Thursday, February 25, 2016

Desert Trail Column, February 25, 2016

The Wonder Valley Cleanup went very well, with lots of trash, tires and electronic waste being brought in for free disposal. Also, San Bernardino County Code Enforcement officers were there to discuss code enforcement issues and to show pictures of cleanups they’ve done recently in Wonder Valley. While all this was going on outside, there was a fire extinguisher training class going on inside our community center. We’re hoping this will be a regular event.

A garbage dumpster and a tire dumpster
A Health Science Open House will take place on Sunday, February 28 at Copper Mountain College from 9 to noon.
We send out Rainbows-of-Amethysts-and-Violets to Susie Sesma who celebrates her special day this week. Happy birthday, Susie!
Karen’s Commentary: I attended the three-hour fire extinguisher training class taught by Jim Brakebill at our community center. We were shown two short films – one showing and describing a house catching on fire which was scarier than any horror movie, and one all about fire extinguishers. We then went outside and actually put out fires! I learned right away that the pin is very hard to pull out (at least for me) and that the fire can be put out extremely fast with a few well-aimed sweeps of the extinguisher. I highly recommend this class to everyone.
Some of the students with their certificates with Whiskey, the Wonder Valley Fire Dog
Darlene’s Commentary: I love the desert and just about everything in it. I could do without scorpions and am not thrilled when I encounter a sidewinder, but if you watch where you are walking and know where you should not be walking, you can avoid crossing paths with our fellow “residents” that have been living here a lot longer than we have. I am talking about the two-legged, four-legged, eight-legged and the slithery no-leggeds, namely snakes. My motto is respect the desert and its inhabitants, and by and large they will respect you. (Hopefully, at a distance.)
Even though Food for Life Ministries can’t use Little Church of the Desert for preparing and serving their free Saturday meals any longer, they are managing to get meals out to people who need them. Call Reach Out Morongo Basin at 760-361-1410 or Linda Geddis at 760-362-4510 for information on having meals delivered to your home.

Handy Hint:  Ten foods with a big nutritional bang for your buck are carrots, plain low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, frozen peas, canned salmon, whole frozen turkey breast, black beans, russet potatoes, brown rice and canned tomatoes. Cost per serving ranges from 13 cents (carrots) to 88 cents (cottage cheese).

Thought for Today: If we’re not meant to have midnight snacks . . . why is there a light in the fridge? Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wonder Valley seen from the top of the East Valley Mountain,
more affectionately referred to as "Mount Wonder"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fire Extinguisher Training was a BLAST!

James Brakebill of Copper Mountain College
Fire Technology Program instructing.
Thirteen people attended the Fire Extinguisher Training at the Wonder Valley Community Center on Saturday. James Brakebill, the head of the Fire Technology Program at Copper Mountain College taught the course. Most of us walked in thinking we already knew how to use a fire extinguisher and walked out EVER so grateful for taking the class and finding out all about what we did NOT know which was really important stuff. I’m planning on compiling this in a Survey Monkey quiz called, “So you think you don’t need fire extinguisher training.”

For instance, I learned that your fire extinguishers should be mounted on a wall and not used as door stops (yeah, that’s me - really embarrassed). Fire extinguishers are under pressure and can act as a missile if they accidentally go off, shooting across the room.

Ken and I brought pastries from Porto’s Cuban bakery in Glendale (we were visiting my son in L.A.) and we made coffee, enjoyed by all during the break.

Copper Mountain College EMT student Samantha, our standby fire starter.
After the classroom portion we went outside and two students from the fire program set fires and we put them out. Everyone admitted that it was a little harder than we thought it would be and were grateful for knowing what to expect should we need to put out a fire in the future.
A student attempting to put out a fire with an extinguisher.
Mr. Fire was there to test all of our fire extinguishers, fill them up, certify and seal them with pins and tamper-proof seals.
Most of the class, some were still outside getting their fire extinguishers refilled.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wonder Valley Community Meeting with LAFCO

You are invited and welcome to attend and participate in a Wonder Valley Community meeting with LAFCO, San Bernardino County's Local Agency Formation Commission from 10 a.m. until Noon on Saturday, April 23, 2016.

