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December 15 , 2019

Town Halls, affordable housing on Council agenda

Selecting Town Hall meeting dates, and purchasing the site of an affordable housing project are on the City Council agenda for its Monday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• Asking the Council to select dates for Town Hall meetings in South, Central and North Merced. The meetings are held annually to ask the public to provide comments on how the City is doing, what programs they are interested in the City providing and where they would like them provided.

• The Council is being asked to purchase from the County of Merced the 5 acres of property at Childs and B for a transit-oriented affordable housing project. The project would include 30 units of permanent supportive housing that is geared to help people experiencing homelessness.

• Also on the agenda, the Council will consider awarding a $359,311 contract using SB 1 funds for nine sidewalk projects around town to Witbro, Inc. The projects would replace damaged sidewalks, primarily in the South Merced area.


The Council will meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to confer with labor negotiators and for existing litigation.

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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December 15, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140 & AT 16TH STREET IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various full off-ramp closures on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) in Merced for landscape and irrigation work. Work will occur as follows;
• Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 East on Monday, December 16, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
• Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.


For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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December 12 , 2019

 

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE 6TH ANNUAL “VALLEY MADE” MANUFACTURING SUMMIT APRIL 21, 2020 FEATURING KEYNOTE SPEAKER JOHN SHEGERIAN

 

The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance Launches Summit with Expanded Opportunities to Connect Businesses to Resources, Jobs and Career Tech Training
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA...December 11, 2019… The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA) and the Fresno Business Council (FBC) are proud to announce the 6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit featuring keynote speaker Fresno-based John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI. More than 1,000 manufacturing industry attendees are expected to participate in the event to be held on Tuesday, April 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Registration is open by visiting www.sjvma.org. Also sponsorships and exhibit space are available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email (genelle@sjvma.org) or calling 559.214.0140.
The 6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is designed as a workshop and resource expo that celebrates the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce. At its core, the Summit promotes cross-sector collaboration aimed at creating a globally-competitive environment for the Valley’s manufacturing industry. After five years, the Summit has maintained continual growth yet the focus remains the same – building a future where Valley manufacturing thrives through innovative collaboration, engagement, and creating a culture that cultivates workers that are higher skilled and better educated.
“The goal of the SJVMA is to provide manufacturers with the needed resources and workforce connections to upscale and train existing employees for today’s automated technologies, and to attract the next generation workforce to grow the industry and region for a brighter future,” said Troy Brandt, Chairman of the Board for the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and General Manager at Hydratech. “We are proud to announce our keynote speaker, John Shegerian, whose address will complement the Summit’s goals by providing attendees invaluable takeaways on how to attract and retain effective employees and clients through good times and bad.”
John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, and the 2020 “Valley Made” Summit keynote speaker is a well-known entrepreneur in the manufacturing industry. He is a highly popular speaker both nationally and internationally, providing his expertise in the field to various media outlets, including TIME, The Wall Street Journal and many others. As an entrepreneur, Shegerian co-founded several organizations built on his philosophies of making the world a better place one business at a time, and of providing a second chance to those who are most in need. His philosophies have led him to run the largest electronic recycling company in the U.S. and one of the most successful student loan companies, among other ventures.
-more-
The 6th Annual Valley Made Manufacturing Summit - Page 2
Shegerian’s keynote address titled “C.A.R.E.: Culture Affects Retention & Earnings,” along with his expertise and infinite knowledge of topics including electronic recycling and cybersecurity will pave the way for the rest of the Summit’s breakout sessions that will be announced in 2020.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have been invited to address the attendees of the forthcoming ‘Valley Made’ Manufacturing Summit,” said Shegerian. “The Convention Center will be filled with the leading lights of the Central Valley’s manufacturing industry and many of my fellow local business leaders, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to share useful takeaways regarding positive culture team building and how to balance best employee retention practices and effective operations with growing a profitable enterprise.”
The SJVMA’s membership is made up of nearly 1,000 business leaders, partner groups and manufacturers from all sectors throughout the Valley. The San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 105,000 people. Nationally, the manufacturing industry is responsible for $2.38 trillion in GDP. It is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled due to baby-boomer retirements.
The Fresno Business Council and San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance
The Fresno Business Council (FBC) aims to create social and economic change which leaves a lasting impact on Fresno’s community, combining its collective passion and intellectual capital to form strategic solutions for local issues. The FBC’s CEO and Board take a leadership role in executing their strategies and have been the force behind major local initiatives involving education, land use, workforce development, and more. Among the many projects incubated and launched by the FBC is the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA), which provides support for local manufacturers through elevating the workforce pipeline, educating the public on the industry, building constructive relationships and hosting the “Valley Made” Summit; an annual conference for the San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry that is focused on creating a globally-competitive industry while celebrating its thriving business community.
6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit
The 6th Annual “Valley Made” Summit will be held on April 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall exclusively for the San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry. More than 1,000 attendees are expected at this signature annual event. Supported by the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, the “Valley Made” Summit consists of luncheon keynote by John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, multiple break-out sessions and exhibits from an array of businesses. Attendees from across the Valley come to the Summit to get to know regional companies, learn from major industry innovators, and make valuable and lasting connections. To learn more about this year’s event, visit sjvma.org





John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI,


Keynote Speaker Fresno-based John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI

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December 11 , 2019

FFA Initiates Holiday Giving Through Operation Christmas Child

Written by:: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

The holiday season is associated with “giving” and as a time to help others. A highlighted example of this spirit is Atwater High School’s FFA program that was originally inspired a few years ago by Atwater FFA graduate Amanda Skidmore who inspired and led the students at Atwater High School in “Operation Christmas Child. The program is coordinated through an organization called Samaritan’s Purse where school supplies, toys, and hygiene items are collected and placed in shoe boxes and distributed globally to impoverished countries.
“We wanted to continue the tradition that was started,” said Atwater High School senior Chargoy Velasco. “Knowing you can touch someone else’s life and make a difference is truly the best feeling one can have.
Celeste’s goal was to get over 100 shoe boxes organized prior to the Christmas holiday. She communicated with the Atwater High School Leadership class and FFA Leadership class in organizing the event. When it was all completed, over one hundred boxes of various items was delivered to Gateway Church, loaded on a semi-truck, and shipped off to various countries where the boxes will travel via boat, plane, train, camel, and foot to various children and families.
“This was a school-wide and community effort,” said Atwater High School agriculture student Paola Rivera. “It’s about making a positive difference in the lives of people and the effort of implementing the holiday spirit of giving.”

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture and FFA students Iysis Villafan, Gaby Moreno, Gabby Lucas, Noelia Barrios, Reagan Puthuff, and Paola Rivera organize holiday gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child where over 100 boxes were vested and organized by FFA students.


Atwater High School agriculture and FFA students Adam Freitas and Simarjot Gandhoke prepare Operation Christmas Child boxes for shipping as they will travel overseas and to countries to bring holiday joy to those less fortunate.

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December 11 , 2019

Council works to keep water flowing to residents

Every year the City of Merced uses 8 billion gallons of water to quench residents’ thirst, wash their clothes and water their plants. From hundreds of feet below the ground, the water is drawn up and fed into a 500 mile network of pipes going into homes, businesses and industries.
There are 20 wells moving water from the Merced Groundwater Subbasin to supply the 87,000 residents and other customers in the City. The wells are like giant drinking straws in a huge bowl of water, but the challenge is that the water level is dropping.
“We are having to drill deeper to get drinking water for our City customers,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin, who oversees the City’s Water Division.
Even during wet, rainy years, only so much water seeps back into the ground, percolating into the layers of soil called aquifers that hold the groundwater. More water is taken out of the aquifer than is replaced, leading to a condition called overdrafting.
The Merced Groundwater Subbasin is one of 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins in the state of California. Nearly all of the San Joaquin Valley has been declared a critically overdrafted basin. The Merced subbasin covers the area from the northern and southern county lines to the Merced River on the west to the foothills on the east.
“There are a lot of people in the subbasin, people living in cities, on farms and ranches, business owners and industries,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “They all have a common interest, a steady, sustainable supply of water.”
When the groundwater drops it can lead to problems including water shortages and a need for deeper wells. In some places it has led to land subsidence, where the ground actually sinks because the space that was once taken up by groundwater collapses.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was passed in 2014 to try and bring some balance to water usage and groundwater levels. The long-term goal is to have pumping balanced by recharging the groundwater basin. The Act required that local and regional authorities develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for their underlying groundwater basins.
“Many different agencies and users came together to work on the plan, and after many long hours, they developed a plan that worked for everyone,” Dietz said.
Monday night the Merced City Council unanimously adopted the Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the local subbasin.
Elwin said the plan looks at the extent of overdraft in the subbasin, potential impacts, information needs, groundwater allocation and projects to improve conditions.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The plan showed an annual average overdraft of 192,000 acre-feet per year between 2006 and 2015. An acre-foot of water is enough water to cover one acre of land with one foot of water. The average Californian uses 85 gallons of water a day, so an acre-foot of water would provide for about 10 people for around a year.
Based on the historical use of groundwater, the plan determined the “sustainable yield” of the groundwater basin, or, how much water that can be taken out every year and still have it replaced.
There are approximately 440,000 acre feet a year available for use, and under the plan an “allocation framework” will be developed in the future to figure out how to share the water between cities, agricultural users and small well owners using 2 acre feet or less.
“Cities use 7 to 8 percent of the groundwater,” Elwin noted.
Another part of the plan is to develop projects that will provide additional water. Those projects would include groundwater recharge projects, which would increase the amount of groundwater that is put back into the subbasin. Surface water projects are another option to increase the availability of water available to users. Yet another option are projects that would decrease demands, boosting the water conservation efforts to reduce the need for water and improve the efficiency of water use.
Currently, 50 plus wells are used for monitoring groundwater levels, the plan would be to add more monitoring wells in the future which combined, will be used to monitor the progress of the plan.
“With the plan in place, now the agencies need to begin the process of deciding the allocation framework and also projects to provide additional water,” Elwin said.
More information on the plan and the process is available at www.mercedsgma.org.

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December 6 , 2019

Merced City, Los Banos Unified Take Top Spots in Merced County Spelling Bees

The Los Banos Unified School District took first and second in the Elementary Spelling Bee and the Merced City School District took first and second in the Junior High Spelling Bee at the Merced County Spelling Bees this week.
In the elementary competition, Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, took first place; Arvin Judge, a 6th grader at R.M. Miano Elementary School in Los Banos, earned second place; and Steven Wade, a 4th grader at Bellevue Elementary School in Atwater, took third place. Hypocrisy was the winning word and Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the elementary competition.
In the junior high competition, Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place; Kaitlyn Rockholt, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took second place; and Mariah Dhillon, a 7th grader at Winton Middle School, took third place. Pharaoh was the winning word and Stacy Shasky, Coordinator of the Teacher Induction Programs at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the junior high competition.
First and second place winners from both competitions represent Merced County at the state championships.
The elementary study suggestion list is provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which holds the Elementary State Spelling Bee Championship. The Marin County Office of Education provides the junior high word list and holds the state championship in San Rafael.
For more information about the Spelling Bees, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

 


Stacy Shasky, Coordinator of the Teacher Induction Programs at the Merced County Office of Education, was the wordmaster for the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee, poses with the top three winners, from left: third place winner Mariah Dhillon, a 7th grader at Winton Middle School; second place winner Kaitlyn Rockholt, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced; and first place winner Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School

 

PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services at the Merced County Office of Education, the wordmaster for the Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee, poses with the top three winners, from left: first place winner Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos; third place winner Steven Wade, a 4th grader at Bellevue Elementary School in Atwater; and second place winner Arvin Judge, a 6th grader at R.M. Miano Elementary School in Los Banos.


Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, took first place at the Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee.


Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee.

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December 6 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform full on and off-ramp closures on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at Childs Avenue in Merced for landscape and irrigation work.
• Full closure of the off-ramp from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning Monday, December 9, through Tuesday, December 10, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
• Full closure of the on-ramp from Childs Avenue to southbound SR-99 beginning Wednesday, December 11, through Thursday, December 12, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

#

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
EXPECT 15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO SWEETWATER CREEK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will
conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140
from Briceburg to Sweetwater Creek for tree work to remove trees and
vegetation burned during the Briceburg fire.
Work is scheduled beginning Monday, December 9, 2019, until Friday,
December 13, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic
incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction
related issues.

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December 3 , 2019

MCOE to Host 2019-20 Merced County Elementary and Junior High Spelling Bees

The Merced County Office of Education will host two Merced County Spelling Bees this week in Atwater and Merced.
The 2019-20 Merced County Spelling Bees will be held Dec. 4 at Atwater Valley Community School and Dec. 5 at MCOE.
Grades 4, 5 and 6 will compete beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4 at the Atwater Valley Community School; and on Dec. 7 at 9 a.m., students in grades 7 and 8 will compete at MCOE’s Clark/Newbold conference rooms.
Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services at MCOE, is the wordmaster for the elementary competition and Stacy Shasky, Teacher Induction Program coordinator at MCOE, is the wordmaster for the junior high competition.
Some words and definitions have been given to students and they are also encouraged to study the dictionary and words from newspapers, magazines and books. First and second place winners from both competitions represent Merced County at the state championships.
The elementary study suggestion list is provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which holds the Elementary State Spelling Bee Championship. The Marin County Office of Education provides the junior high word list and holds the state championship in San Rafael.

 

 

For more information about the Spelling Bees, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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November 27, 2019

Federal Grant Funds Electric Vehicles for The Bus and YARTS Fleets

MERCED – Two large grant awards from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will allow two Merced County transit agencies to soon add several battery-electric buses to their fleets. The Transit Joint Powers Authority of Merced County, known as The Bus, was awarded $2 million for the purchase of five buses and their corresponding charging depots that will be installed at its maintenance and operations center in Merced.
The Bus’s five new vehicles will be added to existing routes in 2021. This is the second grant that will help the Agency meet state regulations to purchase electric buses years ahead of the deadline. This summer, the City of Merced received a grant from California’s Strategic Growth Council that included money to purchase The Bus’s first electric vehicle to serve a new affordable housing complex.
“The Bus not only provides an important service by connecting residents throughout Merced County to health care, employment and other vital services, but it is also part of our region’s collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality,” said Stacie Guzman, Executive Director of Merced County Association of Governments. “Now, thanks to this federal investment, The Bus will begin the transition to a zero-emission fleet.”
The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) which provides year-round transit service between Merced and Yosemite National Park was also awarded $4.3 million through the same FTA grant program. These monies will be used to purchase six battery-electric coaches for the Agency’s aging fleet. The zero-emission vehicles will operate on YARTS routes both into and within Yosemite by the end of 2020, making YARTS the first public transit agency in the country to utilize battery-operated vehicles for service into a National Park.
“This is great news for Merced County residents and visitors to Yosemite,” said Congressman Jim Costa. “These buses will not only help improve air quality in the Valley, but will also expand access into and around the Park by alleviating congested roads, allowing visitors of all abilities to experience the beauty of this national treasure.”
Funding for the electric buses was made through the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities grant program; the full award announcement can be found here: https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/news/us-transportation-secretary-elaine-l-chao-announces-423-million-grants-nationwide.
All bus schedules and hours of operation can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can
be found at
www.thebuslive.com or by downloading ‘The Bus Live’ app on your smart phone for free. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible. Seniors, Veterans and ADA eligible passengers can ride all fixed route service for free year-round with qualifying identification. Those wishing to see if they are eligible for the free fare should contact The Bus office to learn more.

 

 


The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG). For more information, please visit www.mercedthebus.com and www.mcagov.org.

 


YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite. YARTS schedules make connections with all intercity transportation providers in Merced: Amtrak, Greyhound and Boutique Air at the Merced Airport, and also connects to transit providers in Mono, Tuolumne and Fresno Counties during summer operations. United Airlines also provides connection through its carriers to Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Mammoth Lakes Airport. Park entrance fees are always included in any YARTS trip. For more information about YARTS, ticket prices, or the seasonal schedules, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.

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November 27, 2019

Adam Gray’s Momentum Builds as List of Local Support Expands

Merced, CA - Assemblymember Adam Gray, a life-long resident of Merced, officially launched his 2020 re-election campaign to continue representing the people and communities of California's 21 st Assembly District. Gray filed his re-election paperwork, after previously submitting more than 1,700 signatures of voters in the district in lieu of paying a filing fee.

"I fight for working families and for our community every day in Sacramento – to stop the water grab, for more doctors in the Valley, to repair local streets and roads, and for equitable funding for our schools – and I am grateful for the confidence that voters have placed in me," said Gray. "I will always put the Valley first and will always work to ensure that the Valley gets it fair share."

Underscoring his strong track record representing the community, Gray's list of early endorsements expanded to include many local leaders among them:

• Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse
• Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke
• Merced County District Attorney Kimberly Helms Lewis
• Stanislaus County Superintendent of Public Instruction Scott Kuykendall
• Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa
• Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen
• Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow
• Merced County Supervisor Lee Lor
• Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel
• Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Parreira

 

 

• Merced County Supervisor Scott Silveira
• Mayor of Merced Mike Murphy
• Mayor of Los Banos Mike Villalta
• Mayor of Patterson Deborah Novelli
• Mayor of Atwater Paul Creighton
• Mayor of Gustine Patrick Nagy
• Modesto City Councilmember Amy Eliot Neuman
• Modesto City Councilmember Jenny Kenoyer
• Merced City Councilmember Jill McLeod
• Ceres Unified School District Trustee Faye Lane

Expressing gratitude for the support, Gray stated, "Endorsements from local elected officials, leaders, and community members are the most meaningful because they illustrate the progress that we can make to move our area forward when we work together."

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November 26 , 2019

Ballico-Cressey Students Continue Age-Old Taiko Tradition

A group of Ballico-Cressey School District students hosted a performance of the age-old tradition of Taiko drumming on Nov. 20.
Like a kettle drum, Taiko drums produce a wide variety of sounds from deep to high-pitched. From Japan and catching on in the United States, Taiko drums originally were fashioned from tree trunks but now are generally made from wine barrels.
Retired Ballico-Cressey teacher Christine Kubo has 23 students from fourth to eighth grades in her Taiko performing group and another 15 students in the beginning to intermediate group.
The group has 17 drums, some of them made by Kubo’s husband Dan, also a retired teacher and a semi-recent Taiko drummer himself.
Christine Kubo said Taiko drumming now has become an art form. In the late 1940s, the Kumi-daiko style of ensemble drumming developed in Japan. Seiichi Tanaka, a Japanese Grand Master, brought it to San Francisco in the 1950s.
“It started out as a way of expressions and was felt to be an essential part of cultural celebration,” Christine Kubo said.
Dan Kubo said the Taiko style started in Japan was influenced by American jazz. He started to play three years ago but his main attraction was building the drums themselves. He figures he has made about 20 of the drums, including hand-held versions used solely for practice. He also has crafted the stands that the drums are placed on.
Ten years ago, former district superintendent Jose Gonzalez, now the superintendent of Planada schools, encouraged teachers to develop after-school clubs and activities for students.
“The rest is history,” Christine Kubo said. “It started with 14 kids from fourth to eighth grades, and adults joined us. We also teach Taiko at Cressey School which has transitional kindergarten through second grade. They get 25-minute lessons once a week.”
Except for one year at Keyes, Christine Kubo taught for 30 years at Ballico-Cressey schools, retiring three years ago. She taught all grades along with special education.
As a child growing up in Japan, she said it was exciting to see performances with Taiko drums. She has been playing the Taiko drums for about 25 years. Dan Kubo taught at Ballico-Cressey for 12 years, mostly junior high social studies, and went to the schools there years before as did his father.
“I love the music that comes off Taiko. I really enjoy it. There often is a lot of movement with it, almost like dance. The sound is really basic and incorporates some Japanese-style techniques along with contemporary music rhythms,” Dan Kubo said.
Christine Kubo said students work on composing song variations themselves. It takes about three years for students to reach performing level status. However, even the beginners had a part in the winter recital at the Ballico-Cressey School gymnasium. The 90-minute program was mostly attended by school and community audience members. An end-of-year recital is customarily held in May as well.
Christine Kubo said Taiko is performed across the United States and Canada, along with Mexico, Germany, England, Spain, South America and Europe. Dan Kubo added virtually all of the University of California campuses, including Merced, have Taiko groups, along with UCLA and Stanford University.
Christine Kubo said late last summer the school took 11 of its performing group students to the three-day North American Taiko Conference in Portland, Ore. Local students performed the opening act at a community concert. Ballico-Cressey students also attended a 2011 conference at Stanford and a 2017 conference in San Diego.
“Taiko is a way to have a voice. It is animated and spirited. It’s a means of expressing oneself more than anything else. In Japan it started as an accompaniment and then became a stand-on-its-own musical form,” Christine Kubo said.

 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 

 




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November 26 , 2019

Caltrans To Close Mountain Passes in Advance of Winter Storm

STOCKTON – Caltrans is scheduled to close Ebbetts Pass/Route 4, Monitor Pass/Route 89 and Sonora Pass/Route 108 in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend due to a strong winter storm forecast for the Sierra Nevada.
Planned closures are as follows (subject to change depending on conditions):
• Ebbetts Pass/Route 4 (Alpine County) at 12 p.m. (noon) on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
• Sonora Pass/Route 108 (Tuolumne, Mono and Alpine counties) at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
• Monitor Pass/Route 89 (Alpine and Mono counties) at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
No decision has been made at this time regarding the seasonal closure of these routes. Caltrans will assess the routes after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to determine the seasonal closure status.
Tioga Pass, a continuation of SR-120 within Yosemite National Park, remains closed at this time. Yosemite crews maintain all roads within the park. Several factors influence the temporary closing and opening and seasonal closures of our mountain pass roadways. Storms, accumulation of snow and overall road conditions are all considered in the decision-making process by Caltrans leadership. For the safety of motorists and Caltrans crews, these passes will be continually assessed until the seasonal closure of each is decided.

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.


Check ahead: Please check local highway conditions before planning to travel to the high country by visiting the Caltrans Quickmap site at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov or call the California Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623). Also, the radio may be tuned to the Caltrans Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) at 530 AM, 1610 AM or 1670 AM for information.
For road conditions in Yosemite National Park, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm or call (209) 372-0200. Be prepared: A Winter Storm Warning for snow means there will be snow covered roads and limited visibilities. Travel is not recommended while the warning is in effect. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly. All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires should carry chains/traction control devices when traveling during snowy weather.
Drivers without chains in their possession may not be allowed to proceed. When highway signs indicate that chains are required, drivers must stop and install chains or risk being cited and fined.
CHAIN CONTROL REQUIREMENT LEVELS:
No Restrictions: Watch for snow on pavement.
R-1: Chains are required on all commercial vehicles (large trucks or buses). All other vehicles must have either snow tread tires or chains on the drive axle.
R-2: Chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel drives with snow tread tires. Four-wheel drive vehicles must carry chains in the vehicle.
R-3: Chains required – ALL VEHICLES – no exceptions.

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November 23 , 2019

City unveils new website that’s easier to use

Monday morning kicks off a new look for the City’s website, cityofmerced.org, but the changes are more than cosmetic.
The new website will make it easier for users to find content on the pages, and for users with disabilities to access the pages. In addition, the new website has improved security and people who post content on it will find it streamlined.

The new website should also download pages quicker.

“Plus, the new site looks good, too, but that’s not why we did it,” said J.R. Wright, the Information Technology Manager who has been overseeing the project since it started in March.

Among the improvements include making the accessibility button easy to find on the top right of the page, so users can enlarge type, change spacing or contrast, or make other changes to improve readability. Or, if they want, users can have the pages read to them, or translate pages.

And when you’re dealing with 608 pages, finding what you are looking for on a website quickly and with minimum clicks is important. During the redesign process, the individual pages received a more uniform look, so that they were more consistent.

“The new website allows for better use on mobile devices,” Wright said,” That’s important because the majority of our users, 60 to 70 percent, are on phones.”

“The I.T. Department has put a lot of time and effort into the website redesign and upgrade and it’s appreciated,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “J.R. and his crew did a great job of making the website look better, while at the same time making it easier for everyone to get at the content.


“The most important thing about a website is whether people can get what they are looking for, and this new website achieves that goal,” Carrigan said.

The website has no shortage of content. Among the items it contains are:
• 3,742 documents
• 699 images
• 239 FAQs (frequently asked questions,) sorted by Department
• 147 RFP posts (request for proposals)


Because it is cloud-based, the website offers improvements in security and frees up two City servers. It also makes it easier to install upgrades and patches to the website. The website is based on HTML 5, which is the latest version of website software.

“The redesign of our website will allow us to bring together our citizen-facing technology in a more cohesive manner. We want the website to be a place where residents will be able to do more to more than look up information,” said Jeff Bennyhoff, the Information Technology Department Director.
Bennyhoff said the website links with a number of the City’s existing platforms, to better engage with the public. The website ties in to the Merced Connect app, so people can submit a pothole repair request, or they can receive a text message about a job opportunity or recreation event through the Subscribe Merced application.


