Friday, January 29, 2016

Work on the Southern California Gas Pipeline

Southern California Gas will be working on the pipeline. From the letter they sent us.

January 29, 2016
Wonder Valley CSA
P.O. Box 1704
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Re: SoCalGas Pipeline Maintenance Work from Essex to Wonder Valley

To Whom It May Concern:

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas®) will be in the area soon to perform maintenance work on one of our natural gas pipelines. This work is part of our system-wide plan to further enhance the safety of our pipelines throughout the communities we serve.

Work will begin around the week of February 1st, and last for approximately three to four weeks, although weather and other factors affecting safe working conditions could change the schedule.

What to expect
During this maintenance work, you will see SoCalGas and its contractor’s trucks and heavy equipment. Crews will be working Monday through Saturday from approximately  6:00am-8:00pm.

We apologize for any inconvenience while we’re performing this work and appreciate your patience and cooperation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Regional Public Affairs Manager, Kristine Scott at 909-335-7941 or

Thank you.

Download the letter.

EMT / EMR Open House at Copper Mountain College

Jim Brakebill encouraged community members to start getting certified in various emergency services so that we could take control of public safety in Wonder Valley. If you'd like to find out more, please consider going to the Health Sciences Open House at Copper Mountain College on Saturday, February 27, from 9 - noon. I'm DEFINITELY going and hope you'll go, too, and join me for lunch afterwards.

I'm looking into the Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs, but there are other programs. See below.

From the event flyer:

Thinking of a Career in Healthcare?
Choose Your Program... Choose Your Future!

  • EMT - Basic
  • Home Health Aide
  • Nurse Assistant
  • Vocational Nursing
  • LVN to RN
  • Registered Nursing

Health Science / Nursing / EMT OPEN HOUSE
February 27, 2016, 9 a.m. - Noon
200 Quad
Tour our State-of-the-Art Simulation Lab
Faculty, counselors and financial aid available to answer your questions.

FREE mini health check

Copper Mountain College, 6162 Rotary Way, Joshua Tree
760-366-3791, x 5801,

For more information:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Home Owners Insurance Meeting - March 14, 10 a.m.-Noon

County Fire has given us four (4) options regarding our fire/emergency services. Many people had questions about how these four options would effect our ability to purchase homeowners insurance.

A representative from the California Department of Insurance will be presenting at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 1/2 Amboy on a date to be decided. Issues to be addressed include:
  • purchasing affordable insurance
  • how each option will affect our ability to buy and keep insurance
  • if we will be able to purchase a mortgage
  • ISO ratings for Wonder Valley
  • things we might do to lower our ISO rating
Please try to come to this meeting. As we move forward in this process with County Fire it's important that we know as much as we possibly can about these issues.

Desert Trail Column, January 28, 2016

We’ve been told that there is a substitute mail carrier out here right now, and mail has been showing up in the wrong boxes. If you’ve not received something that you’re expecting in the mail, you might try calling the post office at 760-367-1161 to see if it’s possibly landed back there.

The special community meeting on Saturday, January 23 was well-attended and was very informative. Jim Brakebill, who runs the Copper Mountain College Fire Technology Program, gave an excellent presentation about Paid Call Firefighters, how such a program works and different aspects of the pros and cons of such a program being implemented in Wonder Valley. Jim worked as a Wonder Valley firefighter back in the 80’s, so he knows firsthand of the local issues and problems in our area. Another excellent presentation was made by Rob Bradbury of Morongo Basin Ambulance. He gave a short history of the ambulance service and how it operates, assuring everyone that MBA will continue to respond to medical aids, traffic collisions and structure fires in Wonder Valley regardless of what happens with the fire service. MBA is not affiliated with any fire department, and has operated as a non-profit entity since 1948.

We send out Rainbows-of-Garnets-and-Carnations to Vida Hamilton who celebrates her special day this week. Happy birthday, Vida!

Darlene’s Commentary: I’m late again. (I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that!) It’s about ding-dong-time to thank the nice people for the cards and phone calls when I was sick with bronchitis. Judy Taylor; Jerry, Rick and Judy; Annie French; Sandi Arismendi; and Brian and Laurie Porteous all sent beautiful cards, some even hand-crafted! Thank you so much to everyone.

Karen’s Commentary: We have an interesting situation with our loud and annoying (just what I need) bedroom alarm clock. It automatically changes time twice a year for daylight savings time, BUT it’s set for the old schedule instead of the current one! So in April and October it springs ahead or falls back right on cue, but in March and November it does nothing. Things like this certainly keep life interesting!

