Spelling Bee Champion Carries on Family Tradition

MORENO VALLEY (CNS) – A Corona-Norco Unified School District seventh- grader Thursday claimed the championship title in Riverside County’s 45th Spelling Bee, extending his family’s ownership of the local top speller mantle for the seventh time. Avijeet Randhawa correctly spelled “forbs,” a plant species, to win the bee and advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where he will represent the county. Avijeet endured multiple rounds over three hours to beat out his competition and become the third person in his family to claim top honors in the countywide bee, which was held Thursday at the Moreno Valley Conference & Recreation Center. “One of the hardest words was `forbs,’ because that first sound in Greek is usually `ph,”‘ he said. “But then I remembered about five months ago, my sister quizzed me on it, and we went over it because it was an exception.” The Auburndale Intermediate School student said he followed his two older sisters’ advice not to feel “anxious … to keep on breathing, focus, and no mater what, keep on going.” “The moment when I was most nervous, I could feel my

Man Suspected of Stealing over a Half-Dozen Travel Trailers in Temecula Area

MURRIETA (CNS) – Felony charges are expected to be filed Friday against a 32-year-old man suspected of stealing multiple travel trailers from businesses throughout southwest Riverside County. Jessie Villalpando of Lake Elsinore was arrested and booked into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta Tuesday night on suspicion of vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. Villalpando is being held on $40,000 bail. The case is under review by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. According to sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Hephner, on March 8, deputies were sent to a storage facility in the 44600 block of Pechanga Parkway in Temecula to investigate the theft of a 2021 Forest River travel trailer. Witnesses described a heavyset man in a white pickup hitching up and driving away with the trailer, Hephner said. He said that investigators soon learned of similar thefts over the previous over month at the same site, resulting in the three other travel trailers being taken. “Through investigative leads and video surveillance, (investigators) positively identified the suspect in each incident as Villalpando,” Hephner said. “The suspect vehicles primarily utilized during the thefts were determined to

Palm Springs VillageFest to Host 31st Birthday Community Bash Thursday evening

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – Palm Springs VillageFest will host a community bash featuring free cupcakes and live music Thursday evening to celebrate its 31st birthday. VillageFest board members and city officials will distribute cupcakes on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way at 6 p.m. Thursday, Palm Springs communications director Amy Blaisdell said in a statement. The cupcakes will be distributed while supplies last. Blaisdell said that attendees can also enjoy live entertainment and the weekly street fair throughout the evening. VillageFest runs every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Palm Canyon Drive between Baristo and Amado Roads, according to Blaisdell. During the summer, the street fair runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. More information can be found at villagefest.org. Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

CVUSD Urges Locals To Conserve Water Despite Rainy Conditions

California’s drought has left reservoirs and other water sources at lower levels than before, but if the rainy season continues, it could potentially help out with drought conditions. “It’s been actually great to see so much rain and all the rain events because it is helping to refill those reservoirs.” says Lorraine Garcia, the Communication Manager and PIO for Coachella Valley Water District. California has been in a drought several years now, reservoirs are at historic lows. This year’s rainy season is helping turn things around, the Coachella Valley Water District brings us water from several sources including groundwater, recycled water and imported water from the state’s water project. “…. And we use that water to replenish the water that we use from our groundwater basin for our customers.” Garcia says. All of the rain here in the valley helps but we’re still in a drought and the state still faces some big decisions. “The state is considering many things, including the reservoir levels and the snowpack in the Sierras. So once they make a decision that will go out to all the agencies you

One Person in Custody Following Armed Altercation at Business in Palm Desert

PALM DESERT (CNS) – An altercation broke out Thursday at a Palm Desert business involving a person armed with a gun and another person, resulting in an arrest. Deputies responded around 1 p.m. to a business in the 72000 block of Highway 111 to a report of a physical altercation, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Deirdre Vickers told City News Service. Vickers said that one person involved was armed with a handgun and fled the location before deputies arrived. “Out of an abundance of caution, deputies evacuated the business and conducted a search for victims or additional suspects; none were located,” Vickers told CNS. “A firearm was recovered inside the business, and the suspect was located and taken into custody.” It was unclear where deputies found the suspect, who was not immediately identified. No injuries were reported, Vickers said. No other suspects were outstanding. Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