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November 23 , 2019

Atwater FFA Students Earn Their FFA Degrees

Written by:: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

The Atwater FFA Chapter held its 41st annual Greenhand - Chapter FFA Degree Ceremony this month at Atwater High School. The purpose of this annual event was to recognize over 800 AHS agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand and Chapter FFA degrees. As students advance in FFA and their agricultural education, they can earn a series of “degrees” that represent their accomplishments. Each FFA degree recognizes a student’s progress in leadership, agricultural education, and their supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program which represent(s) an ownership and/or work experience project(s) in agriculture.

Over 350 students, family, and friends attended this special event. Atwater FFA Chapter President, Emmanuel Mejia opened the meeting and welcomed students, parents, and guests to the ceremony. In addition to the presentation of the FFA degrees, the 2019-2020 FFA Greenhand officer team was announced with President: Katrina Andujar, Vice President: Allison Garner, Secretary: Cassidy Carrillo, Treasurer: Ianna Ortega, Reporter: Kendall Borba, Sentinel: Joshuau Medeiros, Historian: Mateo Duran, and Parliamentarian: Ishmael Ramirez. A slide show of the students who earned their degrees was presented along with a musical slide show of the numerous FFA activities that students have taken part in so far this year.

FFA Greenhand degrees are awarded with a bronze pin to first year agriculture students. Requirements of this degree include enrollment in an agriculture class, plans for an SAE program or project, and knowledge and understanding of the FFA organization. Three hundred ninety three FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were eligible to be awarded with a silver pin to second year agriculture students. Requirements for this degree include being an FFA member for at least one year, being active in a SAE program or project, involvement in group discussions and parliamentary law, progress toward individual achievement in the FFA awards program, and a satisfactory scholastic record.
The Atwater FFA advisors are committed to building a strong program that gets students involved and providing them with opportunities for scholastic achievement, personal growth, and career success. Although not every student is planning to pursue an education and career directly related to agriculture, the AHS Agriculture Program and FFA provides students the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience that will benefit ANY educational path and career.

“We provide our students with opportunities to grow and develop personally, academically, and professionally,” says FFA advisor Kim Mesa, “We challenge our students to take advantage of those opportunities and pursue their interests towards colleges, universities, and a successful career.”

Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand degrees were Adam Aguilar, Jacqueline Aguilar, Nidia Aguilar, Seth Aguilar, Gladis Aguirre , Everardo Aguirre Martinez , Stephanie Agundis, Autumn Akahori, Jaquelin Aleman Guzman, David Alfaro, Jordan Alger, Jacob Alstad, Annalise Altamirano, Angelo Alvarado, Brandon Alvarado, Daniel Alvarado,Jarel Alvarado, Natalie Alvarado - Vargas , Melissa Alvarez, Reyna Alvarez, Rosalie Anagnos, Raul Andrade, Katrina Andujar, Alejandra Anguiano, Araceli Anguiano, Arlene Anguiano, Andy Aparicio, Carolina Arceo, Moncerrat Arellano, Teela Armenta, Miriam Arredulfo Espinoza, Elizabeth Arroyo, Emma Avalos, Jose Avendano, Guillermo Avila, Javier Avila, Lucas Avila, Santiago Avila, Lizbeth Ayala, Narely Ayala, Elexu Banda, Jorge Barajas, Briana Barron, Allan Bautista, Delila Bazan, Abraham Becerra, Mario Becerra, Rosalinda Becerra, Devin Belton, Kelly Benitez , Paola Benitez, Noemi Benitez-Ferreira, Ian Bennison, Angel Bernard,Jose Bethke, Meena Bhogel, Serrina Bhogel, Hunter Birmingham, Litzy Bojorje, Lizette Bojorje, Kenneth Bolanos, Sean Bollinger, Kendall Borba, Bryce Bratcher, I'ionya Brown, Julian Brown, Zoey Brown, Kadyn Buehner, Mayte Burgos, Donna Bustillos-Gomez, Carlos Caballero, Jose Juan Campos, Brooklyn Canela, Leandra Cardenas, Marcus Cardenas, Cassidy Carrillo, Kelly Carrillo, Cristian Castellanos , Mayden Castellanos, Dylan Matthew Castro, Giselle Castro, Jatziry Castro, Leonardo Cebrero, Ariana Ceja, Joseph Ceja, Jonathan Celis, Adrian Cervantes,Ariel Cervantes, Adrian Chaidez , Quandre Charles, America Chavez, Jose Chavez, Josue Chavez, Nolan Chavez, Rosendo Chavez, Roxanna Chavez, Eli Chavez Robles, Bryan Cisneros, Hugo Cisneros, Jair Cisneros, Jazmin Cisneros, Jesus Cisneros, Devin Clay, Angelyna Cloutier, Elisabeth Conn, Steven Connell Ivan Contreras , Amethyst Cooksey, Jacqueline Cornejo, Ashly Corona, Caleb Correa , Lesly Cortes, Alexandrew Cortez, Jose Cortez, Kaitlynn Cortez, Alec Crigger, Sebastian Cruz, Alexes Cuadra, Andrew Cuadra, Raul Cuadra, Fabian Davalos, Joseph Davis, Liam Davis, Daniel Del Rio, Icessys Delacruz, Ricardo Delatorre, Pedro DeLeon, Angel Diaz, Bryan Diaz, Kassandra Diaz, Patrick Diaz Sheehan, Jonathan Diaz- Duarte, Colton Dukes, Mateo Duran, Alejandro Duran-Marquez, Ulises Duran,Jonathan Duran-Lopez ,Alejandro Duran-Marquez, Dominic Ekkelboom, Oswaldo Escobedo, Fernando Esparza, Dalilah Espinoza, Noemi Estrada, Jasmine Estrada Vera, James Farmer, Ashley Flores, Joshua Flores , Williams Flores, Yadira Flores-Lomeli, Mariah Frias, Phillip Frias, Destynie Frith, Adrian Galeana, Ariana Galvan, Fernanda Galvan, Brian Galvan-Moreno, Jared Gamble, Adrian Garcia, Alessandra Garcia, Alexis Garcia, Destiny Garcia, Jordan Garcia, Jose Garcia, Josue Garcia, Marco Garcia, Monica Garcia Armando Garibay, Allison Garner, Ivan Gaytan, Diego George, Alfonso Gomez, Lydia Gonzales, Mia Gonzales , Abigail Gonzalez, Angel Gonzalez, Antonio Gonzalez, Ernesto Gonzalez, Isaac Gonzalez, Jaime Gonzalez, Oscar Gonzalez, Viviana Gonzalez , Isaac Gonzalez Arce, Antonia Gonzalez Farias, Jessica Govea, Michelle Gregory, Allison Grissom, Eduardo Gudino, Jason Guerrero, Tyce Gunnin, Armando Guzman, Daniel Guzman, Mason Hall, Trenton Hall , Corey Hardin, Zachery Hardin, Nathan Harding, Nayeli Heredia, Ana Hernandez, Daniel Hernandez, Jeraldi Hernandez, Joe Hernandez, Omar Hernandez, Vilma Hernandez, Daniela Hernandez Garcia, Natalie Hernnandez, Jacob Herrera, Luis Herrera, Jonathan Hubert, Rosalia Huitron, Jamie Hunt, Javier Hurtado, Julissa Hurtado, Tyler Ivie, Adrian Jaime, Cristofer Jarquin Venegas Xavier Jarrell, Ayden Jimenez, Octavio Jimenez, Rosa Juarez , Gunnar Kale, Mathew Kamykowski, Aaliyah Keene, Maximus Lajeunesse Emilio Lara,Anya Lavallis, Braden Lawrence, Fernando Ledezma, Steven Ledezma, Faith Ledezmo, Jin Lee, Alina Leggett, Ashley Leon, Jamal Lewis, Aliene Lopez, Erick Lopez ,Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lopez, Mary Jane Lopez, Raquel Lopez Yessica Lopez Lopez, Salvador Lopez-Loaiza, Holises Lopez-Santiago, Angeles Lua, Maria Lua, Angel Luis-Hernandez, Juan Luna, Princessa Luna, Daniela Macias, Emmanuel Macias, Juan Macias, Matthew Macias, Belen Madrigal, Lizbeth Madrigal, Jonathan Magallanes, Rachel Magallon, Jasmine Magana, Maritza Magana, Steven Magana, Melvin Mahaffey, Michael Maki, Emanuel Maldonado, Karla Maldonado, Lisa Maloney, Daniela Mancio-Hernandez, Angel Marron, Alex Martinez, Guadalupe Martinez, Saul Martinez, Jesus Martinez Tinoco, Jacqueline Martinez- Avina , Juliana Martinez-Avina, Yaden Martinez-Mondragon, Dylan Mason, Giselle Mauleon, Raymond Mccool, Caden McDaniel, Joshua Medeiros, Brayan Medina, Lucas Medina Lozano, Nayeli Medrano, Alyssa Melchor, Brayan Melecio, Erik Melgoza, Jackeline Mendoza, Nicholas Mendoza, Rosendo Mendoza, Arianna Mestaz, Jasline Mestaz, Nate Metz, Erik Meza-Garcia , Jordan Miles, Guadalupe Millan, Shayleigh Miller, Luis Mojica, Fidel Molina, Jessica Molina, Leonel Molina, Christian Molina Castro , Jesus Mondragon, Angel Morales, Reyna Morales Casandra Moreno, Madonna Moreno, Vidal Morquecho, Jordan Mosby, Iran Mota, Cody Moua,Leandro Muniz, Diana Munoz, Jatzihri Munoz-Ramirez, Angel Naranjo, Johnathon Navarrete, Omar Navarro, Sydney Nickelson, Darrien Nieto, Adan Ochoa, Carlos Ochoa, Richard Ochoa-Rocha, Guadalupe Olmos, Angelina Ordaz, Leonardo Ornelas, Eva Orozco, Francisco Orozco, Josue Orozco, Pedro Orozco, Soledad Orozco, Ianna Ortega, Sebastian Ortega, Mariah Ortiz, Viviana Oseguera, Krista Owens, Evelyn Padilla, Madison Palafox, Salvador Pantoja, Alejandro Paredes , Rithik Patel, Lacey Pedranti, Juan Pedrizco, Jesus Pena, Fatima Peralta, Alexis Perez, Cinda Perez, Eddie Perez Erica Perez, Julio Perez, Samuel Perez, Travis Perez, Yvette Perez, Denisse Perez Garcia, Daniela Perez Gonzalez, Elias, Perez-Gutierrez, Mario Perez-Madriz, Ethan Phillips, Yairen Pineda, Gabriella Pisacco, Caleb Pitchford, Xxavier Ponce, Yesenia Ponce, Hannah Pope, Isaac Prado, Fernando Prado-Perez, Jonathan Proctor, Gianna Pursley, Jesus Quezada, Lovinger Quintero, Christopher Quirarte, Adrian Ramirez, Aldo Ramirez, Christopher Ramirez, Gael Ramirez, George Ramirez, Ishmael Ramirez, Luis Ramirez, Omar Ramirez, Victor Ramirez, Zoe Ramos, Tanna Reed, Christian Renison, Emanuel Reyes Hannahmea Reyes, Jesus Reyes , Marissa Reyes, Michael Reyes, Rafael Reyes-Arroyo, Jedediah Reyna, Raymond Rios, Alejandra Rios Mariscal, Zuriel Rios-Ruiz, Ricardo Robledo, Xitlalli Robles, Kevyn Robles Quezada, Angelina Rochin, Alfredo Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez, Dalia Rodriguez, Samantha Rodriguez, Kaleb Rogers, Christopher Rojas, Dorianna Rojo—Duarte , Dorianna Rojo Duarte, Vianna Roman, Nathan Salas, Ulysses Salas, Damian Salcedo, Jovanni Salcedo, Manuel Salmeron, Adan Sanchez, Andrik Sanchez, Joseph Sanchez, Daisy Santana, Jesus Santana, Maria Serrano, Kyleigh Sheldahl, Caden Siegel, Luis Sillas Jimenez Ethan Silva, Tarnjit Singh, LaShae Smith, David Solorio, Diego Solorio, Shilong Song, Christopher Sotelo Adrian Soto, Valerie Soto, Taylor Stewart, Steven Stone, Trevor Strum, Alexis Stubbs, Xithlali Suarez Ceballos, Ankit Tamber, Maile Taylor, Robert Teater, Jordan Thomas, Courtney Thompson, Dakotah Timpson, Heriberto Tinta, Alfonso Torres, Christopher Torres, Estefan Torres , Juan Torres, Julian Torres, Samantha Trejo, Bryan Trillo, Dominick Trindade, Derek Tripp, Aileene Udave, Marc Udave, Alexander Unterreiner, Emma Uribe, Faith Uwnawich-Harris , Dakarai Valdez, Sonia Valdez, Angel Valencia, Ernestina Valencia, Paris Valenzuela, Angel Valera, Donovan Valerio, Cherpao Vang, Nachia Vang, Adam Vargas, Johnny Vargas, Ricardo Vargas, Yailinn Vargas, Camerine Vasquez Natalie Vasquez , Ivan Vasquez Valladares, Juan Vazquez, Ambrosia Vega, Jose Velasco, Andres Velazquez, Natalie Veloz, Leticia Venegas, Stephanie Venegas Solorio, Soleil Ventura, Angeles Vera, Julian Villa, Olga Villanueva, Venus Villarreal, Jose Villegas, Matthew Villegas, Hannah Wagner, Kaden Wagner, Patrick Warren II, Zachary Watts, Kayce Weathers, Ethan Wey, Spencer Wilde, Felicity Wilkinson, Mckenzie Williams, Race Woodruff, Houacua Xiong, Nicholas Xiong, Esmeralda Zapien, Montserrat Zapien, Aalyah Zuniga, and Marisol Zuniga


The newly installed FFA Greenhand Officers along with the current FFA Chapter Officers comprised of (front row) Sabrina Lopez, Daniel Lopez, Eryka Lepper, Hayley Vargas, Ethan Slate, Simarjot Gandhok, Jennifer Velazquez, Vanessa Varela, (back row), Mateo Duran, Allison Garner, Kendall Borba, Joshaua Medeiros, Katrina Aandujar, Iana Ortega, and Cassidy Carrillo.


Atwater High School freshman agriculture students Zacary Watts and Kevyn Robles-Quezado hold up their "green hands" in recognition of earning the state's FFA initial degree representing their 1st year in agriculture and FFA.


Atwater High School first year FFA students Joshua Maderios, Hunter Birmingham, and Shayleigh Miller showcase their "green hands" in recognition of earning the FFA's Greenhand degree for high school agriculture students in their first year in FFA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were Tatiana Acevedo, Daniel Aguayo, Rebekah Aguilar, Angel Aguilera, Madison Ainslie, Alana Alacazar, Marcos Alberto, Xitlalic Alvarado - Vargas, Carmen Alvarez, Fabian Alvarez, Javier Ambriz, Jocelyn Andrade, Dayanara Arce-Sanchez, Brycet Arellano, Lizbeth Arias, Dayana Arredondo, Colin Arroyo, Jaime Arroyo, Jaime Arroyo, Jose Arroyo, Randy Ashlock, Galilea Avalos, Gisselle Avalos, Eduardo Avelar, Xavier Avila, Uriel Ayala, Elizabeth Ayala Lopez, Keanu Bado, Joel Baldovinos, Adrian Barocio, Monserrat Barragan, Kevin Barreto, Adan Barron Montes, Alexzander Bates, Adrian Beltran, Adali Benitez-Ferreira, Surinder Bhogal, Justin Bizzack, Drew Boesch, Liliana Boesch, Kaylee Bogle, Madison Bosworth, Hunter Boyenga, Homero Brambila, Ethan Bratcher, Jacob Bratcher, Monserrat Bravo, Matthew Bresnyan, Kate Brigham, Alejandro Briones, Tanner Bristow, Megan Brock, Courtney Burger, Elvira Calderon, Julia Callahan, Estevan Campos, Juan Jose Campos, Serjio Campos, Tristan Cardey, Anahi Carrasco, Ignacio Castaneda, Rafael Castaneda, Mariana Ceja, Dulce Cerna, Bryan Cervantes, Julian Chargoy, Jaquelyn Chavez, Jonathan Chavez, Michelle Chavez, Noelia Chavez, Viviana Chavez Gonzalez, Marlen Chavoya, Austin Coberley, Giselle Contreras, Morgan Cook, Michael Coronado, Carol Cortes, David Cortes, Michael Cortez, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, Brian Cruz Aguilar, Matthew D aCosta, Justin Danel, Marissa Davis, Elizabeth Demott, Alexander Diaz, Anthony Diaz, Damian Diaz, Julian Dominguez, Isaac Duran, Lynette Duran, Royal Duran, Allen Eagles, Carlos Enriquez, Jennifer Escalera-Sandoval, Angel Espinoza, Isabella Espinoza, Cristian Esquibel, Erik Esquivel, Heriberto Estrada, Natalie Estrada, Axel Farias, Mariela Fernandez, Adrian Ferrel, Caleb Fitzgerald, Ceasar Flores, Manuel Flores, Sera Flores Campanario, Lenna Foster, Kiana Fox, Horeb Francisco, Pedro Franco, Andrea Gallegos, Gurkirath Gandhok, Abisag Garcia, Citlali Garcia-Aguilar, Thomas Garner, Jaydon Genel, Alyssa Gentry, Damian Gomez, Edwin Gomez, Marley Gonzales, Carlos Gonzalez, Fabian Gonzalez, Jessica Gonzalez, Joseph Gonzalez, Maximiliano Gonzalez, Jessica Gudino, Rafael Guerrero Mendoza, Jennifer Guerrero Romero, Aziel Gutierrez, Julian Gutierrez Gutierrez, Diego Guzman, Kaden Hendrickson, Gabriel Hernandez, Miguel Hernandez, Viviana Hernandez, Yesenia Hernandez, Alexzandra Hernandez Cruz, Taylor Holcomb, Cesar Huerta, Evelyn, Huerta, Hector Huitron, Jacqueline Iniguez, Charles Jackson, Saul Jaime, Adrian Jimenez, Atticus Jordan, Daniel Junez, Gerardo Lara, Eryka Lepper, Sean Lo, Adamari Lopez, Cristian Lopez, Crystal Lopez, Edgar Lopez, Katie Lopez, Kristi Lopez, Andrew Lozada, Juliana Lua, Rigoberto Lua, David Luis Hernandez, Christian Macias, Joshua Macias, Jeluscee Mack-Love, Cristian Madrigal, Jonathan Madriz, Magdalena Madriz, Ethan Magnone, Diana Maldonado, Mackenzie Maloney, Julio Mandujano Valenzuela, Felix Manuel-Reyes, Maya Manzanares, Adonna Manzo, Katelynn Marcos, Alejandro Marin, Cristian Martinez, Melany Martinez, Jesus Mayor, Erik Medina, Jimmy Medina, Deisy Mendoza, Evan Mendoza, Jovanny Mendoza, Karla Mendoza, Melissa Mendoza, Jose Mendoza Sanchez, Teresa Mendoza-Preciado, Richard Menezes, Anthony Meza, Liliana Molina, Abraham Montero, Ruben Montero, Nathaniel Moore, Francisco Morales, Adrian Moreno, Andrea Moreno, Angel Moreno, Joseph Morgado, Jazzlinn Mosby, Casey Mounce, Clarissa Mounce, Etuale Muliaga, Joseph Munguia Ruiz, Thomas Munoz, Sakura Musson, Jesus Navarro,Adilene Noriega, Alondra Ochoa, Christian Ochoa, Jerardo Ochoa, Joseph Ochoa, Edwin Ochoa Maravilla, Cristian Ordonez, Francisco Ortiz, Ivan Ortiz, Alonzo Pacheco—Madrigal, Nazareth Padilla, Silvestre Padilla, Camille Parker, Raphael Parra, Alexis Perez, Brian Perez, Bryan Perez, Clarissa Perez, David Perez, Jimmy Perez, Paola Perez, Hayley Petersen, Michael Piceno, Odalys Pinon,Anthony Pitchford, Jesus Prado, Anthony Prieto, Miguel Pulido, Reagan Puthuff, Vicente Quesada, Genesis Quezada, Angel Ramirez, Armando Ramirez, Monique Ramirez Chaidez, Ruben Ramirez-Munoz, Adrian Ramos, Andrew Ramos, Jonathan Ramos, Alexis Reyes, Claudia Reyna, Areli Reynoso, Elizabeth Rico, Evelyn Rico, Milton Rivas, Miguel Rivera, Vanessa Rivera, Sarah Roan, Anisa Robles, Anthony Robles, Ricardo Robles, Ruby Rocha, Amirah Rodriguez, Baleria Rodriguez, Javier Rodriguez, Jesus Rodriguez, Jorge Rodriguez, Richard Rodriguez, Kelly Rodriguez Jimenez, Alyssa Rojas, Yusdivia Rojo, Jaime Romo, Maya Romo, Indy Russell, Ernesto Salgado, David Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez, Maximiliano Sanchez, Omar Sanchez, Rafael Sanchez, Zuleyma Santacruz, Jose Santos, Juliana Servin, David Shadel, Alan Silva, Erika Silva, Nathanial Silva, Ethan Slate, Gabriela Soto, Matthew Sousa, Madison Strauss-Bland, Thomas Stubbs, Jose Suarez, Ethen Thao, Mathew Thelen, Jesus Tinoco, Adrian Torres, Jovanna Torres, Juan Torres, Lesley Torres, Genesis Torres Flores , Ramon Trujillo, Preston Tucker, Adrian Turner, Hector Udave, Daniel Valencia , Michael Valencia, Nicolas Valenzuela, Bo Valladao, Angie Vang, Alexander Varela, Adrianna Vargas, Ivan Vargas, Malia Vargas, Fabian Vargas-JImenez, Valeria Vargas-Villanueva, Vanessa Vasquez, Raudel Veloz, Cecilia Venegas, Esteban Vera, Rodrigo Vera, Oscar Vicente, Manuel Vidrio, Iysis Villafan, Zaret Villagrana, Arli Samantha Virgen Tapia, Jennifer Virrueta , Juan R. Virrueta Mendoza, Osbaldo Vizcaino, David Warren, Jacob Weiss, Don Elias Wesley, Giovanni Wiggins, Christopher Williams, Cole Williams, Taylor Willson, Alyssa Wilson, Dalton Wilson, Alvin Yang, Athena Yang, Evan Ybarra, Oscar Zapien, Susana Zaragoza, Eduardo Zavala, Alfredo Zuniga, and Yadhira Zuniga.

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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November 23 , 2019

School Officials, Law Enforcement Take All Threats Seriously

In recent weeks, students in two Merced County school districts were arrested for making threats against schools through social media.
With the prevalence of social media in our schools, it is crucial that students and parents alike alert school staff or law enforcement if they see or hear about anything suspicious, out of place or potentially dangerous.
School officials and law enforcement take all threats seriously and are committed to fully investigating any threats against campus communities.
“Our highest priority is ensuring the safety of students, staff and the community,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “We strongly encourage students, parents and school staff to immediately report anything suspicious or that they believe to be a threat. We continue to coordinate with law enforcement, sharing information to safeguard our schools and our community.”
School districts have many measures already in place, like comprehensive school safety plans, safety checklists, drills on emergency procedures, implementing reporting systems for warning signs, specialized training in threat assessment and cultivating a strong relationship with local law enforcement.

 



Students also have access to tip lines where they can anonymously report suspicious activity.
The Merced County Office of Education and school districts across Merced County work to ensure all students are in a safe learning environment.
If you have questions on school safety plans, contact your child’s school.

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November 23 , 2019

Record set for building permit applications

The City reached 4,012 building permit applications Thursday, exceeding the previous record of 3,663 for the entire year of 2005.

Since January, the City has issued 602 single family dwelling (SFD) permits.

“This is a huge milestone that shows we have a dynamic economy throughout the City,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “Building activity plays an important role in our local economy.”

“It’s an all-time high for City growth and improvements,” said Denise Frazier, the City’s Chief Building/Construction Project Official. “The permits being pulled are across the board. It’s not just with single family dwellings, people are putting on new roofs, HVACs (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), tenant improvements and new commercial buildings.”

She said the building is going on all over the City.

Frazier said housing is leading the way, in part because of changes in the building code and also in what developers are offering. The building code now requires sprinklers in new homes, and developers are including solar units with most new homes, even though it isn’t required yet. Both of those need additional permits.

“Single family dwelling permits and total permits only tell part of the story,”

 

said Scott McBride, the City’s Director of Development Services. “We have numerous large commercial projects, both renovations and new construction, light industrial, as well as multi-family projects that are underway.

The construction activity has shown up in the City’s retail and industrial centers. The former Sears Center and Orchard Supply have been undergoing renovations, while five companies are adding more than 120,000 square-feet of industrial and commercial space, said Frank Quintero, the Director of Economic Development. He said more companies have expansion plans in the works.

“People see the houses going up, but they don’t realize the industrial activity that we have going on,” he said. “Those expansions lead to construction jobs, but also permanent jobs once the hammers stop.”

