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COMMUNITY NEWS

October 20 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION/TRAFFIC ADVISORY
BPMP Bridge Repairs on M Street over Bear Creek

Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing M Street between Rambler Road and 27th Street from midnight to 5:00AM on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 through Friday, October 27, 2017 to finish installing traffic control devices and striping to complete the bridge repair work over Bear Creek. M Street will reopen all lanes to traffic in each direction during each day.

North Bear Creek Drive will also be open to traffic in each direction during each day. By Saturday, October 28, 2017 all roadway work should be completed and the traffic signal should be fully operational.

Please allow for 15-20 minute delays during each day between Tuesday, October 24, 2017 and Friday, October 27, 2017 as the traffic signal will be on flashing red acting as a four-way stop. Use alternative routes to avoid delays such as R Street or G Street.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, construction related issues, and traffic incidents.

Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager or the City Engineer listed below:
Joel Svendsen, Project Manager 209-385-6820
Steven Son, City Engineer 209-385-6898

For the safety of the workers and other motorists, please slow down for the construction zone.

Viking Construction Company and the City of Merced would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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October 19, 2017

Italian Underground an WWII Nazi Spy's Son to Speak at Castle Air Museum

Castle Air Museum, located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater is proud and honored to host Mr. Mike Lella, son of Italian underground spy and rescuer of Italian Jews Mr. Pino Lella during World War II to speak at Castle Air Museum onSaturday, October 28 at 10:30 AM in the Museum's banquet room. The story of Mr. Lella's heroic actions are highlighted in a novel titled " Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Author Mark Sullivan.

This promises to be a riveting account of how young men and women of high school age risked their lives to save and rescue innocent people from the brutality and persecution of the Nazi war machine during World War II in Europe.

For more information please contact the Museum at (209) 723-2178, M-F 9 am to 5 pm, or visit the Museum's website at :www.castleairmuseum.org.

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October 19, 2017

MCSD Students Learn from Local Scientists & Engineers

Several Merced City School District students received invaluable support with their science fair projects during the district’s first “Ask a Scientist or Engineer” night on Tuesday. It was held at the new MCSD STEAM Center, which was designed to provide integrated hands-on learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
The event began with an overview of the science fair process and introductions by the local experts. Many of them work or study at UC Merced, but their backgrounds and focus areas are very diverse, from soil ecology to psychology to applied mathematics and genomics. The children then had a chance to sit with the experts and ask questions about topics such as developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and presenting conclusions.
The district’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development, Dr. Elaine Keeley, said, “It was exciting to see our students connecting with experts from right here in our community. These interactions provide our children with role models in STEAM fields as well as inspiration for their science fair projects.”
The students will have a chance to showcase their work at school site science fairs, which lead up to the district fair on January 19. The top 20 projects will move on to the Merced County Office of Education STEM Fair on March 8. The winners of that event will have a chance to compete at the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles on April 23-24. Last year, MCSD students swept the top three spots at the county fair and proudly represented Merced at the state contest.
Two more “Ask a Scientist or Engineer” nights will be held this year. They are scheduled for November 7 and December 7 at 5 p.m. at the STEAM Center, which is located at 2900 Green Street. Experts who are interested in participating or serving as judges for the MCSD science fair can contact Public Information Officer Sara Sandrik at: ssandrikgoins@mcsd.k12.ca.us.

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October 19, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS CONTINUES REPAVING PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing an improvement project on State Route 140 (SR-140) to repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in Merced to SR-33 in Gustine.

Work for the stretch on eastbound and westbound SR-140 between Virginia Street and SR-99 in the city of Merced has been moved from the nighttime to the daytime this week. Work was originally planned beginning Wednesday, October 18, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., but crews are now scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The work will include intermittent lane and shoulder closures.

This 33-mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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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October 19, 2017

Costa Commends Bipartisan Alexander-Murray Health Care Agreement

FRESNO, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after the leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) – announced their bipartisan agreement to improve the Affordable Care Act, which includes funding the cost-sharing reduction payments the Administration cut last week:

“The bipartisan health care agreement reached in the Senate takes seriously the need to address weaknesses in the Affordable Care Act, and I commend Senators Alexander and Murray for refusing to give into the partisanship that has thwarted previous efforts to improve the ACA. I am particularly pleased to see that the Senate plan parallels some of the core ideas of the bipartisan health care framework we in the Problem Solvers Caucus proposed in July, including stabilizing the individual market through funding cost-sharing reduction payments and reducing health care premiums. I have always said that we need bipartisanship to provide real and long-term solutions to fix our policy problems, and this health care proposal is a significant step towards giving Americans the stable, responsible health care policy they want and deserve.”

 


Congressman Jim Costa

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October 19, 2017

MCAG scholarship program now accepting applications

MERCED- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is now accepting applications for the 2018 Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship. The MCAG Governing Board and staff established this scholarship program in 2010 to honor the memory of Anna Maria Fuentes, Grants Program Manager at MCAG.
The Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior in Merced County with a grade point average of 3.8 or higher who has demonstrated a high level of participation in extracurricular activities including positions of leadership. Applicants must provide a personal essay that describes their need for scholarship in order to pursue higher education goals.
The 2018 scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 and will be eligible to receive additional awards of $1,000 each year for three years based on scholastic performance and documentation.
Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street,
Merced and must be received by 3:00pm on Monday, February 28, 2018. The selected scholarship recipient will be notified by May 1, 2018.

 



Interested applicants can access the scholarship application and instructions at http://www.mcagov.org/217/Scholarship. General inquiries can be directed to Eva Garibay, Public Programs Specialist, at 209-723-3153 x 108.
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 and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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October 18 , 2017

Cannabis ordinance on Planning Commission meeting agenda

The City of Merced Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed cannabis ordinance at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Oct. 18. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The City has a draft ordinance that would allow commercial cannabis businesses, including cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, deliveries and dispensaries/retail sales in certain zones. The businesses would not be allowed within 600 feet of schools, day cares and other youth-related facilities. There are other restrictions on the locations of the businesses.

 

 

There will be time for public comment on the ordinance during the public hearing.
The cannabis ordinance is scheduled to go before the City Council at its Nov. 20 meeting.

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October 18 , 2017

Livingston School District to Modernize Campuses Starting in December

By next summer, Livingston’s elementary schools will have a new look to them, as a $10.5 million modernization program sees aging portables replaced by modern modular structures.
Andres Zamora, superintendent of the Livingston Union School District, said the new construction will improve the overall appearance of district campuses. Construction will begin phases as early as December at Campus Park and Selma Herndon elementary schools, with work on Yamato Colony Elementary School to start next summer.
Even more importantly, Zamora said, the brand-new buildings will have a great impact on the teaching and learning environment for students and staff.
Nick Jones, the district’s director of maintenance, operations and transportation, said 24 new modular classrooms with staff and student restrooms are going in while 22 portable classrooms are being removed.
After a slab is laid on the ground, the prefabricated modular walls are fit together much like a puzzle. With the portables, there is a wood floor and a metal frame, much like a trailer on wheels, Jones explained. The modular walls will have a stucco finish, replacing the wooden siding long familiar on portables.
Zamora said the original intent years ago was that portables would be temporary, but in many school districts they became permanent. Two of the portables are being donated to the Livingston Police Foundation and will see further use.
The new classroom building will be more attractive and have better sunlight, ventilation and improved access to modern technology, Zamora said. There’s not much resale value for portables, which will be removed by contractors. The modernization is part of the district’s 10-year facilities master plan. Members of the community have been engaged in all stages of the planning process.
“We want our schools to be attractive and welcoming to our students,” Zamora said. “The staff is excited about the new buildings.”
Jones said these are the first new buildings in many years. He said the staff and students are excited about their future classrooms.
Zamora said construction was made possible by passage of Measure B in 2005; at that time, the possibilities were building a new school or modernization. The district’s enrollment has not increased since 2005 while the facility needs have mounted.

 

About $7.8 million of the bond funds are being used on the project with the rest paid for by a district special fund, Zamora said. The district intends to apply for state matching funds through Proposition 51; between 50 and 60 percent of all costs could be reimbursed through the proposition.
“It depends on when the state releases the bond money. It could be anywhere from three to five years before we are reimbursed,” Zamora said. “I credit our school board for their vision to take this opportunity to improve classrooms.”
JTS Modular in Bakersfield will be doing the construction. Bids will be sought for site work in the next couple weeks. Jones said removal of the portables will allow reconfiguration and expansion at Campus Park and Selma Herndon campuses.
The majority of the portable classrooms are more than 20 years old. The lifespan of portable classrooms is normally 10 years and it takes a lot of work for districts to make them last another decade, according to Jones.
“The new buildings will include water access in every classroom, a restroom facility and storage room. In addition to the modernized classrooms, surrounding sidewalks and playgrounds will be renovated. These much-needed improvements will significantly improve the learning environment for our staff and students,” Zamora said.
The district is taking all precautions to ensure students and staff are safe during the construction period. Construction work has been strategically planned in phases where there is the least amount of students on campus and disruption to the instructional day, Zamora said.

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October 17 , 2017

 

FFA Members Earn Public Speaking Honors

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Sixty Atwater High School 9th grade FFA members along with the Atwater FFA Chapter Officer team competed in the annual Fall FFA Sectional Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest at Gustine High School. Over four hundred FFA members from Buhach Colony, Dos Palos, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, El Capitan, Pacheco, Mariposa, Merced, Delhi, Stone Ridge Christian, and Golden Valley High Schools competed in this public speaking event.

The Atwater FFA had ten novice officer teams and one advanced officer team. An officer team is comprised of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, reporter, and sentinel. Official FFA ceremonies build pride, identity, and tradition among FFA members and chapters. All meetings are opened and closed using ceremonies written for those purposes. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest has students recite the responsibilities and duties of their respected office. Each team was scored and evaluated by a team of judges in areas that included memorization, delivery, posture, poise, uniform, and team behavior. The contest was also an opportunity for students to meet other FFA members from the other schools in the Merced- Mariposa Section.

The results and student participants from Atwater High School were: Advanced Officer Team (Gold) – President, Annessa Cardenas; Vice President, Jasmine Sandoval; Secretary, Dillon Guillen; Treasurer, Stephania Valdovinos; Reporter, Grace Reyes; and Sentinel, Jonathan Garcia; Atwater Team “1” (Gold )Luis Hernandez, Celeste Chargoy, Madison Ainslie, Dakota Jones, Arly Gonzalez, Kaleb Hand ; Atwater Team “2” (Silver) Simarjot Gandhoke, Perla Caballero, Moira Conway, Adam Frietas, Aileen Fierros, Miguel Contreras; Atwater Team “3” (Gold)Daniel Narez, Brianna Mendoza, Naomy Gonzalez, Viviana Villa, Jessica Agundis, Ulyette Curiel; Atwater Team “4” (Gold)Makayla Silveira, Cecilia Ahumada, Supreet Gandhok, Adriana Espinosa, Lilian Sackett, Stefanie Sanchez; Atwater Team “5” (Gold) Teresa Cavallero, Destiny Johnson, Evelyn Sanabria, Haylee Silveira, Gabriela Moreno, Maria de Rosario Ruelas; Atwater Team “6” (Silver)Eduardo Torres, Everett Hill, Amoni Claiborne, Ricardo Arreola, America Hernandez, Adrian Valencia; Atwater Team “7” (Gold) Logan Hazel, Olivia Cone, Adilene Noriega, Brianna Perez, Hector Hernandez Valencia, Jackie Oseguera; Atwater Team “8” (Gold) Evelyn Cisneros, Brianna Valencia, Aidan Vargas, Jasmin Amezcua, Marco Cisneros, Gabriella Lucas; Atwater Team “9”(Gold) Nandani Patel, Lizbeth Arias, Yoselin Medina, Alexus Ortega, Paola Rivera, Emily Rodrigez; Atwater Team “10” ( Gold )Sydney Weimer, Brianda Arteaga, Vinea Magallanes, Blaire Chua, Trinity Barkman.

Students who were recognized with “Outstanding Officer” awards included Stephania Valdovinos, Lilian Sackett, Kendra Schonwald, Nandani Patel, Lizbeth Arias, Jasmin Amezcua, Olivia Cone, Hector Hernandez Valencia, America Hernandez, Adriana Espinosa, Simarjot Gandhoke, Madison Ainslie.

“I’ve never experienced anything like the Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest” said Atwater FFA member Simarjot Gandhoke, “I was still really nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun and an experience that I will never forget.”

“The students were nervous and anxious prior to the contest, however they really showed their courage and enthusiasm at the event,” said FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh. “It was a tremendous opportunity and experience for the students as public speaking and communication is recognized as an important and valuable skill in one’s education and future career.”


Sixty Atwater High School freshman agriculture students participated in the Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Opening and Closing Ceremony Speaking Finals held at Gustine High School.



Atwater High School FFA member Hector Hernandez Valencia is recognized with his "Outstanding Reporter" award given by Atwater High School sectional officer Emily Junez.


Atwater High School agriculture students (back row) Sidney Weimer, Adriana Espinoza, Lisbeth Anas, Nandani Patel, Kendra Schonwald, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Jasmin Amezcua, (front row) Lillian Sackett, Madison Ainslie, Stephania Hernandez, Hector Hernandez-Valencia, and Olivia Cone earned "Outstanding Speaker" awards during the sectional speaking contest.


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 17 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM STATE ROUTE 99
TO BUENA VISTA DRIVE IN MERCED

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from SR-99 to Buena Vista Drive for maintenance work. Work will be completed as follows:
• Full closure of northbound SR-59 from SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Sunday, October 15, 2017, through Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of southbound SR-59 from SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Tuesday, October 17, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of northbound and southbound SR-59 from Cooper Street to 16th Street/Snelling Highway beginning Tuesday, October 17, 2017, through Wednesday, October 18, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of northbound and southbound SR-59 from West Olive Avenue/Santa Fe Drive to Buena Vista Drive beginning Wednesday, October 18, 2017, through Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 15 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE
TO VIRGINIA AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33, in Gustine, to Virginia Avenue, in the city of Merced, for construction work.
Work is scheduled beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTES 33, 99 AND 152 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction and maintenance activities on State Route 99 (SR-99), SR-33 and SR-152 in Merced County. Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from Interstate 5 to southbound SR-33 on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Full off-ramp closures from northbound SR-99 to SR-140, and from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street, beginning Sunday, October 15, 2017, through Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-140/SR-59 beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from westbound SR-152 to SR-33 on Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Fulll on-ramp closure from SR-33 to eastbound SR-152 on Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 15 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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October 17 , 2017

Atwater, Delhi Take Top Honors at Annual Excellence in Education Awards

A transitional kindergarten teacher from Atwater and a library clerk from Delhi took top honors at the 12th annual Merced County Excellence in Education Awards at the Merced Theatre on Oct. 3.
Parents, students, educators and community members celebrated with educators and school employees from throughout the county as the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union hosted the annual Excellence in Education Awards Reception.
Carrie O’Bara, who teaches at Peggy Heller Elementary School in Atwater, is Merced County’s Teacher of the Year and Marisela Picazo from Harmony Elementary School in Delhi is the county’s School Employee of the Year.
School districts submit teachers and school employees for the awards program and representative from local government, K-12 and higher education serve as the selection committee.
There were five nominees for school employee of the year and seven nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests enjoyed video vignettes produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in both categories and a dessert reception immediately after the ceremony. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year moves on to the state awards program.

Full list of District Nominees:

TEACHERS:
Carrie O’Bara Atwater Elementary School District
Cara Holland Delhi Unified School District
Mary Henderson Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Tuckie Burgess Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Stephen Eccles Merced Union High School District
Jenny Mendoza Preschool – Merced County Office of Education
Dawna McCreary Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Mary Monroe Atwater Elementary School District
Marisela Picazo Delhi Unified School District
Fernando Maciel Le Grand Union High School District
Jennifer M. Campos Merced County Office of Education – Human Resources
Donna L. Bandoni Merced Union High School District


Carrie O’Bara


Marisela Picazo

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October 17 , 2017

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

“Anchored” is the 2017-2018 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 October 7.

The purpose of this conference is 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 chapter and sectional officers from the central region.” said Atwater FFA Chapter President Anessa Cardenas. “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 Natalie Borba, “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 from Merced County up through the Sacramento area participated in the conference.

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 2017-2018 State FFA and Central Region FFA officer teams. This year’s state FFA theme “Anchored” pertains to staying rooted in service, values, and agriculture 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 Dillon Guillen. “It’s up to you to make things happen in life.”


Atwater High School agriculture student Dillon Guillen (center) is joined by California FFA Association's State FFA Secretary Genevieve Regli and State FFA Sentinel Robert Marchy during the recent FFA leadership conference.



Atwater High School chapter officers Stephania Valdovinos, Zion Brigham, Grace Reyes, Dillon Guillen, Anessa Cardenas, and Jonathan Garcia showcase their recent FFA COLC conference materials during the leadership workshop held in Modesto.
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The Atwater FFA officers that attended were Anessa Cardenas, President; Jasmine Sandoval, Vice President; Dillon Guillen, Secretary; Zion Brigham, Treasurer; Grace Reyes, Reporter; Jonathan Garcia, Sentinel; and Stephania Valdovinos, Historian.


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 17 , 2017

New Planning Commissioners Sonia Alshami and Jeremy Martinez were sworn in Monday morning by Assistant City Clerk John Tresidder during ceremonies in the City Manager’s Office, followed by a reception. The pair went to their first meeting Wednesday night when the Commission held a study session on cannabis businesses and the draft cannabis ordinance.


Sonia Alshami and Jeremy Martinez

 

 

Pumpkin Party time!

The annual Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party is set for 5:15 p.m. Weds., Oct. 25 in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. Bring your tots and tykes ages 3 to 8 to decorate a pumpkin, have some tricks and treats and enjoy some Halloween fun.
Space is limited so sign-up now. Cost is only $7 a child Register at the Parks and Recreation Department office, 632 W. 18th St. or by calling 385-6235. Costumes and parents are welcome!

Click here for Flyer

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October 17 , 2017

Draft 2018 State Rail Plan Supports Amtrak San Joaquins and ACE Expansion

Stockton (CA) – Caltrans has released its Draft 2018 State Rail Plan, which features near-term improvements for the two services managed by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan will help guide the state’s priorities for rail investments that will support California’s economy for future generations. Caltrans’ goal is to provide riders with more travel options that are more efficient, cleaner, faster, and have fewer delays.

For Amtrak San Joaquins, the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan focuses on expanded service to and from Sacramento, with new stations in Elk Grove and Sacramento, and a consideration of expanding the service further to Marysville. Sacramento service expansion is a key initiative of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), managers and administers of the San Joaquins service. Also, the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan supports the new Morning Express service to Sacramento launching in January 2018, which will deliver passengers to Sacramento before 8am.

The ACE service is featured in the 2018 State Rail Plan for its short-term goals of an extension to Modesto and Ceres, with funding already identified via SB1 and SB132, with a plan of post-2025 regional service frequency to Merced via Modesto and Ceres. Future ACE plans include increased service to the Bay Area with a goal of half-hourly peak period service and hourly off-peak service.

“The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan is a welcome look at improving passenger services on many levels, and we look forward to working with Caltrans on these projects to benefit our riders” said SJRRC Executive Director Stacey Mortensen.

The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan is more ambitious than previous rail plans, by proposing a statewide vision for an integrated high speed, intercity, and commuter passenger rail system with reliable timed connections and multimodal transportation options.

 

 

The passenger component of the California rail vision includes several key elements:
• Statewide System – Passenger rail service will tie together urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state.
• Integrated System – Multimodal hubs will connect all levels of service with a common fare system, which allows trips to be made on a single ticket.
• Coordinated Schedules – Services will be coordinated in a “pulsed” schedule across the network to reduce wait times and allow direct transfers.
• Frequent Service – Service frequency will make rail a timely option for travelers, meeting trip demands throughout the day.
• Customer Focus – Enhanced ticketing, scheduling, and passenger information will be supported by coordinated services.
The 60 day public comment period is open now, and will remain open until December 11th. Caltrans will be hosting seven public workshops across the state, as well as an online Webinar. For more information on the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan, please visit their Web site at http://www.dot.ca.gov/californiarail/

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October 17 , 2017

REPEAT FRAUDSTER IN MERCED COUNTY DENIED PAROLE

A Merced man, sentenced to 11 years in prison earlier this year for multiple counts of grand theft and diversion of construction funds in amounts exceeding $100,000, but already eligible for parole following the 2016 passage of Proposition 57, will have to remain in prison following a denial by the state Board of Parole last month, the Merced County District Attorney’s office announced.

Jesse Munoz, 31, pled no contest to five counts of diversion of construction funds and five counts of grand theft of personal property with a white collar criminal enhancement due to the amounts exceeding $100,000. However, Munoz was eligible for parole after only six months of incarceration since Proposition 57 changed parole eligibility for those convicted of so-called “non-violent” crimes.
Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, who served as state co-chair of the No on 57 campaign, said “prosecutors across California are closely watching parole decisions in the aftermath of Prop 57. It is ridiculous that a person sentenced earlier this year to 11 years in prison for extensive financial crimes would even be considered for parole after serving just six months in custody.”

 

Munoz’s past criminal history in Merced County includes a conviction in 2009 of six felony counts of obtaining money by false pretense. From 2007-2008 Munoz ran advertisements in the local paper and online promising quick returns on fraudulent real estate investments. He spent five years in State prison for this conviction, and upon release in 2014, he began to defraud additional victims with a new scheme, for which he is currently serving prison time.
In denying parole to Munoz, the Board of Parole cited his current offense, a significant prior criminal history, and letters opposing release received from the District Attorney’s office and five of the victims of Munoz’s crimes, Morse said.

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October 17 , 2017

Governor Vetoes Gray’s Fair Water Rights Hearing Legislation

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) expressed frustration and disappointment today upon learning that the Governor had vetoed Gray’s fair water rights hearing legislation.

“For more than half a century, the State Water Resources Control Board has kept a dirty little secret,” said Gray. “They are the judge, the jury, and the prosecution in the water world. They have zero accountability to the people of California, yet their decisions impact the daily lives of millions of people.”

Gray’s bill, AB 313, would have inserted checks and balances back into water rights enforcement. Rather than allowing the Water Board to write the rules and then unilaterally decide who breaks them as is done now, the bill would have required water rights enforcement hearings to occur at the Office of Administrative Hearings under the direction of an administrative law judge.

“I am disappointed that AB 313 was not signed by the governor,” said Senator Anthony Cannella. “For too long the water users believed that the process was stacked against them. This bill would have inserted a nominal step to make the process more fair. Those of us who represent the valley will not stop fighting for a fair process.”

Under current law, the State Water Board issues complaints against water users for allegedly violating water rights and provides 20 days for the water user to request an appeals hearing. The hearing occurs at the Water Board itself, with Water Board staff acting as the prosecution and a member of the Water Board acting as the judge. A legislative report found that out of more than 2,500 cases in the last decade, the Water Board has only overturned a single complaint.

“It’s no wonder the Water Board wins 99.9% of its cases when they are essentially being asked whether or not they agree with themselves,” said Gray.

“I’m disappointed that the Governor wasn’t able to sign AB 313 and help restore some faith in the State Water Resources Control Board process,” said Assemblyman Heath Flora. “This issue isn’t going away and we will continue to fight.”

In his veto message Governor Brown said that, while he could not support Gray’s bill, he is “directing the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate the potential role for administrative law judges and

provide a recommendation on improvements to the Board’s hearing process…”

“I am encouraged that the Governor recognizes the lack of transparency and fairness in the Water Board’s process,” said Gray. “The bureaucrats at the State Water Board have lost any and all credibility with the communities I represent. I will continue to pursue every avenue at my disposal to promote greater public transparency and expose this out of control kangaroo court of an agency.”

 

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After Nearly a Decade without State Funding Gray’s New Law Makes County Fairs a Priority Again

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded Governor Brown today for signing into law his bill, AB 1499, which partially restores the state’s investment in California’s network of 78 fairs.

“California was forced to make devastating cuts during the Great Recession, including cutting $30 million in annual funding from the fairs,” said Gray. “The investments promised by this new law significantly improve the financial outlook and economic viability of these important assets.”

Assembly Bill 1499 creates an economic incentive for fairgrounds by allowing them to keep a percentage of the sales tax revenue generated on their properties.

“While fairs are important economic engines in the communities they serve, they also act as evacuation centers and staging areas for fire and emergency services personnel during natural disasters,” continued Gray. “As fires continue to ravage Northern California, I applaud the Governor for recognizing the important role fairgrounds play and making their success a state priority.”

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October 17 , 2017

Costa Statement on House Budget Resolution Vote

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on House Continuing Resolution 71 and other alternative budget proposals, each of which would establish the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 and position budgetary levels for fiscal years 2019 through 2027:

“Today, the House voted on a number of budget alternatives that do not strike the needed balance between fiscal responsibility and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. The alternatives proposed by members of the Democratic Party do little to address our nation’s unsustainable and growing debt, while the proposed cuts in the Republican budget threaten the health care of over 121,000 individuals in our district alone and require the Agriculture Committee to cut $10billion from its programs. The Republican budget also calls for changes that will make fewer low-income students eligible for Pell grants and fewer of our disabled eligible for Social Security disability insurance. Although the resolution voted on today includes some positive reforms to our budget process, these positive process reforms do not outweigh the negative impact the budget itself will have on our Valley and our country.

“I have always, and will always, stand for fiscal responsibility, which means we must reduce our deficit and our debt, and we cannot abandon those who

need our help. Our votes in Congress reflect our values, and my votes today were informed by my adamant and unmovable support for real fiscal responsibility. I will continue to work for fiscally-responsible policies and budgets, and I welcome my colleagues – from both sides of the aisle – to join me in putting our country back on the right budgetary and financial track, while not abandoning our neighbors who need our help.”

Costa Statement on Executive Order Ending Health Care Cost-sharing Reduction Payments

FRESNO, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after President Trump signed an executive order to end cost-sharing reduction payments (CSR) to insurance companies providing health care to individuals enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces:


Congressman Jim Costa



“The Administration’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments is irresponsible and illogical. Ending these payments will cause the government to spend more money to insure fewer people. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this decision will add $194 billion to the national deficit over the next decade while our nation’s most vulnerable lose coverage. Furthermore, we all know that markets must be stable for businesses to provide consumers with affordable, high-quality products. The cost-sharing reduction payments are crucial for stability in the individual health care market, which is why many of us in Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – have been advocating for making these payments permanent through legislation. Ending these payments will cause even more instability in the health care market, which will lead to higher premiums and fewer options for Americans across the country.

“Since its enactment, I have always believed that the Affordable Care Act has problems that must be addressed. But the way to fix problems is with bipartisan, commonsense solutions, not with partisan, senseless decisions and actions, such as this executive order.”

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October 3 , 2017

Digital Music Lab Creates Opportunities for Students
Home

October 02, 2017 Merced College is adding another skill to student résumés: music producer. The Merced College Music and Performing Arts Department are currently implementing courses that explore the technological side of the music industry.
With its new Introduction to Digital Music course the department takes music production into the 21st century. The classroom, located in the Vocational building, constructs individual workstations for the students, where they can compose, edit and orchestrate their own works through the click of a mouse. It allows to students familiarize themselves with technology and the vast world of multimedia production.
Dean of Music and Performing Arts John Albano said the program “promotes not only music composition, but all digital media, including graphic design, video production, audio production and digital art”.
The classroom is not simply a computer lab, however. Four individual rooms built within the space serve as multipurpose chambers. It becomes a sound booth, an editing space, a recording studio and a practice space where students can perfect their work. Albano hopes that these new facilities will provide opportunities for students to find practical applications and experience in the field of technology. He also says implementation of these programs are vital, as they allow the College to stay current with the changing job market. The global transition into a culture of the Internet and smart phones requires students to be knowledgeable in audio-visual media more than ever.
Courses will include techniques in recording, digital music notation, sampling, as well as composition and recording arts. There will also be opportunities for exploring these new terrains with courses in music theory, introduction to digital media and fundamental-based music courses. Albano hopes that these courses will attract music majors, as well as those looking to expand their horizons in the world of audio and visual media.


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October 3 , 2017


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT APPLEGATE ROAD
IN THE CITY OF ATWATER

ATWATER – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the on-ramp from Applegate Road to northbound State Route 99 in Merced County for maintenance work.
Work will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 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.

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October 2, 2017

Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star Coming to Castle Air Museum

After three years of fundraising and planning the long awaited Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star has departed the Helena, Montana Regional Airport for the Castle Air Museum located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater, CA. The aircraft will make its way through several states roughly along the Interstate 15 corridor down through Las Vegas, across to Barstow, CA., and then onto Bakersfield, CA and up the Central Valley with an approximate ETA at the Museum in Atwater some time Friday evening October 6. This is a military adaptation of the classic Lockheed Constellation passenger aircraft of the 1950s and early'60's. The main load which is the aircraft's fuselage is over 150 feet in legnth from the front of the tractor to the rearmost portion of the fuselage. This is a monumental undertaking to save a piece of aviation history from becoming scrap and being lost forever. It is the mission of the Castle Air Museum, "to preserve military aviation heritage for future geneations, and inspire tomorrows aviators and engineers."
The aircraft once delivered will be reassembled by Worldwide Aircraft Recovery responsible for the work of disassembly, transport and reassembly for permanent exhibit at the Museum and to also be used in an educational role. The Museum would like to thank all of the generous individuals and business firms who donated to the Museum, a 501c3 non-profit organization to make this a reality!
For more information pleae contact Joe Pruzzo at the information provided.

 




Photo Credits courtesy of Worldwide Aircraft Recovery.

