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High Desert News

High Desert News (22)

Apple Valley man kills wife while 4 children are home, authorities say

An Apple Valley man shot and killed his wife on Saturday with the couple’s four young children inside the house at the time of the shooting, authorities said.

Just before 10 p.m., Tom Robinson, 53, called 911 and told a dispatcher that he had killed his wife, 35-year-old Rocio Martinez, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Deputies arriving to the house in the 13300 block of Applewood Road three minutes after Robinson’s phone call found Martinez’s body inside, the department said.

The couple’s four children — ages 1, 4, 5 and 7 — were in the home, authorities said. None of them were injured. They were taken into the custody of the San Bernardino County Children Services.

Robinson was arrested at the scene, authorities said.

After being interviewed by homicide detectives, he was booked into the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto on suspicion of murder. Booking records show that Robinson is being held without bail.

Robinson is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case to contact Det. Jon Cahow or Sgt. John Gaffney with the department’s homicide detail at 909-387-3589. Callers who want to remain anonymous can call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78CRIME or leave information at


Talented Young Athlete Identified as Man Killed in Victorville Home Depot Shooting

VICTORVILLE – A 27-year-old man who worked hard to achieve his dreams despite losses early on was shot dead on Friday. Witness accounts are nothing less than chilling with some describing the victim, now identified as Robert Curtis Jr. crouching his 6’10” body behind a black sedan attempting to protect himself from approximately four shots fired in his direction. The motive still unknown; the suspects still at large authorities said.

On Friday, May 26, 2017, Victorville Station deputies and emergency medical personnel rushed over to the Home Depot located on Roy Rogers Drive near Civic Drive. When they arrived they found Curtis unresponsive and suffering from at least one gunshot wound. CPR was administered before and while he was transported to a Victor Valley Global Regional Medical Center. Despite lifesaving efforts, Curtis died as a result of his injuries shortly after arriving.

Witnesses said that there was an argument leading to a shooting. Curtis was shot by a suspect who then got into a vehicle with two other people and fled the scene in a black 4-door sedan, possibly an older Honda Civic. The vehicle was last seen heading westbound toward Amargosa Road. The suspect was only described as a black man with short hair, who was wearing a long sleeve brown shirt and blue jeans. The parking lot was closed with crime scene tape for the investigation.

Curtis, who was born on January 15, 1990, and was raised in the City of Pomona. At the young age of 5, Curtis lost his father, Robert Curtis Sr. to a shooting and his mother, Starlea Hall was diagnosed with brain cancer approximately 4 years ago. Curtis went on graduate from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo. He went on to play basketball for Saddleback College, which is a community college in Mission Viejo. Although colleges were eyeing the obviously talented basketball star, Curtis decided to move on to a professional career. In 2012, Curtis was selected in the 2012 NBL Canada draft. He followed his dreams playing for the National Basketball League of Canada for several seasons.

He also had a passion and talent for football, which his mother was against due to the higher risk of injuries. Finally, he got his mother’s blessing to pursue his true love [football] and played for the LaBelle Community Football League, a semi-professional league.

The investigation is ongoing and authorities are seeking any information that may lead to the arrest of the armed and dangerous suspect and/or those with him. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Detective Scott Stafford or Sergeant Robert Warrick, Homicide Detail (909) 387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78CRIME (27463), or you may leave information on the We-Tip website at


Adelanto planners approve 88 homes on 25-acre lot

ADELANTO — Eighty-eight single-family homes were recently approved here — a project driven by the same developer who proposed 38 homes in December.

On Tuesday, the Planning Commission approved a tentative tract map for 88 residential lots on a 25-acre site that’s surrounded by existing or pending residential development.

TRLS Engineering, Inc., of Hesperia, applied for the approval, seeking to develop on the north side of Seneca Road, between Aster Road to the east and Calendula Street to the west.

When combined with the 38 approved homes, which the developer said Tuesday he hoped to build out quickly, officials view interest from the residential real estate sector as a sign of the industrial market boom’s positive residual impacts.

“I think it comes at a great time for the city,” said Gabriel Elliott, Adelanto’s development services director. “As we’re seeing an increase in the development of industrial areas, we also see an increase in the number of potential single-family homes that can actually be owned and purchased.”

Planning Commissioner Gene Piehe said that new housing developments in a city of about 33,000 people were long overdue.

“Been around for 41 years and we’re really on the ball and we’re moving now,” Piehe said. “Thanks to a gung-ho mayor who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, we’re moving right along.”

He also lauded and credited the City Council’s focus on expediting projects for recent growth.

Meanwhile, the 38-lot map OK’d in December sits on 9 acres on the northeast corner of Victor Street and Verbena Road, according to planning documents.


Lahontan Water Board Receives $2.67 Million Grant to Clean up Perchlorate Plume Near Barstow

Cleanup Project to Help Private Well Owners with Contaminated Groundwater

VICTORVILLE, Calif. – The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board (Lahontan Water Board) announced it has received a $2.67 million grant to clean up a perchlorate plume near Barstow that has affected several private well owners’ drinking water supplies.