Quintero said retailers like Dutch Brothers Coffee and Rally’s/Checkers Burgers also add to the increase in construction.

More applications are anticipated over the next month as the 2016 Building Codes expire at the end of the year, McBride said. Builders can get ahead of the change to the 2019 Code update by submitting plans before Dec. 31.

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November 21, 2019

Merced County Fair Gets New Board Member, Luis Lara of Atwater

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, November 20, 2019 – The Merced County Fair is proud to announce that Luis Lara of Atwater has joined the Merced County Fair (35th District Agricultural Association) Board of Directors after being appointed by Governor Newsom on November 8, 2019.

“It is so great to have someone like Luis Lara appointed to the Fair Board who has a deep love of and strong commitment to the community,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO, Merced County Fair. “We are excited to get him further involved in our Fair and join our efforts to continue to improve what we do for the community.”

Luis Lara was born and raised in Atwater where he still resides with his family. He has served as a sergeant for the California Highway Patrol since 2011. Prior to that, Lara held several different positions since joining the California Highway Patrol in 1998, including serving as an officer in the Merced Area and Redwood City CHP Area Office. He has also served as an instructor at Merced Community College since 2013. Lara is secretary treasurer for the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union Board of Directors; a board member of the McSwain Union Elementary School District. He previously served on the Merced County Spring Fair Board from 2013 to 2018.

“I’ve been going to the Merced County Fair since I was a kid – it was a tradition for my brother, sisters, and parents – and now it has continued with my family, including getting my kids involved in showing animals at the Fair,” said Lara. “As someone in law enforcement, I commend the fair on providing a safe event for families to enjoy and in my new role on the Board, I look forward to being part of this annual tradition I’ve enjoyed my whole life in a new way.”

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 129 years of operation this year. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President, Lori Gallo; First Vice President, Carol Sartori-Silva; Second Vice President, Lee Lor; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Emily Haden, Luis Lara and Kim Rogina. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2020 Merced County Fair will run June 10 - 14. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter (@Merced_CA_Fair) and Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).


Luis Lara


 

November 19 , 2019

Atwater FFA Earns Top Honors at National FFA Finals

Written by: Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School agriculture program’s FFA Marketing Plan team competed at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana and earned 5th place in the nation. The team was comprised of Anessa Cardenas, Kaya Briscoe, and Megan Escobar. The Marketing Plan contest seeks to effectively prepare students for the opportunities and expectations of the agricultural business workplace. Students seeking careers in agriculture business must develop a high degree of knowledge and skill as well as the capacity to create and present a marketing plan. Thirty-four states competed in the national final event.

In addition to the Marketing Plan’s team competition in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Atwater High School FFA’s state champion Cotton judging team comprised of Michael Bray, Emmanuel Mejia, Luz Soto, and Simarjot Gandhoke joined other FFA members throughout the nation for a Washington DC leadership experience as a reward for winning the state championship. The students visited Arlington National Cemetery, Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, monuments, and a special tour of the US Capitol through Congressman Costa’s office were all additional highlights and experiences for the students. “This was my first time traveling on an airplane, and experiencing something that went beyond my imagination,” said Atwater High School agriculture student Luz Soto. “It is an experience I will never forget!”

The $20,000 cost of the trip was all sponsored and covered through various industry and community donations and fundraisers. “This was a well-earned experience for our students who got to go and visit places they may never have had the opportunity to visit if it wasn’t for the support of our agriculture industry and community members,” said Atwater High School instructor Kaylyn Davenport. “This will always be a lifelong memorable experience for the students.”

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to over 700,000 student members who belong to one of 8,612 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 13,000 FFA advisors and agriculture teachers deliver an integrated model of agricultural education, providing students with innovative and leading-edge education and enabling them to grow into competent leaders. FFA classroom activities include math and science as well as hands-on work experience and the development of life skills, helping members discover their career path and realize success.

 


Atwater FFA's Marketing Plan team of Megan Escobar, Anessa Cardenas, and Kaya Briscoe placed 5th overall in the nation during the National FFA convention in Indianapolis where they had the opportunity to visit the Indianapolis Speedway following their competition.


The Atwater High School state champion Cotton team visited the nation's Capital along with other national FFA members as part of their leadership experience as a reward for their state championship.


Atwater High School's state champion FFA Cotton judging team comprised of Emmanuel Mejia, Luz Soto, Michael Bray, Simarjot Gandhoke, and (coach) Natalie Borba visited Congressman Jim Costa's office in Washington DC for a VIP leadership tour of the US Capitol.

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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November 16, 2019

Trash, financial forecast on Council agenda


A report on the refuse rate study and the five-year financial forecast are on the City Council agenda for its Monday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• A report on the recently conducted refuse rate study is before the Council, that would adjust the rates charged for trash, recycling, green waste and other fees. Staff is asking Council to select a new rate schedule and set a public hearing for Feb. 18 on the proposal.

• The Finance Officer will present a five-year financial forecast to the City Council, along with a CalPERS update. The information is given to Council before it begins making decisions regarding the mid-year budget review.

• Also on the agenda is the second reading of an ordinance that would change the hours at City parks due to safety issues. Parks would be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. March 1 to Oct. 31 and from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 or 29. The ordinance would not apply to bike and pedestrian paths, facilities with stadium lighting or during City-sponsored events.

 

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to confer with counsel regarding two cases of existing litigation and regarding the performance evaluation of the City Manager.

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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November 16, 2019

Atwater Students Learn Consequences of Drug Use at Annual Drug Store Project

About 565 sixth-grade students in Atwater recently learned about the life-threatening consequences of drug abuse during an annual program called the Drug Store Project. The reality-based exercise graphically shows youngsters what can happen if they flirt with illicit drugs.
This is the 13th year the Atwater Elementary School District has conducted the Drug Store Project. All of the district’s sixth-graders and those from St. Anthony’s School gathered Oct. 25 on the grounds of Mitchell K-6 Elementary School to go through a series of vignettes that explain what happens when dangerous drugs are used.
These storyline “stations” are 10-minute presentation segments including the party where a drug-using student collapses unresponsive from an overdose, futile attempts to revive him in the hospital emergency room, and a mock funeral where the student is mourned by his peers and parents. Groups of 35 students go through each of the stations during the process.
Other stations show law enforcement officers explaining the drugs students might encounter, booking and detention at Juvenile Hall after a drug arrest, conviction of drug use in a courtroom, followed by the probation and counseling experience.
Parents and other students are recruited as actors to portray each of the scenarios in a life-like setting.
The Drug Store Project is one facet of the collaborative Caring About Kids Community Council. It costs about $526 per student or approximately $15,000 to conduct the program. It’s one of the largest collaborative drug prevention programs in the area.
Supporters say students’ lives are forever impacted by the new knowledge about using dangerous drugs.
Christy Lobao, the district’s director of special programs, is especially thankful for the Drug Store Project.
“The Atwater Elementary School District is honored to partner with the dedicated individuals of the Caring About Kids Community Council,” Lobao said. “The members of the council share in AESD’s passion to educate and enrich the lives of the children in our community. We are thankful for the time and effort they give to bring important events such as the Drugstore Project to our school community.”
District Superintendent Sandy Schiber lauds the community for its support of the Drug Store Project.
“The Atwater Elementary School District Drug Store Project is truly a community event,” Schiber said. “We could not provide this excellent learning opportunity for our sixth-grade students without the support of the more than 150 volunteers from the community, school district staff, law enforcement, the court system, probation and medical/emergency personnel. As superintendent, I feel blessed to have such community support when it comes to providing important educational opportunities to our youth. Our youth are faced with many negative influences and drug education can help shape a culture of informed and positive decision making.”



PHOTOS COURTESY ATWATER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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November 16, 2019


2019 was a year for street projects in Merced

The City of Merced completed several major street projects this year, and has one underway that is scheduled to wrap up before Christmas. Along with the roadwork, there were a number of sidewalk projects that were completed to benefit pedestrians and students.

“We know roadwork isn’t the most pleasant thing for drivers and businesses, and we apologize for it,” said City Engineer Mike Beltran, “But the end result is worth it. The bottom line is that we have to maintain our streets. It’s an investment we need to make. It’s just like your house, you have to keep a good roof on it, or it can lead to all sorts of problems.”

“We have hundreds of miles of streets in our City that we need to maintain and it’s a big job,” said Steve Carrigan. “We’ve filled 28,399 potholes in the first nine months of 2019, and that’s just the minor fixes to our street system. But we need to stay on top of fixing the potholes so they don’t create major problems with the rest of our street.

“We do have a plan for fixing and maintaining the City’s roadways, unfortunately we don’t have the funding to do it all overnight,” Carrigan said. “For example, M Street is a major north-south arterial through the City. It is being repaired in stages, so we address the worst sections first. Sometimes it looks like we are jumping around with the M Street repairs, but there is logic to what we are doing.”

The number of street projects has increased in Merced, and will continue to go up because there is more funding available. Locally, in 2016 Merced County voters approved Measure V, a half-cent sales tax. It is for transportation projects ranging from new roads to pothole repairs to fixing sidewalks and installing bike lanes. SB 1 is the statewide tax measure that covers a wide-range of transit projects from freeways and rail to road repairs and other transit modes. Funding for other street projects comes from federal sources and local tax funds.
Since it was approved by voters, the City has spent $2,743,295 on Measure V projects. The City has spent $1,529,296 on SB 1 projects since it was adopted.

Usually projects are funded through a variety of sources, depending on what is being done. If a water or sewer line is included in the work, that fund will pick up some of the cost. Other times federal, state or local road funds are blended with Measure V and SB 1 monies to make a project pencil out.

“People are going to see our contractors out more often as more dollars become available,” Beltran said. “We have a long list of streets we want to work on.”

The last major street project underway this year is the M and Main Street Improvement Project. The project includes the installation of a new storm drain and a grind and overlay of the street on Main, between N and M, and a full reconstruction of M Street between Main and 18th Street. Funded mostly by Measure V, it is budgeted at $1,304,305 and will wrap up by the week of Dec. 3.


Crews work on Main Street as part of the M and Main Street Improvement Project.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other street projects already completed this year include:

• M Street (Rambler to Bear Creek), roadway reconstruction, mostly Measure V, $577,636.

• N Street (8th to Childs) roadway reconstruction and water main replacement, Regional Surface Transportation Program funds (RSTP) through Caltrans and some water system funds, $1,250,343.

• Yosemite Avenue (San Augustine to Hwy 59) roadway reconstruction, largely SB-1 and RSTP, $2,173,480.

• Scrub seal projects to rejuvenate the roadways, Measure V and SB 1, $344,203:
Merced Avenue (Motel to Parsons)
Canal Street (Childs to 16th)
26th Street (G to M)
El Portal Drive (G to Joerg)

There is plenty of roadwork in Merced’s future, as the Engineering Division has seven projects in various stages of design. The projects, and the amounts budgeted for them, are:
G Street (Childs to 13th) $394,193
B Street (Childs to 15th) $1,480,000
Canal Street (19th to RR) $67,930
R Street (Loughborough to Yosemite) $282,064
R Street (16th to 18th) $1,648,104
V Street (16th to 18th) $475,095
Alpine Drive (G to Wainwright) $225,000

Pedestrians have appreciated the sidewalk work that was completed this year using the available funding. Measure V and SB 1, for example, sets aside money for improving sidewalks to encourage people to walk rather than drive.

Sidewalk projects completed this year include:

• Buena Vista: Speed table on Buena Vista near Rivera and replacing 14 ADA ramps, Community Development Block Grant (federal funding), and Measure V, $388,761.

• John Muir: Speed table near John Muir and install ADA ramps and new sidewalk on 25th between I and K Streets, Community Development Block Grant, Measure V and other funding, $296,052.

• Various Sidewalk Replacements, SB-1, $74,881.

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November 16, 2019

Seats Open on Citizens Advisory Committee

MERCED - Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking individuals interested in applying for vacancies on its Citizens Advisory Committee. The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meets monthly at the MCAG administrative office in Merced and functions as an advisory body to the MCAG Governing Board on issues related to transportation planning and public transit services in Merced County.
CAC members are appointed to serve a four-year term. The 17-member committee is comprised of individuals from both the private and public sectors as well as from the community at large. Members must either live or work in Merced County. Currently, MCAG is seeking representatives on the CAC for the following categories:
• Student
• Small Business
• Water/Irrigation

For more information about the Citizens Advisory Committee, including applications for membership, please visit www.mcagov.org/CAC or contact Joy Young at (209) 723-3153 x101 or joy.young@mcagov.org.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and administers Measure V funds. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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November 16 , 2019

District Attorney Rejects Filing Charges Against Monsignor Craig Harrison

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office will not file criminal charges against Monsignor Craig Harrison.
An investigation into allegations of inappropriate touching by Monsignor Craig Harrison was conducted by the Merced Police Department. The investigation was initiated after a confidential victim came forward to the Merced Police Department in April of this year. Staff from the District Attorney’s Office worked with the Merced Police Department, and in mid-October, both agencies concluded that all available evidence and leads had been identified and exhausted. Since that time, the District Attorney’s Office thoroughly evaluated all of the evidence obtained.

All of the incidents described by witnesses took place in Merced County during the years 1987 and 1988. Based upon the factual circumstances of this case, the filing of charges is prohibited by the applicable statute of limitations; therefore, no charges will be issued.

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November 16, 2019

MCOE Science Coordinator Equips Teachers with Next Generation Standards

Rosanna Ayers’ job is to help Merced County’s science teachers interpret next generation science standards adopted by the state and make the study of all things scientific a compelling endeavor.
Ayers, the science/STEM coordinator for the Merced County Office of Education, is not daunted by the necessity of navigating often-confusing requirements and making them come alive in the classroom.
There are 20 school districts in Merced County serving kindergarten through high school students whose teachers need educational support.
She is now working with eight school districts, including Dos Palos, El Nido, Le Grand High School, Merced River, Merced Union High School District, Plainsburg, Planada, Snelling-Merced Falls, Gustine, Merced College and Sierra Foothill Charter School in Catheys Valley.
Next generation science standards were adopted in 2014; Ayers said teachers in a lot of districts are not aware there are new science-teaching standards in place. Her job is to help teachers understand the science standards and translate them into classroom practices.
Ayers said she goes out several times a week to speak to groups of educators ranging from three to four people up to groups of 25 individuals.
There are three instructional shifts or changes in emphasis. The first is three-dimensional, getting students to know science standards and connect them with other content areas. The second is coherence, starting with a simple idea and getting them into a deeper understanding of scientific concepts. Then there is relevance, how the study of science is important to the community and the world.
Water, clean air, agriculture and sustainable energy are key elements, Ayers explains.
“On a statewide level, that’s the next focus for science, awareness of the environment and how humans and the environment are constantly changing,” Ayers said.
Most county school districts are still in the awareness phase of new science standards. It will take teachers a while to translate practices into next generation science standards, according to Ayers.
From what she has noticed, Ayers said students love their time learning science. Teaching science uses a lot of materials and it is difficult to set up a classroom to teach the subject.
“One of my things is improving lives through science. The goal for science is understanding our world. Once you understand science you can improve on things, such as medicine, brain function, self-care, and environmental productivity,” Ayers said.
Ayers has been in education for 19 years. She got her master of arts degree from Teachers College of San Joaquin in Stockton after attending UC Davis and California State University, Fresno. She has been with the Merced County Office of Education for three years and taught for 16 years in Madera and Le Grand.
“Talking with educators on where they are with science education, I have had some wonderful feedback. This has helped make science standards comprehensible,” Ayers said.
Ayers has two special projects. One is a mother-daughter science camp held over six sessions in January or February at UC Merced and the MCOE complex. About 25 girls and their moms take part in half-day interactive lessons with hands-on demonstrations in math, biology, physics, chemistry and computer science.
The American Association of University Women started the science camp 11 years ago.
“People say it’s wonderful. It’s really powerful. Moms are seeing science lessons as adults and support their children in science studies. It’s a nice program,” Ayers said.
Ayers’ other project is the summer SWEET program conducted at school sites. The program, which began in 2014, stands for Students Who Experience Engineering and Technology.
Ayers is planning an “Unpacking NGSS K-12” seminar Nov. 21 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The session, which costs $75, is designed for administrators, teachers, librarians and academic coaches.
Participants will learn how to read grade-level standards, understand why the next generation science standards were developed and learn associated terms and vocabulary, as well as understanding instructional shifts required in the standards.
For more information, contact Ayers at rayers@mcoe.org or call 381-5971.

Ballico-Cressey Students Continue Taiko Tradition with Nov. 20 Performance

A group of Ballico-Cressey School District students are taking part in an age-old tradition of Taiko drumming and will give a performance the community can enjoy later this month.
Like a kettle drum, Taiko drums produce a wide variety of sounds from deep to high-pitched. From Japan and catching on in the United States, Taiko drums originally were fashioned from tree trunks but now are generally made from wine barrels.
Retired Ballico-Cressey teacher Christine Kubo now has 23 students from fourth to eighth grades in her Taiko performing group and another 15 students in the beginning to intermediate group.
The group has 17 drums, some of them made by Kubo’s husband Dan, also a retired teacher and a semi-recent Taiko drummer himself.
Christine Kubo said Taiko drumming now has become an art form. In the late 1940s, the Kumi-daiko style of ensemble drumming developed in Japan. Seiichi Tanaka, a Japanese Grand Master, brought it to San Francisco in the 1950s.
“It started out as a way of expressions and was felt to be an essential part of cultural celebration,” Christine Kubo said.
Dan Kubo said the Taiko style started in Japan was influenced by American jazz. He started to play three years ago but his main attraction was building the drums themselves. He figures he has made about 20 of the drums, including hand-held versions used solely for practice. He also has crafted the stands that the drums are placed on.
Ten years ago, former district superintendent Jose Gonzalez, now the superintendent of Planada schools, encouraged teachers to develop after-school clubs and activities for students.
“The rest is history,” Christine Kubo said. “It started with 14 kids from fourth to eighth grades, and adults joined us. We also teach Taiko at Cressey School which has transitional kindergarten through second grade. They get 25-minute lessons once a week.”
Except for one year at Keyes, Christine Kubo taught for 30 years at Ballico-Cressey schools, retiring three years ago. She taught all grades along with special education.
As a child growing up in Japan, she said it was exciting to see performances with Taiko drums. She has been playing the Taiko drums for about 25 years. Dan Kubo taught at Ballico-Cressey for 12 years, mostly junior high social studies, and went to the schools there years before as did his father.
“I love the music that comes off Taiko. I really enjoy it. There often is a lot of movement with it, almost like dance. The sound is really basic and incorporates some Japanese-style techniques along with contemporary music rhythms,” Dan Kubo said.
Christine Kubo said students work on composing song variations themselves. It takes about three years for students to reach performing level status. However, even the beginners will have a part in the Nov. 20 winter recital at 6 p.m. in the Ballico-Cressey School gymnasium. The 90-minute program is intended for school and community audience members. An end-of-year recital is customarily held in May as well.
Christine Kubo said Taiko is performed across the United States and Canada, along with Mexico, Germany, England, Spain, South America and Europe. Dan Kubo added virtually all of the University of California campuses, including Merced, have Taiko groups, along with UCLA and Stanford University.
Christine Kubo said late last summer the school took 11 of its performing group students to the three-day North American Taiko Conference in Portland, Ore. Local students performed the opening act at a community concert. Ballico-Cressey students also attended a 2011 conference at Stanford and a 2017 conference in San Diego.
“Taiko is a way to have a voice. It is animated and spirited. It’s a means of expressing oneself more than anything else. In Japan it started as an accompaniment and then became a stand-on-its-own musical form,” Christine Kubo said.

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November 15 , 2019

Ventura Court Limits Placement of Ross Wollschlager to Ventura County Locations

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office previously issued a press release informing residents that addresses in Merced County were being vetted by the Ventura County Superior Court as possible placement locations for Ross Wollschlager, a man scheduled for release from the California Department of State Hospitals, following mental health treatment as a Sexually Violent Predator pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 6600. On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the Superior Court of Ventura County withdrew its previous finding of “extraordinary circumstances”, governing placement of Mr. Wollschlager. By removing the designation of “extraordinary circumstances”, the Court order issued yesterday restricts Mr. Wollschlager’s placement to addresses located within Ventura County. As a result of the Court’s order, previously identified placement locations within the counties of Merced, Madera, and Fresno were immediately eliminated from consideration. Mr. Wollschlager’s original convictions stemmed from activity in Ventura County, and now Mr. Wollschlager’s release and continued mental health treatment will also take place in Ventura County. Numerous members

 

of the Merced, Madera, and Fresno communities responded to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office between Friday and Tuesday, voicing concerns and opposition to the potential release of Mr. Wollschlager into their county. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office filed a formal opposition with the Ventura County Superior Court and included the input received from the community. This Office believes the community responses forwarded to the Superior Court in Ventura were effective and persuasive. We thank the community for their immediate cooperation and help with our earlier request for input.

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November 15 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERMITTENT FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct intermittent full closures of eastbound and westbound State Route 140 for blasting to remove boulders near the roadway. Work will occur as follows:
• Intermittent full-closure of eastbound and westbound Route 140 from Briceburg to Slate Gulch for blasting and boulder removal on Monday, November 18, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
• Intermittent full-closure of eastbound and westbound Route 140 from Crane Creek Road to Yosemite National Park for blasting and boulder removal on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
The intermittent full-closures can occur at anytime during the hours listed and will likely involve 20-minute delays. One-way traffic control will be in effect during the remainder of the working hours listed for debris removal. Motorists are asked to please plan their daily trips with these intermittent full closures in mind.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.


 

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 

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November 13 , 2019


Merced and Stanislaus County Voters Rally to Gray

Assemblymember Adam Gray has submitted over 1,700 signatures of voters in the 21st Assembly District to qualify for placement on the ballot in lieu of paying a filing fee. "I have collected signatures to get my name on the ballot every time I have run for office," said Gray. "It's hard work, but meeting voters at their door and hearing about what matters to them is essential in order for me to represent them well up in Sacramento," he added.

Gray will appear on March 2020 ballot seeking reelection to the State Assembly. "Most legislators have stopped the practice of collecting signatures and just pay the filing fee instead," said Mike Lynch, Gray's campaign manager. "Adam likes to do it this way. It the best kind of endorsement any candidate can get. Last election, he was the only State Assembly candidate who got on the ballot by signatures alone," said Lynch. "I suspect he will be one of the few to do so in 2020 also."

Gray has already received early endorsements from Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, California Professional Firefighters, and the California Teachers Association, along with many individual residents and leaders of the district and area.

"This is a no brainer for those of us who live here," said Planada School Superintendent Jose Gonzalez. "We have never had a representative who fights for us like Adam Gray," he added. "Whether the issue is stopping the water grab, getting a medical school and more doctors for the valley or securing equitable school funding, Gray is fierce in advocating for us. He puts us first, before partisanship or politics."

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November 9, 2019

YARTS OFFERS FREE RIDES TO YOSEMITE FOR VETERANS DAY

MERCED – The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) is offering free rides to Yosemite National Park for all passengers on Sunday, November 10 and Monday, November 11 in honor of the Veterans Day holiday. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis; those interested in using the service are advised to arrive early at pick-up locations.
YARTS is also offering up to two reduced price roundtrip tickets to Yosemite National Park to all Merced County residents on days when regular service is provided. The tickets are priced at $7.50 each and are available while supplies last or until June 30, 2020. A child under 17 can ride free with each reduced-fare ticket purchased. Funding for the program is provided by the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program awarded by the State of California. To learn more about the reduced-fare program or to purchase tickets visit www.yarts.com.
YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite. YARTS schedules make connections with all intercity transportation providers in Merced: Amtrak, Greyhound and Boutique Air at the Merced Airport, and also connects to transit providers in Mono, Tuolumne and Fresno Counties during summer operations. United Airlines also provides connection through its carriers to Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Mammoth Lakes Airport. Park entrance fees are always included in any YARTS trip.
For more information about YARTS, ticket prices, or the seasonal schedules, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.

 

YARTS is a California Joint Powers Authority comprised of Merced, Mariposa and Mono Counties in partnership with Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service and the United States Forest Service. The Merced County Association of Governments provides staff services and operational support for YARTS.

 

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November 9, 2019


Veterans Day tributes, office closures

City offices are closed Mon., Nov. 11 for Veterans Day. There will be no trash collection that day. All refuse collection will be delayed one day the rest of the week.
The Veterans Day Parade will begin at 2 p.m. on Main Street, going from G to Canal streets, and then on 18th Street from Canal to N streets. Opening ceremonies will be at Bob Hart Square beginning at 1 p.m.
The Field of Honor, a tribute to veterans and first responders on the front lawn of Merced College, is open Nov. 9 through Nov. 16. Opening ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 and closing ceremonies at 2 p.m. Nov. 16.

 

City offices will also be closed Nov. 28 and 29 for Thanksgiving. There is no trash pickup Thursday. Collection will be delayed one day the rest of the week.

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November 6 , 2019

FFA Members Attend aMAZEing Meeting!