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September 30, 2017

 

FFA Students Prepare for Annual Fall Plant Sale

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 5000 flowering annuals, perennials, ferns, fruit trees, and miscellaneous ag mechanics projects will be on sale Friday, October 13th (8am-4pm) and Saturday, October 14th (8am-4pm) at the Atwater High School Agriculture Department for the annual FFA Fall Plant Sale. All of the plants were propagated and grown by Atwater High School agriculture and horticulture students.

The primary purpose of this sale is to generate funds to support the Atwater High School Horticulture program where funds go directly back into the program to assist in the funding of future student, school, and community horticulture and landscape projects.

A variety of annuals, perennials, and Merced County Fair award winning plants will be available to the community. “All plants are priced to sell,” says agriculture instructor Dave Gossman, “The students have put together great quality at a price that is under what you would find at our local stores and nurseries.”

The Atwater High School Agriculture program was the first-ever recognized certified high school horticulture program through the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC). The certification represents the quality of horticulture program, curriculum and facilities, career awareness by students in the horticulture industry, and encourages students to continue their education towards a career in horticulture. “People don’t realize that the horticulture industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of California”, said Gossman, “There are numerous opportunities for students to be successful in this field of agriculture.”

The goal of the Atwater FFA is to expand and develop plant products that meet the community’s needs and interests. This school year students have been taking part in horticulture class where they select and grow their own plants to sell at the school’s plant sales.


Atwater High School agriculture seniors Janell Cribbs and Mayra Valdez inspect the plant labels and health of the flowering annuals in preparation of the upcoming Atwater FFA Fall Plant Sale on October 13th and 14th.



Atwater High School agriculture seniors Mayra Valdez and Janell Cribbs inspect the flowering plant stock in preparation of the annual Atwater FFA Fall Plant Sale on October 13th and 14th.

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 30, 2017

MCOE, EECU to Host 12th Annual Excellence in Education Awards

Parents, students, educators and the community are invited to celebrate with educators and school employees from throughout 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 two categories: one for teachers 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 five nominees for school employee of the year and seven nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests will enjoy video vignettes produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in both categories and a dessert reception immediately after the ceremony. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year will move on to the state awards program.
District nominees this year are:

TEACHERS:
Carrie O’Bara Atwater Elementary School District
Cara Holland Delhi Unified School District
Mary Henderson Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Tuckie Burgess Merced County Office of Education – Special Education

 

Stephen Eccles Merced Union High School District
Jenny Mendoza Preschool – Merced County Office of Education
Dawna McCreary Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Mary Monroe Atwater Elementary School District
Marisela Picazo Delhi Unified School District
Fernando Maciel Le Grand Union High School District
Jennifer M. Campos Merced County Office of Education – Human Resources
Donna L. Bandoni Merced Union High School District
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 30, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140
IN the city of merced

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the off-ramp from southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) to eastbound SR-140 for maintenance work.

Work will take place on Sunday, October 1, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 5 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.

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS BRIDGE REHABILITATION PROJECT
AT STATE ROUTE 33 AND INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently began a project to enhance the structure of the bridge on State Route 33 at Interstate 5 in Santa Nella.

The project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Work is scheduled to be done at nighttime, and the project is scheduled to be completed by February 2018.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

This $1.6 million project has been awarded to Viking Construction Co.

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September 29, 2017

 

FFA Cooks Up Successful Record BBQ Fundraiser

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 1,200 BBQ tri-tip and pork loin dinners were cooked, prepared, and picked-up by various community families through the annual Atwater “FFA Take-Out BBQ” dinner. With 5000+ lbs of tri-tip, pork loin, salad, beans, and rolls packaged and sold by Atwater FFA students, the BBQ dinner turned out to be a record event with the most meals ever prepared for this FFA fundraiser. “This is a win-win situation. The community gets a great tasting BBQ meal and the agriculture program benefits from the funds that will be focused directly on the students,” said FFA advisor and BBQ coordinator Natalie Borba.
This fundraiser is one of four take-out BBQ fundraisers for the Atwater FFA throughout the upcoming school year. The students sell the tickets in advance followed by the ordering of food. The Atwater FFA has worked closely with Atwater’s Smart & Final, Richwood Meats, and Costco as they have supported the program’s fundraiser every year. Also, this year we had a huge help with cooking all of the meat from Uncle Buck's BBQ. The morning of the BBQ, students arrive early in the morning to prepare the salads, meat, beans, and dinner bags. Throughout the day, students take a “hands-on” approach towards the preparation, cooking, and organization of all the meals. “The students are invested in this event as they put forth tremendous effort in organizing and implementing the event,” said FFA advisor and “BBQ Extraordinaire” Sam Meredith.
The “FFA Take-Out BBQ” is one of two current fundraisers for Atwater FFA. The other current fundraiser taking place is the placemat ad sales. “All the money that is raised goes directly toward the students in providing resources and opportunities for all of them to achieve personal growth, academic success, and career objectives,” said FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. Over $25,000 in funds and agriculture resources is expected to be raised this school year to help support the agriculture program’s operation and activities.
The success and growth of the Atwater FFA and agriculture program is due to the continued support of the Atwater High School staff and administration, the Merced Union High School District, the Atwater Ag Boosters, and the hundreds of local community members and parents.
“We want to ensure that there is a return on the community’s investment by motivating and encouraging our students to go after their educational and career interests,” said FFA advisor Dan Flatt, “The excitement and effort we are seeing this year from our students is generating just a “taste” of what is still to come!”

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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picture to right

Atwater High School FFA member Julian Ibarra delivers an Atwater FFA Take-Out BBQ meal to Atwater community resident Amy Vann where over 1200 BBQ meals were prepared for the the local community.


Atwater High School agriculture student Josue Agundis checks the temperature of over 3500 pounds of tri-tip cooked during the recent FFA BBQ fundraiser.


Atwater High School agriculture students (right to left) Flor Agundis, VanessaGarcia, Marissa Nuno, and Yasmine Chavez prepare the BBQ pork loins in preparation of pick-up by customers during the recent BBQ fundraiser.

 

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September 29, 2017

Delhi’s El Capitan Installs Playground, Shade Structure Thanks to Measure E

El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi is sporting a new look, blending modern and historical elements of the North 5th Street campus.
Work has been completed on a new plaza, which includes a playground area and shade structure. The complex cost more than $600,000 and covers about half of the school site.
Adolfo Melara, Delhi Unified School District superintendent, said the project is the outgrowth of voters passing the Measure E bond measure five years ago. It also includes $20,000 in funds donated by the El Capitan Parents Club following fund-raising efforts over the last few years.
Melara said the project creates a harmonious look by connecting the school’s charming original buildings with the state-of-the-art new multipurpose building.
“It provides the element our children deserve,” Melara said. “It completes our children’s education by ensuring they will have fun physical activity. It is a facility that will inspire them and show how much we care for them.”
El Capitan Principal Gena Buchanan beams as she considers the renovations, which took three months to accomplish.
“It’s amazing! It just gives our school a whole new feel. It brings old world charm to the modern world. This is the campus our students deserve,” Buchanan said.
Melara said actual construction took about three months. It required leveling the ground, upgrading the drainage system, pouring cement and adding the new shade structure and adjoining playground equipment. There are two full-sized basketball courts and a tetherball court.
“It’s difficult to learn in facilities that are not up to par. We are giving them beautiful surroundings, which are a reminder that they are our priority. “They (students) are just loving it,” Melara said.
Also completed during the summer was the repainting of the entire school in a tan color with dark blue accents. Mike Flowers, El Capitan’s maintenance lead person, said the plaza takes up an area of 80 square feet by 180 square feet. Near the shade structure is a cement strip with the handprints of all the students and staff from the 2017-2018 school year.
Jay Serratore, the district’s chief budget officer, said the renovations will change the environment at El Capitan School and how people look at it. He said the results have exceeded their expectations. The Docon Co. of Modesto was the contractor on the project designed by SIM Architects.
The grand opening for the El Capitan plaza project will be Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. at the school, 10115 N. 5th St.
Melara expects the upgraded surroundings will create more pride in the school by students.
It will inspire the community and the parents and contribute to students enjoying the daily environment more and boosting their academic performance, Melara said.









 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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September 29, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS BRIDGE REHABILITATION PROJECT
AT STATE ROUTE 33 AND INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently began a project to enhance the structure of the bridge on State Route 33 at Interstate 5 in Santa Nella.
The project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Work is scheduled to be done at nighttime, and the project is scheduled to be completed by February 2018.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
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.
This $1.6 million project has been awarded to Viking Construction Co.

 

 


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

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September 29, 2017

MCAG Launches Measure V Website

Merced- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) has launched a new website to share information about the distribution of funds and the development of the implementation plan for Measure V, the half-cent transportation sales tax approved by voters in November 2016.
The website www.measurev-mcag.com will provide a breakdown of expenditures by local agency, as well as regional projects, transit investments and administration. It also includes detailed reports regarding revenue received by the agency and all meetings associated with the Measure V effort.
“We made a commitment to voters to ensure that Measure V funds are spent exactly as promised,” said Patrick Pittenger, MCAG Executive Director. “The website is just one element towards our goal of complete transparency in the implementation of Measure V.”
Visitors to the site can review the action of the Citizens Oversight Committee as well as the East and Westside Committees currently working to identify regional projects for funding. There is also a document library containing all relevant materials related to Measure V and a page where people can ask questions or comment on proposed expenditures.

 

 

“The site will be updated with new information as we move through this exciting time in local transportation planning,” added Pittenger. “We finally have the ability to fix our local roads.”
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 and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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September 28, 2017

 

FFA State Officers Visit Atwater High School

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Representing over 87,000 current California high school agriculture students, the entire 2017-2018 State FFA officer team made a recent stop at Atwater High School to help inform, encourage, and generate enthusiasm towards FFA, agricultural education, and the opportunities FFA has in serving the personal, academic, and career interests of over 900 Atwater High School agriculture students.
Various workshops were presented by the state officers throughout the day. “Their visit inspired me and provided a learning experience in opportunities FFA and agricultural education has to offer.” said junior Jasmine Flores. The six state officers normally break into teams of two and visit 1/3 of the high school agriculture programs throughout the state each year. “This was a special opportunity to have all six officers visit Atwater High School as an opportunity for them to initiate and implement their workshops as an entire team,” said FFA advisor Natalie Borba. “It provides our students an opportunity to be exposed to a group of high character individuals and peers who have been influenced by their agriculture education experience towards their personal growth, academic success, and post-high school education and career endeavors.”
The FFA state officers are now traveling up and down the state of California as well as parts of Washington and Utah over the next few months promoting agriculture, leadership, academic, and career opportunities. “Our primary goal is to connect with students and establish relationships,” said State FFA Vice President and Atwater High School graduate Jasmine Flores. “Atwater FFA is nationally recognized as a top notch program that makes a positive difference in the lives of 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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picture to right

The 2017-2018 California FFA Association's state officers Luke O'Leary, Hunter Andrade, Jasmine Flores, Armando Vevarez, Genevieve Regli, and Robert Marchy gather with Atwater High School Principal Torrin Johnson during a recent visit to the school campus.


Atwater High School alumni and current State FFA Association Vice President Jasmine Flores shares the 3-circle agriculture education model with students Evelyn Cisneros and Briana Arteaga.


Atwater High School agriculture students Ernesto Gutierrez and Joseph Hayward work with California FFA Association Luke O'Leary during a personality profile activity presentation


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September 28, 2017

First Phase of EMP Underway

September 27, 2017 The first phase of the new Educational Master Plan is underway and set to continue through November.
Spearheaded by Vice President of Student Services Dr. Michael McCandless, the EMP will course the direction of Merced College’s instruction, student support services, and administrative functions over the next four to five years.
Teaming up with the Collaborative Brain Trust (CBT), the College will collect data on the community and surrounding area, searching for improvements and potential areas of growth that will be beneficial to the student base. CBT is a consultant firm that specializes in higher education.
“The EMP is very important because it’s the guiding plan for the direction that the College will head in,” McCandless said. “The Facilities Mater Plan is based on the EMP as is your Strategic Master Plan. We last updated it in 2015-2016 prior to the accreditation team visit, but now we need a really evolved EMP that says this is where we are and where we need to go.
“The EMP is kind of the crux of everything for the College. All our other planning stems from this plan. Without the EMP it’s harder to get traction on the shorter-term stuff you want to get done. And without the EMP, you don’t have a direction for where you want to go, and so you’re kind of stuck wallowing in the status quo.”
The first phase of the project, which is set to be finished in March 2018, is data gathering and the piecing together a task force. McCandless said the task force will consist of 16 groups, composed of classified professionals, faculty and management.
While that’s happening, the CBT team will review existing data and documents at the College, complete internal and external scans of the Merced College environment and service area, and engage with people both on campus and in the community to discuss existing and future needs.


“I am pleased that Dr. Mike McCandless, Vice President of Student Services, is chairing this important task force for the District,” Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli said. “With his leadership and the team of constituents serving on the task force, we are certain to produce a meaningful and progressive plan serving as the guide for the future of Merced College.
“There are few plans, if any, more important than the Educational Master Plan for Merced College. It is truly the cornerstone of all future planning for the College."

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September 28, 2017

Merced River Utilizes Measure L Funds for Campus Improvements

Washington School has a new look about it, the result of an extensive remodeling made possible by voter-approved bonds passed four years ago.
The school at 4402 W. Oakdale Road, Winton, now has new floors, carpeting and laminate in the main building, brightening up five classrooms and the office, according to Superintendent Richard Lopez.
“We are trying to bring this up to speed, improve the learning environment for students and staff,” Lopez said. “It’s an investment in upgrading the facility. The community totally approves of these upgrades 100 percent; we have gotten nothing but positive feedback.”
Work last summer marked the second phase of the modernization project made possible by the $1.7 million Measure L approved by Merced River Union Elementary School District voters in 2013. Lopez said while the facilities were torn up for the renovation, the interior of the main building was repainted in navy blue and gray colors. Permanent walls were placed in the classrooms, replacing accordion-like dividers.
“While everything was torn up during the work, at the end of the day it’s going to be an immaculate building we can be proud of,” Lopez said. “We are slowly getting back to normal. By mid- to end-September, we will install a Jungle Jim for kindergarten through third grade kids. Once we are done, we will have a reception for the community to see the upgrades to the district.”
The district completely revamped its computer lab in December, upgrading 35 stations with Chromebooks. With an aging facility, it was important to modernize it and make it as user-friendly as possible for students and staff. The latest round of improvements is expected to cost between $115,000 and $130,000, Lopez said.
During the past few decades, Washington School and the district have undergone several significant changes. On March 18, 1975 an arson-caused fire razed the school, destroying a three-classroom wing. Decades later, with declining enrollment, trustees decided to consolidate all students at Washington School. Hopeton School was closed and now is used twice a week as a private adult campus, Lopez said.
Washington School began the current term with 173 students, five more than in June. The district has grown by at least 30 students since the end of 2015.
Six water-filling stations also have been installed around the campus and students have refillable water bottles with the school logo imprinted on the outside. The Aqua 4 All campaign aims to have students drink seven or eight bottles of water a day and reduce the use of sodas, Lopez said.
The architect for the school’s modernization program was Sugimura Finney of San Jose and the contractor was Dave Alexander of Merced, with Andy Taylor Backhoe of Winton helping with the project. Kevin Gibson Painting of Merced did the school’s painting work.



Thanks to funds from voter-approved Measure L, Washington School in the Merced River School District upgraded many buildings, including classrooms.




Thanks to funds from voter-approved Measure L, Washington School in the Merced River School District upgraded many buildings, including the breakroom.


Part of the Aqua 4 All campaign, this is one of six hydration stations available to students and staff at Washington School in the Merced River School District.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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September 23, 2017

Students Celebrate Constitution Week

Students and staff at Stowell Elementary School in Merced marked the end of Constitution Week with a patriotic sing-along on Friday. The children gave their best renditions of songs such as “This Land is Your Land” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Many also made their own festive headbands and waved handmade flags. The event began with two groups of students reciting the preamble to the Constitution and a passage from the poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.
Throughout the week, students also took part in other special activities that centered around the U.S. Constitution. It was a great opportunity to integrate history, social studies, and art.
Constitution Week was started by the Daughters of the American Revolution and is celebrated annually from September 17-23. To learn more, you can visit this website: https://www.dar.org/national-society/education/constitution-week

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September 23, 2017

Record-Breaking Class Pushes UC Merced Enrollment Near 8,000
Driven by increasing popularity and demand, the campus’s enrollment for Fall 2017 includes 2,449 first-year and transfer students and a 13 percent increase in graduate students

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, received the largest incoming class of students in its 13-year history this semester, as total enrollment neared 8,000 for the first time.
The fastest-growing university in the nation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, UC Merced now enrolls 7,375 undergraduate and 592 graduate students for a total of 7,967 students — an 8.6 percent increase from 7,336 in 2016, as reported in the university’s fall census.
“UC Merced’s record enrollment is fueled by growing popularity and increased demand, as demonstrated by a significant increase in applications and subsequent registrations to our campus,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We continue to support our students on their academic journeys by placing a strong focus on the development of academic programs, hands-on research opportunities for undergraduates and a growing array of student activities and amenities.”
The campus’s incoming class of 2,293 first-year students, 156 transfer students and 156 graduate students is its largest class. Among the incoming students are 173 from high schools in Merced County — the most in the campus’s history.
“This year we exceeded our enrollment targets thanks to increased recruitment and retention efforts across campus,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies said. “Even with our remarkable growth, we are committed to developing opportunities for our students to be successful academically and personally in order to make timely progress to their degree.”
UC Merced is an increasingly vital component of the UC system’s efforts to increase access for all qualified Californians, regardless of financial need.
Nearly all of UC Merced’s students hail from California, and as many as 75 percent of first-year students are first-generation college students. The campus enrolled an estimated 66 percent Pell Grant-eligible first-year students in 2017, representing students with the highest level of financial need, and expects to distribute approximately $150 million in financial aid and scholarships during the academic year.


Of its total undergraduate population, 72 percent are first-generation students and 63 percent are Pell Grant-eligible — the largest percentage within the University of California system.
U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings, released earlier this month, positioned UC Merced as the No. 1 public university in the nation for financial aid given to first-year students, No. 15 in the U.S. for the lowest average debt among graduates from public universities, and No. 87 among public universities overall.
UC Merced also continues to expand its graduate student population — the campus’s 592 graduate students represent an increase of 13 percent over last year. Overall, graduate students comprise 7 percent of the student body, and the campus is making progress toward its goal of 10 percent by 2020.
“I’m proud to say that UC Merced continues to attract and enroll graduate students of the highest caliber,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie S. Zatz. “Our growth this year — nearly all of which is due to an increase in enrolled doctoral students — is indicative of the excellent faculty and research opportunities that our campus has to offer.”
To accommodate enrollment growth, a major campus expansion is well underway via the Merced 2020 Project. By this time next year, three new buildings will be completed, along with a new entrance to campus. By 2020, the campus will be large enough to accommodate up to 10,000 students.
More than 40 new ladder-rank professors — hailing from universities like Harvard, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — joined the UC Merced faculty this year. That’s the largest single group of faculty members since the campus broke ground in 2002 and brings the total number of faculty members to 260.
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UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollme
nt growth to 10,000 students.

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September 21, 2017

Annual Fundraiser Garners More Than $30k for Camp Green Meadows

The Merced County Education Foundation hosted the second annual fundraiser to support capital improvements at Camp Green Meadows on Sept. 10 at the Elks Lodge in Merced.
Attendees gave big — more than $30,000 — for the outdoor education facility near Fish Camp.
Camp Green Meadows is owned and operated by the Merced County Office of Education and has served tens of thousands of students from throughout Central California for more than 50 years, providing about 2,500 Merced County students the outdoor school and camping experience annually.
Green Meadows Principal Bob Bassett presented to the group about the school and how it serves students from throughout Central California and one of the school’s naturalists, Mark Touchstone, talked about working with students and how they were an early adopter of next generation science standards.
Unlike traditional schools, which receive a portion of funding through average daily attendance, Camp Green Meadows relies on visiting schools and private groups for its revenue, along with community support. MCOE works to keep fees low to minimize cost to school districts, which leaves very little resources for capital improvements.
MCOE has identified several areas of need at the outdoor school to ensure the facilities can serve new generations of students.
Upgrades include renovations of all boys and girls cabins and a renovated nurse’s station, which will provide easier access for wheelchairs, be a dedicated space for students who become ill and need first aid or monitor medication during their stay.
Funds raised from the community will be combined with MCOE funding to build a new nurse’s station and classroom building.
Pledges and multi-year donations of more than $2,500 included Rob and Andrea Baptie, Jim and Carlene Cunningham, Steve and Victoria Gomes, Larry and Dorlie Goodger, Steve and Rebecca Tietjen and Steve Tinetti.
Rob Baptie engaged the group toward the end of the fundraiser, stating that he would match every $100 donated. The group raised $4,600, and the Bapties contributed $10,400 in total donations that night.
Robert Haden and Betty Dawson also announced an annual $6,000 sponsorship for foster youth and students who were unable to attend Camp Green Meadows due to unusual challenges.
Other large sponsors include Education Employees Credit Union, Fluetsch & Busby Insurance, Merced Elks Lodge #1240, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, Rotary Club of Merced and North Merced Rotary Club.

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Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks North Merced Rotary Club President Richard Marchini for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Larry Whitney with the Rotary Club of Merced for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


From left, Rebecca and Steve Tietjen are recognized for their contribution with Merced County Education Foundation President Michele Fagundes at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.

 

 


More than 150 people attended the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Rob Baptie addresses the crowd and says he will match donations; collectively, the crowd raised $4,600, to which the Bapties matched $10,400. The Bapties are Camp Green Meadows largest donors.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Rob and Andrea Baptie for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Camp Green Meadows Principal Bob Bassett talks to the crowd about the outdoor school in Fish Camp at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, left, thanks Steve and Victoria Gomes for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


From left, Steve Gomes poses with Robert Haden and Betty Dawson at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10. Haden and Dawson announced an annual $6,000 scholarship for foster youth and students who were unable to attend Camp Green Meadows because of an unusual challenge.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Mary Robinson with the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.

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September 21, 2017

Delhi School District Schedules Community Cleanup Day on Saturday

Delhi students deserve a clean town.
That’s the sentiment of Adolfo Melara, superintendent of the Delhi Unified School District, which will be conducting a Community Clean Up program Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. around Delhi.
“It is time to once again roll up our sleeves and give to our community by beautifying it,” Melara says. “Last year we hit a ‘tipping point’ in Delhi when it became the norm to see cleaner streets and cleaner buildings. For those of us who were here three years ago, we can remember when that was not the case.”
At 8:15 a.m. Saturday, volunteers will meet at the Delhi Education Park, outside the school’s main office, to create teams and distribute equipment.
Projects will include cleaning up weeds and trash at the entrance of Highway 99 and Shanks Road, leading to Vincent Road and leading to the corner of Shanks Road and Letteau Avenue.
Cleanup also includes removing weeds and trash on Shanks, leading to the corner of Schendel Avenue. Efforts continue along Schendel across the street from the Ed Park, leading all the way to Merced Avenue.
Volunteers 18 years old and older also will clean up along El Capitan Way at the overpass, with graffiti abatement in affected areas.
Sarah Coey, a teacher at Delhi Middle School, says they are drawing positive attention to the community by showing the school loves the town. She says there are more volunteers working at each cleanup and it teaches the students how to serve.
“Delhi Clean Ups are a representation of how our Delhi community is just like a family,” Coey says. “I grew up in Delhi and now as an educator at Delhi Middle School it’s important to teach our students to get involved and be proud of their town. We feel a great sense of accomplishment from all of our volunteers who come out to beautify our streets.”
Pizza and soft drinks will be available to everyone at 11:30 a.m. on the tables outside the Delhi High School cafeteria.
Melara says up to 100 people get involved, including students, teachers, parents and community members. He says the district does a cleanup about every two months and he has been overwhelmed with the response for the request for help.
Tanya Abrams, a special education instructor at Delhi High School, said her hope is that as students see her working in the community they will realize that volunteerism is more than a high school assignment — it is a way of life.
“Our community clean ups are an opportunity to give back to the community that gives me so much,” Abrams says. “I think it is important for students to see us, teachers and administrators, volunteering in the community. They need to see us pulling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. They need

 

 

to see that we value our community and sometimes that means picking up trash, pulling weeds and giving up our Saturdays simply because we choose to invest in Delhi.”
Melara says the cleanup is modeled after the “Love Delhi” events, which are held twice a year.
He says when he came to Delhi three years ago, people felt Delhi was neglected. Through hard work and dedication, they have changed the face of the town.

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First 5, Department of Education Officials to Speak on State of Quality Early Education

The Early Education program with the Merced County Office of Education is planning an informational program Oct. 10 in Atwater for anyone interested in learning more about quality early education programs in the county and state.
The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at Valley Community School, 1800 Matthew St., Atwater. About 100 people are expected to attend. A light dinner will be provided.
Samantha Thompson, early education program manager with the county schools office, said Camille Maben of First 5 California and Sarah Neville Morgan of the State Department of Education’s Early Education and Support Division, will speak. They will highlight their continued commitment of partnering in implementing the Quality Ratings and Improvement System.
Thompson said limited space is available. To register, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/StateOfQualityInEE. For more information, call (209) 381-6719.

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September 19, 2017

BILL OLSON APPOINTED NEW CHIEF INVESTIGATOR FOR MERCED DA OFFICE

Bill Olson has been promoted to the Chief Investigator position with the Merced County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, announced District Attorney Larry D. Morse II. Olson replaces Pat Lunney, who recently retired after serving as chief investigator for nearly 10 years.
Olson, 52, a native of Merced County, joined the Merced District Attorney’s office in 2016 as an investigator, and has been responsible for the implementation and oversight of our new VIPER (Violence Interruption Prevention Emergency Response) program since the beginning of this year. This program is one of the first county intelligence units in California.
“Under Bill’s leadership VIPER has been instrumental in providing information analysis to local law enforcement, including important work on Operation Scrapbook, and key intelligence data that has helped clear several high profile cases in Merced County,” Morse said.
Olson began his career in law enforcement in 1987 with the Merced Police Department. He was hired by then Police Chief Pat Lunney, and spent seven years with the MPD, until he joined the Department of Justice as a special agent for the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement in 1994. In 2001 he was promoted to Task Force Commander for the Yuba/Sutter Counties Narcotic Enforcement Team. In 2008 he was promoted to Commander of the Yolo County Narcotic Enforcement Team and in 2010 he was promoted to Task Force Commander-Placer County Special Investigations Unit, where he served until he retired from the DOJ in 2016.
He has also served as a Narcotics Instructor for the California Narcotics Officer Association and the Department of Justice, and was a Firearms/Tactical Instructor for the Department of Justice.
“I grew up here, attended elementary schools and graduated from Atwater High School, and although much has remained the same we live in a very different era of time. I look forward to working with all law enforcement agencies and representing the District Attorney’s Office, to make this community as safe as I remember it growing up,” Olson said.


Bill Olson

 

The Merced County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations is comprised of one supervising investigator, six full-time sworn peace officer investigators, three part-time sworn peace officer investigators, and three non-sworn investigative assistants.

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September 19, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Meeting Is A Splash Hit

Written by: Grace Reyes - 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 Monday, September 11th with the 2017-2018 FFA Chapter Officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Once the business portion of the meeting concluded, students were treated with 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 Jacky Sandoval informing the students that over 1200 tickets had been sold. “This fundraiser is always very successful due to the tremendous support of the community,” said Atwater FFA Chapter Sentinel Jonathan Garcia. “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 FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. “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 junior Chelsea Thompson. “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 FFA advisor Natalie Borba.

Atwater FFA Chapter Vice President, Jasmine Sandoval 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 Joseph Alaniz, Francisco Aguilar, Santiago Sanchez, Jesus Manguia, and Rosendo Garcia make a splash during the recent FFA pool party meeting.


Atwater FFA students and staff members Gilbert Rodriguez, Joel Rojas, and Kaylyn Davenport serve food to FFA members Emily Ruiz, Ivette Maravilla, and Sara Baird following the meeting at Atwater High School.


Over 300 FFA members attended to recent FFA meeting including Jamie Arredondo, Stephanie Sanchez, Cassandra Precciado, Daniel Narez, Cristal Venegas, Camille Parker, Arly Gonzales, Alyssa Guitierez, and Madeline Garibay.

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September 19, 2017

Young Patriot Challenge Explores U.S. Bill of Rights in Modern Times

The Merced County Young Patriot Challenge will give county students an opportunity to give their perspective on the U.S. Bill of Rights in modern times through a poster, essay or speech.
The contest, which is celebrating its sixth 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 theme for the 2017 Young Patriot Challenge is “Is the Bill of Rights still Applicable in the 21st Century?” 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 the Constitution,” which could include the legislative branches, the founding fathers, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc.
Young Patriot Challenge Chairperson Barbara Riis-Christensen said “The YPC does this as an opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge of the U.S Constitution.” She added, “as James Madison said ‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance.’ ”
An awards ceremony for parents and contest winners at all levels will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Rd.
For more information, call Riis-Christensen (209) 358-8404 and visit www.ypcusa.org.


Student winners, event organizers and elected officials pose for a photo at the 2016 Merced County Young Patriot Challenge in Atwater.

PHOTO COURTESY YOUNG PATRIOT CHALLENGE

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September 19, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Secures Rare Victory for Water Rights Holders

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray’s (D-Merced) announced the landmark passage of water rights fairness legislation after the bill received final approval on the last day of the Legislative session. The bill requires that unbiased administrative law judges conduct water rights enforcement hearings, instead of the State Water Board.