County Fire gave us four options to address our tax/assessment shortfall for our fire services. The fourth option, and the only one we have not yet addressed as a community, is the dissolution of FP 4 - our fire protection district 4 along with its $34.10 assessment.

LAFCO will be present to discuss the process for dissolving FP4, and the consequences - good and bad. They will also be able to answer any questions regarding forming a CSD, or city, or any other agency formation questions you may have.

Division Chief John Chamberlin, County Fire Division 5 South Desert, will also be present to discuss the issue and answer questions.


April 23, 2106, 10:00 a.m.
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277
Wonder Valley MAC Volunteer and Meeting Chair: Teresa Sitz
Everyone is invited and welcome to attend and participate.


1. Call to order and Flag Salute

2. Community comment on items not on the agenda
The community is also invited to comment after the reports and during the discussions below.

3. Presentation on the Possible Dissolution of FP-4
- Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO)
- Division Chief John Chamberlin, County Fire, Division 5, South Desert

On May 20th, 2005 the residents of the community of Wonder Valley voted on a 72% margin in favor of establishing a fire tax. This tax started at $30 annually and had an inflationary value of 2.5% attached. The Board of Supervisors declared the official results of the mailed ballot (Item #15) on June 7th, 2005 for Improvement Zone M, with a 1.5% inflationary measure. This tax was built on the premise of both Limited Term Firefighters and Paid Call Firefighters.

FP-4 started at a rate of $30 for the 2005-06 tax year. Through the 1.5% accepted increase from the Board of Supervisors, it has gone up an average of .471 cents each year per parcel. The current rate is $33.80 per parcel for 2015-16. SFP-4 is made up of 4,636 total parcels. Year to Date collections 2014-15 are $151,218.81.

SOURCE: San Bernardino County Fire Department FP-4 Wonder Valley Presentation, Division Chief John Chamberlin,

5. Announcements

6. Adjournment

View County Fire's presentation, with the 4 options, here:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

We're on YELP!

A Wonder Valley community booster started a Yelp! page for the Wonder Valley Community Center. If you've been to a meeting or event, please leave a review. If you haven't been, we're planning some fun events in the coming months, so you might want to wait until you've had a chance to participate.

I'm going to wait a bit, as the Community Center means a lot to me and I want to write something good.

Check it out at:

Also, we've been added to Desert Communities on Third District Supervisor James Ramos' website:

Click on Morongo Basin Communities and we're there and linked to THIS site!!

15 dumpsites cleaned by County Code Enforcement

Once County Code Enforcement informs us of the locations that were cleared
we will change the markers to green.
At the Wonder Valley Cleanup today, County Code Enforcement informed us that they cleaned up 15 dump sites during the previous week - nearly HALF of the ones that residents submitted via the map at These are locations where garbage is dumped on the road.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Desert Trail Column, February 18, 2016

The big Wonder Valley Community Cleanup will take place Saturday, February 20 at our Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road, from 8 to noon. Free tire and trash bins are being provided by Third District Supervisor James Ramos and San Bernardino County Code Enforcement for the exclusive use of Wonder Valley residents. Commercial or industrial waste, loads of more than nine tires and hazardous waste cannot be accepted. Oversized or hard-to-handle loads may be diverted directly to the landfill, so be sure to secure and cover those loads properly. Tires must be 11” X 25.5” or less. Acceptable items include trash, old appliances, furniture, yard waste and anything else that would be accepted at the landfill. An electronic waste recycler will also be available on site to accept household electronics from 8 am to 4 pm. For further information, call Code Enforcement at 909-884-4056 and ask for Tina or Joana.

We send out Rainbows-of-Amethysts-and-Violets to Christina Lindsley who celebrates her special day this week. Happy birthday, Christina!