Written by: Atwater FFA

Over 250 Atwater High School FFA members attended the October FFA chapter meeting at the Atwater High School agriculture department on October 22nd with the 2019-2020 FFA chapter officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The student run meeting provided the students with an opportunity to share and discuss the recent calendar events and activities. Students were updated about the recent fundraisers such as the Take-Out BBQ, Beautification Day, the FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest, and the upcoming annual Greenhand / Chapter Degree Ceremony. Upcoming information regarding the local and sectional FFA Project Competition taking place later next month.
The meeting was followed by a free BBQ for the students. “It’s great to see the students get excited and involved,” said FFA Advisor and BBQ extraordinaire Sam Meredith. “I’m really proud of the students who have taken to become members of the elite Atwater FFA BBQ crew!”
Before the trip to Hunter Farms Corn Maze the chapter officers and meetings committee organized several games that the members could take part in. These games included a ski game, ring toss, mummy wrapping, pie eating, pumpkin decorating and a piñata. The members who attended enjoyed either playing games or cheering on their peers. FFA member Reagan Puthuff said, “This is my favorite meeting of the year because the games are always so much fun and really give members a chance to express themselves in a fun open environment.”
The highlight of the evening was a trip to Hunter Farms in Atwater. One hundred FFA members attended the trip in two buses. “The trip to Hunter Farms provided our students with a local activity that was very enjoyable for all,” said FFA advisor Kim Mesa.
For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School FFA members Yazmin Gonzalez, Sabrina Lopez, Hayley Vargas, Kendall Borba, Jerrod Nickerson, Michael Bray, and Simarjot Gandhoke gather together at Hunter Farms with their pumpkins during the annual FFA "corn maze" meeting.


Some of the one hundred Atwater High School FFA members gathered at Hunter Farms and their agriculture education exhibit and show which included the background and history of Hunter Farms and their continued growth and expansion of their annual pumpkin patch operation.


Atwater High School agriculture student Patrick Diaz (center) goes after the pinata being pulled by fellow student Jerrod Nickerson during the Halloween games held after school during the FFA meeting.


Atwater High School FFA member Andrew Caudra (center) participates in the ring toss surrounded by classmates Natlaia Helms, Nadia Aguilar, Claudia Reyna, Hannahmea Reyes, NaomyGonzalez, Stefanie Sanchez, Omar Hernandez, Quandre Charles, Daniel Junez, and David Alfaro.

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November 1 , 2019

David A Torres III
September 08,1967 - October 27, 2019

David Anthony Torres III, 52 of Merced Ca, passed away October of 2019. A memorial service will be held Sunday November 3, 2019. At 1:00pm at Yosemite lake in Merced Ca. Funeral arrangements are being held by Whitton family funeral home. David was born in Merced Ca on September 08,1967. He graduated from Merced high school In 1985. David was married to Jennifer Garett of Mesa, Arizona. David's career involved truck driving coast to coast. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, spending time with his grandkids and family. David is survived by his spouse, Jennifer, Mesa Arizona. His children Nicole Merced, Alyssa Torres, Snelling, David Torres IV, Sacramento. His grandchildren Xavier, and Natalie. His mother Beatrice G. Torres, Merced. His siblings Manuel Yanez, Tracy Elizabeth Yanez-Jackson, Soledad Daniel A. Torres, Merced Olivia A. Knight, Sacramento
He's also survived by numerous nephews and nieces. And other family and friends.

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October 16, 2019

New building would replace aging Merced Police HQ
The Merced City Council has directed staff to explore the costs of building a new, central police headquarters station, while keeping a strong neighborhood police presence. During the special meeting held Sept. 30, the Council decided the new central station would be designed for a larger, more diverse police force that continues to embrace new technology and community policing.

In 1959 Hawaii became a state, gas cost 25 cents a gallon, Eisenhower was president, and Merced built a new police station.
Much has changed in those six decades, but it’s still basically the same police station at 611 W. 22nd St. A second floor was added in 1981, however, the headquarters is still is overcrowded, has problems with the HVAC system and ceiling tiles plop down unexpectedly.
There are major safety and code issues with the structure. It was designed for a much smaller staff and built when police departments were male and cutting-edge technology was photocopies, which Xerox introduced in 1959.
“I’ve been on the police force for 23 years, and it’s been overcrowded for at least 20 of them,” said Police Chief Chris Goodwin. “The other three I was out on patrol and didn’t notice it as much.”
The Police Department and City staff have reviewed the situation and pondered solutions. They looked at new police headquarters buildings in California, and when traveling to a conference on building new police stations, staff looked at stations out-of-state.
Experts who have designed and constructed police stations for big departments like the City of Seattle, and smaller ones like Morgan Hill have evaluated the situation.
“The City needs a police headquarters station that is designed for today’s world, not the 1950s,” said City manager Steve Carrigan. “It worked back then, but not now. It’s a nightmare situation for the men and women of the Department, and it doesn’t serve the community at all.”
At a special meeting Sept. 30, the City Council heard from the consultants who conducted a needs assessment on the police station. The Council decided that they have to plan for a station for the future, one that would grow with the City and the Department. However, they also want the Department to continue to have a large neighborhood presence, possibly with “police storefronts” or some other locations for residents to meet officers and fill out reports and obtain services.
The City’s expert’s, McClaren, Wilson and Lawrie, Inc., said that building prices will only go up, so it will cost less money to build it now, rather than add on to it later. They also pointed out that adding on to a police headquarters isn’t like a home, where you add on another bedroom or two. With the police facility, it all grows in steps -- you need to add more lockers, addition desk space for detectives or more to the existing evidence storage. It’s better to build a bigger station, and leave some space temporarily empty, and then fill it as it needed, the consultants said.

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Subscribe Merced – a direct connection to City Hall

There’s no such thing as over communicating at the City of Merced. The City has a variety of social media platforms, email lists, a newsletter and online alerts to stay in touch with residents. The City web site also offers a wealth of information – pages of data, agendas and reports.

However, it’s still common to hear people say they didn’t know about a meeting, a project, a road closure, or some other activity going on at City Hall. For whatever reason the word didn’t reach him or her, so – bottom line – the City didn’t get the job done.

Subscribe Merced is a new, free communications tool that the City has added to its inventory to connect to people and make it easier to stay informed.

“We keep reaching out to people, so they hear us and we hear them,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “Subscribe Merced gave us another way that staff
would be able to tie in with the community, so the public would know what we are doing. If people don’t know what we are doing, then it’s a vacuum, and that’s bad.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to hear our message, and Subscribe Merced is one more way,” Carrigan said.

With Subscribe Merced, people sign up at the City website – cityofmerced.org – and then pick whether they receive notifications via text or email. Then there are more choices to make as they have a menu to select what notifications to receive.

Want agendas but not bids? Not a problem. Click on one box, but not the other.

Want Police announcements, Fire announcements and road closures? Great. Check all three boxes. How about Parks and Recreation information? People can click on all 18 categories, or just select those that appeal to them.

“Subscribe Merced allows all City Departments to communicate with residents,” said Jeff Bennyhoff, the Director of Information Technology. “Before we had Subscribe Merced not all the Departments had the technological tools for digital outreach.”


photo shows the original design of the Merced Police Department headquarters prior to the 1981 addition.

The Department currently is budgeted for 98 officers and 39 civilian staff. Council directed staff to begin planning for a future station that designed for 154 officers and 55 staff for a City of more than 120,000 people.
It would take 6 to 8 acres of land to hold the facility. Council did not make any choices on where to put the stations, that was left for a later date.
The main police station for the headquarters would be at least 50,199 square feet. It would include a dispatch center, front counter room, space for patrol officers, detectives, interview rooms and holding cells. There would workspace for specialized training community meetings, youth programs, volunteers and community policing programs.
A big issue in the current building is the shortage of locker space. The current building was designed when the Department was smaller and male. Since then the Department has grown and women have joined the force, so lockers for women have had to be squeezed into the existing building. But another challenge is the equipment that the men and women wear also is growing. Officers didn’t wear ballistic vests or cameras when the lockers were installed. And specialized teams like the SWAT unit mean that some officers have two uniforms to store. All of that means additional locker space is needed.
On the same site would be a support building of at least 23,784 square feet. It would used for everything from storing evidence to holding specialized vehicles. Currently officers and staff have to drive several miles across town to get evidence, pick up stored vehicles and obtain anything else that doesn’t fit into the cramped police headquarters.
There are still several issues to be decided at future Council meetings: The final look of the HQ building and the price tag, how the building will be funded and location. All of the meetings on the police headquarters stations, and other Council business, are open to the public. The agendas are posted at www.cityofmerced.org. People can sign up to receive information about the City and the agendas at Subscribe Merced, available at the City’s website.


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The Merced Police Department has been one of the biggest users, regularly putting out news releases out through Subscribe Merced. “Police announcements and road closures are the most read categories,” Bennyhoff said. Agendas and job listings are popular, too, he said.

The service has been up and running for about two months and there are 638 subscribers. Altogether, they have signed up for 5,575 different topics. Bennyhoff said.

“The service is more efficient for Departments and allows them to communicate more effectively,” he said

Parks and Recreation likes Subscribe Merced because the Department can post popular events like softball sign-ups, and preempt a few calls.
“We are putting out all of our sign-ups and all of our events on Subscribe Merced,” said Parks and Recreation Director Joey Chavez. “It’s a great service.”

Social media is popular, and the City has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube as platforms to reach the public. However, not all of the platforms will directly reach the intended audience, and sometimes people prefer particular social media platforms.

“Subscribe Merced is an alternative for people who don’t use social media, or who want to get the messages sent directly to them,” Bennyhoff said. “We protect your information, only using it to send the notifications you requested through the services.”

Signing up for Subscribe Merced is easy. Go to cityofmerced.org and a popup window should invite you to sign up. If the window doesn’t come up, look for Subscribe Merced under Services. Or click on this link https://bit.ly/2HhFEik.

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October 16, 2019

MCOE Migrant Education Program Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in Merced County for about a month and the commemoration will continue through the end of October.
Leading the celebration is Raul Z. Diaz of the Merced County Office of Education, director of migrant education for Region III, which includes Merced, Madera and Stanislaus counties. The program serves 31 area school district and 6,500 students from preschool through 21 years of age.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions.
“I know people before us who opened the doors for us. It’s our responsibility to open the doors wider and deeper for generations to come,” Diaz said.
Diaz, 66, has been in education since 1976 and has been a high school counselor, and administrator of migrant education programs in different capacities for 30 years in Stanislaus, Monterey and Merced counties.
The last of nine children and the first in his family to go to college, Diaz said his career has been “quite a journey” and he has no regrets about going into education.
“No, I would take this path again that God has led me to. Those are my roots,” Diaz said.
Hispanic educational leaders often are asked what was the difference, the thing that made them succeed. It boils down to the desire to strive, “ganas” which is the Spanish word for having the hunger to succeed, according to Diaz.
The desire to succeed is part of the immigrant trait and that’s no different for Irish, Italian, Chinese or Hispanic individuals, the desire to live the American dream. It’s the desire to succeed, strive and be all you can be, Diaz said.
Like all groups, Hispanics are involved in all facets of society from farming to business, education and leadership in government, he said.
The primary focus of the MCOE Migrant Education Program is to help students complete their education and remove barriers to them along the way. These barriers could be academic, health or lack of information from their parents, Diaz said.
“So many children have not set foot on a university campus like UC Merced, Merced College, Stanislaus State and Fresno State. They have never been to the ocean or the Bay Area. They have never been presented with educational options like past generations,” Diaz said.
About 80 percent of migrant education students are English language learners and are working hard to develop English language skills. The migrant program’s goal is to support English language learning activity and boost writing and mathematics skills, so students can compete in mainstream education activities.
While the Hispanic Heritage Month commemoration ends Oct. 15, Diaz said it will continue through the end of the month through a collaboration with all Merced Union High School District high schools.
Hispanic students are encouraged to celebrate “The Day of the Dead” by building altars with pictures, drawings and mementoes in memory of their loved ones. These altars will be on display at Trevino’s Mexican Restaurant at Main and K streets in Merced from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2; patrons will be asked to vote on their favorite altars.
This celebration is to foster the value of traditions in Hispanic parents and their students.
“We encourage people to go by and look at these altars. A program on Nov. 2 will recognize these students,” Diaz said.

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Hilmar Unified, Partners to Host Free Heart Screenings

The Hilmar Unified School District is partnering with several other organizations to provide its second free heart screening Nov. 3 for anyone 12 to 25 years of age.
This screening is vital to preventing sudden cardiac arrest — the number one killer of student athletes and the leading cause of death on school campuses, according to a San Francisco-based screening organization.
Michelle Komos, the district’s nurse, believes that screening might have saved the life of Franky Silveira, the 25-year-old Hilmar High School assistant football coach who died in 2011 from complications of an enlarged heart.
“We could have saved Franky too if he had the screening back then. Nobody in this area has ever done heart screening. We are the first to have it done,” Komos said.
She’s in charge of the health and welfare of more than 2,400 students from kindergarten through high school in the northern Merced County district. She hopes that 750 people will take advantage of the free and essential screening program.
The free heart screening will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Hilmar High School, 7807 Lander Ave., Hilmar. It’s open to all 12 to 25-year-olds regardless of the school they attend.
Komos is hoping people from Merced, Delhi, Livingston and Turlock areas will take part in the screening conducted by the San Francisco-based Via Heart Project.
While there have been no sudden cardiac arrest incidents on Hilmar campuses, Komos points to the lifesaving diagnosis young Jason Pimentel received April 9, 2017 at the first such screening.
Pimentel, now a sophomore, played on the junior varsity football team and with a traveling varsity baseball team. The heart screening showed four critical areas in his heart, subsequently corrected by heart catheterization surgery. He’s no longer at-risk and resumed his sports activities.
“We saved his life. He never had any symptoms. It was huge; he was a ticking time bomb and would have died,” Komos said.
At that April screening, 361 students were screened and three were found at-risk.



Merced County Office of Education Migrant Education Director Raul Diaz oversees Region III, which encompasses Madera, Merced and Stanislaus counties. The program serves 6,500 students and their families in 31 school districts across those three counties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Komos and Frank Marques, Hilmar head football coach, are co-chairing the upcoming screening. They need 150 to 200 medical and non-medical volunteers to help with the screening.
Marques and Komos have raised $2,000 to cover screening costs and report people are eager to donate and support the effort once they learn about it. Marques learned about the cardiac screening through his involvement with the CIF sports sanctioning organization and its health protocols.
Each VIA screening includes registration, blood pressure, height and weight checks, a health history review, hands-only CPR and AED training, an electrocardiogram, cardiology consultation and echocardiogram.
Heart screenings are completely painless and non-invasive.
While few parents think of heart issues as something that could affect children, an estimated one in 300 school-aged children suffer from an undiagnosed heart defect, many of which could lead to cardiac arrest and death. And the risk of complications can be higher for students who are active in sports, gymnastics, dance or other strenuous activities. Often the first warning sign is death, according to the Via Heart Project.
Sponsors of the heart screening include Emanuel Medical Center, EMC Health Foundation, Hilmar Cheese Co., Danielle’s Gift, Riggs Ambulance Service, Manuel and Connie Piers, Mary Pat Thompson and Pioneer Drug Store No. 2.
The screening is conducted by volunteer Hilmar and Bay Area health professionals including cardiologists, sonographers, and nurses. The entire process takes about 60 to 90 minutes, with no needles or X-ray exposure.
Via Heart Project screening is supplemental to a child’s annual exam or school sports physical. Participants also have the option to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills and how to use an automated external defibrillator during the screening.
To participate, register at the Via Heart Project website https://viaheartproject.org/events/coach-franky-silveira-teen-heart-screening-2019/.
Registration closes at noon Nov. 1 and the screening is limited to 750 people.

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October 16, 2019

 

Atwater High School FFA Students Promote “Farm2U”

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Members of the Atwater High School FFA joined nearly a 100 presenters and 2500 third grade students from local schools throughout Merced County and participated in the Merced County Farm Bureau’s 8th annual “Farm2U” event on October 10th at the Merced County Fairgrounds. The purpose of the event was to build a connection between people and the importance of agriculture. “There is a trend of misconceptions pertaining agriculture and the agriculture industry, and we wanted to showcase with the younger generation the positive aspects and importance of agriculture,” said Atwater FFA Advisor Kim Mesa.
The 2500 third-grade children visited Merced County Fairgrounds received “hands-on” experience of various agriculture industry sectors. “This is a tremendous event and activity for young kids to be exposed to one of our community's primary industries,” said Atwater High School agriculture instructor Natalie Borba. “The opportunity to get kids excited and learn about agriculture and its importance to us all is very rewarding.” Various agriculture industry representatives from the county participated in the event. Local FFA students attended the event as presenters.
“Many kids never have the opportunity to see and be around farm animals and the goal is that this experience is a positive one and results in a greater appreciation of agriculture,” said Atwater FFA member Michael Bray. “Our high school is focusing on “community” and this event provided us high school students the opportunity to interact with a future generation of students regarding the value and importance of agriculture.”
The Atwater High School FFA continues to get members involved in making a positive difference within the community through opportunities like “Farm2U”. For more information on Atwater FFA, you can log onto AtwaterFFA.org website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter.


Atwater High School agriculture and floriculture students Marissa Nuno, Noelia Barrios, Hayley Vargas, Perla Caballero give a presentation on the floral industry to students who attended the annual Farm2U event held at the Merced County Fairgrounds.


Atwater High School agriculture students Adam Freitas and Colby Flatt give a presentation on dairy cattle and the dairy industry to students who attended the annual Farm2U event held at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

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October 16, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by :Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

“Power of You” is the 2019-2020 theme for the California FFA Association as over ninety high school FFA chapter officer teams gathered at Gregori High School in Modesto for the annual Chapter Officer Leadership Conference (COLC) on September 28th.
The purpose of this conference was to prepare student leaders in the planning and implementation of their FFA and agriculture program goals for the current school year. The conference is a way for students to interact with other students and schools while learning valuable communication skills. “I had a great time getting to know other chapters and sectional officers from the central region.” said Atwater FFA Chapter President Hayley Vargas. “I gained new ideas towards being an effective and productive chapter officer.”
At the beginning of each school year, the Atwater FFA chapter officer team established a calendar of events, identified their goals, and also created a vision of success. With the assistance of local and state FFA members, various leadership conferences such as COLC, are held to assist students with the resources and tools needed to accomplish their tasks. “The FFA is a student run organization,” reminds Atwater FFA advisor Kim Mesa, “It’s up to the chapter officers as leaders to set the foundation, implement the game plan, and fuel the enthusiasm of their peers.”
Various presentations and workshops were delivered to assist each officer with their individual officer duties. Team building, student recruitment, and successful program of activities were also addressed. Over 600 students in between Merced and Sacramento counties participated in the conference.


Atwater High School FFA officers Sabrina Lopez, Simarjot Gandhoke, Alyssa Carrillo, Daniel Lopez, Eryka Lepper, Emmanuel Mejia, and Jennifer Velazquez gather together during the "Power of You" FFA leadership conference held recently in Modesto.

From these leadership opportunities, the Atwater FFA officer team was able to bring many new and exciting ideas back to the chapter. The chapter officers were also very excited to meet the new 2019-2020 State FFA and Central Region FFA officer teams. This year’s state FFA theme “Power of You” pertains to students believing in themselves and their ability to be the best they can be, and encouraging students to stay true to themselves and remember why they have a love for agriculture and FFA. “Our officer team saw some great ideas and hope to bring the passion we felt at COLC back to Atwater.” said Atwater FFA Secretary Jennifer Velazquez. “It’s up to you to make things happen in life.”
The Atwater FFA officers that attended were Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian.
For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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October 16, 2019

Delhi Unified Uses Drones as Additional Security Measure

Tim Matsen, one of Delhi Unified School District’s safety officer, is passionate about keeping students and staff members safe. And he has a new tool to protect district pupils and property — drones.
Matsen, a retired sheriff’s deputy and an ex-Marine, is a key member of the district’s safety team, which was instituted in January 2018.
Matsen and safety officers Casey Barnett and Ricardo Lemus patrol the district’s five campuses, including the high school, middle school and three elementary school campuses in specially marked patrol cars. The northern Merced County school district has 2,700 students from transitional kindergarten through high school.
Three drones regularly “prowl” the sprawling campuses and district Superintendent Adolfo Melara is ebullient about the devices and their effectiveness.
“We believe they (drones) are a way to keep our children and staff safe,” Melara said. “They’re visible; it’s a great investment for the district. And I’m very proud of the work of our District Safety Officers.”
Melara said the drones, put into use in July, have already helped the district’s safety plan. In their plans for the future, he said drones are an integral part of the security system.
Matsen, Arnett and Lemus regularly use the drones, particularly during the schools’ lunch hours. With the drones they can quickly detect when any incident going on, if there are uninvited guests on campus or if a student is leaving school earlier than he should.
“For me, it’s serious, protecting kids. They’re our future. The drones give you a bird’s-eye view of what’s in the area,” Matsen said. He has been with the district for 11 years.
The drones were financed by state LCAP funds. Melara is looking at the possibility of adding a fourth security officer soon in the next budget. He said the district has seen a positive impact from adding the safety officers.
The drones also are used to check the district’s bus routes. Matsen and the other officers can alert the Merced County Sheriff’s Department deputies about suspicious incidents and recently alerted them to a house fire.
The drones are more of a deterrent to prevent illegal activities, especially when people are aware they are in use.
“The drones are a supplement to fixed security cameras on school sites. It’s an extra set of eyes and another tool we can use. We’ve started off well and we’re growing with the district,” Matsen said.
Melara said the safety officers are very responsive, aided by two-way radios.
“Anytime something comes up, we attend to it,” Melara said.
Each safety officer has a specialty. Barnett is an expert locksmith and Lemus is the technology expert, with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from California State University, Stanislaus. He’s the district’s expert on security cameras and the drones.
The drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras which can take still pictures or video. Safety officers can mobilize the drones within three or four minutes.
Matsen said they have received a lot of compliments from parents about the precautions they take and the security team is being accepted by local residents.
But not everybody has welcomed the drones. In mid-August one of the drones flying 100 feet above Delhi High School was attacked by a hawk. The drone, its six whirring blades and its camera gear, were destroyed in the hawk attack and subsequent crash. Thanks to a warranty, another drone soon took its place. No word on what happened to the hawk.



Delhi Unified School District Safety Officer Ricardo Lemus — the district's technology expert — operates a drone at Delhi Education Park. The drones serve as an additional safety measure for the school district.

PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 

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October 16, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM FOURTH STREET TO ROUTE 49 IN MARIPOSA

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Fourth Street to the junction of Route 49 for a community event. Motorists should expect delays of 10 minutes.
The highway will be closed on Friday, October 18, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
This event is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

 

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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October 5 , 2019


Charter measure, zone change on Council agenda


A ballot measure on Charter amendments and a public hearing on a zone change are on the City Council agenda for its Monday night meeting.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• The Council will consider a resolution to place a ballot measure on the March 3, 2020, ballot to amend various sections of the City Charter. The measure would be on the same ballot as the statewide primary election.

• The Council is being asked to approve a zone change for .52 acres of property at McKee Road and Yosemite Avenue. Council also is being asked to approve a conditional use permit for a mixed-up project at the site and adjacent property that would allow 428 studio apartments and some retail.

• Also on the agenda is a public hearing on an ordinance to revise the hours of use in City parks. The ordinance would revise the hours to follow a “dawn to dusk” approach to enhance public safety in City parks. There would be provisions for special events after hours.

 

The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in closed session to discuss the initiation of litigation.

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and 72 hours before the meeting at the City Clerk’s Office. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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October 4 , 2019

TRAFFIC ALERT Mariposa County State Route 49

Two fires, one north and one south of the town of Mariposa are causing full closures of State Route 49 in Mariposa County.

UPDATE: Mariposa County Fires- State Route 49
(Thursday, October 3, 2019; 4:15 p.m.)


One-way traffic control is now in effect on Route 49 north of the town of Mariposa.

All lanes open on Route 49 south of Mariposa.

Please watch for emergency vehicles and avoid area if possible.

Use Caltrans Quickmap for road information: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 

 


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TRAFFIC ADVISORY
15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO THE MARIPOSA/TUOLUMNE COUNTY LINE

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will
perform one-way traffic control on State Route 49 from Bear Valley Road to the
Mariposa/Tuolumne County Line beginning Tuesday, October 8, 2019, until Thursday,
October 10, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for drainage work.
Motorists should expect up to 15-minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic
incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction
related issues.