“The region I represent is the target of a massive water grab from the State Water Resources Control Board,” said Gray. “A water grab of this size would cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite receiving thousands of comments refuting the faulty science contained in their report, and repeated requests from community leaders to fully consider the impact of jeopardizing the drinking water supply of thousands of people, the water board is poised to dismiss our concerns and adopt the report. If there is any lesson this fight has taught me, it is that the Legislature has handed far too much power over to bureaucrats who simply do not care about the people I represent.”

AB 313 establishes a new water rights management structure, creating a new Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings to handle all water rights matters. The shift removes conflicts of interest and built-in biases in the current system. The State Water Board has the power to write regulations, initiate enforcement actions, and conduct hearings in its own



courtroom in which Board staff act as the prosecution and Board members act as judge and jury.
“Throughout my time in the legislature, I have been working to restore fairness and create checks on the power of unelected bureaucrats on the State Water Board,” continued Gray. “The passage of AB 313 is a step in the right direction. This bill levels the playing field by ensuring that water rights holders receive the same due process and objectivity that our justice system promises everyone – nothing more, nothing less.”

Under AB 313, administrative law judges in the new Water Rights Division would handle all water rights matters, providing a neutral body for hearings regarding those complicated, and often controversial, issues. The bill ensures an efficient, productive transfer of power to the new Water Rights Division, preventing any duplication of work or similar responsibility to fall under the SWRCB.

The bill now heads to Governor Brown for his signature.

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September 18 , 2017

Lights On Afterschool Scheduled Downtown, Features Parade, Costume Contest

Lights On Afterschool, which is celebrated in thousands of communities across the nation, is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26 in Downtown Merced.
Each October, millions of Americans in thousands of communities across the nation celebrate expanded, after school learning programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
This family event will feature student performances, informational booths, games, prizes and a costume contest at 7 p.m.
Lights On will also highlight the importance of early education with a parade featuring some of our youngest students.
The Lights On Afterschool celebration will be held in conjunction with Merced County Local Child Care & Development Planning Council and will feature an early education parade.
The parade begins at 5:45 p.m. with the formation area on the corner of K and Main Streets in front of the movie theater. Main Street between K and M Streets as well as Canal St to 18th Street will be closed to traffic starting at 1:30 p.m.

 

 

This is a walking parade, and while wagons and strollers are recommended for younger children, no motorized means of transportation will be permitted.
The parade will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call (209) 381-5934.

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September 18, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

The 2016-2017 Atwater FFA chapter officer team joined thirteen other FFA chapters from the Merced-Mariposa section at the FFA Sectional Officer Leadership Conference (SOLC) held at Merced College on earlier this month.

The annual Sectional Officer Leadership Conference is held each year to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and the responsibilities within their offices. The 2017-2018 Atwater FFA officer team is composed of Anessa Cardenas, President; Jasmine Sandoval, Vice President; Dillon Guillen, Secretary; Zion Brigham, Treasurer; Grace Reyes, Reporter; Jonathan Garcia, Sentinel; and Stephania Valdovinos, Historian.

This year the theme for the Merced Mariposa Sectional FFA is “Initiate”. 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 network and be a more effective communicator,” said Jonathan Garcia. This conference was the first of two leadership conferences the officer team will be attending this year. In early October, the officers will be attending a regional FFA leadership conference in Modesto. Nearly 200 chapter officers from the Central Region and the 2017-2018 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 2017-2018 school year.


Atwater FFA chapter officers and Merced-Mariposa sectional officers Dillon Guillen, Jonathan Garcia, Daisy Flores, Shelby Stillman, Grace Reyes, Selina Lopes, Jasmine Sandoval, Corie Falaschi, Anessa Cardenas, Josh Huepel, Stephania Valdovinos, and Emily Junez gather during the annual FFA SOLC at Merced College.


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

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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September 18, 2017

Housing Package is a Step in the Right Direction

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement today after the State Legislature sent Governor Brown a package of housing legislation:

“Time and time again, I have opposed legislation which prioritized the interests of the big cities and wealthy coastal regions while failing to make room for solutions to the problems we have in the San Joaquin Valley. But today is one of the rare occasions I can confidently say that the San Joaquin Valley was not forgotten.

After the State Budget this year dedicated $5 million to combat homelessness in Merced and Stanislaus counties, the housing bills passed today promise to multiply that initial investment by more than ten times and put a roof over the heads of thousands of people. The package includes $1 billion to house veterans, investments to build affordable housing, and mortgage assistance programs to help people afford to stay in their homes. Representing the epicenter of the subprime mortgage crisis, I have seen what happens to families when safety nets fail to protect them from a crashing economy. I do not want to see hardworking parents lose their homes again.


We will not solve our housing crisis overnight. But we have deliberated about what to do for years, and you cannot plow a field by turning it over in your mind. All of us have seen homeless individuals in the doorways of local businesses, in our parks, and in the alleys of our cities. Ensuring housing for the poorest in our communities is an essential element of our economic revitalization. We needed to take action, and today that is exactly what we did.”
Local realtors commended the passage of the housing legislation.
“We appreciate Assemblymember Gray’s hard work and applaud the passage of SB 2,” said Kim Rogina, President-Elect of the Merced County Association of Realtors. “The bill will help fund the creation of housing, which is greatly needed to address the housing inventory problems we face here in Merced.”

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September 14, 2017


Gray’s State Fair Funding Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) announced today that the California State Senate unanimously approved his bill to create an ongoing source of funding to California’s financially strapped network of fairs. AB 1499 would provide annual funding of approximately $15 million for reinvestment back into the state’s 78 fairs. AB 1499 now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“It is encouraging to see such widespread support for state fair funding here in the State Legislature,” said Gray. “Fairs have struggled to stay open since the state eliminated funding during the recession. This legislation restores a portion of that funding to keep these valuable assets open and thriving. Our fairs are economic engines that attract investments and create jobs, particularly in agricultural regions like Merced and Stanislaus Counties.”


“Our fair system is vital to our economy and our ability to support programs like 4H and Future Farmers of America for our local youth,” said Bill Mattos, current Vice-President and incoming President of the Stanislaus County Fair Board. “We appreciate Assemblyman Gray’s hard work on this important issue.”

“County fairs and the agricultural programs they feature are essential to Merced’s quality of life,” said Emily Haden, Vice-President of the Merced County Fair Board. “We are pleased that AB 1499 has passed the legislature and encourage Governor Brown to support our fairs by signing it into law.”

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September 14, 2017

CALTRANS REALIGNS STATE ROUTE 165 AT WESTSIDE BOULEVARD IMPROVING THE SAFETY IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has recently completed work on a project to realign a segment of State Route 165 (SR-165) at Westside Boulevard, south of the Merced River bridge, to improve safety and increase the efficiency of the intersection.

In addition to realigning the intersection, the shoulder has been widened with rumble strips ground into the pavement to alert drivers when their vehicles leave the traffic lane.

The Westside Curve Project is one of two recently completed projects on SR-165. Earlier this year, a flashing beacon system was installed at Henry Miller Drive to improve the safety of the intersection and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon/High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) was installed at Mercy Springs Drive in Los Banos. A fourth project is currently underway to create a left-hand turning lane at Fowler Avenue.

Taken together, these projects will ease congestion, improve mobility, decrease commute times, improve air quality and enhance safety throughout Merced County.
Caltrans would like to extend our appreciation to motorists and residents for their patience and cooperation during the construction of the SR-165 Westside Curve project.

 

 

 


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

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September 13 , 2017

Hilmar Embraces and Expands Technology Offerings for Students

Hilmar schools have been on the forefront of cutting-edge computer technology for years and the progression of computerization is continuing, Isabel Cabral-Johnson, Hilmar Unified School District superintendent, says.
Look no farther than Larry Rego, the district’s director of technology and data systems. He has started teaching computer skills to students and developing a squad of students who are learning to repair and replace the internal components of computers.
“This is our sixth year of 1:1 computer instruction,” Cabral-Johnson says. “We were the first in Merced County to offer 1:1 technology at the middle school. This year, we will have a parent component and will do parent workshops, possibly once a month. We will help parents understand how they can be in control of technology that comes into the home.”
Rego has a preliminary credential to teacher computer classes and has served as the technical director at Hilmar for 14 years.
Rego said career technical education is big and there are a number of state and federal grants in this area. This is the first year that Hilmar has offered a program for 10 sophomores through juniors who are taking a yearlong introduction to computer applications class. Students will spend a class period each day where they learn how to fix and replace computer components.
“The experience they get here is more than enough to do well in the working world,” Rego says. “These ‘soft skills’ are great for assimilating into the professional world. By the end of the year they will have more than enough skills to get a technology job.”
Rego said he didn’t have anything like this growing up.
All third through 12th grade students have Chromebook laptops assigned to them. Cabral-Johnson said the district is self-insured with its computers.
“It’s time for students to understand how to use computers in the community. We have started robotics in the middle schools. We have over 2,000 Chromebooks, which are surrendered in the summer months. But the sixth through 12th graders take them home,” Cabral-Johnson says.
Rego said today’s world is fast-changing for sure. Today’s students have smart phones, gaming systems and are familiar with technology. But most of the students don’t have knowledge about the workings of computers.
Matthew Freitas, one of the district’s technology support specialists, is a former student who went through the grades at Hilmar schools. He said students are becoming familiar with programming and game development. Ninth through 12th grade students are studying coding as part of a game development class. They are learning how to “speak” to computers and get them to perform certain functions.


Hilmar High School students in the Information Systems Support I class repair devices for high school and middle school students.

PHOTO COURTESY HILMAR UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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Cabral-Johnson says they are looking at integrating computer programs into the morning announcements, with graphics and special effects. She says the district’s computer labs are being repurposed or brought up to the next level. Computer towers are being reconfigured to do more complex tasks, such as game development, robotics and computer-aided drafting.
Cabral-Johnson says when computer technology was first implemented, teachers felt overwhelmed. This anxiety has eased as computer technicians are available regularly at individual schools.
“Teachers these days are no longer the sage on stage,” Jamie Tinley, technical support teacher on assignment, says. “They’re the guide on the side. Kids are eating it (technology) up. They’re ready for it and are eager to learn more and be challenged.”

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September 13 , 2017

 

MCOE ROP, Fineline Industries Partner for Manufacturing Day Activities

Between 30 and 50 Regional Occupational Program students will learn more about high-skill trade jobs available in manufacturing situations through a cooperative effort with a Merced industry and the ROP and Career Technical Education program at the Merced County Office of Education.
Merced County ROP and Fineline Industries, which manufactures Centurion and Supreme boats, will collaborate in Manufacturing Day activities on Oct. 6 at the Grogan Avenue facility near Merced Municipal Airport.
Mary Whited, ROP-CTE coordinator for MCOE’s Educational Services program, said students from throughout the county, especially those at Dos Palos, Delhi, Atwater and Buhach Colony high schools and other county schools, will take part in the program, most likely in the morning hours.
This is the second year Fineline Industries has teamed up with the ROP to offer tours at both of their facilities and share information on the types of jobs available in manufacturing, Whited said.

 

“Manufacturing Day is an international day that sponsors tours and open houses of manufacturing companies. We are fortunate to partner with a great local employer,” Whited said.
Students will get an overview on jobs available. Most manufacturing jobs in this area are agriculture-related and this is a splendid opportunity to learn about options outside that area, according to Whited.

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September 13 , 2017

U.S. News Ranks UC Merced No. 1 in the Nation for Financial Aid
The university again receives high marks for graduating students at better-than-predicted rates, and ranks No. 15 among all public universities for the lowest average debt among graduates

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, is the No. 1 public university in the nation for financial aid given to first-year students — and a strong performer in graduation and retention rates — according to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings released today.
UC Merced is also No. 15 in the U.S. for the lowest average debt among graduates from public universities. And despite having just entered its 13th year in operation, the university is yet again among the nation’s top 100 public schools in U.S. News’ Best Colleges rankings, checking in at No. 87 among publics and No. 165 overall.
“UC Merced was established in part to fill a great need — to bring the best public higher education system in the world to students in an underrepresented region in the heart of California,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We measure our success by the success of our students, and these recognitions demonstrate that we are achieving that goal at a level that is all but unparalleled in the nation.”
Beyond simply offering generous financial aid packages, UC Merced also excels when it comes to helping students graduate at rates higher than expected. The university’s graduation rate is a full 10 percentage points above U.S. News’ predicted rate — a differential that ranks 11th in the nation.
“The majority of our students will be the first in their families to graduate from college, and many will do so while working one or more jobs to help support themselves and their loved ones,” Leland said. “I am proud to say that UC Merced excels at helping these students achieve academic success.”

And those graduates are giving back to their alma mater — despite most UC Merced alumni being under 30 and just starting their careers, the university’s alumni giving percentage ranks No. 63, ahead of many more established universities.
Last month, UC Merced placed among the top 10 universities in the nation for the success of its first-generation and underrepresented students, according to Washington Monthly’s College Rankings. The university was No. 3 in the nation for graduating Pell Grant recipients at higher-than-predicted rates, and No. 10 in the nation by the same measure for first-generation students.
In another recent ranking, UC Merced ranked as the 12th-best Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in the U.S. That list, compiled by College Raptor, ranked HSIs based on graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics.

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UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

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September 12 , 2017

 

Local FFA Agronomy Team Prepares for National Finals

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Three Atwater High School FFA state Career Development Event (CDE) teams will be representing their community and the state of California at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana in late October. The teams competing at the national finals are the Atwater FFA Agronomy, Floriculture, and Nursery & Landscape teams. The national contests will challenge the student’s knowledge and skills in the designated agriculture industry-related competition.

“Working with industry and the opportunity for them to work with our students in educating them on actual industry knowledge and practice is an aspect of preparation that will benefit our students at the national level,” says Atwater High School agronomy coach Kim Macintosh.

The Agronomy contest helps students gain an understanding of the most basic need for all agricultural pursuits, including healthy land on which to grow crops or raise livestock. Contest participants identify and evaluate soil samples for various indicators, grade plots of land for slope and drainage, and work to determine what type of activity the land would be best suited for. Throughout this month, the Atwater FFA Agronomy team has partnered with UC Davis professors and representatives of the United States department of Agriculture in touring various rice and grain facilities. The team learned the step by step process that rice goes through to find out how much the producer will be paying for the product, and how much the farmer will be losing based on defects found in the grains. Each defect that is found by machines and employees in the facility, the less they pay the farmer for that load. In order for the farmer to sell his product, it must first go through this process and get a USDA approval. Each batch of grains is “assigned” a grade at the end of the process, and this is how the farmer will be paid.

“At nationals, we will be given a grain grading scenario where we have to calculate the pricing numbers and defects found in seeds. This tour helped us prepare for nationals because we got to see the actual process of how to get these numbers,” said Atwater FFA agronomy team member Belinda Espinoza.

In addition to the USDA tour, the agronomy team went to Metzger Trucking where an employee showed them how to calculate the information from the USDA facility. The team members learned that these calculations will be used to determine how much the buyer is going to be paying and how much the farmer will be losing due to how many defects were found.

“Having industry work with our students showcases relevant, real-world applications in our student’s education and preparation,” said Macintosh. “We can’t be any more appreciative of their help, support, and contributions to the team!”

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


Atwater FFA's agronomy team members (left two) Jasmine Flores, Kelsi Kamesch and (far right two) Belinda Espinoza, Dillon Guillen meet with USDA representatives (center) James Rumsey and Jerry DelSol at Mezger Trucking, Inc during their industry tour and practice.


USDA representatives Vic Kushar and James Ramsey demonstrates the process of identifying and grading rice seed samples to Atwater High School students Kelsi Kamesch and Belinda Espinoza during the FFA agronomy team's recent industry tour.


USDA representative Jenna Smith (far right) demonstrates how the USDA grading facility calculates crop prices for seeds to Atwater FFA agronomy team students Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Belinda Espinoza.

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September 12 , 2017

The City Council will hold a joint meeting with the Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 to discuss the draft Cannabis Ordinance. The meeting will be in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Merced.

 

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September 9 , 2017

MCSD Students Celebrate International Literacy Day

Students at Chenoweth Elementary School in Merced celebrated International Literacy Day with some special guests on Friday.

Local leaders and community members visited a number of classrooms to read to the students and speak with them about the importance of literacy. The guests included a Merced Police officer, local firefighters, an opera singer, the president of Merced College, and Merced’s mayor. The children and school staff members also had an opportunity to dress up as their favorite storybook characters. The creative costumes included everything from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the Mad Hatter.

International Literacy Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) back in 1966. The theme this year is “Literacy in a Digital World.”

Literacy remains a key focus throughout the Merced City School District. The Board-approved district priorities include ensuring that all students achieve reading fluency by third grade.

Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran says, “We are grateful to all of the community members who took time to help instill a love of reading in our students in honor of International Literacy Day. We hope parents will continue these lessons at home by reading with their children or encouraging them to read on their own at least 20 minutes each day. It is this type of collaboration that makes a significant impact in helping our students succeed.”

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Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli gets some help from students to select which book to read to them in honor of International Literacy Day.



Merced Mayor Mike Murphy reads to students at Chenoweth Elementary School on International Literacy Day.

Chenoweth Principal Vance d’Escoto speaks to students while dressed as the Mad Hatter in honor of International Literacy Day.

Jenni Samuelson, an opera singer and UC Merced lecturer, reads to students at Chenoweth Elementary School

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September 9 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT CHILDS AVENUE, SOUTH AVENUE
AND GOLDEN STATE BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close off- and on-ramps on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at Childs Avenue, South Avenue and Golden State Boulevard in Merced County for maintenance work.
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Golden State Boulevard will close on Monday, September 11, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for pavement work
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at South Avenue will close on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for pavement work
• The off-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Childs Avenue will close on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. for tree work
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Childs Avenue will close on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. until 3 p.m. for tree work
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM WEBBER CANAL
TO EAST ATWATER ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane of southbound State Route 99 from Webber Canal to East Atwater Road in Merced County for guardrail repair.

The lane will be closed on Sunday, September 10, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO MERCED RIVER BRIDGE IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 from Bear Valley Road to the Merced River Bridge for drainage work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SEVENTH STREET
TO SMITH ROAD IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will alternately close the #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Seventh Street to Smith Road in Mariposa County for construction work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 ON EL PORTAL ROAD
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic countrol on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 on El Portal Road in Mariposa County for utility work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 33 TO SIXTH AVENUE
AND FOURTH STREET IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

GUSTINE – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 to Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street for a special event in the city of Gustine.

The route will be closed on Sunday, September 10, 2017, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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.

Motorists should expect 3 hour delays and take alternate routes.

 


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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERSTATE 5 FROM THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT BRIDGE
TO THE DELTA MENDOTA CANAL IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (right) lane and right shoulder on southbound Interstate 5 from the California Aqueduct Bridge near the San Luis Reservoir to the Delta Mendota Canal for maintenance work.
Work will be on Monday, September 11, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays at each location. 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM STATE ROUTE 152 TO
DICKENSON ROAD AND MISSION BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from SR-152 to Dickenson Road and Mission Boulevard for construction work.

• There will be one-way traffic control on northbound and soutbbound SR-59 from SR-152 to Vassar Avenue on Sunday, September 10, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. for shoulder work
• There will be one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Vassar Avenue to Dickenson Road and Mission Boulevard on Monday, September 11, 2017, through Wednesday, September 13, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for utility work
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

This Teichert Corporation of Sacramento is performing the work.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 (SR-152) from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Additionally, the #2 (right) lane and shoulder on westbound SR-152 will be closed from the San Luis Forebay to the Gonzaga Road and Fire Station crossing on Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 ON PLACER ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (right) lane and right shoulder of southbound State Route 33 on Placer Road in Merced County for utility work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Wednesday, September 13, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM GUSTINE RAILROAD CROSSING
TO VIRGINIA AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Gustine Railroad Crossing to Virginia Avenue in Merced County beginning Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for shoulder work.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move towards the city of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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September 9 , 2017

Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party

Sign up your little ghosts or goblins for the City of Merced’s annual Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party. The Pumpkin Party is a time for kids ages 3 to 8 to decorate a pumpkin and partake in other Halloween fun. Costumes and parents are welcome. The party starts at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St. The cost is $7 a child.
Space is limited so pre-registration is required. Register at the City of Merced Parks and Recreation Department at 632 W. 18th St. Call 385-6235 for more information.

 

Merced Youth Council

The Merced Youth Council will be hosting another year full of cleanups and park renovations. This includes picking up debris around the park, minor landscaping, and painting parks. Majority of these parks are located in neighborhoods where they require special attention. Supporting our neighborhood parks will leave an everlasting impact in our community and will have a great effect on the youth who lives amongst these areas. To help participate, sign up to volunteer at cityofmerced.org or call 385-6235 for more information.

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September 8, 2017

 

Costa Announces Approval of Federal Emergency Grants to Fight Wildfires in Madera and Mariposa Counties

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) announced that two of the State of California’s requests for federal emergency grants to help fight wildfires in Madera and Mariposa counties were approved. Both grants are Fire Management Assistance Grants, which are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One grant request is for assistance suppressing the Railroad Fire, which has been burning in Madera and Mariposa counties since August 29, 2017. The second request asks for a grant to help fight the Mission Fire, which has been burning in Madera County since September 3, 2017. The FEMA administrator responsible for approving Fire Management Assistance Grants submitted for the region determined the destruction threatened by each fire would constitute a “major disaster.”

“The Railroad Fire and Mission Fire have devastated our Valley communities, and we must do everything we can to suppress these fires and help each other recover from the destruction they have caused,” said Rep. Costa. “This is why I asked Governor Brown¬¬¬ and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tooke to devote every available resource to stopping the spread of these fires, and why I hope to see these FEMA grants used as quickly as possible to suppress the fires and to assist in the recovery of our local communities.”


Congressman Jim Costa

Congressman Costa has supported legislation to help prevent and suppress wildfires, which are historically both common and highly destructive in California. This year, Rep. Costa cosponsored the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (H.R. 2862) as well as the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (H. R. 1873). The Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 300 to 118 on June 21, 2017.

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September 8, 2017

DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES CONVICTION
REVIEW UNIT

District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today that he has designated a Conviction Review Unit to review post-conviction claims of actual innocence and has formalized a process to review such claims.
The Unit will review primarily convictions involving violent felonies where new evidence of innocence has been discovered. The Unit will be comprised of one local defense attorney and two experienced trial prosecutors. The final decision on whether to exonerate a conviction will be made by the District Attorney.
“We are ever mindful of our duty as prosecutors to seek a true and just result in every case. This means ensuring that justice is done before, during and even after a criminal case is finished,” said Morse. “While we are confident in the convictions we attain, we are aware that advances in technology, such as DNA, have shown that innocent people can be convicted of crimes they did not commit. The Conviction Review Unit will be responsible for reviewing such claims of innocence.”

A conviction will be exonerated only if the District Attorney no longer remains confident in the integrity of the conviction, Morse noted.
A request to review a conviction may be submitted in writing to the District Attorney’s office. A form has been created and is available on the District Attorney’s website. The form may be submitted online or mailed to the District Attorney’s office.
Similar programs have been created in other prosecutors’ offices throughout the country, Morse noted. “This program will help further the goal of our office that justice be done in every case,” Morse said.

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September 6 , 2017

 

Hundreds Attend FFA Ice Cream Social

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 400 Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members participated in the annual FFA Ice Cream Social FFA meeting last week. The purpose of this events was to promote the high school’s agriculture program and the numerous academic, personal growth, leadership, and social activities and events scheduled for the upcoming school year.

Later this month, Atwater High School will have over twenty active club and youth organizations on display with the annual high school Club Rush and Food Faire with students promoting various clubs and organizations that get kids involved outside the classroom. The event is organized by the Atwater High School Leadership class. Some of the highlighted clubs/organizations included Asian Youth Club, Art, Band, Chess Club, Choir, Drama, DECA/ROP, FCA, FFA, GSA, Hip Hop Academy, Interact, Images and Vision, Key Club, Leadership, Link Crew, Percussion.

“The Ice Cream Social was a tremendous turnout overall, with many students engaged and interested in FFA activities,” said Atwater High School FFA Advisor Natalie Borba. “We feel the event is especially valuable for the new 9th grade students as it helps them get connected with AHS and the agriculture program.”

 

 

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

 

 

Photo to Right:

Atwater High School agriculture students Victoria Lopez, Ana Lozano, Daisy Flores, and Grace Reyes enjoy the ice cream treats provided by Atwater FFA during the annual FFA "Ice Cream" Social event.


Atwater High School FFA chapter officers Grace Reyes, Anessa Cardenas, and Dillon Guillen share their smiles as they prepare to feed over 400 students with free ice cream during the FFA social.


Atwater High School FFA member Ambrose Soto enjoyed taking an afternoon break in the heat for some cool tasting ice cream during the FFA social event at the school.

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September 6 , 2017


TEN PARENTS ARRESTED FOR FAILING TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL

Ten parents were arrested last week and charged with failing to send their kids to school as part of a countywide truancy sweep coordinated by the Merced County District Attorney’s office and the Merced County Office of Education, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today.
The District Attorney’s office and the County Office of Education launched a new truancy prevention program in August in which a District Attorney Investigator has been assigned to work exclusively with Merced County School Districts to ensure that children are regularly attending school. The cost of the new program is being shared by the District Attorney’s office, the Merced County Office of Education, and the school districts, Morse said.
The sweep on August 30th was only the first, Morse said. “Countless studies have shown that students who are chronically absent from school fall behind their classmates and are at greater risk of dropping out of school. Similar studies show that high school dropouts are at least eight times more likely to be in jail or prison. They also earn less money, pay fewer taxes and are more likely to collect welfare. We fail our children, we fail public safety and we fail our communities if we do not do everything in our power to see that kids graduate from high school,” Morse said, adding that more sweeps would follow.
The 10 parents arrested last week were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. Nancy Benitez, 42, Ana Luzania, 34, Rosalind Hardin, 46, Jose Gonzales, 45, Ana Salas, 43, Bernadette Thomas, 45, Vanessa Montufar, 32, Fabiola Higareda, 44, and Jennifer Villa, all of Merced, were all taken directly to court by the arresting officer and arraigned before Merced County Superior Court Judge Mark Bacciarini. Kristen Jacobs, 35, was booked into Merced County jail and held overnight, according to investigators.

Steve Tietjen, Superintendent of the Merced County Office of Education, emphasized that the arrest warrants are sought “only after every other effort to get these kids to school has been exhausted.” Many school districts have School Attendance Review Boards (SARB), he noted, and parents who are not sending their kids to school go through a SARB process in which meetings are held with the parents and school officials to try to determine why a child is missing school. It is only after the parent has failed to comply with the terms of attendance set forth by the school district that the case is referred to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
“Obviously, the District Attorney and I take no pleasure in prosecuting parents for willful failure to send their kids to school. It is truly our last resort. But the stakes are simply too high for these kids and we owe them our best efforts to see that they receive the education they deserve,” Tietjen said. He noted that as part of the SARB process, school officials often identify other issues preventing kids from regular attendance and the Office of Education is working closely with other agencies such as Merced County Behavior Health Services, and Merced County Child Protective Services to eliminate any roadblocks to regular attendance.
Other agencies who participated in the sweep were the Merced Police Department’s school resource officers, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, the Merced County Probation Department and Merced County Human Services Agency’s Child Protective Services.

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September 6 , 2017

Statement From UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland on DACA

MERCED, Calif. — UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland has issued the following statement regarding today’s news about DACA:
“The decision to end DACA is a cruel bait-and-switch for the many young adults who are living, learning and working here under its protections. Congress must now step up and pass legislation that will allow Dreamers to remain in this country to pursue the opportunities they have earned.

“UC Merced is a leader in supporting and educating undocumented students, including the nearly 600 that currently call our campus home. These are hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying young people who enrich our campus and community. Now is the time for action to ensure that these students will continue to receive the transformational educational experiences that they so richly deserve.”

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September 6 , 2017

Costa Statement on the Termination of DACA

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

“By terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Administration has taken a significant step backwards by threatening to force nearly 800,000 young immigrants from the country they call home. These DREAMers were brought to the United States as young children, and for them, America is their home. They are our neighbors – many of them are students – and they are contributing to our country. In the San Joaquin Valley, we have roughly 1,000 DREAMers attending Fresno State and approximately 600 attending UC Merced. Congress must pass legislation that provides our DREAMers protections similar to those under DACA before these protections are eliminated. I call on the House and Senate leadership to join me and others in a bipartisan effort to pass the BRIDGE Act, which will protect our DREAMers for the next three years.

“Yet, the BRIDGE Act is only a temporary measure, and is not a long-term solution. So passing this important legislation will not be enough. Our immigrants should not live in fear of being ripped away from their families and the country they love. Our businesses should not be slow to invest and hire because they are uncertain of their employee pool, and our farmers should not be forced to grow less food because of unstable labor sources. Yet these all occur because Congress has failed in the past to enact comprehensive immigration reform. This has led various presidents – Democratic and Republican presidents alike – to govern our immigration policy through piecemeal measures that often contradict each other. This is not good governance; it is irresponsible and indefensible, and it must end.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

“As I have been saying for years, we must come together to fix our broken immigration system. This requires that we in Congress enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that provides America with commonsense, just, and stable immigration policy, and that the President use his office to work with Congress to support this effort. Speaker Ryan has expressed hope that Congress will pass immigration reform to provide permanent legislative solutions. I urge him and my fellow members of Congress – from both sides of the aisle – to come together to protect our DREAMers and to pass the comprehensive immigration reform America so badly needs.”