Darlene’s Commentary: Last week my instructions about determining a creosote bush’s age were rather confusing, plus I forgot to mention a crucial requirement: This formula only applies to WILD creosotes, ones that have only been watered by Mother Nature. Use a yardstick to determine the number of feet across the outer ring of branches where they come out of the ground, then multiply that number of feet by 370 to get the creosote’s approximate age in years.
Karen’s Commentary:  A couple months ago, my husband Ted and I attended a unique fund-raiser for Sky’s the Limit. Professional appraisers estimated the value of household treasures brought in by the public for a donation of $5 per object. Unfortunately, none of our appraisals made us rich, but we learned things about those possessions that we were completely unaware of. What a fun event! And it’s going to be repeated in March or April. I can’t wait!

The Wonder Valley Community Church holds Sunday services at 82575 Amboy Road at Kuhns Road, plus Bible Studies on Sundays and Wednesdays. Potlucks are enjoyed following the services on the second Sunday of each month. Call Pastor Garry Brooks at 760-367-0279 for further information.

Handy Hint: If your car is one of the few that require high-test fuel, it will be noted under the gas gauge on the dashboard. Otherwise, premium fuel is not better. It doesn’t produce more power, improve engine performance, save fuel or contain any additives that help your car. It just costs more.

Thought for Today: Combing is considerably less damaging to hair strands than brushing.

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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Community Meeting: CSDs - A Form of Self Government

The community of Wonder Valley is invited and welcome to attend and participate in a meeting regarding CSDs - A Form of Self Government a discussion with Gayl Swarat and Donna Munoz Saturday, March 26, 10:00 a.m. Wonder Valley Community Center 80526 ½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA Gayl Swarat and Donna Munoz, board members of the Morongo Valley CSD (Community Service District), will be in Wonder Valley to tell us the pros and cons of having a CSD - a form of independent local government used to provide services in unincorporated areas of a county. The Morongo Valley Community Service District was formed in 1958 and governs MV’s - fire and paramedic services - park - library - street lights Gayl Swarat 
is the MAC Delegate for Morongo Valley and a board member of the Morongo Valley CSD Donna Munoz
is the General Manager of the Morongo Valley CSD and is also on the board of Morongo Basin Ambulance
Copper Mountain Mesa voted to form a Community Service Area (CSA) which allows the San Bernardino County Office of Special Districts to manage our fire, park, and roads.

Read more about the Morongo Valley CSD WHAT IS A CSD? Did you know that Morongo Valley has its own form of government? Many people don’t realize we are a Community Services District (CSD) and that our Community’s business is conducted by a 5 member Board of elected local citizens. All serve as volunteers and are unpaid for representing us (they are perhaps the only CSD Board in the State who do not draw a meeting stipend!). A special district is a separate local form of government that delivers a limited number of public services to a geographically limited area. The Morongo Valley CSD was formed in 1958 and oversees the Fire Department, Parks, libraries and street lighting - most other services are provided by the County of San Bernardino or State of California. There are 2 types of special districts: independent and dependent. Dependent districts are administrative extensions of cities or counties and depend on another unit of government, like a County Board of Supervisors, for their existence. Independent districts are directly responsible to their constituents and are created by local petition. The Morongo Valley CSD is an independent district. The main source of funding for the Morongo Valley CSD is from property tax allocations, a benefit assessment, fire & park fees and grants. 1% of our property tax bills are allocated to San Bernardino County. The CSD receives 20% of the County’s 1% allocation. In other words for every $1.00 paid by a resident of Morongo in property taxes only 0.2 of one cent is received by the CSD. The benefit assessment directly funds fire department operations. The paramedic services, added when the benefit assessment passed, are funded from general funds. The Paramedic Program allows us to offer upgraded medical services via the Fire Department. The closest ambulance service is located in Joshua Tree, often a 30 minute response time, away. Since over 60% of department calls are for medical aids, the Board of Directors felt strongly about bringing enhanced service to the Morongo Valley residents. Fire Services operational expenses constitute over 70% of the annual budget. The CSD is able to provide quality, local services by running a combination paid and volunteer Fire Department. A small core of paid personnel staff the engine, and offer paramedic and administrative duties 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Volunteers are Fire Academy graduates who volunteer in exchange for furthering their certifications and training opportunities while serving Morongo Valley. The only other personnel are the General Manager, a park groundsman and a part time office worker. The General Manager is the Board secretary and is responsible for office administration, human resources, grant writing and administration, budget & policy oversight and representation of the community on the County and State level. The groundsman is responsible for landscaping duties, watering, sprinkler repair, trash removal and pruning. MVCSD and FD positions are paid approximately half the rate paid to comparable positions at the County or State level and are not offered retirement benefits. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Reach out to one person please