Star Javier will be available at our community center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road, from 9 to noon on Food Distribution days or you can call and leave a message for her at 760-367-9880 and she’ll call you back.

Handy Hint: Paper towels are an expensive cleaning habit. The very best (and free) cleaning rags are made of old cloth diapers, T-shirts and linen or terry cloth dishtowels.

Thought for Today: A yard without a tree isn’t fit for a dog.

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Notes from Saturday, January 23 Fire/Emergency Services Meeting

January 23, 2016, 10:00 a.m.
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 ½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277
Wonder Valley MAC Delegate and Meeting Chair (and note taker): Teresa Sitz


James Brakebill's Paid Call Firefighter Presentation in 2 formats:

Power Point

Meeting notes from the Saturday meeting

We're asked Robert Bradbury from Morongo Basin Ambulance for his presentation but we have not yet received it. We will post it when we receive it.

De Luz Community Services District

I'm not suggesting that we should do what this district did, but I'm offering the link to the community to illustrate what's possible when forming a CSD (community service district). This district of De Luz took over their own police services:

In past years, the District experienced immense problems with auto theft, burglaries, trash dumping, reckless driving, abandoned cars, and illegal camps. The District property owners determined that the level of service provided by the County was not adequate, and beginning in 1989, the District contracted with the County for a Deputy Sheriff dedicated to serving our area. This situation proved so successful that in 1990, the District was asked by the property owners to increase the level of contract deputies to two.
While the service we receive from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is top notch, community members in Wonder Valley have expressed a desire to have dedicated coverage in our area. This is ONE option. It is not an option I am suggesting. I just want to put all the options out there for the community to consider.

The history of De Luz Community Services District

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moms, Grandmas and Grandpas in Today's Rural Fire Service

James Brakebill mentioned this article at Saturday's meeting on a Paid Call Firefighter service. It's not that everyone needs to train to be a firefighter, it's just that we all might be able to do a little more than we think we can.

And even if we can't be a firefighter, there are dozens of necessary support positions that MUST be filled for this to work for our community. We're all in this together.

Moms, Grandmas and Grandpas in Today's Rural Fire Service

And meet Andrea Peterson, the 68-year-old grandmother firefighter - watch her slideshow.

Praying Mantis egg case

I took this photo on our property, over by Highway 62.

Praying mantis egg case
It's a Praying Mantis egg case in a creosote tree.

Special Districts - more information

The issue of forming a CSD, or Community Services District, came up at Saturday's community meeting on forming a Paid Call Firefighter program.

Wonder Valley is an unincorporated area under the governance of the County of San Bernardino, and 3rd District Supervisor James Ramos, in particular. The advisory council for Wonder Valley, and the eight other unincorporated communities in Morongo Basin is The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, or the MAC. Your MAC representative is me, Teresa Sitz. This is a voluntary position. I filled out an application and was appointed.

Wonder Valley also has a few special districts. We are a CSA - County Service Area 70M for three different services: roads and parks and television. We are also FP 4, or Fire Protection area 4 and that was created for our assessment of $34.10. Right now our property tax and FP 4 assessment are not covering the costs of our fire and emergency services which is why we're working with the County to find a solution. The agency that administers our CSA and disburses the funds is San Bernardino Special Districts. We invited them to visit us and report at the July 2015 Community Meeting. At that time they presented us with the budgets for the roads and parks.

A CSD is a Community Service District. Various people in the community have suggested we look into forming a CSD for fire and emergency services as this would give us direct control, through a five member local board. Morongo Valley has a CSD for their fire and emergency services. Donna Munoz and Gayl Swarat are on that board. Gayl Swarat is also the MAC rep for Morongo Valley.

All local forms of government are formed through LAFCO - Local Agency Formation Commission. They make sure everything is put together correctly and also audit the CSDs to make sure moneys are being spent properly and that CSDs have enough revenue to continue working successfully.

I'm looking in to putting together a meeting about CSDs. In the meantime I found this online booklet at LAFCO about CSDs. It's highly skim-able though I suggest reading the whole thing to get a better sense of what this is all about. Wonder Valley will need many fully informed community members to ask important questions and to help those who don't have the time to do the research, due to work and family demands and other demands on their time, to  better understand what we are facing.

What’s So Special About Special Districts? (Fourth Edition)
Senate Local Government Committee, October 2010

If you're short on time, skip to:

page 13 - advantages and disadvantages of special districts
page 14 - how to form a special district

Check out LAFCO's Publications for more information on special districts and other topics.

By the way, if you've taken the time to read through this I want to tell you how much I appreciate your efforts. I admire the independent spirit of the people in Wonder Valley and understanding how our local government works is an important step in preserving that spirit. Thank you.