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September 2, 2017

 

Entry signs, honorary district on Council agenda

An update on the Council’s Entry Sign Contest and creating an Honorary Historic District are on the Merced City Council agenda for Tuesday night.
Council meetings are regularly scheduled for the first and third Mondays of the month. However, due to the Labor Day holiday the meeting will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City Council established a contest for people to design signs and create slogans for the entryways to the City at Highways 99, 59 and 140. They can also design an entry feature for the Downtown to greet visitors.
Winners are eligible for $300 prizes and multiple winners are possible. Complete details of the contest are available at the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org. The deadline is Oct. 6. A Council subcommittee was created to oversee the contest and members will provide an update at the Tuesday meeting.
Neighbors in the Ragsdale neighborhood are asking the Council to create an Honorary Historic Neighborhood District for the area. The district would call attention to the history of the homes and the past and present homeowners.
The designation doesn’t require any zoning changes and the supporters of the plan say it would not place any land use restrictions on the property owners in the district. There would be no changes in the property taxes.
City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is 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 and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. 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.

 

Merced Firefighters join battle against breast cancer

It looks good and it’s for a good cause, so go for it and get the T-shirt.
The Merced City Firefighters Local 1479 has once again teamed up with the Dignity Health Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center to raise awareness and funds for the local center.
People who donate $20 to the fundraising effort will receive their choice of two T-shirt. All funds raised will stay locally and go to the Dignity Health UC Davis Cancer Center here in Merced. Last year almost $16,000 was raised and this year the goal is $20,000, said Morgan Madruga, a Fire Captain in the Merced Fire Department.
For more information on how to donate and get a T-shirt go to MercedFirefighters on Facebook or email Local1479@gmail.com.
During the month of October the Merced City Fire Department will be wearing pink shirts while on duty to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Few sights grab the public's eye like a firefighter dressed in bright pink. But all across the United States and Canada, firefighters are suiting up in pink to fight breast cancer—just one of the many ways firefighters show support for the fight against breast cancer. During the month of October on-duty firefighters will be trading blue shirts for pink to honor the true heroes -- people fighting cancer, survivors of cancer or those that have lost someone to cancer
There will be various events around the city to honor the true heroes that are fighting Breast Cancer.
The T-shirt is more than a piece of pink clothing -- it's a statement that you won't stand for the tragic toll breast cancer takes on lives.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 12 percent of women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. This year, around 39,620 women and 410 men are likely to die from breast cancer in the United States.
Breast cancer affects Millions yearly, while there is no cure yet there is hope. Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease, especially for people with the following are risk factors:
• Having a personal history of breast cancer,
• Getting older
• Having a family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer

The Merced City Firefighters Union shares these suggestions to stop the spread of this disease:
-Know your risk: Talk to your family about your past history and talk to your doctor about your risk.
-Get screened: Have a clinical breast exam every three years starting at the age of 20 and every year after the age of 40.
-Know what is normal for you: Monthly self-exams are the first step in early detection and treatment, share changes with your doctor.
-Make healthy lifestyle changes: Maintain a healthy weight, add exercise into your routine, consume more vegetables and limit alcohol intake.

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September 2, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT SOUTH AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) at South Avenue for crack sealing. (Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.) Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound on-ramp from South Avenue to SR-99 will close on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to South Avenue will close on Thursday, September 7, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM VIRGINA AVENUE IN THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Virginia Avenue, in the city of Merced, to SR-33, in Gustine, for shoulder work. (Due to Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.)
Crews will be working Wednesday, September 6, 2017, through Friday, September 8, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This project was awarded to Teichert Construction.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work. (Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.)

Work will begin Wednesday, September 6, 2017, through Friday, September 8, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Additionally, the #2 (right) lanes and shoulder on eastbound and westbound SR-152 will be closed from the Merced/Santa Clara County Line to the San Luis Grade Crossing beginning on Wedensday, September 6, 2017 until Friday, September 8, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
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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September 2, 2017

“VALLEY VOICE” DELEGATION FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON D.C.

Elected officials from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties, including Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel and Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta, will be meeting with White House officials and key federal legislators during the annual “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C. on September 6 and 7, 2017. The delegation traveling to the nation’s capital is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Planning Agencies Policy Council, and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organization (MPO or COG), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The Regional Policy Council will advocate for major transportation initiatives for the San Joaquin Valley, including federal funding for major highway projects, changes to the federal Clean Air Act, legislative amendments to regional transportation plans and aviation fuel sales tax collection processes, and other advocacy positions. The attached document highlights the policy and legislative priorities for Valley Voice 2017.
Valley Voice 2017 will include meetings with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Senators Feinstein and Harris, House Majority Leader McCarthy, Congressmen Costa, Denham, McClintock, McNerney, Nunes, Valadao, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the US Department of Agriculture.

Valley Voice 2017 Delegation:
Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Supervisor
Amarpreet Dhaliwal, City of San Joaquin Mayor
Elbert Holman, Stockton Councilmember
Gary Yep, City of Kerman Mayor Pro Tem
Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor
David Ayers, City of Hanford Mayor
Gary Soiseth, City of Turlock Mayor
Rudy Mendoza, City of Woodlake Mayor
Daron McDaniel, Merced County Supervisor
Andrew Medellin, City of Madera Mayor
Mike Villalta, City of Los Banos Mayor
Cheryl Wegman, City of Wasco Mayor
Robert Poythress, Madera County Supervisor
Rueben Pascual, City of Delano Councilmember

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September 1, 2017

City opens Cooling Zones as temperatures climb

Temperatures in Merced are expected to reach at least 107 this weekend as the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for the area for Friday through Sunday.

City will open its Cooling Zone Friday, Saturday and 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 others in the Cooling Zone. Water and some snacks are available, along with entertainment.

“We want everyone to have fun over the holiday weekend, but be cautious because it’s going to be extremely hot,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “Stay hydrated and make sure your little ones stay cool, too.

“Hot weather is especially hard on our vulnerable populations, so be sure to check up on your neighbors and make sure they are OK,” Murphy said. “We need to pull together at times like this and show the true character of our community.”

“If you don’t have air conditioning, if you only have a swamp cooler, visit a friend with AC, or come to our Cooling Zone. Don’t sweat it out,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz.

“Don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Dietz 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, she said.

“Remember over the Labor Day if your fun includes alcoholic beverages, use them in moderation because the heat can magnify the effects,” said Dietz. “Always have a designated driver. Never drink and drive or drink and boat.”

The Excessive Heat Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely.

Opening of the Cooling Zones is subject to changes in the temperatures.

 

 


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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September 1, 2017

City offices close for Labor Day

The City of Merced offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 4, for the Labor Day holiday.

The City Council meeting normally held on the first Monday of the month will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The agenda is available online at www.cityofmerced.org.

All refuse collection will be delayed one day next week because of the holiday.

 

 

East Coast Swing Dance Lessons

The Senior Social Dance Club will be offering East coast Swing Dance lessons held on Mondays starting September 11th to October 2nd. Dance lessons will be taking place at the Merced Senior Community Center 755 W. 15th St. 1:00 to 2:30pm. For additional information, please call (209)628-0683

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August 31, 2017

YARTS To Begin Winter Service

MERCED – The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) will transition to a winter schedule on September 30, 2017 which will conclude summer service from Mammoth Lakes, Sonora, and Fresno for the season. Year-round service from Merced and Mariposa along Highway 140 will continue with a new winter schedule. Summer service from Sonora and Fresno will resume in May 2018. Service from Mammoth Lakes is scheduled to resume the first weekend in June 2018.
YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite from Merced and Mariposa along Highway 140, and from Highways 120, 395 and 41 during summer months. 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.
For more information about YARTS 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. MCAG provides staff services and operational support for YARTS.

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August 30, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT V STREET/STATE ROUTE 140

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the off-ramp from State Route 99 (SR-99) to SR-149/V Street on Thursday, August 31, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving work.
Additionally, a full closure of V Street from W. 13th Street to W. 12th Street in the city of Merced will be in effect on Thursday, August 31, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

 



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

 

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August 30, 2017

Castle Air Museum will be hosting its Fall Open Cockpit Day extravaganza on Sunday September 3 at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater from 9 am to 5 pm. At least 40 of the Museum's 70 plus aircraft will be open for viewing with knowledgeable volunteers to answer all of those attending their questions! See the Winged Wonders of the Hidden Collection which are wooden and cloth covered aircraft not seen in 20 years, included with the price of admission!!

Children's Activities, Food Court, Law Enforcement displays, Helicopter rides and more! Cool off with plenty of cold goodies like the popular Home Made Ice Cream Booth! Snow Cones and plenty of cold refreshments at every corner with great food!!

Admission is Adults 18-61 $15 per person, Seniors 61 plus $10 per person, Youth 6-17 $10 per person, and Children 5 and under along with Active Duty Military members with I.D Free.

For more information contact the Museum at (209) 723-2178, Monday through Friday 9 am to 4:30 pm, or visitwww.castleairmuseum.org and like us on Facebook!

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August 30, 2017

UC Merced Announces Spendlove Prize Winner

Indigenous Activist Winona LaDuke Wins Spendlove Prize
Winona LaDuke has dedicated her life to social change, working nationally and internationally on issues of justice, equity and the environment alongside indigenous communities.
That’s why a UC Merced committee has selected LaDuke as the 11th recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance. Ceremonies will be held Nov. 13 in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium on the UC Merced campus; details will be announced at a later date.
“UC Merced is pleased to recognize Ms. LaDuke, especially for her outstanding activism toward social justice for Native Americans and their sacred lands, cultures and heritage,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “She is an example for all of us who strive to put our talents to their highest and best uses.”
A Harvard University graduate, LaDuke is an educator, economist, environmentalist and writer. She could most recently be seen speaking on behalf of the resistance camps in North Dakota as people stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline project, trying to protect water, land and sites that are sacred to indigenous people. LaDuke is also known as a leader on the issues of cultural-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and sustainable food systems.
Her work drew the attention of the Spendlove Prize Committee, which selects honorees from among scholars, authors, artists or other citizens who exemplify, through their work, the delivery of social justice, diplomacy and tolerance in our diverse local and global society.
Campus friend Sherrie Spendlove established the prize in 2005 through a gift to the university in honor of her parents, lifelong Merced residents Alice and Clifford Spendlove. The Spendloves dedicated their lives to education and public service.
“Ms. LaDuke knows social change comes only through the work of individuals who are passionate about putting community and justice before themselves, and I am extremely pleased to welcome her to the ranks of those we recognize for working to make the world a better place,” Spendlove said. “Our country has a long and infamous history with its indigenous people, including genocide and the taking of their land and corruption of their culture. Ms. LaDuke stands with Native Americans and works on their behalf to see justice done, reparations made and heritage preserved as they struggle to maintain control of and the health of their sacred native lands. Indigenous people have much to teach us about preserving and protecting the Earth, our only home.”
Past recipients of the Spendlove Prize: Professor Anita Hill, attorney and of social policy, law and women's studies; slain Civil Rights activist Viola Gregg Liuzzo; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Peter Balakian; California Justice Cruz Reynoso; President Jimmy Carter; Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, who founded Childhelp USA; Jonathan D. Jansen, South Africa's first black dean; Professor Faye J. Crosby, an expert in inclusiveness, gender, race and affirmative action at UC Santa Cruz; John Y. Tateishi, who fights for reparations for Japanese internment; and Charles Ogletree, Jr., a Merced native and constitutional law scholar.

 


Winona LaDuke

 

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) Dean Jill Robbins leads the Spendlove Prize Selection Committee, which includes a representative from the Spendlove family or a designee; an undergraduate student; a graduate student; a faculty member; and representatives from the UC Merced community. The Spendlove Prize includes a $10,000 award.
“Given the environmental challenges we face today, and the continued presence of Native Americans on the lands surrounding our university, it is not surprising that several faculty and graduate student scholars at UC Merced devote their research and teaching to these same issues, exploring questions of sustainability, history, language, cultural production and social justice,” Robbins said. “Ms. LaDuke is a role model and inspiration for the campus community and the community at large. We are honored that she has accepted our nomination.”
LaDuke helped found the Indigenous Women's Network and worked with Women of All Red Nations to publicize forced sterilization of Native American women; helped recover lands for the Anishinaabe; and founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) in Minnesota to buy back land within the reservation that had been bought by non-natives. By 2000, the foundation had bought back 1,200 acres for the tribe. The nonprofit also works to reforest the land and revive the cultivation of traditional crops, started an Ojibwe language program and a wind energy project.

 

 

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August 29, 2017

Fall Open Cockpit Day on Sunday, September 3

Castle Air Museum located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater will be hosting Fall Open Cockpit Day on Sunday, September 3 from 9 am to 5 pm. Special attractions include viewing the Winged Wonders of the Hidden Collection not seen in 20 years. These vintage aircraft made of wood and cloth along with an impressive aircraft engine display! This special exhibit to the Hangar to see where these antiques are located will have a shuttle provided and will be included with your admission!

Other attractions include kids activities like model making, model train display, food court, law enforcement displays, helicopter rides, plus see the new Supersonic B-58 Hustler Bomber still to be put together. Actually see what an aircraft looks like in an dismantled state prior to restoration!

Admission is $15 Adults (18-61) Seniors 61 and up $10, Youth 6-17 $10 and children 5 and under plus active duty military members with I.D. Free. Presidential Aircraft tours an additional $10 per person.

 

For more information go to www.castleairmuseum.org, or contact us at (209) 723-2178 M-F 9-5. On weekends call 723-2182.

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August 29, 2017

 

Leadership Conference Focuses on Atwater FFA Freshman

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Twenty-four 9th grade agriculture students representing the Atwater High School FFA chapter joined over 1000 9th grade agriculture students from the Central FFA Region at the annual FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference. The conference was held in September 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 Jose Vazquez.

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 Dakota Jones.

Participants at this year’s Greenhand Leadership Conference included: Adam Freitas, Adriana Espinosa, Allison Hall, Austin Escobar, Dakota Jones, Daniel Narez, Gabriella Lucas, Haley Hultgren, Jose Vazquez - Alaniz, Joshua Vann, Kendall Flatt, Lizbeth Rojas- Perez, Luis Hernandez, Moira Conway, Naomy Gonzalez, Patricia Papin, Rylie Wagner, Sera Flores Campanario, Simarjot Gandhoke, Supreet Gandhok, Sydney Weimer, Teresa Cavallero, William Carrillo, Zachary Atkisson, Zoe Machuca


Twenty-four Atwater High School freshman agriculture students joined over 1000 other California agriculture students at the annual FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference at the Modesto Junior College Agriculture Pavilion in Modesto.


Atwater High School freshman agriculture students Joshua Vann and Simarjot Gandhoke participate in a team-building activity during the FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference in Modesto.

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

 

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 29, 2017

 

Atwater Ag Program Welcomes a New Ag Teacher

Written by: Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School Agriculture Department has welcomed its eighth agriculture teacher to its agriculture and FFA program. Former Atwater High School FFA member, agriculture student, and Class of 2011 alumni, Atwater community’s Jose Vargas joined the agriculture team after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and earning his teaching credential.

“Atwater High School is extremely dedicated to improving the lives of their students through quality academic and “hands-on” learning,” said Jose Vargas. “The opportunity to join the Atwater High School campus and the agriculture department was a place I could call home.”

Mr. Vargas will be teaching Exploration in Agriculture, Ag Shop Skills, and Ag Earth Science during the 2017-2018 school year. “With a majority of Hispanic students on campus, the ability to speak Spanish, identify with the Hispanic culture, and serve as a “home grown” example for the students is an aspect I feel will serve the school and students in a positive way,” says Vargas.

Atwater High School has over 900 individual agriculture students. “The challenge agriculture education faces is the stereotype that agriculture education is for agriculture students only,” says Atwater High School agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “The reality is that agriculture education and the FFA has value for all students in terms of skills, experiences, activities, and involvement that benefits all regardless of career interests.”


Atwater High School FFA President Anessa Cardenas (right) welcomes Atwater High School alumni and new agriculture instructor Jose Vargas (left) to the agriculture program and Atwater FFA.

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

The Atwater High School agriculture education program and FFA focuses on academic success, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration for students. The Atwater and California FFA is a high school youth leadership and career development organization that is a state association of the National FFA Organization, a federally charted corporation under Public Law 105-225. The California Association currently serves over 87,000 student members in over 320 high schools, from urban schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area to rural schools all across the state.

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 29, 2017

Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility
Groundbreaking Ceremony

Merced – Last week, The Transit Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) and Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility.
“We are very excited to be breaking ground on the new facility,” said Transit Manager Rich Green. “This facility will allow us to be more efficient in our daily activities and able to invest in future improvements, like zero-emission vehicles.”
This $6.5 million project will construct a five (5) bay maintenance facility, onsite fueling station, a bus wash, and bus detailing station. The facility will be located on a 6-acre infill site that is surrounded by other industrial properties and will provide enough parking to accommodate future expansion of the fleet.
The project is funded by State Prop 1B (Public Transit Modernization, Improvement, and Service Enhancement Account) and Local Transportation Funds. TJPA is in contract with Modesto-based Acme Construction Company, Inc. for the construction of the facility which is expected to be completed by winter of 2018.
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.

 

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August 29, 2017

Assemblymember Gray to hold Assembly Select Committee on Rail Hearing on Funding for Improvement and Expansion of Intercity Passenger Rail, Commuter Rail and Emerging Corridors in California

SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Rail, will be holding a public hearing on August 30th, 2017. The focus of this hearing will be on the improvement programs for Intercity Passenger Rail and Commuter Rail services throughout California, and state funding for these programs. The hearing will be at 2:30 PM in room 4202 at the State Capitol (1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814).
Chairman Gray has invited members of the former Senate Select Subcommittee on Passenger Rail as well as other legislators whose districts are served by these rail systems to participate in the hearing. The purpose of the public hearing is to highlight the improvement programs envisioned for these passenger rail systems, and to discuss increasing the potential funding needed to improve and expand these services.
WHO: Assembly Select Committee on Rail
California State Transportation Agency will discuss SB 1 and the Cap & Trade Program.

Additional presentations from the existing Intercity Passenger Rail services (Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquins) and the emerging intercity corridors, as well as the existing commuter rail services (Metrolink, Coaster/Sprinter, Caltrain, SMART, and ACE).
WHAT: Assembly Select Committee on Rail Hearing Regarding the Funding for Improvement and Expansion of Intercity Passenger Rail, Commuter Rail and Emerging Corridors in California

WHEN: August 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

WHERE: Room 4202, State Capitol

Live Webcast: http://www.calchannel.com/live-webcast/

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August 29, 2017

Dr. Steve M. Tietjen to Announce Candidacy for County Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Steve M. Tietjen announced his candidacy yesterday for Merced County Superintendent of Schools in the 2018 election at Merced Courthouse Park.

Tietjen was flanked by District Attorney Larry Morse, retired County Superintendents Dr. Steve Gomes and Dr. Lee Anderson, County Supervisor Jerry Obanion, and several other elected officials as he discussed his experience in public education and vision for the Merced County Office of Education.

“The job of County Superintendent, holding school districts accountable to maintain a three year budget, a Local Control Accountability plan is an awesome responsibility. My goal is to support school districts as they fulfill the mission of educating all our kids,” said Tietjen.

He outlined some of his priorities during his remarks, including:

• Continued and expanded support for programs that emphasize vocational, career and college readiness programs for our Merced County high school graduates

• Increased revenue for Virginia Smith scholarships and further development of the land near UC Merced

• Expansion of full-day preschool throughout the county

• Renovations and continued support of Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School

• Develop Farm-to-School initiative where local farms supply fresh produce to local schools.

Tietjen has served as County Superintendent since January, 2017 and was appointed by the Merced County Board of Education in 2016 after Dr. Steve Gomes announced his retirement halfway through his 4-year term.

Tietjen served as the superintendent of the Los Banos Unified School District — the second largest school district in Merced County — since 2007. Before Los Banos, he was superintendent of Woodlake Elementary and high school districts near Visalia and has worked as a history teacher, curriculum expert and site administrator with a career in education that spans more than 37 years.

For more information, email Tietjen2018@gmail.com.

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August 29, 2017

MCOE, EECU to Host 12th Annual Excellence in Education Awards


Parents, students, educators and the community are invited to celebrate with educators and school employees from throughout 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 two categories: one for teachers 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 five nominees for school employee of the year and seven nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests will enjoy video vignettes produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in both categories and a dessert reception immediately after the ceremony. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year will move on to the state awards program.

District nominees this year are:

TEACHERS:
Carrie O’Bara Atwater Elementary School District

Cara Holland Delhi Unified School District
Mary Henderson Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Tuckie Burgess Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Stephen Eccles Merced Union High School District
Jenny Mendoza Merced County Office of Education — Early Education
Dawna McCreary Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Mary Monroe Atwater Elementary School District
Marisela Picazo Delhi Unified School District
Fernando Maciel Le Grand Union High School District
Jennifer M. Campos Merced County Office of Education – Human Resources
Donna L. Bandoni Merced Union High School District

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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August 29, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS TO BEGIN MEDIAN BARRIER INSTALLATION
ON STATE ROUTE 152
AT DINOSAUR POINT IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing to install a median barrier on State Route 152 (SR-152) from Vista Point Access Road to San Luis Dam Service Road, near Dinosaur Point, in Merced County. The project is designed to improve the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists by installing a median barrier.

SR-152 is an important route for industrial, commercial, agricultural, and recreational purposes. It serves as a "farm-to-market" corridor, and is a significant connector to all south/north routes throughout the Central Valley providing a convenient link to the Bay Area.

Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.

Construction is scheduled to start August 21, 2017, and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Work is scheduled to be done primarily during the day, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Work will be done with one-way traffic control, and drivers should plan for 10-minute delays and seek alternate routes.

Construction 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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 in Gustine, to SR-99 in Merced, beginning Monday, August 28, 2017, through Thursday, August 31, 2017, for paving work.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This project was awarded to Teichert Construction.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM RED TOP ROAD TO VASSAR AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 from Red Top Road to Vassar Avenue for pavement work.

Work will begin Sunday, August 27, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

Teichert Corporation of Sacramento, is performing the work.

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.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE TO ATWATER BOULEVARD
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue to Atwater Boulevard for sign work. Work will occur as follows:

• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to East Atwater Boulevard in Atwater will close beginning Sunday, August 27, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to 16th Street will close beginning Sunday, August 27, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound SR-99 at Atwater Boulevard will close from Sunday, August 27, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work.

Work will begin Monday, August 28, 2017, through Thursday, August 31, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
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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August 29, 2017

Washington Monthly Ranks UC Merced Top-10 in the U.S.

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, ranks among the top 10 universities in the nation for the success of its first-generation and underrepresented students, according to Washington Monthly’s 2017 College Rankings.
The university received high marks in areas related to social mobility, placing No. 3 in the nation for graduating Pell Grant recipients at higher-than-predicted rates. It’s also No. 10 in the nation by the same measure for first-generation students, which account for 71 percent of the campus’s total enrollment.
In earnings performance — the difference between actual and predicted earnings of students 10 years after starting college — UC Merced is No. 22 in the U.S.
“UC Merced takes pride in giving all of our students an affordable, high-quality education and the support and services they need to succeed,” said Chancellor Dorothy Leland, who like many in the UC system was a first-generation student herself. “In one of the most underserved regions in the state, we are providing students with a transformative, life-changing experience.”
UC Merced offers outstanding value combined with overall quality, according to the Washington Monthly rankings.

For the second straight year, the university landed in the top 10 in the “Best Bang for the Buck Western Colleges” list, at No. 9. And in the overall National Universities rankings — with criteria that emphasize both academic excellence and economic opportunity — UC Merced placed No. 43.
“UC Merced is rapidly growing and maturing into a pillar of the San Joaquin Valley and the University of California,” Leland said. “We’re building a strong foundation for the future of our region, state and nation.”
###
UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

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August 29, 2017

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CARJACKING AND ROBBERY

A 19-year-old man from Los Banos pled guilty to felony carjacking and second degree robbery with a special allegation of personal use of a firearm, on Monday August 14, 2017 in Merced County Superior Court in connection with an armed carjacking and robbery that occurred in 2015, said Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby, who prosecuted the case.
On August 1, 2015 Moses Mann used a gun to force Cesar Ontiveros of Los Banos, out of his BMV while he was at a Carl’s Jr. in Los Banos. The BMW was then used to drive to Merced the next morning, where Mann used the same gun to commit an armed robbery at the A&M Market on 23rd and K Streets. Mann then drove to the Merced Mall where he attempted to break into a jewelry case at Maciel and Co. Jewelers.
Mann will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. on August 30, 2017 in Department 3 at the Merced County Superior Court, and is expected to receive a sentence of

17 years and four months in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He will be required to serve 85% of his sentence and is not expected to be released until June of 2029.
“Crimes committed with firearms are treated very seriously by the laws of this State and the police and prosecutors who enforce those laws,” said Colby. Detective Joe Deliman, formerly of the Merced Police Department and currently an Investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, was praised by Colby for his work in this case. “Detective Deliman did a stellar job of piecing together all the evidence in this case to bring Mr. Mann to justice,” Colby said.

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August 19, 2017

Public safety items highlight Council agenda

Agreement for an Urban Search and Rescue trailer and a whitewater rescue boat, plus an update on the police station are on the Merced City Council agenda for Monday night.
The regular City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The Merced Fire Department has staff trained in urban search and rescue techniques where they can recover people from buildings that have collapsed from earthquakes, explosions or other disasters. Council is being asked to approve an agreement with the California Office of Emergency Services to accept a trailer and specialized equipment to help the Department fulfill that rescue mission.
The Merced Fire Department also is extensively trained in white water rescue techniques, to pluck people who have gotten themselves in trouble in local creeks, rivers or other waterways. Council is being asked to enter into an agreement with Merced County to temporarily transfer a Zodiac boat, outboard engine and trailer from the Sheriff’s Office to the Fire Department. In exchange, the City agrees to provide rescue services in the City and the County.
Staff will also provide an update to Council on progress moving forward with a ballot measure in November 2018 to fund the building of a police station, fire station and fleet shop.

 

 

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. to discuss existing litigation and to hold a study session on water.
City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is 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 and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. 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.

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August 19, 2017

B-58 Hustler Strategic Bomber Arrives at Castle Air Museum

The long awaited arrival of the B-58 Hustler Strategic Bomber's ETA to the Castle Air Museum, 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater was 2:30 PM today. The Transport convoy of three (3) large semi trucks hauling this historic Col War icon left Fernley, Nevada approximately an hour and 20 minutes ago westbound on Interstate 80 through Reno and heading westward towards Sacramento. Once in Sacramento the convoy will head south on Interstate 5 to Stockton where it will traverse the Freeway 4 cross town Freeway to Highway 99 south for it's final approach in to Atwater and it's destination the Castle Air Museum!

For additional information contact the museum

 

 

A very significant note is that one of the trailers is hauling this aircraft is 120 feet in length and is a state of the art piece of equipment that in itself is a $350,000 trailer!!!

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August 19, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM MISSION AVENUE TO ATWATER BOULEVARD
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Mission Avenue to Atwater Boulevard for sign work. Work will occur as follows:

• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to East Atwater Boulevard in Atwater will close beginning Sunday, August 20, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to 16th Street will close beginning Sunday, August 20, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound SR-99 at Atwater Boulevard will close from Sunday, August 20, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

Additional ramp closure may be needed depending on the completion of work during planned nighttime closures. Additional ramp closures may occur as indicated below:
• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to East Atwater Boulevard in Atwater may close beginning Monday, August 21, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 140 (SR-140).Work will occur as follows:

• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Virginia Street in the city of Merced to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Monday, August 21, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for pavement work;

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move toward the city of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM RED TOP ROAD TO VASSAR AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 from Red Top Road to Vassar Avenue for pavement work.

Work will begin Tuesday, August 22, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

Teichert Corporation of Sacramento, CA, is performing the work.

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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work.

Work will begin Monday, August 25, 2017, through Friday, August 25, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
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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August 18 , 2017

YARTS to offer free service to Yosemite
on free National Park Service Gate Days

MERCED – Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) announced today that it will provide free transit service to Yosemite National Park on all free National Park Service (NPS) gate days for the next three years. YARTS will receive funding through the Federal Lands Access Program for a three-year demonstration project to operate free buses to Yosemite on all free NPS gate days. The grant will fund thirty free service days through September 2020.
YARTS staff expects the demonstration project to be highly successful. “We are excited to assist the park with the management of vehicle congestion by offering an alternative to driving and parking” said Cindy Kelly, YARTS Staff Analyst. “We want to give Californians and other visitors the opportunity to experience our nation’s jewel without adding to the congestion problem,” Kelly said.
The Highway 140 service through Merced and Mariposa Counties will be the first corridor to offer free service with this new program on November 11 and 12, 2017. Reservations will not be accepted on free service days which

means the service will be based on a first-come, first-served policy. Seasonal free services from Mammoth Lakes, Fresno and Sonora are planned for summer of 2018.
Free service events will be posted on the YARTS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rideyarts and website at www.yarts.com. Free gate days for 2018 have not yet been released.
YARTS is the only public transit to Yosemite National Park, with buses entering Yosemite Valley from Merced, Mammoth Lakes, Sonora and Fresno---as well as many different towns along the way. YARTS began service in May 2000, and now provides an alternative to driving to over 120,000 riders per year. More information can be found online at www.yarts.com
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. MCAG provides staff services and operational support for YARTS.

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August 18 , 2017

Assembly Select Committee on Rail Hearing scheduled for August 30, 2017 at 2:30PM
State Capitol | Room 4202 | Sacramento.