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October 4 , 2019

MCOE, McSwain, Weaver Take Top Honors at Excellence in Education Awards

Parents, students, educators and the community celebrated with educators, school employees and school administrators from across the county at the annual Excellence in Education awards on Oct. 3 at the Merced Theatre.
Lance Brewster, a custodian/bus driver with the McSwain Union Elementary School District, was named school employee of the year. Rosbelina Ward, a fourth grade teacher at Farmdale Elementary School in the Weaver Union School District in Merced, received the top teacher award and Stacy Shasky, the teacher induction program coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, received the top administrator award.
In its 14th year, the program is hosted by the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union and open to school districts across Merced County with award categories for teachers, administrators and school employees. There were three nominees for administrator of the year, seven nominees for school employee of the year and eight nominees for teacher of the year.
Shasky said she loves working with new teachers and wants to help them succeed in a teaching environment. She has been with MCOE for four years and has a master’s degree in language arts from California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock. She also has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and communications from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in agricultural communications from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Ward has been at Farmdale for 12 years and taught for one year at Shaffer Elementary School in Atwater. She has a bachelor’s degree in education with a liberal studies emphasis.
“I love working with students who are eager and have potential,” Ward said. “To me it’s the most fulfilling job anyone could have. They are ready to learn and I love having that responsibility.”
Brewster has been with the McSwain district since 2014; he drives a school bus four hours a day and also cleans classrooms and performs other custodial functions.
“I just love hanging with the kids. Everything’s for them. That’s what fulfills me,” Brewster said.
For 30 years he worked with AT&T and Pacific Bell telephone systems as an operations manager. When he quit those pressure-cooker jobs, it took four months to get his bus driver certification. He worked briefly for transportation company First Student and then a job driving a school bus at McSwain School came up.
Brewster said he is really plugged into the school and volunteers whenever he can.
At the ceremony, honorees and their guests enjoyed videos produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in all categories. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year will move on to apply at the state awards program.
The awards program in its entirety will be available at the YouTube.com/metvmerced and will air on METV (Comcast channel 96 and AT&T Uverse Channel 99) daily at 5 p.m. starting Oct. 11 throughout the month of October.


Other 2019 Merced County District Honorees:

TEACHERS:
Cindy Shannon Atwater Elementary School District
Leslie Antonetti Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Barbara Azevedo Gustine Unified School District
Christine Quevedo-Sorci Los Banos Unified School District
Janet Benziger Merced County Office of Education – Preschool
Sarah Toews Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Lea Smith Merced Union High School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Esmeralda Sanchez Atwater Elementary School District
Marta Fontes Delhi Unified School District
Melissa Marshall Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Cohinda Corona Gustine Unified School District
Sandra Stevens Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services
Lynna Garcia Weaver Union School District

ADMINISTRATORS:
Kelli Parreira Atwater Elementary School District
JoAnne Birdsall Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District

 


Rosbelina Ward, a fourth grade teacher at Farmdale Elementary School in the Weaver Union School District in Merced, received the top teacher award


Lance Brewster, a custodian/bus driver with the McSwain Union Elementary School District, was named school employee of the year


Stacy Shasky, the teacher induction program coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, received the top administrator award.

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October 3 , 2019

Major Downtown improvement project begins Monday

A major Downtown Merced improvement project begins Oct. 7, and will continue through Dec. 3 on M Street and Main Street.

The project includes reconstructing the roadway on M Street from 16th to 18th streets, and Main from M to N streets. It also includes the installation of storm drain lines on that section of Main Street. Access ramps will be installed on a number of street corners throughout the project area.

There will be intermittent lane closures throughout the construction period from October through December, said City Engineer Mike Beltran.

“We apologize in advance for the disruption,” he said, “However, it’s work that needs to be done. The result will be a much better road and many of the Downtown flooding issues in the area will be addressed.”

The M Street road work is part of an on-going series of projects to improve the City’s major north-south roadway, he said.


The road closures are necessary to accomplish the construction work quickly and in the safest way for the public, he said.

“We want to complete this project in a safe and timely manner,” Beltran said. “We are working to minimize the impacts to the public and businesses in the area.”

Main Street will be closed from approximately Oct. 7 through Nov. 1 and M Street will be closed from Oct. 28 through Dec. 3. An additional closure of M Street will occur in mid-October for approximately three days.

Detour signs will be posted around the project area.


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October 1 , 2019

Residents have new option for those big trash items
Bulky Item Drop-Off site opens Tuesday for City of Merced customers

The new Bulky Item Drop-Off site will help residents throughout the year with some of their trash problems, not replace the annual Spring Clean Up.

The old couch, the grungy mattress, the broken fridge or old washer and dryer are perfect candidates for the site. The site also will take e-waste.
“This isn’t for all household waste,” cautions the City of Merced’s Recycling Coordinator Monique Gama. “This is only for those bulky items that won’t fit in your household container, unlike Spring Clean Up where you can bring all kinds of trash.”

That trash, the usual household garbage, the recycling and the leaves, grass clippings, tree branches and other green waste still needs to go into the regular containers at a resident’s house. People can also take it down the road to the Highway 59 Landfill. Household hazardous waste is another item not accepted at the Drop-Off site but can be taken to the landfill.

The Bulky Item Drop-Off site is located at the corner of No. Hwy 59 and Yosemite Ave. The Drop-Off site is open Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. and the first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. It opens for business Oct. 1.
People using the Bulky Item Drop-Off site need to be a City residential service customer and bring two forms of ID. Those are a driver’s license or ID card and a utility bill. Acceptable utility bills are City of Merced Water, Sewer and Garbage bills, PG&E or MID power bills.

In addition to being used for dropping off trash, the City’s Public Works Department is using the site for its Street Sweeping program and for light maintenance on some of its street equipment. The land had been the former Boulders Unlimited site.
The Department saw the property as an opportunity to accomplish several goals.

“We have a lot of illegal dumping in town and we hope that people will use this as a place to legally get rid of some of their bulky items,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin. “And we wanted to provide additional service to our customers since Spring Clean Up is only once a year.

“We also had needs in our Department, and there was space on the property, so we could handle the Street Sweeping and the light maintenance,” Elwin said.

Gama said staff analyzed what was being picked up at the illegal dump sites. “A lot of it was sofas, chairs, tires or random things they couldn’t put in their containers at home, and they didn’t want to take it to the landfill,” she said.

There is a Public Works crew that circulates throughout the City, picking the materials people are dumping illegally in alleys, at the curbs and in roads. “We’re getting pretty good at it, so many times we’re getting there before people call us,” Gama said, “But we don’t see everything.”

Many of the items will be diverted to other uses, like the e-waste, metals, and the like. The things that can’t be recycled will be hauled to the landfill.

If the Bulky Item Drop-Off site doesn’t solve a resident’s refuse problems, Gama said there are other solutions. The landfill is about four miles down the road, and it can handle all of the disposal needs, including hazardous waste.

The City also has options that include renting dumpsters and roll-offs, depending on the size of the project and how much stuff a resident will need hauled away. Another option is to order an extra collection for the trash container. Contact the Public Works Department for more information on those options.

For questions about the site or to talk about trash pickup options, call the Public Works Department at 209-385-6800 or got to the “Got Trash? Tab” under the Public Works Department at cityofmerced.org.


 

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October 1 , 2019

 

Oakland A’s Welcome Atwater High Ag Groundskeeper Students

Written by: Atwater FFA

Under the influence of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and the Oakland Athletics groundskeeper crew, the Oakland A’s hosted seventeen agriculture and horticulture pathway students on September 18th for their annual “Career and Education Day” and an expanded focus on sports field management.

This opportunity was due to the Atwater High School agriculture department’s expanded horticulture pathway this past year with what is to be California’s only high school course focused on turf grass and sports filed management. The Atwater High School course is called “Turfgrass and Sports Field Management” and currently has seventeen inaugural 12th graders enrolled in the class. “Turf, irrigation, and soil are the primary components of this course and those aspects are directly related to agriculture,” said Atwater High School agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “The course has connected new students into agriculture through athletics, parks, and recreation.”

Oakland A’s assistant groundskeeper supervisor Zach Ricketts welcomed the students prior to, during, and after the game to showcase the before, during, and after responsibilities and skills associated with the profession. Students arrived three hours prior the game where it was raining. This provided students first hand observation of the challenges and skills associated with preparing a field at a professional level. Following the game, students were invited on the field for a special question and answer session associated with the industry and profession. “It is great to see a high school expose and introduce kids to an industry sector that is in need for people with skills in turf and recreational fields,” said Ricketts. “I wish they had a class like this when I was in high school.” For more than half of the students who attended, this was their first professional sporting event. “It was awesome!” said Atwater High School agriculture student Andrea Moisa.

Over the past few years, the horticulture program at Atwater High School has grown in student enrollment to a current 79 students in two sections. This new course provides students with a unique opportunity to explore and expand their interests. “Every school, community, college, university, on up to professional sports has sports fields, parks, turf, and synthetic turf and this is a way to develop interest and skills for students to serve those areas,” said Gossman. Atwater High School’s agriculture staff hopes to continue and build their relationship with the Oakland A’s to help inspire students and provide professional, industry-based skills for the program and the students.

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture students Anthony Robles, Vanessa Garcia, Luz Soto, and Andrea Moisa posed next to the Oakland Athletics mascot during a major league baseball game that also includes an "Education and Career" day at the ballpark.


Oakland Athletics assistant groundskeeper supervisor Zach Ricketts (far right) held a question and answer session after the game on the Oakland A's field for Atwater High students enrolled in the new "Turfgrass and Sports Field Management" class.


It what was their first professional sporting event attendance, members of Atwater High School's "Turfgrass and Sports Field Management" class met with the Oakland A's groundskeepers to observe, learn, and connect to the industry profession's skills and responsibilities.

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October 1 , 2019

Assemblymembers Flora and Gray Announce Funding
for Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced Counties

SACRAMENTO – The Governor has signed a budget bill containing $500,000 each for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced Counties. Assemblymembers Heath Flora and Adam Gray together represent the two counties in the State Legislature, and worked to secure the funding.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs came to us earlier this year with an urgent plea to help them keep their doors open for the 1,675 underserved youth they serve in our area,” said Assemblymember Flora. “After school programs have a positive impact on the community that we were in danger of losing.”

Assemblymembers Flora and Gray represent different sides of the political aisle, but they came together in a bipartisan fashion to help the Central Valley’s underserved and at-risk youth.

“This funding came at a crucial time for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced,” said Assemblymember Gray. “Heath and I would like to thank the Governor for approving our budget request and keeping these kids enrolled in programs that help insure their future success.”

Boys & Girls Clubs Organizations throughout the country provide high-quality after school youth development, prevention and academic enrichment programs delivered by trainedadult professional staff mentors in a safe and .

secure facility in geographic areas of greatest need where families cannot afford other services. Members receive proven programs which support them to graduate from high school ready for college, trade school, military or the job market.

“It is with the deepest gratitude that we thank Assemblymembers Flora and Gray for working so closely with us and the Governor to get this funding secured that will allow us to continue to provide quality programs for the youth we serve,” said Janine McClanahan, Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Stanislaus County.

“This funding will enable us to serve more kids more often in a safe environment, providing quality youth development programs for the youth of Merced County. It means the world to us and the kids!” added Michelle W. Allison, Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Merced County.

Assemblymember Heath Flora represents the 12th Assembly District and Assemblymember Adam Gray represents the 21st Assembly District which together represents all of Stanislaus and Merced Counties and parts of San Joaquin County

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September28, 2019

Special meeting on police headquarters, fire facility

A special meeting of the Merced City Council will be held Monday, Sept. 30 on the proposed police headquarters and fire facility.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The study session will allow Council to give direction on the headquarters and facility including, but not limited to, size, configuration, funding requirements and financing structure.

Council meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item.

 

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and 72 hours before the meeting at the City Clerk’s Office. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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September19, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Meeting Is A Splash Hite

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Over 300 Atwater High School agriculture students attended the school year’s first official FFA chapter meeting. The Atwater FFA “Pool Party” meeting was held in the school cafeteria on Tuesday, September 17th with the 2019-2020 FFA Chapter Officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Once the business portion of the meeting concluded, students were treated to a complimentary BBQ and swimming at the school’s swimming pool.

The chapter meeting consisted of committee reports which included the chapter’s Take-Out BBQ fundraiser with Atwater agriculture instructor Mrs. Mesa informing the students that over 1300 tickets had been sold. “This fundraiser is always very successful due to the tremendous support of the community,” said Atwater FFA Chapter Sentinel Ethan Slate. “We are very privileged to have the support of the people in our local community.” Other items discussed on the agenda included announcements pertaining to the annual FFA Fall Plant Sale, upcoming football game BBQ crews, FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies contest, and the annual FFA Corn Maze meeting.

A free BBQ dinner was served to all of the students who attended following the meeting. “The FFA organization is a student run organization,” said Atwater FFA advisor Trey Johnston. “The students prepared, cooked, and served all the food for the meeting and as they continue to take pride in being on the BBQ team.”

The highlight of the school year’s first meeting was the swimming pool. “The meeting was a lot of fun,” said Sophomore Lily Bosh. “I am very excited to get involved with the FFA.” The Atwater FFA conducts monthly meetings that are organized, prepared, and run by the FFA chapter officers and the high school’s Ag Leadership class. “It’s great to see students pull together and work as a team in putting together such an exciting event,” said Atwater FFA advisor Shelby West.

Atwater FFA Chapter Vice President, Daniel Lopez best summarized the atmosphere best when he said, “FFA is a positive organization to get involved with because it is lots of fun, it keeps you interested, and everybody is a family.”
For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members Abby Wilson, Lili Boesch, Reagan Puthuff, and Erica Perez enjoy the afternoon pool festivities following the monthly student-run FFA meetings held earlier this month.


Atwater High School FFA members Simarjot Gandhoke, Daniel Lopez, Hayley Vargas, Joshaua Medeiros, Adan Sanchez, Patrick Diaz, Eryka Lepper, Sabrina Lopez, and Jennifer Velazquez gather weather to recognize the winners of the meeting's swim activities.

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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September 27 , 2019

Family Resource Center Celebrates 25 Years of Serving the Community

Dennis Haines wants people undergoing severe life challenges to know there’s hope at the end of the tunnel.
Haines is a family social services supervisor with the Family Resource Council, an arm of the Merced County Office of Education. This alliance of individuals and public-private organizations is celebrating 25 years this week.
About 75 people attended the celebration on Sept. 26 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, with presentations from FRC staff and partners, and a video produced by MCOE's Merced Educational Television (METV).
The council now offers an eight-module series of classes for parents which lasts 16 hours. These classes run for eight weeks. The group is currently working with parents caring for children who have experienced trauma, such as domestic violence, child abuse or drug use in the home.
“We treat every person with dignity and respect,” Haines said. “We treat people with kindness and firmness as well and we build relationships. We are meeting them where they are at.”
The council’s 3,000-square-foot office is at 1573 W. Main St., near V Street. Haines said the office typically serves 10 to 12 walk-ins a day, along with phone calls. Those visiting the center may be facing issues with food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical needs.
He estimates 300 to 400 parents attend classes each year, with more than 1,000 classes held annually. The council collaborates with the Merced County Human Services Agency, behavioral health and recovery programs, the Merced County Probation Department and First 5 of Merced County.
“People have been coming here for 25 years. They know us. Almost 5,000 people come through our office in a year. Multiply that over 20 years and you’ve got 100,000 people,” Haines said.
Haines and resource specialists Carrie Schaller and Shavon Roach conduct classes in the community in English and Spanish. The council holds family wellness meetings at the Main Street center seven times a year, typically with 15 to 20 people attending. The last session had 25 individuals participating.
Haines stresses it’s important that people feel safe talking with them. There’s no pre-judging and clients can decompress and work through the stresses they are facing. Building trust is a key component, Haines said.
Roach says everyone who walks through the door is in crisis and in need of services.
“There are so many issues going on. Not only do we meet them where they’re at, we connect them with resources. Folks in crisis need a lot of services and relationship-building is very important,” Roach said.
By the fourth module in the series of classes, Haines said parents will open up about their past and the circumstances of their lives.
Classes cover advocacy, psychological and physical safety and understanding feelings and emotions, plus making connections in the community.
“It’s been pretty amazing to me. They are defining what trauma is and talk about how the behaviors of children can be triggered by their parents’ actions. The biggest thing for us is being the hub where they go to find resources in Merced County. We want to be a place where families can connect for support,” Haines said.
During classes, Haines said parents learn how to become advocates and ask the right questions when they deal with service providers. One of the last class modes is self-care, which covers breathing exercises and how to do research on available services.
Haines said the feedback they are getting from social workers and other agencies about council programs is positive.
“We see with clients they seem to be utilizing the tools they received and are putting them into practice. The biggest compliment we get is when someone says they didn’t hit someone while they were angry or walk into a liquor store,” Haines said.
Jeff Kettering, the county’s chief probation officer, praised the council for providing education, prevention and intervention to give people an opportunity to get back into society.
Scott Pettygrove, HSA director, said his office has had a longstanding relationship with the council and it has been a successful partnership.
Haines, who has been with the program for 21 of its 25 years, said in the future he would like to see programs launched to cover anger management instruction for adults and teenagers and an eight-week series launched on strategies for effective parenting.
When it first started, the council dispersed $5,000 or $9,500 grants to participating agencies and gave out $1.2 million in about nine years. It also produced a community resource directory covering 250 different programs.
After funding changes about a dozen years ago, the council started concentrating on parenting programs for foster and adoptive parents and developing case plans with the county. Parenting programs grew to cover classes for parents and teens, and helping parents recover from substance abuse problems.


Program partners, dignitaries and community members attended the Family Resource Center's 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 26 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Family Resource Council Family Social Services Supervisor Dennis Haines addresses the crowd at the Family Resource Center's 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 26 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Merced County Human Services Agency Director Scott Pettygrove addresses the crowd at the Family Resource Center's 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 26 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen remarks on 25 years of serving families and the community at the Family Resource Center's 25th anniversary celebration on Sept. 26 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 


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September 26 , 2019

Family Resource Center Celebrates 25 Years of Serving the Community

Dennis Haines wants people undergoing severe life challenges to know there’s hope at the end of the tunnel.
Haines is a family social services supervisor with the Family Resource Council, an arm of the Merced County Office of Education. This alliance of individuals and public-private organizations is celebrating 25 years this week.
The council will be holding its 25th anniversary celebration Thursday, Sept. 26 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St., and the public is invited to attend.
The council now offers an eight-module series of classes for parents which lasts 16 hours. These classes run for eight weeks. The group is currently working with parents caring for children who have experienced trauma, such as domestic violence, child abuse or drug use in the home.
“We treat every person with dignity and respect,” Haines said. “We treat people with kindness and firmness as well and we build relationships. We are meeting them where they are at.”
The council’s 3,000-square-foot office is at 1573 W. Main St., near V Street. Haines said the office typically serves 10 to 12 walk-ins a day, along with phone calls. Those visiting the center may be facing issues with food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical needs.
He estimates 300 to 400 parents attend classes each year, with more than 1,000 classes held annually. The council collaborates with the Merced County Human Services Agency, behavioral health and recovery programs, the Merced County Probation Department and First 5 of Merced County.
“People have been coming here for 25 years. They know us. Almost 5,000 people come through our office in a year. Multiply that over 20 years and you’ve got 100,000 people,” Haines said.
Haines and resource specialists Carrie Schaller and Shavon Roach conduct classes in the community in English and Spanish. The council holds family wellness meetings at the Main Street center seven times a year, typically with 15 to 20 people attending. The last session had 25 individuals participating.
Haines stresses it’s important that people feel safe talking with them. There’s no pre-judging and clients can decompress and work through the stresses they are facing. Building trust is a key component, Haines said.
Roach says everyone who walks through the door is in crisis and in need of services.
“There are so many issues going on. Not only do we meet them where they’re at, we connect them with resources. Folks in crisis need a lot of services and relationship-building is very important,” Roach said.
By the fourth module in the series of classes, Haines said parents will open up about their past and the circumstances of their lives.
Classes cover advocacy, psychological and physical safety and understanding feelings and emotions, plus making connections in the community.


“It’s been pretty amazing to me. They are defining what trauma is and talk about how the behaviors of children can be triggered by their parents’ actions. The biggest thing for us is being the hub where they go to find resources in Merced County. We want to be a place where families can connect for support,” Haines said.
During classes, Haines said parents learn how to become advocates and ask the right questions when they deal with service providers. One of the last class modes is self-care, which covers breathing exercises and how to do research on available services.
Haines said the feedback they are getting from social workers and other agencies about council programs is positive. Council employees do not do home visits and rely on feedback they get from other agencies.
“We see with clients they seem to be utilizing the tools they received and are putting them into practice. The biggest compliment we get is when someone says they didn’t hit someone while they were angry or walk into a liquor store,” Haines said.
Jeff Kettering, the county’s chief probation officer, praised the council for providing education, prevention and intervention to give people an opportunity to get back into society.
Scott Pettygrove, HSA director, said his office has had a longstanding relationship with the council and it has been a successful partnership.
Haines, who has been with the program for 21 of its 25 years, said in the future he would like to see programs launched to cover anger management instruction for adults and teenagers and an eight-week series launched on strategies for effective parenting.
When it first started, the council dispersed $5,000 or $9,500 grants to participating agencies and gave out $1.2 million in about nine years. It also produced a community resource directory covering 250 different programs.
After funding changes about a dozen years ago, the council started concentrating on parenting programs for foster and adoptive parents and developing case plans with the county. Parenting programs grew to cover classes for parents and teens, and helping parents recover from substance abuse problems.

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September 25 , 2019

MCOE, EECU to Host 14th Annual Excellence in Education Awards

Parents, students, educators and the community are invited to celebrate with educators, school employees and school administrators from across the county as the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union host the annual Excellence in Education awards ceremony on Oct. 3 at the Merced Theatre.
The program, formerly Teacher of the Year, now has three categories: one for teachers, one for administrators and one for other school employees.
The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St. in Downtown Merced.
There are three nominees for administrator of the year, seven nominees for school employee of the year and eight nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests will enjoy videos produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in all categories. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year will move on to apply at the state awards program.

District nominees this year are:

TEACHERS:
Cindy Shannon Atwater Elementary School District
Leslie Antonetti Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Barbara Azevedo Gustine Unified School District
Christine Quevedo-Sorci Los Banos Unified School District
Janet Benziger Merced County Office of Education – Preschool
Sarah Toews Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Lea Smith Merced Union High School District
Rosbelina Ward Weaver Union School District

 

 

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Esmeralda Sanchez Atwater Elementary School District
Marta Fontes Delhi Unified School District
Melissa Marshall Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Cohinda Corona Gustine Unified School District
Lance Brewster McSwain Union Elementary School District
Sandra Stevens Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services
Lynna Garcia Weaver Union School District

ADMINISTRATORS:
Kelli Parreira Atwater Elementary School District
JoAnne Birdsall Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Stacy Shasky Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services

To RSVP for the event or for more information on the Excellence in Education program, call Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or email events@mcoe.org.


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September 24, 2019

Code Enforcement, helping you make Merced better

Everyone has a sense of pride in their neighborhood. Whether it’s the one where they grew up, or the one where they just moved to, it is home, and people want it clean, safe and livable.

Most of the time that comes with the territory -- when it doesn’t, Merced’s Code Enforcement can help.
Code Enforcement Officers can assist people in becoming good neighbors when a car parked on the front lawn, mattresses are abandoned in an alley or basketball hoops are blocking the sidewalks.

Last year the Merced Police Department’s Code Enforcement Division had 2,521 cases, and closed 80 percent of them within 30 days.
“Voluntary compliance is the goal,” said Code Enforcement Officer Jackie Hicks. “When people get the notice that usually takes care of it. It’s rare that we have people fight it.”

The three Code Enforcement officers are usually out in the field talking with residents, explaining what the City’s codes are, along with other laws that apply.
“A lot of it is educating people,” said Code Enforcement Officer Ken Bogle. “Half the people are unaware of the law. If someone does it, everyone thinks it’s normal.”

“Cars and trash cans are our biggest issues,” Hicks said. Cars on lawns, parked for long periods of time, or undergoing massive repairs on the driveway are some of the vehicle issues. Trash cans left on the street for days or weeks, or even used to reserve parking spots, are some of the other kinds of issues the Code Enforcement Officers face daily.

The Code Enforcement Officers do have some unusual calls to break up the day, like the one they got about the koi pond flooded by a neighbor’s broken water line. Then there was the call about the hen laying eggs on the neighbor’s front porch.
Some of the issues that Hicks, Bogle and Ruby Santiago deal with are:
• Abandoned appliances
• Illegal dumping
• Lack of regular landscape maintenance
• Dilapidated fences or buildings
• Overgrown vegetation
• Unsecured abandoned buildings
• Major repairs of vehicles in residential areas without a permit
• Illegal businesses in a residential area
• Parking on lawns
• Property conditions that could depreciate the value of neighboring properties

Landlord-tenant issues are a regular issue, and Hicks can tell stories about bad property owners. However, she can also match them with stories about renters who create problems, too.

There does seem to be a common element to many of the calls they get.
“It starts with the residents wanting to make it a better place to live,” Bogle said. Once that starts on a block or neighborhood, it can catch on. “Community pride, community involvement, it works,” he said. “Neighborhood Watch is also great. Every neighborhood should have it.”
Residents can help to improve their neighborhoods, keeping them safe and good looking:

• Make improvements to your own property. Sometimes just one person making improvements is enough to encourage an entire neighborhood to make changes.
• Look around. Become familiar with your neighborhood and its needs.
• Work with your neighbors. Seek a solution together.
• Get involved. Meet your neighbors. Become part of your local Neighborhood Watch program. If there isn’t one, get together with your neighbors and start one.