Teresa Sitz
MAC Delegate
Wonder Valley

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The first meeting of the Wonder Valley PCF Fire Department

James Brakebill, head of the Copper Mountain College Fire Technology Program met with the Community of Wonder Valley on Saturday, January 23, to discuss the inception of  Paid Call Firefighter Program. About 50 people met at the Wonder Valley Community Center at 80526 1/2 Amboy Road to learn about the requirements of setting up such a program.

Former Fire Chief Jack McConaha donated the fire dog, much like his own dog "Whiskey,"
to the Wonder Valley Fire Department.
Starlene Javier, the former Fire Chief for the Wonder Valley Volunteer Fire Department, was present and  earned an enthusiastic round of applause for the work she did then, and has continued to do throughout the years hence. Ms. Javier recently resigned as the community's only county worker, though she continues in her former capacity as a volunteer, running the USDA Food Distribution program and the free book and DVD loan program.

The Wonder Valley community was abuzz at the community breakfast at the Palms Bar and Restaurant Sunday morning regarding the possibility of forming a community fire department. James Brakebill and Sandy Willis, a former member of the Wonder Valley Fire Department, met at the Palms for breakfast. James Brakebill received a round of applause from the community for the former day's meeting.

A great deal of work lies ahead but the payoff will be a community united to meet the best interests of Wonder Valley.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2015 Crime Stats Wonder Valley

We received our final crime stats for the year of 2015.

This is what it looks like graphed.

This is the monthly percentage of calls where a report was taken.

Desert Trail Column, January 21, 2016

A special community meeting will take place on Saturday, January 23 at our Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road at Blower Road, from 10 to noon. James Brakebill of the Copper Mountain College Fire Technology Program will show us what a local Paid Call Firefighter (volunteer) program might look like. He’ll also give us information on ambulance and paramedic services. If you’re interested in avoiding a fire tax increase, attending this meeting is a good first step.

Our regular community meeting will take place on Monday, January 25 from 9 to 11 am at our community center. Our Basinwide Municipal Advisory Council representative Teresa Sitz will take any of our concerns or questions to the Basinwide MAC meeting that’ll be held that night from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Joshua Tree Community Center on Sunburst Road. Please try to attend one or both of these informative meetings.

Karen’s Commentary:  Big thanks to cousin Annie French for lots of coupons, stamps and cards. Also, to Marilyn Boling for stamps. They’re all appreciated. Thought maybe you’d like an update as to how I’m doing with my little casino visits, although it pains me to tell you. At this moment, I am $106 in the red! Boo-hoo. I need to hit one of those $229 drawings to get my head above water again!

Darlene’s Commentary:  My sister Karen’s an animal lover extraordinaire, as many of you know. What some of you don’t know is that she sends birthday cards to each of my pets on their birthday! (Gee, I never get a birthday card – only kidding.) This morning I found a card in my mailbox addressed to The Parris Chickens. Karen is a little strange, but lovable.

The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery, located at 77575 29 Palms Highway at Thunder Road, is a real Wonder Valley treasure. It was lovingly created by Laurel Seidl, and she and Frank have been adding special touches to the property ever since!  Even if art is definitely not your thing, don’t despair – check out the darling little public Wayside Chapel in front of the gallery. It’s open 24/7, has plenty of room to park and is definitely worth a look. Frank did a fantastic job on this chapel, right down to the tiniest details. For information, call 760-367-3807.

Handy Hint:  When haggling over the price of a car, do express legitimate negative feelings – you may see a radical change in the dealer’s attitude, resulting in a better deal.

Thought for Today:  An anteater can grow to be six feet long, yet its mouth is only one inch wide.

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Special Community Meeting | Volunteer Fire Program

Special Community Meeting | Volunteer Fire Program

Saturday, January 23, 2016, 10 AM - 12 PM
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 1/2 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277

At this community special meeting James Brakebill, of the Copper Mountain College Fire Technology Program, will present, showing us what a local Paid Call Fire Fighter (volunteer) program might look like in Wonder Valley. The PCF program is Option 2 (see PowerPoint presentation linked below). Mr. Brakebill will also present on ambulance and paramedic services.

We may be able to avoid a fire tax increase if we have the community support for a Paid Call Firefighter program. This would require a GREAT DEAL of community involvement, everyone pitching in each month to support the program. This would be kind of like in the old days, as in the photo above, where neighbors helped neighbors and everyone pitched in to support their fire department. Please show your support for the PCF program by attending this meeting.


The current assessment of $34.10 for fire/emergency services in Wonder Valley is no longer enough to cover the expense of the service. County Fire has met with the community and offered several possible solutions to the problem (see Chamberlin's PowerPoint presentation, pages 21-25).

