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2012 Year in Review: Part 2
Daily Press top stories of the year from July to December
View 2012 Year in Review: Part 1 by clicking here.
• During a small ceremony held at the Sizzler in Barstow, James Arthur Brewer was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for service as a Montford Point Marine.
• The City Council unanimously approved to put county road markers along Route 66 to promote the historic Mother Road in Victorville.
• A newlywed couple was surprised at their Apple Valley home by the HomeSource Lamoreaux Residential Group, who announced them as winners of the first HomeSource Home Makeover contest.
• An Arizona developer’s plan to rezone property for a 168-home tract along Sitting Bull Road was approved by a 3-2 vote, but not before a council meeting turned into a barrage of personal attacks on Councilman Curt Emick’s integrity and place of residence.
• The 67-acre dynasty belonging to the King of the Cowboys was sold to the highest bidder for $645,000 during an auction held at Roy Rogers celebrated Double R Bar Ranch in Oro Grande.
• Newton T. Bass, cofounder of Apple Valley, started the town in 1946. Now his daughter, Angelyn Bass, follows his footsteps in the art of discovery. Only for her, it came as a career in conservation. Bass has been working for the past 10 years on a National Geographic sponsored project studying Maya ruins.
• For his 31 years of military service, which included several tours of duty over three wars, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly recognized retired Air Force Col. Howard Tanner, 91, of Apple Valley as the 59th Assembly District’s Veteran of the Year, during a special meeting.
• Apple Valley Mayor Pro Tem Ginger Coleman shocked the Town Council and staff when she announced her plan to step down from her seat.
• Nearly five years after a Yermo woman was mauled to death by a pack of pit bulls, the owners — John Peterson, 26, and Jeffrey King, 26 — responsible for her death were sentenced to 120 days in county jail to be served on weekends.
• A statue at Mojave Narrows Regional Park was dedicated to park patron and benefactor, Jean DeBlasis. DeBlasis moved to the High Desert in 1929 and has a long list of service to the community over the years, including serving 16 years on the Victorville City Council and as mayor.
• Arlene Francis Spinuzzi, a 58-year-old former Apple Valley resident accused of diverting more than $400,000 of welfare funds intended for needy recipients, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
• Douglas Osborne, who dedicated himself to building one of the largest ostrich farms in the country, died July 23 at Victor Valley Community Hospital. He was 67.
• Ha-Rry Kim, 18, of Apple Valley, was recognized for volunteering 392 hours of her time at St. Joseph Health, St. Mary. Out of 45 volunteers, Kim was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to pursue her career as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
• After a yearlong review, the District Attorney’s office determined Mayor Pro Tem Rudy Cabriales broke state law when he voted on contracts that benefited his wife multiple times over the past decade. However, a letter from Deputy D.A. John Goritz, who oversees the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, stated that no action would be taken since the practice has stopped and there didn’t appear to be malicious intent.
• Deputies arrested Michael Jermaine Favors, 21, and Jesse Anatole Davis, 35, both of Victorville, for the shooting death of Britain Clayborn, 24, of Rancho Cucamonga, in the parking lot of DJ’s Sports Bar and Grill.
• The Route 66 International Festival 2012 attracted a little more than 5,000 people, disappointing organizers and businesses who expected a much bigger turnout.
• Matt Hom, a Victorville native, instantly launched himself into a category of elite hairstylists after winning the Wella Professionals North American Trend Vision competition in Los Angeles.
• Hundreds of Victor Valley College students began lining up as early as 2 a.m. in hopes of meeting with staffers at the financial aid office before the fall semester began. Many students were turned away every day only to return a second or third time.
• While closing out Oak Hills High School’s accounts from the 2011-12 school year, staff members came across $100,000 to $120,000 in Associated Student Body funds that were unaccounted for.
• Cheryl Zwarkowski, of Spring Valley Lake, completed the world’s toughest foot race — the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon — where competitors run from Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney.
• Parents, staff and students at Apple Valley Christian School were excited their campus finally had a home — even if it is across the river in Hesperia, for now.
• The Adelanto City Council voted 4-0 to approve a new lease guaranteeing the Mavericks will remain in Adelanto until at least 2015 and possibly as long as 2018.
