Marines to speak at Jan. 8 LVEDA meeting

By KRIS REILLY, Editor

The U.S. Marine Corps has confirmed that it will send a representative to the next meeting of the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association on Jan. 8 to discuss the Twentynine Palms base expansion.

The meeting follows the Marines’ last informational meeting on Dec. 14 in Johnson Valley, which featured a visit from Congressman-elect Paul Cook.

The upcoming meeting will be held at the Senior Center in Lucerne Valley (behind the library and just west of the BMX track) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Major Valerie Hodgson will speak to the audience about the current status of the base expansion.

Hodgson was also present at the Johnson Valley meeting on Dec. 14, which was attended by several stakeholders from the area and representatives of the annual King of the Hammers race.

Cook, a former Marine who won the area’s Congressional seat in November, will be among those who could vote on the expansion when the plan is sent to Congress next year.

Cook has stated publicly that he would prefer an eastward expansion of the base, which would not interfere with the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area — one of the world’s premier off-roading destinations.

Roger Peterson, a Lucerne Valley resident and Municipal Advisory Council member who attended the meeting, said Cook seemed to understand the issues and the potential economic impact on Lucerne Valley.

Cook also took a special ride: A rock buggy took him up one of the famously treacherous Hammer Trails — an experience the incoming Congressman seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

“When he got out (of the buggy), he had a huge smile on his face,” Peterson said.