DeRouen receives first Spirit of Yucca Valley Award

Kathy DeRouen, right, receives the inaugural Spirit of Yucca Valley Award Tuesday night. Presenting are, from left, Mayor Robert Lombardo, Yucca Valley High School Principal Justin Monical and Councilman Merl Abel.

YUCCA VALLEY — The Town Council honored a lifelong educator with the inaugural Spirit of Yucca Valley award Tuesday. The award was presented to Kathy DeRouen by Councilman Merl Abel.

“She is a real hero in our community,” Abel said.

DeRouen, a former teacher at La Contenta Middle School, dedicates her time to helping students reach their educational dreams.

Abel, who is also a schoolteacher, shared the great successes DeRouen has had helping students navigate the paths to higher education at some of the country’s top universities.

“A lot of our students no doubt would not be there without Kathy’s hard work,” said Yucca Valley High School Principal Justin Monical.

As a fellow teacher, he said he was awestruck by her abilities.

“I was in the presence of such a great educator,” Monical said. “She does tremendous work. She’s an absolute gem and we’re glad to have her.”

Mayor Robert Lombardo, who also helped present the award, said he was thrilled to put a spotlight on education and local students succeeding in college.

“College changes whole families,” Lombardo said.

DeRouen thanked her fellow teachers, counselors, staff and those on the school board for their support and leadership.

“I do not do this in a vacuum,” she said. “It takes a village.”

A resident of Morongo Valley for the past four decades, she said her husband, Perry, and their family are her greatest strength and inspiration.

“I could not do this without my husband and family,” she said.

Town says ‘no’ to personal storage

In its final action of the night, the council approved an ordinance prohibiting people from storing personal property on the town’s lands. The new ordinance, which passed 3-0 with councilmen Jeff Drozd and Jim Schooler absent, allows town staff to remove, store or dispose of personal property.

“Many times items are left on public property,” said Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle. “An ordinance is necessary. It is very simple and straightforward.”

Stueckle said people have been leaving more personal property on public property over the past five years. Under to the newly passed ordinance, public property includes streets, parking lots, parks and public buildings.

“Storage of personal belongings or property interferes with the public’s use of those facilities in a safe and healthy manner,” according to the staff report.

Personal property includes tents, tarpaulins, bedding, hammocks, backpacks, clothes, medications and documents.

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