Review the First Fire Tax Meeting on YouTube
Division Chief Chamberlin's Power Point presentation
Notes from the Citizens Fire Committee
Notes from the Second Fire Tax Meeting
Questions sent to County Fire from the Citizens Fire Committee.

Please remember that any decisions regarding fire/emergency services in Wonder Valley are up to the community members of Wonder Valley. The solutions presented by County Fire are options. We are free to come up with our own solutions. These meetings are designed to inform us so we can collectively make the best decision. Please attend and take part in this process.

Please let your neighbors know about these meetings.

P H O T O:
The Facebook cover photo is of the Wonder Valley Volunteer Fire Department, circa 1970.

Teresa Sitz
MAC Delegate
Wonder Valley, CA

Monthly Monday General Meeting

Monthly Monday General Meeting

Monday, January 25, 2016, 9 AM - 11 AM
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 1/2 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277

This will be a general meeting and an opportunity for the community to address issues of concern.


Please let your neighbors know about these meetings.

Teresa Sitz
MAC Delegate
Wonder Valley, CA

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Desert Trail, January 16, 2016

The Godwin School of Music is a just-launched after-school music program providing individual and small group music lessons for children ages 7 to 15. In addition to singing, students are taught to play various instruments. This program serves primarily the Wonder Valley area and the City of Twentynine Palms. Classes are taught on Mondays from 4 to 5:30 pm at the brand new Godwin Christian Fellowship facilities located at 6389 Godwin Road, just north of Highway 62, in Wonder Valley.  Lessons are offered at no charge, and snacks and transportation are also provided at no charge. Teachers are professional resident musicians and local school music teachers who love to teach their music skills to young people. Email Pastor Max Rossi at for information.

Since the birthstone for January is the garnet and the flower is the carnation, we send out Rainbows-of-Garnets-and-Carnations to Jennahrose Davies-Foster who turns eight this week. Happy birthday, Jennahrose!

Darlene’s Commentary: I am really looking forward to this year, and the air seems to be charged and new, with opportunities everywhere we turn. It feels like a new page where there is room to let go of things that had become burdens, and find more room to grow. Does anyone out there have the same feeling? And yes, Karen, I do believe that the pioneer spirit is one of the desert’s magical treasures. That is why we stay and always will.

Karen’s Commentary: Many, many thanks to cousin Annie French for lots of cut-out coupons, to Marie for neatly cut-out stamps and to John Klink for lots of stamps, almost all of which were cut out. The US military families overseas and the eagles in Big Bear all thank you! Also, here’s a bit of trivia for you:  Corduroy is the oldest living cat at 26. He lives in Sisters, OR and still enjoys chasing birds, mice and chipmunks!

The Wonder Valley Book Program is like a little library right inside our community center. There are lots of books and movies that can be checked out free. The community center is open Mondays from 9 to noon, and from 8 to noon on USDA Food Distribution days. Call 760-367-9880 for information.

Handy Hint: To give a unique gift of cash, get crisp new one dollar bills at the bank and have them turned into glue-top pads at a quick print shop. When the recipient needs cash, they can just tear some dollar bills off their money pad!

Thought for Today: The current world record for the number of nails hammered into a wood block in one minute is 24.

Women's nailing contest. Clackamas County Historical Society,
4th of July Celebration 1914, Gladstone Park.
Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Who Passed This Way?

This is a sign at the Poste Homestead that clarifies various acts protecting things (including old tin cans) you might find in the desert. It reads:

Who Passed This Way?

Archaeological resources are fragile and irreplaceable. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 protect them for the benefit of all Americans.

Please Don't Erase The Traces of America's Past
Any person who, without authorization, excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces any historic or prehistoric site, artifact or object of antiquity on the public lands of the Unites States is subject to arrest and penalty of law.

United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

Wonder Valley Community Cleanup

This event will be held:

Saturday, February 20, 2016
8 a.m. to Noon, at:
The Wonder Valley Community Center
80526-1/2 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley

Download and print the FLYER:

Third District Supervisor James Ramos, together with San Bernardino County Code Enforcement will be providing free tire and trash collection bins for members of the Wonder Valley community. Please bring your trash and tires to the designated containers at the Wonder Valley Community Center.
This program is limited to the residents of Wonder Valley. We cannot accept commercial or industrial waste from any business/residence. If you have over-sized or hard to handle loads, you may be diverted directly to the landfill. Please remember to safely secure and properly cover your loads prior to traveling to the event.
Tires with rims or exceeding the maximum size is 11" x 25.5" will not be accepted.