Funds from the grant award, issued by the State Water Resources Control Board’s Site Cleanup Subaccount Program (SCAP), will be used for a feasibility study and pilot project in an area northeast of Barstow in San Bernardino County. The pilot project will treat contaminated dirt by installing a soil-flushing unit over the area where perchlorate salts were illegally dumped. In addition, groundwater extraction wells will be installed to capture perchlorate flushed from the soil. The extracted perchlorate-contaminated water will be treated to remove the perchlorate and the finished water will be re-injected into the aquifer. Monitoring wells will be installed to track the groundwater plume and determine the effectiveness of the treatment system.

Several private wells in the area are contaminated with perchlorate, a chemical used for making fireworks and solid-fuel rockets. Some wells have levels of perchlorate as high as 2,400 parts per billion (ppb). The drinking water standard for the contaminant is 6 ppb. Several other wells in the area are threatened by the perchlorate plume and could be contaminated if the pollutant is not cleaned up. The Lahontan Water Board is currently providing bottled water to those whose wells are contaminated with perchlorate.

“Cleanup will begin soon to fix a long-standing pollution problem that affects the heart of the Barstow community,” said Patty Kouyoumdjian, executive officer for the Lahontan Water Board. “We are pleased to lead this effort to ensure safe drinking water for residents.”

The Lahontan Water Board received the grant money from SCAP, a new program established by Senate Bill 445 (Hill, 2014) authorizing grants for projects to remediate the harm to human health, safety, or the environment caused by existing or threatened surface or groundwater contamination. Senate Bill 445 allows the regional water boards to apply for grant money to clean up “orphaned sites” where there is no viable responsible party to pay for the cleanup costs. The perchlorate-contaminated site near Barstow – once a local business owner’s private residence where the pollutant was stored -- is considered an orphan site because no viable responsible party can be identified as the owner is no longer living. The Lahontan Water Board will oversee implementation of the grant-funded work, which is expected to occur in early summer 2017.

For more information about the perchlorate-contaminated site near Barstow, see the Lahontan Water Board website:

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of the quality of California’s water resources in eastern California. For more information about the Lahontan Water Board visit its website.


desertFiat Makes It A Gas To Go To Class In 2017

What could motivate students to attend class every day besides the prospect of learning and earning good grades? According to desertFIAT, it is the chance to win a 2017 FIAT 500X.

Last year, as part of the It’s a Gas to Go to Class, desertFIAT awarded Elizabeth Jimenez of Indian Springs High School a new car because she had perfect attendance for the entire 2015–2016 school year. The desertFIAT dealership also paid the vehicle tax and license fees.

This year, San Bernardino City Unified School District high school students have the opportunity to win a new FIAT 500X by maintaining perfect attendance for just the second semester of this school year, which begins Monday, January 9, 2017. Contest rules define perfect attendance as a student not missing more than three periods of their assigned schedule, and those absences must be properly excused.

All students who are enrolled in grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 and attend Anderson, Arroyo Valley High, Cajon High, Community Day, Indian Springs High, Middle College High, Pacific High, San Andreas High, San Bernardino High, San Gorgonio High, or Sierra High Schools are eligible to participate in It’s a Gas to Go to Class.

Although only one student will win the FIAT 500X, every qualifying SBCUSD student with perfect attendance for the second semester will be eligible to win other prizes.

It’s a Gas to Go to Class is sponsored by desertFIAT, the Making Hope Happen Foundation, and the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

For more details, visit


Supervisor Benoit’s Funeral Scheduled for Jan. 10 in La Quinta

*** Please note the update: per order of Vice Chairman Tavaglione, flags at county-owned and leased facilities will be flown at half-staff until January 10. ***

Local News

LA QUINTA – A funeral Mass for Supervisor John J. Benoit will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in La Quinta. A reception at St. Francis will immediately follow the funeral.

A rosary will be said at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 47-225 Washington St., La Quinta. Public viewing will be available from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday.

Benoit, whose public service spanned a lifetime and helped shape issues statewide, passed away Monday evening at his Bermuda Dunes home. He had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Benoit, 64, spent decades serving as a member of the California Highway Patrol, a school board member, state lawmaker and county supervisor.

Benoit’s fellow supervisor, Vice Chairman John Tavaglione, has canceled the Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 10 meeting to accommodate the funeral.

“We are devastated by this loss,” Tavaglione said. “John was dedicated to the Coachella Valley and to the residents he served. For him, problems and challenges were simply opportunities to work with people on all sides and develop real solutions. I will miss him terribly as a friend and colleague, but his loss to the community is incalculable.”

“We are all saddened by the passing of our brother, Chairman John Benoit,” said Supervisor Marion Ashley. “His legacy of achievement and care for the County of Riverside and the Fourth District are well-known, and his many accomplishments are lasting. Our hearts go out to his family, staff and friends.”

Among Benoit’s proudest accomplishments were closing Duroville, a dilapidated mobile home park where egregious living conditions existed for years, and releasing funds from the state to relocate 181 families from Duroville into safe housing.

