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Animal-Lovers Unite, Save Dogs from Hurricane

A South Carolina woman who was planning to ride out Hurricane Florence because she couldn’t evacuate with her seven rescue dogs has found a way out.

Palm Springs radio host, Kate Zenna was reading the news Wednesday when she saw CNN reported on Christine Meinhold’s dilemma.

An adopted dog-owner herself, Zenna decided she couldn’t stand back without doing something to help. She reached out to Meinhold on Facebook who said she needed a car.

A teacher in New York, Trudy Schilder, also wanted to help.

“I said we can’t let this happen, there’s just got to be something we can do,” Schilder said.

Them and other animal-lovers across the country got to work. The word started getting out and resources started flowing in.

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Zenna said about 16 people across the US coordinated on Facebook chat and donated to help Meinhold evacuate with her dogs. Initially, the group planned to purchase a 2009 Dodge Journey with the help of a generous single $5,200 donation, Zenna said, but some obstacles stood in her way.

“She gets to the dealership later that morning with her money, we were ready to pay, it was all going to be over the phone and the guy could not show up at the dealership because he was already in an evacuation zone,” Zenna said. “He couldn’t get there.”

One of the helpers recommended they use U-haul.

“Of course, all of the U-hauls are closed, everything around there was done, it was yesterday [Thursday] at noon,” Zenna said. “Except for one.”

One U-haul was the saving grace that brought Meinhold and her passengers to safety. In a video chat with Zenna, she couldn’t thank her enough.

“I hope this turns into something really good, not just for us because it has been such a blessing, but to help other people that are in my position,” Meinhold said.

A small gesture that turned a rippling hurricane into a ripple effect of kindness.

Move towards 100% renewable energy consumption promises more jobs

Evan Sanders carefully pressed some buttons prompting a power grid to expand its solar panels and showcase some small fans designed to test wind powers. This top notch technology that students at College of the Desert (COD) have access to.

Sanders graduated from COD four months ago. He is 21 years old, and he is already working after completing a certificate in heating ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration. He described his job as “quite interesting.”

“Not many people now about it,” Sanders said. “The job will always be there, so if you know how to do it, you’ll always be wanted, you’ll always be needed.”

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 100 into law. This is an ambitious goal Brown has set for California by aiming to be completely powered with renewable energy by 2045. This bill was introduced by California Senator Kevin de Leon.

In order to help students graduating from COD more competitive for the job market, instructors like Ramiro Galicia are working to have access to modern technology and creating hands on curriculum.

“With this bill that just passed, that’s just going to be more fuel for us to help and do research to show that we need to change our policy,” Galicia said.

Galicia said the introduction of SB100 is an important move to close the gap between supply and demand.

“It’s going to provide an incentive to actually hire more students that are trained at College of the Desert,” Galicia said.  

For those who are already in the business like Renova Energy, the move towards this more eco-friendly measure in California promises growth and expansion.

“At Renova we have over 160 employees now with the addition of moving towards more solar, we’ll double in size over the next few years,” Battaglia said.

Galicia said SB100 will also help colleges around the state who offer technical careers to expand their curriculum in order to satisfy the job demand. Renova Energy has employed students graduating from COD’s solar energy program.

“SB100 is the beginning of one of the largest state funded jobs program that the United States has ever seen before,” Battaglia said.

Sanders said he plans to pursue more certificates at College of the Desert to better prepare himself for the workforce.

Church in Mecca prepares festival to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month

El Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe, a Catholic church in Mecca is hosting its inaugural festival to celebrate the independence of Mexico and several Latin American countries.

Father Francisco Valdovinos, the pastor of El Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe, said it is important to bring unity among Latinos in the Coachella Valley especially during this important national holiday.

“To get together as one community and to celebrate our unity,” Father Valdovines said. “To have our people together with music and food.”

Although there is a large Mexican population in the East Valley, this church is welcoming all Central and South Americans in the Coachella Valley. The plan is to commemorate the independence day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, which is on September 15. Mexico’s independence day is on September 16,  and Chile’s is on September 18.

Alfonso Gonzalez is a parishioner and is one of the organizers of the festival.

