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Chapter Two

"Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
~ Isaiah 40:3 ~

Twin Yucca sat in the heart of Southern California's Mojave Desert, just off Highway Sixty-two. The earliest recorded homesteader in Twin Yucca was Silas Graham, circa 1900, who, upon digging a well, claimed it was drier on the bottom than on the top. At the end of World War II, more and more people made Twin Yucca their home, bumping the population from the high hundreds to the low thousands, a boom by Twin Yucca standards. Over the ensuing years, the numbers evened out, it's neighboring cities easily outstripping the small community in terms of citizens and attractions. To the left of Twin Yucca, lay Yucca Valley, and to the right, Joshua Tree, both popular with tourists. In between them, lay Twin Yucca, just a tiny way-point on the map.

Twin Yucca was a settled community, the last census placing fifty percent of it's population over the age of sixty. This made Twin Yucca resemble more a retirement community than a city. With so many retired people in the vicinity, businesses had a reasonable chance to stay in business, and to cater to the occasional stray tourist. Brad Weiss, President of the Chamber of Commerce, predicted that any time now, some big developer would remodel their sleepy community into an "oasis of prosperity and opportunity." That speech always got a rise of excitement from the younger fifty percent of the population. Of course, Mr. Weiss had been saying that every year for ten years, but it never seemed to matter.

A popular gathering place in Twin Yucca was Hanna's Family Restaurant, open from six in the morning to nine at night, Monday through Saturday, and never on Sundays. Other businesses included a small motel, Clark Plumbing Service and Supply, Logan's Garden Nursery, and a convenience store, which had the only gas to be found until Joshua Tree further up Highway Sixty-two.

Every business operates on a common principal: to make money. One class of business, that many people take for granted as a right, are nursing homes. In 1996, a nursing home in Twin Yucca came under the scrutiny of the city council. The owners of the nursing home apparently cared little for the "quality care" they had promised to give their residents. The list of neglect was long. Even so, negligence was not what caught the attention of the city council. The owners had applied for and received a permit for a residential care facility. The permit was for senior citizens only. Over the preceding years, the nursing home also admitted residents who were mentally ill, in violation with the "use permit" issued by the city. After two years of appeals, and failures to meet the requirements, the facility was forced to shut down. The residents were sent to other nursing homes, and the building sat empty.

It is a well known fact among the medical profession that care for the elderly is in a state of crisis. As the Baby Boom generation ages, this crisis will reach epic proportions, or so the Twin Yucca newspaper said in an article published one month after the closing of the only nursing facility in, or near, Twin Yucca. Since over half the population was over the age of sixty, this issue received spotlight attention. The reporter who wrote the article was swamped with letters and phone calls, all petitioning the city council for a local nursing home.

Among the first to jump into the health care spotlight was Mia Wilson, a woman who had her sights set on the mayor's seat. She had been on the city council for five years and had decided it was time to climb higher.

With Mia Wilson leading the way, a plan was proposed to fund the home by the citizens of Twin Yucca, making it a community nursing home. There was one sticking point, however. A community nursing home would mean higher taxes. Even the older fifty percent didn't like that thought. Mrs. Wilson was just about to lose her spotlight, when someone bought the vacant nursing facility.

The city council, who had just spent two years trying to vacate the last owners, were slow to believe that the new ones would be any different. Even so, the new owners attended the planning commission meeting to get approval from the city, as the law required.

continued on next page...
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