• Willie James Lewis, a 52-year-old registered sex offender was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping a 16-year-old girl at a local motel.
• Victor Valley College received a $77,000 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to provide for public safety training.
• Academy of Academic Excellence and Victor Valley College graduate and University of California, Irvine, student Loren Salkin will be studying and teaching in Spain for a year through a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.
• One person was killed and four more injured after a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy rear-ended a Honda, sending that car into the path of a Mercedes.
• Joshua Newman-Gomez, of Victorville, took home first place at the L.A. County Fair in the beef category for his barbecued jalapeno-citrus beef ribs.
• A jury awarded more than $1 million to 136 Silver Lakes Vacation Club timeshare members who alleged the resort fraudulently imposed assessments to upgrade facilities.
• Jarod Maxwell, 14, a sophomore at Encore High School in Hesperia, was hit by a car and killed while skateboarding to class along Baldy Mesa Road.
• After six years of debate and delays, a split Victorville City Council gave the green light to a controversial Walmart Supercenter planned near the entrance to Spring Valley Lake.
• A daring rescuer dressed in a white collared shirt and tie was able to capture a suicidal teenage boy, risking his own life as San Bernardino County fire and sheriff’s officials executed a well-choreographed plan to save him from falling onto Interstate 15.
• Accompanied by Lynnae Franklin’s grandparents, Robert and Colleen Manghane, Midge Nicosia, the executive director of the Victor Valley Community Service Council, presented Franklin, 7, with a $1,000 check for taking first place in the Great Duck Race — a fundraiser that races toy ducks and donates its proceeds to programs that assist senior citizens.
• Victorville became the first city in the Victor Valley on Sept. 21, 1962. The city celebrated the 50th anniversary with a banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn. During the past half century, Victorville’s population has grown from 8,110 to more than 115,000.
• A 20-year-old Las Vegas man was sentenced to five years in state prison for killing Justin McGrory, a California Highway Patrol officer, while driving intoxicated with marijuana. Because of credits he earned awaiting trial in county jail, Rafael Garcia was released about 21⁄2 years after his arrest.
• The superintendent of Excelsior Charter School, Michael Hayhurst, resigned after making an off-color joke while working as a rodeo clown recently in San Luis Obispo.
• Francisco Xavier Nunez, 31, of Hesperia, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for kidnapping and robbing a stranger before killing the man.
• Sgt. William Land was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony at the Spring Valley Lake Country Club. Land was a Montford Point Marine from 1943 to 1946 and served throughout the South Pacific.
• An extensive repair and cleanup effort was undertaken in the wake of a collision, in which a car collided with a double-tanker carrying about 9,000 gallons of fuel. The crash claimed one man’s life and closed a stretch of Bear Valley Road for hours, as the collision set off several explosions and sent burning fuel rushing down both sides of the busy street.
• The abandoned building that once housed the popular Victorville nightclub Reflections burned to the ground after a fire that transients built to keep warm got out of control.
• Chubby Checker was the featured performer of the Seniors in the Know event sponsored by Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group at the High Desert Events Center, formerly known as the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds.
• The doors to one of the last remaining medical marijuana dispensaries in Hesperia were permanently locked, after owners of the High Desert Compassionate Collective were evicted.
• After smashing a 30-year-old state swimming record, people in the aquatic world were paying attention to young Max Dillon of Apple Valley.
• The Victor Valley Family Resource Center planned to address homelessness and emotional needs by transforming the former Hesperia Truss building into a homeless shelter and vocational training center.
• Sixteen Galileo Academy students were injured after a school bus tried to avoid a U-Haul truck and overturned.
• The Daily Press, which started as the Victor Press on Oct. 15, 1937, celebrated its 75th anniversary.
• Don Tucker, founder of the popular Huck Finn Jubliee, died after suffering a massive stroke.
• Multi-million dollar real estate broker Barbara Corcoran talked about her rise to success and her role on the television show “Shark Tank” during High Desert Opportunity in Victorville.
• La Verne Preparatory Academy will be the charter school transforming Desert Trails Elementary, winning the parent vote by a landslide and drawing cheers and hugs from the small crowd of parents and children gathered just outside the school.
