County advisers get news on public safety

Tom O'Key, a Joshua Tree representative for the International Dark Sky Association, gave a presentation to the board about the importance of preserving the night sky in the Morongo Basin.

JOSHUA TREE — The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council met Monday to discuss public safety and changes to the dark skies in the desert.

San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle reminded everyone that burning is still banned.

“Burning is still closed probably through the fall, until we have the first big rain,” he said.

Jason Kobaly with the California Highway Patrol discussed the CHP’s enforcement efforts over the Labor Day weekend.

“This Labor Day weekend was quite busy out here,” he said.

There were seven traffic collisions over the long weekend and several DUI arrests.

Sheriff’s Department Lt. Luke Niles announced that the department received three times the amount of grant money they got in previous years for their off-highway vehicle team. With this money, he said, they should be able to staff two teams to roam around the desert every weekend during tourist seasons.

“That’s far and above anything we’ve ever been able to do up here,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. The state recognized the needs of our community.”

Niles also said the department is working on a new juvenile court system for children with relatively small offenses. The program would allow students to be the judge, jurors, defense attorneys and prosecutors in their own trials with the guidance of a volunteer judge.

“We’ve seen the program work in San Bernardino and in Indio,” Niles said.

He said the hope is that the program will give the students’ agency and get them interested in the judicial system.

The board also heard a presentation from Tom O’Key, a Joshua Tree representative for the International Dark Sky Association.

O’Key asked locals to pay attention to the of light their houses emit — how much and what kind.

He reminded everyone that simply changing their light bulbs to warm-toned bulbs can reduce light pollution.

He invites everyone to visit www.darksky.org to learn more about what you can do to reduce light pollution.

San Bernardino County District Services Coordinator and Yucca Mesa resident Frank Haggard then updated the board on ongoing and upcoming projects.

“Our preschool program here in Joshua Tree has started and is running at full capacity,” he said.

“We have also received approval for a capital improvements project to install a dog park here in Joshua Tree.”

MAC adds name to hate-free zone

After his brief update the board decided to join many local agencies, including the city of Twentynine Palms and the Morongo Valley Community Services District, in declaring the Morongo Basin a Hate-Free Zone.

The board adopted a resolution that they referred to as a social contract that said Morongo Basin organizations share hate-free ideals and values.

If a few other local organizations also vote to adopt the resolution, a banner will be placed on top of the Morongo grade in a few months that declares the Morongo Basin a hate-free zone.

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