The Assembly Select Committee is Chaired by Assemblymember Gray. The hearing is expected to include a presentation of the key findings of the new State Rail Plan and presentations on the improvement programs of California’s intercity and commuter passenger rail services (including the Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) services). The members of the Select Committee are expected to discuss funding opportunities for service expansion. There will be an opportunity for public comments at the end of the hearing. This is a public hearing and those interested are welcome to attend.

 

What: Assembly Select Committee on Rail Hearing
When: August 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm
Where: State Capitol, Room 4202

www.acerail.com

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June 17, 2017

Calling All Volunteers for the Merced Great Sierra River Cleanup
Saturday, September 16, 2017

Merced California, August 16, 2017: On Saturday, September 16th from 9-12pm volunteers are invited to join the East Merced Resource Conservation District (EMRCD) to help remove trash from the Merced River.
The Great Sierra River Cleanup is the premier volunteer event focused on removing trash and restoring the health of waterways throughout the Sierra Nevada Region. This cleanup is an annual event coordinated by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and held in conjunction with California Coastal Cleanup Day.
The EMRCD will be performing cleanups at Shaffer Bridge, Santé Fe Trestle, and McConnel Park. You can clean up on shore, or on the river in canoes and kayaks. Volunteering just 3 hours of your time with family, friends, or co-workers will make a big difference in the health of the Merced River. All participants will receive a volunteer service certificate.
The EMRCD will provide cleanup bags, canoes, kayaks, and safety equipment. Volunteers should bring water, gloves, refreshments, and friends.
Contact us if your group or organization would like to adopt a site!
For more information and to sign up, visit www.eastmercedrcd.org

Contact: Jean Okuye
East Merced Resource
Conservation District
Phone 209-756-2421
admin@eastmercedrcd.org

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August 16, 2017

Merced’s Official Comic Con Returns for Its Second Year

MERCED, CALIF. - California Republic Comic Con, Merced’s official comic con, returns to the Merced County Fairgrounds September 16th for its second annual show. With three buildings, and over 40,000 square feet, it makes California Republic Comic Con (CRCC) the largest convention south of Stockton.


This year’s celebrity guest lineup includes Gary Lockwood, the star of Stanley Kubrick’s timeless masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2008 will mark the 50th anniversary of the film that is considered by many to be the best science fiction movie ever made, and the attendees will be able to celebrate early with Dr. Frank Poole himself in this very rare Central Valley appearance.


Gary Lockwood also credited with playing Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell in the Star Trek pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before". At the convention, Gary Lockwood will be joined by Sean Kenney, best known for his role in Star Trek as the crippled Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie", and as Lieutenant DePaul in "Arena" and "A Taste of Armageddon."


Star Wars fans will get a rare chance to meet Julie Dolan who has voiced Princess Leia Organa for Star Wars Rebels, Star Tours - The Adventure Continues and numerous Star Wars videogames, and Stephen Costantino who who portrayed one of Jabba's Gamorrean Guards in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.


Also appearing at California Republic Comic Con actors Jimmy Hunt (Invaders from Mars), Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue) and Steven Skyler (Power Rangers Samurai), as well as renowned comic book artists and creators Chris Marrinan (Excalibur, Wonder Woman), Matt Haley (Wonder Woman 77, Judge Dredd, Superman), Tobe Daranouvong (Villain Comic) and Omar Morales (CruZader: Agent of the Vatican).


 

Attendees will also be able to shop from various exhibitors and creators, meet local cosplayers and fan groups. The program also features Violette Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in Merced County, a cosplay contest with a trophy and cash prize for the winner, a retro video game room with more than 4,000 games to play, free Street Fighter Tournament, laser tag, and a live concert with performances by Steven Skyler, Stephen Costantino and La La Lando the Musical.


Show open 10 am - 5 pm at the Merced County Fairgrounds. All ages are welcome. Tickets available online at www.californiarepubliccomiccon.com (adult 13+ $10, kids 5-12 $5, kids under 5 y.o. free) or at the door (adult 13+ $15, kids 5-12 $8, kids under 5 y.o. free).

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August 15, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Students Remained Engaged Throughout the Summer

Written by: Atwater FFA

For most high school students, the school year ends the first week of June. For most high school agriculture students, the summer season extends beyond vacation with various agriculture and FFA related events and activities keeping them active and involved.

Getting students involved outside the classroom is a primary focus with the Atwater High School agriculture program. Throughout the spring and summer this past year, over one hundred students raised livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, and swine) at the Merced County Fair. An additional forty students raised and exhibited rabbit and poultry projects, while hundreds of agriculture mechanics (shop) students showcased hundreds of shop projects at the fair. The experience and skills obtained go beyond the animals and the shop. “This is about ‘responsibility’ and a ‘work ethic’,” said FFA advisor Sam Meredith. “For many students, this is a taste of what it’s like in the real world and as an adult.”

During the summer, the Atwater FFA recognizes each year’s most active, hardworking students from the previous school year with an incentive trip centered on recreation and fun. Twenty-six students spent at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. “It’s always rewarding to share a new experience with students involving travel to somewhere they have never gone,” said Atwater FFA advisor Shelby West. Atwater High School students who attended the summer trip included Alyssa Carrillo, Ana Lozano, Anessa Cardenas, Audrey Esau, Callie Norton, Colby Flatt, Courtney Creighton, Cristal Venegas, Daisy Flores, Emily Junez, Emmanuel Mejia, Jasmine Flores, Jeff Clark, Joel Rojas, Jose Montanez, Kaya Briscoe, Kelsi Kamesch, Madison Hall, Makenna Caldie, Micheal Bray, Natalie Frontella, Nathaniel Cavallero, Sidney Miller, Sidney Ramos, Stephania Valdovinos , and Zion Brigham.

Earlier this month, the new 2017-2018 chapter officers as well as students who were elected as sectional and regional officers went to Lake Tahoe, CA and Reno, NV for a leadership retreat. The trip involved various team building and leadership activities and provided the students and program with a strong foundation for students to be engaged in leadership roles to help inspire, encourage, and motivate this year’s group of new and continuing agriculture education students at Atwater High School.

The Atwater High School Agriculture program continues to be recognized throughout the state and nation as a model education program. “We believe


Atwater High School agriculture student Kendyll Cruz poses with her dairy heifer project during the 2017 Merced County Fair as she was one of hundreds of Atwater High School FFA members that participated in a variety of agriculture related projects this summer.


Twenty-six Atwater High School agriculture students were rewarded with a summer trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for their academic, personal growth, leadership, and FFA participation efforts during the 2016-2017 school year.

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

agriculture education and FFA is a quality product people continue to invest in because they see the positive return on their investment through student success,” said FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. “We look forward to increasing the quality of the product this upcoming school year!”

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 15, 2017

Outreach, Vet Connect aim to help homeless Vets

A dual approach is underway to identify and assist homeless veterans in Merced County. An outreach campaign is going on this week to locate homeless vets and connect them to services and housing. The following week a Vet Connect event is being held to provide a one-stop shop of services for homeless and needy vets.
The county-wide “No More Homeless Veterans” Task Force, is working to find homeless veterans. The group consists of representatives from several organizations, including the Veterans Administration in Merced County and Fresno County, United Way of Merced County, WestCare San Joaquin Valley Vets (SJVV), Merced County Human Services Agency Veteran Services Office and the Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

Carol Bowman of United Way said the Merced Continuum of Care accepted the Mayor’s challenge to end veteran homelessness in Merced County.

“Housing veterans is our priority and always will be,” Bowman said. “Through effective collaboration and commitment of organizations and staff, we now clearly see that, while in the future there may be veterans who are homeless in Merced County, we have processes and procedures in place to locate them and provide services and housing within a short period of time.”

Homeless Task Force members walk the encampments, parks, streets and other locations where persons experiencing homelessness are known to gather, searching for homeless veterans. Once identified, the veterans are referred to the VA or San Joaquin Valley Vets for intake, assessment and determination of eligibility for benefits. Referrals to services, including housing, resulted in a reduction in the number of homeless veterans in Merced County over the last several years.

In 2015, there were 88 homeless veterans in the County. By 2016 the number was down to 25 homeless vets. This year the number has been reduced to 17.

Throughout this year, United Way, through a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development, employs two full time Outreach Workers who are working to locate all persons experiencing homelessness, including veterans. Once located, an intake and assessment process

 

 

identifies service and housing needs so that people may be housed. Since January, 2017 an additional 20 veterans have been housed -- on average -- within 60 days or less.
Now, case workers know of nine recently identified homeless veterans and each one is being assisted in locating housing. The Task Force will be making one more effort to locate homeless veterans, by conducting intensive outreach the week of Aug. 14, followed by the Vet Connect event Aug. 24.

The goal is to rapidly rehouse any new homeless veterans who show up on the streets. The effort is being made County-wide to identify veterans, provide the services and housing they need as quickly as possible.

Merced Vet Connect Day will bring a variety of services and resources together for veterans in need. Thursday, Aug. 24 is intended to help homeless veterans and other struggling veterans receive the services that will give them a hand up out of poverty, despair and homelessness.

Among the free services available are:
• Intake and assessment for housing and employment services
• Community resources, veterans services, benefit enrollment
• Lunch, refreshments, giveaways and more

The Vet Connect Day will be held at the Merced County Veterans Services Office, 3376 N. Highway 59, Suite D., Merced, starting at 9 a.m. There will be free bus transportation for all veterans.

Veterans Connect is part of the on-going outreach efforts for homeless veterans.
For more information about Vet Connect and other efforts to end veteran homelessness, call the Veterans Services Office at 209-385-7588 or the United Way of Merced County at 209-383-4242.

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August 15, 2017

Costa Statement on White Supremacist Attack in Charlottesville


FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement about the white supremacist attack that occurred yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“The hatred and violence in Charlottesville yesterday are devastating and unacceptable.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals we lost, those who were injured, and their loved ones.

“As Americans, the protests that turned deadly in Charlottesville sadden all of us and should serve as a call to action. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and their defining ideas and beliefs are disgusting and are directly opposed to our American values. The individuals who belong to these groups are not American patriots. They are cowards and bigots, and their ideas have been a plague on our country for far too long.

“We must condemn actions by white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and all groups who preach hate and advocate violence. It is truly awful that racism and hatred live in the hearts of some in America. We all have a responsibility – as individuals and collectively – to do our part to address racism, other forms of prejudice, and hate.

“We must remember that we are far more similar than we are different, and only by standing together will we be able to successfully overcome the


Congressman Jim Costa

challenges we all face together. Although it can be difficult at times, I call on all of us to pause for a moment, reach out to one another, and reverse hate by conveying understanding and solidarity founded on the basis of love and humanity.

“In addition, the President, with our nation's justice department, must take firm and decisive action to aggressively go after these hate groups, using all legal means available. These groups' violence is outrageous and illegal, and we cannot allow them to continue to target and attack our fellow Americans.

“Lastly, I would like to thank our law enforcement officers for risking their lives yesterday, and every day, to keep us safe.”

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August 12, 2017

Friday procession honored fallen firefighter from Merced

Merced resident Clayton Charles Ogden III, husband, father, Santa Cruz firefighter/paramedic and true hero was honored with a procession through the streets of Merced Friday afternoon.

Ogden died Aug. 1 from cancer at age 47.

Between 2 and 3 p.m. Friday, streets in Downtown Merced and near the Merced County Fairgrounds was be filled with fire trucks as an honor procession escorts his remains from the Stratford Evans Funeral home on B Street to the fairgrounds. There was be some disruptions in traffic as Ogden takes one last ride on a Santa Cruz Fire Department ladder truck.

The late firefighter received the Medal of Valor from the City of Santa Cruz for his actions on Feb. 23, 2013 when two police officers were murdered. While responding to the call, gunfire from the suspect erupted and Ogden threw his body on a civilian to protect her from a hail of gunfire at the scene.

“Bullets were flying,” Ogden told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “I laid on top of her and told her to keep calm and stay down – don’t move.”

Following the shooting, he was part of an initial team training as a Tac-Medic for those kinds of incidents.

Odgen served in the Santa Cruz Fire Department for 18 years. Before working in Santa Cruz, Ogden worked for Riggs Ambulance in Merced.

Born and raised in Dos Palos, he started his public service as a volunteer for the Dos Palos Fire Department and was a firefighter for the Merced County Fire Department. He worked for the California Highway Patrol and was in the Emergency Services Unit for the SWAT Team.

He leaves behind his wife, Rebekah, and three children, Colby, Sam and Lily.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Yosemite Hall at the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Before the service there was a procession of fire apparatus and other emergency vehicles to honor the fallen firefighter. It begin at the Stratford Evans Funeral Home at 1490 B St., and past Fire Station 51 at 99 E. 16th St., went down Main Street from G to M streets, and down Martin Luther King Jr. Way from 16th to 11th St.

The family requested: “In lieu of flowers, smell the flowers.”

A scholarship has been set up in his name:
Clayton Ogden Scholarship Fund
Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union
1021 Olivewood Dr, Merced CA 95348
Account number 22457–35 in the memo field.

The Santa Cruz Fire Department said expressions of sympathy or condolences for the family can be sent to:
Santa Cruz Firefighters
Local 1716
PO Box 1477
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1477.

Donations for Firefighter Ogden’s family can be sent to:
Firefighters First Credit Union
C/O Clayton Ogden
5700 Stoneridge Dr., Suite 250
Pleasanton, CA 94588

 

Clayton Charles Ogden III

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August 12, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM RED TOP ROAD TO VASSAR AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 from Red Top Road to Vassar Avenue for pavement work.

Work will begin Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

Teichert Corporation of Sacramento, CA, is performing the work.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE (MERCED COUNTY)

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 in Gustine to SR-99 in Merced. Work will occur as follows:

• Full off-ramp closures from northbound and southbound SR-99 to SR-140/V Street beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Virginia Street in the City of Merced to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Monday, August 14, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for pavement work;

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the City of Merced to SR-33 in the City of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the City of Merced and move toward the City of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.


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

 


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM MISSION AVENUE TO COLLIER ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off-ramps on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Mission Avenue to Collier Road for sign work.

Work will occur as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning Monday, August 14, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound and southbound SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
• Full off-ramp closures from northbound and southbound SR-99 to SR-140/V Street beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to G Street beginning Monday, August 14, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
• Full off-ramp closures from northbound and southbound SR-99 to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;
— More —
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to Atwater Boulevard beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Additional construction activities include:
• A moving closure on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Mission Avenue to Collier Road beginning Monday, August 14, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for a sweeping operation;

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 will close from Childs Avenue to 16th Street beginning Monday, August 14, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• The #1 (left) and #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes on northbound SR-99 at Atwater Boulevard will alternately close beginning Sunday, August 13, 2017, through Friday, August 18, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for sign work.

Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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 12, 2017

It’s hello and farewell at Merced PD

Merced Police Chief Norman Andrade was scheduled to swear in a new officer this afternoon and say good-bye to another, during ceremonies today at 1:30 p.m. in the Merced City Council Chambers, in the Merced Civic Center (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.



Michael Neal, was to become the latest addition to the police force

Neal, 35, Badge No. 261, spent 2 ½ years in the Los Banos Police Department. He was recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for efforts in reducing DUI crimes and received the MADD Award in 2015 and 2016.
Neal and his girlfriend are raising three children. In his spare time he enjoys reading, movies and traveling.

 

 


Detective Joe Deliman

Det. Joe Deliman was scheduled to retire.

Deliman worked in the Department from February 1997 to July 2017. During his 20 years of service, he worked as a detective, a patrol officer, a gang and street crimes officer, an EVOC instructor, and a member of the Crime Scene Response Team. He served under three police chiefs – Chief Patrick Lunney, Chief Mark Dossetti, and Chief Norman Andrade.

 

The Department now has 90 sworn officers and is budgeted for 97. The pay for police officers is $5,042 to $6,129 a month.

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August 12, 2017

Virginia Smith Trust To Work with Local Farmer to Generate Scholarship Revenue

The Virginia Smith Trust Board agreed to lease land to a local farmer that will produce scholarship revenue for decades to benefit Merced students.
At a special board meeting on Aug. 9, the VST Board unanimously voted to lease 500 acres of land that the Trust owns south of UC Merced to Forebay Farms LLC. Forebay will plant and farm an almond orchard on the leased land.
In the lease agreement, Forebay will pay $100,000 per year for rent and a percentage of the crop when the trees mature.
“With the increased revenue from this lease agreement, the VST Board will have the ability to support more scholarships for Merced students,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M. Tietjen. “This really is the first step moving forward with development of the VST land by UC Merced.”
VST Board President Chris Chavez agreed that this was a move in the right direction and one that will ultimately benefit students. “The VST land will now generate more scholarships for our students for many decades to come,” he said.
The Virginia Smith Trust was established in 1975 in accordance with the will of Virginia U. Smith, who was a Merced resident that spent her life in service to others. In her will, Smith specifically noted “worthy, deserving and needy” high school students in Merced were eligible for the scholarship.
In 2016, UC Merced and the VST split the 1,256-acre tract of land just south of the campus, known as University Community North. Some of the land the UC acquired in the split will be used for the university’s 2020 campus expansion.
Since the VST started distributing scholarships, more than 3,500 students have received scholarships totaling about $4.5 million.
For more information about the VST, visit http://mcoe.org/smith/Pages/Virginia-Smith-Trust.aspx.

 

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August 11, 2017

Friday procession will honor fallen firefighter from Merced

Merced resident Clayton Charles Ogden III, husband, father, Santa Cruz firefighter/paramedic and true hero will be honored with a procession through the streets of Merced Friday afternoon.

Ogden died Aug. 1 from cancer at age 47.

Between 2 and 3 p.m. Friday, streets in Downtown Merced and near the Merced County Fairgrounds will be filled with fire trucks as an honor procession escorts his remains from the Stratford Evans Funeral home on B Street to the fairgrounds. There will be some disruptions in traffic as Ogden takes one last ride on a Santa Cruz Fire Department ladder truck.

The late firefighter received the Medal of Valor from the City of Santa Cruz for his actions on Feb. 23, 2013 when two police officers were murdered. While responding to the call, gunfire from the suspect erupted and Ogden threw his body on a civilian to protect her from a hail of gunfire at the scene.

“Bullets were flying,” Ogden told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “I laid on top of her and told her to keep calm and stay down – don’t move.”

Following the shooting, he was part of an initial team training as a Tac-Medic for those kinds of incidents.

Odgen served in the Santa Cruz Fire Department for 18 years. Before working in Santa Cruz, Ogden worked for Riggs Ambulance in Merced.

Born and raised in Dos Palos, he started his public service as a volunteer for the Dos Palos Fire Department and was a firefighter for the Merced County Fire Department. He worked for the California Highway Patrol and was in the Emergency Services Unit for the SWAT Team.

He leaves behind his wife, Rebekah, and three children, Colby, Sam and Lily.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Yosemite Hall at the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Before the service there will be a procession of fire apparatus and other emergency vehicles to honor the fallen firefighter. It will begin at the Stratford Evans Funeral Home at 1490 B St., go past Fire Station 51 at 99 E. 16th St., go down Main Street from G to M streets, and down Martin Luther King Jr. Way from 16th to 11th St. (See map.)

The family requested: “In lieu of flowers, smell the flowers.”

A scholarship has been set up in his name:
Clayton Ogden Scholarship Fund
Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union
1021 Olivewood Dr, Merced CA 95348
Account number 22457–35 in the memo field.

The Santa Cruz Fire Department said expressions of sympathy or condolences for the family can be sent to:
Santa Cruz Firefighters
Local 1716
PO Box 1477
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1477.

Donations for Firefighter Ogden’s family can be sent to:
Firefighters First Credit Union
C/O Clayton Ogden
5700 Stoneridge Dr., Suite 250
Pleasanton, CA 94588

Clayton Charles Ogden III

 

 

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August 11, 2017

As we swear in our newest officer, Michael Neal, this Friday, August 11th, we will also present a retirement plaque to retired detective Joe Deliman in recognition of 20 years of service to the Merced Police Department and the City of Merced. Please join us in support.

City Hall –Council Chambers, 1:30 p.m. –Friday, August 11th.

Congratulations, Detective Joe Deliman #55-103
We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


Detective Joe Deliman

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August 11, 2017

Reps. Panetta, Peterson, Costa Hold Agriculture Roundtable in California

SALINAS – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), along with House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-7) and Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), hosted an agriculture roundtable session at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. The Congressmen held the roundtable to hear the concerns and priorities of local agriculture producers, farm workers, and nutrition organizations regarding the nation's food policy, including the Farm Bill.

Congressman Panetta and Congressman Costa made the below remarks:

"The central coast of California provides families across the country with an abundance of fresh and nutritious produce. As the representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, I believe it is critical to share with my colleagues the needs and concerns of our diverse producers, farm workers, anti-hunger advocates, and local nutrition organizations. I thank my colleagues and friends, Ranking Member Peterson and Congressman Costa, for joining me in Salinas. We appreciated hearing from stakeholders on the Central Coast and look forward to taking what we learned back to Washington as we craft the next Farm Bill,” said Congressman Panetta.

“One of my highest priorities this Congress is reauthorizing the Farm Bill. This has traditionally been a bipartisan effort in the House Agriculture Committee. It was great to hear our local agriculture leaders and nutrition groups this


Congressman Jim Costa

morning let us know what their priorities are, and I look forward to listening to local voices throughout the region in the roundtables and listening sessions we will be holding in the near future,” said Congressman Costa.

The House Committee on Agricultural has been holding similar roundtables and listening sessions across the country in anticipation of the upcoming legislative work on the next Farm Bill. The provisions in the current Farm Bill are due to expire September 30, 2018.

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August 10, 2017

Merced County Students Head Back to School

Classes have resumed this week for 10 of Merced County's 20 school districts with the rest of them getting under way next week.
A master schedule assembled by the Merced County Office of Education shows classes began Tuesday Aug. 8 for Delhi Unified students and Wednesday Aug. 9 for Dos Palos-Ora Loma, Gustine, Le Grand elementary and high school and Planada campuses.
Classes with Los Banos Unified School District, El Nido and Hilmar schools start this Thursday, Aug. 10. Students in the Weaver Union School District, which has a trimester system, began their year on July 20.
In the Atwater, Merced City, McSwain, Merced River, Merced Union high and Snelling school districts, classes begin Aug. 16; Winton students return to classes Aug. 14.
In the Merced City School District, 11,639 students attended classes in the school year ending in June. A 0.75 percent enrollment increase is projected for this fall.
With Merced City, a cutting-edge STEAM center is opening adjacent to Ada Givens Elementary School. It will be used by students throughout the district with 21st Century hands-on learning stressed in the 5,460-square-foot building featuring a lab classroom, two "flex" classrooms and a lobby-breakout space, along with a large outdoor amphitheater. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
In the Merced Union High School District, Assistant Superintendent Ralph Calderon said fall classes will open with 10,400 students, about the same number as last year. Thirty new teachers have been hired. Teachers are planning and developing a new schedule this year, which will provide more academic and career-technical education opportunities. This schedule will be fully implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.
Ana Boyenga, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Atwater Elementary School District, said 4,993 students attended classes through June. This fall, 5,005 have registered so far with registration continuing.
In Hilmar, enrollment is expected to stay about the same with 2,406 students from transitional kindergarten through high school. Hilmar Superintendent Isabel Cabral-Johnson anticipates fall enrollment could be up slightly or ultimately remain about even with June figures. She said the district is moving forward with academic and social support programs that were put into place recently.

Gustine is projecting 1,896 students this fall, 20 more than attended the last school year.
Merced River School District Superintendent Richard Lopez said the district had 170 students at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and he is hoping for about the same number of students or possibly a few more this fall.
Lopez said Merced River is in the final stages of modernizing Washington School. Four new teachers have been hired along with a new cafeteria cook and bus driver. The ASSETS after-school program offered by MCOE will be offered there for the first time.
For the first time in many years, there will be one teacher per grade level, according to Lopez.
With school resuming, area law enforcement authorities are asking drivers to be extra vigilant.
Capt. Bimley West of the Merced Police Department said he wants school children to arrive at their destinations safely and that calls for caution on the part of drivers, parents taking their children to school and pedestrians of all ages. He said the police department has increased its dedicated traffic unit to two motorcycle officers who will keep a close eye on enforcing traffic laws around school zones.
All schools will be closed Memorial Day May 28, Labor Day Sept. 4, Veteran's Day Nov. 10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 15.

To view the county schools schedule, visit http://mcoe.org/school/Documents/2017-2018%20School%20Year%20Schedule-Revised.pdf

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August 10, 2017

 

TWO MEN CONVICTED OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER

William White, 38, of Antioch, and Victor Hernandez, 27, of Modesto, were both convicted of first degree murder and two counts of home invasion robbery, with all gun enhancements found to be true, on Tuesday by a Merced County jury, for their role in the death of Orlando Yepez on August 1, 2014 in Hilmar said Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall, who prosecuted the case.
White was also found guilty of one count of burglary that Hernandez was not charged with.
In the early morning hours of August 1, 2014, White, Hernandez, Yepez, and two other men went to Juan Carlos Alvarez’s house with the intent to commit a robbery. During the commission of the robbery Hernandez pulled a gun on Alvarez, and during the struggle for control over the gun, Yepez was fatally shot.

It was found that Hernandez and White were responsible for Yepez’s death because it occurred during the commission of the felony robbery they were attempting to commit, in Alvarez’s home.
“This conviction takes two dangerous men who have no regard for human life, off of our streets, and is a huge step in the direction of making our neighborhoods safer,” said Wall.
They will appear in court again on Thursday, August 17 for a hearing on their prior convictions.
They both face a minimum of 25 years to life.

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August 9, 2017

Merced Council approves new regional shopping center

Merced will soon have a new regional shopping center with retail stores, a hotel, theater, restaurants and fast food at Campus Parkway and Highway 99.

Also planned for the 601,127-square-foot center is a 177 unit multi-family housing project. The developer said the plans included a grocery store, sporting goods store and ag supply store.

“This retail center is a big win for our residents,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “It will provide new retail, entertainment, housing, employment, and dining options for Merced and the surrounding area.

“It is a well-designed project that we can all be proud of and represents years of work by everyone involved,” Murphy said.

The City Council unanimously approved the Environmental Impact Report and other land use documents at its Monday night meeting. The developers said they plan to break ground sometime next year.

"This is tremendous news for District 1 and the entire City of Merced,” said Council member Anthony Martinez, who represents District 1 where the shopping center is located. “This project will inject a new buzz into a community that has been ready for something like this for years.”

The project is being developed on 77-acres of land that had been part of the Pluim family dairy from 1928 through 1986. The family joined with California Gold Development Corp., a Sonora-based firm to form the Merced Gateway Development.

“The development team estimates that the $150 million project will generate 800 construction jobs and 900 full-time jobs, and a $30-million payroll by full buildout,” said Economic Development Director Frank Quintero.

It’s estimated the center will generate $30 million a year in sales tax, the developers said.

 

 

“We regularly hear developers say that Merced has great potential and you can see it with the construction taking place around the City. At City Hall, we believe it’s Merced’s time,” Quintero said.

The shopping center is intended to be a retail and entertainment hub, with 17 retail stores, 10 restaurants and a movie theater offering a mix of attractions for patrons.
“The timing is perfect for the Gateway Retail project,” Quintero said. “The face of retail and entertainment is in transition. Merced has an opportunity to develop a state of the art facility to serve our retail trade area.”

The shopping center is located at the Mission Avenue off-ramp of Highway 99. Campus Parkway runs through the middle of the project, which is bounded by Cofffee Avenue on the west and Gerard Avenue on the north and Mission Avenue on the south.

The developers plan to built the center in eight phases over 5 years. Plans also include a fire station.

“As retail anchors commit to the project, other retailers, hospitality, entertainment, and service providers will follow,” Quintero said. “An investment and project of this size will cause commercial users and developers to seek other investment opportunities in Merced such as the Downtown and Merced Mall. Retail centers rely on a mix of businesses to generate foot traffic throughout the day.”

The owners said they plan to hire local workers to build the project and area subcontractors for work on the center.


artist's rendering of what the retail center would look like

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August 9, 2017

MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS TO HOLD PUBLIC
WORKSHOPS FOR MERCED COUNTY REGIONAL VISION

MERCED- The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) will hold a second workshop in Los Banos to give the public an additional opportunity to learn more about the Merced County Regional Vision – a collaborative effort between the County of Merced and the Cities of Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Los Banos and Merced. Merced County Regional Vision will provide the framework for investment in roads, freeways, public transit, bike trails and other ways people move around our County through 2042. It will also include a plan to accommodate the region's future housing needs and comply with the State- mandated legislation to reduce greenhouse gases (SB375).
“We have a great opportunity to plan for how we will move people and goods throughout the County – especially now that we have successfully passed Measure V,” said MCAG Deputy Executive Director Stacie Dabbs. “The workshop will give participants an opportunity to learn more about the planning process and weigh in on priorities for investments.”

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
6:00pm
Los Banos City Council Chambers
520 J Street, Los Banos
For more information please visit our project website www.MercedRegionalVision.com or the Merced County Association of Governments website www.mcagov.org

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August 9, 2017

Fundraiser Supports Continuous Improvements at Camp Green Meadows

The Merced County Education Foundation will host the second annual fundraiser to support Camp Green Meadows on Sept. 10 at the Elks Lodge in Merced.
The outdoor education facility near Fish Camp — about one mile from the Wawona entrance to Yosemite National Park — is owned and operated by the Merced County Office of Education and has served tens of thousands of students from throughout Central California for more than 50 years, providing about 2,500 Merced County students the outdoor school and camping experience annually.
Unlike traditional schools, which receive a portion of funding through average daily attendance, Camp Green Meadows relies on visiting schools and private groups for its revenue, along with community support. MCOE works to keep fees low to minimize cost to school districts, which leaves little resources for capital improvements.
MCOE has identified several areas of need at the outdoor school to ensure the facilities can serve new generations of students.
Upgrades include renovations of all boys and girls cabins and a renovated nurse’s station, which will provide easier access for wheelchairs, be a dedicated space for students who become ill and need first aid or monitor medication during their stay.