• Cesar Antonio Vazquez, 20, of Lucerne Valley, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, Damian Negrete, to death in front of other children.
• The SASS club, Socially Aware Serrano Students, is a club at Serrano High School that creates events aimed at raising awareness for a variety of social concerns, from suicide prevention, to homelessness, to services for veterans and seniors.
• Miko Hughes grew up in front of movie cameras. Now he has gotten his first turn behind one. The 26-year-old actor, who grew up in Apple Valley, directed a segment in an upcoming program for the Chiller TV network.
• The Lopez family received a home mortgage-free through Operation Homefront and Chase Bank. Antonio Lopez Sr. was an Army sergeant and was wounded by an IED blast while serving in Iraq.
• Four children were injured Halloween night after a patrol unit from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Victorville station crashed into a vehicle carrying trick-or-treaters.
• Victorville resident Julie Cervera claimed a $23 million lottery jackpot after the winning ticket languished in her car’s glove compartment for months and almost expired.
• The late Domitilio Lucero, a POW during World War II, was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star in a ceremony held in Newberry Springs.
• The Devore Fire burned more than 350 acres on both sides of Interstate 15 north of Kenwood Avenue, shutting down the entire interstate for hours amid hot and windy firefighting conditions, causing extreme delays for commuters.
• In the major local elections, Republican Paul Cook took an early lead in San Bernardino County to become congressman for the 8th District; Robert Lovingood was named San Bernardino County 1st District supervisor; Edgar “Ed” Camargo and Jermaine Wright Sr. took two open Adelanto City Council seats; former Fire Chief Art Bishop and local businessman Larry Cusack jumped to commanding leads for two Apple Valley Town Council seats; Eric Schmidt and incumbent Mike Leonard took Hesperia City Council seats and Jim Cox, Gloria Garcia and Ryan McEachron secured three open seats on the Victorville City Council.
• San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops announced he would retire after 34 years working for the county.
• Lauren Potter, 22, who plays Becky Jackson on the hit TV show ‘Glee,’ spoke at Riverside Preparatory Middle School about bullying during a Mistreatment Awareness Assembly in Oro Grande.
• A bomb threat at Silverado High School left teachers, students and parents in a state of confusion after they were told the hour-and-a-half lockdown was a “drill.”
• A war memorial cross that once stood on a rocky hilltop in the Mojave National Preserve before being deemed unconstitutional and ordered removed was resurrected on Veterans Day at the stunningly stark Mojave Desert site, capping a landmark case for veterans fighting similar battles on public lands.
• Lucerne Valley Market and Hardware president Ernie Gommel died Nov. 10 due to complications from a bladder infection, his daughter said. He was 91.
• Brandon Shinnamon, 17, of Spring Valley Lake, took up cheerleading three years ago. He has since been selected to compete in ‘The Majors,’ considered to be the country’s toughest and most prestigious cheer competition.
• Beer connoisseurs rejoiced as a new microbrewery, Oak Hills Brewery, opened its doors for business.
• Students in Kelli Valencia’s culinary arts class at Victor Valley High School earned school credits by preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, an endeavor that served two purposes: Feeding the needy and teaching about the inner-workings of a busy and fully functional kitchen.
• Eight-year-old Dominic Cumo, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was named an honorary firefighter for the Apple Valley Fire Protection District.
• The newly expanded Adelanto Detention Center, which will be able to hold 2,100 inmates and is set to open in November, boasts MRSA-resistant paint on its walls, a new kitchen and a new booking facility.
• Actor Tom Hanks watched his nephew’s football team lose in the California Interscholastic Federation championship game held at Victor Valley College between Excelsior Charter School and Ojai’s Thacher High School.
• After months of battling cancer and losing her hair, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Marie Spain went to her stylist to have her head buzzed. When Capt. Lana Tomlin of the Apple Valley sheriff’s station found out, she suggested a hair shaving party in a show of support.
• Mixed martial arts fighter James Wilks, of the Ultimate Fighter Championship, visited Carmel Elementary School in Hesperia, offering encouraging tips to students about living a healthy lifestyle.