Our Wonder Valley Nextdoor network now has 101 members and continues to grow. For many people, who came out here to be left alone, it is the perfect way to stay informed about community news and maintain their privacy. ONLY people who live in Wonder Valley may join. Individualizing your settings allows you to decide how many emails you get from the network, if any at all.


Communication out here is difficult. as your MAC delegate I post in the following places:
  • Wonder Valley Community Page on Facebook
  • Wonder Valley Community Church
  • Godwin Christian Fellowship
  • Wonder Valley Community Center
  • Wonder Valley Sand Paper
  • The Palms
  • The Glass Outhouse
  • The Desert Trail
  • Karen and Dar's column in the Desert Trail
  • Z107 online and on radio
  • Wonder Valley Nextdoor
  • Road signs
And this is not enough. I am not reaching everyone. At every meeting people complain that they didn't hear about this or that important issue.

Please, we have 101 members. If each of you reached out and got one member to sign up, we'd have 202 members by the end of the week, and that many more informed and empowered community members.

You can use my link to sign up:

Or make your own link on Nextdoor and get a little leaf by your name. Go to the top menu bar to get your link.

Let's get this madly unique and solitude-loving community connected.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fire yesterday in Wonder Valley

There was a fire yesterday in Wonder Valley, around Sullivan about a mile east of Shelton. I was driving home from..., church, yeah, church, about dusk when I saw bright orange flames shooting up in the sky. Oddly beautiful, and scary out here - representing a tragedy and loss for a community member. I called it in but someone else beat me to it, thank goodness. Haven't heard anything more about it.

Fire Extinguisher Training

Contact Teresa Sitz at if you'd like to take the Fire Extinguisher Training on Saturday, February 20 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

There will be three hours of classroom fire safety instruction and one final hour when we go outside to sta,rt and put out, fires. At the end of the class you will be MUCH better prepared to protect your house and your loved ones from fire! Don't miss this important

The instructor will be James Brakebill of the Copper Mountain Fire Technology Program, and the community member who explained to us the Paid Call Fire Fighter Program at the last fire meeting.

Contact Teresa Sitz at

AND we also need community members - whether they take the class or not, to
DONATE $10 or more toward refilling the extinguishers after we use them. Please email me privately if you are able to help chip in. Your community will appreciate it!

Desert Trail, February 11, 2016

Last week, Mary Lindsley’s name was inadvertently left off our birthday list. So this week we send out belated Rainbows-of-Amethysts-and-Violets to Mary, along with our apologies. Happy belated birthday, Mary!

Karen’s Commentary: I read something very interesting recently, so thought I’d share it with you. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums and galleries, plus the National Zoo, all located in Washington DC and New York. It is the largest collection of museums in the world. In 1829, English chemist James Smithson willed his fortune to America to found an institution to spread knowledge, even though he had never set foot in the United States. No one knows why he did this, but we’re glad he did. When his donation was received in 1838, it was in the form of half a million dollars in gold sovereigns which filled 105 bank bags. There was a lot of arguing in Congress about how to use the money, but finally, in 1846, an institution for learning was set up to be used for research and exhibiting objects about art and science. And that is how the Smithsonian Institution came about.