Code Enforcement also is part of the City’s Substandard Building Joint Task Force created to deal with blighted properties and unresponsive property owners. The group includes members from Police, Fire, Building and the City Attorney’s Office that has abated properties after a lengthy process. Even then, voluntary compliance is still the goal, and owners usually decide the clean up their property rather than go to court.

Reach Code Enforcement by calling 209-385-6912, or by using the Merced Connect app. However, expect to leave a message. They will call you back, but they spend most of their time out in the field responding to the calls they get.

Photo cutline: A car in a driveway that is undergoing major repairs in violation of City codes. Photo by Merced Code Enforcement


A car in a driveway that is undergoing major repairs in violation of City codes. Photo by Merced Code Enforcement

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Code Enforcement, helping you make Merced better

Everyone has a sense of pride in their neighborhood. Whether it’s the one where they grew up, or the one where they just moved to, it is home, and people want it clean, safe and livable.

Most of the time that comes with the territory -- when it doesn’t, Merced’s Code Enforcement can help.
Code Enforcement Officers can assist people in becoming good neighbors when a car parked on the front lawn, mattresses are abandoned in an alley or basketball hoops are blocking the sidewalks.

Last year the Merced Police Department’s Code Enforcement Division had 2,521 cases, and closed 80 percent of them within 30 days.
“Voluntary compliance is the goal,” said Code Enforcement Officer Jackie Hicks. “When people get the notice that usually takes care of it. It’s rare that we have people fight it.”

The three Code Enforcement officers are usually out in the field talking with residents, explaining what the City’s codes are, along with other laws that apply.
“A lot of it is educating people,” said Code Enforcement Officer Ken Bogle. “Half the people are unaware of the law. If someone does it, everyone thinks it’s normal.”

“Cars and trash cans are our biggest issues,” Hicks said. Cars on lawns, parked for long periods of time, or undergoing massive repairs on the driveway are some of the vehicle issues. Trash cans left on the street for days or weeks, or even used to reserve parking spots, are some of the other kinds of issues the Code Enforcement Officers face daily.

The Code Enforcement Officers do have some unusual calls to break up the day, like the one they got about the koi pond flooded by a neighbor’s broken water line. Then there was the call about the hen laying eggs on the neighbor’s front porch.
Some of the issues that Hicks, Bogle and Ruby Santiago deal with are:
• Abandoned appliances
• Illegal dumping
• Lack of regular landscape maintenance
• Dilapidated fences or buildings
• Overgrown vegetation
• Unsecured abandoned buildings
• Major repairs of vehicles in residential areas without a permit
• Illegal businesses in a residential area
• Parking on lawns
• Property conditions that could depreciate the value of neighboring properties

Landlord-tenant issues are a regular issue, and Hicks can tell stories about bad property owners. However, she can also match them with stories about renters who create problems, too.

There does seem to be a common element to many of the calls they get.
“It starts with the residents wanting to make it a better place to live,” Bogle said. Once that starts on a block or neighborhood, it can catch on. “Community pride, community involvement, it works,” he said. “Neighborhood Watch is also great. Every neighborhood should have it.”
Residents can help to improve their neighborhoods, keeping them safe and good looking:

• Make improvements to your own property. Sometimes just one person making improvements is enough to encourage an entire neighborhood to make changes.
• Look around. Become familiar with your neighborhood and its needs.
• Work with your neighbors. Seek a solution together.
• Get involved. Meet your neighbors. Become part of your local Neighborhood Watch program. If there isn’t one, get together with your neighbors and start one.

Code Enforcement also is part of the City’s Substandard Building Joint Task Force created to deal with blighted properties and unresponsive property owners. The group includes members from Police, Fire, Building and the City Attorney’s Office that has abated properties after a lengthy process. Even then, voluntary compliance is still the goal, and owners usually decide the clean up their property rather than go to court.

Reach Code Enforcement by calling 209-385-6912, or by using the Merced Connect app. However, expect to leave a message. They will call you back, but they spend most of their time out in the field responding to the calls they get.


September19, 2019

MAYOR MIKE MURPHY OPINION EDITORIAL

Our kids are back in school, back to school nights are in full swing, and the weather is cooling down. Soon the holiday season will be upon us.
As we settle into fall, I’d like to share an update on what’s happening in the City of Merced. Your City Council has been working hard to increase the quality of life in our City on the Rise.
We are in a period of strong growth in the building sector. Last fiscal year we issued more building permits than we have in any recent year. Earlier this year, Merced County was identified as having the fastest growing population in the state. Locally, much of the population growth has occurred as a result of UC Merced’s 2020 Project, which will bring the student population to 10,000 students by August 2020.
I am proud of the fact that growth in our housing stock is not just in north Merced. New subdivisions are under construction in south Merced and infill housing projects are happening in central Merced.
In our downtown, the Tioga apartments, El Capitan Hotel, and Mainzer Theatre projects are steaming ahead. Those projects will open in the coming months, bringing additional housing, entertainment, and top-rated hotel capacity to the community. A few short years ago, finding parking downtown was never a problem. Now we are making plans to create more parking to accommodate the increased demand. Downtown is becoming a destination and more improvements are on the way.
The view of Merced from the freeway will also be changing. In the coming years, the Campus Parkway interchange will be home to a five-story Hilton Garden Inn. Other plans there include a conference center, restaurants, a gas station, and multi-family housing. Expect groundbreakings on some of those in 2020 after the winter weather.
4813-0940-2532, v. 2
Work is progressing on building Campus Parkway, the 4-lane expressway that will ultimately link Highway 99 to Yosemite Avenue near the UC Merced campus. Phase II is currently under construction from Childs Avenue to Highway 140. It is more than 80 percent complete and is scheduled to be finished next year. Merced County is heading up this important project and will begin construction on Phase III in 2020.
Merced is getting some new places to take the family to eat. Teriyaki Don, a Fresno favorite, just opened in the Promenade Shopping Center. Atwater’s Freddy’s Kitchen-Torteria, is sharing its cuisine in Merced. Rally’s/Checkers Burgers is also coming. And if you just want to grab a cup of coffee, Dutch Brothers Coffee is opening a drive-thru on Childs Avenue near Parsons.
The owners of Merced Mall are moving forward with their plans to bring us an improved mall experience.

 

 

It isn’t just housing, restaurant, and retail options that are expanding. Our existing industrial businesses are also expanding, which is a good sign. It shows that our local businesses believe in our community. For example, Titan Doors, O’Keeffe’s/Safti-First, and Centurion Boats all are making major expansions to their local operations. In total, they’re adding tens of thousands of square-feet to their local facilities. All this expansion means these companies can grow sales and increase hiring.

 

Homelessness is an issue that concerns all of us. Like other California cities, we have significant challenges, but progress is being made. We will soon break ground on a complex on 13th Street with housing to help our homeless veterans. Additionally, the City is in a partnership to create a multi-family housing project at Childs Avenue and B Street. One quarter of the units will be dedicated to permanent supportive care, the kind of housing that has been shown to work in helping people experiencing homelessness.
There are big things happening in Merced, and some smaller things too. For example, one of the accomplishments that fills me with pride is the new bike path that we constructed connecting Black Rascal Creek to Bear Creek along Highway 59. The City also put in a new playground at Applegate Park. This is the City’s first wheelchair accessible playground and is adapted for children with special needs. Near John Muir Elementary we will be turning an old firehouse that was decommissioned years ago into a youth recreation center. We’ve also been steadily increasing the number of police officers and emergency dispatchers and replacing outdated vehicles and equipment in our fire, police, and public works departments.
Overall, we are headed in a good direction as a city. We will remain prudent in our fiscal expenditures saving money for the next rainy day and making key investments that will serve the public and pay dividends for many years to come. Merced is a City on the Rise.
Mike Murphy is Mayor of the City of Merced.

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September19, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA chapter officer team joined thirteen other FFA chapters from the Merced-Mariposa section at the annual FFA Sectional Officer Leadership Conference (SOLC) held at Merced College September 10th.
The annual leadership conference is held each year to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and responsibilities within their offices. The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA officer team is composed of Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian.
This year the theme for the Merced Mariposa Sectional FFA is “Stepping Towards Purpose.” Various activities were held at the conference which included understanding body language, proper etiquette, chapter fundraising, public speaking, facilitating a meeting, analytical skills, and finding team strengths. “I learned how to communicate with my team and to not be afraid to speak up,” said Sabrina Lopez. This conference was the first of two leadership conferences the officer team will be attending this year. Later in the month, the officers will be attending a regional FFA leadership conference in Modesto. Nearly 200 chapter officers from the Central Region and the 2019-2020 California FFA Association State Officer Team will be attending the leadership conference. The skills that the students learn will be taken back to the high school and shared throughout the 2019-2020 school year.


Members of the Atwater FFA chapter and Merced-Mariposa FFA officer team (back row) Hayley Vargas, Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, Ethan Slate, Daniel Lopez, Simarjot Gandhoke, Eryka Lepper, Sabrina Lopez
(front row) Juan Carlos Orozco, Alyssa Carrillo, Isabella Alexander, Derek Brusenski, Kindall Grisham, and Emmanuel Mejia gather following the sectional leadership conference held at merced College.

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Other FFA chapters that attended the conference included Buhach Colony, Delhi, Pacheco, Livingston, Merced, GoldenValley, Hilmar, Gustine, Dos Palos, El Capitán, Los Banos, LeGrand, Stone Ridge Christian, and Mariposa FFA.

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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September19, 2019

New El Nido Superintendent Brings Classroom, Administrative Experience

The El Nido community and its school are an incredible gem to Lori Gonzalez, the new superintendent-principal of the El Nido School District.
Gonzalez took on her new role Aug. 13, replacing Rae Ann Jimenez as superintendent. The El Nido district has 159 students from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade and 26 staff members, including nine teachers.
“It’s a welcome change for me,” Gonzalez said. “El Nido is such an incredible gift to me. I am excited to start a new career path. You can see the love they have for the students. Everyone is just so welcoming.”
Gonzalez, 50, said her goal is to serve the needs of the students and move the district forward to the 21st Century.
“I’m looking at making sure we meet the needs of all the students and implement the right programs and instructional strategies. I want to ensure our students are college and career-ready and ensure our teachers are fully equipped to provide the best instruction for students,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez started her educational career in 1992; she taught kindergarten for three years and third grade for six years with the Selma Unified School District.
For three years Gonzalez was a teacher on special assignment, covering reading programs. She then became program manager of curriculum, instruction and funding at Lincoln Middle School for three years.
In 2006, Gonzalez became vice principal at Sutter Middle School in Fowler, holding that position for two years until becoming principal at the same site for four years.
Later Gonzalez was promoted to director of Educational Services and promoted again to associate superintendent. In this role she focused on data assessment, funding, construction along with curriculum and instruction.
From April to August Gonzalez was interim superintendent of the district before accepting the El Nido superintendency.
Born in Mexico, Gonzalez was raised in Sanger. A 1986 graduate of Sanger High School, she received her bachelor’s degree in 1991 from California State University, Fresno and her master’s degree there five years later. Her

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Young Patriot Challenge to Explore U.S. Constitution through Essay, Speech, Poster

The Merced County Young Patriot Challenge will give county students an opportunity to share their perspective on the United States Constitution through a poster, essay or speech.
The contest, which celebrates its eighth year, is open to all Merced County students, including homeschooled students, and helps to assist teachers in complying with the federal mandate that the U.S. Constitution should be the subject of lessons and activities for appropriate classes during Constitution Day, which is Sept. 17. The contest runs Sept. 16-20.
The theme for the 2019 Young Patriot Challenge is “Should the Constitution be Amended to Include Term Limits for Members of the U.S. Congress? Explain Your Position.” Middle school students compete by writing an essay and high school students will give a prepared speech explaining their position on the prompt. Elementary school students are asked to develop posters around the theme “symbols of liberty, justice, etc.”
Young Patriot Challenge Chairperson Barbara Riis-Christensen said “The Power under the Constitution will always be in people,” which is a quote from founding father George Washington.
An awards ceremony for parents and contest winners at all levels will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Rd.
For more information, call Riis-Christensen (209) 358-8404 and visit http://www.ypcusa.net.

 


Lori Gonzalez, the new superintendent-principal of the El Nido School District.

PHOTO BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

concentration was English language arts, with a reading specialist credential.
Her educational philosophy calls for serving students and providing them a path for success.
Gonzalez and her husband Leonel have three grown children from 19 to 27 years of age.
“I feel very appreciative of the board members who believe in my philosophy of education and am excited to work alongside them,” Gonzalez said.

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MCOE, School Districts and Law Enforcement Work Together to Improve Attendance

September is Attendance Awareness Month across the country and a joint program spearheaded by the Merced County Office of Education seeks to increase student attendance. The Here to Learn Program is a collaboration between MCOE, the District Attorney’s office and the 20 school districts in Merced County who want to improve student attendance at school - the cornerstone of learning.
Andrea Valtierra-Gongora, a criminal investigator with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, is part of the joint effort for the Here to Learn Program. The goal of the program is to improve attendance. These joint efforts have led to the development and implementation of S.A.F.E. (Supporting Attendance with Families through Education.), which is the key to academic success when kids attend school on a regular basis.
“S.A.F.E. supports the vision of the Merced County Office of Education, to nurture all students, serve our districts and communities and lead our systems for the betterment of all. The mission of the county is to develop capacity of stakeholders, build bridges to resources and make connections,” said, Valtierra-Gongora.
Valtierra-Gongora supports the vision and mission of MCOE by making home visits, presenting to parent groups, making referrals to community agencies, and attending School Attendance Review Boards. Home visits can involve school nurses, school psychologists, behavioral health workers and attendance clerks. Valtierra-Gongora can make referrals to the Family Resource Center, Merced County Human Services Agency and Merced County Behavioral Health.
During the first year of implementation of the Here to Learn Program, 12 school districts in the county have seen improved attendance rates.
“I think it’s exciting when you see big improvements in attendance. When you see serious cases, that’s disheartening to know kids are suffering,” Valtierra-Gongora said. “It’s a community and district effort with agencies intervening to provide support services.”
There are 180 days in the school year. One student had 30 absences during the 2017-2018 school year; that number went down to 13 in the 2018-2019 school year, which is a huge improvement. A kindergarten student had 49 absences; in the first grade this was down to 19 absences and most recently only eight absences were recorded in the 2018-2019 school year.
In the 2016-2017 school year, five children had 305 absences. As of the 2018-2019 school year, that number dropped to 48 absences. Valtierra-Gongora said she is excited when she sees attendance improvements and will call parents to congratulate them, who are happy to hear the news.
“It may take a while,” Valtierra-Gongora concluded, “but as long as students continue to improve and agencies stress the importance of regular all-day school attendance, things are looking up.”

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September19, 2019

Almond Alliance Praises Governor Newsom For His Plan to Veto Senate Bill 1

Modesto, CA – Governor Newsom said Saturday that he will not sign SB 1 by State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, which would have adopted into California law the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and other regulations as they existed when President Obama left office. The Almond Alliance commends and thanks the Governor for recognizing that SB 1 in its current form posed significant challenges for agriculture, water districts, businesses and risked dismantling years of collaborative efforts to develop voluntary water agreements. The California almond industry is committed to ensuring that Californian’s have clean water, air and a healthy working environment. As written, SB 1 would surely have resulted in years of costly litigation specific to California’s water supply which is exactly why the Almond Alliance continues to support all parties working towards voluntary agreements.

The bill would have limited the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment. “We look forward to being part of substantive stakeholder discussions on policies to bring continuous improvement to California’s clean drinking water, air and the environment. We’ll bring our industry’s on-going commitment to identifying ways to meet the state’s environmental goals, but also a strong voice to the real-world challenges new policies pose to the almond industry” said Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino.

SB 1 sought to lock in place clean water, air and labor law that existed on January 19, 2017, the day before President Donald Trump took office. The bill was set to expire in January 2025, when Trump would be scheduled to leave office after a second term.
The Almond Alliance will continue to work collaboratively with Governor Newsom and his team and the California legislature on environmental, water and air issues.


About the Almond Alliance of California

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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August 29 , 2019

Travis Credit Union Offers Annual Free Young Adult Financial Boot Camp
Updated Live Budgeting Simulation

VACAVILLE, CA? “A lack of basic financial knowledge contributes to the uphill battle many youth face when entering adulthood,” says Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Through our ‘Awesome Cause’ of financial education, financial literacy, and financial advocacy, we strive to be a part of the solution for our members and the communities we serve.”
Travis Credit Union aims to reach 1,000 young adults this year through financial education efforts. That is why it invested in revamping its Mad City Money Young Adult Financial Boot Camp for 2019! Here are some updates:
• Interactive, app-based learning
• 50 Amazon Kindle Fires for any attendee to use
• Hosted Wi-Fi
• A fresh look and logo

These eco-friendly and tech-focused improvements are the perfect compliments to today’s generation and its love of mobile banking.
At Mad City Money, participants leap forward into the shoes of adulthood, experiencing today’s fast paced society with all the obligations that will come their way! From a pushy car salesperson, to a commission-based realtor, to a credit union for financial services, attendees must decipher between their wants and needs, all while attempting to stay on an assigned budget. And if this were not enough, the Fickle Finger of Fate is always on the lookout, ready to remind attendees how life can happen at the most inconvenient times.
Thanks to this whirlwind of reality, overspending is a common theme, as highlighted by the reflections of one young adult: “If I choose to purchase an expensive car and a house, I end up struggling to provide for basic needs like food and clothing.” Our goal for the program is for attendees to make financial mistakes with us, before they make them in the real world.

 

By learning about budgeting, savings, debt, and the importance of credit worthiness, young adults are able to achieve long-term financial health. Through an informal study, Travis Credit Union discovered every $1 invested in Mad City Money creates $52 of value in the communities it serves. This is due to the central realization attendees leave with: “One way or another, my choices with money will impact my life.”

The seminar will take place on September 21, 2019 from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Half Dome Room at the UC Merced, 5200 Lake Road, Merced, CA. If you wish to register an attendee, or are interested in volunteering as a sales merchant, please visit www.traviscu.org/mcm.
Refreshments, prizes and a drawing for an Apple Watch will be provided at all Mad City Moneys open to the community.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, it is the 14th largest credit union in California with more than 207,000 members and more than $3.1 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo, and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community, its solid, secure history, and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

For more information call Travis Credit Union 1-800-877-8328.

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August 27 , 2019

California Educator Named to the National FFA Board of Directors

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, August 20, 2019/National FFA Organization) – Dave Gossman, California has been named to the National FFA Board of Directors.

Dave began his career as an FFA member at Arroyo Grande High School in Arroyo Grande, Calif. In college, he pursued a degree in exotic animal training and management and became a sea lion and dolphin trainer before recognizing his passion for becoming an agriculture instructor. Following becoming a dolphin trainer, EMT and volunteer firefighter in Hawaii, Dave pursued and received his Master of Science with a specialization in agricultural education from California Polytech University in San Luis Obispo, California in 2002.

He began his teaching career at Atwater High School as a part of a three teacher agricultural program staff with 250 agriculture students. Today, he is department chair at the Atwater agriculture program/FFA chapter and has more than 1,100 students and ten staff members, the largest program in the nation. He specializes in agriscience and horticulture and oversees the management and coordination of the department. He is a mentor teacher and has presented multiple professional workshops. He has served on the California Agriculture Teacher Association Executive Committee CATA) as well as the CATA president.

"Dave brings a wealth of experiences in developing, building and expanding an urban agriculture program," said National FFA Advisor and board chair Dr. Steve A. Brown. "Through his involvement on the board, we are certain he will continue to advance the mission of the National FFA Organization as we prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders."

Dave and his wife, Tiffany reside in Merced and have two sons. His term on the National FFA Board of Directors began
July 1, 2019.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.


High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Dave Gossman was named to the National FFA Board of Directors to assist with the continued growth and development of the National FFA Organization.

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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 669,989 student members as part of 8,630 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and official news page of the National FFA Organization.

About National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees composed of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA Alumni, the foundation is a separately registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

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August 27 , 2019


Almond Alliance of California applauds trade deal between U.S. and Japan

Modesto, CA – The Almond Alliance of California applauds the recently announced trade deal between the United States and Japan. U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the agreement Sunday at a meeting at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. Both President Trump and Prime Minister Abe said they will sign the deal around meetings of the United Nations General Assembly next month.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry pointed out, “This deal is very important for California almond growers since they rely on access to foreign markets to sell their crops and Japan is a significant destination for California almonds. The Almond Alliance welcomes the latest news.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the agreement is three-fold, addressing industrial tariffs, agriculture and digital trade. The agreement will also require Japan to open its market to more imports of U.S. agricultural products and will eventually pave the way for an additional $7 billion in ag exports to Japan.

Almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agricultural export. The California almond industry exports 67% of what it produces. With exports of nearly $4.5 billion in 2017, the California almond industry contributes significantly to the longstanding trade surplus generated by American agriculture.


About the Almond Alliance of California

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds are an economic powerhouse, generating more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contributing more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. For more information on the Almond Alliance, visithttps://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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August 27 , 2019

 

Atwater High School FFA Freshman Attend Leadership Conference

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Twenty-two 9th grade agriculture students representing the Atwater High School FFA chapter joined over 1000 other 9th grade agriculture students from California’s FFA Central Region at the annual FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference (GLC). The conference was held August 21st at the Modesto Junior College Ag Pavilion. Under the direction of the California FFA Association, this unique conference is designed to assist students with career information and a personal plan towards accomplishing the educational requirements and skills to accomplish each student’s career objective. I had a terrific time as I got to meet new people from other schools while learning about FFA and leadership opportunities,” said Atwater FFA member Kendall Borba.

The conference provided students various workshops and activities geared towards careers in agriculture, opportunities in the FFA, motivation to get involved, and developing a personal plan. “The conference theme was centered on laying a solid foundation for students to identify educational and personal skills needed to accomplish their career interest,” said
Atwater FFA advisor Shelby West. “The students really became enthused with the program and activities, while leaving with a better understanding of what they need to accomplish during their high school years.”

The FFA establishes various levels or “degrees” during one’s FFA experience in high school. The “Greenhand” degree is the first level a student can obtain as a first-year high school agriculture student/FFA member. The FFA provides more extensive leadership conferences for sophomores, juniors, and seniors based on the level and degree earned by each student. The Atwater FFA will be recognizing over 450 students for their FFA Greenhand and Chapter Farmer (2nd year FFA members) degrees in November. “I was introduced to the numerous academic, leadership, agriculture, and FFA opportunities agriculture education and FFA have to offer, said Atwater High School freshman Shayleigh Miller.


Atwater High School freshman agriculture students and FFA members Colton Dukes, Stephanie Venegas, Tana Reed, Kendall Borba, and America Chavez gathered during their CA Dept. of Ed sponsored FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference held in Modesto, CA.

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Participants at this year’s Greenhand Leadership Conference included: Shayleigh Miller, Reyna Morales, Mateo Duran, Trenton Hall, Nathan Metz, Sydney Nickelson, Ianna Ortega, Jordan Garcia, Jatziry Castro Delgado, Kendall Borba, America Chavez, Colton Dukes, Stephanie Venegas Solorio, Cassidy Carrillo, Allison Garner, Sonia Valdez Guzman, Rosalinda Becerra, Narely Ayala, Matt Kamykowski, Hunter Birmingham, Hannah Pope, and Tana Reed.

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Twenty-two Atwater High School freshman agriculture students including (pictured front row) Stephanie Venegas-Slorio, Rosalinda Becerra, Reyna Morales, (pictured back row) Hunter Birmingham, Allison Garner, Shayleigh Miller, Hannah Pope, Tana Reed, Kendall Borba, America Chavez, Colton Dukes, Sydney Nickelson, Nathan Metz, Matt Kamykowski, Mateo Duran, Jordan Garcia, Trent Hall, Sonia Valdez Guzman, Narely Ayala, Cassidy Carrillo, Jatziry Castro Delgado, and Lanna Ortega joined over 1000 other high school agriculture students at a recent California FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference.

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August 27 , 2019

Atwater School District Earns Accreditation for Teacher Mentoring Program

The Atwater Elementary School District has developed a two-year program that helps its new teachers mature into seasoned professionals who are more likely to stay in their jobs for many years.
Ana Boyenga, the district’s assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said it took the district three years to get accredited by the California Teaching Commission to offer the teacher mentoring program.
Diana Heller, Stephanie Ludwig and Linda Lamerson, teachers on special assignment, head up the induction program.
Atwater, the Los Banos Unified School District, the Merced Union High School District and the Merced County Office of Education all offer teacher induction programs that are approved by the California Teacher Commission.
“We need to support our new teachers so they stay. It’s customized to their needs, not a cookie-cutter approach. This is a selling point that they are going to get a coach when they come. It's really important for our school district and board,” Boyenga said.
Heller said new teachers are not sure what to expect when they start teaching. Expectations could be completely different from reality. She said Atwater’s induction program is unique and differs from others.
The district has 232 teachers and is still looking for new teachers, Boyenga said. In her 25th year in education, she said she had a mentor teacher when she started out.