 

The fundraiser is $50 per-person and includes a prime rib dinner, entertainment and a program featuring Green Meadows students and naturalists.
There is also an online silent auction for an overnight stay at Camp Green Meadows with a private cabin on May 19-20, 2018.This unique opportunity gives the winner overnight access to a cabin that sleeps 24, with lunch and dinner provided on Saturday and breakfast provided on Sunday. Access the online silent auction at https://sites.google.com/mcoe.org/gmos/home.
Tickets can be purchased by emailing rsvp@mcoe.org, calling (209) 381-6601 or visiting https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mcefand clicking on the "Events" tab.

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August 8 , 2017

 

Atwater FFA Branches Out During Leadership Retreat

Written by: Atwater FFA

“Branching Out Together” was selected as the 2017-2018 Atwater FFA theme as advisors and chapter officers gathered in Reno, NV and lake Tahoe, CA for their annual Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat. 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 Natalie Borba. 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 expanded opportunities and paths students can take within agriculture education and the FFA towards a journey of academic success, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration,” said Atwater FFA President Anessa Cardenas.

Leadership retreat highlights included visiting Squaw Valley Ski Resort to participate in various activities ranging from geocaching to scenic hiking and walking trails. For most of the students, this was the first time they left the state of California. “You don’t have the opportunity to travel out of state with other programs, agriculture allows us to travel throughout the state during the school year participating in competitions in various colleges and universities,” said FFA officer Jasmine Sandoval.

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 Kaylyn Davenport.

The new officer team is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that the upcoming 2017-2018 school year holds for them. This year’s officer team includes Anessa Cardenas, President; Jasmine Sandoval, Vice President; Dillon Guillen, Secretary; Zion Brigham, Treasurer; Grace Reyes, Reporter; Jonathan Garcia, Sentinel; and Stephania Valdovinos, Historian. In addition to the Atwater FFA chapter officers, three other Atwater FFA members (Emily Junez, Daisy Flores, and Callie Norton) joined the leadership retreat as they will be serving as sectional and regional 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 .


The 2017 - 2018 Atwater FFA Officer Team comprised of Anessa Cardenas, Zion Brigham, Grace Reyes, Jonathan Garcia, Stephania Valdovinos, Dillon Guillen, and Jasmine Sandoval gathered together in Reno, NV for their annual Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat.


Atwater FFA's Grace Reyes (standing) works with her officer team including Anessa Cardenas (left) under the guidance of fellow officer Jonathan Garcia (center) in a team building activity that focused on working together as a team.


Ten Atwater High School FFA leadership representatives Jasmine Sandoval, Stephania Valdovinos, Emily Junez, Daisy Flores, Jonathan Garcia, Zion Brigham, Dillon Guillen, Grace Reyes, Callie Norton, and Anessa Cardenas visited Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley Resort during Atwater FFA's annual leadership retreat.

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August 5 , 2017

Shopping center, police station on agenda

A shopping center complex and the purchase of a site for a future police station are on the Merced City Council agenda for Monday night.
The regular City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
Council will consider approval of the environmental impact report for a 77-acre regional shopping center on Mission Avenue near Highway 99.
The 601,126-square-foot complex would include retail stores, restaurants, a hotel and gas station. Also planned for the site are 178 multi-family housing units and a fire station.
The project received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission.
Council will consider the purchase of the 5.5 acre Merced Sun-Star site at 3033 G St. for $1.62 million. The City will lease back the building to McClatchy Newspaper, Inc. for $2,500 a month.
The City plans to build a new police station to replace the building on West 22ndconstructed in 1959. The current station isn’t large enough for the Department and is outdated for today’s policing. The City doesn’t have funds to build the new police station, so it will hire consultants to see what the public support for a sales tax increase would be and explore other methods of financing a station.

 

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. to confer regarding the appointment of a Finance Officer and to confer with property negotiators regarding the sale of the Merced Sun-Star site.
City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is 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 and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. 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.

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August 5 , 2017

The Bus to Begin New Route Schedules

MERCED– The Bus will be implementing new route schedules starting Monday, August 7, 2017 as part of an ongoing commitment to improve the overall transit system and provide efficient service to the greatest number of people in Merced County. The Bus received a grant to provide free rides on the Fixed Route for the month of August to lower carbon emissions. The service changes were planned for August to help riders adjust to the route and schedule changes while the service is free.
Riders can expect changes such the removal of the M2 south loop, modifications to the south loop of the M3 to reduce duplication of service, and a restructured M6 including a new stop at Merced Transpo. Riders can also expect minor adjustments to the schedules in an effort to make better connections between routes. These changes were made based on ridership data and feedback from riders throughout the community. To review all of the new route schedules, please visit http://mercedthebus.com/228/August-7th-Schedule-Adjustments or call The Bus at (209)723-3100.
The Bus provides transit service along 17 fixed routes seven days a week serving the cities of Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Los Banos and Merced, as well as the communities of Le Grand, Planada and Winton. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible. With the passage of Measure V in 2016, seniors, veterans and ADA eligible passengers now ride the fixed route system for free with proper photo identification. Reduced rates are available for students.

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.

 

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August 5 , 2017


FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County— The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at SR-140 for sign work.
Work will occur as follows:
• Full highway closure on northbound SR-99 at SR-140 beginning Tuesday, August 8, 2017, through Friday, August 11, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.;
• Full highway closure on southbound SR-99 at SR-140 beginning Tuesday, August 7, 2017, through Friday, August 11, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
Additional construction activities include:
• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to East Atwater Boulevard in Atwater will close beginning Sunday, August 6, 2017, through Friday, August 11, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.


FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT 16TH STREET
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County— The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 99 at 16th Street for sign work.
Crews will be working Sunday, August 6, 2017, through Tuesday, August 8, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 59 AT STATE ROUTE 152
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the connector ramps between State Route 59 (SR-59) and SR-152 for pavement work.
Crews will be working Tuesday, August 8, 2017, through Friday, August 11, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM RED TOP ROAD TO VASSAR AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 from Red Top Road to Vassar Avenue for pavement work.

Work will begin Sunday, August 6, 2017, through Friday, August 11, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

Teichert Corporation of Sacramento, CA, is performing the work.

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 4 , 2017

Parks and Rec offices have moved

The City of Merced Parks and Recreation Department has moved its offices. The Department has left the Merced Civic Center (City Hall) and moved next door into the Shannon Parcade building.
The new address is 632 W. 18th St. All of the phone numbers will remain the same. The Department hours are 10 to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

 

For information about programs and activities, go to City of Merced Parks and Recreation on Facebook, or visit the City’s website at www.cityofmerced.org.
For more information or to sign up for programs call 209-385-6835.

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August 4 , 2017

Merced County, School Districts Throughout State, Feel Impact of Teacher Shortage

In Merced County and elsewhere, the shortage of teachers is a struggle for school districts.
Eva L. Chavez, assistant superintendent for Human Resources for the Merced County Office of Education, said it has been a struggle to recruit and fill available teaching positions.
“I won’t say we are winning the war on recruiting all positions,” Chavez said. “We are just trying to stay afloat, stay even. There is constant attrition for various reasons including retirements.” Many teachers from the Baby Boomer generation are retiring, leaving schools in need of new teachers.
Tricia Aquino, a Human Resources analyst with MCOE, said she spends about half of her time trying to recruit teachers and there always are openings. There are a number of districts giving stipends and hiring bonuses for new hires. The Fresno Unified School District has a 12-person staff just looking for new teachers.
“It takes a special person to be a teacher and you have to be creative,” Chavez said. “It is very challenging to be a teacher. You are a facilitator of learning. You hear kids are harder to teach and you (teachers) have to be skilled to keep their attention.”
The county schools office held a teacher-recruiting fair in April in Atwater where 12 school districts were represented and 80 teacher candidates attended a Saturday session.
Chavez said some thought needs to be given for either individual school districts or countywide staff focusing specifically on the teacher recruiting issue. Teachers are most needed in mathematics, science and special education areas.
Aquino said for the past four or five years she has attended university recruiting fairs or sent job postings to area colleges and universities.

 


School districts don’t have the time or resources to send people to recruiting fairs, with the expenses of flights, meals, lodging and time away from other duties.
“This is not just Merced County; San Francisco is struggling and looking to mitigate the situation. I know this is broader than California,” Chavez said.
“This (teaching) is a work of the heart. It takes a special skill and teacher pay is still an issue. Other industries pay more, especially the technology industry and bigger metropolitan areas,” Chavez said.
Teacher shortages stem back to the recession and layoffs in education during 2007 and 2008; since these times, many students didn’t go into teaching and we have to wait for the numbers to catch up, Chavez said. MCOE employs 330 certificated employees in special education, speech therapy, counseling, juvenile hall and Head Start positions.
“Finding the right individuals to take on this challenge isn’t simple. This is a giveback profession; you are not producing a product. Teachers have an opportunity to make a huge difference in a child’s life and that’s priceless,” Chavez said.

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July 27 , 2017

The Bus to provide free service in August

MERCED– The Bus invites members of the community to “try The Bus on us” during the month of August! Starting August 1 through August 31, The Bus will offer FREE service on all fixed routes countywide. By riding public transit, residents can help reduce congestion and save money.
"We are excited to be able to offer free fixed route service again this year,” said Rich Green, Transit Manager. “We hope to encourage people who've never ridden the bus to give it a try to see if they can make our service work for them.” This free service program is made possible through funding from the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP).
The 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. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.
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.

 

 

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August 4 , 2017

 

CALTRANS TO SPEND SB 1 FUNDS IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED- The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced the fast tracking of “fix it first” construction work and increased road repairs across the state including two in Merced County. Caltrans is able to jumpstart these road repairs thanks to the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1) recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
The 13 listed “fix it first” projects involve mainly resurfacing on state highways. Among the projects is State Route 152 from Los Banos to east of the Merced/Madera County line which will receive $2.8 million in repairs and replacement of various sections of pavement, as well as, a resurface of nearly 13 miles on State Route 59 near Merced.

SB 1 is a landmark transportation investment to rebuild California by fixing neighborhood streets, freeways and bridges in communities across California and targeting funds towards transit and congested trade and commute corridor improvements. With these funds, Caltrans will fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges, and 55,000 culverts by 2027. Caltrans will also fix 7,700 traffic operating systems, like ramp meters, traffic cameras and electric highway message boards that help reduce highway congestion.
To track the progress of projects funded by SB 1, Caltrans established a Rebuilding California website: rebuildingca.ca.gov.

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August 3 , 2017

MCSD Preschools Earn Highest Ratings and Grant Funding

The Merced City School District’s preschool program recently received excellent ratings through the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

The California Department of Education describes QRIS as “a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs.” It considers seven comprehensive categories, including effective teacher-child interactions, program environment, and the qualifications of the lead teachers and director. The ratings are determined every two years, and the Merced County Office of Education facilitates the process for districts in Merced County.

QRIS consists of a five tier system with the following ratings in ascending order: Emerging Quality, Basic Quality, Quality, High Quality, and High Quality Plus. Eleven of MCSD’s preschool sites received the top rating of High Quality Plus, and the remaining two sites were recognized as High Quality.

Preschool Director Melanie Cole explains, “Our preschools earn these outstanding ratings because we have highly qualified staff, we provide high ratios for supervision and engagement, and we monitor children’s development and provide additional support as needed. We also score high for our safe, clean facilities.”

The high ratings also earned the district a $105,300 block grant from the California State Preschool Program. Each preschool site will receive $8,100.

MCSD places a tremendous value on preschool because of the impact it can make on children for years to come. It supports their academic, social, and emotional development in a number of ways. The lessons, games, and activities are designed to boost pre-math and literacy skills, while interacting with teachers and classmates helps build trust and positive relationships. Preschool also nurtures curiosity and creativity. All of these elements help prepare the children for success not only in kindergarten, but throughout their lives.

The MCSD preschool program serves children between three and five years old. The program provides a three hour session in the morning and another three hour session in the afternoon. Class sizes range from 16-24 students, but the district always maintains a ratio of one adult for every eight children. It is a state preschool program, so participants must meet eligibility requirements, which are based on a family’s size and the gross monthly income. Applications are being accepted right now and will continue to be accepted throughout the year in case additional spaces become available.

Anyone interested in applying or learning more about the program can call (209) 385-6619 or visit Galen Clark Preschool at 211 E. 11th Street in Merced. More information is also available on the district website: http://www.mcsd.k12.ca.us/MCSDPreschool/

MCSD Preschool QRIS Ratings:

Burbank Preschool High Quality
Clark Preschool High Quality Plus
Chenoweth Preschool High Quality Plus
Franklin Preschool High Quality Plus
Fremont Preschool High Quality Plus
Givens Preschool High Quality Plus
Gracey Preschool High Quality Plus
Muir Preschool High Quality Plus
Peterson Preschool High Quality Plus
Reyes Preschool High Quality
Rivera Preschool High Quality Plus
Sheehy Preschool High Quality Plus
Wright Preschool High Quality Plus










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August 2 , 2017

NEW ARTIST IS FEATURED IN MERCED COUNTY
DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S LOBBY

Angela Holmes is the latest artist displaying her paintings in the Merced County District Attorney’s office lobby. Her paintings, featuring different jungle animals and abstract pieces will be on display through December.
The Merced County District Attorney’s office supports local artists by displaying their work in the main lobby in its office. Each artist’s work will remain on display for six months.
Ms. Holmes began painting in 2003 when a friend invited her to paint in her studio. It was that same friend who encouraged her to enter her Macau painting into the Kern County Fair, where she was awarded third place.
Since she began painting some 14 years ago, she has participated in three Art Hops. Merced Art Hop has been held in downtown Merced for the past eight years, and not only gives local artists a chance to display their work, but also brings business to the downtown area. Art Hop also features live music, interactive art activities and performers, so there is a little something for everyone who comes.
“I enjoy painting because it gives me a space to let my spiritual freedom have access to my heart, my mind and my body,” said Holmes in her biography that accompanies her paintings in the District Attorney lobby.
You can contact Angela by her email at lillypadstudio@hotmail.com or by phone at (209) 349-2339.
“There are so many talented artists in our community, few of whom get the exposure or recognition they deserve,” said District Attorney Larry D. Morse II. “We are pleased and honored to showcase their work in our lobby and invite the public to visit our office during business hours and see the incredible art being produced right here in Merced County,” he added.
If you are a local artist and would like to display your paintings or photographs, contact the District Attorney’s communications specialist Amanda McCoy at (209) 628-1646.

 

 

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August 2 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION/TRAFFIC ADVISORY
BPMP Bridge Repairs on M Street over Bear Creek

Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing M Street between Rambler Road and 27th Street from midnight to 5am on Thursday, August 3rd to finish installing traffic control devices for the bridge repair work over Bear Creek. M Street will reopen with one lane in each direction. North Bear Creek Drive will remain closed to through traffic crossing M Street.
Please follow the advance warning signs and detour arrows that will guide you around the jobsite vicinity.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, construction related issues, and traffic incidents.


Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager or the City Engineer listed below:
Joel Svendsen, Project Manager 209-385-6820
Steven Son, City Engineer 209-385-6898
For the safety of the workers and other motorists, please slow down for the construction zone.
Viking Construction Company and the City of Merced would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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August 2 , 2017

City keeps Cooling Zone on Wednesday

The temperatures continue to be in the 105 degree range, so the City of Merced will keep open its Cooling Zone Wednesday in collaboration with the Merced County Office of Emergency Services.

The Merced City Cooling Zone will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

People can bring their pets to the Cooling Zone as long as they don’t disturb other people or pets. Water

People are reminded to stay hydrated during the heat wave, wear loose clothes and light colored fabrics. Don’t leave children or pets inside vehicles, where temperatures can reach lethal levels in minutes.

And residents are asked look out for each other and to check in on their neighbors to make sure they are coping with the hot weather. Vulnerable populations include seniors and at-risk people who may need some extra assistance.

Opening of the City of Merced Cooling Zone is subject to changes in the temperatures.

Below is the news release from the Merced County Office of Emergency Services listing other Cooling Zones in the County.

COOLING ZONES AVAILABLE WEDNESDAY

MERCED – With temperatures expected to reach 105 degrees Wednesday (Aug. 2), several cooling zones will be open to help residents cope with the heat. The following locations will be available during specified times/hours to be used as cooling zones if needed:
• The City of Atwater’s Cooling Zone will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Atwater Community Center on 760 E. Bellevue Road
• The City of Dos Palos’ Cooling Zone will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the City-County Building (City Hall) on 1546 Golden Gate Ave.
• The City of Gustine’s Cooling Zone will be open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Room adjacent to the Library at 205 Sixth St.
• The City of Livingston’s Cooling Zone will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Police Department on 1446 C St.
• The City of Los Banos’ Cooling Zone will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Center at 645 Seventh St.
• The City of Merced’s Cooling Zone will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Merced Civic Center on 678 W. 18th St.

 


The following County libraries will also be available as Cooling Zones during normal hours Wednesday:
- Atwater, 1600 Third Street, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Delhi, 16881 W Schendel, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Dos Palos, 2002 Almond St., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Hilmar, 20041 W. Falke St. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Le Grand, 14949 Le Grand Rd, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Los Banos, 1312 Seventh St. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Merced, 2100 O St, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Winton, 7057 Walnut Ave., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Because of the extreme heat, The Bus will provide free rides on the existing fixed-route buses to the nearest Cooling Zone on Wednesday. The Bus will take passengers along the fixed route to a designated location near an available Cooling Zone only. The public can also take the fixed route bus back along the route to get home, as service is available. Check the fixed route schedules for exact times of availability. Transfers may be required. If you have a disability that prevents you from using the fixed route bus by yourself, please call (209) 384-3111.

Residents are advised to drink plenty of fluids, dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and keep physical activities to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day. Never leave children, pets or the elderly unattended in a parked vehicle.

Keep in contact with friends and family that may be at higher risk of heat illness, including infants and young children as well as older, sick and frail people. Common symptoms of heat-related conditions include profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, headache, dimmed or blurred vision, cold damp skin, extreme tiredness, nausea and hot dry skin.

This news release will be updated as necessary. To hear the latest updates from the Merced County Office of Emergency Services, please call 209-385-7379.

For more information regarding Merced County, please visit our website atwww.countyofmerced.com

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August 2 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE OFFERING
SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS SPEAKING CLASS

Merced College is offering a three-week class called Successful Business Speaking for those who wish to improve their public speaking.
Taught by Business professor Jonae Pistoresi, the course will cover how to overcome stage fright, how to engage your audience, and many other tips and techniques.
The class will be held in the Allied Health Building, Room 123, on Tuesday Aug. 15, 22 and 29 and run from 5:30-8 p.m. The cost is $23 and earns half a unit of college credit.
For more information or to register, call 209.386.6733.

EMERGING LEADERS INSTITUTE
KICKS OFF WORKSHOP SERIES

The Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce and the Merced College Emerging Leaders Institute are partnering for a round of workshops beginning September 7.
The first course in the series will be “Employee Engagement: Improve Performance, Productivity, and Retention,” based on the Gallup Organization’s extensive research on how to engage employees.
The initial workshop will be held Thursdays, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to noon with a second class going from 1–5 p.m. An additional session will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 13 and run from 1-5 p.m. All workshops will be held at the Merced College Business Resource Center at 630 W. 19th St. in downtown Merced.
The workshop is $23 and earns half a unit of college credit. For more information or to sign-up, call 209.386.6733.


MERCED COLLEGE MUSIC DEPARTMENT PRESENTS
THE RETURN OF WORLD GUITAR NIGHT

Get ready for the return of renowned guitarists Francesco Buzzurro and Richard Smith to the Merced area.
Buzzurro and Smith will perform the music of Italy, the Mediterranean, and America for one night only on Friday, Sept. 22, as part of their Heart of the Immigrant Tour.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Merced Multicultural Art Center, 645 W. Main Street.
The guitarists, who played before a packed Merced audience two years ago, are touring the United States in September, and this Merced appearance may be the only opportunity local music lovers will have to see them.
“People raved about their last show here,” said John Albano, dean of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. “The audience was simply blown away. This is a world class event for Merced.”
Tickets will be available for purchase at the Merced Multicultural Art Center, the Merced College Bookstore, and at Gottschalk’s Music. General admission is $20, while tickets for students, seniors and military are $15.
For more information, call the Merced College Arts Division at 209.386.6644 or send an email to director@artsmerced.org.

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August 2 , 2017

 

Red Cross to Offer Help to Victims of Detwiler Fire

FRESNO, Calif., August 1, 2017 —The American Red Cross will be at the Detwiler Fire Local Assistance Center in Coulterville on Wednesday, August 2, at the Greeley Hill Community Hall located at 10332 Fiske Road Coulterville, CA 95311 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Red Cross workers will conduct client intake for families affected by the fire. Due to space constraints, no donated items will be accepted on site. For those who wish to donate goods such as food and clothing, a drop-off location has been established at New Life Christian Fellowship located at 5089 Cole Rd, Mariposa, CA 95338. For more information contact the Red Cross public information line at 559-343-2549. STAY INFORMED A Red Cross public information line has been established for anyone looking for information on current disaster relief efforts: 559-343-2549. HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like California Wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text “RED CROSS” to 91999 to make a $10 donation to your local Red Cross region. HOW TO VOLUNTEER Trained Red Cross volunteers are currently staffing shelters and supporting evacuated residents

Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or sign up today at redcross.org/volunteer. In order to expedite your volunteer registration for this disaster response effort, select the Detwiler Fire opportunity when prompted in the application process. Email the local Red Cross Volunteer Services team at volunteer.centralca@redcross.org for more information. LEARN MORE Follow the local Red Cross on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates. Visit our website at redcross.org/centralcalifornia.
About the American Red Cross Central California Region
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross Central California Region provides services to the ten counties across Central California that is home to more than 4 million people. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org

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August 2 , 2017

FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR CHARGES FILED IN 2016 FATAL BUS CRASH NEAR LIVINGSTON

The Merced County District Attorney’s office filed four felony counts of vehicular manslaughter and five misdemeanor vehicle code violations against Mario David Vasquez of Los Angeles on Monday in connection with an early morning bus crash on August 2nd of 2016 outside Livingston that claimed four lives and resulted in serious injuries to eight passengers, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced.
Vasquez, age 58, was driving a bus owned by Autobuses Coordinados USA, Inc. southbound on Highway 99 just south of Hammatt Avenue around 3:18 a.m. when the bus left the roadway and collided with a sign pole on northbound Highway 99. The poll split through the middle of the bus crushing rows of seats. In addition to the four fatalities, several of the injured passengers lost limbs to amputation.
The accident was investigated by the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) from Fresno, which turned over its findings to the District Attorney’s office last week. The report indicated the defendant had been operating the motor coach since approximately 7:30 p.m. on August 1st in the area of Los Angeles. Though the report did not indicate that Vasquez was on his cell phone at the time of the accident, evidence from cellular phone records show that he used his cell phone numerous times while driving the 49-passenger motor coach through California, including a call a few minutes before the fatal crash, Morse said.
The defendant’s log book, which is required for commercial drivers, indicated he had slept only 6.5 hours the previous day although cell phone records

contradict that he even slept that many hours, Morse said, noting that fatigue is believed to be a major factor in the crash. Surviving passengers described defendant Vasquez as looking tired or drowsy during travel and multiple drivers on Highway 99 in Merced County contacted investigators after the crash to report that the bus had been observed weaving shortly before the accident.
The defendant was licensed as a California Class B commercial driver and had reportedly driven buses for 30 years, Morse said. The misdemeanor violations stem from the defendant’s falsification of his daily log book, failure to keep accurate records and violating laws relating to maximum driving time for commercial drivers.
“Given their size and the potential dangers 18-wheelers and buses pose for other motorists, commercial drivers are appropriately held to the highest standards for safety under state law. Mr. Vasquez’s extreme fatigue, violations of commercial regulations and repeated use of a cell phone while entrusted with the care of passengers demonstrated a gross dereliction of the duty he owed not just to his passengers, but to every motorist on Highway 99 that morning,” Morse said.

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August 1 , 2017


Costa Joins Problem Solvers in Proposing Health Care Solutions

Washington, DC – The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of representatives working to find a path forward for responsible governance, put forward a proposal today to improve the health care system in the United States. Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) is a member of the caucus. One key component of the proposal focuses on stabilizing the individual health care market to help individuals, families, and small businesses afford high-quality care. The proposal also states the importance of improving patient choice and responsibility, creating incentives for health care providers to lower costs, and giving states more flexibility in their implementation of health care policy.

“We know that the Affordable Care Act has its problems, and in order to start fixing them, it is essential that we have predictability in our health care system,” said Congressman Costa. “We also know that the only way to provide real solutions and stable policy is through bipartisan efforts. In the Problems Solvers Caucus, we have come together – Democrats and Republicans – to provide a starting point for serious bipartisan discussions so we can provide the health care system the predictability it needs for all Americans to have stable access to high-quality, affordable health care.”


Congressman Jim Costa

The Problem Solvers Caucus wants its proposal to serve as the beginning of a bipartisan effort to address the weaknesses in the Affordable Care Act, focusing on areas where members of the caucus believe they can find a broader consensus to improve America’s health care system.

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July 29, 2017

Red Cross to distribute clean-up supplies to residents in Greeley Hills

FRESNO, Calif., July 28, 2017 — The American Red Cross of Central California will distribute clean-up materials for residents affected by the Detwiler Fire on Saturday, July 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or until supplies are exhausted.

The Red Cross plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet in the weeks and months after a disaster. Trained Red Cross caseworkers connect one-on-one with people to help them navigate what often can be a confusing, complicated and time-consuming world of disaster recovery.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided free of charge and is made possible by the voluntary donations of time and money from caring individuals and corporate partners.

You can help people affected by disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. For more information, contact the Red Cross public information line at 559-343-2549.

The Red Cross of the Central Valley thanks corporate partners PG&E, Wells Fargo and Chevron for their generosity and support of California Wildfire disaster relief.

HOW TO HELP

You can help people affected by disasters like California Wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text “RED CROSS” to 91999 to make a $10 donation to your local Red Cross region.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER

Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or sign up today at redcross.org/volunteer. In order to expedite your volunteer registration for this disaster response effort, select the Detwiler Fire opportunity when prompted in the application process. Email the local Red Cross Volunteer Services team at volunteer.centralca@redcross.org for more information.

LEARN MORE

Follow the local Red Cross on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates. Visit our website at redcross.org/centralcalifornia.

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July 29, 2017

FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE
TO STATE ROUTE 140/V STREET IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County— The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue to SR-140/V Street for sign work. Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays and seek alternate routes.
Work will occur as follows:
• Full highway closure on northbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for sign work;
• Full highway closure on southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to SR-140/V Street beginning Monday, July 31, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m. for sign work.
Additional construction activities include:
• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to East Atwater Boulevard in Atwater will close beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work;
• The #2 (right) lane on northbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to 16th Street in Merced will close beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for sign work;

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound SR-99 at East Atwater Boulevard will close beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work.

Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM RED TOP ROAD TO VASSAR AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 from Red top Road to Vassar Avenue for pavement work.

Work will begin Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Thursday, August 3, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

Teichert Corporation of Sacramento, CA, is performing the work under a $2.4 million contract.

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
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT TO THE DELTA MENDOTA CANAL IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 from the California Aqueduct near the San Luis Reservoir to the Delta Mendota Canal for maintenance work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on northbound and southbound SR-33 at both the California Aqueduct and the Delta Mendota Canal beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. for maintenance.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays at each location. 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.TRAFFIC ADVISORY

RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-99 in Merced to SR-33 in Gustine. Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-140 at V Street will close beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for curb, gutter and sidewalk work;
• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Virginia Street in the City of Merced to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Monday, July 31, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for pavement work;

• The #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes of eastbound and westbound SR-140 from SR-99 to Virginia Street in the City of Merced will alternately close beginning Sunday, July 30, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curb, gutter and sidewalk work.

Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the City of Merced to SR-33 in the City of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the City of Merced and move toward the City of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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July 29, 2017

 

 

Costa Introduces Legislation to Support Employment Training for SNAP Recipients

Washington, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced the Results Through Innovation Act of 2017 into the House of Representatives. If enacted, the legislation would bolster the federal funding for employment and training programs for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP employment and training programs (E & T) aim at helping SNAP recipients secure gainful employment through work-related education, job training, and job advancement classes so they can ultimately become self-sufficient.

“For years I have been following how pairing education and training programs with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has transformed people’s lives in the San Joaquin Valley, and we have seen the success of programs that focus on helping individuals find long-term employment and start real careers,” Rep. Costa said. “These types of programs help individuals raise themselves out of poverty and become self-reliant, which is good for the individuals, good for their families, good for our communities, and good for our nation.”

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized funding for the development, implementation, and evaluation of ten SNAP E & T pilot projects for three years in order to learn how to make SNAP E & T programs as effective as possible. One of these pilot projects built on existing programs at the Fresno Bridge Academy in Fresno, California, an organization that has been helping individuals find long-term employment and become self-reliant since 2010.