• The California Wellness Association awarded Apple Valley resident Michael Cummings with the California Peace Prize, an award meant to showcase his actions in preventing crime.
• Anton Yelchin, best known for his starring role as Pavel Chekov in JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek,” rolled into Old Town Victorville with a group of nearly 80 to shoot a portion of the movie “Broken Horses,” which is set to be released this year.
• Apple Valley native Jason Oles was cast as part of the new Broadway Rock of Ages production premiering soon in Las Vegas.
• Jim Cox was named the mayor of Victorville, with Ryan McEachron named mayor pro tem. The Hesperia City Council appointed Bill Holland as mayor, with Thurston “Smitty” Smith selected as mayor pro tem. Curt Emick will be at the helm as Apple Valley mayor in 2013, along with newly seated council member Art Bishop as mayor pro tem.
• Octavio Romero, 46, of Riverside, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus another 25 years, after he was convicted of killing two business associates in 1991.
• Garrett Leonardo Alarid, an 18-year-old Victor Valley College student, shot and killed himself on campus.
• William Lewis, a 26-year-old Phelan man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the double homicide of his girlfriend and her unborn baby in March 2010.
• Kellie Sue Hughes was killed and two others were taken to area hospitals after Ilich Ernesto Vargas — who was under the influence of drugs at the time — drove north for at least 6 miles on southbound Interstate 15 and collided head on with a car near Bear Valley Road.
• The Barstow courthouse will close in May as part of ongoing cost reduction measures, the San Bernardino County Superior Court announced. Criminal and family law cases in Barstow will be sent to Victorville, while civil and juvenile cases in Victorville and Barstow will be transferred to courthouses down the Cajon Pass.
• Academy for Academic Excellence students Kyle Rodriguez, Cori McFadden, Dena McFadden and Ashley Bergstrom, all part of the Air Force Junior ROTC program, received nominations by U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
• Hesperia Mayor Bill Holland spoke during the grand opening ceremony of Cinema West’s new Civic Plaza 12 theater. The 12-screen theater features two 60-foot-wide screens, reserved seating and is in the process of opening a cafe that will serve beer and wine.
• A contract for Christopher O’Hearn, president of Victor Valley College, was not renewed during an emergency meeting called by the board of trustees.
• Morgan White, who won a bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, came to the High Desert Acrobrats gym in Victorville to critique the gym’s competition team, which is traveling to Hawaii to compete in a national competition.
• During a highly charged emergency meeting, Victor Valley Union High School District’s Board of Directors approved sending out preliminary layoff notices to 80 employees.
• One of Victorville’s most influential women, Jean DeBlasis, died quietly in her sleep on Dec. 16 at her home in Kemper Campbell Ranch.
• Assistant Sheriff John McMahon was unanimously appointed as the next sheriff of San Bernardino County.
• The trustees of the Hesperia Unified School District ousted their longtime Superintendent Mark McKinney without cause at an emergency board meeting.
• After traveling all over the world for the past 20 years, ORBIS International’s Flying Eye Hospital sat outside a hangar at Southern California Logistics Airport, while a Victorville aerospace company prepared to assemble its $62 million successor in January.
• Sgt. Mark Hammers, who has served in the Army National Guard since he graduated from high school, had been stationed in Kuwait since February. His wife, Marlena, knew he was coming home a bit early and arranged for their children, 5 and 7 years old, to be surprised on their last day of school before winter break. photo
• On the one-week anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, retired Navy sailor Nicholas Varela stood guard at Baldy Mesa Elementary School in Phelan to show children they are safe.
• John Morris, who works at Desert Valley Hospital as a registered nurse in the emergency room, had lived 10 years in Ghana, trained nurses in the West African country where he said real ICUs used to be almost non-existent. He and his wife also established an orphanage, which houses more than 100 children today. For his accomplishments, the 66-year-old was named one of the five finalists in the Hospital Association of Southern California’s Hospital Hero contest.
• Local residents Tim Adell, Joyce Applegarth, Marty Ellingsen, Jaime Flores, Audrey Hovannesian, Nancy Miller, Shirley Ann Poole, Marcy Taylor, Deborah Torres and Rose Villar were nominated as Daily Press Persons of the Year for making a difference in 2012.