The teacher induction program operates year-round. Participating teachers who have provisional credentials when they start take part in an exit interview at program’s end and then receive a clear teaching credential.
Each induction participant receives a minimum of one hour per week of individualized support from a full-time mentor. Each participant develops a unique Individual Learning Plan which is used for professional growth. The plans are based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
A goal of the program is to increase student achievement in meeting California’s adopted state standards by developing teacher competence. The district wants every student to have a highly qualified teacher who continues to grow as a professional through reflection, collaboration with colleagues and adoption of appropriate teaching methods.

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August 23, 2019

Merced is seeing industry thrive

Most people have heard the great things happening in Merced’s retail world -- the arrival of Dutch Brother’s Coffee, Rally’s/Checkers Burgers and Planet Fitness.

The Merced Mall is transforming and at the Mission Interchange the Gateway Shopping Center is beginning construction and the Campus Parkway Plaza is in the planning stages.

And, people can’t miss the renovation going on Downtown with the El Capital Hotel, the Mainzer Theater and the Hotel Tioga.

But there’s more taking place in Merced than expanded retail, and that’s an industrial sector that’s prospering.

“Our retail and commercial sector is doing well, along with our housing market, and so is our industrial side,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “The industrial side of Merced is undergoing an expansion that is bringing jobs and revenue to the community.
“We are getting construction jobs, and then permanent jobs for Merced,” Carrigan said.

Merced’s industrial sector is flourishing with the expansion of existing businesses and the addition of new industrial buildings. The growth is spread across a variety of markets

“That’s a good indicator of the City’s economic vitality,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz.

Another good sign is that the companies are located throughout the City’s industrial zones.

“We are seeing these expansions in several of our industrial parks across the southern section of the City,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “It’s not just concentrated in one area.”

In the case of Titan Metal Products, the expansion is doubling the size of its facilities. Titan Doors, 1891 Wardrobe Ave., makes stock and custom doors, door frames and assemblies. Some of the firm’s doors are fire and ballistic rated. Titan’s products were recently used in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

The existing Titan plant is 18,725 square feet, and it is adding on another 19,000 square feet of space to the door and assembly area.

 



Centurion Boats, 2047 Grogan Ave., has been a maker of high performance towboats since 1976, specializing in wake-surfing towboats. A division of Correct Craft, Centurion is headquartered in Merced and offers seven models for sale, along with the ability to custom build a boat.

The company is undergoing a 24,234 square foot shop and office expansion, putting in a 3,600 square foot development and engineering facility, along with a test tank. All of the growth of the facility increases the research and development capacity to the facility.

O’Keeffe Safti-First, 220 S. R St., has specialized in architectural glass and metal products for 75 years. Some of O’Keeffe’s custom skylights, ladders and aluminum building products are in the Stanford Medical Center, the Intel Campus and the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Safti-First is known for its fire-rated glass and framing systems, some of which are at the UC Davis campus, the U.S. Military Academy, West Point and Folsom Prison.

The firm is adding a 30,651 square foot manufacturing facility plus a 7,764 square foot cold room to accommodate growing market demands.

Pacific Gas and Electric, is a utility company providing electricity and natural gas to Merced customers. The firm has expansion work going on at its service center and corporation yard located on the corner of Childs Avenue and Kibby Road.

The utility company is locating its regional management office at that site in a 15,400 square foot building, and installing a 9,100 square foot operations building. The utility is also putting in a 23,500 square foot combination garage/warehouse at the site.

In addition to the existing plant expansions, developers are seeing a demand for more buildings that are ready for industrial tenants to move in.

Lawler Excavation is constructing two new industrial buildings on Cessna Way in the City’s industrial park. The buildings, one 8,400 square feet and the other 7,500 square feet, could be used as warehouses or for other light industrial uses.

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August 22, 2019

Schedule of Events Announced for 2019 California Food Expo
Featuring Educational Sessions Covering the Food Industry’s Hottest Topics and Expanded Award Platform

Fresno, California – August 21, 2019…The first official California Food Expo (Expo) will connect more than 140 California food and beverage companies with an estimated 750 pre-qualified local and national buyers at its annual food industry trade event, and will open its doors for over 1,200 members of the public during its evening celebration – Expolicious.
This year’s Expo will feature some of California’s most unique, innovative and diverse food and beverage companies, over 20 percent of which you will not find at other food industry trade shows. With a healthy mix of exhibitors from northern, central and southern California, Expo goers can expect to see products that range from vegan ice cream, to sustainably sourced vodka made from day-old baked goods.
An impressive line-up of educational sessions will kick-off the Expo on Monday, September 9, all of which is open exclusively to Expo sponsors, exhibitors and pre-qualified buyer attendees. Sessions will cover the food industry’s hottest topics including: Consumer Trends, Sustainability, eCommerce and Influential Food Brands. Speakers and panelists will be a combination of some of food industry’s experts and the innovators behind a variety of California’s leading food companies.
An expanded award platform provides valuable opportunities for exhibitors to increase their exposure before, during and after the Expo. This year’s awards include the Fred Ruiz Award; the Golden State Award; and the New Product Awards, which will include the Buyer’s Choice Awards and the Consumer’s Choice Awards, both of which will offer a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.


The Expo’s new website is mobile-friendly and includes the complete schedule of events, award details, who attends/who exhibits and social media feeds. The final exhibitor listing and map of the show floor will also be made available closer to the event.
About the California Food Expo:
The California Food Expo is an exclusive industry trade show for California food and beverage companies to connect with more than 750 pre-qualified retail and foodservice buyers, network with industry peers and showcase California’s thriving food industry.
More than 140 California food and beverage companies are expected to participate in the two-day event which includes educational sessions, business-to-business tradeshow, and a competition for California renowned chefs. The 2019 event will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center starting Monday, September 9, through Tuesday, September 10, 2019. For more information about the California Food Expo including the complete event

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August 22, 2019

 

Atwater School District Earns Accreditation for Teacher Mentoring Program

The Atwater Elementary School District has developed a two-year program that helps its new teachers mature into seasoned professionals who are more likely to stay in their jobs for many years.
Ana Boyenga, the district’s assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said it took the district three years to get accredited by the California Teaching Commission to offer the teacher mentoring program.
Diana Heller, Stephanie Ludwig and Linda Lamerson, teachers on special assignment, head up the induction program.
Atwater, the Los Banos Unified School District and Merced Union High School District are the only school districts in Merced County to offer their own induction programs.
“We need to support our new teachers so they stay. It’s customized to their needs, not a cookie-cutter approach. This is a selling point that they are going to get a coach when they come. It’s really important for our school district and board,” Boyenga said.
Heller said new teachers are not sure what to expect when they start teaching. Expectations could be completely different from reality. She said Atwater’s induction program is unique and differs from others.
The district has 232 teachers and is still looking for new teachers, Boyenga said. In her 25th year in education, she said she had a mentor teacher when she started out.
The teacher induction program operates all year round. Participating teachers who have provisional credentials when they start take part in an exit interview at program’s end and then get a clear teaching credential.
Each induction participant receives a minimum of one hour per week of individualized support from a full-time mentor. Each participant develops a unique Individual Learning Plan which is used for professional growth. The plans are based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
The ultimate goals of the program are to increase student achievement in meeting California’s adopted state standards by developing teacher competence. The district wants every student to have a highly qualified teacher who continues to grow as a professional through reflection, collaboration with colleagues and adoption of appropriate teaching methods.

Head Start, Early Head Start Recruiting Families Across Merced County

The Merced County Office of Education’s Head Start program is currently recruiting and enrolling families for the 2018-2019 school year. The goal is to ensure that all families in Merced County who qualify for services have access to the Head Start program.

Head Start is a comprehensive prenatal, infant and preschool and family development program that is available to three and four-year-old children nationwide. MCOE Head Start provides an exceptional education complemented by health and social services for families in Merced County. The MCOE Head Start program can serve up to 1,157 children in a variety of settings, including full-day (10 hours), school-day (6 ½ hours) and part-day (3 ½ hours) classes, as well as a home-based program and services to pregnant women. Head Start families benefit from access to a variety of community resources, health and nutrition education programs, diverse parent education programs, and other social services to support the entire family.

Eligible families are those whose total annual income does not exceed the federal poverty guidelines. The program is also able to provide services to families who do not qualify under the federal poverty guidelines but have a child with a diagnosed special need. MCOE is proud to serve families of all cultures and bi-lingual staff is available as needed.

If your family could benefit from the Head Start program or you know a family that would, contact Head Start’s Administrative Offices at (209) 381-5170 today.

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August 20 , 2019

 

Jaime Caudillo, local leader of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang, and
Steven Rincon, member of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang,
sentenced to life in prison

Today, Judge Carol Ash sentenced Jaime Caudillo to 50 years, 8 months to
life in prison for shooting a police officer, illegally possessing a firearm, and
gang activity. She also sentenced Steven Rincon, a three strikes defendant,
to 80 years to life in prison for his role in the shooting, illegally possessing a
firearm, and gang activity. On May 23, 2019, following an eleven-day trial
prosecuted by attorneys Nicole Silveira and Katie Gates, a Merced County
jury found Mr. Caudillo and Mr. Rincon, guilty of shooting a police officer,
being felons in possession of firearms, and committing the crimes for the
benefit of a criminal street gang. Both defendants are convicted felons and
active members of the Norteno criminal street gang in Merced County. Mr.
Caudillo has status as a higher ranking Norteno within the gang.
On February 28, 2015, then Officer Ryan Rasmussen of the Merced Police
Department arrived to assist Officer Rinder in a routine traffic stop. Mr.
Rincon was the driver of the vehicle, and Mr. Caudillo was the passenger.
Within moments, Mr. Caudillo opened fire on Officer Rasmussen, while Mr.
Rincon sped off almost simultaneously. The shots fired by Mr. Caudillo hit
Officer Rasmussen’s hand, as well as his bulletproof vest. After a manhunt
involving support from multiple agencies and spanning several hours,
officers took both defendants into custody and discovered that Mr. Rincon
possessed a firearm.

 

MPD Officer Steven Odom testified as a gang expert during the trial. He
opined the crimes were committed for the benefit of the criminal street gang
and the act of shooting a police officer, the gang’s primary enemy, is the
ultimate act for violent members to demonstrate their commitment to the
gang.
As a result of the shooting, Officer Rasmussen lost his right pinky finger and
endured seven corrective surgeries. Ultimately, he was unable to continue
as a patrol officer due to the injuries he suffered in the line of duty. However,
earlier this year, Ryan Rasmussen returned to active service in law
enforcement when the Merced County District Attorney’s Office hired him as
an investigator. During the sentencing, Investigator Rasmussen told Judge
Ash he and his family will continue to fight against the criminal activities of
gang members like the defendants, vowing, “My family will not stop. They
will never quit, and, by God, they will never give up fighting people like
them.”
This is the second life sentence for Mr. Rincon. On July 30, 2019, he was
sentenced to 55 years to life in prison for his role in a 2017 jail homicide.
That sentence followed a January trial, with a jury verdict on February 1,
2019, finding Mr. Rincon guilty of first degree murder. Attorneys Matthew
Serratto and Tyson McCoy prosecuted that case.

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August 20 , 2019

 

Atwater High Ag Teacher Recognized With State Award

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Merced Union High School District and Atwater High School’s agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport was recognized by the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) with the “2019 Outstanding Young Teacher” award during a recent conference and awards ceremony held at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The award recognizes an outstanding young teacher (5-7 years of service) for their participation and leadership in civic, community, agriculture. agribusiness, and professional activities.

Kaylyn Davenport’s father Phil Schiber was a former Atwater High School agriculture instructor when Kaylyn was a child. She grew up influenced by his passion for the job and his working with students. This inspired her at a young age to follow in his footsteps. She attended Atwater High School as a student and was a very involved agriculture and FFA student. As an agriculture teacher at Atwater High School, Kaylyn has focused on building and expanding the school’s floral program. She has coached three state champion FFA judging teams including a national championship.

Kaylyn’s future goals are to expand student Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE’s) opportunities which is a component of the agriculture education 3-circle model of classroom/lab, leadership, and hands-on application of skills (SAE’s) in an agriculture skill areas.


Atwater High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Kaylyn Schiber was recognized by the California Agricultural Teacher's Association's "Outstanding Young Teacher" award at a recent awards and conference ceremony at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kaylyn’s advice to new teachers is to “ask questions”! She appreciates the California Agriculture Teachers’ Association for their encouragement towards collaboration and mentoring among colleagues. “Utilizing the experience and wisdom of experienced teachers creates a culture of growth,” says Davenport. “I enjoy the opportunity to work with my coworkers and create a culture of making a positive impact on our students.”

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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August 20 , 2019

 

Livingston Schools Recognized Nationally for Counseling Programs

Counselors at two Livingston elementary schools have been recognized nationally for their comprehensive counseling programs.
Andres Zamora, Livingston Union School District superintendent, said counselors at Selma Herndon and Campus Park schools have been singled out by the American School Counselors Association. That follows similar honors last year for Livingston Middle School from the organization.
“Our goal is to ensure students come to school well-adjusted, confident and ready to learn. They are one of the few elementary schools with a full-time counselor,” Zamora said.
Kuljinder Sekhon, the district’s assistant superintendent of instruction and pupil services, said counselors provide direct support to students.
“Society’s changing. We see more of a need for social-emotional support than ever. Support is always going to be needed,” Sekhon said.
Zamora said the counselors are teaching organization, responsibility and problem-solving skills with their peers on social issues. Livingston counselors were recognized during a formal ceremony at the association’s summer convention in Boston.
“As superintendent, I feel very proud we’ve been able to shape this program. Our counselors are really phenomenal, dedicated and caring, making a positive difference in students. The heart of the program is the people,” Zamora said.
Sekhon said for any program to be effective there has to be support from the superintendent and the school board. These efforts, including providing professional development, supplies and resources, make the program possible, she added.

Sekhon said the counselors’ association national model integrates data-informed decision-making, a developmentally appropriate curriculum focused on mindsets and behaviors that all students need for postsecondary readiness and success, and closing achievement and opportunity gaps. The result is improved student achievement, attendance and discipline.
This year, 71 schools in 21 states received the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation during a special ceremony at the American School Counselor Association’s Annual Conference in Boston, Mass.
The RAMP designation, awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA National Model, recognizes schools committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-informed school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. Since the program’s inception, nearly 900 schools have been designated as RAMP recipients.
“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA assistant director. “These schools used data to drive their program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. RAMP designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to strive for excellence.”

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August 15, 2019

 

Cooling Zones open today through Friday, others open in County

A heat wave that hit the Valley has resulted in the City of Merced and other agencies in Merced County to open Cooling Zones from today through Friday.
The City Cooling Zone will be in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. from 3 to 8 p.m. There will be water, snacks and other supplies available, along with some entertainment. The Cooling Zone is pet friendly.
City officials encourage everyone to get in out of the heat and take advantage of the cooling zone, especially if they don’t have air conditioning or just have a swamp cooler.
Residents should remember to stay hydrated and stay cool. And they should be good neighbors, checking in on friends and family, and making sure seniors and at-risk residents are OK.
“Don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Fire Chief Billy Alcorn said.
A complete list of all the Cooling Zones in the County is available at www.countyofmerced.com/news
Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness

 

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke—which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature—may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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August 14 , 2019

Michael Beltran named Merced City Engineer

Michael Beltran has been appointed City Engineer for the City of Merced. The announcement was made by City Manager Steve Carrigan.
Beltran has been serving as Interim City Engineer since March 2019.
“I am ecstatic to help build the City where I grew up and lived all my life,” Beltran said. “It’s an exciting time to be in Merced.
“I’m looking forward to working with all the residential and commercial developers that are building in the City,” he said. “And I’m eagerly anticipating completing some challenging projects we have coming up, such as the widening of Highway 59.”
“Michael is a good fit for the organization,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He has the right experience, a good management style and a calm demeanor, no matter what is going on around him.”
Carrigan said he was impressed by the way Beltran handled a variety of situations while serving as the Interim City Engineer. “Not everything went smoothly, as you would expect. There were some bumps, but Michael didn’t let it bother him. He found the right solutions and settled everybody down.
“His private sector experience gives him a good understanding of what people need and what they are going through,” Carrigan said.
Beltran, 38, has a strong background in civil and geotechnical engineering that he obtained while working for Precision Civic Engineering and Kleinfelder, Inc..
Before coming to the City, his projects included Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the Atwater Wastewater Treatment Plant. He has been involved in school construction projects in Merced, Atwater, along with UC Merced.
He worked on the Merced Center parking structure, natural gas facilities in Alberta Canada, the California High Speed Rail project, electrical substations owned by local utility districts and numerous interchanges and highway bridges in the region.
He has a bachelors degree in civil engineering from Fresno State and is a registered professional engineer in the State. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, where he held several offices. He also is a member of the San Joaquin Valley Road Commissioners and County Engineers.
Born at the old Mercy Hospital on M Street, Beltran was raised in Merced and attended Golden Valley High School, where he was part of its first four-year class.

 


Michael Beltran


Beltran and his wife, Samantha, have two daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 7 to 15.
He and his family are NASCAR fans, who enjoy attending the races together. Other family fun activities include mini vacations to Lake McClure, trips to the coast, family walks and movie nights.
“I watch all of their sports activities, too,” he said, “And I enjoy coaching them.”
One of his other pastimes is scuba diving. Usually it’s diving along the Monterey Coast, but every year he and a group of friends head to Santa Catalina and the Channel Islands for some variety.
Beltran will start the job Aug 26. The job pays $132,438.48 a year.

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August 14 , 2019

Working with Modesto student to push the strongest anti-vaping law in America

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking alongside one of the brightest young people that I have ever met. Rana Banankhah, who will be starting her sophomore year at Modesto High School shortly, wrote a well-researched and eloquent op-ed in June which was published in the Modesto Bee describing her experience as a high school student seeing the upsurge in vaping among her classmates. In July, I invited Miss Banankhah to testify in support of my legislation, AB 1639, in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. AB 1639 seeks to enact the strongest and most comprehensive proposal any state has put forward to address the vaping epidemic that is consuming our youth.

This morning, the Modesto Bee published Miss Banankhah’s follow-up op-ed in which she details her experience in Sacramento and her thoughts on my legislation. Please take a moment to read her piece when you have a moment. I am proud to represent and work with students like Rana, and I am thankful that we have excellent educators and role models in our community.

As always, if you have questions or if I can do to be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

Adam

 

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August 14 , 2019

Atwater FFA Branches Out During Leadership Retreat

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

“We are all one piece of the puzzle” was selected as the 2019-2020 Atwater FFA theme as advisors and chapter officers gathered in Yosemite National Park for their annual Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat on August 5th-7th. The primary goals of the three day retreat was to plan the calendar, identify yearly objectives to help strengthen and continue the growth of its members and program, and strengthen team building skills.

“Our officer team starts the school year with focus, vision, and enthusiasm in leading their organization and our students,” said FFA advisor Kim Mesa. This year’s officer team hopes to inspire student leadership, expand personal success, increase participation from current members, and strengthen recruitment of new members. “This year’s theme represents the goal towards inclusion and diversity among all students and the opportunities for them to explore academic success, personal growth, leadership, skill development, and career exploration through agriculture education and the FFA,” said Atwater FFA President Hayley Vargas.

Leadership retreat highlights included two days exploring and hiking Yosemite National Park’s valley and all the scenery associated with its beauty. For many students and some staff members, this was their first trip inside the park. “The opportunity to explore and visit a beautiful park such as Yosemite while getting to know fellow students and teachers was a highlight and a lifelong memorable experience.” said FFA officer Jennifer Velazquez.

The Atwater High School agriculture program has been recognized as one of the state’s most productive agriculture programs by the California Agricultural Teacher’s Association (CATA) and the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). “We have tremendous support from our school administration, school district, and our community in supporting FFA and agriculture education as a way to get students involved and provide individuals with purpose, direction and self-confidence in life,” said agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Jose Vargas.

The new officer team is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that the upcoming 2019-2020 school year holds for them. This year’s officer team includes Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian. In addition to the Atwater FFA chapter officers, three other Atwater FFA members Emmanuel Mejia and Alyssa Carrillo joined the leadership retreat as they will be serving as sectional FFA officers within the California FFA Association.

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater FFA chapter and sectional officers Ethan Slate, Halyley vargas, Simarjot Gandhoke, Alyssa Carrillo, Sabrina Lopez, Jennifer Velazquez, Daniel Lopez, Eryka Lepper, Emmanuel Mejia, and Vanessa Varela joined the Atwater High School agriculture instructors at Yosemite National Park for a 3-day leadership retreat.


Atwater High School agriculture students Jennifer Velazquez, Ethan Slate, Sabrina Lopez, Alyssa Carrillo,and Simarjot Gandhoke enjoy Atwater High agricultue instructors Kim Mesa and Jose Vargas with a communication-related team building activity.


The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Hayley Vargas (President), Daniel Lopez (VP), Jennifer Velazquez (Secretary), Sabrina Lopez (Historian), Eryka Lepper (Reporter), Ethank Slate (Sentinel), Vanessa varela (Parliamentarian, and Simarjot Gandhoke gathered at Yosemite National Park for their annual FFA leadership retreat.

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August 14 , 2019

MCSD students receive free shoes, backpacks, and haircuts

 

Hundreds of students at Stowell Elementary in Merced will be heading back to class in style, thanks to generous donations by local community groups.

The school hosted a “meet and greet” on Tuesday to give students and their parents a chance to say hello to their teachers and other staff members in hopes of preventing any first day jitters.

During the event, Costco employees handed out free backpacks, and Grace Community Church provided new shoes for the children. Christopher Mora from C6 Blendz set up a barber chair in the multipurpose room to give the kids haircuts.

Families could also cool down with refreshing drinks and snow cones made by local vendors, and cheerleaders from El Capitan High School volunteered their time to help keep the event running smoothly.

Principal Dalinda Saich and Learning Director Richard Alvarado say they are extremely grateful to everyone who took part in Tuesday’s event, and they are looking forward to a great school year!

All of the district’s 14 elementary schools and 4 middle schools will be back in session on Wednesday, August 14.




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August 14 , 2019

Weaver School District Makes Way for New Classrooms, Office Space

Pardon our dust.
That’s the plea of John Curry, Weaver Union School District superintendent, as the Childs Avenue campus is in the midst of a major renovation.
In the 4 to 5-acre space at Childs Avenue and Coffee Road, contractors have been demolishing four old portable classrooms, the parking drop-off area, a district portable, the old preschool and the soccer field.
In their places, by January 2021, will be 12 new classrooms and a main office complex facing the Coffee-Childs corner.
“Right now there is a lot of dust,” Curry said. “The community and staff have been patient during construction. They are all troopers! We should focus on what it will look like when it’s done, which will make all of this worth it.”
The $14.2 million construction project was made possible by voters passing the $9 million Measure G ballot measure seven years ago. The balance of the funds are coming from district coffers.
Some of the Weaver buildings on the 19-acre campus date back to 1949, including the district office which is scheduled to be demolished.
District administrators will be moving to a new office at 1240 D St. in December.

 

Most of the other buildings on the Weaver Middle School campus were modernized through to a previous bond measure. Planning for the current construction started in 2013 when architectural plans were drawn.
Before it’s finished, the entire campus will get a fresh coat of paint. The existing gym and locker rooms also will be modernized and freshened up, Curry said.
The new Weaver Middle School complex also will be surrounded by security fencing for the first time.

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August 14 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM THE FRESNO/MERCED COUNTY LINE TO GURR ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)will conduct various construction activities on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from the Fresno/Merced County line to Gurr Road.
Work will be performed as follows:
• The #1, #2 lanes on northbound and southbound SR-99 will be closed alternately from the Fresno/Merced County Line to Billy Wright Road beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
• Full off and on-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at the John Chuck Erreca Rest Area will be closed beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
• Full connector off and on-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 from SR-165 beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
Motorists should expect delays of 10 minutes. Alternate routes should be taken if possible.

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM PARSONS AVENUE TO KIBBY ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a full highway closure on northbound and southbound State Route 140 (SR-140) for highway construction.
Work is scheduled on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, from 12:00 a.m. (midnight) until 5:00 a.m.
Signs will be posted for the following detour route:
• Motorists traveling eastbound on SR-140 are asked to take North Parsons Road to Childs Avenue to Kibby Road back to SR-140.
• Motorists traveling westbound on SR-140 are asked to take Kibby Road to Childs Avenue to North Parsons Road back to SR-140.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

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August 3 , 2019

Annual Bloodless Bullfight to Benefit Valley Children’s Hospital Cancer Center and Families Living with Autism this Saturday!