Benoit was instrumental in redirecting plans for county jail expansion from the Whitewater area near Palm Springs. The East County Detention Center, currently under construction in Indio, is driving nearly a half-billion dollars in public safety and infrastructure investments to improve community safety, create hundreds of construction jobs and generate new business opportunities downtown.

Benoit considered his greatest blessings to be the love and support of Sheryl, his wife of 38 years, and his family, which includes daughter, Sarah; a son, Benjamin (wife Jaimie); brothers Mark and Paul; and grandchildren Abrielle and Nick.

Benoit was a United Way of the Desert board member since 1989, a member and past president of the Indio Rotary, and a committed parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. A Renaissance man, he was a longtime ham radio operator, aviator, avid reader and a patent-holder, and an enthusiast of space exploration and technology.

In honor of Supervisor Benoit, the American flag, the state flag and the POW/MIA flag will be flown at half-staff at all county-owned and leased facilities until January 10.

In lieu of flowers, the Benoit family is requesting that donations be made to the United Way of the Desert, P.O. Box 13210, Palm Desert, CA 92255.


Fall Festival at the Newton T. Bass Apple Valley Branch Library

The San Bernardino County Library is celebrating fall with a fun, family-friendly event at the Apple Valley Branch Library! Come dressed in costume and enjoy great activities including face painting, balloon artists, kid’s crafts and more.

This event is another opportunity to celebrate and support the Countywide Vision’s literacy campaign, Vision2Read. The Fall Festival event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The event kicks off at 4 p.m. in the Town of Apple Valley Conference Center Community room with an amazing performance by magician Jay Leslie, followed by crafts and additional activities inside and outside of the library. Be sure to bring a San Bernardino County Library card or sign up for one at the library, as every 15 items checked out during the event earns an opportunity drawing ticket for a chance to win awesome incentives! All activities are free and open to all ages.

The Apple Valley Branch Library is at 14901 Dale Evans Parkway.

The San Bernardino County Library System is a dynamic network of 32 branch libraries that serves a diverse population over a vast geographic area. The County library system strives to provide equal access to information, technology, programs, and services for all people who call San Bernardino County home.

The library plays a key role in the achievement of the Countywide Vision by contributing to educational, cultural, and historical development of our County community.

For more information on the San Bernardino County library system, please visit or call (909) 387-2220.


High Desert Job Fair

The High Desert Regional Job Fair is returning to Victorville on Oct. 12, providing a one-stop opportunity for employers to meet, interview and hire high-quality, experienced job seekers.

The Job Fair, hosted by the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB), will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Building 2 of the County Fairgrounds, 14800 Seventh St.

Hundreds of job seekers are expected to attend, and are urged to dress for an interview and bring plenty of resumes.

“The High Desert has a lot of business opportunities, and thanks to the efforts of our Workforce Development Board, we have a pipeline of qualified workers to help those businesses grow and achieve their goals,” said San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, who represents the High Desert.

Tony Myrell, WDB Chairman, said connecting businesses with a skilled labor force is critical to achieving a strong, vibrant local economy.

“At the Workforce Development Board, we’re an invaluable resource for finding well-trained, high-quality employees that meet the needs of all industry sectors,” Myrell said.

Employers who wish to participate in the High Desert 2016 Regional Job Fair should register no later than Oct. 7 at




Leadership in a law enforcement organization is the process of influencing human behavior to achieve organizational goals that serve the public, while developing individuals, teams and the organization for future service.

After seeing the video shooting and beating death of an unarmed Nathaniel H. Pickett II by an out of control 23 year old rookie San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy and his citizen ride along, many questions need to be answered by the leadership within the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The citizens of San Bernardino County should not rest until questions are answered about the killing of Nathaniel H. Pickett by the Deputy.



Media Contact: Shane Philipps 

Direct: (760) 983-4556
Office: (760) 246-6287
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 760.246.6287 Twitter: @hdmavs



Garage/Yard-like Sale to include Mavericks Memorabilia, Game worn items, Furniture, and More

ADELANTO, Calif. — The High Desert Mavericks, Advanced-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, will be having a Ballpark Bazaar on Saturday, January 23 from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. at Heritage Field. This garage or yard-like sale gives High Desert residents the opportunity to purchase unique and miscellaneous items from around the ballpark to game worn/used memorabilia before the new season begins on April 7.

Highlighted in the sale include items from autographed bats, game-used bases, player-worn cleats, broken bats, baseballs to furniture, sound equipment, chairs, tables, televisions, computer accessories, pet supplies and much more.

What:   Ballpark Bazaar (Garage/Yard-like Sale) 

When:  Saturday, January 239:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.

Where: Heritage Field Visiting Clubhouse – South side of the ballpark (Primm Rose road entrance off of Adelanto Road)
12000 Stadium Way
Adelanto, CA 92301

Who:    High Desert Mavericks Professional Baseball Club Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers

The High Desert Mavericks open their 26th season in the High Desert on April 7 against the Inland Empire 66ers. The Mavericks offer a variety of season ticket plans and packages, which are on sale now. Company and group outings may be booked now as well. Individual game tickets will be available for sale in March.

For more information on group outings and ticket packages, call the Mavericks front office at (760) 246-6287 or visit

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