“We are trying to unite and fusion our cultures,” Gonzalez said. “Not just us Mexicans but rather celebrate with the Salvadoran, the Guatemalan, the Central Americans so they can feel that this is their town too.”

Gonzalez said another goal of the festival is to help fund raise money to build classrooms for catechism classes.

Lilia Sanchez was outside the church selling some traditional garments, and she said she is excited to show off her own dresses this coming weekend.

“I’m proud of wearing my traditional dresses,” Sanchez said. “It’s important to remember where we come from. We are rich in tradition and culture.”

Organizers said there will be all sorts of activities including traditional Mexican folk dances, mariachi performances, and dances with horses.College of the desert’s mexican folk ballet is one of the dance troupes scheduled to perform. Of course, there will be plenty of food to choose from!

The event will take place on Saturday September 15 from 11 am to 10 pm, and on Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Mass times will not change during this coming weekend.

Father Valdovinos said this festival is a way of passing along the rich history and culture that characterizes Latin and Central America.

Mural empowers Latino Queer Youth

Each brushstroke on a mural showcased at the Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs carries a special meaning for queer youth in the Coachella Valley. The Aztec mythology behind each carefully chosen figure is a step towards cultural and sexual self acceptance.

Ryan Llamas is a community health educator at Desert AIDS Project and worked closely with the 30 teens ranging between 14 and 21 years old. The participants painted the mural during a summer camp organized by Desert AIDS Project and Safe Schools Desert Cities.

“The participants, which were mostly Latino teens that they can get some touch with their heritage as well as a way of using their past to express their present,” Llamas said.

The mural connects Latino gender non-conforming teens with their indigenous heritage, which dates back to pre-colonial times.

“It is important that we as Latinos, Chicanos, Mexicanos that we know our past,” he said.

During that summer camps, LGBTQ teens across the Coachella Valley participated in a series of workshops including one about art therapy.

“I gave them a couple of Mexican codices, which are pre-Hispanic almanacs,” Llamas said.

The campers added some of their own creations. The mural has a sun rising from the east and a bear symbolizing the Ursa constellation in the northern sky.

“They took imagery out of there and created their own special rainbow bunny,” he said when describing a rabbit figure holding the LGBTQ flag.   

As a central piece of the mural, Llamas and other program leaders decided to include the twin Aztec gods Xochipilli and Xochiquetzal. The two are believed to be Gods that manifest themselves in those who are artists and gender non-conforming. The presence of  Xochipilli and Xochiquetzal served as a friendly reminder that even Aztec gods explored their sexuality.

“For transgender or gender non conforming or queer kids that they can see that in their own culture, the way they express themselves is not only okay, but it’s celebrated,” Llamas said.   

The mural will be on display at Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs until November.

Father Speaks Up for Suicide Prevention

World Suicide Prevention Day is a day organized by the World Health Organization to raise awareness and start a conversation about the topic. A Palm Desert father speaks up to share his story.

Dave Muth lost his daughter to suicide almost three years ago come October but he explains how the loss sparked his passion to help those struggling in the valley and across America.

“When Madeline died, she wrote a note, and the last line of that note said, ‘Go out to be the person to make a difference. Save someone.’”

Ever since her death, Muth wears the bracelet which reads, ‘Make a difference, save someone,’ in remembrance of his daughter.

“She was open about her struggles and people felt safe about sharing their stories with her,” he said.

Madeline was the first Celebration of Life speaker at the awareness walk in Palm Desert.

A few weeks later, the darkness crept back in. She took her life after suffering from depression since 11-years-old.

“There was a day that she lost hope, she was two weeks shy of her 20th birthday.”

Coming up on three years since her death, Muth has become heavily involved in suicide awareness and prevention.

“It started out as coordinating the walk and it has evolved,” he said. “I am now a board member with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and I do a lot of advocacy work.”

Muth travels to Sacramento and Washington D.C. to advocate for the passage of bills that will help prevent suicide. The most recent is HR 2345. The bill would eventually make the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline three numbers, similar to 9-1-1.

“People will have that readily available and know what it is so that in a mental health crisis or if they are looking for resources, it’s a simple number to call.”

One step of many, aimed at making his angel proud.

