plans for those buildings and what they will become. Reporter Cassidy Taylor met with John Sofio, President and Founder of Built Inc., to discuss his plans for the Morongo Basin.
“For the local people too, you know, they need a really good place to relax.”
John Sofio isn’t just planning for tourists; his goals are also to provide spaces for locals. In Morongo Valley, the Happy Cooker space will become a coffee shop and potentially grow into a bar. As for the locations in Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, you can expect to see new dining and retail experiences.
“A lot of outdoor dining, or at least a space for, you know, shoppers to come and relax and sit down and do some retail a little bit of light food.”
Sofio also plans to cater to the desert environment…
“So, I wonder why they do this, why the developers do this, why they clear cut and clear scrape the land and then leave one little Yucca or something on the site. And it’s horrific—I don’t understand why people would do that, the sites that we’re buying or that we bought are all like desert gardens, so I want to maintain that as much as possible.”
The projects are still in the early stages of development but for now, there is one less mystery in the Morongo Basin.
A Morongo Valley man was arrested Wednesday (February 24) following a tip that he was distributing child pornography online. An electronic service provider notified the deputies in the Crimes Against Children detail that videos of child pornography were being distributed online. Investigators learned the online account belonged to Sean Merker, 50. On Wednesday, detectives contacted Merker at his home in the 49200 block of Tamarisk Drive in Morongo Valley. At the conclusion of the interview, Sean Merker was arrested on suspicion of distribution of child porn, booked into the Central Detention Center, with his bail set at $25,000. Merker was released on a bail bond just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Two people were arrested Wednesday (February 24), accused of breaking into a home in Johnson Valley. Deputies were called to the 51800 block of Ocotillo Road in Johnson Valley about 11:40 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a burglary. When deputies arrived, they contacted Daniel Haverty, 24, of Landers, and Sataira Mason, 34, of Morongo Valley. Deputies say Haverty and Mason forced entry into the home through the back door and were squatting there. They also broke into several other structures on the property as well and caused damage estimated at about $1500. The owner of the property said Haverty and Mason did not have permission to be on his property. Daniel Haverty and Sataira Mason were arrested for investigation of burglary, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, with their bail set at $75,000 each.
The Morongo Valley Community Services District board of directors discussed several topics at last night’s special meeting, including reopening Covington Park. After extensive discussion, the board voted unanimously to reopen the park and the CSD offices to the public, but only after hand sanitizer dispensers required by the CDC can be purchased and installed. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has more from the meeting…
At last night’s meeting, the board also voted unanimously to pay more than $27,000 in back pay to district Director of Operations and Fire Chief Gary Yearsley. After a closed-session meeting where the discussion took place, Vice President Christina Brook reported that the $27,711.25 (less one partial payment already made to Yearsley by the district) would be paid to Yearsley for additional services rendered, including unified command services during the 2020 Apple fire, an unspecified medical situation, and unpaid duty-officer coverage.
The board also discussed a possible Brown Act violation that occurred when a portion of the board’s February 17 closed-session meeting was broadcast to the public. After detailed discussion on the district’s options and recommendations from legal counsel, the board voted 4-1 (Director Johnny Tolbert voting no) to review the possible evidence of a Brown Act violation and turn over all documentation to the district attorney for an investigation and a final determination.