“For seven years now, we have demonstrated at the Fresno Bridge Academy that we can help SNAP beneficiaries lift themselves out of poverty, and we can do so while earning very positive returns for taxpayers,” said Pete Weber, Founder and Chair of the California Bridge Academies. “Congressman Costa’s bill will help millions of Americans lift themselves out of poverty while saving taxpayers billions of dollars in outlays for public assistance.”

The funding for the E & T pilot projects authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill ends in 2018, while funds for the grant program created in the Results Through Innovation Act of 2017 would become available in 2019. To help ensure grants fund SNAP E & T programs that are as efficient and successful as possible, the Results Through Innovation Act of 2017 states the E & T projects given grants should meet certain requirements. These requirements include increasing the short-term and long-term employment as well as income earnings for households receiving SNAP benefits, supporting a range of rural and urban areas, and providing support services to individuals to help enable them to participate in the program, such as transportation reimbursement and childcare.


Congressman Jim Costa

Costa Statement on Defeat of Bill to Repeal the ACA in Senate

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), co-chair of the fiscally-responsible Blue Dog Coalition, released the following statement about the U.S. Senate’s early morning vote to defeat the passage of theHealth Care Freedom Act, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

“By not passing the Health Care Freedom Act, the Senate has provided us with an opportunity to get back to the business of governing, and governing well. As I have said time and time again, the Affordable Care Act needs work, but the only way to fix the ACA is through real and workable bipartisan solutions. This means we must listen to experts in the field to identify the health care problems Americans face in their daily lives, the causes of these problems, and possible answers, and then we must work together – Democrats and Republicans – to construct a well-founded and serious policy solution. We know Congress can work this way. We saw it last December when the WIIN Act became law, and we saw it this week in the House of Representatives with the passage of the Forever GI Bill.

“We must stop the childish game of vengeful one-upmanship that has been consuming Washington for decades now, and start serious policy deliberation. I commend Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain for having the courage to break with their party on this highly-partisan issue, and I thank them for giving us the chance to govern well and get this right.

“As a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of representatives working to find a path forward for responsible governance, I have been part of an ongoing bipartisan effort to find real solutions for the problems with our current health care system. The next version of health care legislation must, at a minimum, do the following four things. First, it must create a permanent reinsurance program. Second, it must reduce copays and deductibles for low-income Americans by properly funding cost-sharing reduction payments. Third, it must promote coverage and ensure that everyone pays their fair share. And fourth, it must create more affordable options so all Americans have access to high-quality health care.

“The next piece of health care legislation that comes before Congress should contain these four components, and it must – it must – be a bipartisan effort. Only by joining together will we be able to make real and lasting improvements to our health care system. This is the good governance the American people want and deserve.”

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July 29, 2017

Central California’s Food Industry Connects with Top Buyers and Public
At Nation’s Largest Regional Food Show

Commerce Flourishes at the 2017 Fresno Food Expo, which Continues to Shape
Central California’s Food Industry, Culture and Experience

Fresno, California – July 27, 2017…The 2017 Fresno Food Expo brought together 142 of Central California’s finest food and beverage growers and manufacturers to showcase high quality local products to more than 650 pre-qualified regional, national and international foodservice and retail buyers matching products to market needs for increased sales. Additionally 16 Valley restauranteurs and celebrity chefs cooked up exhibitor-only dishes during the two-day show and over 1,100 members of the public joined the celebration of food, innovation and commerce found in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The Expo’s expanded exhibitor platform supplemented the food show with a year-round network of business growth opportunities and allowed for participating companies to connect with national and international food experts who believe in Central California’s vibrant food scene including: New York Times best-selling author Greg Lederman who shared strategies for effective leadership to increase team productivity; various exhibitor training sessions with topics like food safety, business acquisitions and branding in the digital era; an exclusive meeting between food writer, cook and Food Network TV personality Simon Majumdar and 35 regional restaurateurs and chefs who discussed the benefits of coming together to increase locally-crafted cuisine to expand the region’s position as the “Food Capital of the World” beyond farming and production – to a prideful food community and destination for the world to admire and savor; and “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert who led this year’s keynote address with remarks on consumer trends, the new retail environment and the role of Millennials and technology in our changing marketplace.

“The Expo is all about listening to the needs of our exhibitors and making meaningful connections to grow their businesses, expand collaborations and draw focus to celebrate Central California’s thriving food industry,” said David Nalchajian, General Manager, Fresno Food Expo. “The synergy experienced this year among exhibiting companies is unlike what we’ve seen before. You’ve heard the reference ‘the seven year itch.’ In the case of the Fresno Food Expo, our seventh year has unleashed opportunity for year-round enrichment for our exhibitors where they’ve been able to immediately utilize tools and put them to work as part of overall growth strategies. The regional food industry, national and international buyers and the public are coming together at an entirely different level, which is both exciting and humbling.”

To continue providing local food and beverage companies with top-tier connections, the Expo also focused on bringing quality, high-level buyers with great purchasing power to the show floor. To do so, a new software technology was implemented that required documentation to ensure only qualified decision-makers with buying authority had access to the business-to-business portion of the show. This new program, used at national and international industry trade shows, further elevated the value of the Expo and its place as a top-tier food show. Top buyers attending this year’s Expo included: Costco, Safeway, Walmart and Whole Foods.

Complementing the domestic buyers were 21 qualified international buyers from Central America, Mexico and Southeast Asia who attended the Expo to meet one-on-one with qualified fresh produce companies from the Valley and also the Western U.S. These one-on-one meetings were made possible through a partnership with the California Centers for Trade Development and the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association in an effort to increase exporting, not only in California, but the United States as a whole. The Expo also garnered the attention of 22 international export trading firms.

“Our region is known world-wide for the quality and variety of products found right in our backyard,” said Alicia Rios, Director, Center for International Trade Development, State Center Community College District. “When we received interest from numerous buyers all across the globe to attend the Fresno Food Expo during this season, it put into perspective just how lucky we are to live in a region where food and food production have endless possibilities. We are proud to help source international buyers for the Valley and equally proud to serve as a center for export training for all those interested in expanding their international footprint.”

The distinctive 2017 New Product Awards, presented by Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP, returned with the debut of 28 new products from 26 different Central California companies. This awards program provided Expo exhibitors an opportunity to enter their new food product, varietal or packaging concept to compete for the “Fresno Food Expo Buyer’s Choice Award” and the “Fresno Food Expo People’s Choice Award.” Strong company partnerships and product collaborations were an emerging trend amongst participating Expo companies. Products included almond butters, flavored nuts, seasonings, infused olive oils, craft beers and liquor, healthy snack packs and more.
The Buyer’s Choice Award first narrowed down the products to 10 finalists by a panel of marketing and food industry leaders at the New Product Awards Preview event, “Taste, Tally & Tweet,” on July 12, 2017. These 10 products then advanced to the Celebrity Judging Panel, where judging took place on creativity, presentation, packaging and marketability on July 26. The judging panel was comprised of professionals from retail, restaurant, foodservice and packaging industries including: the Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, who led the Expo’s keynote address; Direct Store Delivery Receiving Manager and Local Marketing Lead of Albertsons-Safeway Northern California Division, Sean Topping; and European Division Manager at leading custom packaging solutions company Landsberg Orora, Jim Jarosz. The 2017 New Product Awards Buyer’s Choice Award winners were: Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s Half Dome California Wheat in first place; ENZO Olive Oil’s ENZO Fresno Chili Crush in second place; and Busseto Foods’ California PartyPack-Wine Trail Edition in third place.

“We’ve been part of the Fresno Food Expo since the beginning using it as a catalyst to launch our brewery. Along the way we have recorded many successes with buyers and grown exponentially, but this year to win the Buyer’s Choice Award with our Half Dome Californian Wheat, our highest-selling beer, is incredible and will help propel this product even further,” said Mike Cruz, President, Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company. “It is such an honor to win a competition of this level, with the quality of products being showcased and remarkable innovation. Central California puts out some of the best products in the world.”
The 2017 People’s Choice Award, which is entirely determined by the public through online voting, logged 2,621 public votes during the July 13 – July 25 voting period via Facebook and the Fresno Food Expo website. The Brioche Lady received 661 total votes for their Purple Yam Brioche. The People’s Choice Award allows the public to share their thoughts as a consumer, voicing their opinion on what products standout from others in the marketplace. This year, Rosa Brothers Milk Company and Lanna Coffee Co.’s Cold Brew Coffee Milk took second; and Sun-Maid Growers of California’s Sour Strawberry Flavored Golden Raisins took third.
“We are passionate about food and creating a unique and authentic product,” said Leng Thao, Owner, The Brioche Lady. “Our Euro-Asian inspired brioche has been so well received by the public and we can’t thank everyone enough for voting. We are thrilled to turn this momentum into future growth and continue bringing a little bit of France to the Valley and even beyond.”

Returning to the Fresno Food Expo for its third year, the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award honors an innovative Valley-based food or beverage company that demonstrates exemplary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, all while being an exceptional community steward. Named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., this award recognizes companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. The 2017 Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award winner, ENZO Olive Oil, will also receive advice and mentoring for one year by Fred Ruiz and a team of food industry professionals.
During Expolicious, the Expo’s public event, attendees not only tasted, discovered and purchased product from the 142 participating exhibitors, but


they were treated to a culinary experience put on by 12 Valley restaurants who were connected with 2017 Fresno Food Expo exhibitors to create fresh and exciting menu items unique to the region, further promoting the importance of restaurants as a prime catalyst in stimulating the local economy and regional pride by choosing to locally-source their menus. Food writer, cook and Food Network TV personality Simon Majumdar was back again to taste and judge the delicious bites; his selected winners for this year were: Rev’s California Cuisine Braised Short Rib Tacos Braised in Tioga Sequoia 99 Golden Ale with ENZO Fresno Chili Crush Foam, Corona Cheese and PK Farms Micro Green finished with caviar limes for Most Creative;Bella Luna’s Farmer’s Market Salad with Sunnyland Mills Bulger Wheat and Quinoa, Traina Sundried Tomatoes, Fresno State Sweet Corn, Roasted Peppers, Arugula and ENZO Olive Oil, along with and Harris Ranch Beef Slider with BBQ Aioli, Deb’s Gourmet Sweet Smokey Jalapenos and Onion Strings for Best Use of Exhibitor Products; and The Painted Table’s Pork Cheek on Spanish Potatoes Braised in Tioga Sequoia Firefall Red and Tioga Sequoia 99 Golden Ale, paired with the Hibiscus Sour from House of Pendragon for Best Food & Beverage Pairing.

“The Fresno Food Expo showcases all the Valley has to offer in terms of products both fresh and finished; Expolicious and this restaurant competition turns the spotlight on creative people, people with passion who take these products and create unique dishes. These people, the chefs showcasing local products are the backbone of this big food movement that is taking place right now,” said Vinnie DeAngelo, Owner and Chef, Bella Luna Restaurant in Merced. “To win this award means everything. Simon Majumdar has judged the best chefs all around the world, so to have him here raving about our creations and our products brings validity to what we’re doing here.”

The Fresno Food Expo continues to be a strong economic development program for Central California companies as buyer numbers and purchasing power continues to grow, establishing our region as a global agricultural powerhouse.

Link to download photos from the 2017 Fresno Food Expo: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/5e4TnZZ4Gn

The 2017 Fresno Food Expo was made possible in part by the support of the following well-known Valley businesses that signed on as sponsors in support of the regional food show and its mission:


Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP
Bank of America
Busseto Foods
California Centers for International Trade Development
California Grown
California Restaurant Association Fresno Chapter
Campos Brothers Farms
Central California Kosher
Central Valley Community Bank
Central Valley Community Foundation
Certified Meat Products
Champion
City of Fresno
Cohen Communications
Coldwell Solar
Cru Winery
Der Manouel Insurance Group
ENZO Olive Oil Company
Fowler Packing
Fresno Yosemite International Airport
Got Milk
House of Pendragon
J&E Restaurant Supply
Johanson Transportation Service
KMJ NOW
Landsberg Orora
La Tapatia
Lyons
Meza Films
MJR Creative Group
Nationwide
Nichols Farms
Olam
Plasticel
Prima
Real California Milk
Rosa Brothers Milk Company Ruiz Foods
Saladino’s Foodservice
San Joaquin Valley Concentrates
Setton Farms
Shift 3 Technologies
Star
Sun-Maid
Sunnyland Mills
The Business Journal
The Fresno Bee
Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company
United States Cold Storage
Valley PBS
Valley Lahvosh
Wawona Frozen Foods
Wells Fargo

About Fresno Food Expo
Originally developed as an economic development initiative by the City of Fresno in 2011, the Expo has since emerged as the nation’s only exclusively regional food show bringing together growers, processors, manufacturers and industry service providers with buyers from around the world. Since its debut, the Expo has brought heightened awareness to the region’s food production industry as new, innovative businesses emerge and industry collaborations form as a direct result of the show. The Expo has introduced 305 different food and beverage companies to new customers and hosted 2,680 different qualified buyers, including over 100 strategically recruited international buyers. The Fresno Food Expo is a 501c6 nonprofit organization led by a 14-member Board of Directors, with current daily management services provided by Nalchajian Management Group.

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July 28 , 2017

Red Cross to close shelter at Mariposa Elementary

FRESNO, Calif., July 27, 2017 — The American Red Cross of Central California intends to close the evacuation shelter at Mariposa Elementary School on Friday, July 28 at 10:30 a..m.
The shelter opened on July 20 for residents who were evacuating due to the Detwiler Fire. Red Cross workers will still continue to assist those affected by the fire.
The Red Cross plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet in the weeks and months after a disaster. Trained Red Cross caseworkers connect one-on-one with people to help them navigate what often can be a confusing, complicated and time-consuming world of disaster recovery.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided free of charge and is made possible by the voluntary donations of time and money from caring individuals and corporate partners.
You can help people affected by disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. For more information, contact the Red Cross public information line at 559-343-2549.
The Red Cross of the Central Valley thanks corporate partners PG&E, Wells Fargo and Chevron for their generosity and support of California Wildfire disaster relief.

HOW TO HELP
You can help people affected by disasters like California Wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text “RED CROSS” to 91999 to make a $10 donation to your local Red Cross region.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or sign up today at redcross.org/volunteer. In order to expedite your volunteer registration for this disaster response effort, select the Detwiler Fire opportunity when prompted in the application process. Email the local Red Cross Volunteer Services team at volunteer.centralca@redcross.org for more information.
LEARN MORE
Follow the local Red Cross on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates. Visit our website at redcross.org/centralcalifornia.

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July 28 , 2017

BBB Offers Recovery Advice in
Wake of Detwiler Fire

Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties offers tips for hiring repair and cleanup services, along with donation advice for those affected.

MARIPOSA, Calif., July 24, 2017 - The Detwiler Fire is a wildfire that is burning in Mariposa County, California. According to Cal Fire, the blaze began Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 3:56 pm, and by Tuesday, July 18th, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency. As of July 24th, the fire was at 76,500 acres with 50 percent containment.
Though it's not known when this fire will end and how many total structures will be lost, it's important to know where to begin with the rebuilding process, and to avoid acting on emotion.
When hiring the right company to rebuild or repair your home or business, start with trust. BBB offers Business Reviews on thousands of different companies. BBB Business Reviews include important information like complaint history and details, customer reviews, licensing information, advertising concerns and important business contact information.
You don't only have to research when it comes to businesses, but also charities.
Large devastating fires like this can bring about many individuals willing to help those affected. Unfortunately, they can also bring about con artists looking to take advantage of the situation. Just like a business, it's important to do your research first before donating to charities or individuals. Don't make an on-the-spot decision, and always ask questions.
Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties offers the following advice to help you avoid untrustworthy businesses, and those soliciting for donations who may be looking to benefit themselves, rather than the victims:
When hiring a contractor after a devastating fire:
Be cautious
If a worker shows up on your doorstep and announces that your home is unsafe, someone offers a "too good to be true" deal, a worker claims they just finished a job down the street and have left-over materials, the contractor doesn't have a permanent place of business, the worker claims to be FEMA-certified, or if anyone asks for personal information like bank account or Social Security numbers.
Insurance
Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
Take your time
Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to sales solicitations. Make temporary repairs if necessary. Don't rush into decisions and don't automatically hire the first contractor who comes along.
For major repairs
Take time to shop around and get three estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references, verify licenses with the Contractors State Licensing Board, and read the company's BBB Business Review. Contractors working on a job-from debris removal to rebuilding-totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB.
Get it in writing
Make sure you get a written contract from anyone you hire. It should specify the work to be done, the materials to be used and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranties on materials or labor. Be sure their name, address, license number and phone number along with a start and end date for the work are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety and don't sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract is to be given to you when you sign. Monitor the progress of the project and keep a paper trail of all documents.

Payment
Never pay full price in advance and do not pay cash. Establish a payment schedule. Do not make a final payment until you are satisfied with the completed work. On their website, CSLB states no more than 10 percent down or $1,000 --- whichever is less. Don't let the payments get ahead of the work.

When searching for a charity:
Be cautious when giving online
Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages, emails, and social media pages that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity's website.
Rely on an expert opinion
Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they may not have fully researched the relief organizations they list. The public can go to www.give.org to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet its 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Be wary of "100 percent donations" claims
Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting fire victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. It may use some of its other funds to pay these costs, but the expenses will still be incurred.
On-the-ground presence
Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly. See if the charity's website clearly describes what the charity can do to address immediate needs.
Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups
Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider "avoiding the middleman" and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region, or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to see whether they are equipped to provide aid effectively.
Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations
In-kind drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need --- unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
Crowdfunding sites
Crowdfunding is a method of raising money from a large group of people, typically via the Internet. If you're thinking about donating to a fire relief appeal on a crowdfunding site, make sure to ask questions. Does the organizer have a connection with the victim? How do they plan to use the funds? If the organizer is not responsive or not willing to offer a lot of detail, that is a red flag. BBB Wise Giving Alliance notes that crowdfunding websites call for varying degrees of information in order for appeals to be set up, and may take fund raising pages down when questions are raised that can't be substantiated. However, those requirements alone won't prevent all fraud. Crowdfunding website campaigns can do a lot of good, and raise a lot of money, but make sure you do your homework before contributing.
For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org/ccie

ABOUT BBB:
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at
bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties
which was founded in 1950 and serves Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Tulare, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

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July 28 , 2017

2017 New Product Award Winners Announced By
Nation’s Largest Regional Food Show “The Fresno Food Expo”
Buyer’s Choice, People’s Choice And Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award Winners Announced
At Exclusive “Pairings” Event In The Midst Of Registered Buyers, Sponsors And Celebrity Chefs

Fresno, California – July 26, 2017…The Board of Directors of the Fresno Food Expo were honored to announce the winners of the 2017 New Product Awards, presented by Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP, and the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s Half Dome California Wheat was presented with the Buyers Choice Award, followed by ENZO Olive Oil’s ENZO Fresno Chili Crush in second place and Busseto Foods’ California PartyPack-Wine Trail Edition in third place. The People’s
Choice was awarded to The Brioche lady for their Purple Yam Brioche and the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award was presented to ENZO Olive Oil.
The Fresno Food Expo Board of Directors; David Nalchajian, General Manager of the Fresno Food Expo; Erin Goldfarb, Partner with Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP; and Fred Ruiz, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Ruiz Foods along with other participating Expo guests presented the awards at the opening reception, “Parings” on the evening of Wednesday July 26, 2017 at the Fresno Convention Center among a room full of pre-registered buyers and sponsors. The festive evening also featured live cooking stations hosted by the region’s leading food producers and manufacturers whose products were the highlighted cuisine prepared by local restaurant and celebrity chefs from Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant, Max’s Bistro & Bar, Trelio Restaurant, The Painted Table and Pardini’s Catering. The Pairings event offered an early opportunity to make meaningful connections for those in attendance.
This year’s New Products Awards included 28 innovative products, varietals and packaging concepts that were entered from 26 different Central California businesses. Now in its fifth year, the New Product Awards has become a strategic opportunity for participating businesses to launch new products in front of buyers, secure product placement in stores, restaurants and foodservice distribution channels, in addition to testing immediate consumer marketplace feedback. To date more than 160 new products have been entered into the Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards. The Expo aims to provide an exciting new product platform for participating exhibitors, that highlights the region’s large breadth of value-added, specialty and fresh food products, as well as packaging concepts from throughout Central California’s 8-county San Joaquin Valley.
“The New Product Award entries and winners for 2017 are a shining example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the more than 400 different commodities and 2,500 growers and manufacturers that feed one third of our nation every day,” said David Nalchajian, General Manager of the Fresno Food Expo. “From healthy snack foods, innovative packaging to trending spirits, nuts, teas, cold brew coffee milk, infused olive oils and so much more – Central California’s thriving food industry is one to be nationally recognized and celebrated.”
All products entered into the New Product Awards competed for two distinctive awards: the Buyer’s Choice and the People’s Choice. The Buyer’s Choice Award was reviewed, ranked and narrowed down to 10 finalists by a panel of marketing and food industry leaders at the New Product Awards Preview event, “Taste, Tally & Tweet,” on July 12, 2017. These 10 products advanced to the Celebrity Judging Panel, where judging took place on creativity, presentation, packaging and marketability on July 26. The judging panel was comprised of professionals from retail, restaurant, foodservice and packaging industries including: the Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, who led the Expo’s keynote address; world-renown Chef Erna Kubin- Clanin, Owner of 5-star Erna’s Elderberry House and Chateau du Sureau; Direct Store Delivery Receiving Manager and Local Marketing Lead of Albertsons-Safeway Northern California Division, Sean Topping; and European Division Manager at leading custom packaging solutions company Landsberg Orora, Jim Jarosz.
The following companies were finalists in the Buyer’s Choice Award category: Busseto Foods’ California
PartyPack – Wine Trail Edition; Cardella Winery’s 2014 Barbera Reserve; Pappy’s Fine Foods’ Steak ‘N Grill Seasoning; Enzo Olive Oil’s ENZO Fresno Chili Crush; Jasper Specialty Foods’ Bloody Mary Almonds; L.T. Sue Company’s Ho Tai Chai; Rosa Brothers Milk Company and Lanna Coffee Co.’s Cold Brew Coffee Milk; Sun-Maid Growers of California’s Sour Strawberry Flavored Golden Raisins; The Brioche Lady’s Purple Yam Brioche; and Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s Half Dome California Wheat. Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s Half Dome California Wheat was presented with the Buyers Choice Award, followed by ENZO Olive Oil’s ENZO Fresno Chili Crush in second place and Busseto Foods’ California PartyPack-Wine Trail Edition in third place.
The 2017 People’s Choice Award, which is entirely determined by the public through online voting and applicant marketing to encourage voter participation, logged 2,621 public votes during the July 13 – July 25 voting period via Facebook and the Fresno Food Expo website. The Brioche Lady received 661 total votes for their Purple Yam Brioche. The People’s Choice Award allows the public to share their thoughts as a consumer, voicing their opinion on what products standout from others in the marketplace. This year Rosa
Brothers Milk Company and Lanna Coffee Co.’s Cold Brew Coffee Milk took second; Lanna Coffee Cold Brew and Sun-Maid Growers of California’s Sour Strawberry Flavored Golden Raisins took third.
Returning to the Fresno Food Expo for its third year, the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award, named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., recognizes Valley-based food or beverage companies that
demonstrate exemplary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, all while being an exceptional community steward. The judged essay application recognizes companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. ENZO Olive Oil, the 2017 Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award winner will also receive advice and mentoring for one year by Fred Ruiz and a team of food industry professionals.
The Fresno Food Expo trade show will open its doors to pre-registered local, regional, national and international buyers to see, taste and discover the diverse food and beverage products grown and manufactured in the Central California region from the pre-registered 142 exhibitors. This closed business-to business portion will take place from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27.
Expolicious, the Expo’s public event will begin at 5:00 p.m. that evening. The public will be able to taste, discover and purchase a wide range of locally-produced food, wine and spirits from their favorite exhibitors onsite. Additionally, Expolicious will feature 12 local restaurateurs who will be cooking up hand-crafted hors d’oeuvres and beverages, using ingredients from 2017 Fresno Food Expo exhibitors! For the second year, restaurateurs will be judged on their creations by food writer, cook and Food Network TV Personality Simon Majumdar who will name the top creation in the following categories: Best Use of Exhibitor Product, Best Pairing, and Most Creative Item. This year’s participating restaurants include: Bella Luna Bistro, Limón Peruvian Cuisine, Piazza Del Pane, PressBox Sports Grill, Quesadilla Gorilla, REV’s Californian Cuisine, Riley’s Brew Pub, Sam’s Italian Deli, Tazzaria, The Painted Table, Vino Grille & Spirits and Ampersand Ice Cream.
Tickets for Expolicious are $50 and available for purchase at www.FresnoFoodExpo.com until 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27 (the day of the event). If not sold out, tickets will be available at the Convention Center
will-call window located on M Street. New this year, the Expo has added a mobile app component. Exhibitors, sponsors, buyers and the public can search “Fresno Food Expo 2017” in the app store and download this new tool to conveniently view all details about the Fresno Food Expo such as exhibitor listings, schedule of events, map of show floor, social media feeds and more. For more information on the Fresno Food Expo visit www.FresnoFoodExpo.com.

 

About Fresno Food Expo
Originally developed as an economic development initiative by the City of Fresno in 2011, the Expo has since emerged as the nation’s only exclusively regional food show bringing together growers, processors,
manufacturers and industry service providers with buyers from around the world. Since its debut, the Expo has brought heightened awareness to the region’s food production industry as new, innovative businesses emerge and industry collaborations form as a direct result of the show. The Expo has introduced 305 different food and beverage companies to new customers and hosted 2,680 different qualified buyers, including over 100 strategically recruited international buyers. The Fresno Food Expo is a 501c6 nonprofit organization led by a 14-member Board of Directors, with current daily management services provided by David Nalchajian, Inc.


2017 Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award


Buyers Choice Award


The 2017 People’s Choice Award

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July 27 , 2017

The Bus to provide free service in August

MERCED– The Bus invites members of the community to “try The Bus on us” during the month of August! Starting August 1 through August 31, The Bus will offer FREE service on all fixed routes countywide. By riding public transit, residents can help reduce congestion and save money.
"We are excited to be able to offer free fixed route service again this year,” said Rich Green, Transit Manager. “We hope to encourage people who've never ridden the bus to give it a try to see if they can make our service work for them.” This free service program is made possible through funding from the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP).
The 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. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.
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.

 

 

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July 27 , 2017

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Tuesday, August 1, 2017
MERCED TO JOIN CITIES NATIONWIDE FOR
“AMERICA’S NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME”

On Tuesday, August 1st , neighborhoods throughout Merced are being invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the “34th Annual National Night Out” crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out, which is sponsored by the Merced Police Department, will involve over 16,728 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In all, over 38.3 million people are expected to participate in “America’s Night Out Against Crime”.
National Night Out is designed to: (1) Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; (2) Generate support for and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; (3) Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police community partnerships; and (4) Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Click here to see flyer


From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1st , residents in neighborhoods throughout Merced and across the nation, are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. Many neighborhoods throughout Merced will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, parades, visits from police, flashlight walks, contests, youth activities and anti-crime rallies.
Merced’s main National Night Out event will be held at Applegate Park, from
6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Tuesday, August 1st . The event is free to the public. The National Night Out Celebration will include over 40 vendors featuring free food, free Kiddieland rides, music, raffle prizes and public safety displays and information.
For information call Eugene Drummond, Merced Police Department Community Liaison at 385-6297.

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July 27 , 2017

Red Cross assistance continues for victims of Detwiler Fire

FRESNO, Calif., July 26, 2017 — The American Red Cross workers are conducting client casework and distributing cleaning supplies for residents impacted by the Detwiler Fire.
Red Cross caseworkers are available Thursday, July 27 and Friday, July 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Motherlode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Dr., Sonora, CA 95370
Red Cross caseworkers are available Thursday, July 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Mariposa Elementary School, 5044 Jones St., Mariposa, CA 95338
Residents seeking assistance are asked to bring proof of residency. It is not mandatory, but it will help speed up the process.
For more information, contact the Red Cross public information line at 559-343-2549.
The Red Cross plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet in the weeks and months after a disaster. Trained Red Cross caseworkers connect one-on-one with people to help them navigate what often can be a confusing, complicated and time-consuming world of disaster recovery.
Red Cross emergency response vehicles are distributing meals and snacks, clean-up kits (mop, broom, gloves, disinfectant, tarps, and sifters) to residents who have returned to their homes to assess damage and begin the recovery phase.

HOW TO HELP
You can help people affected by disasters like California Wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text “RED CROSS” to 91999 to make a $10 donation to your local Red Cross region.

 


HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or sign up today at redcross.org/volunteer. In order to expedite your volunteer registration for this disaster response effort, select the Detwiler Fire opportunity when prompted in the application process. Email the local Red Cross Volunteer Services team at volunteer.centralca@redcross.org for more information.
LEARN MORE
Follow the local Red Cross on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates. Visit our website at redcross.org/centralcalifornia.

About the American Red Cross Central California Region
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross Central California Region provides services to the ten counties across Central California that is home to more than 4 million people. For more information, please visit www.redcross.or
g

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July 27 , 2017

CHARGES FILED AGAINST WOMAN IN CONNECTION
WITH FATAL CRASH

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office filed felony charges today against 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez of Stockton following a single car accident on July 21 in Los Banos that claimed the life of Sanchez’s 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline Sanchez and injured another 14-year-old passenger. The case has garnered international attention as a result of Sanchez livestreaming her actions on social media immediately prior to and after the accident.
Sanchez has been charged with one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of penal code section 191.5(a), an alternative count of gross vehicular manslaughter in violation of penal code section 192(c)(1), two counts of driving under the influence resulting in injury in violation of vehicle code section 23153(a), and two counts of driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury in violation of vehicle code 23153(b), with great bodily injury allegations for all four vehicle code violations, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt.