Livingston, CA, Thursday, August 1, 2019: The California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization and the Carlos Vieira Foundation are proud to host the 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight fundraiser to benefit children with Cancer and Autism in the Central Valley.

The 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight will take place at the Stevinson Arena on Saturday, August 3, 2019. The annual bloodless bullfights have helped raise over $150,000.00 which has gone to Valley Children’s Hospital Cancer Unit and the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign that provides grant services to families living with autism.

Patrons can purchase tickets to attend the event at a discounted pre-sale price of $15 or buy at the door for $20. Children ten and under are free. Most resources, including the Stevinson Bullring, bullfighters, the bull owners, and the Forcado Groups, donate their time for the cause. Every penny will go towards helping families raising a child with cancer or autism. To purchase tickets, visit www.carlosvieirafoundation.org where you can also find other ticket sales locations.

The mission of Valley Children's Hospital is to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to children, regardless of their ability to pay, and to continuously improve the health and well being of children. Valley Children’s Hospital has one of the largest service areas in the nation, treating severely ill and injured children in California’s Central Valley.

 

 

 


The California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and the sportsmanship of bloodless bullfighting throughout the State of California.

The Carlos Vieira Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization who focuses primarily on assisting families living with autism through Direct Help Grant Program in 21 counties in California’s Central Valley. We also work with communities to provide healthy, safe and drug-free youth activities, including Boxing and Jujitsu, and we support the mental health community through education, fundraising and facilitating resources. For more information about the Carlos Vieira Foundation, visit our website, www.carlosvieirafoundation.org, call (209) 394-1444, or email info@carlosvieirafoundation.org.

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August 3 , 2019

Reviving the fight to count hydropower to fight climate change

For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the original source of clean electricity. Our efforts have been stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is green enough. Recently, I introduced ACA 17 to require that hydroelectric power be counted as a renewable resource under California's various climate policies, including SB 100.

Signed into law in 2018, SB 100 established a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045; however, hydropower is prohibited from being considered renewable under that law. Hydropower is clean, safe, and produces no emissions. In places like Merced, Turlock, and Modesto, we used local money to build local hydroelectric projects. We had greenhouse-gas free energy for decades before the impacts of climate change were ever realized. Rather than be rewarded for our forward-thinking, state law penalizes local ratepayers with higher energy bills that subsidize more expensive sources of clean energy -- like wind and solar.

 

 

 

ACA 17 puts hydro on the same playing field as every other zero-emission energy source. It will lower energy bill in the communities that benefit from hydropower, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, and allow us to fight climate change in a cost-effective way. Please read my recently-published OpEd, and as always, don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or if there is anything that I can help you with!

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August 3 , 2019

Chancellor honored, fireworks update on agenda

The City Council will honor UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and hear an update on the Celebrate Safe Fireworks Campaign at its Monday night meeting.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• The City will recognize Chancellor Dorothy Leland for her time and contributions to UC Merced and the City of Merced. In addition, a reception will be held in her honor at 5:30 p.m. on the Second Floor Landing outside the Council Chamber prior to the meeting.

• Hear the final report on the Celebrate Safe Fireworks Campaign 2019 from the Fire Chief and the Police Chief. The campaign is an effort to curb the use of illegal fireworks within the City.

• Hear a report on the recommended size and configuration of the proposed police station and future fire stations, and funding requirements for a potential bond measure.

• Conduct a continued public hearing on accessory dwelling units, and consider modifying the City’s zoning regulations.

 

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. regarding existing litigation.


The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and 72 hours before the meeting at the City Clerk’s Office. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

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July 31, 2019

Students Wrap Up Math Camp at Atwater Elementary School District

The Atwater Elementary School District will wrap up this week a two-week Math Camp for approximately 200 incoming fourth-graders.
Nine district teachers went through math training June 11-12 at Stanford University let by Dr. Jo Boaler, a professor at Stanford and the author of "Mathematical Mindsets."
Back in January, the Merced County Office of Education brought Boaler to Valley Community School in Atwater to give presentations to teachers.
Ana Boyenga, assistant superintendent for Educational Services with the Atwater district, said Math Camp is designed to demonstrate that math is for everyone.
Boyenga said training emphasizes even skilled mathematicians work slowly and that's fine. Math Camp sessions are designed to build competency and confidence in math skills for students.
Math Camp sessions were offered from 8 a.m. to noon at Bellevue, Aileen Colburn, Elmer Wood, Peggy Heller, Thomas Olaeta, Shaffer and Mitchell K-6 schools.
"Our camp includes students from across the achievement ranges. Teachers will combine mindset messages each day along with math instruction. We want students to see math as a growth subject, and that every problem could be seen and solved differently," Boyenga said.
In conjunction with Math Camp, the Atwater district will once again hold Jump Start Academy for students entering first grade. Students will have an opportunity to review literacy skills that are key to that grade. These sessions also run from through Aug. 2 at all elementary schools sites in the district, Boyenga said
Math Camp and Jump Start are both intended to help students extend their learning through the fun and enriching experiences to help avoid the “summer slide.”



PHOTOS COURTESY ATWATER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

More than 200 Students Attend Delhi Unified Summer Literacy Program

DELHI — Delhi’s elementary school students just wound up a summer school program designed to boost their literacy skills.
Adolfo Melara, superintendent of the Delhi Unified School District, said more than 200 students from third grade were enrolled in sessions from June 17 to July 19.
Melara said 139 students took part in corrective reading training along with 19 newcomers. Twenty-five students took part in Gifted and Talented Education classes. Another 25 special education students participated in an extended year program.
Credit recovery options also were available for 225 students in secondary grades, middle school and high school students.
“Many students lack word attack skills to benefit from grade-level academic content. Students in third grade and above had a perfect opportunity to learn how to read. We’ve seen a lot of benefit from it,” Melara said.
The corrective reading program concentrates on explicit reading skills. Vocabulary and word-attack skills are covered and students learn basic vocabulary words and how to read fluently on a daily basis.
Rosa Gonzalez, summer school principal, said students were excited to be there and everything went well.

 


 

PHOTOS COURTESY DELHI UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

Delhi Unified Partnership Focuses on Community, Sustainable Energy

DELHI — Delhi schools and a Los Angeles-based company are partnering on a program to spread sustainable energy in the community, bringing all-electric cars and charging stations to town.
The Sustainable Energy Pilot Program is a cooperative effort of the Delhi Unified School District, Greencommuter and the Leadership Council to bring electric vehicles and electric charging stations here, school Superintendent Adolfo Melara said.
Melara said the partnership is part of a California Air Resources Board plan to expand awareness of sustainable energy in Delhi. Seven Level 2 charging stations are being installed next to the district’s business office at Shanks and Schendel avenues.
Tentatively, six Chevrolet Bolt all-electric vehicles and two Teslas will be available for rental by Delhi residents for commuter and excursion purposes. The charging stations and the accompanying lot are near completion; two of the stations are fast-charging stations.
“We want to be participants in the next wave of society’s use of sustainable energy,” Melara said. “We believe this will bring ancillary businesses to the local area and provide services for the community. That’s good for Delhi.”
Leslie Graham, director of grants and partnerships for Los Angeles-based Greencommuter, said the partnership is a great opportunity and she’s excited to see how the community of Delhi will adapt to the new technology.
Graham said Greencommuter is a private, benefit corporation which has a mission to eliminate pollution. Greencommuter has been approved to conduct business in a number of California counties, including Fresno, Kern and Los Angeles.
Melara said over the past four years the Delhi Unified School District Board of Education has discussed ways to bring sustainable energy to the community and the schools. Discussion of the actual partnership began in earnest last September.
Delhi trustees, the Municipal Advisory Council, parent and community groups heard informational presentations about the sustainable energy partnership. Melara said community members have been overwhelmingly supportive.
“Our community is very excited,” Melara said.
A number of Delhi area residents commute north and south along Highway 99 and some commute to the East Bay. Local residents are being trained to provide vanpool and ridesharing services to the public.
Before creation of the Delhi charging station, Melara said there are not very many electric vehicle charging stations in northern Merced County.



Delhi Unified School District has partnered with a Southern California corporation to provide sustainable ridesharing in electric vehicles.

PHOTOS COURTESY DELHI UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

California Food Expo Expands Proven Award Platform

New Golden State and Fred Ruiz Awards unveiled
promising brand exposure and exclusive connections for Expo exhibitors

Fresno, California – July 29, 2019 …The California Food Expo’s expanded suite of awards promises expanded brand exposure and exclusive new opportunities with the unveiling of the Golden State Award and the Fred Ruiz Award. Applications for these awards and the New Product Awards announced in June are available on the Expo’s website now through August 23, 2019.

“The Expo’s first priority is connecting exhibiting companies with business opportunities through new retail and foodservice buyer introductions, heightened brand awareness, and valuable industry and peer network connections,” said Amy Fuentes, Manager of the California Food Expo. “Our award programs have served as a catalyst for new product launches and reinforced longstanding company brands in valuable retail stores including Whole Foods, William Sonoma, Safeway, Vons, Vallarta Supermarkets and others.”

The Golden State Award invites all exhibitors to submit a product of their choice for a chance to be voted the most ‘liked’ California Food Expo product. All submissions will be posted on the Expo’s Instagram page and Facebook where followers will be able to vote by liking the product of their choice beginning on Monday, August 26 through Sunday, September 8, 2019. Award participants are encouraged to rally their followers for a chance to win a complimentary 10x10 booth at the 2020 California Food Expo. All submissions will be displayed on a photo backdrop at this year’s Expo.

The Fred Ruiz Award, named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products Inc., the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the U.S. will recognize one innovative California food or beverage company who is recognized by their peers as a pioneer in innovation and a steward in their community. Award finalists will have the honor to present their company to a member of the Ruiz family and the Expo’s founding partners for an opportunity to be chosen as the sole winner of this prestigious award


The New Product Awards announced in June offers awards in two distinct categories: the Buyer’s Choice Award and Consumer’s Choice Awards, giving participants an opportunity to have their entries reviewed and judged by both buyers and consumers for a chance to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in each category.

The Buyer’s Choice Award will be judged by the Expo’s Retail Advisory Council – an esteemed group of retail buyers who represent a diverse range of categories and store formats. The Consumer’s Choice Award will be judged by the Expo’s official Consumer Panel which mirrors the demographics of California for gender, ethnicity, age, income and education.

All award applications are available exclusively to 2019 confirmed exhibitors and are open for submission now through August 23, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. For more information about the full suite of Expo awards, including complete contest rules and how to apply, please visit: https://californiafoodexpo.com/awards.

About the California Food Expo:
The California Food Expo is an exclusive industry trade show for California food and beverage companies to connect with more than 750 qualified retail and foodservice buyers, network with industry peers and showcase California’s thriving food industry.

More than 150 California food and beverage companies are expected to participate in the two-day event which includes educational sessions, business-to-business tradeshow, and a competition for California renowned chefs. The 2019 event will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center starting Monday, September 9, through Tuesday, September 10, 2019. For more information about the California Food Expo including the complete event agenda, or to register to exhibit or attend, please visit:www.CaliforniaFoodExpo.com

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July 27 , 2019

Joaquin Flores, leader of the local A-Town Surenos, sentenced to life in prison by Merced County Superior Court Judge Schechter

Defendant Joaquin Flores was sentenced on July 25, 2019, to fifteen years to life in prison for his role in a 2018 attempted murder. Flores was also sentenced to an additional fourteen years and four months to be served consecutively to the life sentence. On June 21, 2019, a Merced County jury found defendants, Joaquin Flores and Eric Cruz Madero, guilty of premeditated attempted murder. The jury also found it true that both defendants were acting for the benefit of a street gang. Flores and Madero are documented members of the A-Town criminal street gang based in Atwater. A-Town is the largest Sureno criminal street gang in Merced County, and Flores is a known leader.
On June 1, 2018, defendants Madero and Flores were inmates at the Merced County Jail where they conspired with several other Sureno gang members to kill a fellow incarcerated gang member. In a coordinated gang attack, members of the Sureno gang supplied intelligence and weapons to defendants Flores and Madero to carry out the killing at the downtown jail. Defendant Flores was the highest-ranking gang member in the cell at the time of the attack and provided a knife and instructions to defendant Madero. Utilizing two jail-made knives furnished by the gang, Defendant Madero viciously stabbed the victim in the head, chest, and torso in attempt to take the victim’s life. The victim suffered numerous stab wounds and bone fractures, but ultimately survived thanks to the lifesaving efforts of first responders and medical personnel.

 


Defendant Madero is currently awaiting sentencing on August 6, 2019 and faces a life sentence. Deputy District Attorneys Tyson McCoy and Kimberly Madayag prosecuted this case. Defendant Flores’ other convictions, resulting in the additional fourteen years in prison, were for 2017 incidents involving conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the jail and being a felon and gang member in possession of a firearm.
Merced County Sheriff’s Sergeant Eugene Collins conducted an exemplary investigation, exposing the elaborate gang conspiracy in this case. Detective Matthew Vierra from the Atwater Police Department and California Department of Corrections, Special Agent James Rochester assisted in the investigation. All three officers played a vital role in the successful prosecution of these violent gang offenders. The District Attorney’s Office thanks the agencies of all three officers for their diligence and commitment to bringing some of Merced County’s most violent gang members to justice.


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July 27 , 2019

Caltrans Upgrading Drainage on State Routes 59 & 140
In Merced County Due to SB 1 Funds Project Will Protect Integrity of Roadway to Provide Safer Commute for Motorists

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans is replacing four culverts on State Routes 59 and 140 in Merced County due to funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This project will remove old culverts and install upgraded culverts near Sandy Mush Road and the Merced River bridge on SR-59, and near Los Banos Creek in Gustine and the Le Grand Canal on SR-140.
“Keeping Merced County’s highways safe and structurally sound, especially during storms, is crucial for the great folks of the Central Valley and the local agricultural industry,” said Acting Caltrans Director Bob Franzoia. “Funds from SB 1 will continue to upgrade our drainage systems throughout the state, and this is a great example of what can be done.”
SR-59 is a vital route for local commuters and agricultural traffic in Merced County, and SR-140 is a heavily-used interregional connector between the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada and an allseasons route into Yosemite National Park. Heavy, five-axle trucks use these highways to carry locally-grown crops like tomatoes and walnuts, as well as cattle and dairy products. In recent years, more than 65 percent of the traffic on SR-59 has been these heavy trucks. On SR-140, that number is approximately 60 percent.

“Important state highways like SR-59 and SR-140 continue to be reliable serving the Central Valley, including Merced County, a statewide hub for the dairy industry,” said Caltrans District 10 Director Dan McElhinney. “These improvements will enhance reliability.
“With the help of SB 1, we’ll continue to fix deteriorating foundational aspects of our roads such as these culverts.”
BRM Construction has been awarded this estimated $390,000 project. Work began Monday, July 22, 2019, and is scheduled to conclude by the end of August 2019.
More information and updates on projects can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d10/projects.html or on Twitter via @CaltransDist10. SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027.
Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
REST AREA CLOSURE
CHUCK ERRECA REST AREA ON
INTERSTATE 5 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the northbound and southbound off-ramps from Interstate 5 to the Chuck Erreca Rest Area for pavement work.
The ramps – as well as the rest area – will be closed Sunday, July 28, 2019, through Friday, August 2, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m.

 


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July 24 , 2019

City opens Cooling Zones as temperatures climb

The City of Merced is opening its cooling center immediately because temperatures will stay in triple digits and the National Weather Service has declared an excessive heat watch. Other agencies in Merced County are also opening Cooling Zones to accommodate their residents.

Cooling zone will open Tuesday through Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The Cooling Zone is open to anyone who needs to come in out of the heat. People can bring their pets as long as they are housebroken and get along with other animals and people in the Cooling Zone. Water and some snacks are available, along with family-oriented entertainment.

“It’s going to be hot and humid, so be careful,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “Stay hydrated and make sure everyone in your family drinks lots of fluids and stays cool.”

“This is the time to be extra neighborly and check up on your friends and the people around you to make sure they are doing OK,” he said. “Remember, the heat is hard on our vulnerable populations.”

“If you only have a swamp cooler, if you don’t have air conditioning or it’s broken, visit a friend or family member with AC, or come to our Cooling Zone,” said Fire Chief Bill Alcorn.

“And whatever you do, don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Alcorn said.

When you’re outside drink plenty of water and dress in light, comfortable clothes. Exercise in the mornings or after the sun goes down, he said.
The heat index is expected to reach 104 to 105 degrees today and Wednesday, and then temperatures will hit 104 degrees by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. An excessive heat watch has been posted for Thursday through Sunday.
Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.

 


Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke -- which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature -- may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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July 24 , 2019

CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE
CALTRANS REHABILITATES STATE ROUTE 140
IN FERGUSON FIRE SCAR OF MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed a $5.4 million project rehabilitating eastbound and
westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) in the Ferguson Fire scar of Mariposa County.
The work was needed after the Ferguson Fire burned through the region in summer 2018. The project included replacing 17 culverts (underground drainage systems) and performing 12 miles worth of hazardous tree and vegetation removal and slope scaling. Slope scaling refers to working on roadside slopes, including implementing erosion control measures, to mitigate future instances of mudslides and debris flow during storms.
The Ferguson Fire started July 13, 2018, in Mariposa County and burned more than 96,900 acres, causing power outages, road damage and road closures. Burnt vegetation and trees exposed slopes to erosion, mud flows and rock falls.
Work began in November 2018 and was completed in July 2019. Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.


For the safety of workers and other motorists,please Slow For the Cone Zone.


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July 24 , 2019

2019 Bloodless Bullfight Festival Fundraiser for Autism and Cancer

On August 3, 2019, the Carlos Vieira Foundation and the California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization will host their 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight fundraiser at the Stevinson Arena (2936 Lander Ave Stevinson, California 95374). Doors open at 5pm, and the event begins at 7pm. This annual event has gained great support over the years in its efforts and success in raising money for Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign and Valley Children’s Hospital’s oncology unit. We invite the public to join us for this exciting event for a great cause!
Tickets are now on sale for the pre-sale price of $15. They are available online at carlosvieirafoundation.org/shop or at one of our ticket-stop locations: Hilmar Portuguese Bakery, 51FIFTY Apparel, A.V. Thomas Produce, and M&S Portuguese Bakery. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate on the day of for $20. The proceeds raised will assist Valley Children’s Hospital in continuing to help children living with cancer and the Race for Autism campaign in continuing to help and provide grants to families living with autism in central California.

 

 

 

If you would like more information about the Carlos Vieira Foundation or would like to make a charitable donation, please visit www.carlosvieirafoundation.org.

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July 23 , 2019

Four new officers sworn in Friday, plus Stas

The Merced Police Department added four more officers to the department Friday at a ceremony that also saw the swearing in of the newest K9, Stas.
Conducted by Police Chief Christopher Goodwin, the ceremony took place in the Council Chambers at the Merced Civic Center.
The Department has now filled all 98 positions in its budget, although four of those are in the classification of police officer trainee.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, although we are six months to a year from being fully staffed and fully trained,” said Goodwin.

The latest officers to be sworn in are:
Matthew Calicagno, 26, is a native of Los Banos who received top academic honors while attending the police academy. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and has worked as a substitute teacher. He was a police volunteer in Los Banos.
His pastimes include spending time with family, including his parents, Marylou and Charles, and sisters, Laura and Katie. He also enjoys cooking and working out.
Steven Floratos, 27, is a Fresno native, who earned a number of awards during his five years in the U.S. Army. Prior to entering the Army, he attended college while working part-time.
In his spare time, he enjoys playing softball, but mostly spending time with his wife, Sandra, and young daughter, Reagan.
Justin James Saldivar, 28, a Fresno native, has an associate’s degree in criminology and a bachelor’s degree in business management. Before entering the police academy, he was an estate property assistant for the Fresno County District Attorney and a shift supervisor for CVS Pharmacy. He served as a youth football coach in his spare time.
He enjoys watching movies with his family that includes his fiancé and two children.
Jennifer Shaw, 32, is from Atwater, where she was active in Atwater Youth Cheer. She has been a probation officer and a K9 officer. She received an award for saving a life. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from UC Merced.
When not working, she can be found at the gym or busy with kids’ activities with her son, Carter, or daughter, Natalie.

Stas, 16 months, is from Novato, and is a German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix. He will begin training July 22 through Aug. 23 for handler protection, apprehension and detection of firearms.

 


Officer Matthew Calicagno, Officer Justin Saldivar, and Officer Jennifer Shaw.

 


Stas

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July 23 , 2019

City of Merced Emergency Services to include Text-to-911 services within its 911 Center

A new way of contacting 911 is being implemented in the City of Merced.
The Merced Police Department, in conjunction with the State of California 911 Emergency Communications Branch and AT&T, is providing the availability of a new integrated text-to-911 System.
This service is available to all residents in the City of Merced who may not be able to safely make a voice call to 911 in an emergency. The City of Merced strives to provide additional services to the deaf and hard of hearing community, but also to those residents who may not be able to safely make a voice call. Our preferred way of receiving emergency calls is through a voice call to 911.
The Merced Police Communications Center completed testing with the major network carriers in our area: AT&T, Verizon T-Mobile, Sprint, and Xfinity mobile. All of the testing was successful, and we are now ready to accept text-to-911 messages. We will be the second agency in Merced County to begin accepting text-to-911 messages with others soon to come on board.

 

 

The text-to-911 system is an integrated part of our new phone system. Just as the 911 dispatcher answers a voice call, the text message will come directly to the dispatcher in the same way.
We encourage people to make a voice call to 911 when you are physically safely able to call. When time is of the essence, a voice call is handled faster due to the immediate interaction between the caller and the dispatcher. Remember… “Call when you can, text when you can’t.” The Federal Communications Commission recommends voice call to 911 instead of text-to-911. However, text-to-911 is available when the need arises.

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July 23 , 2019


MCAG seeking applications for committee appointment

MERCED - Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking applicants for appointment to the Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC). The SSTAC is a nine-member council appointed by the MCAG Governing Board to solicit the input of persons who rely on public transit because of youth, advanced age, or mental or physical impairment. The SSTAC is convened annually, at minimum, to conduct public hearings to identify any “unmet transit needs” that are “reasonable to meet” that may exist in Merced County, as required by the Transportation Development Act. The SSTAC also offers input to the MCAG Governing Board on transit service issues.
SSTAC members are appointed to serve a three-year term. The council is comprised of social service and transit providers representing the elderly, the disabled, and persons of limited means while striving for geographic and minority representation. Currently, MCAG is seeking candidates for appointment to the council in the following category:

 

• Local Social Service Transportation Provider for the Disabled
Applications for the SSTAC can be obtained at www.mcagov.org or at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street, Merced. For more information, please contact Natalia Austin at (209)723-3153 x 127 or natalia.austin@mcagov.org.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and administers Measure V funds. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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July 12, 2019

Planada Superintendent Elected to Lead State Association

Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez is taking on an additional role as executive director of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.
Gonzalez will guide the 600-member statewide organization based in Sacramento. He has been a member of CALSA for nearly 20 years and a board member for 10 years.
The 46-year-old superintendent said he will continue to proudly serve the Planada learning community and expects the executive director duties to take an average of five to seven days a month.
CALSA is a sister organization to the Association of California School Administrators, also headquartered in Sacramento.
Gonzalez was appointed a regional representative to the board by Dr. Fernando Elizondo. He holds the distinction of being the first-ever elected president of the CALSA board.
His plan is to elevate CALSA’s prominence as the advocate for the continued development and placement of Latino educational leaders who are committed to quality public education.
In seeking the role of executive director, Gonzalez articulated for the board a leadership plan aligned with CALSA’s strategic goals.
“I am passionate about providing the best education possible for students. As executive director, I look forward to working with the board, a group of educational leaders who are creative thinkers, collaborative problem solvers, and responsible for shaping our children’s future,” Gonzalez said following his announcement at the 2019 CALSA Summer Institute.
A CALSA board statement reads: “We look forward to having Jose at head of the organization as our executive director. He is conscientious of the needs of our diverse community of educational leaders. He recognizes our past, is focused on addressing our immediate needs and will be trusted to drive our vision of excellence for the future.”
Gonzalez has been Planada superintendent since November 2010.


Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merced Fish & Game, Inc 
proposes plans to develope
a Merced Public Range & Sporting Complex Olympic Training Center with City Council. To see proposal, go to Merced Fish & Game, Inc's website:
mfginc.org


Collyn Roper


Click picture to enlarge

The undertaking the Merced Fish & Game,Inc is proposing will be a professionally designed project consisting of:
• 40 Trap fields, 12 of which will be overlaid with Skeet fields,
• A sporting clays course in future plans,
• A meeting house,
• A registration building,
• Several bathroom facilities,
• The California Waterfowl Association Museum,
• RV parking with full hook-ups,
• Additional RV parking,
• Several storage facilities,
• One workshop,
• One pre-manufactured home for the resident manager,
• General parking for additional vehicles.

For Information or Questions:
Contact MERCED FISH & GAME, INC
by email:
mercedfishandgame@yahoo.com


 

 


 

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