Darlene’s Commentary:  Have you seen the little book called “The Desert Oracle?” I bought one at The Palms (the Autumn 2015 issue) and it is full of great writing and interesting information about the desert and desert living. I want to share some amazing facts about the creosote bush from the article “Ancient Creosote Clumps and Dog Walks on the Old Dirt Road” by Chris Clarke. The creosote bush grows very slowly. The creosote seedling starts out with one skinny stem that grows thicker, and it may take a decade or more to sprout branches that emerge from the ground in a ring around the center stem. To figure out how old a creosote bush is, measure the diameter of this outer ring at ground level and multiply the number of feet by 370. The next time you walk by a creosote bush, show some respect!

No matter what our fire tax situation is, the men and women of the San Bernardino County Fire Department are at our Wonder Valley Fire Station #45 every day, willing to put their lives on the line for us. If you drive by and see the bay doors open, stop in and say hello.

Handy Hint:  If you’re looking for the best buy, a brand-name item may be more expensive than the store brand, even with a coupon.                                                                                                                                                                  
Thought for Today: What’s the difference between a hippo and a Zippo? One is heavy and the other is a little lighter.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dumpsites in WV

Just got back from a 2-hour tour of Wonder Valley with Joana Cavazos from SBC Code Enforcement. We visited almost every property on the Community's map of dumpsites found at:

Code Enforcement will be cleaing up many of these sites in the coming weeks. If you drive past them, remember to give them a thumb's up!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Desert Trail Column, February 4, 2016

Wonder Valley’s Glass Outhouse Art Gallery, 77575 29 Palms Highway at Thunder Road, invites you to an artists reception on Saturday, February 6, from 1 to 5 pm for featured artists Georgia Toney and Donna Eastman. Meet the artists and enjoy refreshments while listening to music provided by The Luminators. This show will run through February 28. For further information, call 760-367-3807.

The Basinwide Municipal Advisory Council will meet on Monday, February 8 at the Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst, at 6:30 pm. There will be a law enforcement panel discussion addressing crime in the Morongo Basin, with members of various law enforcement agencies speaking and answering questions. Wonder Valley’s representative Teresa Sitz encourages all Wonder Valley residents to attend as it’s very important for our elected officials to know our thoughts on the current level of crime in our area.

Since the birthstone for February is the amethyst and the flower is the violet, we send out Rainbows-of-Amethysts-and-Violets to Beautiful Downtown George Burgess, Chetara Bevins and Darlene Parris, who all celebrate their special days this week. Happy birthday to all!

Darlene’s Commentary: Here we go again! Have you noticed the little sprigs of green on both shoulders along Amboy Road? I do believe that Spring is softly and quietly tip-toeing closer and closer, waiting for Mother Nature to give the sign. We have had a few good downpours, including that incredible lightning spectacular, plus a soft rain last Sunday, so I am hoping for a show of wildflowers to decorate our beautiful desert.

Karen’s Commentary: It’s Cadbury Egg time at just about every store in the world! Of course I just walk right past them. NOT! But it does take awhile (several seconds, at least) before I give in and clutch one in my hand like it’s the only thing I’ll have to eat for the entire week. And as I’m taking the first wonderfully marvelous bite, I’m absolutely convinced it’s much better than a hug from one of Darlene’s pioneer spirits!

Animal Action League, located just west of the dinosaurs on 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree, provides very low cost spay and neuter services, vaccinations and microchipping for your pets. Call 760-366-1100 for information.

Handy Hint: Use the bathroom mirror as a message board, with a bar of soap as the “pencil.” The message will never be missed, plus removing the lettering will give you the bonus of a clean mirror.

Thought for Today: Intercontinental phone service began in 1927 with a call between New York and London costing $75 ($980 in today’s currency) for the first three minutes.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Greyhound no longer stops in Palm Springs

The Greyhound to/from Los Angeles that used to stop at the train station in Palm Springs no longer does so. The stop nearest to the Morongo Basin is now Thousand Palms, 1-1/2 miles from here.