Please note, it is unlawful to transport more than 9 tires at a time.  If you have more than 9 tires to dispose of, please contact Joana at (909) 884-4056 prior to the event.

Please bring your trash, debris, old appliances, yard waste, furniture, and any other items that would be accepted at the landfill.

Please DO NOT PLACE the following hazardous materials in these designated containers:
Motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, gasoline, clothes irons, space heaters, drain cleaners, pesticides/fertilizers, florescent lights, wood preservatives, pool & hobby supplies, auto & furniture polish, paint, paint products, and paint thinners.

Safely dispose of toxic chemicals in your home on the third Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., at the Hazardous Household Waste Disposal, 62499 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. For more information call (800) 645-9228.

An electronic waste recycler will also be available on site to accept household electronics from 8 am-4pm.

Please call Code Enforcement at 909-884-4056 and ask for Tina or Joana if you have any additional questions.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Desert sign post

I found this sign on Amboy going west, between Allen and Gammell. It was flapping in the wind so I stuck a stick in the frame to hold the paper up. It looks like it's been there for some time.

This is Volume 3 - No. 1, the FINAL and EXTRA issue. Weather: Unsettled.
This underwater atomic blast is one of many that have been conducted by the U.S. and Russia. Intense heat melts the elements - an amazing sign emphasizing Bible predictions:
"The heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10).


We went on a walk through a wash near Highway 62 today. We found lots and lots of wildflowers growing, and lots of desert LUPINE! I've never seen it here before. This specimen was as big as my hand. Wildflowers will be amazing this spring.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Desert Trail Column, January 7, 2016

The WEMO Letter-Writing Drop-In is being held from 9 to noon on Saturday, January 9 at our Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road. If you are concerned about ORV routes on our roads, stop in for information and assistance. The deadline for public comments is January 25.

The USDA Food Distribution will take place on Monday, January 11 at our community center from 11 to noon. The He Provides Ministry will also be there with free clothing and household items for anyone needing them. For information about the food, call 760-367-9880. For information about the clothing, call 763-213-3852.

The Basinwide MAC meeting will be held at the Joshua Tree Community Center on (6171) Sunburst Road on Monday, January 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Our Wonder Valley Representative Teresa Sitz will be there, and everyone is invited to attend.

We send out belated wishes to Kip Fjeld who celebrated his special day last week. Happy belated birthday, Kip!

Karen’s Commentary: Now that El NiƱo time is upon us, be aware that the following roads will be the first to be cleared following bad storms:  Blower, Gammel, Godwin, Naborly, Parker, Pipeline, Shadow Mountain, Shelton, Steeg, Two Mile, Valle Vista and Wilson. The remaining roads will be cleared as time and weather permits.

Darlene’s Commentary: It seems like almost everyone caught a respiratory bug of some kind this Christmas. My son, Ian Taylor Parris, formerly known as “Dr Beeper” in his very early years, shared with me a homemade inexpensive remedy that works better than over-the-counter cough syrup. It tastes yummy, too. It’s called pineapple juice! When a coughing fit starts, drink about eight ounces of pure pineapple juice and it calms the cough, adds mega-vitamin C, soothes the throat and has antioxidants and a natural ingredient that reduces inflammation in the throat and chest. And little kids as well as big adult kids find pineapple juice as a sweet refreshing treat. Give it a try!
If you own a computer or have access to one, check out It is loaded with a wealth of information about Wonder Valley, along with some fun stuff to read. Ken and Teresa Sitz do a terrific job keeping it interesting.

Handy Hint: To remove a too-tight ring, slip an 8” length of floss under the ring and snugly wind it around the lower part of your finger (including the knuckle) to temporarily bind it. Quickly slide the ring off your tightened finger, then unwind the floss. This really works!

Thought for Today: What do you call it when a cowboy marries a cowgirl? A Western Union.

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wonder Valley sunrise

Promising wildflower season

I don't know about you, but we're seeing all kinds of new growth on the property, plants we've never seen before, in places we've never seen anything grow before. We're hoping the heavy rains in the summer, and the promised rains this winter, will bring a bumper crop of wildflowers. We even have a desert lily on our property for the first time ever!

MAC Meeting - Monday, January 11, 2016

The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), representing nine unincorporated communities in the Morongo Basin including Wonder Valley, meets Monday evening, January 11, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. at The Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Avenue in Joshua Tree. Everyone is welcome and invited to attend and participate.

Pat Flanagan will be presenting on the BLM's WEst MOjave (WEMO) plan.

Agenda for the January 11, 2016 meeting
Minutes for the November 9, 2015 meeting