“Madeline would be proud of me. I’m sure she’s smiling down at me and what I’ve done and continue to do,” he said. “I would’ve never ever considered doing such a thing but in her honor, I’m doing this to help others who may be feeling what she felt.”

As Madeline would say: Make a difference today. Save someone.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

College of the Desert campuses are now smoke free

Fall 2018 just kicked off at College of the Desert (COD). The school is not only welcoming incoming freshmen, it is also introducing a policy where all smoking, vaping, and all tobacco and cannabis products are banned.

The conversation about making all campuses smoke free started earlier this year.

Arturo Delgado is the president of Associated Students of College of the Desert, and one of the proponents of making campuses across the Coachella Valley smoke free.

“The associated student government, we sent a survey to all students through email that way they could input on whether they wanted it,” Delgado said. “The great majority of them wanted a smoke free campus, and that’s what lead us to change the board policy.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for College of the Desert said that at the request of the students push for the initiative “the Board of Trustees in July adopted a policy making College of the Desert a smoke- and tobacco-free college.”

Alexis Gonzalez is a freshman in a pre-nursing track at COD, and he said he is happy that his school is making this change.

I think it’s a major step that COD is finally have a smoke free environment because a better environment for us as students also means improvements in the classrooms,” Gonzalez said.

For many students, community college is a transitioning point for those who hope to transfer to a 4-year university. That is the case for Annie Hollins, a freshman studying psychology, who thinks it is better to keep substances away from campus.

“I think most colleges should be a smoke free zone especially community ones because you come here to learn and to study, get your credits, to graduate,” she said.    

The only times smoking will be allowed on campus will be during approved theatrical performances or rehearsals where smoking is determined to be an integral part of these activities.

College of the Desert is in a period of transition as they switch over to being a smoke free campus. As of today, there are no any smoking areas on campus anymore. If students are seen smoking, they will be reminded that COD is now a smoke free campus.

Dalilah Rodriguez is an incoming freshman studying finance. While she thinks having a smoke free campus is a positive change, she still has some reservations.

“I think it is a good idea, but at the same time I don’t think it should be the school’s responsibility to stop kids from smoking,” she said. “It should be the student’s responsibility to smoke and if they want to they should be allowed to.”   

According to COD, “students have been notified of the new policy via emails and literature. They have also been provided helpful information about how to quit smoking.”

The no smoking policy applies to all activities taking place on all campuses including the weekend street fair that takes place at the Palm Desert campus.

Big Rock Pub Hosts SoCal Coyotes, Local Legends Tribute

(PALM DESERT) – Big Rock Pub & Golf will honor the five-time champion SoCal Coyotes Thursday, September 6, at 5 p.m., with a season-opening ‘local legends’ tribute, mingling retired local NFL celebrities with the up-and-coming prospects of America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program™.

The event was featured today on KMIR’s ‘Desert Living’ show, hosted by Guy Farris (far left). He was joined by Big Rock’s Lisa Morgan, Coyote head coach J David Miller, and quarterback Michael Karls.

The trio discussed Saturday’s upcoming showdown with The Bulldogs of San Diego in the Ronald McDonald Kickoff Classic. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Shadow Hills Stadium.

Thursday’s event is open to the public, and fans are encouraged to come by for pictures and autographs with their favorite Coyote. Big Rock is a Coyote corporate partner and also home to the Coyote Club post-game celebrations.

The Coyotes are riding a 27-game win streak that dates back to 2015. In 2017, the ‘Yotes became the first football team at any level in the modern era to not surrender a single point en route to their fifth championship, outscoring opponents 349-0.

All proceeds from Saturday’s game will go to support the Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House.

-SVP Ron DiGrandi (

“Lady Liberty” Ignites Attention in Morongo Valley

It’s the Statue of Liberty, with a twist. A traveling artistic creation is causing a stir in Morongo Valley. The artist, Christopher James, creates abstract art throughout the valley.

This piece coined “Lady Liberty” is special because of its distinct meaning and message. From head to toe James crafted her with scrap metal welded together, similar to some other pieces he’s done in the past.