Family Sues County, Sheriff over Drug Overdose Death of Inmate

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The family of an inmate who died while in custody at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta is federally suing Riverside County and Sheriff Chad Bianco over what the plaintiffs allege were civil rights violations because the defendant did not receive appropriate treatment. The family of 29-year-old Richard Matus Jr. is seeking unspecified damage awards and other concessions from the county and the sheriff’s department stemming from his death on Aug. 11, 2022. The plaintiffs and their attorneys plan to speak at a news conference in front of U.S. District Court in downtown Riverside Friday morning. “This action seeks to bring to public light the deliberate disregard for safety and protection carried out by the individual defendants in this action,” according to the 50-page civil suit. It lists a range of causes, largely based on alleged violations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires equal treatment under the law. However, there are also allegations of breaches of the California Civil Code, deprivations tied to alleged medical negligence and policy malfeasance. Neither the county or sheriff’s officials immediately responded to

Six Hurt in Two-Vehicle Collision on Banning Street

BANNING (CNS) – Six people were injured Thursday in a two-vehicle wreck in Banning. The collision happened just after 9 a.m. in front of 160 W. Nicolet St., roughly a half-mile north of Interstate 10, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The agency said that multiple engine crews were sent to the location and found two vehicles smashed together in the middle of the two-lane road. It was not immediately clear how the collision occurred. Occupants of both vehicles were injured. Five victims were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, while the sixth victim was transported for treatment of moderate injuries, according to the fire department. None of the parties was identified. Banning police officers were investigating the crash. Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

Riverside County Gas Prices Declining

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Riverside County dropped nine-tenths of a cent Thursday to $4.786. The average price is 5.5 cents less than one week ago, 5.4 cents more than one month ago, and $1.116 lower than one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It has dropped $1.587 since rising to a record $6.373 on Oct. 5, 2022. The national average price rose two-tenths of a cent to $3.438. It is 2.6 cents less than one week ago, 4.5 cents more than one month ago, and 79.9 cents less than one year ago. The national average price has dropped $1.578 since rising to a record $5.016 on June 14. “The broad concern over recent failures of the U.S. and global banking system has put enough downward pressure on oil prices that we saw a reprieve in rising gasoline prices in the national average last week, but it may be temporary in nature, and is unlikely to be a long lasting trend,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis

Procession Planned for Fallen Army Paratrooper

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A seasoned U.S. Army airborne trooper who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was killed in a parachuting exercise while rehearsing with the famed Golden Knights will be returned home Thursday, with organizers of his procession asking the public to join in honoring him. Master Sgt. Michael “Ty” Kettenhofen, 37, of Orange was fatally injured on March 13 during a practice jump at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. The parachute instructor, who was selected for the Army’s Golden Knights in 2020, was on a practice jump when he suffered the fatal fall, according to military officials. No other details were available. “The U.S. Army Parachute Team is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own,” said Lt. Col. Andy Moffit, the Golden Knights Parachute Team commander. “Ty Kettenhofen was loved, admired and respected by all those who knew him for his sense of humor, joy of life and accomplishments as a senior non-commissioned officer and demonstration parachutist. “Our hearts and faith are with his family and friends as we grieve and heal with them. Ty will be honored and

Person Extricated From Traffic Collision Involving 3 Big Rigs on I – 10

WHITEWATER (CNS) – A person was extricated from a vehicle Thursday in a traffic collision involving three big rigs on Interstate 10 near Whitewater. Officers responded to Interstate 10 near Haughen Lehmann Way at 8:05 a.m. to a report of one semi truck that rear-ended another, according to the California Highway Patrol. According to the Riverside County Fire Department, fire crews responded shortly after to extricate a person. A spokesperson with the agency told City News Service that the person was taken to a local hospital. CHP officials said that the collision involved three big rigs. It issued SigAlert at 8:21 a.m. for three lanes as road debris was cleaned up. The alert was expected to be in place for about 90 minutes. Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

UPDATED: Fire Damages Two Abandoned Hotel Buildings in Desert Hot Springs

DESERT HOT SPRINGS (CNS) – Firefighters Thursday extinguished fires in two abandoned hotel buildings in Desert Hot Springs. The fires were reported about 6:39 a.m. at Fifth Street and Ocotillo Road, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. One fire was contained by about 8 a.m., and the second fire was contained a short time afterward, the fire department reported. Investigators were working to determine the cause of the fires. Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.