Sanchez will be arraigned by video at the Merced Superior Court, Los Banos at 1:15 p.m.
She faces a maximum sentence of 13 years, eight months in state prison if she is convicted of these charges.
“The behavior demonstrated both prior to and after the incident, as documented by the defendant’s own recording, is disturbing and shocking,” said Nutt. “The Merced County District Attorney’s Office will do everything in its power to see that justice is done in this matter,” he added.
Further investigation will take place and the District Attorney’s office is not ruling out the possibility of additional charges, Nutt added.

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July 27 , 2017

 

Costa Voices Valley Concerns at Agriculture Committee NAFTA Hearing

Washington, DC – Today the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing regarding protecting and promoting the agriculture sector during the anticipated renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. NAFTA is an economic and trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and the value of U.S. agricultural trade has increased dramatically since the agreement took effect in 1994. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) focused his time at the hearing on issues critical for the agriculture sector in the San Joaquin Valley, namely trade, labor, and immigration.

“California leads the country in agricultural revenue, and our producers are twice as reliant on foreign trade as the rest of the United States,” said Congressman Costa. “NAFTA partners – Mexico and Canada – account for 22% of California’s agricultural export. In 2015, for that year, Mexico accounted for $3.5 billion in agricultural trade, Canada $1.1 billion. And I just think it’s inaccurate to say that when you look over the last 20 years, in any objective criteria that you measure it by, that it’s been a disaster. It hasn’t.”

Rep. Costa also asked the panel of experts testifying before the committee, “Is there any chance that a renegotiated agreement could lead to improved conditions for migrant agricultural workers – [of] which we are in short supply in the United States – or is it more likely that the labor force will relocate to Mexico if the agreement boosts economic productivity there?” The panel responded with uncomfortable laughter, and one expert muttered, “I don’t know.” Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of the USDA who represented the dairy industry during the hearing, then said the U.S.’s broken immigration system is impacting and affecting dairy production. Costa replied, “It’s affecting all of agriculture.”

Congressman Costa ended his questioning with, “Who was the big winner, in your opinion, when we walked away from TPP?” There was a consensus on the panel that China won, with Vilsack stating that the European Union also won with regards to dairy products.

The agricultural products traded the most among NAFTA countries include meat and dairy products as well as fruits, tree nuts, and vegetables. These are the most produced agricultural commodities in the San Joaquin Valley and central to the area’s economy.


Congressman Jim Costa

Costa Joins in Bipartisan Support for Forever GI Bill

Washington, DC – Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. The legislation is the largest update to the GI Bill since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, making extensive changes to the education benefits provisions. The bill is referred to as the “Forever GI Bill” due to its elimination of the 15 year deadline by which veterans must use their education benefits. In addition to allowing veterans access to their GI education benefits for life, the Forever GI Bill extends benefits granted under the Post-9/11 GI Bill to all Purple Heart recipients and to reservists and those in the national guard who served next to active duty troops, but who themselves were not technically active duty troops. The legislation also increases the amount dependents of veterans can receive in education benefits, which is one of the first significant increases to this benefit in decades.

“Our servicemen, servicewomen, and their families sacrifice so much to keep us safe and to protect our freedom, we must do everything we can to honor their sacrifice and commitment,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who cosponsored the legislation. “Yesterday the House of Representatives showed us how Congress can and should function, foregoing political posturing and coming together to pass well-crafted, bipartisan legislation. I hope to see the Forever GI bill pass through the U.S. Senate and be signed into law so our veterans and their families can get the benefits they deserve.”

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 has strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, including 121 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. The bill passed by a unanimous voice vote in the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on July 19th. It is supported by over 25 veterans service organizations and higher education organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), The American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and Student Veterans of America (SVA).

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July 26, 2017

Three officers sworn in to Merced PD

Merced Police Chief Norman Andrade swore in three new officers Friday afternoon during ceremonies held before family and friends in the City Council Chambers.

The new officers are :

Taylor Rocha, 25, from Merced. Badge No. 258. He’s a father, stepfather and brother. In 2011 he was a College All-American in water polo. A former Marine Corps sergeant, he won a heavy machine gun competition.

Spencer Aguire, 24, from Merced. Badge No. 259 He’s a graduate of the Fresno Police Academy. Aguire is married and the father of two sons. The former Marine Corps corporal enjoys quadcopters and playing Xbox and PlayStation games in his off hours.

Myles Richter, 27, from Atwater. Badge No. 260. He’s an Atwater High School graduate who also graduated from the Fresno Police Academy. He is married with one son.

The Department now has 91 sworn personnel and is budgeted for 98. The pay for police officers is $5,42 to $6,129 a month.

 

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July 26, 2017

Students Learn to Lift While They Lead

Dozens of students are celebrating the completion of a program that aims to change lives through positive experiences, meaningful mentorships, and strong support systems. It’s called the Lift While You Lead Empowerment Project and is part of the Merced City School District’s Summer Academy. This is the third group of girls to complete the program and the first year it has been offered for boys. On Thursday, the participants took part in a closing ceremony at UC Merced, but their journey is just beginning.
The program helps students increase their self-esteem and improve academics, discipline, and attendance. It also promotes higher education and encourages the students to become leaders in their schools and community. The four week course included classroom activities at Reyes Elementary School and excursions to places such as UC Santa Cruz. The group also took a trip to Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch in Mariposa, where the students conquered a ropes course more than 30 feet above the ground by supporting one another.
The Lift While You Lead Empowerment Project is made possible thanks to collaboration between multiple agencies. The participants are all Merced City School District middle school students. Their teachers, Annie Delgado and Sam Parker, work for the Merced Union High School District and will continue to interact with the students and track their progress throughout their high school years. The participants are also mentored by students from UC Merced and Golden Valley High School. Field trips are funded through the Educational Employees Credit Union.
This program has had proven success in a number of ways. The inaugural class members raised their combined grade point average from 2.8 to 3.26. Several of the participants have also gone on to shine individually. Ms. Delgado says, “We have two young ladies who just graduated from Hoover Middle School who delivered their commencement speeches. We had one student who was recognized as the ‘Comeback Kid’ because she completely turned it around. We had two other ladies at Tenaya Middle School deliver their commencement speeches, and another student recognized as the ‘Ultimate Warrior.’”
During Thursday’s closing ceremony, the students each spoke about the impact Lift While You Lead has had on their lives, and they performed an uplifting dance for their family and friends.








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July 26, 2017

FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE TO STATE ROUTE 59/MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR WAY IN THE CITY OF MERCED

Merced — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound State Route 99 (SR-99) SR-99/Martin Luther King Junior Way for sign work.
Crews will work beginning Monday, July 24 through Thursday, July 27, 2017 from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Motorist should expect 20 minute delays.
Additional construction activities include:
• Full highway closure on southbound SR-99 from Martin Luther King Junior Way to SR-140/V Street in Merced beginning Thursday, July 27, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work;
• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to Shaffer Road in Atwater will close beginning Wednesday, July 26, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work and striping;
• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue at Atwater Boulevard will close beginning Wednesday, July 26, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work.

• A moving closure on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to the Merced/Stanislaus County line beginning Monday, July 24, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for lane striping.

Motorists should expect 10-20 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT TO THE DELTA MENDOTA CANAL IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 from the California Aqueduct near the San Luis Reservoir to the Delta Mendota Canal for maintenance work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on northbound and southbound SR-33 at both the California Aqueduct and the Delta Mendota Canal beginning Sunday, July 23, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. for maintenance.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays at each location. 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
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 in Gustine to SR-99 in Merced. Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-140 at V Street will close beginning Sunday, July 23, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping;
• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Virginia Street in the City of Merced to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Monday, July 24, 2017, through Friday, July 28, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for pavement work;

• The #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes of eastbound and westbound SR-140 from SR-99 to Virginia Street in the City of Merced will alternately close beginning Sunday, July 23, 2017, through Friday, July 28 , 2017, from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for pavement marker replacement.

Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the City of Merced to SR-33 in the City of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the City of Merced and move toward the City of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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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July 26 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE’S FISHMAN NAMED
STATE’S OUTSTANDING AG TEACHER FOR 2017

In his 20 years teaching at Merced College, Darol Fishman said he’s never missed one of the California Agriculture Teachers Association’s annual conferences.
The Ag community is a small, tight-knit group and the conference affords Fishman the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. As special as the event has been to Fishman, the 2017 version promises to be one he’ll never forget.
Fishman, who teaches mechanized agriculture, diesel technology and welding technology at Merced College, received the Don Wilson Memorial award as the state’s Outstanding Ag Teacher. The award is presented annually to outstanding agricultural education teachers with at least 20 years of experience for their participation and leadership in civic, community, agriculture/agribusiness and professional activities.
“If you look at the list of people presented this award over the years, it’s very humbling,” Fishman said. “They hold it at our annual Ag Teachers Conference in San Luis Obispo. I was up on the stage and they were talking about their usual mumbo jumbo and I received a standing ovation. I was deeply touched. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Fishman was accompanied by his wife, Teresa, and sons, Daniel and David, as well as the entire Merced College Agriculture Department. He just completed his 34th year of teaching and 20th at the College.
While being singled out by his peers was special enough, Fishman’s tie to the award’s namesake made it even more sentimental.
“It’s named the Don Wilson award, because he was a very instrumental person in our profession,” Fishman said. “What’s really kind of cool about that, is I do what I do because of my high school Ag teacher (Bill King). Well, Don Wilson was my Ag teacher’s Ag teacher out at Petaluma High School. So things have kind of come full circle.”


Darol Fishman


It’s a big month for Fishman, who is about to participate in Iron Man Santa Rosa at the end of July.
“I have a great gig,” Fishman said. “Students pay money to come here learn some fun things and the school pays me to go out and play with big Tonka toys while teaching them. I’m so thankful in 1997 that I made the choice to come here.”

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July 26, 2017

Scott McBride to head up City’s Development Services

Scott McBride has been named the City of Merced’s Director of Development Services effective Aug. 14. He will oversee the Planning, Housing and the Building Divisions.

“Scott is a heavy hitter who will consistently knock it out of the park,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He has more than two decades of experience in planning, economic development and city administration. We have a fantastic team, and Scott is a great addition.”

McBride will be leaving the City of Atwater as the Community Development Director. Over the past six months, he has served as the Director as well as the Interim City Manager. In that period he also oversaw Recreation and Community Services.

“I’m looking forward to coming to Merced. There are a lot of exciting, transformative projects that are on-going, projects like High Speed Rail, ACE (Altamont Commuter Express), UC Merced collaborations, new Downtown developments” McBride said.

“It’s not often that one gets an opportunity to work on so many unique projects like these in a career.”
“My wife and I have roots here in Merced County, this is our home,” he said. “We have a strong sense of community pride. I am happy to be able to offer my skills and abilities to help make the community even better.”

The Ferrari Ranch Project, an annexation of 359 acres and a 160-acre business park master plan, was a project he guided from the draft environmental review process through the application stage for annexation approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

He led the Atwater City-County Property Tax Sharing Agreement negotiations and implementation, and implemented a Sales Tax Sharing ordinance. He also worked with Public Safety and the Council to acquire two fire command vehicles, two police vehicles and replacement firearms for Atwater.

McBride has experience working on the Housing Element required by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. He previously acquired 10 acres of property for low and moderate income affordable housing.
To encourage development in Atwater to continue, McBride implemented a system that deferred developer impact fees. He also assisted on grants and studies to improve traffic and pedestrian safety in the community.

McBride facilitated the refinancing of waste water bonds that will help ratepayers save approximately $13 million.
The debt of a Mello-Roos District was retired after McBride helped sell 29 acres of commercial property to a private developer.
That same land was later entitled for a 249,000 sf shopping center. He also worked to transfer two parking lots from the former Atwater Redevelopment Agency to the City so that there would continue to be adequate parking in the downtown.

The Atwater ordinance supporting commercial marijuana activities and Proposition 64 workshops were conducted under his direction.

He has served as a director of economic development and special projects, administrative analyst, economic development coordinator, enterprise zone coordinator, and planning technician.


Scott McBride


An Atwater High graduate, he has a Master’s of Public Administration with distinction from CSU Stanislaus and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz.

He has previously served on the Atwater Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has participated in Leadership Merced – Class 16.

McBride and his wife, Jennifer have two daughters, Gwynne - 17 and Erin - 16. His wife is a full time faculty member at Merced College teaching English Composition. His oldest daughter is headed to CSU Monterey Bay and will be playing DII water polo for the Otters. His youngest will start her Junior year at Buhach Colony High School.

In his spare time he supports his daughters’ aquatics adventures taking them to practices, going to meets, and tournaments.
He also is president of the Merced Skimmers Board of Directors and the Buhach Colony High School Aquatics Boosters.
He like to play golf and is an avid home brewer.

McBride will make $146,000 annually.

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July 26 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE AND THE NAACP TEAM UP FOR COLLEGE NIGHT

Merced College and the Merced NAACP branch are teaming up to host a College Night for the residents of South Merced on July 27.
NAACP President Darryl Davis said that Merced College has served the Merced area for more than 50 years and has been the backbone of this community for years, and it’s one of the reasons he wanted the two organizations to team up.
“One of the things I heard when I took over as president was that the NAACP wasn’t involved enough in the community,” Davis said. “So the last few years, we’ve been focused on teaming up with like-minded organizations, such as Merced College, that understand the importance of education.
“One of the things we’re really pushing is literacy, because too many kids in this community can’t read at the level that they should. Hopefully this is an event that the community will be interested in and will help spread that message.”
The event is open to anyone interested in attending college now or in the future and will run from 5-7 p.m. at McNamara Park. The College will provide snacks, information on the many programs it offers, how to register and will provide financial aid information.
The Associated Students of Merced College (ASMC) will also be in attendance, offering free game tickets to Merced College football’s home tilt with San Jose City on September 9. Participants will also receive a free meal voucher for the concession stand on the day of the game.
“We were approached by the NAACP about hosting an event,” said Acting Dean of Student Services Raul Alcalá. “Our hope is to take Merced College out into the community and show kids, both young and old, that it’s accessible.

“The event is open to all ages, but those who are considering attending in the fall will be given free bus passes to our Extreme Registration event, which is happening on July 29.”
Extreme Registration is a one-stop enrollment program that provides prospective students with an opportunity to fill out an application, go through orientation, take an assessment test, get an ID card, meet with a counselor, and select and register for classes in one day. Extreme Registration is set for July 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both the Merced and Los Banos campuses.
Alcalá said the events are among the first that Merced College intends to host in partnership with a number of community groups throughout the Merced area.
For more information on College Night, call Anne Dicarlo, director of the Office of Relations with Schools, at 209.386.6608. For information about Extreme Registration, call 209.384.6030.


FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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July 26, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Opposes Tax Plagued Cap-and-Trade Proposal

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement today after opposing renewal of the State Air Resources Board’s Cap-and-Trade program:

“Climate change is an immediate and significant threat to our planet, but AB 398 disproportionately impacts the poorest Californians, many of whom live in my district, while leaving clean energy sources like hydro out of the equation.

If you live and work in the Central Valley, you have a different attitude toward rising fuel and energy costs than our neighbors along the coast. Studies have demonstrated that our fuel and housing costs as a proportion of income are already greater than even the Bay Area. The Assembly, Senate, and the Administration had the opportunity to address some of these inequities but failed to do so.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Office, the renewed Cap-and-Trade plan will raise gas prices by nearly $1 per gallon. My constituents are tired of bearing the brunt of policies that leave the most economically disadvantaged behind.


Since Assembly Bill 32 was passed more than ten years ago, Sacramento has failed to make good on promises to invest in disadvantaged communities. Instead, Cap-and-Trade has served as a tax on the working families of Merced, Ceres, Los Banos and communities like them. It has increased the price of gasoline and energy which has a disproportionate impact on people living in the hot summers and cold winters of inland California. All the while, the temperate coast is spared higher utility bills while driving electric cars subsidized by the state.

I will continue to fight for the Valley to receive its fair share. As a region, we must continue to make our voices heard. We cannot, and will not, sit idly by as special interests let political ideology trump good policy. California has promised to be a leader on climate change, but we are leading down a path no one will follow.”

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July 26, 2017


Costa Supports Defense Authorization Act

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, by a vote of 344 to 81. The legislation outlines the budget and authorizes expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense for the upcoming fiscal year. The Energy and State Departments also have defense-related programs authorized in the bill.

Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who voted for the legislation, said shortly after the vote, “Keeping Americans safe is a goal we all share in the House of Representatives, and we saw that today with the overwhelming bipartisan support for the National Defense Authorization Act. It’s no secret that we in Congress have been struggling to pass, or even vote on, spending, authorization, and budget bills, and I am glad that we were able to come together today to pass this very important piece of legislation.”

Included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is $141.9 billion for troop pay, bonuses, and benefits, which includes $206.4 million to cover a 2.4 percent pay increase for military personnel.


Congressman Jim Costa

“It’s imperative that we provide our servicemen, servicewomen, and their families the resources they need,” Rep. Costa continued. “They sacrifice so much to protect our country and our freedom, and we must honor their commitment to our nation.”

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July 13, 2017

MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS TO HOLD PUBLIC WORKSHOPS FOR
MERCED COUNTY REGIONAL VISION

MERCED, CA: The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) will hold a series of workshops to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the Merced County Regional Vision – a collaborative effort between the County of Merced and the Cities of Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Los Banos and Merced. Merced County Regional Vision will provide the framework for investment in roads, freeways, public transit like buses, bike trails and other ways people move around our County through 2042. It will also include a plan to accommodate the region's future housing needs and comply with the State mandated legislation to reduce greenhouse gases (SB375).
“We have a great opportunity to plan for our how we will move people and goods throughout the County – especially now that we have successfully passed Measure V,” said MCAG Deputy Executive Director Stacie Dabbs. “The workshops will give participants an opportunity to learn more about the planning process and weigh in on priorities for investments.”

 

Workshops

Los Banos
Monday, July 17, 2017
6:00 – 8:00 PM
City of Los Banos
City Council Chambers
520 J Street, Los Banos

Livingston
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
6:00 – 8:00 PM
City of Livingston
City Council Chambers
1416 C Street, Livingston

Merced
Thursday, July 20, 2017
6:00 – 8:00 PM
City of Merced
City Council Chambers
678 West 18th St, Merced

For more information please visit our project website www.MercedRegionalVision.com or the Merced County Association of Governments website www.MCAGov.org

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July 13, 2017

Costa Joins Valadao in Continuing Efforts to Secure Water for California

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, by a vote of 230 to 190. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (CA-21), aims at increasing the amount, quality, and reliability of water available to communities in the Central Valley of California. A large portion of the bill focuses on modifying policies regarding the operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project and the implementation of the San Joaquin River Settlement.

Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was the only Democrat to cosponsor the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, although he raised concerns regarding specific provisions contained within the legislation. “I support moving this legislation through the House as an important first step for addressing California’s broken water system,” Congressman Costa stated. “However, improvements to this bill need to be made if it is going to provide the long-term solutions we so badly need in the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of California. We must protect the Grasslands Ecological Area, an area that contributes nearly $73,000,000 to Merced County’s economy, and we cannot allow drastic cuts to the Central Valley Project’s Restoration Fund as currently proposed in the bill.”

In addition to cosponsoring the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, Costa proposed two amendments to strengthen the bill coming out of the House, both of which also passed today. The first amendment authorizes a study for increasing the amount of mountain runoff water captured by Central Valley Project reservoirs, and the second authorizes a study to evaluate the natural groundwater system in California to identify areas with the greatest recharge potential. Rep. Costa explained, “In order to fix California’s water system, we must approach the issue from multiple angles, which includes using more effectively the resources and tools we already have, such as forest management, watershed restoration, increased surface and subsurface storage, and increased groundwater recharge.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

Costa continued, “After decades of working to secure water for California’s Central Valley, I can say with certainty that the only way we are going to continue to make progress towards a long-term solution here is by working together – All of us: both parties, both chambers. I stand ready to work with my fellow members of Congress in the House and Senate to improve this bill so we can get a bipartisan solution signed into law.”

Congressman Costa has been working on California water issues since his time in the California State Legislature, where he was first elected in 1978. Costa serves on the Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and he was a key player in getting the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) passed in the House of Representatives in December 2016.

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July 12 , 2017

ENROLL IN CLASSES AT MERCED COLLEGE
THROUGH ‘EXTREME REGISTRATION’

Students wishing to enroll for fall semester classes at Merced College will have a unique opportunity to complete the registration process with the convenience of “one-stop shopping.”
The Extreme Registration event will be held on Saturday, July 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both the Merced and Los Banos campuses. The College will provide lunch and beverages for all participants.
Prospective students will be able to complete any of the steps to registration, including filing out an application, going through orientation, taking the assessment test, getting an ID card, meeting with a counselor, and getting help to select and register for classes.
Participants will also be able to talk to Financial Aid advisers, buy their books, and explore various specialized programs such as, EOPS, services for individuals with disabilities (DSPS), foster youth, tutorial programs, programs for parents on aid (CalWORKs), and get student health information.
Some informational services may not be available at the Los Banos Campus during Extreme Registration. Call 209.826.3495 for information on the specialized programs offered there.

The Fall 2017 Semester at Merced College begins on August 14.
For more information about Extreme Registration, call 209.384.6030.

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com


Merced College does not discriminate, and prohibits harassment
on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin, sex, age, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

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July 11, 2017

Stakeholders meeting on cannabis businesses Wednesday

The City of Merced will be holding a stakeholders and community meeting regarding cannabis businesses in the City on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center at 678 W. 18th St.

The City has hired SCI Consulting to draft regulations and a selection process for the four future medical marijuana dispensaries that the City Council has authorized.

SCI will be giving an overview of recent changes in State law and recent direction given by the City Council and Planning Commission. The direction

covered issues associated with the regulations that are currently being drafted and other cannabis-related businesses that the City may consider allowing to locate here.

The City and SCI will also be seeking comments on these issues from local stakeholders, which include representatives from local law enforcement, various City Departments, Merced County, and the school districts, as well as from the general public and representatives from the cannabis industry.

The public is invited to the meeting.

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July 11, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED
TO THE MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps and perform other construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue in Merced to the Merced/Stanislaus County line. Work will occur as follows:
• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue in Merced to Atwater Boulevard in Atwater will close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work;
• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-140 at V Street will close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work as part of a project on SR-140;
• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to 16th Street in Merced will close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Monday, July 10, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for sign work.

• The #1 (left) lane on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Childs Avenue to the Merced/Stanislaus County line will close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for lane striping.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT TO THE DELTA MENDOTA CANAL IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 from the California Aqueduct near the San Luis Reservoir to the Delta Mendota Canal for maintenance work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on northbound and southbound SR-33 at both the California Aqueduct and the Delta Mendota Canal beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. for maintenance.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays at each location. 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
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE (MERCED COUNTY)

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 in Gustine to SR-99 in Merced. Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-140 at V Street will close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work as part of a project on SR-140;
• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Virginia Street in the City of Merced to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Monday, July 10, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for pavement work;

• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Sydney Lane to Virginia Street in the City of Merced beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 14, 2017, from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work;

• The #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes of eastbound and westbound SR-140 from SR-99 to Virginia Street in the City of Merced will alternately close beginning Sunday, July 9, 2017, through Friday, July 10, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the City of Merced to SR-33 in the City of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the City of Merced and move toward the City of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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July 6, 2017

Students Enjoy MCSD Summer Academy

Hundreds of students from throughout the Merced City School District are enjoying a variety of fun and interactive learning opportunities during Summer Academy.

They’re getting a chance to program robots, build marshmallow catapults, launch paper towel roll rockets, make ice cream, design Rube Goldberg machines, and create their own instruments. There are also special performances, assemblies, and learning excursions to places such as local zoos, performing arts centers, colleges, and universities.

All of the activities and other classroom instruction are based around integrated STEAM learning – science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. This approach is designed to help students develop 21st century skills including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

The five week session started June 12 and will continue through July 14. The classes are open to children who were in transitional kindergarten through seventh grade during the 2016-2017 school year. They are being held at Reyes Elementary, Rivera Elementary, and Rivera Middle School.

Summer Academy also offers online programs for foreign language and mathematics. Students enrolled in those courses can work from home at their own pace but also have the option of attending classes at the school sites for extra support and unique learning opportunities that incorporate art into both subjects.

Fourth grader Lily Tupuanai says, “My favorite part about coming to Summer Academy is to learn new things, and Summer Academy helps me go over the things I just learned in the recent grade.”

Eighth grader Jade Velasquez adds, “I enjoy the activities that they have us do, our art projects, and the experience we have in our science classes.”






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July 6, 2017

Golfing for Good Health: Golden Valley Health Centers announces Inaugural Golf Tournament with
Celebrity Guest Hall of Famer Rick Barry

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA – June 23, 2017
GVHC Inaugural 45th Anniversary Gala and Inaugural Golf Tournament with Honorary Chairperson & NBA All-Star, Rick Barry
We are pleased to announce a first of its kind for Golden Valley Health Centers, a weekend of fun and celebration of our lifesaving mission. The weekend is kicked off by a 45th Anniversary Gala on October 28, 2017 and the Inaugural Golf Tournament on October 30th. We are celebrating 45 years of serving the underserved in our communities. Whether you enjoy attending an upscale gala or spending your afternoon with friends and playing golf on one of the central valley’s finest golf courses, we have the event for you! Your participation helps support Golden Valley Health Centers and the vital services they provide. We are also excited to announce that Hall of Famer Rick Barry has agreed to be the honorary chair of the weekend of events and will be highlighting the mission and amazing work Golden Valley does here in the Central Valley. Rick will be joining us at the gala as our featured speaker; as well as golfing and joining us for dinner and offering closing remarks. Rick Barry is an eight-time NBA All-Star who was a prolific scorer in both the ABA and NBA. He was named Finals MVP in 1975 after leading the Golden State Warriors to an NBA Championship.
Join GVHC and Rick Barry in celebrating 45 years of serving the underserved in our communities. Your participation helps support Golden Valley Health Centers and the vital services we provide.
The Inaugural Golf tournament will be held at the Turlock Golf and Country Club. It will include lunch at noon, an 18-hole scramble, and dinner with Honorary Chairperson Rick Barry.
The foundation welcomes any and all businesses and organizations to participate and sponsor the event. It is part of the foundation's largest fundraiser weekend with all proceeds raised directly benefiting all of GVHC’s lifesaving efforts. More information about the weekend events including the 45th Anniversary Gala, Inaugural Tournament, including online registration and sponsorships can be found here (www.gvhc.org).

 

 

 

ABOUT GOLDEN VALLEY HEALTH CENTERS
Golden Valley Health Centers is a private, nonprofit, Federally Qualified health center system that has served California’s Central Valley for over 45 years. Golden Valley is accredited by The Joint Commission and recognized as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Golden Valley has developed a system of 29 clinical sites and 11 dental sites, including two freestanding women’s health centers, four school-based centers, a homeless healthcare program and a Senior Health Center at Golden Valley’s main Merced campus. Golden Valley Health Centers serves patients who might otherwise have no place to receive health care. What began as one health center in 1972 has grown over the past four decades into an organization of 29 health centers serving Merced and Stanislaus Counties. It is the largest service of its kind in the entire region. No patient is turned away because of inability to pay. When everyone, regardless of financial means, has access to excellent health care, it enhances the well-being of the whole community.
Through their community health centers, they provide comprehensive primary medical, dental and behavioral health services as well as health education and eligibility screening to an ethnically diverse population, including migrant and seasonal farm workers, Southeast Asian refugees and the homeless population of Merced and Stanislaus Counties.

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July 6, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 99 TO SYDNEY LANE
IN THE CITY OF MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-99 to Sydney Lane. Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-140 at V Street in the City of Merced will close beginning Wednesday, July 5, 2017, through Friday, July 7, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for grinding and paving;

• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from Sydney Lane to Virginia Avenue beginning Thursday, July 6, 2017, through Friday, July 7, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for grinding and paving;

• The #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes eastbound and westbound SR-140 from SR-99 to Virginia Avenue will alternately close beginning Thursday, July 6, 2017, through Friday, July 7, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for grinding and paving.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. (Due to Fourth of July holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction Sunday, July 2; Monday, July 3, 2017; or Tuesday, July 4, 2017.)

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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the City of Merced to SR-33 in the City of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start

near the City of Merced and move toward the City of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140/V STREET IN MERCED

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound off-ramp from State Route 99 (SR-99) to SR-140/V Street in Merced for grinding and paving.
Work will begin Wednesday, July 5, 2017, through Friday, July 7, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. as part of a project on SR-140.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. (Due to Fourth of July holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction Sunday, July 2; Monday, July 3, 2017; or Tuesday, July 4, 2017.)

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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July 6, 2017

Merced gets two more days of swimming a week

Get more swim time this summer as the City of Merced extends pools days at McNamara Pool starting July 5.
“The Council wanted to offer more recreational opportunities for the City’s youth, and more ways to stay cool in the summer heat,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “Adding extra days gives more kids more summer fun.”
The City Council voted June 19 to add two more days of recreational swim this summer, so the pool will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 3 to 6.
However, next week, the pool will be closed Tuesday, July 4, for the holiday.
McNamara Pool, located at 1040 Canal St., will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through Aug. 13.

 

 

The Golden Valley High School Pool, 2121 E. Childs Ave., is open from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Aug. 13.
Admission is $1 for youths under 18 and $2 for adults. Fridays swimming is free for the first 70 youngsters courtesy of the Merced Satellite Rotary.

 

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

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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