Mojave National Preserve News Release - Roadwork

Mojave National Preserve News Release
Download the Press Release ]

Release Date: February 2, 2016
Contact:  David Moore at 760-252-6142                        

Mojave National Preserve Announces New Round Of Road Work to Begin in Spring 2016
Contractor Will Improve Road Design and Surfaces of Main North-South Route

Barstow—Superintendent Todd J. Suess has announced the approval of a 10-week road construction program scheduled to begin in the spring. The program will alter road designs in some locations of Mojave National Preserve and will address conditions intended to enhance driving safety.

This $7,731,355 contract was awarded to Intermountain Slurry Seal, Inc., North Salt Lake City, UT, by the Federal Highway Administration under an agreement with the National Park Service (NPS). The award marks the second large-scale effort to address major reconstruction and resurfacing needs since the park took over management of the roads from San Bernardino County in 2013.

“We are so pleased to have this second round of road improvements in the Preserve,” Superintendent Suess said. “Our visitors have already benefited from the work that was completed last year on a portion of our roads.  This year, more potholes will be filled and road surfaces will be restored along with re-engineering of intersections and curves to provide a safer experience for all drivers.”

Safety improvements will be made to road alignments on Kelbaker Road and at the intersection at Kelso Cima and Cima Roads. According to the contractor, traffic delays can be expected on Kelbaker and Kelso Cima Roads during the road work. The section of Kelbaker Road between Kelso and Baker will be closed for several days.

The contract also includes pothole repair and pavement resurfacing of Kelbaker, Cima, Essex and Black Canyon Roads. Worn pavement on Lanfair Road north of Goffs that is in poor condition will be pulverized and converted to a gravel road surface.

The work is tentatively scheduled to begin on February 8, 2016, and to continue through April 19, 2016, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays only. Firm dates for each of four phases of the project will be published as soon as they are available.

The contractor’s tentative work schedule is as follows:

Week 1: Expect traffic delays on Kelbaker Road and at the intersection of Kelso Cima Road and Cima Road. Work on this one-day phase is tentatively scheduled for February 8, 2016.
Week 2:  Expect traffic delays on Kelbaker Road and at the intersection of Kelso Cima Road and Cima Road. Work on this phase is tentatively scheduled for February 22, 2016, through February 26, 2016.
Week 3: Kelbaker Road will be closed for pothole repair between Kelso and Baker, tentatively scheduled from April 4, 2016, through April 15, 2016.
Week 4: Current plans call for Kelbaker Road to be closed for resurfacing between Kelso and Baker from April 18, 2016, through April 19, 2016 (two days). Firm dates will be announced.

The contractor advises that plans and dates for additional road work called for in the contract will be announced when firm.

Other NPS projects expected in 2016 include replacement of the large water storage tank for the Kelso Depot Visitor Center, renovation of the evaporative cooling system at the Hole-in-the-Wall Interagency Fire Center, painting the NPS housing and office buildings at Baker, and a possible contract to replace the Kelso Depot Visitor Center water well pump and pressure pumps. The park is currently constructing an eight-bed dormitory at Kelso for employees. The dorm is expected to be completed in July.


Thanks, Bob Berg, for forwarding this to the community.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Free Flu Shot Clinic

The City of Twentynine Palms and Reach Out Morongo Basin in conjunction with Walgreens will be hosting a FREE flu shot clinic for the community on Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Twentynine Palms Senior Center 6539 Adobe Road across from the fire station.

With a wet and cold winter predicted now is the time to make sure you are protected. Seniors, chronically ill individuals and children are especially susceptible to the flu and should receive the flu shot.

Walgreens Pharmacy will have a licensed Pharmacist on hand to provide flu shots to adults and children. No appointment is required and all walk-ins are welcome. For more information contact Reach Out Morongo Basin at 760-361-1410.