Lady Liberty is different. Instead of holding a torch and a book of law, his rendition is holding a machine gun and a book reading “in guns we trust.” Pictures and videos are igniting a conversation on social media.

“Different people have been getting different interpretations,” he said. “But freedom isn’t free. That’s pretty much what I’m going to stick with.”

The location of the statue is home to Morongo Valley Realty as well. One realtor, Jeff Clark, said he’s an art-lover himself and appreciates the business it’s bringing to the area but the company told James to move it off its property.

Located directly on 29 Palms Highway, it’s impossible for passing cars to miss the art. Therefore, many cars are stopping to take a closer look.

“I’m in to art, I like controversial pieces and this is going to be one of them,” Blaine Bates, a Palm Springs Resident who traveled to see Lady Liberty, said.

Some reactions have been positive, some negative, but James said it’s all in the name of art. The piece costs $19,000, he said.

“It’s not a political piece, I’m not a political artist. It’s just more of a human rights statement,” James said.

As the landmark gains more attention, James said Lady Liberty might be going on tour soon. For now, he’s just hoping she brings in business for the art shop, Hippie Chickens, next door.

How did a furry friend become Mayor of Idyllwild?

Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller II, better known by his constituents in Idyllwild as Mayor Max,  is the kind of guy everyone wants to be friends with. He might not have much experience in politics, but he can sure pull off a checkered tie and do all sorts of tricks for a treat. The Mayor of Idyllwild is a friendly, furry golden retriever.

Mayor Max has been in office for five years, but the first mayor was his uncle also named Max and also a golden retriever.

Back in 2012, the town of Idyllwild held mayor elections for the first time. In order to qualify, the candidate had to be a local resident, but not a human, it had to be a pet.

Mayor Max’s chief of staff, Phyllis Mueller, ran for office with the help of the first Mayor Max.

“In a voted election, 14 dogs and 2 cats ran, and we decided  to have an election to raise money for the animal rescue, so you paid a dollar a vote and you were encouraged to vote a lot,” Mueller said.

In a landslide victory, the first Mayor Max was elected. However, he passed away in 2013, so the town voted for Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller II, who was only a puppy at the time.

“His role is to make the world a better place by conveying unconditional love and doing as many good deeds for others,” she said when describing Mayor Max’s role. Mayor Max agreed with a bark.

Of course that running a town can be a handful for a dog, so that is when Mueller’s role comes handy.

“My role as the chief of staff is to help run the vision of the mayor’s office for Idyllwild, so we actually run an actual mayor’s office,” she said.

The two make public appearances every day, and they usually bring along Mayor Max’s deputies, who are also golden retrievers. They attend fundraisers, charity events and community gatherings. This has become one Idyllwild’s biggest attractions.

Andrea Valadez and her son Octavio Osuna come travel to Idyllwild a couple times a year. The two expressed how much they love the mayor.

“Max is awesome,” Valadez said. “He is super friendly and he lets my son give him treats.”

Mayor Max will hold his ceremonial role for his lifetime. For now, Mueller will continue giving away the mayor’s business cards and small stuffed animals that look just like the mayor.

“The mayor makes people happy,” Mueller said.

Some Indio Residents Wake-up to Brown Water Coming out Faucet

Several residents of Indio woke up to brown water coming out of their faucets and showers, prompting viewers to submit photos into the newsroom.

The photos show a bath-tub filled with brown water as well as a couple of sinks that show water with a yellow tint.

Through a statement the Indio Water Authority said it is aware some customers in the South Jackson Street caused by stirred sediment from a well that was put back into service.

The General Manager of the Indio Water Authority, Brian Macy, said it is routine to alternate between 20 wells, but he said it is the first time he has seen yellow water come out of the faucets in seven years.

He said customers who are affected can clear the, “water by running the cold tap for a minutes; if doesn’t clear the first time, wait a few minutes and run the water again.”

He said the discoloration of the water does not pose any hazards to public health, however the Indio Water Authority said it resolved the issues on Thursday evening.

The latest statement from the Indio Water Authority said, “Indio Water Authority crews have resolved the temporary discoloration of water near Jackson Street and Avenue 50. The discoloration of water was caused by sediment when a well was put back into service.”